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THE INVISIBLE PRINCE
HERE was a King and Queen who were doatingly fond of their only son, notwithstanding he was equally deformed in mind and person. The King was quite sensible of the evil disposition of his son, but the Queen, in her excessive fondness, saw no fault whatever in her dear Furibon, so he was named. The surest way to win her favour, was to praise Furibon for charms he did not possess. When he came to be of age to have a governor, the King made choice of a prince who had an ancient right to the crown, but was not able to support it, owing to the bad state of his affairs: he possessed a son of a most amiable disposition and agreeable manners, united to a very handsome person; this youth’s name was Leander. He was almost always in Furibon’s company, but that only rendered the deformed prince more hideous. ‘You are very happy,’ said he, looking on him with a malicious eye, ‘every body is lavish in their praises of you; but not one of them has a good word for me.’ — ‘Sir,’ replied Leander modestly, ‘the respect they have for you restrains them from being familiar.’ — ‘They do very well,’ said Furibon, ‘for otherwise I should knock their heads and the wall together, to teach them their duty.’
One day, when a certain ambassador arrived from a remote country, Furibon, accompanied by Leander, stood in a gallery to see them pass by; but when the ambassadors beheld Leander, they approached him with profound reverence, testifying their admiration by signs. Afterwards observing Furibon, they took him to be his dwarf; and seizing him by the arm, they turned him about as it were to view him round, notwithstanding all he could do to prevent them. Leander was vexed extremely; in vain he told them it was the king’s son, for they understood him not; and the interpreter was gone to wait their appearance before the king. Leander finding he could not make them understand him, redoubled his respects to Furibon. But the ambassadors as well as those of their train, believing he was in jest, began to laugh at Furibon’s angry impatience, and endeavoured to fillip him upon the nose, as they used to serve monkeys in their own country. Furibon at last drew his sword, which was not much longer than a lady’s bodkin; and might have done some mischief, had not the king appeared to meet the ambassadors. He was greatly surprised to behold his son’s behaviour, and begged their excuse, if any incivility had been offered them. They replied, the matter was of no consequence; for they perceived the little ugly dwarf was of a bad disposition. The king was greatly chagrined to find that his son’s ill-favoured mien, and his extravagances, had made his rank be so widely mistaken.
When they were gone, Furibon took Leander by the hair, and plucked off two or three handfuls; nay, he would have throttled him if he could; and forbade him ever to appear again in his presence. Leander’s father, offended with Furibon’s behaviour toward his son, sent him to a castle of his in the country, where he always found himself employment; for he was a great lover of hunting, fishing, and walking; he understood painting, read much, and played upon several instruments; so that he looked upon himself happy in being free from the fantastic humours of the prince; nor was he tired in the least with the solitude of the place. One day as he was walking in the garden, finding the heat increase, he retired into a grove, whose lofty and thick-tufted shade afforded him a cool retreat. And here he began to play upon his flute for his diversion, when he felt something that wound itself several times about his leg, and grasped it very hard; he looked to see what it was, and was surprised to find it was a great adder: he took his handkerchief, and catching it by the head, was going to kill it. But the adder winding the rest of its body round his arm, and looking steadfastly in his face, seemed to beg his pardon and compassion. At this instant one of the gardeners happened to come to the place where Leander was, and spying the snake, cried out to his master, ‘hold him fast, sir; it is but an hour ago since we ran after him to kill him; it is the most mischievous creature in the world; he spoils all our walks.’ Leander casting his eyes a second time upon the snake, which was speckled with a thousand extraordinary colours, perceived the poor creature still looked upon him with an aspect that seemed to beg compassion, and never stirred in the least to defend itself. ‘Though thou hast such a mind to kill it,’ said he to the gardener, ‘yet as it is come to me for refuge, I forbid thee to do it any harm, for I will keep it, and when it has cast its beautiful skin I will let it go.’ He then returned home, and carrying the snake with him, put it into a large chamber, the key of which he kept himself, and ordered bran, milk, and flowers, to be given to it for its delight and sustenance; so that never was snake so happy. Leander went sometimes to see it, and when it perceived him, it made haste to meet him, showing him all the little marks of love and gratitude of which a poor snake was capable, which did not a little surprise him, though, however, he took no farther notice of it.
In the meantime all the court-ladies were extremely troubled at his absence; and he was the subject of all their discourse. ‘Alas!’ cried they, ‘there is no pleasure at court, since Leander is gone, of whose absence the wicked Furibon is the cause!’ Furibon also had his parasites, for his power over the queen made him feared; so that they told him what the ladies said, which enraged him to a degree of fury; and in his passion he flew to the queen’s chamber and vowed he would kill himself before her face, if she did not find means to destroy Leander. The queen, who also hated Leander, because he was handsomer than her son, replied, that she had long looked upon him as a traitor, and therefore would willingly consent to his death. To which purpose she advised him to go a hunting with some of his confidants, and contrive it so that Leander should make one, and that then he might teach him to remember how he gained the love of every body. Accordingly Furibon went a hunting, and Leander, when he heard the horns and the hounds, mounted his horse and rode to see who it was. But he was surprised to meet the prince so unexpectedly: he alighted immediately, and saluted him with respect; and Furibon received him more graciously than usual, and bade him follow him. All of a sudden he turned his horse, and rode another way, making a sign to the ruffians to take the first opportunity to kill him; but before he had got quite out of sight, a lion of a prodigious size coming out of his den leaped upon Furibon, and pulled him from his horse. All his followers betook themselves to flight, and only Leander remained to combat this furious animal. He attacked him sword in hand at the hazard of being devoured, and by his valour and agility saved the life of his most cruel enemy, who had fallen in a swoon for fear, so that Leander was forced to lend him assistance of another kind: and when he came to himself, he presented him his horse to remount. Now, any other but such an ungrateful wretch, would have highly and cordially acknowledged such signal obligations, and made suitable returns: but Furibon did no such thing, for he did not even look upon him; nor did he make use of his horse to any other purpose, than to ride in quest of the ruffians, to whom he repeated his orders to kill him. They accordingly surrounded Leander, and, but for his courage he had been certainly murdered. He got with his back to a tree, to prevent being attacked behind, and behaved with so much bravery, that he laid them all dead at his feet. Furibon, believing him by this time slain, made haste to satiate his eyes with the sight; but he came to a spectacle that he least expected, for all his ruffians were breathing their last. When Leander saw him, he advanced to meet him, and with a submissive reverence, ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘if it was by your order that these assassins came to kill me, I am sorry I made any defence.’ — ‘You are an insolent villain,’ replied Furibon in a passion, ‘and if ever you come into my presence again, you shall surely die.’
