Short Stories » Septimus

While the children of Petard and Gilletta were residing in the isle of Bambine, every means imaginable was put in practice to overcome the obstinacy of the three boys and the pride of the three girls; but these faults, far from diminishing, only augmented with their years. For four years, the particular interest which the fairy governess herself took in these children, joined to the cares, the attention and patience of the nurses, had scarcely wrought the slightest perceptible change in their dispositions ; when feeling but too strongly that their natural tendencies were too powerful for a simple education, the fairy no longer sought to overcome them by the usual means, but was obliged to have recourse to the violent remedy of a metamorphosis ; and in truth, although this extreme measure appear somewhat hard, it was yet indispensable under the circumstances, with a view to the formation of their future characters. The children, notwithstanding their changes, preserved the ideas and sentiments of what they were, and of what they had been ; still yielding to the laws of their new state. When the fairy, who had the power of penetrating their thoughts, believed them reclaimed, she restored to them their proper forms and her friendship ; and even procured them advantageous establishments. She changed then, although with considerable pain to her own feelings, the three sons of Petard into Punchinellos, and the three girls into Dancing Dolls, and condemned them to remain as puppets for the space of three years. As she was, however, as satisfied with prince Septimus as she had been displeased with his brothers and sisters, she did not wish him to be a witness of their disgrace, and resolved to remove him from them. The only difficulty was to find an asylum where he would be safe from the machinations of Gangan : so to neglect nothing on his account, she thought it would be well to consult with her friend, the Queen of the Fairies, and take her mature advice on what she was about to do. With this intention, she put on her green velvel farthingale, her jonquil- coloured satin mantle, and her little blue riding-hood : and with nine white may-flies attached to her gilded wicker post-chaise, their harness being of rose-coloured ribbon, she set out with all diligence, and arrived in a short time at the Fortunate Island, where the Queen of the Fairies ordinarily resided.

Having alighted at the end of a magnificent avenue of orange and citron trees, she entered the court-yard of the castle, where she found, in a row, twenty-four black genii, six feet high, wearing long gowns with trains, and carrying on the left shoulder a polished steel club ; they had behind them seventy- four black ostriches spotted with red and blue, which they held in leashes, keeping a profound silence. These black genii were wicked fairies, condemned to hold these posts as slaves for several ages, according to the nature of their crimes. When they perceived the fairy, they saluted her, grounding their clubs on the pavement ; and as that was of steel also, it made a clashing sound, and emitted sparks of fire. This honour was rendered to all who, like the Fairy of the Fields had a government. Having ascended the staircase, which was made of porphyry, jasper, agate and lapis-lazuli, she saw in the first apartment twelve young ladies simply dressed, without hoods ; they had only a key chain round their waist, and the half- wand, with which they saluted her as had done the slaves ; the fain- returned their salutation, for their employment was such as is generally given to those who are about to be initiated in the art of fairyism. She passed through a long suite of apartments magnificently furnished, and at last reached the queen's ante-chamber, which she found full of fairies, who were met there from all parts of the world, some on business, others to pay their court to her majesty.

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