Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The Little Lame Prince By MISS MULOCK

The Little Lame Prince
[Pseudonym of Maria Dinah Craik]
Yes, he was the most beautiful Prince
that ever was born.
Of course, being a prince, people
said this; but it was true besides.
When he looked at the candle, his eyes had an
expression of earnest inquiry quite startling in
a new born baby. His nose--there was not much
of it certainly, but what there was seemed an
aquiline shape; his complexion was a charming,
healthy purple; he was round and fat, straightlimbed
and long--in fact, a splendid baby, and
everybody was exceedingly proud of him,
especially his father and mother, the King and Queen
of Nomansland, who had waited for him during
their happy reign of ten years--now made happier
than ever, to themselves and their subjects,
by the appearance of a son and heir.
The only person who was not quite happy was
the King's brother, the heir presumptive, who
would have been king one day had the baby not
been born. But as his majesty was very kind to
him, and even rather sorry for him--insomuch
that at the Queen's request he gave him a dukedom
almost as big as a county--the Crown-
Prince, as he was called, tried to seem pleased
also; and let us hope he succeeded.
The Prince's christening was to be a grand
affair. According to the custom of the country,
there were chosen for him four-and-twenty godfathers
and godmothers, who each had to give
him a name, and promise to do their utmost for
him. When he came of age, he himself had to
choose the name--and the godfather or godmother--
that he liked the best, for the rest of his
Meantime all was rejoicing. Subscriptions
were made among the rich to give pleasure to the
poor; dinners in town-halls for the workingmen;
tea-parties in the streets for their wives; and
milk-and-bun feasts for the children in the
schoolrooms. For Nomansland, though I cannot
point it out in any map, or read of it in any
history, was, I believe, much like our own or many
another country.
As for the palace--which was no different
from other palaces--it was clean "turned out of
the windows," as people say, with the preparations
going on. The only quiet place in it was the
room which, though the Prince was six weeks
old, his mother the Queen had never quitted.
Nobody said she was ill, however--it would have
been so inconvenient; and as she said nothing
about it herself, but lay pale and placid, giving
no trouble to anybody, nobody thought much
about her. All the world was absorbed in
admiring the baby.
The christening-day came at last, and it was
as lovely as the Prince himself. All the people
in the palace were lovely too--or thought themselves
so--in the elegant new clothes which the
Queen, who thought of everybody, had taken
care to give them, from the ladies-in-waiting
down to the poor little kitchen-maid, who looked
at herself in her pink cotton gown, and thought,
doubtless, that there never was such a pretty
girl as she.
By six in the morning all the royal household
had dressed itself in its very best; and then the
little Prince was dressed in his best--his
magnificent christening robe; which proceeding his
Royal Highness did not like at all, but kicked
and screamed like any common baby. When he
had a little calmed down, they carried him to be
looked at by the Queen his mother, who, though
her royal robes had been brought and laid upon
the bed, was, as everybody well knew, quite
unable to rise and put them on.
She admired her baby very much; kissed and
blessed him, and lay looking at him, as she did for
hours sometimes, when he was placed beside her
fast asleep; then she gave him up with a gentle
smile, and, saying she hoped he would be very
good, that it would be a very nice christening,
and all the guests would enjoy themselves,
turned peacefully over on her bed, saying nothing
more to anybody. She was a very uncomplaining
person, the Queen--and her name was
Everything went on exactly as if she had been
present. All, even the king himself, had grown
used to her absence; for she was not strong, and
for years had not joined in any gayeties. She
always did her royal duties, but as to pleasures,
they could go on quite well without her, or it
seemed so. The company arrived: great and
notable persons in this and neighboring countries;
also the four-and-twenty godfathers and
godmothers, who had been chosen with care, as
the people who would be most useful to his royal
highness should he ever want friends, which did
not seem likely. What such want could possibly
happen to the heir of the powerful monarch of
They came, walking two and two, with their
coronets on their heads--being dukes and duchesses,
princes and princesses, or the like; they
all kissed the child and pronounced the name
each had given him. Then the four-and-twenty
names were shouted out with great energy by six
heralds, one after the other, and afterward written
down, to be preserved in the state records,
in readiness for the next time they were wanted,
which would be either on his Royal Highness'
coronation or his funeral.
Soon the ceremony was over, and everybody
satisfied; except, perhaps, the little Prince
himself, who moaned faintly under his christening
robes, which nearly smothered him.
In truth, though very few knew, the Prince in
coming to the chapel had met with a slight
disaster. His nurse,--not his ordinary one, but the
state nurse-maid,--an elegant and fashionable
young lady of rank, whose duty it was to carry
him to and from the chapel, had been so occupied
in arranging her train with one hand, while she
held the baby with the other, that she stumbled
and let him fall, just at the foot of the marble
To be sure, she contrived to pick him up again
the next minute; and the accident was so slight
it seemed hardly worth speaking of. Consequently
nobody did speak of it. The baby had
turned deadly pale, but did not cry, so no person
a step or two behind could discover anything
wrong; afterward, even if he had moaned, the
silver trumpets were loud enough to drown his
voice. It would have been a pity to let anything
trouble such a day of felicity.
So, after a minute's pause, the procession had
moved on. Such a procession t Heralds in blue
and silver; pages in crimson and gold; and a
troop of little girls in dazzling white, carrying
baskets of flowers, which they strewed all the
way before the nurse and child--finally the fourand-
twenty godfathers and godmothers, as
proud as possible, and so splendid to look at
that they would have quite extinguished their
small godson--merely a heap of lace and muslin
with a baby face inside--had it not been for a
canopy of white satin and ostrich feathers which
was held over him wherever he was carried.
Thus, with the sun shining on them through
the painted windows, they stood; the king and
his train on one side, the Prince and his attendants
on the other, as pretty a sight as ever was
seen out of fairyland.
"It's just like fairyland," whispered the
eldest little girl to the next eldest, as she shook
the last rose out of her basket; "and I think the
only thing the Prince wants now is a fairy godmother."
"Does he?" said a shrill but soft and not
unpleasant voice behind; and there was seen among
the group of children somebody,--not a child,
yet no bigger than a child,--somebody whom nobody
had seen before, and who certainly had not
been invited, for she had no christening clothes
She was a little old woman dressed all in gray:
gray gown; gray hooded cloak, of a material
excessively fine, and a tint that seemed perpetually
changing, like the gray of an evening sky. Her
hair was gray, and her eyes also--even her
complexion had a soft gray shadow over it. But
there was nothing unpleasantly old about her,
and her smile was as sweet and childlike as the
Prince's own, which stole over his pale little
face the instant she came near enough to touch
"Take care! Don't let the baby fall again."
The grand young lady nurse started, flushing
"Who spoke to me? How did anybody know?
--I mean, what business has anybody----"
Then frightened, but still speaking in a much
sharper tone than I hope young ladies of rank
are in the habit of speaking--"Old woman, you
will be kind enough not to say `the baby,' but
`the Prince.' Keep away; his Royal Highness
is just going to sleep."
"Nevertheless I must kiss him. I am his godmother."
"You!" cried the elegant lady nurse.
"You!" repeated all the gentlemen and
"You!" echoed the heralds and pages--and
they began to blow the silver trumpets in order
to stop all further conversation.
The Prince's procession formed itself for
returning,--the King and his train having already
moved off toward the palace,--but on the topmost
step of the marble stairs stood, right in
front of all, the little old woman clothed in gray.
She stretched herself on tiptoe by the help of
her stick, and gave the little Prince three kisses.
"This is intolerable!" cried the young lady
nurse, wiping the kisses off rapidly with her
lace handkerchief. "Such an insult to his Royal
Highness! Take yourself out of the way, old
woman, or the King shall be informed immediately."
"The King knows nothing of me, more's the
pity," replied the old woman, with an indifferent
air, as if she thought the loss was more on his
Majesty's side than hers. "My friend in the
palace is the King's wife."
"King's have not wives, but queens," said the
lady nurse, with a contemptuous air.
"You are right," replied the old woman.
"Nevertheless I know her Majesty well, and I
love her and her child. And--since you dropped
him on the marble stairs (this she said in a
mysterious whisper, which made the young lady
tremble in spite of her anger)--I choose to take
him for my own, and be his godmother, ready to
help him whenever he wants me."
"You help him!" cried all the group breaking
into shouts of laughter, to which the little old
woman paid not the slightest attention. Her soft
gray eyes were fixed on the Prince, who seemed
to answer to the look, smiling again and again
in the causeless, aimless fashion that babies do
"His Majesty must hear of this," said a
"His Majesty will hear quite enough news in
a minute or two," said the old woman sadly.
And again stretching up to the little Prince, she
kissed him on the forehead solemnly.
"Be called by a new name which nobody has
ever thought of. Be Prince Dolor, in memory
of your mother Dolorez."
"In memory of!" Everybody started at the
ominous phrase, and also at a most terrible
breach of etiquette which the old woman had
committed. In Nomansland, neither the king
nor the queen was supposed to have any Christian
name at all. They dropped it on their coronation
day, and it never was mentioned again till
it was engraved on their coffins when they died.
"Old woman, you are exceedingly ill-bred,"
cried the eldest lady-in-waiting, much horrified.
"How you could know the fact passes my
comprehension. But even if you did know it, how
dared you presume to hint that her most gracious
Majesty is called Dolorez?"
"WAS called Dolorez," said the old woman,
with a tender solemnity.
The first gentleman, called the Gold-stick-inwaiting,
raised it to strike her, and all the rest
stretched out their hands to seize her; but the
gray mantle melted from between their fingers
like air; and, before anybody had time to do
anything more, there came a heavy, muffled,
startling sound.
The great bell of the palace the bell which
was only heard on the death of some one of the
royal family, and for as many times as he or she
was years old--began to toll. They listened,
mute and horror-stricken. Some one counted:
one--two--three--four--up to nine-and-twenty
--just the Queen's age.
It was, indeed, the Queen. Her Majesty was
dead! In the midst of the festivities she had
slipped away out of her new happiness and her
old sufferings, not few nor small. Sending away
all her women to see the grand sight,--at least
they said afterward, in excuse, that she had done
so, and it was very like her to do it,--she had
turned with her face to the window, whence one
could just see the tops of the distant mountains
--the Beautiful Mountains, as they were called
--where she was born. So gazing, she had
quietly died.
When the little Prince was carried back to
his mother's room, there was no mother to kiss
him. And, though he did not know it, there
would be for him no mother's kiss any more.
As for his godmother,--the little old woman
in gray who called herself so,--whether she
melted into air, like her gown when they touched
it, or whether she flew out of the chapel window,
or slipped through the doorway among the
bewildered crowd, nobody knew--nobody ever
thought about her.
