ONCE upon a time there lived a king and a queen who lacked but one thing to make them happy, and that was to have children. The queen was already old, and had given up all hope of having any, when she gave birth to the prettiest little girl that ever was seen. Great was the joy in the royal house hold. Every one began to seek for the princess a name which should express their love for her. At last she was called Aimée, and the queen had these words, Aimée, daughter of the King of Happy Isle, engraved on a turquoise heart, which she hung round the princess's neck, thinking it would bring her luck, as turquoises are supposed to do. But the rule did not hold good, for one day when they had taken her on the sea to give the nurse a holiday in the most beautiful summer weather, suddenly a terrific tempest arose, so that it was impossible to land; and as the vessel was a small one only for use near the shore, it was soon shattered to pieces. The nurse and all the sailors perished. The little princess, asleep in her cradle, floated on the water, and at last she was cast up on the shore of a beautiful country, where, however, very few people dwelt since the ogre Ravagio and his wife Tourmentine had gone to live there--for they ate up everybody. Ogres are terrible people. When once they have tasted raw human flesh they will hardly eat anything else, and Tourmentine always knew how to make some body come their way, for she was half a fairy.
She smelt the poor little princess a mile off, and ran to the shore to find her before Ravagio should have reached her. One was as greedy as the other, and never were such hideous creatures seen, each with one squint eye in the middle of their foreheads, their mouths as big as ovens, their large flat noses, their long asses' ears, their hair all standing on end, and their humps in front and behind. Yet when the ogress saw Aimée in her beautiful cradle, swaddled in golden brocade, and playing with her little hands, her cheeks like roses white and red, her tiny cherry mouth, laughing and half open as if smiling to the hideous monster who was coming to devour her, moved by a feeling of pity which she had never felt before, Tourmentine determined to nurse her and not to eat her yet at all events. She took her in her arms, tying the cradle on her back, and in this fashion she returned to her cavern. "See, Ravagio," she said to her husband, "here is raw flesh, fine and plump and fat, but, by my head, I declare you shall not put your teeth in it. It is a pretty little girl, and I am going to nurse her. We shall marry her to our young ogre, and their little ogres will one day be curiosities to see. They will amuse us in our old age." "Very well," said Ravagio. "You are very clever even for your size. Let me see this child; she seems wonderfully pretty." "Well, do not eat it," said Tourmentine, giving him the little one into his great paws. "No, no," said he, "I would rather die of hunger." And thereupon Ravagio, Tourmentine and the little ogre began caressing Aimée in such a human fashion that it was a wonder to see them.
But the poor child, who only saw these hideous creatures round her, and not a sign of her nurse, began to screw up her little face and then to cry as loud as ever she could, till Ravagio's cavern rang again. Tourmentine, fearing lest this should annoy him, took her and carried her into the woods, the little ogres following after. There were six of them, each one uglier than the other. As I have already told you, the ogress was a kind of fairy, her power being contained in an ivory wand, which she held in her hand when she wished for anything. So now she took the wand and said: "In the name of the royal Fairy Trusio, I command the most beautiful hind of our forests to come here this very minute. Let it be meek and gentle, and let it leave its fawn and come and suckle this little darling that fortune has sent me." At that moment a hind appeared, to the great delight of the little ogres. Coming near, it gave the princess of its milk, after which Tourmentine took her back to the cave, the hind running after with leaps and bounds, the little one looking and caressing it. When she cried in her cradle there was the hind always ready to feed her, and there the little ogres to rock her to sleep.
It was in this way the king's daughter was brought up, while night and day her parents wept for her, and while her father, thinking her at the bottom of the sea, was making up his mind to choose another heir. When the king spoke of this matter to the queen she told him to do what seemed right, for her dear Amy was dead, and she could hope for no more children. He had waited long enough, she said, and after the fifteen years that had passed since she had lost her, it would be out of the question to expect ever to see her again. The king, there fore, determined to ask his brother to choose from among his sons the one most worthy of reigning, and to send him the prince at once. The ambassadors being given their letters of state and all the necessary instructions, set out on their way. They had a long distance to go, but their good ships and a favourable wind brought them speedily to the king's brother, who ruled over a great kingdom. He received them very well, and when they asked him to let them take one of his Sons home with them to be their master's heir, he wept for joy. He told them that since his brother had left the choice to him, he would send his second son, the one he would have chosen to succeed himself, whose character so well befitted his high birth that every desirable quality was found in him in perfection.
Prince Aimé (for so was he called) was sent for, and though the ambassadors had been led to expect great things of him, when they saw him they were astonished. He was eighteen years old, and Love, the tender god himself, was less fair to look upon. But his was a beauty which in no way took away from the noble martial bearing which wins respect and affection. He was made aware of his royal uncle's strong desire to have him at his court, and his father's intention to send him off forthwith. So his equipage being got ready, he said fare well, went on board, and set out on the open sea.
Leave him there awhile, and may good fortune be his guide. Let us go back to Ravagio and see what our young princess has been doing. She grew in beauty every year, and of her it may be truly said that the charms of the Graces and the goddesses together were not as hers. And when she was in that deep cavern with Ravagio, Tourmentine, and the little ogres, it seemed as if the sun and the stars and the skies had come down to visit it. The cruelty she saw amongst these monsters only served to make her the more gentle, and since she had become aware of their terrible appetite for human flesh, her whole mind was given to saving any poor creature that might fall into their hands. Indeed, in this was', for their sakes she often ran the risk of drawing down all the ogres' rage upon herself. And this would have happened one day or another if the young ogre had not loved her as the apple of his eye. What will a strong affection not bring about? For this little monster had grown quite gentle from looking on the fair princess and loving her.
