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The Little Grey Mouse

History Of Princess Rosette [Old French Fairy Tales]
The Little Grey Mouse [Old French Fairy Tales]


Table of Contents

THE LITTLE GREY MOUSE

THE LITTLE HOUSE

THE FAIRY DETESTABLE

THE PRINCE GRACIOUS

THE TREE IN THE ROTUNDA

THE CASKET

 

T here was once a man named Prudent, who was a widower and he lived alone with his little daughter. His wife had died a few days after the birth of this little girl, who was named Rosalie.

Rosalie's father had a large fortune. He lived in a great house, which belonged to him. This house was surrounded by a large garden in which Rosalie walked whenever she pleased to do so.

She had been trained with great tenderness and gentleness but her father had accustomed her to the most unquestioning obedience. He forbade her positively to ask him any useless questions or to insist upon knowing anything he did not wish to tell her. In this way, by unceasing care and watchfulness, he had almost succeeded in curing one of Rosalie's great faults, a fault indeed unfortunately too common—curiosity.

Rosalie never left the park, which was surrounded by high walls. She never saw any one but her father. They had no domestic in the house; everything seemed to be done of itself. She always had what she wanted—clothing, books, work, and playthings. Her father educated her himself and although she was nearly fifteen years old, she was never weary and never thought that she might live otherwise and might see more of the world.

There was a little house at the end of the park without windows and with but one door, which was always locked. Rosalie's father entered this house every day and always carried the key about his person. Rosalie thought it was only a little hut in which the garden-tools were kept. She never thought of speaking about it but one day, when she was seeking a watering-pot for her flowers, she said to him:—

"Father, please give me the key of the little house in the garden."

"What do you want with this key, Rosalie?"

"I want a watering-pot and I think I could find one in that little house."

"No, Rosalie, there is no watering-pot there."

Prudent's voice trembled so in pronouncing these words that Rosalie looked up with surprise, and saw that his face was pale and his forehead bathed in perspiration.

"What is the matter, father?" said she, alarmed.

"Nothing, daughter, nothing."

"It was my asking for the key which agitated you so violently, father. What does this little house contain which frightens you so much?"

"Rosalie, Rosalie! you do not know what you are saying. Go and look for your watering-pot in the green-house."

"But, father, what is there in the little garden-house?"

"Nothing that can interest you, Rosalie."

"But why do you go there every day without permitting me to go with you?"

"Rosalie, you know that I do not like to be questioned and that curiosity is the greatest defect in your character."

Rosalie said no more but she remained very thoughtful. This little house, of which she had never before thought, was now constantly in her mind.

"What can be concealed there?" she said to herself. "How pale my father turned when I asked his permission to enter! I am sure he thought I should be in some sort of danger. But why does he go there himself every day? It is no doubt to carry food to some ferocious beast confined there. But if it was some wild animal, would I not hear it roar or howl or shake the house? No, I have never heard any sound from this cabin. It cannot then be a beast. Besides, if it was a ferocious beast, it would devour my father when he entered alone. Perhaps, however, it is chained. But if it is indeed chained, then there would be no danger for me. What can it be? A prisoner? My father is good, he would not deprive any unfortunate innocent of light and liberty. Well, I absolutely must discover this mystery. How shall I manage it? If I could only secretly get the key from my father for a half hour! Perhaps some day he will forget it."

Rosalie was aroused from this chain of reflection by her father, who called to her with a strangely agitated voice.

"Here, father—I am coming."

She entered the house and looked steadily at her father. His pale, sad countenance indicated great agitation.

More than ever curious, she resolved to feign gaiety and indifference in order to allay her father's suspicions and make him feel secure. In this way she thought she might perhaps obtain possession of the key at some future time. He might not always think of it if she herself seemed to have forgotten it.

They seated themselves at the table. Prudent ate but little and was sad and silent, in spite of his efforts to appear gay. Rosalie, however, seemed so thoughtless and bright that her father at last recovered his accustomed good spirits.

