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The Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault the| Full Audiobook Unabridged

The Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault the| Full Audiobook Unabridged


The Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault. The Tales of Mother Goose by Charles Perrault. CINDERELLA, OR THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER. Once upon a time there was a gentleman who
married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that ever
was seen. She had two
daughters of her own, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. The gentleman had also a young daughter, of
rare goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother,
who was the best creature in the world. The wedding was scarcely over, when the stepmother’s
bad temper began to show itself. She could not bear the goodness of this young
girl, because it made her own daughters appear the more
odious. The stepmother gave
her the meanest work in the house to do; she had to scour the dishes,
tables, etc., and to scrub the floors and clean out the bedrooms. The
poor girl had to sleep in the garret, upon a wretched straw bed, while
her sisters lay in fine rooms with inlaid floors, upon beds of the very
newest fashion, and where they had looking-glasses so large that they
might see themselves at their full length. The poor girl bore all
patiently, and dared not complain to her father, who would have scolded
her if she had done so, for his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she used to go
into the chimney corner, and sit down among the cinders, hence she was
called Cinderwench. The
younger sister of the two, who was not so rude and uncivil as the elder,
called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella, in spite of her mean
apparel, was a hundred times more handsome than her sisters, though they
were always richly dressed. It happened that the King’s son gave a ball,
and invited to it all persons of fashion. Our young misses were also invited, for they
cut a very grand figure among the people of the
country-side. They were highly
delighted with the invitation, and wonderfully busy in choosing the
gowns, petticoats, and head-dresses which might best become them. This
made Cinderella’s lot still harder, for it was she who ironed her
sisters’ linen and plaited their ruffles. They talked all day long of
nothing but how they should be dressed. “For my part,” said the elder, “I will wear
my red velvet suit with French trimmings.” “And I,” said the younger, “shall wear my
usual skirt; but then, to make amends for that I will put on my gold-flowered
mantle, and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most
ordinary one in the world.” They sent for the best hairdressers they could
get to make up their hair in fashionable style, and bought patches for
their cheeks. Cinderella
was consulted in all these matters, for she had good taste. She advised
them always for the best, and even offered her services to dress their
hair, which they were very willing she should do. As she was doing this, they said to her:– “Cinderella, would you not be glad to go to
the ball?” “Young ladies,” she said, “you only jeer at
me; it is not for such as I am to go there.” “You are right,” they replied; “people would
laugh to see a Cinderwench at a ball.” Any one but Cinderella would have dressed
their hair awry, but she was good-natured, and arranged it perfectly well. They were almost two days
without eating, so much were they transported with joy. They broke above
a dozen laces in trying to lace themselves tight, that they might have a
fine, slender shape, and they were continually at their looking-glass. At last the happy day came; they went to Court,
and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and
when she had lost sight of them, she fell a-crying. Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked
her what was the matter. “I wish I could–I wish I could–” but she
could not finish for sobbing. Her godmother, who was a fairy, said to her,
“You wish you could go to the ball; is it not so?” “Alas, yes,” said Cinderella, sighing. “Well,” said her godmother, “be but a good
girl, and I will see that you go.” Then she took her into her chamber, and said
to her, “Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin.” Cinderella went at once to gather the finest
she could get, and brought it to her godmother, not being able to imagine
how this pumpkin could help her to go to the ball. Her godmother scooped out all the inside of
it, leaving nothing but the rind. Then she struck it with her wand, and
the pumpkin was instantly turned into a fine gilded coach. She then went to look into the mouse-trap,
where she found six mice, all alive. She ordered Cinderella to lift the trap-door,
when, giving each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with her
wand, it was that moment turned into a fine horse, and the six mice
made a fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse-colored, dapple gray. Being at a loss for a coachman, Cinderella
said, “I will go and see if there is not a rat in the rat-trap–we may
make a coachman of him.” “You are right,” replied her godmother; “go
and look.” Cinderella brought the rat-trap to her, and
in it there were three huge rats. The fairy chose the one which had the largest
beard, and, having touched him with her wand, he was turned into
a fat coachman with the finest mustache and whiskers ever seen. After that, she said to her:– “Go into the garden, and you will find six
lizards behind the watering-pot; bring them to me.” She had no sooner done so than her godmother
turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind
the coach, with their liveries all trimmed with gold and silver,
and they held on as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The fairy then said to Cinderella, “Well,
you see here a carriage fit to go to the ball in; are you not pleased with
it?” “Oh, yes!” she cried; “but must I go as I
am in these rags?” Her godmother simply touched her with her
wand, and, at the same moment, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold
and silver, all decked with jewels. This done, she gave her a pair of the prettiest
glass slippers in the whole world. Being thus attired, she got into the carriage,
her godmother commanding her, above all things,
not to stay till after midnight, and telling her, at the same time,
that if she stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin
again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her
clothes would become just as they were before. She promised her godmother she would not fail
to leave the ball before midnight. She drove away, scarce able to contain herself
for joy. The
King’s son, who was told that a great princess, whom nobody knew, was
come, ran out to receive her. He gave her his hand as she alighted from
the coach, and led her into the hall where the company were assembled. There was at once a profound silence; every
one left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attracted was
every one by the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer. Nothing was then heard but a confused
sound of voices saying:– “Ha! how beautiful she is! Ha! how beautiful she is!” The King himself, old as he was, could not
keep his eyes off her, and he told the Queen under his breath that it was
a long time since he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature. All the ladies were busy studying her clothes
and head-dress, so that they might have theirs made next day after
the same pattern, provided they could meet with such fine materials and
able hands to make them. The King’s son conducted her to the seat of
honor, and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very gracefully that they all
admired her more and more. A fine collation was served, but the young
Prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he occupied with her. She went and sat down beside her sisters,
showing them a thousand civilities, and giving them among other things
part of the oranges and citrons with which the Prince had regaled
her. This very much surprised
them, for they had not been presented to her. Cinderella heard the clock strike a quarter
to twelve. She at once made
her adieus to the company and hastened away as fast as she could. As soon as she got home, she ran to find her
godmother, and, after having thanked her, she said she much wished
she might go to the ball the next day, because the King’s son had asked
her to do so. As she was
eagerly telling her godmother all that happened at the ball, her two
sisters knocked at the door; Cinderella opened it. “How long you have
stayed!” said she, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as
if she had been just awakened. She had not, however, had any desire to
sleep since they went from home. “If you had been at the ball,” said one of
her sisters, “you would not have been tired with it. There came thither the finest princess, the
most beautiful ever was seen with mortal eyes. She showed us a thousand
civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons.” Cinderella did not show any pleasure at this. Indeed, she asked them the
name of the princess; but they told her they did not know it, and that
the King’s son was very much concerned, and would give all the world to
know who she was. At this Cinderella, smiling, replied:– “Was she then so very beautiful? How fortunate you have been! Could I
not see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me your yellow
suit of clothes which you wear every day.” “Ay, to be sure!” cried Miss Charlotte; “lend
my clothes to such a dirty Cinderwench as thou art! I should be out of my mind to do so.” Cinderella, indeed, expected such an answer
and was very glad of the refusal; for she would have been sadly troubled
if her sister had lent her what she jestingly asked for. The next day the two sisters went to
the ball, and so did Cinderella, but dressed more magnificently than
before. The King’s son was always by her side, and
his pretty speeches to her never ceased. These by no means annoyed the young lady. Indeed,
she quite forgot her godmother’s orders to her, so that she heard the
clock begin to strike twelve when she thought it could not be more than
eleven. She then rose up and fled, as nimble as a
deer. The Prince
followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass
slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. She got home, but
quite out of breath, without her carriage, and in her old clothes,
having nothing left her of all her finery but one of the little
slippers, fellow to the one she had dropped. The guards at the palace
gate were asked if they had not seen a princess go out, and they replied
they had seen nobody go out but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and
who had more the air of a poor country girl than of a young lady. When the two sisters returned from the ball,
Cinderella asked them if they had had a pleasant time, and if the fine
lady had been there. They
told her, yes; but that she hurried away the moment it struck twelve,
