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 There was once a King who for many years had been engaged in a war with his neighbours; a great number of battles had been fought, and at last the enemy laid siege to his capital. The King, fearing for the safety of the Queen, begged her to retire to a castle, which he himself had never visited but once. The Queen endeavoured, with many prayers and tears, to persuade him to allow her to remain beside him and to share his fate, and it was with loud cries of grief that she was put into her chariot by the King to be driven away. He ordered his guards, however, to accompany her, and promised to steal away when possible to visit her. He tried to comfort her with this hope, although he knew that there was little chance of fulfilling it, for the castle stood a long distance off, surrounded by a thick forest, and only those who were well acquainted with the roads could possibly find their way to it.  
The Queen parted from her husband, broken-hearted at leaving him exposed to the dangers of war; she travelled by easy stages, in case the of so long a journey should make her ill; at last she reached the castle, feeling low-spirited and . When rested, she walked about the surrounding country, but found nothing to interest her or divert her thoughts. She saw only far-spreading desert on either side, which gave her more pain than pleasure to look upon; sadly she gazed around her, exclaiming at , "What a contrast between this place and that in which I have lived all my life! If I stay here long I shall die! To whom have I to talk in these ? With whom can I share my troubles? What have I done to the King that he should me? He wishes me, it seems, to feel the full bitterness of our separation, by exiling me to this castle."
Thus she ; and although the King wrote daily to her, and sent her good news of the progress of the siege, she grew more and more unhappy, and at last that she would return to him. Knowing, however, that the officers who were in attendance upon her had received orders not to take her back, unless the King sent a special messenger, she kept her design secret, but ordered a small chariot to be built for her, in which there was only room for one, saying that she should like sometimes to accompany the hunt. She drove herself, and followed so closely on the hounds, that the huntsmen were left behind; by this means she had sole command of her chariot, and could get away whenever she liked. Her only difficulty was her ignorance of the roads that traversed the forest; but she trusted to the kindness of to bring her safely through it. She gave word that there was to be a great hunt, and that she wished everybody to be there; she herself would go in her chariot, and each was to follow a different route, that there might be no possibility of escape for the wild beasts. Everything was done according to her orders. The young Queen, feeling sure that she should soon see her husband again, dressed herself as becomingly as possible; her hat was covered with feathers of different colours, the front of her dress trimmed with precious stones, and her beauty, which was of no ordinary kind, made her seem, when so , a second Diana.
While everybody was occupied with the pleasures of the hunt, she gave to her horses, encouraged them with voice and whip, and soon their quickened pace became a ; then, taking the bit between their teeth, they flew along at such a speed, that the chariot seemed borne by the winds, and the eye could scarcely follow it. Too late the poor Queen of her rashness: "What could I have been thinking of?" she said. "How could I have imagined that I should be able to control such wild and horses? ! what will become of me? What would the King do if he knew the great danger I am in, he who loves me so dearly, and who only sent me away that I might be in greater safety! This is my for his tender care!" The air with her piteous lamentations; she Heaven, she called the fairies to her assistance, but it seemed that all the powers had abandoned her. The chariot was ; she had not sufficient strength to jump quickly enough to the ground, and her foot was caught between the wheel and the axle-tree; it was only by a miracle she was saved.
She remained stretched on the ground at the foot of a tree; her heart scarcely beat, she could not speak, and her face was covered with blood. She lay thus for a long time; when at last she opened her eyes, she saw, near her, a woman of gigantic , clothed only in a lion's skin, with bare arms and legs, her hair tied up with the dried skin of a snake, the head of which over her shoulders; in her hand was a club made of stone, which served her as a walking-stick, and a quiver full of arrows was fastened to her side. When the Queen caught sight of this extraordinary figure, she felt sure that she was dead, for she did not think it was possible that she could be alive after such a terrible accident, and she said in a low voice to herself, "I am not surprised that it is so difficult to resolve to die, since what is to be seen in the other world is so ." The giantess, who overheard her words, could not help laughing at the Queen's idea that she was dead. "Take courage," she said to her, "for know that you are still among the living; but your fate is none the less sad. I am the Fairy Lioness, whose is near here; you must come and live with me." The Queen looked sorrowfully at her, and said, "If you will be good enough, Madam Lioness, to take me back to my castle, and tell the King what you demand, he loves me so dearly, that he will not refuse you even the half of his kingdom." "No," replied the giantess, "I am rich enough, but for some time past my lonely life has seemed dull to me; you are intelligent, and will be able perhaps to amuse me." As she finished speaking, she took the form of a lioness, and placing the Queen on her back, she carried her to the depths of her cave, and there rubbed her with a spirit which quickly healed the Queen's wounds. But what surprise and for the Queen to find herself in this dreadful ! It was only reached by ten thousand steps, which led down to the centre of the earth; there was no light but that shed by a number of tall lamps, which were reflected in a lake of quicksilver. This lake was covered with monsters, each enough to have frightened a less timid queen; there were , screech-owls, , and other birds of ill , filling the air with sounds; in the distance could be seen rising a mountain whence flowed the waters of a stream composed of all the tears shed by unhappy lovers, from the reservoirs of their sad loves. The trees were bare of leaves and fruit, the ground covered with marigolds, briars, and .
