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Fourbette

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Fourbette

Fourbette is an antagonist in Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau-Minon, a French fairy tale by the Comtesse de Segur.

Description

Fourbette is the second wife of King Benin. She is described as "bright, winning, and apparently good", though she is actually quite evil. A typical wicked stepmother, she hates her stepdaughter Blondine and spoils her own daughter Brunette. Fourbette is also very sneaky and bribes others to do her bidding. She has a harsh, shrewish temper and uses intimidation and threats to get her way.

Her hair color is never described, though she may have dark hair since her daughter Brunette is described as dark-haired.

She presumably does not get along with her father, King Turbulent, who is willing to marry her off so he would be rid of her.

Role in the story

After the death of his first wife, Doucette, King Benin seeks to find a new wife who will make his daughter happy. The king's prime minister, Leger, arrives at the court of King Turbulent, who agrees to let his daughter Fourbette marry the king. However, Leger does not inquire into her real character.

This mistake leads to disaster, for Fourbette takes one look at Blondine and decides that she hates her. Blondine fears Fourbette and begins to cry. Benin decides to protect Blondine from Fourbette, declaring that Blondine cannot be left alone with Fourbette. A year into the marriage, Fourbette gives birth to a daughter, Brunette. Fourbette lavishes Brunette with attention and brings her up to be as malicious and spiteful as she is.

When Blondine is seven and Brunette is three, Benin gives Blondine a carriage drawn by two ostriches and driven by her nurse's nephew Gourmandinet. Gourmandinet drives Blondine through the garden, which is separated by a grating from the Forest of Lilacs, an enchanted forest where nobody can escape once they enter. Fourbette sees this as a way to get rid of Blondine. She bribes Gourmandinet with sweets and tells him to drive Blondine's carriage past the forest. When Gourmandinet refuses, Fourbette threatens to never give him sweets again. She tells Gourmandinet that he must convince her to enter the forest. Gourmandinet refuses again. Fourbette grows angrier until Gourmandinet agrees to carry out the deed.

The next day, Gourmandinet drives Blondine to the Forest of Lilacs and convinces her to gather some lilacs in the forest. Once Blondine enters the forest, Gourmandinet tries to repent, but to no avail. When he returns to Fourbette, she gives him a huge box of bonbons and sends him off on a mule with the box. Gourmandinet is thrown of his mule and dies without tasting the bonbons.

When Benin finds out that Blondine is gone, he grieves for her and tries to go into the Forest of Lilacs, but is restrained and prevented from going in. Suspicion falls on Fourbette, and when the king finds out she was responsible for Blondine's disappearance, he banishes her from the court and sends her back to her father. King Turbulent locks Fourbette in a tower, where she dies of rage not long after.

Her widowed husband eventually marries a third time to the good fairy Bienveillante, whose son, Prince Parfait, marries Blondine.

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