and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little glass
slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the King’s son had taken up. They said, further, that he had done nothing
but look at her all the time, and that most certainly he was very
much in love with the beautiful owner of the glass slipper. What they said was true; for a few days after
the King’s son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that
he would marry her whose foot this slipper would fit exactly. They began to try it on the
princesses, then on the duchesses, and then on all the ladies of the
Court; but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who did
all they possibly could to thrust a foot into the slipper,
but they could not succeed. Cinderella, who saw this, and knew her slipper,
said to them, laughing:– “Let me see if it will not fit me.” Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began
to banter her. The gentleman
who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and,
finding her very handsome, said it was but just that she should try, and
that he had orders to let every lady try it on. He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and, putting
the slipper to her little foot, he found it went on very easily,
and fitted her as if it had been made of wax. The astonishment of her two sisters was great,
but it was still greater when Cinderella pulled
out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on her foot. Thereupon, in came her godmother, who,
having touched Cinderella’s clothes with her wand, made them more
magnificent than those she had worn before. And now her two sisters found her to be that
beautiful lady they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon
for all their ill treatment of her. Cinderella took them up, and, as she
embraced them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged
them to love her always. She was conducted to the young Prince, dressed
as she was. He thought
her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was as good as she was beautiful,
gave her two sisters a home in the palace, and that very same day
married them to two great lords of the Court. THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOODS. Once upon a time there was a king and a queen,
who were very sorry that they had no children,–so sorry that it cannot
be told. At last, however, the Queen had a daughter. There was a very fine
christening; and the Princess had for her godmothers all the fairies
they could find in the whole kingdom (there were seven of them), so that
every one of them might confer a gift upon her, as was the custom of
fairies in those days. By this means the Princess had all the
perfections imaginable. After the christening was over, the company
returned to the King’s palace, where was prepared a great feast for
the fairies. There was
placed before every one of them a magnificent cover with a case of
massive gold, wherein were a spoon, and a knife and fork, all of pure
gold set with diamonds and rubies. But as they were all sitting down at
table they saw a very old fairy come into the hall. She had not been
invited, because for more than fifty years she had not been out of a
certain tower, and she was believed to be either dead or enchanted. The King ordered her a cover, but he could
not give her a case of gold as the others had, because seven only had
been made for the seven fairies. The old fairy fancied she was slighted, and
muttered threats between her teeth. One of the young fairies who sat near heard
her, and, judging that she might give the little Princess
some unlucky gift, hid herself behind the curtains as soon as they
left the table. She hoped
that she might speak last and undo as much as she could the evil which
the old fairy might do. In the meanwhile all the fairies began to
give their gifts to the Princess. The youngest gave her for her gift that she
should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next, that
she should have the wit of an angel; the third, that she should be able
to do everything she did gracefully; the fourth, that she should dance
perfectly; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; and the
sixth, that she should play all kinds of musical instruments to the fullest
perfection. The old fairy’s turn coming next, her head
shaking more with spite than with age, she said that the Princess should
pierce her hand with a spindle and die of the wound. This terrible gift made the whole company
tremble, and everybody fell a-crying. At this very instant the young fairy came
from behind the curtains and said these words in a loud voice:– “Assure yourselves, O King and Queen, that
your daughter shall not die of this disaster. It is true, I have no power to undo entirely
what my elder has done. The Princess shall indeed pierce her hand
with a spindle; but, instead of dying, she shall
only fall into a deep sleep, which shall last a hundred years, at the end
of which a king’s son shall come and awake her.” The King, to avoid the misfortune foretold
by the old fairy, issued orders forbidding any one, on pain of death,
to spin with a distaff and spindle, or to have a spindle in his house. About fifteen or sixteen
years after, the King and Queen being absent at one of their country
villas, the young Princess was one day running up and down the palace;
she went from room to room, and at last she came into a little garret on
the top of the tower, where a good old woman, alone, was spinning with
her spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King’s
orders against spindles. “What are you doing there, my good woman?”
said the Princess. “I am spinning, my pretty child,” said the
old woman, who did not know who the Princess was. “Ha!” said the Princess, “this is very pretty;
how do you do it? Give it
to me. Let me see if I can do it.” She had no sooner taken it into her hand than,
either because she was too quick and heedless, or because the decree
of the fairy had so ordained, it ran into her hand, and she fell
down in a swoon. The good old woman, not knowing what to do,
cried out for help. People
came in from every quarter; they threw water upon the face of the
Princess, unlaced her, struck her on the palms of her hands, and rubbed
her temples with cologne water; but nothing would bring her to herself. Then the King, who came up at hearing the
noise, remembered what the fairies had foretold. He knew very well that this must come to pass,
since the fairies had foretold it, and he caused the Princess to be
carried into the finest room in his palace, and to be laid upon a bed
all embroidered with gold and silver. One would have taken her for a
little angel, she was so beautiful; for her swooning had not dimmed the
brightness of her complexion: her cheeks were carnation, and her lips
coral. It is true her eyes were shut, but she was
heard to breathe softly, which satisfied those about her that
she was not dead. The King gave orders that they should let
her sleep quietly till the time came for her to awake. The good fairy who had saved her life by
condemning her to sleep a hundred years was in the kingdom of Matakin,
twelve thousand leagues off, when this accident befell the Princess;
but she was instantly informed of it by a little dwarf, who had
seven-leagued boots, that is, boots with which he could stride over
seven leagues of ground at once. The fairy started off at once, and
arrived, about an hour later, in a fiery chariot drawn by dragons. The King handed her out of the chariot, and
she approved everything he had done; but as she had very great foresight,
she thought that when the Princess should awake she might not know what
to do with herself, if she was all alone in this old palace. This was what she did: she touched
with her wand everything in the palace (except the King and
Queen),–governesses, maids of honor, ladies of the bedchamber,
gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, undercooks, kitchen maids, guards
with their porters, pages, and footmen; she likewise touched all the
horses which were in the stables, the cart horses, the hunters and the
saddle horses, the grooms, the great dogs in the outward court, and
little Mopsey, too, the Princess’s spaniel, which was lying on the bed. As soon as she touched them they all fell
asleep, not to awake again until their mistress did, that they might
be ready to wait upon her when she wanted them. The very spits at the fire, as full as they
could hold of partridges and pheasants, fell asleep,
and the fire itself as well. All this was done in a moment. Fairies are not long in doing their
work. And now the King and Queen, having kissed
their dear child without waking her, went out of the palace and sent
forth orders that nobody should come near it. These orders were not necessary; for in a
quarter of an hour’s time there grew up all round about the park such
a vast number of trees, great and small, bushes and brambles, twining
one within another, that neither man nor beast could pass through;
so that nothing could be seen but the very top of the towers of the palace;
and that, too, only from afar off. Every one knew that this also was the work
of the fairy in order that while the Princess slept she should
have nothing to fear from curious people. After a hundred years the son of the King
then reigning, who was of another family from that of the sleeping Princess,
was a-hunting on that side of the country, and he asked what those
towers were which he saw in the middle of a great thick wood. Every one answered according as they
had heard. Some said that it was an old haunted castle,
others that all the witches of the country held their midnight
revels there, but the common opinion was that it was an ogre’s dwelling,
and that he carried to it all the little children he could catch,
so as to eat them up at his leisure, without any one being able to
follow him, for he alone had the power to make his way through the wood. The Prince did not know what to believe, and
presently a very aged countryman spake to him thus:– “May it please your royal Highness, more than
fifty years since I heard from my father that there was then in this
castle the most beautiful princess that was ever seen; that she must
sleep there a hundred years, and that she should be waked by a king’s son,
for whom she was reserved.” The young Prince on hearing this was all on
fire. He thought, without
weighing the matter, that he could put an end to this rare adventure;
and, pushed on by love and the desire of glory, resolved at once to look
into it. As soon as he began to get near to the wood,
all the great trees, the bushes, and brambles gave way of themselves
to let him pass through. He
walked up to the castle which he saw at the end of a large avenue; and
you can imagine he was a good deal surprised when he saw none of his
people following him, because the trees closed again as soon as he had
passed through them. However, he did not cease from continuing
his way; a young prince in search of glory is ever
valiant. He came into a spacious outer court, and what
he saw was enough to freeze him with horror. A frightful silence reigned over all; the
image of death was everywhere, and there was nothing
