Drak, the Fairy
DRAK, THE FAIRY
IN the last century there lived in the little town of
Gaillac, in Languedoc, a young merchant, who, having
arrived at an age when he wished to settle down in
life, sought a wife. Providing she was sweet-tempered,
witty, rich, pretty, and of good family, he was not
particular about the rest; for Michael knew that he
must be moderate in his desires. Unhappily, he could not see
in Gaillac one who appeared worthy of his choice. All
the young girls had some known fault, not to mention
those which were not known. At length he was told of a
young lady of Lavaur, endowed with innumerable good
qualities and a dowry of twenty thousand crowns. This
sum was exactly that required by Michael to establish
himself in business; so he instantly fell in love with
the young lady of Lavaur. He obtained an introduction
to the family, who liked his appearance, and gave him
a good reception. But the young heiress had many
suitors, from whom she hesitated to make a definite
choice. After several discussions it was decided by
her parents that the contending lovers should be
brought together at a ball, and after having compared
them a choice should be made.
On the appointed day Michael set out for Lavaur. His
portmanteau was packed with his finest clothes: an
apple-green coat, a lavender vest, breeches of black
velvet, silk stockings
 with silver trees, buckled
shoes, powder box, and a satin ribbon for his queue.
His horse was harnessed with gay trappings.
Furthermore, the prudent traveler, not having a pistol
to put in his holsters, had slipped in a little bottle
of wine and several slices of almond cake, in order to
have something at hand to keep his courage up. For in
reality now that the day had come he was in a very
anxious state, and when he saw in the distance the
church of Lavaur he felt quite taken aback. He
slackened the pace of his horse, then dismounted, and
in order to reflect upon what he should do at the ball
he entered a little wood and sat down on the turf. He
drew from his holsters, to keep him company, the
almond cake and the bottle; the latter he placed
between his knees, so that without thinking of it he
varied his reflections by sips of wine and mouthfuls
of cake. These distractions somewhat enlivened him and
gave him confidence, so much so that he began to
discover in himself a number of virtues and
excellences, which could not fail to insure him the
The sun having disappeared from the horizon he was
about to pursue his journey, when he heard a sound
behind him among the leaves, as of a multitude of
little footsteps trampling the grass in tune to the
music of a flute and cymbals. Astonished, he turned
around, and by the light of the first stars, he
perceived a troop of fairies, who were running headed
by the King, Tambourinet. In their rear, turning over
and over like a wheel, was the buffoon of the little
people—Drak, the fairy.
The fairies surrounded the traveler, and gave him a
thousand welcomes and good wishes. Michael, who had
drunk too freely not to be brave, welcomed them as old
acquaintances, and seeing their little eyes fixed upon
the cake he began to crumble and throw it them as one
would to the birds. In spite of their numbers, each
one had his crumb with the exception of Drak, who
arrived when everyone had finished. Tambourinet next
asked what was in the bottle, and passed it from hand
to hand till it reached the buffoon, who, finding it
empty, threw it away.
 Michael burst out laughing.
"That is justice, my little man," said he to the
fairy. "For those who arrive late, there remains
nothing but regret."
"I will make you remember what you have just said,"
cried Drak in anger.
"And how?" asked the traveler ironically. "Do you
think, now, you are big enough to revenge yourself?"
Drak disappeared without answering; and Michael, after
taking leave of Tambourinet, mounted his horse again.
He had not gone a hundred paces, when the saddle
turned and threw him roughly to the ground. He arose a
little stunned, rebuckled the straps, and mounted his
horse again. A little farther on, as he was going over
a bridge, the right stirrup bent slightly, and he
found himself thrown in the middle of the rivulet. He
got out again in a very bad humor, and fell the third
time over the pebbles in the road, hurting himself so
much that he could hardly proceed. He began to think
if he persisted in riding in the saddle he would be
unable to present himself at all to the family of the
young lady, so he decided to ride his horse
barebacked, and take the saddle upon his shoulder. In
this manner, he made his entry into Lavaur amid the
loud laughter of the people who were sitting at their
"Laugh! laugh! you great stupids," murmured Michael;
"is it very marvelous that a man should carry his
saddle when it will not carry him?"
