Part 3 out of 7
covered with fur!'
At these mysterious words the King and Queen burst into tears, for
they lived in such a hot climate themselves that how or why the
Prince should come to be covered with fur they could not imagine,
and thought it must portend some great misfortune to him.
However, Genesta told them not to disquiet themselves.
'If I left him to you to bring up,' said she, 'you would be
certain to make him as foolish as yourselves. I do not even intend
to let him know that he is your son. As for you, you had better
give your minds to governing your kingdom properly.' So saying,
she opened the window, and catching up the little Prince, cradle
and all, she glided away in the air as if she were skating upon
ice, leaving the King and Queen in the greatest affliction. They
consulted everyone who came near them as to what the Fairy could
possibly have meant by saying that when they saw their son again
he would be covered with fur. But nobody could offer any solution
of the mystery, only they all seemed to agree that it must be
something frightful, and the King and Queen made themselves more
miserable than ever, and wandered about their palace in a way to
make anyone pity them. Meantime the Fairy had carried off the
little Prince to her own castle, and placed him under the care of
a young peasant woman, whom she bewitched so as to make her think
that this new baby was one of her own children. So the Prince grew
up healthy and strong, leading the simple life of a young peasant,
for the Fairy thought that he could have no better training; only
as he grew older she kept him more and more with herself, that his
mind might be cultivated and exercised as well as his body. But
her care did not cease there: she resolved that he should be tried
by hardships and disappointments and the knowledge of his
fellowmen; for indeed she knew the Prince would need every
advantage that she could give him, since, though he increased in
years, he did not increase in height, but remained the tiniest of
Princes. However, in spite of this he was exceedingly active and
well formed, and altogether so handsome and agreeable that the
smallness of his stature was of no real consequence. The Prince
was perfectly aware that he was called by the ridiculous name of
'Mannikin,' but he consoled himself by vowing that, happen what
might, he would make it illustrious.
In order to carry out her plans for his welfare the Fairy now
began to send Prince Mannikin the most wonderful dreams of
adventure by sea and land, and of these adventures he himself was
always the hero. Sometimes he rescued a lovely Princess from some
terrible danger, again he earned a kingdom by some brave deed,
until at last he longed to go away and seek his fortune in a far
country where his humble birth would not prevent his gaining
honour and riches by his courage, and it was with a heart full of
ambitious projects that he rode one day into a great city not far
from the Fairy's castle. As he had set out intending to hunt in
the surrounding forest he was quite simply dressed, and carried
only a bow and arrows and a light spear; but even thus arrayed he
looked graceful and distinguished. As he entered the city he saw
that the inhabitants were all racing with one accord towards the
market-place, and he also turned his horse in the same direction,
curious to know what was going forward. When he reached the spot
he found that certain foreigners of strange and outlandish
appearance were about to make a proclamation to the assembled
citizens, and he hastily pushed his way into the crowd until he
was near enough to hear the words of the venerable old man who was
'Let the whole world know that he who can reach the summit of the
Ice Mountain shall receive as his reward, not only the
incomparable Sabella, fairest of the fair, but also all the realms
of which she is Queen!' 'Here,' continued the old man after he had
made this proclamation--'here is the list of all those Princes
who, struck by the beauty of the Princess, have perished in the
attempt to win her; and here is the list of these who have just
entered upon the high emprise.'
Prince Mannikin was seized with a violent desire to inscribe his
name among the others, but the remembrance of his dependent
position and his lack of wealth held him back. But while he
hesitated the old man, with many respectful ceremonies, unveiled a
portrait of the lovely Sabella, which was carried by some of the
attendants, and after one glance at it the Prince delayed no
longer, but, rushing forward, demanded permission to add his name
to the list. When they saw his tiny stature anti simple attire the
strangers looked at each other doubtfully, not knowing whether to
accept or refuse him. But the Prince said haughtily:
'Give me the paper that I may sign it,' and they obeyed. What
between admiration for the Princess and annoyance at the
hesitation shown by her ambassadors the Prince was too much
agitated to choose any other name than the one by which he was
always known. But when, after all the grand titles of the other
Princes, he simply wrote 'Mannikin,' the ambassadors broke into
shouts of laughter.
'Miserable wretches!' cried the Prince; 'but for the presence of
that lovely portrait I would cut off your heads.'
But he suddenly remembered that, after all, it was a funny name,
and that he had not yet had time to make it famous; so he was
calm, and enquired the way to the Princess Sabella's country.
Though his heart did not fail him in the least, still he felt
there were many difficulties before him, and he resolved to set
out at once, without even taking leave of the Fairy, for fear she
might try to stop him. Everybody in the town who knew him made
great fun of the idea of Mannikin's undertaking such an
expedition, and it even came to the ears of the foolish King and
Queen, who laughed over it more than any of the others, without
having an idea that the presumptuous Mannikin was their only son!
Meantime the Prince was travelling on, though the direction he had
received for his journey were none of the clearest.
'Four hundred leagues north of Mount Caucasus you will receive
your orders and instructions for the conquest of the Ice
Fine marching orders, those, for a man starting from a country
near where Japan is nowadays!
However, he fared eastward, avoiding all towns, lest the people
should laugh at his name, for, you see, he was not a very
experienced traveller, and had not yet learned to enjoy a joke
even if it were against himself. At night he slept in the woods,
and at first he lived upon wild fruits; but the Fairy, who was
keeping a benevolent eye upon him, thought that it would never do
to let him be half-starved in that way, so she took to feeding him
with all sorts of good things while he was asleep, and the Prince
wondered very much that when he was awake he never felt hungry!
True to her plan the Fairy sent him various adventures to prove
his courage, and he came successfully through them all, only in
his last fight with a furious monster rather like a tiger he had
the ill luck to lose his horse. However, nothing daunted, he
struggled on on foot, and at last reached a seaport. Here he found
a boat sailing for the coast which he desired to reach, and,
having just enough money to pay his passage, he went on board and
they started. But after some days a fearful storm came on, which
completely wrecked the little ship, and the Prince only saved his
life by swimming a long, long way to the only land that was in
sight, and which proved to be a desert island. Here he lived by
fishing and hunting, always hoping that the good Fairy would
presently rescue him. One day, as he was looking sadly out to sea,
he became aware of a curious looking boat which was drifting
slowly towards the shore, and which presently ran into a little
creek and there stuck fast in the sand. Prince Mannikin rushed
down eagerly to examine it, and saw with amazement that the masts
and spars were all branched, and covered thickly with leaves until
it looked like a little wood. Thinking from the stillness that
there could be no one on board, the Prince pushed aside the
branches and sprang over the side, and found himself surrounded by
the crew, who lay motionless as dead men and in a most deplorable
condition. They, too, had become almost like trees, and were
growing to the deck, or to the masts, or to the sides of the
vessel, or to whatever they had happened to be touching when the
enchantment fell upon them. Mannikin was struck with pity for
their miserable plight, and set to work with might and main to
release them. With the sharp point of one of his arrows he gently
detached their hands and feet from the wood which held them fast,
and carried them on shore, one after another, where he rubbed
their rigid limbs, and bathed them with infusions of various herbs
with such success, that, after a few days, they recovered
perfectly and were as fit to manage a boat as ever. You may be
sure that the good Fairy Genesta had something to do with this
marvellous cure, and she also put it into the Prince's head to rub
the boat itself with the same magic herbs, which cleared it
entirely, and not before it was time, for, at the rate at which it
was growing before, it would very soon have become a forest! The
gratitude of the sailors was extreme, and they willingly promised
to land the Prince upon any coast he pleased; but, when he
questioned them about the extraordinary thing that had happened to
them and to their ship, they could in no way explain it, except
that they said that, as they were passing along a thickly wooded
coast, a sudden gust of wind had reached them from the land and
enveloped them in a dense cloud of dust, after which everything in
the boat that was not metal had sprouted and blossomed, as the
Prince had seen, and that they themselves had grown gradually numb
and heavy, and had finally lost all consciousness. Prince Mannikin
was deeply interested in this curious story, and collected a
quantity of the dust from the bottom of the boat, which he
carefully preserved, thinking that its strange property might one
day stand him in good stead.
Then they joyfully left the desert island, and after a long and
prosperous voyage over calm seas they at length came in sight of
land, and resolved to go on shore, not only to take in a fresh
stock of water and provisions, but also to find out, if possible,
where they were and in what direction to proceed.
As they neared the coast they wondered if this could be another
uninhabited land, for no human beings could be distinguished, and
yet that something was stirring became evident, for in the dust-
clouds that moved near the ground small dark forms were dimly
visible. These appeared to be assembling at the exact spot where
they were preparing to run ashore, and what was their surprise to
find they were nothing more nor less than large and beautiful
spaniels, some mounted as sentries, others grouped in companies
and regiments, all eagerly watching their disembarkation. When
they found that Prince Mannikin, instead of saying, 'Shoot them,'
as they had feared, said 'Hi, good dog!' in a thoroughly friendly
and ingratiating way, they crowded round him with a great wagging
of tails and giving of paws, and very soon made him understand
that they wanted him to leave his men with the boat and follow
them. The Prince was so curious to know more about them that he
agreed willingly; so, after arranging with the sailors to wait for
him fifteen days, and then, if he had not come back, to go on
their way without him, he set out with his new friends. Their way
lay inland, and Mannikin noticed with great surprise that the
fields were well cultivated and that the carts and ploughs were
drawn by horses or oxen, just as they might have been in any other
country, and when they passed any village the cottages were trim
and pretty, and an air of prosperity was everywhere. At one of the
villages a dainty little repast was set before the Prince, and
while he was eating, a chariot was brought, drawn by two splendid
horses, which were driven with great skill by a large spaniel. In
this carriage he continued his journey very comfortably, passing
many similar equipages upon the road, and being always most
courteously saluted by the spaniels who occupied them. At last
they drove rapidly into a large town, which Prince Mannikin had no
doubt was the capital of the kingdom. News of his approach had
evidently been received, for all the inhabitants were at their
doors and windows, and all the little spaniels had climbed upon
the wall and gates to see him arrive. The Prince was delighted
with the hearty welcome they gave him, and looked round him with
the deepest interest. After passing through a few wide streets,
well paved, and adorned with avenues of fine trees, they drove
into the courtyard of a grand palace, which was full of spaniels
who were evidently soldiers. 'The King's body-guard,' thought the
Prince to himself as he returned their salutations, and then the
carriage stopped, and he was shown into the presence of the King,
who lay upon a rich Persian carpet surrounded by several little
spaniels, who were occupied in chasing away the flies lest they
should disturb his Majesty. He was the most beautiful of all
spaniels, with a look of sadness in his large eyes, which,
however, quite disappeared as he sprang up to welcome Prince
Mannikin with every demonstration of delight; after which he made
a sign to his courtiers, who came one by one to pay their respects
to the visitor. The Prince thought that he would find himself
puzzled as to how he should carry on a conversation, but as soon
as he and the King were once more left alone, a Secretary of State
was sent for, who wrote from his Majesty's dictation a most polite
speech, in which he regretted much that they were unable to
converse, except in writing, the language of dogs being difficult
to understand. As for the writing, it had remained the same as the
Mannikin thereupon wrote a suitable reply, and then begged the
King to satisfy his curiosity about all the strange things he had
seen and heard since his landing. This appeared to awaken sad
recollections in the King's mind, but he informed the Prince that
he was called King Bayard, and that a Fairy, whose kingdom was
next his own, had fallen violently in love with him, and had done
all she could to persuade him to marry her; but that he could not
do so as he himself was the devoted lover of the Queen of the
Spice Islands. Finally, the Fairy, furious at the indifference
with which her love was treated, had reduced him to the state in
which the Prince found him, leaving him unchanged in mind, but
deprived of the power of speech; and, not content with wreaking
her vengeance upon the King alone, she had condemned all his
subjects to a similar fate, saying:
'Bark, and run upon four feet, until the time comes when virtue
shall be rewarded by love and fortune.'
