Fairy Tales by the Countess d'Aulnoy/Finette Cendron
Once on a time there was a King and a Queen who had managed their affairs very badly. They were driven out of their kingdom. They sold their crowns to support themselves; then their wardrobes, their linen, their lace, and all their furniture, piece by piece. The brokers were tired of purchasing, for every day something or other was sent for sale. When they had disposed of nearly everything, the King said to the Queen, "We are out of our own country, and have no longer any property. We must do something to get a living for ourselves and our poor children. Consider a little what we can do: for up to this time I have known no trade but a king's, which is a very agreeable one." The Queen had much good sense; she asked for eight days to think the matter over; at the end of that time, she said to the King, "Sire, we must not make ourselves unhappy. You have only to make nets, with which you may catch both fowl and fish. As the lines wear out, I will spin to make new ones. With respect to our three daughters, they are downright idle girls, who still think themselves fine ladies, and would fain live in that style without work. We must take them to such a distance—such a distance, that they can never find their way back again, for it will be impossible for us to keep them as fine as they would like to be."
The King began to weep when he found he must separate himself from his children. He was a kind father; but the Queen was mistress; he therefore agreed to whatever she proposed. He said to her, "Get up early to-morrow morning, and take your three daughters wherever you think fit." Whilst they were thus plotting together, the Princess Finette, who was the youngest daughter, listened at the key-hole, and when she discovered the design of her father and mother, she set off as fast as she could for a great grotto, at a considerable distance from where they lived, and which was the abode of the Fairy Merluche, who was her godmother.
Finette had taken with her two pounds of fresh butter, some eggs, some milk, and some flour, to make a nice cake for her godmother, in order that she might be well received by her. She commenced her journey gaily enough; but the further she went, the more weary she grew. The soles of her shoes were worn completely through, and her pretty little feet became so sore, that it was sad to see them. She was quite exhausted; she sat down on the grass and cried. A beautiful Spanish horse came by, saddled and bridled. There were more diamonds on his housings than would purchase three cities, and when he saw the Princess he stopped and began to graze quietly beside her. Bending his knees he appeared to pay homage to her; upon which, taking him by the bridle, "Gentle Hobby," said she, "wouldst thou kindly bear me to my Fairy godmother's? Thou wouldst do me great service; for I am so weary that I feel ready to die: but if thou wilt assist me on this occasion, I will give thee good oats and good hay, and a litter of fresh straw to lie upon." The horse bent himself almost to the ground, and young Finette jumping upon him, he galloped off with her as lightly as a bird. He stopped at the entrance of the grotto, as if he had known where he was to go to; and, in fact, he knew well enough; for it was Merluche herself who, having foreseen her goddaughter's visit, had sent the fine horse for her.As soon as Finette entered the grotto, she made three profound curtsies to her godmother, and took the hem of her gown and kissed it, and then said to her, "Good day, godmother, how do you do? I have brought you some butter, milk, flour, and eggs, to make a cake with after our country fashion." "You are welcome, Finette," said the Fairy; "come hither that I may embrace you." She kissed her twice, at which Finette was greatly delighted, for Madame Merluche was not one of those fairies you might find by the dozen. "Come, goddaughter," said she, "you shall be my little
Finette Cendron.—p. 228.
The Princess thanked her godmother, who gave her a bag full of fine dresses all of gold and silver. She embraced her, placed her again on the pretty horse, and in two or three minutes he carried Finette to the door of their majesties' cottage. "My little friend," said Finette to the horse, "you are very handsome and clever; your speed is as great as the sun's. I thank you for your service. Return to the place you came from." She entered the house softly, and hiding her bag under her bolster went to bed, without appearing to know anything that had taken place. At break of day the King woke his wife: "Come, come, Madam," said he, "make ready for your journey." She got up directly, took her thick shoes, a short petticoat, a white jacket, and a stick. She summoned her eldest daughter, who was named Fleur d'Amour; her second, who was named Belle-de-Nuit, and her third, named Fine-Oreille, whom they familiarly called Finette. "I have been thinking all last night," said the Queen, "that we ought to go and see my sister; she will entertain us capitally. We may feast and laugh as much as we like there." Fleur d'Amour, who was in despair at living in a desert, said to her mother, "Let us go, Madam, wherever you please; provided I may walk somewhere, I don't care." The two others said as much. They took leave of the King and set off all four together. They went so far—so far, that Fine-Oreille was much afraid her thread would not be long enough, for they had gone nearly a thousand leagues. She walked always behind the others, drawing the thread cleverly through the thickets.
