Mother goose's fairy tales/Blue Beard

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Mother goose's fairy tales  (1811) 
Blue Beard

TALE II.

BLUE BEARD.

THERE was a man who had fine houſes, both in town and country, a deal of ſilver and gold plate, embroidered furniture and coaches, gilded all over with gold. But this man had the misfortune to have a blue beard, which made him ſo frightfully ugly, that all the women and girls ran away from him.

One of his neighbours, a lady of quality, had two daughters, who were perfect beauties. He deſired of her one of them in marriage, leaving to her the choice which of the two ſhe would bestow upon him. They would neither of them have him, and ſent him backwards and forwards from one to another, being not able to bear the thoughts of marrying a man who had a blue beard. And what beſides gave them diſguſt and averſion, was, his having already been married to ſeveral wives, and nobody ever knew what became of them.

Blue Beard, to engage their affection, took them, with the lady, their mother, and three or four ladies of their acquaintance, with other young people of the neighbourhood to one of his country ſeats, where they ſtaid a whole week. There was nothing then to be ſeen but parties of pleaſure, hunting, fiſhing, dancing, mirth, and feaſting. Nobody went to bed, but all paſſed the night in rallying and joking with each other: In ſhort, every thing ſo well ſucceeded, that the youngeſt daughter began to think that the maſter of the houſe's beard was not ſo very blue, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman.

So ſoon as they returned home, the marriage was concluded. About a month afterwards, Blue Beard told his wife that he was obliged to take a country journey for ſix weeks at leaſt, about affairs of very great conſequence, deſiring her to divert herſelf in his abſence, ſend for her friends and acquaintance, carry them into the country, if ſhe pleaſed, and make good cheer wherever ſhe was: "Here, ſaid he, are the keys of the two great wardrobes, wherein I have my beſt furniture? Theſe are of my ſilver and my gold plate, which is not every day in uſe; theſe open my ſtrong boxes, which hold my money, both gold and ſilver; these my caſkets of jewels; and this is the maſter key of all my apartments: But for this little one here, it is the key of the cloſet at the end of the great gallery, on the ground floor. Open them all; go into every one except that little cloſet, which I forbid you, and forbid it in ſuch a manner, that if you open it, there is nothing but what you may expect from my juſt anger and resentment." She promiſed to observe very exactly what he had ordered; when he, after having embraced her, got into his coach, and proceeded on his journey.

Her neighbours and good friends did not ſtay to be ſent for by the new married lady, ſo great was their impatience to ſee all the rich furniture of her houſe, not daring to come while her huſband was there, becauſe of his blue beard which frightened them. They ran through all the rooms, cloſets, and wardrobes, which were all ſo rich and fine, that they ſeemed to ſurpass one another. After that they went up into the two great rooms, where were the beſt and richeſt furniture. They could not ſufficiently admire the number and beauty of the tapeſtry beds, couches, cabinets, ſtands, tables, and looking glaſſes, in which you might ſee yourſelf, from head to foot, ſome of them were framed with glaſs, others with ſilver, plain and gilded, the fineſt and moſt magnificent were ever ſeen. They ceaſed not to extol and envy the happineſs of their friend, who in the meantime, no way diverted herſelf in looking upon theſe rich things, becauſe of the impatience ſhe had to go and open the cloſet of the ground floor. She was ſo much preſſed by her curioſity, that without conſidering the uncivility of leaving her company, ſhe went down a little back ſtair cafe, and with ſuch exceſſive haſte, that ſhe had twice or thrice, like to have broke her neck.

Being come to the cloſet door, ſhe made a ſtop for ſome time, thinking upon her huſband's orders, and conſidering what unhappineſs might attend her, if ſhe diſobeyed; but the temptation was ſo ſtrong, ſhe could not overcome it: She took then the little key, and opened it trembling: But could not at firſt ſee any thing plainly, becauſe the windows were ſhut. In ſome moments ſhe began to perceive that the floor was all covered with clotted blood, on which lay the bodies of ſeveral dead women ranged againſt the walls: (Theſe were all the wives whom Blue Beard had married and murJered one after another.) She thought ſhe would have died for fear: And the key which ſhe pulled out of the lock, fell out of her hand.

After having ſomewhat recovered her ſurpriſe, ſhe took up the key, locked the door, and went up ſtairs to recover herſelf; but ſhe could not, ſo much was ſhe frightened. Having obſerved that the key of the cloſet was ſtained with blood, the tried two or three times to wipe it off, but the blood would not come out; in vain did ſhe waſh it, and even rub it with ſoap and ſand, the blood ſtill remained, for this key was a Fairy, and ſhe could never make it quite clean; when the blood was gone off from one ſide it came again on the other.