At length he reached the inn, where he alighted, and
asked for a room in which to change his traveling
clothes. Having obtained a chamber, he proceeded with
much care to open his portmanteau and lay out
carefully on the bed the articles for his toilet.
His first consideration was whether he should powder
his hair white or yellow. Having decided it should be
white, he seized his swans-down powder puff, and
commenced the operation on the right side. But at the
moment when he had finished that side he saw that an
invisible hand had powdered the other side yellow, so
that his head had the appearance of
 a half-peeled lemon. Michael, stupefied, hastened to mix the powder
with the comb, and finding himself too pressed for
time to seek to think out the reason of his mischance
(he was always a slow thinker) stretched out his hand
toward the reel on which the satin for his queue was
wound. The reel escaped from his fingers and fell to
Michael went to pick it up, but it seemed to roll
before him. Twenty times he was about to seize it, and
twenty times his impatient hands missed it. One would
have said he looked like a kitten playing with a reel.
At length, seeing that time was going, he lost
patience and resigned himself to wear his old ribbon.
He now hastened to put on his morocco shoes. He
buckled the right, then having finished the left, he
stopped to admire them, but as he did so the right
buckle fell to the ground. He replaced it, but no
sooner had he done so than the left followed suit. He
had hardly put that right before the other one claimed
his attention again in the same manner as before. He
proceeded thus for some time, without being able to
get both buckles fastened together.
Furious, he finished by putting on his traveling
boots, and was about to take his velvet breeches,
when, immediately he approached the bed, lo! the
breeches began of their own accord to walk about the
Michael, petrified, stood mute, with his arm extended,
contemplating with a frightened air this incongruous
dance. But you may guess how he looked when he saw the
vest, coat, and hat join the breeches at their
respective places, and form a sort of counterfeit of
himself, which commenced to walk about and parody his
Pale with fear he drew back to the window; but at this
moment the Michaelesque figure turned toward him, and
he saw under the cocked hat the grimacing face of
Drak, the fairy.
Michael uttered a cry.
"It is you, you villain, is it? I'll make you repent
of your insolence if you don't instantly give me back
So saying, he rushed to take them; but the fairy,
 sharply around, ran to the other side of the
room. Michael was beside himself with anger and
impatience, and rushed again toward the fairy, who
this time passed between his legs and rushed out on to
the staircase. Michael pursued him angrily up four
flights of stairs till they arrived at the garret,
where the fairy dodged round and round, and then
skipped out of the window. Michael, exasperated, took
the same route. The malicious fairy led him from roof
to roof, dragging the velvet breeches, the vest, and
coat in all the gutters, to Michael's despair. At
length, after a peregrination of an hour or two across
this Pyrenees of the cats and swallows, Drak
gained a high chimney at the foot of which his pursuer
was forced to stop.
Drak, leaning over toward Michael, who was out of
breath and discouraged, said:
"You see, my good friend, you have forced me to spoil
your ball dress; but, happily, I see underneath me the
copper of a laundress, where everything can be put
right for you."
With these words Drak shook the velvet breeches over
the chimney pot.
"What are you doing, rascal?" cried Michael.
"I am sending your dress to the wash!" said the fairy.
And so saying, the vest, coat, and hat followed the
breeches into the smoking gulf.
The young gallant sat down upon the rood with a cry of
despair; but rising immediately, said with resolution:
"Well, I'll go to the ball in my traveling dress."
"Hark!" interrupted the fairy.
The sound of a bell rang out from a neighboring
steeple. Midnight struck! Michael counted the twelve
strokes, and could not restrain a cry. It was the hour
designated by the parents when they would proclaim to
the suitors who had presented themselves at the ball
their daughter's choice for a husband. He wrung his
hands in despair.
"Unhappy man that I am!" he cried. "When I arrive all
will be over; she and her parents will laugh at me."
"And that would be justice, my big man," replied Drak,
 with a pointed sneer. "For you have said yourself,
'For those who arrive late, there remains nothing but
regret.' This time will serve you, I hope, as a lesson
and prevent you another time from laughing at the
feeble; for from henceforth you will know that the
smallest are big enough to avenge themselves."