The food corresponded to the climate of this miserable country; for a few dried roots, some horse-chestnuts, and thorn-apples, were all that was provided by the Fairy Lioness to the hunger of those who fell into her hands.
As soon as the Queen was well enough to begin work, the fairy told her she could build herself a hut, as she was going to remain with her for the rest of her life. On hearing this, the Queen could no longer restrain her tears: "Alas, what have I done to you," she cried, "that you should keep me here? If my death, which I feel is near, would give you pleasure, I pray you, kill me, it is all the kindness I dare hope from you; but do not me to pass a long and life apart from my husband."
The Lioness only at her, and told her that the best thing she could do was to dry her tears, and try to please her; that if she acted otherwise, she would be the most miserable person in the world.
"What must I do then," replied the Queen, "to your heart?" "I am fond of fly-pasties," said the Lioness. "You must find means of a sufficient number of flies to make me a large and sweet-tasting one." "But," said the Queen, "I see no flies here, and even were there any, it is not light enough to catch them; and if I were to catch some, I have never in my life made , so that you are giving me orders which it is impossible for me to execute." "No matter," said the pitiless Lioness; "that which I wish to have, I will have."
The Queen made no reply: she thought to herself, in spite of the cruel fairy, that she had but one life to lose, and in the condition in which she then was, what was there to fear in death? Instead, therefore, of going in search of flies, she sat herself down under a tree, and began to weep and complain: "Ah, my dear husband, what grief will be yours, when you go to the castle to fetch me, and find I am not there; you will think that I am dead, or faithless, and I would rather that you should mourn the loss of my life, than that of my love; perhaps someone will find the of my chariot in the forest, and all the which I took with me to please you; and when you see these, you will no longer doubt that death has taken me; and how can I tell that you will not give to another the heart's love which you have shared with me? But, at least, I shall not have the pain of knowing this, since I am not to return to the world." She would have continued communing thus with herself for a long time, if she had not been interrupted by the of a above her head. She lifted her eyes, and by the feeble light saw a large raven with a frog in its bill, and about to swallow it. "Although I see no help at hand for myself," she said, "I will not let this poor frog perish if I can save it; it suffers as much in its way, as I do in mine, although our conditions are so different," and picking up the first stick she could find, she made the raven drop its . The frog fell to the ground, where it lay for a time half-stunned, but finally recovering its froggish senses, it began to speak, and said: "Beautiful Queen, you are the first person that I have seen since my curiosity first brought me here." "By what wonderful power are you enabled to speak, little Frog?" responded the Queen, "and what kind of people do you see here? for as yet I have seen none." "All the monsters that cover the lake," replied the little Frog, "were once in the world: some on thrones, some in high positions at court; there are even here some royal ladies, who caused much and blood*-shed; it is they whom you see changed into ; their fate them to be here for a time, but none of those who come return to the world better or wiser." "I can well understand," said the Queen, "that many wicked people together do not help to make each other better; but you, my little Frog friend, what are you doing here?" "It was curiosity which led me here," she replied. "I am half a fairy, my powers are restricted with regard to certain things, but far-reaching in others; if the Fairy Lioness knew that I was in her , she would kill me."
"Whether fairy or half-fairy," said the Queen, "I cannot understand how you could have fallen into the raven's clutches and been nearly eaten." "I can explain it in a few words," replied the Frog. "When I have my little cap of roses on my head, I fear nothing, as in that resides most of my power; unfortunately, I had left it in the , when that ugly raven upon me; if it had not been for you, madam, I should be no more; and as you have saved my life, you have only to command, and I will do all in my power to the sorrows of your own." "Alas! dear Frog," said the Queen, "the wicked fairy who holds me captive wishes me to make her a fly-pasty; but there are no flies here; if there were any, I could not see in the dim light to catch them; I run a chance, therefore, of being killed by her blows."
"Leave it to me," said the Frog. "I will soon get you some." Whereupon the Frog rubbed herself over with sugar, and more than six thousand of her frog friends did likewise; then they repaired to a place where the fairy kept a large store of flies, for the purpose of some of her unhappy victims. As soon as they the sugar, they flew to it, and stuck to the frogs, and these kind helpers returned at a gallop to the Queen. There had never been such a fly-catching before, nor a better pasty, than that the Queen made for the fairy. The latter was greatly surprised when the Queen handed it to her, and could not imagine how she had been clever enough to catch the flies.
