Fairy Tales by the Countess d'Aulnoy/The Princess Carpillon
THE PRINCESS CARPILLON.
There was an old king, who, to console himself for a long widowhood, married a beautiful princess, with whom he was very much in love. By his first wife he had one son, who was crooked and who squinted, and was very much vexed at his father's marrying a second time. "Being an only son," said he, "makes me both loved and feared; but if the young queen should have children, my father, who can dispose of his kingdom, will not consider that I am the eldest: he will disinherit me in their favour." He was ambitious, full of malice and dissimulation; so much so, that without showing his uneasiness, he went secretly to consult a fairy, who was considered the cleverest in the world. The moment he appeared, she guessed his name, his rank, and what he wanted. "Prince Bossu," said she—thus he was named—"you have come too late: the Queen will have a son. I will not harm it; but should it die, or any accident happen to it, I promise you that I will prevent there being any other." This promise slightly consoled the humpback. He entreated the fairy to remember him; and resolved within himself to do some mischief to his little brother as soon as he was born. At the end of nine months the Queen had a son, the handsomest in the world; and they remarked, as an extraordinary thing, that he had the figure of an arrow imprinted upon his arm. The Queen loved her child so much, that she would nurse it herself; which annoyed Prince Bossu exceedingly, for the care of a mother is greater than that of a nurse, and it is much more easy to deceive the one than the other. However, the humpback, who was solely bent on gaining his end, evinced so much affection for the Queen, and love for the little Prince, that the King was delighted. "I should never have thought," said he, "my son was so good-natured; and if he continue so, I shall leave him a portion of my kingdom."
These promises were not sufficient for the humpback,—he would have all or none; so one night he presented the Queen with some sweetmeats that had opium in them. She went to sleep; immediately the Prince, who had hidden himself behind the tapestry, softly took the little Prince, and put in his place a large cat, enveloped in swaddling clothes, that the rockers might not perceive the theft. The cat squalled, the rockers rocked: at last it made such a racket, that they thought it was hungry. They awoke the Queen, who, still overpowered with sleep, and thinking she had hold of her dear baby, began to suckle it; but the savage cat bit her: she screamed out, and looking at it, what was her horror when she saw a cat's head instead of her son's! Her grief was so intense, that she thought she should die upon the spot. The Queen's ladies disturbed the whole palace by their screams. The King put on his dressing-gown, and ran to the Queen's apartments. The first thing he saw was the cat, in the swaddling clothes of cloth-of-gold, worn usually by his infant son. They had thrown it on the ground, where it was squalling wonderfully. The King was much alarmed, and inquired what it meant. They told him that they knew nothing at all about it, but that the little Prince was not to be seen,—that they sought for him in vain, and that the Queen was much hurt. The King entered the Queen's bedroom: he found her in sad affliction, and not wishing to increase it by his own, he did violence to his feelings to console this poor princess.
In the meanwhile the humpback had given his little brother to one of his own people. "Carry him to a distant forest," said he to him, "and leave him quite naked in the most exposed situation, that the wild beasts may devour him, and we may never hear any more of him. I would carry him there myself, so much do I fear you will not strictly execute my orders; but I must appear before the King: go, then, and be sure that if I should reign, I shall not be ungrateful." He put the poor child himself into the covered basket; and as he was accustomed to fondle him, the infant already knew him, and smiled at him, but the merciless humpback was less moved by it than a rock. He went instantly into the Queen's chamber half-dressed, from being in so much haste, he said. He rubbed his eyes, as if scarcely awake, and when he learned the sad news of his stepmother's injury, of the loss of the Prince, and saw the cat in the swaddling clothes, he uttered such sad cries, that they were as much occupied in consoling him, as if he really had been greatly afflicted. He took the cat and wrung its neck with a ferocity that was quite natural to him, but which he made them believe was excited by the mischief the animal had done to the Queen. Although he was notoriously wicked enough to perpetrate such a deed, no one suspected him of being the culprit,—his guilt was so artfully concealed by his feigned affliction. The King and Queen felt quite grateful to this wretch, and commissioned him to send to all the fairies, and find out what had become of their child.
Impatient to put an end to their researches, he brought them several different and very enigmatical answers, that all tended to the same point:—that the Prince was not dead,—that he had been taken away for a time for some inscrutable reason,—that he would be restored to them, perfect in every respect,—and that they should seek him no longer, as it would be only labour in vain. He imagined that by such answers he should keep them quiet; and he was right in his conjecture.
The King and Queen flattered themselves they would one day see their son again; in the meanwhile the bite that the cat had given the Queen proved so venomous, that she died of it, and the King, overwhelmed with grief, shut himself up for a whole year in his palace. He expected still to have news of his son, and expected in vain.
The man who took the child away walked all night without stopping; when morning began to dawn, he opened the basket, and the sweet infant smiled at him, as he used to do at the Queen when she took him in her arms. "Oh, poor little Prince," said he; "how unfortunate is thy destiny! Alas, thou art to be food, like some gentle lamb, to a famishing lion! Why did the humpback choose me to help him to destroy thee?" He shut the basket, that he might no longer behold so pitiable an object; but the child, who had passed the night without nourishment, began to cry lustily. The man who carried him gathered some figs, and put them in his mouth; the sweetness of the fruit quieted him a little, and thus the man continued to carry him till the following night, when he came to a large and dark forest. He would not enter it at that hour, for fear of being devoured himself, but the next morning he resumed his journey, still carrying the basket. The forest was so large that whichever way he looked he could see no end to it, but in a spot thickly surrounded with trees, he perceived a rock, terminating in several rugged peaks. "Here, no doubt," said he, "is the retreat of the most savage beasts. I must leave the infant here, since I am not in a situation to save it." He approached the rock. Immediately an eagle, of a prodigious size, rushed out, flying round and round, as though she had left something in her nest; in fact it was her young ones, whom she was feeding, at the bottom of a sort of grotto. "Thou wilt be the prey of these birds, who are the kings of others, poor child," said the man. With that he unswathed it, and laid it down beside the three eaglets. Their nest was large, and sheltered from the inclemency of the weather. He had much trouble in putting the Prince there, because the side of the rock by which it could be approached was very rugged and overhung a frightful precipice. He withdrew sighing, and saw the eagle returning swiftly to its nest. "Ah," said he, "there is an end of it! the child will soon be no more." He hurried away, that he might not hear its last cries. He returned to the humpback, and assured him that he no longer had a brother. At this news the barbarous Prince embraced his faithful minister, and gave him a diamond ring, assuring him that when he became king he would make him captain of his army. The eagle, on returning to her nest, was perhaps surprised to find the new guest in it; surprised or not, she exercised the rights of hospitality better than many people could have done. She nestled close to her nursling, covered him with her wings, and warmed him. It seemed as if she had no longer any care but for him; a peculiar instinct induced her to seek fruits for him, to peck them, and to pour the juice into the rosy mouth of the little Prince; in short, she fed him so well that his royal mother could not have nursed him better. As soon as the eaglets became stronger, the eagle took them out by turns, sometimes on her wings, sometimes in her talons, and thus accustomed them to look at the sun, without shutting their eyelids. The eagles sometimes left their mother, and flew a little around her, but the little Prince could do nothing of this sort, and when she carried him in the air, he ran great risks of falling and killing himself. Fortune befriended him. It was she who had provided so extraordinary a nurse for him; it was she who prevented his falling. Four years passed in this manner. The eagle lost all her young ones, they flew away when they were big enough; they never returned to see their mother or their nest. The Prince, who had not strength to go far, remained upon the rock, for the prudent and anxious eagle, apprehensive of his falling down the precipice, carried him to the other side, and lodged him in so narrow a cleft that the wild beasts could not get to him. Love, whom they paint as perfect, was far less so than this young Prince. The heat of the sun could not tarnish the lilies and roses of his complexion; there was so much regularity in all his features, that the finest painters could not imagine anything to equal them; his hair was already long enough to fall over his shoulders, and he had so lofty a mien that there had never been seen in a child anything so noble and grand. The eagle loved him with an overwhelming affection; she fed him with nothing but fruit, making this difference between him and her eaglets, to whom she gave only raw flesh. She ruined all the shepherds around in carrying away all their lambs, without mercy; nothing was talked of but the ravages of the eagle. At last, tired of feeding her at the expense of their flocks, they resolved amongst themselves to discover her retreat. They separated in several parties, following her flight; roaming the mountains and the valleys for a long time without success; but one day they saw her alight upon a great rock; the most courageous of the party ventured to ascend it, although surrounded by a thousand dangers. The bird had at that time two little eaglets that she carefully tended, but dear as they were to her, her affection was still stronger for the young Prince, with whom she had been longer acquainted. As she was not in her nest when the shepherds discovered it, they had not much difficulty in pulling it to pieces, and carrying off its contents; but what was their surprise at beholding the Prince! There was something in the circumstance so wonderful that their limited reason could not at all understand it.
They carried away the child and the eaglets, all three screaming together. The eagle heard them, and came swooping down upon the ravishers of her property. They would have felt the effects of her fury if she had not been shot dead by an arrow which one of the shepherds let fly at her. The young Prince, full of natural feeling, seeing her fall, uttered pitiful cries, and wept bitterly. After this adventure the shepherds returned to their villages. A cruel ceremony was to take place the next morning, for the following reason:—This country, for a long time past, had been the resort of ogres. The inhabitants, alarmed at such dangerous neighbours, had tried every means to get rid of them, without success. These terrible ogres, incensed by the hatred that was manifested towards them, redoubled their cruelties, and devoured, without exception, all who fell into their hands.
One day that the shepherds had assembled to deliberate on the steps that should be taken against the ogres, all at once, in the midst of them appeared a man of tremendous size; half of his body was like that of a stag, covered with a blue skin. He had the feet of a goat, a club over his shoulder, and a buckler in his hand. He said to them, "Shepherds, I am the Blue Centaur; if you give me a child every three years, I promise to bring here a hundred of my brothers, and make such fierce war upon the ogres, that we will drive them out, whatever may be their numbers."
