The Toad Again
: Old French Fairy Tales
Some years passed away in this peaceful manner without the occurrence of
any remarkable event. Ourson and Violette both grew rapidly. Agnella
thought no more of Violette's frightful dream; her vigilance had greatly
relaxed and she often allowed her to walk alone or under the care of
Ourson was now fifteen years of age and he was tall and strong. No one
could say whether he was handsome or homely f
r his long black hair
covered his body and face entirely. He was good, generous and
loving--always ready to render a service, always contented and cheerful.
Since the day when he had found Violette in the wood his melancholy had
disappeared; he was utterly indifferent to the general antipathy which
he inspired and he no longer walked in uninhabited places but lived
happily in the circle of the three beings whom he cherished and who
loved him supremely.
Violette was now ten years old and she had not lost a single sweet charm
of her beauty in growing up. Her eyes were softer and more angelic, her
complexion fresher and purer, her mouth more beautiful and arch in its
expression. She had grown much in height--was tall, light and graceful
and her rich blonde hair, when unbound, fell to her feet and entirely
enveloped her like a veil. Passerose had the care of this superb hair
and Agnella never ceased to admire it.
Violette had learned many things during those seven years. Agnella had
taught her how to do housework. In other things, Ourson had been her
teacher. He had taught her to read, write and keep accounts and he often
read aloud to her while she was sewing. Instructive and amusing books
were found in her room without any one knowing where they came from.
There was also clothing and other necessary objects for Violette,
Ourson, Agnella and Passerose. There was no longer any necessity for
going to market to sell or the neighboring village to buy. Through the
agency of the ring on Agnella's little finger everything they wished
for, or had need of, was speedily brought to them.
One day when Ourson was walking with Violette she stumbled against a
stone, fell and hurt her foot. Ourson was frightened when he saw his
cherished Violette bleeding. He did not know what to do to relieve her;
he saw how much she suffered, for, notwithstanding all her efforts, she
could not suppress the tears which escaped from her eyes but finally he
remembered that a brook flowed not ten paces from them.
"Dear Violette," he said, "lean upon me and we will endeavor to reach
the rivulet--the fresh water will relieve you."
Violette tried to walk while Ourson supported her. He succeeded in
seating her on the borders of the stream where she took off her shoe and
bathed her delicate little foot in the fresh flowing water.
"I will run to the house, dear Violette, and bring some linen to wrap up
your foot. Wait for me, I shall not be long absent and take good care
not to get nearer the stream for this little brook is deep and if you
slip you might drown."
When Ourson was out of sight Violette felt an uneasiness which she
attributed to the pain caused by her wound. An unaccountable repulsion
made her feel inclined to withdraw her foot from the water in which it
was hanging. Before she decided to obey this strange impulse she saw the
water troubled and the head of an enormous toad appear upon the surface.
The great swollen angry eyes of the loathsome animal were fixed upon
Violette, who since her dream had always had a dread of toads. The
appearance of this hideous creature, its monstrous swollen body and
menacing glance, froze her with such horror that she could neither move
nor cry out.
"Ah! ha! you are at last in my domain, little fool!" said the toad. "I
am the fairy Furious, the enemy of your family. I have been lying in
wait for you a long time and should have had you before if my sister,
the fairy Drolette, had not protected you and sent you a dream to warn
you against me. Ourson whose hairy skin is a talisman of safety is now
absent, my sister is on a journey and you are at last mine."
Saying these words, she seized Violette's foot with her cold and shining
paws and tried to draw her down into the water. Violette uttered the
most piercing shrieks; she struggled and caught hold of the plants and
shrubs growing on the borders of the stream. The first, alas, gave way,
and Violette in despair seized hold of others.
"Ourson! oh, Ourson! help! help! dear Ourson, save me, save your poor
Violette! I am perishing! save me! help! help!"
The fairy Furious, in the form of a toad, was about to carry her off.
The last shrub had given way and Violette's last cry was hushed.
The poor Violette disappeared under the water just as another cry, more
despairing, more terrible, answered to her own. But, alas! her hair
alone appeared above the water when Ourson reached the spot, breathless
and panting with terror. He had heard Violette's cries and had turned
back with the rapidity of lightning.
Without a moment's hesitation he sprang into the water and seized
Violette by her long hair but he felt instantly that he was sinking
with her. The fairy Furious was drawing them to the bottom of the
stream. He knew he was sinking but he did not lose his self-possession.