The Queen, finding herself exposed to the inclemencies of the poisonous atmosphere, cut down some branches, wherewith to build herself a hut. The Frog generously offered her services, and putting herself at the head of all those who had gone to collect the flies, they helped the Queen to build as pretty a little as the world could show. Scarcely, however, had she laid herself down to rest, than the monsters of the lake, jealous of her , came round her hut, and nearly drove her distracted, by setting up a noise, more hideous than any ever heard before.
She rose in fear and trembling and fled from the house: this was exactly what the monsters desired. A dragon, who had been a of one of the finest states of the Universe, immediately took possession of it.
The poor Queen tried to complain of the ill-treatment, but no one would listen to her; the monsters laughed and at her, and the Fairy Lioness told her that if she came again to her with lamentations, she would give her a sound thrashing. She was forced, therefore,to hold her tongue, and to have recourse to the Frog, who was the kindest body in the world. They wept together; for as soon as she put on her cap of roses, the Frog was able to laugh or weep like anyone else. "I feel such an affection for you," she said to the Queen, "that I will re-build your house, even though I drive all the monsters of the lake to despair." She immediately cut some wood, and the little palace of the Queen was so quickly reared, that she was able to sleep in it that night. The Frog, who thought of everything that was necessary for the Queen's comfort, made her a bed of wild thyme. When the wicked fairy found out that the Queen did not sleep on the ground, she sent for her: "What gods or men are they who protect you?" she asked. "This land, watered only by showers of burning sulphur, has never produced even a leaf of ; I am told, nevertheless, that sweet-smelling herbs spring up beneath your feet!"
"I cannot explain it, madam," said the Queen, "unless the cause is due to the child I hope one day to have, who will perhaps be less unhappy than I am."
"What I now wish for," said the fairy, "is a bunch of the rarest flowers; see if this coming happiness you speak of will obtain these for you. If you fail to get them, blows will not fail to follow, for these I often give, and know well how to administer." The Queen began to cry; such threats as these were anything but pleasant to her and she was in despair at the thought of the impossibility of finding flowers.
She went back to her little house; her friend the Frog came to her: "How unhappy you are!" she said to the Queen. "Alas! who would not be so, dear friend? The fairy has ordered a bunch of the most beautiful flowers, and where am I to find them? You see what sort of flowers grow here; my life, nevertheless, is at stake, if I do not them for her." "Dear Queen," said the Frog in tender tones, "we must try our best to get you out of this difficulty. There lives a bat in this neighbourhood, the only one with whom I have made acquaintance; she is a good creature, and moves more quickly than I can; I will give her my cap of roses, and aided by this, she will be able to find you the flowers." The Queen made a low curtsey; for there was no possible way of embracing the Frog. The latter went off without delay to speak to the bat; a few hours later she returned, bearing under her wings the most flowers. The Queen hurried off with them to the fairy, who was more overcome by surprise than before, unable to understand in what way the Queen received help.
Meanwhile the Queen was continually thinking by what means she could escape. She her to the Frog, who said to her, "Madam, allow me first to consult my little cap, and we will then arrange matters according to its advice." She took her cap, placed it on some straw, and then burned in front of it a few sprigs of juniper, some , and two green peas; she then five times, and the ceremony being then completed, she put on her cap again, and began speaking like an . "Fate, the ruler of all things, forbids you to leave this place. You will have a little Princess, more beautiful than Venus herself; do not trouble yourself about anything else, time alone can comfort you." The Queen's head , a few tears fell from her eyes, but she resolved to trust her friend: "At least," she said to her, "do not leave me here alone; and befriend me when my little one is born." The Frog promised to remain with her, and comforted her as best she could.
But it is now time to return to the King. While the enemy kept him shut up in his capital, he could not continually send messengers to the Queen. At last, however, after several sorties, he obliged the besiegers to retire, and he rejoiced at his success less on his own account, than on that of the Queen, whom he could now bring back in safety. He was in total ignorance of the disaster which had befallen her, for none of his officers had dared to tell him of it. They had been into the forest and found the remains of the chariot, the horses, and the driving apparel which she had put on when going to find her husband. As they were persuaded that she was dead, and had been eaten by wild beasts, their only care was to make the King believe that she had died suddenly. On receiving this mournful intelligence, he thought he should die himself of grief; he tore his hair, he wept many tears, and gave to his in every imaginable expression of sorrow, cries, , and sighs. For some days he would see no one, nor allow himself to be seen; he then returned to his capital, and entered on a long period of mourning, to which the sorrow of his heart testified more sincerely than even his sombre garments of grief. All the surrounding kings sent their ambassadors charged with messages of condolence; and when the ceremonies, indispensable to these occasions, were over, he granted his subjects a period of peace, them from military service, and them, in every possible way, to improve their commerce.
