Short Stories » Septimus

The queen's closet was nearly empty, when she saw the old fairy Gangan come from it. The respect which fairies and all good people ever pay to then* sovereign, could scarcely prevent her from laughing at the sight of so grotesque a figure as that of Gangan. Over a skirt of green satin, bedizened with blue and gold lace, she wore a large farthingale of the same material, embroidered with rose-coloured caterpillars and trinkets ; and a half girdle enriched with emeralds. Hanging to a silver chain, she had a small looking-glass and patch-box, a large watch, and a casket of rare coins ; her ears were loaded with two large pearl and ruby drops, and she had on her head a light yellow velvet hood, with an aigrette of amethysts and topazes ; a large bouquet of jasmin ornamented the front of her person, and ten or twelve patches scattered over a faded rouge, covered a wrinkled and dry-rose-leaf-coloured skin.

If the Fairy of the Fields was surprised at the ridiculous equipage of Gangan, the latter was not less so at meeting with her rival, at a moment when she least expected it. She was not ignorant of the protection afforded by the fairy to the children of Petard and Gilletta ; but as the place they were then in, pre- vented her giving vent to her resentment, she concealed it as well as she could ; and affecting an air of politeness mingled with dignity, said to her : " What, madam, have you resolved to leave the quiet of the country, to revel in the tumult of a court ? you must have had weighty reasons to induce you to such a sacrifice." " The reasons which bring you and myself here are certainly widely different," interrupted the Fairy of the Fields ; "as neither interest nor ambition have ever been motives for the grant of my protection ; and as I only yield it to the worthy and grateful." " I believe so," replied Gangan, " turkies and geese are a very good sort of people." " True," answered the Fairy of the Fields warmly, " much more so than Gangans, for they are not unjust ; what say you to that?"

The dispute would not have ended here, if the Fairy of the Fields had not been warned that the queen was alone and wished to speak with her. So the two fairies saluted and parted, as women who perfectly hate each other always do.

Titania who perceived the emotion that this dispute had raised in her friend, feigned ignorance of its cause, but requested to be informed on the subject. The Fairy of the Fields, pleased to gratify her mistress's curiosity, did not hesitate in revealing the unjust motives of Gangan for persecuting king Petard and queen Gilletta, and informed her that pity had made her endeavour to thwart the perfidious designs of that fairy. " Your intentions are praiseworthy," said the queen to her, " and I am glad to see in you this generous zeal in protecting the unfortunate ; but I am afraid, notwithstanding, that Gangan will still manage to avenge herself for the kindness you have shewn to the good Gilletta and her children. She is wicked, and I often receive complaints in respect to her ; but be assured that if she again abuse her power to your injury, I will punish her in a terrible and exemplary manner ; I can say no more : the council hour has arrived, but at my return we will confer together on the means of thwarting your enemy's wicked designs." The queen then left the apartment.

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