Rosalie would be fifteen years old in three weeks. Her father had promised an agreeable surprise for this event. A few days passed peacefully away. There remained but fifteen days before her birth-day. One morning Prudent said to Rosalie:—

"My dear child, I am compelled to be absent for one hour. I must go out to arrange something for your birth-day. Wait for me in the house, my dear. Do not yield yourself up to idle curiosity. In fifteen days you will know all that you desire to know, for I read your thoughts and I know what occupies your mind. Adieu, my daughter, beware of curiosity!"

Prudent embraced his daughter tenderly and withdrew, leaving her with great reluctance.

As soon as he was out of sight, Rosalie ran to her father's room and what was her joy to see the key forgotten upon the table! She seized it and ran quickly to the end of the park. Arrived at the little house, she remembered the words of her father, "Beware of curiosity!" She hesitated, and was upon the point of returning the key without having looked at the house, when she thought she heard a light groan. She put her ear against the door and heard a very little voice singing softly:—

"A lonely prisoner I pine,
 No hope of freedom now is mine;
 I soon must draw my latest breath,
 And in this dungeon meet my death."
 

"No doubt," said Rosalie to herself, "this is some unfortunate creature whom my father holds captive."

Tapping softly upon the door, she said: "Who are you, and what can I do for you?"

"Open the door, Rosalie! I pray you open the door!"

"But why are you a prisoner? Have you not committed some crime?"

"Alas! no, Rosalie. An enchanter keeps me here a prisoner. Save me and I will prove my gratitude by telling you truly who I am."

Rosalie no longer hesitated: her curiosity was stronger than her obedience. She put the key in the lock, but her hand trembled so that she could not open it. She was about to give up the effort, when the little voice continued:—

"Rosalie, that which I have to tell you will teach you many things which will interest you. Your father is not what he appears to be."

At these words Rosalie made a last effort, the key turned and the door opened.

R osalie looked in eagerly. The little house was dark; she could see nothing but she heard the little voice:—

"Thanks, Rosalie, it is to you that I owe my deliverance."

The voice seemed to come from the earth. She looked, and saw in a corner two brilliant little eyes gazing at her maliciously.

"My cunning trick has succeeded, Rosalie, and betrayed you into yielding to your curiosity. If I had not spoken and sung you would have returned with the key and I should have been lost. Now that you have set me at liberty, you and your father are both in my power."

Rosalie did not yet fully comprehend the extent of the misfortune she had brought about by her disobedience. She knew, however, that it was a dangerous foe which her father had held captive and she wished to retire and close the door.

"Stop, Rosalie! It is no longer in your power to keep me in this odious prison from which I never could have escaped if you had waited until your fifteenth birth-day."

At this moment the little house disappeared entirely, and Rosalie saw with the greatest consternation that the key alone remained in her hand. She now saw at her side a small gray mouse who gazed at her with its sparkling little eyes and began to laugh in a thin, discordant voice.

"Ha! ha! ha! What a frightened air you have, Rosalie! In truth you amuse me very much. But it is lucky for me that you had so much curiosity. It has been nearly fifteen years since I was shut up in this frightful prison, having no power to injure your father, whom I hate, or to bring any evil upon you, whom I detest because you are his daughter."

"Who are you, then, wicked mouse?"

"I am the mortal enemy of your family, my pet. I call myself the fairy Detestable and the name suits me, I assure you. All the world hates me and I hate all the world. I shall follow you now for the rest of your life, wherever you go."

"Go away at once, miserable creature! A mouse is not to be feared and I will find a way to get rid of you."

"We shall see, my pet! I shall remain at your side wherever you go!"

The Little Grey Mouse

Rosalie now ran rapidly towards the house; every time she turned she saw the mouse galloping after her, and laughing with a mocking air. Arrived at the house, she tried to crush the mouse in the door, but it remained open in spite of every effort she could make and the mouse remained quietly upon the door-sill.

"Wait awhile, wicked monster!" cried Rosalie, beside herself with rage and terror.

She seized a broom and tried to dash it violently against the mouse but the broom was on fire at once, blazed up and burned her hands; she threw it quickly to the floor and pushed it into the chimney with her foot, lest it should set fire to the house. Then seizing a kettle which was boiling on the fire, she emptied it upon the mouse but the boiling water was changed into good fresh milk and the mouse commenced drinking it, saying:—

"How exceedingly amiable you are, Rosalie! Not content with having released me from captivity, you give me an excellent breakfast."

