The success attending the publication of a new translation of the Fairy Tales of the Countess d’Aulnoy has justified the publishers in believing that an equally faithful version of some of the most popular stories of her contemporaries and immediate successors, similarly annotated, might meet with as favourable a reception. I have therefore selected twenty-four of the best Fairy Tales, according to my judgment, remaining in the Cabinet des Fées, commencing with those of Charles Perrault, the earliest, and terminating with some of Madame Leprince de Beaumont, the latest French writer of European celebrity in that particular class of literature. Independently of the fact that, with the exception of those of Madame de Beaumont, few if any in the present volume have ever been placed in their integrity before the English reader, I trust that the chronological order I have observed in their arrangement will give them a novel interest in the eyes of those “children of a larger growth,” who are not ashamed to confess, with La Fontaine —
Si “Peau d’ane” m’étoit conté
J’y prendrais un plaisir extrême.
Or with the great Reformer, Martin Luther —
“I would not for any quantity of gold part with the wonderful tales which I have retained from my earliest childhood or have met with in my progress through life.”
The reader will by this arrangement observe, in a clearer way than probably he has yet had an opportunity of doing, the rise, progress, and decline of the genuine Fairy Tale — so thoroughly French in its origin, so specially connected with the age of that “Grand Monarque” whose reign presents us, in the graphic pages of St. Simon and Dangeau, with innumerable pictures of manners and customs, dresses and entertainments, the singularity, magnificence, profusion, and extent of which scarcely require the fancy of a d’Aulnoy to render fabulous. In my introduction to the tales of that “lively and ingenious lady,” I have already shown the progress of the popularity of this class of composition; but in the present volume it will be seen how, in the course of little more than half a century, the Fairy Tale, from a fresh, sparkling, simple yet arch version of a legend as old as the monuments of that Celtic race by whom they were introduced into Gaul, became first elaborated into a novel, comprising an ingenious plot, with an amusing exaggeration of the manners of the period; next, inflated into a preposterous and purposeless caricature of its own peculiarities; and finally, denuded of its sportive fancy, its latent humour, and its gorgeous extravagance, subsided into the dull common-place moral story, which, taking less hold of the youthful imagination, was, however laudable in its intention, a very ineffective substitute for the merry monitors it vainly endeavoured to supersede. Too much like a lesson for the child, it was too childish for the man. The Fairies were dismissed in consequence of the incapacity of the writers to employ them; but they were not to be annihilated. They still live in their own land, to laugh at those mortals who will not laugh with them and learn while they laugh. Modern art may vainly invoke them to perform fresh marvels, but enough power still exists in their old spells to enchant youth, amuse manhood, and resuscitate age; and, despite the hypercritic and the purist, they will continue to exercise their magic influence over the human mind so long as it is capable of appreciating wit, fancy, and good feeling. As Mademoiselle Lheritier wrote two hundred years ago —
Ils ne sont pas aisées à croire,
Mais tant que dans le monde on verra des enfans,
Des mères et des mères-grands
On en gardera la memoire.
Once on a time there was a man who had fine town and country houses, gold and silver plate, embroidered furniture, and coaches gilt all over; but unfortunately, this man had a blue beard, which made him look so ugly and terrible, that there was not a woman or girl who did not run away from him. One of his neighbours, a lady of quality, had two daughters, who were perfectly beautiful. He proposed to marry one of them, leaving her to choose which of the two she would give him. Neither of them would have him; and they sent him from one to the other, not being able to make up their minds to marry a man who had a blue beard. What increased their distaste to him was, that he had had several wives already, and nobody knew what had become of them.
Blue Beard, in order to cultivate their acquaintance, took them, with their mother, three or four of their most intimate friends, and some young persons who resided in the neighbourhood, to one of his country seats, where they passed an entire week. Nothing was thought of but excursions, hunting and fishing, parties, balls, entertainments, collations; nobody went to bed; the whole night was spent in merry games and gambols. In short, all went off so well, that the youngest daughter began to find out that the beard of the master of the house was not as blue as it used to be, and that he was a very worthy man. Immediately upon their return to town the marriage took place. At the end of a month Blue Beard told his wife that he was obliged to take a journey, which would occupy six weeks at least, on a matter of great consequence; that he entreated she would amuse herself as much as she could during his absence; that she would invite her best friends, take them into the country with her if she pleased, and keep an excellent table everywhere.
“Here,” said he to her, “are the keys of my two great store-rooms; these are those of the chests in which the gold and silver plate is kept, that is only used on particular occasions; these are the keys of the strong boxes in which I keep my money; these open the caskets that contain my jewels; and this is the pass-key of all the apartments. As for this little key, it is that of the closet at the end of the long gallery, on the ground floor. Open everything, and go everywhere except into that little closet, which I forbid you to enter, and I forbid you so strictly, that if you should venture to open the door, there is nothing that you may not have to dread from my anger!” She promised to observe implicitly all his directions, and after he had embraced her, he got into his coach and set out on his journey.
The neighbours and friends of the young bride did not wait for her invitation, so eager were they to see all the treasures contained in the mansion, not having ventured to enter it while the husband was at home, so terrified were they at his blue beard. Behold them immediately running through all the rooms, closets, and wardrobes, each apartment exceeding the other in beauty and richness. They ascended afterwards to the store-rooms, where they could not sufficiently admire the number and elegance of the tapestries, the beds, the sofas, the cabinets, the stands, the tables, and the mirrors in which they could see themselves from head to foot, and that had frames some of glass, some of silver, and some of gilt metal, more beautiful and magnificent than had ever been seen. They never ceased enlarging upon and envying the good fortune of their friend, who in the meanwhile was not in the least entertained by the sight of all these treasures, in consequence of her impatience to open the closet on the ground floor.
