THERE was once upon a time a King and Queen who had but one son, who was their only hope. Fourteen years had elapsed from the time of his birth, and the Queen had had no other children. The Prince was marvellously handsome, and learnt with facility everything they wished him to know. The King and Queen loved him to distraction, and their subjects placed all their affections on him, for he was affable to everybody, and yet he knew well how to distinguish between the people who approached him. His name was Zirphil. As he was an only son, the King and Queen resolved he should marry as early as possible, in order to secure the succession to the crown should they unhappily be deprived of Zirphil.
They therefore sought on foot and on horseback a Princess worthy of the heir-apparent,  but none was found suitable. At length, after a most diligent inquiry, the Queen was informed that a veiled lady desired a private audience of her Majesty, on business of importance. The Queen immediately ascended her throne in the audience-chamber, and ordered the lady to be admitted. The lady approached, without removing her white crape veil, which reached to the ground. When she arrived at the foot of the throne, "Queen" said she, "I am astonished that, without consulting me, you have thought of marrying your son. I am the Fairy Marmotte, and my name is sufficiently celebrated to have reached your ears." "Ah, Madam," said the Queen, quickly descending from her throne, in order to embrace the Fairy, "you will easily pardon me my fault when you learn that I have only listened to all the wonders which have been told me about you as to a nursery tale; but now that you do me the favour to come to my palace, I no longer doubt your power, and beg you will honour me with your advice." "That is not a sufficient answer to a Fairy," replied Marmotte. "Such an excuse might perhaps satisfy a common person, but I am mortally offended; and to begin your punishment, I command you to marry your Zirphil to the person I have brought with me."
At these words she felt in her pocket, and, drawing out a toothpick case, she opened it, and out of it came a little ivory doll, so pretty and so well made that the Queen, despite her grief, could not help admiring it. "This is my goddaughter," said the Fairy, "and I have always destined her for Zirphil." The Queen was bathed in tears. She conjured Marmotte, in the most touching words, not to expose her to the ridicule of her people, who would laugh at her if she announced to them such a marriage. "Laugh, indeed, will they, Madam?" said the Fairy. "Ah, we shall see if they have reason to laugh, Madam. Ah, we shall see if they will laugh at my goddaughter, and if your son ought not to adore her. I can tell you that she deserves to be adored. She is small, it is true; but she has more sense than there is in all your kingdom put together. When you hear her talk, you will be surprised yourself; for she can talk, I promise you. Now, then, little Princess Camion," said she, to the doll, "speak a little to your mother-in-law, and show her what you can do." Then the pretty Camion jumped upon the Queen's palatine,  and paid her a little compliment so tender and so sensible that her Majesty suspended her tears to give the Princess Camion a hearty kiss.
"Here, Queen," said the Fairy, "is my toothpick-case; replace your daughter-in-law in it. I wish your son to get well accustomed to her before marrying her. I think it will not be long first. Your obedience may soften my anger; but if you act contrary to my orders, you, your husband, your son, and your kingdom, shall all feel the effect of my wrath. Above all, take care to replace her in her case early in the evening, for it is important that she should not be out late."
At these words she raised her veil, and the Queen fainted with fright when she perceived an actual live Marmot --black, sleek, and as large as a human creature. Her women came to her assistance, and, when she recovered from her swoon, she saw nothing but the case that Marmotte had left with her.
They put her to bed, and went to inform the King of the accident. He arrived in a great fright. The Queen sent every one away, and, with a torrent of tears, she related her adventure to the King, who would not believe it till he saw the doll that the Queen drew from the case. "Just heaven!" cried he, after having meditated a little, "is it possible that kings should be exposed to such great misfortunes? Ah! we are only placed above other men in order to feel more acutely the cares and afflictions attached to our existence." "And in order to give the greater example of fortitude, sire," added the Doll, in a small, sweet, and distinct voice. "My dear Camion," said the Queen, "you speak like an oracle."
At length, after a conversation of an hour between these three persons, it was decided that they should not yet divulge the contemplated marriage, and that they should wait until Zirphil, who was gone hunting for three days, should have returned, and consented to obey the command of the Fairy, which the Queen undertook to communicate to him. In the interim, the Queen, and even the King, shut themselves up, in order to converse with the little Camion. She had a highly-cultivated intellect, she spoke well, and with a singular turn of thought which was very pleasing. But although she was animated, her eyes had a fixed expression which was not agreeable, and the Queen was annoyed by it, as she began to love Camion, and feared that the Prince might take a dislike to her.
More than a month had elapsed since Marmotte had appeared, but the Queen had not yet dared to show Zirphil his intended. One day he entered her room whilst she was in bed. "Madam," said he, "the most singular thing in the world occurred to me some days since whilst I was hunting. I had wished to conceal it from you, but at length it has become so extraordinary, that I must positively tell you of it.
"I followed a wild boar with great ardour, and had pursued it into the midst of a forest without observing that I was alone, when I saw him throw himself into a hole which opened in the ground. My horse having plunged in after it, I continued falling for half an hour, and at length found myself at the bottom, without any hurt. There, instead of the boar, which I confess I feared to find, I saw a very ugly woman, who begged me to dismount from my horse and follow her. I did not hesitate, and giving her my hand, she opened a little door which had previously been hidden from my view, and I entered with her a saloon of green marble, where there was a golden bath, covered with a curtain of very rich stuff; the curtain rose, and I saw in the bath a person of such marvellous beauty that I thought I should have fallen to the ground. 'Prince Zirphil,' said the lady, who was bathing, 'the Fairy Marmotte has enchanted me, and it is by your assistance alone that I can be released.' 'Speak, Madam,' said I to her: 'what must I do to help you?' 'You must either,' said she, 'marry me instantly or skin me alive.' I was as much surprised at the first proposition as alarmed at the second. She read in my eyes my embarrassment, and said, 'Do not imagine that I jest, or that I propose to you an act of which you may repent. No, Zirphil, dismiss your fears; I am an unfortunate Princess to whom the Fairy has taken an aversion; she has made me half-woman, half-whale because I would not marry her nephew, the King of the Whiting, who is frightful, and even more wicked than he is hideous. She has condemned me to remain in my present state until a Prince named Zirphil shall fulfil one of the conditions that I have just proposed to you; to expedite this matter, I caused my maid of honour to take the form of a wild boar, and it is she who has led you hither. I must now tell you that you cannot leave this spot until you shall have fulfilled my desire in one manner or the other. I am not mistress here; and Citronette, whom you see with me, will tell you that it cannot be arranged otherwise.'
"Imagine, Madam," said the Prince to the Queen, who listened attentively, "in what a state this discourse left me." Although the face of the Whale-Princess pleased me excessively, and her charms and misfortunes rendered her extremely interesting, her being half a fish horrified me exceedingly; and the idea of skinning her alive threw me into utter despair. 'But, Madam,' said I to her, at length (for my silence became as stupid as insulting), 'is there not a third way?' I had hardly uttered those unlucky works, than the Whale-Princess and her attendant uttered shrieks and lamentations which were enough to pierce the vaulted roof of the saloon. 'Ungrateful wretch! cruel tiger! and everything that is most ferocious and most inhuman!' exclaimed the former. 'Thou wouldst, then, that I should also be condemned to the torture of seeing you expire? For if thou dost not resolve to grant my request, the Fairy has assured me thou wilt perish, and I shall remain a whale all my life!'
"Her reproaches pierced my heart; she raised her beautiful arms out of the water, and joined her charming hands to implore me to decide quickly. Citronette was at my knees, which she embraced, screaming loud enough to deafen me. 'But how can I marry you?' said I; 'what sort of ceremony can be performed?' 'Skin me,' said she tenderly, 'and do not marry me, I prefer that.' 'Skin her!' screamed the other, 'and fear nothing.' I was in a state of perplexity which I cannot describe; and while I considered what I ought to do, their shrieks and tears were redoubled, till I knew not what would become of me. At length, after a thousand and one struggles, I cast my eyes once more on the beautiful Whale, and I confess that I found in her features an inexpressible charm. I threw myself on my knees close to the bath, and taking her hand, 'No, divine Princess,' said I to her; 'I will not skin you, I would rather marry you!'
"At these words joy lighted up the countenance of the Princess, but a modest joy, for she coloured, and casting down her beautiful eyes, 'I shall never forget,' said she, 'the service that you render me; I am so penetrated with gratitude, that you may expect anything of me after this generous resolution.' 'Do not lose time,' cried the insupportable Citronette; 'tell him quickly all that he must do.' 'It is sufficient,' said the Whale-Princess, blushing again, 'that you give me your ring, and that you should take mine; there is my hand, receive it as a pledge of my faith.' I had hardly made this tender exchange, and kissed the beautiful hand which she presented to me, when I found myself again upon my horse in the midst of the forest. Having called my people, they came to me, and I returned home without being able to utter a word, I was so completely astounded. Since then, I am transported every night without knowing how, into the beautiful green saloon, where I pass the night near an invisible person; she speaks to me, and tells me that the time is not yet come for me to know who she is."
"Ah, my son," interrupted the Queen, "is it possible, then, that you are really married to her?" "I am, Madam," replied the Prince; "but although I love my wife infinitely, I would have sacrificed this affection if I could have escaped from the saloon without resorting to that alternative." At these words, a little voice, proceeding from the Queen's pocket, said, "Prince Zirphil, you should have flayed her; perhaps your pity may be fatal to you."
