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FELICIA AND THE POT OF PINKS
NCE upon a time there was a poor labourer who, feeling
that he had not much longer to live, wished to divide his
possessions between his son and daughter, whom he loved
So he called them to him, and said: "Your mother
brought me as her dowry two stools and a straw bed; I
have, besides, a hen, a pot of pinks, and a silver ring,
which were given me by a noble lady who once lodged in
my poor cottage. When she went away she said to me:
" 'Be careful of my gifts, good man; see that you do not
lose the ring or forget to water the pinks. As for your
daughter, I promise you that she shall be more beautiful
than anyone you ever saw in your life; call her Felicia, and
when she grows up give her the ring and the pot of pinks
to console her for her poverty.' Take them both, then,
my dear child," he added, "and your brother shall have
The two children seemed quite contented, and when
their father died they wept for him, and divided his
possessions as he had told them. Felicia believed that her
brother loved her, but when she sat down upon one of the
stools he said angrily:
"Keep your pot of pinks and your ring, but let my
things alone. I like order in my house."
Felicia, who was very gentle, said nothing, but stood
up crying quietly; while Bruno, for that was her brother's
name, sat comfortably by the fire. Presently, when
supper-time came, Bruno had a delicious egg, and he threw
the shell to Felicia, saying:
"There, that is all I can give you; if you don't like it,
go out and catch frogs; there are plenty of them in the
marsh close by." Felicia did not answer, but she cried
more bitterly than ever, and went away to her own little
room. She found it filled with the sweet scent of the
pinks, and, going up to them, she said sadly:
"Beautiful pinks, you are so sweet and so pretty, you
 only comfort I have left. Be very sure that I will
take care of you, and water you well, and never allow
any cruel hand to tear you from your stems."
As she leant over them she noticed that they were
very dry. So taking her pitcher, she ran off in the clear
moonlight to the fountain, which was at some distance.
When she reached it she sat down upon the brink to rest,
but she had hardly done so when she saw a stately lady
coming towards her, surrounded by numbers of attendants.
Six maids of honour carried her train, and she leaned
upon the arm of another.
When they came near the fountain a canopy was
spread for her, under which was placed a sofa of
cloth-of-gold, and presently a dainty supper was served, upon a
table covered with dishes of gold and crystal, while the
wind in the trees and the falling water of the fountain
murmured the softest music.
Felicia was hidden in the shade, too much astonished
by all she saw to venture to move; but in a few moments
the Queen said:
"I fancy I see a shepherdess near that tree; bid her
So Felicia came forward and saluted the Queen timidly,
but with so much grace that all were surprised.
"What are you doing here, my pretty child?" asked the
Queen. "Are you not afraid of robbers?"
"Ah! madam," said Felicia, "a poor shepherdess who
has nothing to lose does not fear robbers."
"You are not very rich, then?" said the Queen, smiling.
"I am so poor," answered Felicia, "that a pot of pinks
and a silver ring are my only possessions in the world."
 "But you have a heart," said the Queen. "What should
you say if anybody wanted to steal that?"
"I do not know what it is like to lose one's heart,
madam," she replied; "but I have always heard that without
a heart one cannot live, and if it is broken one must
die; and in spite of my poverty I should be sorry not to
"You are quite right to take care of your heart, pretty
one," said the Queen. "But tell me, have you supped?"
"No, madam," answered Felicia; "my brother ate all
the supper there was."
Then the Queen ordered that a place should be made
for her at the table, and herself loaded Felicia's plate with
good things; but she was too much astonished to be
"I want to know what you were doing at the fountain
so late?" said the Queen presently.
"I came to fetch a pitcher of water for my pinks,
madam," she answered, stooping to pick up the pitcher which
stood beside her; but when she showed it to the Queen she
was amazed to see that it had turned to gold, all sparkling
with great diamonds, and the water, of which it was full,
was more fragrant than the sweetest roses. She was afraid
to take it until the Queen said:
"It is yours, Felicia; go and water your pinks with it,
and let it remind you that the Queen of the Woods is
The shepherdess threw herself at the Queen's feet, and
thanked her humbly for her gracious words.
"Ah! madam," she cried, "if I might beg you to stay
here a moment I would run and fetch my pot of pinks for
you—they could not fall into better hands."
"Go, Felicia," said the Queen, stroking her cheek
softly; "I will wait here until you come back."
So Felicia took up her pitcher and ran to her little
room, but while she had been away Bruno had gone in
and taken the pot of pinks, leaving a great cabbage in its
place. When she saw the unlucky cabbage Felicia was
much distressed, and did not know what to do; but at
last she ran back to the fountain, and, kneeling before the
"Madam, Bruno has stolen my pot of pinks, so I have
nothing but my silver ring; but I beg you to accept it as a
proof of my gratitude."