Only the nurse, the ordinary homely one,
coming out of the Prince's nursery in the middle
of the night in search of a cordial to quiet his
continual moans, saw, sitting in the doorway,
something which she would have thought a mere
shadow, had she not seen shining out of it two
eyes, gray and soft and sweet. She put her
hand before her own, screaming loudly. When
she took them away the old woman was gone.
Everybody was very kind to the poor
little prince. I think people generally
are kind to motherless children,
whether princes or peasants. He had a
magnificent nursery and a regular suite of
attendants, and was treated with the greatest
respect and state. Nobody was allowed to talk to
him in silly baby language, or dandle him, or,
above all to kiss him, though perhaps some
people did it surreptitiously, for he was such a
sweet baby that it was difficult to help it.
It could not be said that the Prince missed
his mother--children of his age cannot do that;
but somehow after she died everything seemed to
go wrong with him. From a beautiful baby he
became sickly and pale, seeming to have almost
ceased growing, especially in his legs, which had
been so fat and strong.
But after the day of his christening they
withered and shrank; he no longer kicked them out
either in passion or play, and when, as he got to
be nearly a year old, his nurse tried to make him
stand upon them, he only tumbled down.
This happened so many times that at last
people began to talk about it. A prince, and not
able to stand on his own legs! What a dreadful
thing! What a misfortune for the country!
Rather a misfortune to him also, poor little
boy! but nobody seemed to think of that. And
when, after a while, his health revived, and the
old bright look came back to his sweet little face,
and his body grew larger and stronger, though
still his legs remained the same, people continued
to speak of him in whispers, and with grave
shakes of the head. Everybody knew, though
nobody said it, that something, it was impossible
to guess what, was not quite right with the poor
little Prince.
Of course, nobody hinted this to the King his
father: it does not do to tell great people
anything unpleasant. And besides, his Majesty
took very little notice of his son, or of his other
affairs, beyond the necessary duties of his kingdom.
People had said he would not miss the Queen
at all, she having been so long an invalid, but he
did. After her death he never was quite the
same. He established himself in her empty
rooms, the only rooms in the palace whence one
could see the Beautiful Mountains, and was
often observed looking at them as if he thought
she had flown away thither, and that his longing
could bring her back again. And by a curious
coincidence, which nobody dared inquire into,
he desired that the Prince might be called, not
by any of the four-and-twenty grand names
given him by his godfathers and godmothers, but
by the identical name mentioned by the little old
woman in gray--Dolor, after his mother Dolorez.
Once a week, according to established state
custom, the Prince, dressed in his very best, was
brought to the King his father for half an hour,
but his Majesty was generally too ill and too
melancholy to pay much heed to the child.
Only once, when he and the Crown-Prince,
who was exceedingly attentive to his royal
brother, were sitting together, with Prince
Dolor playing in a corner of the room, dragging
himself about with his arms rather than his legs,
and sometimes trying feebly to crawl from one
chair to another, it seemed to strike the father
that all was not right with his son.
"How old is his Royal Highness?" said he
suddenly to the nurse.
"Two years, three months, and five days,
please your Majesty."
"It does not please me," said the King, with
a sigh. "He ought to be far more forward than
he is now ought he not, brother? You, who
have so many children, must know. Is there not
something wrong about him?"
"Oh, no," said the Crown-Prince, exchanging
meaning looks with the nurse, who did not
understand at all, but stood frightened and
trembling with the tears in her eyes. "Nothing to
make your Majesty at all uneasy. No doubt his
Royal Highness will outgrow it in time."
"A slight delicacy--ahem!--in the spine;
something inherited, perhaps, from his dear
"Ah, she was always delicate; but she was the
sweetest woman that ever lived. Come here, my
little son."
And as the Prince turned round upon his
father a small, sweet, grave face,--so like his
mother's,--his Majesty the King smiled and
held out his arms. But when the boy came to
him, not running like a boy, but wriggling
awkwardly along the floor, the royal countenance
clouded over.
"I ought to have been told of this. It is
terrible--terrible! And for a prince too. Send for
all the doctors in my kingdom immediately."
They came, and each gave a different opinion
and ordered a different mode of treatment. The
only thing they agreed in was what had been
pretty well known before, that the Prince must
have been hurt when he was an infant--let fall,
perhaps, so as to injure his spine and lower
limbs. Did nobody remember?
No, nobody. Indignantly, all the nurses
denied that any such accident had happened, was
possible to have happened, until the faithful
country nurse recollected that it really had
happened on the day of the christening. For which
unluckily good memory all the others scolded her
so severely that she had no peace of her life, and
soon after, by the influence of the young lady
nurse who had carried the baby that fatal day,
and who was a sort of connection of the Crown-
Prince--being his wife's second cousin once
removed--the poor woman was pensioned off
and sent to the Beautiful Mountains from
whence she came, with orders to remain there
for the rest of her days.
But of all this the King knew nothing, for,
indeed, after the first shock of finding out that
his son could not walk, and seemed never likely
to he interfered very little concerning him.
The whole thing was too painful, and his Majesty
never liked painful things. Sometimes he
inquired after Prince Dolor, and they told him his
Royal Highness was going on as well as could be
expected, which really was the case. For, after
worrying the poor child and perplexing themselves
with one remedy after another, the Crown-
Prince, not wishing to offend any of the
differing doctors, had proposed leaving him to
Nature; and Nature, the safest doctor of all, had
come to his help and done her best.
He could not walk, it is true; his limbs were
mere useless appendages to his body; but the
body itself was strong and sound. And his face
was the same as ever--just his mother's face,
one of the sweetest in the world.
Even the King, indifferent as he was,
sometimes looked at the little fellow with sad
tenderness, noticing how cleverly he learned to crawl
and swing himself about by his arms, so that in
his own awkward way he was as active in motion
as most children of his age.
"Poor little man! he does his best, and he is
not unhappy--not half so unhappy as I,
brother," addressing the Crown-Prince, who
was more constant than ever in his attendance
upon the sick monarch. "If anything should
befall me, I have appointed you Regent. In case
of my death, you will take care of my poor little
"Certainly, certainly; but do not let us
imagine any such misfortune. I assure your Majesty
--everybody will assure you--that it is not in the
least likely."
He knew, however, and everybody knew, that
it was likely, and soon after it actually did
happen. The King died as suddenly and quietly as
the Queen had done--indeed, in her very room
and bed; and Prince Dolor was left without
either father or mother--as sad a thing as could
happen, even to a prince.
He was more than that now, though. He was
a king. In Nomansland, as in other countries,
the people were struck with grief one day and
revived the next. "The king is dead--long live
the king!" was the cry that rang through the
nation, and almost before his late Majesty had
been laid beside the Queen in their splendid
mausoleum, crowds came thronging from all parts
to the royal palace, eager to see the new monarch.
They did see him,--the Prince Regent took
care they should,--sitting on the floor of the
council chamber, sucking his thumb! And when
one of the gentlemen-in-waiting lifted him up
and carried him--fancy carrying a king!--to the
chair of state, and put the crown on his head, he
shook it off again, it was so heavy and
uncomfortable. Sliding down to the foot of the throne
he began playing with the golden lions that
supported it, stroking their paws and putting his
tiny fingers into their eyes, and laughing--
laughing as if he had at last found something to amuse
"There's a fine king for you!" said the first
lord-in-waiting, a friend of the Prince Regent's
(the Crown-Prince that used to be, who, in the
deepest mourning, stood silently beside the
throne of his young nephew. He was a handsome
man, very grand and clever-looking).
"What a king! who can never stand to receive
his subjects, never walk in processions, who to
the last day of his life will have to be carried
about like a baby. Very unfortunate!"
"Exceedingly unfortunate," repeated the
second lord. "It is always bad for a nation when
its king is a child; but such a child--a permanent
cripple, if not worse."
"Let us hope not worse," said the first lord
in a very hopeless tone, and looking toward the
Regent, who stood erect and pretended to hear
nothing. "I have heard that these sort of children
with very large heads, and great broad foreheads
and staring eyes, are--well, well, let us
hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.
In the meantime----"
"I swear," said the Crown-Prince, coming
forward and kissing the hilt of his sword--"I
swear to perform my duties as Regent, to take
all care of his Royal Highness--his Majesty, I
mean," with a grand bow to the little child, who
laughed innocently back again. "And I will do
my humble best to govern the country. Still, if
the country has the slightest objection----"
But the Crown-Prince being generalissimo,
having the whole army at his beck and call, so
that he could have begun a civil war in no time,
the country had, of course, not the slightest objection.
So the King and Queen slept together in peace,
and Prince Dolor reigned over the land--that is,
his uncle did; and everybody said what a
fortunate thing it was for the poor little Prince to
have such a clever uncle to take care of him.
All things went on as usual; indeed, after the
Regent had brought his wife and her seven sons,
and established them in the palace, rather better
than usual. For they gave such splendid
entertainments and made the capital so lively that
trade revived, and the country was said to be
more flourishing than it had been for a century.
Whenever the Regent and his sons appeared,
they were received with shouts: "Long live the
Crown-Prince!" "Long live the royal family!"
And, in truth, they were very fine children, the
whole seven of them, and made a great show
when they rode out together on seven beautiful
horses, one height above another, down to the
youngest, on his tiny black pony, no bigger than
a large dog.
As for the other child, his Royal Highness
Prince Dolor,--for somehow people soon ceased
to call him his Majesty, which seemed such a
ridiculous title for a poor little fellow, a helpless
cripple,--with only head and trunk, and no
legs to speak of,--he was seen very seldom by
Sometimes people daring enough to peer over
the high wall of the palace garden noticed there,
carried in a footman's arms, or drawn in a chair,
or left to play on the grass, often with nobody to
mind him, a pretty little boy, with a bright,
intelligent face and large, melancholy eyes--no,
not exactly melancholy, for they were his
mother's, and she was by no means sad-minded,
but thoughtful and dreamy. They rather
perplexed people, those childish eyes; they were so
exceedingly innocent and yet so penetrating.
If anybody did a wrong thing--told a lie, for
instance they would turn round with such a
grave, silent surprise the child never talked
much--that every naughty person in the palace
was rather afraid of Prince Dolor.
He could not help it, and perhaps he did not
even know it, being no better a child than many
other children, but there was something about
him which made bad people sorry, and grumbling
people ashamed of themselves, and illnatured
people gentle and kind.
I suppose because they were touched to see a
poor little fellow who did not in the least know
what had befallen him or what lay before him,
living his baby life as happy as the day is long.
Thus, whether or not he was good himself, the
sight of him and his affliction made other people
good, and, above all, made everybody love him
--so much so, that his uncle the Regent began
to feel a little uncomfortable.