to be seen but what seemed to be the outstretched bodies of dead
men and animals. He,
however, very well knew, by the ruby faces and pimpled noses of the
porters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, wherein still
remained some drops of wine, showed plainly that they had fallen asleep
while drinking their wine. He then crossed a court paved with marble,
went up the stairs, and came into the guard chamber, where guards were
standing in their ranks, with their muskets upon their shoulders, and snoring
with all their might. He
went through several rooms full of gentlemen and ladies, some standing
and others sitting, but all were asleep. He came into a gilded chamber,
where he saw upon a bed, the curtains of which were all open, the most
beautiful sight ever beheld–a princess who appeared to be about fifteen
or sixteen years of age, and whose bright and resplendent beauty had
something divine in it. He approached with trembling and admiration,
and fell down upon his knees before her. Then, as the end of the enchantment was come,
the Princess awoke, and looking on him with eyes more tender than
could have been expected at first sight, said:– “Is it you, my Prince? You have waited a long while.” The Prince, charmed with these words, and
much more with the manner in which they were spoken, knew not how to show
his joy and gratitude; he assured her that he loved her better than
he did himself. Their
discourse was not very connected, but they were the better pleased, for
where there is much love there is little eloquence. He was more at a
loss than she, and we need not wonder at it; she had had time to think
of what to say to him; for it is evident (though history says nothing of
it) that the good fairy, during so long a sleep, had given her very
pleasant dreams. In short, they talked together for four hours,
and then they said not half they had to say. In the meanwhile all the palace had woke up
with the Princess; every one thought upon his own business, and as they
were not in love, they were ready to die of hunger. The lady of honor, being as sharp set as the
other folks, grew very impatient, and told the Princess aloud that the
meal was served. The Prince helped the Princess to rise. She was
entirely and very magnificently dressed; but his royal Highness took
care not to tell her that she was dressed like his great-grandmother,
and had a high collar. She looked not a bit the less charming and
beautiful for all that. They went into the great mirrored hall, where
they supped, and were served by the officers of the Princess’s household. The violins and
hautboys played old tunes, but they were excellent, though they had not
been played for a hundred years; and after supper, without losing any
time, the lord almoner married them in the chapel of the castle. They
had but very little sleep–the Princess scarcely needed any; and the
Prince left her next morning to return into the city, where his father
was greatly troubled about him. The Prince told him that he lost his way in
the forest as he was hunting, and that he had slept in the cottage
of a charcoal-burner, who gave him cheese and brown bread. The King, his father, who was a good man,
believed him; but his mother could not be persuaded that it was true; and
seeing that he went almost every day a-hunting, and that he always had
some excuse ready for so doing, though he had been out three or four
nights together, she began to suspect that he was married; for he lived
thus with the Princess above two whole years, during which they had
two children, the elder, a daughter, was named Dawn, and the younger,
a son, they called Day, because he was a great deal handsomer than
his sister. The Queen spoke several times to her son,
to learn after what manner he was passing his time, and told him that in
this he ought in duty to satisfy her. But he never dared to trust her with his secret;
he feared her, though he loved her, for she was of the
race of the Ogres, and the King married her for her vast riches alone. It was even whispered about
the Court that she had Ogreish inclinations, and that, whenever she saw
little children passing by, she had all the difficulty in the world to
prevent herself from falling upon them. And so the Prince would never
tell her one word. But when the King was dead, which happened
about two years afterward, and he saw himself lord and master, he openly
declared his marriage: and he went in great state to conduct his Queen
to the palace. They made a
magnificent entry into the capital city, she riding between her two
children. Soon after, the King made war on Emperor Cantalabutte,
his neighbor. He
left the government of the kingdom to the Queen, his mother, and
earnestly commended his wife and children to her care. He was obliged to
carry on the war all the summer, and as soon as he left, the
Queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law and her children to a country
house among the woods, that she might with the more ease gratify her
horrible longing. Some few days afterward she went thither herself,
and said to her head cook:– “I intend to eat little Dawn for my dinner
to-morrow.” “O! madam!” cried the head cook. “I will have it so,” replied the Queen (and
this she spoke in the tone of an Ogress who had a strong desire to eat
fresh meat), “and will eat her with a sharp sauce.” The poor man, knowing very well that he must
not play tricks with Ogresses, took his great knife and went up
into little Dawn’s chamber. She was then nearly four years old, and came
up to him, jumping and laughing, to put her arms round his neck,
and ask him for some sugar-candy. Upon which he began to weep, the great knife
fell out of his hand, and he went into the back yard and
killed a little lamb, and dressed it with such good sauce that his mistress
assured him she had never eaten anything so good in her life. He had at the same time taken
up little Dawn and carried her to his wife, to conceal her in his
lodging at the end of the courtyard. Eight days afterwards the wicked Queen said
to the chief cook, “I will sup upon little Day.” He answered not a word, being resolved to
cheat her again as he had done before. He went to find little Day, and saw him with
a foil in his hand, with which he was fencing with a great monkey:
the child was then only three years of age. He took him up in his arms and carried him
to his wife, that she might conceal him in her chamber
along with his sister, and instead of little Day he served up a young
and very tender kid, which the Ogress found to be wonderfully good. All had gone well up to now; but one evening
this wicked Queen said to her chief cook:– “I will eat the Queen with the same sauce
I had with her children.” Now the poor chief cook was in despair and
could not imagine how to deceive her again. The young Queen was over twenty years old,
not reckoning the hundred years she had been asleep:
and how to find something to take her place greatly puzzled
him. He then decided, to
save his own life, to cut the Queen’s throat; and going up into her
chamber, with intent to do it at once, he put himself into as great fury
as he possibly could, and came into the young Queen’s room with his
dagger in his hand. He would not, however, deceive her, but told
her, with a great deal of respect, the orders he
had received from the Queen-mother. “Do it; do it,” she said, stretching out her
neck. “Carry out your
orders, and then I shall go and see my children, my poor children, whom
I loved so much and so tenderly.” For she thought them dead, since they had
been taken away without her knowledge. “No, no, madam,” cried the poor chief cook,
all in tears; “you shall not die, and you shall see your children again
at once. But then you must
go home with me to my lodgings, where I have concealed them, and I will
deceive the Queen once more, by giving her a young hind in your stead.” Upon this he forthwith conducted her to his
room, where, leaving her to embrace her children, and cry along with them,
he went and dressed a young hind, which the Queen had for her supper,
and devoured with as much appetite as if it had been the young
Queen. She was now well
satisfied with her cruel deeds, and she invented a story to tell the
King on his return, of how the Queen his wife and her two children had
been devoured by mad wolves. One evening, as she was, according to her
custom, rambling round about the courts and yards of the palace to see
if she could smell any fresh meat, she heard, in a room on the ground floor,
little Day crying, for his mamma was going to whip him, because he
had been naughty; and she heard, at the same time, little Dawn begging
mercy for her brother. The Ogress knew the voice of the Queen and
her children at once, and being furious at having been thus deceived,
she gave orders (in a most horrible voice which made everybody tremble)
that, next morning by break of day, they should bring into the middle
of the great court a large tub filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and all
sorts of serpents, in order to have the Queen and her children, the chief
cook, his wife and maid, thrown into it, all of whom were to be brought
thither with their hands tied behind them. They were brought out accordingly, and the
executioners were just going to throw them into the tub, when the King,
who was not so soon expected, entered the court on horseback and asked,
with the utmost astonishment, what was the meaning of that horrible spectacle. No one dared to tell him, when the Ogress,
all enraged to see what had happened, threw herself head foremost into
the tub, and was instantly devoured by the ugly creatures she had ordered
to be thrown into it to kill the others. The King was of course very sorry, for she
was his mother; but he soon comforted himself with
his beautiful wife and his pretty children. LITTLE THUMB. Once upon a time there was a fagot-maker and
his wife, who had seven children, all boys. The eldest was but ten years old, and the
youngest only seven. They were very poor, and their seven children
were a great source of trouble to them because not one of them was
able to earn his bread. What
gave them yet more uneasiness was that the youngest was very delicate,
and scarce ever spoke a word, which made people take for stupidity that
which was a sign of good sense. He was very little, and when born he was
no bigger than one’s thumb; hence he was called Little Thumb. The poor child was the drudge of the household,
and was always in the wrong. He was, however, the most bright and discreet
of all the brothers; and if he spoke little, he heard
and thought the more. There came a very bad year, and the famine
was so great that these poor people resolved to rid themselves of their
children. One evening, when
they were in bed, and the fagot-maker was sitting with his wife at the
fire, he said to her, with his heart ready to burst with grief:– “You see plainly that we no longer can give
our children food, and I cannot bear to see them die of hunger before
my eyes; I am resolved to lose them in the wood to-morrow, which may
very easily be done, for, while they amuse themselves in tying up fagots,
