362 A FAIRY'S BLUNDER
courtiers, none of the men were able to understand why she hesitated a second to declare for Toupette; while the ladies were equally strong on the side of Cornichon.
But, however undecided the fairy might be, it was quite different with Cornichon and Toupette.
' Ah, my love,' exclaimed Cornichon, ' at length I shall be able to give you the best proof of my devotion by showing you how I value the beauties of your mind above those of your body! While the most charming women of the court will fall victims to my youth and strength, I shall think of nothing but how to lay them at your feet, and pay heart-felt homage to your age and wrinkles.'
' Not so fast,' interrupted Toupette, ; I don't see why you should have it all. Why do you heap such humiliations upon me? But I will trust to the justice of the fairy, who will not treat me so.'
Then she entered her own rooms, and refused to leave them, in spite of the prayers of Cornichon, who begged her to let him explain.
No one at the court thought or spoke of any other subject during the few days before the arrival of Din-donette, whom everybody expected to set things right in a moment. But, alas! she had no idea herself what was best to be done, and always adopted the opinion of the person she was talking to. At length a thought struck her, which seemed the only way of satisfying both parties, and she asked the fairy to call together all the court and the people to hear her decision.
' Happy is he,' she began, ' who can repair the evil he has caused, but happier he who has never caused any.'
As nobody contradicted this remark, she continued :
' To me it is only allowed to undo one half of the mischief I have wrought. I could restore you your youth,' she said to Cornichon, ' or your beauty,' turning to Toupette. ' I will do both ; and I will do neither.'
A murmur of curiosity arose from the crowd, while Cornichon and Toupette trembled with astonishment.