The Prince, surprised at this voice, remained speechless. The Queen in vain tried to conceal from him the cause of his astonishment; he felt quickly in her pocket, which was hanging upon the arm-chair near the bed, and drew from it the toothpick-case, which the Queen took from his hand and opened. The Princess Camion immediately came out of it, and the astonished Prince threw himself on his knees by the bed-side of the Queen to inspect her nearer. "I vow, Madam," cried he, "that this is my dear Whale in miniature. Is this some pleasantry, and have you only wished to frighten me, by allowing me so long to believe that you would not approve of my marriage?" "No, my son," at length the Queen replied; "my grief is real, and you have exposed us to the most cruel misfortunes by marrying that Whale, for, in fact, you were promised to the Princess Camion whom you see in my hands." She then related to him what had passed between her and the Fairy Marmotte, and the Prince allowed her to say all she wished without interruption, so much was he astonished to find that she and his father had agreed to a proposition which was, on the face of it, so ridiculous. "Heaven forbid, Madam," said he at length, when the Queen had finished, "that I should ever oppose the designs of your Majesty, or that I should act contrary to the wish of the King, my father, even when he commands me to do anything as impossible as this appears to me to be; but had I consented, could I even have fallen in love with this pretty Princess, would your subjects ever have----" "Time is a great teacher, Prince Zirphil," interrupted Camion; "but it is done; you cannot now marry me, and my godmother appears to me a person who will not patiently suffer any one to break their word with her. Diminutive as I am, I feel as acutely as the largest woman would the disagreeable nature of this adventure; but as you are not so much to blame, except perhaps for having been a little too hasty, I may persuade the Fairy to mitigate the punishment."
After these words Camion was silent, for she was exhausted with having said so much. "My dear darling," said the Queen, "I implore you to take some repose for fear you should be ill and not in a condition to speak to the Fairy when she comes to afflict us; you are our consolation, and however she may punish us, I shall not feel it so deeply if Marmotte does not take you from us." The Princess Camion felt her little heart beat at these words of the Queen: but being quite overcome, she could only kiss her hand, and let fall upon it some tiny tears. Zirphil was moved at this incident, and begged Camion to permit him to kiss her hand in his turn: she gave it him with much grace and dignity, and then re-entered her case. After this tender scene the Queen rose, in order to go and tell the King what had passed, and take every rational precaution against the anger of the Fairy.
The following night Zirphil, in spite of the guard which they had doubled in his apartment, was carried off at midnight, and found himself, as usual, in the company of his invisible wife; but instead of hearing any of those sweet and touching things which she was accustomed to say to him, he heard her weep, and found she kept aloof from him. "What have I done?" said he at last, when quite tired of pursuing her. "You weep, dear Princess, when you ought to console me for all the peril I may have incurred, as the effect of my tenderness." "I know all," said the Princess, with a voice interrupted by sobs--"I know all the misery that may happen to me; but, ungrateful man! it is of you I have most to complain." "Oh, heavens!" cried Zirphil, "what have you to reproach me with?" "The love which Camion bears to you," replied the voice, "and the tenderness with which you have kissed her hand." "The tenderness," replied the Prince, quickly; "oh! divine Princess, do you know so little of that I feel for you as to accuse me so lightly. Besides, even if Camion could love me, which is impossible, as she only saw me for a moment, can you be alarmed, knowing my love for you, and after the proofs which I have given you of my attachment? It is you whom I should accuse of injustice: for if I have looked at her with any attention, it is because her features reminded me of yours, and that being deprived of the pleasure of beholding you, anything which resembled you gave me the greatest gratification. Be visible again, my dear Princess, and I will never look on any other woman."
The invisible lady appeared to be consoled by these words, and approaching the Prince, said, "Pardon me this little movement of jealousy. I have too much reason to fear they will separate me from you, not to feel afflicted by a circumstance which appeared to me to announce the commencement of that misfortune." "But," said the Prince, "may I not know why you are no longer permitted to show yourself? For if I have delivered you from the tyranny of Marmotte, how is it possible that you should be again subjected to it?" "Alas!" said the invisible Princess, "if you had decided to flay me we should have been very happy; but you had such a horror of that proposition, that I did not dare press you further on the subject." "By what chance," interrupted the Prince, "was Camion informed of this adventure, for she told me nearly the same thing?"
Hardly had he finished these words, when the Princess uttered a frightful shriek. The Prince, in surprise, rose hastily. But what was his alarm when, in the middle of the apartment, he perceived the hideous Marmotte, who held by the hair the beautiful Princess, now no longer either half a whale or invisible! He was about to seize his sword when the Princess, in tears, begged him to moderate his anger, for it would be of no avail against the power of the Fairy; and the horrible Marmotte, grinding her teeth, emitted through them a blue flame which scorched his beard. "Prince Zirphil," said she to him, "a fairy who protects thee prevents me from exterminating thee, thy father, thy mother, and all that belong to thee: but thou shalt suffer at least in all that is most dear to thee, for having married without having consulted me, and thy torment shall never finish, nor that of thy Princess, until thou shalt have obeyed my commands."
In finishing these words the Fairy, the Princess, the chamber, and the palace, all disappeared together, and he found himself in his own apartment, in his night-dress, and his sword in his hand. He was so astonished, and so transported with rage, that he did not feel the severity of the cold, though it was in the depth of winter. At the noise which he made his guards entered the room and begged him to go to bed, or to allow them to dress him. He took the latter course, and went to the Queen's chamber, who, on her part, had passed the night in the most cruel state of anxiety. She had not been able to sleep after going to bed, and in order to induce slumber she had wished to talk over her grief with little Camion; but she sought in vain for her in her case: Camion was no longer there. She feared she might have lost her in the garden: she rose, and having ordered flambeaux to be lighted, went in search of her, but without success--she had entirely disappeared, and the Queen retired to bed again in an alarming state of affliction; she gave fresh vent to it as her son entered. He was so distressed himself that he did not perceive the tears of the Queen. She, on her part, observing his agitation, exclaimed, "Ah! without doubt, you have come to announce to me some dreadful tidings!"
"Yes, Madam," replied the Prince; "I come to tell you that I shall die if I do not find my Princess." "How!" said the Queen; "do you already, my dear son, love that unhappy Princess?" "What, your Camion?" said the Prince: "can you suspect me, Madam, of such a thing? I speak of my dear Whale-Princess who has been torn from me; it is for her alone that I live, and it is Marmotte, the cruel Marmotte, who has carried her away!" "Ah, my son," said the Queen, "I am far more unhappy than you, for if they have taken your Princess away from you, they have robbed me of my Camion. Since last evening, she has disappeared from her case!"
They then related to each other their respective adventures, and wept together over their common misfortunes. The King was informed of the cries and despair of the Queen, and the grief of his son. He entered the apartment in which this tragic scene was passing, and as he was an exceedingly clever man, the thought occurred to him immediately of advertising Camion, with the offer of a large reward to whoever should bring her back. Everybody agreed this was a capital idea, and even the Queen, in spite of her great grief, was obliged to confess that no one of ordinary capacity could have imagined so singular an expedient. The handbills were printed, and distributed, and the Queen became rather calm in the hope of soon hearing some tidings of her little Princess. As for Zirphil, the loss of Camion interested him no more than her presence; he resolved to seek a fairy of whom he had heard speak. He asked permission of the King and Queen, and departed with a single equerry in attendance on him.
It was a great distance from that country to the one inhabited by the Fairy; but neither time nor obstacles could check the fond impatience of the youthful Zirphil. He passed through states and kingdoms without number: nothing particular happened to him because he did not desire it; for being handsome as Cupid and brave as his own sword, he would have had no lack of adventures had he sought for them.
At length, after a year's travelling, he arrived at the commencement of the desert wherein the Fairy had fixed her abode; he dismounted from his horse, and left his equerry in a little cottage, with orders to await him there, and not to be impatient. He entered the desert, which was frightful from its solitude; screech-owls alone inhabited it, but their cries did not alarm the valiant spirit of our Prince.
One evening, he perceived at a distance a light which made him think he was approaching the grotto; for who but a fairy could live in such a horrible desert. He walked all night long; at length, at break of day, he discovered the famous grotto; but a lake of fire separated him from it, and all his valour could not protect him from the flames, which spread right and left. He looked about for a long time to see what he could do, and his courage nearly failed him when he found that there was not even a bridge. Despair proved his best friend, for in a frenzy of love and anguish, he resolved to end his days in the lake, if he could not traverse it. No sooner had he taken this strange resolution than he put it in execution, and throwing himself bodily into the flames, he felt a little gentle warmth which did not even inconvenience him, and passed without the least trouble to the other side. Hardly had he landed, when a young and beautiful Salamander emerged from the lake, and said, "Prince Zirphil, if your love be as great as your courage, you may hope for everything from the Fairy Lumineuse; she favours you, but she wishes to prove you."
Zirphil made a profound bow to the Salamander in acknowledgment, for she did not give him time to speak; she plunged again into the flames, and he pursued his way. He arrived at length at the foot of a rock of prodigious height, which from its great brilliancy appeared all on fire. It was a carbuncle, so large that the Fairy was very commodiously lodged in the inside. As soon as the Prince approached, Lumineuse came out of the rock; he prostrated himself before her, she raised him, and made him enter the grotto.
