(illustration by Gustave Dore)
Blue Beard (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)After having somewhat recovered her surprise, she took up the key, locked the door, and went upstairs into her chamber to recover herself, but she could not, she was so much frightened. Having observed that the key of the closet was stained with blood, she tried two or three times to wipe it off, but the blood would not come out; in vain did she wash it, and even rub it with soap and sand — the blood still remained, for the key was magical and she could never make it quite clean; when the blood was gone off from one side, it came again on the other.
Blue Beard returned from his journey the same evening and said he had received letters upon the road in- forming him that the affair he went about was ended to his advantage. His wife did all she could to convince him she was extremely glad of his speedy return.
Next morning he asked her for the keys, which she gave him, but with such a trembling hand that he easily guessed what had happened.
"What!" said he, "is not the key of my closet among the rest?"
"I must certainly have left it above upon the table," said she.
"Fail not to bring it to me presently," said Blue Beard.
After several goings backward and forward ,she was forced to bring him the key. Blue Beard, having very attentively considered it, said to his wife, "How comes this blood upon the key?"
"I do not know," cried the poor woman, paler than death.
"You do not know!" replied Blue Beard. "I very well know. You were resolved to go into the closet, were you not? Mighty well, madam; you shall go in and take your place among the ladies you saw there."
Upon this she threw herself at her husband's feet and begged his pardon with all the signs of true repentance, vowing that she would never more be disobedient. She would have melted a rock, so beautiful and sorrowful was she; but Blue Beard had a heart harder than any rock!
"You must die, madam," said he, "and that presently."
"Since I must die," answered she (looking upon him with her eyes all bathed in tears), "give me some little time to say my prayers."
"I give you," replied Blue Beard, "half a quarter of an hour, but not one moment more."
When she was alone, she called out to her sister and said to her: "Sister Anne" (for that was her name), "go up, I beg you, upon the top of the tower, and look if my brothers are not coming over; they promised me that they would come today, and if you see them, give them a sign to make haste."
Her sister Anne went up upon the top of the tower, and the poor afflicted wife cried out from time to time: "Anne, sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?"
And sister Anne said: "I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which looks green."
In the meanwhile Blue Beard, holding a great sabre in his hand, cried out as loud as he could bawl to his wife: "Come down instantly, or I shall come up to you."
"One moment longer, if you please," said his wife, and then she cried out very softly, "Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see anybody coming?"
And sister Anne answered: "I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which is green."
"Come down quickly," cried Blue Beard, "or I will come up to you."
"I am coming," answered his wife, and then she cried, "Anne, sister Anne, dost thou not see anyone coming?"
"I see," replied sister Anne, "a great dust, which comes on this side here."
"Are they my brothers?"
"Alas! No, my dear sister, I see a flock of sheep."
"Will you not come down?" cried Blue Beard
"One moment longer," said his wife, and then she cried out: "Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see nobody coming?"
"I see," said she, "two horsemen, but they are yet a great way off."
"God be praised," replied the poor wife joyfully, "they are my brothers; I will make them a sign, as well as I can, for them to make haste."
Then Blue Beard bawled out so loud that he made the whole house tremble. The distressed wife came down and threw herself at his feet, all in tears, with her hair about her shoulders.
"This signifies nothing," says Blue Beard; "you must die." Then, taking hold of her hair with one hand and lifting up the sword with the other, he was going to take off her head. The poor lady, turning about to him and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to afford her one little moment to recollect herself.
"No, no," said he, "recommend thyself to God," and was just ready to strike . . .
At this very instant there was such a loud knocking at the gate that Blue Beard made a sudden stop. The gate was opened and presently entered two horsemen, who, drawing their swords, ran directly to Blue Beard. He knew them to be his wife's brothers, one a dragoon, the other a musketeer, so that he ran away immediately to save himself, but the two brothers pursued so close that they overtook him before he could get to the steps of the porch, when they ran their swords through his body and left him dead.
The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband and had not strength enough to rise and welcome her brothers.
Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his wife became mistress of all his estate. She made use of one part of it to marry her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had loved her a long while, another part to buy captains commissions for her brothers, and the rest to marry herself to a very worthy gentleman, who made her forget the ill time she had passed with Blue Beard.
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