Short Stories » Septimus

Septimus Story - Page 4

While king Petard made himself uneasy, and queen Gilletta kept herself quiet, their children attained seven years of age. Every one of those who composed their court, had already given his advice or rather his decision as to the establishment of the princesses and princes, when one morning the queen who had just kneaded her little cake, perceived on the table a pretty little blue mouse nibbling the dough : her first impulse was to drive it away, but an involuntary feeling withheld her ; she watched it attentively, and was much surprised to see it seize the little cake and carry it up the chimney. Her quietness now gave way to her impatience, and running after the mouse with the intention of taking its booty from it, she saw both disappear, and beheld in their place a little shrivelled old woman a foot high at most. After making several grimaces, and uttering some half intelligible words, this little hop o' my thumb put the shovel and tongs across, described over them with the broom, three circles and three triangles, uttered seven short sharp cries, and finished by throwing the broom over her head . The queen, notwithstanding her fear, did not fail to remark that the old woman, while tracing the circles and triangles, had distinctly pronounced these three words, confidence, discretion, happiness; and was trying to discover their meaning, when a voice which she heard in the next room, attracted her attention. As she thought it was Septimus's voice, she ran there immediately ; but had hardly opened the door when she perceived three large may-flies, each of which held in its paws one of her daughters ; and three tall young ladies who had on their backs her three sons. They all immediately passed through the window, singing in chorus and very melodiously : " Fly away, fly of May Fly away, fly away.

What moved Gilletta most was, to see in the midst of them, Septimus between the blue mouse's paws ; they were both in a little car made of a large rose-coloured snail- shell, and drawn by two goldfinches, with beautifully streaked feathers. The mouse, who appeared to be larger than mice generally are, was dressed in a beautiful gown of Persian silk, and a mantle of black velvet, a hood tied under its chin, and had two little blue horns over its forehead. The car, the may-flies and the young ladies, went away so quickly, that the queen soon lost sight of them. Then, more concerned at the loss of Septimus and her children, than, at the fairies and their power, she began to call out and to weep with all her might. The king hearing her grief, ran to the chamber, followed by his seneschal, and was anxious to know what had occured ; but Gilletta's grief was so overwhelming that she could only answer him in these words : " The may-flies ! the young ladies! ah! Sire my children are torn from me ! " The king who only paid attention to these last words, abruptly quitted Gilletta, and ordered Carbuncle to take two muskets from his ante-chamber, for he always had a half dozen by him in expectation that he should one day have as many guards. Then crossing -his royal kitchen garden, he reached the country with the design of pursuing and killing the robbers.

About an hour after he was gone, the queen, who had exhausted her tears, and was sighing for the loss of her children, heard something humming round her, and saw fall at her feet a piece of paper folded square ; she picked it up, opened it precipitately, and read as follows:

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