we have only to run away and leave them without their seeing us.” “Ah!” cried out his wife, “could you really
take the children and lose them?” In vain did her husband represent to her their
great poverty; she would not consent to it. She was poor, but she was their mother. However, having considered what a grief it
would be to her to see them die of hunger, she consented, and went weeping
to bed. Little Thumb heard all they had said; for,
hearing that they were talking business, he got up softly and slipped
under his father’s seat, so as to hear without being seen. He went to bed again, but did not
sleep a wink all the rest of the night, thinking of what he had to do. He got up early in the morning, and went to
the brookside, where he filled his pockets full of small white pebbles,
and then returned home. They all went out, but Little Thumb never
told his brothers a word of what he knew. They went into a very thick forest, where
they could not see one another at ten paces apart. The fagot-maker began to cut wood, and the
children to gather up sticks to make fagots. Their father and mother,
seeing them busy at their work, got away from them unbeknown and then
all at once ran as fast as they could through a winding by-path. When the children found they were alone, they
began to cry with all their might. Little Thumb let them cry on, knowing very
well how to get home again; for, as he came, he had dropped
the little white pebbles he had in his pockets all along the way. Then he said to them, “Do not be
afraid, my brothers,–father and mother have left us here, but I will
lead you home again; only follow me.” They followed, and he brought them home by
the very same way they had come into the forest. They dared not go in at first, but stood outside
the door to listen to what their father and mother were saying. The very moment the fagot-maker and his wife
reached home the lord of the manor sent them ten crowns, which he had
long owed them, and which they never hoped to see. This gave them new life, for the poor people
were dying of hunger. The fagot-maker sent his wife to the butcher’s
at once. As it was a long while since they had eaten,
she bought thrice as much meat as was needed for supper for two
people. When they had eaten,
the woman said:– “Alas! where are our poor children now? They would make a good feast of
what we have left here; it was you, William, who wished to lose them. I
told you we should repent of it. What are they now doing in the forest? Alas! perhaps the wolves have already eaten
them up; you are very inhuman thus to have lost your children.” The fagot-maker grew at last quite out of
patience, for she repeated twenty times that he would repent of it, and
that she was in the right. He threatened to beat her if she did not hold
her tongue. The
fagot-maker was, perhaps, more sorry than his wife, but she teased him
so he could not endure it. She wept bitterly, saying:– “Alas! where are my children now, my poor
children?” She said this once so very loud that the children,
who were at the door, heard her and cried out all together:– “Here we are! Here we are!” She ran immediately to let them in, and said
as she embraced them:– “How happy I am to see you again, my dear
children; you are very tired and very hungry, and, my poor Peter, you are
covered with mud. Come in
and let me clean you.” Peter was her eldest son, whom she loved more
than all the rest, because he was red haired, as she was herself. They sat down to table, and ate with an appetite
which pleased both father and mother, to whom they told how frightened
they were in the forest, nearly all speaking at once. The good folk were delighted to see
their children once more, and this joy continued while the ten crowns
lasted. But when the money was all spent, they fell
again into their former uneasiness, and resolved to lose their
children again. And, that
they might be the surer of doing it, they determined to take them much
farther than before. They could not talk of this so secretly but
they were overheard by Little Thumb, who laid his plans to get out
of the difficulty as he had done before; but, though he got up very early
to go and pick up some little pebbles, he could not, for he found
the house-door double-locked. He did not know what to do. Their father had given each of them a piece
of bread for their breakfast. He reflected that he might make use of the
bread instead of the pebbles, by throwing crumbs all along the way they
should pass, and so he stuffed it in his pocket. Their father and mother
led them into the thickest and most obscure part of the forest, and
then, stealing away into a by-path, left them there. Little Thumb was
not very much worried about it, for he thought he could easily find the
way again by means of his bread, which he had scattered all along as he
came; but he was very much surprised when he could not find a single
crumb: the birds had come and eaten them all. They were now in great trouble; for the more
they wandered, the deeper they went into the forest. Night now fell, and there arose a high wind,
which filled them with fear. They fancied they heard on every side the
howling of wolves coming to devour them. They scarce dared to speak or
turn their heads. Then it rained very hard, which wetted them
to the skin. Their feet slipped at every step, and they
fell into the mud, covering their hands with it so that they
knew not what to do with them. Little Thumb climbed up to the top of a tree,
to see if he could discover anything. Looking on every side, he saw at last a glimmering
light, like that of a candle, but a long way beyond the forest. He came
down, and, when upon the ground, he could see it no more, which
grieved him sadly. However, having walked for some time with
his brothers toward that side on which he had
seen the light, he discovered it again as he came out of the wood. They arrived at last at the house where this
candle was, not without many frights; for very often they lost sight
of it, which happened every time they came into a hollow. They knocked at the door, and a good
woman came and opened it. She asked them what they wanted. Little Thumb told her they were poor
children who were lost in the forest, and desired to lodge there for
charity’s sake. The woman, seeing them all so very pretty,
began to weep and said to them: “Alas! poor babies, where
do you come from? Do you
know that this house belongs to a cruel Ogre who eats little children?” “Alas! dear madam,” answered Little Thumb
(who, with his brothers, was trembling in every limb), “what shall we do? The wolves of the forest
surely will devour us to-night if you refuse us shelter in your house;
and so we would rather the gentleman should eat us. Perhaps he may take
pity upon us if you will be pleased to ask him to do so.” The Ogre’s wife, who believed she could hide
them from her husband till morning, let them come in, and took them to
warm themselves at a very good fire; for there was a whole sheep roasting
for the Ogre’s supper. As they began to warm themselves they heard
three or four great raps at the door; this was the Ogre, who was come
home. His wife quickly hid
them under the bed and went to open the door. The Ogre at once asked if
supper was ready and the wine drawn, and then sat himself down to
table. The sheep was as yet all raw, but he liked
it the better for that. He sniffed about to the right and left, saying:– “I smell fresh meat.” “What you smell,” said his wife, “must be
the calf which I have just now killed and flayed.” “I smell fresh meat, I tell you once more,”
replied the Ogre, looking crossly at his wife, “and there is something
here which I do not understand.” As he spoke these words he got up from the
table and went straight to the bed. “Ah!” said he, “that is how you would cheat
me; I know not why I do not eat you, too; it is well for you that you
are tough. Here is game, which
comes very luckily to entertain three Ogres of my acquaintance who are
to pay me a visit in a day or two.” He dragged them out from under the bed, one
by one. The poor children
fell upon their knees and begged his pardon, but they had to do with one
of the most cruel of Ogres, who, far from having any pity on them, was
already devouring them in his mind, and told his wife they would be
delicate eating when she had made a good sauce. He then took a great knife, and, coming up
to these poor children, sharpened it upon a great whetstone which
he held in his left hand. He
had already taken hold of one of them when his wife said to him:– “What need you do it now? Will you not have time enough to-morrow?” “Hold your prating,” said the Ogre; “they
will eat the tenderer.” “But you have so much meat already,” replied
his wife; “here are a calf, two sheep, and half a pig.” “That is true,” said the Ogre; “give them
a good supper that they may not grow thin, and put them to bed.” The good woman was overjoyed at this, and
gave them a good supper; but they were so much afraid that they could not
eat. As for the Ogre, he
sat down again to drink, being highly pleased that he had the
wherewithal to treat his friends. He drank a dozen glasses more than
ordinary, which got up into his head and obliged him to go to bed. The Ogre had seven daughters, who were still
little children. These
young Ogresses had all of them very fine complexions; but they all had
little gray eyes, quite round, hooked noses, a very large mouth, and
very long, sharp teeth, set far apart. They were not as yet wicked, but
they promised well to be, for they had already bitten little children. They had been put to bed early, all seven
in one bed, with every one a crown of gold upon her head. There was in the same chamber a bed of the
like size, and the Ogre’s wife put the seven little boys into this bed,
after which she went to bed herself. Little Thumb, who had observed that the Ogre’s
daughters had crowns of gold upon their heads, and was afraid lest
the Ogre should repent his not killing them that evening, got up about
midnight, and, taking his brothers’ bonnets and his own, went very softly
and put them upon the heads of the seven little Ogresses, after
having taken off their crowns of gold, which he put upon his own head and
his brothers’, so that the Ogre might take them for his daughters, and
his daughters for the little boys whom he wanted to kill. Things turned out just as he had thought;
for the Ogre, waking about midnight, regretted that he had deferred till
morning to do that which he might have done overnight, and jumped quickly
out of bed, taking his great knife. “Let us see,” said he, “how our little rogues
do, and not make two jobs of the matter.” He then went up, groping all the way, into
his daughters’ chamber; and, coming to the bed where the little boys lay,
and who were all fast asleep, except Little Thumb, who was terribly
afraid when he found the Ogre fumbling about his head, as he had done
about his brothers’, he felt the golden crowns, and said:– “I should have made a fine piece of work of
it, truly; it is clear I drank too much last night.” Then he went to the bed where the girls lay,
and, having found the boys’ little bonnets:– “Ah!” said he, “my merry lads, are you there? Let us work boldly.” And saying these words, without more ado,