Now, I have nothing to say against uncles in
general. They are usually very excellent
people, and very convenient to little boys and
girls. Even the "cruel uncle" of the "Babes in
the Wood" I believe to be quite an exceptional
character. And this "cruel uncle" of whom I
am telling was, I hope, an exception, too.
He did not mean to be cruel. If anybody had
called him so, he would have resented it
extremely: he would have said that what he did
was done entirely for the good of the country.
But he was a man who had always been
accustomed to consider himself first and foremost,
believing that whatever he wanted was sure to
be right, and therefore he ought to have it. So
he tried to get it, and got it too, as people like
him very often do. Whether they enjoy it when
they have it is another question.
Therefore he went one day to the council
chamber, determined on making a speech, and
informing the ministers and the country at
large that the young King was in failing health,
and that it would be advisable to send him for a
time to the Beautiful Mountains. Whether he
really meant to do this, or whether it occurred
to him afterward that there would be an easier
way of attaining his great desire, the crown of
Nomansland, is a point which I cannot decide.
But soon after, when he had obtained an
order in council to send the King away, which
was done in great state, with a guard of honor
composed of two whole regiments of soldiers,--
the nation learned, without much surprise, that
the poor little Prince--nobody ever called him
king now--had gone a much longer journey
than to the Beautiful Mountains.
He had fallen ill on the road and died within
a few hours; at least so declared the physician
in attendance and the nurse who had been sent
to take care of him. They brought his coffin
back in great state, and buried it in the
mausoleum with his parents.
So Prince Dolor was seen no more. The
country went into deep mourning for him, and
then forgot him, and his uncle reigned in his
stead. That illustrious personage accepted his
crown with great decorum, and wore it with
great dignity to the last. But whether he
enjoyed it or not there is no evidence to show.
And what of the little lame Prince,
whom everybody seemed so easily to
have forgotten?
Not everybody. There were a few
kind souls, mothers of families, who had heard
his sad story, and some servants about the palace,
who had been familiar with his sweet ways--
these many a time sighed and said, "Poor
Prince Dolor!" Or, looking at the Beautiful
Mountains, which were visible all over Nomansland,
though few people ever visited them,
"Well, perhaps his Royal Highness is better
where he is than even there."
They did not know--indeed, hardly anybody
did know--that beyond the mountains, between
them and the sea, lay a tract of country, barren,
level, bare, except for short, stunted grass, and
here and there a patch of tiny flowers. Not a
bush--not a tree not a resting place for bird
or beast was in that dreary plain. In summer
the sunshine fell upon it hour after hour with a
blinding glare; in winter the winds and rains
swept over it unhindered, and the snow came
down steadily, noiselessly, covering it from end
to end in one great white sheet, which lay for
days and weeks unmarked by a single footprint.
Not a pleasant place to live in--and nobody
did live there, apparently. The only sign that
human creatures had ever been near the spot
was one large round tower which rose up in the
center of the plain, and might be seen all over
it--if there had been anybody to see, which there
never was. Rose right up out of the ground, as
if it had grown of itself, like a mushroom. But
it was not at all mushroom-like; on the contrary,
it was very solidly built. In form it resembled
the Irish round towers, which have puzzled
people for so long, nobody being able to find out
when, or by whom, or for what purpose they
were made; seemingly for no use at all, like this
tower. It was circular, of very firm brickwork,
with neither doors nor windows, until near the
top, when you could perceive some slits in the
wall through which one might possibly creep in
or look out. Its height was nearly a hundred
feet, and it had a battlemented parapet showing
sharp against the sky.
As the plain was quite desolate--almost like
a desert, only without sand, and led to nowhere
except the still more desolate seacoast--nobody
ever crossed it. Whatever mystery there was
about the tower, it and the sky and the plain
kept their secret to themselves.
It was a very great secret indeed,--a state
secret,--which none but so clever a man as the
present King of Nomansland would ever have
thought of. How he carried it out, undiscovered,
I cannot tell. People said, long afterward,
that it was by means of a gang of
condemned criminals, who were set to work, and
executed immediately after they had done, so
that nobody knew anything, or in the least
suspected the real fact.
And what was the fact? Why, that this
tower, which seemed a mere mass of masonry,
utterly forsaken and uninhabited, was not so at
all. Within twenty feet of the top some
ingenious architect had planned a perfect little
house, divided into four rooms--as by drawing
a cross within a circle you will see might easily
be done. By making skylights, and a few slits
in the walls for windows, and raising a peaked
roof which was hidden by the parapet, here was
a dwelling complete, eighty feet from the
ground, and as inaccessible as a rook's nest on
the top of a tree.
A charming place to live in! if you once got
up there,--and never wanted to come down
Inside--though nobody could have looked
inside except a bird, and hardly even a bird flew
past that lonely tower--inside it was furnished
with all the comfort and elegance imaginable;
with lots of books and toys, and everything that
the heart of a child could desire. For its only
inhabitant, except a nurse of course, was a poor
solitary child.
One winter night, when all the plain was
white with moonlight, there was seen crossing
it a great tall black horse, ridden by a man also
big and equally black, carrying before him on
the saddle a woman and a child. The woman--
she had a sad, fierce look, and no wonder, for
she was a criminal under sentence of death, but
her sentence had been changed to almost as
severe a punishment. She was to inhabit the
lonely tower with the child, and was allowed to
live as long as the child lived--no longer. This
in order that she might take the utmost care of
him; for those who put him there were equally
afraid of his dying and of his living.
Yet he was only a little gentle boy, with a
sweet, sleepy smile--he had been very tired with
his long journey--and clinging arms, which
held tight to the man's neck, for he was rather
frightened, and the face, black as it was, looked
kindly at him. And he was very helpless, with
his poor, small shriveled legs, which could
neither stand nor run away--for the little
forlorn boy was Prince Dolor.
He had not been dead at all--or buried either.
His grand funeral had been a mere pretense: a
wax figure having been put in his place, while
he himself was spirited away under charge of
these two, the condemned woman and the black
man. The latter was deaf and dumb, so could
neither tell nor repeat anything.
When they reached the foot of the tower,
there was light enough to see a huge chain
dangling from the parapet, but dangling only
halfway. The deaf-mute took from his saddlewallet
a sort of ladder, arranged in pieces like
a puzzle, fitted it together, and lifted it up to
meet the chain. Then he mounted to the top of
the tower, and slung from it a sort of chair, in
which the woman and the child placed themselves
and were drawn up, never to come down
again as long as they lived. Leaving them there,
the man descended the ladder, took it to pieces
again and packed it in his pack, mounted the
horse and disappeared across the plain.
Every month they used to watch for him,
appearing like a speck in the distance. He
fastened his horse to the foot of the tower, and
climbed it, as before, laden with provisions and
many other things. He always saw the Prince,
so as to make sure that the child was alive and
well, and then went away until the following
While his first childhood lasted Prince Dolor
was happy enough. He had every luxury that
even a prince could need, and the one thing
wanting,--love,--never having known, he did
not miss. His nurse was very kind to him
though she was a wicked woman. But either
she had not been quite so wicked as people said,
or she grew better through being shut up
continually with a little innocent child who was
dependent upon her for every comfort and
pleasure of his life.
It was not an unhappy life. There was nobody
to tease or ill-use him, and he was never ill.
He played about from room to room--there
were four rooms, parlor, kitchen, his nurse's
bedroom, and his own; learned to crawl like a
fly, and to jump like a frog, and to run about on
all-fours almost as fast as a puppy. In fact, he
was very much like a puppy or a kitten, as
thoughtless and as merry--scarcely ever cross,
though sometimes a little weary.
As he grew older, he occasionally liked to be
quiet for a while, and then he would sit at the
slits of windows--which were, however, much
bigger than they looked from the bottom of the
tower--and watch the sky above and the ground
below, with the storms sweeping over and the
sunshine coming and going, and the shadows of
the clouds running races across the blank plain.
By and by he began to learn lessons--not that
his nurse had been ordered to teach him, but she
did it partly to amuse herself. She was not a
stupid woman, and Prince Dolor was by no
means a stupid boy; so they got on very well,
and his continual entreaty, "What can I do?
what can you find me to do?" was stopped, at
least for an hour or two in the day.
It was a dull life, but he had never known any
other; anyhow, he remembered no other, and he
did not pity himself at all. Not for a long time,
till he grew quite a big little boy, and could read
quite easily. Then he suddenly took to books,
which the deaf-mute brought him from time to
time--books which, not being acquainted with
the literature of Nomansland, I cannot describe,
but no doubt they were very interesting; and
they informed him of everything in the outside
world, and filled him with an intense longing to
see it.
From this time a change came over the boy.
He began to look sad and thin, and to shut himself
up for hours without speaking. For his
nurse hardly spoke, and whatever questions he
asked beyond their ordinary daily life she never
answered. She had, indeed, been forbidden, on
pain of death, to tell him anything about himself,
who he was, or what he might have been.
He knew he was Prince Dolor, because she
always addressed him as "My Prince" and
"Your Royal Highness," but what a prince was
he had not the least idea. He had no idea of
anything in the world, except what he found in
his books.
He sat one day surrounded by them, having
built them up round him like a little castle wall.
He had been reading them half the day, but
feeling all the while that to read about things
which you never can see is like hearing about a
beautiful dinner while you are starving. For
almost the first time in his life he grew
melancholy; his hands fell on his lap; he sat gazing
out of the window-slit upon the view outside--
the view he had looked at every day of his life,
and might look at for endless days more.
Not a very cheerful view,--just the plain and
the sky,--but he liked it. He used to think, if
he could only fly out of that window, up to the
sky or down to the plain, how nice it would be!
Perhaps when he died--his nurse had told him
once in anger that he would never leave the
tower till he died--he might be able to do this.
Not that he understood much what dying meant,
but it must be a change, and any change seemed
to him a blessing.
"And I wish I had somebody to tell me all
about it--about that and many other things;
somebody that would be fond of me, like my
poor white kitten."
Here the tears came into his eyes, for the
boy's one friend, the one interest of his life, had
been a little white kitten, which the deaf-mute,
kindly smiling, once took out of his pocket and
gave him--the only living creature Prince
Dolor had ever seen.
For four weeks it was his constant plaything
and companion, till one moonlight night it took
a fancy for wandering, climbed on to the parapet
of the tower, dropped over and disappeared.
It was not killed, he hoped, for cats
have nine lives; indeed, he almost fancied he
saw it pick itself up and scamper away; but he
never caught sight of it more.
"Yes, I wish I had something better than a
kitten--a person, a real live person, who would
be fond of me and kind to me. Oh, I want somebody--
dreadfully, dreadfully!"