Her curiosity increased to such a degree that, without reflecting how rude it was to leave her company, she ran down a back staircase in such haste that twice or thrice she narrowly escaped breaking her neck. Arrived at the door of the closet, she paused for a moment, bethinking herself of her husband’s prohibition, and that some misfortune might befall her for her disobedience; but the temptation was so strong that she could not conquer it. She therefore took the little key and opened, tremblingly, the door of the closet. At first she could discern nothing, the windows being closed; after a short time she began to perceive that the floor was all covered with clotted blood, in which were reflected the dead bodies of several females suspended against the walls. These were all the wives of Blue Beard, who had cut their throats one after the other. She was ready to die with fright, and the key of the closet, which she had withdrawn from the lock, fell from her hand. After recovering her senses a little, she picked up the key, locked the door again, and went up to her chamber to compose herself; but she could not succeed, so greatly was she agitated. Having observed that the key of the closet was stained with blood, she wiped it two or three times, but the blood would not come off. In vain she washed it, and even scrubbed it with sand and free-stone, the blood was still there, for the key was enchanted, and there were no means of cleaning it completely: when the blood was washed off one side, it came back on the other.
Blue Beard returned that very evening, and said that he had received letters on the road informing him that the business on which he was going had been settled to his advantage. His wife did all she could to persuade him that she was delighted at his speedy return. The next morning he asked her for his keys again; she gave them to him; but her hand trembled so, that he had not much difficulty in guessing what had occurred. “How comes it,” said he, “that the key of the closet is not with the others?” “I must have left it,” she replied, “upstairs on my table.” “Fail not,” said Blue Beard, “to give it me presently.” After several excuses, she was compelled to produce the key. Blue Beard having examined it, said to his wife, “Why is there some blood on this key?” “I don’t know,” answered the poor wife, paler than death. “You don’t know?” rejoined Blue Beard. “I know well enough. You must needs enter the closet. Well, madam, you shall enter it, and go take your place amongst the ladies you saw there.” She flung herself at her husband’s feet, weeping and begging his pardon, with all the signs of true repentance for having disobeyed him. Her beauty and affliction might have melted a rock, but Blue Beard had a heart harder than a rock. “You must die, madam,” said he, “and immediately.” “If I must die,” she replied, looking at him with streaming eyes, “give me a little time to say my prayers.” “I give you half a quarter of an hour,” answered Blue Beard, “but not a minute more.” As soon as he had left her, she called her sister, and said to her, “Sister Anne” (for so she was named), “go up, I pray thee, to the top of the tower, and see if my brothers are not coming. They have promised me that they would come to see me to-day; and if you see them, sign to them to make haste.” Sister Anne mounted to the top of the tower, and the poor distressed creature called to her every now and then, “Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?” And sister Anne answered her, “I see nothing but the sun making dust, and the grass growing green.”
In the meanwhile Blue Beard, with a great cutlass in his hand, called out with all his might to his wife, “Come down quickly, or I will come up there.” “One minute more, if you please,” replied his wife; and immediately repeated in a low voice, “Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?” And sister Anne replied, “I see nothing but the sun making dust, and the grass growing green.” “Come down quickly,” roared Blue Beard, “or I will come up there.” “I come,” answered his wife, and then exclaimed, “Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?” “I see,” said sister Anne, “a great cloud of dust moving this way.” “Is it my brothers?” “Alas! no, sister, I see a flock of sheep.” “Wilt thou not come down?” shouted Blue Beard. “One minute more,” replied his wife, and then she cried, “Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?” “I see,” she replied, “two horsemen coming this way; but they are still at a great distance.” “Heaven be praised!” she exclaimed, a moment afterwards. “They are my brothers! I am making all the signs I can to hasten them.” Blue Beard began to roar so loudly that the whole house shook again. The poor wife descended, and went and threw herself, with streaming eyes and dishevelled tresses, at his feet.
“It is of no use,” said Blue Beard. “You must die!” Then seizing her by the hair with one hand, and raising his cutlass with the other, he was about to cut off her head. The poor wife turned towards him, and fixing upon him her dying eyes, implored him to allow her one short moment to collect herself. “No, no,” said he; “recommend thyself heartily to Heaven.” And lifting his arm — At this moment there was so loud a knocking at the gate, that Blue Beard stopped short. It was opened, and two horsemen were immediately seen to enter, who, drawing their swords, ran straight at Blue Beard. He recognised them as the brothers of his wife — one a dragoon, the other a musqueteer, and, consequently, fled immediately, in hope to escape; but they pursued him so closely, that they overtook him before he could reach the step of his door, and, passing their swords through his body, left him dead on the spot. The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband, and had not strength to rise and embrace her brothers. It was found that Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his widow remained possessed of all his property. She employed part of it in marrying her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had long loved her; another part, in buying captains’ commissions for her two brothers, and with the rest she married herself to a very worthy man, who made her forget the miserable time she had passed with Blue Beard.
Provided one has common sense,
And of the world but knows the ways,
This story bears the evidence
Of being one of bygone days.
No husband now is so terrific,
Though jealous, he is still pacific,
Indifference to his wife affecting.
And of his beard, whate’er the hue,
His spouse need fear no such disaster.