"Prince Zirphil," said she, "a power equal to mine has neutralized the benefits I bestowed on you at your birth; but you may hope for everything from my care. It requires as much patience as courage to foil the wickedness of Marmotte; I can tell you nothing more." "At least, madam," replied the Prince, "do me the favour to inform me if my beautiful Princess is unhappy, and if I may hope to see her again soon?" "She is not unhappy," replied the Fairy: "but you cannot see her till you have pounded her in the mortar of the King of the Whiting." "Oh! heavens!" cried the Prince; "is she in his power; and have I to dread not only the consequences of his passion, but the still greater horror of pounding her with my own hands?" "Summon up your courage," replied the Fairy, "and do not hesitate to obey; upon that depends all your happiness, and that of your wife." "But she will die if I pound her," said the Prince, "and I would rather die myself." "Away," said the Fairy, "and do not argue; each moment that you lose adds to the fury of Marmotte. Go and seek the King of the Whiting; tell him you are the page I promised to send him, and rely on my protection."
She then pointed out to him on a map the road he must take to reach the dominions of the King of the Whiting; and took her leave of him, after having informed him that the ring which the Princess had given him would show him all he had to do whenever the King commanded him to execute a difficult task.
He departed, and after some days' travelling arrived in a meadow which stretched down to the sea, to the shore of which was moored a small sailing-vessel of mother-of-pearl and gold. He looked at his ruby, and saw himself in it going on board the vessel. He therefore stepped into it, and after having cast off, the wind took it out to sea. After some hours' sail, the vessel brought up at the foot of a crystal castle, built upon wooden piles. He jumped ashore, and entered a court-yard which led through a magnificent vestibule to apartments without number, the walls of which were of rock crystal, admirably cut, and which produced the most beautiful effect in the world. The castle appeared to be inhabited only by men with fishes' heads of all species. He felt convinced this was the dwelling of the King of the Whiting, and shuddered with rage; but he restrained himself so far as to inquire of a turbot, who had the air of being a captain of the guard, how he could manage to see the King of the Whiting. The man-turbot very gravely made him a signal to advance, and he entered the guard-chamber, where he saw under arms a thousand men with pikes' heads, who formed in line for him to pass.
At length, after making his way through an infinite crowd of men-fish, he came to the throne-room. There was not much noise, for the courtiers were all dumb, the greater part having whiting's heads. He saw several who appeared of more consequence than the rest, from the crowd which surrounded them, and by the air which they assumed with the others. They arrived at the King's cabinet, out of which he saw the council issue, composed of twelve men who had sharks' heads. The King at length appeared himself. He had a whiting's head, like many of the others; but he had fins on his shoulders, and from his waist downwards he was a veritable whiting. He could speak, and wore only a scarf made of the skin of goldfish, which was very brilliant, and a helmet in the form of a crown, out of which arose a codfish's tail, which formed the plume. Four whiting carried him in a bowl of Japanese porcelain, as large as a bath, full of sea water. His greatest pride consisted in causing it to be filled twice a day by the dukes and peers of his kingdom. This office was extremely sought after.
The King of the Whiting was very large, and had more the air of a monster than of anything else. When he had spoken to some of those who had presented him with petitions, he perceived the Prince. "Who are you, my friend?" said he to him. "By what chance do I see a man here?" "My lord," said Zirphil, "I am the page the Fairy Lumineuse has promised you." "I know what she means," said the King, laughing, and showing his teeth, like those of a saw. "Lead him into my seraglio, and let him teach my crayfish to talk." Immediately a troop of whiting surrounded him, and conducted him according to the King's orders. In returning through the apartments all the fish, even those the highest in favour, professed, by various signs, a great deal of friendship for him. They led him through a delicious garden, at the end of which was a charming pavilion, built entirely of mother-of-pearl, and ornamented with great branches of coral. The favourite Whiting introduced him into an apartment similarly adorned, the windows of which overlooked a magnificent piece of water. They made him understand that that was to be his residence, and after having shown him a little chamber at one corner of the saloon, which he understood was to be his bed-room, they retired, and he remained alone, very much astonished to find himself something very like a prisoner in the palace of his rival.
He was meditating on this position of affairs, when he saw the doors of the chamber open, and ten or twelve thousand crayfish, conducted by one larger than the rest, entered, and placed themselves in straight lines, which nearly filled the apartment. The one which marched at their head mounted upon a table near him, and said, "Prince, I know you, and you owe much to my care; but as it is rare to find gratitude in men, I will not tell you what I have done for you, for fear you should destroy the sentiments with which you have inspired me. I have only, therefore, to inform you that these are the crayfish of the King of the Whiting, that they alone speak in this empire, and that you are chosen to teach them refined language, the customs of the world, and the means of pleasing their sovereign. You will find them intelligent; but you must every morning choose ten to pound in the King's mortar, to make his broth." 
The Crayfish having ceased speaking, the Prince replied, "I had no idea, Madam, that you had interested yourself in my concerns. The gratitude I already feel towards you should induce you to abandon the bad opinion you have conceived of men in general, since on the bare assurance which you have given me of your friendship, I feel deeply obliged to you. But what I am very anxious to learn is, the course I should take in reasoning with the persons whose education you would confide to me. If I were sure that they had as much intellect as you, I should have no trouble, and I should feel a pride in the task; but the more difficult I should find them to teach, the less should I have the courage to punish them for faults for which they are not responsible. And having lived with them, how can I have the heart to deliver them to a torture?" "You are obstinate and a great talker," interrupted the Crayfish; "but we know how to subdue you." So saying, she rose from the table, and jumping to the ground, took her real form of Marmotte (for she was that wicked fairy). "Oh, heavens!" cried the Prince; "so this is the person who boasts of the interest she takes in my affairs--she who has done nothing but make me miserable. Ah, Lumineuse," continued he, "you abandon me!" He had hardly finished these words, when Marmotte precipitated herself by the window into the reservoir and disappeared, and he remained alone with the twelve thousand crayfish.
After having meditated a little as to how he should proceed to educate them, during which time they waited in complete silence, it occurred to him that he might very probably find amongst them his beautiful and unfortunate Princess, because the hideous Marmotte had ordered him to pound ten of them every morning. "And why should I be selected to pound them," said he, "if it be not to drive me distracted? Never mind, let us look for her," continued he, rising; "let us at least try to recognise her, even if I die of grief before her eyes." Then he asked the crayfish if they would kindly permit him to search amongst them for one of his acquaintance. "We know nothing about it, my Lord," said the first who spoke; "but you can make what inquiry you please up to the time of our return to the reservoir, for we must positively pass the night there." Zirphil commenced his inspection; the more he sought, the less he discovered, but he surmised, from the few words which he drew from those he interrogated, that they were all princesses transformed by the wickedness of Marmotte. This caused him inconsolable grief, for he had to choose ten for the King's broth.
When evening came, they repeated that they must retire to the reservoir, and it was not without pain that he relinquished the sweet occupation of seeking the Princess. He had only been able in the whole day to interrogate a hundred and fifty; but as he was certain at least that she was not amongst them, he determined to take ten from that number; he had no sooner chosen them than he proceeded to carry them to the King's offices; but he was arrested by the most astonishing peals of laughter from the victims he was about to immolate; he was so surprised by it, that he was some time without speaking; at length he interrupted them to inquire what it was they found so amusing in their present circumstances? They renewed their shouts of laughter so heartily that he could not help, in spite of his own sorrows, partaking in their mirth. They wanted to speak, but could not for laughing; they could only ejaculate, "Oh, I can say no more!" "Oh, I shall die of it!" "No, there is nothing in the world so amusing!" and then roared again. At length he reached the Palace with them all laughing together, and having shown them to a pike-headed man, who seemed to be the principal cook, a mortar of green porphyry, ornamented with gold, was set before him, into which he put his ten crayfish, and prepared to pound them. At that moment the bottom of the mortar opened, emitted a brilliant flame, which dazzled the Prince, and then closing up again, appeared perfectly empty; even the crayfish had vanished. This astonished, but at the same time gratified him, for he was very reluctant to pound such merry creatures. The man-pike, on the contrary, seemed sadly distressed at this adventure, and wept bitterly. The Prince was as much surprised at this as he was at the laughter of the crayfish, and he could not ascertain the cause, as the pike's-head was dumb.
He returned, much disturbed by his adventure, to his pretty apartment, where he no longer found the crayfish, for they had returned to the reservoir. The following morning, they re-entered without Marmotte; he sought for his Princess, and still not discovering her, he again chose ten of the finest for pounding. The same adventure occurred--they laughed, and the man-pike wept when they disappeared in the flame. For three months this extraordinary scene was daily repeated; he heard nothing of the King of the Whiting, and he was only uneasy at not discovering his beautiful Princess.