As he spoke, there sounded behind him a
slight tap-tap-tap, as of a stick or a cane, and
twisting himself round, he saw--what do you
think he saw?
Nothing either frightening or ugly, but still
exceedingly curious. A little woman, no bigger
than he might himself have been had his legs
grown like those of other children; but she was
not a child--she was an old woman. Her hair
was gray, and her dress was gray, and there
was a gray shadow over her wherever she
moved. But she had the sweetest smile, the
prettiest hands, and when she spoke it was in
the softest voice imaginable.
"My dear little boy,"--and dropping her
cane, the only bright and rich thing about her,
she laid those two tiny hands on his shoulders,
--"my own little boy, I could not come to you
until you had said you wanted me; but now you
do want me, here I am."
"And you are very welcome, madam," replied
the Prince, trying to speak politely, as princes
always did in books; "and I am exceedingly
obliged to you. May I ask who you are? Perhaps
my mother?" For he knew that little boys
usually had a mother, and had occasionally wondered
what had become of his own.
"No," said the visitor, with a tender, halfsad
smile, putting back the hair from his forehead,
and looking right into his eyes--"no, I am
not your mother, though she was a dear friend
of mine; and you are as like her as ever you can
"Will you tell her to come and see me, then?"
"She cannot; but I dare say she knows all
about you. And she loves you very much--and
so do I; and I want to help you all I can,
my poor little boy."
"Why do you call me poor?" asked Prince
Dolor, in surprise.
The little old woman glanced down on his legs
and feet, which he did not know were different
from those of other children, and then at his
sweet, bright face, which, though he knew not
that either, was exceedingly different from
many children's faces, which are often so fretful,
cross, sullen. Looking at him, instead of
sighing, she smiled. "I beg your pardon, my
Prince," said she.
"Yes, I am a prince, and my name is Dolor;
will you tell me yours, madam?"
The little old woman laughed like a chime of
silver bells.
"I have not got a name--or, rather, I have so
many names that I don't know which to choose.
However, it was I who gave you yours, and you
will belong to me all your days. I am your godmother."
"Hurrah!" cried the little Prince; "I am
glad I belong to you, for I like you very much.
Will you come and play with me?"
So they sat down together and played. By
and by they began to talk.
"Are you very dull here?" asked the little old
"Not particularly, thank you, godmother. I
have plenty to eat and drink, and my lessons to
do, and my books to read--lots of books."
"And you want nothing?"
"Nothing. Yes--perhaps---- If you please,
godmother, could you bring me just one more
"What sort of thing!"
"A little boy to play with."
The old woman looked very sad. "Just the
thing, alas I which I cannot give you. My child,
I cannot alter your lot in any way, but I can help
you to bear it."
"Thank you. But why do you talk of bearing
it? I have nothing to bear."
"My poor little man!" said the old woman in
the very tenderest tone of her tender voice.
"Kiss me!"
"What is kissing?" asked the wondering
His godmother took him in her arms and
embraced him many times. By and by he kissed
her back again--at first awkwardly and shyly,
then with all the strength of his warm little
"You are better to cuddle than even my white
kitten, I think. Promise me that you will never
go away,"
"I must; but I will leave a present behind
me,--something as good as myself to amuse you,
--something that will take you wherever you
want to go, and show you all that you wish to
"What is it?"
"A traveling-cloak."
The Prince's countenance fell. "I don't want
a cloak, for I never go out. Sometimes nurse
hoists me on to the roof, and carries me round
by the parapet; but that is all. I can't walk,
you know, as she does."
"The more reason why you should ride; and
besides, this traveling-cloak----"
"Hush!--she's coming."
There sounded outside the room door a heavy
step and a grumpy voice, and a rattle of plates
and dishes.
"It's my nurse, and she is bringing my
dinner; but I don't want dinner at all--I only want
you. Will her coming drive you away, godmother?"
"Perhaps; but only for a little while. Never
mind; all the bolts and bars in the world couldn't
keep me out. I'd fly in at the window, or down
through the chimney. Only wish for me, and I
"Thank you," said Prince Dolor, but almost
in a whisper, for he was very uneasy at what
might happen next. His nurse and his godmother--
what would they say to one another?
how would they look at one another?--two such
different faces: one harsh-lined, sullen, cross,
and sad; the other sweet and bright and calm
as a summer evening before the dark begins.
When the door was flung open, Prince Dolor
shut his eyes, trembling all over; opening them
again, he saw he need fear nothing--his lovely
old godmother had melted away just like the
rainbow out of the sky, as he had watched it
many a time. Nobody but his nurse was in the
"What a muddle your Royal Highness is sitting
in," said she sharply. "Such a heap of untidy
books; and what's this rubbish?" knocking
a little bundle that lay beside them.
"Oh, nothing, nothing--give it me!" cried
the Prince, and, darting after it, he hid it under
his pinafore, and then pushed it quickly into his
pocket. Rubbish as it was, it was left in the
place where she sat, and might be something
belonging to her--his dear, kind godmother,
whom already he loved with all his lonely,
tender, passionate heart.
It was, though he did not know this, his
wonderful traveling-cloak.
And what of the traveling-cloak?
What sort of cloak was it, and what
A good did it do the Prince?
Stay, and I'll tell you all about it.
Outside it was the commonest-looking bundle
imaginable--shabby and small; and the instant
Prince Dolor touched it, it grew smaller still,
dwindling down till he could put it in his trousers
pocket, like a handkerchief rolled up into
a ball. He did this at once, for fear his nurse
should see it, and kept it there all day--all
night, too. Till after his next morning's lessons
he had no opportunity of examining his treasure.
When he did, it seemed no treasure at all; but
a mere piece of cloth--circular in form, dark
green in color--that is, if it had any color at all,
being so worn and shabby, though not dirty. It
had a split cut to the center, forming a round
hole for the neck--and that was all its shape; the
shape, in fact, of those cloaks which in South
America are called ponchos--very simple, but
most graceful and convenient.
Prince Dolor had never seen anything like it.
In spite of his disappointment, he examined it
curiously; spread it out on the door, then
arranged it on his shoulders. It felt very warm
and comfortable; but it was so exceedingly
shabby--the only shabby thing that the Prince
had ever seen in his life.
"And what use will it be to me?" said he
sadly. "I have no need of outdoor clothes, as I
never go out. Why was this given me, I wonder?
and what in the world am I to do with it? She
must be a rather funny person, this dear godmother
of mine."
Nevertheless, because she was his godmother,
and had given him the cloak, he folded it carefully
and put it away, poor and shabby as it was,
hiding it in a safe corner of his top cupboard,
which his nurse never meddled with. He did
not want her to find it, or to laugh at it or at his
godmother--as he felt sure she would, if she
knew all.
There it lay, and by and by he forgot all about
it; nay, I am sorry to say that, being but a child,
and not seeing her again, he almost forgot his
sweet old godmother, or thought of her only as
he did of the angels or fairies that he read of in
his books, and of her visit as if it had been a
mere dream of the night.
There were times, certainly, when he recalled
her: of early mornings, like that morning when
she appeared beside him, and late evenings,
when the gray twilight reminded him of the
color of her hair and her pretty soft garments;
above all, when, waking in the middle of the
night, with the stars peering in at his window,
or the moonlight shining across his little bed,
he would not have been surprised to see her
standing beside it, looking at him with those
beautiful tender eyes, which seemed to have a
pleasantness and comfort in them different
from anything he had ever known.
But she never came, and gradually she slipped
out of his memory--only a boy's memory, after
all; until something happened which made him
remember her, and want her as he had never
wanted anything before.
Prince Dolor fell ill. He caught--his nurse
could not tell how--a complaint common to the
people of Nomansland, called the doldrums, as
unpleasant as measles or any other of our
complaints; and it made him restless, cross, and
disagreeable. Even when a little better, he was
too weak to enjoy anything, but lay all day long
on his sofa, fidgeting his nurse extremely--
while, in her intense terror lest he might die, she
fidgeted him still more. At last, seeing he really
was getting well, she left him to himself--which
he was most glad of, in spite of his dullness and
dreariness. There he lay, alone, quite alone.
Now and then an irritable fit came over him,
in which he longed to get up and do something,
or to go somewhere--would have liked to imitate
his white kitten--jump down from the tower
and run away, taking the chance of whatever
might happen.
Only one thing, alas! was likely to happen;
for the kitten, he remembered, had four active
legs, while he----
"I wonder what my godmother meant when
she looked at my legs and sighed so bitterly? I
wonder why I can't walk straight and steady
like my nurse only I wouldn't like to have her
great, noisy, clumping shoes. Still it would be
very nice to move about quickly--perhaps to
fly, like a bird, like that string of birds I saw
the other day skimming across the sky, one after
the other."
These were the passage-birds--the only living
creatures that ever crossed the lonely plain; and
he had been much interested in them, wondering
whence they came and whither they were
"How nice it must be to be a bird! If legs are
no good, why cannot one have wings? People
have wings when they die--perhaps; I wish I
were dead, that I do. I am so tired, so tired;
and nobody cares for me. Nobody ever did care
for me, except perhaps my godmother. Godmother,
dear, have you quite forsaken me?"
He stretched himself wearily, gathered
himself up, and dropped his head upon his hands;
as he did so, he felt somebody kiss him at the
back of his neck, and, turning, found that he
was resting, not on the sofa pillows, but on a
warm shoulder--that of the little old woman
clothed in gray.
How glad he was to see her! How he looked
into her kind eyes and felt her hands, to see if
she were all real and alive! then put both his
arms round her neck, and kissed her as if he
would never have done kissing.
"Stop, stop!" cried she, pretending to be
smothered. "I see you have not forgotten my
teachings. Kissing is a good thing--in moderation.
Only just let me have breath to speak one
"A dozen!" he said.
"Well, then, tell me all that has happened to
you since I saw you--or, rather, since you saw
me, which is quite a different thing."
"Nothing has happened--nothing ever does
happen to me," answered the Prince dolefully.
"And are you very dull, my boy?"
"So dull that I was just thinking whether I
could not jump down to the bottom of the tower,
like my white kitten."
"Don't do that, not being a white kitten."
"I wish I were--I wish I were anything but
what I am."
"And you can't make yourself any different,
nor can I do it either. You must be content to
stay just what you are."
The little old woman said this--very firmly,
but gently, too--with her arms round his neck
and her lips on his forehead. It was the first
time the boy had ever heard any one talk like
this, and he looked up in surprise--but not in
pain, for her sweet manner softened the hardness
of her words.
"Now, my Prince,--for you are a prince,
and must behave as such,--let us see what we
can do; how much I can do for you, or show you
how to do for yourself. Where is your
Prince Dolor blushed extremely. "I--I put
it away in the cupboard; I suppose it is there
"You have never used it; you dislike it?"