The shepherds hesitated to agree to do anything so cruel, but the most venerable amongst them said, "What then, my friends, is it more advantageous to us that the ogres should each day eat our fathers, our children, and our wives? By sacrificing one we should save many. Do not let us then refuse the offer the Centaur has made us." Upon this they all consented to it. They pledged themselves by sacred oaths to keep their word with the Centaur, and that the child should be ready for him.
He departed, and returned, as he promised, with his brothers, who were all as monstrous as himself. The ogres were as brave as they were cruel. They fought several battles, in which, however, the Centaurs were always victorious, and at last obliged them to fly. The Blue Centaur appeared to claim his reward. Every one said nothing could be more just; but when they came to select the promised child, there was not a family who would make up their minds to give one of theirs; the mothers hid their infants almost in the bosom of the earth. The Centaur, who would not be trifled with, after having waited twice four-and-twenty hours, told the shepherds that he expected they would give him as many children as he stayed days with them, and the delay cost them six little boys and six little girls. From that time forth they regulated this serious affair, and every third year they made a solemn ceremony on the delivery of the poor child to the Centaur.
It was, then, the following morning after the Prince had been taken from the eagle's nest that this tribute was due, and although the child had been already chosen, it is easy to believe the shepherds willingly substituted the Prince: the uncertainty of his birth—for they were so simple they sometimes believed the eagle was his mother—and his wonderful beauty, decided them absolutely to present him to the Centaur, for he was so dainty he would not eat children that were not very pretty. The mother of the infant they had selected, relieved from the horror of contemplating the death of her child, found her despair thus suddenly changed into joy. They desired her to adorn the young Prince for the sacrifice, as she had previously her son. She carefully combed his long hair, and made him a crown of little red and white hedge-roses. She dressed him in a long robe of fine white linen, with a girdle of flowers; thus adorned, he marched at the head of several children who were to accompany him; but how can I describe his lofty air, or the nobleness that already sparkled in his eyes. He who had never seen anything but eagles, and who was still of so tender an age, appeared neither frightened nor wild; it seemed to him that all those shepherds had assembled merely to please him. "Ah, what a pity!" said they to each other; "what, is this child going to be devoured? can we not save it?" Many wept, but it was impossible to avoid making the sacrifice.
The Centaur was in the habit of appearing upon the top of the rock, his club in one hand, his buckler in the other, and from thence, in a dreadful voice, he cried out to the shepherds, "Leave me my prey, and retire." The moment he saw the child they had brought him, he was greatly delighted, and, shouting so loud that the mountains trembled, he exclaimed, "This is the best breakfast I ever had in all my life. I shall want neither pepper nor salt to eat this little boy." The shepherds and shepherdesses looked at the poor child, saying to themselves, "The eagle has spared it, but here is the wretch that will end its days." The oldest shepherd took it in his arms, and kissed it often. "Oh, my child, my dear child," said he, "I do not know thee, but yet I feel that I have seen too much of thee! Must I assist at thy funeral? Why did fortune defend thee from the talons of the eaglets and from the hooked-beak of the eagle, since she abandons thee to-day to the voracious appetite of this horrible monster?"
While the shepherd was moistening the rosy cheeks of the Prince with tears which flowed from his eyes, the sweet innocent passed his little hands through his grey hairs, smiling at him in a sweet infantile manner, and the more he inspired him with pity, the more he hesitated to advance with him. "Make haste," exclaimed the hungry Centaur; "if you make me come down,—if I have to come to you, I will eat more than a hundred." His patience, in fact, began to fail him; he rose and flourished his club, when there appeared in the air a large globe of fire, surrounded by an azure cloud. As every one was attentively looking at this extraordinary sight, the cloud and the globe descended by degrees, and then the latter opened, and out of it issued immediately a chariot of diamonds, drawn by swans, in which was seated the most beautiful lady in the world. On her head was a helmet of pure gold, surmounted with white feathers, the vizor was up, and her eyes were as brilliant as the sun. She wore a rich cuirass, and the fiery lance she wielded betokened she was an Amazon.
"What! shepherds, "cried she, "have you the inhumanity to sacrifice such a child to a cruel centaur? It is time to liberate you from your promise. Justice and reason are opposed to such barbarous custom. No longer fear the return of the ogres; I will guarantee your safety. I am the Fairy Amazon, and from this moment I take you under my protection." "Ah! Madam," said the shepherds and shepherdesses, lifting up their hands to her, "it is the greatest happiness that could happen to us." They could say no more, for the infuriated Centaur defied the Fairy to the combat. It was fierce and obstinate; the fiery lance burnt the monster wherever it struck him, and he uttered horrible yells, which ceased only with his life. He fell completely roasted, and you would have said it was a mountain that had been overthrown; so tremendous was the shock. The frightened shepherds hid themselves—some in a neighbouring forest, others at the bottom of the rocks, in cavities where they could see all, without being seen.
It was there the wise shepherd, who held the little Prince in his arms, took refuge; much more uneasy about what would happen to this amiable child, than what might be the issue to him or to his family, though the latter well deserved consideration. After the death of the Centaur, the Fairy Amazon took a trumpet, which she blew so melodiously that the sick who heard it arose in perfect health, and others felt a secret joy which they could not tell the meaning of.
The shepherd and shepherdesses, at the sound of the harmonious trumpet, reassembled. When the Fairy Amazon saw them, in order to reassure them entirely, she advanced towards them, in her chariot of diamonds, descending by degrees, till she came within three feet of the earth. The cloud on which the chariot rolled was so transparent that it appeared like crystal. The old shepherd, whom they called Sublime, advanced, holding the little Prince in his arms. "Approach, Sublime," said the Fairy, "fear nothing more. I intend peace to reign for the future in these regions, and that you shall enjoy the repose you came to seek in them; but give me this poor child, whose fate is already so extraordinary." The old man, having made a profound reverence, raised his arms, and put the Prince in hers. She kissed and embraced him a thousand times, set him on her knees and talked to him. She knew, nevertheless, that he could neither speak nor understand any language; he uttered cries of joy or of grief, heaved sighs, and made inarticulate noises; for he had never heard any one speak.
He was, however, quite dazzled by the brilliant armour of the Fairy Amazon. He got up on her knee, to reach her helmet, that he might touch it. The fairy laughed at him, and told him, as though he could understand her, "When thou art able to carry arms, my son, thou shalt not be without them." After she had again caressed him very much, she returned him to Sublime. "Good old man," said she to him, "you are not unknown to me; do not disdain to take care of this child; teach him to have a contempt for the pomps of the world, and to be above the frowns of fortune—he is, perhaps, born to a very brilliant one; but I maintain, that wisdom will make him happier than power. Man's happiness ought not to consist of outward grandeur; to be happy, one must be wise, and to be wise one must know oneself—be able to limit one's desires, be content in poverty as in opulence, seek the esteem of men of merit, despise no one, and be always prepared to quit the riches of this wretched life without sorrow. But what am I thinking about, venerable shepherd? I talk to you of matters you are much better acquainted with than I am; but, it is also true, I am speaking more to the other shepherds, who are listening to me, than to you. Adieu, herdsmen; adieu, shepherds; call me in your need; this same lance and hand, which have just exterminated the Blue Centaur, will be always ready to protect you." Sublime and all who were with him, as much astonished as delighted, could make no answer to the obliging words of the Fairy Amazon; in their excitement and joy they humbly prostrated themselves before her; and while they were in that position, the globe of fire gently rising to the regions above, disappeared with the Amazon and the chariot.
The timid shepherds dared not at first approach the Centaur, for dead as he was, they were afraid of him; by degrees they became accustomed to him, and agreed among themselves, that they must make a great pile, and burn him to ashes, for fear his brothers, aware of what had happened, should come and avenge his death upon them. This opinion having been adopted, they lost not a moment in setting about it, and ridding themselves of the odious carcass.
Sublime carried the little Prince to his hut; his wife was at home ill, and his two daughters had not been able to leave her to attend the ceremony. "Here, shepherdess," said he, "here is a child, cherished by the gods, and protected by a Fairy Amazon; we must look on him for the future as our son, and give him an education that may render him happy." The shepherdess was delighted with the present he made her; she took the Prince on her bed. "At least," said she, "if I cannot give him such good lessons as you can, I shall bring him up from childhood, and cherish him as my own son." "That is what I ask of you," said the old man; and thereupon he gave him to her. The two daughters ran to look at him; they were charmed with his incomparable beauty, and all the graces of his little person. From that moment they began to teach him their language, and never could there be found a prettier or more intelligent pupil; he learned the most difficult things with a facility which astonished the shepherd; so that he was very soon sufficiently advanced to receive lessons from him only. This wise old man was able to give him the best advice; for he had been a king of a fine and flourishing kingdom, but a usurper, a neighbour and an enemy, successfully conducted his secret intrigues, and gained over certain factious spirits, who rose in rebellion, and enabled him to surprise the king and all his family, whom he immediately ordered to be shut up in a fortress, where he intended them to perish miserably.
