Four and Twenty Fairy Tales: Selected from Those of Perrault, and Other Popular Writers | Annotated Tale

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Bleuette and Coquelicot

THERE was once upon a time a Fairy named Bonnebonne, who became weary of the great offices in Fairy Land to which her character and talents had elevated her. She retired from state affairs, and chose for her retreat an island situated in the midst of a very beautiful lake, bordered by the most rich, smiling, and luxuriant scenery. This charming retreat was called the "Island of Happiness." It is known to have existed; it is even believed by some to be always in the country adjoining their own; but the geographers have not yet laid it down in any map, and I have never read of any traveller fortunate enough to land on it. It is sufficient for us, however, that we have a full account of it in the annals of the Fairies.

                Bonnebonne, as we have already stated, weary of the world, and not caring to pay court to it, demanded of the Queen of the Fairies permission to withdraw from it altogether, and went to reside in the Island of Happiness. It was there that, with the finest library and all the knowledge she had acquired in the world, she became the most clever of all the fairies. She made all her neighbours happy, and gratitude was the foundation of her authority. Independently of a natural inclination to oblige, a sentiment which retirement from the great world by no means tends to diminish, there is a great satisfaction in seeing those around us happy.

                In order to enjoy this real pleasure, and at the same time to avoid being overwhelmed with foolish petitions, she had placed, at short distances from each other, columns of white marble, to which those addressed themselves who had either requests or complaints to make. These columns were constructed in such a manner that, on speaking in a whisper to them, they repeated every word distinctly, and in the same tone of voice, in a cabinet of the castle. Bonnebonne had lodged in this cabinet a niece whom she had brought up as a fairy, and who gave her an account every evening of all that the columns had reported, and the Fairy then pronounced her decisions.

                The principal occupation of Bonnebonne was to educate and make children happy: she gave them for breakfast as well as for luncheon everything they could wish for in sweetmeats and pastry; but when they had been a fortnight in this happy dwelling, they cared no more for sugar-plums, but passed the day in running on the grass, gathering nuts in the woods, or flowers in the gardens. They went on the lake in pretty boats, which they rowed themselves--in short, they did all day just whatever they liked, and happiness consists principally in liberty. It is true that they had nurses and tutors, but they were generally invisible. They informed Bonnebonne of anything their pupils had done that was wrong, and for this she reprimanded the offender, but always with mildness, for she was the most kind-hearted woman in the world.

                Sometimes the nurses and preceptors made themselves visible, and on these occasions they might be seen supping all together on the turf, or dancing and singing, or amusing themselves in making toys and dolls; in short, nothing had an air of severity in this happy abode, and no one left it without the greatest regret. But as all must submit to fate, and the Fairies themselves are obliged to obey it, when the young people had attained a certain age--that is to say, twelve or fifteen years,--and when the lessons of the Fairy had made a sort of impression on the minds of her pupils, and she considered them sufficiently well informed to enter into the world, she was obliged to send them home, which she always did laden with caresses and presents, and assurances of a friendship the proof of which she frequently gave them in the after course of their lives.

                Amongst the number of children confided to her care by their parents, there was a little girl named Bleuette, so pretty and so good that Bonnebonne preferred her to all the rest, and loved her to distraction. She was affectionate without being troublesome, and lively without being fatiguing; her face expressed the sweetness of her character: her beauty increased with her age, and possessed that peculiar brilliancy which is so dazzling. It is to her rare beauty that we owe the familiar saying, still in use amongst us, when we speak of anything which has dazzled us, "J'ai vu des Bleuettes."

                A boy, about two years older than Bleuette, also inhabited the Island of Happiness; he was called Coquelicot: his face was charming, it was as bright as his mind, and his pretty little graceful ways were equally pleasing to Bonnebonne. That which rendered both more charming was, that in their infancy they became inseparable, and that the vivacity of the one was tempered by the mildness and tenderness of the other. Bonnebonne daily enjoyed observing the impression and progress which true love makes upon innocence and ingenuousness. She was constantly occupied in the study of it, and felt that all other happiness, which she knew so well how to procure, could not be compared to it; indeed, what felicity can be placed in the balance with that of two hearts which love has united by similarity of taste and temper?