Leander made no reply, but retired sad and pensive to his own home, where he spent the night in pondering what was best for him to do; for there was no likelihood he should be able to defend himself against the king’s son; and therefore he at length concluded to see the world. Being ready to depart, he recollected his snake, and calling for some milk and fruits, carried them to the poor creature, designing to take his leave and dismiss it; but, on opening the door, he perceived an extraordinary lustre in one corner of the room; and casting his eye on the place, he was surprised to see a lady, whose noble and majestic air made him immediately conclude she was a princess of royal birth. Her habit was of purple satin, embroidered with pearls and diamonds; and advancing towards him, with a gracious smile, ‘Young prince,’ said she, ‘you are no longer to seek here for the snake which you brought thither; it is not here, but you find me in its place, to requite your generosity; but to speak more intelligently, know that I am the fairy Gentilla, famous for the feats of mirth and dexterity which I can perform. We live a hundred years in flourishing youth, without diseases, without trouble or pain; and this term being expired, we become snakes for eight days: and this is the only time which may prove fatal to us; for then it is not in our power to prevent any misfortune that may befall us: and if we happen to be killed, we never revive again. But these eight days being expired, we resume our usual form, and recover our beauty, our power, and our riches. Now you know how much I am obliged to your goodness, and it is but just that I should repay my debt of gratitude: think how I can serve you, and depend upon me.’
The young prince, who had never conversed with a fairy till now, was so surprised that it was a long time before he could speak. But at length making her a profound reverence, ‘Madam,’ said he, ‘since I have had the honour to serve you, I know not any other happiness that I can wish for.’ — ‘I should be sorry,’ replied she, ‘not to be of service to you in something; consider, it is in my power to make you a great king, prolong your life, make you more amiable, give you mines of diamonds, and houses full of gold; I can make you an excellent orator, poet, musician, and painter; I can make you beloved by the ladies, and increase your wit; I can make you a spirit of the air, the water, or the earth.’ Here Leander interrupted her, ‘Permit me, madam,’ said he, ‘to ask you what benefit it would be to me to be invisible or a spirit?’ — ‘A thousand useful and delightful things might be done by it,’ replied the fairy; ‘you would be invisible when you pleased, and might in an instant traverse the whole earth; you would be able to fly without wings, and descend into the abysses of the earth without dying, and walk at the bottom of the sea without being drowned, nor doors, nor windows, though fast shut and locked, could hinder you from entering any of the most secret retirements: and whenever you had a mind you might resume your natural form.’ — ‘Oh, madam!’ cried Leander, ‘then let me be a spirit. I am going to travel, and prefer it above all those other advantages you have so generously offered me.’ Gentilla thereupon stroking his visage three times, ‘Be a spirit,’ said she; and then embracing him, she gave him a little red cap with a plume of feathers: ‘When you put on this cap, you shall be invisible; and when you take it off, you shall again become visible.’ Leander, overjoyed, put his little red cap upon his head, and wished himself in the forest, that he might gather some wild roses which he had observed there; his body immediately became as light as thought; he flew through the window like a bird; but he was not without fear when he was soaring in the air and flying over any river, lest he should fall into it, and the power of the fairy not be able to save him. But he arrived in safety at the rose-bushes, plucked three roses, and returned immediately to the chamber where the fairy still was, and presented his roses to her, overjoyed that his first experiment had succeeded so well. But the fairy bid him keep the roses, for that one of them would supply him with money whenever he wanted it; that if he put the other into his mistress’s bosom, he would know whether she was faithful or not; and that the third would prevent his being sick. Then, without staying to receive his thanks, she wished him success in his travels, and disappeared.
Leander was infinitely pleased with the noble gifts he had obtained. So having settled his affairs, he mounted the finest horse in the stable, called Gris-de-line, and was attended by some of his servants in livery, that his return to court might sooner be made known. Now you must know that Furibon, who was a very great liar, had given out, that had it not been for his courage, Leander would have murdered him when they were a hunting, and as he had killed all his followers he demanded justice. The king, being importuned by the queen, gave orders that he should be apprehended. But when he came, he showed so much courage and resolution, that Furibon was too timid to seize him himself; and therefore he ran to the queen’s chamber, and told her Leander was come, and prayed her to order him to be seized. The queen, who was extremely diligent in every thing that her son desired, went immediately to the king; and Furibon, being impatient to know what would be resolved, followed her without saying a word, but stopped at the door, and laid his ear to the key hole, putting his hair aside that he might the better hear what was said. At the same time Leander entered the court hall of the palace with his red cap upon his head, so that he was not to be seen; and perceiving Furibon listening at the door of the king’s chamber, he took a nail and a hammer, and nailed his ear to the door. Furibon in sharp pain, and all bloody, fell a roaring like a madman. The queen hearing her son’s voice, ran and opened the door, and pulling it hastily, tore her son’s ear from his head, so that he bled like a pig. The queen, half out of her wits, set him in her lap, and took up his ear, kissed it, and clapped it on again upon the place; but the invisible Leander, seizing upon a handful of twigs, with which they corrected the king’s little dogs, gave the queen several lashes upon the hands, and her son as many on the nose; upon which the queen cried out, ‘murder, murder!’ — and upon her crying out, the king looked about and the people came running in; but nothing was to be seen. Some cried that the queen was mad, and that her madness proceeded from her grief to see her son had lost one ear; and the king was as ready as any to believe it; so that when she came near him, he avoided her; which made a very ridiculous scene. Leander gave Furibon some more jerks; and then leaving the chamber, went into the garden, and there assuming his own shape, he boldly began to pluck the queen’s cherries, apricots, and strawberries, and cropt her flowers by handfuls, though he knew the queen set such a high value on them, that it was as much as a man’s life was worth to touch one. The gardeners, all amazed, came and told their majesties, that prince Leander was making havoc of all the fruits and flowers in the queen’s garden. ‘What insolence!’ cried the queen: then turning to Furibon, ‘My pretty child,’ said she, ‘my dearest love, forget the pain of thy ear but for a moment, and fetch that vile wretch hither; take our guards, both horse and foot, seize him and punish him as he deserves.’ Furibon, encouraged by his mother, and attended by a great number of armed soldiers, entered the garden, and saw Leander under a tree, who threw a stone at him, which wounded his arm; and the rest of his followers he pelted with oranges. But when they came running with a full career towards him, thinking to have seized him, he was not to be seen; he had slipped behind Furibon, who was but in a bad condition already; but Leander played him one trick more, by hampering his legs in such a manner with a cord, that he fell upon his nose upon the gravel, and bruised his face so that they were forced to take him up, carry him away, and put him to bed.
