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).
After a long time she fell asleep, and dreamt that she heard the most melodious music, and she tried to persuade herself that she was awake, but in a second she heard a voice singing, as if to her alone: 'Suffer the love that wounds you: It is a tender fire. The love that follows and surrounds you
To your love would aspire. Banish fear, forgo all grieving: Love hath joys past all believing.
Stiffer the love that wounds you: It is a tender fire.'
At the end of this song she woke up at once. 'What happiness or what misfortune threatens me?' said she. She opened her eyes very carefully, for she was full of fear, expecting to find herself surrounded by monsters from the sea; but, imagine her surprise to find herself in a chamber all glittering with gold! The bed on which she lay was perfect, and the most beautiful to be seen anywhere in the wide world. Laideronnette got up and went out on to a wide balcony, where she saw all the beauties of nature before her. The gardens were full of flowers - flowers that gave out the rarest perfume; fountains splashed everywhere, and were surmounted by lovely figures; and outside the gardens was a wonderful forest green with verdure. The palace and the walls were encrusted with precious stones, the roofs and ceilings were made of pearls, so beautifully done that it was a perfect work of art. From the tower of the palace could be seen beyond the forest a sea calm and placid, just like a sheet of glass, and on the sea floated thousands of little boats with all kinds of different sails, which, when caught by the wind, had the most lovely effect imaginable.
'Gods, sweet gods!' cried Laideronnette, 'what do I see? Where am I? Is it possible that I am in heaven - I who yesterday was in peril in a barque?' She walked as she spoke, then she stopped; what noise was that she heard in her apartment? She turned and entered her room, and, coming towards her, she saw a hundred little animated pagodas, all of different designs. Some were very beautiful, while others were extremely ugly. In fact there was hardly any difference between the little pagodas and the people who inhabit the world.
The pagoda which now presented itself before Laideronnette was the deputy of the King. It said that sometimes it went travelling all over the world, but was allowed to do so only on one condition: namely, that it did not talk to any one; otherwise the King would not give the necessary permission. On its return it entertained the King by recounting all that it had heard and seen; moreover, it held the most precious secrets of the court. 'It will be a pleasure to serve you, madam,' it went on, 'and everything you want we shall be delighted to get for you; in the meantime we will play for you and dance so that you will have plenty to make you happy.' And they all began to dance and sing, and play on castanets and tambourines.
When they had finished, the principal pagoda said to the Princess: 'Listen, madam, these hundred pagodas are here expressly to serve you, and any mortal thing you want in the world you have only to ask for it and it shall be yours at once.' The little pagodas paused in their movements and came near to Laideronnette, and she saw at a glance that they were simply lovely. Looking inside, she saw that they contained presents for her, some useful and others so beautiful that she could only cry out with joy.
The biggest pagoda, which was a little figure of pure diamonds, then came up to Laideronnette and asked her if she would now like her bath in the little grotto. The Princess walked, between a guard of honour, to the place it pointed to, and there she saw two beautiful baths of crystal, and from them came such a lovely fragrance that Laideronnette could not help remarking about it. Then she asked why there were two bathing places, and they told her that one was for her and the other for the King of the Pagodas.
'But where is he, then?' cried Laideronnette.
'Madam,' said they, 'at present he is at the war; but you shall see him on his return.'
The Princess asked them if he was married, and they shook their little top turrets, meaning that he was not. Then they told her that he was so good and kind that he had never found any one good enough to marry.
Laideronnette then undressed herself and got into the bath, and at once the pagodas began to sing and play. Then, when the Princess was ready to come out of her bath, she was given a dress of shining colours, and they all walked before her to her room, where her toilet was made by maids, all of them quaint little pagodas.
The Princess was astounded, and expressed her delight at her great good fortune.
There was not a day that the pagodas did not come and tell her all the news of the courts where they had been in different parts of the world. People plotting for war, others seeking for peace; wives who were unfaithful, old widowers who married wives a thousand times more unsuitable than those they had lost; discovered treasures; favourites at court, and out of it, who had fallen from the coveted seat they occupied; jealous wives, to say nothing at all about husbands; women who flirted, and naughty children; - in fact they told her everything that was going on, to make her happy and to help to pass the time away.
Now one night it happened that the Princess could not sleep, and she lay awake, thinking. At last she said: 'What is going to happen to me? Shall I always be here? My life is passed more happily than I ever could wish; but, all the same, there is a feeling in my heart that there is something missing.'
'Ah! Princess,' said a voice, 'is it not your own fault? If you would only love me, you would recognise at once that it would be possible to remain in this palace for ever, alone with the one you loved, without ever wishing to leave it.'
'Which little pagoda is speaking to me now?' she asked.
'What dreadful counsel to give me, contrary to all I have been taught in my life!'