VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of www.childrenstories.ca Informational Site Network Informational
Privacy
Home - Stories - Categories - Books - Search

Featured Stories

The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Categories

A FAIRY-TALE

Aesop

ALPHABET RHYMES

AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES

AMUSING ALPHABETS

Animal Sketches And Stories

ANIMAL STORIES

ARBOR DAY

BIRD DAY

Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon

Bohemian Story

BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS

CATS

CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES

CHRISTMAS DAY

COLUMBUS DAY

CUSTOM RHYMES

Didactic Stories

Everyday Verses

EVIL SPIRITS

FABLES

FABLES FOR CHILDREN

FABLES FROM INDIA

FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS

FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

For Classes Ii. And Iii.

For Classes Iv. And V.

For Kindergarten And Class I.

FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

GERMAN

Good Little Henry

HALLOWEEN

Happy Days

INDEPENDENCE DAY

JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]

Jean De La Fontaine

King Alexander's Adventures

KINGS AND WARRIORS

LABOR DAY

LAND AND WATER FAIRIES

Lessons From Nature

LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY

LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG

Love Lyrics

Lyrics

MAY DAY

MEMORIAL DAY

Modern

MODERN FABLES

MODERN FAIRY TALES

MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED

MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES

MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES

MOTHERS' DAY

Myths And Legends

NATURE SONGS

NEGLECT THE FIRE

NUMBER RHYMES

NURSERY GAMES

NURSERY-SONGS.

NURSEY STORIES

OLD-FASHIONED STORIES

ON POPULAR EDUCATION

OURSON

Perseus

PLACES AND FAMILIES

Poems Of Nature

Polish Story

Popular

PROVERB RHYMES

RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)

RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"

RIDDLE RHYMES

RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE

ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES

SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY

Selections From The Bible

Servian Story

SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES

Some Children's Poets

Songs Of Life

STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS

STORIES FOR CHILDREN

STORIES for LITTLE BOYS

STORIES FROM BOTANY

STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN

STORIES FROM IRELAND

STORIES FROM PHYSICS

STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA

STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY

STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS

SUPERSITITIONS

THANKSGIVING DAY

The Argonauts

THE CANDLE

THE DAYS OF THE WEEK

THE DECEMBRISTS

The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers

The Little Grey Mouse

THE OLD FAIRY TALES

The Princess Rosette

THE THREE HERMITS

THE TWO OLD MEN

Theseus

Traditional

UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES

VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES

WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

WHAT MEN LIVE BY

WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO

The Hind Of The Forest

from The Best Popular Stories Selected And Rendered Anew





A beautiful queen, whose subjects adored her, and whose husband
thought her the best woman in the world, had but one sorrow, which was
equally a sorrow both to the king and the country--she brought him no
heir to the throne. She, at last, grew so melancholy, that she was
ordered for her health to drink the medicinal waters that were found
in a celebrated wood; and one day, sitting beside one of these
fountains, which fell into a marble and porphyry basin, she sent all
her ladies away, that she might the better weep and lament unobserved.

How unhappy am I, said she; five years I have been married, and am
still childless, while the poorest women in the land have children by
the dozen. Am I to die without ever giving the king an heir?

While she spoke, she noticed that the water of the fountain was
slightly disturbed, and there issued thence a large cray-fish, who
thus addressed her, Great queen, you shall have what you desire; but
first you must go to the fairy-palace which is near here, though so
surrounded by mists and clouds as to be invisible to mortal eyes,
unless you will be conducted there by a poor cray-fish.

Though very much surprised, the queen answered courteously that she
had no objection, except that the animal's method of walking would not
well suit her own.

The shell-fish smiled--if a shell-fish can smile--and immediately took
the shape of a pretty little old woman. Madam, said she, we now
need not walk crab-fashion. Consider me as your friend, for, indeed, I
am desirous of being so.