Which, as the poor King remarked, was very much the same thing as
if she had said, 'Remain a spaniel for ever and ever.'
Prince Mannikin was quite of the same opinion; nevertheless he
said what we should all have said in the same circumstances:
'Your Majesty must have patience.'
He was indeed deeply sorry for poor King Bayard, and said all the
consoling things he could think of, promising to aid him with all
his might if there was anything to be done. In short they became
firm friends, and the King proudly displayed to Mannikin the
portrait of the Queen of the Spice Islands, and he quite agreed
that it was worth while to go through anything for the sake of a
creature so lovely. Prince Mannikin in his turn told his own
history, and the great undertaking upon which he had set out, and
King Bayard was able to give him some valuable instructions as to
which would be the best way for him to proceed, and then they went
together to the place where the boat had been left. The sailors
were delighted to see the Prince again, though they had known that
he was safe, and when they had taken on board all the supplies
which the King had sent for them, they started once more. The King
and Prince parted with much regret, and the former insisted that
Mannikin should take with him one of his own pages, named Mousta,
who was charged to attend to him everywhere, and serve him
faithfully, which he promised to do.
The wind being favourable they were soon out of hearing of the
general howl of regret from the whole army, which had been given
by order of the King, as a great compliment, and it was not long
before the land was entirely lost to view. They met with no
further adventures worth speaking of, and presently found
themselves within two leagues of the harbour for which they were
making. The Prince, however, thought it would suit him better to
land where he was, so as to avoid the town, since he had no money
left and was very doubtful as to what he should do next. So the
sailors set him and Mousta on shore, and then went back
sorrowfully to their ship, while the Prince and his attendant
walked off in what looked to them the most promising direction.
They soon reached a lovely green meadow on the border of a wood,
which seemed to them so pleasant after their long voyage that they
sat down to rest in the shade and amused themselves by watching
the gambols and antics of a pretty tiny monkey in the trees close
by. The Prince presently became so fascinated by it that he sprang
up and tried to catch it, but it eluded his grasp and kept just
out of arm's reach, until it had made him promise to follow
wherever it led him, and then it sprang upon his shoulder and
whispered in his ear:
'We have no money, my poor Mannikin, and we are altogether badly
off, and at a loss to know what to do next.'
'Yes, indeed,' answered the Prince ruefully, 'and I have nothing
to give you, no sugar or biscuits, or anything that you like, my
'Since you are so thoughtful for me, and so patient about your own
affairs,' said the little monkey, 'I will show you the way to the
Golden Rock, only you must leave Mousta to wait for you here.'
Prince Mannikin agreed willingly, and then the little monkey
sprang from his shoulder to the nearest tree, and began to run
through the wood from branch to branch, crying, 'Follow me.'
This the Prince did not find quite so easy, but the little monkey
waited for him and showed him the easiest places, until presently
the wood grew thinner and they came out into a little clear grassy
space at the foot of a mountain, in the midst of which stood a
single rock, about ten feet high. When they were quite close to it
the little monkey said:
'This stone looks pretty hard, but give it a blow with your spear
and let us see what will happen.'
So the Prince took his spear and gave the rock a vigorous dig,
which split off several pieces, and showed that, though the
surface was thinly coated with stone, inside it was one solid mass
of pure gold.
Thereupon the little monkey said, laughing at his astonishment:
'I make you a present of what you have broken off; take as much of
it as you think proper.'
The Prince thanked her gratefully, and picked up one of the
smallest of the lumps of gold; as he did so the little monkey was
suddenly transformed into a tall and gracious lady, who said to
'If you are always as kind and persevering and easily contented as
you are now you may hope to accomplish the most difficult tasks;
go on your way and have no fear that you will be troubled any more
for lack of gold, for that little piece which you modestly chose
shall never grow less, use it as much as you will. But that you
may see the danger you have escaped by your moderation, come with
me.' So saying she led him back into the wood by a different path,
and he saw that it was full of men and women; their faces were
pale and haggard, and they ran hither and thither seeking madly
upon the ground, or in the air, starting at every sound, pushing
and trampling upon one another in their frantic eagerness to find
the way to the Golden Rock.
'You see how they toil,' said the Fairy; 'but it is all of no
avail: they will end by dying of despair, as hundreds have done
As soon as they had got back to the place where they had left
Mousta the Fairy disappeared, and the Prince and his faithful
Squire, who had greeted him with every demonstration of joy, took
the nearest way to the city. Here they stayed several days, while
the Prince provided himself with horses and attendants, and made
many enquiries about the Princess Sabella, and the way to her
kingdom, which was still so far away that he could hear but
little, and that of the vaguest description, but when he presently
reached Mount Caucasus it was quite a different matter. Here they
seemed to talk of nothing but the Princess Sabella, and strangers
from all parts of the world were travelling towards her father's
The Prince heard plenty of assurances as to her beauty and her
riches, but he also heard of the immense number of his rivals and
their power. One brought an army at his back, another had vast
treasures, a third was as handsome and accomplished as it was
possible to be; while, as to poor Mannikin, he had nothing but his
determination to succeed, his faithful spaniel, and his ridiculous
name--which last was hardly likely to help him, but as he could
not alter it he wisely determined not to think of it any more.
After journeying for two whole months they came at last to
Trelintin, the capital of the Princess Sabella's kingdom, and here
he heard dismal stories about the Ice Mountain, and how none of
those who had attempted to climb it had ever come back. He heard
also the story of King Farda-Kinbras, Sabella's father. It
appeared that he, being a rich and powerful monarch, had married a
lovely Princess named Birbantine, and they were as happy as the
day was long--so happy that as they were out sledging one day they
were foolish enough to defy fate to spoil their happiness.
'We shall see about that,' grumbled an old hag who sat by the
wayside blowing her fingers to keep them warm. The King thereupon
was very angry, and wanted to punish the woman; but the Queen
prevented him, saying:
'Alas! sire, do not let us make bad worse; no doubt this is a
'You are right there,' said the old woman, and immediately she
stood up, and as they gazed at her in horror she grew gigantic and
terrible, her staff turned to a fiery dragon with outstretched
wings, her ragged cloak to a golden mantle, and her wooden shoes
to two bundles of rockets. 'You are right there, and you will see
what will come of your fine goings on, and remember the Fairy
Gorgonzola!' So saying she mounted the dragon and flew off, the
rockets shooting in all directions and leaving long trails of
In vain did Farda-Kinbras and Birbantine beg her to return, and
endeavour by their humble apologies to pacify her; she never so
much as looked at them, and was very soon out of sight, leaving
them a prey to all kinds of dismal forebodings. Very soon after
this the Queen had a little daughter, who was the most beautiful
creature ever seen; all the Fairies of the North were invited to
her christening, and warned against the malicious Gorgonzola. She
also was invited, but she neither came to the banquet nor received
her present; but as soon as all the others were seated at table,
after bestowing their gifts upon the little Princess, she stole
into the Palace, disguised as a black cat, and hid herself under
the cradle until the nurses and the cradle-rockers had all turned
their backs, and then she sprang out, and in an instant had stolen
the little Princess's heart and made her escape, only being chased
by a few dogs and scullions on her way across the courtyard. Once
outside she mounted her chariot and flew straight away to the
North Pole, where she shut up her stolen treasure on the summit of
the Ice Mountain, and surrounded it with so many difficulties that
she felt quite easy about its remaining there as long as the
Princess lived, and then she went home, chuckling at her success.
As to the other Fairies, they went home after the banquet without
discovering that anything was amiss, and so the King and Queen
were quite happy. Sabella grew prettier day by day. She learnt
everything a Princess ought to know without the slightest trouble,
and yet something always seemed lacking to make her perfectly
charming. She had an exquisite voice, but whether her songs were
grave or gay it did not matter, she did not seem to know what they
meant; and everyone who heard her said:
'She certainly sings perfectly; but there is no tenderness, no
heart in her voice.' Poor Sabella! how could there be when her
heart was far away on the Ice Mountains? And it was just the same
with all the other things that she did. As time went on, in spite
of the admiration of the whole Court and the blind fondness of the
King and Queen, it became more and more evident that something was
fatally wrong: for those who love no one cannot long be loved; and
at last the King called a general assembly, and invited the
Fairies to attend, that they might, if possible, find out what was
the matter. After explaining their grief as well as he could, he
ended by begging them to see the Princess for themselves. 'It is
certain,' said he, 'that something is wrong--what it is I don't
know how to tell you, but in some way your work is imperfect.'
