All this was done in a moment: the Fairies were never long about their business in those days. But it so happened that one of the King's councillors, the Minister of Marine his office dated from a previous reign when the kingdom had hoped to conquer and acquire a seaboard had overslept himself that morning and came late to the palace without any knowledge of what had befallen. He felt no great fear that his unpunctuality would be remarked, the King as he supposed being absent in the country; nevertheless he took the precaution of letting himself in by a small postern door, and so missed being observed by the Fairy and touched by her wand.
Entering his office, and perceiving that his under-secretary usually so brisk and all his clerks rested their heads on their desks in attitudes of sleep, he drew the conclusion that something had happened, for he was an excellent judge of natural slumber.
The farther he penetrated into the palace, the stronger his suspicions became. He withdrew on tiptoe. Though by nature and habit a lazy man, he was capable of [Pg 15] sudden decision, and returning to his home he caused notices to be posted up, forbidding any one to approach the castle, the inmates of which were suffering from an Eastern but temporary affliction known as the Sleeping Sickness. These notices were unnecessary, for within a few hours there grew up, all around the park, such a number of trees of all sizes, and such a tangle of briars and undergrowth, that neither beast nor man could find a passage.
They grew until nothing but the tops of the castle towers could be seen, and these only from a good way off.
There was no mistake about it: the Fairy had done her work well, and the Princess might sleep with no fear of visits from the inquisitive. One day, many, many years afterwards, the incomparable young Prince Florimond happened to ride a-hunting on that side of the country which lay next to the tangled forest, and asked: 'What were those towers he saw pushing up above the midst of a great thick wood? The most general opinion was that an Ogre dwelt there, and that he carried off thither all the children he could catch, to eat them at his ease.
No one could follow him, for he alone knew how to find a passage through the briars and brambles. The Prince could not tell which to believe of all these informants, for all gave their versions with equal confidence, as commonly happens with those who talk on matters of which they can know nothing for certain. He was turning from one to another in perplexity, when a peasant spoke up and said:—. At these words Prince Florimond felt himself a-fire. He believed, without weighing it, that he could accomplish this fine adventure; and, spurred on by love and ambition, he resolved to explore [Pg 17] then and there and discover the truth for himself.
Leaping down from his horse he started to run towards the wood, and had almost reached the edge of it before the attendant courtiers guessed his design. They called to him to come back, but he ran on, and was about to fling himself boldly into the undergrowth, when as by magic all the great trees, the shrubs, the creepers, the ivies, briars and brambles, unlaced themselves of their own accord and drew aside to let him pass. He found himself within a long glade or avenue, at the end of which glimmered the walls of an old castle; and towards this he strode.
It surprised him somewhat that none of his attendants were following him; the reason being that as soon as he had passed through it, the undergrowth drew close as ever again. He heard their voices, fainter and fainter behind him, beyond the barrier, calling, beseeching him to desist. But he held on his way without one backward look. He was a Prince, and young, and therefore valiant.
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He came to the castle, and pushing aside the ivies that hung like a curtain over the gateway, [Pg 18] entered a wide outer court and stood still for a moment, holding his breath, while his eyes travelled over a scene that might well have frozen them with terror. The court was silent, dreadfully silent; yet it was by no means empty. On all hands lay straight, stiff bodies of men and beasts, seemingly all dead.
Nevertheless, as he continued to gaze, his courage returned; for the pimpled noses and ruddy faces of the Switzers told him that they were no worse than asleep; and their cups, which yet held a few heeltaps of wine, proved that they had fallen asleep over a drinking-bout. He stepped by them and passed across a second great court paved with marble; he mounted a broad flight of marble steps leading to the main doorway; he entered a guardroom, just within the doorway, where the guards stood in rank with shouldered muskets, every man of them asleep and snoring his best.
He made his way through a number of rooms filled with ladies and gentlemen, some standing, others sitting, but all asleep. He drew aside a heavy purple curtain, and once more held his breath; for he was looking into the great Hall of State where, at a long table, sat and slumbered [Pg 19] the King with his Council. The Lord Chancellor slept in the act of dipping pen into inkpot; the Archbishop in the act of taking snuff; and between the spectacles on the Archbishop's nose and the spectacles on the Lord Chancellor's a spider had spun a beautiful web. Prince Florimond tiptoed very carefully past these august sleepers and, leaving the hall by another door, came to the foot of the grand staircase.
