There was once upon a time a king and a queen to whom heaven had given several children; but they loved them only so far as they were good and beautiful. Among the others was a young son called Alidor, whose figure, indeed, was passable, but who, nevertheless, was unbearably ugly. The king and the queen regarded him with much repugnance, and were always telling him to go out of their sight. And as he began to find that all the caresses were for others, and there was nothing but severity for him, he saw that the only thing left for him to do was to go away secretly. He carefully arranged his plans for leaving the kingdom without any one knowing where he was bound for, in hopes that fortune would treat him better in another country than in his own.
When the king and the queen found he had gone they did not know what to do. They considered that he would not appear in that splendour which befits a prince, and that unpleasant things might happen to him, which concerned them more on account of their own reputation than for his sake. They sent couriers after him with orders to bring him back at once, but he was so careful to choose the most out-of-the-way roads that they followed him in vain; and those who had been ordered to seek for him had not returned to the court before he was forgotten there. Every one knew too well how little the king and the queen cared for him to love him as they would have done a happy prince. Alidor was no longer spoken of. Besides, who was there to speak of him? Luck was against him; his kinsfolk hated him; and little thought was given to any merit he might have.
Alidor was just setting out to seek his fortune without knowing very well whither he wished to go, when he met a young man, handsome and well mounted, and who looked as if he were on a journey. They greeted each other and exchanged some courteous words, for a while speaking only of general matters. After some time the traveller learned from Alidor where he was going. “But you yourself,” he said, “will you tell me your destination?” “My lord,” he answered, “I am a squire in the service of the King of the Woods. I am sent to fetch some horses from a place not far from here.” “Is he a savage king?” said the prince. “You call him King of the Woods, and I picture him to myself as living there.” “His forefathers;’ said the squire, “probably lived as you say, but, as for him, he has a great court. The queen, his wife, is one of the loveliest ladies in the world, and their only daughter, Princess Livorette, is endowed with a thousand charms, which delight all who look on her. True, she is still so young that she is not aware of all the attentions paid her, but, nevertheless, no one can help paying homage to her.”
“You make me very curious to see her,” said the prince, “and to spend some time in so delightful a court. But do they look on strangers with favour? I do not flatter myself. I know that nature has not blest me with a handsome face, but in compensation she has given one a good heart.” “A very rare possession,” said the traveller, “and I rate it much higher than the other. Everything is given its true value in our court, so you may go there perfectly certain of being favourably received.”
Thereupon he gave him directions as to the road he should take to reach the Kingdom of the Woods, and as he was of an obliging disposition, and marked in his companion an air of nobility which not all his ugliness could mar, he gave him the address of some of his friends who would present him to the king and queen. The prince was much pleased with the courtesy shown him. It promised well for a country if such politeness were native to it, and, as he was only seeking for a spot where he might dwell unknown, he preferred to choose the one now suggested to him to any other. He even felt a particular leading of fortune urging him to choose it. After having taken leave of the traveller he went on his way, thinking at times of the Princess Livorette, in regard to whom he already felt the liveliest curiosity.
When he arrived at the court of the King of the Woods, the friends of his companion by the way received him hospitably, and the king gave him a hearty welcome. He was delighted at having left his own country, for though he was unknown, he could not but be gratified at all the marks of regard shown towards him. It is true things were far otherwise in the queen’s apartment, where he had hardly entered before there burst out from all sides long peals of laughter. One lady hid her face so as not to look at him; another ran away. But most clearly of all did the young Livorette, to whom such an example of ill-manners was being given, let the prince see what she thought of his ugliness.
It seemed to him that a princess who laughed in this fashion at a stranger’s defects was not very well-bred. Secretly he pitied her. “Alas!” he said, “this is how I was spoiled in my father’s house. Princes, it must be confessed, are unfortunate, seeing how their faults are tolerated, Yes, now I understand the poison we drink deep draughts of every day. Should not this fair princess think shame to laugh at me? I come from a distance to pay my respects to her, and to attach myself to her court. It is open to me to journey farther and declare her good qualities or her bad ones. I was not born her subject, and nothing need bind my tongue save her civility. Yet hardly has she cast her eyes on me before she insults me with her mocking airs. But alas!” he went on looking at her with admiration, “how safe she is from evil words of mine! Never was anything so beautiful revealed to my sight. I admire her, I admire her only too much, and I know only too well that I shall do so all my life.”
While he was making these sad reflections, the queen, who was of a kindly disposition, ordered him to come to her, and wishing to appease him she spoke pleasantly to him, asking about his country, his name, and his adventures, and to all her inquiries he replied like a man of intelligence, reads’ with his answers. His character pleased her, and she told him that whenever he wished to pay his respects to her she would see him with pleasure. She even asked whether he played at any game, and told him to come and play basset with her. As his desire was to please, he made a point of being present when the queen played. He had plenty of money and jewels. In all his actions there was an air of nobility, which counted for not a little in the distinction he gained for himself. And though no one knew who he was, for he took great pains to conceal his birth, they judged of him none the less favourably. The princess was the only one who could not endure him. She burst out laughing in his face; she made faces at him, and was guilty of every trick which her age suggested to her, and which would not have mattered from any one else. But from her it was very different. He took it very seriously, and when he knew her a little better he uttered his complaints. “Don’t you think, madam,” he said, “that it is somewhat unjust to laugh at me? The same gods that made you the most beautiful princess in the world made me the ugliest of men, and I am their work as well as you.” “I know it, Alidor,” she said, “but you are the worst bit of work that ever came out of their hands.” Thereupon she looked at him fixedly, without taking her eyes off him for a long time, and then she laughed enough to make herself ill.
The prince, who all this time was looking at her, drank long draughts of the poison love was preparing. “I must die,” be said to himself, “since I cannot hope to please, and I cannot live without enjoying the favour of’ Livorette.” At last he grew so melancholy that everybody was sorry for him. The queen saw it, for he did not play as he used to. She asked him what was the matter, but could draw nothing more out of him than that he felt a strange langour, which he thought the change of climate had something to do with, and that he meant to go into the country often to take the air. The fact was, he could no longer bear to see the princess every day without hope. He believed he might be cured if he avoided her, but wherever he went his passion followed him. He sought out solitary places, and there he gave himself up to a profound reverie. The sea being near he used often to go fishing, but in vain did he cast his hook and his nets, for he caught nothing. On his return Livorette was nearly always at the window, and when she saw him coming she used to call out with a sly little air: “Well, Alidor, and have you brought me some nice fish for my supper?” “No, madam,” he answered, bowing low, and then passing sadly on. The beautiful princess laughed at him. “Oh, how stupid he is!” she said; “he can’t even catch a single sole.”
He was miserable at his want of luck and at being constantly laughed at by the princess, and he wanted very much to catch something worth offering to her. He used often to go out in a little sloop, taking with him various kinds of nets, and because of Livorette he took endless pains to do his best. “Am I not indeed unfortunate,” he said, “to find in this amusement a new disappointment? I was only seeking to forget the princess; and now she takes a fancy to eat the fish I catch, and fortune is so unkind as to refuse to let me gratify this desire.”