But, alas, what was her sorrow when she thought that she must marry this hideous lover! Though she knew nothing of her birth, she felt sure from the richness of her swaddling clothes, the golden chain and the turquoise, that she Came of a good stock, and the feelings of her heart told her this still more plainly. She did not know how to read or write, nor was she learned in languages. She Spoke the ogres' jargon, and lived in absolute ignorance of everything; yet, nevertheless, her principles were as good and her manners and temper as sweet as if she had lived all her life in the most refined court in the whole world.
She had made herself a dress out of a tiger-skin, leaving her arms half bare. She carried a quiver and arrows on her shoulder, and a bow at her girdle. Her fair hair was tied with a bit of sea-weed, and floated at will in the wind over her throat and down her back. Her sandals were of sea-rushes too. Thus attired, she haunted the woods like a second Diana, and she would never have known her own beauty if the crystal streams had not served her as natural mirrors, in which she gazed, yet grew no vainer, nor more disposed to look on her own face with favour. The sun had done with her complexion as it does with wax-whitened it; nor could the air of the sea make it tawny. Her only food was the fruits of her hunt or her fishing, and such expeditions were a pretext many a time for leaving the terrible cavern and the sight of more hideous things than could any where else be found. "Ah, heaven!" she said, shedding tears, "what have I done that this cruel ogre should be my fate? Why didst thou not rather let me perish in the sea? Why didst thou save a life which must pass so miserably? Wilt thou have no pity on my sorrow? "So would she entreat the gods, praying to them for help.
When the weather was very stormy, and she thought the sea might have cast some poor creatures on the shore, thither she went to care for them tenderly, and to prevent their coming in the way of the ogres' cave. One night it happened that a tremendous storm was raging. As soon as it was light she rose and ran to the sea-shore. There she saw a man holding on to a plank and struggling to gain the shore in spite of the force of the waves that ever drove him back. The princess, wishing to help him, pointed out by signs the easiest landing-place, but he neither saw nor heard her. Sometimes he was so near that there seemed only a step between him and the land, when a wall of water covered him, and he disappeared from sight. At length he was driven on the sand, and there he lay motionless. Aimée drew near, and in spite of his pale face, which seemed to betoken death, she used every means she knew of to bring him back to life. She used always to carry with her certain herbs, the scent of which was so powerful that it roused people from the longest swoons, and these she pressed now into his hands, and rubbed his lips and his temples with them. When he opened his eyes he was so astonished at the beauty and at the dress of the princess, that he hardly knew whether it was a dream or real. It was he who spoke first. She answered, but they did not under stand each other in the least, and looked one at the other attentively, half in astonishment, half in pleasure. The only men the princess had ever seen were poor fishers whom the ogres had caught, and whom she had saved as I have already said. What could she think then when she saw the comeliest and most magnificent man in the whole world? For of course it was Prince Aim her cousin, whose fleet, shattered by a furious tempest, had struck upon the rocks. Driven about helplessly by the winds, all the crew had perished, or had reached some unknown shore. The young prince was struck with astonishment that in such savage garments and in a country which seemed a wilderness, so beautiful a damsel could be found, and his recent impressions of the princes and ladies he had seen only served the more to persuade him that this lady he saw before him had not her equal anywhere. In their mutual astonishment they still went on talking without understanding each other's words, their eyes and their gestures being the interpreters of their thoughts. The princess after a few moments suddenly called to mind the danger which this stranger was exposed to. She became so very sad and disheartened that her feelings showed themselves on her face. The prince fearing she was ill, hastened to help her, and would have taken hold of her hands, hut she repulsed him, making signs as well as she could for him to go away. Then she set off running before him, and coming back signed to him to do the same thing. So he ran away and returned. But when he had come back she got angry, and taking her arrows aimed them at his heart as if to show him he would be killed. He thought she meant to take his life, and kneeling on the ground he awaited the stroke. When she saw this she was at her wit's end what to do and how to express her meaning. Looking at him tenderly, she said: "Ah, must you then the victim of the terrible ogres? Must I with these eyes that now have the joy of looking on you, see you torn to pieces and pitiless!' devoured?" She wept, and the prince in sad confusion understood not a word of what she was saying. However, one thing she made him understand, that she did not wish him to follow her. Taking him by the hand she led him into a very deep cave with an opening looking towards the sea. She used often to go and lament her misfortunes there, and would sleep there when the sun was too scorching for her to return to the ogres' cave, and as she was very deft and skilful with her hands, she had hung it round with a tissue of butterfly wings of different colours, and on interlaced reeds forming a kind of couch she had spread a covering of sea-weed. She had put branches of flowers in great deep shells which served as vases and which she filled with water to keep the bouquets fresh. There were all kinds of other pretty things that she had made, some with fish and shells, others with sea-weed and reeds, and about all these trifles, in spite of their simplicity, there was something so graceful that it was easy to see from them the good taste and the skill of the princess. The prince was so astonished at all this elegance that he thought this cave must be her home. He was delighted to be with her, and though he was not fortunate enough to make her understand the admiration she filled him with, he already felt that he should prefer to see her and to live near her to all the crowns to which his birth and the desires of his family called him. She made him sit down, and then to show that she wished him to stay there till she had brought him something to eat, she undid the rush that fastened a part of her hair, and tied one end of it to the princes arm and the other to the little bed. Then she left him. He was dying to follow her, but he was afraid of displeasing her, and he gave himself up to the thoughts which the presence of the princess had driven away. "Where am I?" he said. "Into what country has fortune led me? My ships are lost, my men are drowned. Everything fails me. Instead of the crown which was offered to me, I find a miserable cave where I am forced to seek shelter. What will become of me here? What sort of people shall I find here? To judge by the damsel who came to my aid, they are gods, but the fear she had lest I should follow her, that hard and barbarous language which sounds so harshly in her beautiful mouth, lead me to dread some adventure still more terrible than what has already happened "Then he went over very carefully in his mind all the incomparable points of beauty in the young barbarian. His heart took fire. He longed impatiently for her return, and her absence seemed the greatest evil of all. Yet she came back with all the speed possible. The prince had not been out of her mind a single instant, and love was such a new experience to her that she did not fear it, but thanked heaven for having saved the prince from the perils of the sea, and begged that he might be preserved from the dangers with which the ogres threatened him. She was so laden and she had walked so quickly that when she got back she felt somewhat faint under the great tiger-skin that served her for mantle. She sat down, and the prince was at her feet in great distress at her suffering, for in truth he felt worse than she did. After a little she recovered, and showed him all the little dishes she had brought him, amongst which were four parrots and six squirrels cooked in the sun, strawberries, cherries, raspberries and other fruits. The plates were of cedar and calambac  wood, the knife was of stone, the napkins of large leaves of trees, very soft and pliable. She had brought two shells, one Containing clear water and the other to drink out of.
