Girofle'e told her not to go out any more, but to stay in and read some books that she would find for her; but, after a little thought, the Princess found it too awful to be shut up in one little room all day long, so the next morning she went out again into the forest, and wandered through the beautiful dells and glades. After going some distance she saw a young hunter lying down on the mossy bank asleep, and, approaching him cautiously, she found that she was now so very close to him that it would be impossible to get away before he awoke. Then again, he was so handsome, that, instead of running away, she rubbed her little nose against the young hunter. What was her surprise to see that it was her dear Prince! for he, at her caress, opened his eyes, and she at once recognised him. And when he jumped up and stroked and patted her, she trembled with delight and raised her beautiful eyes to his in the dumb eloquence of love.

'Ah! little White Hind,' said he, 'if you only knew how miserable I am, and what the cause of it is, you would not envy me! I love you, little Hind, and I will take care of you and look after you.' And with this he went farther into the forest to find some green herbs for her.

Now the Hind with a sudden fright found its heels again, and, just because she wanted so much to stay, she bounded off as fast as she could go, and never stopped till she reached home, where in great excitement she told Giroflee all that had happened.

The Prince, when he returned and found that the Hind had disappeared, went back also to the hut, and told the old woman that the Hind had deserted him just when he had been so very kind to it and had gone in search of food for it. The Warrior Prince then explained to Becafigue that it was only to see the little Hind that he had remained so long, and that on the morrow he would depart and go away. But he did not.

The Princess in the meantime resolved to go a long way into the forest on the morrow, so as to miss the Prince; but he guessed her little trick, and so the next day he did the same as she. Then, suddenly, in the distance he saw the Hind so plainly that he let fly an arrow to attract its attention. What was his dismay to see the arrow pierce the flank of the poor little Hind I She fell down immediately on a mossy bank, and swiftly the Prince ran up. He was so upset at what had happened, that he flew and got leaves and stopped the bleeding. Then he said:

'Is it not your fault, little flier? You ran away and left me yesterday, and the same would have happened to-day if this had not occurred.'

The Hind did not reply at all; what could she say? And besides, she was in too much pain to do anything but moan.

The Prince caressed her again and again. 'What have I done to you?' he said. 'I love you, and I cannot bear to think I have wounded you.'

But her moaning went on. At last the Prince resolved to go to the hut and get something to carry her on, but before he went he tied her up with little ribbons, and they were tied in such a manner that the Princess could not undo them. As she was trying to free herself she saw Giroflee coming towards her, and made a sign to her to hasten; and, strange to say, Giroflee reached her exactly at the same moment as the Prince with Becaficnie.

'I have wounded this little Hind, madam,' said the Prince, 'and she is mine.'

'Sir,' replied Giroflee, 'this little Hind is well known to me and, if you want to see how she recognises me, you will give her her liberty.'

The Prince then cut the ribbons in compliance with her request.

'Come along, my little Hind,' said Giroflee; ' kiss me!'

At this the little Hind threw herself on Giroflee's neck. 'Nestle to my heart! Now give me a sigh!' The Hind obeyed, and the Prince could not doubt that what Giroflee said was true.

'I give her to you,' said the Prince; 'for I see she loves you.'

Now when Becafigue saw Giroflee, he told the Prince that he had seen her in the castle with the Princess Desiree, and that he knew that Giroflee was staying in a part of their own hut. Why could they not find out if the Princess was staying there also? So the following night, the Prince having agreed, Becafigue listened through a chink in the wall of the hut, and what was his surprise to hear two voices talking! One said:

'Oh, that I might die at once! It would be better than to remain a Hind all the days of my life! What a fate! Only to be myself to you, and to all others a little White Hind I How terrible never to be able to talk to my Prince!'

Becafigue put his eye to the chink and this is what he saw.

There was the Princess in a beautiful dress all shining with gold. In her lovely hair were diamonds, but the tears in her eyes seemed to sparkle even more brightly. She was beautiful beyond words, and disconsolate beyond sorrow.

Becafigue nearly cried out with joy at sight of her. He ran off at once and told the Prince.

'Ah! seigneur,' said he, 'come with me at once and you will see in the flesh the maiden you love.'

The Prince ran with him, and when they came on tiptoe to the chink in the wall, he looked and saw his dear Princess.

Then so great was his joy that he could not be restrained. He went and knocked at the door, resolving to see his Princess at once.

Giroflee, thinking it was the old woman, opened the door, and the Prince immediately dashed into the room and threw himself at the feet of the Princess, and kissed her hand and told her how much he loved her.

'What! my dear little Princess, was it you that I wounded as a little Hind? What can I do to show my sorrow for so great a crime?'

The way in which he spoke put all the doubts from the Princess's mind. The Prince, knowing all, loved her. She bade him rise, and then stood with downcast eyes, fearing the worst. Her fears were justified: in a moment his arms were around her, and she was sobbing for joy on his breast.

They had stood a moment so, when suddenly the Prince started and listened. What sound was that? It was the tramp of armed men; nearer and nearer it came - the threatening sound of an advancing host. He opened the window, and, on looking out, saw a great army approaching. They were his own soldiers, going up against Desiree's father to avenge the insult offered to their Prince. And the King his father was at their head, in a litter of gold.

When the Warrior Prince saw that his father was there he ran out to him and threw his arms round his neck and kissed him.

'Where have you been, my son?' said the King. 'Your absence has caused me great sorrow!'

Then the Prince told him all about Long-Epine, and how the Princess had been changed into a Hind through her disregard of the Fairy's warning.

The King was terribly grieved at this news, and turned his eyes to heaven and clasped his hands. At this moment the Princess Desiree came out, mounted on a pure-white horse and looking more beautiful and lovely than she had ever been. Girofiee was also with her as her attendant. The spell had been removed for ever.

At sight of them the old King blessed them, and said that he would give his kingdom to his son as soon as he was married to the Princess Desiree. The Princess thanked him a thousand times for his goodness, and then the King ordered the army to return to the city, for there would be no war, but only rejoicing.

Back into the capital, a mighty procession - an army headed by its rulers, and victorious without striking a blow. Great was the joy of all the people to see the Prince and the Princess, and they showered upon them heaps of presents the like of which was never seen.

The faithful Becafigue begged the Prince to allow him to marry Giroflee. She was delighted to have such a great offer, and more than delighted to remain in a land where she would always be with her dear Princess.

Now the Fairy Tulip, when she heard all that had happened, resolved, out of the goodness of her heart, to give Giroflee a splendid present, so that her husband should not have the advantage of being the richer. It will astonish you to hear that she gave her four big gold mines in India; and you know what gold mines in India are worth.

And the marriage feasts lasted several months. Each day was a greater day than the one before; and every day the adventures of the little White Hind were sung throughout the country, even as they are still sung, in boudoir, fireside, and camp, to this very day.

The Hind Of The Wood A French Fairy Tale Part 5 14