| The Fair One With The Golden Locks |
UT WHEN CABRIOLE perceived it was broad day, he fell a barking so loud that he waked his master. "Rise, sir," said he, "put on your clothes, and let us go and try our fortune." Avenant took his little dog's advice; got up, and dressed himself, went down into the garden, and out of the garden he walked insensibly to the river side, with his hat over his eyes, and his arms across, thinking of nothing but taking his leave; when all on a sudden he heard a voice call, "Avenant, Avenant!" upon which he looked around him, but seeing nothing, he concluded it was an illusion, and was proceeding in his walk; but he presently heard himself called again. "Who calls me?" said he; Cabriole, who was very little and looked closely into the water, cried out, "Never believe me, if it is not a gilded carp." Immediately the carp appeared, and with an audible voice said, "Avenant, you saved my life in the poplar meadow, where I must have died without your assistance; and now I am come to requite your kindness. Here, my dear Avenant, here is the ring which the Fair One with Locks of Gold dropped into the river." Upon which he stooped and took it out of the carp's mouth; to whom he returned a thousand thanks. And now, instead of returning home, he went directly to the palace with little Cabriole, who skipped about, and wagged his tail for joy, that he had persuaded his master to walk by the side of the river. The princess being told that Avenant desired an audience: "Alas," said she, "the poor youth has come to take his leave of me! He has considered what I enjoined him as impossible, and is returning to his master." But Avenant being admitted, presented her the ring, saying, "Madam, behold I have executed your command; and now, I hope, you will receive my master for your royal consort." When she saw her ring, and that it was noways injured, she was so amazed that she could hardly believe her eyes. "Surely, courteous Avenant," said she, "you must be favoured by some fairy; for naturally this is impossible." "Madam," said he, "I am acquainted with no fairy; but I was willing to obey your command." "Well, then, seeing you have so good a will," continued she, "you must do me another piece of service, without which I will never marry. There is a certain prince who lives not far from hence, whose name is Galifron, and whom nothing would serve but that he must needs marry me. He declared his mind to me, with most terrible menaces, that if I denied him, he would enter my kingdom with fire and sword; but you shall judge whether I would accept his proposal: he is a giant, as high as a steeple; he devours men as an ape eats chestnuts; when he goes into the country, he carries cannons in his pocket, to use instead of pistols; and when he speaks aloud he deafens the ears of those that stand near him. I answered him, that I did not choose to marry, and desired him to excuse me. Nevertheless, he has not ceased to persecute me, and has put an infinite number of my subjects to the sword: therefore, before all other things you must fight him, and bring me his head."
Avenant was somewhat startled by this proposal; but, having considered it awhile, "Well, madam," said he, "I will fight this Galifron; I believe I shall be vanquished; but I will die like a man of courage." The princess was astonished at his intrepidity, and said a thousand things to dissuade him from it, but all in vain. At length he arrived at Galifron's castle, the roads all the way being strewed with the bones and carcasses of men which the giant had devoured, or cut in pieces. It was not long before Avenant saw the monster approach, and he immediately challenged him; but there was no occasion for this, for he lifted his iron mace, and had certainly beat out the gentle Avenant's brains at the first blow, had not a crow at that instant perched upon the giant's head, and with his bill pecked out both his eyes. The blood trickled down his face, whereat he grew desperate, and laid about him on every side; but Avenant took care to avoid his blows, and gave him many great wounds with his sword, which he pushed up to the very hilt; so that the giant fainted, and fell down with loss of blood. Avenant immediately cut off his head; and while he was in an ecstasy of joy, for his good success, the crow perched upon a tree, and said, "Avenant, I did not forget the kindnesses I received at your hands, when you killed the eagle that pursued me; I promised to make you amends, and now I have been as good as my word." "I acknowledge your kindness, Mr. Crow," replied Avenant; "I am still your debtor, and your servant." So saying, he mounted his courser, and rode away with the giant's horrid head. When he arrived at the city, every body crowded after him, crying out, "Long live the valiant Avenant, who has slain the cruel monster!" so that the princess, who heard the noise, and trembling for fear she should have heard of Avenant's death, durst not inquire what was the matter. But presently after, she saw Avenant enter with the giant's head; at the sight of which she trembled, though there was nothing to fear. "Madam," said he, "behold your enemy is dead; and now, I hope, you will no longer refuse the king my master." "Alas!" replied the Fair One with Locks of Gold, "I must still refuse him, unless you can find means to bring me some of the water of the gloomy cave. Not far from hence," continued she, "there is a very deep cave, about six leagues in compass; the entrance into which is guarded by two dragons. The dragons dart fire from their mouths and eyes; and when you have got into this cave, you will meet with a very deep hole, into which you must go down, and you will find it full of toads, adders and serpents. At the bottom of this hole there is a kind of cellar, through which runs the fountain of beauty and health. This is the water I must have; its virtues are wonderful; for the fair, by washing in it, preserve their beauty; and the deformed it renders beautiful; if they are young, it preserves them always youthful; and if old it makes them young again. Now judge you, Avenant, whether I will ever leave my kingdom without carrying some of this water along with me." "Madam," said he, "you are so beautiful, that this water will be of no use to you; but I am an unfortunate ambassador, whose death you seek. However, I will go in search of what you desire, though I am certain never to return."