                Coquelicot, quick as he was, perhaps, indeed, too soon excited, was moderate and even mild in all that regarded Bleuette, who on her part, was only animated and vivacious in matters which concerned Coquelicot. The birth and progress of these sentiments had been their delight; the sweet emotions which they exhibited were the charm of Bonnebonne's existence, for she said to herself a hundred times, "Good Heavens! how pretty are these poor children! How they love each other! How happy they are; they never think of leaving my Island. Never have more happy subjects inhabited my empire!"

                On an evening of one of the most beautiful of summer days, all the lovely children were playing and amusing themselves in different parts of this enchanted residence, when all at once there appeared in the air a car drawn by six flame-coloured griffins: the car was of the same colour, relieved with black ornaments: it bore the Fairy Arganto. Her hair was powdered brown with a slight sprinkle of red. [1]

                Her dress was of the same colour as the car. Her griffins alighted at the portico of the castle, whither Bonnebonne and her niece had repaired to do the honours to the Fairy, and assist her to descend. After the first compliments, Arganto confessed to Bonnebonne that not being able to understand the pleasures of retirement, and disgusted by some disagreements at Court, she had wished to judge for herself of the pleasures and cares of a life like hers, and that, in order to be perfectly enlightened on the subject, she had come to the resolution of passing some days with her.

                Bonnebonne kindly replied that she would willingly satisfy her, and hide nothing from her. "The beauties of nature," added she, "are the pictures which I study; its fruits are my treasures; its secrets the object of my researches, and my pleasures are solely dependent on the happiness of others. Infancy is the state of humanity which can be made the most happy; you will find me, therefore, only surrounded by the prettiest children nature has produced."

                So saying, she led Arganto further into the Island, at each step encountering troops of little children of both sexes and all ages, whose natural manners inspired true gaiety; some danced, others played at blindman's-buff, some amused themselves playing at "ladies and gentlemen," in short they passed quickly from one fancy to another; their characters were thus developed, and it was easy to imagine what each would become at a more advanced age. Arganto thought this recreation of Bonnebonne very poor; she judged of it as a person of fashion, that is to say, with contempt. She told her companion that she could not conceive the pleasure of such amusements, unless some ingenuity was employed to improve them: it was in vain that Bonnebonne eulogized them. She would not be persuaded; at length, continuing their walk, they met Bleuette and Coquelicot, conversing together, who saw nothing but themselves in nature, and who had no pleasure, no wish, no occupation nor will but in common.

                Bonnebonne called them, and they ran towards her with that confidence and affection which her goodness and their gratitude had inspired them with. Arganto was struck with the charms of their countenances, and said as much to them; they blushed, and thanked the Fairy for each other. "I agree," said she to Bonnebonne, "that nature could not present a more agreeable picture than that of these lovely children; but," continued she, "are they as intelligent as their features would seem to denote?" "Most assuredly," replied Bonnebonne, "it may not be perhaps the kind of intelligence to please you, for it is quite natural. Besides this, they love each other more than they choose to acknowledge, especially to a stranger." The Fairies then embraced them a thousand times, and left them together.

                Bonnebonne agreed with Arganto not to trouble herself about her during her stay, but to occupy herself as usual with her studies; but the latter could not help speaking of the impression which Bleuette and Coquelicot had made on her, and she requested they might keep her company.

                Arganto was born wicked, and wickedness looks with impatience on the happiness of others, and is always at work to destroy it, even if with no other motive but that of doing mischief. Upon these fearful principles, she employed the time of her visit in pointing out to her young companions the poverty and insipidity of the place they inhabited; they, whom nature had formed for the delight and ornament of the most brilliant Court; and then she gave them a glowing description of the abodes of kings. "You are enchanted," said she, continually, "with the life which you lead; but do you know any other? The splendour of the world, the fêtes which are given to beauty alone, the preference which is at all times accorded to it, are the real triumphs of a pretty girl;" it was thus she spoke to Bleuette. "And you," addressing herself to Coquelicot, "with the spirit you possess, what would you not do at Court? You certainly must be brave; and of what are you not capable?"

