The spelling of "didn't" as "did n't", "center" as "centre" and other such usages, has been maintained.
Here are the definitions of some unfamiliar (to me) words.
cataplasm (poultice) Soft moist adhesive mass of meal or clay, usually heated, spread on cloth, and applied to warm, moisten, or stimulate an aching or inflamed part of the body.
doggerel Irregularly fashioned verse of a humorous nature.
halberdiers Guard armed with a halberd, a weapon having an ax-like blade and a steel spike mounted on the end of a long shaft.
importuning Beg for something persistently.
sedges Grasslike plants of the family Cyperaceae, having solid stems and three vertical rows of leaves.
seneschal Official in a medieval noble household in charge of domestic arrangements and the administration of servants.
[End Transcriber's Notes]
The FIRELIGHT FAIRY BOOK
By HENRY BESTON
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MAURICE E. DAY
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY BOSTON
COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS, Inc.
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian.
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS PUBLICATIONS ARE PUBLISHED BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY WASHINGTON, September 7. 1922
"Grown-ups" arrogate entirely too much to themselves. I know this is so. I discovered it for a fact when I was not more than "knee-high to a grasshopper" myself. I knew, for example, that a certain amount of dirt on my face and hands in no way interfered with my enjoyment of my supper. The fact that my finger nails were not all they should have been had no bearing whatsoever upon the efficiency of those same fingers. Washing not only took time from other important pursuits, but also was mildly unpleasant. Nevertheless, my mother was not even open to reasonable argument on the matter. Arbitrarily, with the despotism of an early Roman Emperor, she rendered a dictum to the effect that I must wash, and soapy and submissive I had to be before I could come to the table. Again, any reasonable child can tell you that pleasure is the main object of eating; therefore, in all logic, one should eat if one feels like it at ten o'clock in the morning, or at three o'clock in the afternoon, a jar of Guava jelly, a pound of chocolates, a paper of ginger cookies, or whatever may appeal to one's aesthetic taste. This method of procedure, naturally, might necessitate recourse to the brown-wood family medicine closet. Certain discomfort might ensue. But was not the pleasure worth it? Again my mother arbitrarily took the matter into her own hands, disagreeing with me on fundamentals. She maintained that eating was not for pleasure simply, but for nourishment. Sundry unfortunate remarks were made containing references to gluttony. The pantry was locked, and regular meals at regular periods were prescribed. Indeed, poems with dreadful morals for those who ate between meals were recited to me, endeavor being made thereby to substitute terror for inclination.
Any reasonable child will find many such parallel instances of the assumed omnipotence of "grownups." With this awful indictment before me, you ask me, a "grown-up," to write an introduction for the "Firelight Fairy Book," and thereby to assume the responsibility for passing judgment upon it. There is but one circumstance that makes me willing to do so. I believe that where any nice "grown-up" is concerned, if you crack the hard outside shell with which circumstances have surrounded him, beneath it you will find a child. Banking on this, I venture to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the "Firelight Fairy Book." I liked particularly the story of the poor little prince, whose sneezing had such a disastrous effect; and the lost half hour is unquestionably an accurate historical account, because no one could have described so accurately, simply from imagination, what a lost temper looked like. What makes me even more willing to advance my opinion is that I do not stand alone. My conclusions are supported by a jury of my peers, for I have given the book as a Christmas gift, not only to my own children, but to other people's children, and to one of the prominent Senators of the United States. They have universally acclaimed it, and who can question the judgment of such a jury?
Good luck to the "Firelight Fairy Book." May it, like Scrooge's laugh in the "Christmas Carol," "be the father of a long, long line of brilliant" books of a like nature for the enjoyment of all true children, whether they be still at day school, or sitting in the high places of the world.
Believe me, Yours very truly, THEODORE ROOSEVELT
HENRY BESTON, ESQ. Topsfield, Mass.
HOW THE NEW FAIRY TALES CAME TO BE WRITTEN
Some twenty years ago, in a pleasant old town by the sea, lived a lad who was very, very fond of fairy tales. When he had read all the fairy-books which his parents and his uncles and his cousins and his sisters and his aunts had been kind enough to give him, he turned to the town library and read every single fairy tale he could find mentioned in the catalogue. But there was an end even to this treasure; and, finally, a day came when the fairy-tale lover could find no new tales to read. Every Christmas he would peek at the new books in the bookshops, only to find the same old stories printed, with new pictures, meant to please grown-ups. What could be the matter? Had the fairies all gone away, or locked the doors of Fairyland? Where, where, where were the new stories, and why, why, why did n't people write them?
Some years passed. One pleasant summer day, as the fairy-tale lover sat reading a book beneath the low spreading branches of an oak tree, he heard a hum of wings, and looking up startled from his book, he discovered the Fairy Goldenwand standing close by.
"Are you still seeking new fairy tales?" said the Fairy Goldenwand.
"Yes," said the reader.
"Will you write them down if I tell you some really new ones?" said the Fairy.
"Oh yes, indeed," said the reader. "And I'll put them into a book; and next Saturday Mr. Day, the artist, will come down; we shall have tea here under the oak tree,—do you like hot buttered toast?—and you must tell him all about the fashions in Fairyland."
"Oh, that will be fine!" said the Fairy Goldenwand. "I knew you would n't mind my appearing so suddenly. Ever so many things have happened in Fairyland since the last books were written, and we all think it's a dreadful shame that children have n't heard about them. Just imagine boys and girls not knowing about the adventures of the Prince in Lantern Land! Shall I tell you the story?"
And that's the way the author heard about the Shepherd of Clouds, Florian, Marianna, Giles, Bobo, and all the other new friends. That you may long enjoy their adventures is the wish of
HENRY BESTON MAURICE E. DAY THE FAIRY GOLDENWAND
The Parson Capen Home Topsfield, Massachusetts
THE QUEEN OF LANTERN LAND THE ADVENTURES OF FLORIAN THE SELLER OF DREAMS THE TREASURE CASTLE PRINCE SNEEZE MARIANNA THE LOST HALF-HOUR THE ENCHANTED ELM THE BIRD-BOY THE MASTER MARINER THE MARVELOUS DOG AND THE WONDERFUL CAT THE SHEPHERD OF CLOUDS THE CITY UNDER THE SEA
THE QUEEN OF LANTERN LAND The Prince begins his journey through the caverns
THE ADVENTURES OF FLORIAN Over hill, over dale, Florian followed the magic ball
THE SELLER OF DREAMS "How much does a dream cost?" asked Peter "A golden florin," answered the Seller of Dreams
THE TREASURE CASTLE The three rogues were locked in the flying room
PRINCE SNEEZE The chest of secrets was made of black stone
MARIANNA Into the world went Marianna and the yellow bird
THE LOST HALF-HOUR Just as the dragon's mouth was at its widest
THE ENCHANTED ELM The maiden watched the woodcutters coming through the wood
THE BIRD-BOY Every year, on the Bird-Boy's birthday, a great gray bird was seen
THE MASTER MARINER Splash! and the Master Mariner fell into the sea
THE MARVELOUS DOG AND THE WONDERFUL CAT The Dog and the Cat studying their lessons
THE SHEPHERD OF CLOUDS It was Giles's task to open the door of the cloud-bowl
THE CITY UNDER THE SEA For three days the Merchant pursued the ship with the fiery sails
THE QUEEN OF LANTERN LAND
Once upon a time the youngest son of a king became filled with the desire to go abroad and see the world. He got his father's permission to depart, kissed his parents good-bye, mounted his black horse, and galloped away down the high road. Soon the gray towers of the old castle in which he was born hid themselves behind him.
The Prince journeyed on, spending the days in traveling, and the nights in little wayside inns, till one day he found himself in the heart of the Adamant Mountains. The great, red granite crags of the surrounding peaks rose out of the gleaming snow like ugly fingers, and the slopes of giant glaciers sparkled in the sun like torrents of diamonds. The Prince sat down by some stunted trees whose tops had long before been broken off by an avalanche, and began to eat the bit of bread and cheese which he had stored in his pocket. His black horse, meanwhile, ate the grass which grew here and there along the mountain path. And as the Prince sat there in the bright sun and the silence of the mountains, he became aware of a low, continuous roaring.
"There must be a waterfall near-by," said the Prince to himself. "I'll go and see it."
So, casting another look at his steed, who was contentedly browsing, the Prince climbed up the mountainside in the direction of the sound.
The Prince climbed and climbed, he went in this direction and in that, yet the sound never grew any louder or fainter. Suddenly he realized that he was hopelessly lost. The little path up which he had ridden had vanished completely, and he had not the slightest idea in which direction it lay. He called aloud, but only the mountain echoes answered mockingly.
Night came, and the Prince took shelter behind a great rock. All the next day he labored to find the path, but in vain. He grew very hungry and cold. Every once in a while he would hear the roaring of the waterfall, which seemed to have grown louder.
Another day dawned, and another day again. The Prince was getting very weak. He knew that he was approaching the mysterious cataract, for the noise of the water was now tremendous, and heaven and earth were full of its roar. The third night came, and the full moon rose solemnly over the snow-clad summits of the lonely and mysterious mountains. Suddenly the Prince, walking blindly on, staggered through a narrow passage-way between two splintered crags, and found himself face to face with the mystery.