He hesitated, no; wishing to be impolite.
"Don't you think it's--just a little old and
shabby for a prince?"
The old woman laughed--long and loud,
though very sweetly.
"Prince, indeed! Why, if all the princes in
the world craved for it, they couldn't get it,
unless I gave it them. Old and shabby! It's the
most valuable thing imaginable! Very few ever
have it; but I thought I would give it to you,
because--because you are different from other
"Am I?" said the Prince, and looked first
with curiosity, then with a sort of anxiety, into
his godmother's face, which was sad and grave,
with slow tears beginning to steal down.
She touched his poor little legs. "These are
not like those of other little boys."
"Indeed!--my nurse never told me that."
"Very likely not. But it is time you were
told; and I tell you, because I love you."
"Tell me what, dear godmother?"
"That you will never be able to walk or run
or jump or play--that your life will be quite
different from most people's lives; but it may
be a very happy life for all that. Do not be
"I am not afraid," said the boy; but he
turned very pale, and his lips began to quiver,
though he did not actually cry--he was too old
for that, and, perhaps, too proud.
Though not wholly comprehending, he began
dimly to guess what his godmother meant. He
had never seen any real live boys, but he had
seen pictures of them running and jumping;
which he had admired and tried hard to imitate
but always failed. Now he began to understand
why he failed, and that he always should fail--
that, in fact, he was not like other little boys;
and it was of no use his wishing to do as they
did, and play as they played, even if he had had
them to play with. His was a separate life, in
which he must find out new work and new pleasures
for himself.
The sense of THE INEVITABLE, as grown-up
people call it--that we cannot have things as we
want them to be, but as they are, and that we
must learn to bear them and make the best of
them--this lesson, which everybody has to learn
soon or late--came, alas! sadly soon, to the poor
boy. He fought against it for a while, and then,
quite overcome, turned and sobbed bitterly in
his godmother's arms.
She comforted him--I do not know how,
except that love always comforts; and then she
whispered to him, in her sweet, strong, cheerful
voice: "Never mind!"
"No, I don't think I do mind--that is, I WON'T
mind," replied he, catching the courage of her
tone and speaking like a man, though he was
still such a mere boy.
"That is right, my Prince!--that is being like
a prince. Now we know exactly where we are;
let us put our shoulders to the wheel and----"
"We are in Hopeless Tower" (this was its
name, if it had a name), "and there is no wheel
to put our shoulders to," said the child sadly.
"You little matter-of-fact goose! Well for
you that you have a godmother called----"
"What?" he eagerly asked.
"Stuff-and-nonsense! What a funny name!"
"Some people give it me, but they are not my
most intimate friends. These call me--never
mind what," added the old woman, with a soft
twinkle in her eyes. "So as you know me, and
know me well, you may give me any name you
please; it doesn't matter. But I am your
godmother, child. I have few godchildren; those I
have love me dearly, and find me the greatest
blessing in all the world."
"I can well believe it," cried the little lame
Prince, and forgot his troubles in looking at
her--as her figure dilated, her eyes grew lustrous
as stars, her very raiment brightened, and
the whole room seemed filled with her beautiful
and beneficent presence like light.
He could have looked at her forever--half in
love, half in awe; but she suddenly dwindled
down into the little old woman all in gray, and,
with a malicious twinkle in her eyes, asked for
the traveling-cloak.
"Bring it out of the rubbish cupboard, and
shake the dust off it, quick!" said she to Prince
Dolor, who hung his head, rather ashamed.
"Spread it out on the floor, and wait till the
split closes and the edges turn up like a rim all
round. Then go and open the skylight,--mind,
I say OPEN THE SKYLIGHT,--set yourself down in
the middle of it, like a frog on a water-lily leaf;
say `Abracadabra, dum dum dum,' and--see
what will happen!"
The Prince burst into a fit of laughing. It
all seemed so exceedingly silly; he wondered
that a wise old woman like his godmother should
talk such nonsense.
"Stuff-and-nonsense, you mean," said she,
answering, to his great alarm, his unspoken
thoughts. "Did I not tell you some people
called me by that name? Never mind; it
doesn't harm me."
And she laughed--her merry laugh--as childlike
as if she were the Prince's age instead of
her own, whatever that might be. She
certainly was a most extraordinary old woman.
"Believe me or not, it doesn't matter," said
she. "Here is the cloak: when you want to go
traveling on it, say `Abracadabra, dum, dum,
dum'; when you want to come back again, say
`Abracadabra, tum tum ti.' That's all; good-by."
A puff of most pleasant air passing by him.
and making him feel for the moment quite
strong and well, was all the Prince was conscious
of. His most extraordinary godmother
was gone.
"Really now, how rosy your Royal Highness'
cheeks have grown! You seem to have got well
already," said the nurse, entering the room.
"I think I have," replied the Prince very
gently--he felt gently and kindly even to his
grim nurse. "And now let me have my dinner,
and go you to your sewing as usual."
The instant she was gone, however, taking
with her the plates and dishes, which for the first
time since his illness he had satisfactorily
cleared, Prince Dolor sprang down from his
sofa, and with one or two of his frog-like jumps
reached the cupboard where he kept his toys,
and looked everywhere for his traveling-cloak.
Alas! it was not there.
While he was ill of the doldrums, his nurse,
thinking it a good opportunity for putting
things to rights, had made a grand clearance of
all his "rubbish"--as she considered it: his
beloved headless horses, broken carts, sheep
without feet, and birds without wings--all the
treasures of his baby days, which he could not
bear to part with. Though he seldom played
with them now, he liked just to feel they were
They were all gone and with them the
traveling-cloak. He sat down on the floor, looking
at the empty shelves, so beautifully clean
and tidy, then burst out sobbing as if his heart
would break.
But quietly--always quietly. He never let
his nurse hear him cry. She only laughed at
him, as he felt she would laugh now.
"And it is all my own fault!" he cried. "I
ought to have taken better care of my godmother's
gift. Oh, godmother, forgive me! I'll
never be so careless again. I don't know what
the cloak is exactly, but I am sure it is something
precious. Help me to find it again. Oh,
don't let it be stolen from me--don't, please!"
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed a silvery voice. "Why,
that traveling-cloak is the one thing in the world
which nobody can steal. It is of no use to
anybody except the owner. Open your eyes, my
Prince, and see what you shall see."
His dear old godmother, he thought, and
turned eagerly round. But no; he only beheld,
lying in a corner of the room, all dust and
cobwebs, his precious traveling-cloak.
Prince Dolor darted toward it, tumbling
several times on the way, as he often did tumble,
poor boy! and pick himself up again, never
complaining. Snatching it to his breast, he
hugged and kissed it, cobwebs and all, as if it
had been something alive. Then he began
unrolling it, wondering each minute what would
happen. What did happen was so curious that
I must leave it for another chapter.
If any reader, big or little, should wonder
whether there is a meaning in this story
deeper than that of an ordinary fairy tale,
I will own that there is. But I have hidden
it so carefully that the smaller people, and
many larger folk, will never find it out, and
meantime the book may be read straight on, like
"Cinderella," or "Blue-Beard," or "Hop-o'-
my-Thumb," for what interest it has, or what
amusement it may bring.
Having said this, I return to Prince Dolor,
that little lame boy whom many may think so
exceedingly to be pitied. But if you had seen
him as he sat patiently untying his wonderful
cloak, which was done up in a very tight and
perplexing parcel, using skillfully his deft little
hands, and knitting his brows with firm
determination, while his eyes glistened with pleasure
and energy and eager anticipation--if you had
beheld him thus, you might have changed your
When we see people suffering or unfortunate,
we feel very sorry for them; but when we see
them bravely bearing their sufferings and making
the best of their misfortunes, it is quite a
different feeling. We respect, we admire them.
One can respect and admire even a little child.
When Prince Dolor had patiently untied all
the knots, a remarkable thing happened. The
cloak began to undo itself. Slowly unfolding,
it laid itself down on the carpet, as flat as if it
had been ironed; the split joined with a little
sharp crick-crack, and the rim turned up all
round till it was breast-high; for meantime the
cloak had grown and grown, and become quite
large enough for one person to sit in it as
comfortable as if in a boat.
The Prince watched it rather anxiously; it
was such an extraordinary, not to say a frightening,
thing. However, he was no coward, but
a thorough boy, who, if he had been like other
boys, would doubtless have grown up daring and
adventurous--a soldier, a sailor, or the like. As
it was, he could only show his courage morally,
not physically, by being afraid of nothing, and
by doing boldly all that it was in his narrow
powers to do. And I am not sure but that in
this way he showed more real valor than if he
had had six pairs of proper legs.
He said to himself: "What a goose I am ! As
if my dear godmother would ever have given me
anything to hurt me. Here goes!"
So, with one of his active leaps, he sprang
right into the middle of the cloak, where he
squatted down, wrapping his arms tight round
his knees, for they shook a little and his heart
beat fast. But there he sat, steady and silent,
waiting for what might happen next.
Nothing did happen, and he began to think
nothing would, and to feel rather disappointed,
when he recollected the words he had been told
to repeat--"Abracadabra, dum dum dum!"
He repeated them, laughing all the while, they
seemed such nonsense. And then--and
Now I don't expect anybody to believe what
I am going to relate, though a good many wise
people have believed a good many sillier things.
And as seeing's believing, and I never saw it, I
cannot be expected implicitly to believe it
myself, except in a sort of a way; and yet there is
truth in it--for some people.
The cloak rose, slowly and steadily, at first
only a few inches, then gradually higher and
higher, till it nearly touched the skylight.
Prince Dolor's head actually bumped against
the glass, or would have done so had he not
crouched down, crying "Oh, please don't hurt
me!" in a most melancholy voice.
Then he suddenly remembered his godmother's
express command--"Open the skylight!"
Regaining his courage at once, without a
moment's delay he lifted up his head and began
searching for the bolt--the cloak meanwhile
remaining perfectly still, balanced in the air.
But the minute the window was opened, out it
sailed--right out into the clear, fresh air, with
nothing between it and the cloudless blue.
Prince Dolor had never felt any such
delicious sensation before. I can understand it.
Cannot you? Did you never think, in watching
the rooks going home singly or in pairs, soaring
their way across the calm evening sky till they
vanish like black dots in the misty gray, how
pleasant it must feel to be up there, quite out of
the noise and din of the world, able to hear and
see everything down below, yet troubled by
nothing and teased by no one--all alone, but
perfectly content?
Something like this was the happiness of the
little lame Prince when he got out of Hopeless
Tower, and found himself for the first time in
the pure open air, with the sky above him and
the earth below.
True, there was nothing but earth and sky; no
houses, no trees, no rivers, mountains, seas--
not a beast on the ground, or a bird in the air.