"But if I take your ring, my pretty shepherdess," said
the Queen, "you will have nothing left; and what will you
 "Ah! madam," she answered simply, "if I have your
friendship I shall do very well."
So the Queen took the ring and put it on her finger, and
mounted her chariot, which was made of coral studded
with emeralds, and drawn by six milk-white horses. And
Felicia looked after her until the winding of the forest
path hid her from her sight, and then she went back to
the cottage, thinking over all the wonderful things that
The first thing she did when she reached her room was
to throw the cabbage out of the window.
But she was very much surprised to hear an odd little
voice cry out: "Oh! I am half killed!" and could not tell
where it came from, because cabbages do not generally
As soon as it was light, Felicia, who was very unhappy
about her pot of pinks, went out to look for it, and the
first thing she found was the unfortunate cabbage. She
gave it a push with her foot, saying: "What are you doing
here, and how dared you put yourself in the place of my
pot of pinks?"
"If I hadn't been carried," replied the cabbage, "you
may be very sure that I shouldn't have thought of going
It made her shiver with fright to hear the cabbage talk,
but he went on:
"If you will be good enough to plant me by my
comrades again, I can tell you where your pinks are at this
moment—hidden in Bruno's bed!"
Felicia was in despair when she heard this, not knowing
how she was to get them back. But she replanted the
cabbage very kindly in his old place, and, as she finished
doing it, she saw Bruno's hen, and said, catching hold of it:
"Come here, horrid little creature! you shall suffer for
all the unkind things my brother has done to me."
"Ah! shepherdess," said the hen, "don't kill me; I am
rather a gossip, and I can tell you some surprising things
that you will like to hear. Don't imagine that you are
the daughter of the poor labourer who brought you up;
your mother was a queen who had six girls already, and
the King threatened that unless she had a son who could
inherit his kingdom she should have her head cut off.
"So when the Queen had another little daughter she
was quite frightened, and agreed with her sister (who was
a fairy) to exchange her for the fairy's little son. Now the
Queen had been shut up in a great tower by the King's
orders, and when a great many days
 went by and still she
heard nothing from the Fairy she made her escape from
the window by means of a rope ladder, taking her little
baby with her. After wandering about until she was half
dead with cold and fatigue she reached this cottage. I
was the labourer's wife, and was a good nurse, and the
Queen gave you into my charge, and told me all her
misfortunes, and then died before she had time to say what
was to become of you.
"As I never in all my life could keep a secret, I could
not help telling this strange tale to my neighbors, and one
day a beautiful lady came here, and I told it to her also.
When I had finished she touched me with a wand she
held in her hand, and instantly I became a hen, and there
was an end of my talking! I was very sad, and my husband,
who was out when it happened, never knew what
had become of me. After seeking me everywhere he
believed that I must have been drowned, or eaten up by
wild beasts in the forest. That same lady came here once
more, and commanded that you should be called Felicia,
and left the ring and the pot of pinks to be given to you;
and while she was in the house twenty-five of the King's
guards came to search for you, doubtless meaning to kill
you; but she muttered a few words, and immediately they
all turned into cabbages. It was one of them whom you
threw out of your window yesterday.
"I don't know how it was that he could speak—I have
never heard either of them say a word before, nor have
I been able to do it myself until now."
The Princess was greatly astonished at the hen's story,
and said kindly: "I am truly sorry for you, my poor nurse,
and wish it
 was in my power to restore you to your real
form. But we must not despair; it seems to me, after
what you have told me, that something must be going
to happen soon. Just now, however, I must go and look
for my pinks, which I love better than anything in the
Bruno had gone out into the forest, never thinking that
Felicia would search in his room for the pinks, and she
was delighted by his unexpected absence, and thought to
get them back without further trouble. But as soon as
she entered the room she saw a terrible army of rats, who
were guarding the straw bed; and when she attempted to
approach it they sprang at her, biting and scratching
furiously. Quite terrified, she drew back, crying out:
"Oh! my dear pinks, how can you stay here in such bad
Then she suddenly bethought herself of the pitcher of
water, and, hoping that it might have some magic power,
she ran to fetch it, and sprinkled a few drops over the
fierce-looking swarm of rats. In a moment not a tail or a
whisker was to be seen. Each one had made for his hole as
fast as his legs could carry him, so that the Princess could
safely take her pot of pinks. She found them nearly dying
for want of water, and hastily poured all that was left in
the pitcher upon them. As she bent over them, enjoying
their delicious scent, a soft voice, that seemed to rustle
among the leaves, said:
"Lovely Felicia, the day has come at last when I may
have the happiness of telling you how even the flowers
love you and rejoice in your beauty.