So strange an alteration had no effect upon the virtue of the king and queen; they resolutely suffered all the outrages that the tyrant ordered to be executed upon them; and the queen, who was with child when this disgrace occurred, was confined with a girl, whom she nursed herself; she had two other very amiable children, who shared her troubles as much as their age would permit of. At the end of three years the king gained over one of his guards, who agreed to bring a small boat for him to cross the lake, in the middle of which the fortress was built. He provided them with a file to cut the iron bars of their rooms, and with cords to descend by. They fixed upon a very dark night. Everything was favourable; and without any noise, the guard assisted them to slide down the walls, that were frightfully high: the king went down first, then followed the daughters, afterwards the queen, then the little princess in a large basket; but, alas! they had tied her in badly, and suddenly they heard her fall into the lake. If the queen had not fainted from grief, she would have awakened all the garrison by her shrieks and lamentations. The king, distressed at this accident, sought for the child as much as it was possible in so dark a night: he found the basket, and hoped the princess was in it; but she was not there, and he was obliged to row to save himself and the rest of the family. At the border of the lake they found horses ready for them, that the guard had ordered to be there to take the king wherever he would like to go. During his imprisonment he and his queen had had time to moralize, and perceive that the greatest benefits of this world are as nothing when estimated at their true value; this, added to the misfortune that had just occurred to them of losing their little girl, made them resolve not to take refuge among the kings, their neighbours and their allies, where perhaps they would have been considered a burden; so, taking their own course, they established themselves in a fertile plain, the most agreeable of any spot they could have chosen. In this place the king, changing his sceptre for a sheephook, bought a large flock, and became a shepherd. He built a little country-house, sheltered on one side by mountains, and having on the other a stream well filled with fish. Here they enjoyed more peace than they had on their throne; no one envied them their poverty, they feared neither traitors nor flatterers; their days flew by without sorrow, and the king often said, "Ah! if men could cure themselves of ambition, how happy they would be! I have been a king, now I am become a shepherd,—I prefer my cottage to the palace in which I reigned."
It was with this great philosopher that the young Prince studied; he knew not his master's rank, neither did the master know the parentage of his pupil; but he saw in him such noble feelings, that he could not believe him to be an ordinary child. He remarked with pleasure, that he placed himself nearly always at the head of his companions, with an air of superiority that commanded their respect. He was continually forming little armies; he built forts, and attacked them. He went hunting, also, and braved the greatest perils, notwithstanding all the remonstrances the shepherd could make. All these things convinced him, that he was born to command. But, while he is being educated, and till he has attained the age of fifteen, let us return to the King his father's court.
Prince Bossu, finding his father becoming very old, had scarcely any respect for him—he was impatient at waiting so long for the succession. To console himself, he asked the King for an army that he might invade a neighbouring kingdom, the fickle population of which had made overtures to him. The King agreed to it, on condition that, before his departure, he would witness the signing of an act by the lords of his kingdom to this effect,—that if ever the Prince, his youngest brother, returned, and they were satisfied it was he, by finding the mark of the arrow upon his arm, he should be recognised as sole heir to the crown. The humpback not only willingly assisted at this ceremony, but would sign the act himself, though his father thought it too much to expect from him; but as he felt sure of the death of his brother, he hazarded nothing, while he assumed great credit to himself for this proof of his complacency; in consequence of which the King assembled the states, addressed them, shed many tears, when speaking of the loss of his son—moving all those to pity who heard him, and after having signed the instrument, and caused the principal nobles to sign it, he commanded them to place it in the royal treasury, and that several authenticated copies should be made for the better recording of it.
Prince Bossu then took leave of him, to head a fine army, and attempt the conquest of the kingdom to which he was invited; and after many battles, he killed his opponent with his own hand, took the capital city, placed garrisons and appointed governors in every direction, and returned to his father, to whom he presented a young princess named Carpillon, whom he had taken prisoner.
She was so extremely beautiful, that all that nature had ever previously created, and all that the imagination could fancy, could not be compared to her. The king was enchanted at the sight of Carpillon; and the humpback, who had been acquainted with her some time, had fallen so deeply in love with her, that he knew not a moment's rest; but as much as he loved her, so much she hated him, as he never spoke to her but as her master, and reminded her always that she was his slave. Her heart so revolted at his coarse manners, that she tried to avoid him as much as possible.
The King had given her an apartment in his palace, and women to wait upon her; he felt for the misfortunes of so young and beautiful a princess. When the humpback told him he intended to marry her, "I consent to it," replied he, "provided she is not averse to it; for it appears to me, that when you are near her, she is always melancholy." "It is because she loves me," said the humpback, "and dares not acknowledge it. The constraint causes her to feel embarrassed; as soon as she is my wife, you will see her happy." "I should like to believe it," said the King; "but do you not flatter yourself a little too much?" The humpback was much annoyed by his father's doubts. "You are the cause, madam," said he to the Princess, "of the King's treating me with a severity which is not usual with him. Perhaps he loves you: tell me so candidly, and choose between us,—provided I see you reign, I shall be satisfied." He spoke thus to ascertain her sentiments; for he had no idea of altering his own intentions. The young Carpillon, who knew not yet that the greater number of lovers are artful and deceitful creatures, fell into the trap. "I own, my lord," said she to him, "that if I were my own mistress, I should neither choose the King nor you; but if my ill fortune compels me to this sad necessity, I prefer the King." "And why?" replied the humpback, endeavouring to constrain himself. "Because," added she, "he is milder than you are, that he reigns at present, and that perhaps he may not live so long." "Ah! little wretch," replied the humpback, "you would marry my father in order to be queen-dowager after a little while. Most assuredly you shall not,—he does not think of you; it is I who am good enough to do so—goodness, to speak the truth, ill-bestowed, for you are insupportably ungrateful; but, were you a hundred times more so, you shall be my wife."
The Princess Carpillon learned, but a little too late, that it is sometimes dangerous to say all one thinks; and, to make amends for what she had just said, "I wished to ascertain your sentiments," replied she to him; "I am very glad that you love me sufficiently to resent the harshness that I have affected. I esteem you already, my lord; endeavour to make me love you." The Prince, in his turn, fell headlong into the trap, obvious as it was; but people are generally very foolish when they are much in love, and have an inclination to flatter themselves, which it is difficult to correct. Carpillon's words made him milder than a lamb, he smiled, and pressed her hands till he hurt them.
As soon as he had left her she ran to the King's apartment, and throwing herself at his feet, "Protect me, Sire," said she, "from the greatest of misery: Prince Bossu insists upon marrying me. I confess that he is odious to me: do not be so unjust as he is; my rank, my youth, and the misfortunes of my family merit the compassion of so great a king as you are." "Beautiful Princess," said he, "I am not surprised that my son loves you—it must be the case with all who see you; but I will never forgive him, for failing in the respect due to you." "Ah! Sire," replied she, "he looks upon me as his prisoner, and treats me as his slave." "It is with my army," replied the King, "that he conquered the conqueror of the King your father: if you are a captive, you are my captive, and I restore you to liberty; happily my advanced age and my white hairs preserve me from becoming your slave." The grateful Princess thanked the King a thousand times, and retired with her ladies.
The humpback, having learned what had just passed, resented it deeply; and his fury increased when the King desired him not to think of the Princess, until by great and constant kindness he should overcome her dislike. "I shall have to labour then all my life, and perhaps uselessly," said he; "I do not like losing my time." "I am sorry on your account," replied the King, "but it can be upon no other terms." "We shall see;" insolently answered the humpback, as he quitted the room. "You presume to take away my prisoner from me—I will lose my life sooner." "She whom you call your prisoner, was mine," added the irritated King. "She is now at liberty; she shall be her own mistress, and not dependent upon your caprice."
So sharp a conversation might have led to higher words still, had not the humpback thought proper to retire. He forthwith resolved to make himself master of the kingdom, and of the Princess. He had ingratiated himself with the troops, while he commanded them, and there were seditious men who willingly seconded his bad designs. The King was warned that his son was endeavouring to dethrone him; and, as the Prince was the strongest, the King could take no other course than that of mildness. He sent for him and said to him; "Is it possible that you are so ungrateful that you wish to dethrone me, and seat yourself in my place? you see I am at the brink of the grave; do not hasten the end of my life. Have I not been sufficiently afflicted, by the death of my wife, and the loss of my son? It is true, I am opposed to your designs on the Princess Carpillon; but it's out of consideration for you, as much as for her; for, can one be happy with a person who does not love him? But since you will run the risk, I consent to it; allow me time to speak to her, and reconcile her to this marriage."
The humpback wished for the Princess more than for the kingdom; for he already ruled over the one he had just conquered, and he told the King, he was not so eager to reign as he imagined, since he had himself signed the agreement that disinherited him in case his brother should ever return, and that he would respect his father's authority, provided he was not prevented marrying Carpillon. The King embraced him, and went to seek the poor Princess, who was in great anxiety respecting the result of the interview. Her governess was still with her. She took her into her closet, and crying bitterly; "Is it possible," said she to her, "that after all the promises the King made me, he will have the cruelty to sacrifice me to this humpback? Certainly, my dear friend, if I must marry him, the day of my marriage will be the last of my life; for it is not so much his deformity that shocks me, as the badness of his heart." "Alas! my Princess," replied the governess, "you are ignorant, no doubt, that the daughters of the greatest kings are victims, whose inclination they seldom if ever consult; if they do marry an amiable and handsome Prince, they may thank fortune for it; but between one monkey and another, nothing is considered but the interest of the State." Carpillon was about to reply, when it was announced that the King was waiting for her in her chamber. She raised her eyes to heaven, to ask for help.
