Short Stories » Septimus

It was about this time that the Fairy of the Fields had taken away the children of Petard and Gilletta. The generous fairy was the protectress of those who were obliged to live in the country ; and occupied herself incessantly in preventing or diminishing the misfortunes to which they were destined. She was the better able to protect them, inasmuch as she possessed the friendship and favour of Titania, the Queen of the Fairies.

The Isle Bambine, which that queen had placed under her government, was the place to which she had transported the four boys and three girls of King Petard and Queen Gilletta. This isle was inhabited by children only, w T ho, under the protection of the fairies, were well looked after, by nurses and their attendants. A perpetual Spring reigned there ; the trees and meadows were always covered with fruits and flowers, and the ground produced spontaneously, all that could please the eye or gratify the palate. The walks were charming, the gardens varied and filled with pretty little carriages of all kinds, drawn by spaniels with long ears. But nicest and best of all the walls of the children's rooms were made of sugar-candy, the floors of preserved citron, and the furniture of excellent ginger- bread. When they were very good, the children might eat of these nice things as much as they pleased, without its diminishing or injuring them in the slightest degree, and besides this, in the streets and walks were to be seen all sorts of pretty little dolls, magnificently dressed, who walked and danced of them- selves. The little girls, who were neither proud, nor greedy, nor disobedient, had only to form a wish, and immediately sweetmeats and fruits came of themselves to seek them ; the dolls threw themselves into their arms, and allowed themselves to be dressed and undressed, caressed and whipped with unparallelled docility and discretion ; but when, on the other hand, these little girls committed any fault, the dolls ran away from them, making faces at those who had called them ; the sweet-meats changed into gall, and the dolls' dresses became dirty and slovenly. With regard to the little boys, when they were neither obstinate, story- telling nor idle, they had little punchinellos, kites, rackets, and playthings for every sport that can be thought of; but when the nurses were discontented, the punchinellos laughed at the naughty boys, bouncing against their noses, and upbraiding them with the faults they had com- mitted ; the kites had no wind, the rackets were pierced ; in a word nothing succeeded with them, and the more obstinate they were, the worse this was. There were punishments and rewards of some kind or other for all ages ; as, for example, one finding himself on a donkey, who had expected to be mounted on a little horse nicely caparisoned, or another hearing it said of herself: "Ah! how ugly she is! how slovenly she is! how ever did she come here ?" while the good young ladies were well dressed, caressed and rewarded ; in a word, nothing was neglected to correct in the children, faults both of heart and head ; and to instruct and amuse them, they were allowed to read the annals of fairyism, which contain the most remark- able histories of that empire, as Blue Beard, Prince Lutin, the Beneficent Frog, the Good little Mouse, the Blue Bird, and many others ; for the Fairy of the Fields made a great matter of it, and collected them with great care from all the kingdoms of the world, and it is from her copy, that most of the tales in the " Child's Fairy Library," are printed.

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