The Princess, quite overcome by the strangeness of
hearing a cabbage, a hen, and a pink speak, and by the
terrible sight of an army of rats, suddenly became very
pale, and fainted away.
At this moment in came Bruno. Working hard in the
heat had not improved his temper, and when he saw that
Felicia had succeeded in finding her pinks he was so angry
that he dragged her out into the garden and shut the door
upon her. The fresh air soon made her open her pretty
eyes, and there before her stood the Queen of the Woods,
looking as charming as ever.
"You have a bad brother," she said; "I saw
how cruelly he turned you out. Shall I punish him for it?"
"Ah! no, madam," she said; "I am not angry with
"But supposing he was not your brother, after all,
what would you say then?" asked the Queen.
"Oh! but I think he must be," said Felicia.
 "What!" said the Queen, "have you not heard that you
are a princess?"
"I was told so a little while ago, madam, but how could
I believe it without a single proof?"
"Ah! dear child," said the Queen, "the way you speak
assures me that, in spite of your humble upbringing, you
are indeed a real princess, and I can save you from being
treated in such a way again."
She was interrupted at this moment by the arrival of
a very handsome young man. He wore a coat of green
velvet fastened with emerald clasps, and had a crown of
pinks on his head. He knelt upon one knee and kissed the
"Ah!" she cried, "my pink, my dear son, what a happiness
to see you restored to your natural shape by Felicia's
aid!" And she embraced him joyfully. Then, turning to
Felicia, she said:
"Charming Princess, I know all the hen told you, but
you cannot have heard that the zephyrs, to whom was
entrusted the task of carrying my son to the tower where
the Queen, your mother, so anxiously waited for him,
left him instead in a garden of flowers, while they flew
off to tell your mother. Whereupon a fairy with whom I
had quarrelled changed him into a pink, and I could do
nothing to prevent it.
"You can imagine how angry I was, and how I tried to
find some means of undoing the mischief she had done;
but there was no help for it. I could only bring Prince
Pink to the place where you were being brought up, hoping
that when you grew up he might love you, and by
your care be restored to his natural form. And you see
everything has come right, as I hoped it would. Your
giving me the silver ring was the sign that the power of
the charm was nearly over, and my enemy's last chance
was to frighten you with her army of rats. That she did
not succeed in doing; so now, my dear Felicia, if you will
be married to my son with this silver ring your future
happiness is certain. Do you think him handsome and
amiable enough to be willing to marry him?"
"Madam," replied Felicia, blushing, "you overwhelm
me with your kindness. I know that you are my mother's
sister, and that by your art you turned the soldiers who
were sent to kill me into cabbages, and my nurse into a
hen, and that you do me only too much honour in proposing
that I shall marry your son. How can I explain to you
the cause of my hesitation? I feel, for the first time in my
life, how happy it would make me to be beloved. Can
you indeed give me the Prince's heart?"
 "It is yours already, lovely Princess!" he cried, taking
her hand in his; "but for the horrible enchantment which
kept me silent I should have told you long ago how dearly
I love you."
This made the Princess very happy, and the Queen,
who could not bear to see her dressed like a poor
shepherdess, touched her with her wand, saying:
"I wish you to be attired as befits your rank and
beauty." And immediately the Princess's cotton dress
became a magnificent robe of silver brocade embroidered
with carbuncles, and her soft dark hair was encircled by
a crown of diamonds, from which floated a clear white
veil. With her bright eyes, and the charming colour in her
cheeks, she was altogether such a dazzling sight that the
Prince could hardly bear it.
 "How pretty you are, Felicia!" he cried. "Don't keep
me in suspense, I entreat you; say that you will marry
"Ah!" said the Queen, smiling, "I think she will not
Just then Bruno, who was going back to his work, came
out of the cottage, and thought he must be dreaming
when he saw Felicia; but she called him very kindly, and
begged the Queen to take pity on him.
"What!" she said, "when he was so unkind to you?"
"Ah! madam," said the Princess, "I am so happy that
I should like everybody else to be happy too."
The Queen kissed her, and said: "Well, to please you,
let me see what I can do for this cross Bruno." And with
a wave of her wand she turned the poor little cottage into
a splendid palace, full of treasures; only the two stools and
the straw bed remained just as they were, to remind him
of his former poverty. Then the Queen touched Bruno
himself, and made him gentle and polite and grateful, and
he thanked her and the Princess a thousand times. Lastly,
the Queen restored the hen and the cabbages to their
natural forms, and left them all very contented. The
Prince and Princess were married as soon as possible with
great splendour, and lived happily ever after.
Fortunée. Par Madame la Comtesse d'Aulnoy|