When the Queen imagined that her daughters could not find the way back, she entered a thick wood, and said to them, "Sleep, my little lambs, I will be like the shepherdess, who watches over her flock for fear the wolf should devour them." They laid themselves down on the grass and went to sleep. The Queen left them there, believing she should never see them again. Finette had shut her eyes, but not gone to sleep. "If I were an ill-natured girl," said she to herself, "I should go home directly and leave my sisters to die here, for they beat me and scratch me till the blood comes. But notwithstanding all their malice, I will not abandon them." She aroused them, and told them the whole story. They began to cry, and begged her to take them with her, promising that they would give her beautiful dolls, a child's set of silver plate, and all their other toys and sweetmeats. "I am quite sure you will do no such thing," said Finette; "but I will behave as a good sister should, for all that." And so saying she rose, and followed the clue with the two princesses, so that they reached home almost as soon as the Queen. Whilst they were at the door, they heard the King say, "It gives me the heart-ache to see you come back alone." "Pshaw!" said the Queen, "our daughters were too great an incumbrance to us." "But," said the King, "if you had brought back my Finette, I might have consoled myself for the loss of the others, for they loved nothing and nobody." At that moment they knocked at the door—rap, rap. "Who is there?" said the King. "Your three daughters," they replied, "Fleur d'Amour, Belle-de-Nuit, and Fine-Oreille." The Queen began to tremble. "Don't open the door," she exclaimed; "it must be their ghosts, for it is impossible they could find their way back alive." The King, who was as great a coward as his wife, called out, "It is false; you are not my daughters!" but Fine-Oreille, who was a shrewd girl, said to him, "Papa, I will stoop down, and do you look at me through the hole made for the cat to come through, and if I am not Finette, I consent to be whipped." The King looked as she told him to do, and as soon as he recognised her, he opened the door. The Queen pretended to be delighted to see them again, and said, "that she had forgotten something, and had come home to fetch it; but that most assuredly she should have returned to them." They pretended to believe her, and went up to a snug little hay-loft, in which they always slept.
"Now, sisters," said Finette, "you promised me a doll; give it me." "Thou mayst wait for it long enough, little rogue," said they. "Thou art the cause of the King's caring so little for us;" and thereupon, snatching up their distaffs, they beat her as if she had been so much mortar. When they had beaten her as much as they chose, they let her go to bed, but as she was covered with wounds and bruises, she could not sleep, and she heard the Queen say to the King, "I will take them in another direction, much further, and I am confident they will never return." When Finette heard this plot, she rose very softly to go and see her godmother again. She went into the hen-yard and took two hens and a cock, and wrung their necks, also two little rabbits that the Queen was fattening upon cabbages, to make a feast of on the next occasion. She put them all into a basket and set off: but she had not gone a league groping her way and quaking with fear, when the Spanish horse came up at a gallop, snorting and neighing. She thought it was all over with her; that some soldiers were about to seize her. When she saw the beautiful horse all alone, she jumped upon him, delighted to travel so comfortably, and arrived almost immediately at her godmother's.
After the usual ceremonies, she presented her with the hens, the cock, and the rabbits, and begged the assistance of her good advice, the Queen having sworn she would lead them to the end of the world. Merluche told her goddaughter not to afflict herself, and gave her a sack full of ashes. "Carry this sack before you," said she, "and shake it as you go along. You will walk on the ashes, and when you wish to return you will have only to follow your footmarks; but do not bring your sisters back with you. They are too malicious, and if you do bring them back I will never see you again." Finette took leave of her, taking away by her order thirty or forty millions of diamonds in a little box, which she put in her pocket. The horse was ready in waiting, and carried her home as before. At daybreak the Queen called the Princesses. They came to her, and she said to them, "The King is not very well; I dreamed last night that I ought to go and gather for him some flowers and herbs in a certain country where they grow in great perfection. They will completely renovate him, therefore let us go there directly." Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, who never thought their mother intended to lose them again, were much grieved at these tidings. Go, however, they must; and so far did they go that never before had any one made so long a journey. Finette, who never said a word, kept behind, and shook her sack of ashes with such wonderful skill that neither the wind nor the rain affected them.