Poor Rosalie now began to weep bitterly. She was utterly at a loss what to do, when she heard her father entering.

"My father!" cried she, "my father! Oh! cruel mouse, I beseech you in pity to go away that my father may not see you!"

"No, I shall not go but I will hide myself behind your heels until your father knows of your disobedience."

The mouse had scarcely concealed herself behind Rosalie, when Prudent entered. He looked at Rosalie, whose paleness and embarrassed air betrayed her fear.

"Rosalie," said Prudent, with a trembling voice, "I forgot the key of the little garden-house; have you found it?"

"Here it is, father," said Rosalie, presenting it to him, and coloring deeply.

"How did this cream come to be upset on the floor?"

"Father, it was the cat."

"The cat? Impossible. The cat brought a vessel of milk to the middle of the room and upset it there?"

"No! no! father, it was I that did it; in carrying it, I accidentally overturned it."

Rosalie spoke in a low voice, and dared not look at her father.

"Take the broom, Rosalie, and sweep up this cream."

"There is no broom, father."

"No broom! there was one when I left the house."

"I burned it, father, accidentally, by—— by——"

She paused—her father looked fixedly at her, threw a searching unquiet glance about the room, sighed and turned his steps slowly towards the little house in the garden.

Rosalie fell sobbing bitterly upon a chair; the mouse did not stir. A few moments afterwards, Prudent entered hastily, his countenance marked with horror.

"Rosalie! unhappy child! what have you done? You have yielded to your fatal curiosity and released our most cruel enemy from prison."

"Pardon me, father! oh pardon me!" she cried, throwing herself at his feet; "I was ignorant of the evil I did."

"Misfortune is always the result of disobedience, Rosalie; disobedient children think they are only committing a small fault, when they are doing the greatest injury to themselves and others."

"But, father, who and what then is this mouse, who causes you this terrible fear? How, if it had so much power, could you keep it so long a prisoner and why can you not put it in prison again?"

"This mouse, my unhappy child, is a wicked fairy, but very powerful. For myself, I am the genius Prudent and since you have given liberty to my enemy, I can now reveal to you that which I should have concealed until you were fifteen years old.

"I am, then, as I said to you, the genius Prudent; your dear mother was a simple mortal but her virtues and her graces touched the queen of the fairies and also the king of the genii and they permitted me to wed her. I gave a splendid festival on my marriage-day. Unfortunately I forgot to invoke the fairy Detestable, who was already irritated against me for having married a princess, after having refused one of her daughters. She was so exasperated against me that she swore an implacable hatred against me, my wife and my children. I was not terrified at her threats, as I myself had a power almost equal to her own and I was much beloved by the queen of the fairies. Many times by the power of my enchantments, I triumphed over the malicious hatred of the fairy Detestable.

"A few hours after your birth your mother was thrown into the most violent convulsions which I could not calm. I left her for a few moments to invoke the aid of the queen of the fairies. When I returned your mother was dead.

"The wicked fairy Detestable had profited by my absence and caused her death. She was about to endow you with all the passions and vices of this evil world, when my unexpected return happily paralyzed her efforts. I interrupted her at the moment when she had endowed you with a curiosity sufficient to make you wretched and to subject you entirely to her power at fifteen years of age. By my power, united to that of the queen of the fairies, I counter-balanced this fatal influence and we decided that you should not fall under her power at fifteen years of age, unless you yielded three times under the gravest circumstances to your idle curiosity.

"At the same time the queen of the fairies, to punish the fairy Detestable, changed her into a mouse, shut her up in the little garden house, and declared that she should never leave it unless you voluntarily opened the door. Also, that she should never resume her original form of fairy unless you yielded three times to your criminal curiosity before you were fifteen years of age. Lastly, that if you resisted once the fatal passion you should be for ever released, as well as myself, from the power of the fairy Detestable.

"With great difficulty I obtained all these favors and only by promising that I would share your fate and become, like yourself, the slave of the fairy Detestable, if you weakly allowed yourself to yield three times to your curiosity. I promised solemnly to educate you in such a manner as to destroy this terrible passion, calculated to cause so many sorrows.