He stood on the snowy floor of a vast amphitheatre whose walls were the steep sides of the giant mountains. Farthest away from him, and opposite the moon, the wall of the bowl appeared as a giant black precipice, whose top seemed to reach almost to the moon-dimmed stars; and over this precipice a broad river was endlessly pouring, shining in the night like the overflow of an ocean of molten silver. Though now very weak from lack of food, and dizzy with the roaring of the cataract, the Prince made his way to the shore of the foaming and eddying lake into which the water was falling. Great was his surprise to discover that the overflow of this lake disappeared into the earth through a long, low opening in the cliff behind the fall. Greater still was his surprise to see a strange many-colored light burning within the cave.
The Prince made his way toward the light, along a narrow beach of white sand lying between the wall of the cavern and the racing waters of the mysterious river, and found that the glow came from a magnificent lantern studded with emeralds, topazes, amethysts, and rubies, which hung by a chain from the roof of the grotto. Directly under this lantern, drawn up on the sand, lay a little boat with a lantern fastened to the bow. The Prince pushed the boat into the river, and got into it, and the swift current seized him and hurried him away.
At first the cavern grew higher and wider; then it shrank again, and the boat, borne along with incredible speed, shot down a rocky passageway into the very heart of the earth. The passageway broadened once more, and the boat rode gently through monstrous caves whose roofs were upheld by twisted columns taller than the tallest tree. There were times when all was so still that the Prince could easily have imagined himself back in the solitude of the mountains; there were times when the foaming and roaring of the underground river grew so deafening that the Prince feared lest he might be approaching the brink of a subterranean cataract.
Many hours passed. The Prince did not know whether it was night or day. At length, while the boat was gliding through a vast hall, he fell asleep. When he awoke, he found that the boat was floating on the black, glassy surface of an immense underground ocean. All signs of the cavern had disappeared. Far away, over the edge of this ocean, a strange, beautiful glow mounted into the starless sky of the underworld. And while the Prince was gazing at the glow, the boat swung into a new current, and was borne swiftly toward the light. In a short time the light grew so wide and bright that one would have believed that a strange, golden sun had risen. The boat passed between two giant marble pillars supporting enormous crystal globes filled with a golden fire, and the Prince found himself in the harbor of Lantern Land.
A city lay before him, a strange golden city edging the shore of a vast, semi-circular bay. Because in the centre of the earth there is neither sun nor moon, the people have to be continually burning lights; and so many and so great were the lanterns of Lantern Land that the town was as bright as day. The edge of the harbor was marked with a row of golden lanterns; there were immense lanterns at every six paces along the streets; a lantern hung from every house; and the church-towers, instead of having bells in them, had great golden lamps which illumined everything for some distance about. Moreover, every inhabitant of Lantern Land carried a lantern with him wherever he went, the rich carrying golden lanterns set with transparent precious stones, the poor carrying lights of ordinary glass.
Soon the Prince saw a magnificent ship coming out to meet him. The prow was carved in the shape of a dragon's head, and a beautiful lantern hung from its jaws. Overcome by hunger and fatigue, the poor Prince fell insensible to the floor of his little boat. When he came to his senses again, he was lying between sheets of the whitest, most delicate linen in a great four-poster bed, in a room in the royal palace.
Thanks to his kind hosts, the Prince soon recovered his strength. When he was completely himself again, he was summoned to an audience with the Queen of Lantern Land.
The Queen, a very beautiful young woman, wearing a wonderful lantern crown, sat on an ebony throne. On each side of the throne stood a tall soldier, clad in scarlet and holding a long ebony staff surmounted by a round lantern lit by a golden flame.
The Prince dropped on his knee, and thanked the Queen for her kindness and hospitality.
"You are the first stranger to come to Lantern Land for a thousand years," said the young Queen. "If it is not asking too much from a guest, pray how did you happen to find the river of the underworld?"
So the Prince told her that he was a king's son, and described his adventures in the mountains. You may be sure the Queen was glad to hear of his royal birth, for she had fallen in love with him at first sight.
A month passed. The Prince remained a guest in the palace. All kinds of festivities were given in his honor; there were wonderful dances, masquerades, picnics, and theatricals going on all the time. One day the Prince and the Queen, accompanied by a little group of courtiers, rode to the frontier of Lantern Land. The lovers galloped ahead of the party and reached a little hill beyond which there were no more lanterns. Ahead of them the rolling land, sweeping farther and farther away from the light, grew darker and darker, till it finally plunged into the eternal night of the underworld.
The Prince looked at the Queen, and saw that she was weeping.
"Dear love, why do you weep?" asked the Prince, who felt sad to see tears in his lady's lovely eyes.
"I weep to think that in spite of our love we must soon part forever," said the Queen.
"Part forever? Dear lady, what can you mean?" said the anxious Prince.
"A cruel fate hangs over us," replied the lady. "Know, dear Prince, that I am promised in marriage to the Enchanter Dragondel, and that in exactly eight days, he will come here to claim my hand."
"The Enchanter Dragondel—who is he?" said the Prince.
"Alas," said the Queen, "the Enchanter Dragondel is the most powerful magician of all the underworld. He is about eight feet tall, has cruel sunken eyes that burn like dull fires, and dresses entirely in black. We met at a ball given by the King of the Goblins. Dragondel pursued me with compliments. A few days afterwards, an iron boat arrived in the port of Lantern Land, having on board a giant blue dog who is Dragondel's younger brother. This terrible animal, from whose sight the people of Lantern Land fled screaming, made his way to the palace, and dropped at my feet a jeweled casket, which he carried between his jaws. The casket contained Dragondel's request for my hand, and added that, were I to refuse him, he would let loose a legion of ghosts and other winged spirits against the lanterns of Lantern Land. I had a vision of Lantern Land in darkness; of my poor subjects dying of fear and starvation. Rather than let this vision come true, I accepted the Enchanter. Soon I shall never see you again, for Dragondel will come and take me to his awful castle which lies on an island in the dark ocean. Nor will you ever be able to save me, for Dragondel has so bewitched the waves that a terrible whirlpool forms on the sea when a boat approaches the enchanted castle, and engulfs it."
"But I can fight Dragondel," said the Prince, like the brave youth that he was.
"That would be of little use," replied the Queen, "for you would be changed into a stone the instant you crossed swords with him. Tomorrow, the blue dog arrives to remind me of my obligation, and to carry back to the island some of the palace servants who are to make Dragondel's castle ready for my coming."
The other members of the party now rode up, and the Queen dabbed her eyes with her handkerchief, and pretended not to have been crying. The Prince and the Queen felt very unhappy as they rode home.
On the next day, sure enough, the iron boat arrived, and the blue dog, who was as large as a lion, went to the Queen's palace, and bade her make ready for the coming wedding. A dozen of the Queen's servants were then ordered to go with the blue dog to Dragondel's castle. Among these servants, disguised as a kitchen lad, was the Prince; for he had determined to see if there was not some way in which the young Queen could be rescued from the wicked magician.
The boat neared the island, but no terrible whirlpool formed in the enchanted sea. At last the boat reached Dragondel's castle. It stood on the top of a high lonely rock against whose steep sides the waves of the underground ocean were forever foaming and breaking, and it was half in ruins and was very poorly lighted.
The Prince took his place in the kitchen, and sought for an opportunity to prevent the marriage of Dragondel and the Queen.
For four days of the precious week, however, the poor Prince was kept so busy baking and making pastries for the coming of the bride that he did not have an instant to ask questions or do anything else.
In the morning hours of the fifth day there was a terrible moaning and roaring outside, and the cooks rushed to the kitchen windows. An unhappy fishing boat had been swept by the wind too near Dragondel's castle, the enchanted whirlpool had formed, and caught the boat in its awful circle. Now it went slowly round the outer edge, now, going faster and faster, it slid down the side of the awful funnel, and finally it vanished. An instant later, the whirlpool had disappeared, leaving the sea roaring and foaming.
The Prince shuddered.
"Well you may shudder," said the chief cook, "for such would have been your fate if our master's brother had not carried with him the talisman which rules the whirlpool."
"Talisman? What talisman?" said the Prince affecting stupidity.
"Why the little golden hand, you fool," said the chief cook.
"My! it must be a great big hand to be able to quiet that whirlpool," said the Prince.
"Big indeed, you ninny!" growled the cook. "Why, the magic hand is only as big as a baby's hand. I've seen it many times. The master carries it in his pocket, and puts it under his pillow while he sleeps."
So, later on, when his work was done, and everybody had gone to bed, the Prince, in the hope of stealing the talisman, tried to make his way to Dragondel's bedchamber. But when he reached the foot of the stairs which led to the Enchanter's room, he found it guarded by two black panthers which stared at him with insolent yellow eyes and switched their long tails. The Prince went outdoors, to see if there was any hope of climbing to the room along the outer wall, and found that the windows of Dragondel's chamber overlooked a cliff falling thousands of feet sheer to the dark sea. Far, far away, the Prince saw the glow of Lantern Land. Only a short time remained to him in which to save his beloved lady of the lanterns.
As he wandered about, very sick at heart, he saw a little black cat running madly back and forth along the edge of a steep cliff from one of whose crevices came a persistent, unhappy mewing. The poor cat was a mother-cat, and was trying to rescue a kitten of hers that had fallen down between the rocks. At great risk of being dashed to pieces himself, the brave Prince climbed down the precipice, rescued the kitten, and gave it back to its anxious mother.
"Thank you, brave youth," said the old cat.
"May it some day be within my power to help you as you have helped me."
"You can help me this very moment," said the Prince. And he told the cat who he was, why he had come to the castle, and of his desire to get possession of the talisman.