But to him even the level plain looked beautiful;
and then there was the glorious arch of the sky,
with a little young moon sitting in the west like
a baby queen. And the evening breeze was so
sweet and fresh--it kissed him like his
godmother's kisses; and by and by a few stars came
out--first two or three, and then quantities--
quantities! so that when he began to count them
he was utterly bewildered.
By this time, however, the cool breeze had
become cold; the mist gathered; and as he had, as
he said, no outdoor clothes, poor Prince Dolor
was not very comfortable. The dews fell damp
on his curls--he began to shiver.
"Perhaps I had better go home," thought he.
But how? For in his excitement the other
words which his godmother had told him to use
had slipped his memory. They were only a little
different from the first, but in that slight
difference all the importance lay. As he repeated
his "Abracadabra," trying ever so many other
syllables after it, the cloak only went faster
and faster, skimming on through the dusky,
empty air.
The poor little Prince began to feel
frightened. What if his wonderful traveling-cloak
should keep on thus traveling, perhaps to the
world's end, carrying with it a poor, tired,
hungry boy, who, after all, was beginning to
think there was something very pleasant in
supper and bed!
"Dear godmother," he cried pitifully, "do
help me! Tell me just this once and I'll never
forget again."
Instantly the words came rushing into his
head--"Abracadabra, tum tum ti!" Was that
it? Ah! yes--for the cloak began to turn slowly.
He repeated the charm again, more distinctly
and firmly, when it gave a gentle dip, like a nod
of satisfaction, and immediately started back,
as fast as ever, in the direction of the tower.
He reached the skylight, which he found
exactly as he had left it, and slipped in, cloak and
all, as easily as he had got out. He had scarcely
reached the floor, and was still sitting in the
middle of his traveling-cloak,--like a frog on a
water-lily leaf, as his godmother had expressed
it,--when he heard his nurse's voice outside.
"Bless us! what has become of your Royal
Highness all this time? To sit stupidly here at
the window till it is quite dark, and leave the
skylight open, too. Prince! what can you be
thinking of? You are the silliest boy I ever
"Am I?" said he absently, and never heeding
her crossness; for his only anxiety was lest she
might find out anything.
She would have been a very clever person to
have done so. The instant Prince Dolor got off
it, the cloak folded itself up into the tiniest
possible parcel, tied all its own knots, and rolled
itself of its own accord into the farthest and
darkest corner of the room. If the nurse had
seen it, which she didn't, she would have taken
it for a mere bundle of rubbish not worth noticing.
Shutting the skylight with an angry bang, she
brought in the supper and lit the candles with
her usual unhappy expression of countenance.
But Prince Dolor hardly saw it; he only saw,
hid in the corner where nobody else would see it,
his wonderful traveling-cloak. And though his
supper was not particularly nice, he ate it
heartily, scarcely hearing a word of his nurse's
grumbling, which to-night seemed to have taken
the place of her sullen silence.
"Poor woman!" he thought, when he paused
a minute to listen and look at her with those
quiet, happy eyes, so like his mother's. "Poor
woman! she hasn't got a traveling-cloak!"
And when he was left alone at last, and crept
into his little bed, where he lay awake a good
while, watching what he called his "skygarden,"
all planted with stars, like flowers, his
chief thought was--"I must be up very early
to-morrow morning, and get my lessons done,
and then I'll go traveling all over the world on
my beautiful cloak."
So next day he opened his eyes with the sun,
and went with a good heart to his lessons. They
had hitherto been the chief amusement of his
dull life; now, I am afraid, he found them also
a little dull. But he tried to be good,--I don't
say Prince Dolor always was good, but he
generally tried to be,--and when his mind went
wandering after the dark, dusty corner where
lay his precious treasure, he resolutely called it
back again.
"For," he said, "how ashamed my godmother
would be of me if I grew up a stupid
But the instant lessons were done, and he was
alone in the empty room, he crept across the
floor, undid the shabby little bundle, his fingers
trembling with eagerness, climbed on the chair,
and thence to the table, so as to unbar the
skylight,--he forgot nothing now,--said his magic
charm, and was away out of the window, as children
say, "in a few minutes less than no time."
Nobody missed him. He was accustomed to
sit so quietly always that his nurse, though only
in the next room, perceived no difference. And
besides, she might have gone in and out a dozen
times, and it would have been just the same;
she never could have found out his absence.
For what do you think the clever godmother
did? She took a quantity of moonshine, or some
equally convenient material, and made an image,
which she set on the window-sill reading, or
by the table drawing, where it looked so like
Prince Dolor that any common observer would
never have guessed the deception; and even the
boy would have been puzzled to know which was
the image and which was himself.
And all this while the happy little fellow was
away, floating in the air on his magic cloak, and
seeing all sorts of wonderful things--or they
seemed wonderful to him, who had hitherto seen
nothing at all.
First, there were the flowers that grew on the
plain, which, whenever the cloak came near
enough, he strained his eyes to look at; they
were very tiny, but very beautiful--white
saxifrage, and yellow lotus, and ground-thistles,
purple and bright, with many others the names
of which I do not know. No more did Prince
Dolor, though he tried to find them out by
recalling any pictures he had seen of them. But
he was too far off; and though it was pleasant
enough to admire them as brilliant patches of
color, still he would have liked to examine them
all. He was, as a little girl I know once said of
a playfellow, "a very examining boy."
"I wonder," he thought, "whether I could see
better through a pair of glasses like those my
nurse reads with, and takes such care of. How
I would take care of them, too, if I only had
a pair!"
Immediately he felt something queer and
hard fixing itself to the bridge of his nose. It
was a pair of the prettiest gold spectacles ever
seen; and looking downward, he found that,
though ever so high above the ground, he could
see every minute blade of grass, every tiny bud
and flower--nay, even the insects that walked
over them.
"Thank you, thank you!" he cried, in a gush
of gratitude--to anybody or everybody, but
especially to his dear godmother, who he felt
sure had given him this new present. He
amused himself with it for ever so long, with
his chin pressed on the rim of the cloak, gazing
down upon the grass, every square foot of which
was a mine of wonders.
Then, just to rest his eyes, he turned them up
to the sky--the blue, bright, empty sky, which
he had looked at so often and seen nothing.
Now surely there was something. A long,
black, wavy line, moving on in the distance, not
by chance, as the clouds move apparently, but
deliberately, as if it were alive. He might have
seen it before--he almost thought he had; but
then he could not tell what it was. Looking at
it through his spectacles, he discovered that
it really was alive; being a long string of birds,
flying one after the other, their wings moving
steadily and their heads pointed in one direction,
as steadily as if each were a little ship,
guided invisibly by an unerring helm.
"They must be the passage-birds flying
seaward!" cried the boy, who had read a little
about them, and had a great talent for putting
two and two together and finding out all he
could. "Oh, how I should like to see them quite
close, and to know where they come from and
whither they are going! How I wish I knew
everything in all the world!"
A silly speech for even an "examining" little
boy to make; because, as we grow older, the
more we know the more we find out there is to
know. And Prince Dolor blushed when he had
said it, and hoped nobody had heard him.
Apparently somebody had, however; for the
cloak gave a sudden bound forward, and presently
he found himself high in the air, in the
very middle of that band of aerial travelers, who
had mo magic cloak to travel on--nothing except
their wings. Yet there they were, making their
fearless way through the sky.
Prince Dolor looked at them as one after the
other they glided past him; and they looked at
him--those pretty swallows, with their changing
necks and bright eyes--as if wondering to meet
in mid-air such an extraordinary sort of bird.
"Oh, I wish I were going with you, you lovely
creatures! I'm getting so tired of this dull
plain, and the dreary and lonely tower. I do
so want to see the world! Pretty swallows,
dear swallows! tell me what it looks like--the
beautiful, wonderful world!"
But the swallows flew past him--steadily,
slowly pursuing their course as if inside each
little head had been a mariner's compass, to
guide them safe over land and sea, direct to the
place where they wished to go.
The boy looked after them with envy. For a
long time he followed with his eyes the faint,
wavy black line as it floated away, sometimes
changing its curves a little, but never deviating
from its settled course, till it vanished entirely
out of sight.
Then he settled himself down in the center of
the cloak, feeling quite sad and lonely.
"I think I'll go home," said he, and repeated
his "Abracadabra, tum tum ti!" with a rather
heavy heart. The more he had, the more he
wanted; and it is not always one can have everything
one wants--at least, at the exact minute
one craves for it; not even though one is a
prince, and has a powerful and beneficent godmother.
He did not like to vex her by calling for her
and telling her how unhappy he was, in spite of
all her goodness; so he just kept his trouble to
himself, went back to his lonely tower, and
spent three days in silent melancholy, without
even attempting another journey on his
The fourth day it happened that the
deaf-mute paid his accustomed visit,
after which Prince Dolor's spirits
rose. They always did when he got
the new books which, just to relieve his
conscience, the King of Nomansland regularly sent
to his nephew; with many new toys also, though
the latter were disregarded now.
"Toys, indeed! when I'm a big boy," said
the Prince, with disdain, and would scarcely
condescend to mount a rocking-horse which had
come, somehow or other,--I can't be expected
to explain things very exactly,--packed on the
back of the other, the great black horse, which
stood and fed contentedly at the bottom of the
Prince Dolor leaned over and looked at it, and
thought how grand it must be to get upon its
back--this grand live steed--and ride away,
like the pictures of knights.
"Suppose I was a knight," he said to himself;
"then I should be obliged to ride out and see the
But he kept all these thoughts to himself, and
just sat still, devouring his new books till he
had come to the end of them all. It was a repast
not unlike the Barmecide's feast which you
read of in the "Arabian Nights," which
consisted of very elegant but empty dishes, or that
supper of Sancho Panza in "Don Quixote,"
where, the minute the smoking dishes came on
the table, the physician waved his hand and they
were all taken away.
Thus almost all the ordinary delights of boylife
had been taken away from, or rather never
given to this poor little prince.
"I wonder," he would sometimes think--"I
wonder what it feels like to be on the back of a
horse, galloping away, or holding the reins in a
carriage, and tearing across the country, or
jumping a ditch, or running a race, such as I
read of or see in pictures. What a lot of things
there are that I should like to do! But first I
should like to go and see the world. I'll try."
Apparently it was his godmother's plan
always to let him try, and try hard, before he
gained anything. This day the knots that tied
up his traveling-cloak were more than usually
troublesome, and he was a full half-hour before
he got out into the open air, and found himself
floating merrily over the top of the tower.
Hitherto, in all his journeys, he had never
let himself go out of sight of home, for the
dreary building, after all, was home--he remembered
no other; but now he felt sick of the very
look of his tower, with its round smooth walls
and level battlements.