They all assured him that, so far as they knew, everything had
been done for the Princess, and they had forgotten nothing that
they could bestow on so good a neighbour as the King had been to
them. After this they went to see Sabella; but they had no sooner
entered her presence than they cried out with one accord:
'Oh! horror!--she has no heart!'
On hearing this frightful announcement, the King and Queen gave a
cry of despair, and entreated the Fairies to find some remedy for
such an unheard-of misfortune. Thereupon the eldest Fairy
consulted her Book of Magic, which she always carried about with
her, hung to her girdle by a thick silver chain, and there she
found out at once that it was Gorgonzola who had stolen the
Princess's heart, and also discovered what the wicked old Fairy
had done with it.
'What shall we do? What shall we do?' cried the King and Queen in
'You must certainly suffer much annoyance from seeing and loving
Sabella, who is nothing but a beautiful image,' replied the Fairy,
'and this must go on for a long time; but I think I see that, in
the end, she will once more regain her heart. My advice is that
you shall at once cause her portrait to be sent all over the
world, and promise her hand and all her possessions to the Prince
who is successful in reaching her heart. Her beauty alone is
sufficient to engage all the Princes of the world in the quest.'
This was accordingly done, and Prince Mannikin heard that already
five hundred Princes had perished in the snow and ice, not to
mention their squires and pages, and that more continued to arrive
daily, eager to try their fortune. After some consideration he
determined to present himself at Court; but his arrival made no
stir, as his retinue was as inconsiderable as his stature, and the
splendour of his rivals was great enough to throw even Farda-
Kinbras himself into the shade. However, he paid his respects to
the King very gracefully, and asked permission to kiss the hand of
the Princess in the usual manner; but when he said he was called
'Mannikin,' the King could hardly repress a smile, and the Princes
who stood by openly shouted with laughter.
Turning to the King, Prince Mannikin said with great dignity:
'Pray laugh if it pleases your Majesty, I am glad that it is in my
power to afford you any amusement; but I am not a plaything for
these gentlemen, and I must beg them to dismiss any ideas of that
kind from their minds at once,' and with that he turned upon the
one who had laughed the loudest and proudly challenged him to a
single combat. This Prince, who was called Fadasse, accepted the
challenge very scornfully, mocking at Mannikin, whom he felt sure
had no chance against himself; but the meeting was arranged for
the next day. When Prince Mannikin quitted the King's presence he
was conducted to the audience hall of the Princess Sabella. The
sight of so much beauty and magnificence almost took his breath
away for an instant, but, recovering himself with an effort, he
'Lovely Princess, irresistibly drawn by the beauty of your
portrait, I come from the other end of the world to offer my
services to you. My devotion knows no bounds, but my absurd name
has already involved me in a quarrel with one of your courtiers.
Tomorrow I am to fight this ugly, overgrown Prince, and I beg you
to honour the combat with your presence, and prove to the world
that there is nothing in a name, and that you deign to accept
Mannikin as your knight.'
When it came to this the Princess could not help being amused,
for, though she had no heart, she was not without humour. However,
she answered graciously that she accepted with pleasure, which
encouraged the Prince to entreat further that she would not show
any favour to his adversary.
'Alas!' said she, 'I favour none of these foolish people, who
weary me with their sentiment and their folly. I do very well as I
am, and yet from one year's end to another they talk of nothing
but delivering me from some imaginary affliction. Not a word do I
understand of all their pratings about love, and who knows what
dull things besides, which, I declare to you, I cannot even
Mannikin was quick enough to gather from this speech that to amuse
and interest the Princess would be a far surer way of gaining her
favour than to add himself to the list of those who continually
teased her about that mysterious thing called 'love' which she was
so incapable of comprehending. So he began to talk of his rivals,
and found in each of them something to make merry over, in which
diversion the Princess joined him heartily, and so well did he
succeed in his attempt to amuse her that before very long she
declared that of all the people at Court he was the one to whom
she preferred to talk.
The following day, at the time appointed for the combat, when the
King, the Queen, and the Princess had taken their places, and the
whole Court and the whole town were assembled to see the show,
Prince Fadasse rode into the lists magnificently armed and
accoutred, followed by twenty-four squires and a hundred men-at-
arms, each one leading, a splendid horse, while Prince Mannikin
entered from the other side armed only with his spear and followed
by the faithful Mousta. The contrast between the two champions was
so great that there was a shout of laughter from the whole
assembly; but when at the sounding of a trumpet the combatants
rushed upon each other, and Mannikin, eluding the blow aimed at
him, succeeded in thrusting Prince Fadasse from his horse and
pinning him to the sand with his spear, it changed to a murmur of
So soon as he had him at his mercy, however, Mannikin, turning to
the Princess, assured her that he had no desire to kill anyone who
called himself her courtier, and then he bade the furious and
humiliated Fadasse rise and thank the Princess to whom he owed his
life. Then, amid the sounding of the trumpets and the shoutings of
the people, he and Mousta retired gravely from the lists.
The King soon sent for him to congratulate him upon his success,
and to offer him a lodging in the Palace, which he joyfully
accepted. While the Princess expressed a wish to have Mousta
brought to her, and, when the Prince sent for him, she was so
delighted with his courtly manners and his marvellous intelligence
that she entreated Mannikin to give him to her for her own. The
Prince consented with alacrity, not only out of politeness, but
because he foresaw that to have a faithful friend always near the
Princess might some day be of great service to him. All these
events made Prince Mannikin a person of much more consequence at
the Court. Very soon after, there arrived upon the frontier the
Ambassador of a very powerful King, who sent to Farda-Kinbras the
following letter, at the same time demanding permission to enter
the capital in state to receive the answer:
'I, Brandatimor, to Farda-Kinbras send greeting. If I had before
this time seen the portrait of your beautiful daughter Sabella I
should not have permitted all these adventurers and petty Princes
to be dancing attendance and getting themselves frozen with the
absurd idea of meriting her hand. For myself I am not afraid of
any rivals, and, now I have declared my intention of marrying your
daughter, no doubt they will at once withdraw their pretensions.
My Ambassador has orders, therefore, to make arrangements for the
Princess to come and be married to me without delay--for I attach
no importance at all to the farrago of nonsense which you have
caused to be published all over the world about this Ice Mountain.
If the Princess really has no heart, be assured that I shall not
concern myself about it, since, if anybody can help her to
discover one, it is myself. My worthy father-in-law, farewell!'
The reading of this letter embarrassed and displeased Farda-
Kinbras and Birbantine immensely, while the Princess was furious
at the insolence of the demand. They all three resolved that its
contents must be kept a profound secret until they could decide
what reply should be sent, but Mousta contrived to send word of
all that had passed to Prince Mannikin. He was naturally alarmed
and indignant, and, after thinking it over a little, he begged an
audience of the Princess, and led the conversation so cunningly up
to the subject that was uppermost in her thoughts, as well as his
own, that she presently told him all about the matter and asked
his advice as to what it would be best to do. This was exactly
what he had not been able to decide for himself; however, he
replied that he should advise her to gain a little time by
promising her answer after the grand entry of the Ambassador, and
this was accordingly done.
The Ambassador did not at all like being put off after that
fashion, but he was obliged to be content, and only said very
arrogantly that so soon as his equipages arrived, as he expected
they would do very shortly, he would give all the people of the
city, and the stranger Princes with whom it was inundated, an idea
of the power and the magnificence of his master. Mannikin, in
despair, resolved that he would for once beg the assistance of the
kind Fairy Genesta. He often thought of her and always with
gratitude, but from the moment of his setting out he had
determined to seek her aid only on the greatest occasions. That
very night, when he had fallen asleep quite worn out with thinking
over all the difficulties of the situation, he dreamed that the
Fairy stood beside him, and said:
'Mannikin, you have done very well so far; continue to please me
and you shall always find good friends when you need them most. As
for this affair with the Ambassador, you can assure Sabella that
she may look forward tranquilly to his triumphal entry, since it
will all turn out well for her in the end.'
The Prince tried to throw himself at her feet to thank her, but
woke to find it was all a dream; nevertheless he took fresh
courage, and went next day to see the Princess, to whom he gave
many mysterious assurances that all would yet be well. He even
went so far as to ask her if she would not be very grateful to
anyone who would rid her of the insolent Brandatimor. To which she
replied that her gratitude would know no bounds. Then he wanted to
know what would be her best wish for the person who was lucky
enough to accomplish it. To which she said that she would wish
them to be as insensible to the folly called 'love' as she was
This was indeed a crushing speech to make to such a devoted lover
as Prince Mannikin, but he concealed the pain it caused him with
And now the Ambassador sent to say that on the very next day he
would come in state to receive his answer, and from the earliest
dawn the inhabitants were astir, to secure the best places for the
grand sight; but the good Fairy Genesta was providing them an
amount of amusement they were far from expecting, for she so
enchanted the eyes of all the spectators that when the
Ambassador's gorgeous procession appeared, the splendid uniforms
seemed to them miserable rags that a beggar would have been
ashamed to wear, the prancing horses appeared as wretched
skeletons hardly able to drag one leg after the other, while their
trappings, which really sparkled with gold and jewels, looked like
old sheepskins that would not have been good enough for a plough
horse. The pages resembled the ugliest sweeps. The trumpets gave
no more sound than whistles made of onion-stalks, or combs wrapped
in paper; while the train of fifty carriages looked no better than
fifty donkey carts. In the last of these sat the Ambassador with
the haughty and scornful air which he considered becoming in the
representative of so powerful a monarch: for this was the crowning
point of the absurdity of the whole procession, that all who took
part in it wore the expression of vanity and self-satisfaction and
pride in their own appearance and all their surroundings which
they believed their splendour amply justified.
The laughter and howls of derision from the whole crowd rose ever
louder and louder as the extraordinary cortege advanced, and at
last reached the ears of the King as he waited in the audience
hall, and before the procession reached the palace he had been
informed of its nature, and, supposing that it must be intended as
an insult, he ordered the gates to be closed. You may imagine the
fury of the Ambassador when, after all his pomp and pride, the
King absolutely and unaccountably refused to receive him. He raved
wildly both against King and people, and the cortege retired in
great confusion, jeered at and pelted with stones and mud by the
enraged crowd. It is needless to say that he left the country as
fast as horses could carry him, but not before he had declared
war, with the most terrible menaces, threatening to devastate the
country with fire and sword.