Leander, satisfied with this revenge, returned to his servants, who waited for him, and, giving them money, sent them back to his castle, that none might know the secret of his red cap and roses. As yet he had not determined whither to go; however, he mounted his fine horse Gris-de-line, and laying the reins upon his neck, let him take his own road; at length he arrived in a forest, where he stopped to shelter himself from the extremity of the heat. He had not been above a minute there before he heard a lamentable noise of sighing and sobbing; and looking about him, he beheld a man, that ran, made several stops, then ran again, sometimes crying, sometimes silent, then tearing his hair, then thumping his breast, as if he would have beaten the breath out of his body; so that he took him for some unfortunate madman. He seemed to be both handsome and young: his garments had been magnificent, but he had torn them all to tatters. The prince, moved with compassion, made towards him, and mildly accosting him, ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘your condition appears so bad and deplorable, that I cannot forbear to ask the cause of your sorrow, assuring you of every assistance that lies in my power.’ — ‘Oh, Sir,’ answered the young man, ‘nothing can remedy my miseries; this day my dear mistress is to be sacrificed to an old jealous barbarian, who has a great estate, but who will make her the most miserable person in the world.’ — ‘Does she love you then?’ said Leander. ‘I flatter myself so,’ answered the young man. ‘Where is she?’ continued Leander. ‘In a castle at the end of this forest,’ answered the lover. ‘Very well,’ said Leander; ‘stay you here till I come again, and in a little while I will bring you good news.’ He then put on his little red cap, and wished himself in the castle. He had hardly got thither before he heard the pleasing sound of soft music; but when he arrived, the whole castle resounded with all sorts of music. He entered into a great room, where the friends and kindred of the old man and young lady were assembled. Nothing could be more amiable than she was; but the paleness of her complexion, the melancholy that appeared in her countenance, and the tears that now and then dropped, as it were by stealth, from her eyes, discovered the trouble of her mind.
Leander now became invisible, and placed himself in a corner of the room, that he might discover who the persons were; and he soon perceived the father and mother of the maid, by their private chiding her for not appearing with the sprightliness of a bride; which, after they had done, they returned to their seats. Leander placing himself behind the mother’s chair, and laying his lips to her ear, ‘Assure yourself,’ said he, ‘that if you compel your daughter to give her consent to marry that old dotard, before eight days are expired, you shall certainly be punished with death.’ The woman, frightened to hear such a terrible sentence pronounced upon her, and yet not know from whence it came, gave a loud shriek, and fell upon the floor. Her husband asked her what she ailed? She cried she was a dead woman if the marriage of her daughter went forward; and therefore she would not yield to it for all the world. Her husband laughed at her, and called her a fool. But the invisible Leander accosting the man, ‘you old incredulous fool,’ said he, ‘believe your wife, or it will be the worse for you: break off this match, and bestow her on the person she loves.’ These words produced a wonderful effect; and when the old lover complained, Leander trod hard upon his gouty toes, and rung such an alarm in his ears, that not being able any longer to hear himself speak, away he limped, murmuring like a hackney coachman that would have more than his hire. Now the distracted lover was sought for, when he the least expected it, and was brought to the castle, where Leander with patience waited for his coming. The lover and his mistress were ready to die for joy, and the entertainment prepared for the nuptials of the old man served for those of these happy lovers. Leander, assuming his own shape, appeared at the hall door, as a stranger drawn thither by the report of this extraordinary wedding.
From hence he travelled on, and came to a great city, where, upon his arrival, he understood there was a great and solemn procession, in order to the shutting up a young virgin, against her will, among the vestal nuns. The prince was touched with compassion; and thinking the best use he could make of his cap, was to redress public wrongs, and relieve the oppressed, he flew to the temple, where he saw the young virgin crowned with flowers, clad in white, and with her dishevelled hair flowing about her shoulders. Two of her brothers led her by each hand, and her mother followed her with a great crowd of men and women. Leander being invisible, cried out, ‘Stop, stop, wicked brethren; stop, rash and inconsiderate mother; if you proceed any farther, you shall be squeezed to death like so many frogs.’ They looked about, but could not conceive from whence these terrible menaces came. The brothers said it was only their sister’s sweetheart, who had hid himself in some hole. At which Leander, in wrath, took a long cudgel, and they had no reason to say the blows were not well laid on. The multitude fled, the vestals ran away, and Leander was left alone with the victim; immediately he pulled off his red cap, and asked the virgin wherein he might serve her. She answered him, with a confidence rarely to be expected from a virgin of her age, that there was a certain gentleman whom she would be glad to marry, but that he wanted an estate. Leander then shook his rose so long, that he supplied them with ten millions; after which they married and lived happily together. But his last adventure was the most agreeable: for entering into a wide forest, he heard the lamentable cries of a young person, as if some violence was offered to her. Looking about him every way, at length he spied four men well armed, that were carrying away by force a young lady, thirteen or fourteen years of age: upon which, making up to them as fast as he could, ‘What harm has that virgin done,’ said he, ‘that you do her this violence?’ — ‘Ha, ha, my little master,’ cried he who seemed to be the ring-leader of the rest; ‘who made you an examiner?’ — ‘I command ye,’ said Leander, to let her alone, and go about your business.’ — ‘Oh, yes, to be sure,’ cried they, laughing; whereupon the prince alighted, put on his red cap, not thinking it otherwise prudent to attack four, who seemed strong enough to fight a dozen. They must have had good eyes, who could have seen him when his cap was on. One of them stayed to take care of the young lady, while the three others went after Gris-de-line, who gave them a good deal of exercise. The robbers thinking he was fled, ‘It is not worth while to pursue him,’ said they, ‘only let us catch his horse.’ The young lady continued her cries and complaints: ‘Oh my dear princess,’ said she, ‘how happy was I in your palace! How is it possible for me to live without your company? Did you but know my sad misfortune, you would send your Amazons to rescue poor Abricotina.’ Leander having listened to what she said, without delay seized the ruffian that held her, and bound him fast to a tree before he had time or strength to defend himself. Leander having diverted himself awhile with his cries, he then went to the second, and taking him by both arms, bound him in the same manner to another tree. In the meantime Abricotina made the best of her good fortune, and betook herself to her heels, not knowing which way she went. But Leander missing her, called out to his Gris-de-line three times; who finding a force upon him to obey his master’s call, by two kicks with his hoof rid himself of the two ruffians who had pursued him; one of them had his head broken, and the other three of his ribs. And now Leander only wanted to overtake Abricotina; for he had thought her so handsome, that he wished to see her again, and presently overtook her. But he found her so weary, that she was forced to lean against a tree, not being able to support herself. When she saw Gris-de-line coming towards her, — ‘How lucky am I!’ cried she; ‘this pretty little horse will carry me to the palace of pleasure.’ Leander heard her, though she saw him not: he rode up to her: — Gris-de-line stopped, and Abricotina mounted him. Leander clasped her in his arms and placed her gently before him. Oh, how great was Abricotina’s fear to feel herself fast embraced, and yet see nobody. She durst not stir, and shut her eyes for fear of seeing a spirit. But Leander taking off his little cap, ‘how comes it, fair Abricotina,’ said he, ‘that you are afraid of me, who delivered you out of the hands of the ruffians?’ With that she opened her eyes, and knowing him again, ‘Oh, sir,’ said she, ‘I am infinitely obliged to you; but I was afraid I had been with an invisible.’ — ‘I am not invisible,’ replied Leander; but the danger you were in has disturbed you, and cast a mist before your eyes.’ Abricotina would not seem to doubt him, though she was otherwise extremely witty. And after they had prattled for some time of indifferent things, Leander requested her to tell him her age, her country, and by what accident she fell into the hands of the ruffians. ‘Sir,’ said she, ‘you have too highly obliged me, to deny you the satisfaction you desire; but pray let not your listening to my story slacken your pace.
‘Know, then, sir, there was a certain very clever fairy married to a prince who soon was tired of her company, she therefore banished him from her presence, and established herself and daughter in the Island of Calm Delights. This princess is most beautiful, she has many lovers; among the rest an ugly prince, named Furibon, whom she detests; and some ruffians, sent by him, this morning seized me, and would certainly have carried me away but for your timely rescue; no man can get access to the Island, the lovely princess has been brought up in a hatred of men. I am one of her maidens and had imprudently ventured out of the Island, in search of my princess’s parrot, which had flown away; when I was seized and used as you saw. Many thanks noble prince for your valor.’ Leander said how happy he was to have served her, and asked if he could not obtain admission into the Island. Abricotina assured him this was impossible, and therefore he had better forget all about it. While they were thus conversing, they came to the bank of a large river. Abricotina alighting with a nimble jump from the horse, ‘Farewell, sir,’ said she, to the prince, making a profound reverence, ‘I wish you every happiness.’ — ‘And I,’ said Leander, ‘wish you a sensible heart, that I may now and then have a small share in your remembrance.’ So saying, he galloped away, and soon entered into the thickest part of a wood, near a river; where he unbridled and unsaddled Gris-de-line, that he might feel at liberty; and putting on his little cap, wished himself in the Island of Calm Delights, and his wish was immediately accomplished; for at the same instant he found himself in the place of the world the most beautiful, and which had the least of what was common in it.
The palace was of pure gold, and stood upon pillars of crystal and precious stones, which represented the zodiac, and all the wonders of nature, all the arts and sciences: the sea, with all the variety of fish therein contained; the earth, with all the various creatures which it produces; the chases of Diana and her nymphs; the noble exercises of the Amazons; the amusements of a country life; flocks of sheep with their shepherds and dogs; the toils of agriculture, harvests,’ gardening, flowers, and bees. And among all this variety of representations, there was neither man nor boy to be seen, not so much as a little winged Cupid; so highly had the princess been incensed against her inconstant husband, as not to show the least favor to his fickle sex.
‘Abricotina did not deceive me,’ said Leander to himself; ‘they have banished from hence the very idea of men; now let us see what they have lost by it.’ — With that he entered into the palace, and at every step he took, he met with objects so wonderful, that when he had once fixed his eyes upon them, he had much ado to take them off again. Gold and diamonds, transcended not so much by their own lustre, as their exquisite disposition. In every room attended youth and beauty, with looks of innocence and love. He viewed a vast number of these apartments, some full of china, no less fine than curious for the sportive fancy of its coloring. Others of porcelain, so very fine, that the walls, which were built of those materials, were quite transparent. Coral, jasper, agates, and cornelians, beautified the rooms of state, and the princess’s presence-chamber was one entire mirror, with the panes so artificially closed together, that it was impossible to be discerned, and everywhere exposed the charming object. The throne was one single pearl, hollowed like a shell; whereon she sat, environed by her maids of honour, glittering with rubies and diamonds; but all this was nothing in comparison with the princess’s incomparable beauty. Her air had all the innocence and sweetness of the most youthful, joined with the superior dignity of riper years. Nothing could equal the vivacity of her eyes; it was impossible to find any defect in her; she smiled in the most gracious manner upon her maids of honour, who were that day dressed like nymphs, for her diversion. — Now as she did not see Abricotina among the rest, she asked where she was. The nymphs replied, that they had sought for her, but in vain. Upon that, Leander, being very desirous to speak, assumed the tone of a parrot, for there were many in the room; and addressing himself invisibly to the princess, ‘Most charming princess,’ said he, ‘Abricotina will return immediately. She was in great danger of being carried away from this palace, but for a young prince who rescued her.’ The princess was surprised at the parrot, his answer was so extremely pertinent: ‘You are very pert, little parrot,’ said the princess, and Abricotina, when she comes, shall chastise you for it.’ — ‘I shall not be chastised,’ answered Leander, still counterfeiting the parrot’s voice; ‘moreover she will let you know the great desire that stranger had to be admitted into this palace, that he might convince you of the falsehood of those ideas which you have conceived against his sex.’ — ‘In truth, pretty parrot,’ cried the princess, ‘it is a pity you are not every day so diverting, I should love you dearly.’ — ‘Ah, if prattling will please you, madam,’ replied Leander, ‘I will prate from morning till night.’ — ‘But,’ continued the princess, ‘how shall I be sure my parrot is not a sorcerer?’ — ‘He is more in love than any sorcerer can be,’ replied the prince. At this moment Abricotina entered the room, and falling at her lovely mistress’s feet, gave her a full account of what had befallen her, and described the prince in the most lively and advantageous colors.