The prince showed his gratitude by every sign of head and hands he could think of, and she, with a gentle smile, let him see that all he did was pleasing to her. But the hour for parting having come, she made him clearly understand that she was going away. Both began to sigh, and both to weep tenderly, yet each to hide their tears from the other. The princess got up and made for the entrance, but the prince uttered a loud cry and threw himself at her feet, begging her to remain. She knew well enough what he meant, but she put him aside, assuming a severe manner, and let him see that he must early learn the habit of obedience to her. In truth, he passed a terrible night. And the princess no less so, for when she reached the cavern and found herself in the midst of the ogres and their little ones, and looked at the hideous young ogre, the monster who was to be her husband, and thought of the charms of the stranger whom she had just left, she was on the point of throwing herself head foremost into the sea. Besides, she was in terror lest Ravagio or Tourmentine should smell human flesh, and should go straight to the cave and devour Prince Aimé. All these terrors kept her awake the whole night. At dawn she rose and took the road to the shore. She ran, she flew, laden with parrots, monkeys, a bustard, fruits, milk, and all the best things she could find. The prince had not undressed. He had undergone so much fatigue on the sea, and he had slept so little during the night that towards day he fell into a light slumber. "What!' she said, waking him, "I have been thinking of you since ever I left you. I have not even shut my eyes but you can sleep!" The prince looked at her, and listened without understanding. Then he said, kissing her hands: "What joy, clear child; what joy to see you again! It seems an age since you left the cave." He spoke to her for long without remembering that she could not know what he was saying. When he remembered he sighed deeply and was silent. Then she Spoke, saying she was terribly anxious lest Ravagio and Tourmentine should discover him; that she dared not hope that he might remain safely in this cave and that if he went away she would die, but that she would see him go rather than see him devoured, and so she begged him to make his escape. Here her eyes filled with tears, and she clasped her hands before her in a piteous fashion. He could not understand what she meant, and in desperation he threw himself at her feet. At last she pointed out the road to him so many times that he understood some part of her signs, and he made it clear, in his turn, that he would die rather than leave her. So keenly did she feel this proof of the prince's friendship that to show him how sensible of it she was, she took off the gold chain and turquoise heart which the queen, her mother, had fastened round her neck, and put it on the prince's arm with the utmost grace. Though overpowered by this favour he could not help seeing the inscription engraved on the turquoise. Looking carefully at this he read:--
Aimée, daughter of the King of Happy Isle.
Never was any one so astonished. He knew that the name of the little princess that had been lost was Aimée. He did not doubt but that this heart had been hers, but he was not yet sure if this beautiful savage were the princess, or if the sea had cast up the jewel on the sand. He looked at Aimée with keen glances, and the more he looked at her the more he seemed to see a certain family likeness in her manner and in certain features, but it was more especially the feelings of tenderness within his soul that assured him that this barbarian was indeed his cousin. She looked on with astonishment at all he did, while he raised his eyes to heaven as if to give thanks, gazing at her and weeping, taking her hands and kissing them fervently; then thanking her for all the gifts she had brought him, and giving them back to her again as if to make her understand that a lock of her hair would be more precious to him. And this he asked of her, but it was not easy for him to obtain the boon.
Four days passed away in this manner. Every morning the princess brought him what he needed in the way of food. She stayed with him as long as possible, and the hours went by very quickly, though the pleasure of conversing with each other was debarred them. One evening, when she was late of returning home, and feared she would be scolded by the terrible Tourmentine, she was much surprised to receive a most friendly welcome, and to find a table laden with fruits. When she asked permission to take some, Ravagio told her they were there specially for her; that the young ogre had gone to gather them; that at last the time had come to make him happy, and that in three days he wished to marry her. This was indeed news for her. Could anything be more terrible for this lovely princess? She all but died of fright and grief, but hiding her pain, she answered that she would willingly obey if only they would give her a little more time. Ravagio became angry, and cried out: "There is nothing to prevent my eating you!" The poor princess fell senseless with fright into the clutches of Tourmentine and the young ogre, who loved her so well that he entreated Ravagio, so that his anger was softened. Aim did not sleep a wink that night. She waited for the day impatiently, and as soon as it appeared she ran to the cave. When she saw the prince she wept aloud piteously, shedding floods of tears. As for him, he could hardly move. His affection for fair Aim had made more progress in four days than is usually the case in the same number of years. He was dying to ask her what was the matter, and though she knew this quite well she could not explain her meaning. At last she took down her long hair, and put a crown of flowers on her head. Taking Aimé's hand in her own, she made it clear to him by signs that she would soon be doing the same thing to another than himself, till at last he understood the unhappy fate that awaited him, and that she was going to be married. He thought he must die at her feet. He knew neither the roads nor the means of escape, nor did she. They wept, they looked at each other, and made signs to each other that they would rather die together than be apart. She remained with him till evening, hut night came on sooner than they expected. Full of thought, she paid little attention to the paths she was treading, and took a little-used road through a wood, and there a great thorn pierced her foot through and through. Happily she was not very far from the cavern, but she found it difficult to reach it with her bleeding foot. Ravagio, Tourmentine, and the little ogres came to her aid. It hurt her very much when the thorn was taken out, but they pounded herbs and applied them to the wound. She went to bed in the greatest possible anxiety about her clear prince. Alas!" she said, "I shall not be able to walk to-morrow. What will he think when he does not see me? I let him know that my marriage was arranged, and he will think I have had to give in to it. Who will bring him food? Whatever he does he must die, for if he comes in search of me he is lost, and if I send a little ogre to him Ravagio will hear of it." She burst into tears, and sobbed. She wished to rise early, but it was impossible for her to walk; her wound was too bad, And Tourmentine, who saw her go out, stopped her, and said that if she went another step she would eat her up.