Some days after this disastrous embassy King Bayard sent couriers
to Prince Mannikin with a most friendly letter, offering his
services in any difficulty, and enquiring with the deepest
interest how he fared.
Mannikin at once replied, relating all that had happened since
they parted, not forgetting to mention the event which had just
involved Farda-Kinbras and Brandatimor in this deadly quarrel, and
he ended by entreating his faithful friend to despatch a few
thousands of his veteran spaniels to his assistance.
Neither the King, the Queen, nor the Princess could in the least
understand the amazing conduct of Brandatimor's Ambassador;
nevertheless the preparations for the war went forward briskly and
all the Princes who had not gone on towards the Ice Mountain
offered their services, at the same time demanding all the best
appointments in the King's army. Mannikin was one of the first to
volunteer, but he only asked to go as aide-de-camp to the
Commander-in chief, who was a gallant soldier and celebrated for
his victories. As soon as the army could be got together it was
marched to the frontier, where it met the opposing force headed by
Brandatimor himself, who was full of fury, determined to avenge
the insult to his Ambassador and to possess himself of the
Princess Sabella. All the army of Farda-Kinbras could do, being so
heavily outnumbered, was to act upon the defensive, and before
long Mannikin won the esteem of the officers for his ability, and
of the soldiers for his courage, and care for their welfare, and
in all the skirmishes which he conducted he had the good fortune
to vanquish the enemy.
At last Brandatimor engaged the whole army in a terrific conflict,
and though the troops of Farda-Kinbras fought with desperate
courage, their general was killed, and they were defeated and
forced to retreat with immense loss. Mannikin did wonders, and
half-a-dozen times turned the retreating forces and beat back the
enemy; and he afterwards collected troops enough to keep them in
check until, the severe winter setting in, put an end to
hostilities for a while.
He then returned to the Court, where consternation reigned. The
King was in despair at the death of his trusty general, and ended
by imploring Mannikin to take the command of the army, and his
counsel was followed in all the affairs of the Court. He followed
up his former plan of amusing the Princess, and on no account
reminding her of that tedious thing called 'love,' so that she was
always glad to see him, and the winter slipped by gaily for both
The Prince was all the while secretly making plans for the next
campaign; he received private intelligence of the arrival of a
strong reinforcement of Spaniels, to whom he sent orders to post
themselves along the frontier without attracting attention, and as
soon as he possibly could he held a consultation with their
Commander, who was an old and experienced warrior. Following his
advice, he decided to have a pitched battle as soon as the enemy
advanced, and this Brandatimor lost not a moment in doing, as he
was perfectly persuaded that he was now going to make an end of
the war and utterly vanquish Farda-Kinbras. But no sooner had he
given the order to charge than the Spaniels, who had mingled with
his troops unperceived, leaped each upon the horse nearest to him,
and not only threw the whole squadron into confusion by the terror
they caused, but, springing at the throats of the riders, unhorsed
many of them by the suddenness of their attack; then turning the
horses to the rear, they spread consternation everywhere, and made
it easy for Prince Mannikin to gain a complete victory. He met
Brandatimor in single combat, and succeeded in taking him
prisoner; but he did not live to reach the Court, to which
Mannikin had sent him: his pride killed him at the thought of
appearing before Sabella under these altered circumstances. In the
meantime Prince Fadasse and all the others who had remained behind
were setting out with all speed for the conquest of the Ice
Mountain, being afraid that Prince Mannikin might prove as
successful in that as he seemed to be in everything else, and when
Mannikin returned he heard of it with great annoyance. True he had
been serving the Princess, but she only admired and praised him
for his gallant deeds, and seemed no whit nearer bestowing on him
the love he so ardently desired, and all the comfort Mousta could
give him on the subject was that at least she loved no one else,
and with that he had to content himself. But he determined that,
come what might, he would delay no longer, but attempt the great
undertaking for which he had come so far. When he went to take
leave of the King and Queen they entreated him not to go, as they
had just heard that Prince Fadasse, and all who accompanied him,
had perished in the snow; but he persisted in his resolve. As for
Sabella, she gave him her hand to kiss with precisely the same
gracious indifference as she had given it to him the first time
they met. It happened that this farewell took place before the
whole Court, and so great a favourite had Prince Mannikin become
that they were all indignant at the coldness with which the
Princess treated him.
Finally the King said to him:
'Prince, you have constantly refilled all the gifts which, in my
gratitude for your invaluable services, I have offered to you, but
I wish the Princess to present you with her cloak of marten's fur,
and that I hope you will not reject!' Now this was a splendid fur
mantle which the Princess was very fond of wearing, not so much
because she felt cold, as that its richness set off to perfection
the delicate tints of her complexion and the brilliant gold of her
hair. However, she took it off, and with graceful politeness
begged Prince Mannikin to accept it, which you may be sure he was
charmed to do, and, taking only this and a little bundle of all
kinds of wood, and accompanied only by two spaniels out of the
fifty who had stayed with him when the war was ended, he set
forth, receiving many tokens of love and favour from the people in
every town he passed through. At the last little village he left
his horse behind him, to begin his toilful march through the snow,
which extended, blank and terrible, in every direction as far as
the eye could see. Here he had appointed to meet the other forty-
eight spaniels, who received him joyfully, and assured him that,
happen what might, they would follow and serve him faithfully. And
so they started, full of heart and hope. At first there was a
slight track, difficult, but not impossible to follow; but this
was soon lost, and the Pole Star was their only guide. When the
time came to call a halt, the Prince, who had after much
consideration decided on his plan of action, caused a few twigs
from the faggot he had brought with him to be planted in the snow,
and then he sprinkled over them a pinch of the magic powder he had
collected from the enchanted boat. To his great joy they instantly
began to sprout and grow, and in a marvellously short time the
camp was surrounded by a perfect grove of trees of all sorts,
which blossomed and bore ripe fruit, so that all their wants were
easily supplied, and they were able to make huge fires to warm
themselves. The Prince then sent out several spaniels to
reconnoitre, and they had the good luck to discover a horse laden
with provisions stuck fast in the snow. They at once fetched their
comrades, and brought the spoil triumphantly into the camp, and,
as it consisted principally of biscuits, not a spaniel among them
went supperless to sleep. In this way they journeyed by day and
encamped safely at night, always remembering to take on a few
branches to provide them with food and shelter. They passed by the
way armies of those who had set out upon the perilous enterprise,
who stood frozen stiffly, without sense or motion; but Prince
Mannikin strictly forbade that any attempt should be made to thaw
them. So they went on and on for more than three months, and day
by day the Ice Mountain, which they had seen for a long time, grew
clearer, until at last they stood close to it, and shuddered at
its height and steepness. But by patience and perseverance they
crept up foot by foot, aided by their fires of magic wood, without
which they must have perished in the intense cold, until presently
they stood at the gates of the magnificent Ice Palace which
crowned the mountain, where, in deadly silence and icy sleep, lay
the heart of Sabella. Now the difficulty became immense, for if
they maintained enough heat to keep themselves alive they were in
danger every moment of melting the blocks of solid ice of which
the palace was entirely built, and bringing the whole structure
down upon their heads; but cautiously and quickly they traversed
courtyards and halls, until they found themselves at the foot of a
vast throne, where, upon a cushion of snow, lay an enormous and
brilliantly sparkling diamond, which contained the heart of the
lovely Princess Sabella. Upon the lowest step of the throne was
inscribed in icy letters, 'Whosoever thou art who by courage and
virtue canst win the heart of Sabella enjoy peacefully the good
fortune which thou hast richly deserved.'
Prince Mannikin bounded forward, and had just strength left to
grasp the precious diamond which contained all he coveted in the
world before he fell insensible upon the snowy cushion. But his
good spaniels lost no time in rushing to the rescue, and between
them they bore him hastily from the hall, and not a moment too
soon, for all around them they heard the clang of the falling
blocks of ice as the Fairy Palace slowly collapsed under the
unwonted heat. Not until they reached the foot of the mountain did
they pause to restore the Prince to consciousness, and then his
joy to find himself the possessor of Sabella's heart knew no
With all speed they began to retrace their steps, but this time
the happy Prince could not bear the sight of his defeated and
disappointed rivals, whose frozen forms lined his triumphant way.
He gave orders to his spaniels to spare no pains to restore them
to life, and so successful were they that day by day his train
increased, so that by the time he got back to the little village
where he had left his horse he was escorted by five hundred
sovereign Princes, and knights and squires without number, and he
was so courteous and unassuming that they all followed him
willingly, anxious to do him honour. But then he was so happy and
blissful himself that he found it easy to be at peace with all the
world. It was not long before he met the faithful Mousta, who was
coming at the top of his speed hoping to meet the Prince, that he
might tell him of the sudden and wonderful change that had come
over the Princess, who had become gentle and thoughtful and had
talked to him of nothing but Prince Mannikin, of the hardships she
feared he might be suffering, and of her anxiety for him, and all
this with a hundred fonder expressions which put the finishing
stroke to the Prince's delight. Then came a courier bearing the
congratulations of the King and Queen, who had just heard of his
successful return, and there was even a graceful compliment from
Sabella herself. The Prince sent Mousta back to her, and he was
welcomed with joy, for was he not her lover's present?
At last the travellers reached the capital, and were received with
regal magnificence. Farda-Kinbras and Birbantine embraced Prince
Mannikin, declaring that they regarded him as their heir and the
future husband of the Princess, to which he replied that they did
him too much honour. And then he was admitted into the presence of
the Princess, who for the first time in her life blushed as he
kissed her hand, and could not find a word to say. But the Prince,
throwing himself on his knees beside her, held out the splendid
'Madam, this treasure is yours, since none of the dangers and
difficulties I have gone through have been sufficient to make me
'Ah! Prince,' said she, 'if I take it, it is only that I may give
it back to you, since truly it belongs to you already.'
At this moment in came the King and Queen, and interrupted them by
asking all the questions imaginable, and not infrequently the same
over and over again. It seems that there is always one thing that
is sure to be said about an event by everybody, and Prince
Mannikin found that the question which he was asked by more than a
thousand people on this particular occasion was:
'And didn't you find it very cold?'