As soon as she saw the King, it was unnecessary for him to explain the resolution he had arrived at; for she had great penetration, and the qualities of her mind far surpassed those of her person. "Ah! Sire," she exclaimed, "what are you going to tell me?" "Beautiful Princess," said he, "do not look upon your marriage with my son as a misfortune; I entreat of you to consent to it with a good grace; the violence he does to your feelings sufficiently proves the ardour of his own. He could find more than one Princess, who would be enchanted to share with him the kingdom he has already, and the one he hopes for after my death; but he will have none but you. Your disdain, your contempt for him, does not dishearten him; and you must believe, that he will never omit anything he can do to please you." "I flattered myself I had found a protector in you," replied she; "my hope is gone, you have abandoned me; but the gods—the just gods—will not abandon me." "If you knew all that I have done to defend you from this marriage," added he, "you would be convinced of my friendship. Alas! Heaven gave me a son, whom I dearly loved; his mother nursed him. He was stolen one night from his cradle, and a cat was put in his place, who bit the Queen so cruelly that she died of it. If this sweet child had not been taken from me, he would now be the consolation of my old age; my subjects would fear him, and I should offer you my kingdom with him: the humpback, who now assumes the master, would have been happy to be allowed to remain at Court. I have lost that dear son, Princess, and the misfortune extends to you." "It is I alone," replied she, "who am the cause of what has happened to him. As his existence would have served me, he has perished. Sire, look upon me as guilty; and take my life, rather than marry me." "You were not of an age, beautiful Princess," said the King, "at that time, to do either good or ill to any one; I do not accuse you of causing my misfortunes; but if you would not increase them, prepare to receive my son kindly; for he has made himself the strongest here, and could do you most serious injury." She answered only by her tears. The King left her; and as the humpback was impatient to know what was passing, the King found him waiting in his chamber, and told him the Princess Carpillon consented to the marriage, and that he had given the necessary orders for it to be solemnised. The Prince was transported with joy; he thanked the King, and immediately sent for jewellers, merchants, and embroiderers. He bought the handsomest things in the world for his mistress, and sent her large golden baskets, filled with a thousand curiosities. She received them with some appearance of pleasure. He then paid her a visit and said to her, "Were you not very silly, Madam Carpillon, to refuse the honour I intended you? for, not to say anything of my amiability, I am considered very clever. I will give you so many dresses, so many diamonds, and so many fine things, that no queen in the world shall be comparable to you."
The Princess coolly replied, that the misfortunes of her royal house did not allow her to be adorned so much as others were, and therefore she begged of him not to make her such handsome presents. "You would be right," said he to her, "not to adorn yourself, if I did not give you permission; but it is your duty to please me; all will be ready for our marriage in four days; amuse yourself, Princess, and give your orders, as you are already absolute mistress here."
After he had left her, she shut herself up with her governess, and told her, that she might choose whether she would find her the means of escape, or those by which she could kill herself the day of her marriage. The governess represented the impossibility of her escaping, and the culpable weakness of killing herself to avoid the evils of this life. She tried to persuade her, that her virtue would contribute to her tranquillity, and without being desperately in love with the humpback, she would esteem him sufficiently to live contentedly with him.
Carpillon would not listen to any of her remonstrances; she told her, till now she had relied upon her, she now knew what she had to trust to; that if all the world failed her, she would not fail herself; and that great remedies were required for great evils. After which, she opened the window, and every now and then looked out, without uttering a word. Her governess, who feared she would throw herself out, fell at her feet, and looking affectionately at her, "Well, Madam," said she, "what do you wish me to do? I will obey you, though it be at the risk of my life." The Princess embraced her, and said, she wished her to purchase for her a shepherdess's dress and a cow; that she would seek refuge wherever she could. That she must not try to turn her from her purpose, because it was losing time, and she had none to spare; that she must also, to enable her to get beyond pursuit, dress up a doll, put it in her bed, and say that she was not well.
"You must see, Madam," said the poor governess, "to what I am about to expose myself. Prince Bossu will be certain that I seconded you in your plans; he will inflict a thousand tortures upon me to extort from me where you are, and then he will burn me, or flay me alive. Say after that, that I do not love you."
The Princess was very much distressed: "I wish," replied she, "that you should escape yourself, two days after me; it will be very easy to deceive everybody till then." In short, they contrived so well, that the same night, Carpillon had a dress and a cow.
All the goddesses that ever descended from the summit of Olympus, those who sought the shepherd Paris, and a hundred dozen of others, would have appeared less beautiful than Carpillon in this rustic attire. She set out alone, by moonlight, sometimes leading her cow with a cord, sometimes making it carry her; she proceeded at random half dead with fear. If a breath of wind rustled through the bushes,—if a bird flew from its nest, or a hare started from its form, she thought thieves or wolves were about to attack her. She walked all night, and would have walked all day, but her cow stopped to feed in a meadow, and the Princess, fatigued with her thick wooden shoes, and the weight of her coarse grey cloth dress, sat down upon the grass by the side of a stream, where she took off her yellow linen cap, to arrange her fair hair, which had escaped from all sides, and fell in curls down to her feet. She looked about to see if any one was near her, that she might conceal herself quickly; but, notwithstanding the precaution she took, she was surprised by a lady in complete armour, excepting her head, from which she had taken a golden helmet covered with diamonds. "Shepherdess," said she, "I am fatigued; will you give me some milk from your cow to quench my thirst?" "Willingly, Madam," replied Carpillon, "if I had something to put it into." "Here is a cup," said the warrior lady, presenting her a very handsome china one; but the Princess knew not how to milk her cow. "How is this?" said the lady; "does your cow give no milk, or do you not know how to milk her?" The Princess began to cry, being quite ashamed of appearing so awkward before so extraordinary a person. "I confess, Madam," said she to her, "I have only been a short time a shepherdess; all my business is to take my cow out to feed—my mother does the rest." "You have, then, a mother," continued the lady, "and what may she be?" "She keeps a farm," said Carpillon. "Near here?" inquired the lady. "Yes," replied the Princess. "Really I feel an affection for her, and am obliged to her for having given birth to so beautiful a daughter. I should like to see her; take me to her." Carpillon did not know how to answer—she was unaccustomed to tell falsehoods, and knew not that she was speaking to a fairy. Fairies were not so common in those days as they have since become. She cast down her eyes; her face was suffused with deep blushes; at last she said, "When I am sent out into the fields, I dare not go home again till night. I beg of you, Madam, not to oblige me to do what would make my mother angry, who will beat me, perhaps, if I disobey her."
"Ah! Princess, Princess," said the Fairy smiling, "you cannot support a falsehood—neither can you play the part you have assumed if I do not assist you; take this—it is a bouquet of gillyflowers; be sure that as long as you hold it, the humpback, who is seeking you, will not know you; remember, when you reach the Great Forest, to ask the shepherds, who feed their flocks there, where Sublime lives; go to him, and tell him that you come from the Fairy Amazon, who begs he will place you with his wife and daughters. Adieu, beautiful Carpillon, I have been one of your friends for a long time." "Alas! Madam," exclaimed the Princess, "since you know me, and love me, and I have so much need of your assistance, will you abandon me?" "The bouquet of gillyflowers will not fail you," replied she; "my moments are precious; I must leave you to fulfil your destiny." In saying these words, she vanished from Carpillon's sight, who was so frightened, she thought she should die of it. After recovering herself a little, she continued her journey; not knowing at all where the Great Forest was; but she said to herself, "This clever Fairy, who appears and disappears, who knows me in a peasant's dress, without ever having seen me, will conduct me whither she wishes me to go." Walking or resting, the Princess always held her bouquet; she advanced, however, but slowly. Her courage was greater than her strength. Where the road was stony she often stumbled; her feet began to bleed; she was forced to lie down upon the ground under the shelter of some trees; she feared everything, and often thought, with great anxiety, of her governess. It was not without reason that she did think of that poor woman—her zeal and her fidelity have been rarely equalled. She dressed up a large doll, in the Princess's lace pinners, fontanges, and fine linen; she went very softly about the chamber, for fear, she said, of disturbing her; and when any noise was made, she scolded everybody. They ran to tell the King that the Princess was ill; that did not surprise him: he attributed it to her vexation, and the violence she was doing her own feelings; but, when Prince Bossu heard this sad news, he felt inconceivably grieved, and wanted to see her. The governess with difficulty prevented him; "At all events," said he, "let my physician see her." "Ah! my Lord," cried the governess, "it would be enough to kill her—she detests doctors and their remedies; but do not alarm yourself, she only requires a few days' rest—it is a headache, which she will soon sleep off." She managed thus to make him promise not to disturb her mistress, and still kept the doll in the bed. But one night when she was preparing to escape,—for she felt assured the impatient Prince would soon renew his attempts to enter—she heard him raving like a madman at the door, which he burst open without waiting for her to unlock it.
The cause of this violence was, that the Princess's ladies had discovered the fraud, and fearing they should suffer for it, they instantly went and informed the humpback. It would be impossible to describe the excess of his fury. He rushed to the King, thinking he was in the plot; but by the surprise he evinced, he was sure he was ignorant of it. As soon as the poor governess appeared, he flew at her, and taking her by the hair of her head, "Restore Carpillon to me," said he, "or I will tear out your heart." She only answered by her tears, and throwing herself at his feet, she entreated him to listen to her, but in vain. He dragged her himself into a deep dungeon, where he would have stabbed her a thousand times, if the King, who was as good as his son was wicked, had not obliged him to let her live in this frightful prison.
The amorous and violent Prince issued immediate orders to pursue her over land and sea; he set out himself and rushed in all directions like a man out of his wits. One day, as Carpillon was taking shelter under a large rock with her cow, for the weather was frightfully bad, and the thunder, lightning and hail made her tremble, Prince Bossu, and all his followers, who were soaked through by the rain, came and took refuge under the same rock. When she saw him so near her, alas! he frightened her much more than the thunder,—she grasped her bunch of gillyflowers with both hands, fearing that one would not be sufficient, and remembering the Fairy, exclaimed to herself, "Do not abandon me, charming Amazon." The humpback cast his eyes upon her. "What hast thou to fear, decrepit old wretch," said he to her; "if the thunder should kill thee, what wrong would it do thee? art thou not on the brink of thy grave?" The young Princess was not less delighted than astonished to hear herself called old; "No doubt," thought she, "that my little bouquet has worked this wonder," and to avoid being drawn into conversation, she pretended to be deaf. The humpback finding she could not hear, said to his confidant, who never quitted him, "If I were in better spirits, I would take this old woman to the top of the rock, and precipitate her from it, that I might have the pleasure to see her break her neck; for nothing would be more amusing to me." "But, my Lord," replied the villain, "if that would at all rejoice you, I will take her there, willingly or by force, and you shall see her body bound like a ball from all the points of the rock, and her blood run close to you." "No," said the Prince, "I have not the time; I must continue to seek for this ungrateful woman, who has made my life miserable."