"I will help you get the talisman," said the cat. "The panthers will let me pass, for they are cousins of mine. But you must make another little golden hand to take the place of the one I shall steal; for if Dragondel misses the golden hand, he will summon his demons to find it, and we shall both lose our lives. Go now to the kitchen, carve a small hand with the fingers close together and the thumb lying close to the fingers, gild it over with the gold dust you have had given you for the pastry icings, and bring it to me tomorrow night at this very hour."
So the Prince worked the rest of the night carving and gilding the little golden hand, and on the next night he gave it to the cat. The cat took it in her mouth as she would have a mouse, walked coolly by the panthers, and entered Dragondel's room. She had just succeeded in getting the true hand out from under the magician's pillow when Dragondel woke up. The cat was clever enough to pretend to be engaged in a mouse-hunt, so the Enchanter paid no attention to her and fell asleep once more. When the cat, however, got under Dragondel's couch again, the two hands lay side by side and she could not remember just which one was the talisman and which one the false hand. So because she had to act quickly, she put one of the hands under the pillow, brought the other to the Prince and told him her story. But so well matched were the little hands, that even the Prince was far from certain that he had not got his own hand back again.
And now came the seventh day, the day on which Dragondel, the blue dog, and all the wicked Enchanter's friends were to sail to Lantern Land for the marriage ceremony. The iron ship, made gay with a thousand small scarlet lanterns, stood ready to carry them over. The Enchanter and his company got in, and the vessel left the island.
The Prince stood watching the ship from the top of the cliffs. What anxiety was in his heart! If Dragondel still possessed the true talisman, he would cross the whirlpool safely, and marry the beautiful Queen of Lantern Land.
The vessel sped on. It was now at some distance from the island.
"All is lost," thought the Prince with a sinking heart; "Dragondel has the true talisman." And in his bitterness he was about to throw the little golden hand which lay in his pocket down into the sea.
Suddenly the air became filled with a terrible moaning; the sea became troubled; the whirlpool awoke. And the Prince saw the red lights of the Enchanter's ship whirled round and round, faster and faster, till they disappeared forever in the waters of the sunless sea.
As for the Prince, he soon found another boat, and taking with him the talisman, his fellow servants, and the black cat and her kittens, he returned to Lantern Land, married the Queen, and lived happily ever after.
THE ADVENTURES OF FLORIAN
Once upon a time there lived in an old and ruinous house by the shore of the wild sea, a widowed nobleman and his only child, a daughter named Isabella. They were very poor in spite of their high birth, so poor that one by one the fields and woods of their little domain had been sold in order to buy the bare necessities of life. Knowing that his death would leave Isabella quite alone in the world and practically penniless, her father brought her up more like a boy than a girl; she could ride a horse as gracefully as an Amazon, she could swim like a born mermaid, and even outdo her father in his favorite sport of fencing. Yet so sweet was the gentle nature which the girl had inherited from her mother, that this strange upbringing never spoiled her in the least.
Late one October evening, when the fierce gusts of wind from the sea shook the old house to its very foundation and set the ragged tapestries swaying on the walls, Isabella's father died, leaving her only the ruinous house, a handful of copper pence, and a single golden florin. The sum of money was enough to keep body and soul together for a few weeks, but what was Isabella to do when the little pittance was gone? Her father had once counseled her to go to the King and ask for his protection; but the King's castle was hundreds of miles distant, and Isabella shrank from begging or the highway.
At last the brave girl resolved to make her own way in the world. Taking the golden florin with her, she went to a neighboring town, and purchased a suit of clothes such as pages and squires wear who are in the service of noblemen. She then caused her black hair to be cut short, boy-fashion, put on the boy's clothes she had purchased, and went into the market-place to see if she could not find a situation in the service of some great family.
Now, it was the custom in those days for masters and servants to meet by a fountain in the market-place, the masters who were in need of servants standing on one side of the fountain, the servants who were in search of masters on the other.
When Isabella came into the market-place, there was no one standing on the masters' side of the fountain, but on the other side, ready for the first master who should appear, was a little group of noisy and impudent squires and pages. Isabella, or, as she now called herself, Florian, strode boldly over and joined this group, her heart beating high with the thrill of the great adventure.
Suddenly a black knight, mounted on a black horse and leading another horse by the bridle, clattered over the cobble-stones of the square, and taking his place by the fountain, called on the pages to come to him. In spite of the horseman's summons, however, the pages paid no attention to him at all. Curious to know the reason of this disdain, Florian questioned a fellow page, and was told that the knight was no other than the Enchanter of the Black Rock, and that no page or squire would take service with him because his castle was haunted by goblins, ghosts, and all manner of terrifying spirits.
Now, Florian was no coward, and, as the saying is, beggars cannot be choosers. So, much to the astonishment of the pages, Florian walked over to the Enchanter, who sat fuming with anger and impatience, and offered to go with him. The Knight bade Florian mount the horse which he was holding; and amid the cat-calls and hooting of the pages, master and boy galloped away.
All day long they rode, and when it was near the end of the afternoon Florian found himself at the edge of a wild and desolate moor. Within the great circle of the horizon, under the pale sky, not a tree, not a house, not a shepherd's hut even was to be seen—nothing but the great barren waste rolling, rising and falling to the very edge of the world. Lower and lower sank the sun; it grew cold, and a blue mist fell. Twilight came, a green, mysterious twilight.
Suddenly, from a hillock of the moor, Florian beheld afar the enchanted dwelling. A great sunken marsh lay before him, beginning at the foot of the little hill and stretching away, league after league, till its farther shore was hidden in the gathering darkness. The autumn wind stirred the dead sedges at its brim, and though the dying twilight was still gleaming in the sky, the great bog had caught little of its glow, and lay full of coiling blue mists, pale quagmires, and islands of mysterious darkness. A dreadful moaning cry, uttered by some demon of the moor, sounded through the mist, chilling the blood in Florian's veins; and as if in answer to the cry, thousands upon thousands of will-o'-the-wisps appeared, darting and dancing. In the very heart of this terrible marsh a great black rock uprose, and on this rock, its turrets and battlements outlined against the burning face of the moon, stood the castle. Ghostly lights, now green, now blue, flickered in its windows.
The Enchanter reined up his horse at the brink of the mire, and cried,—
"List! List! Will-o'-the-Wisp, Lend me your light."
Scarcely had the last word fallen from the Enchanter's mouth, when the dancing witch-fires hurried toward him from all sides of the marsh. Soon a pale road leading across the bog to the castle stood revealed, an enchanted road which melted away behind the riders as smoke melts into the winter air. To the very gates of his castle did the ghost-fires accompany the Enchanter; then, rising swiftly high into the air, they fled like startled birds, in every direction.
Doors opened of their own will, strange goblins and ghostly creatures passed, and bright, whirling globes of fire fled hissing across the castle courtyard. Just as they were about to enter the castle itself, the Enchanter turned, and fastened his burning eyes on Florian.
"Boy," said he, "let nothing that you hear or see make you afraid. Be assured that no power or spirit can harm you. There is only one demon in the world whose power is greater than mine, and that is Fear himself. Be brave, keep the doors of your heart locked against Fear; be faithful, and you shall never have cause to regret your coming."
So Florian, who was by nature brave, felt ashamed of having allowed the demon Fear to knock at the door of his heart, and resolved never to let his courage fail, no matter what might happen. And true to this resolve the lad remained during the years he spent in the service of the Enchanter. At first, to be sure, he had to struggle to conquer his fear of some of the goblins; but as time passed and no ghost or goblin ever ventured to annoy him, he grew accustomed to their presences and ended by paying no more attention to them than he paid to the great ravens who flew croaking over the mire. So faithful and courageous was the little page that, when his year was up, the Enchanter begged him to remain yet another year, promising him rich rewards if he stayed. When this second year was up, however, Florian felt a longing to see the world again, and told the Enchanter that he must be going.
"Very well," said the Enchanter, who respected the courage of the brave page, "thou shalt do as thou desirest. Thou art a brave and faithful lad. Here is a purse of gold for thy wages, and here are three gifts to reward thy courage and good-will." He opened a copper casket and took forth a little golden bird with outstretched wings hanging from a fine golden chain, a golden key, and a scarlet sphere marked with a band of white. "This little bird," continued the Enchanter, "will protect you from the spells of any sorcerer whose power is less than mine, and will sing when you fare into hidden danger; this key will open every door in the world; and should you ever lose your way, you have but to put this sphere on the ground, and it will roll home of its own accord. Moreover, if you are ever yourself in deadly peril, call upon me, and I will come and help you."
So Florian thanked the Enchanter, and taking his gifts, went back into the world again. But so gentle and kind was he that he soon gave away to the unfortunate all the gold he had earned, and was forced to go in search of another situation. At length he entered the service of the King and Queen of the Twelve Towers.
This royal couple, who were renowned in Fairyland as much for their goodness and generosity as for their wealth and magnificence, had but one son, Prince Florizel. No braver or more gallant prince ever drew breath. He had driven the dragon of the blue cavern out of his father's kingdom; he had fought three wicked ogres one after the other, and finished each one; he had delivered the diamond castle of a terrible spell which lay upon it.
When Florian entered the service of the King and Queen, these excellent parents were sending their son on a visit to his uncle, the Emperor of the Plain, and Florian was ordered to join the gay company of lords and ladies, knights and soldiers, who were to make the journey. According to the gossip of the company, Prince Florizel was being sent to his uncle's in the hope that he would fall in love with his uncle's ward, the beautiful Princess Rosamond.