So saying, she jumped out of the fountain, her clothes not being the
least wet, though they were made of white and crimson velvet, nor her
grey hair damp: it was tied with green ribbons, and appeared all in
order and smooth as silk. She saluted the queen, and then conducted
her by a road which, strange to say, well as she knew every portion of
the wood, her majesty had never before seen, to a palace of which the
walls, roofs, and balconies were built entirely of diamonds.

Is all this a dream? cried the delighted queen.

But no, it was a reality, for the gates straightway opened, and six
beautiful fairies appeared, who, making her a profound reverence,
presented her with six flowers composed of jewels: a rose, a tulip, an
anemone, a jasmine, a carnation, and a heartsease.

Madam, said they, we could not give you a greater mark of our
favour than in permitting you to come here. We are delighted to tell
you that by and by you will have a little daughter, whom you must
name Desiree--the Desired. As soon as she is born, call us, and we
will endow her with all sorts of good qualities. You have only to take
this bouquet, and name each separate flower, thinking of us, when
immediately we shall be present in your chamber.

The queen, transported with joy, embraced all the fairies, spent the
day with them, and returned, laden with presents, to the fountain
side; where the little old woman jumped into the water, became a
cray-fish again, and disappeared.

In due time the Princess Desiree was born, and the queen did as she
was told in naming the flowers. Soon, all the six fairies appeared, in
different chariots; of ebony, drawn by white pigeons--of ivory, drawn
by black crows, and so on, in great variety. They entered the royal
chamber with an air at once cheerful and majestic, embraced the queen
and the little princess, and spread out all their presents. These
were, linen, so fine that none but fairy hands could have spun it;
lace and embroidery without end; and a cradle, the wonder of the
world. It was made of wood more precious than gold, and at each corner
stood four animated images, little cupids, who, as soon as the baby
cried, began to rock it of their own accord. Then the six fairies
kissed and dandled the princess, bestowing on her for her portion
beauty, good temper, good health, talents, long life, and the faculty
of doing thoroughly well everything she tried to do. The queen,
overcome with gratitude, was thanking them with all her heart for
their kindness to her little daughter, when she saw enter her chamber
a cray-fish, so large that it could hardly pass through the door.

Ungrateful queen, said the crab, have you forgotten the fairy of
the fountain? You sent for these my sisters, and not for me, who am
the one to whom you owed most of all.

The queen made a hundred apologies, and the six fairies tried vainly
to pacify the other one; but she was determined, as she said, to
punish ingratitude. However, added she, I will give no worse gift
to the princess than to warn you, that if you let her see daylight
before she is fifteen years old, you will repent it. So saying, she
retired backwards, crab-fashion, resisting all entreaties to resume
her proper form and join in the festivities.

The afflicted mother took council with the six fairies how she was to
save her baby from this impending evil, and after many conflicting
opinions they advised her to build a tower without doors or windows,
and with a subterranean entrance, which the princess might inhabit
till she had passed the fatal age. Everything is easy to fairies; so
three strokes of their wands, making eighteen strokes in all, began
and finished the edifice. It was built of green and white marble,
ornamented inside with diamonds and emeralds, and hung with
tapestry--all fairy work--on which was pictured the lives of heroes.
Though there was only lamp-light allowed, yet the lamps were so
numerous, that they made the tower seem as bright as day. Whether the
princess was ever permitted any fresh air, or taken out for a walk by
starlight or moonlight, the history does not say; but it does say one
thing, that she grew up very happy, very lovely, and very well
educated.

The six fairies came frequently to see her, and were most kind and
affectionate to her; but the one she loved best among them all was
Tulip. By this fairy's advice, the nearer she approached the age of
fifteen, the more carefully was Desiree shut up from daylight. But her
mother, who was very proud of her beauty, caused her portrait to be
painted, and sent among all the neighbouring courts, in order that
some prince might seek her in marriage. There was one prince who was
so captivated by this likeness, that he shut himself up with it, and
talked to it, as if it had been alive, making love to it in the most
passionate manner, and then falling into a hopeless melancholy.

