This section is from the book "Edmund Dulac's Fairy Book", by Edmund Dulac. Also available from Amazon: Edmund Dulac's Fairy-Book: Fairy Tales of the Allied Nations (Illustrated Edition).
Now as soon as they saw Laideronnette, they did not offer to kiss her or say they were pleased to see her; and they told her she was not to come to the marriage feast, nor to the ball afterwards. Poor little Laideronnette said she had not come to dance and be merry; neither had she come to the marriage feast; she had come because she felt homesick and wanted to see her father and mother. However, she would go away back to her castle near the Light of Dawn, for there the desert, the trees, and the fountains never reproached her with her ugliness when she came near them.
The King and Queen were sorry that they had been so unkind, and asked Laideronnette to remain two or three days; but Laideronnette was so upset that she refused. Then her sister Bellote gave her some silk, and Bellote's betrothed gave her some ribbons. Now, if Laideronnette had been like some people she would have thrown the silk and the ribbons at the Princess and her future husband. But Laideronnette was not like that, and she only felt a great sorrow in her little heart, and turned away and took her faithful nurse with her; and all the way home towards the Light of Dawn, Laideronnette never spoke a single word.
One day, when Laideronnette was walking in a very shaded valley in the forest, she saw on a tree a big green serpent, who lifted his head and said to her, 'Laideronnette, you are not the only unhappy person; look at my horrible form, and I was born more beautiful than you.' The Princess was so terrified to hear a serpent talk that she fled away and remained in her room for days, in case she should see or meet the green serpent again.
Eventually Laideronnette got tired of being shut up in her room all day alone, so one evening she came down and went to the edge of the sea, bewailing all the time her awful loneliness and her sad destiny, when suddenly she saw coming towards her over the waves a little barque of a thousand different colours and designs on its sides. The sail was beautifully embroidered in gold, and the Princess became very curious to see all the beauties that the barque must contain inside.
She made her way aboard. Inside she found it lined with lovely velvet, the seats of pure gold and the walls studded with diamonds; then, all of a sudden, the barque turned and went out to sea. The Princess ran up and caught hold of the oars, thinking to get back to her castle; but it was no use: she could do nothing at all. On and on went the barque and the poor little Princess wept bitterly at this new sorrow that had come to her.
'Magotine is doing me a bad turn again,' she thought, so she abandoned herself to her fate, hoping that she would die. 'Just after I was looking forward to a little pleasure in seeing my parents yesterday, comes one catastrophe on another; and now my sister is going to be married to a great Prince. What have I done that I should have to live alone in a desert spot because of my ugliness? Alas! for my company I have only a serpent - who speaks!'
These reflections brought tears from the Princess, and she gazed on every side to see which way death was coming for her. While looking and gazing she saw, approaching on the waves, a serpent, flashing green in the sunlight. He came up to the side of the barque and said: 'If you are good enough to receive help from a poor Green Serpent, tell me, for I am in a position to save your life.'
'Death is nothing to me compared to the sight of you,' cried the Princess; 'and, if you really want to do me a favour, never show yourself before my eyes again.'
The Green Serpent gave a big sigh (for that is the way of serpents in love), and, without replying at all, he dived to the bottom of the sea.
'What a horrible monster!' said the Princess to herself. 'His body is of a thousand green colours, and he has eyes like fire. I would rather die than that he should save my life. What love can he have for me, and by what right does he speak like a human being?'
Suddenly a voice replied to her thoughts, and it said, 'Listen, Laideronnette, it is not my fault that I am a Green Serpent; and it will not be for ever; but, I assure you, I am less ugly in my special way than you are in yours. All the same, it is not my wish to pain you; I would comfort you if you would only let me!'
The voice surprised the Princess very much, so sweet was it that she could not hold back her tears. 'I am not crying because I am afraid to die,' she answered, 'but I am hurt enough to weep over my ugliness. I have nothing to live for, why should I cry for fear of dying?'
While she was thus moralising, the little barque that floated with the wind ran into a rock and broke up into pieces, and, when all else had sunk, there remained of the wreck only two little pieces of wood. The poor Princess caught hold of these two little pieces and kept herself afloat; then, happily, her feet touched a rock and she scrambled up on to it.
Alas! what was that coming towards her now but the Green Serpent! As if he knew that she was afraid, he moved away a little, and said: 'You would be less afraid of me, Laideronnette, if you knew what advantages can be had through me; it is one of the punishments of my destiny, however, that I should frighten every one in the world.'
And with this he threw himself back into the sea, and Laideronnette remained alone on the rock in the middle of the ocean. On whichever side she looked she saw nothing but what would cause her despair; and darkness began to fall, and she had no food to eat, and Laideronnette did not know where to sleep.
'I thought,' said she sadly, 'that I should end my days at the bottom of the sea; but without a doubt this is to be the end; what sea-monster will come to eat me up?'
She crept higher and higher up the rock, and looked out over the sea. Darkness was falling fast, so she took off her dress and covered her head and face in it, so that she could not see the awful things that would pass in the night.