Now in some way or other, after the company had been a few days on the road, Prince Florizel, who watched over the company as carefully as a good captain does over his soldiers, became aware of the bravery, trustworthiness, and modest bearing of Florian, the little page, and promoted him to be his own personal squire. Alas! no sooner had he been advanced, than Florian the little page, though remaining outwardly a page, became at heart the runaway girl, Isabella. Though she fought as hard as she could against her own heart, it was of little use, and she knew herself to be deeply in love with the gallant Florizel. Yet she suffered no word or sign of her affection to escape her, for Prince Florizel thought her only a little page, and to speak would be to betray the secret she had so long and successfully guarded.
One morning, as the cavalcade was riding through a charming country, Florian, for so we must still continue to call Isabella, was following close behind his master, when the Prince caught sight of a wonderful scarlet flower, something like a scarlet lily, blooming by the roadside. At the same moment, the little golden bird that Florian wore round his neck sang a few clear notes as if it were alive.
"What a pretty flower!" said the Prince. "I must have it."
And he was about to dismount and pick the flower, when Florian spurred on ahead of him, grasped the enchanted flower, and tossed it into a ditch.
"Fie, what a naughty page!" cried the lords and ladies.
The company rode on a few miles more, and suddenly the Prince caught sight of a beautiful jeweled dagger lying in the highway. At the same moment the little golden bird sang a few clear notes of warning.
"What a fine dagger!" cried the Prince, "I must have it."
And he was about to dismount and pick up the dagger, when Florian spurred on ahead of him, seized the dagger, and tossed it into a ditch.
"Fie, what a naughty page!" cried the lords and ladies.
The company now rode on for a few miles more, and the Prince saw by the roadside a beautiful enchanted garden. Birds of many colors sang in the branches of the trees, fountains sparkled and danced in the sunlight, and the sweetest of music was heard. At the same moment the golden bird sang louder and longer than ever.
"What a beautiful garden!" cried the Prince. "Let us ride in and look about."
So Florian hurried to the Prince's side, and implored him not to enter, saying that the garden was enchanted and that some harm would certainly befall him.
At this, all the lords and ladies, who were a little jealous, perhaps, that a page should know more than they, laughed at poor Florian, and even Florizel smiled at him and said, "All that is only fancy, little Florian," and dashed in through the garden gate. For a minute or so nothing happened, and the first to enter mocked at Florian again; but when the whole company had entered the garden, there was a clap of thunder, and everybody except the Prince and Florian, who was protected by the Enchanter's charm, was turned into stone. The echoes of the thunder had hardly ceased rolling when two frightful demons with lions' heads rushed towards them through the garden, seized the Prince, and hurried him away. Florian was left alone in the garden. Night was fast approaching.
Now, the owner of the enchanted garden was a witch, who had a daughter so frightfully ugly that even her mother's powerful magic could not make her beautiful. In spite of her ugliness, however, the witch's daughter considered herself quite beautiful, and was always importuning her mother to invite to the castle princes whom she considered worthy of her hand. So the old witch gave wonderful dances and parties, to which all the eligible young kings and princes of the neighborhood were invited; but just as soon as the witch's daughter appeared with a horrid smirk on her ugly face, the young men were sure to make their excuses and ride away.
At length the old witch, who had just had a severe tongue-lashing from her daughter for not punishing the Prince of Zagabondiga after that prince had failed to ask her for a dance, could endure her daughter's scolding no longer, and resolved to catch the first prince who came past her garden, and force him, willy nilly, to accept her ugly daughter. Into her trap poor Florizel had walked, and the witch, hoping to bend him to her will by terrifying him, had thrown him into a deep dungeon. The ugly daughter had immediately peeked through the key-hole of the prison, and fallen in love with Florizel at first sight.
The witch was just considering what to do next, when her lion-headed servitors informed her that one of the company had resisted her enchantment, and was wandering about the garden. So the witch put on her cloak of invisibility, and going down to the garden, found poor Florian wandering disconsolately under the trees. She saw at once that it was the little golden bird which had protected him from her magic; and being afraid of the charm and yet unable to work the poor lad any harm while the bird was in his possession, she decided to rid herself of Florian by transporting her castle, gardens and all, over to the other side of the world. So she uttered a spell, and everything disappeared.
When Florian woke the next morning, and found that the castle was gone, his heart sank. Nevertheless, he did not despair, but taking from his pocket the little scarlet ball which his master the Enchanter had given him, he put it on the ground, and bade it guide him back to the Enchanted Garden.
The little ball immediately began rolling ahead at Florian's own pace; at night it glowed with a scarlet fire. Day after day, month after month, the scarlet ball rolled on; it led Florian over hill and down dale, through the land of the men who have only one eye, through the country of the dwarfs, and the valley of the talking trees, never stopping till it reached the gate of the witch's garden.
A year, meanwhile, had gone by, and during that year the witch had done everything she could to induce Prince Florizel to accept her ugly daughter. First she had tried frightening him, then she had tried to win him by giving splendid fetes, then she had tried terrifying him again; but as the Prince was neither to be terrified nor cajoled, she came to her wits' end. Finally she told the Prince that, if he were not willing to accept her daughter in marriage on the very next day, she would turn him into a hare and set her dogs upon him. The Prince made no answer to her terrible threat, and the witch went ahead and made preparation for the grandest of weddings. On that night, Florian arrived at the garden.
When it was very late, and the moon, which was a quarter full, had disappeared behind a bank of clouds, Florian crept unobserved to the door of Florizel's prison; for the witch had locked him up so securely that she had not taken the trouble to find a watchman. Alas! the poor Prince lay at the top of a high tower, and twenty different doors, each one opened by a different key, stood between him and the ground.
But Florian was not to be daunted, and drawing from his bosom the key which the Enchanter had given him, he opened one door after the other till he arrived in the cell occupied by the Prince.
The poor Prince lay chained on a bed of straw, trying to read a book by the light of a single candle. He was very unhappy, for he had resolved to let himself be torn in pieces rather than marry the ugly witch maiden. You may be sure he was glad to see Florian.
"Dear Florian," said the unhappy Prince, "if I had only obeyed your counsel, all would have been well." And he begged Florian to tell him where he had been all the long year.
So Florian told the Prince of his adventures.
Now, the chains which the Prince wore were riveted cruelly upon him, and since there was no lock to them, the magic key was of no avail. At length, however, Florizel managed to work them off; but in doing so, he injured his foot, and found to his dismay that he could only limp along.
Little by little the freshened air and the stir of leaves began to foretell the coming of the dawn. Finally, just as the dawn-star began to pale, Florizel and Florian hurried out of the prison through the twenty doors, and fled to the highroad.
But they had traveled only a few miles, when the wicked witch discovered Florizel's flight, and, dreadfully enraged, commanded that her dragon car be got ready in order that she might go in pursuit of him. So the car was brought forth, and into it the witch leaped, and mounted into the sky. Hearing the hissing and roaring of the dragons in the air, Florian and Florizel tried to hide under some trees; but the witch instantly saw them, and pronounced a spell to turn them into hares. But though the hate of the witch was quick, the woman's heart of Isabella was quicker, and sacrificing herself for the man she loved, she threw the chain and the golden bird over the Prince's head. An instant later she had turned into a little gray hare crouching at Florizel's feet. At the same moment, the cruel witch, who had arrived at her castle, let loose her pack of fierce hunting dogs, who soon took up the trail of the hare and came bounding toward her in full cry.
The poor Prince picked up the hare and hobbled forward as fast as he could go, forgetting the dreadful pain it caused him; but the dogs were running a hundred times faster than he. Nearer and nearer came the pack, their red tongues lolling from their black throats. By good fortune, just as the leader of the pack was not more than fifty feet away, Isabella had wit enough to remember the promise which the Enchanter had made her, and called upon him. Immediately a strong glass wall, as high as a castle tower, shot up from the ground behind Isabella and the Prince; and the pack, hurrying forward, found themselves baulked of their prey. Snarling and yelling, they threw themselves against the magic wall; but in vain.
In another instant, the Enchanter himself stood before them, and touching the hare with his wand, restored Isabella to her human form. She still wore the garments of Florian, however, and the Prince still thought her a boy.
Suddenly a shadow fell on the ground near them, and looking up, all beheld the wicked witch and her ugly daughter, who had ridden out in the dragon car to enjoy Florizel's cruel death. The Enchanter immediately caused the dragon car to vanish, and the witch and her daughter fell tumbling through the air into a pond, and were changed into ugly little fishes. Then the Enchanter carried Florizel and Florian back to the witch's castle, where they found the tables spread and the dinner being prepared which was to celebrate the wedding of Florizel and the witch's daughter. Last of all, he released Florizel's company from the witch's spell.
Now, one of the ladies, when she heard how the witch had tried to match Florizel with her daughter, and saw the preparations for the wedding, told the Prince that it was a pity that the Princess Rosamond were not at hand, so that there might be a wedding after all.
"A wedding? No," said Florizel, "not till I have found a wife who shall have proved herself as faithful and true as little Florian."
"She is already here," said the Enchanter. And he touched Florian with his wand.
Immediately there was a flash of flame, and out of it, Florian no longer, but her own self, appeared Isabella. Her hair had grown long again, and the Enchanter had clad her in the most magnificent of gowns. Never was there a lovelier girl to be seen on earth. You may be sure that the Prince stepped forward, took her by the hand, and claimed her for his bride.
Soon the parents of Florizel, who had been summoned by the Enchanter, arrived, and there was a wedding after all. When the merrymaking was over, the Enchanter went back to his castle on the Black Rock, while Florizel and Isabella returned to their own country, and lived there happily to a good old age.