So saying, he put spurs to his horse, and was soon out of sight. It is easy to imagine the Princess's joy at his departure; for, most assuredly, the conversation he had just had with his confidant was enough to alarm her: she did not forget to thank the Fairy Amazon, of whose power she had just had a proof; and continuing her journey she arrived in the plain where the shepherds had built their small cottages; they were very pretty, each of them, with its garden and its fountain: the Valley of Tempé, and the borders of the Lignon, have boasted nothing more elegant. The shepherdesses were mostly beautiful, and the shepherds omitted nothing to please them; all the trees were engraved with a thousand different cyphers, and love verses. When Carpillon appeared, they left their flocks and followed her respectfully; for they were prepossessed by her beauty and her majestic air; but they were astonished at the poverty of her dress: for, though they lived in a simple and rustic manner, they prided themselves on the neatness of their attire. The Princess begged them to inform her which was the house of the shepherd Sublime; they hastened to conduct her thither. She found him seated in a valley with his wife and daughter; a little river flowing at his feet making a soft murmuring noise; he had some sea rushes in his hand, with which he was making a basket to hold fruit; his wife was spinning, and his two daughters were fishing. When Carpillon drew near to them, she was impressed with a respect and affection which surprised her; and when they saw her, they were so affected that they changed colour several times. "I am a poor shepherdess," said she, humbly accosting them, "come to offer you my services from the Fairy Amazon whom you know. I hope, out of consideration for her, you will willingly receive me." "My daughter," said the King rising, and in his turn greeting her, "that great fairy is quite right in believing we have the greatest respect for her; you are, therefore, welcome; and if you had no recommendation but your own, our house would certainly be open to you." "Come hither, beautiful girl," said the Queen, holding out her hand, "come, and embrace me. I feel fully disposed to love you; I wish you to look upon me as your mother, and my daughters as your sisters." "Alas! my kind mother," said the Princess, "I do not deserve this honour; it is sufficient that I should be your shepherdess, and take charge of your flock." "My daughter," said the King, "we are all equal here; you come with too good a recommendation for us to make any difference between you and our children; come and sit with us, and let your cow feed with our sheep." She made some objection, perseveringly insisting that she only came to take care of the house for them; she would have been very much perplexed had they taken her at her word; but, in fact, it was sufficient to see her, to be satisfied that she was more fit to command than to obey; and they were also certain that one of so much importance as the Fairy Amazon would not take such interest in an ordinary person.
The King and Queen looked at her with astonishment mixed with admiration, difficult to comprehend; they asked her, if she came from a great distance? She said, "Yes;" "Whether she had a father and mother?" she said, "No." And to all their questions she answered by monosyllables, as far as respect would permit her. "And what do you call yourself, my child?" said the Queen. "They call me Carpillon," said she. "The name is singular," replied the King, "and, perhaps, some adventure gave rise to it; it is seldom any one receives such an appellation." She did not reply, and took one of the spindles from the Queen, to wind off the thread. When they saw her hands, they thought she was taking out of her sleeves two balls of snow formed in that shape; they were so brilliantly white. The King and Queen looked at each other very significantly, and said to her, "Your dress is very warm, Carpillon, for the climate we live in, and your wooden shoes are very hard for so young a person as you are; you must be dressed differently." "In my country," replied Carpillon, "they are dressed as I am; but if it pleases you, mother, to order me to do so, I will dress otherwise." They admired her submission, and above all the modesty which appeared in her eyes and pervaded her whole countenance.
Supper time had arrived; they arose, and all entered the house. The two Princesses had caught some nice little fish; they had also some new-laid eggs, some milk, and some fruit."I am surprised," said the King, "that my son has not returned yet; his love of hunting takes him farther than I like, and I am always fearful some accident will happen to him." "I am as much alarmed as you are," said the Queen; "but, if you like, we will wait supper for him." "No," said the King, "we will do nothing of the sort; on the contrary, I beg, when he returns, that no one will speak to him, and that everybody will be very cold to him." "You know how affectionate he is," said the Queen, "and that it will distress him so much; he will be ill in consequence." "I cannot help it," said the King; "he must be corrected." They sat down to table, and some time afterwards the Prince came in; he had a roebuck on his shoulders, his hair was wet with perspiration, and his face covered with dust. He leaned upon a small spear which he usually carried, his bow was fastened on one side, and his quiver full of arrows on the other. In this state there was something so noble and so haughty in his countenance and in his appearance, that no one could see him without attention and respect. "Mother," said he, addressing the Queen, "my wish to bring you this roebuck, has caused me a good run over hill and dale to-day." "My son," said the King, seriously, "you cause us more anxiety than pleasure. You know all that I have already said about your love for the chase, but you do not seem inclined to correct yourself." The Prince reddened; and what annoyed him more was, that he perceived a stranger was present. He replied that another time he would return earlier, or that he would not go hunting any more till they wished it. "That is sufficient," said the Queen, who loved him dearly; "my son, I thank you for your present; come and sit by me and sup, for I am sure you are hungry." He was a little disconcerted at the serious air with which the King spoke to him and he scarcely dared to raise his eyes, for although he was intrepid in the midst of dangers, he was tractable, and stood in great awe of those to whom he owed respect. However, he recovered from his confusion, placed himself next to the Queen, and looked at Carpillon, who had not waited so long to look at him. As soon as their eyes met, their hearts beat so wonderfully that they could not account for their agitation. The Princess blushed and looked down; the Prince continued to gaze at her; again she raised her eyes gently, and looked at him a longer time, they were each of them equally surprised, and thought that nothing in the world could surpass what they beheld. "Is it possible," said the Princess, "that seeing so many persons as I have at court, I know not one who could be compared to this young shepherd!" "How is it," said he, in his turn, "that this wonderful girl is a simple shepherdess! Ah, would that I were a king to place her on the throne, to make her mistress of my dominions as she would be of my heart!" Thus musing, he ate nothing; the Queen, believing that it was in consequence of his having been unkindly received, loaded him with caresses; she herself handed him some exquisite fruits, of which she was very choice. He begged Carpillon to taste some; she thanked him, and he, without thinking from whose hand he had received them, said sorrowfully, "I don't want them," and coldly left them on the table. The Queen did not notice it; but the eldest Princess, who by no means disliked him, and could have loved him dearly, but for the difference she believed existed between his condition and hers, remarked it with some degree of vexation.
After supper the King and Queen retired; the Princesses, as was their custom, arranged everything about the house: the one milked the cows, the other made some cheese; Carpillon was anxious to work also, as the others did, but she had not been so accustomed to it. She could do nothing well, and the two Princesses laughingly called her the awkward beauty; but the Prince, already in love, assisted her. He went to the well with her, he carried her pitchers, he drew the water for her, and returned heavily laden, for he would not allow her to carry anything. "But what do you mean, shepherd," said she to him; "must I be the young lady here—I, who have worked all my life, am I come here to do nothing?" "You shall do whatever you like, charming shepherdess," replied he; "but do not refuse to accept my poor assistance on these occasions." They returned together, sooner than they wished, for although he hardly dared to speak to her, he was delighted to be with her.
They each of them passed a sleepless night, which their inexperience prevented them from imagining the cause of: but the Prince anxiously waited for the hour that he might again behold the shepherdess, while she already feared the time she should again see the shepherd. This new trouble, that the sight of him had thrown her into, diverted her attention from the other sorrows which oppressed her. She thought of him so often, that she scarcely remembered Prince Bossu. "Fickle Fortune!" she exclaimed, "why hast thou bestowed so many graces, so fair a countenance, and such charms on a young shepherd, who is only destined to watch his flock; and on a great Prince, who has to govern a kingdom, so much malice, ugliness, and deformity?"
Carpillon had never had the curiosity to look at herself since her metamorphosis from a princess into a shepherdess, but now a certain desire to please induced her to seek for a mirror. She found the Princesses', and when she saw her head-dress, and her gown, she was quite confused. "What a figure!" said she; "what am I like? It is impossible that I can remain any longer buried in this coarse stuff." She took some water, and washed her hands and face. They became whiter than lilies. After this she sought the Queen, and kneeling before her, she presented her with a beautiful diamond ring (for she had brought some jewels with her). "My good mother," said she, "some time ago I found this ring; I do not know its value; but I suppose it is worth some money: I beg of you to accept it, as a proof of my gratitude for your charity towards me, and I further entreat you to buy me some dresses and linen, that I may appear like the shepherdesses of this country." The Queen was surprised to see so beautiful a ring in the possession of this young girl. "I will take care of it for you," said she, "but not accept it; be assured you will have from this morning all that is requisite for you." She then sent to a small town, not very far off, and desired them to bring the prettiest peasant's dress that had ever been seen. The head-dress, the shoes, all was complete; thus attired, she appeared more charming than Aurora. The Prince also had not been neglectful of himself; he had put round his hat a wreath of flowers; the scarf by which his scrip was tied and his hook were also ornamented with them. He carried a bouquet to Carpillon, and presented it with the timidity of a lover; she received it with much embarrassment, although she had infinite good sense. Whenever she was with him, she hardly ever spoke, and was always in deep thought. It was much the same with him. When he went hunting, instead of pursuing the hinds and the deer that he met with, if he found a fitting spot for indulging in thoughts of the charming Carpillon, he would suddenly stop and remain in that solitary place, making verses, singing couplets in praise of his shepherdess, talking to the rocks, to the woods, to the trees; he had lost all that joyous spirit which had caused the shepherds so eagerly to seek his company.But as it is difficult to be much in love and not to fear those whom we love, he was so dreadfully afraid he should offend his shepherdess by declaring his passion for her, that he dare not speak; and although she saw plainly enough, that he preferred her to every one else, and that this preference ought to assure her of his sentiments, she was sometimes troubled at his silence, and sometimes she was pleased at it. "If it be true," said she, "that he loves me, how ought I to receive such a declaration? If I am angry with him, I shall perhaps kill him; and if I am not angry with him, I shall die myself of shame and grief. What! born a Princess, should I listen to a shepherd? Ah, what unworthy weakness! I will never consent to it; my heart should not change, as I change my
The Princess Carpillon.—p. 358.