The Queen being perfectly persuaded that they could not find their way back again, and observing one evening that her three daughters were fast asleep, took the opportunity of leaving them, and returned home. As soon as it was light, and Finette found her mother was gone, she awoke her sisters. "We are alone," said she; "the Queen has left us." Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit began to cry; they tore their hair, and beat their own faces with their fists, exclaiming, "Alas! what will become of us!" Finette was the best-hearted girl in the world. She had compassion again on her sisters. "See now to what I expose myself," said she to them; "for when my godmother furnished me with means to return, she forbade me to show you the way, and told me that if I disobeyed her, she would never see me more." Belle-de-Nuit threw herself on Finette's neck, Fleur d'Amour did the same, kissing her so affectionately that it required nothing more to bring them all three back together to the King and the Queen.
Their majesties were greatly surprised at the return of the Princesses. They talked about it all night long, and the youngest, who was not called Fine-Oreille for nothing, heard them concoct a new plot, and arrange that the next morning the Queen should again take them on a journey. She ran to wake her sisters; "Alas!" said she to them, "we are lost! The Queen is determined to lead us into some wilderness, and leave us there. For your sakes I have offended my godmother; I dare not go to her for advice as I used to do." They were in sad trouble, and said one to another, "What shall we do, sister; what shall we do?" At length Belle-de-Nuit said to the two others, "Why should we worry ourselves? old Merluche has not got all the wit in the world—some other folks may have a little. We have only to take plenty of peas with us and drop them all along the road as we go, and we shall be sure to trace our way back." Fleur d'Amour thought the idea admirable; they loaded themselves with peas, filling all their pockets; but Fine-Oreille, instead of peas, took her bag full of fine clothes, and the little box of diamonds, and as soon as the Queen called them they were ready to go. She said to them, "I dreamed last night that in a country which it is unnecessary to name, there are three handsome princes, who are waiting to marry you. I am going to take you there, to see if my dream is true." The Queen went first and her daughters followed her, dropping their peas without any anxiety, for they made sure of being able to find their way home.
This time the Queen went further than ever she had gone before; but during one dark night she left the Princesses, and reached home very weary, but very happy to have got rid of so great a burthen as her three daughters.
The three Princesses having slept till eleven o'clock in the morning, awoke, and Finette was the first to discover the Queen's absence. Although she was perfectly prepared for it, she could not help crying, trusting for her return much more to the power of her fairy godmother than to the cleverness of her sisters. She went to them in a great fright, and said, "The Queen is gone; we must follow her as quickly as possible." "Hold thy tongue, little mischievous animal," replied Fleur d'Amour; "we can find our way well enough when we choose; you are making a great fuss at a wrong season, gossip." Finette durst not make any answer. When, however, they did try to retrace their steps, there were no signs or paths to be found. There are immense flocks of pigeons in that country, and they had eaten up all the peas. The Princesses began to cry and scream with grief and terror. After being two days without food, Fleur d'Amour said to Belle-de-Nuit, "Sister, hast thou nothing to eat?" "Nothing," she replied. She put the same question to Finette. "Nor have I," she answered, "but I have just found an acorn." "Ah! give it to me," said one; "Give it to me," said the other. Each insisted on having it. "An acorn will not go far amongst three of us," said Finette; "let us plant it; there may spring a tree from it which may be useful to us." They consented, although there was little chance of a tree growing in a country where none were to be seen. They could find only cabbages and lettuces, on which the Princesses lived. If they had been very delicate they must have died a hundred times. They slept almost always in the open air, and every morning and evening they took it by turns to water the acorn, saying to it, "Grow, grow, beautiful acorn!" It began to grow so fast that you could see it grow. When it had got to some size, Fleur d'Amour tried to climb it, but it was not strong enough to bear her; she felt it bend under her weight, and so she came down again. Belle-de-Nuit was not more successful. Finette, being lighter, managed to get up and remain a long time. Her sisters called to her, "Canst thou see anything, sister?" She answered, "No, I can see nothing." "Ah, then, the oak is not tall enough," said Fleur d'Amour; so they continued to water it, and say, "Grow, grow, beautiful acorn!" Finette never failed climbing it twice a-day. One morning when she was up in the tree, Belle-de-Nuit said to Fleur d'Amour, "I have found a bag which our sister has hidden from us. What can there be in it?" Fleur d'Amour replied, "She told me it contained some old lace she had got to mend." "I believe it is full of sugar-plums," said Belle-de-Nuit. She had a sweet tooth, and determined to ascertain the fact. She opened the bag, and found in it actually a quantity of old lace belonging to the King and Queen, but hidden beneath it were the fine clothes the Fairy had given to Finette, and the box of diamonds. "Well, now! was there ever such a sly little rogue?" exclaimed Belle-de-Nuit; "we will take out all the things, and put some stones in their place." They did so directly. Finette rejoined them, without observing what they had done, for she never dreamed of decking herself out in a desert; she thought of nothing but the oak, which speedily became the finest oak that ever was seen.