Indeed, ’twould often puzzle you
To say which of the twain is master.
Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen, who were so vexed at not having any children — so vexed, that one cannot express it. They visited all the baths in the world. Vows, pilgrimages, everything was tried, and nothing succeeded. At length, however, the Queen was brought to bed of a daughter. There was a splendid christening. For godmothers they gave the young Princess all the Fairies they could find in the country (they found seven), in order that each making her a gift, according to the custom of Fairies in those days, the Princess would, by these means, become possessed of all imaginable perfections. After the baptismal ceremonies all the company returned to the King’s palace, where a great banquet was set out for the Fairies. Covers were laid for each, consisting of a magnificent plate, with a massive gold case, containing a spoon, a fork, and a knife of fine gold, enriched with diamonds and rubies. But as they were all taking their places at the table, there was seen to enter an old Fairy, who had not been invited, because for upwards of fifty years she had never quitted the tower she resided in, and it was supposed she was either dead or enchanted.
The King ordered a cover to be laid for her; but there was no possibility of giving her a massive gold case such as the others had, because there had been only seven made expressly for the seven Fairies. The old lady thought she was treated with contempt, and muttered some threats between her teeth. One of the young Fairies, who chanced to be near her, overheard her, and imagining she might cast some misfortune on the little Princess, went, as soon as they rose from table, and hid herself behind the hangings, in order to have the last word, and be able to repair, as fast as possible, any mischief the old woman might do. In the meanwhile, the Fairies began to endow the Princess. The youngest, as her gift, decreed that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next Fairy, that she should have the mind of an angel; the third, that she should evince the most admirable grace in all she did; the fourth, that she should dance to perfection; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; and the sixth, that she should play on every instrument in the most exquisite manner possible. The turn of the old Fairy having arrived, she declared, while her head shook more with malice than with age, that the Princess should pierce her hand with a spindle, and die of the wound. This terrible fate made all the company tremble, and there was not one of them who could refrain from tears. At this moment the young Fairy issued from behind the tapestry, and uttered aloud these words: “Comfort yourselves, King and Queen — your daughter shall not die of it. It is true that I have not sufficient power to undo entirely what my elder has done. The Princess will pierce her hand with a spindle; but, instead of dying, she will only fall into a deep slumber, which will last one hundred years, at the end of which a King’s son will come to wake her.”
The King, in hope of avoiding the misfortune predicted by the old Fairy, immediately caused an edict to be published, by which he forbade any one to spin with a spindle, or to have spindles in their possession, under pain of death.
At the end of fifteen or sixteen years, the King and Queen, being absent at one of their country residences, it happened that the Princess, while running one day about the castle, and from one chamber up to another, arrived at the top of a tower, and entered a little garret, where an honest old woman was sitting by herself, spinning with her distaff and spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King’s prohibition with respect to spinning with a spindle. “What are you doing there?” asked the Princess. “I am spinning, my fair child,” answered the old woman, who did not know her. “Oh, how pretty it is!” rejoined the Princess. “How do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do it as well.” She had no sooner taken hold of the spindle, than, being very hasty, a little thoughtless, and, moreover, the sentence of the Fairies so ordaining it, she pierced her hand with the point of it, and fainted away. The good old woman, greatly embarrassed, called for help. People came from all quarters; they threw water in the Princess’s face; they unlaced her stays; they slapped her hands; they rubbed her temples with Queen of Hungary’s water, but nothing could bring her to. The King, who had run upstairs at the noise, then remembered the prediction of the Fairies, and, wisely concluding that this must have occurred as the Fairies said it would, had the Princess conveyed into the finest apartment in the palace, and placed on a bed of gold and silver embroidery. One would have said she was an angel, so lovely did she appear — for her swoon had not deprived her of her rich complexion: her cheeks preserved their crimson, and her lips were like coral. Her eyes were closed, but they could hear her breathe softly, which showed that she was not dead. The King commanded them to let her repose in peace until the hour arrived for her waking. The good Fairy who had saved her life, by decreeing that she should sleep for an hundred years, was in the Kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues off, when the Princess met with her accident; but she was informed of it instantly by a little dwarf, who had a pair of seven-league boots (that is, boots which enabled the wearer to take seven leagues at a stride). The Fairy set out immediately and an hour afterwards they saw her arrive in a fiery chariot, drawn by dragons. The King advanced, to hand her out of the chariot. She approved of all he had done; but, as she had great foresight, she considered that, when the Princess awoke, she would feel considerably embarrassed at finding herself all alone in that old castle; so this is what the Fairy did. She touched with her wand everybody that was in the castle (except the King and Queen): governesses, maids of honour, women of the bed-chamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen; she touched also the horses that were in the stables, with their grooms, the great mastiffs in the court-yard, and little Pouste, the tiny dog of the Princess, that was on the bed, beside her. As soon as she had touched them, they all fell asleep, not to wake again until the time arrived for their mistress to do so, in order that they might be all ready to attend upon her when she should want them. Even the spits that had been put down to the fire, laden with partridges and pheasants, went to sleep, and the fire itself also.
All this was done in a moment; the fairies never lost much time over their work. After which, the King and Queen, having kissed their dear daughter without waking her, quitted the Castle, and issued a proclamation forbidding any person, whosoever, to approach it. These orders were unnecessary, for in a quarter of an hour there grew up around the Park so great a quantity of trees, large and small, of brambles and thorns, interlacing each other, that neither man nor beast could get through them, so that nothing more was to be seen than the tops of the Castle turrets, and they only at a considerable distance. Nobody doubted but that was also some of the Fairy’s handiwork, in order that the Princess might have nothing to fear from the curiosity of strangers during her slumber.