THE SELLER OF DREAMS
Once upon a time a mother called her only son into the kitchen, gave him a basket of fine, fresh eggs, and bade him carry them to his Aunt Jane, who lived a few miles down the valley. The son, a lively lad about twelve years of age, obeyed his mother with joy, and clapping his little green hat on his head, stepped forth into the road. It was a beautiful clear morning in the spring, and the earth, released from the icy chains of winter, was rejoicing in her freedom and the return of the sun. A few birds, just back from the southland, rocked on twigs swollen with bursting buds, a thousand rills flowing from everywhere and in every direction sparkled and sang, and the air was sweet with the odor of ploughed fields.
The boy, whose name was Peter, walked along whistling. Suddenly he saw a spot on the road shining as dazzlingly as if a bit of the sun itself had fallen to the earth. "A bit of glass," thought Peter. But it was not a bit of glass after all, but a fine golden florin which must have dropped from somebody's purse.
Peter stooped, picked up the gold piece, put it in his pocket, and walked off whistling louder than ever. In a little while he came to a place where the road wound down a little hill, and Peter saw, trudging up this hill, a very strange looking old man. He was a very old man; his face was puckered up into a thousand wrinkles like the skin of a shrunken apple, and he had long, snow-white hair and a white beard which reached almost to his waist. Moreover, he was strangely dressed in a robe of cherry scarlet, and wore golden shoes. From a kind of belt hung two horns on silver chains, one an ordinary cow's horn, the other a beautiful horn carved of the whitest ivory, and decorated with little figures of men and animals.
"Dreams to sell! Dreams to sell!" called out the old man as soon as he caught sight of Peter. "Don't you want to buy a dream, young man?"
"What kind of dreams have you?" asked Peter.
"Good, bad, true, false—all kinds," replied the seller of dreams. "I have even a few thrilling nightmares. Dreams to sell! Dreams to sell!"
"How much does a dream cost?" asked Peter.
"A golden florin," answered the merchant.
"I'll have one, please," said Peter; and he handed over the florin he had found.
The old man took a kind of wonderful sugarplum out of the ivory horn, and gave it to Peter to eat.
"You will have the dream next time you sleep," said he, and trudged on.
So Peter continued his journey, stopping every once in a while to look back at the strange old man, who was slowly climbing the hill. At length Peter came to a little quiet grove of pines, and there he sat down on a big stone and ate the luncheon which his mother had prepared for him. The sun was high in the heavens; it was close on to high noon. Now, as Peter was contentedly munching his bread and cheese, he heard, at first far away, then quite near at hand, the clear notes of a coachman's horn. The notes of the second call died away in a great pattering of hoofs and tinkling of little bells, and suddenly, arriving in a great swirl of yellow dust, came a magnificent coach drawn by twelve white horses. A lady, very richly dressed and wearing many sparkling diamonds, sat within the coach. To Peter's astonishment, the lady was his Aunt Jane.
The coach stopped with a great jingling of the twelve harnesses, and Aunt Jane leaned out of the window, and said to Peter, "What are you doing here, child?"
"I was on my way to your cottage with a basket of fine fresh eggs," answered Peter.
"Well, it's fortunate I found you," said Aunt Jane, "for I have given up living in the cottage, and have now got a castle of my own. Jump in, Peter, and don't forget your basket."
So Peter climbed into the coach, closed the door behind him, and was driven away. The coach went over hill and down dale; it went through strange forests from whose branches green parrots whooped and shrieked; it rolled through valleys in strange shining mountains. Peter stole a look at Aunt Jane and saw that she was wearing a crown.
"Are you a queen, Aunt Jane?" he asked.
"Indeed, I am," replied his aunt. "You see, Peter, two days ago, while I was looking for my white cow who had strayed away, I came upon the magnificent castle to which we are now going. It has four beautiful towers, and a door set with diamonds.
"'Whose castle is this?' I said to the lodge-keeper.
"'It's nobody's, marm,' said he.
"'What,' said I; 'do you mean to say that nobody owns this fine castle?'
"'That's just what I mean to say, marm,' answered he; 'the castle belongs to anyone who wants it.'
"So into the castle I walked, and I did n't go out, you may be sure, till I had been into every room that I could find. Then I put on these clothes and these diamonds, which I found in a cupboard, and went down and told the servants I intended to be queen. You see, Peter dear, there's nothing that a woman of determination and energy can't accomplish."
The coach rolled on, and soon Peter caught sight of Aunt Jane's castle. It was rather large, and had an enormous round tower at each corner—a thing which brought to Peter's mind the picture of an elephant lying on its back. Peter and Aunt Jane, accompanied by a train of servants dressed in blue-and-buff livery, walked into the castle through the diamond-studded door.
"Do you think you could eat a little more of something?" said Aunt Jane, taking off her white-kid gloves; "because if you can I'll have a place set for you at the luncheon table."
And Peter, who like all boys, could eat a little more anywhere and at any time, readily answered, "Yes."
So Peter and Aunt Jane sat down to a wonderful little table covered with a snow-white cloth.
"Draw your chair nearer, Peter dear," said Aunt Jane.
"I can't" said Peter, "it's stuck to the floor."
And so it was; the chair was stuck to the floor, and no amount of pushing or pulling could budge it.
"That's odd," said Aunt Jane; "but never mind, I'll push the table over to the chair."
But like the chair, the table refused to budge. Peter then tried to slide his plate of soup closer to him, but the plate, which the servant had placed on the cloth but an instant before, had evidently frozen to the table in some extraordinary manner and could not be moved an inch. The soup in the plate, however, was not fastened to the dish, nor were the wonderful strawberry-cakes and the delicious ices with which the dinner closed.
"You don't suppose this castle is enchanted, do you, Aunt Jane?" asked Peter.
"Not a bit of it," replied Aunt Jane. "And even if it were," she continued recklessly, "I should n't mind, for there's nothing that a woman of determination and energy can't accomplish." There was a pause, and then Aunt Jane added, "I am going to have some guests to dinner this evening, so run round and amuse yourself as well as you can. There's ever so much to see in the castle, and in the garden there's a pond with swans in it."
Attended by her servants, Aunt Jane majestically walked away. Peter spent the afternoon exploring the castle. He went through room after room; he scurried through the attics like a mouse, and was even lost for a while in the cellars. And everywhere he went, he found everything immovable. The beds, tables, and chairs could neither be moved about nor lifted up, and even the clocks and vases were mysteriously fastened to their places on the shelves.
The night came on. Coach after coach rolled up to the diamond door, which sparkled in the moonlight. When the guests had all arrived, a silver trumpet sounded, and Aunt Jane, dressed in a wonderful gown of flowering brocade edged with pearls, came solemnly down the great stairway of the castle hall. Two little black boys, dressed in oriental costume and wearing turbans, held up her gorgeous train, and she looked very grand indeed. Peter, to his great surprise, found himself dressed in a wonderful suit of plum-colored velvet.
"Welcome, my friends," said Queen Jane, who had opened a wonderful ostrich-feather fan. "Are we not fortunate in having so beautiful a night for our dinner?"
And the Queen, giving her arm to a splendid personage in the uniform of an officer of the King's dragoons, led the way to the banquet-hall.
The wonderful party, all silks and satins, and gleaming with jewels, swept like a peacock's tail behind her. Soon dinner was over, and the guests began to stray by twos and threes to the ballroom. Aunt Jane and the soldier led off the grand march; then came wonderful, stately minuets, quadrilles, and sweet old-fashioned waltzes. The merriment was at its height when somebody ran heavily up the great stairs leading to the ballroom, and the guests, turning round to see whence came the clatter, saw standing in the doorway a strange old man dressed in a robe of cherry scarlet and wearing golden shoes. It was the seller of dreams. His white hair was disheveled, his robe was awry, and there was dust on his golden shoes.
"Foolish people!" screamed the old seller of dreams, his voice rising to a shriek, "Run your lives! This castle lies under a terrible enchantment; in a few minutes it will turn upside-down. Have you not seen that everything is fastened to the floor? Run for your lives!"
Immediately there was a great babble of voices, some shrieks, and more confusion, and the guests ran pell-mell down the great stairs and out the castle door. To Peter's dismay, Aunt Jane was not among them. So into the castle he rushed again, calling at the top of his voice, "Aunt Jane! Aunt Jane!" He ran through the brilliantly lit and deserted ballroom; he saw himself running in the great mirrors of the gallery. "Aunt Jane!" he cried; but no Aunt Jane replied.
Peter rushed up the stairs leading to the castle tower, and emerged upon the balcony. He saw the black shadow of the castle thrown upon the grass far below by the full moon; he saw the great forest, so bright above and so dark and mysterious below, and the long snow-clad range of the Adamant Mountains. Suddenly a voice, louder than the voice of any human being, a voice deep, ringing, and solemn as the sound of a great bell, cried,—
"'T is time!"
Immediately everything became as black as ink, people shrieked, the enchanted castle rolled like a ship at sea, and leaning far to one side, began to turn upside-down. Peter felt the floor of the balcony tip beneath him; he tried to catch hold of something, but could find nothing; suddenly, with a scream, he fell. He was falling, falling, falling, falling, falling.
When Peter came to himself, instead of its being night, it was still noonday, and he was sitting on the same stone in the same quiet roadside grove from which he had caught sight of his Aunt Jane in her wonderful coach. A blue jay screamed at him from overhead. For Aunt Jane, the coach, and the enchanted castle had been only a dream. Peter, you see, had fallen asleep under the pines, and while he slept, he had dreamed the dream he purchased from the seller of dreams.
Very glad to be still alive, Peter rubbed his eyes, took up his basket of eggs, and went down the road whistling.