Meanwhile the prince, who saw the hour pass by when she was in the habit of coming, began to be uneasy amid full of fear. And as the time went on he grew still more afraid. Any punishment in the world would have been easier to bear than the anxieties to which his love made him a victim. He forced himself to wait in patience, but the more he waited the less 'as his hope. At last, ready to die if need be, he set out resolved to seek his dear princess. He walked on without knowing where he was going, and followed a beaten path he found at the entrance of the wood. After having walked for an hour he heard a noise, and seeing the cavern, from whence a thick smoke was rising, he thought he might learn some news of her there. Scarcely had he set his foot inside when he saw Ravagio, who, taking hold of him with violence, was just going to devour him when the cries he uttered in his struggles reached the ears of his dear princess. At that voice she felt as if nothing could stop her, and coming out of her own hole she rushed into the one where Ravagio was holding the poor prince. She was all pale and trembling, as if she had been going to be the victim. Throwing herself before the ogre, she begged him to keep this human flesh for the day of her wedding with the young ogre, promising that she herself would eat of it. Hearing this, Ravagio was so pleased to think that the princess was falling in with his habits that he let the prince go, and shut him up in the hole where the little ogres slept. Aimée asked leave to feed him well, so that he might be fat and do honour to the feast, and the ogre gave her leave. So she brought the prince the best she could find of everything. When he saw her come in, the joy he felt comforted him in his wretchedness, but when she showed the wound on her foot his grief broke out anew. They wept for long together. The prince could not eat, and his dear mistress cut little morsels with her delicate hands and gave them to him with such grace that it was impossible to refuse them. She bade the little ogres bring fresh moss, which she covered over with birds' feathers, and then she signed to the prince that his bed was there. Tourmentine calling her, she could say no other farewell but by giving him her hand, which he kissed with such tenderness as cannot be described, while she let her eyes express all her thoughts.
Ravagio, Tourmentine, and the princess slept in one of the recesses of the cavern, while the young ogre and the five little ogres slept in the other. Now in Ogreland it is the custom every night for the ogre, the ogress, and the little ones to put on their heads fine golden crowns in which they sleep. This is their only kind of splendour; but they would rather be hanged or strangled than fail to do it. When they had all fallen asleep, the princess, whose thoughts were with her clear lover, began to reflect that in spite of the promises of Ravagio and Tourmentine not to eat him, if they were hungry during the night, as they nearly always were when there was human flesh about, all hope for him was gone; and her anxiety on his account became so violent that she all but died of terror. After thinking the matter over for some time she got up, put on her tiger-skin in haste, and groping her way noiselessly along, she reached the cavern where the little ogres were sleeping. Taking the crown from the first one that came in her way, she placed it on the prince's head, who was wide awake, but who did not dare to seem so, not knowing who was performing this ceremony. Then the princess went back to her own little bed.
Hardly had she got into it, when Ravagio, thinking what a fine meal the prince would make, and growing hungrier every minute at the thought, got up and went to the hole where the little ogres slept. As he did not see clearly, for fear of taking the wrong one, he felt with his hand, and seizing the one that had no crown, munched him up like a chicken. The poor princess, hearing the noise which Ravagio made in munching the bones of the unfortunate little ogre, fainted and nearly died of fear lest it should be her lover; while as for the prince, who was still nearer, he felt all the terrors of his situation.
Day brought a great relief to the princess. She ran to see the prince, and let him understand by signs her fears and her impatience to see him out of reach of the murderous teeth of these monsters. She spoke kindly to him, and he would have poured out kind words to her had not the ogress, coming to see her children, noticed the blood with which the cavern was full, and found out that the little baby ogre was missing. The shrieks she uttered were terrible, and Ravagio realised the harm he had done--but too late to remedy it. He whispered in her ear that being hungry he had chosen the wrong victim, thinking he was eating human flesh. Tourmentine pretended to be consoled, for Ravagio was cruel, and if she had not taken his excuses in good part, she would perhaps have been eaten up herself.
