Blondina Or The Turkey-queen

: The Old-fashioned Fairy Book

A certain king had two daughters, one of them lovely and accomplished,

and the other an ugly, cross-tempered personage, who early in life took

to meddling with the black arts, and learned a great deal more of magic

than she did of any thing else. Blondina, on the contrary--for so the

pretty princess was named--was the joy of all her nurses, and

governesses, and tutors, and music masters, from earliest infancy. Her

ault was a tendency to laugh aloud on the slightest provocation. At

ten years old she could speak many languages, play on all known

instruments, write essays and sermons, dance like a sylph, sing like a

nightingale, and make chocolate caramel. Vixetta, the elder of the two

sisters, before she had reached the same age, had made short work of

her instructors, wearing out the health and spirits of a governess in

a week, and driving twenty-four tutors into the lunatic asylum, while

her head-nurse was speedily reduced to skin and bone, and took a

permanent situation as the living skeleton in a dime-museum. The poor

king remonstrated in vain with his headstrong elder daughter. Ordinary

scolding had not the slightest effect upon her; black marks and crosses

against her name in the report-book only made her laugh scornfully; and

any attempt at bodily punishment ended in the Princess Vixetta throwing

herself flat upon the ground, turning purple in the face, and foaming at

the mouth with rage in a way to daunt the stoutest spirit. So, for this

reason, the unfortunate girl was allowed to follow her own fancies,

stealing off at dusk nobody knew whither, although it was suspected

that her favorite haunts were the black depths of a pine forest near the

palace--where the country folk never cared to ramble, even in broad

daylight--or a certain ruined tower, filled with bats and owls and

serpents. One night a peasant, who approached this tower in search of a

lost cow, saw green lights dancing madly around the broken walls, heard

wild shrieks of laughter issue from within, and, on venturing to insert

his inquisitive nose into a chink, had it tweaked by two red-hot

fingers; immediately afterward, he averred, he had seen the Princess

Vixetta, in true witch-dress, shoot by him on a broom-stick, leaving a

trail of brimstone in her wake. On reaching home he found his sheep

dead, his best cows gone dry, and his children ill of a fever. Such

tales as these, of which there were many current in the country-side,

came from time to time to the king's ears, and not being able to gainsay

them, because of information he had got on his own private account,

the unfortunate parent resigned himself to sink slowly to the tomb. In

fact he courted death rather than shunned it. Whenever he took cold, he

would sit all night long, in wet shoes, in the draft of two open

windows; and if that did not make him worse, would send away the

doctors, refuse medicine, and try to beat his brains out on the marble

floor of the palace bedroom. At last, one day, he choked, on too large a

mouthful of beefsteak, and when the physicians endeavored to relieve

him, waved them away, and cheerfully expired!

The Princess Blondina was immediately proclaimed queen in her father's

stead. Nothing was heard but praises of the charming new sovereign, who,

after the period of mourning had passed away, ascended the throne with

much pomp and ceremony. All of this was gall and worm-wood to the

envious Vixetta, who, but for the kindness of her sister, would have

been sent, by a vote of all the people, into exile in a distant land.

Blondina announced that the Princess Vixetta should remain in her

palace, and be offered an opportunity to reform her bad ways. Vixetta,

thereupon, pretending to weep, promised to do better, and to give up

associating with her evil favorites, the witches, warlocks, and

magicians; but, in secret, her time was spent in conjuring a method to

get rid of her beautiful sister, and to mount the throne in her stead.

One warm summer day, Queen Blondina had just come in from rowing in her

silver barge along the windings of the little river which watered the

palace grounds. She rested for a while in the garden upon a bank of

roses, myrtles, jasmine, and lilies-of-the-valley, while allowing her

maids-of-honor to fan her with huge fans of white ostrich plumes, and

listening to the drip of fountains of orange-flower water, and

eau-de-cologne. Suddenly, she espied a poor old tattered crone, carrying

a basket of luscious fruit, such as none of the queen's own gardens or

green-houses could produce. Pomegranates there were, dropping sweetest

juices when cleft in twain, purple figs that melted upon the tongue,

rosy nectarines, crimson plums frosted with silvery dew, and bunches of

grapes glowing like jewels where the sunbeams touched their clusters.

Queen Blondina sat up, and exclaimed with delight, "Oh! Goody, pray set

your basket down. My servants will pay you handsomely for your lovely


"Willingly, your Majesty," said the old woman. "You are welcome to the

contents of my basket, if you will but leave me the single hazel-nut at

the very bottom of it."