As the Prince's natural voice possessed a thousand charms, and as, even if he could not have sung so well, the Princess was so prepossessed in his favour she would not have been less pleased to hear him, she often asked him to sing some little songs; and what he sang was so tender, and his accents so touching, she could not break herself of the desire to listen to him. He had written some words, that he repeated incessantly, she being fully aware that she was the subject of them. They are as follow:—
"If a goddess found could be
Who in beauty equall'd thee,
Would she give, my love to win,
All the wealth the world within,
I with scorn would her deny,
At thy feet to live and die."
Although she pretended she paid no more attention to that than she did to others, she could not help evincing a preference for it which gratified the Prince. That inspired him with a little more boldness; he purposely repaired to a part of the river-side, shaded by willows and lote-trees, where he knew Carpillon led her lambs every day: he took a bodkin and he wrote upon the bark of a tree,—
"In this spot I view in vain,
Peace with all the Pleasures reign;
Even here, Love robs my breast
Both of happiness and rest."
The Princess surprised him as he finished these words; he affected to be embarrassed, and after some moments of silence, "You see," said he to her, "an unhappy shepherd, who reveals to the most insensible things, the sufferings which he ought to complain of to you only." She did not answer, and casting down her eyes, she afforded him all the time he needed to declare his sentiments. While he was speaking, she considered within herself how she ought to receive that which she heard from lips that were not indifferent to her, and her liking for him readily found an excuse—"He is ignorant of my birth," said she; "his temerity is pardonable; he loves me, and thinks not that I am his superior. Even if he knew my rank, the gods, who are so high above us, do they not covet human hearts? Are they angry because men love them?"—"Shepherd," said she, when he had ceased speaking, "I pity you, it is all I can. I will not love you; I have already too many other troubles. Alas! what would become of me, if, to complete my misfortunes, the troubles of love should be added to them?" "Ah, shepherdess, say rather," cried he, "that if you have sorrows, nothing would more surely alleviate them; I should share them all with you, my only thought would be to please you, and you could trust me with the care of your flock." "Would to heaven," said she, "I had no other cause for uneasiness!" "Can you have any others?" said he, most earnestly; "a being so beautiful, so young, without ambition, unacquainted with the vain grandeurs of a court? But no doubt you love some one here; a rival makes you inexorable to me." In uttering these words, he changed colour; he became sad, for this thought distressed him cruelly. "I will admit you have a hated and detested rival; you would never have seen me, had I not been obliged to fly from his pressing importunities." "Perhaps, shepherdess, you will fly from me, for the same reason; for if you hate him simply for loving you, I must be in your eyes the most hateful of men." "Whether I do not think so," replied she, "or that I look upon you more favourably, I feel I should not go so far to avoid you, as I should to avoid him." The shepherd was transported with joy by these kind words, and from that day, what pains he took to please the Princess!
Every morning he employed himself in seeking for the most beautiful flowers to make into garlands for her; he adorned her crook with a thousand different coloured ribands; he would not allow her to be exposed to the sun; as soon as she came with her flock to the river-side, or in the woods, he twined branches, tied them quickly together, and made arbours with them, under which the turf formed natural couches to repose on. All the trees bore her ciphers; he had carved verses upon them, that spoke but of Carpillon's beauty; he sang but of her; and the young Princess observed all these tokens of the shepherd's passion for her sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with much uneasiness. She loved him, without being quite aware of it; she dared not question herself on the subject, fearing she should find herself too fond of him: but when we entertain such fear, are we not already certain of the fact?
The attachment of the young shepherd for the young shepherdess was no secret; everybody saw it, and approved of it; who could blame it, in a place where all the world loved. They appeared, it was said, born for each other; they were both perfect; they were master-pieces of the gods, which fortune had confided to their little country, and everything should be done to retain them in it. Carpillon felt a secret joy in hearing from every one the praises of the shepherd she thought so charming; and whenever she reflected on the difference of their rank she grieved, and resolved to remain unknown, that her heart might be more at liberty.
The King and Queen, who loved her very much, were not at all displeased at this growing affection; they looked upon the Prince as though he were their son, and the many perfections of the Princess were scarcely less charming to them than to him. "Was it not the Amazon who sent her to us," said they; "and did she not also come and fight the Centaur in favour of the boy? No doubt this wise Fairy has destined them for each other; we must wait her orders thereupon, and follow them."
Matters were in this condition, the Prince still complaining of Carpillon's indifference to him—for she carefully concealed her sentiments from him,—when, as he was hunting one day, he was unexpectedly attacked by a ferocious bear, who rushing suddenly from the cavity of a rock, threw himself upon him, and would have devoured him had he not been as dexterous as he was brave. After struggling for a long time upon the summit of the mountain, they rolled to the bottom without quitting their hold. Carpillon was standing near the spot with several of her companions. They could not see what was passing above them; but what was the terror of these young girls, when they perceived a man and a bear falling headlong down together! The Princess immediately recognised her shepherd. She uttered shrieks of terror and anguish. All the shepherdesses took flight; she remained sole spectatress of the combat; she even boldly thrust the iron of her crook in the terrible animal's mouth, and love gave her strength to render some assistance to her lover. When he saw her, the fear she might be involved in his danger augmented his courage to such a degree, that he thought not of his own life, provided that he could save that of his shepherdess. At last he killed the bear close to her feet, but he felt himself half dead with the wounds which he had received. Ah, what was her misery when she saw his clothes stained with his flowing blood! She could not speak; the tears gushed from her eyes; she placed his head upon her knees, then with a sudden effort, "Shepherd," said she to him, "if you die, I shall die with you. In vain have I concealed from you the secrets of my heart; know them now, and be assured that my life is devoted to you." "What can I wish for more, lovely shepherdess?" said he; "whatever may now befal me, my fate must still be a happy one."
The shepherdesses who had fled now returned with several shepherds, to whom they had related what they had just seen. They hastened to assist the Prince and Princess; for she needed assistance nearly as much as he did. Whilst they were cutting the branches of trees to make a kind of litter, the Fairy Amazon appeared in the midst of them. "Do not be uneasy, said she to them; "let me touch the young shepherd.'" She took him by the hand, and placing her gold helmet on his head, "I forbid thee to be ill, dear shepherd," said she to him. He arose instantly; and the vizor of the helmet being open, displayed to them his fine features full of heroic expression, and his keen and brilliant eyes confirming the hopes the Fairy had inspired them with. He was astonished at the manner in which she had just cured him, and at her majestic appearance. Transported with admiration, with joy, and with gratitude, he threw himself at her feet. "Great Queen," said he to her, "I was dangerously wounded: a look from you, a word from your mouth, has cured me: but, alas! I have a wound in my heart of which I would not be cured: deign but to assuage its pain, and improve my fortune, that I may be able to share it with this lovely shepherdess." The Princess blushed at hearing him speak thus; for she was aware the Fairy Amazon knew her, and she was afraid she should be blamed by her, for holding out hopes to a lover so much beneath herself: she dared not look at her. The sighs that escaped her moved the Fairy's compassion. "Carpillon," said she, "this shepherd is not unworthy of your esteem; and you, shepherd, so desirous to change your state, rest assured that in a short time a very great change will take place in it." Having uttered these words, she disappeared as usual.
The shepherds and shepherdesses, who had hastened to assist them, conducted them in triumph to their village. They placed the lovers in the midst of them, and having crowned them with flowers, in honour of the victory they had just achieved over the terrible bear,—which they dragged after them,—they sang these words upon the affection Carpillon had shown for the Prince:—
"Greater pleasure yet will reign
In these enchanting groves;
Here a shepherd's charms detain
The daughter of the Loves."
In this manner they brought them home to Sublime, to whom they related all that had just happened,—with what courage the shepherd had defended himself against the bear; and how nobly the shepherdess had aided him in the combat; and lastly, what the Fairy Amazon had done for him. The King, delighted at this recital, ran to tell the Queen. "Undoubtedly," said he, "this boy and girl have no common blood in them; their eminent perfections, their beauty, and the care that the Fairy Amazon takes of them, prove there is something extraordinary relating to them." All at once the Queen remembered the diamond ring Carpillon had given her. "I always forgot," said she, "to show you a ring that this young shepherdess put into my hands with an air of uncommon dignity, begging me to accept it, and to give her in exchange for it some dresses like those they wear in this country." "Is the stone a fine one?" inquired the King. "I have scarcely looked at it," added the Queen; "but here it is." She presented him with the ring; and as soon as he looked at it, "Ye gods, what do I see!" cried he. "What! did you not remember a gift I received from your own hands?" At the same time he pressed a little spring, of which he knew the secret. The diamond flew up, and the Queen saw her portrait, that she had had painted for the King, and that she had tied round the neck of her little daughter to play with, when she was nursing her in the tower. "Ah! sire," said she, "what strange adventure is this? It renews all my griefs. However, let us speak to the shepherdess; we must try to know more about it."
