The Punishment Of The Fairy Gangana





Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who ruled over a country

so small that you could easily walk round it in one day. They were

both very good, simple people; not very wise, perhaps, but anxious to

be kind to everybody; and this was often a mistake, for the king

allowed all his subjects to talk at once, and offer advice upon the

government of the kingdom as well as upon private matters. And the end

of it all was, that it was very difficult to get any laws made, and,

still more, to get anyone to obey them.



Now, no traveller ever passed through the kingdom without inquiring

how it came to be so small. And this was the reason. As soon as

Petaldo (for that was the king's name) had been born, his father and

mother betrothed him to the niece of their friend the fairy

Gangana--if she should ever have one. But as the years passed on, and

Gangana was still without a niece, the young prince forgot all about

his destined bride, and when he was twenty-five he secretly married

the beautiful daughter of a rich farmer, with whom he had fallen

violently in love.



When the fairy heard the news she fell into a violent rage, and

hurried off to tell the king. The old man thought in his heart that

his son had waited quite long enough; but he did not dare to say so,

lest some dreadful spell might be thrown over them all, and they

should be changed into birds or snakes, or, worst of all, into

stones. So, much against his will, he was obliged to disinherit the

young man, and to forbid him to come to court. Indeed, he would have

been a beggar had it not been for the property his wife had had given

her by the farmer, which the youth obtained permission to erect into a

kingdom.



Most princes would have been very angry at this treatment, especially

as the old king soon died, and the queen was delighted to reign in his

place. But Petaldo was a contented young man, and was quite satisfied

with arranging his tiny court on the model of his father's, and having

a lord chamberlain, and a high steward and several gentlemen in

attendance; while the young queen appointed her own ladies-in-waiting

and maids of honour. He likewise set up a mint to coin money, and

chose a seneschal as head of the five policemen who kept order in the

capital and punished the boys who were caught in the act of throwing

stones at the palace windows.



The first to fill this important office was the young king's

father-in-law, an excellent man of the name of Caboche. He was much

beloved by everyone, and so sensible that he was not at all vain at

rising at once to the dignity of seneschal, when he had only been a

common farmer, but went about his fields every day as usual. This

conduct so struck his king that very soon he never did anything

without consulting him.



Each morning Caboche and his son-in-law had breakfast together, and

when they had finished, the king took out of his iron chest great

bundles of state papers, which he desired to talk over with his

seneschal. Sometimes they would spend two hours at least in deciding

these important matters, but more often after a few minutes Caboche

would say:



'Excuse me, sire, but your majesty does not understand this affair in

the least. Leave it to me, and I will settle it.'



'But what am I to do, then?' asked the king. And his minister

answered:



'Oh, you can rule your wife, and see after your fruit garden. You will

find that those two things will take up all your time.'



'Well, perhaps you are right,' the king replied; secretly glad to be

rid of the cares of government. But though Caboche did all the work,

Petaldo never failed to appear on grand occasions, in his royal mantle

of red linen, holding a sceptre of gilded wood. Meanwhile he passed

his mornings in studying books, from which he learned the proper

seasons to plant his fruit trees, and when they should be pruned; and

his afternoons in his garden, where he put his knowledge into

practice. In the evening he played cards with his father-in-law, and

supped in public with the queen, and by ten o'clock everybody in the

palace was fast asleep.



The queen, on her side, was quite as happy as her husband. She loved

to be in her dairy, and nobody in the kingdom could make such

delicious cheeses. But however busy she might be, she never forgot to

bake a little barley cake, and make a tiny cream cheese, and to put

them under a particular rose-tree in the garden. If you had asked her

whom they were for, and where they went to, she could not have told

you, but would have said that on the night of her marriage a fairy had

appeared to her in a dream, and had bidden her to perform this

ceremony.



After the king and the queen had six children, a little boy was born,

with a small red cap on his head, so that he was quite different from

his brothers and sisters, and his parents loved Cadichon better than

any of them.



The years went on, and the children were growing big, when, one day,

after Gillette the queen had finished baking her cake, and had turned

it out on a plate, a lovely blue mouse crept up the leg of the table

and ran to the plate. Instead of chasing it away, as most women would

have done, the queen pretended not to notice what the mouse was

doing, and was much surprised to see the little creature pick up the

cake and carry it off to the chimney. She sprang forwards to stop it,

when, suddenly, both the mouse and cake vanished, and in their place

stood an old woman only a foot high, whose clothes hung in rags about

her. Taking up a sharp pointed iron stick, she drew on the earthen

floor some strange signs, uttering seven cries as she did so, and

murmuring something in a low voice, among which the queen was sure she

caught the words, 'faith,' 'wisdom,' 'happiness.' Then, seizing the

kitchen broom, she whirled it three times round her head, and

vanished. Immediately there arose a great noise in the next room, and

on opening the door, the queen beheld three large cockchafers, each

one with a princess between its feet, while the princes were seated on

the backs of three swallows. In the middle was a car formed of a

single pink shell, and drawn by two robin redbreasts, and in this car

Cadichon was sitting by the side of the blue mouse, who was dressed in

a splendid mantle of black velvet fastened under her chin. Before the

queen had recovered from her surprise, cockchafers, redbreasts, mouse

and children had all flown, singing, to the window, and disappeared

from view.