At the expiration of an hundred years, the son of the King at that time upon the throne, and who was of a different family to that of the sleeping Princess, having been hunting in that neighbourhood, inquired what towers they were that he saw above the trees of a very thick wood. Each person answered him according to the story he had heard. Some said that it was an old castle, haunted by ghosts. Others, that all the witches of those parts held their Sabbath in it. The more general opinion was, that it was the abode of an ogre; and that he carried thither all the children he could catch, in order to eat them at his leisure, and without being pursued, having alone the power of making his way through the wood. The Prince did not know what to believe about it, when an old peasant spoke in his turn, and said to him, “Prince, it is more than fifty years ago since I heard my father say that there was in that Castle the most beautiful Princess that was ever seen. That she was to sleep for a hundred years, and would be awakened by a King’s son for whom she was reserved.” The young Prince, at these words, felt himself all on fire. He believed, without hesitation, that he was destined to accomplish this famous adventure; and, impelled by love and glory, resolved to see what would come of it, upon the spot. Scarcely had he approached the wood, when all those great trees, all those brambles and thorns made way for him to pass of their own accord. He walked towards the Castle, which he saw at the end of a long avenue he had entered, and what rather surprised him was, that he found none of his people had been able to follow him, the trees having closed up again as soon as he had passed. He continued, nevertheless, to advance; a young and amorous prince is always courageous. He entered a large fore-court, where everything he saw was calculated to freeze his blood with terror. A frightful silence reigned around. Death seemed everywhere present. Nothing was to be seen but the bodies of men and animals stretched out apparently lifeless. He soon discovered, however, by the shining noses and red faces of the porters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, in which still remained a few drops of wine, sufficiently proved that they had dosed off whilst drinking. He passed through a large court-yard paved with marble; he ascended the staircase. He entered the guard-room, where the guards stood drawn up in line, their carbines shouldered, and snoring their loudest. He traversed several apartments, with ladies and gentlemen all asleep; some standing, others seated. He entered a chamber covered with gold, and saw on a bed, the curtains of which were open on each side, the most lovely sight he had ever looked upon — a Princess, who seemed to be about fifteen or sixteen, the lustre of whose charms gave her an appearance that was luminous and supernatural. He approached, trembling and admiring, and knelt down beside her. At that moment, the enchantment being ended, the Princess awoke, and gazing upon the Prince with more tenderness than a first sight of him seemed to authorize, “Is it you, Prince?” said she; “you have been long awaited.” The Prince, delighted at these words, and still more by the tone in which they were uttered, knew not how to express to her his joy and gratitude.
The Sleeping Beauty.
He assured her he loved her better than himself. His language was not very coherent, but it pleased the more. There was little eloquence, but a great deal of love. He was much more embarrassed than she was, and one ought not to be astonished at that. The Princess had had time enough to consider what she should say to him, for there is reason to believe (though history makes no mention of it) that, during her long nap, the good Fairy had procured her the pleasure of very agreeable dreams. In short, they talked for four hours without having said half what they had to say to each other.
In the meanwhile, all the Palace had been roused at the same time as the Princess. Everybody remembered their duty, and, as they were not all in love, they were dying with hunger. The lady-in-waiting, as hungry as any of them, became impatient, and announced loudly to the Princess that the meat was on the table. The Prince assisted the Princess to rise; she was full dressed, and most magnificently, but he took good care not to hint to her that she was attired like his grandmother, and wore a stand-up collar. She looked, however, not a morsel the less lovely in it. They passed into a hall of mirrors, in which they supped, attended by the officers of the Princess. The violins and hautbois played old but excellent pieces of music, notwithstanding it was a hundred years since they had been performed by anybody; and after supper, to lose no time, the grand Almoner married the royal lovers in the chapel of the Castle.
Early next morning the Prince returned to the city, where his father was in great anxiety about him. The Prince told him that he had lost himself in the forest whilst hunting, and that he had slept in a woodcutter’s hut, who had given him some black bread and cheese for his supper. The King, his father, who was a simple man, believed him, but his mother was not so easily satisfied; and observing that he went hunting nearly every day, and had always some story ready as an excuse, when he had slept two or three nights away from home, she no longer doubted but that he had some mistress, for he lived with the Princess for upwards of two years, and had two children by her; the first, which was a girl, was named Aurora, and the second, a son, was called Day, because he was still more beautiful than his sister.