                This wicked discourse made by degrees the impression which Arganto wished upon the minds of these amiable children. They sought each other's company as usual, but they found each other no longer occupied with themselves alone: they began by self reproaches, and at length made reciprocal confessions, for they could no longer talk of anything else but the opinions of the Fairy. Love, and the hope of not being separated, it is true, were the foundation of their projects; but curiosity, and the novelty of all which Arganto had told them, and above all, self-love, the poison of life, perverted at length their innocent minds; they abandoned themselves to the wicked fairy, who, in order to make them fall more easily into the snare she had laid for them, did not neglect to destroy the respect and gratitude they entertained for Bonnebonne, by telling them, "She is a provincial fairy, whose taste is not at all refined. Her character not suiting the Court, she is too happy to be able to keep you with her; she sacrifices your fortunes to the pleasure and use which you are of to her." It was by such discourse as this that she induced these children to become ungrateful: she promised them not to forsake them, and assured them that, being a more powerful fairy than Bonnebonne, they need not be anxious about anything. She did even more,--she warned them of all that the good fairy would say to them when she should learn the resolution they had taken: in short, they promised to follow her after she had again given them her word that they should not be separated.

                When Arganto was well assured of the part they had taken, she said to Bonnebonne that it was time she should cease to trouble her in her retreat, and begged her, at the same time, to allow her to take with her Bleuette and Coquelicot. The good Fairy, who had perceived nothing, and who had no suspicion of the designs of Arganto, as she had herself ordered them to pay court to and obey the Fairy, whilst she was occupied in her cabinet, and above all, because a good heart cannot imagine ingratitude: Bonnebonne, as I said before, consented to Arganto's request, with the understanding, however, that the proposition should please the young couple, feeling quite convinced that they would never wish to leave her. The question was put to them on the spot. What was the astonishment of Bonnebonne when they accepted the proposal to abandon her and follow the Fairy! They set at nought all her reasonings, so full of friendship and good advice; they were too deeply prejudiced against her. Bonnebonne then said to them, with mildness, "It is conviction which makes happiness. You would cease to be happy in this abode, because you imagine greater felicity awaits you in another country: depart, let nothing detain you," said she, with tears in her eyes, "may you be contented."

                Bleuette and Coquelicot were moved by this tender discourse, and on the point of falling at the feet of this adorable fairy, and conjuring her to forget that they had ever had the idea of separating from her; but the emotion they felt at the moment made them both faint away, so that the wickedness of Arganto was not required to counteract this return of good feeling. She herself was touched by so tender a scene, and at the moment almost repented having caused so much sorrow to three persons, who were only to blame for placing too much confidence in her. Not knowing exactly what to do, she prepared to set out alone, when Bonnebonne said, "I might complain of the manner in which you have abused the reception I have given you: but the great fruit of study and of solitude is forgiveness of injuries. I am not, therefore, at all affected by it myself, but I feel for the misfortune of these young people--I love them both." "I will not take them away, then," replied Arganto; "you see they have refused me, and you cannot doubt the attachment they feel for you." "No," replied Bonnebonne, "I feel myself compelled to beg you to take with you those I loved best in my retreat; you have perverted them, their hearts are no longer what they were: they would henceforth only live with me out of compliment. If they had sufficient art to disguise it from me, could I be ignorant of their thoughts? Take them, then, I conjure you, and at least protect them amongst the dangers to which you expose them." "As you absolutely wish it," replied Arganto, "I will do so." She then carried them, fainting as they were, both into her car, and her griffins flying at a rapid pace speedily landed them in the Kingdom of Errors.

                The King who governed it at that time thought himself the greatest of princes. Flattery had persuaded him that he was descended from the gods. In consequence of this idea he caused himself to be worshipped by his subjects. His throne of gold and precious stones, upon which he only appeared once a month, was surrounded by tigers and elephants, bound with chains of the same precious materials, and covered with superb embroidery. Without entering into further details of the ceremonies of this court, suffice it to say, the King exhibited upon every occasion all the ostentation with which a crown could inspire him. Arganto was his best friend, the partaker of his pleasures, and it was into the superb palace which she possessed at his court that she conducted Bleuette and Coquelicot.