One evening, returning from the kitchen to his own apartments, he traversed the King's gardens, and passing near a palisade which surrounded a charming plantation, in the midst of which was a little sparkling fountain, he heard some one speaking; this surprised him, for he believed all the inhabitants of that kingdom to be as dumb as those he had seen. He advanced gently, and heard a voice, which said,--"But Princess, if you do not discover yourself, your husband will never find you." "What can I do?" said the other voice, which he recognised as that he had so often heard. "The cruelty of Marmotte compels me to remain silent, and I cannot discover myself without risking his life as well as my own. The wise Lumineuse, who aids him, conceals my features from him in order to preserve us to each other: he must absolutely pound me, it is an irrevocable sentence." "But why should he pound you?" inquired the other. "You have never yet told me your history; Citronette, your confidante, would have related it to me had she not last week been chosen for the King's broth." "Alas!" replied the Princess, "that unfortunate has already undergone the torture which I await; would that I were in her place, for assuredly by this time she is in her grotto." "But," rejoined the other voice, "as it is such a beautiful night, tell me now why you are subjected to the vengeance of Marmotte. I have already told you who I am, and I burn with impatience to know more about you." "Although it will renew my grief," replied the Princess, "I cannot refuse to satisfy you, especially as I must speak of Zirphil, and I take pleasure in all that relates to him."
One may easily judge of the delight which the Prince felt at this fortunate moment; he glided gently into the plantation, but as it was very dark he saw nothing; he listened, however, with all his ears, and this is word for word what he heard:--
"My father was King of a country near Mount Caucasus; he reigned to the best of his ability over a people of incredible wickedness; there were perpetual revolts, and often the windows of his Palace were broken by the stones which they hurled against them. The Queen, my mother, who was a very accomplished woman, composed speeches for him to make to the disaffected; but if he succeeded in appeasing them one day, the next produced a new trouble. The judges were tired of condemning to death, and the executioners of hanging. At length things arrived at such a pitch that my father, seeing all our provinces were uniting against us, resolved to withdraw from the capital, that he might no longer witness so many disagreeable scenes. He took the Queen with him, and left the kingdom to the government of one of his ministers, who was very wise, and less timid than the King, my father. My mother was expecting my birth, and travelled with some difficulty to the foot of Mount Caucasus, where my father had chosen his habitation. Our wicked subjects fired the guns for joy at their departure, and next day strangled our minister, saying that he wished to carry matters with too high a hand, and that they much preferred their old Sovereign. My father was not at all flattered by their preference, and remained concealed in his little retreat, where very soon I saw the light.
"They named me Camion, because I was so very diminutive.  Moreover, the King and Queen, tired of the honours which had cost them so dear, and wishing to conceal my high birth from me, brought me up as a shepherdess. At the end of ten years (which appeared to them like ten minutes, so happy were they in their retreat), the fairies of the Caucasus, indignant at the wickedness of the people who inhabited our kingdom, resolved to restore order in it. One day that I was tending my sheep in the meadow which adjoined our garden, two old shepherdesses accosted me, and begged me to give them shelter for the night; they had such a sad dejected air that my soul was moved with compassion. 'Follow me,' said I; 'my father, who is a farmer, will receive you willingly.' I ran to the cottage to announce their arrival to him; he came to meet them, and received them with much kindness, as did my mother also. I then brought in my sheep, and set milk before our guests. Meanwhile, my father prepared them a nice little supper, and the Queen, who, as I before told you, was a clever woman, entertained them wonderfully.
"I had a little lamb which I loved excessively; my father called to me to bring it to him that he might kill it and roast it. I was not accustomed to dispute his will, and therefore took it to him; but I was so distressed at having to do so that I went and sat down weeping beside my mother, who was so occupied in talking to these good women that she took no notice of me. 'What is the matter with little Camion?' said one of them, who saw me in tears. 'Alas, Madam!' said I to her, 'my father is roasting my pet lamb for your suppers.' 'How?' said the one who had not yet spoken, 'is it on our account that pretty Camion is thus distressed?' Then rising and striking the ground with her stick, a table rose out of it magnificently covered, and the two old women became two beautiful ladies, in dresses so dazzling with precious stones, that I was struck motionless, so much so, indeed, that I paid no attention when my little lamb bounded into the room, and made a thousand leaps, which much amused the company. I ran at length to him, after having kissed the hands of the beautiful ladies; but I was quite amazed to find his wool all of silver purl, and covered with knots of rose-coloured ribbon.
"My father and mother paid every attention to the Fairies, for such I need not tell you they were both. They raised the King and Queen, who had fallen at their feet. 'King and Queen,' said she who was the most majestic, 'we have known you for a long time past, and your misfortunes have excited our pity. Do not imagine that greatness exempts any one from the ills attached to humanity. You must know by experience that the more elevated the rank the more keenly are they felt. Your patience and virtue have raised you above your misfortunes: it is time to give you your reward. I am the Fairy Lumineuse, and I come to ask what would be most agreeable to your majesties. Speak, and do not fear to put our power to the proof; consult together, your wishes shall be accomplished; but say nothing respecting Camion--her destiny is apart from yours. The Fairy Marmotte, envious of the brilliant fate which has been promised her, has obscured it for a time: but Camion will better know the value of her happiness when she shall have experienced the ills of life; we will protect her by softening them: that is all we are permitted to tell you. Speak; with that exception we can do anything for you.'
"The Fairies, after this harangue, were silent. The Queen turned to the King that he might reply, for she wept to find I was doomed to be unhappy; but my father was no better able than herself to speak: he uttered piteous exclamations, and I, seeing them in tears, left my lamb to come and weep with them. The Fairies waited with much impatience, and in perfect silence, till our tears were ended. At length my mother pushed the King gently to let him know they were expecting his reply. He took his handkerchief from his eyes and said, that as it was decided that I should be miserable, nothing they could offer him could be agreeable to him, and that he refused the happiness which they promised him, as he should always find it embittered by the idea of what I had to dread. The Queen added, seeing that the poor man could say no more, that she begged the Fairies to take their lives on the day when my sad destiny was to be fulfilled, for that her only wish was not to be compelled to witness my misery. The good Fairies, affected by the extreme grief which reigned in the royal family, spoke together in a whisper. At length Lumineuse, who had already addressed us, said to the Queen, 'Be consoled, Madam; the misfortunes which threaten Camion are not so great but that they may terminate happily; for from the moment that the husband destined for her shall have obeyed the commands of fate, she will be happy with him, and the malignity of our sister can have no further power over either. The Prince we have selected is one worthy of her; and all we can tell you is, that you must absolutely lower your daughter every morning into the well, and that she must bathe in it for half-an-hour. If you strictly observe this rule, perhaps she may escape the evil with which she is threatened. At twelve years old the critical period of her fate will commence; if she reach the age of thirteen in safety, there will be nothing more to fear. That is all which regards her. Now wish for yourselves, and we can gratify your desires.'
"The King and Queen looked at each other, and after a short silence, the King asked to become a statue until after I should have completed my thirteenth year; and the Queen limited her request to the modest one that the temperature of the well in which I was to be dipped should be always according to the season. The fairies, charmed at this excess of parental tenderness, added that the water should be orangeflower water, and that the King, whenever the Queen should throw this water over him, should resume his natural form, and again become a statue when he pleased. At length they took leave of us, after having lauded the King and Queen for their moderation, and promised to assist them whenever they should require it, by burning a bit of the silver purl with which my lamb was covered.
"They vanished, and I felt real anguish for the first time in my life, at seeing my father become a great statue of black marble. The Queen burst into tears, and I also; but at length, as everything has an end, I ceased to cry, and occupied myself in consoling my mother, for I felt a sudden increase both of sense and sensibility.
"The Queen passed her life at the feet of the statue, and I, after having bathed as they had ordered me, went to milk my ewes. Upon that food we lived, for the Queen would not take anything else, and it was only from love to me that she could be prevailed on to preserve an existence, which to her was so full of bitterness. 'Alas! my daughter,' said she, sometimes, 'of what use to us have been our grandeur and our high birth? (for she no longer concealed from me my rank.) 'Would it not have been better to have been born in a lower sphere, since a crown draws down on us such great misfortunes? Virtue, and my affection for you, my dear Camion, alone enable me to support them; but there are moments when my soul seems impatient to leave me, and I confess I feel pleasure in imagining that I shall soon die. It is not for me you should weep,' added she, 'but for your father, whose grief, still greater than mine, has carried him so far as to make him desire a worse fate than ceasing to live. Never forget, my dear, the gratitude you owe him.' 'Alas! Madam,' said I, 'I am not capable of ever forgetting it, and still less can I forget that you have wished to live in order to assist me.'
"I was bathed regularly every day, and my mother was sadly distressed to see the King always an inanimate statue. She dared not, however, recall him to life, fearing to inflict on him the pain of witnessing the misfortune with which I was threatened. The Fairies not having specified what it was, we were in mortal fear. The Queen especially fancied no end of frightful things, because her imagination had an unlimited field to range over. As for me, I did not trouble myself much about it, so true is it that youth is the only time when we enjoy the present.
"My mother told me repeatedly that she felt a great desire to bring my father to life again, and I had the same inclination. At length, after six months, finding that the Fairies' bath had greatly embellished both my person and mind, she resolved to gratify this longing, if but to give the King the pleasure of seeing my improvement. She therefore desired me to bring her some water from the well. Accordingly, after my bath, I drew up a vase of this marvellous water, and the statue was no sooner sprinkled with it, than my father became a man again. The Queen threw herself at his feet, to ask pardon for having troubled his repose. He raised her, and embracing her tenderly, forgave her readily, and she presented me to him.