Instead of releasing Violette, he seized her both arms and invoked the
fairy Drolette. When they reached the bottom, he gave one vigorous
stroke with his heel which brought him again to the surface. Holding
Violette securely with one arm, he swam sturdily with the other and
through some supernatural force he reached the shore where he deposited
the unconscious Violette.
Her eyes were closed, her teeth tightly clenched and the pallor of death
was on her face. Ourson threw himself on his knees by her side weeping
bitterly. Brave Ourson, whom no dangers could intimidate, no privation,
no suffering could master, now wept like a child. His sweet sister, so
well beloved! his only friend, his consolation, his happiness was lying
there motionless, lifeless! Ourson's strength and courage had deserted
him and he sank down without consciousness by the side of his beloved
At this moment a lark flew rapidly up, approached Violette and Ourson,
gave one stroke of her little beak to Ourson and another to Violette and
Ourson was not the only one who replied to the shrieks of Violette.
Passerose had heard them and then the more terrible cry of Ourson which
succeeded them. She ran to the house to apprise Agnella and they both
ran rapidly toward the stream from which the cries for help seemed to
On approaching, they saw with surprise and alarm that Violette and
Ourson were lying on the ground in a state of unconsciousness. Passerose
placed her hand on Violette's heart and felt it still beating. Agnella
ascertained at the same moment that Ourson was still living. She
directed Passerose to take Violette home, undress her and put her to bed
while she endeavored to restore consciousness to Ourson with salts and
other restoratives before conducting him to the farm. Ourson was too
tall and heavy to be carried while Violette, on the contrary, was light
and it was easy for Passerose to carry her to the house. When she
arrived there, she was soon restored to animation. It was some moments
before she was conscious. She was still agitated with a vague
remembrance of terror but without knowing what had alarmed her.
During this time the tender care of Agnella had restored Ourson to life.
He opened his eyes, gazed tenderly at his mother and threw himself
weeping upon her neck.
"Mother, dear mother!" he exclaimed, "my Violette, my beloved sister,
has perished! Let me die with her!"
"Be composed, my son," replied Agnella; "Violette still lives. Passerose
has carried her to the house and will bestow upon her all the attention
Ourson seemed to revive on hearing these words. He rose and wished to
run to the farm but his second thought was consideration for his mother
and he restrained his impatience to suit her steps. On their way to the
farm he told his mother all that he knew of the events which had almost
cost Violette and himself their lives. He added that the slime from the
mouth of the fairy Furious had left a strange dulness in his head.
Agnella now told him how Passerose and herself had found them stretched
unconscious upon the border of the stream. They soon arrived at the
farm, and Ourson, still dripping, rushed into Violette's presence.
On seeing him Violette remembered everything and she sprang towards him.
She threw her arms around him and wept upon his bosom. Ourson also wept
and Agnella and Passerose were both in tears. It was a concert of
emotion, enough to soften all hearts. Passerose put an end to it by
"Would not one say--ha! ha!--that we were the most--ha! ha!--unfortunate
people--ha! ha!--in the universe!--Look at our poor Ourson, wet as a
water-reed, bathing himself in his own and Violette's tears. Courage,
children, courage and happiness! See, we are all alive, thanks to
"Oh, yes!" interrupted Violette; "thanks to Ourson--to my dear, my
well-beloved Ourson. How shall I ever repay him for all I owe him? How
can I ever testify my profound gratitude, my tender affection?"
"By loving me always as you do now, my dear Violette, my sister. Ah! if
it has indeed been in my power to render you some little service, have
you not changed my whole existence? Have you not made me gay and
happy--me who was so wretched and so miserable before? Are you not every
day and every hour of the day the consolation and happiness of my life
and of that of my excellent mother?"
Violette was still weeping and she answered only by pressing more
tenderly to her heart her Ourson, her adopted brother.
"Dear son," said his mother, "you are dripping wet. Go and change your
clothing. Violette has need of some hours' repose. We will meet again at
Violette consented to go to bed but did not sleep for her heart was
melting, overflowing with gratitude and tenderness. She sought in vain
for some means of rewarding the devotion of Ourson. She could think of
no other way than that of trying to become perfect so as to increase the
happiness of Ourson and Agnella.