But, alas what terrible anxiety did the princess suffer. Never for a moment did she give up searching for some means of saving the prince. And as for him, what were his thoughts with respect to the terrible home of this charming maiden? He could not make up his mind to go away while she was here, for death would have seemed sweeter than such a separation. And this he made her understand, when by repeated signs she begged him to flee and to take steps to save himself. They mingled their tears, and taking each other by the hand, each in their own tongue swore faithfulness and everlasting love one to the other. She could not help showing him the clothes she had worn when Tourmentine found her, and the cradle in which she had lain, and the prince recognised on them the arms and the device of the King of Happy Isle. This sight delighted him, and his joy was so evident that the princess guessed that the cradle had told him something of importance. She was dying to hear what it might be, but however hard he tried, how could he make her understand whose daughter she was, and the kinship between them? All she understood was that she had reason to be very happy. The hour for retiring came, and they went to bed as they had done the night before. The princess, a prey to the same fears, rose quietly, went to the cavern where the prince was, gently took the crown from one of the little ogres, and put it on her lover's head. He dared not detain her, however much he wished to, for the respect he felt for her and his fear of displeasing her restrained him. The princess had never had a happier thought than putting the crown on Aimé's head. Without this precaution all would have been lost, for the cruel Tourmentine, starting out of her sleep and remembering the prince she had thought as beautiful as the day and so very appetising, began to be much afraid that Ravagio would go and eat him all by himself. So she thought the best plan was to be beforehand with him. She slipped away, without a word, to the little ogres' hole, where she passed over quietly those that had crowns on--among whom was the prince--and in three mouthfuls the little uncrowned ogre was gobbled up. Aimé and his princess heard everything, trembling with fear; but Tourmentine having made this expedition now wished for nothing but sleep, and they were safe for the rest of the night. "Heaven help us!" said the princess. "Inspire us with what we should do in such a terrible extremity." And the prince prayed no less fervently. At times he thought of attacking these two monsters and fighting with them. But how could he hope to win in the struggle? They were tall as giants, and their skin was pistol proof; so that very sensibly he came to the conclusion that only ingenuity could bring them out of this terrible place.
As soon as it was day and Tourmentine had found the bones of her little ogre, she set up a frightful howling, and Ravagio was no less distressed. A hundred times they were on the point of throwing themselves on the prince and princess and killing them mercilessly. They were both hidden in a little dark corner, but the cannibals knew only too well where they were, and of all the dangers they had met with this one seemed the most imminent. Aimée set a-thinking and racking her brains, and all at once she bethought herself of the ivory wand which Tourmentine used, and which did wonders, though the ogress herself did not know how. "If, in spite of her ignorance," said the princess, "most astonishing things come to pass, why should there not be as much power in my words?" Full of this idea she ran to the cavern where Tourmentine slept and searched for the wand, which was hidden at the bottom of a hole. When she had it in her hands she cried: "In the name of the royal Fairy Trusio, I desire to speak the tongue that is spoken by him whom I love”. And she would have wished for other things, but Ravagio came in at the moment. So the princess was silent, and putting the wand in its place, came back very quietly to the prince. "Dear stranger," she said, "your sorrows give me more pain than my own." At these words the prince was all astonishment and confusion. "Adorable princess," he said, "I understand you. You speak my language, and surely I may hope that you also understand that my suffering is less for myself than for you, and that you are clearer to me than my life, dearer than light or than all that is loveliest in nature." "My words are simpler," answered the princess, "but they are none the less sincere. I feel as if I would give all that I have in my sea-cave, my sheep, my lambs, in short, everything I possess only for the pleasure of looking on you." The prince thanked her a thousand times for her goodness to him, and begged her to tell him who had taught her in such a short time all the terms and all the refinements of a language which had till now been unknown to her. So she told him of the power of the enchanted wand, while he in his turn made known to her her birth and their kinship. The princess was overpowered with joy, and as naturally she had great mental gifts, everything she said was so subtle and so well expressed that the prince felt his affection for her growing more and more.
They had no time to arrange their plans. The first thing to be thought of was to flee from those angry monsters, and to seek as soon as possible a shelter where they might he free to love each other, which they vowed to do for ever, and to wed as soon as they could. The princess told her lover that as soon as she saw Ravagio and Tourmentine asleep she would go and fetch their great camel, and that they would mount on it and ride away wherever heaven should please to lead them. The prince was so glad that he could hardly contain his delight, and though there was reason enough for terror, still the hopeful prospect before them made their present ills easier to bear.
The night so longed for came at last. The princess took some flour, and with her white hands she kneaded a cake into which she put a bean. Then holding the ivory wand in her hand, she said: "Bean, little bean, in the name of the royal Fairy Trusio, I command you to speak when it may be necessary, until you are cooked”. She put this cake under the hot cinders, and went to the prince who was waiting for her impatiently in the little ogres wretched hole. "Come away," said she, "the camel is tied in the wood." "May love and good fortune be our guides!" answered the young prince in a low voice. "Come, Come, my Aimée come seek a happy, peaceful home." She had not forgotten to take with her the ivory wand when in the moonlight they set out. Finding the camel, they took the road without knowing where they were going.
Meanwhile Tourmentine, who could not forget her sorrow, turned over and over in her bed without being able to sleep. She stretched out her arm to feel whether the princess was already in her little bed, and not finding her, she cried, in a voice like thunder: "Where are you then, child?" "Here I am, near the fire," answered the bean. "Will you go to bed?" said Tourmentine. "Very soon," replied the bean. "Go to sleep, go to sleep." Tourmentine was afraid to awake her Ravagio, and was silent; but after two hours again she groped in Aimée's little bed, crying: "What, you little jade, you will not go to bed?' "I am warming myself as fast as I can," answered the bean. "I wish you were roasting in the middle of the fire for your trouble," said the ogress. "So I am," said the bean; "I couldn't be more so." And so they went on talking, the bean keeping up the conversation very cleverly till, towards daybreak, Tourmentine again calling the princess, the bean, flow thoroughly cooked, did not answer. This silence made the ogress uneasy, so she got up in a great state, looked, called, and searched all round in much alarm. Princess, prince, and little wand, all gone! Then she cried aloud, so that the woods and the valleys rang again: "Awake, my dear one, awake, my brave Ravagio, your Tourmentine has been deceived, and our two human prisoners have taken their flight". Ravagio opened his eye, leaped into the middle of the cavern like a lion, roaring, bellowing, howling, and foaming at the mouth. "Come!" said he, "come, my seven-league boots bring hither my seven league boots, till I pursue the runaways! I'll have their blood before they have gone far." And he put on the boots, which enabled one of his legs to take a seven-league step. Alas! how could the fugitives go fast enough to escape such a pursuer?