"Off we go!" cried he, when the cloak stirred
itself with a slight, slow motion, as if waiting his
orders. "Anywhere anywhere, so that I am
away from here, and out into the world."
As he spoke, the cloak, as if seized suddenly
with a new idea, bounded forward and went
skimming through the air, faster than the very
fastest railway train.
"Gee-up! gee-up!" cried Prince Dolor in
great excitement. "This is as good as riding a
And he patted the cloak as if it had been a
horse--that is, in the way he supposed horses
ought to be patted--and tossed his head back
to meet the fresh breeze, and pulled his coat
collar up and his hat down as he felt the wind
grow keener and colder--colder than anything he
had ever known.
"What does it matter, though?" said he.
"I'm a boy, and boys ought not to mind anything."
Still, for all his good-will, by and by, he began
to shiver exceedingly; also, he had come away
without his dinner, and he grew frightfully
hungry. And to add to everything, the sunshiny
day changed into rain, and being high
up, in the very midst of the clouds, he got soaked
through and through in a very few minutes.
"Shall I turn back?" meditated he.
"Suppose I say `Abracadabra?' "
Here he stopped, for already the cloak gave
an obedient lurch, as if it were expecting to be
sent home immediately.
"No--I can't--I can't go back! I must go
forward and see the world. But oh! if I had
but the shabbiest old rug to shelter me from the
rain, or the driest morsel of bread and cheese,
just to keep me from starving! Still, I don't
much mind; I'm a prince, and ought to be able
to stand anything. Hold on, cloak, we'll make
the best of it."
It was a most curious circumstance, but no
sooner had he said this than he felt stealing over
his knees something warm and soft; in fact, a
most beautiful bearskin, which folded itself
round him quite naturally, and cuddled him up
as closely as if he had been the cub of the kind
old mother-bear that once owned it. Then feeling
in his pocket, which suddenly stuck out in
a marvelous way, he found, not exactly bread
and cheese, nor even sandwiches, but a packet
of the most delicious food he had ever tasted.
It was not meat, nor pudding, but a combination
of both, and it served him excellently for
both. He ate his dinner with the greatest
gusto imaginable, till he grew so thirsty he did
not know what to do.
"Couldn't I have just one drop of water, if
it didn't trouble you too much, kindest of godmothers?"
For he really thought this want was beyond
her power to supply. All the water which supplied
Hopeless Tower was pumped up with difficulty
from a deep artesian well--there were
such things known in Nomansland--which had
been made at the foot of it. But around, for
miles upon miles, the desolate plain was perfectly
dry. And above it, high in the air, how
could he expect to find a well, or to get even
a drop of water?
He forgot one thing--the rain. While he
spoke, it came on in another wild burst, as if
the clouds had poured themselves out in a
passion of crying, wetting him certainly, but
leaving behind, in a large glass vessel which he
had never noticed before, enough water to
quench the thirst of two or three boys at least.
And it was so fresh, so pure--as water from the
clouds always is when it does not catch the soot
from city chimneys and other defilements--that
he drank it, every drop, with the greatest
delight and content.
Also, as soon as it was empty the rain filled it
again, so that he was able to wash his face and
hands and refresh himself exceedingly. Then
the sun came out and dried him in no time.
After that he curled himself up under the bearskin
rug, and though he determined to be the
most wide-awake boy imaginable, being so
exceedingly snug and warm and comfortable,
Prince Dolor condescended to shut his eyes just
for one minute. The next minute he was sound
When he awoke, he found himself floating
over a country quite unlike anything he had
ever seen before.
Yet it was nothing but what most of you
children see every day and never notice it--a pretty
country landscape, like England, Scotland,
France, or any other land you choose to name.
It had no particular features--nothing in it
grand or lovely--was simply pretty, nothing
more; yet to Prince Dolor, who had never gone
beyond his lonely tower and level plain, it
appeared the most charming sight imaginable.
First, there was a river. It came tumbling
down the hillside, frothing and foaming, playing
at hide-and-seek among the rocks, then
bursting out in noisy fun like a child, to bury
itself in deep, still pools. Afterward it went
steadily on for a while, like a good grown-up
person, till it came to another big rock, where it
misbehaved itself extremely. It turned into a
cataract, and went tumbling over and over,
after a fashion that made the prince--who had
never seen water before, except in his bath or
his drinking-cup--clap his hands with delight.
"It is so active, so alive! I like things active
and alive!" cried he, and watched it shimmering
and dancing, whirling and leaping, till, after
a few windings and vagaries, it settled into a
respectable stream. After that it went along,
deep and quiet, but flowing steadily on, till it
reached a large lake, into which it slipped and
so ended its course.
All this the boy saw, either with his own
naked eye or through his gold spectacles. He
saw also as in a picture, beautiful but silent,
many other things which struck him with
wonder, especially a grove of trees.
Only think, to have lived to his age (which
he himself did not know, as he did not know his
own birthday) and never to have seen trees!
As he floated over these oaks, they seemed to
him--trunk, branches, and leaves--the most
curious sight imaginable.
"If I could only get nearer, so as to touch
them," said he, and immediately the obedient
cloak ducked down; Prince Dolor made a
snatch at the topmost twig of the tallest tree,
and caught a bunch of leaves in his hand.
Just a bunch of green leaves--such as we see
in myriads; watching them bud, grow, fall, and
then kicking them along on the ground as if
they were worth nothing. Yet how wonderful
they are--every one of them a little different.
I don't suppose you could ever find two leaves
exactly alike in form, color, and size--no more
than you could find two faces alike, or two
characters exactly the same. The plan of this world
is infinite similarity and yet infinite variety.
Prince Dolor examined his leaves with the
greatest curiosity--and also a little caterpillar
that he found walking over one of them. He
coaxed it to take an additional walk over his
finger, which it did with the greatest dignity
and decorum, as if it, Mr. Caterpillar, were the
most important individual in existence. It
amused him for a long time; and when a sudden
gust of wind blew it overboard, leaves and all,
he felt quite disconsolate.
"Still there must be many live creatures in
the world besides caterpillars. I should like to
see a few of them."
The cloak gave a little dip down, as if to say
"All right, my Prince," and bore him across the
oak forest to a long fertile valley--called in
Scotland a strath and in England a weald, but
what they call it in the tongue of Nomansland
I do not know. It was made up of cornfields,
pasturefields, lanes, hedges, brooks, and ponds.
Also, in it were what the prince desired to see
--a quantity of living creatures, wild and tame.
Cows and horses, lambs and sheep, fed in the
meadows; pigs and fowls walked about the
farm-yards; and in lonelier places hares
scudded, rabbits burrowed, and pheasants and
partridges, with many other smaller birds,
inhabited the fields and woods.
Through his wonderful spectacles the Prince
could see everything; but, as I said, it was a
silent picture; he was too high up to catch
anything except a faint murmur, which only
aroused his anxiety to hear more.
"I have as good as two pairs of eyes," he
thought. "I wonder if my godmother would
give me a second pair of ears."
Scarcely had he spoken than he found lying
on his lap the most curious little parcel, all done
up in silvery paper. And it contained--what
do you think? Actually a pair of silver ears,
which, when he tried them on, fitted so exactly
over his own that he hardly felt them, except
for the difference they made in his hearing.
There is something which we listen to daily
and never notice. I mean the sounds of the
visible world, animate and inanimate. Winds
blowing, waters flowing, trees stirring, insects
whirring (dear me! I am quite unconsciously
writing rhyme), with the various cries of birds
and beasts,--lowing cattle, bleating sheep,
grunting pigs, and cackling hens,--all the
infinite discords that somehow or other make a
beautiful harmony.
We hear this, and are so accustomed to it that
we think nothing of it; but Prince Dolor, who
had lived all his days in the dead silence of
Hopeless Tower, heard it for the first time.
And oh! if you had seen his face.
He listened, listened, as if he could never have
done listening. And he looked and looked, as if
he could not gaze enough. Above all, the motion
of the animals delighted him: cows walking,
horses galloping, little lambs and calves
running races across the meadows, were such a
treat for him to watch--he that was always so
quiet. But, these creatures having four legs,
and he only two, the difference did not strike
him painfully.
Still, by and by, after the fashion of children,
--and I fear, of many big people too,--he began
to want something more than he had, something
fresh and new.
"Godmother," he said, having now begun to
believe that, whether he saw her or not, he could
always speak to her with full confidence that
she would hear him--"Godmother, all these
creatures I like exceedingly; but I should like
better to see a creature like myself. Couldn't
you show me just one little boy?"
There was a sigh behind him,--it might have
been only the wind,--and the cloak remained
so long balanced motionless in air that he was
half afraid his godmother had forgotten him,
or was offended with him for asking too much.
Suddenly a shrill whistle startled him, even
through his silver ears, and looking downward,
he saw start up from behind a bush on a common,
Neither a sheep nor a horse nor a cow--nothing
upon four legs. This creature had only
two; but they were long, straight, and strong.
And it had a lithe, active body, and a curly head
of black hair set upon its shoulders. It was a
boy, a shepherd-boy, about the Prince's own
age--but, oh! so different.
Not that he was an ugly boy--though his face
was almost as red as his hands, and his shaggy
hair matted like the backs of his own sheep.
He was rather a nice-looking lad; and seemed
so bright and healthy and good-tempered--
"jolly" would be the word, only I am not sure
if they have such a one in the elegant language
of Nomansland--that the little Prince watched
him with great admiration.
"Might he come and play with me? I would
drop down to the ground to him, or fetch him up
to me here. Oh, how nice it would be if I only
had a little boy to play with me."
But the cloak, usually so obedient to his
wishes, disobeyed him now. There were evidently
some things which his godmother either
could not or would not give. The cloak hung
stationary, high in air, never attempting to
descend. The shepherd-lad evidently took it for
a large bird, and, shading his eyes, looked up at
it, making the Prince's heart beat fast.
However, nothing ensued. The boy turned
round, with a long, loud whistle--seemingly his
usual and only way of expressing his feelings.
He could not make the thing out exactly--it was
a rather mysterious affair, but it did not trouble
him much--he was not an "examining" boy.
Then, stretching himself, for he had been
evidently half asleep, he began flopping his
shoulders with his arms to wake and warm himself;
while his dog, a rough collie, who had been
guarding the sheep meanwhile, began to jump
upon him, barking with delight.
"Down, Snap, down: Stop that, or I'll thrash
you," the Prince heard him say; though with
such a rough, hard voice and queer pronunciation
that it was difficult to make the words out.
"Hollo! Let's warm ourselves by a race."