Blue Beard returned from his journey the ſame evening, and ſaid, "he had received letters upon the road, informing him, that the affair he went about was ended to his advantage." His wife did all ſhe could to convince him ſhe was extremely glad of his ſpeedy return. Next morning he aſked for the keys, which ſhe gave him, but with ſuch a trembling hand, that he eaſily gueſſed what had happened. "What, ſaid he, is not the key of my cloſet among the reſt?" "I muſt certainly, anſwered ſhe, have left it upon the table" "Fail not, ſaid Blue Beard, to bring it me preſently"

After ſeveral goings backwards and forwards, ſhe was forced to bring him the key. Blue Beard, having very attentively conſidered it, ſaid to his wife, "How comes this blood upon the key?" "I do not know," cried the poor woman, paler than death. "You do know, replied Blue Beard, I very well know, you was reſolved to go into the cloſet, was you not? Mighty well, Madam; you ſhall go in, and take your place among the ladies you ſaw there."

Upon this ſhe threw herſelf at her huſband's feet, and begged his pardon, with all the ſigns of a true repentance, and that ſhe ſhould never more be diſobedient. She would have melted a rock, ſo beautiful and ſorrowful was ſhe, but Blue Beard had a heart harder than any rock: "You muſt die, madam. ſaid he, and that preſently." "Since I muſt die, anſwered ſhe, (looking on him with her eyes all bathed in tears) give me ſome little time to ſay my prayers." "I give, replied Blue Beard, half a quarter of an hour, but not one moment longer."

When she was alone, ſhe called out to her ſiſter and ſaid to her, "Siſter Anne, (for that was her name,) go up, I beg you, upon the tower, and look if my brothers are not coming: They promiſed me that they would come to-day, and if you ſee them give them a ſign to make haſte." Her ſiſter Anne went up upon the top of the tower, and the poor afflicted wife, called from time to time, "Anne, ſiſter Anne, do you ſee any one coming?" and ſiſter Anne ſaid, "I ſee nothing but the ſun, which makes a duſt, and the graſs which looks green." In the mean while, Blue Beard, holding a great ſcymitar in his hand, cried out as loud as he could, "Come down inſtantly, or I ſhall come up to you." "One moment longer, if you pleaſe," ſaid his wife, and then ſhe cried out very ſoftly, "Anne, ſiſter Anne, doſt thou ſee any body coming and ſiſter Anne anſwered, "I ſee nothing but the ſun, which makes a duſt, and the graſs looking green." "Come down quickly," cried Blue Beard, "or I will come up to you." "I am coming," anſwered his wife, and then ſhe cried, "Anne, ſiſter Anne. doſt thou ſee any one coming;" "I ſee, replied her ſiſter Anne, a great duſt which comes from this ſide here." "Are they my brothers?" "Alas no, my ſiſter, I ſee a flock of ſheep:" "Will you not come down," cried Blue Beard. "One moment longer," ſaid his wife, and then ſhe cried out, "Anne, ſiſter Anne, doſt thou ſee nobody coming". "I ſee two horſemen coming, but they are yet a great way off" "God be praiſed," replied the poor wife joyfully, "they are my brothers; I am making them a ſign as well as I can, for them to make haſte." Then Blue Beard bawled out ſo loud, that he made the whole houſe tremble

The diſtreſſed wife came down and threw herſelf at his feet all in tears, with her hair all about her ſhoulders. "This ſignifies nothing, ſaid Blue Bcard, you muſt die." Then taking hold of her hair with one hand, and lifting up his ſcymitar with the other, he was going to take off her head. The poor gentlewoman turning about to him, and looking at him with longing eyes, deſired him to afford her one little moment to recollect herſelf. "No, no, ſaid he, recommend thyſelf to God," and was juſt ready to ſtrike——

--At this very inſtant there was ſuch a loud knocking at the gate, that Blue Beard made a ſudden ſtop. The gate was opened, and preſently entered two horſemen, who drawing their ſwords, ran directly to Blue Beard. He knew them to be his wife's brothers, one a' dragoon, the other a muſqueteer, ſo that he ran away immediately to ſave himſelf; but the two brothers purſued ſo cloſe that they overtook him before he could get to the ſteps of the porch, when they ran their ſwords through his body, and left him dead.

The poor wife was almoſt as dead as her huſband, and had not ſtrength enough to riſe and welcome her brothers. Blue Beard had no heirs, and ſ his wife became miſtreſs of all his eſtate. She made uſe of one part of it to marry her ſiſter Anne to a young gentelman who had courted her a long while; another part to buy captains commiſſions for her brothers, and the reſt to marry herſelf to a very worthy gentleman, who made her forget the ill time ſhe had paſſed with Blue Beard.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.