"For all these reasons I have confined myself and you, Rosalie, in this enclosure. I have permitted you to see no one, not even a domestic. I procured by my power all that your heart desired and I have been feeling quite satisfied in having succeeded so well with you. In three weeks you would have been fifteen, and for ever delivered from the odious yoke of the fairy Detestable.

"I was alarmed when you asked for the key of the little house, of which you had never before seemed to think. I could not conceal the painful impression which this demand made upon me. My agitation excited your curiosity. In spite of your gaiety and assumed thoughtlessness, I penetrated your thoughts, and you may judge of my grief when the queen of the fairies ordered me to make the temptation possible and the resistance meritorious by leaving the key at least once in your reach. I was thus compelled to leave it, that fatal key, and thus facilitate by my absence my own and your destruction.

"Imagine, Rosalie, what I suffered during the hour of my absence, leaving you alone with this temptation before your eyes and when I saw your embarrassment and blushes on my return, indicating to me too well that you had allowed your curiosity to master you.

"I was commanded to conceal everything from you; to tell you nothing of your birth or of the dangers which surround you, until your fifteenth birthday. If I had disobeyed, you would at once have fallen into the power of the fairy Detestable.

"And yet, Rosalie, all is not lost. You can yet repair your fault by resisting for fifteen days this terrible passion. At fifteen years of age you were to have been united to a charming prince, who is related to us, the prince Gracious. This union is yet possible.

"Ah, Rosalie! my still dear child, take pity on yourself, if you have no mercy for me and resist your curiosity."

Rosalie was on her knees before her father, her face concealed in her hands and weeping bitterly. At these words she took courage, embraced him tenderly and said to him:—

"Oh, father! I promise you solemnly that I will atone for this fault. Do not leave me, dear father! With you by me, I shall be inspired with a courage which would otherwise fail me. I dare not be deprived of your wise paternal counsel."

"Alas! Rosalie! it is no longer in my power to remain with you for I am now under the dominion of my enemy. Most certainly she will not allow me to stay by your side and warn you against the snares and temptations which she will spread at your feet. I am astonished at not having seen my cruel foe before this time. The view of my affliction and despair would have for her hard heart an irresistible charm."

"I have been near you all the time, at your daughter's feet," said the little gray mouse, in a sharp voice, stepping out and showing herself to the unfortunate genius. "I have been highly entertained at the recital of all that I have already made you suffer, and the pleasure I felt in hearing you give this account to your daughter induced me to conceal myself till this moment. Now say adieu to your dear but curious Rosalie; she must accompany me, and I forbid you to follow her."

Saying these words, she seized the hem of Rosalie's dress with her sharp little teeth and tried to draw her away. Rosalie uttered a piercing cry and clung convulsively to her father but an irresistible force bore her off. The unfortunate genius seized a stick and raised it to strike the mouse but before he had time to inflict the blow the mouse placed one of her little paws on the genius's foot and he remained as immovable as a statue. Rosalie embraced her father's knees and implored the mouse to take pity upon her but the little wretch gave one of her sharp, diabolical laughs and said:—

"Come, come, my pretty! Pity it is not here that you will find the temptations to yield twice to your irresistible fault! We will travel all over the world together and I will show you many countries in fifteen days."

The mouse pulled Rosalie without ceasing. Her arms were still clasped around her father, striving to resist the overpowering force of her enemy. The mouse uttered a discordant little cry and suddenly the house was in flames. Rosalie had sufficient presence of mind to reflect that if she allowed herself to be burned there would be no means left of saving her father, who must then remain eternally under the power of Detestable. Whereas, if she preserved her own life there remained always some chance of rescuing him.

"Adieu, adieu, dear father!" she cried; "we will meet again in fifteen days. After having given you over to your enemy, your Rosalie will yet save you."

She then tore herself away, in order not to be devoured by the flames. She ran on rapidly for some time without knowing where she was going. She walked several hours but at last, exhausted with fatigue and half dead with hunger, she resolved to approach a kind-looking woman who was seated at her door.

"Madam," said she, "will you give me a place to sleep? I am dying with hunger and fatigue. Will you not be so kind as to allow me to enter and pass the night with you?"

