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 THERE were a king and queen who were dotingly fond of their only son, notwithstanding that he was equally deformed2 in mind and person. The king was quite sensible of the evil disposition3 of his son, but the queen in her excessive fondness saw no fault whatever in her dear Furibon, as he was named. The surest way to win her favor was to praise Furibon for charms he did not possess. When he came of age to have a governor, the king made choice of a prince who had an ancient right to the crown, but was not able to support it. This prince had a son, named Leander, handsome, accomplished4, amiable5—in every respect the opposite of Prince Furibon. The two were frequently together, which only made the deformed prince more repulsive6.  
One day, certain ambassadors having arrived from a far country, the prince stood in a gallery to see them; when, taking Leander for the king's son, they made their obeisance7 to him, treating Furibon as a mere8 dwarf9, at which the latter was so offended that he drew his sword, and would have done them a mischief10 had not the king just then appeared. As it was, the affair produced a quarrel, which ended in Leander's being sent to a far-away castle belonging to his father.
There, however, he was quite happy, for he was a great lover of hunting, fishing, and walking: he understood painting, read much, and played upon several instruments, so that he was glad to be freed from the fantastic humors of Furibon. One day as he was walking in the garden, finding the heat increase, he retired12 into a shady grove13 and began to play upon the flute14 to amuse himself. As he played, he felt something wind about his leg, and looking down saw a great adder15: he took his handkerchief, and catching16 it by the head was going to kill it. But the adder, looking steadfastly17 in his face, seemed to beg his pardon. At this instant one of the gardeners happened to come to the place where Leander was, and spying the snake, cried out to his master: “Hold him fast, sir; it is but an hour since we ran after him to kill him: it is the most mischievous18 creature in the world.”
Leander, casting his eyes a second time upon the snake, which was speckled with a thousand extraordinary colors, perceived the poor creature still looked upon him with an aspect that seemed to implore19 compassion20, and never tried in the least to defend itself.
“Though thou hast such a mind to kill it,” said he to the gardener, “yet, as it came to me for refuge, I forbid thee to do it any harm; for I will keep it, and when it has cast its beautiful skin I will let it go.” He then returned home, and carrying the snake with him, put it into a large chamber21, the key of which he kept himself, and ordered bran, milk, and flowers to be given to it, for its delight and sustenance22; so that never was snake so happy. Leander went sometimes to see it, and when it perceived him it made haste to meet him, showing him all the little marks of love and gratitude23 of which a poor snake was capable, which did not a little surprise him, though he took no further notice of it.
In the meantime all the court ladies were extremely troubled at his absence, and he was the subject of all their discourse24. “Alas25!” cried they, “there is no pleasure at court since Leander is gone, of whose absence the wicked Furibon is the cause!” Furibon also had his parasites26, for his power over the queen made him feared; they told him what the ladies said, which enraged27 him to such a degree that in his passion he flew to the queen's chamber, and vowed28 he would kill himself before her face if she did not find means to destroy Leander. The queen, who also hated Leander, because he was handsomer than her son, replied that she had long looked upon him as a traitor29, and therefore would willingly consent to his death. To which purpose she advised Furibon to go a-hunting with some of his confidants, and contrive30 it so that Leander should make one of the party.
“Then,” said she, “you may find some way to punish him for pleasing everybody.”
Furibon understood her, and accordingly went a-hunting; and Leander, when he heard the horns and the hounds, mounted his horse and rode to see who it was. But he was surprised to meet the prince so unexpectedly; he alighted immediately and saluted31 him with respect; and Furibon received him more graciously than usual and bade follow him. All of a sudden he turned his horse and rode another way, making a sign to the ruffians to take the first opportunity to kill him; but before he had got quite out of sight, a lion of prodigious32 size, coming out of his den11, leaped upon Furibon; all his followers33 fled, and only Leander remained; who, attacking the animal sword in hand, by his valor34 and agility35 saved the life of his most cruel enemy, who had fallen in a swoon from fear. When he recovered, Leander presented him his horse to remount. Now, any other than such a wretch36 would have been grateful, but Furibon did not even look upon him; nay37, mounting the horse, he rode in quest of the ruffians, to whom he repeated his orders to kill him. They accordingly surrounded Leander, who, setting his back to a tree, behaved with so much bravery that he laid them all dead at his feet. Furibon, believing him by this time slain38, rode eagerly up to the spot. When Leander saw him he advanced to meet him. “Sir,” said he, “if it was by your order that these assassins came to kill me, I am sorry I made any defense39.”