Full of sadness he sailed out into the sea further than he had ever done before, and, throwing out his nets in a determined fashion, he was suddenly aware they were so laden that he made haste to draw them back for fear of breaking them. When he had hauled the net on board he looked eagerly to see what was struggling inside it, and he found a fine dolphin, which he took up in his arms, delighted at his success. The dolphin tried hard to get away, struggled violently, and then feigned to be dead, so that Alidor might be put off his guard; but it was no use. “My poor dolphin,” said he, “do not torment yourself further. For a certainty I shall take you home to the princess, and you will have the honour of being served up this evening on her table.”
“You will be playing me a very bad turn,” said the dolphin. “What!” cried the prince, in astonishment, “you can speak! Just gods, what marvel is this!” “If you will be so good and generous as to let me free,” the dolphin went on, “I shall render you such real services in the course of my life that you will never need to repent of your kindness.” “And what will the princess have for her supper?” said Alidor. “Don’t you know the mocking tone she puts on with me? She calls me awkward, stupid, and a hundred other things, and for the sake of my reputation I am forced to sacrifice you.” “And so, because the princess sets up as a judge of the gentle art,” said the dolphin, “when you are not successful in your haul you think you have no honour and nobility left! Let me live, I pray you. Put back your most humble servant, the dolphin, in the water. There are good deeds whose reward follow hard on their steps.”
“Well, be off with you,” said the prince, thro the creature into the sea. “I expect neither good nor ill from you, but you seem to have a strong desire to live. Livorette may acid, if she will, still further insults to those she has already heaped on me. What does it matter? You are a remarkable animal, and I shall do as you wish.’
The dolphin disappeared from his sight, and at that moment the prince felt that all hope of success had vanished too. Sitting down in the boat, and drawing in the oars, which he placed under his feet, he folded his arms and gave himself up to a deep reverie, out of which he was awakened by a pleasant voice, which seemed to crisp the waves as it rose from the sea. “Alidor, Prince Alidor,” said the voice, “here is a friend.” Looking clown he saw the dolphin turning somersaults on the surface of the water. “Every one must have their turn, that is hut just,” said the dolphin. “Only a quarter of an hour ago you did me a great kindness. Now ask me to do you a service, and you will see what will happen.” “I ask but a small reward for a great service,” said the prince. “Send me the best fish in the sea.” No sooner said than done. Without casting a net there came bounding into the boat such a quantity of salmon, soles, turbots, oysters, and other shell fish, that Alidor had reason to fear on account of the overloading of the boat. “Stop, stop, my dear dolphin,” he cried; “I am overwhelmed by all you are doing for me, but I fear lest your generosity may prove dangerous. Save me, for you see that the situation is serious.”
The dolphin pushed the boat to shore, where the prince arrived with all his fish. Four mules could not have carried the amount, so he sat down, and was choosing out the best when he heard the dolphin’s voice: “Alidor,” it said, thrusting up its big head, “are you at all satisfied with what I have done for you?” “I could not be more so,” he answered. “Oh, but you must know that I am also most grateful for your treatment of rue, and for your having saved my life. I have, therefore, come to tell you that every time you wish to command my services I shall be ready to obey you. I have more than one kind of power, and if you believe me you may have a proof of it.” “Alas!” said the prince, “what should I wish for? I love a princess, and she hates me.” “Do you want to love her no longer?” said the dolphin. “No,” replied Alidor, “I could not make up my mind to that. Make it possible for me to please her, or let rue die.” “Will you promise me,” continued the dolphin, “never to have any other wife but only Livorette?” “Yes, I promise you,” cried the prince. “I have sworn to be faithful to the love I bear to her, and nothing within my power shall ever be wanting on my part to give her pleasure.” “We must practise a deception on her,” said the dolphin, “for she does not wish to marry you, thinking you ugly, and not really knowing you.” “I give my consent to such a deception,” replied the prince, “though I have made up my mind that she can never give herself to any one like me.” “Time might bring her to reason,” said the dolphin, “but let me change you into a canary bird; you may put off the guise whenever you like.” “You are master, dear dolphin,” answered Alidor. “Well, then,” continued the fish, “I desire that you be a canary!” And in that moment the prince saw himself with feathers, and birds’ claws, and a tiny beak; and he could whistle and sing admirably. Then, wishing himself Alidor again, he found he was the same as before.
Never was any one more joyful. Burning with impatience to be with the young princess, he called to his attendants, loaded them with the fish, and took the road to the town. Of course Livorette was on her balcony, calling out to him “Well, Alidor, have you had better luck this time?” “Yes, madam,” he said, showing her the great baskets filled with the finest fish in the world. “Oh!” she cried, pouting like a child, “I am quite sorry you have caught so many fish, for I shall never be able to laugh at you again.” “You will never want for a pretext, when you wish for one, madam,” he answered, and he went on his way, giving orders for all the fish to be sent to her. Then after a moment he took the form of a little canary, and flew on her window sill. As soon as she noticed the bird she came softly forward, holding out her hand to take hold of it, but it flew away from her into the air.
“I came from one of the ends of the earth,” it said, “where the fame of your beauty has reached. But, dear princess, it would not be fair that I should come on purpose such a distance and be treated like an ordinary canary. You must promise never to put me in a cage, to let me come and go, and to have no other prison than your sweet eyes.” “Ah, dear little bird “cried Livorette, “ask me whatever you like; I promise never to break one of the conditions you put on me, for there was never seen anything so pretty as you. You speak better than a parrot, and you whistle exquisitely. I love you so much— much that I am dying to have you for my own.” The canary flew down, and lighted on Livorette’s head, then on her finger, not only whistling airs, but singing words with the accuracy and in the style of the most skilful musician.
“Fickle my nature is and light,
Yet is my chief desire to bide by thee;
No gates or bars prepare to stay my flight,
If love my gaoler be.
It is a service sweet, thy yoke to bear,
Since it is thine;
Happier my lot thy livery to wear,
Than were an empire mine!”
“I am enchanted,” she said to all the ladies, “by the gift that fortune has just sent me.” She ran to her mother’s room to show her beautiful canary. The queen would have given anything to hear it speak, but not a word would it say except for the princess, and it seemed to have no thought of pleasing any one else.
When night was come Livorette went to her room with the pretty bird, whom she called Bébé. When she began her toilette the canary perched on her mirror, taking the liberty to peck at her ear or her hands every now and again. This delighted her, and Alidor, who up till now had never known any pleasure in his life, felt supremely happy, and had no other desire to be ever anything else than Bébé the canary. True, he was sad to think that they left him in a room ‘here Livorette’s dogs, monkeys, and parrots generally slept. “And so,” he said, sorrowfully, “you think so little of me that you cast me off like this!” “It is not casting you off, dear Bébé,” she answered, “to put you with what I like best.” Then she went out, but the prince remained perched on the mirror. As soon as it was day he flew away to the seashore. “Dolphin, dear dolphin,” he cried, “let me have a word or two with you. Do not refuse to listen to me.” The friendly fish appeared, gravely riding on the water. When Bébé saw him he flew towards him and perched on his head.