She called her, and said, "My child, I have waited till this time for an admission from you, which would have given us much greater pleasure if you had made it without being urged to do so; but since you continue to hide from us who you are, it is right to tell you that we know, and that the ring you gave us has solved the enigma." "Alas, my mother," replied the Princess, throwing herself upon her knees before her, "it was not from a want of confidence that I persisted in hiding my rank from you: I thought it would distress you to see a princess in the condition that I am. My father was king of the Peaceful Islands: his reign was troubled by a usurper, who confined him in a tower, with the Queen my mother. After three years of captivity, they procured means of escape; one of the guards assisted them. They lowered me, favoured by the darkness of the night, in a basket. The cord broke. I fell into the lake, without their knowing whether I was drowned or not. Some fishermen who had thrown out their nets to catch carp, found me entangled in them. My size and weight induced them to think it was one of the largest carps that was in the lake. These hopes vanished when they saw me. They thought they would throw me into the water again to feed the fishes, but finally they left me in the nets and carried me to the tyrant, who instantly knew by the flight of my family that I was an unfortunate little princess, quite forsaken. His wife, who had never had any children, had pity on me. She took me herself, and brought me up under the name of Carpillon. She perhaps wished me to forget my birth, but my heart always told me who I was; and sometimes it is a misfortune to possess feelings that conform so little to one's situation. However that might be, a prince, named Bossu, came and conquered the usurper who deprived my father of the kingdom he was enjoying so peacefully. This removal of the tyrant made it worse for me. Prince Bossu carried me off as one of the brightest ornaments of his triumph, and resolved to marry me against my inclination. In so great an extremity I determined to fly by myself, dressed as a shepherdess, and leading my cow. Prince Bossu, who sought for me everywhere, and who overtook me, would no doubt have known me, if the Fairy Amazon had not generously given me a bouquet of gillyflowers, on purpose to protect me from my enemies. She was equally kind in sending me to you, my good mother," continued the Princess; "and if I did not declare my rank sooner to you, it was not from want of confidence, but only with the view of sparing you trouble. Not that I complain," continued she; "I never knew happiness till the day you received me; and I assure you I find a rural life so sweet and innocent, that I do not hesitate to prefer it to that which they lead at court."
She spoke so earnestly she did not perceive that the Queen was dissolved in tears, and the King's eyes were also full of them; but as soon as she had finished, they hastened to embrace her, and held her in their arms some time without speaking a word. She was as much affected as they were; she wept as they did; and it would be difficult to describe the mingled pain and pleasure that agitated these three illustrious and unfortunate persons. At last the Queen, making an effort to speak, said to her, "Is it possible, dear child of my soul, that after having so long and deeply regretted thy sad loss, the gods have restored thee to thy mother, to console her in her misfortunes? Yes, my daughter, thou seest her who bore thee, and nursed thee in thy earliest infancy. Behold the author of thy being. Oh, light of our eyes! O Princess! whom the wrath of heaven deprived us of; with what transports shall we celebrate thy blessed return!" "And I, my illustrious mother, and I, my dear Queen," cried the Princess, throwing herself at her feet, "by what words, by what actions can I express to you both, all that the respect and love I owe you causes me to feel at this moment? Thou dear refuge from all my troubles, I find thee, just as I had ceased to flatter myself with hope!" They renewed their embraces, and thus they passed some hours. Carpillon then withdrew. Her father and mother desired her not to mention what had just transpired; for they were apprehensive of the curiosity of the shepherds of that country; and as they were for the most part rather unpolished, it was to be feared they would try to discover secrets which did not concern them.
The Princess was silent on the subject to her companions in general, but she could not keep the secret from her young shepherd. How can we refrain from trusting those we love? She had reproached herself a thousand times, for concealing from him her birth. "What obligations," said she, "would he not have felt under to me, had he known that, being born to a throne, I had humbled myself to him? Yet, alas! love makes little difference between the sceptre and the crook! Can the imaginary greatness, so much boasted of, actually possess the soul and satisfy it? No; virtue alone has the right to do so. She places us above the throne, and can detach us from it; the shepherd who loves me is wise, witty, and amiable. In what can a prince be superior to him?"
As she indulged in these reflections, she saw him at her feet; he had followed her to the river-side: and presenting her with a garland of flowers of a charming variety, he said, "Whence came you, lovely shepherdess? For hours have I been seeking you, and impatiently awaiting your arrival." "Shepherd," said she, "I have been occupied by a wonderful adventure. I should reproach myself did I conceal it from you; but remember, that this mark of my confidence binds you to everlasting. I am a princess, my father was a king, whom I have just discovered in the person of Sublime."
The Prince was so astounded and agitated at this revelation, that he had not the power to interrupt her, while she related to him, in the kindest manner, her whole history. What reason had he not to fear that the good shepherd who had educated him would, being a king, refuse him his daughter, or that she herself reflecting upon the difference between a great Princess and himself, would one day withdraw from him the kindness she had at first shown him. "Ah, Madam," said he mournfully, "I am a lost man: I must die! You are born to a throne; you have found your parents: and I am an unfortunate being who knows neither his country nor his kindred. An eagle was my foster-mother, and her nest my cradle; if you have deigned to look upon me favourably, you will be advised to think of me no longer." The Princess mused for a moment, and, without answering him, she took a bodkin which kept up part of her beautiful hair, and wrote upon the bark of a tree—
"Canst thou love for love return?"
The Prince instantly wrote these words—
"With a thousand flames I burn."
"Cease then, shepherd, to complain;
Love, and be beloved again."
The Prince, transported with joy, threw himself at her feet, and seizing one of her hands said, "You ease my afflicted heart, adorable Princess, and by these new acts of kindness, you preserve my life. Remember what you have just written in my favour." "I am not likely to forget it," said she with a gracious smile; "rely upon my heart, it is more interested in your behalf than in my own." Their conversation would have lasted much longer, if they had had more time; but, as they had to collect the flocks they were tending, they hastened to return.
Meanwhile, the King and Queen were conferring together on the course they should pursue respecting Carpillon and the young shepherd. As long as she was a stranger to them, they approved of the gentle flame that was gradually kindling in their bosoms. The perfect beauty with which heaven had endowed them, their intellect, the grace which distinguished all their actions, made them desire that their union should be lasting; but they looked upon it with a very different eye, when they considered she was their daughter, and that the shepherd was without doubt only an unfortunate child, whose parents had exposed him to wild beasts, to save themselves the trouble of bringing him up. Finally, they resolved to tell Carpillon she must no longer encourage the hopes the youth had flattered himself with; and that she must even seriously declare to him, that it was not her wish to establish herself in that country.
The Queen called her early in the morning, and spoke with much kindness to her. But what words are capable of calming a grief so violent? The Princess vainly endeavoured to constrain her feelings; her face now suffused with burning blushes, now paler than if she had been on the point of death; her eyes lustreless from sorrow, too plainly indicated the state of her heart. Ah! how much she regretted her confession! She assured her mother, however, with great submission, that she would follow her injunctions. She had scarcely strength to throw herself on her bed, where, bathed in tears, she uttered a thousand complaints and a thousand regrets. At last she arose to lead her sheep to feed; but instead of going near the river, she plunged into the wood, where, lying down upon some moss, she leaned her head upon her hand and fell into a deep reverie. The Prince, who could not rest without her, ran to seek her, and suddenly stood before her. At sight of him she uttered a loud shriek, as if taken by surprise, and rising hastily rushed from him without looking at him; he remained for a moment motionless at so unusual a proceeding, then following and stopping her, said, "How, shepherdess! after giving me my death-blow, would you deprive yourself of the pleasure of seeing me die? You have already changed towards your shepherd; do you no longer remember what you promised him yesterday?" "Alas," said she, looking mournfully at him, "alas, what crime do you accuse me of! I am wretched. Commands have been laid upon me which it will be impossible to evade. Pity me! and do not approach me wherever I may be. It must be so." "It must be so," cried he, folding his arms in despair. "Must I fly from you, divine Princess? Can so cruel and so unjust an order be pronounced by you to me? Would you drive me mad? And this flattering hope, to which you allowed me to abandon myself, can it be extinguished while I live?" Carpillon, as heart-stricken as her lover, sank on the ground speechless and motionless; at this sight he was agitated by a thousand different thoughts. The state in which he saw his mistress sufficiently proved the compulsion under which she acted, and this certainly in a great measure diminished his grief.
He lost not a moment in endeavouring to revive her; a spring that flowed gently amongst the grass provided him with water to sprinkle on the face of his shepherdess, and some Cupids who were hidden behind a bush, have asserted to their companions, that he dared to steal a kiss. However that might be, she soon opened her eyes, then repulsing her amiable shepherd, "Fly! Avoid me!" said she; "if my mother should come, would she not have cause to be angry?" "Should I then have left you to be devoured by bears and wolves," said he; "or during a long swoon, alone in these solitary places, to be stung by some asp, or serpent?" "I must risk everything," she said, "rather than displease the Queen."
During this affecting and tender interview, the Fairy, their protectress, suddenly appeared in the King's chamber: she was armed as usual; the gems with which her cuirass and helmet were covered, were less brilliant than her eyes: addressing herself to the Queen, she said, "You are not too grateful, Madam, for the present I made you, in restoring you your daughter, who would have been drowned in the nets without my assistance, since you are about to cause the death of the shepherd I confided to your care. Think no longer of the difference that may perhaps exist between him and Carpillon; it is time they should be united. Prepare, illustrious Sublime," said she to the King, "for their marriage—I desire it—and you will never have cause to repent it." With these words, and not waiting for their reply, she left them, leaving only a long stream of light behind her as she disappeared, resembling the rays of the sun.
The King and Queen were equally astonished and delighted that the Fairy's commands were so positive. "One cannot doubt," said the King, "that this unknown shepherd is of an equal birth with Carpillon: his protectress is too noble to wish to unite two persons unsuitable to each other. It is she, as you perceive, who saved our daughter from perishing in the lake. How have we deserved her favour?" "I have always heard say," replied the Queen, "there are good and bad fairies, that they take a liking or an aversion to a family according to their humour, and evidently the Fairy Amazon favours us." They were still in conversation, when the Princess returned dejected and suffering. The Prince, who dared not follow her but at a distance, arrived some time after, so melancholy, that a glance at his features was sufficient to show what was passing in his mind. During the whole meal these poor lovers, who were wont to be the joy of the house, did not utter a word; nor even venture to raise their eyes.