The queen consented, with a laugh at the absurdity of her wanting that

one insignificant little hazel-nut, when such a delightful treat was at

her service. Her servants unpacked the basket, and there, sure enough,

at the bottom, was a tiny brown nut.

"Queer, that she should desire to keep back that one little nut,"

thought the queen. "I wonder why? Can it be so very delicious to the

taste, or what? I wish I could see its inside."

And so she went on, wondering, and exciting her own imagination, till,

pretty soon, Blondina would have given all the rest of the basketful for

the possession of that single mysterious nut! She began by offering one

gold piece, then another, till a glittering pile lay at the crone's

feet, but still the old woman held out against parting with her


At last, Blondina burst into tears, when the crone appeared to be melted

by her sorrow, and, advancing, whispered in her ear.

"If I give you this nut," she said, "it shall be on one condition, only,

your Majesty; and that is, that you crack it in the presence of your

prime minister alone, in some remote corner of your palace."

Blondina gladly consented, and sending away her attendants, took

possession of the nut, and summoned her prime minister to her side. This

functionary was a very stern and important officer of State, who had

been foremost in the movement to banish the Princess Vixetta from the

court. He arrived all breathless, at the queen's behest, and in the

meantime the old crone had disappeared as mysteriously as she came.

Blondina ordered the prime minister to follow her to a secluded

summer-house, where, eagerly cracking the nut with her royal high-heeled

shoe, she found inside only a few pinches of white powder, and a scroll

containing some fine writing in an unknown tongue.

"Thanks to my love of study, your Majesty," modestly suggested the prime

minister, "I have mastered the only language you have left unacquired,

which happens to be Arabic. On this bit of paper, I can decipher certain

instructions to the finder."

"Tell me them, quickly, my dear lord," said the enchanted princess, "and

I will apply myself to the study of Arabic to-morrow. So much for a

neglected education," she added, with a sigh that she had left anything

so important undone; for, as I have said before, this princess had a

passion for acquiring languages.

"If the finder of this treasure desires to acquaint himself with the

language of the animal world, and to take the form of any other living

thing, he has only to snuff up a pinch of the enclosed powder, bow to

the earth three times, and cry the name of the creature he desires to

become, followed by these exact words:--


Changed would I be.'

"At once he will assume the likeness of the thing named, and will

understand all he hears going on around him, remaining in that shape as

long as he may choose. Whenever he wishes to resume his own natural

form, he has only to bow himself again three times to the earth, and

repeat the formula already given. But let him, during the period of

transformation, especially beware of laughing aloud--or he will

inevitably forget the formula, and run the risk of remaining as he has

chosen to be."

"This is the most delightful thing I ever had happen to me," said the

merry young queen, clapping her hands. "Come, my lord, I am dying to try

the experiment. Suppose we become two turkeys, and wander into the

barn-yard. Nothing could please me more than a little adventure of that

kind. Besides, you forget I have never studied Turkish, and this will be

an excellent opportunity."

The prime minister, who was a man of sober years, beyond the taste for

such mad-cap frolics, remonstrated in vain with his wilful mistress.

Blondina would have her way; and, in a short time, behold both queen and

minister indulging in a solemn pinch of white snuff, and pronouncing

distinctly the magic formula, while inclining themselves humbly to the


At once, Blondina's gown of silken tissue was exchanged for a suit of

neat brown mottled feathers, while the prime minister became just such a

huge and unwieldy gobbler as would take first prize in a Christmas

poultry show!

"Oh! what splendid fun!" the queen began, dying to laugh at her

companion. But reflecting upon the possible consequences of this

indiscretion, she became grave and silent, while the humiliated prime

minister waddled after her into the barn-yard, whither his perverse

little sovereign now took her way, leaving the hazel-nut securely hidden

in a corner of the summer-house.

In the multitude of feathered folk assembled in the enclosure, our two

turkeys passed almost unnoticed at first. They were surprised to find

very much the same sort of talk going on among their new friends, as

among those they had left. The same struggle for prizes and for place,

the same greedy rapacity, the same love of gossip and display. Two new

peacocks had that day been added to the collection, and were strutting

up and down like fashionable loungers, discussing all the affairs of the

nation and the conduct of the rulers; and, in listening to their

discourse, the queen found herself much enlightened about many of her

subjects, and their doings.

"As to her Majesty, Queen Blondina," said one of the peacocks, sending

his tail up in a magnificent fan when he saw the admiring gaze of two

young guinea hens bent upon him, "I have reason to believe that this

unfortunate young woman is doomed soon to fall a victim to the wiles of

that powerful enchantress, her sister, who, as is well known to all of

us, has just become the sovereign of the underground fraternity of

magicians, against whose spells all other witches and warlocks can do


Blondina strained her ears to catch the answer; but the two talkers had

passed on, and she heard a sharp voice say close beside her, "Come now,

no struggling, if you please, Mr. Mole. I have not tasted so much as a

mouse to-day, and you have crossed my path in the nick of time."

