The Journey And Arrival
: Good Little Henry
: Old French Fairy Tales
The journey of Blondine lasted, as the Tortoise had said, six months.
They were three months passing through the forest. At the end of that
time she found herself on an arid plain which it required six weeks to
cross. Then Blondine perceived a castle which reminded her of that of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. They were a full month passing through the
avenue to this castle.
Blondine burned with impatience.
ould she indeed learn the fate of her
dear friends at the palace? In spite of her extreme anxiety, she dared
not ask a single question. If she could have descended from the back of
the Tortoise, ten minutes would have sufficed for her to reach the
castle. But, alas! the Tortoise crept on slowly and Blondine remembered
that she had been forbidden to alight or to utter a word. She resolved,
therefore, to control her impatience. The Tortoise seemed rather to
relax than to increase her speed. She consumed fourteen days still in
passing through this avenue. They seemed fourteen centuries to Blondine.
She never, however, lost sight of the castle or of the door. The place
seemed deserted; she heard no noise, she saw no sign of life.
At last, after twenty-four days' journey, the Tortoise paused, and said
"Now, princess, descend. By your courage and obedience you have earned
the recompense I promised. Enter the little door which you see before
you. The first person you will meet will be the fairy Bienveillante and
she will make known to you the fate of your friends."
Blondine sprang lightly to the earth. She had been immovable so long she
feared her limbs would be cramped but on the contrary she was as light
and active as when she had lived so happily with her dear Bonne-Biche
and Beau-Minon and ran joyously and gracefully gathering flowers and
After having thanked the Tortoise most warmly she opened the door which
had been pointed out to her and found herself before a young person
clothed in white, who asked in a sweet voice, whom she desired to see?
"I wish to see the fairy Bienveillante. Tell her, I pray you, miss,
that the princess Blondine begs earnestly to see her without delay."
"Follow me, princess", replied the young girl.
Blondine followed in great agitation. She passed through several
beautiful rooms and met many young girls clothed in white, like her
guide. They looked at her as if they recognized her and smiled
At last Blondine arrived in a room in every respect resembling that of
Bonne-Biche in the Forest of Lilacs. The remembrances which this
recalled were so painful that she did not perceive the disappearance of
her fair young guide.
Blondine gazed sadly at the furniture of the room. She saw but one piece
which had not adorned the apartment of Bonne-Biche in the Forest of
Lilacs. This was a wardrobe in gold and ivory, exquisitely carved. It
was closed. Blondine felt herself drawn towards it in an inexplicable
manner. She was gazing at it intently, not having indeed the power to
turn her eyes away, when a door opened and a young and beautiful woman,
magnificently dressed, entered and drew near Blondine.
"What do you wish, my child?" said she, in a sweet, caressing voice.
"Oh, madam!" said Blondine, throwing herself at her feet, "I have been
assured that you could give me news of my dear, kind friends,
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. You know, madam, without doubt by what
heedless disobedience I gave them up to destruction and that I wept for
them a long time, believing them to be dead but the Tortoise, who
conducted me here, has given me reason to hope I may one day see them
again. Tell me, madam, tell me if they yet live and if I may dare hope
for the happiness of rejoining them?"
"Blondine", replied the fairy Bienveillante, sadly, "you are now about
to know the fate of your friends, but no matter what you see or hear, do
not lose courage or hope."
Saying these words, she seized the trembling Blondine and conducted her
in front of the wardrobe which had already so forcibly attracted her
"Blondine, here is the key to this wardrobe. Open it, and be brave!"
She handed Blondine a gold key. With a trembling hand the princess
opened the wardrobe. What was her anguish when she saw the skins of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon fastened to the wardrobe with diamond nails!
At this terrible sight the unfortunate princess uttered a cry of horror
and fell insensible at the feet of the fairy. At this moment the door
opened and a prince, beautiful as the day, sprang towards Blondine,
"Oh, my mother! this is too severe a trial for my sweet Blondine!"
"Alas! my son, my heart also bleeds for her. But you know that this last
punishment was indispensable to deliver her for ever from the yoke of
the cruel genius of the Forest of Lilacs."