                The moment they recovered from their swoon they had the pleasure of seeing each other. The magnificence of the place in which they found themselves astonished them. Their uncertainty did not last long: Arganto entered to dissipate it. They immediately asked her to give them some news of Bonnebonne. The Fairy informed them that Bonnebonne had consented to their advancement, and had herself conjured her to take them away. Bleuette and Coquelicot were comforted by this account, for they had been afraid of displeasing her. Arganto then said to them, "Here, Bleuette, is the apartment prepared for you; your household shall be formed to-night. Meanwhile, here are your waiting-women: let me present them to you."

                At these words, there appeared a dozen handsome young persons, carrying all the innumerable trifles which have become so necessary to a lady's toilet. They were followed by an equal number of valets-de-chambre, bearing boxes and caskets, and who in a few moments fitted up and set out a most superb dressing-table. Garments adapted to the season then appeared in such great profusion that they covered all the chairs, beds, and couches in this large apartment. When everything was arranged according to the Fairy's pleasure, she said to Bleuette, "This all belongs to you, and you have nothing to study but how to avail yourself of it." She then showed her a basket full of ornaments and a jewel-case crammed with precious stones as perfect in themselves as they were tastefully set, saying to her, "Beautiful Bleuette, this little jewel-box will amuse you, but let us now proceed to the apartment I destine for Coquelicot." Bleuette followed the Fairy without being able to reply; her surprise and astonishment appeared to her like a beautiful dream. They all three passed into another apartment. It was plain, but neat. Four valets-de-chambre, who were in the second room, stept forward and presented him with clothes as tasteful as they were superb, in order that he might select those in which he wished to appear that day. They then opened the door of a sort of large cabinet, containing all kinds of musical instruments, also a library well stocked with historical works, but more particularly with romances and fairy tales.

                "Behold," said Arganto, "what will amuse you when you are weary of the pleasures of society, or require rest after exercise." She then commanded the person she had chosen for his equerry to appear. "You may," said she to Coquelicot, "take his advice; he is a man to be depended on, and a good companion. Show," continued she to this gentleman, "the things of which you have the charge." There then appeared servants in livery, who carried the most magnificent and perfect arms for war and the chase. And even this was not all: "Let us," said Arganto, "look out of the window." They obeyed her, and perceived fifty saddle-horses, led by five-and-twenty grooms, superbly clothed and well mounted. "There," said she, "are your horses for hunting and riding." She then ordered out the carriages: berlins, berlingots, vis-à-vis, calêches of all kinds, defiled under the windows, drawn by the prettiest and best groomed horses in the world, with their manes tastefully plaited. Coquelicot, as much astonished as Bleuette, observed also the same silence. "Learn, both of you," said Arganto, "to make good use of what I have just given you; you are both charming, but believe me, dress is necessary to beauty." She then left them in their separate apartments, questioning their new domestics on the particular use of all the novelties that surrounded them, for they dared not yet give any orders. They at length dressed themselves, and Coquelicot proceeding to the apartment of Bleuette, they were mutually astonished at the agreeable effect of their attire, and uttering a hundred praises of the good taste of Arganto, they became more than ever convinced of the truth of what she had told them respecting Bonnebonne, for whose simplicity they began to blush.

                All the Court learning the arrival of Bleuette and Coquelicot, either from curiosity or the desire to please the Fairy, came with great eagerness to pay her a visit. The King himself did her this honour. The praises of the men of Bleuette, and those of the women of Coquelicot, gratified both exceedingly. They found that the language spoken in this country had an agreeable style hitherto quite unknown to them; they were struck by it, and thought of nothing but imitating it. Bleuette, from the first day, perceived that Coquelicot was not made for his fine clothes, and that he had a borrowed air which the other young men who surrounded her had not: in short, both were occupied by a thousand new fancies. They saw each other every day, it is true, but they sought each other less; and the tender conversations, in which simplicity, ingenuousness, candour, and truth had formerly so large a share, no longer took place between them; they were only anxious now to place their words and turn their phrases according to the style which they had been so much struck with in their new residence.

                The dress, the magnificence, and the brilliancy with which they dazzled the whole court caused every one to give them the titles of prince and princess. They knew well that they did not deserve them from their low birth; but the mistake of others gratified their vanity. They agreed between them to keep their real condition secret, and hoped privately that their beauty and merit would in time really raise them to that dignity.