"How is it that so beautiful a girl as yourself is found upon the highways and what ugly animal is that with the expression of a demon which accompanies you."

Rosalie turned round and saw the little gray mouse smiling upon her mockingly. She tried to chase it away but the mouse obstinately refused to move. The good woman, seeing this contest, shook her head and said:—

"Go on your ways, my pretty one. The Evil One and his followers cannot lodge with me."

Weeping bitterly, Rosalie continued her journey, and wherever she presented herself they refused to receive her and the mouse, who never quitted her side. She entered a forest where happily she found a brook at which she quenched her thirst. She found also fruits and nuts in abundance. She drank, ate and seated herself near a tree, thinking with agony of her father and wondering what would become of him during the fifteen days.

While Rosalie was thus musing she kept her eyes closed so as not to see the wicked little gray mouse. Her fatigue, and the silence and darkness around her, brought on sleep and she slept a long time profoundly.

W hile Rosalie was thus quietly sleeping, the prince Gracious was engaged in a hunt through the forest by torch-light. The fawn, pursued fiercely by the dogs, came trembling with terror to crouch down near the brook by which Rosalie was sleeping. The dogs and gamekeepers sprang forward after the fawn. Suddenly the dogs ceased barking and grouped themselves silently around Rosalie. The prince dismounted from his horse to set the dogs again upon the trail of the deer but what was his surprise to see a lovely young girl asleep in this lonely forest! He looked carefully around but saw no one else. She was indeed alone—abandoned. On examining her more closely, he saw traces of tears upon her cheeks and indeed they were still escaping slowly from her closed eyelids.

Rosalie was simply clothed but the richness of her silk dress denoted wealth. Her fine white hands, her rosy nails, her beautiful chestnut locks, carefully and tastefully arranged with a gold comb, her elegant boots and necklace of pure pearls indicated elevated rank.

Rosalie did not awake, notwithstanding the stamping of the horses, the baying of the dogs and the noisy tumult made by a crowd of sportsmen.

The prince was stupefied and stood gazing steadily at Rosalie. No one present recognized her. Anxious and disquieted by this profound sleep, Prince Gracious took her hand softly. Rosalie still slept. The prince pressed her hand lightly in his but even this did not awaken her.

Turning to his officers, he said: "I cannot thus abandon this unfortunate child, who has perhaps been led astray by some design, the victim of some cruel wickedness."

"But how can she be removed while she is asleep, prince," said Hubert, his principal gamekeeper, "can we not make a litter of branches and thus remove her to some hostel in the neighborhood while your highness continues the chase?"

"Your idea is good, Hubert. Make the litter and we will immediately place her upon it, only you will not carry her to a hostel, but to my palace. This young maiden is assuredly of high birth, and she is beautiful as an angel. I will watch over her myself, so that she may receive the care and attention to which she is entitled."

Hubert, with the assistance of his men, soon arranged the litter upon which Prince Gracious spread his mantle; then approaching Rosalie, who was still sleeping softly, he raised her gently in his arms and laid her upon the cloak. At this moment Rosalie seemed to be dreaming. She smiled and murmured, in low tones:—

"My father! my father! saved for ever! The Queen of the Fairies! The Prince Gracious! I see him; he is charming!"

The prince, surprised to hear his name pronounced, did not doubt that Rosalie was a princess under some cruel enchantment. He commanded his gamekeepers to walk very softly so as not to wake her and he walked by the side of the litter.

On arriving at the palace, Prince Gracious ordered that the queen's apartment should be prepared for Rosalie. He suffered no one to touch her but carried her himself to her chamber and laid her gently upon the bed, ordering the women who were to wait upon and watch over her to apprise him as soon as she awaked. Then, casting a farewell look upon the sad, sweet face of the sleeper, he strode from the room.

Rosalie slept tranquilly until morning. The sun was shining brightly when she awoke. She looked about her with great surprise. The wicked mouse was not near her to terrify her—it had happily disappeared.

"Am I delivered from this wicked fairy Detestable?" said she, joyfully. "Am I in the hands of a fairy more powerful than herself?"