The fairy Bienveillante now with her wand touched Blondine, who was
immediately restored to consciousness but despairing and sobbing
convulsively, she exclaimed:--
"Let me die at once! My life is odious to me! No hope, no happiness,
from this time forth for ever for poor Blondine! My friends! my
cherished friends! I will join you soon in the land of shadows!"
"Blondine! ever dear Blondine!" said the fairy, clasping her in her
arms, "your friends live and love you tenderly. I am Bonne-Biche and
this is my son, Beau-Minon. The wicked genius of the Forest of Lilacs,
taking advantage of the negligence of my son, obtained dominion over us
and forced us into the forms under which you have known us. We could not
resume our natural appearance unless you should pluck the Rose, which I,
knowing it to be your evil genius, retained captive. I placed it as far
as possible from the castle in order to withdraw it from your view. I
knew the misfortune to which you would be exposed on delivering your
evil genius from his prison and Heaven is my witness, that my son and I
would willingly have remained a Hind and a Cat for ever in your eyes in
order to spare you the cruel tortures to which you have been subjected.
The Parrot gained you over, in spite of all our precautions. You know
the rest, my dear child. But you can never know all that we have
suffered in witnessing your tears and your desolation."
Blondine embraced the Fairy ardently and addressed a thousand questions
"What has become of the gazelles who waited upon us so gracefully?"
"You have already seen them, dear Blondine. They are the young girls who
accompanied you. They also were changed when the evil genius gained his
power over us."
"And the good white cow who brought me milk every day?"
"We obtained permission from the Queen of the Fairies to send you this
light refreshment. The encouraging words of the Crow came also from us."
"You, then, madam, also sent me the Tortoise?"
"Yes, Blondine. The Queen of the Fairies, touched by your repentance and
your grief, deprived the Evil Genius of the Forest of all power over us
on condition of obtaining from you one last proof of submission,
compelling you to take this long and fatiguing journey and inflicting
the terrible punishment of making you believe that my son and I had died
from your imprudence. I implored, entreated the Queen of the Fairies to
spare you at least this last anguish but she was inflexible."
Blondine gazed at her lost friends, listened eagerly to every word and
did not cease to embrace those she had feared were eternally separated
from her by death. The remembrance of her dear father now presented
itself. The prince Parfait understood her secret desire and made it
known to his mother, the fairy Bienveillante.
"Prepare yourself, dear Blondine, to see your father. Informed by me, he
now expects you."
At this moment, Blondine found herself in a chariot of gold and pearls,
the fairy Bienveillante seated at her right hand, and the prince Parfait
at her feet, regarding her kindly and tenderly. The chariot was drawn by
four swans of dazzling whiteness. They flew with such rapidity, that
five minutes brought them to the palace of King Benin. All the court was
assembled about the king, all were expecting the princess Blondine.
When the chariot appeared, the cries of joy and welcome were so
tumultuous that the swans were confused and almost lost their way.
Prince Parfait, who guided them, succeeded in arresting their attention
and the chariot drew up at the foot of the grand stairway. King Benin
sprang towards Blondine who, jumping lightly from the chariot, threw
herself in her father's arms. They remained a long time in this position
and everybody wept tears of joy.
When King Benin had somewhat recovered himself he kissed, respectfully
and tenderly, the hand of the good fairy who, after having protected and
educated the princess Blondine had now restored her to him. He embraced
the prince Parfait whom he found most charming.
There were eight resplendent gala days in honor of the return of
Blondine. At the close of this gay festival, the fairy Bienveillante
announced her intention of returning home. But Prince Parfait and
Blondine were so melancholy at the prospect of this separation that King
Benin resolved they should never quit the place. He wedded the fairy and
Blondine became the happy wife of Prince Parfait who was always for her
the Beau-Minon of the Forest of Lilacs.
Brunette, whose character had entirely changed, came often to see
Blondine. Prince Violent, her husband, became more amiable as Brunette
became more gentle and they were very happy.
As to Blondine, she had no misfortunes, no griefs. She had lovely
daughters, who resembled her, and good and handsome sons, the image of
their manly father, Prince Parfait. Everybody loved them and every one
connected with them was happy ever after.