‘I should have hated all men,’ added she, ‘had I not seen him! Oh, madam, how charming he is! His air and all his behaviour has something in it so noble and divine; and though whatever he spoke was infinitely pleasing, yet I think I did well in not bringing him hither.’ — To this the princess said nothing, but she asked Abricotina a hundred other questions concerning the prince; whether she knew his name, his country, his birth, from whence he came, and whither he was going; and after this she fell into a profound thoughtfulness. Leander observed every thing, and continued to prattle as he had begun: ‘Abricotina is ungrateful, Madam,’ said he, ‘that poor stranger will die for grief if he sees you not.’ — ‘Well, parrot, let him die,’ answered the princess with a sigh; ‘and since thou undertakest to reason like a person of wit, and not like a little bird, I forbid thee ever to talk to me any more of this unknown person.’ Leander was overjoyed to find that Abricotina’s and the parrot’s discourse had made such an impression on the princess. He looked upon her with pleasure and delight. ‘Can it be,’ said he to himself, ‘that the masterpiece of nature, that the wonder of our age, should be confined eternally in an island, and no mortal dare to approach her? But,’ continued he, ‘wherefore am I concerned that all others are banished hence, since I have the happiness to be with her, to see her, to hear, and to admire her; nay more, to love her above all the women in the universe?’ It was late, and the princess retired into a large room of marble and porphyry, where several bubbling fountains refreshed the air with an agreeable coolness. As soon as she was entered, the music began, a sumptuous supper was served up, and the birds from several aviaries on each side of the room, of which Abricotina had the chief care, opened their little throats in the most agreeable manner.
Leander had travelled a journey long enough to give him a good appetite, which made him draw near the table, where the very smell of such viands was agreeable and refreshing. The princess had a curious tabby cat, for which she had a great kindness. This cat one of the maids of honour held in her arms, saying: Madam, Bluet is hungry!’ With that a chair was presently brought for the cat, for he was a cat of quality, and had a necklace of pearl about his neck. He was served on a gold plate, with a laced napkin before him, and the plate being supplied with meat, Bluet sat with the solemn importance of an alderman. ‘Ho, ho,’ cried Leander to himself, ‘an idle tabby malkin, that perhaps never caught a mouse in its life, and I dare say, not descended from a better family than myself, has the honour to sit at table with my mistress: I would fain know whether he loves her so well as I do; and whether it be reasonable that I should only swallow the steam, while he has choice bits to feast upon.’ Saying this, he placed himself in the chair with the cat upon his knee, for nobody saw him, because he had his little red cap on; and finding Bluet’s plate so well supplied as it was, with partridge, quails, and pheasants, he made bold with them; so that whatever was set before master puss, disappeared in a trice. The whole court said no cat ever eat with a better appetite. There were excellent ragouts, and the prince made use of the cat’s paw to taste them; but he sometimes pulled his paw too roughly; and Bluet, not understanding raillery, began to mew and be quite out of patience. The princess observing it, ‘Bring that fricassee and that tart to poor Bluet,’ said she, ‘see how he cries to have them.’ Leander laughed to himself at the pleasantness of this adventure; but he was very dry, not being accustomed to make such large meals without drinking. By the help of the cat’s paw he got a melon, with which he somewhat quenched his thirst; and when supper was quite over, he went to the beaufet, and took two bottles of delicious wine.
The princess now retired into her chamber, ordering Abricotina to follow her and make fast the door; but they could not keep out Leander, who was there as soon as they. However, the princess, believing herself alone with her confidant, ‘Abricotina,’ said she, ‘tell me truly, did you not exaggerate in your description of the unknown prince, for methinks it is impossible he should be so amiable?’ — ‘Madam,’ replied the damsel, ‘if I failed in anything, it was in coming short of what was due to him.’ The princess sighed and was silent for a time: then resuming her speech, ‘I am glad,’ said she, ‘thou didst not bring him with thee.’ ‘But, Madam,’ answered Abricotina, who was a cunning sly girl, and already penetrated her mistress’s thoughts, ‘suppose he had come to admire the wonders of these beautiful mansions, what harm could he have done us? will you live eternally unknown in a corner of the world, concealed from the rest of human kind? To what purpose serves all your grandeur, pomp, and magnificence, if nobody sees it?’ — ‘ Hold thy peace, prattler,’ replied the princess, ‘and do not now disturb that happy repose which I have enjoyed so long.’ Abricotina durst make no reply; and the princess having waited her answer for some time, asked her whether she had anything to say. Abricotina then said she thought it was to very little purpose, her having sent her picture to the courts of several princes, where it only served to make those who saw it miserable; that every one would be desirous to have her, and being unable to satisfy their desire, it would make them desperate. — ‘Yet for all that,’ said the princess, ‘I could wish my picture were in the hands of this same stranger.’ — ‘Oh, Madam,’ answered Abricotina, ‘is not his desire to see you violent enough already; would you augment it?’ — ‘Yes,’ cried the princess, ‘a certain impulse of vanity which I was never sensible of till now, has bred this foolish desire in me.’ Leander heard all this discourse, and lost not a tittle of what she said: and as there were some of her expressions that gave him hopes, so there were others which absolutely destroyed them. The princess presently asked Abricotina whether she had seen anything extraordinary during her short travels? — ‘Madam,’ said she, I passed through one forest, where I saw certain creatures that resembled little children; they skip and dance upon the trees like squirrels; they are very ugly, but have wonderful agility and address.’ — ‘I wish I had one of them,’ said the princess,’ but if they are so nimble as you say they are, it is impossible to catch one.’