"I am ashamed to tell you that he was both delighted and surprised. For how can you believe me, beautiful Princess?" said the voice, hesitatingly, "me, the most hideous of crayfish?" "Alas! I can well believe you," replied the one to whom she spoke; "I also might boast of being handsome, but is it possible to appear so in these frightful shells? Pray continue, however, for I am eager to hear the rest of your history." "Well, then," said the other voice, "the King was enchanted with me, loaded me with caresses, and asked the Queen if she had any news to tell him. 'Alas!' said she, 'who in this desert should come to tell me any? Besides, being occupied solely in lamenting your transformation, I have taken little interest in the world, which is nothing to me without you.' 'Well,' said the King, 'I will tell you some news, then; for do not think that I have been always asleep. The Fairies who protect us have disclosed to me the punishment of my subjects. They have made an immense pond of my kingdom, and all the inhabitants are men-fish. A nephew of the Fairy Marmotte, whom they have set up as their king, persecutes them with unequalled cruelty: he devours them for the least fault; and at the end of a certain time a prince will arrive who will dethrone him, and reign in his stead. It is in this kingdom that Camion will be made perfectly happy. This is all that I know; and it was not a bad way of passing my time' said he, laughing, 'to have discovered these things. The Fairies came every night to inform me of what was doing, and I should perhaps have known much more if you had let me remain a statue a little longer; but, however, I am so delighted to see you once more, that I do not think I shall very soon wish to become a statue again.'
"We passed some time in the happiest manner possible. The King and Queen, notwithstanding, were rather anxious when they thought of my approaching the age of thirteen. As the Queen bathed me with great care, she hoped that the prediction would not be fulfilled. But who can boast of escaping their destiny? One morning that the Queen had risen early, and was gathering some flowers to decorate our cottage, because the King was fond of them, she saw come out from beneath a tube-rose an ugly animal, something like a marmot. This beast threw itself on her, and bit her nose. She fainted with the pain which this bite occasioned her, and my father, at the end of an hour, not seeing her return, went to seek her. Judge of his consternation at finding her nearly dead, and covered with blood! He uttered fearful cries. I ran to his assistance, and we together carried the Queen into the house, and placed her in bed, where she was two hours without coming to herself. At length she began to give some signs of life, and we had the pleasure of seeing her very shortly recovered, except from the pain of the bite, which caused her much suffering.
"She asked directly if I had been to bathe: but we had quite forgotten it in our anxiety about her. She was much alarmed at hearing this; however, seeing that as yet no accident had happened to me, she became re-assured, and related to us her adventure, which surprised us immensely.
"The day passed over without any other trouble; the King had taken his gun and sought in every direction for the horrid beast without finding it. The next day at sunrise the Queen awoke and came to fetch me, to repair the fault of the preceding morning; she lowered me into the well as usual, but alas, fatal and unlucky day! at this same instant, although the heavens were quite serene, a dreadful clap of thunder rent the air, the sky seemed suddenly all on fire, and from a burning cloud there issued a flaming dart which flew into the well. My mother in her fright let go the cord which held me, and I sank to the bottom, without hurting myself, it is true, but horrified at discovering that I was partially transformed into an enormous fish which they call a whale. I rose to the surface again, and called the Queen with all my power. She did not reply. I was sadly afflicted and wept bitterly, as much for her loss as at my metamorphosis, when I felt that an invisible power forced me to descend to the bottom of the well. Having reached it, I entered a grotto of crystal, where I found a species of Nymph, ugly enough, for she was like an immensely fat frog. However, she smiled at my approach, and said to me--'Camion, I am the Nymph of the Bottomless Well; I have orders to receive thee, and to make thee undergo the penance to which thou art sentenced for having failed to bathe; follow me, and do not remonstrate.'
"What, alas, could I do? I was so distressed and so faint at finding myself on dry ground, that I had not the strength to speak. She dragged me, not without pain, into a saloon of green marble which was near the grotto; she there put me into an immense golden tub filled with water, and I then began to recover my senses. The good Nymph appeared delighted at this. 'I am called Citronette,' said she to me; 'I am appointed to wait on thee; thou canst order me to do anything thou wilt--I know perfectly well both the past and the present; as for the future, it is not my province to penetrate it. Command me, and at least I can render the time of thy penance less irksome to thee.'
"I embraced the good Citronette at these words, and related to her the events of my life. I then inquired of her what had become of the King and Queen. She was about to reply, when a hideous marmot, as large as a human being, entered the saloon, and froze me with horror. She walked upon her hind legs, and leant upon a gold wand, which gave her a dignified air. She approached the tub, in which I would willingly have drowned myself, I was so frightened, and raising her wand, with which she touched me--'Camion,' said she, 'thou art in my power, and nothing can release thee but thy obedience and that of the husband whom my sisters have destined for thee. Listen to me, and cast off this fear, which does not befit a person of your rank. Since thine infancy I wished to take care of thee, and to marry thee to my nephew, the King of the Whiting. Lumineuse, and two or three other of my sisters, combined to deprive me of this right; I was provoked, and not being able to revenge myself on them, I resolved to punish thee for their audacity. I doomed thee, therefore, to be a whale for at least half the term of thy existence. My sisters protested so strongly against what they called my injustice, that I diminished my vengeance by three-quarters and a half; but I reserved to myself the right of marrying thee to my nephew in return for my complaisance. Lumineuse, who is imperious, and unfortunately my superior, would not listen to this arrangement, because she had destined thee, before me, to a Prince whom she protected. I was compelled then to consent to her plan, in spite of my resentment; all that I could obtain was that the first who should deliver you from my claws should be thy husband. Here are their portraits,' continued she, showing me two gold miniature cases, 'which will enable thee to recognise them: but if one of them come to deliver thee, he must betroth himself to thee whilst thou art in the tub, and before thou canst leave it, he must tear off the skin of the whale; without that, thou wilt always remain a fish. My nephew would not hesitate a moment to execute that order; but the favourite of Lumineuse will consider it a horrible task, for he has the air of a very delicate little gentleman. Set, then, thy wits to work to make him skin thee, and after that thou shalt be no longer unhappy, if to be a beautiful whale, very fat and well fed, and up to the neck in water, can be called unhappiness.'
"To these words I made no reply, but remained very dejected, as much at my present state as by the thought of scaling to which I must submit.
"Marmotte disappeared, leaving with me the two miniature cases. I wept over my misfortunes and my situation, without dreaming of looking at the portraits, when the good and sympathising Citronette said to me, 'Come, we must not lament over ills which cannot be remedied. Let us see if I cannot help to console you; but first, try not to weep so much, for I have a tender heart, and I cannot see your tears without feeling inclined to mingle mine with them. Let us chase them away by looking at these portraits.'
"So saying, she opened the first case, and showing it to me, we both uttered shrieks like Melusine's  at seeing a hideous whiting's head, painted, it is true, with all the advantages which could be given to it; but, in spite of that, never in the memory of man had anything been seen so ugly. 'Take away that object,' cried I to her; 'I cannot bear the sight of it longer. I would rather be a whale all my life than marry that horrible Whiting!'
"She did not give me time to finish my imprecations on this monster, but said, 'Behold this darling young man! Oh, as for him, would he but skin you I should be delighted.' I looked hastily to see if what she said was true; I was only too soon convinced. A noble and charming countenance presented itself to my view; fine eyes full of tenderness embellished a face which was both mild and majestic; an air of intellectuality was spread over it, which completed the fascination of this delightful painting; a profusion of black hair, curling naturally, gave an air to it which Citronette mistook for indifference, but which I interpreted, and I think rightly, as conveying a precisely opposite sentiment.
"I contemplated this beautiful face with a pleasure of which I was scarcely conscious. Citronette remarked it first. 'Without a doubt,' cried she, 'that is the one we will choose.' This bantering roused me from my reverie, and colouring at my own ecstasy, 'Why should I trouble myself,' said I; 'ah, my dear Citronette, this appears to me very like another trick of that cruel Marmotte; she has exhausted her art in endeavouring to make me regret the impossibility of finding a similar object in nature.' 'What,' said Citronette, 'already such tender reflections on this portrait? Ah! truly, I did not expect that so soon.' I blushed again at this jest, and became quite embarrassed at finding that I had too innocently betrayed the effect which this beautiful painting had produced on my heart. Citronette again read my thoughts. 'No, no,' said she, embracing me, 'do not repent of this avowal, your frankness charms me; and to console you, I will tell you that Marmotte does not deceive you, and that there is in the world a Prince who is the veritable original of the picture.'
"This assurance filled me with joy at the moment; but the next instant that feeling departed, when I remembered that this Prince would never see me, as I was in the depths of the earth, and that Marmotte, by her power, would sooner enable her monster of a nephew to penetrate my abode than give the least assistance to a prince whom she hated, because they had destined me to him without her consent. I no longer concealed what I thought from Citronette; the attempt, indeed, would have been useless, for she read with surprising facility the utmost secret of my thoughts; I therefore preferred to take the credit of candour; she deserved my confidence for her attachment to me, and I found it a great consolation, for I have felt from that time that when the heart is filled with one object there is much happiness in being able to speak of it. In fact, I loved from that moment, and Citronette dissipated, with much address and clear-sightedness, the confusion and trouble which the commencement of a violent passion produces in the mind. She soothed my grief by allowing me to speak of it; and when I had exhausted words, she gently changed the conversation, which almost always, however, bore upon my troubles or my affection.
"She had informed me that the King, my father, was transported to the abode of the King of the Whiting; and that the Queen, at the moment that she lost me, had become a crayfish. I could not understand this. 'One cannot become a crayfish,' said I. 'Can you better understand how you have become a whale?' said she.