Rosalie now stepped to the window and saw many armed men and many officers, dressed in brilliant uniforms. More and more surprised, she was about to call one of the men, whom she believed to be either genii or enchanters, when she heard footsteps approaching. She turned and saw the prince Gracious, clothed in an elegant and rich hunting-dress, standing before her and regarding her with admiration. Rosalie immediately recognized the prince of her dream and cried out involuntarily:—

"The prince Gracious!"

"You know me then?" said the prince, in amazement. "How, if you have ever known me, could I have forgotten your name and features?"

"I have only seen you in my dreams, prince," said Rosalie, blushing. "As to my name, you could not possibly know it, since I myself did not know my father's name until yesterday."

"And what is the name, may I ask, which has been concealed from you so long?"

Rosalie then told him all that she had heard from her father. She frankly confessed her culpable curiosity and its terrible consequences.

"Judge of my grief, prince, when I was compelled to leave my father in order to escape from the flames which the wicked fairy had lighted; when, rejected everywhere because of the wicked mouse, I found myself exposed to death from hunger and thirst! Soon, however, a heavy sleep took possession of me, during which I had many strange dreams. I do not know how I came here or whether it is in your palace that I find myself."

Gracious then related to Rosalie how he had found her asleep in the forest and the words which he had heard her utter in her dream. He then added:—

"There is one thing your father did not tell you, Rosalie; that is, that the queen of the fairies, who is our relation, had decided that we should be married when you were fifteen years of age. It was no doubt the queen of the fairies who inspired me with the desire to go hunting by torchlight, in order that I might find you in the forest where you had wandered. Since you will be fifteen in a few days, Rosalie, deign to consider my palace as your own and command here in advance, as my queen. Your father will soon be restored to you and we will celebrate our happy marriage."

Rosalie thanked her young and handsome cousin heartily and then returned to her chamber, where she found her maids awaiting her with a wonderful selection of rich and splendid robes and head-dresses. Rosalie, who had never given much attention to her toilet, took the first dress that was presented to her. It was of rose-colored gauze, ornamented with fine lace with a head-dress of lace and moss rosebuds. Her beautiful chestnut hair was arranged in bands, forming a crown. When her toilet was completed, the prince came to conduct her to breakfast.

Rosalie ate like a person who had not dined the day before. After the repast, the prince led her to the garden and conducted her to the green-houses, which were very magnificent. At the end of one of the hot-houses there was a little rotunda, ornamented with choice flowers; in the centre of this rotunda there was a large case which seemed to contain a tree but a thick heavy cloth was thrown over it and tightly sewed together. Through the cloth however could be seen a number of points of extraordinary brilliancy.

R osalie admired all the flowers very much but she waited with some impatience for the prince to remove the cloth which enveloped this mysterious tree. He left the green-house, however, without having spoken of it.

"What then, my prince, is this tree which is so carefully concealed?"

"It is the wedding present which I destined for you but you cannot see it until your fifteenth birthday," said the prince, gayly.

"But what is it that shines so brilliantly under the cloth?" said she, importunately.

"You will know all in a few days, Rosalie, and I flatter myself that you will not find my present a common affair."

"And can I not see it before my birthday?"

"No, Rosalie; the queen of the fairies has forbidden me, under heavy penalties, to show it to you until after you become my wife. I do hope that you love me enough to control your curiosity till that time."

These last words made Rosalie tremble, for they recalled to her the little gray mouse and the misfortunes which menaced her as well as her father, if she allowed herself to fall under the temptation, which, without doubt, her enemy the fairy Detestable had placed before her. She spoke no more of the mysterious case, and continued her walk with the prince. The day passed most agreeably. The prince presented her to the ladies of his court and commanded them to honor and respect in her the princess Rosalie, whom the queen of the fairies had selected as his bride. Rosalie was very amiable to every one and they all rejoiced in the idea of having so charming and lovely a queen.

The following days were passed in every species of festivity. The prince and Rosalie both saw with joyous hearts the approach of the birth-day which was to be also that of their marriage:—the prince, because he tenderly loved his cousin, and Rosalie because she loved the prince, because she desired strongly to see her father again, and also because she hoped to see what the case in the rotunda contained. She thought of this incessantly. She dreamed of it during the night and whenever she was alone she could with difficulty restrain herself from rushing to the green-house to try to discover the secret.