The loud shrieks of the queen brought her husband and father running

into the room, and when at last they made out from her broken

sentences what had really happened, they hastily snatched up some

stout sticks that were lying about and set off to the rescue--one

going in one direction and the other in another.



For at least an hour the queen sat sobbing where they had left her,

when at last she was roused by a piece of folded paper falling at her

feet. She stooped and picked it up eagerly, hoping that it might

contain some news of her lost children. It was very short, but when

she had read the few words, Gillette was comforted, for it bade her

take heart, as they were well and happy under the protection of a

fairy. 'On your own faith and prudence depend your happiness,' ended

the writer. 'It is I who have all these years eaten the food you

placed under the rose-tree, and some day I shall reward you for it.

"Everything comes to him who knows how to wait," is the advice given

by,--The Fairy of the Fields.'



Then the queen rose up, and bathed her face, and combed her shining

hair; and as she turned away from her mirror she beheld a linnet

sitting on her bed. No one would have known that it was anything but a

common linnet, and yesterday the queen would have thought so too. But

this morning so many wonderful things had happened that she did not

doubt for a moment that the writer of the letter was before her.



'Pretty linnet,' said she, 'I will try to do all you wish. Only give

me, I pray you, now and then, news of my little Cadichon.'



And the linnet flapped her wings and sang, and flew away. So the queen

knew that she had guessed rightly, and thanked her in her heart.



By-and-by the king and his seneschal returned, hungry and tired with

their fruitless search. They were amazed and rather angry to find the

queen, whom they had left weeping, quite cheerful. Could she really

care for her children so little and have forgotten them so soon? What

could have caused this sudden change? But to all their questions

Gillette would only answer: 'Everything comes to him who knows how to

wait.'



'That is true,' replied her father; 'and, after all, your majesty must

remember that the revenues of your kingdom would hardly bear the cost

of seven princes and princesses brought up according to their rank. Be

grateful, then, to those who have relieved you of the burden.'



'You are right! You are always right!' cried the king, whose face once

more beamed with smiles. And life at the palace went on as before,

till Petaldo received a piece of news which disturbed him greatly.



The queen, his mother, who had for some time been a widow, suddenly

made up her mind to marry again, and her choice had fallen on the

young king of the Green Isles, who was younger than her own son, and,

besides, handsome and fond of pleasure, which Petaldo was not. Now the

grandmother, foolish though she was in many respects, had the sense to

see that a woman as old and as plain as she was, could hardly expect a

young man to fall in love with her, and that, if this was to happen,

it would be needful to find some spell which would bring back her

youth and beauty. Of course, the fairy Gangana could have wrought the

change with one wave of her wand; but unluckily the two were no longer

friends, because the fairy had tried hard to persuade the queen to

declare her niece heiress to the crown, which the queen refused to do.

Naturally, therefore, it was no use asking the help of Gangana to

enable the queen to take a second husband, who would be certain to

succeed her; and messengers were sent all over the neighbouring

kingdoms, seeking to find a witch or a fairy who would work the

wished-for miracle. None, however, could be found with sufficient

skill, and at length the queen saw that if ever the king of the Green

Isles was to be her husband she must throw herself on the mercy of the

fairy Gangana.



The fairy's wrath was great when she heard the queen's story, but she

knew very well that, as the king of the Green Isles had spent all his

money, he would probably be ready to marry even an old woman, like her

friend, in order to get more. So, in order to gain time, she hid her

feelings, and told the queen that in three days the spell would be

accomplished.



* * * * *



Her words made the queen so happy that twenty years seemed to fall

from her at once, and she counted, not only the hours, but the

minutes to the appointed time. It came at last, and the fairy stood

before her in a long robe of pink and silver, held up by a tiny brown

dwarf, who carried a small box under his arm. The queen received her

with all the marks of respect that she could think of, and at the

request of Gangana, ordered the doors and windows of the great hall to

be closed, and her attendants to retire, so that she and her guest

might be quite alone. Then, opening the box, which was presented to

her on one knee by the dwarf, the fairy took from it a small vellum

book with silver clasps, a wand that lengthened out as you touched it,

and a crystal bottle filled with very clear green water. She next bade

the queen sit on a seat in the middle of the room, and the dwarf to

stand opposite her, after which she stooped down and drew three

circles round them with a golden rod, touched each of them thrice with

her wand, and sprinkled the liquid over both. Gradually the queen's

big features began to grow smaller and her face fresher, while at the

same time the dwarf became about twice as tall as he had been before.