"How much does a dream cost?" asked Peter. "A golden florin," answered the Seller of Dreams
THE TREASURE CASTLE
Once upon a time a hunter was roaming through the wildwood when he heard a voice crying piteously for aid. Following the sound, the hunter plunged ahead, and discovered a dwarf caught in a pit which had been dug to trap wild animals.
After the hunter had rescued the dwarf from his prison, the little man said to him: "Go ten leagues to the north till you arrive at a gigantic pine; then turn to the east, and go ten leagues more till you come to a black castle. Enter the castle without fear, and you will discover a round room in which stands a round ebony table laden with gold and jewels. Help yourself to the treasure, and return home at once. And do not—now mark me well—go up into the turret of the castle; for if you do, evil will come of it."
So the hunter thanked the dwarf, and after making sure that he had plenty of bread and cheese in his knapsack, hurried northwards as fast as his legs could carry him. Through bramble and brier, through valley and wooded dale went he, and at dusk he came to a gigantic pine standing solitary in a rocky field. Wearied with his long journey, the hunter lay down beneath the pine and slept.
When it was dawn he woke refreshed, and turning his eyes toward the level rays of the rising sun, began his journey to the east. Presently he reached a height in the forest, and from this height, he saw, not very far away, a black turret rising over the ocean of bright leaves. At high noon he arrived at the castle. It was ruinous and quite deserted; grass grew in the courtyard and between the bricks of the terrace, and the oaken door was as soft and rotten as a log that has long been buried in mire.
Entering the castle, the hunter soon discovered the round room. A table laden with wonderful treasures stood in the centre of the chamber, directly under a shower of sunlight pouring through a half-ruined window in the mildewed wall. How the diamonds and precious stones sparkled and gleamed!
Now, while the hunter was filling his pockets, the flash of a jewel lying on the floor happened to catch his eye, and looking down, he saw that a kind of trail of jewels lay along the floor leading out of the room. Following the scattered gems,—which had the appearance of having been spilled from some treasure-casket heaped too high,—the hunter came to a low door, and opening this door, he discovered a flight of stone steps leading to the turret. The steps were strewn carelessly with the finest emeralds, topazes, beryls, moonstones, rubies, and crystal diamonds.
Remembering the counsel of his friend the dwarf, however, the hunter did not go up the stairs, but hurried home with his treasure.
When the hunter returned to his country, the wonderful treasures which he had taken from the castle in the wood made him a very rich man, and in a short time the news of his prosperity came to the ears of the King. This King was the wickedest of rogues, and his two best friends, the Chamberlain and the Chancellor, were every bit as unscrupulous as he. They oppressed the people with taxes, they stole from the poor, they robbed the churches; indeed there was no injustice which they were not ready to commit. So, when the Chamberlain heard of the hunter's wealth, he—being a direct, straightforward rascal—declared that the simplest thing to do would be to kill the hunter and take his money.
The Chancellor, who was somewhat more cunning and worldly, declared that it would be better to throw the hunter into a foul, dark dungeon till he was ready to buy his freedom with all his wealth.
The King, who was the wickedest and wisest of the precious three, declared that the best thing to do was to find out whence the hunter had got his treasure, so that, if there happened to be any left, they could go and get it. Then of course, they could kill the hunter and take his treasure too.
Thus it came to pass that by a royal order the hunter was thrown into a horrible prison, and told that his only hope of release lay in revealing the origin of his riches. So, after he had been slowly starved and cruelly beaten, he told of the treasure castle in the wood.
On the following morning, the King, the Chamberlain, and the Chancellor, taking with them some strong linen bags and some pack mules, rode forth in quest of the treasure. Great was their joy when they found the treasure castle and the treasure room just as the hunter had described. The Chancellor poured the shining gems through his claw-like fingers, and the King and the Chamberlain threw their arms around each others' shoulders and danced a jig as well as their age and dignity would permit. The first fine careless rapture over, they began pouring the treasure into the linen sacks they had brought with them, and these, filled to the brim, they carried to the castle door.
Soon not the tiniest gem was left on the table. Suddenly the Chamberlain happened to catch sight of the gems strewn along the floor.
"See, see!" he cried, his voice shrill and greedy. "There is yet more to be had!"
So the three rogues got down on their hands and knees and began stuffing the stray jewels into their bulging pockets. The trail of jewels led them across the hall to the little door opening on the stairway, and up this stairway they scrambled as fast as they could go.
At the top of the stair, in the turret, they found another round room lit by three narrow, barred windows, and in the centre of this turret chamber, likewise laden with gold and jewels, they found another ebony table. With shrieks of delight, the King and the Chancellor and the Chamberlain ran to this second treasure, and plunged their hands in the glittering golden mass.
Suddenly, a great bell rang in the castle, a great brazen bell whose deep clang beat about them in throbbing, singing waves.
"What's that?" said the three rogues in one breath, and rushed together to the door.
It was locked! An instant later there was a heavy explosion which threw them all to the floor, tossing the treasure over them; and then, wonder of wonders, the castle turret, with the three rogues imprisoned in it, detached itself from the rest of the castle, and flew off into the air. From the barred windows, the King, the Chamberlain, and the Chancellor saw league upon league of the forest rushing by beneath them. Suddenly the flying room began to descend swiftly, and landed lightly as a bird in the middle of a castle courtyard. Strange-looking fellows with human bodies and heads of horses came rushing toward the enchanted turret, and seized its prisoners. In a few moments they were brought before the King to whom the treasure belonged.
Now this King was a brother of the dwarf whom the hunter had rescued from the pit. He had a little gold crown on his head, and sat on a little golden throne with cushions of crimson velvet.
"With what are these three charged?" said the Dwarf-King.
"With having tried to rob the treasure castle, Your Majesty," replied one of the horse-headed servitors in a firm, stable tone.
"Then send for the Lord Chief Justice at once," said the Dwarf-King.
The three culprits were left standing uneasily in a kind of cage. They would have tried to speak, but every time they opened their mouths, one of the guards gave them a dig in the ribs.
For a space of five minutes there was quiet in the crowded throne-room, a quiet broken now and then by a veiled cough or the noise of shuffling feet. Presently, from far away, came the clear, sweet call of silver trumpets.
"He's coming! He's coming!" murmured many voices. A buzz of excitement filled the room. Several people had to be revived with smelling salts.
The trumpets sounded a second time. The excitement increased.
The trumpets sounded a third time, near at hand. A man's voice announced in solemn tones, "The Lord Chief Justice approaches."
The audience grew very still. Hardly a rustle or a flutter was heard. Suddenly the great tapestry curtains which overhung the door parted, and there appeared, first of all, an usher, clad in red velvet and carrying a golden wand; then came two golden-haired pages, also clad in red velvet and carrying a flat black-lacquer box on a velvet cushion. Last of all came an elderly man dressed in black, and carrying a golden perch on which sat a fine green parrot. On reaching the centre of the hall, the parrot flapped its wings, arranged an upstart feather or two, and then resumed that solemn dignity for which birds and animals are so justly famous.
With great ceremony the gentleman in black placed the Lord Chief Justice on a lacquer stand close by the throne of the Dwarf-King.
Trumpets sounded. Two servitors hurried forward with the captive King.
"Your Venerability," spoke the Dwarf-King to the parrot, who watched him intently out of its round yellow eye, and nodded its head, "this rascal has been taken in the act of robbing the treasure castle. What punishment do you suggest?"
At these words, the two golden-haired pages, advancing with immense solemnity, lifted the lacquer box to within reach of the parrot's beak. The box was full of cards. Over them, swaying from one leg to the other as he did so, the parrot swept his head.
An icy silence fell over the throng. The King, the Chancellor, and the Chamberlain quaked in their shoes. Presently the parrot picked out a card, and the gentleman in black handed it to the Dwarf-King.
"Prisoner," said the Dwarf-King to the other King, "the Lord Chief Justice condemns you to be for the rest of your natural life Master Sweeper of the Palace Chimneys."
Discreet applause was heard. The Chancellor was then hurried forward, and the bird picked out a second card.
"Prisoner," said the Dwarf-King, "the Lord Chief Justice condemns you to be for the rest of your natural life Master Washer of the Palace Windows."
More discreet applause was heard. And now the Chamberlain was brought to the bar. The parrot gave him quite a wicked eye, and hesitated for some time before drawing a card.
"Prisoner," said the Dwarf-King, reading the card which the parrot had finally chosen, "the Lord Chief Justice condemns you for the rest of your natural life to be Master Beater of the Palace Carpets."
Great applause followed this sage judgment.
So the three rogues were led away, and unless you have heard to the contrary, they are still making up for their wicked lives by enforced diligence at their tasks. The palace has five hundred and ninety-six chimneys, eight thousand, seven hundred and fifty-three windows, and eleven hundred and ninety-nine large dust-gathering carpets, and the chimneys, windows, and carpets have to be swept, washed, and beaten at least once a week.
Now when the King, the Chancellor, and the Chamberlain failed to return, the people took the hunter out of his prison and made him king, because he was the richest and most powerful of them all.
As for the treasure of the treasure castle, it is still there, packed in the linen sacks, lying just inside the great door.
Perhaps some day you may find it. If you do, don't be greedy, and don't go up to the turret chamber.
Once upon a time a king and a queen gave a magnificent party in honor of the christening of their new-born son, Prince Rolandor. To this party the royal parents took good care to invite every single fairy in Fairyland, for they knew very well the unhappy consequences of forgetting to invite fairies to christenings. When all the invitations had been sent out, the Queen went down to the kitchen to superintend the cooking of the master-dainty of the feast, a huge strawberry-tart.