“You are an insolent40 villain41!” replied Furibon, “and if ever you come into my presence again, you shall surely die.”
Leander made no answer, but retired sad and pensive42 to his own home, where he spent the night in pondering what was best for him to do; for there was no likelihood he should be able to defend himself against the power of the king's son; therefore he at length concluded he would travel abroad and see the world. Being ready to depart, he recollected43 his snake, and, calling for some milk and fruits, carried them to the poor creature for the last time; but on opening the door he perceived an extraordinary luster44 in one corner of the room, and casting his eye on the place he was surprised to see a lady, whose noble and majestic45 air made him immediately conclude she was a princess of royal birth. Her habit was of purple satin, embroidered46 with pearls and diamonds; she advanced toward him with a gracious smile.
“Young prince,” said she, “you find no longer your pet snake, but me, the fairy Gentilla, ready to requite47 your generosity48. For know that we fairies live a hundred years in flourishing youth, without diseases, without trouble or pain; and this term being expired, we become snakes for eight days. During that time it is not in our power to prevent any misfortune that may befall us; and if we happen to be killed, we never revive again. But these eight days being expired, we resume our usual form and recover our beauty, our power, and our riches. Now you know how much I am obliged to your goodness, and it is but just that I should repay my debt of gratitude; think how I can serve you and depend on me.”
The young prince, who had never conversed49 with a fairy till now, was so surprised that it was a long time before he could speak. But at length, making a profound reverence50, “Madam,” said he, “since I have had the honor to serve you, I know not any other happiness that I can wish for.”
“I should be sorry,” replied she, “not to be of service to you in something; consider, it is in my power to bestow51 on you long life, kingdoms, riches; to give you mines of diamonds and houses full of gold; I can make you an excellent orator52, poet, musician, and painter; or, if you desire it, a spirit of the air, the water, or the earth.”
Here Leander interrupted her. “Permit me, madam,” said he, “to ask you what benefit it would be to me to be a spirit?”
“Much,” replied the fairy, “you would be invisible when you pleased, and might in an instant traverse the whole earth; you would be able to fly without wings, to descend53 into the abyss of the earth without dying, and walk at the bottom of the sea without being drowned; nor doors, nor windows, though fast shut and locked, could hinder you from entering anywhere; and whenever you had a mind, you might resume your natural form.”
“Oh, madam!” cried Leander, “then let me be a spirit; I am going to travel, and should prefer it above all those other advantages you have so generously offered me.”
Gentilla thereupon stroking his face three times, “Be a spirit,” said she; and then, embracing him, she gave him a little red cap with a plume54 of feathers. “When you put on this cap you shall be invisible; but when you take it off you shall again become visible.”
Leander, overjoyed, put his little red cap upon his head and wished himself in the forest, that he might gather some wild roses which he had observed there: his body immediately became as light as thought; he flew through the window like a bird; though, in flying over the river, he was not without fear lest he should fall into it, and the power of the fairy not be able to save him. But he arrived in safety at the rose-bushes, plucked the three roses, and returned immediately to his chamber; presented his roses to the fairy, overjoyed that his first experiments had succeeded so well. She bade him keep the roses, for that one of them would supply him with money whenever he wanted it; that if he put the other into his mistress' bosom55, he would know whether she was faithful or not; and that the third would keep him always in good health. Then, without staying to receive his thanks, she wished him success in his travels and disappeared.
