Drak, the Fairy by Unknown
IN the last century there lived in the little town of Gaillac,
in Languedoc, a young merchant, who, having arrived
at an age when he wished to settle down in life, sought
a wife. Providing she was sweet-tempered, witty, rich, pretty,
and of good family, he was not particular about the rest; for
Michael knew that he must be moderate in his desires. Unhappily,
he could not see in Gaillac one who appeared worthy
of his choice. All the young girls had some known fault, not
to mention those which were not known. At length he was
told of a young lady of Lavaur, endowed with innumerable
good qualities and a dowry of twenty thousand crowns. This
sum was exactly that required by Michael to establish himself
in business; so he instantly fell in love with the young lady of
Lavaur. He obtained an introduction to the family, who liked
his appearance, and gave him a good reception. But the
young heiress had many suitors, from whom she hesitated to
make a definite choice. After several discussions it was decided
by her parents that the contending lovers should be
brought together at a ball, and after having compared them a
choice should be made.
On the appointed day Michael set out for Lavaur. His
portmanteau was packed with his finest clothes: an apple-green
coat, a lavender vest, breeches of black velvet, silk stockings
with silver trees, buckled shoes, powder box, and a satin ribbon
for his queue. His horse was harnessed with gay trappings.
Furthermore, the prudent traveler, not having a pistol
to put in his holsters, had slipped in a little bottle of wine and
several slices of almond cake, in order to have something at
hand to keep his courage up. For in reality now that the
day had come he was in a very anxious state, and when he
saw in the distance the church of Lavaur he felt quite taken
aback. He slackened the pace of his horse, then dismounted,
and in order to reflect upon what he should do at the ball
he entered a little wood and sat down on the turf. He drew
from his holsters, to keep him company, the almond cake and
the bottle; the latter he placed between his knees, so that without
thinking of it he varied his reflections by sips of wine
and mouthfuls of cake. These distractions somewhat enlivened
him and gave him confidence, so much so that he began
to discover in himself a number of virtues and excellences,
which could not fail to insure him the victory.
The sun having disappeared from the horizon he was about
to pursue his journey, when he heard a sound behind him
among the leaves, as of a multitude of little footsteps trampling
the grass in tune to the music of a flute and cymbals.
Astonished, he turned around, and by the light of the first
stars, he perceived a troop of fairies, who were running headed
by the King, Tambourinet. In their rear, turning over and
over like a wheel, was the buffoon of the little people—Drak,
The fairies surrounded the traveler, and gave him a thousand
welcomes and good wishes. Michael, who had drunk
too freely not to be brave, welcomed them as old acquaintances,
and seeing their little eyes fixed upon the cake he
began to crumble and throw it to them as one would to the
birds. In spite of their numbers, each one had his crumb
with the exception of Drak, who arrived when everyone had
finished. Tambourinet next asked what was in the bottle,
and passed it from hand to hand till it reached the buffoon,
who, finding it empty, threw it away.
Michael burst out laughing.
"That is justice, my little man," said he to the fairy. "For
those who arrive late, there remains nothing but regret."
"I will make you remember what you have just said,"
cried Drak in anger.
"And how?" asked the traveler ironically. "Do you think,
now, you are big enough to revenge yourself?"
Drak disappeared without answering; and Michael, after
taking leave of Tambourinet, mounted his horse again.
He had not gone a hundred paces, when the saddle turned
and threw him roughly to the ground. He arose a little
stunned, rebuckled the straps, and mounted his horse again.
A little farther on, as he was going over a bridge, the right
stirrup bent slightly, and he found himself thrown in the
middle of the rivulet. He got out again in a very bad humor,
and fell the third time over the pebbles in the road, hurting
himself so much that he could hardly proceed. He began to
think if he persisted in riding in the saddle he would be
unable to present himself at all to the family of the young
lady, so he decided to ride his horse barebacked, and take the
saddle upon his shoulder. In this manner he made his entry
into Lavaur amid the loud laughter of the people who were
sitting at their doors.
"Laugh! laugh! you great stupids," murmured Michael;
"is it very marvelous that a man should carry his saddle when
it will not carry him?"