One day that she had climbed up into it, and that her sisters as usual asked her if she could see anything, she exclaimed, "I can see a large mansion, so fine—so fine, that I want words to describe it; the walls are of emeralds and rubies, the roof of diamonds; it is all covered with golden bells and weathercocks that whirl about as the wind blows." "Thou liest," said they; "it cannot be as fine as thou sayest." "Believe me," replied Finette, "I am no story-teller; come and see for yourselves; my eyes are quite dazzled by it." Fleur d'Amour climbed up the tree. When she saw the château, she could talk of nothing else. Belle-de-Nuit, who had a great deal of curiosity, failed not to climb in her turn, and was as much enchanted as her sisters at the sight of the château. "We must certainly go to this palace," they said; "perhaps we shall find in it some handsome princes, who will be only too happy to marry us." They talked the whole evening long on this subject, and lay down to sleep on the grass; but when Finette appeared to them in a sound slumber, Fleur d'Amour said to Belle-de-Nuit, "I'll tell you what we should do, sister; let us get up and dress ourselves in the fine clothes Finette has brought hither." "You are in the right," said Belle-de-Nuit; so they got up, curled their hair, powdered it, put patches on their cheeks, and dressed themselves in the beautiful gold and silver gowns all covered with diamonds. Never was anything so magnificent. Finette, ignorant of the theft her wicked sisters had committed, took up her bag with the intention of dressing herself, but was vastly distressed to find nothing in it but flints. At the same moment she perceived her sisters shining like suns. She wept, and complained of the treachery they had been guilty of towards her, but they only laughed and made a joke of it. "Is it possible," said she to them, "that you will have the effrontery to take me to the château, without dressing and making me as fine as you are?" "We have barely enough for ourselves," replied Fleur d'Amour. "Thou shalt have nothing but blows, an' thou importunest us." "But," continued she, "the clothes you have on are mine; my godmother gave them to me. You have no claim to them." "If thou sayest more about it," said they, "we will knock thee on the head, and bury thee without any one being the wiser!" Poor Finette did not dare provoke them; she followed them slowly, walking some short distance behind them, as if she were only their servant.
The nearer they approached to the mansion the more wonderful it appeared to them. "Oh!" said Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, "how we shall amuse ourselves!—what capital dinners we shall get! We shall dine at the King's table; but Finette will have to wash the dishes in the kitchen, for she looks like a scullion; and if anybody asks who she is, we must take care not to call her our sister; we must say she is the little cowkeeper in the village." The lovely and sensible Finette was in despair at being so ill-treated.
When they reached the castle-gate they knocked at it. It was opened immediately by a terrific old woman. She had but one eye, which was in the middle of her forehead, but it was bigger than five or six ordinary ones. Her nose was flat, her complexion swarthy, and her mouth so horrible that it frightened you to look at it. She was fifteen feet high, and measured thirty round her body. "Unfortunate wretches!" said she to them; "what brought ye hither? Know ye not this is the Ogre's Castle, and that all three of you would scarcely suffice for his breakfast? But I am more good-natured than my husband. Come in; I will not eat you all at once. You shall have the consolation of living two or three days longer." When they heard the Ogress say this, they ran away, hoping to escape; but one of her strides was equal to fifty of theirs. She ran after and caught them, one by the hair, the others by the nape of the neck; and putting them under her arm took them into the castle, and threw them all three into the cellar, which was full of toads and adders, and strewed with the bones of those the Ogres had eaten.