When his father tried to discover the cause of this--Sir, said
Prince Warrior (he went by that name, because, young as he was, he had
already gained three battles), my grief is that you wish me to marry
the Black Princess, while I will only marry the Princess Desiree. I
have seen her portrait, and without her I shall surely die. Behold
her!

The king looked at the portrait. Well, my son, I cannot wish for a
more charming daughter-in-law, we will retract our offers for the
Black Princess, and send an ambassador to propose for the Princess
Desiree.

The prince, kissing his father's hand, overwhelmed him with his
gratitude and joy. A courtier, Becafico by name, young and gallant,
was despatched with eighty equipages, a hundred mounted squires, and
the portrait of the Prince Warrior, to ask the Princess Desiree in
marriage. The report of his splendours travelled before him, till it
reached the ears of the king and queen, and of the six fairies, who
were all equally delighted.

But, said the Fairy Tulip, who was the sagest of them, beware,
queen, of allowing Becafico to see our child, as they tenderly called
Desiree, and do not upon any account suffer her to leave her tower
for the kingdom of Prince Warrior until her fifteenth birthday is
past.

The ambassador arrived; his magnificent train took twenty-three days
in going through the gates of the city. He made his harangue to the
king and queen, and much state ceremonial passed between them; then he
begged for the honour of an audience with the princess, and was very
much astonished to find it denied him--still more so, when the king
candidly told him the whole story.

The queen had strictly enjoined the ladies of honour not to tell her
daughter one word of the ambassador's visit, or her intended marriage;
yet somehow the princess already knew it quite well. But she was wise
enough to say nothing about it; and when her mother showed her the
prince's portrait, and asked her if she should like such a gallant
young man for her husband, she replied humbly that she should be
quite satisfied with any choice her parents made for her. So her hand
was promised, but as she still wanted three months of fifteen, the
prince was requested to wait thus long.

He took this delay so much to heart, that he could neither eat nor
sleep; meantime Desiree was little better--she did nothing but look at
the prince's portrait, and was exceedingly irritable with Longthorn
and Gilliflower, her two maids of honour. The other lady--the Black
Princess--was in equally sore plight, for she, too, had fallen in love
with the prince's portrait, and his rejection of her hand offended her
much.

What, said she to the ambassador, your master does not find me
handsome enough, or rich enough?

Madam, said the ambassador, as much as a subject dare blame a
sovereign, I blame my prince; had I the first throne in the world, I
should know to whom to offer it.

He said this, because he feared the bastinado, for Ethiopians are warm
haters as well as warm lovers. The Black Princess was softened, and
dismissed him, on which he gladly took himself out of the country.

But the Ethiopian lady was too deeply offended with Prince Warrior to
pardon him so readily. She mounted her ivory car, drawn by six
ostriches which ran at the rate of six leagues an hour, and went to
the palace of her godmother, the Fairy of the Fountain, who had been
so offended by being forgotten at the birth of Desiree. Arrived
there, she unfolded all her annoyances. The fairy consoled her, and
promised to aid her in her revenge.

Meantime Becafico had travelled with all diligence to the capital of
Desiree's father, where with earnest entreaties he begged that the
princess might be sent back with him to her betrothed spouse, who
otherwise would certainly die; at which tidings the princess herself
was so much moved that she fainted away. Thus her parents discovered
how deeply in love she was with Prince Warrior.

Do not disquiet yourself, my dear child, said the queen; if the
prince suffers, it is you who can console him. My only fear is on
account of the menaces of the Fairy of the Fountain.

But Desiree was so eager to start, that she suggested being sent away
in a closed carriage, where the light of day should never penetrate,
and which should only be opened at night-time to give her food. She
was willing to suffer any inconvenience for the sake of saving the
life of Prince Warrior.