Leander, who had passed through the same forest, knew what Abricotina meant; and presently wishing himself in the place, he caught a dozen of little monkeys, some bigger, some less, and all of different colors, and with much ado put them into a large sack; then wishing himself in Paris, where he had heard that a man might have anything for money, he went and bought a little gold chariot, which he taught six green monkeys to draw, harnessed with fine traces of flame-coloured morocco leather, gilt. He went to another place, where he met with two monkeys of merit, the most pleasant of which was called Briscambril, the other Pierceforest; both very spruce and well educated. He dressed Briscambril like a king, and placed him in the coach; Pierceforest he made the coachman; the others were dressed like pages; all which he put into his sack, coach and all; and the princess not being gone to bed, she heard a rumbling of a little coach in her long gallery; at the same time her nymphs came to tell her, that the king of the dwarfs was arrived, and the chariot immediately entered her chamber with all the monkey train. The country monkeys began to show a thousand tricks, which far surpassed those of Briscambril and Pierceforest. To say the truth, Leander conducted the whole machine. He drew the chariot where Briscambril sat arrayed as a king, and making him hold a box of diamonds in his hand, he presented it with a becoming grace to the princess. The princess’s surprise may be easily imagined. Moreover Briscambril made a sign for Pierceforest to come and dance with him. The most celebrated dancers were not to be compared with them in activity. But the princess, troubled that she could not divine from whence this curious present came, dismissed the dancers sooner than she would otherwise have done, though she was extremely pleased with them.
Leander, satisfied with having seen the delight the princess had taken in beholding the monkeys, thought of nothing now but to get a little repose, which he greatly wanted. But fearing lest he should enter the apartment of some of the princess’s maids of honour, he stayed some time in the great gallery: afterwards, going down a pair of stairs, and finding a door open, he entered into an apartment the most beautiful and most delightful that ever was seen. There was in it a bed of cloth of gold enriched with pearls, intermixed with rubies and emeralds; for by this time there appeared daylight sufficient for him to view and admire the magnificence of this sumptuous furniture. Having made fast the door, he composed himself to sleep. He got up very early, and looking about on every side, he spied a painter’s pallet with colours ready prepared, and pencils: remembering what the princess had said to Abricotina touching her own portrait, he immediately (for he could paint as well as the most excellent masters) seated himself before a mirror, and drew his own picture first, and then in an oval, that of the princess. For he had all her features so strong in his imagination, that he had no occasion for her sitting. And as his desire to please her had set him to work, never did portrait bear a stronger resemblance. He had painted himself upon one knee holding the princess’s picture in one hand, and in the other a label with this inscription:
She is better in my heart.
When the princess went into her cabinet, she was amazed to see the portrait of a man; and she fixed her eyes upon it with so much the more surprise, because she also saw her own with it, and because the words which were written upon the label afforded her an ample subject to exercise her curiosity and deepest thoughts. She was alone at that time, and could only form conjectures on an accident so extraordinary. She persuaded herself that it was Abricotina’s gallantry: and all that she desired to know more, was, whether the portrait were only an effect of her fancy, or from a real person. She rose in haste and called Abricotina, while the invisible Leander with his little red cap, slipped into the cabinet, impatient to know what passed. The princess bid Abricotina look upon the picture, and tell her what she thought of it. After she had viewed it, ‘I protest,’ cried she, ‘‘tis the picture of that generous stranger, to whom I am obliged for my life. Yes, yes, I am sure it is he; his very features, shape, hair, and air.’ — ‘Thou pretendest surprise,’ said the princess; ‘but I know it was thou thyself that put it there.’ — ‘Who, I, madam!’ replied Abricotina: ‘I protest, madam, I never saw the picture before in my life. Should I be so bold as to conceal from your knowledge a thing that so nearly concerns you? And by what miracle could I come by it? I never could paint; nor did any man ever enter this place; yet here he is painted with you.’ — ‘Some spirit then must have brought it hither,’ cried the princess: ‘How I tremble for fear, madam,’ said Abricotina, ‘was it not rather some lover? And therefore, if you will take my advice, let us burn it immediately.’ — ‘‘T were a pity to burn it,’ cried the princess sighing; ‘a finer piece, methinks, cannot adorn my cabinet.’ And saying these words, she cast her eyes upon it. But Abricotina continued obstinate in her opinion, that it ought to be burnt, as a thing that could not come there but by the power of magic. ‘And these words.
‘She is better in my heart,’
said the princess, ‘must we burn them too?’ — ‘No favour must be shown to anything,’ said Abricotina, ‘not even to your own portrait.’ Abricotina ran away immediately for some fire, while the princess went to look out at the window, no longer able to behold a picture that made such a deep impression in her heart. But Leander, being unwilling to let his performance be burnt, took this opportunity to convey it away without being perceived. And he was hardly got out of the cabinet, when the princess turned about to look once more upon that enchanting picture which so infinitely pleased her. But how strangely was she surprised to find it gone! She sought for it all the room over; and Abricotina returning, she asked her whether she knew what was become of it? But she was no less surprised than her mistress; so that this last adventure put them both into the most terrible fright.
As soon as Leander had hid the picture, he returned, for he took great delight in seeing and hearing his incomparable mistress; he ate every day at her table with the tabby cat, who fared never the worse for that: but Leander’s satisfaction was far from being complete, seeing he durst neither speak, nor show himself; and he knew it was not a common thing for ladies to fall in love with persons invisible.