As the Ogress fancied eating Finette immediately, she went to fetch some vinegar, oil, and salt, to make her into a salad, but hearing the Ogre coming, and thinking that the Princesses were so white and delicate that she should like to eat them all herself, she popped them quickly under a large tub, out of which they could only look through a hole.
The Ogre was six times as tall as his wife; when he spoke, the building shook, and when he coughed it was like peals of thunder. He had but one great filthy eye; his hair stood all on end; he leaned on a huge log of wood which he used for a cane. He had a covered basket in his hand, out of which he pulled fifteen little children he had stolen on the road, and swallowed them like fifteen new-laid eggs. When the Princesses saw him they trembled under the tub. They were afraid to cry, lest they should be heard, but they whispered to each other: "He will eat us all alive; is there no way to save ourselves?"
The Ogre said to his wife, "Look ye, I smell fresh meat; give it me." "That's good!" said the Ogress; "thou dost always fancy thou smellest fresh meat; it is thy sheep which have just passed by." "Oh! I am not mistaken," said the Ogre, "I smell fresh meat for certain, and I shall hunt everywhere for it." "Hunt," said she; "thou wilt find nothing." "If I do find it, and thou hast hidden it from me," replied the Ogre, "I will cut thy head off, and make a ball of it." She was frightened at this threat, and said, "Be not angry, my dear little Ogre, I will tell thee the truth. Three young girls came here to-day, and I have got them safe, but it would be a pity to eat them, for they know how to do everything; I am old and want rest; thou seest our fine house is very dirty, that our bread is badly made, and thy soup now rarely pleases thee; that I myself do not appear so handsome in thine eyes since I have worked so hard. These girls will be my servants. I pray thee do not eat them just now; if thou shouldst fancy one of them some other day, they will be always in thy power."
The Ogre was very reluctant to promise that he would not eat them immediately. "Let me alone," said he, "I will only eat two of them." "No, thou shalt not eat them." "Well then, I will only eat the smallest;" and she replied, "No, thou shalt not touch one of them." At last, after much contention, he promised he would not eat them. She thought to herself, "When he goes hunting I will eat them, and tell him they have made their escape."
The Ogre came out of the cellar, and told his wife to bring the girls before him. The poor Princesses were almost dead with fright; the Ogress tried to comfort them. When they were brought before the Ogre, he asked them what they could do. They answered, they could sweep, and sew, and spin, exceedingly well; that they could make ragouts so delicious that you would eat even the plates; and as for bread, cakes, and patties, people had been wont to send to them for a thousand leagues round. The Ogre was dainty. "Aha!" said he, "set these good housewives to work immediately; but," said he to Finette, "after you have lighted the fire, how do you know when the oven is hot enough?" "My Lord," she replied, "I throw some butter into it, and then taste it with my tongue." "Very well," said he; "light the oven fire, then." The oven was as big as a stable, for the Ogre and Ogress ate more bread than would feed two armies. The Princess made a terrific fire. The oven was as hot as a furnace; and the Ogre, who was present, waiting for his new bread, ate in the meanwhile a hundred lambs and a hundred little sucking-pigs. Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit were making the dough. "Well," said the great Ogre, "is the oven hot?" "You shall see, my Lord," said Finette. She threw in a thousand pounds of butter, and then said to him, "It should be tasted with the tongue, but I am too short to reach it." "I am tall enough," said the Ogre; and stooping, he thrust his body so far into the oven that he could not recover himself, and so all the flesh was burnt off his bones. When the Ogress came to the oven she was astounded to find her husband a mountain of cinders!
Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, who saw she was very much distressed, consoled her to the best of their ability, but they feared her grief would too soon subside, and, her appetite returning, she would make a salad of them as she was about to do before. They said to her, "Take comfort, Madam, you will find some king or some marquis who will be delighted to marry you." She smiled a little, showing her teeth longer than one's fingers.
When they saw her in such a good humour, Finette said to her, "If you would throw off these horrible bear-skins in which you wrap yourself, and follow the fashion, we will dress your hair to perfection, and you will look like a star." "Come," said the Ogress, "let us see what thou wouldst do; but assure thyself that if there be any ladies handsomer than me, I will make minced-meat of thee!" Upon this the three Princesses took off her cap, and began combing and curling her hair, amusing her all the while with their chatter. Finette then taking a hatchet, struck her from behind such a blow that her head was taken clean from her shoulders.