The parents assented. So there was built a magnificent equipage of
green velvet outside, and lined with rose-colour and silver brocade.
It was very large, but it shut up as tight as a box, and it had a huge
lock, the key of which was entrusted to one of the highest noblemen of
the court. In this carriage Desiree was placed, after most affecting
adieus, by her father and mother; and with her were sent her maids of
honour Longthorn and Gilliflower, and a lady-in-waiting, who was the
mother of both. Now, Longthorn cared little for the princess, but she
cared very much for Prince Warrior, whose portrait she had seen; and
when the bridal train departed, she said to her mother that she should
certainly die if this marriage were accomplished; so the mother,
notwithstanding the confidence placed in her by queen, that she should
watch over the princess, and carefully seclude her from daylight until
she had reached the age of fifteen, yielded to her own child's
persuasions, and determined to betray her trust.

Longthorn, who learned each evening from the officers of the
household, when they came to bring the princess her supper, how far
they were on their journey, at last persuaded her mother, who put off
the cruel act as long as she could, that it would never do to wait any
longer. They were nearly at the capital, and the young prince might,
in his impatience, come to meet them, and the opportunity be lost. So
next day, at noon, when the sun was at the hottest, the
lady-in-waiting took out a knife, which she had brought with her for
the purpose, cut a large hole in the side of the carriage where they
were all shut up together, and the princess, for the first time in her
life, beheld daylight. She uttered a deep sigh, and immediately leaped
out of the carriage in the form of a white hind, which fled away like
lightning, and hid itself in the thickest recesses of a neighbouring
wood.

None of the train perceived her, or if they had, they would not have
known it was she; besides, the Fairy of the Fountain immediately sent
such a storm of thunder and lightning that the whole cavalcade took
shelter in the nearest place they could find. The only persons who
knew what had happened were Longthorn, her mother, and Gilliflower;
but Gilliflower, overwhelmed with grief, had sprung out of the
carriage after her beloved mistress; so the two others were left
alone. Longthorn immediately put on the garments of Desiree, and
adorned herself with her royal mantle, her crown of diamonds, her
sceptre of a single ruby, and the globe which she carried in her left
hand, composed of one enormous pearl. Thus attired, with her mother
bearing her train, the false Desiree marched into the city--they two
alone; for, by the fairy's contrivance, the rest of the attendants had
been scattered in all directions. Longthorn doubted not the prince
would be already advancing to meet his bride, which was indeed the
case; though he was so weak that he had to be conveyed in a litter,
surrounded by courtiers and knights, who all wore splendid armour and
green plumes, green being the favourite colour of the princess. Seeing
the two ladies so richly dressed, coming forward on foot and
unattended, they dismounted, and respectfully greeted them.

May I inquire, said Longthorn, who is in that litter?

Madam, replied a knight, it is the Prince Warrior, who comes to
meet his betrothed, the Princess Desiree.

Tell him, said Longthorn, that I am she. A fairy, jealous of my
happiness, has driven away all my attendants, but that I am Desiree is
proved by these my royal ornaments, and the letters of my father,
borne by my lady-of-honour here.

Immediately the courtiers kissed the hem of her robe, and made all
diligence to announce to the prince, and the king his father, who
accompanied him, that the Princess Desiree had arrived.

What! cried the king; arrived here in full daylight? But the
prince, burning with impatience, asked no questions, except about the
lady herself--Is she not a miracle of beauty--according to her
portrait? There was no reply. You are afraid to speak, gentlemen,
lest you should praise her too much.

But the courtiers were still silent. Sir, at last said one of the
boldest of them, you had better go and see the princess yourself.

The prince, much surprised, would have thrown himself out of his
litter; but he was too feeble, and his father went instead. When the
king beheld the false princess, he involuntarily drew back; but the
lady-of-honour advancing boldly, said:

Sire, this is the Princess Desiree;--I bear letters from the king and
queen her parents, and also a casket of priceless jewels, which they
charged me to place in your hands.