You will be astonished to hear that, having the ivory wand, they did not go faster than he, but the fair princess was new to the fairy art. She did not know how much she could do with such a wand, and it was only in great distress that light dawned on her. The pleasure of being together, and able to speak to each other, and the hope that they might be allowed to escape, quieted their fears as they went on their way. It was the princess who first saw the terrible Ravagio. "Prince," she cried, "we are lost. See this hideous monster coming on us like a thunderbolt!" "What can we do?" said the prince. "What will become of us? Ah, if I were but alone I should not regret my life, but yours, dear mistress, is in danger !" "I am in despair. If the wand does not come to our aid," said Aim weeping, "we must make up our minds to die. In the name of the royal Fairy Trusio, I desire that our camel become a pond, the prince a boat, and myself an old boatwoman to guide it." And at the moment the pond, the boat, and the boatwoman took shape. When Ravagio reached the water's edge, he cried out: "Holloa there! Ho! old Mother Everlasting Haven't you seen a camel, a young man, and a maiden pass by?" The old woman, standing in the middle of the pond, put her spectacles on, and looking at Ravagio, signed to him that she had seen them, and that they had gone into the meadow. The ogre believing her, took the road to the left. The princess then wishing to appear in her own shape again, touched herself with the wand three times, and struck the boat and the pond with it. She was young and beautiful again in a moment, and so was the prince. Mounting the camel, they turned to the right in order not to meet their enemy.
While they were going on their way in all haste, in hopes of finding some one of whom they might ask the road to Happy Isle, they lived on the wild fruits and drank of the water of the streams, and slept under trees in terror all the while lest the wild beasts should come and devour them. But the princess had her bow and arrows, with which she would have tried to defend herself, and the danger did not frighten them so much as to prevent them from realising the happiness of having escaped from the cavern and of being together. Since they had been able to speak the same language, they said the prettiest things in the world to each other, for love is wont to sharpen intelligence, and indeed they had no need of this help, for nature had given them both much grace of mind and a lively wit. The prince told the princess how very impatient he was to reach his father's home or hers without delay, since she had promised that, provided their parents gave their consent, she would marry him. What perhaps will not be easily believed is that, till that happy day should come, they lived alone together in the woods behaving towards each other so respectfully and so sensibly, though he was in a position to do what he liked, that never was so much affection and goodness found together.
After Ravagio had scoured the mountains, forests, and plains, he returned to his cavern, where Tourmentine and the little ogres waited for him impatiently. He came home laden with five or six persons who had unhappily fallen into his clutches. "Well," cried Tourmentine, "have you found them and eaten them, the runaways, the thieves, the carrion? Haven't you kept a scrap for me?" "I think they must have flown," answered Ravagio. "I have hunted on every side like a wolf, and have not seen them--only an old woman in a boat on a pond, who gave me news of them." "And what did she say to you?" said the impatient Tourmentine. "That they had gone to the left," said Ravagio. "By my head,' said she, "but you have been made a fool of. I feel sure that it was to their very selves you talked. Go back again, and if you catch them have no mercy.' So Ravagio greased his seven-league boots, and set off again like a madman. Our young lovers were just coming out of the wood, where they had passed the night; when they saw him they were both afraid. "My Aimée," said the prince, "here is our enemy. I feel I could fight him. Are you brave enough to escape by yourself?" "No," she cried. "I shall not leave you. Cruel one, do you doubt my affection? But let us not lose a moment. Perhaps the wand may be of help to us. In the name of the royal Fairy Trusio," she cried, "I desire that the prince be changed into a portrait, the camel into a pillar, and myself into a dwarf." The change took place, and the dwarf began to blow a horn. Ravagio, who was coming on with great strides, said: "Tell me, you unnatural imp, have you seen a pretty boy, a little maid, and a camel pass by?" "Now will I tell you," said the dwarf. "It is known to me that you are in quest of a gentle youth, a fair lady, and the animal on which they ride. I saw them yesterday at this hour ambling along in joy and contentment. The gentle knight received the praise and guerdon of the jousts and tournaments which were being held in honour of Merlusine, whose living picture here you see. Many fine gentlemen and brave knights broke lances there on hauberk, helmet, or buckler. The conflict was rude, and the reward a very beautiful golden clasp, adorned with pearls and diamonds. As I was taking my departure the unknown lady said to me 'Dwarf, my friend, without more words I ask a boon of you for the sake of your dearest friend'. 'If it be in my power it will not be denied, anti I will grant it,' said I. 'In case, then, she said, 'that you should see the great and wonderful giant with the eye in the middle of his forehead, beg him very courteously to go on his way in peace and leave us to do the same.' Then she pricked her palfrey, and they went away.' "In which direction?" said Ravagio. "Towards that green meadow on the edge of the wood," said the dwarf. "If you are not telling the truth," said the ogre, "be assured, you hideous imp, that I shall eat you up and your pillar and your picture of Merlusine and all." "There is no villainy or falsehood in me," said the dwarf; "my mouth is no lying one, and no living man has ever been deceived by me. But make haste if you would kill them before the sun sets." The ogre went away. The dwarf assumed her own shape, and, touching the pillar and the portrait, they too took their own forms again.
What joy for the lover and his mistress! "Nay," said the prince, "but I have never before felt such keen alarm, dear Aimée. As my affection for you every moment grows stronger, so do my anxieties increase when you are in danger." "And as for me," she replied, "I don't think I was in the least afraid, for Ravagio does not eat pictures; I alone was exposed to his fury, and I would give my life to save yours."
