Princess Belle-Etoile. 4
The wicked Feintise was very anxious to know the result of her advice; and when.she heard that Cheri had already set out, she was delighted, and reported to the Queen-Mother all that had passed. " I admit. Madam," said she, " that I can no longer doubt that they are the same four children: but one of the Princes is already gone to seek the dancing-water, and will no doubt perish in the attempt, and I shall find similar means to do away with all of them."
The plan she had adopted with regard to Prince Cheri was one of the most certain, for the dancing-water was not easily to be obtained; it was so notorious from the misfortunes which occurred to all who sought it, that every one knew the road to it. He was eight days without taking any repose but in the woods. At the end of this period he began to suffer very much from the heat; but it was not the heat of the sun, and he did not know the cause of it, until from the top of a mountain he perceived the luminous forest; all the trees were burning without being consumed, and casting out flames to such a distance that the country around was a dry desert.
At this terrible scene he descended, and more than once gave himself up for lost. As he approached this great fire he was ready to die with thirst; and perceiving a spring falling into a marble basin, he alighted from his horse, approached it, and stooped to take up some water in the little golden vase which he had brought with him, when he saw a turtle-dove drowning in the fountain. Cheri took pity on it, and saved it. " My Lord Cheri," she said, " I am not ungrateful; I can guide you to the dancing-water, which, without me, you could never obtain, as it rises in the middle of the forest, and can only be reached by going underground." The Dove then flew away, and summoned a number of foxes, badgers, moles, snails, ants, and all sorts of creatures that burrow in the earth. Cheri got off' his horse at the entrance of the subterranean passage they made for him, and groped his way after the. kind Dove, which safely conducted him to the fountain. The Prince filled his golden vase; and returned the same way he came.
He found Belle-Etoile sorrowfully seated under some trees, but when she saw him she was so pleased that .she scarcely knew how to welcome him.
Old Feintise learned from her spies that Cheri had returned, and that the Princess, having washed her face with the dancing-water, had become more lovely than ever. Finding this, she lost no time in artfully making the Princess sigh for the wonderful singing-apple. Prince Cheri again found her unhappy, and again found out the cause, and once more set out on his white horse, leaving a letter for Belle-Etoile.