The Queen often said to her son, in order to draw from him some avowal, that he ought to form some attachment; but he never ventured to trust her with his secret. He feared her, although he loved her, for she was of the race of Ogres, and the King had married her only on account of her great wealth. It was even whispered about the Court that she had the inclinations of an Ogress, and that when she saw little children passing, she had the greatest difficulty in restraining herself from pouncing upon them. The Prince, therefore, would never say one word about his adventure. On the death of the King, however, which happened two years afterwards, the Prince being his own master, he made a public declaration of his marriage, and went in great state to bring the Queen, his wife, to the palace. She made a magnificent entry into the capital with her two children, one on each side of her. Some time afterwards, the King went to war with his neighbour, the Emperor Cantalabute. He left the regency of the kingdom to the Queen, his mother, earnestly recommending to her care his wife and his children. He was likely to be all the summer in the field, and as soon as he was gone, the Queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law and the children to a country house in the wood, that she might more easily gratify her horrible longing. She followed them thither a few days after, and said one evening to her Maître d’Hôtel, “I will eat little Aurora for dinner to-morrow.” “Ah, Madam!” exclaimed the Maître d’Hôtel. “I will,” said the Queen (and she said it in the tone of an Ogress longing to eat fresh meat), “and I will have her served up with sauce Robert.” The poor man seeing plainly an Ogress was not to be trifled with, took his great knife and went up to little Aurora’s room. She was then about four years old, and came jumping and laughing to throw her arms about his neck, and ask him for sweetmeats. He burst into tears, the knife fell from his hands, and he went down again into the kitchen court and killed a little lamb, and served it up with so delicious a sauce, that his mistress assured him she had never eaten anything so excellent. In the meanwhile, he had carried off little Aurora, and given her to his wife, to conceal her in the lodging which she occupied at the further end of the kitchen court.
A week afterwards, the wicked Queen said to her Maître d’Hôtel, “I will eat little Day for supper.” He made no reply, being determined to deceive her as before. He went in search of little Day, and found him with a tiny foil in his hand, fencing with a great monkey, though he was only three years old. He carried him to his wife, who hid him where she had hidden his sister, and then cooked a very tender little kid in the place of little Day, and which the Ogress thought wonderfully good. All went well enough so far, but one evening this wicked Queen said to the Maître d’Hôtel, “I would eat the Queen with the same sauce that I had with her children.” Then, indeed, did the poor Maître d’Hôtel despair of being again able to deceive her. The young Queen was turned of twenty, without counting the hundred years she had slept; her skin was a little tough, though it was white and beautiful, and where was he to find in the menagerie an animal that would pass for her.
He resolved that, to save his own life, he would cut the Queen’s throat, and went up to her apartment with the determination to execute his purpose at once. He worked himself up into a passion, and entered the young Queen’s chamber poniard in hand. He would not, however, take her by surprise, but repeated, very respectfully, the order he had received from the Queen-mother. “Do it! do it!” said she, stretching out her neck to him. “Obey the order that has been given to you. I shall again behold my children, my poor children, that I loved so dearly.” She had imagined them to be dead ever since they had been carried off without explanation. “No, no, Madam!” replied the poor Maître d’Hôtel, touched to the quick, “you shall not die, and you shall see your children again, but it shall be in my own house, where I have hidden them; and I will again deceive the Queen-mother by serving up to her a young hind in your stead.” He led her forthwith to his own apartments, where leaving her to embrace her children and weep with them, he went and cooked a hind, of which the Queen ate at her supper, with as much appetite as if it had been the young Queen. She exulted in her cruelty, and intended to tell the King, on his return, that some ferocious wolves had devoured the Queen his wife, and her two children.
One evening that she was prowling, as usual, round the courts and poultry yards of the Castle, to inhale the smell of raw flesh, she overheard little Day crying in a lower room, because the Queen, his mother, was about to whip him for having been naughty, and she also heard little Aurora begging forgiveness for her brother. The Ogress recognised the voices of the Queen and her children, and, furious at having been cheated, she gave orders, in a tone that made everybody tremble, that the next morning early there should be brought into the middle of the court a large copper, which she had filled with toads, vipers, adders, and serpents, in order to fling into it the Queen, her children, the Maître d’Hôtel, his wife, and his maid servant. She had commanded that they should be brought thither with hands tied behind them. There they stood, and the executioners were preparing to fling them into the copper, when the King, who was not expected so early, entered the court-yard on horseback. He had ridden post, and in great astonishment inquired what was the meaning of that horrible spectacle? Nobody dared to tell him, when the Ogress, enraged at the sight of the King’s return, flung herself head foremost into the copper, and was devoured in an instant by the horrid reptiles she had caused it to be filled with. The King could not help being sorry for it; she was his mother, but he speedily consoled himself in the society of his beautiful wife and children.
Some time for a husband to wait
Who is young, handsome, wealthy, and tender,
May not be a hardship too great
For a maid whom love happy would render.
But to be for a century bound
To live single, I fancy the number
Of Beauties but small would be found
So long who could patiently slumber.
To lovers who hate time to waste,
And minutes as centuries measure,
I would hint, Those who marry in haste
May live to repent it at leisure.
Yet so ardently onwards they press,
And on prudence so gallantly trample,
That I haven’t the heart, I confess,
To urge on them Beauty’s example.
A Miller bequeathed to his three sons all his worldly goods, which consisted only of his mill, his ass, and his cat. The division was speedily made. Neither notary nor attorney were called in; they would soon have eaten up all the little patrimony. The eldest had the mill; the second son, the ass; and the youngest had nothing but the cat. The latter was disconsolate at inheriting so poor a portion. “My brothers,” said he, “may earn an honest livelihood by entering into partnership; but, as for me, when I have eaten my Cat, and made a muff of his skin, I must die of hunger.” The Cat, who had heard this speech, but without appearing to do so, said to him, with a sedate and serious air, “Do not afflict yourself, master; you have only to give me a bag and get a pair of boots made for me, to go amongst the bushes in, and you will see that you are not so badly left as you believe.” Though the Cat’s master did not place much confidence in this assertion, he had seen him play such cunning tricks in catching rats and mice, when he would hang himself up by the heels, or lie in the flour as if he were dead, that he was not altogether hopeless of being assisted by him in his distress.