The King had come to request Prince Mannikin and the Princess to
follow him to the Council Chamber, which they did, not knowing
that he meant to present the Prince to all the nobles assembled
there as his son-in-law and successor. But when Mannikin perceived
his intention, he begged permission to speak first, and told his
whole story, even to the fact that he believed himself to be a
peasant's son. Scarcely had he finished speaking when the sky grew
black, the thunder growled, and the lightning flashed, and in the
blaze of light the good Fairy Genesta suddenly appeared. Turning
to Prince Mannikin, she said:
'I am satisfied with you, since you have shown not only courage
but a good heart.' Then she addressed King Farda-Kinbras, and
informed him of the real history of the Prince, and how she had
determined to give him the education she knew would be best for a
man who was to command others. 'You have already found the
advantage of having a faithful friend,' she added to the Prince
'and now you will have the pleasure of seeing King Bayard and his
subjects regain their natural forms as a reward for his kindness
Just then arrived a chariot drawn by eagles, which proved to
contain the foolish King and Queen, who embraced their long-lost
son with great joy, and were greatly struck with the fact that
they did indeed find him covered with fur! While they were
caressing Sabella and wringing her hands (which is a favourite
form of endearment with foolish people) chariots were seen
approaching from all points of the compass, containing numbers of
'Sire,' said Genesta to Farda-Kinbras, 'I have taken the liberty
of appointing your Court as a meeting-place for all the Fairies
who could spare the time to come; and I hope you can arrange to
hold the great ball, which we have once in a hundred years, on
The King having suitably acknowledged the honour done him, was
next reconciled to Gorgonzola, and they two presently opened the
ball together. The Fairy Marsontine restored their natural forms
to King Bayard and all his subjects, and he appeared once more as
handsome a king as you could wish to see. One of the Fairies
immediately despatched her chariot for the Queen of the Spice
Islands, and their wedding took place at the same time as that of
Prince Mannikin and the lovely and gracious Sabella. They lived
happily ever afterwards, and their vast kingdoms were presently
divided between their children.
The Prince, out of grateful remembrance of the Princess Sabella's
first gift to him bestowed the right of bearing her name upon the
most beautiful of the martens, and that is why they are called
sables to this day.
Comte de Caylus.
THE ENCHANTED RING
Once upon a time there lived a young man named Rosimond, who was
as good and handsome as his elder brother Bramintho was ugly and
wicked. Their mother detested her eldest son, and had only eyes
for the youngest. This excited Bramintho's jealousy, and he
invented a horrible story in order to ruin his brother. He told
his father that Rosimond was in the habit of visiting a neighbour
who was an enemy of the family, and betraying to him all that went
on in the house, and was plotting with him to poison their father.
The father flew into a rage, and flogged his son till the blood
came. Then he threw him into prison and kept him for three days
without food, and after that he turned him out of the house, and
threatened to kill him if he ever came back. The mother was
miserable, and did nothing but weep, but she dared not say
The youth left his home with tears in his eyes, not knowing where
to go, and wandered about for many hours till he came to a thick
wood. Night overtook him at the foot of a great rock, and he fell
asleep on a bank of moss, lulled by the music of a little brook.
It was dawn when he woke, and he saw before him a beautiful woman
seated on a grey horse, with trappings of gold, who looked as if
she were preparing for the hunt.
'Have you seen a stag and some deerhounds go by?' she asked.
'No, madam,' he replied.
Then she added, 'You look unhappy; is there anything the matter?
Take this ring, which will make you the happiest and most powerful
of men, provided you never make a bad use of it. If you turn the
diamond inside, you will become invisible. If you turn it outside,
you will become visible again. If you place it on your little
finger, you will take the shape of the King's son, followed by a
splendid court. If you put it on your fourth finger, you will take
your own shape.'
Then the young man understood that it was a Fairy who was speaking
to him, and when she had finished she plunged into the woods. The
youth was very impatient to try the ring, and returned home
immediately. He found that the Fairy had spoken the truth, and
that he could see and hear everything, while he himself was
unseen. It lay with him to revenge himself, if he chose, on his
brother, without the slightest danger to himself, and he told no
one but his mother of all the strange things that had befallen
him. He afterwards put the enchanted ring on his little finger,
and appeared as the King's son, followed by a hundred fine horses,
and a guard of officers all richly dressed.
His father was much surprised to see the King's son in his quiet
little house, and he felt rather embarrassed, not knowing what was
the proper way to behave on such a grand occasion. Then Rosimond
asked him how many sons he had.
'Two,' replied he.
'I wish to see them,' said Rosimond. 'Send for them at once. I
desire to take them both to Court, in order to make their
The father hesitated, then answered: 'Here is the eldest, whom I
have the honour to present to your Highness.'
'But where is the youngest? I wish to see him too,' persisted
'He is not here,' said the father. 'I had to punish him for a
fault, and he has run away.'
Then Rosimond replied, 'You should have shown him what was right,
but not have punished him. However, let the elder come with me,
and as for you, follow these two guards, who will escort you to a
place that I will point out to them.'
Then the two guards led off the father, and the Fairy of whom you
have heard found him in the forest, and beat him with a golden
birch rod, and cast him into a cave that was very deep and dark,
where he lay enchanted. 'Lie there,' she said, 'till your son
comes to take you out again.'
Meanwhile the son went to the King's palace, and arrived just when
the real prince was absent. He had sailed away to make war on a
distant island, but the winds had been contrary, and he had been
shipwrecked on unknown shores, and taken captive by a savage
people. Rosimond made his appearance at Court in the character of
the Prince, whom everyone wept for as lost, and told them that he
had been rescued when at the point of death by some merchants. His
return was the signal for great public rejoicings, and the King
was so overcome that he became quite speechless, and did nothing
but embrace his son. The Queen was even more delighted, and fetes
were ordered over the whole kingdom.
One day the false Prince said to his real brother, 'Bramintho, you
know that I brought you here from your native village in order to
make your fortune; but I have found out that you are a liar, and
that by your deceit you have been the cause of all the troubles of
your brother Rosimond. He is in hiding here, and I desire that you
shall speak to him, and listen to his reproaches.'
Bramintho trembled at these words, and, flinging himself at the
Prince's feet, confessed his crime.
'That is not enough,' said Rosimond. 'It is to your brother that
you must confess, and I desire that you shall ask his forgiveness.
He will be very generous if he grants it, and it will be more than
you deserve. He is in my ante-room, where you shall see him at
once. I myself will retire into another apartment, so as to leave
you alone with him.'
Bramintho entered, as he was told, into the anteroom. Then
Rosimond changed the ring, and passed into the room by another
Bramintho was filled with shame as soon as he saw his brother's
face. He implored his pardon, and promised to atone for all his
faults. Rosimond embraced him with tears, and at once forgave him,
adding, 'I am in great favour with the King. It rests with me to
have your head cut off, or to condemn you to pass the remainder of
your life in prison; but I desire to be as good to you as you have
been wicked to me.' Bramintho, confused and ashamed, listened to
his words without daring to lift his eyes or to remind Rosimond
that he was his brother. After this, Rosimond gave out that he was
going to make a secret voyage, to marry a Princess who lived in a
neighbouring kingdom; but in reality he only went to see his
mother, whom he told all that had happened at the Court, giving
her at the same time some money that she needed, for the King
allowed him to take exactly what he liked, though he was always
careful not to abuse this permission. Just then a furious war
broke out between the King his master and the Sovereign of the
adjoining country, who was a bad man and one that never kept his
word. Rosimond went straight to the palace of the wicked King, and
by means of his ring was able to be present at all the councils,
and learnt all their schemes, so that he was able to forestall
them and bring them to naught. He took the command of the army
which was brought against the wicked King, and defeated him in a
glorious battle, so that peace was at once concluded on conditions
that were just to everyone.
Henceforth the King's one idea was to marry the young man to a
Princess who was the heiress to a neighbouring kingdom, and,
besides that, was as lovely as the day. But one morning, while
Rosimond was hunting in the forest where for the first time he had
seen the Fairy, his benefactress suddenly appeared before him.
'Take heed,' she said to him in severe tones, 'that you do not
marry anybody who believes you to be a Prince. You must never
deceive anyone. The real Prince, whom the whole nation thinks you
are, will have to succeed his father, for that is just and right.
Go and seek him in some distant island, and I will send winds that
will swell your sails and bring you to him. Hasten to render this
service to your master, although it is against your own ambition,
and prepare, like an honest man, to return to your natural state.
If you do not do this, you will become wicked and unhappy, and I
will abandon you to all your former troubles.'
Rosimond took these wise counsels to heart. He gave out that he
had undertaken a secret mission to a neighbouring state, and
embarked on board a vessel, the winds carrying him straight to the
island where the Fairy had told him he would find the real Prince.
This unfortunate youth had been taken captive by a savage people,
who had kept him to guard their sheep. Rosimond, becoming
invisible, went to seek him amongst the pastures, where he kept
his flock, and, covering him with his mantle, he delivered him out
of the hands of his cruel masters, and bore him back to the ship.
Other winds sent by the Fairy swelled the sails, and together the
two young men entered the King's presence.
Rosimond spoke first and said, 'You have believed me to be your
son. I am not he, but I have brought him back to you.' The King,
filled with astonishment, turned to his real son and asked, 'Was
it not you, my son, who conquered my enemies and won such a
glorious peace? Or is it true that you have been shipwrecked and
taken captive, and that Rosimond has set you free?'
'Yes, my father,' replied the Prince. 'It is he who sought me out
in my captivity and set me free, and to him I owe the happiness of
seeing you once more. It was he, not I, who gained the victory.'
The King could hardly believe his ears; but Rosimond, turning the
ring, appeared before him in the likeness of the Prince, and the
King gazed distractedly at the two youths who seemed both to be
his son. Then he offered Rosimond immense rewards for his
services, which were refused, and the only favour the young man
would accept was that one of his posts at Court should be
conferred on his brother Bramintho. For he feared for himself the
changes of fortune, the envy of mankind and his own weakness. His
desire was to go back to his mother and his native village, and to
spend his time in cultivating the land.