Never was there such delight! The three Princesses mounted upon the roof of the mansion to amuse themselves by ringing the golden bells. They ran into all the apartments, which were of pearls and diamonds, and the furniture so costly, that they were ready to die with pleasure. They laughed, they sang, they wanted for nothing. There were corn, sweetmeats, fruit, and dolls, in abundance. Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit went to sleep in beds of brocade and velvet, and said to each other, "Behold us richer than our father was when he was in possession of his kingdom; but we want to be married, and nobody will venture here. This mansion no doubt is considered a cut-throat place, for people are not aware of the death of the Ogre and Ogress. We must go to the nearest city, and show ourselves in our fine dresses, and we shall soon find some honest bankers who will be very glad to marry Princesses." As soon as they were dressed, they told Finette they were going to take a walk; that she must stay at home and cook, and wash and clean the house, so that on their return they might find everything as it should be: if not, she should be beaten within an inch of her life! Poor Finette, whose heart was full of grief, remained alone in the house, sweeping, cleaning, washing, without resting, and crying all the time. "How unfortunate," she said, "that I should have disobeyed my godmother! All sorts of evils happen to me; my sisters have stolen my costly dresses, and array themselves in my ornaments. But for me, the Ogre and his wife would be alive and well at this moment. How have I benefited by destroying them?" When she had said this, she sobbed till she was almost choked. Shortly afterwards her sisters returned laden with Portugal oranges, preserves, and sugar. "Ah!" said they to her, "what a splendid ball we have been to! How it was crowded! The King's son was amongst the dancers; we have had a thousand compliments paid to us. Come, take our shoes off and clean them, as it is your business to do." Finette obeyed them, and if by accident she let a word drop in the way of complaint, they flew at her, and beat her almost to death.
The next day they went out again, and returned with an account of new wonders. One evening that Finette was sitting in the chimney corner on a heap of cinders, not knowing what to do, she examined the cracks in the chimney, and found in one of them a little key so old and so dirty that she had the greatest trouble in cleaning it. When she had done so she found it was made of gold, and presuming that a golden key ought to open some beautiful little box, she ran all over the mansion trying it in all the locks, and at length found it fitted that of a casket which was a masterpiece of art. She opened it, and found it full of clothes, diamonds, lace, linen, and ribands, worth immense sums of money. She said not a word of her good luck to her sisters, but waited impatiently for their going out the next day. As soon as they were out of sight she dressed and adorned herself, till she looked more beautiful than the sun and moon together.
Thus arrayed, she went to the ball where her sisters were dancing, and though she had no mask on, she was so changed for the better that they did not know her. As soon as she appeared a murmur arose throughout the assembly; some were full of admiration, others of jealousy. She was asked to dance, and surpassed all the other ladies in grace as much as she did in beauty. The mistress of the mansion came to her, and making her a profound curtsy, requested to know her name, that she might always remember with pleasure the appellation of such a marvellously beautiful person. She replied civilly that her name was Cendron. There was not a lover who did not leave his mistress for Cendron: not a poet who did not make verses on Cendron. Never did a little name make so much noise in so short a time. The echoes repeated nothing but the praises of Cendron. People had not eyes enough to gaze upon her, nor tongues enough to extol her.
Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, who had previously created a great sensation wherever they appeared, observing the reception accorded to this new comer, were ready to burst with spite: but Finette extricated herself from all ill-consequences with the best grace in the world. Her manners appeared those of one born to command.
Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, who never saw their sister but with her face begrimed with soot from the chimney, and altogether as dirty as a dog, had so completely lost all idea of her beauty that they did not recognise her in the least. They paid their court to Cendron, as well as the rest. As soon as she saw the ball was nearly over, she hastened away, returned home, undressed herself quickly, and put on her old rags. When her sisters arrived, "Ah! Finette," said they to her, "we have just seen a young princess who is perfectly charming. She is not a young ape such as thou art, she is as white as snow, with a richer crimson than the roses; her teeth are pearls, her lips coral; she had a gown on that must have weighed more than a thousand pounds. It was all gold and diamonds. How beautiful! how amiable she is!" Finette said in a low voice, "So was I; so was I." "What dost thou mutter there?" said her sisters. She repeated in a still lower tone, "So was I; so was I." This little game was played for some time. There was scarcely a day that Finette did not appear in a new dress; for the casket was a fairy one, and the more you took out of it the more there came in, and everything so highly fashionable, that all the ladies dressed themselves in imitation of Finette.