“I know all you have done, and all you wish me to do,” said the dolphin, “but I declare that you shall not enter Livorette’s room till she is betrothed to you, and till the king and the queen have given their consent. After that I shall look upon you as her husband.” The prince had so much regard for the fish that he did not insist, but thanked the dolphin a thousand times for the charming disguise he had procured for him, and begged that he would still remain his friend.
Coming back to the palace in his feathered shape, he found the princess in her dressing-gown. She had been searching for him everywhere, and, not having found him, she was now weeping bitterly. “Ah, you little traitor!” she said, “already you have left me! Did I not treat you well enough? Have I not petted you—given you biscuits and sugar and sweets?” “Yes, yes, my princess,” said the canary, who was listening through a little hole, “you have shown me some kindness, but you have neglected me too. Do you think I am satisfied to sleep near your ugly cat? He would have eaten me fifty times if I had not taken the precaution to keep awake all night to save myself from his claws.” Livorette, moved by his words, looked at him tenderly. Holding out her finger, she said “Come, come and be friends”. “Oh! I don’t make up so easily,” he answered. “I wish the king and the queen to know of this.” “Very well,” said she, “I shall take you to their room.”
She went at once to find them. They were still in bed, talking of an advantageous marriage which had been proposed for their daughter. “Well, dear child,” said the queen, “what do you want this morning?” “I bring my little bird,” she answered. “It wants to speak to you.” “That is most important,” said the queen, laughing. But are we in a condition to give a serious audience?” “Yes, your majesty,” replied the canary. “Neither do I appear in your court with all the pomp that befits me, for, the fame of the beauty and the charms of the young princess having reached me, I set off speedily to beg you to give me her hand in marriage. Such as you see me, I am king of a little grove, where oranges and myrtles and honeysuckles grow, the most charming spot in all the Canary Isles. I have a great number of subjects of my own kind, who are forced to pay me a large tribute of flies and worms. The princess might eat her fill, and she would never want for music, for I have even amongst my kinsmen some nightingales that would sing their best for her. We should live here in your court as long as you liked. I only need, your majesty, a little millet, some rape-seed, and fresh water. When you give the word for us to retire to our own states, distance will be no bar to our receiving news of you, and sending you ours in return. We shall have flying couriers to serve us, and I think I may say without vanity that you will get a great deal of satisfaction from a son-in-law like me.” He ended up by whistling two or three airs, and chirping pleasantly. The king and the queen laughed till they could laugh no longer. “We have no wish,” said they, “to refuse Livorette to you. Yes, pretty canary bird, we give her to you, provided she consents.” “With all my heart,” she said. “I have never been so happy in my life as I am now to marry Prince Bébé. Thereupon he plucked one of the finest feathers from his tail and offered it to her as a wedding present. Livorette accepted it graciously, and stuck it in her hair, which was wonderfully beautiful.
When she went back to her own apartment she told her ladies-in-waiting that she had a great piece of news for them—that the king and the queen had just betrothed her to a reigning prince. On hearing this, one flew towards her and embraced her knees, another kissed her hands. They asked her with the utmost eagerness who the prince was to whom the most beautiful princess in all the world was to be given. “Here he is,” said she, drawing out the little canary from the inside of her sleeve, and showing them her betrothed. At the sight of him they laughed heartily, and many a jest was made about the perfect innocence of their fair mistress.
Livorette made haste to dress and return to her mother’s room, for the queen loved her so dearly that she always liked to have her near her. But the canary flew away, and assumed his ordinary shape as Alidor, that he might pay his court to the queen. “Come,” cried the queen when she saw him, “come and congratulate my daughter on her marriage with Bébé. Do you not think that we have found a fine lord for her?” Alidor entered into the spirit of the jest, and as he was gayer than he had ever been in his life he said a hundred pretty things. and the queen was much entertained. But Livorette continued to laugh at him, and contradicted every word he said to her. It would have made him very melancholy to see her in this mood if he had not remembered that his friend, the fish, was going to help him to overcome this aversion.
When the princess went to bed, she would have left her canary in the room with the animals, but he began to grumble, and, flying round her, followed her into her own, and perched himself neatly on a piece of porcelain, from which they dared not chase him for fear of breaking it. “If you begin to sing too early in the morning, Bébé,” said Livorette, “and waken me, I shall not forgive you.” He promised her to be quiet till she should order him to sing his little song, and with that assurance they retired for the night. Hardly was the princess in bed before she fell into so deep a sleep that there can be no doubt the dolphin had a hand in it. She snored even like a little pig, which is not natural in a child. But Bébé did not snore. To do so he would first have had to shut his eyes. Leaving the porcelain vase, he came and placed himself near his charming bride, so quietly that she did not wake. As soon as day had come he again took his canary shape, and flew away to the edge of the sea, where, as Alidor, he sat down on a little rock, the surface of which was smooth and covered with samphire. Then he looked all round to see if his dear friend, the dolphin, were near. He called him several times, and while he waited he was reflecting with pleasure on his happiness. “Oh, fairies,” he said, “whose praises we sing, and whose power is indeed so extraordinary, could your art make any other mortal as happy as I am?” This thought suggested to him the following words:—
“Good friend, to whose staunch aid I owe
That the full bliss of love I know,
My perfect happiness in other’s ear
I may not say.
For at my heart there gnaws the horrid fear
The jealous gods should wrest my love away.”
When he was murmuring these words he felt the rock shaking violently. Then through an opening there came out a little old dwarf woman, leaning her tottering frame on a crutch. It was Grognette the fairy, who was no better than Grognon. “Really, my lord Alidor,” she said, “I think you are taking a great liberty in seating yourself on my rock. I do not know what should hinder me from throwing you to the bottom of the sea just to teach you that, if the fairies cannot make a happier mortal than you, they can at least make an unhappy one whenever they like.” “Madam,” replied the prince, astonished at this adventure, “I did not know you lived here. I should certainly have been very careful not to fail in the respect due to your palace.” “Excuses will avail you nothing,” she continued. “You are ugly and presumptuous, and I want the pleasure of seeing you suffer.” “Alas!” said he, “what have I done to you?” “I don’t know,” she answered, “but I shall treat you as if I did.” “The dislike you bear to me is very extraordinary,” said he, “and if I did not hope that the gods would protect me against you, I would anticipate the ills with which you threaten me by taking my own life.” Grognette went on muttering threats, and then retired into her rock again, which closed up.
The prince, in deep distress, did not wish to sit down, having no desire for a fresh quarrel with an ill-omened dwarf. “I was too satisfied with my lot,” said he, “and now comes a little fury to trouble it. What harm will she do me? Ah, doubtless, it will not be on me that she will vent her anger. It will rather be on the fair lady whom I love. O dolphin, dolphin, I beg you to come and console me!” At that moment the fish appeared near the shore. “Well, what do you wish?” it said. “I was coming to thank you for all the kindnesses you have done me. I am now married to Livorette, and, in the ardour of my joy, I was hastening so that you might share it with me when a fairy…” “I know,” said the dolphin, interrupting him. “It was Grognette, the most malicious and strangest creature on earth. For any one to be happy is quite enough to displease her. But what annoys me most of all is that she has power, and that she means to oppose my plans for your good.” “What a strange creature!” replied Alidor; “how have I offended her?” “What, you a man, and wonder at human injustice! In truth, you men never think of justice. It would be all you could do were you fish, and even we in our kingdom of the seas are not too just. Every day we see the big ones swallowing up the little. It should not he endured, for the smallest herring has its right as a citizen of the water as much as a terrible whale.”
