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Sylvain And Jocosa

from The Green Fairy Book





Once upon a time there lived in the same village two children, one
called Sylvain and the other Jocosa, who were both remarkable for
beauty and intelligence. It happened that their parents were not
on terms of friendship with one another, on account of some old
quarrel, which had, however, taken place so long ago, that they
had quite forgotten what it was all about, and only kept up the
feud from force of habit. Sylvain and Jocosa for their parts were
far from sharing this enmity, and indeed were never happy when
apart. Day after day they fed their flocks of sheep together, and
spent the long sunshiny hours in playing, or resting upon some
shady bank. It happened one day that the Fairy of the Meadows
passed by and saw them, and was so much attracted by their pretty
faces and gentle manners that she took them under her protection,
and the older they grew the dearer they became to her. At first
she showed her interest by leaving in their favourite haunts many
little gifts such as they delighted to offer one to the other, for
they loved each other so much that their first thought was always,
'What will Jocosa like?' or, 'What will please Sylvain?' And the
Fairy took a great delight in their innocent enjoyment of the
cakes and sweetmeats she gave them nearly every day. When they
were grown up she resolved to make herself known to them, and
chose a time when they were sheltering from the noonday sun in the
deep shade of a flowery hedgerow. They were startled at first by
the sudden apparition of a tall and slender lady, dressed all in
green, and crowned with a garland of flowers. But when she spoke
to them sweetly, and told them how she had always loved them, and
that it was she who had given them all the pretty things which it
had so surprised them to find, they thanked her gratefully, and
took pleasure in answering the questions she put to them. When she
presently bade them farewell, she told them never to tell anyone
else that they had seen her. 'You will often see me again,' added
she, 'and I shall be with you frequently, even when you do not see
me.' So saying she vanished, leaving them in a state of great
wonder and excitement. After this she came often, and taught them
numbers of things, and showed them many of the marvels of her
beautiful kingdom, and at last one day she said to them, 'You know
that I have always been kind to you; now I think it is time you
did something for me in your turn. You both remember the fountain
I call my favourite? Promise me that every morning before the sun
rises you will go to it and clear away every stone that impedes
its course, and every dead leaf or broken twig that sullies its
clear waters. I shall take it as a proof of your gratitude to me
if you neither forget nor delay this duty, and I promise that so
long as the sun's earliest rays find my favourite spring the
clearest and sweetest in all my meadows, you two shall not be
parted from one another.'

Sylvain and Jocosa willingly undertook this service, and indeed
felt that it was but a very small thing in return for all that the
fairy had given and promised to them. So for a long time the
fountain was tended with the most scrupulous care, and was the
clearest and prettiest in all the country round. But one morning
in the spring, long before the sun rose, they were hastening
towards it from opposite directions, when, tempted by the beauty
of the myriads of gay flowers which grew thickly on all sides,
they paused each to gather some for the other.

'I will make Sylvain a garland,' said Jocosa, and 'How pretty
Jocosa will look in this crown!' thought Sylvain.

Hither and thither they strayed, led ever farther and farther, for
the brightest flowers seemed always just beyond them, until at
last they were startled by the first bright rays of the rising
sun. With one accord they turned and ran towards the fountain,
reaching it at the same moment, though from opposite sides. But
what was their horror to see its usually tranquil waters seething
and bubbling, and even as they looked down rushed a mighty stream,
which entirely engulfed it, and Sylvain and Jocosa found
themselves parted by a wide and swiftly-rushing river. All this
had happened with such rapidity that they had only time to utter a
cry, and each to hold up to the other the flowers they had
gathered; but this was explanation enough. Twenty times did
Sylvain throw himself into the turbulent waters, hoping to be able
to swim to the other side, but each time an irresistible force
drove him back upon the bank he had just quitted, while, as for
Jocosa, she even essayed to cross the flood upon a tree which came
floating down torn up by the roots, but her efforts were equally
useless. Then with heavy hearts they set out to follow the course
of the stream, which had now grown so wide that it was only with
difficulty they could distinguish each other. Night and day, over
mountains and through valleys, in cold or in heat, they struggled
on, enduring fatigue and hunger and every hardship, and consoled
only by the hope of meeting once more--until three years had
passed, and at last they stood upon the cliffs where the river
flowed into the mighty sea.

And now they seemed farther apart than ever, and in despair they
tried once more to throw themselves into the foaming waves. But
the Fairy of the Meadows, who had really never ceased to watch
over them, did not intend that they should be drowned at last, so
she hastily waved her wand, and immediately they found themselves
standing side by side upon the golden sand. You may imagine their
joy and delight when they realised that their weary struggle was
ended, and their utter contentment as they clasped each other by
the hand. They had so much to say that they hardly knew where to
begin, but they agreed in blaming themselves bitterly for the
negligence which had caused all their trouble; and when she heard
this the Fairy immediately appeared to them. They threw themselves
at her feet and implored her forgiveness, which she granted
freely, and promised at the same time that now their punishment
was ended she would always befriend them. Then she sent for her
chariot of green rushes, ornamented with May dewdrops, which she
particularly valued and always collected with great care; and
ordered her six short-tailed moles to carry them all back to the
well-known pastures, which they did in a remarkably short time;
and Sylvain and Jocosa were overjoyed to see their dearly-loved
home once more after all their toilful wanderings. The Fairy, who
had set her mind upon securing their happiness, had in their
absence quite made up the quarrel between their parents, and
gained their consent to the marriage of the faithful lovers; and
now she conducted them to the most charming little cottage that
can be imagined, close to the fountain, which had once more
resumed its peaceful aspect, and flowed gently down into the
little brook which enclosed the garden and orchard and pasture
which belonged to the cottage. Indeed, nothing more could have
been thought of, either for Sylvain and Jocosa or for their
flocks; and their delight satisfied even the Fairy who had planned
it all to please them. When they had explored and admired until
they were tired they sat down to rest under the rose-covered
porch, and the Fairy said that to pass the time until the wedding
guests whom she had invited could arrive she would tell them a
story. This is it:





Next: The Yellow Bird

Previous: Rosanella



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