Percy, A Fairy Story

   There was once a young man called Percy who, by the extreme grace of his soul had gained the sympathy of the fairies of Beauty and Grace. He was certainly the most obscure among the inhabitants of his village, living in a small garret, only keeping the company of farmers. But his eyes were ever filled with the most splendid visions of glory and beauty. At his coarse table he often invited Cleopatra to share his frugal meal, and, on account of the spiritual charm of this petitioner, she habitually agreed. But to him a humble cottage was a palace, a few pence worth of violets great treasures, he had something of the air of a fool and inspired antipathy. When night shed its intoxicating violet onto the road, he would frequently march along as if he were at the head of an army, with a swaggering look, his feet moving to the rhythm of an unheard music. His fellows mocked him, the women took no notice of him. When he was twenty his vanity begged a moment of inquiry with him and said: the fairies have deceived you, my friend. They have given you the desire for glory and beauty, the dream of beauty and glory, not beauty and glory themselves. You ascribe to Aspasia the graces that she perhaps never had: it is possible. But by your waiting, Madame X who is not a very difficult woman to possess and who has lovers who are not as worthy as you, would turn her back on you if you spoke to her about love. Perhaps you have created the most beautiful dreams of power and of victory but what does that profit you, lieutenant S who is not very strong has at his hand a platoon of which he is the absolute master.
   If I were you I would go and say a few words to these fairies. So spoke Percy's vanity and Percy replied: but the fairies have promised to grant me everything I ask. To ask them for my unhappiness would be dreadful. No matter, the favours of Madame X and some power would do me no harm. And he went to seek out the fairies; he took their hands and kissed them repeatedly. Such a sweetness insinuated itself into him, such honey came upon his lips when they touched on their luminous bodies like great pearls that we would have liked to have drunk that he hesitated a moment to make his request. Then abruptly: "my beautiful beloved creatures, tomorrow I should like to have money to buy handsome clothes and horses, be an officer, be the lover of the queen in order to spurn Madame X and... do I know myself?" The fairies looked at him sadly. "Farewell, dear child," they said. "The spell is broken but we must obey you, we have promised." The next day the solicitor from the village came to inform Percy that one of his uncles who lived in the country had left him ten million. He bought a beautiful château, had a play performed. The queen came, wanted to see the one that had made her cry. She wanted to discover from him the secret of all things and, regardless of all logic, asked him to sleep with her. Madame X was jealous and Percy was off-hand. But he was astonished not to find in the beautiful princesses with whom he lived the seductive charm of those of former times, those that had no being other than in his dreams. They were mediocre, their charm faded when he got near to them. Their power was no longer a thing of mystery, intoxicating and obscure. But a certain transition between the charges that he had previously and those that he pursued, a flower stripped of its petals by the actions of his tensed hand as he picked it and which bore fruit made more and more heavy and overwhelming. His soul...


[Written on the same page but unrelated to the above]:

She is dead and her dog and her dear Isliki
These cards, this novel that bears on its covers her arms
Alas exist alone of she who
Makes my desires fly and the tears flow


You channeled its moments, you charmed its fears


Manuscript fragment dating from c.1892.


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