At length he reached the inn, where he alighted, and asked
for a room in which to change his traveling clothes. Having
obtained a chamber, he proceeded with much care to open his
portmanteau and lay out carefully on the bed the articles for
His first consideration was whether he should powder his
hair white or yellow. Having decided it should be white, he
seized the swans-down powder puff, and commenced the operation
on the right side. But at the moment when he had finished
that side he saw that an invisible hand had powdered
the other side yellow, so that his head had the appearance of
a half-peeled lemon. Michael, stupefied, hastened to mix the
powder with the comb, and finding himself too pressed for
time to seek to think out the reason of the mischance (he was
always a slow thinker) stretched out his hand toward the reel
on which the satin for his queue was wound. The reel escaped
from his fingers and fell to the ground.
", PETRIFIED, STOOD MUTE, . . . CONTEMPLATING WITH A
FRIGHTENED AIR THIS INCONGRUOUS DANCE"
Michael went to pick it up, but it seemed to roll before him.
Twenty times he was about to seize it, and twenty times his
impatient hands missed it. One would have said he looked
like a kitten playing with a reel. At length, seeing that time
was going, he lost patience and resigned himself to wear his
He now hastened to put on his morocco shoes. He buckled
the right, then having finished the left, he stooped to admire
them, but as he did so the right buckle fell to the ground. He
replaced it, but no sooner had he done so than the left followed
suit. He had hardly put that right before the other
one claimed his attention again in the same manner as before.
He proceeded thus for some time, without being able to get
both buckles fastened together.
Furious, he finished by putting on his traveling boots, and
was about to take his velvet breeches, when, immediately
he approached the bed, lo! the breeches began of their own
accord to walk about the room.
Michael, petrified, stood mute, with his arm extended, contemplating
with a frightened air this incongruous dance. But
you may guess how he looked when he saw the vest, coat,
and hat join the breeches at their respective places, and form
a sort of counterfeit of himself, which commenced to walk
about and parody his attitudes.
Pale with fear he drew back to the window; but at this moment
the Michaelesque figure turned toward him, and he saw
under the cocked hat the grimacing face of Drak, the fairy.
Michael uttered a cry.
"It is you, you villain, is it? I'll make you repent of your
insolence if you don't instantly give me back my clothes."
So saying, he rushed to take them; but the fairy, turning
sharply around, ran to the other side of the room. Michael was
beside himself with anger and impatience, and rushed again
toward the fairy, who this time passed between his legs and
rushed out on to the staircase. Michael pursued him angrily
up four flights of stairs till they arrived at the garret, where
the fairy dodged him round and round, and then skipped out
of the window. Michael, exasperated, took the same route.
The malicious fairy led him from roof to roof, dragging the
velvet breeches, the vest, and coat in all the gutters, to
Michael's despair. At length, after a peregrination of an hour
or two across this Pyrenees of the cats and swallows, Drak
gained a high chimney at the foot of which his pursuer was
forced to stop.
Drak, leaning over toward Michael, who was out of breath
and discouraged, said:
"You see, my good friend, you have forced me to spoil
your ball dress; but, happily, I see underneath me the copper
of a laundress, where everything can be put right for you."
With these words Drak shook the velvet breeches over the
"What are you doing, rascal?" cried Michael.
"I am sending your dress to the wash!" said the fairy.
And so saying, the vest, coat, and hat followed the breeches
into the smoking gulf.
The young gallant sat down upon the roof with a cry of
despair; but rising immediately, said with resolution:
"Well, I'll go to the ball in my traveling dress."
"Hark!" interrupted the fairy.
The sound of a bell rang out from a neighboring steeple.
Midnight struck! Michael counted the twelve strokes, and
could not restrain a cry. It was the hour designated by the
parents when they would proclaim to the suitors who had
presented themselves at the ball their daughter's choice for a
husband. He wrung his hands in despair.
"Unhappy man that I am!" he cried. "When I arrive all
will be over; she and her parents will laugh at me."
"And that would be justice, my big man," replied Drak,
with a pointed sneer. "For you have said yourself, 'For
those who arrive late, there remains nothing but regret.' This
will serve you, I hope, as a lesson, and prevent you another
time from laughing at the feeble; for from henceforth you
will know that the smallest are big enough to avenge themselves."