: Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
: Old French Fairy Tales

There was once a king called Benin. He was good and all the world loved

him; he was just and the wicked feared him. His wife, the Queen

Doucette, was also good, and much beloved.

This happy pair had a daughter called the Princess Blondine, because of

her superb fair hair, and she was as amiable and charming as her father

the king and her mother the queen.

Unfortunately, the poor queen died a
short time after the birth of

Blondine and for a long time the king wept bitterly at his great loss.

Blondine was too young to understand her mother's death: she did not

weep but continued to laugh, to play and to sleep peacefully. The king

loved her tenderly and she loved him more than all the world. He gave

his little daughter the most beautiful jewels, the finest bonbons, and

the most rare and delicious fruits. Blondine was very happy.

One day it was announced to the king, that all his subjects demanded

that he should marry again in order to have a son who should reign after

him. He refused at first but finally yielded to the pressing desires of

his people and said to his minister Leger:--

"My dear friend, my subjects wish me to marry again but my heart is so

sad because of the death of my cherished queen Doucette that I cannot

undertake the task of seeking another wife. Go, then, my good Leger and

find me a princess who will make my sweet Blondine happy. Go; I ask for

nothing more. When you have found a perfect woman, you will demand her

hand in marriage and conduct her to my court."

Leger set off immediately, visited many courts and saw innumerable

princesses--ugly, humpbacked and wicked.

At last he arrived at the kingdom of the monarch Turbulent, who had a

lovely daughter, bright, winning and apparently good. Leger found her so

charming, that he asked her hand in marriage for his king Benin, without

sufficiently inquiring into her real character.

Turbulent was enchanted at the prospect of getting rid of his daughter

who was jealous, proud and wicked. Also, her presence often interfered

with his excursions for pleasure, with the chase and with his various

entertainments at the palace.

Without a moment's hesitation, he acceded to the Prime Minister's

request, and he returned with the princess to the kingdom of the good

king Benin.

The princess Fourbette was accompanied by four thousand mules, loaded

with the jewels and wardrobe of the charming bride.

King Benin had been apprised of their approach by a courier and went

forward to receive the princess Fourbette. He found her beautiful but he

noted the absence of the mild and attractive expression of the poor lost


When Fourbette's eyes fell upon Blondine her glance was so cruel, so

wicked, that the poor child, who was now three years old, was greatly

terrified and began to weep bitterly.

"What is the matter?" said the king. "Why does my sweet and sensible

Blondine weep like a bad little girl?"

"Papa! dear papa!" cried Blondine, throwing herself into the arms of the

king, "do not give me into the hands of this princess. I am afraid of

her--her eyes are cruel!"

The king was much surprised. He turned so suddenly towards the princess

Fourbette that she had no time to control herself and he perceived the

terrible glance with which she regarded the little Blondine.

Benin immediately resolved that Blondine should be wholly separated from

the new queen and remain as before under the exclusive protection of the

nurse who had taken care of her and who loved her tenderly.

The queen thus saw Blondine rarely, and when she met her by chance she

could not wholly dissimulate the hatred she felt for her.

About a year from that time a daughter was born to the queen Fourbette.

She was named Brunette, because of her dark hair which was black as the

raven's wing.

Brunette was pretty but not so lovely as Blondine; moreover she was as

wicked as her mother. She detested Blondine and played all sorts of

cruel tricks upon her, bit her, pinched her, pulled her hair, broke her

toys and tore her beautiful dresses.

The good little Blondine was never in a passion with her sister but

always tried to make excuses for her conduct.

"Oh, papa!" she said to the king, "do not scold Brunette; she is so

little! she does not know that she grieves me when she breaks my toys!

It is only in play that she bites me, pulls my hair and pinches me."

The good king embraced his little daughter, and was silent but he knew

that Brunette was cruel and wicked; that Blondine was too gentle and

good to accuse her. He loved Blondine, therefore, more and more from day

to day and his heart grew cold to Brunette.

The ambitious queen Fourbette saw all this clearly and hated intensely

the innocent and gentle Blondine. If she had not feared the rage of the

king she would have made Blondine the most wretched child in the world.

Benin had commanded that Blondine should never be left alone with the

queen. He was known to be just and good but he punished disobedience

severely and the queen herself dared not defy his commands.