Finally, the last day of anticipation and anxiety arrived. In the morning Rosalie would be fifteen. The prince was much occupied with the preparations for his marriage; it was to be a very grand affair. All the good fairies of his acquaintance were to be present as well as the queen of the fairies. Rosalie found herself alone in the morning and she resolved to take a walk. While musing upon the happiness of the morrow, she involuntarily approached the green-house. She entered, smiling pensively, and found herself face to face with the cloth which covered the treasure.

"To-morrow," said she, "I shall at last know what this thick cloth conceals from me. If I wished, indeed I might see it to-day, for I plainly perceive some little openings in which I might insert my fingers and by enlarging just a little——. In fact, who would ever know it? I would sew the cloth after having taken a glimpse. Since to-morrow is so near, when I am to see all, I may as well take a glance to-day."

Rosalie looked about her and saw no one; and, in her extreme desire to gratify her curiosity, she forgot the goodness of the prince and the dangers which menaced them all if she yielded to this temptation.

She passed her fingers through the little apertures and strained them lightly. The cloth was rent from the top to the bottom with a noise like thunder and Rosalie saw before her eyes a tree of marvellous beauty, with a coral trunk and leaves of emeralds. The seeming fruits which covered the tree were of precious stones of all colors—diamonds, sapphires, pearls, rubies, opals, topazes, all as large as the fruits they were intended to represent and of such brilliancy that Rosalie was completely dazzled by them. But scarcely had she seen this rare and unparalleled tree, when a noise louder than the first drew her from her ecstasy. She felt herself lifted up and transported to a vast plain, from which she saw the palace of the king falling in ruins and heard the most frightful cries of terror and suffering issue from its walls. Soon Rosalie saw the prince himself creep from the ruins bleeding and his clothing almost torn from him. He advanced towards her and said sadly:—

"Rosalie! ungrateful Rosalie! see what you have done to me, not only to me, but to my whole court. After what you have done, I do not doubt that you will yield a third time to your curiosity; that you will complete my misfortunes, those of your unhappy father and your own. Adieu, Rosalie, adieu! May sincere repentance atone for your ingratitude towards an unhappy prince who loved you and only sought to make you happy!"

Saying these words, he withdrew slowly.

Rosalie threw herself upon her knees, bathed in tears and called him tenderly but he disappeared without ever turning to contemplate her despair. Rosalie was about to faint away, when she heard the little discordant laugh of the gray mouse and saw it before her.

"Your thanks are due to me, my dear Rosalie, for having assisted you so well. It was I who sent you those bewitching dreams of the mysterious tree during the night. It was I who nibbled the cloth, to help you in your wish to look in. Without this last artifice of mine, I believe I should have lost you, as well as your father and your prince Gracious. One more slip, my pet, and you will be my slave for ever!"

The cruel mouse, in her malicious joy, began to dance around Rosalie; her words, wicked as they were, did not excite the anger of the guilty girl.

"This is all my fault," said she; "had it not been for my fatal curiosity and my base ingratitude, the gray mouse would not have succeeded in making me yield so readily to temptation. I must atone for all this by my sorrow, by my patience and by the firmness with which I will resist the third proof to which I am subjected, no matter how difficult it may be. Besides, I have but a few hours to wait and my dear prince has told me that his happiness and that of my dearly loved father and my own, depends upon myself."

Before her lay the smouldering ruins of the palace of the Prince Gracious. So complete had been its destruction that a cloud of dust and smoke hung over it, and hardly one stone remained upon another. The cries of those in pain were borne to her ears and added to her bitterness of feeling.

Rosalie continued to lie prone on the ground. The gray mouse employed every possible means to induce her to move from the spot. Rosalie, the poor, unhappy and guilty Rosalie, persisted in remaining in view of the ruin she had caused.

T hus passed the entire day. Rosalie suffered cruelly with thirst.

"Ought I not suffer even more than I do?" she said to herself, "in order to punish me for all I have made my father and my cousin endure? I will await in this terrible spot the dawning of my fifteenth birthday."

The night was falling when an old woman who was passing by, approached and said:—

"My beautiful child, will you oblige me by taking care of this casket, which is very heavy to carry, while I go a short distance to see one of my relations?"