                Coquelicot had perfectly handsome features and a charming figure. He performed all kinds of feats with marvellous success; almost all the ladies were pulling caps for him. Bleuette was not in the least jealous of his conquests, and although in such situations one is not always just, she had at least the generosity not to reproach him in any way. In fact, she deserved reproaching equally herself, for the Court and its grand airs had changed her heart and mind as much as his. Bleuette, on her part, thinking of nothing but how to attract admiration and to outvie all the other beauties of the Court, became a practised coquette. You may easily judge, knowing what I have told you, how long she was in availing herself of all the presents of the Fairy. She very soon invented fashions, which all the other ladies, handsome or ugly, were, in spite of themselves, obliged to follow. During some time this gratification of her vanity only presented to her view jealous rivals, men captivated and admiring, flattered or plunged into despair, by her glances and her deceptive and provoking speeches; but Bleuette was so beautiful, she had so much wit and grace, that, even when making them most miserable, she was the theme of their praises and the object of attraction to all the finest people of the Court. She also conducted herself with so much prudence that no one could cast the least slur on her.

                Coquelicot, on his part--"fickle adorer of a thousand different objects"--flattered his vanity without ever satisfying his heart.

                Such was the true and unhappy situation in which these two persons, formerly the most loving and amiable possible, found themselves, when this same vanity, the shoal on which so much happiness has been wrecked, was itself violently offended.

                It must be remembered that, dazzled by the splendour which surrounded them, they had both received with pleasure the titles of princes; but nothing is unknown to the world, and such vanity would awaken a contempt for falsehood, in those who have no higher motive for despising it. A youth, brought up, as they had been, by Bonnebonne, in the Island of Happiness, having wandered from it, as many others had done, in passing through several countries, had been attracted to the Court inhabited by Bleuette and Coquelicot. He was astonished to hear the grand titles of prince and princess added to their well-known names, he ran, however, to the Fairy's palace to embrace them; but far from receiving him kindly, they did not condescend even to recognise him. He complained to everybody who would listen to him, and all the Court were very soon informed that Princess Bleuette and Prince Coquelicot were the children of, 'twas true, very honest people, but who were nothing but poor shepherds. The Court is a region in which nothing is forgiven, and where anything ridiculous is sought for with the greatest eagerness; therefore, it profited by this affair. Songs and epigrams were circulated in a moment; and the objects of their attack could not pretend ignorance of them, for, according to the praiseworthy custom of the authors of such works, the first copies were addressed to the persons most interested. Coquelicot was bantered by one of the wits of the Court; but he demanded very prompt satisfaction, and the combat, in which he killed his adversary, brought him honour in a place where truth is so rare, notwithstanding that a falsehood is never pardoned. They rendered justice to his valour, but they no longer paid him the same attentions; for in short, although riches can obtain everything, the ridicule attached to low birth combined with vanity is rarely overlooked at Court. As for Bleuette, whom wounded pride rendered still more haughty than ever, and who hoped by her beauty and accomplishments to stifle the disagreeable reports which had been spread about her former pastoral condition--Bleuette, I must tell you, had, in addition, the mortification to see some letters which she had had the imprudence to write handed round amongst her acquaintances. Her attraction diminished and her reputation tarnished (however unjustly) hurt her deeply, and induced her to reflect seriously. Recalling then the remembrance of her former happiness, the words of Bonnebonne presented themselves to her mind.

                Bleuette being thus agitated by all the recollections which led her back to her first sentiments for Coquelicot, looked only with regret upon the conduct she had pursued towards him since she had been at Court. She was ashamed of it, but it was not possible for her to speak to him openly on the subject. "He will consider," said she, "my most sincere repentance to be caused either by coquetry or jealousy; and I cannot complain, or he will believe that my birth being known and made public in this country, has deranged my projects of advancement, and that I am brought back to him only by a feeling of shame and necessity." "No," continued she, "I will not betray to him all the weakness of my heart, or all the pain which the false friendship of Arganto has caused me."