“If I interrupt you,” said the prince, “it is only to ask if I may never let Livorette know that I am her husband.” “Enjoy the time that is,” answered the dolphin, “without taking thought for the future.” And, having said these words, he disappeared below the water. The prince became a canary again, and flew to his dear princess, who was searching everywhere for him. “Will you always make me anxious in this way, you little runaway?” she said as soon as she saw him. “I fear lest you should be lost, and then I should die of sorrow.” “No, my Livorette,” he replied, “I shall never get lost, for your sake.” “Can you answer for it?” she continued. “Might they not lay snares and spread nets for you? Or, if you fell into the trap laid for you by some fair lady, how do I know you would return?” “Oh, what an unjust suspicion!” said he; “you do not know me.” “Forgive me, Bébé,” said she, smiling. “I have heard it said that little importance is attached to being loyal to a wife, and since I am yours I fear lest you should change.”
Conversations like these delighted the canary, for they showed him that he was loved. And yet he was so only as a little bird. At times a keen pang would shoot through his heart. “Is it justifiable, the trick I have played on her?” he said to the dolphin. “I know that the princess does not love me, that she thinks me ugly, and that none of my faults have escaped her. I have every reason to think that she would not wish me for a husband, and, nevertheless, I have become so. If she comes to know it one day, what reproaches will she not heap on me? What shall I say to her? I should die of sorrow if I were to displease her.” But the fish said to him: “Your reflections do not pull together with your love. If every lover were to make such, there would never any more be ladies carried off or disappointed. Enjoy the present time, for less happy days are in store for you.”
Alidor was very much troubled by this warning. He knew quite well that Grognette the fairy still had a grudge against him for having sat down on her rock when she was underneath. He prayed the dolphin still to help him as before.
There was a great deal of talk about the marriage of the princess with a handsome young prince whose states were not far away. Ambassadors came from him to ask for her hand, and received a cordial welcome from the king. This news was most alarming to Alidor, who, without delay, betook himself to the seashore, and, calling his good friend the fish, he told him what he feared. “Think,” said he, “how desperate is my situation! Either I must lose my wife and see her married to another, or declare my marriage and be separated from her for the remainder of my life.” “I have no power to prevent Grognette doing you an injury,” said the dolphin. “I am no less grieved than you are, and you yourself cannot be more occupied with your affairs than I am. Yet pluck up courage. I can tell you nothing more at present, but you may count on my goodwill as on something which will never fail you.” The prince thanked him with all his heart, and went back to the princess.
He found her in the midst of her women, one holding her head, and another her arm, while she was complaining of illness. As at that moment he was not in his canary guise he dared not go near her, though her illness made him very anxious. As soon as she saw him she smiled in spite of all she was suffering. “Alidor,” she said, I think I am going to die. It is a great grief to me now that the ambassadors have come, for I hear all kinds of good reports bf the prince who asks me to marry him.” “But, madam,” he replied, with a forced smile, “have you forgotten that you have chosen a husband?” “What, my canary?” said she. “Ha, ha! I know he will not be angry, though I love him tenderly all the same.” “To share your heart with another would perhaps not content him,” said Alidor. “Well, no matter,” added Livorette. “I shall be very pleased to be queen over a great kingdom.” “But, madam,” he went on, “he offered you one.” “Oh, what a fine kingdom I “she answered, “a little jasmine wood! That might do for a bee or a linnet—but not for me.”
Her waiting-women, thinking that she was talking too much for her health, begged Alidor to withdraw. Then they made her lie down, and Bébé came and chided her gently for her want of faithfulness. As she was not very ill, she went to see the queen. But from that day there scarcely passed one in which she did not suffer. Her languor changed her appearance; and she grew thin and discontented. Months passed away in this fashion. They did not know what to do; and what more especially troubled the court was that the ambassadors who had come with the demand for her hand were urging her parents to give her into their charge. The queen heard of a very skilful physician who might be able to cure her. She sent an equipage for him, and forbade them to tell him the rank of the sick princess, so that he might speak out more freely. When he arrived the queen hid herself in order to listen. But he, seeing her, looked at her for a little and said with a smile: “Is it possible that your court doctors did not know what ailed this little lady? The fact is, before long she will bestow a fine boy on her family.” They did not give him time to finish what he was going to say. All the court ladies loaded him with reproaches, and taking him by the shoulders they pushed him out, hooting him loudly the while.
Bébé who was in Livorette’s room, did not, like the others, think that this country doctor was a fool. Several times it had occurred to him that the princess was to bear a child, and so he went to the seashore to consult his friend the fish, who seemed to be of the same opinion. “I advise you,” said he, “to go away; for I fear lest they should find you by her when she is asleep, and you would both be lost.” “Ah!” said the prince, mournfully, “do you think I can live apart from her who is clearer than all in the world? Why should I be careful of my life? The time is coming when it will be hateful to me. I must see Livorette, or die I.” The dolphin felt pity for him, and shed some tears, though dolphins have not the habit of weeping, and he did what he could to console his dear friend. It was all Grognette’s doing without a doubt.
The queen related to the king the leech’s fancy. Livorette was called. To the questions they asked she answered with as much sincerity as innocence. They spoke even to her waiting-women, whose evidence was satisfactory in every way. So their majesties’ minds were set at rest till the day when the princess gave birth to the prettiest baby that ever was. How can we possibly describe the astonishment, the anger of the king, the grief of the queen, the anxiety of Alidor, the surprise of the ambassadors and of all the court? Where did the child come from? Who was its father? No one could tell, and young Livorette knew as little as the child itself. But the king treated the matter with the utmost seriousness. His daughter’s tears and vows were of no avail. He made up his mind to have her thrown along with her son from the top of a mountain into a precipice with jagged sides, where she would die a cruel death. He told the c of his intention, but she was so terribly distressed at the thought that she fell as if dead at his feet. He was touched by her sad condition, and when she had come to herself somewhat he tried to console her, hut she told him she would never know a moment of joy or of health till he had revoked so terrible an order. Throwing herself on her knees, the tears streaming dawn her cheeks, she begged him to kill her, and spare the lives of Livorette and her son. She had had the infant fetched on purpose that the king might he touched by his innocence. The lamentations of the queen, and the cries of the little child, moved him with compassion. Throwing himself into an armchair, he covered his face with his hands, and pondered and sighed for long before he could utter a word. At last he said to the queen that for her sake he was willing to put off the death of the princess and her son, but that she must understand it was only deferred; that nothing but blood could wash away a stain so shameful to their house. The queen thought that much had already been gained in getting the death of her dear daughter and her grandson deferred: so she made no further stipulations, and gave her consent to the princess being shut up in a tower, where the light of the sun did not even come to gladden her eyes. In that sad place she was left to mourn her cruel fate. If anything could have comforted her in her sorrows it would have been her perfect innocence. She never saw her child, and was given no news of it. “Just heaven!” she cried, “what have I done to be overwhelmed with such bitter griefs?”