"She was right; but we are often surprised at things which happen to others, although we have in ourselves still greater subject for astonishment. My small experience was the cause of this. Citronette laughed frequently at my innocence, and was surprised to find me so eloquent in my affection, for truly I was so on that subject; and I found that love throws much light into the mind. I could not sleep; I woke the good-natured Citronette an hundred times in the night to talk to her of my Prince; she had told me his name, and that he hunted almost every day in the forest beneath which I was interred. She proposed to me to try to attract him to our dwelling, but I would not consent, although I was dying to do so. I was afraid that he would die for want of air; we were accustomed to it, that was a different thing; I feared also that it would be too great a freedom; besides, I was in despair at appearing to him in the form of a whale, and I measured his aversion for me by that which the portrait of the King of the Whiting had inspired me with. Citronette re-assured me, telling me that spite of the whale's body my face was charming. I believed it sometimes, but more often I was uneasy, and after having looked at myself, I could not imagine I was sufficiently handsome to inspire with love one who had made me so well acquainted with it. My self-love came to the support of my prudence. Alas! how rarely it is that our virtues can be traced to purer inspirations.
"I passed my time in forming projects for obtaining a sight of him, and letting him see me, and rejected by turns each that occurred to me. Citronette was a great assistance to me at this time; for it must be confessed that she has plenty of sense, and still more gentleness and amiability. One day that I was even more sad than usual--for love has the peculiarity of infecting gentle souls with melancholy--I saw the frightful Marmotte enter, with two persons whom I did not at first recognise. I took it into my head that it was her wretched nephew whom she brought with her; I uttered frightful shrieks as they approached me hastily. 'Why, she could not cry louder,' said the horrid Marmotte, 'if they were skinning her! Look what terrible harm is done to her!' 'Good gracious, sister,' said one of these persons who accompanied her, and whom I then remembered with joy having formerly seen in our village; 'a truce to your stories of skinning, and let us tell Camion what we have to tell her.' 'Willingly,' said Marmotte; 'but on the conditions which you are aware of.'
"'Camion,' said the good Fairy, without replying to Marmotte, 'we are too much distressed at your condition not to think of remedying it, more especially as you have not deserved it. My sisters and I have resolved to ameliorate it as much as lies in our power. This, therefore, is what we have determined on. You are about to be presented at the Court of the Prince to whom I have destined you from your infancy; but, my dear child, you will not appear there as you are, and you are commanded to return three nights a week and plunge again in your tub; for until you are married'--'and skinned!' interrupted the odious Marmotte, laughing violently. The good Fairy merely turned towards her, shrugging her shoulders, and continued--'Until you are married you will be a whale in this place. We can tell you no more; the rest you will be informed of by degrees; but above all keep your secret; for if a word escape you which tends to discover it, neither I nor my sisters can do anything for you, and you will be delivered up to my sister Marmotte.' 'That is what I expect,' said the wicked Fairy; 'and I already see her in my power; for a secret kept by a girl would be a phenomenon.' 'That is her own affair,' said Lumineuse (for it was she who had already spoken). 'To proceed, my daughter,' said she, 'you will become a little doll made of ivory, but capable of thinking and speaking; we shall preserve all your features, and I give you a week to consider whether what I propose to you will suit you; we will then return, and you shall tell me if you consent to it, or if you would prefer awaiting here the event which must bring you one of the two husbands selected for you.'
"I had not time to reply; the Fairies departed after these words, and left me astounded by what I had just seen and heard. I remained with Citronette, who represented to me that it was a great treat for me to become an ivory doll. I sighed when I thought that my Prince would never take a fancy to such a bauble; but at length the desire to see him and become acquainted with him overcame the anxiety to please him, and I resolved to accept the proposal which was made to me, and the more readily as Zirphil (for they had mentioned his name) might possibly be forestalled by the King of the Whiting, and this idea made me nearly die of grief.
"Citronette told me that Prince Zirphil hunted daily in the forest which was above us; and I made her take every day the form of a stag, a hound, or a wild boar, in order that she might bring me some news, which never failed to be in some way connected with the subject which occupied my heart. She described him to me as an hundred times handsomer than his picture, and my imagination embellished him to such a degree that I resolved to see him or to die. But one more day had to elapse before the expected arrival of the Fairies, and Citronette, in the form of a wild boar, was roaming the forest to find food for my curiosity, when suddenly I saw her return, followed by the too amiable Zirphil. I cannot describe to you my joy and astonishment; there are no terms which can express them to you. But what enchanted me most was, that this charming Prince appeared equally delighted with me; perhaps I desired this too much not to help to deceive myself. However, I thought I saw in his eyes that he felt the impression he had made. Citronette, more anxious for my happiness than mindful of our ecstasy, aroused us from it, by begging him either to skin or to marry me. Then coming to myself, and feeling the danger of my situation, I joined in her entreaties, and by our prayers and tears induced him to plight me his faith. I had hardly accepted it, when he vanished, I know not how, and I found myself in my ordinary form, lying on a good bed; I was no longer a whale, but I was still in the depths of the earth in the green saloon, and Citronette had lost the power of leaving it and of transforming herself.
"I expected the Fairies in a state of the greatest trepidation. My love had redoubled since I had become personally acquainted with its object, and I feared that my charming husband might be included in the vengeance of the Fairies for not having waited till they could witness my marriage. Citronette had enough to do to re-assure me; I could not overcome my grief and fear. Marmotte appeared with the dawn of day, but I neither saw Lumineuse nor her companion; she did not seem more irritable than usual; she touched me with her wand without speaking to me, and I became a charming little doll, which she put in her toothpick-case, and then transported herself into the presence of the Queen-mother of my betrothed. She gave me to her, with orders to marry me to her son, or to expect all the evil which she was capable of inflicting, telling her that I was her goddaughter, and was called the Princess Camion. I took, in fact, a great fancy to my mother-in-law; I considered her charming, as being the mother of Zirphil, whom I adored, and my caresses were returned by her. I was transported every night into the green saloon, and there enjoyed the pleasure of meeting my husband, for the same power acted on him, and transported him likewise into this subterraneous dwelling. I knew not why they forbad me to tell him my secret, as I was married; but I kept it in spite of his impatience to know it. You will see," continued the speaker, with a sigh, "how impossible it is to avoid one's fate. But it begins to get light, and I feel I am quite tired with being so long out of the water; let us return to the reservoir, and to-morrow, at the same hour, if we are not selected for the soup of that worthless King of the Whiting, we will resume the thread of our discourse.--Come, let us go."
Zirphil heard no more, and himself returned to his apartment, much concerned at not having made known to the Princess his being so near her; but the fear of increasing her misfortunes by this indiscretion, consoled him for not having risked it; the misery of knowing she was likely to perish by his hand made him resolve to continue his diligent search amongst the crayfish.
He retired to bed, but not to sleep, for he did not close his eyes all night. To have found his Princess in the form of a crayfish, ready to be made into soup for the King of the Whiting, appeared to him a still more frightful torment than the death to which he had believed her destined. He was sighing and distressing himself cruelly, when he was disturbed by a great noise in the garden; he at first heard it confusedly, but listening attentively, he distinguished flutes and conch shells. He rose and went to the window, when he saw the King of the Whiting, accompanied by the dozen sharks who composed his council, advancing towards the pavilion; he hastened to open the door, and the train having entered, the King first had his tub filled with sea water by the peers of the realm who bore it, and after a short repose, and making the council take their places, he addressed the young Prince, "Whoever you may be," said he, "you have resolved, apparently, to make me die of hunger, for you send me every day a broth which I cannot swallow; but, young man, I must tell you, that if you are leagued with evil powers to poison me, you have taken a very foolish part. As nephew of the Fairy Marmotte I am beyond all such attempts, and my life is safe."
The Prince, astonished at being suspected of so base an act, was about to reply with haughtiness, but by chance, as he raised his hand, he cast his eyes upon his ring, and saw therein Lumineuse, who placed her finger on her mouth as a sign to him to be silent; he had not before thought of consulting his ring, he had been so engrossed by his grief. He accordingly held his tongue: but he betrayed his indignation in his countenance, which the sharks remarked, for they made signs of approbation, which appeared to say that they did not believe him capable of such a thing. "Ho, ho!" said the King, "as this myrmidon appears so angry, we must make him work before us. Let them go to my kitchen; let them bring the mortar for the crayfish; I shall give my council a treat." Immediately a pike's-head went to execute the King's commands, and during this time the twelve sharks took a large net, which they threw into the reservoir from the window, and drew in three or four thousand crayfish. During the interval that the council was employed in fishing, and the pike's-head in fetching the King's mortar, Zirphil reflected, and felt that the most critical moment of his life approached, and that his happiness or misery would depend upon his present conduct. He armed himself with resolution for whatever might come to pass, and placing all his hopes in the Fairy Lumineuse, he implored her to be favourable to him. At the same moment he looked at his ring, and saw in it the beautiful Fairy, who made a sign to him to pound courageously; this revived him, and took from him some of the pain he felt at consenting to this cruelty.