                Similar ideas tormented Coquelicot. He thought all those who treated him, as formerly, like a prince, did so in mockery, and to ridicule him, and felt satisfied that those whose conduct was changed by the reports which had been spread respecting him would give him continual annoyance; this situation, distressing as it really could well be, was not the sole evil which oppressed him. The remembrance of Bleuette, tender, faithful, simple, and innocent; the recollection of the residence of Bonnebonne, and that of the charm and peace that pervaded it, awoke in his soul so great a disgust for all that the world calls pleasure, and which he had himself taken for happiness, that he determined to fly from the Court. They had but to speak to one another, and they would have been convinced and consoled; but still young and inexperienced, they determined on the thing of all others to be avoided in love and friendship--silence: for want of confidence increases and envenoms the wound we have received, as well as that which we have inflicted on others; thus, therefore, not daring to look at each other (so much had the shame of their proceedings made an impression on their hearts), they each separately, and without communicating their intentions to any one, made up their minds to quit the Court. Solitude appeared to offer them the only chance of consolation. They departed the same morning, just as if they had been acting in concert. They chose the plainest dresses they could find, not without regretting those they had brought with them to the Court; they would have felt still nearer approaching their former innocence, in habits so vividly recalling the scenes of their past felicity. They took nothing away with them but the portraits which Arganto had had painted of them in miniature, representing them as they were when they left the Island of Happiness.

                They set out by very different roads; but in proportion as they left the Court behind them, nature spoke to their hearts. The song of the birds, the serenity of the air, the view of the country, that sweet freedom which it inspires,--all recalled their former happiness, all softened them, and drew them towards each other. "But how shall we ever find each other again," said they unceasingly to themselves. "I should have convinced him," thought Bleuette. "She would have pardoned me," sighed Coquelicot: "I will return to the Court. But how can I reappear there (for each thought the other had remained in the palace) in this miserable condition?" The remembrance of Bonnebonne again presented itself to their mind. It is friendship we invoke in adversity. They resolved then to have recourse to her kindness. If they had not themselves known the delights of the Island of Happiness, if they had not been anxious to revisit the scenes of their former felicity, it is so natural to desire a similar habitation, that we often set out in search of it on the description of others. Each, therefore, turned their steps in the direction of the Island. It was very easy for them to find the way, they who had once so worthily inhabited it. They intended to address themselves to one of the columns of which I have spoken, and which conveyed to the ears of the Fairy all the requests of her petitioners. What was their surprise, or rather what was their delight, to meet with each other again on a spot and in a dress which explained everything! After the first transports, in which the eye hardly sufficed to satisfy the soul, the first words they uttered were, "Pardon me, I cannot live without you." The pardon which is mutually sought is soon granted; and it was no longer necessary to implore the aid of the Fairy. The unison of their desires had already transported them into the most beautiful spot in the Island. They were anxious to excuse themselves, and request the forgiveness of Bonnebonne; but she prevented them. "I know all that has happened to you," said she, "I have shared your troubles, although they were deserved. Enjoy the happiness of my empire, you are now better able to appreciate its delights."

                They lived happily because they never ceased to love each other, and they died at the same moment. Bonnebonne bestowed their names upon two wild flowers [2] in order to immortalize their memory.


BLEUETTE ET COQUELICOT is a charming fairy tale of the pastoral order, unexceptionable in its style, and salutary in its instruction. I have only to add, in further illustration of the head-dress of Arganto (p. 360), that "Foreign Marshalle Powder" was advertised in 1781 at sixteen shillings per pound, by R. Langwine, at the sign of the "Rose," opposite New Round Court, Strand; and that receipts for making it occur as late as in Gray's Supplement to the Pharmacopœia, in 1836. The author of L'Histoire des Modes Française, quoted above, says he does not "despair of one day seeing rose-coloured hair powder, blue heads," &c.; and in Plocacosmos (1781), we actually find receipts for making yellow, rose-pink, and black hair powder; while Goldsmith, in his Citizen of the World, Letter III., mentions both black and blue.


[1] Hair-powder was at this period of various colours. Brown hair-powder was called "Maréchal," and grey powder was extremely fashionable in England as late as 1763.

[2] The corn-flower and the poppy.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Bleuette and Coquelicot
Tale Author/Editor: Caylus, Anne Claude de (Comte de Caylus)
Book Title: Four and Twenty Fairy Tales: Selected from Those of Perrault, and Other Popular Writers
Book Author/Editor: Planché, J. R.
Publisher: G. Routledge & Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1858
Country of Origin: France
Classification: unclassified

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