Sylvain And Jocosa





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:





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