Up this, too, he went; wandered along a corridor to his right, and, stopping by hazard at one of the many doors, opened it and looked into a bath-room lined with mirrors and having in its midst, sunk in the floor, a huge round basin of whitest porcelain wherein a spring of water bubbled deliciously. Three steps led down to the bath, and at the head of them stood a couch, with towels, and court-suit laid ready, exquisitely embroidered and complete to the daintiest of lace ruffles and the most delicate of body linen. Then the Prince bethought him that he had ridden far before ever coming to the wood; and the mirrors told him that he was also somewhat travel-stained from his passage through it.
So, [Pg 20] having by this time learnt to accept any new wonder without question, he undressed himself and took a bath, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Nor was he altogether astonished, when he tried on the clothes, to find that they fitted him perfectly. Even the rosetted shoes of satin might have been made to his measure. Having arrayed himself thus hardily, he resumed his quest along the corridor.
The very next door he tried opened on a chamber all panelled with white and gold; and there, on a bed the curtains of which were drawn wide, he beheld the loveliest vision he had ever seen: a Princess, seemingly about seventeen or eighteen years old, and of a beauty so brilliant that he could not have believed this world held the like. But she lay still, so still! Prince Florimond drew near, trembling and wondering, and sank on his knees beside her. Still she lay, scarcely seeming to breathe, and he bent and touched with his lips the little hand that rested, light as a rose-leaf, on the coverlet With that, as the long spell of her enchantment came to an end, the Princess awaked; and looking [Pg 21] at him with eyes more tender than a first sight of him might seem to excuse:—.
The Prince , charmed by these words, and still more by the manner in which they were spoken, knew not how to find words for the bliss in his heart. He assured her that he loved her better than his own self. Their speech after this was not very coherent; they gazed at one another for longer stretches than they talked; but if eloquence lacked, there was plenty of love. He, to be sure, showed the more embarrassment; and no need to wonder at this—she had had time to think over what to say to him; for I hold it not unlikely though the story does not say anything of this that the good Fairy Hippolyta had taken care to amuse her, during her long sleep, with some pleasurable dreams.
In short, the Princess Aurora and the Prince Florimond conversed for four hours, and still without saying the half they had to say. Meanwhile all the palace had awaked with the Princess. In the Council Chamber the King opened his eyes and requested the Lord Chancellor [Pg 22] to read that last sentence of his over again a little more distinctly. The Lord Chancellor, dipping his quill into the dry inkpot, asked the Archbishop in a whisper how many t's there were in 'regrettable.
Dogs barked, doors banged; the Princess's parrot screamed in his cage and was answered by the peacocks squawking from the terrace; amid which hubbub the Minister for Agriculture, forgetting his manners, made a trumpet of his hands and bawled across the table, begging His Majesty to adjourn for dinner. In short, every one's first thought was of his own business; and, as they were not all in love, they were ready to die with hunger.
Even the Queen , who had dropped asleep while discussing with her maids-of-honour the shade of mourning which most properly expressed regret for royal personages in a trance, lost her patience at length, and sent one of her attendants with word that she, for her part, was keen-set for something to [Pg 23] eat, and that in her young days it had been customary for young ladies released from enchantment to accept the congratulations of their parents without loss of time. The Prince Florimond , by this message recalled to his devoirs, helped the Princess to rise. She was completely dressed, and very magnificently too.
Taking his beloved Princess Aurora by the hand, he led her to her parents, who embraced her passionately and—their first transports over—turned to, welcome him as a son, being charmed quite apart from their gratitude by the modest gallantry of his address. They passed into a great dining-room lined with mirrors, where they supped and were served by the royal attendants. Violins and hautboys discoursed music that was ancient indeed, but excellent, and the meal was scarcely concluded before the company enjoyed a very pleasant surprise.
Prince Florimond , having no eyes but for his love, might be excused if he forgot that his attendants must, long before now, have carried home their report, and that his parents would be in deep distress, wondering what had become of him.
& Other Twisted Fairy Tails
But the King , the Princess's father, had a truly royal [Pg 24] habit of remembering details, especially when it concerned setting folks at their ease. Before dinner he had dispatched a messenger to carry word to Prince Florimond's father, that his son was safe, and to acquaint him briefly with what had befallen. The messenger, riding through the undergrowth—which now obligingly parted before him as it had, a while ago, to admit the Prince —and arriving at the outskirts of the wood, found there a search-party vainly endeavouring to break through the barrier, with the Prince's aged father standing by and exhorting them in person, to whom he delivered his message.