One day, when he was wandering through the woods, he met the
Fairy, who showed him the cavern where his father was imprisoned,
and told him what words he must use in order to set him free. He
repeated them joyfully, for he had always longed to bring the old
man back and to make his last days happy. Rosimond thus became the
benefactor of all his family, and had the pleasure of doing good
to those who had wished to do him evil. As for the Court, to whom
he had rendered such services, all he asked was the freedom to
live far from its corruption; and, to crown all, fearing that if
he kept the ring he might be tempted to use it in order to regain
his lost place in the world, he made up his mind to restore it to
the Fairy. For many days he sought her up and down the woods and
at last he found her. 'I want to give you back,' he said, holding
out the ring, 'a gift as dangerous as it is powerful, and which I
fear to use wrongfully. I shall never feel safe till I have made
it impossible for me to leave my solitude and to satisfy my
While Rosimond was seeking to give back the ring to the Fairy,
Bramintho, who had failed to learn any lessons from experience,
gave way to all his desires, and tried to persuade the Prince,
lately become King, to ill-treat Rosimond. But the Fairy, who knew
all about everything, said to Rosimond, when he was imploring her
to accept the ring:
'Your wicked brother is doing his best to poison the mind of the
King towards you, and to ruin you. He deserves to be punished, and
he must die; and in order that he may destroy himself, I shall
give the ring to him.'
Rosimond wept at these words, and then asked:
'What do you mean by giving him the ring as a punishment? He will
only use it to persecute everyone, and to become master.'
'The same things,' answered the Fairy, 'are often a healing
medicine to one person and a deadly poison to another. Prosperity
is the source of all evil to a naturally wicked man. If you wish
to punish a scoundrel, the first thing to do is to give him power.
You will see that with this rope he will soon hang himself.'
Having said this, she disappeared, and went straight to the
Palace, where she showed herself to Bramintho under the disguise
of an old woman covered with rags. She at once addressed him in
'I have taken this ring from the hands of your brother, to whom I
had lent it, and by its help he covered himself with glory. I now
give it to you, and be careful what you do with it.'
Bramintho replied with a laugh:
'I shall certainly not imitate my brother, who was foolish enough
to bring back the Prince instead of reigning in his place,' and he
was as good as his word. The only use he made of the ring was to
find out family secrets and betray them, to commit murders and
every sort of wickedness, and to gain wealth for himself
unlawfully. All these crimes, which could be traced to nobody,
filled the people with astonishment. The King, seeing so many
affairs, public and private, exposed, was at first as puzzled as
anyone, till Bramintho's wonderful prosperity and amazing
insolence made him suspect that the enchanted ring had become his
property. In order to find out the truth he bribed a stranger just
arrived at Court, one of a nation with whom the King was always at
war, and arranged that he was to steal in the night to Bramintho
and to offer him untold honours and rewards if he would betray the
Bramintho promised everything, and accepted at once the first
payment of his crime, boasting that he had a ring which rendered
him invisible, and that by means of it he could penetrate into the
most private places. But his triumph was short. Next day he was
seized by order of the King, and his ring was taken from him. He
was searched, and on him were found papers which proved his
crimes; and, though Rosimond himself came back to the Court to
entreat his pardon, it was refused. So Bramintho was put to death,
and the ring had been even more fatal to him than it had been
useful in the hands of his brother.
To console Rosimond for the fate of Bramintho, the King gave him
back the enchanted ring, as a pearl without price. The unhappy
Rosimond did not look upon it in the same light, and the first
thing he did on his return home was to seek the Fairy in the
'Here,' he said, 'is your ring. My brother's experience has made
me understand many things that I did not know before. Keep it, it
has only led to his destruction. Ah! without it he would be alive
now, and my father and mother would not in their old age be bowed
to the earth with shame and grief! Perhaps he might have been wise
and happy if he had never had the chance of gratifying his wishes!
Oh! how dangerous it is to have more power than the rest of the
world! Take back your ring, and as ill fortune seems to follow all
on whom you bestow it, I will implore you, as a favour to myself,
that you will never give it to anyone who is dear to me.'
As often happens in this world, there was once a young man who
spent all his time in travelling. One day, as he was walking
along, he picked up a snuff-box. He opened it, and the snuff-box
said to him in the Spanish language, 'What do you want?' He was
very much frightened, but, luckily, instead of throwing the box
away, he only shut it tight, and put it in his pocket. Then he
went on, away, away, away, and as he went he said to himself, 'If
it says to me again "What do you want?" I shall know better what
to say this time.' So he took out the snuff-box and opened it, and
again it asked 'What do you want?' 'My hat full of gold,' answered
the youth, and immediately it was full.
Our young man was enchanted. Henceforth he should never be in need
of anything. So on he travelled, away, away, away, through thick
forests, till at last he came to a beautiful castle. In the castle
there lived a King. The young man walked round and round the
castle, not caring who saw him, till the King noticed him, and
asked what he was doing there. 'I was just looking at your
castle.' 'You would like to have one like it, wouldn't you?' The
young man did not reply, but when it grew dark he took his snuff-
box and opened the lid. 'What do you want?' 'Build me a castle
with laths of gold and tiles of diamond, and the furniture all of
silver and gold.' He had scarcely finished speaking when there
stood in front of him, exactly opposite the King's palace, a
castle built precisely as he had ordered. When the King awoke he
was struck dumb at the sight of the magnificent house shining in
the rays of the sun. The servants could not do their work for
stopping to stare at it. Then the King dressed himself, and went
to see the young man. And he told him plainly that he was a very
powerful Prince; and that he hoped that they might all live
together in one house or the other, and that the King would give
him his daughter to wife. So it all turned out just as the King
wished. The young man married the Princess, and they lived happily
in the palace of gold.
But the King's wife was jealous both of the young man and of her
own daughter. The Princess had told her mother about the snuff-
box, which gave them everything they wanted, and the Queen bribed
a servant to steal the snuff-box. They noticed carefully where it
was put away every night, and one evening, when the whole world
was asleep, the woman stole it and brought it to her old mistress.
Oh how happy the Queen was! She opened the lid, and the snuff-box
said to her 'What do you want?' And she answered at once 'I want
you to take me and my husband and my servants and this beautiful
house and set us down on the other side of the Red Sea, but my
daughter and her husband are to stay behind.'
When the young couple woke up, they found themselves back in the
old castle, without their snuff-box. They hunted for it high and
low, but quite vainly. The young man felt that no time was to be
lost, and he mounted his horse and filled his pockets with as much
gold as he could carry. On he went, away, away, away, but he
sought the snuff-box in vain all up and down the neighbouring
countries, and very soon he came to the end of all his money. But
still he went on, as fast as the strength of his horse would let
him, begging his way.
Someone told him that he ought to consult the moon, for the moon
travelled far, and might be able to tell him something. So he went
away, away, away, and ended, somehow or other, by reaching the
land of the moon. There he found a little old woman who said to
him 'What are you doing here? My son eats all living things he
sees, and if you are wise, you will go away without coming any
further.' But the young man told her all his sad tale, and how he
possessed a wonderful snuff-box, and how it had been stolen from
him, and how he had nothing left, now that he was parted from his
wife and was in need of everything. And he said that perhaps her
son, who travelled so far, might have seen a palace with laths of
gold and tiles of diamond, and furnished all in silver and gold.
As he spoke these last words, the moon came in and said he smelt
mortal flesh and blood. But his mother told him that it was an
unhappy man who had lost everything, and had come all this way to
consult him, and bade the young man not to be afraid, but to come
forward and show himself. So he went boldly up to the moon, and
asked if by any accident he had seen a palace with the laths of
gold and the tiles of diamond, and all the furniture of silver and
gold. Once this house belonged to him, but now it was stolen. And
the moon said no, but that the sun travelled farther than he did,
and that the young man had better go and ask him.
So the young man departed, and went away, away, away, as well as
his horse would take him, begging his living as he rode along,
and, somehow or other, at last he got to the land of the sun.
There he found a little old woman, who asked him, 'What are you
doing here? Go away. Have you not heard that my son feeds upon
Christians?' But he said no, and that he would not go, for he was
so miserable that it was all one to him whether he died or not;
that he had lost everything, and especially a splendid palace like
none other in the whole world, for it had laths of gold and tiles
of diamond, and all the furniture was of silver and gold. And that
he had sought it far and long, and in all the earth there was no
man more unhappy. So the old woman's heart melted, and she agreed
to hide him.
When the Sun arrived, he declared that he smelt Christian flesh,
and he meant to have it for his dinner. But his mother told him
such a pitiful story of the miserable wretch who had lost
everything, and had come from far to ask his help, that at last he
promised to see him.
So the young man came out from his hiding-place and begged the sun
to tell him if in the course of his travels he had not seen
somewhere a palace that had not its like in the whole world, for
its laths were of gold and its tiles of diamond, and all the
furniture in silver and gold.
And the sun said no, but that perhaps the wind had seen it, for he
entered everywhere, and saw things that no one else ever saw, and
if anyone knew where it was, it was certainly the wind.
Then the poor young man again set forth as well as his horse could
take him, begging his living as he went, and, somehow or other, he
ended by reaching the home of the wind. He found there a little
old woman busily occupied in filling great barrels with water. She
asked him what had put it into his head to come there, for her son
ate everything he saw, and that he would shortly arrive quite mad,
and that the young man had better look out. But he answered that
he was so unhappy that he had ceased to mind anything, even being
eaten, and then he told her that he had been robbed of a palace
that had not its equal in all the world, and of all that was in
it, and that he had even left his wife, and was wandering over the
world until he found it. And that it was the sun who had sent him
to consult the wind. So she hid him under the staircase, and soon
they heard the south wind arrive, shaking the house to its
foundations. Thirsty as he was, he did not wait to drink, but he
told his mother that he smelt the blood of a Christian man, and
that she had better bring him out at once and make him ready to be
eaten. But she bade her son eat and drink what was before him, and
said that the poor young man was much to be pitied, and that the
sun had granted him his life in order that he might consult the
wind. Then she brought out the young man, who explained how he was
seeking for his palace, and that no man had been able to tell him
where it was, so he had come to the wind. And he added that he had
been shamefully robbed, and that the laths were of gold and the
tiles of diamond, and all the furniture in silver and gold, and he
inquired if the wind had not seen such a palace during his
And the wind said yes, and that all that day he had been blowing
backwards and forwards over it without being able to move one
single tile. 'Oh, do tell me where it is,' cried the you man. 'It
is a long way off,' replied the wind, 'on the other side of the
Red Sea.' But our traveller was not discouraged, he had already
journeyed too far.