As soon as the Cat had what he asked for, he pulled on his boots boldly, and hanging the bag round his neck, he took the strings of it in his fore paws, and went into a warren where there were a great number of rabbits. He put some bran and some sow-thistles in his bag, and stretching himself out as if he were dead, he waited till some young rabbit, little versed in the wiles of the world, should come and ensconce himself in the bag, in order to eat what he had put into it. He had hardly laid down before he was gratified. A young scatterbrain of a rabbit entered the bag, and Master Cat instantly pulling the strings, caught it and killed it without mercy. Proud of his prey, he went to the King’s Palace, and demanded an audience. He was ushered up to his Majesty’s apartment, into which having entered, he made a low bow to the King, and said to him, “Sire, here is a wild rabbit, which my Lord the Marquis de Carabas (such was the name he took a fancy to give to his master) has ordered me to present, with his duty, to your Majesty.” “Tell your master,” replied the King, “that I thank him, and that he has given me great pleasure.” Another day he went and hid himself in the wheat, holding the mouth of his bag open, as usual, and as soon as a brace of partridges entered it, he pulled the strings, and took them both. He went immediately and presented them to the King, in the same way that he had the wild rabbit. The King received with equal gratification the brace of partridges, and gave him something to drink his health. The Cat continued in this manner during two or three months to carry to the King, every now and then, presents of game from his master. One day when he knew the King was going to drive on the banks of the river, with his daughter, the most beautiful Princess in the world, he said to his master, “If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made; you have only to go and bathe in a part of the river I will point out to you, and leave the rest to me.” The Marquis de Carabas did as his cat advised him, without knowing what good would come of it. While he was bathing, the King passed by, and the Cat began to shout with all his might, “Help! help! My Lord the Marquis de Carabas is drowning!” At this cry, the King looked out of the coach window, and recognising the cat who had so often brought game to him, ordered his guards to fly to the help of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. Whilst they were getting the poor Marquis out of the river, the Cat approaching the royal coach, told the King that during the time his master was bathing, some robbers had come and carried off his clothes, although he had called “Thieves!” as loud as he could. The rogue had hidden them himself under a great stone. The King immediately ordered the officers of his wardrobe to go and fetch one of his handsomest suits for my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. The King embraced him a thousand times, and as the fine clothes they dressed him in set off his good looks (for he was handsome and well made), the King’s daughter found him much to her taste; and the Marquis de Carabas had no sooner cast upon her two or three respectful and rather tender glances, than she fell desperately in love with him. The King insisted upon his getting into the coach, and accompanying them in their drive. The Cat, enchanted to see that his scheme began to succeed, ran on before, and having met with some peasants who were mowing a meadow, said to them, “You, good people, who are mowing here, if you do not tell the King that the meadow you are mowing belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas, you shall be all cut into pieces as small as minced meat!” The King failed not to ask the mowers whose meadow it was they were mowing? “It belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas,” said they altogether, for the Cat’s threat had frightened them. “You perceive, Sire,” rejoined the Marquis, “it is a meadow which yields an abundant crop every year.” Master Cat, who kept in advance of the party, came up to some reapers, and said to them, “You, good people, who are reaping, if you do not say that all this corn belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas, you shall be all cut into pieces as small as minced meat!” The King, who passed by a minute afterwards, wished to know to whom all those cornfields belonged that he saw there. “To my Lord the Marquis de Carabas,” repeated the reapers, and the King again wished the Marquis joy of his property. The Cat, who ran before the coach, uttered the same threat to all he met with, and the King was astonished at the great wealth of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. Master Cat at length arrived at a fine Château, the owner of which was an Ogre, the richest that was ever known, for all the lands through which the King had driven were held of the Lord of this Château. The Cat took care to inquire who the Ogre was, and what he was able to do; and then requested to speak with him, saying that he would not pass so near his Château without doing himself the honour of paying his respects to him. The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre could, and made him sit down. “They assure me,” said the Cat, “that you possess the power of changing yourself into all sorts of animals; that you could, for instance, transform yourself into a lion, or an elephant.” “’Tis true,” said the Ogre, brusquely, “and to prove it to you, you shall see me become a lion.” The Cat was so frightened at seeing a lion before him, that he immediately scampered up into the gutter, not without trouble and danger, on account of his boots, which were not fit to walk on the tiles with. A short time afterwards, the Cat having perceived that the Ogre had resumed his previous form, descended, and admitted that he had been terribly frightened. “They assure me, besides,” said the Cat, “but I cannot believe it, that you have also the power to assume the form of the smallest animal; for instance, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse. I confess to you I hold that to be utterly impossible.” “Impossible!” replied the Ogre; “you shall see!” and immediately changed himself into a mouse, which began to run about the floor. The Cat no sooner caught sight of it than he pounced upon and devoured it. In the meanwhile, the King, who saw from the road the fine Château of the Ogre, desired to enter it. The Cat, who heard the noise of the coach rolling over the drawbridge, ran to meet it, and said to the King, “Your Majesty is welcome to the Château of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas.” “How, my Lord Marquis,” exclaimed the King, “this Château also belongs to you? Nothing can be finer than this court-yard, and all these buildings that surround it. Let us see the inside of it, if you please.” The Marquis handed out the young Princess, and following the King, who led the way upstairs, entered a grand hall, where they found a magnificent collation, which the Ogre had ordered to be prepared for some friends who were to have visited him that very day, but who did not presume to enter when they found the King was there. The King, as much enchanted by the accomplishments of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas as his daughter, who doted upon him, and seeing the great wealth he possessed, said to him, after having drunk five or six bumpers, “It depends entirely on yourself, my Lord Marquis, whether or not you become my son-in-law.” The Marquis, making several profound bows, accepted the honour the King offered him; and on the same day was united to the Princess. The Cat became a great lord, and never again ran after mice, except for his amusement.