Trembling with relief—for he truly supposed his son to be lost beyond recall—the old man entreated the messenger to turn back and escort him. So he arrived, and was ushered into the hall. The situation, to be sure, was delicate. What matters ruling to either of us two, while we see your son and my daughter reigning together?
So it was agreed, then and there; and after supper, without loss of time, the Archbishop married the Prince Florimond and the Princess Aurora in the chapel of the Castle. The two Kings and the Princess's mother saw them to their chamber, and the first maid-of-honour drew the curtain. They slept little—the Princess had no occasion; but the Prince next morning led his bride back to the city, where they were acclaimed by the populace and lived happy ever after, reigning in prosperity and honour. In the East, in a city not far from Baghdad, there lived a man who had many possessions and might have been envied by all who knew him had these possessions been less by one.
He had fine houses in town and country, retinues of servants, gold and silver plate in abundance, coffers heaped with jewels, costly carpets, embroidered furniture, cabinets full of curiosities, gilded coaches, teams of Arab horses of the purest breed. But unluckily he had also a blue beard, which made him so frightfully ugly that every woman wanted to scream and run away at sight of him.
Among his neighbours was a lady of quality, [Pg 28] who had two sons and two daughters. Upon these two damsels Blue Beard cast his affections, without knowing precisely which he preferred; and asked the lady to bestow the hand of one of her daughters upon him, adding, not too tactfully, that he would leave the choice to her.
Neither Anne nor Fatima was eager for the honour. They sent their suitor to and fro, and back again from one to the other: they really could not make up their minds to accept a husband with a blue beard. It increased their repugnance for they were somewhat romantic young ladies to learn that he had already married several wives; and, moreover, nobody could tell what had become of them, which again was not reassuring.
Blue Beard , to make their better acquaintance, invited them, with their mother and brothers and a dozen or so of their youthful friends, to divert themselves at one of his country houses, where they spent a whole fortnight, and as they confessed in the most agreeable pastimes.
Each day brought some fresh entertainment: they hunted, they hawked, they practised archery, they angled for gold-fish, or were rowed to the sound of music on [Pg 29] the waters of their host's private canal, they picnicked in the ruined castles, of which he owned quite a number. Each day concluded, too, with banqueting, dancing, card-parties, theatricals; or would have concluded, had these young people felt any disposition to go to bed. They preferred, however, to sit up until morning, joking and teasing one another.
Blue Beard , who had arrived at middle age, would have been grateful for a little more sleep than they allowed him, but showed himself highly complaisant and smiled at their pranks even when—their awe of him having worn off—they balanced a basin of water above his chamber door, to fall on his head and douch him, or sewed up his night-garments, or stuffed his bolster with the prickly cactus an Eastern vegetable, of which he possessed whole avenues ; nay, even when, for the same mischievous purpose, they despoiled his garden of an aloe which was due to blossom in a few days' time, after having remained flowerless for a century, he betrayed no chagrin but merely raised the wages of his head-gardener, heart-broken over the loss of a plant so economical in giving pleasure.
In short all went so smoothly that the younger daughter [Pg 30] began to find their host's beard not so blue after all. She confided this to her mother. For a week past I have accused my eyesight of failing me, and myself of growing old.
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Ask yourself if it be reasonable to suppose that our eyes are playing a trick on both of us? Not,' her mother went on, 'that I, for my part, have any prejudice against blue. On the contrary, it is a beautiful colour, and considered lucky. The poets—you will have remarked—when they would figure to us the highest attainable happiness, select a blue flower or a blue bird for its emblem.
Heaven itself is blue; and, at the least, a blue beard must be allowed to confer distinction. Its colour is changing, you say. But for what reason? Obviously because he is in love; and what love has begun, love can carry to a conclusion. Nay, but put it on the ground of pity alone.porsingrasleland.ml
Ravishing Rapunzel by Rosetta Bloom - Book - Read Online
Could a feeling heart set itself any task more angelic than to rescue so worthy a gentleman from so hideous an affliction—if affliction it be, which I am far from allowing? Fatima reflected on her mother's advice, but thought it prudent to consult her sister Anne and her step-brothers before coming to a decision which, once taken, must be irrevocable.
They listened to her very good-naturedly; though, to tell the truth, all three were somewhat jaded, having sat up all night at the card-tables, [Pg 32] playing at ombre, quadrille, lasquenet; and Heaven knows what other games. As for her step-brothers, they were in the best of humours at having won a considerable sum of money from their host by superior play; and they answered her, quoting a proverb, that 'at nights all cats are grey, and all beards too,' and seemed to consider this very much to the point.