So he set forth at once, and, somehow or other, he managed to
reach that distant land. And he enquired if anyone wanted a
gardener. He was told that the head gardener at the castle had
just left, and perhaps he might have a chance of getting the
place. The young man lost no time, but walked up to the castle and
asked if they were in want of a gardener; and how happy he was
when they agreed to take him! Now he passed most of his day in
gossiping with the servants about the wealth of their masters and
the wonderful things in the house. He made friends with one of the
maids, who told him the history of the snuff-box, and he coaxed
her to let him see it. One evening she managed to get hold of it,
and the young man watched carefully where she hid it away, in a
secret place in the bedchamber of her mistress.
The following night, when everyone was fast asleep, he crept in
and took the snuff-box. Think of his joy as he opened the lid!
When it asked him, as of yore, 'What do you want?' he replied:
'What do I want? What do I want? Why, I want to go with my palace
to the old place, and for the King and the Queen and all their
servants to be drowned in the Red Sea.' He hardly finished
speaking when he found himself back again with his wife, while all
the other inhabitants of the palace were lying at the bottom of
the Red Sea.
THE GOLDEN BLACKBIRD
Once upon a time there was a great lord who had three sons. He
fell very ill, sent for doctors of every kind, even bonesetters,
but they, none of them, could find out what was the matter with
him, or even give him any relief. At last there came a foreign
doctor, who declared that the Golden Blackbird alone could cure
the sick man.
So the old lord despatched his eldest son to look for the
wonderful bird, and promised him great riches if he managed to
find it and bring it back.
The young man began his journey, and soon arrived at a place where
four roads met. He did not know which to choose, and tossed his
cap in the air, determining that the direction of its fall should
decide him. After travelling for two or three days, he grew tired
of walking without knowing where or for how long, and he stopped
at an inn which was filled with merrymakers and ordered something
to eat and drink.
'My faith,' said he, 'it is sheer folly to waste more time hunting
for this bird. My father is old, and if he dies I shall inherit
The old man, after waiting patiently for some time, sent his
second son to seek the Golden Blackbird. The youth took the same
direction as his brother, and when he came to the cross roads, he
too tossed up which road he should take. The cap fell in the same
place as before, and he walked on till he came to the spot where
his brother had halted. The latter, who was leaning out of the
window of the inn, called to him to stay where he was and amuse
'You are right,' replied the youth. 'Who knows if I should ever
find the Golden Blackbird, even if I sought the whole world
through for it. At the worst, if the old man dies, we shall have
He entered the inn and the two brothers made merry and feasted,
till very soon their money was all spent. They even owed something
to their landlord, who kept them as hostages till they could pay
The youngest son set forth in his turn, and he arrived at the
place where his brothers were still prisoners. They called to him
to stop, and did all they could to prevent his going further.
'No,' he replied, 'my father trusted me, and I will go all over
the world till I find the Golden Blackbird.'
'Bah,' said his brothers, 'you will never succeed any better than
we did. Let him die if he wants to; we will divide the property.'
As he went his way he met a little hare, who stopped to look at
him, and asked:
'Where are you going, my friend?'
'I really don't quite know,' answered he. 'My father is ill, and
he cannot be cured unless I bring him back the Golden Blackbird.
It is a long time since I set out, but no one can tell me where to
'Ah,' said the hare, 'you have a long way to go yet. You will have
to walk at least seven hundred miles before you get to it.'
'And how am I to travel such a distance?'
'Mount on my back,' said the little hare, 'and I will conduct
The young man obeyed: at each bound the little hare went seven
miles, and it was not long before they reached a castle that was
as large and beautiful as a castle could be.
'The Golden Blackbird is in a little cabin near by,' said the
little hare, 'and you will easily find it. It lives in a little
cage, with another cage beside it made all of gold. But whatever
you do, be sure not to put it in the beautiful cage, or everybody
in the castle will know that you have stolen it.'
The youth found the Golden Blackbird standing on a wooden perch,
but as stiff and rigid as if he was dead. And beside the beautiful
cage was the cage of gold.
'Perhaps he would revive if I were to put him in that lovely
cage,' thought the youth.
The moment that Golden Bird had touched the bars of the splendid
cage he awoke, and began to whistle, so that all the servants of
the castle ran to see what was the matter, saying that he was a
thief and must be put in prison.
'No,' he answered, 'I am not a thief. If I have taken the Golden
Blackbird, it is only that it may cure my father, who is ill, and
I have travelled more than seven hundred miles in order to find
'Well,' they replied, 'we will let you go, and will even give you
the Golden Bird, if you are able to bring us the Porcelain
The youth departed, weeping, and met the little hare, who was
munching wild thyme.
'What are you crying for, my friend?' asked the hare.
'It is because,' he answered, 'the castle people will not allow me
to carry off the Golden Blackbird without giving them the
Porcelain Maiden in exchange.'
'You have not followed my advice,' said the little hare. 'And you
have put the Golden Bird into the fine cage.'
'Don't despair! the Porcelain Maiden is a young girl, beautiful as
Venus, who dwells two hundred miles from here. Jump on my back and
I will take you there.'
The little hare, who took seven miles in a stride, was there in no
time at all, and he stopped on the borders of a lake.
'The Porcelain Maiden,' said the hare to the youth, 'will come
here to bathe with her friends, while I just eat a mouthful of
thyme to refresh me. When she is in the lake, be sure you hide her
clothes, which are of dazzling whiteness, and do not give them
back to her unless she consents to follow you.'
The little hare left him, and almost immediately the Porcelain
Maiden arrived with her friends. She undressed herself and got
into the water. Then the young man glided up noiselessly and laid
hold of her clothes, which he hid under a rock at some distance.
When the Porcelain Maiden was tired of playing in the water she
came out to dress herself, but, though she hunted for her clothes
high and low, she could find them nowhere. Her friends helped her
in the search, but, seeing at last that it was of no use, they
left her, alone on the bank, weeping bitterly.
'Why do you cry?' said the young man, approaching her.
'Alas!' answered she, 'while I was bathing someone stole my
clothes, and my friends have abandoned me.'
'I will find your clothes if you will only come with me.'
And the Porcelain Maiden agreed to follow him, and after having
given up her clothes, the young man bought a small horse for her,
which went like the wind. The little hare brought them both back
to seek for the Golden Blackbird, and when they drew near to the
castle where it lived the little hero said to the young man:
'Now, do be a little sharper than you were before, and you will
manage to carry off both the Golden Blackbird and the Porcelain
Maiden. Take the golden cage in one hand, and leave the bird in
the old cage where he is, and bring that away too.'
The little hare then vanished; the youth did as he was bid, and
the castle servants never noticed that he was carrying off the
Golden Bird. When he reached the inn where his brothers were
detained, he delivered them by paying their debt. They set out all
together, but as the two elder brothers were jealous of the
success of the youngest, they took the opportunity as they were
passing by the shores of a lake to throw themselves upon him,
seize the Golden Bird, and fling him in the water. Then they
continued their journey, taking with them the Porcelain Maiden, in
the firm belief that their brother was drowned. But, happily, he
had snatched in falling at a tuft of rushes and called loudly for
help. The little hare came running to him, and said 'Take hold of
my leg and pull yourself out of the water.'
When he was safe on shore the little hare said to him:
'Now this is what you have to do: dress yourself like a Breton
seeking a place as stable-boy, and go and offer your services to
your father. Once there, you will easily be able to make him
understand the truth.'
The young man did as the little hare bade him, and he went to his
father's castle and enquired if they were not in want of a stable-
'Yes,' replied his father, 'very much indeed. But it is not an
easy place. There is a little horse in the stable which will not
let anyone go near it, and it has already kicked to death several
people who have tried to groom it.'
'I will undertake to groom it,' said the youth. 'I never saw the
horse I was afraid of yet.' The little horse allowed itself to be
rubbed down without a toss of its head and without a kick.
'Good gracious!' exclaimed the master; 'how is it that he lets you
touch him, when no one else can go near him?'
'Perhaps he knows me,' answered the stable-boy.
Two or three days later the master said to him: 'The Porcelain
Maiden is here: but, though she is as lovely as the dawn, she is
so wicked that she scratches everyone that approaches her. Try if
she will accept your services.'
When the youth entered the room where she was, the Golden
Blackbird broke forth into a joyful song, and the Porcelain Maiden
sang too, and jumped for joy.
'Good gracious!' cried the master. 'The Porcelain Maiden and the
Golden Blackbird know you too?'
'Yes,' replied the youth, 'and the Porcelain Maiden can tell you
the whole truth, if she only will.'
Then she told all that had happened, and how she had consented to
follow the young man who had captured the Golden Blackbird.
'Yes,' added the youth, 'I delivered my brothers, who were kept
prisoners in an inn, and, as a reward, they threw me into a lake.
So I disguised myself and came here, in order to prove the truth
So the old lord embraced his son, and promised that he should
inherit all his possessions, and he put to death the two elder
ones, who had deceived him and had tried to slay their own
The young man married the Porcelain Maiden, and had a splendid
THE LITTLE SOLDIER
Once upon a time there was a little soldier who had just come back
from the war. He was a brave little fellow, but he had lost
neither arms nor legs in battle. Still, the fighting was ended and
the army disbanded, so he had to return to the village where he
Now the soldier's name was really John, but for some reason or
other his friends always called him the Kinglet; why, no one ever
knew, but so it was.
As he had no father or mother to welcome him home, he did not
hurry himself, but went quietly along, his knapsack on his back
and his sword by his side, when suddenly one evening he was seized
with a wish to light his pipe. He felt for his match-box to strike
a light, but to his great disgust he found he had lost it.
He had only gone about a stone's throw after making this discovery
when he noticed a light shining through the trees. He went towards
it, and perceived before him an old castle, with the door standing
The little soldier entered the courtyard, and, peeping through a
window, saw a large fire blazing at the end of a low hall. He put
his pipe in his pocket and knocked gently, saying politely:
'Would you give me a light?'
But he got no answer.
After waiting for a moment John knocked again, this time more
loudly. There was still no reply.
He raised the latch and entered; the hall was empty.
The little soldier made straight for the fireplace, seized the
tongs, and was stooping down to look for a nice red hot coal with
which to light his pipe, when clic! something went, like a spring
giving way, and in the very midst of the flames an enormous
serpent reared itself up close to his face.