The princess had an universal taste for fine things; and in the present situation of her heart she wanted amusement. One day, when she was attended by all her nymphs, she was saying to them, it would give her great pleasure to know how the ladies were dressed in all the courts of the universe, that she might choose the most genteel. There needed no more words to send Leander all over the world. He wished himself in China, where he bought the richest stuffs he could lay his hands on, and got patterns of all the court fashions; from thence he flew to Siam, where he did the same, and in three days he travelled all the four parts of the world; and from time to time brought what he bought to the palace of Calm Delights, and hid it all in a chamber which he kept locked to himself. When he had thus collected together all the rarities he could meet with, for he never wanted money, his rose always supplying him, he went and bought five or six dozen of dolls, which he caused to be dressed at Paris, which is the place in the world where most regard is paid to fashions. They were all dressed variously, and as magnificent as could be: and Leander placed them all in the princess’s closet. When she entered it, she was never more agreeably surprised, to see such a company of little mutes, with every one a present of watches, bracelets, diamond buckles, or necklaces; and the most remarkable of them held a picture-box in its hand, which the princess opening, found it contained Leander’s portrait, for her idea of the first made her easily know the second. She gave a loud shriek, and looking upon Abricotina, ‘there has appeared of late,’ said she, ‘so many wonders in this place, that I know not what to think of them; my birds are all grown witty; I cannot so much as wish, but presently I have my desires; twice have I now seen the portrait of him who rescued thee from the ruffians; and here are silks of all sorts, diamonds, embroideries, laces, and an infinite number of other rarities. What fairy is it that takes such care to do me these agreeable services?’ Leander was overjoyed to hear and see her so much concerned about his picture, and calling to mind that there was in a grotto which she often frequented, a certain pedestal, on which a Diana, not yet finished, was to be erected; on this pedestal he resolved to place himself in an extraordinary habit, crowned with laurel, and holding a lyre in his hand, on which he played like another Apollo. He most anxiously waited the princess’s retiring to this grotto, which she did every day, since her thoughts had been taken up with this unknown person: for what Abricotina had said, joined to the sight of the picture, had almost quite destroyed her repose; her brisk lively humour changed into a pensive melancholy, and she grew a great lover of solitude. When she entered the grotto, she made a sign that nobody should follow her: so that her young damsels dispersed themselves into the neighbouring walks. The princess threw herself upon a bank of green turf, sighed, wept, and even talked, but so softly, that Leander could not hear what she said. He had put his red cap on, that she might not see him at first: but having taken it off, she beheld him with an extraordinary surprise. At first she took him for a real statue; for he observed exactly the attitude in which he had placed himself, without moving so much as a finger. She beheld it with a kind of pleasure intermixed with fear; but pleasure soon dispelled her fear; and continuing to view the pleasing figure, which so exactly resembled the life, the prince, having tuned his lyre, played on it most delightfully. But the princess was so greatly surprised that she could not resist the fear that seized her: she grew pale of a sudden, and fell into a swoon. Leander, being alarmed, leaped from the pedestal, and putting on his little red cap, that he might not be perceived, took the princess by the arms, and gave her all the assistance that his zeal and ardour could inspire. At length she opened her charming eyes, and looked about in search of him, but she could perceive nobody: yet she felt somebody who held her hands, kissed them, and bedewed them with his tears. It was a long time before she durst speak, and her spirits were in a confused agitation, between fear and hope. She was afraid of the spirit, but loved the figure of the unknown. At length she said, ‘Courtly Invisible, why are you not the person I desire you should be?’ At these words Leander was going to declare himself, but durst not do it yet; for, thought he, if I again affright the object I adore, and make her fear me, she will not love me. This consideration made him keep silence, and determined him to retire into a corner of the grotto.
The princess then believing herself alone, called Abricotina, and told her all the wonders of the animated statue; that it had played divinely, and that the invisible had greatly assisted her when she lay in a swoon. ‘What pity ‘t is,’ said she, ‘that this invisible should be so frightful, for nothing can be more amiable or acceptable than his behaviour!’ — ‘Who told you, madam,’ answered Abricotina, ‘that he is as frightful as you imagine? Psyche thought that Cupid had been a serpent; and your case and her’s are much alike; neither are you less beautiful: and if Cupid loved you, would you not return his love?’ — ‘If Cupid and the unknown person are the same,’ replied the princess, blushing, ‘I could be content to love Cupid; but, alas! how far am I from such a happiness! I am attached to a chimera; and this fatal picture of the unknown, joined to what thou hast told me of him, have inspired me with inclinations so contrary to the precepts which I received from my mother, that I am afraid of being punished for them.’ — ‘Oh! madam,’ said Abricotina, interrupting her, ‘have you not troubles enough already? why should you anticipate afflictions which may never come to pass?’ It is easy to imagine what pleasure Leander took in this conversation.
In the meantime the little Furibon, still enamoured of the princess, whom he never saw, expected with impatience the return of the four men whom he had sent to the island of Calm Delights. One of them at last came back, and after he had given the prince a particular account of what had passed, told him that the island was defended by Amazons, and that unless he sent a very powerful army, it would be impossible to get into it. The king his father was dead, and he now lord of all: disdaining, therefore, any repulse, he raised an army of four hundred thousand men, and put himself at the head of them, appearing like another Tom Thumb upon a war-horse. Now, when the Amazons perceived his mighty host, they gave the princess notice of it, who immediately despatched away her trusty Abricotina to the kingdom of the fairies, to beg her mother’s instructions what she should do to drive the little Furibon from her territories. But Abricotina found the fairy in an angry humour. ‘Nothing that my daughter does,’ said she, ‘escapes my knowledge: the prince Leander is now in her palace, he loves her, and she has a tenderness for him. All my cares and precepts have not been able to guard her from the tyranny of love, and she is now under his fatal dominion. Alas! that cruel deity is not satisfied with the mischiefs he has done to me, but exercises his dominion over that which I love more dearly than my life. But it is the decree of destiny, and I must submit: Therefore, Abricotina, begone; I’ll not hear a word more of a daughter, whose behaviour has so much displeased me.’
Abricotina returned with these bad tidings, whereat the princess was almost distracted; and this was soon perceived by Leander, who was near her, though she did not see him, and beheld her grief with the greatest pain. However, he durst not then open his lips; but recollecting that Furibon was exceedingly covetous, he thought that by giving him a sum of money, he might perhaps prevail with him to retire. Thereupon he dressed himself like an Amazon, and wished himself in the forest to catch his horse. He had no sooner called him, than he came leaping, prancing, and neighing for joy, for he was grown quite weary of being so long absent from his dear master; but when he beheld him dressed as a woman, he hardly knew him, and at first thought himself deceived: but Leander mounted him, and soon arrived in the camp of Furibon, where every body took him for a real Amazon, and gave notice to Furibon, that a lady was come to speak with him from the princess of Calm Delights. Immediately the little king put on his royal robes, and having placed himself upon his throne, he looked like a great toad counterfeiting a king.
