Short Stories » Septimus

The fairy who had witnessed for some time what was passing, and was very anxious for the queen's peace of mind, at last appeared to her in the shape of a linnet, as she had done before ; and quieted her with the assurance that she would soon give her convincing proofs of her friendship and protection. Gilletta, transported with joy, kissed her a thousand times, having first asked her permission, entreated her to stop, and promised her, as an inducement, that, every day, while she resided with her, she should have a little cake, made of millet-flour, hemp-seed and milk : the fairy agreed, and Gilletta's promises were duly fulfilled. A fortnight after her arrival, the king, who generally rose early, was very much surprised to find himself in quite a new house, very convenient, and strongly built : I say a house ; for it was but a house, and not at all a palace ; there was about it neither architecture, painting, sculpture, nor gilding. On the ground-floor was a kitchen, a pantry, a dining-room and an audience- chamber; on the first-floor, an ante-chamber, a bedroom, a closet, the queen's wardrobe, and a large closet in a wing for the king, in which his library, of which mention has been made, was already arranged. Above were nice galleries, well ceiled, from which was visible the most beautiful prospect in the world. A dairy had not been forgotten, with all the utensils thereunto appertaining; but the most admirable part of the whole affair was, that the house was well furnished and stored with every thing necessary : the furniture was exactly like, both in materials and shape, to that of their majesties, and they could hardly have told it apart, if the one had not been newer than the other. Petard's astonishment may be easily imagined, at finding himself in a strange house ; but it was considerably increased when, on looking through one of his bed-room windows, he saw where had been his little royal kitchen-garden, a large grass plot and bowling-green, at the end of which was a very pretty pond, and a forest of lofty trees. To the right of the bowling-green was a kitchen garden, stocked with different vegetables, and to the left an orchard planted with all kinds of fruit trees. He considered all this for some time : but, his surprise giving way to joy, he ran to the queen, who was in bed and still asleep, and waking her, cried : " My dear, my dear, pray get up, and look at our new house and fine gardens. Do you know the meaning of it all ? I have not the least idea." The queen hardly gave herself time to put on her petticoat, morning-gown and slippers, before she ran to the window with the king, who immediately conducted her all round the apartments and thence to the ground- floor, where they found the kitchen and pantry furnished with every thing that was necessary. All these marvels only made good king Petard afraid ; but the queen, who guessed whence it had all come, had not the same feeling, but dared not say any thing about it. They were in this state when the seneschal, who had been looking for them for an hour in the king's house, entered this, more in the way of the duty of his situation, than in the hope of finding their majesties there ; he too knew not what to think of a house built in a single night ; and although he was less fearful than his son-in-law, he only began to take courage when he found himself in company with them. The king, for his part, was glad enough to see him come in ; and, each taking an arm of the queen, they went over the house a second time from top to bottom, and all over the gardens.

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