This sight, added to the blue flames which sprang up from the three

circles, so frightened the queen that she fainted in her chair, and

when she recovered, both the page and the fairy had vanished.



At first she felt vaguely puzzled, not remembering clearly what had

happened; then it all came back to her, and jumping up she ran to the

nearest mirror. Oh! how happy she was! Her long nose and her

projecting teeth had become things of beauty, her hair was thick and

curly, and bright gold. The fairy had indeed fulfilled her promise!

But, in her hurry and pleasure, the queen never noticed that she had

not been changed into a beautiful young lady, but into a very tall

little girl of eight or nine years old! Instead of her magnificent

velvet dress, edged with fur and embroidered in gold, she wore a

straight muslin frock, with a little lace apron, while her hair,

which was always combed and twisted and fastened with diamond pins,

hung in curls down her back. But if she had only known, something

besides this had befallen her, for except as regards her love for the

king of the Green Isles, her mind as well as her face had become that

of a child, and this her courtiers were aware of, if she was not. Of

course they could not imagine what had occurred, and did not know how

to behave themselves, till the chief minister set them the example by

ordering his wife and daughters to copy the queen's clothes and way of

speaking. Then, in a short time, the whole court, including the men,

talked and dressed like children, and played with dolls, or little tin

soldiers, while at the state dinners nothing was seen but iced fruits,

or sweet cakes made in the shape of birds and horses. But whatever she

might be doing, the queen hardly ceased talking about the king of the

Green Isles, whom she always spoke of as 'my little husband,' and as

weeks passed on, and he did not come, she began to get very cross and

impatient, so that her courtiers kept away from her as much as they

could. By this time, too, they were growing tired of pretending to be

children, and whispered their intention of leaving the palace and

taking service under a neighbouring sovereign, when, one day, a loud

blast of trumpets announced the arrival of the long-expected guest. In

an instant all was smiles again, and in spite of the strictest rules

of court etiquette, the queen insisted on receiving the young king at

the bottom of the stairs. Unfortunately, in her haste, she fell over

her dress, and rolled down several steps, screaming like a child, from

fright. She was not really much hurt, though she had scratched her

nose and bruised her forehead, but she was obliged to be carried to

her room and have her face bathed in cold water. Still, in spite of

this, she gave strict orders that the king should be brought to her

presence the moment he entered the palace.



A shrill blast outside her door sent a twinge of pain through the

queen's head, which by this time was aching badly; but in her joy at

welcoming her future husband she paid no heed to it. Between two lines

of courtiers, bowing low, the young king advanced quickly; but at the

sight of the queen and her bandages, broke out into such violent fits

of laughter that he was forced to leave the room, and even the palace.



When the queen had recovered from the vexation caused by the king's

rude behaviour, she bade her attendants to hasten after him and fetch

him back, but no promises or entreaties would persuade him to return.

This of course made the queen's temper even worse than it was before,

and a plot was set on foot to deprive her of the crown, which would

certainly have succeeded had not the fairy Gangana, who had only

wished to prevent her marriage, restored her to her proper shape. But,

far from thanking her friend for this service, the sight of her old

face in the mirror filled her with despair; and from that day she

hated Gangana with a deadly hatred.



And where were Petaldo's children all this while? Why, in the island

of Bambini, where they had playfellows to their hearts' content, and

plenty of fairies to take care of them all. But out of all the seven

princes and princesses whom the queen had seen carried off through the

window, there was only Cadichon who was good and obedient; the other

six were so rude and quarrelsome that they could get no one to play

with them, and at last, as a punishment, the fairy changed them all

into marionettes, till they should learn to behave better.



Now, in an unlucky moment, the Fairy of the Fields determined to visit

her friend the queen of the fairies, who lived in a distant island, in

order to consult her as to what was to become of Cadichon.



As she was entering the Hall of Audience, Gangana was leaving it, and

sharp words were exchanged between them. After her enemy had flown off

in a rage, the Fairy of the Fields poured out the whole story of

Gangana's wickedness to the queen, and implored her counsel.



'Be comforted,' answered the fairy queen. 'For a while she must work

her will, and at this moment she is carrying off Cadichon to the

island where she still holds her niece captive. But should she make an

evil use of the power she has, her punishment will be swift and great.

And now I will give you this precious phial. Guard it carefully, for

the liquid it contains will cause you to become invisible, and safe

from the piercing eyes of all fairies. Against the eyes of mortals it

has no charm!'