The Queen knew nothing of all this. Meanwhile a little Princess had been born to her, as beautiful as the Frog had predicted, to whom they gave the name of Moufette. The Queen had great difficulty in persuading the fairy to allow her to bring up the child, for so was she, that she would have liked to eat it. Moufette, a wonder of beauty, was now six months old; the Queen, as she looked upon her with a tenderness with pity, continually said: "Ah! if your father could see you, my poor little one, how delighted he would be! how dear you would be to him! But even, already, maybe, he has begun to forget me; he believes, no doubt, that we are lost to him in death; and perhaps another fills the place in his heart, that once was mine."
These sorrowful reflections caused her many tears; the Frog, who truly loved her, seeing her cry like this, said to her one day: "If you would like me to do so, madam, I will go and find the King, your husband; the journey is long, and I travel but slowly; but, sooner or later, I shall hope to arrive." This proposal could not have been more warmly received than it was; the Queen clasped her hands, and made Moufette clasp hers too, in sign of the gratitude she felt towards Madam Frog, for offering to undertake the journey. She assured her that the King also would not be ungrateful; "but," she continued, "of what use will it be to him to know that I am in this melancholy abode; it will be impossible for him to deliver me from it?" "Madam," replied the Frog, "we must leave that to Heaven; we can only do that which depends on ourselves."
They said good-bye to one another; the Queen sent a message to the King, written with her blood on a piece of rag; for she neither ink nor paper. She begged him to give attention to everything the good Frog told him, and to believe all she said, as she was bringing him news of herself.
The Frog was a year and four days climbing up the ten thousand steps which lead from the dark country, in which she had left the Queen, up into the world; it took her another year to prepare her equipage, for she had too much pride to allow herself to appear at the Court like a poor, common frog from the . She had a little sedan-chair made, large enough to hold two eggs comfortably; it was covered on the outside with tortoise-shell, and lined with lizard-skin; then she chose fifty maids of honour, these were the little green frogs which about the meadows; each was mounted on a , furnished with a light saddle, and rode in style with the leg thrown over the saddle-bow; several water-rats, dressed as pages, ran before the , as her body-guard; in short, nothing so pretty had ever been seen before, and to crown it all, her cap of roses, always fresh and in full bloom, suited her in the most admirable manner. She was a bit of a coquette in her way, so she felt obliged to add a little and a few patches; some said that she was painted as were many ladies of that country, but into the matter proved that this report had only been spread by her enemies.
The journey lasted seven years, during which time the poor Queen went through unspeakable pains and suffering, and if it had not been for the beautiful Moufette, who was a great comfort to her, she would have died a hundred times over. This wonderful little creature could not open her mouth or say a word, without filling her mother with delight; indeed, everybody, with the exception of the Fairy Lioness, was with her; at last, when the Queen had lived six years in this horrible place, the fairy said that, provided everything she killed was given to her, she might go hunting with her.
The joy of the Queen at once more seeing the sun may be imagined. So unaccustomed had she grown to its light, that at first she thought it would blind her. As for Moufette, she was so quick and intelligent, that even at five or six years of age, she never failed to hit her mark, and so, in this way, the mother and daughter succeeded in somewhat the ferocity of the fairy.
The Frog travelled over mountains and valleys, never stopping day or night; at last she drew near the capital, where the King was in residence. She was surprised to see dancing and festivity in every direction; there was laughter and singing, and the nearer she got to the town, the more and jubilant the people seemed. Her rural equipage caused great , everyone went after it, and so large had the crowd become by the time she had reached the town, that she had great difficulty in making her way to the palace. Here everything was as magnificent as possible, for the King, who had been a for nine years, had at last yielded to the prayers of his subjects, and was on the eve of marriage with a Princess, less beautiful, it is true, than his wife, but not the less agreeable for that.
The kind Frog, having from her sedan-chair, entered the royal presence, followed by her attendants. She had no need to ask for audience, for the King, his affianced bride, and all the princes, were all much too curious to know the reason of her coming, to think of interrupting her. "Sire," said she, "I hardly know if the news I bring you will give you joy or sorrow; the marriage which you are about to celebrate, convinces me of your infidelity to the Queen."
"Her memory is dear to me as ever," said the King, unable to prevent the falling of a tear or two; "but you must know, kind frog, that kings are not always able to do what they wish; for the last nine years, my subjects have been urging me to marry; I owe them an heir to the throne, and I have therefore chosen this young Princess, who appears to me ............
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