One evening that Finette had danced more than usual, and had delayed her departure to a later hour, being anxious to make up for lost time and get home a little before her sisters, she walked so fast that she lost one of her slippers, which was of red velvet, embroidered with pearls. She tried to find it in the road, but the night was so dark, her search was in vain, and she entered the house one foot shod and the other not. The next day, Prince Chéri, the King's eldest son, going out hunting, found Finette's slipper. He had it picked up, examined it, admired its diminutive size and elegance, turned it over and over, kissed it, took care of it and carried it home with him. From that day he would eat nothing, he became thin, and altered visibly; was yellow as a quince, melancholy, depressed. The King and Queen, who loved him to distraction, sent in every direction for the choicest game and the best sweetmeats. They were less than nothing to him. He looked at it all without uttering a word in reply to his mother when she spoke to him. They sent everywhere for the first physicians, even as far as Paris, and Montpellier. When they arrived they saw the Prince, and after watching him for three days and three nights without once losing sight of him, they came to the conclusion that he was in love, and that he would die if they did not find the only remedy for him. The Queen who doted on her son, was nearly dissolved in tears, so great was her grief at not being able to discover the object of his love, that he might marry her. She brought into his apartment the most beautiful ladies she could find. He would not condescend to look at them. At length she said to him, one day, "My dear son, thou wilt kill me with grief, for thou lovest and concealest from us thy passion. Tell us whom thou lovest, and we will give her to thee, though she should only be a simple shepherdess." The Prince taking courage from the promises of the Queen, drew the slipper from under his bolster, and showing it to her, said, "Behold, Madam, the cause of my malady. I found this little, soft delicate, pretty slipper as I went out to hunt, and I will never marry any one but the woman who can wear it." "Well, my son," said the queen, "do not afflict yourself, we will have her sought for." She hastened to the King with this intelligence. He was very much surprised, and ordered immediately that a proclamation should be made with sound of drum and trumpet, that all single women should come and try on the slipper, and that she whom it fitted should marry the Prince. On hearing this every one washed their feet with all sorts of waters, pastes and pommades, some ladies actually had them peeled, and others starved themselves in order to make their feet smaller and prettier.
They went in crowds to try on the slipper, but not one of them could get it on, and the more they came in vain, the greater was the Prince's affliction. Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit dressed themselves one day so superbly, that they were astonishing to look at. "Where can you be going to?" asked Finette. "We are going to the great city," replied they, "where the King and Queen reside, to try on the slipper the King's son has found; for if it should fit either of us, the Prince will marry her, and then my sister or I will be a queen." "And why should not I go?" said Finette. "Thou art a pretty simpleton, truly," said they; "go, go, and water our cabbages; thou art fit for nothing better."
Finette thought directly she would put on her finest clothes, and go and take her chance with the rest, for she had a slight suspicion that she should be successful. What troubled her was, that she did not know her way; for the ball at which she had danced was not given in the great city. She dressed herself magnificently; her gown was of blue satin, covered with stars in diamonds. She had a sun of them in her hair, and a full moon on her back; and all these jewels shone so brightly, that one couldn't look at her without winking. When she opened the door to go out, she was much surprised to see the pretty Spanish horse which had carried her to her godmother's. She patted him, and said, "You are most welcome, my little hobby. I am much obliged to my godmother, Merluche." He knelt down, and she mounted upon him like a nymph: he was all covered with golden bells and ribands. His housings and bridle were priceless, and Finette was thirty times more beautiful than fair Helen of Troy.
The Spanish horse galloped off gaily, his bells went "ting, ting, ting." Fleur d'Amour and Belle-de-Nuit, hearing the sound of them, turned round and saw her coming; but what was their astonishment at that moment? They knew her to be both Finette and Cendron. They were very much splashed, their fine dresses draggled with mud. "Sister!" cried Fleur d'Amour to Belle-de-Nuit, "I protest here is Finette Cendron." The other echoed the cry; and Finette passing close to them, her horse splashed them all over, making them a mass of mud. Finette laughed at them, and said, "Your Highnesses, Cendron despises you as you deserve;" then passing them like a shot, she disappeared. Belle-de-Nuit and Fleur d'Amour looked at each other. "Are we dreaming?" said they; "who could have supplied Finette with clothes and a horse? what miracle is this? Good fortune attends her; she will put on the slipper, and we shall have made a long journey in vain."