With a heart somewhat lighter, the Fairy of the Fields returned to her

own island, and, the better to protect the six new marionettes from

the wicked fairy, she sprinkled them with a few drops of the liquid,

only avoiding just the tips of their noses, so that she might be able

to know them again. Then she set off for the kingdom of Petaldo, which

she found in a state of revolt, because for the first time since he

had ascended the throne he had dared to impose a tax. Indeed, matters

might have ended in a war, or in cutting off the king's head, had not

the fairy discovered a means of contenting everybody, and of

whispering anew to the queen that all was well with her children, for

she dared not tell her of the loss of Cadichon.



And what had become of Cadichon? Well, the Fairy of the Fields had

found out--by means of her books, which had told her--that the poor

little boy had been placed by Gangana in an enchanted island, round

which flowed a rapid river, sweeping rocks and trees in its current.

Besides the river, the island was guarded by twenty-four enormous

dragons, breathing flames, and forming a rampart of fire which it

seemed as if none could pass.



The Fairy of the Fields knew all this, but she had a brave heart, and

determined that by some means or other she would overcome all

obstacles, and rescue Cadichon from the power of Gangana. So, taking

with her the water of invisibility, she sprinkled it over her, and

mounting her favourite winged lizard, set out for the island. When it

appeared in sight she wrapped herself in her fireproof mantle; then,

bidding the lizard return home, she slipped past the dragons and

entered the island.



Scarcely had she done so than she beheld Gangana approaching her,

talking loudly and angrily to a genius who flew by her side. From what

she said, the fairy learned that Petaldo's mother, the old queen, had

died of rage on hearing of the marriage of the king of the Green Isles

to a young and lovely bride, and instead of leaving her kingdom to

Gangana, had bequeathed it to one of the children of her son Petaldo.



'But all the trouble I have had with that foolish old woman shall not

go for nothing,' cried Gangana. 'Go at once to my stables, and fetch

out the strongest and swiftest griffins you can find in the stalls,

and harness them to the yellow coach. Drive this, with all the speed

you may, to the Isle of Bambini, and carry off the six children of

Petaldo that are still there. I will see to Petaldo and Gillette

myself. When I have got them all safe here I will change the parents

into rabbits and the children into dogs. As for Cadichon, I have not

quite made up my mind what I shall do with him.'



The Fairy of the Fields did not wait to hear more. No time was to be

lost in seeking the help of the fairy queen if Petaldo and his family

were to be saved from this dreadful doom. So, without waiting to

summon her lizard, she flew across the island and past the dragons

till her feet once more touched the ground again. But at that instant

a black cloud rolled over her, loud thunder rent the air, and the

earth rocked beneath her. Then wild lightnings lit up the sky, and by

their flashes she saw the four-and-twenty dragons fighting together,

uttering shrieks and yells, till the whole earth must have heard the

uproar. Trembling with terror, the fairy stood rooted to the spot; and

when day broke, island, torrent, and dragons had vanished, and in

their stead was a barren rock. On the summit of the rock stood a black

ostrich, and on its back were seated Cadichon, and the little niece of

the fairy Gangana, for whose sake she had committed so many evil

deeds. While the Fairy of the Fields was gazing in surprise at this

strange sight, the ostrich spread its wings and flew off in the

direction of the Fortunate Isle, and, followed unseen by the good

fairy, entered the great hall where the queen was sitting on her

throne.



Proud and exultant was Gangana in her new shape, for, by all the laws

of fairydom, if she succeeded in laying Cadichon at the feet of the

queen, and received him back from her, he was in her power for life,

and she might do with him as she would. This the good fairy knew well,

and pressed on with all her strength, for the dreadful events of the

night had almost exhausted her. But, with a mighty effort, she

snatched the children away from the back of the ostrich, and placed

them on the lap of the queen.



With a scream of baffled rage the ostrich turned away, and Gangana

stood in her place, waiting for the doom which she had brought upon

herself.



'You have neglected all my warnings,' said the queen, speaking more

sternly than any fairy had ever heard her; 'and my sentence is that

during two hundred years you lose all your privileges as a fairy, and

under the form of an ostrich shall become the slave of the lowest and

wickedest of the genii whom you have made your friends. As for these

children, I shall keep them with me, and they shall be brought up at

my court.'



And so they were, until they grew up and were old enough to be

married. Then the Fairy of the Fields took them back to the kingdom of

the old queen, where Petaldo was now reigning. But the cares of state

proved too heavy both for him and Gillette, after the quiet life they

had led for so many years, and they were rejoiced to be able to lay

aside their crowns, and place them on the heads of Cadichon and his

bride, who was as good as she was beautiful, though she was the

niece of the wicked Gangana! And so well had Cadichon learned the

lessons taught him at the court of the fairy queen, that never since

the kingdom was a kingdom had the people been so well governed or so

happy. And they went about the streets and the fields smiling with joy

at the difference between the old times and the new, and whispering

softly to each other:



'Everything comes to him who knows how to wait.'





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