And what was more strange still, this serpent had the head of a
At such an unexpected sight many men would have turned and run for
their lives; but the little soldier, though he was so small, had a
true soldier's heart. He only made one step backwards, and grasped
the hilt of his sword.
'Don't unsheath it,' said the serpent. 'I have been waiting for
you, as it is you who must deliver me.'
'Who are you?'
'My name is Ludovine, and I am the daughter of the King of the Low
Countries. Deliver me, and I will marry you and make you happy for
Now, some people might not have liked the notion of being made
happy by a serpent with the head of a woman, but the Kinglet had
no such fears. And, besides, he felt the fascination of Ludovine's
eyes, which looked at him as a snake looks at a little bird. They
were beautiful green eyes, not round like those of a cat, but long
and almond-shaped, and they shone with a strange light, and the
golden hair which floated round them seemed all the brighter for
their lustre. The face had the beauty of an angel, though the body
was only that of a serpent.
'What must I do?' asked the Kinglet.
'Open that door. You will find yourself in a gallery with a room
at the end just like this. Cross that, and you will see a closet,
out of which you must take a tunic, and bring it back to me.'
The little soldier boldly prepared to do as he was told. He
crossed the gallery in safety, but when he reached the room he saw
by the light of the stars eight hands on a level with his face,
which threatened to strike him. And, turn his eyes which way he
would, he could discover no bodies belonging to them.
He lowered his head and rushed forward amidst a storm of blows,
which he returned with his fists. When he got to the closet, he
opened it, took down the tunic, and brought it to the first room.
'Here it is,' he panted, rather out of breath.
'Clic!' once more the flames parted. Ludovine was a woman down to
her waist. She took the tunic and put it on.
It was a magnificent tunic of orange velvet, embroidered in
pearls, but the pearls were not so white as her own neck.
'That is not all,' she said. 'Go to the gallery, take the
staircase which is on the left, and in the second room on the
first story you will find another closet with my skirt. Bring this
The Kinglet did as he was told, but in entering the room he saw,
instead of merely hands, eight arms, each holding an enormous
stick. He instantly unsheathed his sword and cut his way through
with such vigour that he hardly received a scratch.
He brought back the skirt, which was made of silk as blue as the
skies of Spain.
'Here it is,' said John, as the serpent appeared. She was now a
woman as far as her knees.
'I only want my shoes and stockings now,' she said. 'Go and get
them from the closet which is on the second story.'
The little soldier departed, and found himself in the presence of
eight goblins armed with hammers, and flames darting from their
eyes. This time he stopped short at the threshold. 'My sword is no
use,' he thought to himself; 'these wretches will break it like
glass, and if I can't think of anything else, I am a dead man.' At
this moment his eyes fell on the door, which was made of oak,
thick and heavy. He wrenched it off its hinges and held it over
his head, and then went straight at the goblins, whom he crushed
beneath it. After that he took the shoes and stockings out of the
closet and brought them to Ludovine, who, directly she had put
them on, became a woman all over.
When she was quite dressed in her white silk stockings and little
blue slippers dotted over with carbuncles, she said to her
deliverer, 'Now you must go away, and never come back here,
whatever happens. Here is a purse with two hundred ducats. Sleep
to-night at the inn which is at the edge of the wood, and awake
early in the morning: for at nine o'clock I shall pass the door,
and shall take you up in my carriage.' 'Why shouldn't we go now?'
asked the little soldier. 'Because the time has not yet come,'
said the Princess. 'But first you may drink my health in this
glass of wine,' and as she spoke she filled a crystal goblet with
a liquid that looked like melted gold.
John drank, then lit his pipe and went out.
When he arrived at the inn he ordered supper, but no sooner had he
sat down to eat it than he felt that he was going sound asleep.
'I must be more tired than I thought,' he said to himself, and,
after telling them to be sure to wake him next morning at eight
o'clock, he went to bed.
All night long he slept like a dead man. At eight o'clock they
came to wake him, and at half-past, and a quarter of an hour
later, but it was no use; and at last they decided to leave him in
The clocks were striking twelve when John awoke. He sprang out of
bed, and, scarcely waiting to dress himself, hastened to ask if
anyone had been to inquire for him.
'There came a lovely princess,' replied the landlady, 'in a coach
of gold. She left you this bouquet, and a message to say that she
would pass this way to-morrow morning at eight o'clock.'
The little soldier cursed his sleep, but tried to console himself
by looking at his bouquet, which was of immortelles.
'It is the flower of remembrance,' thought he, forgetting that it
is also the flower of the dead.
When the night came, he slept with one eye open, and jumped up
twenty times an hour. When the birds began to sing he could lie
still no longer, and climbed out of his window into the branches
of one of the great lime-trees that stood before the door. There
he sat, dreamily gazing at his bouquet till he ended by going fast
Once asleep, nothing was able to wake him; neither the brightness
of the sun, nor the songs of the birds, nor the noise of
Ludovine's golden coach, nor the cries of the landlady who sought
him in every place she could think of.
As the clock struck twelve he woke, and his heart sank as he came
down out of his tree and saw them laying the table for dinner.
'Did the Princess come?' he asked.
'Yes, indeed, she did. She left this flower-coloured scarf for
you; said she would pass by to-morrow at seven o'clock, but it
would be the last time.'
'I must have been bewitched,' thought the little soldier. Then he
took the scarf, which had a strange kind of scent, and tied it
round his left arm, thinking all the while that the best way to
keep awake was not to go to bed at all. So he paid his bill, and
bought a horse with the money that remained, and when the evening
came he mounted his horse and stood in front of the inn door,
determined to stay there all night.
Every now and then he stooped to smell the sweet perfume of the
scarf round his arm; and gradually he smelt it so often that at
last his head sank on to the horse's neck, and he and his horse
snored in company.
When the Princess arrived, they shook him, and beat him, and
screamed at him, but it was all no good. Neither man nor horse
woke till the coach was seen vanishing away in the distance.
Then John put spurs to his horse, calling with all his might
'Stop! stop!' But the coach drove on as before, and though the
little soldier rode after it for a day and a night, he never got
one step nearer.
Thus they left many villages and towns behind them, till they came
to the sea itself. Here John thought that at last the coach must
stop, but, wonder of wonders! it went straight on, and rolled over
the water as easily as it had done over the land. John's horse,
which had carried him so well, sank down from fatigue, and the
little soldier sat sadly on the shore, watching the coach which
was fast disappearing on the horizon.
However, he soon plucked up his spirits again, and walked along
the beach to try and find a boat in which he could sail after the
Princess. But no boat was there, and at last, tired and hungry, he
sat down to rest on the steps of a fisherman's hut.
In the hut was a young girl who was mending a net. She invited
John to come in, and set before him some wine and fried fish, and
John ate and drank and felt comforted, and he told his adventures
to the little fisher-girl. But though she was very pretty, with a
skin as white as a gull's breast, for which her neighbours gave
her the name of the Seagull, he did not think about her at all,
for he was dreaming of the green eyes of the Princess.
When he had finished his tale, she was filled with pity and said:
'Last week, when I was fishing, my net suddenly grew very heavy,
and when I drew it in I found a great copper vase, fastened with
lead. I brought it home and placed it on the fire. When the lead
had melted a little, I opened the vase with my knife and drew out
a mantle of red cloth and a purse containing fifty crowns. That is
the mantle, covering my bed, and I have kept the money for my
marriage-portion. But take it and go to the nearest seaport, where
you will find a ship sailing for the Low Countries, and when you
become King you will bring me back my fifty crowns.'
And the Kinglet answered: 'When I am King of the Low Countries, I
will make you lady-in-waiting to the Queen, for you are as good as
you are beautiful. So farewell,' said he, and as the Seagull went
back to her fishing he rolled himself in the mantle and threw
himself down on a heap of dried grass, thinking of the strange
things that had befallen him, till he suddenly exclaimed:
'Oh, how I wish I was in the capital of the Low Countries!'
In one moment the little soldier found himself standing before a
splendid palace. He rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, and when
he was quite sure he was not dreaming he said to a man who was
smoking his pipe before the door, 'Where am I?'
'Where are you? Can't you see? Before the King's palace, of
'Why the King of the Low Countries!' replied the man, laughing and
supposing that he was mad.
Was there ever anything so strange? But as John was an honest
fellow, he was troubled at the thought that the Seagull would
think he had stolen her mantle and purse. And he began to wonder
how he could restore them to her the soonest. Then he remembered
that the mantle had some hidden charm that enabled the bearer to
transport himself at will from place to place, and in order to
make sure of this he wished himself in the best inn of the town.
In an instant he was there.
Enchanted with this discovery, he ordered supper, and as it was
too late to visit the King that night he went to bed.
The next day, when he got up, he saw that all the houses were
wreathed with flowers and covered with flags, and all the church
bells were ringing. The little soldier inquired the meaning of all
this noise, and was told that the Princess Ludovine, the King's
beautiful daughter, had been found, and was about to make her
triumphal entry. 'That will just suit me,' thought the Kinglet; 'I
will stand at the door and see if she knows me.'
He had scarcely time to dress himself when the golden coach of
Ludovine went by. She had a crown of gold upon her head, and the
King and Queen sat by her side. By accident her eyes fell upon the
little soldier, and she grew pale and turned away her head.
'Didn't she know me?' the little soldier asked himself, 'or was
she angry because I missed our meetings?' and he followed the
crowd till he got to the palace. When the royal party entered he
told the guards that it was he who had delivered the Princess, and
wished to speak to the King. But the more he talked the more they
believed him mad and refused to let him pass.
The little soldier was furious. He felt that he needed his pipe to
calm him, and he entered a tavern and ordered a pint of beer. 'It
is this miserable soldier's helmet,' said he to himself 'If I had
only money enough I could look as splendid as the lords of the
Court; but what is the good of thinking of that when I have only
the remains of the Seagull's fifty crowns?'
He took out his purse to see what was left, and he found that
there were still fifty crowns.
'The Seagull must have miscounted,' thought he, and he paid for
his beer. Then he counted his money again, and there were still
fifty crowns. He took away five and counted a third time, but
there were still fifty. He emptied the purse altogether and then
shut it; when he opened it the fifty crowns were still there!