The morning on which the grand ceremony was to take place arrived. At half-past ten the Court Astrologer, who was master of ceremonies, gave the order to form in line; and at ten minutes to eleven the splendid procession started for the church. The road was lined with the King's vassals shouting, "Hurrah, hurrah!" Countless little elves with gauzy wings watched from the branches of the trees; and the great cathedral bells went clang, bang, clang, as merrily as could be.
Just behind the royal body-guard came the King's gold-and-diamond coach shining in the sunlight of June, with the King and the Queen in it on one side and the Court Astrologer and the fairy Titania, prospective godparents of the little Prince, on the other. The Prince himself, swathed in a wonderful silk mantle edged with pearls and turquoises, slept in the Astrologer's arms.
The procession entered the church, where the venerable Lord Archbishop, surrounded by a magnificent choir, was awaiting its coming. A hush went over the great assembly as the parents and the godparents advanced to the flower-decked font, and the silence lasted until His Eminence had sprinkled the Prince and given him the name of Rolandor. Then the bells rang again, the organ roared so that the windows shook in their casements, and the choristers sang like birds on a summer afternoon.
The christening over, the procession went back to the castle, past the waiting rows of bystanders, not one of whom had changed his place or gone away, so superb had been the spectacle.
The christening banquet was laid in the great hall of the castle, and, thanks to the Court Astrologer, things went off beautifully. It was the only large banquet ever known in the history of the world where courses were served all at one time, and while one person was finishing an ice, another was not beginning with the soup. Nor was the menu mixed, which happens so frequently to-day that you are apt to have soup, ice, cake, roast, soup, and a roast again. No, from soup to ice the banquet was a huge success; but, alas, disaster came with the strawberry-tart.
As the Queen was chatting with the Lord Chancellor of the Enchanted Islands, she happened to notice—for like a good hostess she had been keeping an eye to the comfort of her guests—that nobody on the right-hand side of the hall had been served with strawberry-tart. Almost at the same moment, the chief cook, looking rather pale and worried, bustled through the throng and whispered in her ear, "Your Majesty, the strawberry-tart has given out!"
The Queen turned pale. At length she managed to ask in a weak voice, "Have you plenty of other pastries?"
"Yes, Your Majesty," replied the cook.
"Then let them be served at once."
The cook withdrew, and the Queen, though somewhat shaken, took up the conversation again. Ten minutes passed, and she was beginning to forget her start, when a voice, rising clear and rasping over the hubbub of the hall, said suddenly, "Where's my piece of strawberry-tart?"
Everybody turned toward the speaker, an elderly fairy from the Kingdom of the Black Mountains, named Malvolia. She stood up in her place, her arms akimbo, glowering at her plate, on which an attendant had just deposited a small chocolate eclair.
"Where's my piece of strawberry-tart?" she repeated.
The Queen rose. "I am very sorry, Madam Malvolia," said she in her sweetest voice, "but the strawberry-tart has given out."
"Hoity-toity," answered Malvolia rudely; "you mean that you only baked enough for your own personal friends."
At this several guests cried, "Sh! Sh!" and the King began to look worried.
"We will send for some at once," announced His Majesty.
"Oh yes,—strawberry-tart baked by the Queen's own hands for her own dear friends," said Malvolia sneeringly; "but for me, a fairy of age and distinction, an ordinary, low baker's eclair. The Kingdom of the Black Mountains has been deliberately insulted in my person!"
"No, no, no, no!" cried the King and the Queen. "We assure you, madam, that it was a simple mischance."
"Pish and tush!" replied Malvolia, who, like a great many people, secretly enjoyed feeling herself aggrieved. "I consider the affair an affront, a deliberate affront. And you shall pay dear for this humiliation," she screamed, quickly losing control of her temper. "Every time the Prince sneezes something shall change until—"
At this very moment, alas, a northeast wind blew gustily through the open windows of the hall, shaking the tapestries from the walls, and carrying away the last of Malvolia's sentence. The angry fairy turned herself into a great black raven and flew, cawing hoarsely, over the heads of the banqueters and out of the window with the wind.
A baby's cry was heard, and the King and the Queen rushed panic-stricken to where their little son lay in his cradle on a raised platform at the head of the hall. The little Prince's fat, pink face was twisted into dreadful lines; he opened his mouth wide several times and half closed it again; then, opening it wider than ever, he sneezed a terrible sneeze.
There came a loud clap of thunder. When the confusion was over, the Court Astrologer was found to have turned into an eight-day clock, with a sun, moon, and stars arrangement, a planetary indicator, and a calendar calculated for two thousand years. The banquet ended rather gloomily, although the gifts of the other fairies, such as health, wealth, and beauty, managed to make everyone a little more cheerful.
When the guests were gone, the King and Queen sent for Doctor Pill, the court physician, to consult him in regard to the measures which ought to be taken to prevent the Prince's sneezing. As for the poor Court Astrologer, he was hung up in the sacristy of the cathedral, and every eight days his wife wound him up, with tears.
"What shall we do, doctor?" asked the King rather mournfully.
"The Prince must be preserved from the things which cause sneezing," said the doctor sagely.
"Such as draughts?" suggested the King.
"Draughts, head-colds, snuff, and pepper," answered the leech. "Let his little highness be put into a special suite of rooms; admit no person to them until he has been examined for head-cold, and has put on germ-proof garments; and as his little highness grows older, forbid the use of pepper in his food. Better still, if Your Majesty has a castle in the mountains, let the Prince be taken there for the sake of the purer air."
"There is the tower on the Golden Mountain," said the King.
At this the Queen began to weep again, for she, quite naturally, did not wish to part with her child.
"But, my dear, we can't have him sneezing, and things changing all the time," said the King.
"I beg Your Majesty to consider the danger of a head-cold," put in the doctor.
"Yes, think of the danger of a head-cold," echoed the King, who saw clearer than the Queen the chaos that might result if the Prince was attacked by a prolonged fit of sneezing. "People with head-colds may sneeze ten or fifteen times a day."
"Or fifty," said the doctor.
"Or fifty," echoed the King again, shaking his head, for he was torn between paternal love and kingly duty. "Imagine fifty enchantments in a day! By eventide the whole kingdom would be upset, undone, and the people plotting a revolution."
"The tower on the Golden Mountain is in a fine healthful locality," said the doctor, "and the Prince could be brought up as happily there as in the palace."
So at length the Queen consented. In a few days the little Prince, who had not sneezed a second time, was removed to the tower on the Golden Mountain. His room, designed by Doctor Pill, was completely protected from draughts, and every breath of air that entered it was tri-bi-sterilized. Mrs. Pill, who had been a hospital nurse, took care of him. Three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, his royal parents rode out to the tower, and after putting on germ-proof garments, were admitted to the nursery of their infant son.
And so the years went by. Nobody was found able to break Malvolia's spell, and the clue to its undoing had been carried away by the wind. Malvolia herself had disappeared.
The Prince became a handsome little boy. Accomplished teachers taught him history, music, drawing, dancing, and all the other things that a prince ought to know. But of real life he knew almost nothing at all.
His most faithful friend during these lonely years was a French poodle, who spoke both French and English exceedingly well. Of course, he had a marked canine accent, rather growling his g's and howling the aw's and the ow's, but his words were well chosen and his vocabulary extensive. Never was seen a more friendly, wise, and devoted animal.
When the King decided to have him sent away for a while, for he feared that his son was getting a touch of Poldo's barky manner of speaking, from too close an association, the little Prince became really ill from grief, and the King was forced to alter his decision.
During his imprisonment in the tower, in spite of all precautions, the Prince sneezed three times. At the first sneeze, all the dogs in the kingdom except Poldo changed into cats, and all the cats into dogs. Though this was not a serious trouble, the change was certainly inconvenient. All the dog-cats came out meowing at people as the dogs used to bark at them, and they chased people down the street; the cat-dogs, on the other hand, stayed in the kitchen under the stove, and watched for mice in the pantry. Great St. Bernards might be seen licking their paws and rubbing them over their foreheads, and fat, old cat-lap-dogs used to try to purr.
At the second sneeze, all the elderly gentlemen over seventy changed into elm trees, a proceeding that caused a terrible lot of trouble.
At the third sneeze, all the people in the pictures at the Art Museum became alive, and for a week the soldiers of the royal guard spent most of their time rescuing poor, bewildered fauns, satyrs, nymphs, Roman senators, and long dead celebrities and historical personages from the worst destitution. The King finally had to build a special castle for them.
As the Prince's twenty-first birthday drew near, he began to feel very sad at the idea of having to stay shut up in the tower all his life. Though he was a very brave and very manly young man, he lay down on his couch and wept in sorrow.
Suddenly, standing with his forepaws on the coverlet, "Why do you weep, dear master?" said the little dog.
"At my fate," replied the poor Prince. "I cannot bear to think that I may have to spend all my days in this tower, and never see the great wide world."
The poodle was silent for a few minutes. At length he said, "Dear Prince Rolandor, do not give up hope. Have you ever thought of consulting my old master, the Giant of the North Pole? He has a large chest in his palace full of secrets which the winds have overheard, and perhaps the key to Malvolia's spell is among them. If you will have a warm fur coat and four fur boots made for me, I will go to the Giant and ask him."
The Prince gave his consent, and on the next day the royal tailor made the poodle a magnificent sealskin coat and four splendid fur-lined boots. Then the King wished him good speed, the Queen cried over him, and the Prince, who could see from his high tower every corner of the kingdom, watched him till he disappeared over the hills and far away.