Alidor, in deepest sorrow, was at the end of his powers of endurance. Gradually his mind gave way, and at last he went mad altogether. His moans and cries were heard ceaselessly in the woods. He would throw away money and jewels on the road. His clothes were in lags, his hair in tangles, his beard unshaven; and all this, added to his natural ugliness, made him almost horrible to look on. Every one pitied him greatly, and would have done so even more had not the princess’s misfortune filled the minds of everybody in the land. The ambassadors who had come to ask her in marriage heartily wished them selves at home again, for they were, in a manner, ashamed at having come for her. The king, for his part, saw them go willingly enough, for their presence was a grief to him. And as for the dolphin, hidden in the depths of the sea, he appeared no more, leaving the field free to Grognette the fairy to do all the harm she could to the prince and the princess.
Although the little prince grew lovelier than a sunny day, the king had only preserved his life that he might be the means of proving who was his father. He said nothing to the queen; but one day he announced that all the courtiers should bring a gift to rejoice the heart of his grandson. They all obeyed; and, when the king was told that a large number were assembled, he led the queen into the great audience-chamber. They were followed by the nurse carrying in her arms the lovely child clad in brocade of gold and silver. They each came forward to kiss his little hand, and to give him, one a jewelled rose, one artificial fruits, another a golden lion, an agate wolf, an ivory horse, a spaniel, a parrot, a butterfly. He accepted everything with indifference. The king, apparently quite careless, was nevertheless watching what the child was doing. He noticed that he did not show any affection to one more than to the other. He gave orders for a further announcement: that if any one failed to come he would be judged guilty and punished as such. At these threats there was greater haste than ever; and the king’s squire, who had met Alidor on his travels and who was the cause of his having come to the court, finding him in the depths of a cave, in which he generally hid himself since his reason had gone, called to him: “Come, Alidor, do you wish to be the only one to give nothing to the little prince? Have you not heard the proclamation? Do you wish the king to sentence you to death?” “Yes, then, I do,” replied the poor prince, with a wandering look. “Why should you come and disturb my peace?” “Do not be angry,” said the squire; “I only speak for the purpose of urging you to make an appearance.” “Yes; I am most becomingly dressed,” said Alidor, laughing, “for paying a visit to the royal monkey!” “If it is only a question of providing you with clothes,” said the squire, “I can furnish you with very fine ones.” “Very well,” said the other; “it is long since I have seen myself in stately apparel.”
He came out of the cave and betook himself quietly enough to the squire’s house; who, being one of the grandest courtiers, gave him a choice of several magnificent dresses. But he would only wear a black one, and in spite of all remonstrances went without cravat, or hat, or shoes. Till he had reached the door he forgot about the gift to be presented to the prince; but he did not trouble himself long about the matter. Seeing a pin lying on the ground he picked it up to serve as his gift, and went hopping into the hall, rolling his eyes, and hanging out his tongue in such a way that, added to his natural ugliness, one could hardly bear to look at him. The nurse, fearing lest the little prince should be terrified, would have turned his face the other way, and signed to Alidor to go away; but as soon as the child saw him he held out his arms, laughing, and showing such extraordinary delight that Alidor had to be brought to him. Then the child threw his arms round his neck, kissed him again and again, and refused to be taken away from him. And Alidor, in spite of his madness, was no less tender towards the child.
The king stood transfixed with astonishment at this most strange event. He hid his anger from the assembly, but as soon as the audience was ended, without saying a word to the queen, he gave commands to two lords, whom he honoured with especial confidence, to go and fetch the Princess Livorette from the tower in which she had been languishing for four years, and to put her into a barrel along with Alidor and the little prince, to provide them with a pot of milk, a bottle of wine and a loaf, and to fling them to the bottom of the sea.
The lords, horrified at receiving so cruel an order, fell at his feet and humbly begged him to spare his daughter and his grandson. “Alas, sire!” said they, “if your majesty had but allowed yourself to know what she has suffered for four years past, you would think she had been sufficiently punished, without now adding so cruel a death. Consider, she is your only daughter, intended by the gods to wear your crown one day. You are accountable for her life to your subjects. There is great promise in her son. Will you cut him off in his infancy?” “Yes, I will,” said the king, wrathful at the resistance shown to his command, “and if you do not carry out my orders you will die along with her.”
The courtiers knew with sorrow that their struggles against the king’s determination were in vain, so they withdrew with downcast heads and tears in their eyes. They gave orders that a barrel large enough to contain the princess, her son, and Alidor, and the little supply of provisions, should be procured. Then, repairing to the tower, they found her lying on some straw, with irons on her feet and hands. For four years she had not seen the light of day. With profound respect did they greet her, telling her the command they had received from her father. So loud was her sobbing that she could hardly hear what they said. And yet she well understood their message, and mingled her tears with theirs. “Alas!” she said, “the gods are witnesses of my innocence. I am only sixteen years old. I was destined to wear more crowns than one, and now you are going to cast me to the bottom of the sea like the guiltiest of creatures. But do not think I am seeking to corrupt your fidelity or begging you to find some pretext by which my life may be saved. For many a day the king has accustomed me to long for death. I would willingly die could my poor child be saved. What crime is he guilty of? Is not his innocence enough to save him from the fury of the king? Is it possible he is doomed to perish with me? Is it not enough for my father to take my life? Does one victim not satisfy him?”
The lords who were listening to her could not say a word in reply. They could only obey, they said to the princess. “Well,” she answered, “break the chains that bind me; I am ready to follow you.” The guards came. They filed off the irons with which her hands and feet were loaded, causing her a great deal of pain the while, but she bore all with wonderful patience. She went out of the prison lovely as the sunbeam from the bosom of the wave, and all who saw her wondered no less at her courage than at her bewitching beauty, which, in spite of all her sorrows, was greater than ever, her languid air becoming her no less than her former vivacity.
Alidor and the little prince were waiting at the seashore, where they had been brought by the guards, the one knowing just as little as the other what was to be done to them. When the princess saw her son she took him in her arms, kissing him a thousand times with the utmost tenderness. When she was told that it was on account of Alidor she was to be drowned, she said she was very glad they had named the man whom she cared for least in the whole world, and that while preparing her destruction they were none the less justifying her. Alidor began laughing as soon as he saw her. “Ha, little princess, where do you come from?” he said. “We have had fine doings since you left. Livorette is no longer at the palace, and I have been raving mad. They say,” he went on, “we are to voyage together to the bottom of the sea. Listen, princess: you must wake me every morning, for I shall sleep till midday if you don’t take care.”