The king kept a mournful silence, and regarded his son, who now
approached, leaning on one of the courtiers. When he looked at the
girl, he recoiled with disgust; for she was so gaunt and tall that the
clothes of Desiree scarcely covered her knees, and her extreme
thinness, her red, hooked nose, her black and ill-shaped teeth, made
her as ugly as Desiree was beautiful. Prince Warrior, who for months
had thought of nothing but his lovely bride, stood petrified. King,
said he to his father, I am betrayed! this is not the lady whose
portrait was sent me, and to whom I have plighted my faith; I have
been deceived, and the deception will cost me my life.

What do I hear? replied Longthorn, haughtily. Prince, who has
deceived you? you will be no victim in marrying me.

Ah! my beautiful princess, exclaimed the lady-of-honour, it is we
who are victims. What a reception for one of your rank! what
inconstancy--what falsehood! But the king your father shall make them
hear reason.

We will make him hear reason! cried the other king, indignantly. He
promised us a beautiful princess, and he has sent us a skeleton, a
fright. I do not wonder he has kept it shut up for fifteen years, and
now he wishes to foist it upon us.

And without taking any more notice of Longthorn, he and his son
remounted each into his litter, and departed.

Prince Warrior was so overcome by this unexpected affliction, that for
a long time he did not speak a word. Then he resolved, as soon as his
health allowed, to depart secretly from the capital, and seek some
solitary place where he might pass the remainder of his sad life. He
communicated this design to no one but the faithful Becafico, who
insisted upon following his fortunes wherever he went. So, one day,
the prince left a letter for his father, assuring him, that as soon as
his mind was tranquillized he would return to the court, but imploring
that in the meantime no search might be made after him; then he and
Becafico departed together.

Meanwhile, the poor white hind fled into the wood. She wandered about
till she came to a fountain, where, as in a mirror, she saw her own
changed shape, and wept, convulsed with grief. Then hunger began to
attack her--she bent her head, and browsed upon the green grass, which
she was surprised to find tasted very good. She laid herself down on a
bank of moss, but passed the night in extreme terror, hearing the wild
beasts roaring around her, and often forgetting that she was a hind,
trying to save herself by climbing a tree like a human being. Daybreak
reassured her a little; she admired for the first time the wonderful
beauty of dawn; and when the sun rose, it appeared to her such a
marvellous sight that she could not take her eyes from it. She was
strangely comforted, spite of all her misfortune, by the charm that
she found out, every minute more and more, in the new world which now
for the first time she beheld in daylight.

The Fairy Tulip, who loved Desiree, was very sorry for her, although
somewhat offended that the queen had not taken her advice, and
detained the princess safe in her tower till she was fifteen; however,
she would not leave her a prey to the malice of the Fairy of the
Fountain, so contrived invisibly to conduct the faithful Gilliflower
to the place where the poor forlorn hind reposed. As soon as Desiree
saw her, she leaped the stream, and came towards her former companion,
lavishing on her a thousand caresses.

At first Gilliflower was very much astonished to be so taken notice of
by a deer of the forest; but looking at it attentively, she saw two
great tears rolling down from the soft human-like eyes, and some
instinct told her that it was her dear princess. She took the forefeet
of the hind, and kissed them as respectfully as if they had been her
mistress's hands. She spoke to her, and though the hind could not
reply, yet it was clear she understood, for the tears flowed faster
than ever, and she showed, by as much intelligence as a dumb beast
could possibly evince, that she responded to the love of the faithful
girl. When Gilliflower promised that she would never quit her, by a
hundred little signs the poor hind tried to express how happy she was.

They passed the day together, Desiree leading her companion to a place
where she had seen plenty of wild fruits; so that Gilliflower, who was
dying of hunger, became strengthened and refreshed. But when night
came, the girl's terrors returned.