"Willingly, madam," replied Rosalie, who was very obliging. The old woman placed the casket in her hands, saying:—

"Many thanks, my beautiful child! I shall not be absent long. But I entreat you not to look in this casket, for it contains things—things such as you have never seen—and as you will never have an opportunity to see again. Do not handle it rudely, for it is of very fragile ware and would be very easily broken and then you would see what it contains and no one ought to see what is there concealed."

The old woman went off after saying this. Rosalie placed the casket near her and reflected on all the events which had just passed. It was now night and the old woman did not return. Rosalie now threw her eyes on the casket and saw with surprise that it illuminated the ground all around her.

"What can there be in this casket which is so brilliant?" said she.

She turned it round and round and regarded it from every side but nothing could explain this extraordinary light and she placed it carefully upon the ground, saying:—

"Of what importance is it to me what this casket contains? It is not mine but belongs to the old woman who confided it to me. I will not think of it again for fear I may be tempted to open it."

In fact, she no longer looked at it and endeavored not to think of it; she now closed her eyes, resolved to wait patiently till the dawn.

"In the morning I shall be fifteen years of age. I shall see my father and Gracious and will have nothing more to fear from the wicked fairy."

"Rosalie! Rosalie!" said suddenly the small voice of the little mouse, "I am near you once more. I am no longer your enemy and to prove that I am not, if you wish it, I will show you what this casket contains."

Rosalie did not reply.

"Rosalie, do you not hear what I propose? I am your friend, believe me."

No reply.

Then the little gray mouse, having no time to lose, sprang upon the casket and began to gnaw the lid.

"Monster!" cried Rosalie, seizing the casket and pressing it against her bosom, "if you touch this casket again I will wring your neck."

The mouse cast a diabolical glance upon Rosalie but it dared not brave her anger. While it was meditating some other means of exciting the curiosity of Rosalie, a clock struck twelve. At the same moment the mouse uttered a cry of rage and disappointment and said to Rosalie:—

"Rosalie, the hour of your birth has just sounded. You are now fifteen; you have nothing more to fear from me. You are now beyond my power and my temptations as are also your odious father and hated prince. As to myself, I am compelled to keep this ignoble form of a mouse until I can tempt some young girl beautiful and well born as yourself to fall into my snares. Adieu, Rosalie! you can now open the casket."

Saying these words, the mouse disappeared.

Rosalie, wisely distrusting these words of her enemy, would not follow her last counsel, and resolved to guard the casket carefully till the dawn. Scarcely had she taken this resolution, when an owl, which was flying above her head, let a stone fall upon the casket, which broke into a thousand pieces. Rosalie uttered a cry of terror and at the same moment she saw before her the queen of the fairies, who said:—

"Come Rosalie, you have finally triumphed over the cruel enemy of your family. I will now restore you to your father but first you must eat and drink, as you are much exhausted."

The fairy now presented her with a rare fruit, of which a single mouthful satisfied both hunger and thirst. Then a splendid chariot, drawn by two dragons, drew up before the fairy. She entered and commanded Rosalie to do the same. Rosalie, as soon as she recovered from her surprise, thanked the queen of the fairies with all her heart for her protection and asked if she was not to see her father and the prince Gracious.

"Your father awaits you in the palace of the prince."

"But, madam, I thought that the palace of the prince was destroyed and he himself wounded sadly?"

"That, Rosalie, was only an illusion to fill you with horror and remorse at the result of your curiosity and to prevent you from falling before the third temptation. You will soon see the palace of the prince just as it was before you tore the cloth which covered the precious tree he destined for you."

As the fairy said this the chariot drew up before the palace steps. Rosalie's father and the prince were awaiting her with all the court. Rosalie first threw herself in her father's arms, then in those of the prince, who seemed to have no remembrance of the fault she had committed the day before. All was ready for the marriage ceremony which was to be celebrated immediately. All the good fairies assisted at this festival which lasted several days.

Rosalie's father lived with his child and she was completely cured of her curiosity. She was tenderly loved by Prince Gracious whom she loved fondly all her life. They had beautiful children, for whom they chose powerful fairies as godmothers in order that they might be protected against the wicked fairies and genii.



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