303 PUNISHMENT OF THE FAIRY GANGANA
done, the queen pretended not to notice what the mouse was doing, and was much surprised to see the little creature pick up the cake and carry it off to the chimney. She sprang forwards to stop it, when, suddenly, both the mouse and cake vanished, and in their place stood an old woman only a foot high, whose clothes hung in rags about her. Taking up a sharp pointed iron stick, she drew on the earthen floor some strange signs, uttering seven cries as she did so, and murmuring something in a low voice, among which the queen was sure she caught the words, ' faith,' ' wisdom,' ' happiness.' Then, seizing the kitchen broom, she whirled it three times round her head, and vanished. Immediately there arose a great noise in the next room, and on opening the door, the queen beheld three large cockchafers, each one with a princess between its feet, while the princes were seated on the backs of three swallows. In the middle was a car formed of a single pink shell, and drawn by two robin redbreasts, and in this car Cadichon was sitting by the side of the blue mouse, who was dressed in a splendid mantle of black velvet fastened under her chin. Before the queen had recovered from her surprise, cockchafers, redbreasts, mouse and children had all flown, singing, to the window, and disappeared from view.
The loud shrieks of the queen brought her husband and father running into the room, and when at last they made out from her broken sentences what had really happened, they hastily snatched up some stout sticks that were lying about and set off to the rescue—one going in one direction and the other in another.
For at least an hour the queen sat sobbing where they had left her, when at last she was roused by a piece of folded paper falling at her feet, She stooped and picked it up eagerly, hoping that it might contain some news of her lost children. It was very short, but when she had read the few words, Gillette was comforted, for it bade her take heart, as they were well and happy