Dear hind, said she, where shall we sleep? If we stay here the wild
beasts will devour us; is there no little hut where we can hide?

The poor hind shook her pretty head, and the tears again began to
flow, almost as if she were a human being. Her tears melted the heart
of the Fairy Tulip, who had watched her invisibly all the time, and
now made herself known--appearing suddenly in a shady alley of the
wood. Gilliflower and the white hind threw themselves at her feet--the
latter licking her hands, and caressing her as prettily as a deer
could--the former imploring her to take pity on the princess, and
restore her to her natural shape.

I cannot do that, said the fairy; her enemy has too much power; but
I can shorten her term of punishment, and soften it a little, by
granting that during every night she becomes a woman, though as soon
as day breaks she must again wander about as a hind of the forest.

It was a great comfort to be a woman every night; and the hind showed
her joy by innumerable leaps and bounds, which delighted the good
Tulip.

Follow this by-path, said she, and you will find a hut that will
serve you as a quiet home. Farewell.

She disappeared, and Gilliflower, with the hind trotting after her,
went on and on, till she came to a little hut, before which sat an old
woman, making a basket of osiers.

My good woman, said she, have you a room to let, for me and my pet
here?

Yes, truly, replied the old woman; and took them into a room where
were two little beds, hung with white dimity, with fine white sheets,
and everything as neat and comfortable as possible. As soon as it grew
dark, the princess recovered her own shape, and kissed and embraced a
thousand times her dear Gilliflower, who, on her part, was full of
delight and thankfulness. Then they had their supper, and went to
sleep in their two little beds.

When morning broke, Gilliflower was awakened by a scratching, and
there she saw the hind, just as much a hind as before, waiting to be
let out. The faithful attendant opened the door, and the deer sprang
out quickly, and disappeared in the forest.

Now, by an extraordinary chance, it happened that Prince Warrior,
wandering about, indifferent to where he went, lost himself in this
very forest, where he had come with his companion Becafico. The
latter, seeking for fruits to satisfy their hunger, reached the same
cottage-door where the old woman lived, and being received kindly,
asked her for some food for his master. She put some bread into a
basket, and was going to give it to him, when her charity made her
offer the wanderers shelter for the night.

It is a poor cottage, said she; but I have still one empty room,
which will at least save you from being eaten up by wolves and lions.

So the prince was persuaded; and the old woman, who appeared ignorant
of his rank, admitted him and Becafico cautiously, so as not to
disturb the lady and the hind, who occupied the next room. Thus the
two lovers were so near, that they might almost have heard one another
speak, yet did not know it.

The prince rarely slept much; his sorrow was still too great; and when
the first rays of the sun shone through his window, he arose, and
went out into the forest. There he wandered a long time without
finding any sure track: at last he came upon a sort of bower, overhung
with trees, and carpeted with moss, out of which started a beautiful
white hind, who immediately fled away.

Now the prince had formerly been a great hunter, until his passion for
the chase was swallowed up by his love for Desiree; but the old fancy
returned when he saw the white hind. He could not help following her,
and sending after her arrows, not a few, from the bow which he always
carried, causing her almost to die of fear; although, by the care of
the Fairy Tulip, she was not wounded. All through the day he pursued
her; until, towards twilight, she escaped from him towards the
cottage, where Gilliflower was watching in the utmost anxiety. The
faithful girl received tenderly into her arms the poor hind,
breathless, exhausted; and eagerly awaited the moment when her
mistress should become a woman again, and tell her what had happened.
When darkness came on, the deer vanished, and it was the Princess
Desiree who lay on Gilliflower's bosom.

Alas! cried she, weeping, I have more to fear than the Fairy of the
Fountain, and the wild beasts of the forest. I have been pursued all
day by a young hunter, whom I had scarcely seen, before he obliged me
to fly; and sent so many arrows after me that I marvel I was not
killed, or at least wounded.

My princess, you must never quit this room again, said Gilliflower.