he cruelly murdered all his seven daughters. Well pleased with what he had done, he went
to bed again. So soon as Little Thumb heard the Ogre snore,
he waked his brothers, and bade them put on their clothes quickly and
follow him. They stole softly
into the garden and got over the wall. They ran about, all night,
trembling all the while, without knowing which way they went. The Ogre, when he woke, said to his wife:
“Go upstairs and dress those young rascals who came here last night.” The Ogress was very much
surprised at this goodness of her husband, not dreaming after what
manner she should dress them; but, thinking that he had ordered her to
go up and put on their clothes, she went, and was horrified when she
perceived her seven daughters all dead. She began by fainting away, as was only natural
in such a case. The
Ogre, fearing his wife was too long in doing what he had ordered, went
up himself to help her. He was no less amazed than his wife at this
frightful spectacle. “Ah! what have I done?” cried he. “The wretches shall pay for it, and
that instantly.” He threw a pitcher of water upon his wife’s
face, and having brought her to herself, “Give me quickly,” cried he, “my
seven-leagued boots, that I may go and catch them.” He went out into the country, and, after running
in all directions, he came at last into the very road where the
poor children were, and not above a hundred paces from their father’s
house. They espied the Ogre,
who went at one step from mountain to mountain, and over rivers as
easily as the narrowest brooks. Little Thumb, seeing a hollow rock near
the place where they were, hid his brothers in it, and crowded into it
himself, watching always what would become of the Ogre. The Ogre, who found himself tired with his
long and fruitless journey (for these boots of seven leagues greatly
taxed the wearer), had a great mind to rest himself, and, by chance, went
to sit down upon the rock in which the little boys had hidden themselves. As he was worn out with
fatigue, he fell asleep, and, after reposing himself some time, began to
snore so frightfully that the poor children were no less afraid of him
than when he held up his great knife and was going to take their lives. Little Thumb was not so much frightened as
his brothers, and told them that they should run away at once toward home
while the Ogre was asleep so soundly, and that they need not be in any
trouble about him. They
took his advice, and got home quickly. Little Thumb then went close to the Ogre,
pulled off his boots gently, and put them on his own legs. The boots were very long and large, but as
they were fairy boots, they had the gift of becoming big or little,
according to the legs of those who wore them; so that they fitted his
feet and legs as well as if they had been made for him. He went straight
to the Ogre’s house, where he saw his wife crying bitterly for the loss
of her murdered daughters. “Your husband,” said Little Thumb, “is in
very great danger, for he has been taken by a gang of thieves, who have
sworn to kill him if he does not give them all his gold and silver. At the very moment they held
their daggers at his throat he perceived me and begged me to come and
tell you the condition he was in, and to say that you should give me all
he has of value, without retaining any one thing; for otherwise they
will kill him without mercy. As his case is very pressing, he desired me
to make use of his seven-leagued boots, which you see I have on, so that
I might make the more haste and that I might show you that I do not
impose upon you.” The good woman, being greatly frightened,
gave him all she had; for this Ogre was a very good husband, though he ate
up little children. Little
Thumb, having thus got all the Ogre’s money, came home to his father’s
house, where he was received with abundance of joy. There are many people who do not agree in
regard to this act of Little Thumb’s, and pretend that he never robbed
the Ogre at all, and that he only thought he might very justly take off
his seven-leagued boots because he made no other use of them but to
run after little children. These folks affirm that they are very well
assured of this, because they have drunk and eaten often at the fagot-maker’s
house. They declare that
when Little Thumb had taken off the Ogre’s boots he went to Court, where
he was informed that they were very much in trouble about a certain
army, which was two hundred leagues off, and anxious as to the success
of a battle. He went, they say, to the King and told him
that if he desired it, he would bring him news from the
army before night. The King promised him a great sum of money
if he succeeded. Little Thumb
returned that very same night with the news; and, this first expedition
causing him to be known, he earned as much as he wished, for the King
paid him very well for carrying his orders to the army. Many ladies
employed him also to carry messages, from which he made much money. After having for some time carried on the
business of a messenger and gained thereby great wealth, he went home
to his father, and it is impossible to express the joy of his family. He placed them all in
comfortable circumstances, bought places for his father and brothers,
and by that means settled them very handsomely in the world, while he
successfully continued to make his own way. THE MASTER CAT, OR PUSS IN BOOTS. Once upon a time there was a miller who left
no more riches to the three sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his
cat. The division was soon
made. Neither the lawyer nor the attorney was sent
for. They would soon
have eaten up all the poor property. The eldest had the mill, the second
the ass, and the youngest nothing but the cat. The youngest, as we can understand, was quite
unhappy at having so poor a share. “My brothers,” said he, “may get their living
handsomely enough by joining their stocks together; but, for my
part, when I have eaten up my cat, and made me a muff of his skin, I must
die of hunger.” The Cat, who heard all this, without appearing
to take any notice, said to him with a grave and serious air:– “Do not thus afflict yourself, my master;
you have nothing else to do but to give me a bag, and get a pair of boots
made for me, that I may scamper through the brambles, and you shall
see that you have not so poor a portion in me as you think.” Though the Cat’s master did not think much
of what he said, he had seen him play such cunning tricks to catch rats
and mice–hanging himself by the heels, or hiding himself in the meal,
to make believe he was dead–that he did not altogether despair of
his helping him in his misery. When the Cat had what he asked for, he booted
himself very gallantly, and putting his bag about his neck,
he held the strings of it in his two forepaws, and went into a warren
where was a great number of rabbits. He put bran and sow-thistle into his bag,
and, stretching out at length, as if he were dead, he waited for
some young rabbits, not yet acquainted with the deceits of the world,
to come and rummage his bag for what he had put into it. Scarcely was he settled but he had what he
wanted. A rash and foolish
young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing
close the strings, took him and killed him at once. Proud of his prey,
he went with it to the palace, and asked to speak with the King. He was
shown upstairs into his Majesty’s apartment, and, making a low bow to
the King, he said:– “I have brought you, sire, a rabbit which
my noble Lord, the Master of Carabas” (for that was the title which Puss
was pleased to give his master) “has commanded me to present to your
Majesty from him.” “Tell thy master,” said the King, “that I
thank him, and that I am pleased with his gift.” Another time he went and hid himself among
some standing corn, still holding his bag open; and when a brace of
partridges ran into it, he drew the strings, and so caught them both. He then went and made a
present of these to the King, as he had done before of the rabbit which
he took in the warren. The King, in like manner, received the partridges
with great pleasure, and ordered his servants to reward him. The Cat continued for two or three months
thus to carry his Majesty, from time to time, some of his master’s game. One day when he knew that
the King was to take the air along the riverside, with his daughter, the
most beautiful princess in the world, he said to his master:– “If you will follow my advice, your fortune
is made. You have nothing
else to do but go and bathe in the river, just at the spot I shall show
you, and leave the rest to me.” The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised
him to, without knowing what could be the use of doing it. While he was bathing, the King passed
by, and the Cat cried out with all his might:– “Help! help! My Lord the Marquis of Carabas is drowning!” At this noise the King put his head out of
the coach window, and seeing the Cat who had so often brought him game,
he commanded his guards to run immediately to the assistance of his Lordship
the Marquis of Carabas. While they were drawing the poor Marquis out
of the river, the Cat came up to the coach and told the King that, while
his master was bathing, there came by some rogues, who ran off with
his clothes, though he had cried out, “Thieves! thieves!” several times,
as loud as he could. The
cunning Cat had hidden the clothes under a great stone. The King
immediately commanded the officers of his wardrobe to run and fetch one
of his best suits for the Lord Marquis of Carabas. The King was extremely polite to him, and
as the fine clothes he had given him set off his good looks (for he was
well made and handsome), the King’s daughter found him very much to
her liking, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three
respectful and somewhat tender glances than she fell in love with
him to distraction. The King
would have him come into the coach and take part in the airing. The Cat,
overjoyed to see his plan begin to succeed, marched on before, and,
meeting with some countrymen, who were mowing a meadow, he said to
them:– “Good people, you who are mowing, if you do
not tell the King that the meadow you mow belongs to my Lord Marquis
of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the pot.” The King did not fail to ask the mowers to
whom the meadow they were mowing belonged. “To my Lord Marquis of Carabas,” answered
they all together, for the Cat’s threat had made them afraid. “You have a good property there,” said the
King to the Marquis of Carabas. “You see, sire,” said the Marquis, “this is
a meadow which never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year.” The Master Cat, who went still on before,
met with some reapers, and said to them:– “Good people, you who are reaping, if you
do not say that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall
be chopped as small as herbs for the pot.” The King, who passed by a moment after, wished
to know to whom belonged all that corn, which he then saw. “To my Lord Marquis of Carabas,” replied the
reapers, and the King was very well pleased with it, as well as the
Marquis, whom he congratulated thereupon. The Master Cat, who went always before, said