"Dear Miss Tame Owl," pleaded the little velvet-coated victim, held

tight in the claws of a spinster-owl, domesticated in the barn-yard by

Blondina's special orders, "I must entreat you to let me off this time;

I was hurrying to my daughter's wedding, and mistook the way, straying

into this dreadful place by the most unfortunate mischance. Consider the

feelings of my family, who are all assembled and expecting me."

"Come now, no nonsense," said the cross old thing. "My mouth is fairly

watering for you."

She was about to cut short the victim's observations in the most abrupt

manner by taking him bodily into her crop, when Blondina interposed, and

flying at the owl, boxed her ears soundly. At this, the venerable lady

was so unpleasantly taken by surprise, that she opened her mouth to

gasp, and out fell the mole, who instantly scuttled away, but not

without bestowing upon his turkey benefactress the most ardent thanks.

After this little incident, Blondina's attention was distracted by a

variety of curious studies in fowl-life, and she forgot all about her

companion, the prime minister, until, chancing to look around, she

beheld him the centre of an admiring throng of ducks, geese, and

chickens, whose numbers were constantly increasing. "How grand he is!"

"How big!" "How noble!" echoed on every side; and the prime minister,

who was very vain, drooped his wings, set up his tail, and puffed

himself into a magnificent fluffy ball. "Never have we beheld a turkey

of so majestic a bearing!" cried a gushing goose-widow, and a pair of

young lady ducklings rolled up their eyes in rapture and nodded assent.

The prime minister was in his glory.

"Yes, I am indeed the champion," he said, swelling into a balloon of

feathers. Just then, Queen Blondina's own pet kitten, Floss, wandered

across the yard, and having no especial occupation in view, charged at

full scamper upon the prime minister, who, alas! for his boasted

dignity, subsided ingloriously, and, shutting himself up tight, fairly

turned tail and ran away, looking so excessively crest-fallen and

foolish that Blondina could not resist bursting into a long and merry

peal of laughter.

"What have you done, your Majesty?" cried the alarmed prime minister,

now remembering himself, as together they took refuge in a neighboring

field. "Is it possible you can have forgotten; and, for my part, I saw

nothing to laugh about. I never imagined a more dreadful beast than that

unmannerly little pet of yours which attacked me."

The queen broke out afresh into laughter, and laughed until she cried.

Then, seeing the discomfiture of the prime minister, she decided that

she had for to-day had enough of the animal world, and would indulge no

more in such amusements until to-morrow.

"I beg ten thousand pardons, my dear lord," she said, shaking with

suppressed laughter. "But if you could only have seen yourself! Ha, ha!

However, we have nothing now to do but bow three times, thus"--suiting

the action to the word, "and say--Kik-kuk-kik! Dear me, what is it we

must say? I can't for the life of me remember it."

The prime minister was as much at a loss.

"Perhaps your Majesty has forgotten the price you were to pay for a

laugh," he observed, bitterly.

Blondina looked at him in blank horror. Too truly had she forgotten the

formula, and turkeys they must remain!

And now, how sad their plight! In the midst of their other tribulations,

hunger assailed them, and they could not eat the food provided for the

rest. So they wandered into the fields and forest, picking at berries

here and there; though, when evening came, footsore and weary, they

determined to go back into the palace barn-yard, and see what was taking

place there.

They found all the animals and fowls excited over the events of the day,

and soon heard the news that Queen Blondina had died suddenly that

morning, leaving a will appointing her sister to reign in her stead.

Next day a funeral took place, when the coffin was filled by a lovely

waxen image of the late queen, and was placed in the vault beside her

father. The false Vixetta, dressed in mourning, had followed weeping

after it.

Blondina and the prime minister now saw that they were indeed under the

spell of a powerful enchantress, and resolved to travel to the dwelling

of a certain wise woman in search of advice.

After a long journey, the two turkeys reached the hut of the wise woman,

and told her their pitiful tale.

"Unfortunately, I have no power against Queen Vixetta since she has

become the sovereign of the underground band," said the wise woman.

"But, if you could gain an entrance to one of their Friday councils, you

might pick up something to your advantage there." And then, as wise

women speak but once in twenty-four hours, she shut the door in their

faces, and left them to their fate.