I must; for the same enchantment which makes me a hind forces me to
do as hinds do. I feel myself every morning irresistibly compelled to
run into the wood, to leap and bound, and eat grass, and behave myself
exactly like a wild creature of the forest. Oh, how weary I am!

Her soft eyes closed, and she fell asleep until the dawn of day, when
again she was driven out in the shape of a poor four-footed creature,
to fulfil her sad destiny.

The prince on his part came home also very much wearied and vexed.
Becafico, he said, I have spent the day in chasing the most
beautiful hind I ever saw. She has slipped from me time after time
with the most wondrous adroitness; yet my arrows were so true that I
marvel how she escaped. At dawn to-morrow I must be after her once
more.

So he did not fail to go, at earliest dawn, to her hiding-place; but
the hind took care not to re-visit her favourite haunt. He sought her
everywhere, and could see nothing; then being very tired and hot, he
gathered some luscious apples which he saw hanging upon a tree over
his head. As soon as he ate them he fell fast asleep.

Meantime the hind, roaming stealthily about, came to the place where
he lay--came quite suddenly, or else she would have taken to flight;
but now seeing her enemy sound asleep, she paused a minute to look at
him; and in his features, wasted with grief, but still so loveable
and beautiful, she recognised the face which had long been engraven on
her heart. The poor hind! she crouched down at a little distance, and
watched him, her eyes beaming with joy. Then she sighed: at length,
become bolder, she approached nearer, and softly touched him with her
fore-foot.

Awaking, what was the prince's surprise to see beside him, tame and
familiar, the pretty creature whom he had hunted all yesterday; but
when he put out his hand to seize her, she fled away like lightning.
He followed with all the speed he could, and thus, she flying and he
pursuing, they passed the whole day. Towards evening her strength
failed; and when the hunter came up to her it was a poor half-dying
deer that he found lying on the grass. She thought her death was
certain--still, from his hands, it did not seem so terrible as from
any one else; but instead of killing her he caressed her.

Beautiful hind, said he, do not be afraid. I only wish to take you
home with me, and have you with me always. He cut branches of trees,
wove them ingeniously into a sort of couch, which he strewed with
roses and moss; then took the creature in his arms, laid her gently
down upon them, and sat beside her, feeding her from time to time with
the softest grass he could find. She ate contentedly from his hand,
and he almost fancied she understood all the sweet things he said to
her, and so time passed till it grew dusk.

My pretty hind, said he, I will go in search of a stream where you
can drink, and then we will take our way home together. But while he
was absent she stole away, and had only time to reach the cottage when
the transformation happened, and it was not a hind but a weeping
princess who threw herself on the bed beside the faithful Gilliflower.

I have seen him! she cried. My Prince Warrior is himself in this
forest: he was the hunter who has pursued me these two days, and has
taken me at last. But he did not slay me: he saved and caressed me.
Ah, he is gentler and sweeter even than the image in my heart.

Here she began again to weep; but Gilliflower consoled her, and they
went to sleep, wondering much how this adventure would end.

The prince, returning from the stream, missed his beautiful white
hind, and came back to Becafico full of grief, mingled with a certain
anger at the ingratitude of the creature to whom he had been so kind.
But at break of day he rose, determined again to pursue her. She,
however, in order to avoid him, took a quite different route. Still,
the forest was not so large, but that at last he saw her, leaping and
bounding among the bushes. Seized by an irresistible impulse, he shot
an arrow after her; it struck her, she felt a violent pain dart
through one of her slender limbs, and fell helpless on the grass. When
the prince came up to her, he was overcome with remorse for his
cruelty. He took a handful of herbs and bound up her wound, made her a
bed of branches and moss, laid her head upon his knees, and wept over
her.