And he would have said more had not Livorette, as with a last effort, entered the first into the barrel, clasping her son in her arms. Alidor threw him self headlong in, leaping for joy at being on his way to the kingdom of the soles, where the turbot is king, and uttering a stream of nonsense. Then they closed up the barrel, and from the top of a rock that jutted into the sea they threw it down. All the spectators were sobbing and uttering long cries of despair, and as they withdrew their hearts were full of deepest sadness. As for Alidor, he was wonderfully calm. The first thing he did was to seize the loaf and eat the whole of it. Then he found the bottle of wine, and began to drink it in a cheerful way, singing songs just as if he had been present at some merry feast. “Alidor,” said the princess, “leave me at least to die in peace, and do not daze me with your mistimed joy.” “What harm have I done you, princess,” he asked, “that you should wish me to be sad? Do you know I have a secret to tell you? Somewhere here about, where exactly I do not know, there is a certain fish called a dolphin. He is my best friend, and has promised to obey me when ever I command. That is why, my beautiful Livorette, I am not uneasy, for I shall call to him to help us as soon as we are either hungry or thirsty, or whenever we feel we should like to sleep in some superb palace. He will build one expressly for us.” “Call him then, you silly,” said the princess. “Why do you put off what cannot brook delay? If you wait till I am hungry you will wait a long time. Alas! my heart is too sad for me to think of food. But my son here is dying. He will be suffocated in this vile barrel. Make haste then, I beg of you, so that I may see if you are telling the truth, for a madman like you may well be deceived.”
Alidor immediately called the dolphin. “Dolphin, my fishy friend, come here at once, I command you, and do all that I tell you.” “Here I am,” said the dolphin; “speak.” “Are you there?” asked the prince. “This barrel is so well closed that I cannot see.” “Only say what you desire,” said the dolphin. “I should like to listen to beautiful music,” Alidor replied, and at that moment the music began. “What!” said the princess with impatience, “are you laughing at me with your music? Isn’t it rather a useless thing to hear fine music when you are drowning?” “But, princess, you were neither hungry nor thirsty. What do you wish for?” “Give me your power of commanding the dolphin,” she answered. “Dolphin, dolphin,” cried Alidor, “I command you to do all that Princess Livorette desires, without failing in one particular.” “Very well,” said the dolphin, “I shall do so.” And without a moment’s delay she told him to bear them away to the loveliest island in the world, and to build on it the finest palace that ever was seen, with exquisite gardens, surrounded by streams, one full of wine and another of water, with a garden full of flowers and a tree in the middle, whose stem should be silver and its branches gold, with three oranges growing on it, one of diamond, another of ruby, and a third of emerald. The palace was to be painted and gilded, and all her story represented on its walls. “Is that all?” said the dolphin. “It is a good deal,” she answered. “Not very much,” he replied, “seeing that it is done already.” “Well, then, I wish you,” she said, “to tell me one thing I do not know and which perhaps you do.” “I understand,” said the dolphin. “You want to know who is the father of your little prince. It is Bébé the canary, and Bébé is none other than Prince Alidor who is with you.” “Ah, my lord Dolphin!” cried Livorette, “you are laughing at me.” “I swear,” said he, “by Neptune’s trident, by Scylla and Charybdis, by all the caverns of the sea, by its shells, by its treasures, by its tritons, by its naiads, by the happy omens that the pilot draws at sight of me. Lastly, I swear by your self, dear Livorette, that I am true and honourable, and that I do not lie.” “After so many oaths,” she said, “I cannot but believe you, though, to tell the truth, what I have just heard is one of the most astonishing things in the world. I order you then to restore Alidor to reason, to give him all the intelligence possible, and to endow his conversation with charm. Let him be a hundred times handsomer than he was ugly, and tell me why you called him prince, for that title sounds pleasantly in my ears.” The dolphin obeyed in these particulars as he had done before. He told Livorette the prince’s adventures, who was his father, who was his mother, and all about his ancestors and kinsfolk; for he had absolute knowledge of the past, the present, and the future, and was as good as a professional genealogist. Such fish are not to be found every day. Dame Fortune has her say in the making of them.
While they were talking, the barrel struck on an island. The dolphin, having raised it gradually, threw it on the shore; and as soon as it was there it opened. The princess, the prince, and the child were at liberty to come out of their prison. The first thing that Alidor did was to cast himself at Livorette’s feet. He had quite recovered his reason, and his wit was ever so much brighter than it had been before. He had grown so handsome: all his features were so much changed for the better that she hardly recognised him. With the utmost gentleness he begged to be forgiven for his metamorphosis into the canary, excusing himself in a way which was both respectful arid affectionate. At last she gave her pardon for a marriage, to which, perhaps, she would not have consented if he had taken other means of bringing it about. It is true the dolphin had given him such a comely shape that she had never seen his equal at her father’s court. He confirmed all the dolphin had told her about his rank, a matter most essential to the satisfaction of this princess; for, in fact, what would it avail to be the friend of the fairies when one cannot change one’s birth? When heaven does not place us in that position in which we would have desired to be born, only virtue and merit can repair the loss: but often it is repaired with such generosity as to bring abundant consolation.
The princess was in the best of humours. From the midst of terrible danger she had been saved, and she was deeply sensible of it, and gave thanks to the gods. Then she looked out towards the sea for their good friend, the dolphin. There he was, and she thanked him, as was her duty, for having pre served her life. The prince was no less grateful. Their son, who spoke very prettily, and was much more intelligent than children of his age generally are, complimented him too in a way that delighted the good dolphin, who turned somersaults over and over and over again to please the little boy.
But suddenly they heard a loud sound of trumpets, fifes, and hautboys, and the neighing of horses. It was the prince and princess’s equipage and their guards, all in gorgeous attire. There were ladies in the carriages who alighted as soon as they came in sight, to kiss the hem of the princess’s robe. She would have prevented it, seeing in them evident marks of rank which deserved her consideration. But they told her that the orders from the dolphin were to acknowledge the prince and princess king and queen of the island, where were many obedient subjects and much happiness in store for them. Alidor and Livorette were delighted to see the honour paid them by such courteous and agreeable persons, and responded to the homage with as much graciousness as dignity. Then they got into an open carriage, drawn by eight winged horses, who bore them away, now mounting to the clouds, now coming down so gradually that they were hardly aware of the descent. This way of driving is pleasant: you are not jolted, and need fear no fatigue.
They were still near the middle region of the air when they saw on the Slope of a hill lying along the seacoast, a palace of so marvellous a structure that, though all the walls were made of silver, they could yet see right through the rooms, which were furnished, they saw, in the most superb style and with the most exquisite taste imaginable. The gardens were still more beautiful. There were countless fountains, and nature had scattered delicious springs all about in profusion. The prince and his wife were at a loss where to bestow their greatest praise, so perfect did each thing seem to them. When they had entered the palace, from all sides cries rose of” Long live Prince Alidor! Long live the Princess Livorette! May pleasures surround them while they dwell here!” The music of instruments and of sweet voices made a pleasant symphony the while.
