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Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
Les Souhaits

Country of origin: France

Translations

English - aligned


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The Maiden

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

A certain damsel of considerable pride made up her mind to
choose a husband who should be young, well-built, and handsome; of
agreeable manners and—note these two points—neither cold nor jealous.
Moreover, she held it necessary that he should have means, high birth,
intellect; in fact, everything. But whoever was endowed with everything?

The fates were evidently anxious to do their best for her, for they sent
her some most noteworthy suitors. But these the proud beauty found not
half good enough. "What, men like those! You propose them for me! Why
they are pitiable! Look at them—fine types, indeed!" According to her
one was a dullard; another's nose was impossible. With this it was one
thing; with that it was another; for superior people are disdainful
above all things.

After these eligible gentlemen had been dismissed, came others of less
worth, and at these too she mocked. "Why," said she, "I would not bemean
myself to open the door to such. They must think me very anxious to be
married. Thank Heaven my single state causes me no regrets."

The maiden contented herself with such notions until advancing age made
her step down from her pedestal. Adieu then to all suitors. One year
passed and then another. Her anxiety increased, and after anger came
grief. She felt that those little smiles and glances which, at the
bidding of love, lurk in the countenances of fair maidens were day by
day deserting her. Finally, when love himself departed, her features
gave pleasure to none. Then she had recourse to those hundred little
ruses and tricks of the toilet to repair the ravages of time; but
nothing that she could do arrested the depredations of that despicable
thief. One may repair a house gone to ruin: but the same thing is not
possible with a face!

Her refined ladyship now sang to a different tune, for her mirror
advised her to take a husband without delay. Perhaps also her heart
harboured the wish. Even superior persons may have longings! This one at
last made a choice that people would at one time have thought
impossible; for she was very pleased and happy in marrying an ugly
cripple.