The Hind Of The Forest





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.





The Hillman And The Housewife The Hindu Law facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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