Blondina and the prime minister repaired to the ruined tower whither

Vixetta was wont to go on Fridays; and there, hiding behind a wall, they

saw the wicked sorceress arrive and, lifting a trap-door in the cellar,

disappear from sight. While they remained above, lamenting their hard

fate, Blondina saw a tiny black object emerge from the ground at her

feet, then another and another, till a troop of them were assembled.

These were moles, and their leader, addressing the queen, informed her

that he it was she had saved from the crop of the owl.

"We have heard of your distressing predicament, your Majesty," the mole

added, with deep respect; "and hasten to offer our services to conduct

you to the council chamber of the underground band."

Blondina thanked the mole fervently, and found, upon following him, that

with his companions he had burrowed a long and beautifully smooth

tunnel. Glow-worms were ranged along the sides to light the way, and

every thing was arranged for her comfort. After a considerable time had

elapsed, the travellers reached a gallery leading directly into a

vaulted chamber where the witches and warlocks sat, each upon a cushion

formed of a huge and swollen toad. In their midst, upon a throne made of

serpents intertwined, sat the Queen Vixetta, around whose brow flickered

a wreath of blue flames. Ah! she was a terrible witch to look upon.

Blondina shuddered to remember the kisses she had often innocently

pressed upon that skinny forehead and those lips of lurid red. Vixetta

was in high spirits; she and her familiars hatched mischief together,

and gloated over their evil doings in fiendish glee. Then Vixetta

listened to the reports of each of the wicked creatures in turn; and, to

Blondina's astonishment, in the narrators of these tales of witchcraft

she recognized more than one of the most respected of her own subjects.

Some of them were crones ancient and palsied, others were young and

blooming girls Vixetta had led astray; among the warlocks were the

gray-haired miller, the good sexton, and a courtier in whom the queen

had placed peculiar confidence. All were attended by black deformed

creatures, half cat, half human being. In the centre of the circle was a

fire, and before it they set up the very waxen image of the queen which

had been buried in her stead. Into this little imps were ordered to

thrust sharp blades and needles in the region of the heart, while

Vixetta pronounced a spell, at which all the others laughed rejoicingly.

"I'll warrant my lady Blondina will be cured of her love of laughing,

after this--as well as of her curiosity. Long may she wander in her

present shape," said the sorceress. "It was a merry trick I played her

and that audacious old prime minister, who sought to do me harm."

"And what, pray, was the rhyme your Majesty bid them recall?" asked the

courtier warlock, grinning maliciously.

"A simple one," replied the sorceress, "and you will remember it was

once a password in our band,--


Changed would I be.'"

Blondina almost betrayed herself in her delight. She repeated the words

again and again, in mind, keeping profoundly silent until the

witch-revels were at an end; and at cock-crow the unholy gang broke up,

vanishing like smoke through a trap-door in the ceiling of the vault.

"And now, dear little mole, take us back again," said the turkey-queen,

who longed to breathe the free air of heaven and to break her awful


"May it please your Majesty," said the mole, looking very unhappy,

"there is a new difficulty. Yonder image of you which they consumed in

the fire, is a fresh enchantment that dooms you to remain perpetually in

the place where you now are; and I find by consultation with a friend of

mine, a bat who lives in this cave, and who is the most kind and

obliging person, that on only one condition can you now leave this spot,

and that, I hardly dare name to you."

"Summon this bat to appear before me immediately," cried the wretched

queen, who, finding that her feet were stuck fast to the earth, was

truly overwhelmed, while the prime minister gave himself up to complete


The bat appeared, and a more repulsive huge creature it is impossible to

picture; but his voice was gentle and his manner most humble and

conciliatory. He began to apologize for presenting himself before the

queen, when she interrupted him impetuously.

"Quick--quick! tell me the condition on which I may leave this horrible

place, where I shall die if I remain a moment longer. Who are you? why

are you here? and why should we trust in you when every living thing in

this foul spot is devoted to the service of the evil one?"

"I, like yourself, am a victim of, not a partner in, crime, your

Majesty," said the bat, with dignity. "If you will permit----"

"But I can't stop to listen to anything," sobbed the poor little

turkey-queen. "Get me into the daylight somehow or other, and then I

will hear you gladly. Oh! kind Mr. Bat, forgive my unkind words; only

free me from this living tomb, if it be possible."

"You have been told that it is possible, lady," said the bat,

pathetically; "but, to be brief, since you insist upon it--only by

promising your fair hand in marriage to----"

"To whom?" cried Blondina, in astonishment

"To me," said the bat, withdrawing more into the shadows of the vault.

Blondina screamed with horror.

