Beau-Minon had entered by a little passage, which seemed made expressly for him and had probably given notice to some one at the castle, as the gate opened without Blondine having called.
She entered the court-yard but saw no one.
The door of the castle opened of itself. Blondine entered the vestibule which was of rare white marble. All the doors of the castle now opened like the first and the princess passed through a suite of beautiful rooms.
At last, in the back part of a charming salon, furnished with blue and gold, she perceived a white hind, lying upon a bed of fine and fragrant grasses. Beau-Minon stood near her. The pretty hind saw Blondine, arose, and approached her.
"You are most welcome, Blondine," said she. "My son Beau-Minon and I have expected you for a long time."
At these words, Blondine was much frightened.
"Take courage, princess; you are with friends. I know the king your father and I love him and I love you also."
"Oh, madam," said Blondine, "if you know the king my father, I pray you to take me to him. My absence must make him very wretched."
"My dear Blondine," said the hind, whose name was Bonne-Biche, sighing, "it is not in my power to conduct you to your father. You are in the hands of the magician of the Forest of Lilacs. I myself am subject to his power which is superior to mine but I can send soft dreams to your father, which will reassure him as to your fate and let him know that you are safe with me."
"Oh, madam!" said Blondine, in an agony of grief, "shall I never again see my father whom I love so tenderly? My poor father!"
"Dear Blondine, do not distress yourself as to the future. Wisdom and prudence are always recompensed. You will see your father again but not now. In the meantime be good and docile. Beau-Minon and I will do all in our power to make you happy."
Blondine sighed heavily and shed a few tears. She then reflected that to manifest such grief was a poor recompense for all the goodness of Bonne-Biche. She resolved, therefore, to control herself and to be cheerful.