The Bee and the Orange Tree

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The Bee and the Orange Tree is a French literary fairy tale by Madame d'Aulnoy.

Synopsis[edit]

After many childless years, a king and queen had a daughter, whom they named Aimée. Unfortunately, a ship she was on, wrecked. As fate would have it, she drifted ashore in her cradle. There, an ogre couple found her, and the ogress resolved to raise Aimee, instead of eating her, resolving that the infant would make a good wife for her son when she grew up. The ogress summoned a hind from the woods to nurse the baby. After fifteen years, the king and queen gave up hope of locating the princess and the king told his brother to send his best son to be the heir to the throne. The brother chose his second son.

Meanwhile, Aimee grew up among the ogres. A little ogre had fallen in love with her, but the thought of marrying him revolted her. She regularly walked along the shore after storms, to protect things swept ashore from the ogres, and one day she found a man. She saved the man, who happened to be her cousin, although neither of them knew the truth or could speak each other's language. She managed to make him understand that he had to hide in a cave. After some time hiding and feeding him, she wished to show her friendship and gave him a locket she wore. This had her name on it, and the prince deduced from her looks that she was indeed his cousin, the princess Aimee.

The little ogre decided it was time for them to marry, and horror-struck, Aimee fled to the prince. When she returned, she injured her foot on a thorn and could no longer walk. The prince wondered why she did not come, and when he tried to find her, he was captured.

Now, every night, the ogres all put on golden crowns before they went to bed. The princess snuck in that night, took a crown from the head of a little ogre, and put it on the prince's head. The ogre woke up, seized on the sleeping little ogre who no longer had a crown, and ate him. Again the next night, the princess stole a crown from one of the ogres to place on the Prince's head. This time, the ogress ate the crown-less ogre.

The princess remembered the magic wand that the ogress had used to summon the hind. With it, she gave herself the power to speak the prince's language. He told her who she was, and the princess decided to steal the ogres' camel so they could ride away to safety. She used the wand to enchant a bean to hide their escape. It spoke whenever the ogress asked anything. Finally, however, the ogress realized they had fled. The ogre used his seven-league boots to follow.

When the ogre caught up, the princess turned herself into a boatwoman, the prince into a boat, and the camel into a lake; to confuse the ogre. He found nothing, but when he returned, the ogress told him how they had been transformed with her stolen magic wand, and so he set out to find them again. This time Aimmee turned herself into a dwarf, the prince into a portrait, and the camel into a pillar. When the ogre reached her, she told an elaborate story about how the prince had fought in a tournament in honor of the lady in the picture. Confused again, the ogre returned home.

This time the ogress came after them. The princess turned the prince into an orange tree, herself into a bee, and the camel into a box. The princess stung the ogress and drove her off, but some travelers carried off the wand. Without the wand, the Princess was unable to change the group back into their prior forms.

A princess, Linda, loved to walk in the woods where the orange tree stood. Linda tried to have the tree transplanted into her gardens, Aimee stung Linda out of jealousy. This caused the prince and princess to quarrel, but they soon reconciled. When Linda tried again, Aimee stung her again. Linda tried to arm herself with a branch, but when she did, blood flowed from the tree. Aimee went to fetch a balm for the wound.

A fairy visited the princess and when she detected the enchantment, the fairy restored the prince. He told his story, and she restored Aimee as well, and then brought them to her parents, where they married.

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