At length the horrid mortar was produced. Zirphil approached it boldly, and prepared to obey the King. The council put in the crayfish with great ceremony, and the Prince tried to pound them; but the same thing happened to them as to the former ones in the kitchen--the bottom of the mortar opened and the flames devoured them. The King and the odious sharks amused themselves for a long time with this spectacle, and were never tired of filling the mortar; at length there was but one left of the four thousand; it was surprisingly large and fine. The King commanded that it might be shelled, in order to see if he should like to eat some of them raw. They gave it to Zirphil to shell; he trembled all over at having to inflict this new torture, but still more when this poor fish joined her two claws, and, with her eyes filled with tears, said, "Alas! Zirphil, what have I done to you that you should wish to do me so much harm?"
The Prince, moved by these words, and his heart pierced with grief, looked at her sadly, and at length took it on himself to beg the King to allow her to be pounded. The King, jealous of his authority, and firm in his resolution, was enraged at this humble request, and threatened to pound Zirphil himself if he did not shell it. The poor Prince took it again from the hands of the shark to whom he had confided it, and with a little knife which they had given him he tremblingly touched the crayfish; he looked at his ring, and saw Lumineuse laughing and talking to a veiled person whom she held by the hand. He could not understand this at all, and the King, who did not give him time to reflect, cried out to him so loudly to finish, that the Prince stuck the knife with such force under the shell of the crayfish that it cried piteously; he turned away his eyes from hers, and could not help shedding tears. At length he resumed his task, but to his great astonishment he had not finished the shelling when he found in his hands the wicked Marmotte, who jumped to the ground, uttering shrieks of laughter so loud and disagreeable in mockery of Zirphil, that it prevented him from fainting, or he would have fallen on the floor.
The King cried in astonishment, "Why, it is my aunt!" "And truly it is she," said this annoying animal. "But, my dear Whiting, I come to tell you a terrible piece of news." Whiting grew pale at these words, and the council assumed an air of satisfaction, which increased the ill-humour of the King and his terrible aunt. "The fact is, my darling," continued Marmotte, "you must return to your watery dominions, for this rash boy whom you see here has chosen to display a constancy that nothing can shake, and has triumphed over all the traps I set for him to prevent him from carrying off the Princess I had destined for you."
At these words the King of the Whiting fell into such a rage, that he could not contain himself: he committed extravagances which proved he was possessed of the most violent passions. Marmotte tried in vain to calm him; he broke his bowl into a thousand pieces, and, being on dry ground, he fainted. Marmotte, mad with rage, turned to Zirphil, who had remained a quiet spectator of this tragic scene, and said to him, "Thou hast conquered, Zirphil, by the power of a fairy whom I must obey; but thou art not yet at the end of thy troubles. Thou canst not be happy till thou shalt have given into my own hand the case which enclosed the accursed Camion. Even Lumineuse agrees to this, and I have obtained her consent for you to suffer until that time."
At these words she took the King of the Whiting on her shoulders, and threw him into the reservoir, as well as the sharks, the palace, and all its inhabitants. Zirphil found himself alone at the foot of a great mountain, in a country which was as arid as a desert, without being able to perceive the vestige of a habitation, or even of the great reservoir. All had disappeared at the same moment. The Prince was even more distressed than astonished at so extraordinary an event. He was accustomed to wonders--he was only alive to the grief which the persecution of the Fairy Marmotte occasioned him. "I cannot doubt," said he, "that I have pounded my Princess. Yes, I must have pounded her; yet I am none the happier for it. Ah, barbarous Marmotte! And you, Lumineuse, you leave me without help, after having obeyed you at the expense of all which a heart as sensitive as mine could suffer!"
His grief, and the little repose which he had taken since the previous night, threw him into such a state of weakness, that he would have sunk altogether if he had not had the courage to wish to live. "If I could but find something to support me," said he; "but in this horrible desert I shall seek in vain a single fruit which can refresh me." He had not pronounced the word when his ring opened, and a little table covered with excellent viands came out of it. It became in a moment large enough to accommodate the person for whom it was intended. He found on it all that could tempt his eye and his appetite, for the repast was so beautifully arranged, that in fact nothing was wanting, and the wine was delicious. He returned thanks to Lumineuse, for who else could have assisted him so opportunely? He ate, drank, and felt strong again.
When he had finished, the table lost its form, and re-entered the ring. As it was late, he did not make much progress in ascending the mountain, but stretched himself under a wretched tree, which had hardly enough leaves to protect him from the night air. "Alas!" said he, as he laid himself down, "such is the nature of man. He forgets the good that is past, and is only sensible of present evil. I would now willingly exchange my table for a couch a little less hard than this." A moment after he felt that he was in a comfortable bed; but he could see nothing, for it appeared to him that the darkness was redoubled. He ascertained that this was caused by the ample curtains which surrounded his bed, and protected him from the cold and dew, and having again thanked the good and attentive Lumineuse, he dropped off to sleep. On waking at daybreak, he found himself in an angel-bed,  of yellow taffety and silver, which was placed in the middle of a tent of satin of the same colour, embroidered all over with ciphers in bright silver, which formed the name of Zirphil, and all the ciphers were supported by whales formed of rubies. Everything that could possibly be required was to be found also in this beautiful tent. If the Prince had been in a more tranquil state of mind he would have admired this elegant habitation generally; but he only looked at the whales, dressed himself, and went out of the tent, which folded itself up, and re-entered the ring from which it had issued.
He began to ascend the mountain, taking no longer any trouble in seeking food or lodging, for he was certain to have both as soon as he wished for them. His only anxiety was to find Lumineuse; for his ring was mute on that subject, and he found himself in a country so strange to him, and so deserted, that he was necessarily compelled to trust to chance.
After having passed several days in ascending without discovering anything, he arrived at the brink of a well which was cut in the rock. He seated himself near it to rest, and began to exclaim, as usual, "Lumineuse, can I not find you, then?" The last time he pronounced these words, he heard a voice which proceeded from the well say, "Is it Zirphil who speaks to me?" His joy at hearing this voice was increased by recognising her to whom it belonged. He rushed to the brink of the well, and said, "Yes, it is Zirphil. And are you not Citronette?" "Yes," replied Citronette, emerging from the well, and embracing the Prince.
It is impossible to express the pleasure which this sight gave him. He overwhelmed the nymph with questions about herself and about the Princess. At length, after the excitement of their first meeting had subsided, they spoke more rationally together. "I am about to inform you," said she, "of all that you are ignorant of; for since the time you pounded us, we have enjoyed a happiness which was only alloyed by your absence, and I awaited your arrival here on the part of the Fairy Lumineuse, to tell you what remains for you to do in order to obtain possession of a Princess who loves you as much as you love her. But as some time must elapse before you can arrive at this happiness, I will relate to you the rest of the marvellous history of your amiable bride."
Zirphil kissed the hand of Citronette a thousand times, and followed her into her grotto, where he thought he should die of mingled pleasure and grief when he recognised the spot in which he had for the first time seen his divine Princess. At length, after partaking of a repast which came out of the ring, he begged the good Citronette to have the kindness to resume the narrative of the Princess from where she had herself left off in the palace garden.
"As it is here," said Citronette, "that Lumineuse is to meet you, you shall, whilst waiting for her, learn all that you wish to know, for it is useless for you to run after her. She confides you to my care, and a lover is less impatient when one talks to him about her whom he loves. The fairy Marmotte was not ignorant of your marriage; she had transformed our friend into an ivory doll, believing that you would be disgusted at her. Lumineuse conducted this affair herself, knowing that nothing could deprive you of the Princess if you married her, or if you destroyed her enchantment by skinning her. You chose the former alternative, and you know what followed. By night she resumed her proper form, and lamented at having to pass all her days in your royal mother's pocket, for Marmotte had been permitted by Lumineuse to torment the Princess until you had fulfilled your destiny, which was, to skin her; so enraged was she at finding that you had married her, and that the King of the Whiting, her nephew, could not become her husband.
"As the Princess was no longer a whale, there was no fish to skin; but Marmotte, fertile in expedients, determined to make you pound her, and had forbidden the Princess to tell you anything about it, under pain of your life, promising her afterwards the greatest felicity. 'How will he ever resolve to pound me?' said she when expecting you. 'Ah, my dear Citronette, if it were only my life that Marmotte threatened, I would give it cheerfully to shield my husband from the torments they prepared for him; but they attack his life--that life which is so dear to me. Ah, Marmotte! barbarous Marmotte! Is it possible that you can take pleasure in making me so miserable when I have never given you any cause for it?' She knew the period prescribed for your separation from her, but she dared not tell you of it. The last time that you saw her, you know that you found her in tears; you asked her the cause, she pretended it was on account of your attentions to little Camion, and accused you of inconstancy. You appeased her apparent jealousy; and the fatal hour at which Marmotte was to fetch her arrived. You were transported into the palace of the King, your father; the Princess and I were changed into crayfish, and placed in a little cane basket, which the Fairy put under her arm, and ascending a car drawn by two adders, we arrived at the palace of the King of the Whiting. This palace was that of the royal father of the Princess: the city, changed into a lake, formed the reservoir which we have inhabited, and all the men-fish that you have seen were the wicked subjects of that good King.
