Blondine was impatient and enraged. She forgot herself so far as to strike Beau-Minon with her foot. When poor Beau-Minon received this humiliating blow, he uttered a cry of anguish and fled towards the palace. Blondine trembled and was on the point of recalling him, when a false shame arrested her. She walked on rapidly to the gate, opened it not without trembling and entered the forest. The Parrot joined her without delay.
"Courage, Blondine! in one hour you will have the Rose and will see your father, who weeps for you."
At these words, Blondine recovered her resolution which had begun to falter. She walked on in the path indicated by the Parrot, who flew before her from branch to branch. The forest, which had seemed so beautiful and attractive near the park of Bonne-Biche, became wilder and more entangled. Brambles and stones almost filled up the path, the sweet songs of the birds were no longer heard and the flowers had entirely disappeared. Blondine felt oppressed by an inexplicable restlessness. The Parrot pressed her eagerly to advance.
"Quick, quick, Blondine! time flies! If Bonne-Biche perceives your absence you will never again see your father."
Blondine, fatigued, almost breathless, with her arms torn by the briers and her shoes in shreds, now declared that she would go no further when the Parrot exclaimed:—
"We have arrived, Blondine. Look! that is the enclosure which separates us from the Rose."
Blondine saw at a turn in the path a small enclosure, the gate of which was quickly opened by the Parrot. The soil was arid and stony but a magnificent, majestic rose-bush adorned with one Rose, which was more beautiful than all the roses of the world grew in the midst of this sterile spot.
"Take it, Blondine!" said the parrot; "you deserve it—you have truly earned it!"
Blondine seized the branch eagerly and in spite of the thorns which pierced her fingers cruelly, she tore it from the bush.
The Rose was scarcely grasped firmly in her hand, when she heard a burst of mocking laughter.