Ravagio ran, but all in vain, for he found neither lover nor mistress. 'Fired out like a dog he returned to the cavern. "What, you come back without our prisoners?" cried Tourmentine, tearing her bristling hair. "Do not come near me or I shall strangle you." "I have met nobody," said he, "but a dwarf with a pillar and a picture." "By my head," she replied, "it was they. What a fool I am to leave my revenge to you, as if I were not big enough to look after it myself! Well, well, I am off. I shall put the boots on this time, and I shall go with no less speed than you." So she put on the seven-league boots, and went away. How could the prince and princess go fast enough to escape these monsters with their accursed seven league boots? They saw Tourmentine coming, clad in a wonderful serpent's skin of motley colours. Over her shoulder she carried a bar of iron, enormously heavy, and looking round carefully on every side as she did, she must have seen the prince and princess if at that moment they had not been in the depths of a wood. "The case is hopeless," said Aimée, weeping. "Here is that cruel Tourmentine, whose very look freezes my blood. She is cleverer than Ravagio. If either of us speaks to her she will recognise us, and without more ado will eat us up. Our end is coming, I assure you." "O God of Love," cried the prince, "do not abandon us! Hast thou beneath thy rule any hearts more tender, any affections purer than ours? Ah, my dear Aimée," he went on, taking her hands and kissing them fervently, "is it fated you should die in so cruel a way?" "No," she answered. "No; I feel within me a courage and a resolution which give me hope. Come, little wand, do your duty. In the name of the royal Fairy Trusio, I desire the camel to be a box, my dear prince a beautiful orange tree, while I, turned into a bee, fly round him." According to her custom, she gave each of them three taps, and the change took place soon enough for Tourmentine, who came up just then, not to see it happening.
The hideous fury was quite out of breath, and sat down under the orange tree, where Princess Bee took pleasure in stinging her all over; and though the ogress's skin was tough enough, the bee pierced it, and made her cry out. As Tourmentine lay rolling and struggling on the grass, she looked like some bull or young lion attacked by flies, for this bee was as bad as a hundred such; anti Prince Orange-tree was in deadly fright lest the princess should allow herself to be caught and killed. At last Tourmentine went away all bleeding, and the princess was just about to take her own shape again, when unhappily some travellers passing through the wood, and seeing the ivory wand which was very pretty to look at, picked it up and carried it off. Nothing more unfortunate could have happened. The prince and princess had not lost the power of speech, but that was very poor comfort in their present condition. The prince, overcome with grief, uttered his laments aloud, which added greatly to the sorrow of his dear Aimée. Sometimes he would say:--
"Long had I waited, and when hope at last
Was mine, and joy had come in sight,
All my clear sky was sudden overcast,
All my fair season with a deadly blight.
O God of Love whose power is greater still
Than Fortune's cruel intent to bereave me,
Watch o'er my mistress's heart, and form her will
That she may ever love, and never leave me."
"Ah, how unhappy I am!" he went on. "Here I am pent up under this bark Here I am an orange tree. I cannot move, and what will become of me if you leave me, dear little bee? But," he added, "why should you leave me? You will find on my flowers delicious dew, and a liquor sweeter than honey, on Which you can feed. My leaves will serve you for a bed of rest, where you will have nothing to fear from the malice of spiders." As soon as the orange tree ended his lament, the bee answered him:--
"My love is fixed. No wavering to and fro
Thou hast to fear.
My heart thou madest thine: it resteth so,
Thy weariness to cheer."
And then she added: "Do not be afraid that I shall ever leave you. Neither lilies, nor jasmines, nor roses, nor any of the flowers in the most beautiful gardens could tempt me to such faithlessness. You will see me flying round you ceaselessly, and you will know that the orange tree is no less dear to the bee than the prince was to Princess Aimée." And then she shut herself into one of the largest flowers as into a palace, and true affection, which finds resources every where, did not fail in its comfort here.
The wood where the orange tree grew was the favourite walk of a princess who lived in a magnificent palace. She was young and beautiful and clever, and her name was Linda. She had no wish to marry, for she feared that any one whom she might take for a husband would not always love her. And as she was very rich she had a splendid castle built, where she received only ladies and old men, who were more learned than gallant. And no other knights might approach her. The heat of the day having kept her in her room rather longer than she would have liked, she went out in the evening with her ladies to walk in the woods. The scent of the orange blossom astonished her, for she had never seen the tree before, and was delighted to find it. No one knew by what chance it had come there, and it was quickly surrounded by all this great company. Linda would not let them pick a single flower, and they took it into her garden, where the faithful bee followed. Linda, delighted with its delicious scent, sat down under it, and just as she was picking some flowers before going into the palace, the watchful bee came out buzzing from under the leaves where she had placed herself as sentinel and stung the princess with such a force that she all but fainted. There was no more question of plucking the flowers from the orange tree, and Linda went home very ill.
When the prince was free to speak to Aimée, he said: "What spite have you, dear bee, against young Linda? You have stung her cruelly." "How can you ask me such a question?" she answered. "Have you not delicacy enough to see that you should feel affection for none but me, that the whole of you belongs to me, and that I am defending my property when I defend your flowers?" "But," said he, "you see them falling, and it does not trouble you. Would it not be the same if the princess decked herself with them, put them in her hair, or wore them in her bosom? "No," said the bee, in a somewhat vexed tone, "it is not at all the same thing. I know, you ungrateful creature, that you care more for her than for me. There is of course a great difference between a lady, refined and richly clad, of high rank, and an unfortunate princess whom you have seen dressed in tiger-skin, in the midst of monsters that have only taught her harsh and savage manners, and whose beauty is not dazzling enough to strike you." Here she wept as much as a bee is capable of weeping, and some of the flowers of the tender orange tree were wet with her tears. Aimé was so sorry to have wounded his princess that all his leaves grew yellow, several of his branches withered, and he was like to die. "What have I done then," he cried, "beautiful bee? What have I done to draw down your wrath on me? Ah, you doubtless wish to leave me. You are already tired of being attached to an unfortunate creature like myself." They spent the night reproaching one another, but at dawn, a gentle zephyr that had been listening to them, induced them to make up their quarrel, and it could not have done them a better turn.