"I must tell you, my Lord," said Citronette, interrupting herself, "that that unfortunate Monarch, and the Queen, his wife, being in despair at the moment when the Princess sank to the bottom of the well, the Fairies who had formerly come to their assistance, appeared, to console them for her loss; but the unhappy pair knowing that it was to their kingdom that Camion would be exiled, chose to be there rather than at a distance from her, notwithstanding what they had to fear from the cruelty and ferocity of the King of the Whiting, whom his Aunt had caused to be crowned by these men-fish. The Fairies did not conceal from them the future fate of the Princess; and the King, her father, begged to be the clerk of the kitchen and keeper of the King of the Whiting's mortar. The Fairy immediately gave him a tap of her wand, and he became the pike-headed man you saw in that situation; and you need no longer be surprised at his having wept bitterly whenever you brought the crayfish to pound, for as he knew that his daughter must undergo this torture, he always thought she was amongst the number; and the miserable Monarch had not a moment's rest, because his daughter had no means of making herself known to him. The Queen had requested to be changed into a crayfish, in order to be with the Princess, and her wish was also granted.
"As soon as we arrived at the palace of the King of the Whiting, the Fairy presented us to him, and ordered him to have crayfish soup made for his dinner every day. We were then thrown into the reservoir. My first care was to seek the Queen, in order to soothe a little the grief of the Princess, but either by the decree of fate or stupidity on my part, I found it impossible to discover her. We passed our days in this mournful search, and our pleasantest moments were those in which we recalled the circumstances of our unhappy lives. You arrived at length, and they presented us to you; but the Fairy had forbidden us to make ourselves known before you should interrogate us, and we dared not infringe this rule, so continually were we compelled to submit to severities for trifles.
"The Princess told me she thought she should have died of fright at observing you in conversation with the cruel Marmotte; we saw you searching amongst our companions with a mortal impatience, it being obvious that, by the direction you took, you had little chance of arriving at us.
"We knew that we must be pounded; but we had also learnt that immediately after we should be restored to our former condition, and that the wicked Marmotte would have no further power over us. On the eve of the day on which you were to commence the infliction of this torture on us, we were all assembled in a cavity of the reservoir, weeping over our destiny, when Lumineuse appeared. 'Do not weep, my children,' said that admirable fairy; 'I come to inform you that you will escape the punishment they threaten you with, provided you go gaily to the mortar, and do not answer any questions that may be addressed to you. I can say no more at present--I am in haste; but do as I have told you, and you will not repent it. Let her whose fate appears the most cruel not lose hope--she will soon find relief.' We all thanked the Fairy, and appeared before you perfectly resolved to keep our secret. You spoke to some, who only made vague replies, and when you had chosen ten, we returned to the reservoir, where the assurance of our speedy deliverance inspired us with a natural gaiety which assisted the project of our protectress.
"The last words Lumineuse had spoken gave to the beautiful Camion a lightness of heart which rendered her charming in the eyes of her mother and me; for the Queen had at length recognised her, and we three were inseparable. At length your choice fell on the Queen and me, and we had not time to say adieu to the Princess. An unknown power acted on us at the moment, and inspired us with such gaiety that we thought we should die of laughter at the absurd things we said to each other. You carried us to the kitchen, and we had not touched the bottom of the fatal mortar before Lumineuse herself came to our assistance, and restoring me my natural form, transported me to my customary abode. I had the consolation of seeing the Queen and our companions also resume theirs, but I know not what became of them. The Fairy embraced me, and told me to await you, and relate to you everything when you should come to seek the Princess.
"I awaited this moment with impatience, as you will well believe, my Lord," said Citronette to the Prince, who listened most eagerly to her; "and yesterday I seated myself at the mouth of the well, when Lumineuse appeared. 'Our children are about to be made happy, my dear Citronette,' said she to me; 'Zirphil has only to recover the toothpick-case of Marmotte to finish his labours, for at length he has skinned the Princess.' 'Ah! great Queen,' cried I, 'are we so happy as to be certain of this?' 'Yes,' replied she, 'it is quite true; he thought that he only skinned Marmotte, but it was in reality the Princess. Marmotte was concealed in the handle of the knife he used for that act, and the instant he had finished his task she caused the Princess to vanish, and appeared in her place, for the purpose of again intimidating him!" "What!" cried the Prince, "was it to my charming bride that I did that harm? Have I had the barbarity to inflict on her such a cruel torment! Ah, heavens! she will never pardon me, and I do not deserve she should!" The unhappy Zirphil spoke so impetuously, and distressed himself so greatly, that poor Citronette was sorry she had told him this news.
"How," said she, at last, seeing that he was quite overcome by his reflections, "how, you did not know it?" "No, I did not know that," said he; "what determined me to take the shell off that unhappy and too charming crayfish was, that I saw Lumineuse in my ring speaking to a veiled person who even laughed with her, and who, I flattered myself, was my Princess; and I thought that she had passed through the mortar like the rest. Ah, I shall never forgive myself for this mistake!" "But, my Lord," said Citronette, "the charm depended on your skinning or pounding her, and you had done neither one nor the other; besides, the person to whom Lumineuse spoke was the mother of the Princess; they awaited the end of your adventure in order to seize on your bride and protect her for you; it was quite necessary that it should so happen." "Nevertheless," said the Prince, "if I had known it, I would rather have pierced my own heart with that horrid knife!" "But consider," said Citronette, "that in piercing your heart you would have left the Princess for ever in the power of your enemy and frightful rival, and that it is far better to have shelled her than to have died and left her in misery."
Apparently this argument, so obviously founded on truth, appeased the grief of the Prince, and he consented to take a little nourishment for his support. They had just finished, when the roof of the saloon opened, and Lumineuse appeared, seated upon a carbuncle drawn by a hundred butterflies; she descended from it, assisted by the Prince, who bathed the hem of her garment with a torrent of tears. The Fairy raised him, and said, "Prince Zirphil, to-day you are about to reap the fruit of your heroic labours. Console yourself, and enjoy at length your happiness. I have vanquished the fury of Marmotte by my prayers, and your courage has disarmed her: come with me to receive your Princess from her hands and mine." "Ah, Madam," cried the Prince, throwing himself at her feet, "am I not dreaming? Is it possible that my happiness is real?" "Do not doubt it," said the Fairy, "come to your kingdom and console the Queen, your mother, for your absence, and for the death of the King, your father: your subjects wait to crown you."
The Prince in the midst of his joy felt a pang at the tidings of the death of his father; but the Fairy to divert him from his affliction, made him place himself by her side, permitted Citronette to seat herself at their feet, and then the butterflies spread their brilliant wings, and set out for the empire of King Zirphil.
On the road, the Fairy told him to open his ring, and he there found the toothpick-case which he had to return to Marmotte. The King thanked the generous Fairy a thousand times over, and they arrived at the capital of his dominions, where they were expected with the utmost impatience. Zirphil's mother advanced to receive the Fairy as she descended from her car, and all the people becoming aware of the return of Zirphil, uttered acclamations which diverted him a little from his grief; he tenderly embraced his mother, and all ascended to a magnificent apartment which the Queen had prepared for the Fairy.
They had hardly entered, when Marmotte arrived in a car lined with Spanish leather, and drawn by eight winged rats. She brought with her the beautiful Camion, with the King and Queen, her father and mother. Lumineuse and the Queen hastened to embrace Marmotte, Zirphil respectfully kissed her paw, which she extended to him, laughing; and he returned her the toothpick case. She then permitted him to claim his bride, and presented her to the Queen, who embraced her with a thousand expressions of joy.
This numerous and illustrious assemblage began speaking all together. Joy reigned supreme amongst them. Camion and her charming husband were the only persons who could not speak a word. They had so much to say. There was an eloquence in their silence which affected every one present; the good Citronette wept with joy whilst kissing the hands of the divine Princess.
At length, Lumineuse took them both by the hand, and advancing with them towards the Queen, mother of Zirphil: "Behold, Madam," said she, "two young lovers who only wait your consent to be happy: complete their felicity; my sister Marmotte, the King and Queen, here present, and I myself, all request you to do so."
The Queen replied as she ought to this courteous speech, and tenderly embracing the happy pair, said, "Yes, my children, live happily together, and permit me, in relinquishing my crown to you, to participate in that happiness." Zirphil and the Princess threw themselves at her feet, from whence she raised them, and again embracing them, they conjured her not to abandon them, but to aid them by her counsels.
Marmotte then touched the beautiful Camion with her wand, and her clothes, which were already sufficiently magnificent, became silver brocade embroidered with carat diamonds, and her beautiful locks fell down and rearranged themselves so exquisitely that the Kings and Queens declared her appearance was perfectly dazzling: the toothpick-case which the Fairy held was changed into a crown formed entirely of brilliants, so beautiful and so well set that the room and the whole palace became illuminated by it. Marmotte placed it on the head of the Princess. Zirphil, in his turn, appeared in a suit similar to that of Camion; and from the ring which she had given him came forth a crown exactly like hers.
They were married on the spot, and proclaimed King and Queen of that fine country. The Fairies gave the royal wedding-breakfast, at which nothing was wanting. After having spent a week with them, and having overwhelmed them with good things, they departed, and reconducted the King and Queen, father and mother of Camion, into their kingdom, the old inhabitants of which they had punished, and repeopled it by a new race faithful to their master. As for Citronette, the Fairies permitted her to come and pass some time with her beautiful Queen, and consented to allow Camion, by only wishing for her, to see her whenever she pleased.
The Fairies at length departed, and never were people so happy as King Zirphil and Queen Camion. They found their greatest felicity in each other: and days seemed to them like moments. They had children who completed their happiness. They lived to an extreme old age; loving with the same intensity, and striving which should most please the other. On their decease their kingdom was divided, and after various changes it has become, under the dominion of one of their descendants, the flourishing empire of the Great Mogul.