Leander, infinitely56 pleased, settled his affairs, mounted the finest horse in the stable, called Gris-de-line, and attended by some of his servants in livery, made his return to court. Now you must know Furibon had given out that had it not been for his courage Leander would have murdered him when they were a-hunting; so the king, being importuned57 by the queen, gave orders that Leander should be apprehended59. But when he came, he showed so much courage and resolution that Furibon ran to the queen's chamber and prayed her to order him to be seized. The queen, who was extremely diligent60 in everything that her son desired, went immediately to the king. Furibon, being impatient to know what would be resolved, followed her; but stopped at the door and laid his ear to the keyhole, putting his hair aside that he might the better hear what was said. At the same time, Leander entered the court-hall of the palace with his red cap upon his head, and perceiving Furibon listening at the door of the king's chamber, he took a nail and a hammer and nailed his ear to the door. Furibon began to roar, so that the queen, hearing her son's voice, ran and opened the door, and, pulling it hastily, tore her son's ear from his head. Half out of her wits, she set him in her lap, took up his ear, kissed it, and clapped it again upon its place; but the invisible Leander, seizing upon a handful of twigs62, with which they corrected the king's little dogs, gave the queen several lashes63 upon her hands, and her son as many on the nose: upon which the queen cried out, “Murder! murder!” and the king looked about, and the people came running in; but nothing was to be seen. Some cried that the queen was mad, and that her madness proceeded from her grief to see that her son had lost one ear; and the king was as ready as any to believe it, so that when she came near him he avoided her, which made a very ridiculous scene. Leander, then leaving the chamber, went into the garden, and there, assuming his own shape, he boldly began to pluck the queen's cherries, apricots, strawberries, and flowers, though he knew she set such a high value on them that it was as much as a man's life was worth to touch one. The gardeners, all amazed, came and told their majesties64 that Prince Leander was making havoc65 of all the fruits and flowers in the queen's gardens.
“What insolence66!” said the queen: then turning to Furibon, “my pretty child, forget the pain of thy ear but for a moment, and fetch that vile67 wretch hither; take our guards, both horse and foot, seize him, and punish him as he deserves.”
Furibon, encouraged by his mother, and attended by a great number of armed soldiers, entered the garden and saw Leander; who, taking refuge under a tree, pelted68 them all with oranges. But when they came running toward him, thinking to have seized him, he was not to be seen; he had slipped behind Furibon, who was in a bad condition already. But Leander played him one trick more; for he pushed him down upon the gravel69 walk, and frightened him so that the soldiers had to take him up, carry him away, and put him to bed.
Satisfied with this revenge, he returned to his servants, who waited for him, and giving them money, sent them back to his castle, that none might know the secret of his red cap and roses. As yet he had not determined70 whither to go; however, he mounted his fine horse Gris-de-line, and, laying the reins71 upon his neck, let him take his own road: at length he arrived in a forest, where he stopped to shelter himself from the heat. He had not been above a minute there before he heard a lamentable72 noise of sighing and sobbing73; and looking about him, beheld74 a man, who ran, stopped, then ran again, sometimes crying, sometimes silent, then tearing his hair, then thumping75 his breast like some unfortunate madman. Yet he seemed to be both handsome and young: his garments had been magnificent, but he had torn them all to tatters. The prince, moved with compassion, made toward him, and mildly accosted76 him. “Sir,” said he, “your condition appears so deplorable that I must ask the cause of your sorrow, assuring you of every assistance in my power.”
“Oh, sir,” answered the young man, “nothing can cure my grief; this day my dear mistress is to be sacrificed to a rich old ruffian of a husband who will make her miserable77.”
“Does she love you, then?” asked Leander.
“I flatter myself so,” answered the young man.
“Where is she?” continued Leander.
“In the castle at the end of this forest,” replied the lover.
“Very well,” said Leander; “stay you here till I come again, and in a little while I will bring you good news.”
He then put on his little red cap and wished himself in the castle. He had hardly got thither78 before he heard all sorts of music; he entered into a great room, where the friends and kindred of the old man and the young lady were assembled. No one could look more amiable than she; but the paleness of her complexion79, the melancholy80 that appeared in her countenance81, and the tears that now and then dropped, as it were by stealth from her eyes, betrayed the trouble of her mind.
