Short Stories » Septimus

When they had been at table about two hours, violins were heard in the audience chamber ; and as they had all eaten and drunk enough, they willingly rose from table. The king, in high good humour, wished for nothing better than a dance, and insisted on opening the ball with the young queen, calling for his favourite dance, " Sir Roger de Coverley." The violins struck up, and he began ; but after putting them all out twenty times and telling them they did not know the figure, he gave up in despair, and asked the young prince and princess to dance a minuet, which they did with admirable grace. They were just performing the last obeisance, when six puppets entered the room finely dressed, three as Roman knights, and three as Roman ladies ; each of these six puppets had by its side the visible tip of a nose, and the whole entree was conducted by a lady, who was, however, taken little notice of, so much attention did the spectacle of the puppets attract. They all made room to receive them, and the puppets immediately performed a pas de douze, in which the six tips of the noses figured admirably. The ballet over, they arranged themselves in a ring, in the same order they had observed on entering. Their conductress placed herself in the centre, touched the six tips of the noses with the end of her wand, and immediately there appeared in their places, three Punchinellos and three Dancing- Dolls. " Very good, very good," said the king, " all that will do for my grand-children, and provided they cost me nothing to keep and clothe, I will take care of them with pleasure till the grand- children come." " Not so fast, Sire," replied the lady, " have patience, every thing comes in time to him who can wait." Immediately the twelve puppets began to dance again, and the spectators were in the highest degree astonished to see them change perceptibly, and gradually take another face and new dress. " Mercy on us ! " cried the king, " why, there are Harry, Dick and George, my dear ! why, surely there are Josephine, Clementina and Arabella, love ! no, really I cannot believe it. Oh ! by my sceptre, but this is admirable." Then, speaking to their conductress : " Hold," said he to her, " I will bet my cap and royal mantle, that you are our friend, the lady of the fields ; i'faith you are worth your weight in gold, and here are our children, all ready shod and clad, and as big as then* father and mother ; but how are we to get them married ?" " I will manage that," replied the Fairy of the Fields, for it was herself, " and it shall be done immediately." At these words, the king, beside himself with joy, took her hand, paid her, I know not how many, compliments after his fashion, and seated her near Gilletta, to whom he cried : " This is the lady of the fields, and our very good friend." The queen, overcome by her feelings, gave herself up completely to all her gratitude to the fairy, and all her tenderness to her children. The fairy then introduced to Gilletta the unknown princes and princesses, who were with her, and proposed them in marriage with her six children. The king and queen consented immediately ; all who were present applauded the fairy's choice, and the deputies proclaimed Septimus and Feliciana king and queen. The seven marriages were celebrated in a manner worthy of the wisdom of the fairy Judicious, and the noble simplicity of the Fairy of the Fields. Septimus gave to each of his brothers and brothers- in-law, the government of the largest and most wealthy provinces of his kingdom ; and the seven princes set out with their wives, and accompanied by the fairies, who only quitted each on his arrival at their several capitals. They there gave them instructions for the government of their families and provinces : and, after loading them with marks of kindness and generosity, returned each to her own duties.

As for Petard and Gilletta, their children's fortune made them neither ambitious nor jealous, nor did it change their ways of thinking. The pomp and majesty of a grand queen did not agree with Gillette's simplicity ; while Petard's character and genius were not suited to the cares of a large kingdom ; and they would not have exchanged, the one his seneschal, his game at piquet, and his kitchen-garden ; the other, her spinning-wheel, her dairy, and the friendship of the Fairy of the Fields, for all the grandeur in the world.

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