Before long they were served with an excellent repast, of which they stood in much need, the sea air and the way they had been cast adrift having fatigued them terribly. So, sitting down, they partook of the repast with appetite. When they had finished the warden of the royal treasure entered and asked them if they would be pleased to spend some little time after their meal in the neighbouring gallery. They went, and saw along the walls large wells and buckets made of perfumed Spanish leather, ornamented with gold. They asked what they were for, and the warden told them that streams of metal flowed into these wells, and when money was wanted one had nothing to do but to let down a bucket and to say: “I wish to draw up louis, pistoles, quadruples, crowns, or other coins “. At the word the water took the wished for form, and the bucket came up full of gold or silver or coins, and yet the spring never dried up for those who made good use of it. But, as had happened several times, when misers let down the bucket with the sole intention of amassing gold and keeping it locked up, they drew it up full of frogs and adders, to their great terror, and sometimes to their great hurt, according to the degree of their avarice. The prince and princess admired these wells, looking on them as one of the finest and rarest things in the whole world. To test the result they let down the bucket, and back it came filled with little grains of gold. When they asked why the gold was not already coined, the warden told them they were waiting to know the arms of the prince and princess so as to stamp them. “Ah!” said Alidor, “we are too much indebted to the generous dolphin to have any other image on them than his.” In an instant all the grains were changed into gold pieces, with a dolphin on each.
The hour for retiring having come, Alidor, timid and respectful, went to his own room, and the princess and her son to theirs. At past eleven o’clock next morning the princess was still asleep. The prince had risen early to go to the hunt, and to be back again before she should be awake. When he learnt he might see her without disturbing her he went to her room, followed by a train of gentlemen carrying great golden vessels filled with the game he had killed. He presented them to his dear princess, who accepted them graciously, thanking him again and again for his goodness to her, which gave him the opportunity of telling her that never had he loved her with more ardour than now, and that he prayed her to name the time when their marriage would be celebrated with porn p.
“Ah! my lord,” she said, “my mind is made up on that point. I shall never consent except with the permission of my royal father and mother.” Never did lover receive a crueller blow. “Fair princess, to what fate do you condemn me?” he said. “Do you not know that what you desire is impossible? Hardly have we escaped from the horrible barrel into which they had put us for our destruction, and you are already imagining that they will consent to my desires. Ah, perhaps you wish to punish me for the strong passion I feel for you. I am aware that you mean to give your heart and your hand to the prince who sent ambassadors to you at the time when I changed myself into a canary.” “You are quite wrong in your judgment of my feeling,” she said. “I respect you, I love you, and I have forgiven all the ills you drew down on me by a disguise which you should not have assumed; for, being the son of a king, might you not have felt assured that my father would have been pleased to make an alliance with you?”
“A great affection does not reason so coolly,” he answered. “I have taken the first step which has led me to happiness, but you are so hard, and if you do not take back the cruel word you have just uttered it is all up with me.” “I cannot take it back,” she said. “You must know that this night while I was sleeping quietly I felt myself being roughly pulled. Opening my eyes, I saw by a torch, which cast a sombre light, the most hideous little creature in the world looking at me steadily with angry eyes. ‘Do you know me?’ she said. ‘No, madam,’ I answered, ‘nor do I wish to.’ ‘Ah! you are laughing,’ said she. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I swear I am telling the truth.’ ‘My name is Grognette, the fairy,’ said she. ‘I have good reason to be angry with Alidor, who sat down on my rock. In fact, he has a particular faculty for displeasing me. I forbid you, therefore, to consider him as your husband till you have your father and mother’s consent, and if you disobey me I shall take my revenge on your son. He shall die, and his death will be followed by a thousand other misfortunes which you will not be able to escape.’ At these words she blew flames of fire on me. They covered me, and I thought I was going to be burnt, when she said ‘I spare you on condition that you obey my orders’.”
The prince knew well from the name and the description of Grognette that the princess’s story was true. “Alas “he said, “why did you ask our friend, the fish, to cure my madness? I was less to be pitied then than now. Mind and reason, what purpose do they serve except to make me suffer? Let me go and beg him to take away my reason again. It is an irksome good.” The princess was deeply moved. She truly loved the prince, finding in him all kinds of fine qualities, and thinking all he did and said perfect in grace. She wept, and he could not help feeling joy at the sight of her tears flowing for his sake. It gave him much more pleasure to know her feelings for him than his own for her had given him when he was the canary, and this so comforted him in his sadness that he threw himself at her feet and kissed her hands. “My dear Livorette,” he said, “be assured I have no will where you are concerned. I own you as the absolute mistress of my fate.”
Livorette was deeply conscious of what this submission had cost him, and ceaselessly did she turn over in her mind the means whereby she might obtain the permission so necessary to their happiness. It was, in fact, the one thing lacking, for there were no pleasures imaginable that the inhabitants of the island did not try to give them. Their rivers were full of fish, their forests of game, their orchards of fruit, their fields of wheat, their meadows of grass, their wells of gold and silver. There were no wars and no law-suits. It was a land where youth, health, beauty, wit, books, pure water, good wine abounded, and where snuff-boxes never gave out! And Livorette was as much in love with Alidor as Alidor with Livorette.
Every now and again they would go to pay their respects to the dolphin, who was always glad to see them. When they spoke of Grognette, the fairy, and of the commands she had put upon the princess, and when they begged him to be their friend in this matter, he always had some comforting words with which to console them. Yet he would give no absolute promise. So two years passed away. Alidor wished to send ambassadors to the King of the Woods, and asked the dolphin’s advice on the subject, but the dolphin said that Grognette would kill them without any doubt, and that perhaps the gods them selves would in the end interfere in favour of the prince and princess.
But meanwhile the queen had learnt the sad fate prepared for her daughter, her grandson, and Alidor. Never was sorrow greater than hers. Joy and good health were hers no more. Every spot where she had once seen the princess recalled her sorrow, and she could not keep from heaping endless reproaches on the king. “Cruel father!” she said, “how could you make up your mind to drown the poor child? She was our only one, and the gods had given her to us. We should have waited till the gods had taken her from us.” For some time the king took these words coolly, but at last he himself began to feel the full extent of his loss. He missed his daughter no less than his wife did, and secretly he was bitten by remorse for sacrificing his tenderness to his reputation. Unwilling that the queen should know how he suffered, he endeavoured to hide his sorrow under an air of hardness. But as soon as he found himself alone he would cry out: “My daughter, my dear daughter, where are you? Have I then lost you, the only consolation of my old age? And I have lost you by my own doing!”
At last, overcome one day by the queen’s grief and his own, be confessed to her that since that fatal day when he had given orders for Livorette and her son to be cast into the sea he had not had a moment’s peace. Her plaintive shadow followed him wheresoever he went; the innocent cries of her son rung in his ears, and he feared he would die for the sorrow of it all. This news made the queen much more unhappy than before. “Now I shall suffer your grief as well as my own. What shall bring us comfort, sire?” The king said he had heard tell of a fairy who for some little time back had been living in the forest of the bears, and that he would go and consult her. “I will gladly go with you,” said the queen, “though I am not quite clear what I want to ask her; for the death of our dear Livorette and of the little prince is only too certain.” “All the same,” said the king, “we must see her.” So he ordered them to make ready his state carriage at once, and all that might be necessary for a journey of thirty leagues. They set off early next day and soon arrived at the dwelling of the fairy; who, having read by the stars that the king and queen were coming to visit her, came hastily forward to greet them.