Be the advantage ne’er so great
Of owning a superb estate,
From sire to son descended.
Young men oft find, on industry,
Combined with ingenuity,
They’d better have depended.
If the son of a Miller so quickly could gain
The heart of a Princess, it seems pretty plain,
With good looks and good manners, and some aid from dress,
The humblest need not quite despair of success.
Once on a time there was a gentleman who took for a second wife the haughtiest and proudest woman that had ever been seen. She had two daughters of the same temper, and who resembled her in everything. The husband, on his side, had a daughter, but whose gentleness and goodness were without parallel. She inherited them from her mother, who was the best creature in the world. The wedding was hardly over before the stepmother’s ill-humour broke out. She could not abide the young girl, whose good qualities made her own daughters appear more detestable. She employed her in all the meanest work of the house. It was she who cleaned the plate, and the stairs, who scrubbed Madame’s chamber, and those of Mesdemoiselles, her daughters. She slept at the top of the house, in a loft, on a wretched straw mattress, while her sisters occupied rooms, beautifully floored, in which were the most fashionable beds, and mirrors wherein they could see themselves from head to foot. The poor girl bore everything with patience, and did not dare complain to her father, who would only have scolded her, as his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she went and placed herself in the chimney-corner, and sat down amongst the cinders, which caused her to be called by the household in general Cindertail. The second daughter, however, who was not so rude as her elder sister, called her Cinderella. Notwithstanding, Cinderella, in her shabby clothes, looked a thousand times handsomer than her sisters, however magnificently attired.
It happened that the King’s son gave a ball, and invited to it all persons of quality. Our two young ladies were included in the invitation, for they cut a great figure in the neighbourhood. Behold them in great delight, and very busy choosing the most becoming gowns and head-dresses. A new mortification for Cinderella, for it was she who ironed her sisters’ linen, and set their ruffles. Nothing was talked of but the style in which they were to be dressed. “I,” said the eldest, “will wear my red velvet dress and my English point-lace trimmings.” “I,” said the youngest, “shall only wear my usual petticoat; but to make up for that, I shall put on my gold-flowered mantua, and my necklace of diamonds, which are none of the poorest.” They sent for a good milliner to make up their double-frilled caps, and bought their patches of the best maker. They called Cinderella to give them her opinion, for she had excellent taste. Cinderella gave them the best advice in the world, and even offered to dress their heads for them, which they were very willing she should do; and whilst she was about it, they said to her, “Cinderella, shouldst thou like to go to the ball?” “Alas! Mesdemoiselles, you make game of me; that would not befit me at all.” “Thou art right, they would laugh immensely to see a Cindertail at a ball!” Any other but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was good natured, and dressed them to perfection. They could eat nothing for nearly two days, so transported were they with joy. More than a dozen laces were broken in making their waists as small as possible, and they were always before their looking-glasses. At last the happy day arrived. They set off, and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could. When they were out of sight, she began to cry. Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, inquired what ailed her. “I should so like — I should so like — ” she sobbed so much that she could not finish the sentence. “Thou wouldst so like to go to the ball — Is not that it?” “Alas! yes,” said Cinderella, sighing. “Well, if thou wilt be a good girl, I will take care thou shalt go.” She led her into her chamber, and said to her, “Go into the garden and bring me a pumpkin.” Cinderella went immediately, gathered the finest she could find, and brought it to her godmother, unable to guess how the pumpkin could enable her to go to the ball. Her godmother scooped it out; and, having left nothing but the rind, struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was immediately changed into a beautiful coach gilt all over. She then went and looked into the mouse-trap, where she found six mice, all alive. She told Cinderella to lift the door of the mouse-trap a little, and to each mouse, as it ran out, she gave a tap with her wand, and the mouse was immediately changed into a fine horse, thereby producing a handsome team of six horses, of a beautiful dappled mouse-grey colour. As she was in some difficulty as to what she should make a coachman of, Cinderella said, “I will go and see if there be not a rat in the rat-trap; we will make a coachman of him.” “Thou art right,” said her godmother. “Go and see.” Cinderella brought her the rat-trap, in which there were three great rats. The Fairy selected one from the three, on account of its ample beard, and having touched it, it was changed into a fat coachman, who had the finest moustaches that ever were seen. She then said, “Go into the garden, thou wilt find there, behind the watering-pot, six lizards, bring them to me.” She had no sooner brought them than the godmother transformed them into six footmen, who immediately jumped up behind the coach, with their liveries all covered with lace, and hung on to it as if they had done nothing else all their lives. The Fairy then said to Cinderella, “Well, there is something to go to the ball in. Art thou not well pleased?” “Yes; but am I to go in these dirty clothes?” Her godmother only touched her with her wand, and in the same instant her dress was changed to cloth of gold and silver, covered with jewels. She then gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the world. When she was thus attired, she got into the coach; but her godmother advised her, above all things, not to stay out past midnight — warning her, that if she remained at the ball one minute longer, her coach would again become a pumpkin; her horses, mice; her footmen, lizards; and her clothes resume their old appearance. She promised her godmother she would not fail to leave the ball before midnight, and departed, out of her senses with joy.
