Short Stories » Septimus

Every body argued a good deal on the singularity of this occurrence : some were of opinion that their majesties were very bold to reside in a house built by fairies, and so run the risk of being tormented by them ; others, on the contrary, held that they did quite right, and that it was to be wished that all the old houses in the kingdom were rebuilt in a similar manner. As one is easily reconciled to comfort and to novelties, after having talked a good deal, no more was said about it ; and the king gradually grew as accustomed to his new house, as though he had lived in it all his life. Thus the question of the tax was no longer discussed ; quietness returned to the kingdom of Petard, and union once more existed between the high crown officers. The poor architect alone, had half a mind to hang himself, but was at last contented with wishing all genii and fairies at the bottom of the sea, for interfering with his employment ; calling them a hundred times magicians and sorcerers.

While the Fairy of the Fields was bringing about all these wonders, she observed in Gilletta so much respect for the fairies, and so much gratitude to her, that, feeling herself more and more interested in that queen's welfare, she could not refuse to make a longer stay at her court than she had originally intended.

She re- assured the queen also of her children's fate, and explained to her their punishment, and her reasons for proceeding to this extremity ; but as true and tender friendship knows how to disguise the most interesting things when a knowledge of them would afflict the person loved, she carefully concealed from her the abduction of her dear Septimus, and the anxiety she felt for him herself ; then, having recommended to her confidence, patience and discretion, if she wished to attain happiness, she quitted her with regret, to return to her government of the Isle of Bambine.

On her arrival there, she was immediately informed of an event, of a nature unheard-of since the establishment of the Island. The senior nurse, who, during the fairy's absence, had performed the duties of governess, stated to her that some obstinate and unruly children, who had been forgiven upon several occasions, assisted by their friends the dolls, had revolted, and had expressed their determination of no longer obeying their nurses ; and that the spirit of rebellion had grown to such an extent in a short time, that its course had been with much difficulty arrested ; that, she had therefore been compelled to exert all her authority, and had begun by imprisoning the dolls in boxes ; and that as to the children, she had condemned some to have nothing but dry bread to eat for a fortnight ; others to wear their nightcaps in the day-time for a month, and some even to be imprisoned between four chairs, for two hours on each day, until they had publicly asked for pardon. The fairy highly approved of the senior nurse's conduct, and praised her very much for her zeal ; but, as an example was necessary, for the maintenance of order, she condemned the most mutinous of the rebels to a transformation of a hundred years, as Punches, Judies and Dancing Dolls ; sending them into different parts of the world, to work for their livelihood as puppets, and thus to minister to the amusement of all good little girls and boys, and to serve as sights for the people. She proceeded to this extremity with the less regret, as she was informed that her six favourites had taken but a small part in the rebellion. Charmed with the alteration which thus began to appear in them, she made them come before her, and, speaking to the tips of their noses (for she could see no more of them), she reprimanded them, in terms rather mild than severe, and dismissed them with a promise of her friendship and rewards, if she should, in the sequel, have reason to be satisfied with their conduct.

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