the same thing to all he met, and the King was astonished
at the vast estates of my Lord Marquis of Carabas. Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle,
the master of which was an Ogre, the richest ever known; for all the
lands which the King had then passed through belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken care
to inform himself who this Ogre was and what he could do, asked to speak
with him, saying he could not pass so near his castle without having the
honor of paying his respects to him. The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre
could do, and made him sit down. “I have been assured,” said the Cat, “that
you have the gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of
creatures you have a mind to; that you can, for example, transform yourself
into a lion, or elephant, and the like.” “That is true,” answered the Ogre, roughly;
“and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion.” Puss was so terrified at the sight of a lion
so near him that he immediately climbed into the gutter, not without
much trouble and danger, because of his boots, which were of
no use at all to him for walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the
Ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned he had been
very much frightened. “I have, moreover, been informed,” said the
Cat, “but I know not how to believe it, that; you have also the power
to take on you the shape of the smallest animals; for example, to change
yourself into a rat or a mouse, but I must own to you I take this to
be impossible.” “Impossible!” cried the Ogre; “you shall see.” And at the same time he
changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no
sooner perceived this than he fell upon him and ate him up. Meanwhile, the King, who saw, as he passed,
this fine castle of the Ogre’s, had a mind to go into it. Puss, who heard the noise of his
Majesty’s coach coming over the drawbridge, ran out, and said to the
King, “Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my Lord Marquis of
Carabas.” “What! my Lord Marquis,” cried the King, “and
does this castle also belong to you? There can be nothing finer than this courtyard
and all the stately buildings which surround it; let
us see the interior, if you please.” The Marquis gave his hand to the young Princess,
and followed the King, who went first. They passed into the great hall, where they
found a magnificent collation, which the Ogre had
prepared for his friends, who were that very day to visit him, but dared
not to enter, knowing the King was there. His Majesty, charmed with the good qualities
of my Lord of Carabas, as was also his daughter, who
had fallen violently in love with him, and seeing the vast estate he possessed,
said to him:– “It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord
Marquis, if you are not my son-in-law.” The Marquis, with low bows, accepted the honor
which his Majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith that very
same day married the Princess. Puss became a great lord, and never ran after
mice any more except for his diversion. RIQUET WITH THE TUFT. Once upon a time there was a Queen who had
a son so ugly and so misshapen that it was long disputed whether
he had human form. A fairy
who was at his birth said, however, that he would be very amiable for
all that, since he would have uncommon good sense. She even added that
it would be in his power, by virtue of a gift she had just then given
him, to bestow as much sense as he pleased on the person he loved the
best. All this somewhat comforted the poor Queen. It is true that this
child no sooner began to talk than he said a thousand pretty things, and
in all his actions there was an intelligence that was quite charming. I
forgot to tell you that he was born with a little tuft of hair upon his
head, which made them call him Riquet[1] with the Tuft, for Riquet was
the family name. Seven or eight years later the Queen of a
neighboring kingdom had two daughters who were twins. The first born of these was more beautiful
than the day; whereat the Queen was so very glad that those present were
afraid that her excess of joy would do her harm. The same fairy who was
present at the birth of little Riquet with the Tuft was here also, and,
to moderate the Queen’s gladness, she declared that this little Princess
should have no sense at all, but should be as stupid as she was pretty. This mortified the Queen extremely; but afterward
she had a far greater sorrow, for the second daughter proved to
be very ugly. “Do not afflict yourself so much, madam,”
said the fairy. “Your daughter
shall have her recompense; she shall have so great a portion of sense
that the want of beauty will hardly be perceived.” “God grant it,” replied the Queen; “but is
there no way to make the eldest, who is so pretty, have any sense?” “I can do nothing for her, madam, as to sense,”
answered the fairy, “but everything as to beauty; and as there is nothing
I would not do for your satisfaction, I give her for gift that she
shall have power to make handsome the person who shall best please
her.” As these princesses grew up, their perfections
grew with them. All the
public talk was of the beauty of the elder and the rare good sense of
the younger. It is true also that their defects increased
considerably with their age. The younger visibly grew uglier and uglier,
and the elder became every day more and more stupid:
she either made no answer at all to what was asked her, or said something
very silly. She was with
all this so unhandy that she could not place four pieces of china upon
the mantelpiece without breaking one of them, nor drink a glass of water
without spilling half of it upon her clothes. Although beauty is a very great advantage
in young people, the younger sister was always the more preferred in society. People would indeed go
first to the Beauty to look upon and admire her, but turn aside soon
after to the Wit to hear a thousand most entertaining and agreeable
things; and it was amazing to see, in less than a quarter of an hour’s
time, the elder with not a soul near her, and the whole company crowding
about the younger. The elder, dull as she was, could not fail
to notice this; and without the slightest regret would
have given all her beauty to have half her sister’s wit. The Queen, prudent as she was, could not
help reproaching her several times for her stupidity, which almost made
the poor Princess die of grief. One day, as she had hidden herself in a wood
to bewail her misfortune, she saw coming to her a very disagreeable
little man, but most magnificently dressed. This was the young Prince Riquet with the
Tuft, who having fallen in love with her upon seeing
her picture,–many of which were distributed all the world over,–had
left his father’s kingdom to have the pleasure of seeing and
talking with her. Overjoyed
to find her thus alone, he addressed himself to her with all imaginable
politeness and respect. Having observed, after he had paid her the
ordinary compliments, that she was extremely melancholy, he said to
her:– “I cannot comprehend, madam, how a person
so beautiful as you are can be so sorrowful as you seem to be; for though
I can boast of having seen a great number of exquisitely charming ladies,
I can say that I never beheld any one whose beauty approaches yours.” “You are pleased to say so,” answered the
Princess, and here she stopped. “Beauty,” replied Riquet with the Tuft, “is
such a great advantage, that it ought to take place of all things besides;
and since you possess this treasure, I can see nothing that can possibly
very much afflict you.” “I had far rather,” cried the Princess, “be
as ugly as you are, and have sense, than have the beauty I possess, and
be as stupid as I am.” “There is nothing, madam,” returned he, “shows
more that we have good sense than to believe we have none; and it
is the nature of that excellent quality that the more people have
of it, the more they believe they want it.” “I do not know that,” said the Princess; “but
I know very well that I am very senseless, and that vexes me mightily.” “If that be all which troubles you, madam,
I can very easily put an end to your affliction.” “And how will you do that?” cried the Princess. “I have the power, madam,” replied Riquet
with the Tuft, “to give to that person whom I love best as much good
sense as can be had; and as you, madam, are that very person, it will
be your fault only if you have not as great a share of it as any one living,
provided you will be pleased to marry me.” The Princess was quite confused, and answered
not a word. “I see,” replied Riquet with the Tuft, “that
this proposal does not please you, and I do not wonder at it; but
I will give you a whole year to consider it.” The Princess had so little sense and, at the
same time, so great a longing to have some, that she imagined the
end of that year would never come, so she accepted the proposal which was
made her. She had no sooner promised Riquet with the
Tuft that she would marry him on that day twelvemonth than she found herself
quite otherwise than she was before: she had an incredible faculty
of speaking whatever she had in her mind in a polite, easy, and natural
manner. She began that moment a very gallant conversation
with Riquet with the Tuft, which she kept up at such a rate that
Riquet with the Tuft believed he had given her more sense than
he had reserved for himself. When she returned to the palace, the whole
court knew not what to think of such a sudden and extraordinary change;
for they heard from her now as much sensible discourse and as many infinitely
witty phrases as they had heard stupid and silly impertinences before. The whole court was
overjoyed beyond imagination at it. It pleased all but her younger
sister, because, having no longer the advantage of her in respect of
wit, she appeared in comparison with her a very disagreeable, homely
girl. The King governed himself by her advice, and
would even sometimes hold a council in her apartment. The news of this change in the Princess spread
everywhere; the young princes of the neighboring kingdoms strove all
they could to gain her favor, and almost all of them asked her in
marriage; but she found not one of them had sense enough for her. She
gave them all a hearing, but would not engage herself to any. However, there came one so powerful, so rich,
so witty, and so handsome that she could not help feeling a strong inclination
toward him. Her
father perceived it, and told her that she was her own mistress as to
the choice of a husband, and that she might declare her intentions. She
thanked her father, and desired him to give her time to consider it. She went by chance to walk in the same wood
where she met Riquet with the Tuft, the more conveniently to think what
she ought to do. While she
was walking in a profound meditation, she heard a confused noise under
her feet, as it were of a great many people busily running backward and
forward. Listening more attentively, she heard one
say:– “Bring me that pot,” another, “Give me that
kettle,” and a third, “Put some wood upon the fire.” The ground at the same time opened, and she