Meanwhile Linda, who was dying to have a bunch of orange blossom, rose very early in the morning, and went to her garden to pluck some. But as soon as she put out her hand, she felt herself stung so violently by the jealous bee that her courage failed her. She returned to her own room in a very bad temper. "I do not understand," she said, "what kind of tree this is that we have found, but as soon as I wish to pluck the tiniest bud from it, the flies that guard it attack me with their stings." One of her maidens, a quick-witted, merry girl, said to her, laughing: "I am of opinion, madam, that you should arm yourself like an amazon, and like Jason when he went to capture the Golden Fleece, go boldly, and take the finest flowers of this pretty tree”. Linda liked this idea, and at Once gave orders for a helmet covered with feathers, a light cuirass, and gauntlets to be made for her, and at the sound of trumpets, timbrels, fifes, and haut boys, she entered her garden, followed by all her ladies, armed like herself. They called this sport the War of the Flies and the Amazons. Linda drew her Sword with much grace, and then striking the finest branch of the orange tree, she cried: "Come out then, terrible bees, come on. I defy you! Are you Valiant enough to defend what you love?" But what did Linda and those who were with her think when they heard a piteous "Alas!" followed by a deep sigh, proceeding from the trunk of the tree, and saw blood flowing from the branch that had been cut? What a wonder was this! Taking the bleeding branch, she in vain placed the parts together to join them, and she was seized with terror and horrible anxiety. The poor little bee, in despair at the sad adventure of her clear orange tree, was on the point of rushing to seek her death by the same fatal sword, to avenge her dear prince, but she bethought herself it would be better to live for him, and thinking what remedy he stood in need of, she asked his consent to let her fly to Araby to bring him balm. And after he had at last consented, and they had said a tender and touching adieu to each other, she set out for that part of the world, with only her instinct to guide her. But in truth it was Love brought her there, and as he goes faster than the swiftest flies, by his aid she made a speedy journey, and brought back wonderful balm on her wings and at the end of her little feet, with which she cured the prince. It is true that the cure was due less to the excellence of the balm than to his pleasure in seeing the Princess Bee take so much care of his hurt. Every day she applied balm to it, and it had need, for the branch that had been cut was one of his fingers, and indeed had he suffered a little more of the treatment Linda had given him, neither arms nor legs would have remained. Oh how keenly did the bee feel the sufferings of the orange tree, and how she reproached herself with being the cause of them, by her over-eagerness in defending its flowers.
Linda, in terror at what she had seen, neither slept nor ate. At last she determined to send for the fairies, to try to get some enlightenment on a matter that seemed to her so extraordinary. So she sent off ambassadors, and loaded them with presents, to request the fairies to come to her court. Among the first to come to Linda's palace was Queen Trusio. There never was any one so learned in the fairy art. She examined the branch and the orange tree, smelt the flowers, and distinguished a human odour that surprised her. Not a charm was there but she tried, and all the most powerful ones too, so that all at once, the orange tree disappearing, they saw the prince, the handsomest, the comeliest alive. At this sight Linda was struck motionless with admiration, and by some still keener feeling. She was already becoming more than indifferent to him, when the young prince, all whose thoughts were of his dear bee, threw himself at Trusio's feet. "Great queen!" he said, "I owe you everything. You give me back life itself in restoring me my own shape, hut if you wish me to he your debtor for all my peace and joy, which is more even than the light you call me back to, give me my princess." And as he said these words he took up in his hands the little bee, on which he always kept his eyes. "I shall do as you wish," replied kind Trusio. And she began her ceremonies again, and Princess Aimée appeared, so charming that not a lady was there hut was envious of her. Linda was secretly hesitating whether to feel joy or disappointment at so extra ordinary an occurrence, and more especially at the change of the bee into human shape. But at last reason got the better of an affection which as yet was only in the bud, and she caressed Aimée over and over again, while Trusio begged her to tell her story. Aimée was too good-natured to delay satisfying them on this point, and the grace and the air of distinction with which she talked interested all who were present. When she told Trusio what wonders she had done in her name, and by her wand, a cry of joy arose in the hall, and each one begged the fairy to complete her great work.
Trusio on her side felt extreme pleasure at all she heard, and folded the princess closely in her arms. "Since I have been so useful to you without knowing it, you may think, dear Aimée, how glad I am to do you a service now that I do know you. I am a friend of your father, the king, and your mother, the queen. Let us be off at once then in my flying car to Happy Isle, where both of you will receive the welcome you deserve." Linda begged them to remain for a day with her, during which she presented them with rich gifts, and Princess Aimée cast off her tiger-skin and put on garments of exquisite beauty. Imagine now the joy of those tender lovers. Yes, if you can. But to do so you would have had to undergo the same mishaps, to have been among the ogres, and been changed into all sorts of different shapes. At last they set off. Trusio drove them through the air to Happy Isle, where they were received by the king and the queen as became those whose presence could least be expected and yet was most longed for. Aimée's beauty and goodness, together with her bright wit, made her the admiration of her age, and her dear mother loved her to distraction. The fine qualities of Prince Aimé charmed no less than his handsome face. When their marriage took place it was celebrated with great splendour. The Graces came in their festive attire. The Loves were there without even having been asked, and by special order of theirs the eldest son of the prince and princess was called Faithful Love. Since then he has had many different names given him, and among them all it is very difficult to distinguish him as Prince Faithful Love, the fruit of this charming, happy marriage. Happy they who really do meet with him!