"Oh! never, never," she exclaimed, bursting again into tears of


The mole, the bat and the turkey prime minister consulted together in

low whispers; and the last-named gentleman, addressing the queen, set

before her the hopeless situation in which she now was, and urged her to

accept the proposition of the bat.

"Hear me, too, fair queen," said the voice of the bat. "I swear that if

you consent, you shall never regret it. Only trust me, and all will go

well. In consigning me to this spot, your wicked sister, who, in my

former estate desired to marry me herself, in spite of my aversion for

her, swore that never should I be free from her enchantment, until a

beautiful young bride should come to the rescue and promise to marry me,

as I am, without asking any questions. Then, and then only, I might

escape, taking my bride and her attendants with me."

"But your appearance--pardon me," said poor Blondina; "it is too

dreadful for anything."

"Trust me," repeated the bat; and, in desperation, Blondina murmured a

promise to be his bride.

Instantly the bat flew with alacrity into a corner of the vault, and,

bringing thence a bunch of mistletoe, angelica, and mountain-ash, waved

it thrice in a circle around Blondina, who up to that moment had

remained as if rooted to the spot where she stood. The spell broke, and

Blondina, starting joyfully forward, repeated, at his request, the same

ceremony of disenchantment for the bat, as also for the prime minister;

and all three of them, accompanied by the faithful mole, took their way

to the upper regions without delay. Upon reaching the meadow where they

had entered the underground passage, Blondina and the prime minister

lost no time in running back to the summer-house, where, regaining the

hidden hazel nut, they safely and joyfully resumed their own true


"And now, gentle lady," said the bat, who had flown after them, keeping

his distance modestly, "I pray you to perform for me another kindly

action. Close your eyes, and sprinkle me with this powder, at the same

time touching my head with the witch-defying plants. Then, kindle a fire

with these fagots of wood left here by your gardener, and cast me into

the hottest portion of it."

Blondina shrank from the task, but, finding the bat as determined as he

was calm and dignified, obeyed him without another word of protest.

Aided by the now alert and cheerful prime minister, she kindled a fire

upon the hearth of the little summer-house; and when it blazed high,

and hot coals fell into the centre, she followed the bat's directions to

the letter. Immediately there was a loud explosion; the hideous bat skin

split asunder and shrivelled up, revealing a beautiful young prince, who

stepped unsinged from the ring of flame, and bent his knee before the

Queen Blondina. She recognized in him a playmate of her childhood,

Prince Florizel, son of a neighboring monarch, who years before had

disappeared from his father's court, and had been mourned as dead by his

sorrowing relatives. To enchant him, in punishment for his scorn of her,

had been one of the first acts of Vixetta's acquired magic; and to

accomplish it, the wretched girl had bargained away her entire life to

the service of the Evil One.

Blondina greeted Florizel with the utmost pleasure and assured him of

her willingness to fulfil the pledge she had made to the dreaded

bat-lover. They returned to the palace, and on being observed by the

attendants, who, believing them to be ghosts, ran terrified away, had

some difficulty in persuading people that they were alive and in the

flesh. Then, what joy reigned over the palace. Quickly the news spread

through the city and kingdom. The indignant people flocked around the

apartments of Vixetta, who was still asleep after her orgies of the

previous night, and, summoning her to come forth, declared that she

should instantly be put to death in the presence of her victims. The

miserable sorceress fell upon her knees, and begged for her life. Again

the generous Blondina entreated that her sister might be spared; but

Prince Florizel interfered, and insisted that, for the future safety of

his queen, Vixetta should then and there be compelled to take a pinch of

the magic powder and change herself into a bat. This was done, and the

sorceress, flying from the window, was never heard of more.

Blondina gave her hand and heart to Prince Florizel, as soon as he

returned from a visit to his parents, who were overjoyed to regain their

long-lost son and heir. The marriage took place with great magnificence,

and the royal couple lived in peace for the remainder of their long and

useful lives. They would often walk in the direction of the

poultry-yard, and Blondina loved to tell her husband of all the things

she had heard and seen there when in her turkey shape.

But the prime minister, after he had weeded out of the kingdom certain

obnoxious individuals strongly resembling the warlocks seen at the

underground council, preferred to assume a dignified forgetfulness of

all that had passed during his enforced experience as a feathered biped.

To the latest day of his life he would always cross the road to avoid

meeting a turkey-gobbler, and for the race of pet kittens he continued

to maintain the most unconquerable dislike.

By the laws of the kingdom, to kill or injure a mole was made a capital

offence; and once every year a little blind gentleman in a fine black

velvet coat arrived at the palace to pay his respects to their

majesties, who received him with every mark of favor and affection.