saw under her feet a great kitchen full of cooks, kitchen helps, and
all sorts of officers necessary for a magnificent entertainment. There came out of it a
company of cooks, to the number of twenty or thirty, who went to plant
themselves about a very long table set up in the forest, with their
larding pins in their hands and fox tails in their caps, and began to
work, keeping time to a very harmonious tune. The Princess, all astonished at this sight,
asked them for whom they worked. “For Prince Riquet with the Tuft,” said the
chief of them, “who is to be married to-morrow.” The Princess, more surprised than ever, and
recollecting all at once that it was now that day twelvemonth on which
she had promised to marry the Prince Riquet with the Tuft, was ready
to sink into the ground. What made her forget this was that when she
made this promise, she was very silly; and having obtained that vast
stock of sense which the prince had bestowed upon her, she had entirely
forgotten the things she had done in the days of her stupidity. She continued her walk, but had
not taken thirty steps before Riquet with the Tuft presented himself to
her, gallant and most magnificently dressed, like a prince who was going
to be married. “You see, madam,” said he, “I am exact in
keeping my word, and doubt not in the least but you are come hither to perform
your promise.” “I frankly confess,” answered the Princess,
“that I have not yet come to a decision in this matter, and I believe I
never shall be able to arrive at such a one as you desire.” “You astonish me, madam,” said Riquet with
the Tuft. “I can well believe it,” said the Princess;
“and surely if I had to do with a clown, or a man of no sense, I should
find myself very much at a loss. ‘A princess always keeps her word,’ he would
say to me, ‘and you must marry me, since you promised to do so.’ But as he to whom I talk
is the one man in the world who is master of the greatest sense and
judgment, I am sure he will hear reason. You know that when I was but a
fool I could scarcely make up my mind to marry you; why will you have
me, now I have so much judgment as you gave me, come to such a decision
which I could not then make up my mind to agree to? If you sincerely
thought to make me your wife, you have been greatly in the wrong to
deprive me of my dull simplicity, and make me see things much more
clearly than I did.” “If a man of no wit and sense,” replied Riquet
with the Tuft, “would be well received, as you say, in reproaching
you for breach of your word, why will you not let me, madam, have the same
usage in a matter wherein all the happiness of my life is concerned? Is it reasonable that persons
of wit and sense should be in a worse condition than those who have
none? Can you pretend this, you who have so great
a share, and desired so earnestly to have it? But let us come to the fact, if you please. Putting aside my ugliness and deformity, is
there anything in me which displeased you? Are you dissatisfied with my birth, my wit,
my humor, or my manners?” “Not at all,” answered the Princess; “I love
you and respect you in all that you mention.” “If it be so,” said Riquet with the Tuft,
“I am happy, since it is in your power to make me the most amiable of
men.” “How can that be?” said the Princess. “It is done,” said Riquet with the Tuft, “if
you love me enough to wish it was so; and that you may no ways doubt,
madam, of what I say, know that the same fairy who on my birthday gave
me for gift the power of making the person who should please me witty
and judicious, has in like manner given you for gift the power of making
him whom you love and to whom you would grant the favor, to be extremely
handsome.” “If it be so,” said the Princess, “I wish
with all my heart that you may be the most lovable prince in the world, and
I bestow my gift on you as much as I am able.” The Princess had no sooner pronounced these
words than Riquet with the Tuft appeared to her the finest prince upon
earth, the handsomest and most amiable man she ever saw. Some affirm that it was not the fairy’s
charms, but love alone, which worked the change. They say that the Princess, having made due
reflection on the perseverance of her lover, his discretion,
and all the good qualities of his mind, his wit and judgment, saw no longer
the deformity of his body, nor the ugliness of his face; that his hump
seemed to her no more than the grand air of one having a broad back,
and that whereas till then she saw him limp horribly, she now found it
nothing more than a certain sidling air, which charmed her. They say further that his eyes, which were
squinted very much, seemed to her most bright and sparkling, that their
irregularity passed in her judgment for a mark of the warmth of his affection,
and, in short, that his great red nose was, in her opinion, somewhat
martial and heroic in character. However it was, the Princess promised immediately
to marry him, on condition that he obtained the King’s consent. The King, knowing that
his daughter highly esteemed Riquet with the Tuft, whom he knew also for
a most sage and judicious prince, received him for his son-in-law with
pleasure, and the next morning their nuptials were celebrated, as Riquet
with the Tuft had foreseen, and according to the orders he had given a
long time before. BLUE BEARD. Once upon a time there was a man who had fine
houses, both in town and country, a deal of silver and gold plate,
carved furniture, and coaches gilded all over. But unhappily this man had a blue beard, which
made him so ugly and so terrible that all the women
and girls ran away from him. One of his neighbors, a lady of quality, had
two daughters who were perfect beauties. He asked for one of them in marriage, leaving
to her the choice of which she would bestow on him. They would neither of them
have him, and they sent him backward and forward from one to the other,
neither being able to make up her mind to marry a man who had a blue
beard. Another thing which made them averse to him
was that he had already married several wives, and nobody
knew what had become of them. Blue Beard, to become better acquainted, took
them, with their mother and three or four of their best friends, with
some young people of the neighborhood to one of his country seats,
where they stayed a whole week. There was nothing going on but pleasure parties,
hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth, and feasting. Nobody went to bed, but all passed the
night in playing pranks on each other. In short, everything succeeded so
well that the youngest daughter began to think that the beard of the
master of the house was not so very blue, and that he was a very civil
gentleman. So as soon as they returned home, the marriage
was concluded. About a month afterward Blue Beard told his
wife that he was obliged to take a country journey for six weeks at least,
upon business of great importance. He desired her to amuse herself well in his
absence, to send for her friends, to take them into the country,
if she pleased, and to live well wherever she was. “Here,” said he, “are the keys of the two
great warehouses wherein I have my best furniture: these are of the room
where I keep my silver and gold plate, which is not in everyday use;
these open my safes, which hold my money, both gold and silver; these
my caskets of jewels; and this is the master-key to all my apartments. But as for this little key,
it is the key of the closet at the end of the great gallery on the
ground floor. Open them all; go everywhere; but as for that
little closet, I forbid you to enter it, and I promise
you surely that, if you open it, there’s nothing that you may not
expect from my anger.” She promised to obey exactly all his orders;
and he, after having embraced her, got into his coach and proceeded
on his journey. Her neighbors and good friends did not stay
to be sent for by the new-married lady, so great was their impatience
to see all the riches of her house, not daring to come while her husband
was there, because of his blue beard, which frightened them. They at once ran through all the
rooms, closets, and wardrobes, which were so fine and rich, and each
seemed to surpass all others. They went up into the warehouses, where
was the best and richest furniture; and 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 most beautiful
and the most magnificent ever seen. They ceased not to praise and envy the happiness
of their friend, who, in the meantime, was not at all amused by
looking upon all these rich things, because of her impatience to go and
open the closet on the ground floor. Her curiosity was so great that, without considering
how uncivil it was to leave her guests, she went
down a little back staircase, with such excessive haste that
twice or thrice she came near breaking her neck. Having reached the closet-door, she stood
still for some time, thinking of her husband’s orders,
and considering that unhappiness might attend her if she was disobedient;
but the temptation was so strong she could not overcome it. She then took the little key,
and opened the door, trembling. At first she could not see anything
plainly, because the windows were shut. After some moments she began to
perceive that several dead women were scattered about the floor. (These
were all the wives whom Blue Beard had married and murdered, one after
the other, because they did not obey his orders about the closet on the
ground floor.) She thought she surely would die for fear,
and the key, which she pulled out of the lock, fell out
of her hand. After having somewhat recovered from the shock,
she picked up the key, locked the door, and went upstairs into her
chamber to compose herself; but she could not rest, so much was she frightened. Having observed that the key of the closet
was stained, she tried two or three times to wipe off the stain, but the
stain would not come out. In
vain did she wash it, and even rub it with soap and sand. The stain
still remained, for the key was a magic key, and she could never make it
quite clean; when the stain was gone off from one side, it came again on
the other. Blue Beard returned from his journey that
same evening, and said he had received letters upon the road, informing
him that the business which called him away was ended to his advantage. His wife did all she could
to convince him she was delighted at his speedy return. Next morning he asked her for the keys, which
she gave him, but with such a trembling hand that he easily guessed
what had happened. “How is it,” said he, “that the key of my
closet is not among the rest?” “I must certainly,” said she, “have left it
upstairs upon the table.” “Do not fail,” said Blue Beard, “to bring
it to me presently.” After having put off doing it several times,
she was forced to bring him the key. Blue Beard, having examined it, said to his
wife:– “How comes this stain upon the key?” “I do not know,” cried the poor woman, paler
than death. “You do not know!” replied Blue Beard. “I very well know. You wished to
go into the cabinet? Very well, madam; you shall go in, and take
your place among the ladies you saw there.” She threw herself weeping at her husband’s
feet, and begged his pardon with all the signs of a true repentance for