Leander now became invisible, and placed himself in a corner of the room. He soon perceived the father and mother of the bride; and coming behind the mother's chair, whispered in her ear, “If you marry your daughter to that old dotard, before eight days are over you shall certainly die.” The woman, frightened to hear such a terrible sentence pronounced upon her, and yet not know from whence it came, gave a loud shriek82 and dropped upon the floor. Her husband asked what ailed61 her: she cried that she was a dead woman if the marriage of her daughter went forward, and therefore she would not consent to it for all the world. Her husband laughed at her and called her a fool. But the invisible Leander accosting83 the man, threatened him in the same way, which frightened him so terribly that he also insisted on the marriage being broken off. When the lover complained, Leander trod hard upon his gouty toes and rang such an alarm in his ears that, not being able any longer to hear himself speak, away he limped, glad enough to go. The real lover soon appeared, and he and his fair mistress fell joyfully84 into one another's arms, the parents consenting to their union. Leander, assuming his own shape, appeared at the hall door, as if he were a stranger drawn85 thither by the report of this extraordinary wedding.
From hence he traveled on, and came to a great city, where, upon his arrival, he understood there was a great and solemn procession, in order to shut up a young woman against her will among the vestal-nuns. The prince was touched with compassion; and thinking the best use he could make of his cap was to redress86 public wrongs and relieve the oppressed, he flew to the temple, where he saw the young woman, crowned with flowers, clad in white, and with her disheveled hair flowing about her shoulders. Two of her brothers led her by each hand, and her mother followed her with a great crowd of men and women. Leander, being invisible, cried out, “Stop, stop, wicked brethren: stop, rash and inconsiderate mother; if you proceed any further, you shall be squeezed to death like so many frogs.” They looked about, but could not conceive from whence these terrible menaces came. The brothers said it was only their sister's lover, who had hid himself in some hole; at which Leander, in wrath87, took a long cudgel, and they had no reason to say the blows were not well laid on. The multitude fled, the vestals ran away, and Leander was left alone with the victim; immediately he pulled off his red cap and asked her wherein he might serve her. She answered him that there was a certain gentleman whom she would be glad to marry, but that he wanted an estate. Leander then shook his rose so long that he supplied them with ten millions; after which they were married and lived happily together.
But his last adventure was the most agreeable. Entering into a wide forest, he heard lamentable cries. Looking about him every way, at length he spied four men well armed, who were carrying away by force a young lady, thirteen or fourteen years of age; upon which, making up to them as fast as he could, “What harm has that girl done?” said he.
“Ha! ha! my little master,” cried he who seemed to be the ringleader of the rest, “who bade you inquire?”
“Let her alone,” said Leander, “and go about your business.”
“Oh, yes, to be sure,” cried they, laughing; whereupon the prince, alighting, put on his red cap, not thinking it otherwise prudent88 to attack four who seemed strong enough to fight a dozen. One of them stayed to take care of the young lady, while the three others went after Gris-de-line, who gave them a great deal of unwelcome exercise.
Meantime the young lady continued her cries and complaints. “Oh, my dear princess,” said she, “how happy was I in your palace! Did you but know my sad misfortune, you would send your Amazons to rescue poor Abricotina.”
Leander, having listened to what she said, without delay seized the ruffian that held her, and bound him fast to a tree before he had time or strength to defend himself. He then went to the second, and taking him by both arms, bound him in the same manner to another tree. In the meantime Abricotina made the best of her good fortune and betook herself to her heels, not knowing which way she went. But Leander, missing her, called out to his horse Gris-de-line; who, by two kicks with his hoof89, rid himself of the two ruffians who had pursued him: one of them had his head broken and the other three of his ribs90. And now Leander only wanted to overtake Abricotina; for he thought her so handsome that he wished to see her again. He found her leaning against a tree. When she saw Gris-de-line coming toward her, “How lucky am I!” cried she; “this pretty little horse will carry me to the palace of pleasure.” Leander heard her, though she saw him not: he rode up to her; Gris-de-line stopped, and when Abricotina mounted him, Leander clasped her in his arms and placed her gently before him. Oh, how great was Abricotina's fear to feel herself fast embraced, and yet see nobody! She durst not stir, and shut her eyes for fear of seeing a spirit. But Leander took off his little cap. “How comes it, fair Abricotina,” said he, “that you are afraid of me, who delivered you out of the hands of the ruffians?”