At length he arrived at the top of a mountain, where he sat down to rest himself; giving his horse liberty to feed, and Cabriole to run after the flies. He knew that the gloomy cave was not far off, and looked about to see whether he could discover it; and at length he perceived a horrid rock as black as ink, whence issued a thick smoke; and immediately after he spied one of the dragons casting forth fire from his jaws and eyes; his skin all over yellow and green, with prodigious claws and a long tail rolled up in an hundred folds. Avenant, with a resolution to die in the attempt, drew his sword, and with the phial which the Fair One with Locks of Gold had given him to fill with the water of beauty, went towards the cave, saying to his little dog, "Cabriole, here is an end of me; I never shall be able to get this water, it is so well guarded by the dragons; therefore when I am dead, fill this phial with my blood, and carry it to my princess, that she may see what her severity has cost me: then go to the king my master and give him an account of my misfortunes." While he was saying this, he heard a voice call "Avenant, Avenant!" "Who calls me?" said he; and presently he espied an owl in the hole of an old hollow tree, who, calling him again, said, "You rescued me from the fowler's net, where I had been assuredly taken, had you not delivered me. I promised to make you amends, and now the time is come; give me your phial; I am acquainted with all the secret inlets into the gloomy cave, and will go and fetch you the water of beauty." Avenant most gladly gave the phial, and the owl, entering without any impediment into the cave, filled it, and in less than a quarter of an hour returned with it well stopped. Avenant was overjoyed at his good fortune, gave the owl a thousand thanks, and returned with a merry heart to the city. Being arrived at the palace, he presented the phial to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, who had then nothing further to say. She returned Avenant thanks, and gave orders for every thing that was requisite for her departure: after which she set forward with him. The Fair One with Locks of Gold thought Avenant very amiable, and said to him sometimes upon the road, "If you had been willing, I could have made you a king; and then we need not have left my kingdom." But Avenant replied, "I would not have been guilty of such a piece of treachery to my master for all the kingdoms of the earth; though I must acknowledge your beauties are more resplendent than the sun."
At length they arrived at the king's chief city, who understanding that the Fair One with Locks of Gold was arrived, he went forth to meet her, and made her the richest presents in the world. The nuptials were solemnized with such demonstrations of joy, that nothing else was discoursed of. But the Fair One with Locks of Gold, who loved Avenant in her heart, was never pleased but when she was in his company, and would be always speaking in his praise: "I had never come hither," said she to the king, "had it not been for Avenant, who, to serve me, has conquered impossibilities; you are infinitely obliged to him; he procured me the water of beauty and health; by which I shall never grow old, and shall always preserve my health and beauty." The enviers of Avenant's happiness, who heard the queen's words, said to the king, "Were your majesty inclined to be jealous, you have reason enough to be so, for the queen is desperately in love with Avenant." "Indeed," said the king, "I am sensible of the truth of what you tell me; let him be put in the great tower, with fetters upon his feet and hands." Avenant was immediately seized. However, his little dog Cabriole never forsook him, but cheered him the best he could, and brought him all the news of the court. When the Fair One with Locks of Gold was informed of his misfortunes, she threw herself at the king's feet, and all in tears besought him to release Avenant out of prison. But the more she besought him the more he was incensed, believing it was her affection that made her so zealous a suppliant in his behalf. Finding she could not prevail, she said no more to him, but grew very pensive and melancholy.
The king took it into his head that she did not think him handsome enough; so he resolved to wash his face with the water of beauty, in hopes that the queen would then conceive a greater affection for him than she had. This water stood in a phial upon a table in the queen's chamber, where she had put it, that it might not be out of her sight. But one of the chambermaids going to kill a spider with her besom, by accident threw down the phial, and broke it, so that the water was lost. She dried it up with all the speed she could, and not knowing what to do, she bethought herself that she had seen a phial of clear water in the king's cabinet very like that she had broken. Without any more ado, therefore, she went and fetched that phial, and set it upon the table in place of the other. This water which was in the king's cabinet, was a certain water which he made use of to poison the great lords and princes of his court when they were convicted of any great crime; to which purpose, instead of cutting off their heads, or hanging them, he caused their faces to be rubbed with this water, which cast them into so profound a sleep that they never waked again. Now the king one evening took this phial, and rubbed his face well with the water, after which he fell asleep and died. Cabriole was one of the first that came to a knowledge of this accident, and immediately ran to inform Avenant of it who bid him go to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, and remind her of the poor prisoner. Cabriole slipped unperceived through the crowd, for there was a great noise and hurry at court upon the king's death; and getting to the queen, "Madam," said he, "remember poor Avenant." She presently called to mind the afflictions he had suffered for her sake, and his fidelity. Without speaking a word, she went directly to the great tower, and took off the fetters from Avenant's feet and hands herself; after which, putting the crown upon his head, and the royal mantle about his shoulders, "Amiable Avenant," said she, "I will make you a sovereign prince, and take you for my consort." Avenant threw himself at her feet, and in terms the most passionate and respectful returned her thanks. Every body was overjoyed to have him for their king: the nuptials were the most splendid in the world; and the Fair One. with Locks of Gold lived a long time with her beloved Avenant, both happy and contented in the enjoyment of each other.