her disobedience. She would
have melted a rock, so beautiful and sorrowful was she; but Blue Beard
had a heart harder than any stone. “You must die, madam,” said he, “and that
at once.” “Since I must die,” answered she, looking
upon him with her eyes all bathed in tears, “give me some little time
to say my prayers.” “I give you,” replied Blue Beard, “half a
quarter of an hour, but not one moment more.” 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, to the top of the tower, and look if my brothers are not
coming; they promised me they would come to-day, and if you see them, give
them a sign to make haste.” Her sister Anne went up to the top of the
tower, and the poor afflicted wife cried out 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 meanwhile Blue Beard, holding a great
sabre in his hand, cried to his wife 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 anybody coming?” And sister Anne answered:– “I see nothing but the sun, which makes a
dust, and the grass, which is 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 not see any one coming?” “I see,” replied sister Anne, “a great dust,
which comes from this side.” “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,” said she, “two horsemen, but they
are yet a great way off.” “God be praised,” replied the poor wife, joyfully;
“they are my brothers; I will make 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 about her shoulders. “All this is of no help to you,” says Blue
Beard: “you must die;” then, taking hold of her hair with one hand, and
lifting up his sword in the air with the other, he was about to take off
her head. The poor lady,
turning about to him, and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to
afford her one little moment to her thoughts. “No, no,” said he, “commend thyself to God,”
and again lifting his arm– At this moment there was such a loud knocking
at the gate that Blue Beard stopped suddenly. The gate was opened, and presently entered
two horsemen, who, with sword in hand, ran directly
to Blue Beard. He knew
them to be his wife’s brothers, one a dragoon, the other a musketeer. He
ran away immediately, but the two brothers pursued him so closely that
they overtook him before he could get to the steps of the porch. There
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 arise
and welcome her brothers. Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his wife became
mistress of all his estate. She made use of one portion of it to marry
her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had loved her a long while;
another portion to buy captains’ commissions for her brothers; and
the rest to marry herself to a very worthy gentleman, who made her forget
the sorry time she had passed with Blue Beard. THE FAIRY. Once upon a time there was a widow who had
two daughters. The elder was
so much like her, both in looks and character, that whoever saw the
daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud
that there was no living with them. The younger, who was the very
picture of her father for sweetness of temper and virtue, was withal one
of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their
own likeness, this mother doted on her elder daughter, and at the same
time had a great aversion for the younger. She made her eat in the
kitchen and work continually. Among other things, this unfortunate child
had to go twice a day to draw water more than a mile and a half from the
house, and bring home a pitcherful of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there
came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let
her drink. “Oh, yes, with all my heart, Goody,” said
this pretty little girl. Rinsing the pitcher at once, she took some
of the clearest water from the fountain, and gave it to her, holding
up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier. The good woman having drunk, said to her:– “You are so pretty, so good and courteous,
that I cannot help giving you a gift.” For this was a fairy, who had taken the form
of a poor country-woman, to see how far the civility
and good manners of this pretty girl would go. “I will give you for gift,” continued the
Fairy, “that, at every word you speak, there shall
come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.” When this pretty girl returned, her mother
scolded at her for staying so long at the fountain. “I beg your pardon, mamma,” said the poor
girl, “for not making more haste.” And in speaking these words there came out
of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds. “What is it I see there?” said her mother,
quite astonished. “I think
pearls and diamonds come out of the girl’s mouth! How happens this, my
child?” This was the first time she had ever called
her “my child.” The girl told her frankly all the matter,
not without dropping out great numbers of diamonds. “Truly,” cried the mother, “I must send my
own dear child thither. Fanny, look at what comes out of your sister’s
mouth when she speaks. Would you not be glad, my dear, to have the
same gift? You have only to
go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a poor woman asks you
to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly.” “I should like to see myself going to the
fountain to draw water,” said this ill-bred minx. “I insist you shall go,” said the mother,
“and that instantly.” She went, but grumbled all the way, taking
with her the best silver tankard in the house. She no sooner reached the fountain than she
saw coming out of the wood, a magnificently dressed lady, who came up
to her, and asked to drink. This was the same fairy who had appeared to
her sister, but she had now taken the air and dress of a princess, to
see how far this girl’s rudeness would go. “Am I come hither,” said the proud, ill-bred
girl, “to serve you with water, pray? I suppose this silver tankard was brought
purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have
a fancy.” “You are scarcely polite,” answered the fairy,
without anger. “Well,
then, since you are so disobliging, I give you for gift that at every
word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.” So soon as her mother saw her coming, she
cried out:– “Well, daughter?” “Well, mother?” answered the unhappy girl, throwing out of
her mouth a viper and a toad. “Oh, mercy!” cried the mother, “what is it
I see? It is her sister who
has caused all this, but she shall pay for it,” and immediately she ran
to beat her. The poor child fled away from her, and went
to hide herself in the forest nearby. The King’s son, who was returning from the
chase, met her, and seeing her so beautiful, asked her what she did there
alone and why she cried. “Alas! sir, my mother has turned me out of
doors.” The King’s son, who saw five or six pearls
and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how
that happened. She told him
the whole story. The King’s son fell in love with her, and,
considering that such a gift was worth more than any marriage
portion another bride could bring, conducted her to the palace of
the King, his father, and there married her. As for her sister, she made herself so much
hated that her own mother turned her out of doors. The miserable girl, after wandering about
and finding no one to take her in, went to a corner
of the wood, and there died. LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD. Once upon a time there lived in a certain
village a little country girl, the prettiest creature that ever was seen. Her mother was very fond of
her, and her grandmother loved her still more. This good woman made for
her a little red riding-hood, which became the girl so well that
everybody called her Little Red Riding-hood. One day her mother, having made some custards,
said to her:– “Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother
does, for I hear she has been very ill; carry her a custard and this little
pot of butter.” Little Red Riding-hood set out immediately
to go to her grandmother’s, who lived in another village. As she was going through the wood, she met
Gaffer Wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up; but he dared not,
because of some fagot-makers hard by in the forest. He asked her whither she was going. The poor
child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and hear a wolf
talk, said to him:– “I am going to see my grandmother, and carry
her a custard and a little pot of butter from my mamma.” “Does she live far off?” said the Wolf. “Oh, yes,” answered Little Red Riding-hood;
“it is beyond that mill you see there, the first house you come to in
the village.” “Well,” said the Wolf, “and I’ll go and see
her, too. I’ll go this way,
and you go that, and we shall see who will be there first.” The Wolf began to run as fast as he could,
taking the shortest way, and the little girl went by the longest way, amusing
herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and making
nosegays of such little flowers as she met with. The Wolf was not long before he reached the
old woman’s house. He knocked at the door–tap, tap, tap. “Who’s there?” called the grandmother. “Your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood,”
replied the Wolf, imitating her voice, “who has brought a custard and
a little pot of butter sent to you by mamma.” The good grandmother, who was in bed, because
she was somewhat ill, cried out:– “Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.” The Wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened. He fell upon the good
woman and ate her up in no time, for he had not eaten anything for more
than three days. He then shut the door, went into the grandmother’s
bed, and waited for Little Red Riding-hood, who came sometime afterward
and knocked at the door–tap, tap, tap. “Who’s there?” called the Wolf. Little Red Riding-hood, hearing the big voice
of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but thinking her grandmother had a
cold, answered:– “‘Tis your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood,
who has brought you a custard and a little pot of butter sent to
you by mamma.” The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice
a little:– “Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up.” Little Red Riding-hood pulled the bobbin,
and the door opened. The Wolf, seeing her come in, said to her,
hiding himself under the bedclothes:– “Put the custard and the little pot of butter
upon the stool, and come and lie down with me.” Little Red Riding-hood undressed herself and
went into bed, where she was much surprised to see how her grandmother
looked in her night-clothes. She said to her:– “Grandmamma, what great arms you have got!” “That is the better to hug thee, my dear.” “Grandmamma, what great legs you have got!” “That is to run the better, my child.” “Grandmamma, what great ears you have got!” “That is to hear the better, my child.” “Grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!” “It is to see the better, my child.” “Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!” “That is to eat thee up.” And, saying these words, this wicked Wolf
fell upon Little Red Riding-hood, and ate her all up.

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