Whilst they were distressing themselves, Finette arrived at the palace. The moment she appeared everybody thought she was a Queen. The guards presented arms, the drums beat, and the trumpets sounded a flourish; all the gates were flung open, and those who had seen her at the ball preceded her, crying, "Room! room! for the beautiful Cendron, the wonder of the world!" She entered in this state the apartment of the dying Prince. He cast his eyes on her, and enraptured at her sight, wished fervently that her foot might be small enough for her to wear the slipper. She put it on instantly, and produced its fellow which she had brought with her on purpose. Shouts immediately arose of "Long live the Princess Chérie, long live the Princess who will be our Queen!" The Prince arose from his couch, and advanced to kiss her hand; she found he was handsome and very intelligent. He paid her a thousand delicate attentions. The King and Queen were informed of the event. They came in all haste, and the Queen took Finette in her arms, called her her daughter, her darling, her little Queen! and made her some magnificent presents, to which the liberal King added many more. They fired the guns; violins, bagpipes, every sort of musical instrument was set playing; nothing was talked of but dancing and rejoicing. The King, the Queen, and the Prince, begged Cendron to consent to the marriage taking place immediately. "No," said she, "I must first tell you my history," which she did in a few words. When they found that she was a Princess born, there was another burst of joy, which was almost the death of them; but when she told them the names of the King and Queen, her father and mother, they recognised them as the sovereigns whose dominions they had conquered. They imparted this fact to Finette, and she immediately vowed she would not consent to marry the Prince until they had restored the estates of her father. They promised to do so, for they had upwards of a hundred kingdoms, and one more or less was not worth talking about.
In the meanwhile Belle-de-Nuit and Fleur d'Amour arrived at the palace. The first news that greeted them was that Cendron had put on the slipper. They knew not what to do or to say; they determined to go back again without seeing her; but when she heard they were there, she insisted they should come in, and instead of frowning on them and punishing them as they deserved, she rose and advanced to meet them, embraced them tenderly, and then presented them to the Queen, saying to her, "Madam, these are my sisters; they are very amiable, and I request you will love them." They were so confused at the kindness of Finette, that they could not utter a word. She promised them they should return to their own kingdom, which the Prince would restore to their family. At these words they threw themselves on their knees before her, weeping for joy.
The nuptials were the most splendid that ever were seen. Finette wrote to her godmother and put the letter, accompanied with valuable presents, on the back of the pretty Spanish horse, begging her to seek the King and Queen, to tell them their good fortune, and that they had nothing to do but return to their kingdom. The Fairy Merluche acquitted herself very graciously of this commission. The father and mother of Finette were repossessed of their estates, and her sisters became afterwards queens as well as herself.
Revenged on the ungrateful wouldst thou be,
Of young Finette pursue the policy.
Fresh favours on the undeserving heap;
Each benefit inflicts a wound most deep,
Cutting the conscious bosom to the core.
Finette's proud, selfish sisters suffer'd more,
When by her generous kindness overpower'd,
Than if by Ogres they had been devour'd.
From her example then this lesson learn,
And good for evil nobly still return;
Whate'er the wrong that may thy wrath awake,
No grander vengeance for it could'st thou take.
- The fashion of patching the face with small pieces of court-plaister, cut sometimes into the most fantastic shapes, was carried to the greatest extreme at the close of the seventeenth and commencement of the eighteenth centuries.
- The mask was a fashionable article of female costume in France, during the reign of Louis XIV., and was not entirely discarded in England before the eighteenth century.
- The School of Medicine of Montpellier is one of the most eminent in Europe, and owes its establishment to the Moorish physicians driven out of Spain by the Christians, A.D. 1186, and received here by the lords of Montpellier. From its first establishment, it has been much resorted to; and many of the most celebrated French physicians and surgeons received their education there.
- Cendrillon in the French; but whether a mistake, or used as a diminutive for "little Cendron," it is curious when we consider the similitude between this part of the story and the Cendrillon of Persault.