A FAIRY'S BLUNDER
' No,' went on Dindonette, ' never should I have the cruelty to leave one of you to decay, while the other enjoys the glory of youth. And as I cannot restore you both at once to what you were, one half of each of your bodies shall become young again, while the other half goes on its way to decay. I will leave it to you to choose which half it shall be — if I shall draw a line round the waist, or a line straight down the middle of the body.'
She looked about her proudly, expecting applause for her clever idea. But Cornichon and Toupette were shaking with rage and disappointment, and everyone else broke into shouts of laughter. In pity for the unhappy lovers, Selnozoura came forward.
' Do you not think,' she said, ' that instead of what you propose, it would be better to let them take it in turns to enjoy their former youth and beauty for a fixed time? I am sure you could easily manage that.'
' What an excellent notion !' cried Dindonette. ' Oh, yes, of course that is best! Which of you shall I touch first?'
' Touch her,' replied Cornichon, who was always ready to give way to Toupette. ' I know her heart too well to fear any change.'
So the fairy bent forward and touched her with her magic ring, and in one instant the old woman was a girl again. The whole court wept with joy at the sight, and Toupette ran up to Cornichon, who had fallen down in his surprise, promising to pay him long visits, and tell him of all her balls and water parties.
The two fairies went to their own apartments, where the genius followed them to take his leave.
' Oh, dear ! ' suddenly cried Dindonette, breaking in to the farewell speech of the genius. ' I quite forgot to fix the time when Cornichon should in his turn grow young. How stupid of me ! And now I fear it is too late, for I ought to have declared it before I touched Toupette with the ring. Oh, dear! oh, dear ! why did nobody warn me?'