With that she opened her eyes, and knowing him again, “Oh, sir,” said she, “I am infinitely obliged to you; but I was afraid, for I felt myself held fast and could see no one.”
“Surely,” replied Leander, “the danger you have been in has disturbed you and cast a mist before your eyes.”
Abricotina would not seem to doubt him, though she was otherwise extremely sensible. And after they had talked for some time of indifferent things, Leander requested her to tell him her age, her country, and by what accident she fell into the hands of the ruffians.
“Know then, sir,” said she, “there was a certain very great fairy married to a prince who wearied of her: she therefore banished91 him from her presence, and established herself and daughter in the Island of Calm Delights. The princess, who is my mistress, being very fair, has many lovers—among others, one named Furibon, whom she detests92; he it was whose ruffians seized me to-day when I was wandering in search of a stray parrot. Accept, noble prince, my best thanks for your valor, which I shall never forget.”
Leander said how happy he was to have served her, and asked if he could not obtain admission into the island. Abricotina assured him this was impossible, and therefore he had better forget all about it. While they were thus conversing93, they came to the bank of a large river. Abricotina alighted with a nimble jump from the horse.
“Farewell, sir,” said she to the prince, making a profound reverence; “I wish you every happiness.”
“And I,” said Leander, “wish that I may now and then have a small share in your remembrance.”
So saying, he galloped94 away and soon entered into the thickest part of the wood, near a river, where he unbridled and unsaddled Gris-de-line; then, putting on his little cap, wished himself in the Island of Calm Delights, and his wish was immediately accomplished.
The palace was of pure gold, and stood upon pillars of crystal and precious stones, which represented the zodiac and all the wonders of nature; all the arts and sciences; the sea, with all the variety of fish therein contained; the earth, with all the various creatures which it produces; the chases of Diana and her nymphs; the noble exercises of the Amazons; the amusements of a country life; flocks of sheep with their shepherds and dogs; the toils95 of agriculture, harvesting, gardening. And among all this variety of representations there was neither man nor boy to be seen—not so much as a little winged Cupid; so highly had the princess been incensed96 against her inconstant husband as not to show the least favor to his fickle97 sex.
“Abricotina did not deceive me,” said Leander to himself; “they have banished from hence the very idea of men; now let us see what they have lost by it.” With that he entered into the palaces and at every step he took he met with objects so wonderful that when he had once fixed98 his eyes upon them he had much ado to take them off again. He viewed a vast number of these apartments, some full of china, no less fine than curious; others lined with porcelain99, so delicate that the walls were quite transparent100. Coral, jasper, agates101, and cornelians adorned103 the rooms of state, and the presence-chamber was one entire mirror. The throne was one great pearl, hollowed like a shell; the princess sat, surrounded by her maidens104, none of whom could compare with herself. In her was all the innocent sweetness of youth, joined to the dignity of maturity105; in truth, she was perfection; and so thought the invisible Leander.
Not seeing Abricotina, she asked where she was. Upon that, Leander, being very desirous to speak, assumed the tone of a parrot, for there were many in the room, and addressed himself invisibly to the princess.
“Most charming princess,” said he, “Abricotina will return immediately. She was in great danger of being carried away from this place but for a young prince who rescued her.”
The princess was surprised at the parrot, his answer was so extremely pertinent106.
“You are very rude, little parrot,” said the princess; “and Abricotina, when she comes, shall chastise107 you for it.”
“I shall not be chastised,” answered Leander, still counterfeiting109 the parrot's voice; “moreover, she will let you know the great desire that stranger had to be admitted into this palace, that he might convince you of the falsehood of those ideas which you have conceived against his sex.”
“In truth, pretty parrot,” cried the princess, “it is a pity you are not every day so diverting; I should love you dearly.”
“Ah! if prattling110 will please you, princess,” replied Leander, “I will prate111 from morning till night.”
“But,” continued the princess, “how shall I be sure my parrot is not a sorcerer?”
“He is more in love than any sorcerer can be,” replied the prince.
At this moment Abricotina entered the room, and falling at her l............
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