As soon as they rose from table, the King went into his little garden, and desired the shepherd to follow him. At this order, he turned pale. A strange shivering ran through all his veins, and Carpillon believing her father was going to send him away, was no less alarmed than he was. Sublime entered an arbour, seated himself, and looking at the Prince, he said, "My son, you know with what affection I have brought you up. I have looked upon you as a present from the gods, to support and console me in my old age; but what will best prove my regard for you, is the choice I have made of you for my daughter Carpillon; she of whom you have often heard me deplore the loss. Heaven, who has restored her to me, wills that she should be your wife. I desire it also with all my heart. Will you be the only one to object to it?" "Ah, my father," cried the Prince, throwing himself at his feet, "dare I flatter myself with what I hear? Am I so happy, that your choice falls upon me? or do you merely wish to discover my sentiments with respect to this lovely shepherdess?" "No, my dear son," said the King, "do not hesitate between hope and fear; I am resolved in a few days to celebrate your nuptials." "You overwhelm me with kindness," replied the Prince, embracing his knees; "and if I but poorly express my gratitude to you, it is from the excess of my joy." The King forced him to rise, said a thousand kind things to him, and although he did not tell him of his high rank, he gave him to understand his birth was far above the condition fortune had reduced him to.
But Carpillon, a prey to her anxiety, could not refrain from following her father and her lover into the garden. She watched them at a distance, hidden behind some trees: when she saw him at the King's feet, she so fully believed he was entreating him not to sentence him to so cruel a separation, that she would stay to learn no more; she flew into the depths of the forest, running like a fawn, that the hounds and hunters were pursuing; she feared nothing,—neither the ferocity of the wild beasts, nor the thorns, which caught her on all sides. The echoes repeated her sad lamentations; she seemed only bent on seeking death; when the shepherd, impatient to impart to her the good tidings he had just heard, hastened in search of her. "Where are you, my shepherdess, my charming Carpillon!" cried he; "if you hear me, fly not. Happiness awaits us."
As he uttered these words, he perceived her far down in a valley, surrounded by several huntsmen, who were endeavouring to place her on a horse behind a little humpbacked and deformed man. At this sight, and the shrieks of his mistress for assistance, he flew towards her like an arrow from a bow; having no arms but his sling, he hurled a stone, which struck the man who was carrying off the shepherdess so direct and terrible a blow, that he fell from his horse, with a dreadful wound in the head.
Carpillon fell with him; the Prince was already near her, trying to defend her against her ravishers; but all his resistance was in vain; they seized him, and would have strangled him upon the spot, if Prince Bossu—for it was he—had not made signs to spare him: "For," said he, "he shall be put to death with every variety of torture." They contented themselves, therefore, with binding his arms with thick cords; and the same cords served to secure the Princess, so that they were enabled to talk to each other.
At the same time they made a sort of litter to carry the wicked humpback upon. As soon as it was finished, they all departed, without any of the shepherds being aware of the misfortune that had happened to our young lovers, and so giving information to Sublime. It is easy to imagine his uneasiness when night came and they did not return. The Queen was equally alarmed, and they passed several days in company with all the shepherds of the country in seeking and deploring them in vain.
You must know that Prince Bossu had never forgotten the Princess Carpillon, but time had weakened his passion; and when he was not amusing himself by committing a few murders, and cutting without distinction the throats of all those who displeased him, he went hunting, and it was sometimes seven or eight days before he returned. He was out on one of these long hunting expeditions, when he suddenly caught sight of the Princess crossing a path. Her grief was so acute, and she cared so little what might happen to her, that she had not taken with her her bouquet of gillyflowers, consequently he knew her the moment he saw her.
"Oh, of all the misfortunes this is the greatest!" said the shepherd, in a low voice, to his shepherdess. "Alas! we were just upon the eve of being united for ever." He then related what had passed between Sublime and himself. It is easy to comprehend Carpillon's regret. "I have then cost you your life," said she, bursting into tears. "I lead you myself to death, you for whom I would shed my last drop of blood. I am the cause of the misfortune that overwhelms you, and through my own imprudence I have again fallen into the barbarous hands of my most cruel persecutor!"
They talked thus to each other till they reached the city, where the good old King resided, the father of the horrible humpback. He was informed they had brought his son home on a litter, as a young shepherd, in defending his shepherdess, had struck him with a stone from his sling with so much force, that he was dangerously wounded. At these tidings the king, shocked to learn his only son was in this state, ordered them to put the shepherd in prison. The humpback gave a secret order that Carpillon should be treated in like manner. He had resolved, either that she should marry him, or that she should be tortured to death, so that the lovers were separated only by an ill-made door, through the chinks of which they had the sad consolation of seeing each other while it was broad daylight, and the rest of the day and night they could converse together.
What did they not say that was affectionate and loving to each other! All that the heart could feel, or the mind imagine, they expressed in such touching terms, that they were bathed in tears; and perhaps the reader would be equally affected if we repeated them.
The confidants of the humpback came every day to see the Princess, and threaten her with speedy execution if she did not purchase her life by consenting with a good grace to marry him. She received these propositions with a firmness, and an air of defiance, that made them despair of their undertaking; and as soon as she could speak to the Prince she said, "Fear not, my shepherd, that the dread of the most cruel tortures will shake my constancy; we will die, since we cannot live together." "Do you hope then to comfort me, beautiful Princess?" said he. "Alas! would I not rather see you in that monster's arms than in the hands of the executioner with which he threatens you?" She chided him for such sentiments, accused him of weakness, and assured him again and again that she would show him how to die with courage.
The humpback's wound being nearly healed, his love, irritated by the continual refusals of the Princess, made him determined to sacrifice to his rage the shepherd who had ill-used him. He fixed the day for this dismal tragedy, and invited the King, with all his senators, and the grandees of the kingdom, to come and witness it. He was there in an uncovered litter to feast his eyes upon all the horrors of the spectacle. The King, as I said before, did not know that the Princess Carpillon was a prisoner; so that when he saw her dragged to execution, with her poor governess, whom the humpback had condemned also, and the young shepherd more beautiful than the day, he commanded that they should be brought upon the terrace, where he was surrounded by the whole court.
He did not wait for the Princess to complain of the unworthy treatment she had received, but hastened to cut the cords with which she was bound; and then, looking at the young shepherd, he felt a yearning of tenderness and pity for him. "Rash youth," said he, endeavouring to speak harshly to him, "who inspired thee with boldness enough to attack a great Prince, and nearly deprive him of existence!" The shepherd, at the sight of this venerable old man in his royal robes, was on his part inspired with feelings of respect and confidence that he had never experienced before. "Great monarch," said he, with admirable calmness, "the peril in which I saw this beautiful Princess was the cause of my rashness. I did not know your son, and how should I recognise a Prince in an action so violent and unworthy his rank?" As he spoke his voice and action became more animated, his arm was uncovered, the mark of the arrow that was on it was too visible for the King not to observe it, "O heavens!" cried he, "am I deceived, or do I find in thee the dear son that I had lost?" "No, great King," said the Fairy Amazon, appearing high in the air, and mounted upon a superb winged horse, "no, you are not deceived; behold your son; I protected him, in the eagle's nest, where his cruel brother caused him to be placed. Let that son now console you for the loss of the other." With these words she rushed upon the guilty humpback, and, piercing him to the heart with her fiery lance, she did not allow him much time to contemplate the horrors of death, for he was consumed as though it had been by lightning.
She then approached the terrace, and presented the Prince with weapons and armour. "I promised them to thee," said she; "thou shalt be invulnerable with them, and the greatest warrior in the world." Immediately was heard the flourish of a thousand trumpets and all sorts of warlike instruments imaginable; but these sounds were shortly succeeded by a soft symphony, to which melodious voices sang the praises of the Prince and Princess. The Fairy Amazon dismounted from her horse, placed herself beside the King, and begged him to order immediately all that was required for the celebration of the marriage of the Prince and Princess. She commanded a little fairy, who appeared as soon as she called her, to go for the Shepherd King, the Queen and her daughters, and to return with them instantly. Immediately the Fairy disappeared, and returned as quickly with the illustrious exiles. What happiness after so many afflictions! The palace resounded with shouts of joy, and nothing was ever equal to that of these sovereigns and their children. The Fairy Amazon gave her orders in every direction. One word of hers did more work than a hundred thousand people. The nuptials were celebrated with greater magnificence than had ever been seen previously. King Sublime returned to his dominions; Carpillon had the gratification of conducting him thither with her husband. The old King, enchanted to have a son so worthy of his affection, became young again; at all events, he was so happy in his old age, that he lived much longer in consequence.
Youth is the season when the human heart
By master minds can moulded be with ease;
As to soft wax the fingers can impart
By gentle pressure any form they please.
Then may the future man be lost or saved:
The vice that stains—the virtue that may grace it—
Once on the heart in infancy engraved,
Rarely in after years can aught efface it.
On Life's uncertain sea, in early age,
Happy is he who spreads his hopeful sail
Under the guidance of a pilot sage,
Who knows the shoals, and can foresee the gale.
The Prince, whose portrait I have tried to take,
Had nought of quicksand, or of storm to dread;
A prosperous voyage he scarce could fail to make,
While by the Royal Shepherd piloted.
'Tis true that Love was not to be defied:
But hence, ye censors who the youth would blame:
Let Reason only the affections guide,
And Love lends lustre to the hero's fame!
- Cornettes. The pinners, or lappets, sometimes the caps themselves.
- Knots of riband. See note to page 123.
- A little river, which obtained celebrity from D'Urfey's Romance of Astrée. Mademoiselle de Sévigné, in her letter from Vichy of the 8th June, 1676, says, "In these meadows and lovely groves, it is delightful to see the dancing of the remaining shepherds and shepherdesses of the Lignon."
- Alisiers. See note, page 28.