My lovely hind, said he, why did I wound you so cruelly? You will
hate me, when I wish you to love me. So he tended and cherished her
all day, and, towards nightfall, he knotted a ribbon round her neck,
with the intention of gently leading her home. But she struggled with
him; and the struggle was so sore that Gilliflower, coming out in
search of her dear mistress, heard the rustling, and saw her hind in
the hunter's power. She rushed to rescue her, to the prince's great
astonishment.

Whatever consideration I owe you, madam, said he, you must know
that you are committing a robbery; this hind is mine.

No, sir, she is mine, returned Gilliflower, respectfully. She knows
she is, and will prove it if you will only give her a little liberty.
My pretty pet, come and embrace me. The hind crept into her arms.
Now kiss me on my right cheek. She obeyed. Now touch my heart. She
laid her foot against Gilliflower's bosom.

I allow she is yours, said the prince, discontentedly. Take her and
go your ways.

But he followed them at a distance, and was very much surprised to see
them enter the cottage. He asked the old woman who the damsel was, but
she said she did not know, except that the lady and the hind lived
there together in solitude, and paid her well. But when Becafico, who
had eyes as sharp as needles, coming to meet his master, by chance
caught sight of Gilliflower, he recognised her at once.

Here is some great mystery, said he, for that is the lady who was
the favourite of the Princess Desiree.

Do not utter that name, which only recalls my grief, said the
prince, sadly; but Becafico, determined to gratify his curiosity, made
all sorts of inquiries, and discovered that Gilliflower was lodged in
the next room.

I should like to see her again, thought he; and since only a thin
partition divides us, I will bore a hole through.

He did so, and beheld a wonderful sight. There sat the fairest
princess in all the world, attired in a robe of silver brocade, her
hair falling in long curls, and her eyes sparkling through tears.
Gilliflower knelt before her, binding up her beautiful arm, from which
the blood was flowing.

Do not heed it, sighed the princess; better let me die, for death
itself would be sweeter than the life I lead. Alas! how hard it is to
be a hind all day; to see my betrothed, to feel his tenderness and
goodness, yet be unable to speak to him, or to tell him the fatal
destiny which divides me from him.

When Becafico heard this, words cannot describe his astonishment and
delight. He ran towards the prince, who sat moodily at the window.
Sir, cried he, only look through this hole, and you will see the
original of the portrait which so fascinated you.

The prince looked, and recognised at once his beloved princess. He
would have died with joy, had he not believed himself deceived by
some enchantment. He knocked at the door, Gilliflower opened it; he
entered, and threw himself at the feet of Desiree. What followed--of
explanations, vows, tears, and embraces--was never very clearly
related, not even by Gilliflower and Becafico, who were present, but
who considerately drew aside, and spent the time in conversing with
one another. So passed the night; and anxiously they awaited for the
dawn, to see whether the beautiful princess would again become a hind
of the forest. But the day broke, grew clearer, brightened into
sunrise, and the princess, with the prince sitting beside her,
remained a beautiful maiden still. Then came a knock at the door, and
there entered the little old woman, who had been such a kind hostess
for all this while.

The period of enchantment is ended, my children, said she. Go home
and be happy. And then they knew her as no longer the little old
woman, but the Fairy Tulip, who had thus faithfully watched her
charge.

So the bride and bridegroom returned to their capital, where the
marriage was solemnized with all splendour, and, at Desiree's request,
Longthorn and her mother, who had been imprisoned by the old king's
order, were set free, with no further punishment than banishment to
their own country, where they were to remain for life. As for the
faithful Gilliflower, she stayed at court, with her beloved mistress,
and became the wife of the equally faithful Becafico, who had served
Prince Warrior as devotedly as she the Princess Desiree. The two were
laden with wealth and honours, and shared the happiness of the other
two lovers, which was as great as any mortal could desire. After their
death the story of the White Hind of the Forest was commanded to be
written down in the archives of the state, and thence it has been told
in tradition, or sung in poetry, half over the world.





Next: The Juniper-tree

Previous: The Prince With The Nose



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK



Viewed: 1087