Leander harangued him, and told him, that the princess preferring a quiet and peaceable life to the fatigues of war, had sent him to offer his majesty as much money as he pleased to demand, provided he would suffer her to continue in peace; but if he refused her proposal, she would omit no means that might serve for her defence. Furibon replied, that he took pity on her, and would grant her the honour of his protection; but that he demanded a hundred thousand thousand millions of pounds, and without that sum paid he would not return to his kingdom. Leander answered that such a vast sum would be too long in counting, and therefore if he would say how many rooms full he desired to have, the princess was generous and rich enough to satisfy him. Furibon was astonished to hear, that instead of demanding an abatement, she would rather offer an augmentation; and it came into his wicked mind to take all the money he could get, and then seize the Amazon, and kill her, that she might not return to her mistress. He told Leander, therefore, that he would have thirty chambers filled with pieces of gold, and that then, upon his royal word, he would return. Leander being conducted into the chambers that were to be filled, he took his rose and shook it, till every room was filled with all sorts of coin. Furibon was in an ecstasy, and the more gold he saw, the greater was his desire to seize the Amazon, and get the princess into his power; so that when all the rooms were full, he commanded his guards to seize her, alleging she had brought him counterfeit money. Accordingly, the guards were going to lay hold upon the Amazon, but Leander put on his little red cap and disappeared. The guards believing she had escaped, ran out and left Furibon alone; when Leander, availing himself of the opportunity, took the tyrant by the hair, and twisted his head off with the same ease he would a pullet’s, nor did the little wretch of a king see the hand that killed him.
Leander having got his head, he wished himself in the palace of Calm Delights, where he found the princess walking, and with grief considering the message which her mother had sent her, and on the means to repel Furibon, which she looked upon as difficult, she being alone with a small number of Amazons, who were unable to defend her; but on a sudden, she beheld a head hanging in the air, without any body that she could see to hold it. This prodigy astonished her so, that she could not tell what to think of it; but her amazement was increased when she saw the head laid at her feet without seeing the hand who did it, and yet at the same time hearing a voice that uttered these words:
‘Charming princess, cease your fear
Of Furibon, whose head see here.’
Abricotina, knowing Leander’s voice, cried: ‘I protest, madam, the invisible person who speaks, is the very stranger that rescued me.’ The princess seemed astonished, but yet pleased. ‘Oh!’ said she, ‘if it be true that the invisible and the stranger are the same person, I confess I should be glad to make him my acknowledgments.’ Leander, still invisible, replied, ‘I will yet do more to deserve them;’ and so saying, he returned to Furibon’s army, where the report of his death was already spread throughout the camp. As soon as he appeared there in his usual habit and countenance, everybody came about him; all the officers and soldiers surrounded him, uttering the loudest acclamations of joy. In short, they acknowledged him for their king, and that the crown of right belonged to him; for which he thanked them, and, as the first mark of his royal bounty, divided the thirty rooms of gold among the soldiers; so that this great army was enriched forever. This done, he returned to his princess, ordering the army to march back into his kingdom.
The princess was gone to bed; and the profound respect he had for her would not permit him to enter her chamber; he retired, therefore, into his own; but, by what accident I know not, he forgot to make fast the door, as he was wont to do. The princess could not sleep for the heat, and the disquiet of her mind; so that she arose before the sun, and in her morning dress went down into this lower apartment; but how strangely was she surprised to find Leander asleep upon the bed! However, she had then leisure enough to take a full view of him without being perceived, and to convince herself that he was the person whose picture she had in her diamond box. ‘It is impossible,’ said she, ‘that this should be a spirit, for can spirits sleep? Is this a body composed of air and fire, without substance, as Abricotina told me?’ She softly touched his hair, and heard him breathe, and the sight of him raised alternate fear and pleasure in her breast. But while she was thus attentively surveying him, her mother the fairy, entered with such a dreadful noise, that Leander started out of his sleep. But how strangely was he surprised, how deeply afflicted, to behold his beloved princess in the most deplorable condition! — her mother dragged her by the hair, and loaded her with a thousand bitter reproaches. In what grief and consternation were the two young lovers, who saw themselves now upon the point of being separated forever! The princess durst not open her lips to the incensed fairy, but cast her eyes upon Leander, as it were to beg his assistance. He judged rightly, that he ought not to deal by rugged means with a power superior to his, and therefore he sought by his eloquence and submission to move the incensed mother. He ran to her, threw himself at her feet, and besought her to have pity upon a young prince, who would never change his affection for her daughter, but would make it his sovereign felicity to render her happy. The princess, encouraged by his example, also embraced her mother’s knees, and told her, that without the king she should never be happy, and that she was greatly obliged to him. ‘You know not the misfortunes of love,’ cried the fairy, ‘nor the treacheries of which lovers are capable; they bewitch us only to poison the happiness of our lives; I have known it by experience; and why will you suffer the same misfortunes?’ — ‘Is there no exception, madam?’ replied the princess; the king’s assurances, which I believe to be sincere, are they not sufficient to secure me from your fears?’ But neither tears nor entreaties could move the implacable fairy; and it is very probable she would never have pardoned them, had not the lovely fairy Gentilla appeared at that instant in the chamber, more brilliant than the sun. The Graces accompanied her, and she was attended by a train of little cupids, that sung a thousand new and pleasing airs, and sported about her like so many little children. Embracing the old fairy, ‘Dear sister,’ said she, ‘I am persuaded you cannot have forgotten the good office I did you when you besought a readmittance into our kingdom: had it not been for me, you had never been admitted; and since that time I never desired any kindness at your hands; but now the time is come for you to do me a signal piece of service. Pardon, then, this lovely princess; consent to her nuptials with this young prince; I will engage he shall be ever constant to her; the thread of their days shall be spun of gold and silk; they shall live to complete your happiness; and I will never forget the obligation you will lay upon me.’ — ‘Charming Gentilla,’ cried the fairy, ‘I consent to whatever you desire. Come, my dear children, and receive my love:’ — so saying, she embraced them both. The fairy Gentilla was delighted, and her pretty train joined to form an hymeneal choir. No sooner did Abricotina cast her eyes upon Leander, than she knew him again, and saw he was perfectly happy: at the same time the fairy mother said she would remove the Island of Calm Delights into Leander’s kingdom, live with them herself, and do them great services. ‘Whatever your generosity may inspire you to do,’ said Leander, ‘it is impossible that you can honour me with any present comparable to the one I have this day received from your hands.’ This short compliment pleased the fairy exceedingly, for she was of those ancient days when they used to stand complimenting a whole day upon one leg. The nuptials were performed in a most splendid manner, and they lived together happily many years, beloved by all around them.