5.Bonne-Biche

Beau-Minon had entered by a little passage, which seemed made specifically for him and had probably told someone at the castle, as the gate opened without Blondine having called.

She entered the court-yard but saw no one.

The door of the castle opened by itself. Blondine entered the foyer which was of rare white marble. All the doors of the castle now opened like the first and the princess passed through a suite of beautiful rooms.

At last, in the back part of a charming room, she saw a white deer, lying upon a bed of fine and fragrant grass. Beau-Minon stood near her. The pretty deer saw Blondine, arose, and approached her.

“You are most welcome, Blondine,” she said. “My son Beau-Minon and I have been expecting you for a long time.”

At hearing this, Blondine was very frightened.

“Be brave, princess; you are with friends. I know the king your father and I love him and I love you also.”

“Oh, madam,” said Blondine, “if you know the king my father, I beg you to take me to him. My absence must make him very wretched.”

“My dear Blondine,” said the deer, whose name was Bonne-Biche, sighing, “it is not in my power to take you to your father. You are in the hands of the magician of the Forest of Lilacs. I myself am under his power which is superior to mine but I can send soft dreams to your father, which will reassure him as to your fate and let him know that you are safe with me.”

“Oh, madam!” said Blondine, in an agony of grief, “shall I never again see my father whom I love so tenderly? My poor father!”

“Dear Blondine, do not distress yourself about the future. Wisdom and caution are always rewarded. You will see your father again but not now. In the meantime be good. Beau-Minon and I will do all in our power to make you happy.”

Blondine sighed heavily and shed a few tears. She then reflected that to show such grief was a poor reward for all the goodness of Bonne-Biche. She decided, therefore, to control herself and to be cheerful.

Bonne-Biche took her to see the room they had prepared for her. The bedroom was hung with rose-colored silk embroidered with gold. The furniture was covered with white velvet worked with silks of the most brilliant hues. Every species of animal, bird and butterfly were represented in rare embroidery.

Adjoining Blondine’s room was a small study. It was hung with sky-blue damask, embroidered with fine pearls. The furniture was covered with silver patterns, adorned with turquoise. Two magnificent portraits, representing a young and beautiful woman and a strikingly attractive young man, hung on the walls. Their clothes indicated that they were royal.

“Whose portraits are these, madam?” said Blondine to Bonne-Biche.

“I am forbidden to answer that question, dear Blondine. You will know later;—but this is the hour for dinner. Come, Blondine, I am sure you are hungry.”

Blondine was in fact almost dying of hunger. She followed Bonne-Biche and they entered the dining-room where she saw a table strangely served.

An enormous cushion of black satin was placed on the floor for Bonne-Biche. On the table before her was a vase filled with the best herbs, fresh and nutritious and near this vase was a golden bucket, filled with fresh and clear water.

Opposite Bonne-Biche was a little stool for Beau-Minon while before him was a little bowl made of gold, filled with little fried fish. At one side was a bowl of rich crystal full of fresh milk.

Between Beau-Minon and Bonne-Biche a plate was placed for Blondine. Her chair was of carved ivory covered with crimson velvet attached with diamonds. Before her was a gold plate, filled with delicious soup, her glass and water-bottle were of carved rock-crystal, a muffin was placed by her side, her fork and spoon were of gold and her napkin was of linen, finer than anything she had ever seen.

The table was served by gazelles that were marvellously nimble. They waited on the wishes of Blondine, Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. The dinner was delicious—the chicken was splendid, the fish most delicate, the pastry and candies outstanding. Blondine was hungry so she ate it all and found it all excellent.

After dinner, Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon took the princess into the garden. She found there ,the most delicious fruits and lovely walks.

After a charming walk, Blondine entered the castle with her new friends, much fatigued. Bonne-Biche suggested that she sleep, to which she agreed.

Blondine entered her room and found two gazelles waiting to attend her. They undressed her and gracefully placed her in bed and seated themselves on her couch to watch over her.

Blondine was soon peacefully asleep—not, however, without having first thought of her father and wept bitterly over her cruel separation from him.