A LONG time ago, there lived a man who was very rich.
He owned vast tracts of land, and lived in a splendid
castle, that stood upon a high, steep hill,from whence he could
see for miles around.
But this man had the misfortune to be very ill-looking, and
had a beard which, from its color, caused him to be called
Not far from his castle lived a lady who had two very pretty
daughters. Blue Beard asked her for one of them in marriage,
leaving it to her to choose which it should be. But both girls,
when his offer was reported to them, refused him, not only on
account of his beard, but because there were stories afloat that
although he had already been married more than once, nobody
could tell what had become of his wives.
Blue Beard, thinking, to overcome the objections of the
sisters, invited them to make a visit at his castle. They went
and spent a week there, during which there were constant
feasts and balls. In fact, Blue Beard managed so well that
The Baldwin Library
THE STORY OF BLUE BEARD.
before the end of the week, Fatima, the youngest of the sisters,
outgrew her dislike for him, and became his wife.
A month was given up to festivity in honor of the marriage,
and the time passed away like a dream. At the end of it,
Blue Beard told his wife that he was obliged to leave her for
a few weeks, as he had some affairs to attend to in a distant
part of the country.
But my dear Fatima," said he, you can enjoy yourself in
my absence, in any way that you please. You can give dinners,
and invite your friends to visit you, for you are the sole mis-
tress in this castle. Here are the keys to all the rooms in the
house. This small key belongs to the Blue Closet, at the end
of the long hall, on the ground floor. I give you leave," he
continued to open or do what you like, with all of the castle,
except this closet; but this, my dear, you must not enter, nor
even put the key into its lock. Now, do not forget, for if you
fail to obey me, you must expect the most dreadful punishment."
Fatima promised not to forget, and Blue Beard, after kissing
her in a tender manner, stepped into his coach and was
As soon as he was gone, Fatima sent word to her sister Anne,
and to several friends, to come without delay and make her a
visit. She also sent a note to her two brothers, both officers
in the army, asking them to obtain a leave of absence, and
spend a few days with her.
Her brothers wrote to her that they would arrive the next
day. So eager, however, were her other friends to see the
riches of Blue Beard, that they all came within two hours.
They went from room to room, showing fresh wonder and
admiration at every new object they beheld.
During the day, Fatima was so busy that she never once
THE STORY OF BLUE BEARD.
thought of the Blue Closet,
but when all the guests P
were gone, she felt a great --
desire to know what it con-
tained. She took out the
key, and went down the
stairs that led to it. On
reaching the door, she
stopped, and began to
reason with herself, and
her heart failed her, for
she knew that she was
not doing right. But her
desire to know about the
closet grew stronger each
moment, and at last she
put the key into the lock
and opened the door.
She walked into the
closet a few steps, and
there saw a horrible sight.
She was in the midst of
blood, and hanging around
the walls were the bodies
of the former wives of Blue
Beard whom he had slain.
Fatima trembled like a
leaf, and the key slipped ''
from her fingers and fell on ---
the floor. It was some moments before she could recover
strength enough to pick it up, and fly from the place.
7HE STORY OF BLUE BEARD.
Observing the key to be stained with blood, she tried to
wipe it off, but the blood would not come out. In vain did she
try washing and scouring, the blood still remained, for the
key was a magic one, the gift of a fairy to Blue Beard.
The next day, Blue Beard suddenly came home, saying that
he had received word that there was no need of his making
the intended journey. He asked Fatima for his keys, and she
gave them to him, all except the one to the Blue Closet. He
looked them over, and then asked, How is it that the key of
the Blue Closet is not here? "
i I must have left
I / it in my room," said
ii his wife.
i i' Bring it to me at
I once, then," said Blue
Poor Fatima went
to get the key. Be-
fore going back with
it, she thought she
5 would try once more
to wash offthe blood-
U__ A stains. But Blue
Beard became tired of
S I waiting for her, and,
V \ coming to her room,
i snatched the key from
her hands. He looked
-at it a moment, and
then burst into a
THE STORY OF BZ UE BEARD.
Pray, madam," said he, how came this blood to be here ?"
I am sure I do not know," said Fatima, turning very pale.
You do not know ?" said Blue Beard, in a voice like thun-
der. "I know full well. You have been in the Blue Closet.
And since you are so fond of prying into secrets, you shall
take up your abode with the ladies you saw there!"
Almost dead with terror, Fatima sank upon her knees and
entreated him in the most piteous manner to forgive her. But
the cruel Blue Beard, deaf to her cries, drew his sword and
bade her prepare for death at once.
She begged that he would at least allow her a short time to
pray. I will give you half an hour," said Blue Beard, in a
harsh voice, "and no more." Then he left the room.
As soon as he left her, Fatima ran to her sister, and told her
as well as she could for her sobs, that she had but half an
hour to live, and asked her to go to the top of the tower and
see if there were no signs of their brothers' coming.
Her sister did so, and the poor trembling girl below cried
out from time to time, Sister Anne, my dear sister Anne, do
you see any one coming yet ?" Her sister always replied "No,
I see no one; I see naught but the sun which makes a dust, and
the grass which is green."
At last they heard the angry voice of Blue Beard, who cried
out, "Are you ready ? the time is up." Fatima begged for
five minutes more, which he, knowing she was wholly at his
mercy, granted. Fatima then called again to her sister "Sister
Anne, do you see any one coming yet?"
Her sister replied as before, I see nothing but the sun
which makes a dust, and the grass which is green."
Quickly the five minutes sped away, and then the voice of
Blue Beard was heard calling Are you ready yet?"
. .. .
THE STORY OF BLUE BEARD.
Again she begged for a brief delay, only two minutes longer.
Then she called, Anne, sister Anne, do you not see some
I see," said her sister, a cloud of dust on the left hand
side of the road, not far off."
"Do you think it is our brothers?" said the wife.
\ \\ --
ZHE STORY OF BLUE BEARD.
Alas, no, dear sister," said Anne. as the cloud of dust drew
near ; it is only a flock of sheep."
Once more Blue Beard's voice was heard, and the poor wife
begged again for a minute's delay. Then she called out again, for
the last time, Sister Anne, do you see any one coming yet ?"
Her sister quickly answered, 1 see two men on horseback,
but they are still a great way off."
Thank Heaven !" cried Fatima, it must be our brothers.
Make every signal in your power, dear sister, for them to lose
Blue Beard now cried out so loudly that his voice shook the
whole house. His poor
wife came down and
knelt at his feet, crying
for mercy. Blue Beard
seized her by the hair,
and was just about to
cut off her head, when
a noise at the castle
gates made him pause.
Footsteps were heard i
coming, and in a few
moments Fatima's two
brothers rushed in with. ,
drawn swords, and,
when they saw what N
Blue Beard was about,
quickly put an end to
Fatima had fallen into
a faint at the time Blue
THE SlORY OF BLUE BEARD.
Beard seized her by the hair, and she lay so pale and lifeless
that one would have thought that she was dead too, but she soon
recovered her senses, and then she could scarcely believe that
she was safe, and that her cruel husband had met the death
he so richly merited. But there he lay, stark and cold, and
by her side were her sister Anne, and her dear brothers whose
coming had saved her from a horrible death.
As Blue Beard had no relations, all his riches went to Fatima.
She gave each of her brothers money enough to enable
him to live in comfort, and to her sister, who was married
shortly afterward, she gave a large dowry. She herself became
in due time, the wife of a young nobleman, whose kind treat-
ment soon made her forget Blue Beard's cruelty..