Straight north the poodle ran. Soon he had left the fertile plains behind him, and entered great, black pine forests where never a road was to be seen. The cold wind howled through the trees, and at night the brilliant stars sparkled over the dark and waving branches. Hungry wolves and savage bears often pursued him, but somehow he always managed to escape them all. At the end of the forest he found the frozen ocean lit by the shuddering light of the aurora, flashing in a great fan from east to west. Past white-tusked walruses and sleepy penguins he flew, till on the eleventh day he saw the green, icy pinnacles of the Giant's palace against the waving curtain of the Polar lights. On the evening of the twelfth day he entered the castle.
The Giant of the North Pole was a tall, strong, yellow-haired fellow wearing a crown of ice and a great sweeping mantle made from the white fur of the polar bear. His servants were the Gusts,—strange, supple, shadowy creatures moving quickly to and fro,—and his courtiers were the whirlwinds and the storms. The Giant's wife sat by his side; she had dark hair and eyes of icy, burning blue.
"Welcome, little Poldo," said the Giant; and his voice sounded like the wind in the treetops; "what seek you here?"
"I seek some words of the Fairy Malvolia which were carried away by the northeast wind at Prince Rolandor's christening," replied the poodle.
"Whew, oo-oo," whistled the Giant of the North Pole. "If I have them, the words are yours."
He summoned two Gusts to bring forth the chest of secrets. It was made of black stone; and edged with diamonds of ice. In it were stored all the mysteries which the wind had ever overheard; there were secrets, confessions, vows, merry laughs, and simple words. And sure enough, in the corner of the chest lay the rest of Malvolia's spell—a row of little, old-fashioned, dusty words; the words: "Until he finds someone brave enough to marry him."
So the good poodle learned the words by heart, thanked the Giant, and hurried home with the message. When he came to the King's palace, he ran, barking with joy, right into the King's own room. There he saw the unhappy parents.
"Have you found the last of the sentence?" cried the Queen.
"Yes," said Poldo. "The spell will end when the prince marries."
That very evening the King and the Queen sent forth ambassadors to ask for the hand of the loveliest princess of all Fairyland, Princess Adatha of the Adamant Mountains. But so afraid was Adatha of being turned into something else, that she refused the offer.
The King and the Queen then made a request for the hand of Princess Alicia of the Crystal Lakes. But Alicia also was afraid of being turned into something else, and she too refused the alliance. So did the Princess of the Golden Coasts, the Princess of the Seven Cities, and many others. Finally the only princess left in all Fairyland was a princess who herself lay under an enchantment. A jealous witch had turned her golden hair bright blue, and given her a nose a foot long. This unhappy maiden was the only princess willing to accept poor Rolandor.
The wedding day arrived. The Prince, though perhaps a little pale from his confined life, looked very handsome, and led his ugly bride to the altar like a man. Just exactly as the marriage ceremony was half over, a spasm contorted the muscles of the Prince's face; the poor young man felt strongly inclined to sneeze. Though he could be seen making heroic efforts to control the impulse, the audience got very nervous and panicky.
All was in vain! The Prince sneezed, "Ker choo!" A terrific clap of thunder rent the air, and everybody looked about to see what had happened.
The effect of the sneeze was an odd one. As it had occurred exactly at the moment when the Prince was half-married, the spell had reacted upon itself. "Just like a kick from a gun," Dr. Pill said next day.
The cats became dogs again, and the dogs became cats; the elm trees became cross, elderly gentlemen looking for their families; the poor, excited Roman senators, fauns, nymphs, satyrs, celebrities and historical personages, went back to their pictures; and to cap the climax, the ugly bride became once more her sweet and lovely self.
While everybody was cheering, who should walk out of the sacristy but the Court Astrologer! An instant later, he had fallen into the affectionate arms of the faithful wife who had wound him up for twenty-one years.
After the wedding reception, the Prince and his bride went on a honeymoon to the Enchanted Islands. As for Poldo the poodle, he was created Prime Minister and lived to a fine old age.
Once upon a time a wicked nobleman rose in rebellion against his rightful king, and taking the royal forces by surprise, defeated them and seized the kingdom. The dethroned King, who had been severely wounded in battle, was cast in prison, where he soon died; but his widow, the Queen, managed to escape from the palace before the usurper could lay hands upon her.
Into the dark forest which lay behind the palace ran the Queen, holding her baby daughter in her arms. It was winter time, and a heavy snow had hidden the foot-paths and the roads. Presently the Queen realized that she was lost. All afternoon, however, she trudged bravely on through the silence and the cold, her heart sinking as mile after mile revealed no sign of a house or a shelter.
But late in the afternoon, when the red shield of the sun could scarcely be seen through the tangle of the wild wood-branches, she perceived a light coming from a little grove of cedars by the shore of a frozen lake. The Queen made her way toward this light, and discovered a little thatched hut in the silent wood; it was the house of one of the dwarfs of the forest. The dwarf took pity on the Queen, but his efforts were vain, for the poor woman was so weak and exhausted that she died without telling the dwarf anything about herself or the child she carried.
So the little dwarf, who was a good, kind old fellow, brought the little girl up as if she were his own child. His brother, the dwarf of the mountain, made her the prettiest red-leather shoes, and his cousins, the dwarfs of the pines, made the little girl dresses from cloth woven on fairy looms.
Now, on the night her mother brought her to the hut, the little girl was wearing a golden heart-shaped locket, with a crown and the letter M upon it in diamonds. So the dwarf called the little girl Marianna.
Seventeen years passed, and Marianna grew to be quite the loveliest lass in all the world. Her hair was as black as the raven's wing, her eyes were as blue as the midsummer sea, and her skin was fair as the petal of a rose. One spring morning a little yellow bird flew into the cedar grove, and gave the dwarf a letter which it held in its beak.
The dwarf read the letter, and said to Marianna, "Little Marianna, the Emperor of the Elves has bidden me come to the great assembly of the dwarfs which is to be held next year on the Golden Mountain. Alas, what are we to do? I can not take you with me, dear child, for it is forbidden on pain of death to bring mortals to the assembly, nor can I leave you here in this lonely wood."
To this Marianna replied, "Do not fear, dear father. Give me but yon crystal flask of the water of healing, and I shall go forth into the world until it is time for you to return again. Perhaps I shall discover somebody who can tell me the meaning of this locket, or the history of my dear mother."
So the dwarf took his knotted staff, and went away over hill, over dale to the Golden Mountain.
Then Marianna took the crystal flask of the water of healing, and walked boldly out of the wood into the wide, wide world. It was the middle of the spring, the ice and snow had all disappeared; the trees were putting forth their leaves, and there were clusters of primroses by the roadside. In the swaying, rustling heart of a great elm tree, a little thrush was singing. Through cities and towns went lovely Marianna, bringing good cheer to the helpless and the sick, and curing all who came to her, rich and poor, with the wonderful water of healing. But never did she find anybody who could tell her about the gold heart with the diamond crown.
Now it came to pass that, as Marianna was one day walking through a village in the heart of the Adamant Mountains, a ragged old woman besought her with tears to come to a hamlet which stood at the head of a high and dangerous path. Touched by the old woman's supplication, Marianna followed her to the hamlet, and found in a wretched hut, lying on a wretched bed, a beautiful young peasant girl dying of a fever. So Marianna touched the girl with the water of healing, and in an instant she became well and strong.
"Dear lady," said the peasant girl, pressing Marianna's hand to her lips, "how sweet and kind thou art! Great is the debt I owe thee."
And as the girl poured out her thanks, Marianna heard a faint "chirp, chirp," and looking down, beheld a little yellow bird crouching on the hearthstone. Every now and then he hid his head under his wings and cried unhappily. It was the yellow bird which had brought the message from the Emperor of the Elves.
"Poor little bird," said Marianna, bending down and taking him up in her hands, "why criest thou so mournfully? Who hath done thee harm?"
But the bird uttered only a forlorn little cry, and hid his head again under his wings.
"I found him on the rocks at the mountaintop yesterday," said the mother. "Someone has wounded him. His wing is broken."
And she put the bird on the floor of the house and bade Marianna watch how he fluttered trailing a wing in the dust. Again Marianna stooped, and picking up the bird, touched the wounded wing with the water of healing. Scarcely had she done so, when the yellow bird burst into a joyous and golden song, and flying to the window, beat madly against the panes. Then the peasant girl threw open the casement, and the yellow bird flew out into the streaming sun.
"He is gone forever," said the peasant girl.
"Nay, he returns," said Marianna, gently, as the yellow bird flew back and perched in the sheltering bower of Marianna's arms. Then, accompanied by the peasant girl and the yellow bird, who flew singing before her, Marianna went down the dangerous path to the high road in the valley. When they reached the foot of the path, the peasant girl cried:—
"Farewell, dear Marianna; may it some day be mine to repay thee!"
Into the world again went Marianna, and with her went the yellow bird. Presently she came to the fairest land which she had ever seen, a land of rolling fields, little hills, and rivers bordered with pale willow trees. This pleasant land, unknown to Marianna, was part of her father's kingdom, and she was really its queen because her father had been the last rightful king.
Now while Marianna had been in the forest, the wicked nobleman who had stolen the kingdom from Marianna's father had died, leaving his brother Garabin in charge of the kingdom and of the interests of his little son, Prince Desire. This Garabin, however, taking advantage of the youth and helplessness of his nephew, had himself assumed the state and airs of king. For some time he had enjoyed undisturbed the possession of his stolen throne; but as Desire grew taller and stronger every year, Garabin began to fear the day when he would be compelled to resign in favor of his nephew.