'If you do not,' said Magotine, 'you may rest assured that your Green Serpent will suffer more.'

This threat caused the Queen to think of her utter feebleness. She began to walk, but, alas! it was useless. Oh! if the Fairy Protectress would only help her I Loudly she called, and lo! there stood the good fairy by her side.

'See,' said she, 'to what a pass your fatal curiosity has brought you!' So saying, she took her to the top of the mountain; she gave her a little carriage drawn by two white mice and told them to descend the mountain. Then she gave the little mice a vessel to fill up with the Water of Discretion for Magotine, and produced a little pair of iron shoes for Laideronnette to put on. She counselled her not to remain on the mountain and not to stay by the fountain, but to go into a little wood and to remain there three years, for then Magotine would think that she was getting the water or that she had perished in the awful perils of the voyage.

Laideronnette kissed and embraced the good Fairy Protectress, and thanked her a thousand times for her great favours. 'But, madam,' said Laideronnette, 'all the joys that you have given me will not lessen the sorrow of not having my Green Serpent.'

'He will come to you after you have been three years in the wood in the mountain,' said the fairy; 'and on your return you can give the water to Magotine.'

Laideronnette promised the fairy not to forget anything she had told her. So, when she got into her carriage, the mice took her to get the water, and afterwards they went to the wood that the fairy had told them about. There never was a more lovely place. Fruit hung on all the branches; and there were long avenues where the sun could not pierce; thousands of little fountains splashed, but the most wonderful thing of all was, that all the animals could speak.

Three years passed, and the time had now arrived for her departure with the water for Magotine. So Laideronnette told all the animals that she was sorry to leave them, and tears fell from her eyes, because she was so touched with the kindness they all had shown her.

She did not forget the vessel full of the Water of Discretion, nor the little shoes of iron that the good fairy had given her; and, just when Magotine thought her dead, she presented herself all of a sudden before her, the stones around her neck, the shoes of iron on her feet, and the vessel full of water in her hand.

Magotine on seeing her cried out in surprise. Where had she come from?

'Madam,' said Laideronnette, 'I passed three years in trying to get this water for you.'

Magotine roared with laughter when she thought of the awful job this poor Queen must have had to get it; but she regarded her attentively.

'What is it that I see?' she cried to Laideronnette, who had changed greatly. 'How did you become so beautiful?'

Laideronnette told her that she had washed in the Water of Discretion, and that was how she had become beautiful.

Magotine, on hearing this, threw the water on the ground. 'I will be avenged,' said she. 'Go down to the bottomless pit and ask Proserpine to give you the Essence of Long Life for me; I am always afraid of falling ill and dying. When you have done this you will be free. But mind you do not upset any; neither may you drink the tiniest drop.

The poor Queen, on hearing this new order, was terribly cut up. She began to cry; and Magotine, seeing this, was delighted. 'Go on, get away!' said she. 'Do not lose one moment.'

Laideronnette walked for a long time without finding the right path, turning first one way and then the other; then suddenly she saw the Fairy Protectress, who said to her:

'Do you know, beautiful Queen, that by the orders of Magotine your husband is to remain as he is until you take the Essence of Life to that wicked fairy?'

'I am yet a long way away,' said Laideronnette.

'Here,' said the Fairy Protectress, 'see, here is a branch of a tree: touch the earth and repeat this verse distinctly.'

The Queen once again kissed the knees of this really good and generous fairy, and at the same time repeated after her:

'Thou who all malice canst disarm,

Protect me as I rove! Deliver me from all who harm,

But not from him I love. For, if devoured I am to be,

He is my monster - none but he!'

And immediately, in answer to her prayer, a little boy more beautiful than any in heaven or earth came up to her. On his head was a garland of flowers, and in his hand a bow and arrow. The Queen knew at once that it was Love. He said to her:

'You appeal to me so tenderly that I deserted the heavens.' Love, who sang beautifully in verse, gave three knocks while singing this song:

'Earth, listen and my voice obey. It is Love who speaks: reveal the way!'

The earth obeyed: a path opened up, and Love took Laideronnette under his protection; and so they arrived at the mouth of hell. She expected to see her husband in the form of a serpent, but he had just finished his terrible punishment. The first thing that Laideronnette saw was indeed her husband; but she had never seen such a charming figure, nor any one so handsome; and neither had he seen any one so beautiful as she had become. Then the Queen said with extreme tenderness:

'Destiny! I bend the knee

To thee and thy decree: If he must dwell in deepest hell

He dwelleth there with me, For e'en in hell Til love him well

For all eternity.'

The King was full of joy and love, and showed it by the way he kissed her. Love, however, never did believe in wasting time, so he took the Queen to Proserpine. The Queen gave the compliments of the fairy Magotine, and begged her to give her the Essence of Long Life. Love took it and handed it to her, telling her not to forget the penalty that she had paid for her curiosity, and to take ever)' care this time. He would never leave them again. He conducted them to the fairy Magotine, and then, so that Magotine should not see him, he hid in their hearts.

During this time the fairy Magotine was so impressed with the beauty of human feelings, that she received the poor unfortunate King and Queen with some feeling of generosity. She gave them back the lovely palace with all the good things that they had before, and made the King head of the pagodas again. So they went home, and all the great sorrows that they had passed through they soon forgot in the greater joy of each other.

The Green Serpent

The Green Serpent

Laideronnette kissed and embraced the good Fairy Protectress.

The Green Serpent A French Fairy Tale Part 5 26