As soon as their majesties saw her they got down out of their carriage, and, having embraced her with every sign of friendship, they could not keep from weeping bitterly. “Sire,” said the fairy, “I know why you have come. You are in deep distress at having brought about the death of the princess, your daughter. I know no other remedy for your sorrow than to advise both of you to set out in a fair ship for the dolphin’s isle. It is a long way from here, but you will find there a fruit which will make you forget your grief. I counsel you to lose no time. It is your only means of consolation. As for you, madam,” she said to the queen, “your condition moves me so deeply that your troubles seem as if they were my own.” The king and queen thanked the fairy for her good counsel, bestowed valuable gifts on her, and begged her to have the good ness, during their absence, to take an especial charge of their kingdom, so that no neighbours might bethink themselves of making war. She promised all they asked, and they went back to their capital comforted in some degree, in that they could look forward to a mitigation of their sorrow.
A ship was fitted out. They went on board, and set sail for the high sea guided by a pilot who had been in the dolphin’s isle. For some days the wind was favourable; but afterwards it became so contrary and the storm rose to such a pitch, that after being tossed about by it the vessel split on a rock without there being a chance of saving it. All those who were on board were suddenly separated from each other, with no hope of escaping from the terrible danger.
All this time the king was only thinking of his daughter. “I am fully deserving of the punishment which the gods send me,” he said, “since it was I that exposed Livorette and her son to the fury of the waves.” These thoughts so tortured him that he had given up all thoughts of seeking to prolong his life, when he saw the queen on a dolphin’s back, where she had found a refuge on falling from the ship. She was holding out her arms to him in her eagerness to join him, and praying that the good dolphin might reach him and save him along with her. And that is just what happened; for at the moment when the king was on the point of sinking, the good fish approached him, and with the queen’s aid he got on its back. She was full of joy at finding him again, and begged him to pluck up heart, since there was every evidence that heaven had their safety in its keeping. And, in fact, towards the close of day, the ever serviceable dolphin carried them to a pleasant shore on which they landed, no more fatigued than if they had but just come from their berths in the Stern.
It was the very island over which Livorette and Alidor were reigning. They were walking along the shore, Livorette holding her son by the hand, and a numerous retinue following them, when they saw to their great surprise two persons on the dolphin’s back. They went forward, naturally, to offer hospitality to them. But what was the surprise of the prince and princess to recognise the king and queen! They saw, however, that they were not recognised in their turn; which was not extraordinary seeing that the king and queen had not set eyes on their daughter for six years. A girl changes greatly in such a time. And Alidor, from being ugly and mad, had now become handsome, and his reason was restored to him. The child too had grown. So their majesties were far from being aware that they saw before them their dear daughter and their grandson.
Livorette could hardly restrain her tears. At every word she said to her father and mother, or that she heard them say, her bosom swelled, and her voice, changing its tone every minute, was trembling with agitation. “Madam,” said the king to her, “see at your feet a monarch in deep distress, a queen in despair. We were shipwrecked near by. All those who were with us have perished. We are alone, stripped of all our treasures and with none to help us. Sad examples are we of the fickleness of fortune.” “Sire,” said the princess, ‘you could have landed in no country where help would have been given to you with more pleasure. Forget your misfortunes, I beg of you. And you, madam,” she said to the queen, “let me embrace you.” And at the word she threw herself on her neck, while the queen pressed her in her arms with such extraordinary tenderness, because of her likeness to her dear Livorette, that she all but fainted.
Alidor invited them to ride in his chariot, which they agreed to, and they were driven to the castle, where all the beauty and the magnificence filled the king with surprise. Never a moment passed but some pleasure was prepared for them; but what gave them most joy was that the prince’s vessels, which had been not far away from the spot where the shipwreck of the king had taken place, had saved the ship and all on board, and brought the crew to the dolphin’s isle, even while the king was lamenting their death.
At last, one day after they had spent some time with the prince and princess, the king begged them to give them the means of returning to their own kingdom. “Alas!” said the queen, “I shall not conceal from you our misfortune, the saddest that could ever happen to a father and mother.” Thereupon she told the story of Livorette; the griefs that overwhelmed them ever since the cruel torture to which the king had doomed her; the advice of the fairy who dwelt in the forest of the bears, and their intention of going to the dolphin’s isle. “And here we have reached it by the strangest navigation possible. But beyond the pleasure of seeing you we have found nothing here to comfort us, and the fairy who induced us to come has not foretold correctly what would happen.”
The princess had listened to her dear mother with such pity and filial feeling that she could not keep her tears hack. The queen was indeed grateful to seen how keenly she felt her sorrows. She begged the gods to reward her, and, embracing her again and again, she called her her daughter and her child without knowing why.
At last, the ship being ready, the departure of the king and the queen was fixed for the next day. The princess had been keeping one of the most beautiful things about the palace for them to see as they were going away. It was the rare tree in the flower-bed, whose stern was of silver and the branches of gold, and from which hung three oranges of diamonds, rubies and emeralds. There were three guardians whose duty it was to watch it night and day, lest an attempt should be made to take it, and the fruit should really be carried off. When Alidor and Livorette had taken the king and queen to this place, they let them for some time remain admiring at their leisure the beauty of this wonderful tree, which had not its like in the world. After they had spent more than four hours inspecting it, they returned to the place where the prince and the princess were waiting for them to partake of a magnificent repast. In the room there was a table with only two covers, and when the king asked why, they told him that they wished to have the honour of serving them. So they begged their majesties to be seated. Livorette and Alidor and their child brought wine to the king and queen, serving them on their knees, carving the meat for them, placing it neatly on their majesties’ plates, choosing the best and the most delicate portions. Soft and pleasant harmonies were heard the while. Suddenly the three guardians of the rare tree entered with a terrified air, with sad news to tell: the fine diamond and ruby oranges had been stolen, and it could only have been by those persons who had just been to see them—which meant the king and the queen. They were of course offended, and, both rising from the table, they said they are willing to be searched before the whole court. At the same time the king undid his scarf and opened his vest, while the queen undid her bodice. But what was the astonishment of one and the other to see the diamond and the ruby oranges fall down. “Ah sire,” cried the princess, “what a reward is this for the kind and respectful treatment you have received in our island! It is an evil return for a good welcome from hosts who paid you all respect.” The king and the queen, in confusion at these reproaches, tried all sorts of means in order to justify themselves, protesting that they were incapable of committing the theft, that those who accused them did not know them, and that they themselves could not understand how it had all happened.
At these words the princess, throwing herself at the feet of her father and mother, said: “Sire, I am the unhappy Livorette you placed in the barrel along with Alidor and my son. You accused me of a crime to which I had never consented. Misfortune came upon me without more knowledge on my part than your majesties had when the oranges were hidden in your bosoms. I dare beseech you to believe and to pardon me!” The hearts of the king and queen were pierced by these words. They lifted their daughter up, and all but strangled her, so closely did they clasp her in their arms. She presented Prince Alidor and the little prince to them. It is easier to imagine than to describe the joy of these illustrious personages.
The wedding of the prince and princess was celebrated with great pomp. The dolphin was present in the shape of a young monarch of marvellous beauty and wit. Ambassadors were sent to the father and mother of Alidor with precious gifts, and charged to relate all that had happened. The life of the prince and princess was as long and happy after this as it had been full of sorrow and complications in the beginning. Livorette returned with her husband to her father’s kingdom, but her son stayed behind in the dolphin’s isle.