The King’s son, who was informed that a grand Princess had arrived whom nobody knew, ran to receive her. He handed her out of the coach and led her into the hall, where the company was assembled. There was immediately a dead silence; they stopped dancing, and the fiddlers ceased to play, so engrossed was every one in the contemplation of the great attractions of the unknown lady. Nothing was heard but a low murmur of “Oh! how lovely she is!” The King himself, old as he was, could not take his eyes from her, and observed to the Queen, that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful and so amiable a person. All the ladies were intently occupied in examining her head-dress and her clothes, that they might have some like them the very next day, provided they could find materials as beautiful, and workpeople sufficiently clever to make them up.
The King’s son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and then led her out to dance. She danced with so much grace that their admiration of her was increased. A very grand supper was served, of which the Prince ate not a morsel, so absorbed was he in contemplation of her. She seated herself beside her sisters, and showed them a thousand civilities. She shared with them the oranges and citrons which the Prince had given to her; at which they were much surprised, for she appeared a perfect stranger to them. Whilst they were in conversation together, Cinderella heard the clock strike three-quarters past eleven. She immediately made a profound curtsey to the company, and departed as quickly as she could. As soon as she had reached home, she went to find her godmother; and after having thanked her, said she much wished to go to the ball again the next day, because the King’s son had invited her. While she was occupied in telling her godmother all that had passed at the ball, the two sisters knocked at the door. Cinderella went and opened it — “How late you are!” said she to them, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had but just awoke. She had not, however, been inclined to sleep since she had left them. “Hadst thou been at the ball,” said one of her sisters to her, “thou wouldst not have been weary of it. There came to it the most beautiful Princess — the most beautiful that ever was seen. She paid us a thousand attentions. She gave us oranges and citrons.” Cinderella was beside herself with delight. She asked them the name of the Princess; but they replied that nobody knew her; that the King’s son was much puzzled about it, and that he would give everything in the world to know who she was. Cinderella smiled and said, “She was very handsome, then? Heavens! how fortunate you are! — Could not I get a sight of her? Alas! Mademoiselle Javotte, lend me the yellow gown you wear every day?” “Truly,” said Mademoiselle Javotte, “I like that! Lend one’s gown to a dirty Cindertail like you! — I must be very mad indeed!” Cinderella fully expected this refusal, and was delighted at it, for she would have been greatly embarrassed if her sister had lent her her gown.
The next day the two sisters went to the ball, and Cinderella also, but still more splendidly dressed than before. The King’s son never left her side, or ceased saying tender things to her. The young lady was much amused, and forgot what her godmother had advised her, so that she heard the clock begin to strike twelve when she did not even think it was eleven. She rose and fled as lightly as a fawn. The Prince followed her, but could not overtake her. She dropped one of her glass slippers, which the Prince carefully picked up. Cinderella reached home almost breathless, without coach or footmen, and in her shabby clothes, nothing having remained of all her finery, except one of her little slippers, the fellow of that she had let fall. The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a Princess go out; they answered that they had seen no one pass but a poorly-dressed girl, who had more the air of a peasant than of a lady. When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been as much entertained as before, and if the beautiful lady had been present. They said yes, but that she had fled as soon as it had struck twelve, and so precipitately that she had let fall one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world; that the King’s son had picked it up; that he had done nothing but gaze upon it during the remainder of the evening; and that, undoubtedly, he was very much in love with the beautiful person to whom the little slipper belonged. They spoke the truth; for a few days afterwards the King’s son caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet that he would marry her whose foot would exactly match with the slipper. They began by trying it on the Princesses, then on the Duchesses, and so on throughout all the Court; but in vain. It was taken to the two sisters, who did their utmost to force one of their feet into the slipper, but they could not manage to do so. Cinderella, who witnessed their efforts and recognised the slipper, said, laughingly, “Let me see if it will not fit me.” Her sisters began to laugh and ridicule her. The gentleman who had been entrusted to try the slipper, having attentively looked at Cinderella and found her to be very handsome, said that it was a very proper request, and that he had been ordered to try the slipper on all girls without exception. He made Cinderella sit down, and putting the slipper to her little foot, he saw it go on easily and fit like wax. Great was the astonishment of the two sisters, but it was still greater when Cinderella took the other little slipper out of her pocket and put it on her other foot. At that moment the godmother arrived, who having given a tap with her wand to Cinderella’s clothes, they became still more magnificent than all the others she had appeared in. The two sisters then recognised in her the beautiful person they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to crave her forgiveness for all the ill-treatment she had suffered from them. Cinderella raised and embracing them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to love her dearly for the future. They conducted her to the young Prince, dressed just as she was. He found her handsomer than ever, and a few days afterwards he married her. Cinderella, who was as kind as she was beautiful, gave her sisters apartments in the palace, and married them the very same day to two great lords of the court.
Beauty in woman is a treasure rare
Which we are never weary of admiring;
But a sweet temper is a gift more fair
And better worth the youthful maid’s desiring.
That was the boon bestowed on Cinderella
By her wise Godmother — her truest glory.
The rest was “nought but leather and prunella.”
Such is the moral of this little story —
Beauties, that charm becomes you more than dress,
And wins a heart with far greater facility.
In short, in all things to ensure success,
The real Fairy gift is Amiability!
Talent, courage, wit, and worth
Are rare gifts to own on earth.
But if you want to thrive at court —
So, at least, the wise report —
You will find you need some others,
Such as god-fathers or mothers.