They started off together, boy and dog--barking
and shouting, till it was doubtful which
made the more noise or ran the faster. A
regular steeplechase it was: first across the level
common, greatly disturbing the quiet sheep; and
then tearing away across country, scrambling
through hedges and leaping ditches, and tumbling
up and down over plowed fields. They did
not seem to have anything to run for--but as if
they did it, both of them, for the mere pleasure
of motion.
And what a pleasure that seemed! To the
dog of course, but scarcely less so to the boy.
How he skimmed along over the ground--his
cheeks glowing, and his hair flying, and his legs
--oh, what a pair of legs he had!
Prince Dolor watched him with great intentness,
and in a state of excitement almost equal
to that of the runner himself--for a while.
Then the sweet, pale face grew a trifle paler, the
lips began to quiver, and the eyes to fill.
"How nice it must be to run like that!" he
said softly, thinking that never--no, never in
this world--would he be able to do the same.
Now he understood what his godmother had
meant when she gave him his traveling-cloak,
and why he had heard that sigh--he was sure it
was hers--when he had asked to see "just one
little boy."
"I think I had rather not look at him again,"
said the poor little Prince, drawing himself
back into the center of his cloak, and resuming
his favorite posture, sitting like a Turk, with
his arms wrapped round his feeble, useless legs.
"You're no good to me," he said, patting
them mournfully. "You never will be any good
to me. I wonder why I had you at all. I
wonder why I was born at all, since I was not
to grow up like other boys. Why not?"
A question so strange, so sad, yet so often
occurring in some form or other in this world
--as you will find, my children, when you are
older--that even if he had put it to his mother
she could only have answered it, as we have to
answer many as difficult things, by simply saying,
"I don't know." There is much that we do
not know and cannot understand--we big folks
no more than you little ones. We have to accept
it all just as you have to accept anything which
your parents may tell you, even though you
don't as yet see the reason of it. You may sometime,
if you do exactly as they tell you, and are
content to wait.
Prince Dolor sat a good while thus, or it
appeared to him a good while, so many thoughts
came and went through his poor young mind--
thoughts of great bitterness, which, little though
he was, seemed to make him grow years older
in a few minutes.
Then he fancied the cloak began to rock
gently to and fro, with a soothing kind of motion,
as if he were in somebody's arms: somebody
who did not speak, but loved him and comforted
him without need of words; not by deceiving
him with false encouragement or hope,
but by making him see the plain, hard truth in
all its hardness, and thus letting him quietly
face it, till it grew softened down, and did not
seem nearly so dreadful after all.
Through the dreary silence and blankness,
for he had placed himself so that he could see
nothing but the sky, and had taken off his silver
ears as well as his gold spectacles--what was the
use of either when he had no legs with which to
walk or run?--up from below there rose a
delicious sound.
You have heard it hundreds of times, my
children, and so have I. When I was a child I
thought there was nothing so sweet; and I think
so still. It was just the song of a skylark,
mounting higher and higher from the ground,
till it came so close that Prince Dolor could
distinguish his quivering wings and tiny body,
almost too tiny to contain such a gush of music.
"Oh, you beautiful, beautiful bird!" cried he;
"I should dearly like to take you in and cuddle
you. That is, if I could--if I dared."
But he hesitated. The little brown creature
with its loud heavenly voice almost made him
afraid. Nevertheless, it also made him happy;
and he watched and listened--so absorbed that
he forgot all regret and pain, forgot everything
in the world except the little lark.
It soared and soared, and he was just
wondering if it would soar out of sight, and what in
the world he should do when it was gone, when
it suddenly closed its wings, as larks do when
they mean to drop to the ground. But, instead
of dropping to the ground, it dropped right into
the little boy's breast.
What felicity! If it would only stay! A
tiny, soft thing to fondle and kiss, to sing to
him all day long, and be his playfellow and
companion, tame and tender, while to the rest of the
world it was a wild bird of the air. What a
pride, what a delight! To have something that
nobody else had--something all his own. As the
traveling-cloak traveled on, he little heeded
where, and the lark still stayed, nestled down
in his bosom, hopped from his hand to his
shoulder, and kissed him with its dainty beak,
as if it loved him, Prince Dolor forgot all his
grief, and was entirely happy.
But when he got in sight of Hopeless Tower
a painful thought struck him.
"My pretty bird, what am I to do with you?
If I take you into my room and shut you up
there, you, a wild skylark of the air, what will
become of you? I am used to this, but you are
not. You will be so miserable; and suppose
my nurse should find you--she who can't bear
the sound of singing? Besides, I remember her
once telling me that the nicest thing she ever
ate in her life was lark pie!"
The little boy shivered all over at the thought.
And, though the merry lark immediately broke
into the loudest carol, as if saying derisively
that he defied anybody to eat him, still, Prince
Dolor was very uneasy. In another minute he
had made up his mind.
"No, my bird, nothing so dreadful shall
happen to you if I can help it; I would rather
do without you altogether. Yes, I'll try. Fly
away, my darling, my beautiful! Good-by, my
merry, merry bird."
Opening his two caressing hands, in which,
as if for protection, he had folded it, he let the
lark go. It lingered a minute, perching on the
rim of the cloak, and looking at him with eyes
of almost human tenderness; then away it flew,
far up into the blue sky. It was only a bird.
But some time after, when Prince Dolor had
eaten his supper--somewhat drearily, except
for the thought that he could not possibly sup
off lark pie now--and gone quietly to bed, the
old familiar little bed, where he was accustomed
to sleep, or lie awake contentedly thinking--
suddenly he heard outside the window a little
faint carol--faint but cheerful--cheerful even
though it was the middle of the night.
The dear little lark! it had not flown away,
after all. And it was truly the most extraordinary
bird, for, unlike ordinary larks, it
kept hovering about the tower in the silence and
darkness of the night, outside the window or
over the roof. Whenever he listened for a
moment, he heard it singing still.
He went to sleep as happy as a king.
Happy as a king." How far kings
are happy I cannot say, no more
than could Prince Dolor, though he
had once been a king himself. But
he remembered nothing about it, and there was
nobody to tell him, except his nurse, who had
been forbidden upon pain of death to let him
know anything about his dead parents, or the
king his uncle, or indeed any part of his own
Sometimes he speculated about himself,
whether he had had a father and mother as other
little boys had what they had been like, and
why he had never seen them. But, knowing
nothing about them, he did not miss them--only
once or twice, reading pretty stories about little
children and their mothers, who helped them
when they were in difficulty and comforted
them when they were sick, he feeling ill and dull
and lonely, wondered what had become of his
mother and why she never came to see him.
Then, in his history lessons, of course he read
about kings and princes, and the governments
of different countries, and the events that
happened there. And though he but faintly took in
all this, still he did take it in a little, and worried
his young brain about it, and perplexed his
nurse with questions, to which she returned
sharp and mysterious answers, which only set
him thinking the more.
He had plenty of time for thinking. After
his last journey in the traveling-cloak, the
journey which had given him so much pain, his
desire to see the world somehow faded away.
He contented himself with reading his books,
and looking out of the tower windows, and
listening to his beloved little lark, which had come
home with him that day, and never left him
True, it kept out of the way; and though his
nurse sometimes dimly heard it, and said
"What is that horrid noise outside?" she never
got the faintest chance of making it into a lark
pie. Prince Dolor had his pet all to himself,
and though he seldom saw it, he knew it was near
him, and he caught continually, at odd hours of
the day, and even in the night, fragments of its
delicious song.
All during the winter--so far as there ever
was any difference between summer and winter
in Hopeless Tower--the little bird cheered and
amused him. He scarcely needed anything
more--not even his traveling-cloak, which lay
bundled up unnoticed in a corner, tied up in its
innumerable knots.
Nor did his godmother come near him. It
seemed as if she had given these treasures and
left him alone--to use them or lose them, apply
them or misapply them, according to his own
choice. That is all we can do with children
when they grow into big children old enough to
distinguish between right and wrong, and too
old to be forced to do either.
Prince Dolor was now quite a big boy. Not
tall--alas! he never could be that, with his poor
little shrunken legs, which were of no use, only
an encumbrance. But he was stout and strong,
with great sturdy shoulders, and muscular
arms, upon which he could swing himself about
almost like a monkey. As if in compensation
for his useless lower limbs, Nature had given
to these extra strength and activity. His face,
too, was very handsome; thinner, firmer, more
manly; but still the sweet face of his childhood
--his mother's own face.
How his mother would have liked to look at
him! Perhaps she did--who knows?
The boy was not a stupid boy either. He
could learn almost anything he chose--and he
did choose, which was more than half the battle.
He never gave up his lessons till he had learned
them all--never thought it a punishment that
he had to work at them, and that they cost him a
deal of trouble sometimes.
"But," thought he, "men work, and it must
be so grand to be a man--a prince too; and I
fancy princes work harder than anybody--
except kings. The princes I read about generally
turn into kings. I wonder"--the boy was always
wondering--"Nurse,"--and one day he
startled her with a sudden question,--"tell me--
shall I ever be a king?"
The woman stood, perplexed beyond expression.
So long a time had passed by since her
crime--if it were a crime--and her sentence,
that she now seldom thought of either. Even
her punishment--to be shut up for life in Hopeless
Tower--she had gradually got used to.
Used also to the little lame Prince, her charge
--whom at first she had hated, though she carefully
did everything to keep him alive, since
upon him her own life hung.
But latterly she had ceased to hate him, and,
in a sort of way, almost loved him--at least,
enough to be sorry for him--an innocent child,
imprisoned here till he grew into an old man,
and became a dull, worn-out creature like
herself. Sometimes, watching him, she felt more
sorry for him than even for herself; and then,
seeing she looked a less miserable and ugly
woman, he did not shrink from her as usual.
He did not now. "Nurse--dear nurse," said
he, "I don't mean to vex you, but tell me what
is a king? shall I ever be one?"
When she began to think less of herself and
more of the child, the woman's courage
increased. The idea came to her--what harm
would it be, even if he did know his own history?
Perhaps he ought to know it--for there had
been various ups and downs, usurpations,
revolutions, and restorations in Nomansland, as in
most other countries. Something might happen
--who could tell? Changes might occur. Possibly
a crown would even yet be set upon those
pretty, fair curls--which she began to think
prettier than ever when she saw the imaginary
coronet upon them.
She sat down, considering whether her oath,
never to "say a word" to Prince Dolor about
himself, would be broken if she were to take a
pencil and write what was to be told. A mere
quibble--a mean, miserable quibble. But then
she was a miserable woman, more to be pitied
than scorned.
After long doubt, and with great trepidation,
she put her fingers to her lips, and taking the
Prince's slate--with the sponge tied to it, ready
to rub out the writing in a minute--she wrote:
"You are a king."
Prince Dolor started. His face grew pale,
and then flushed all over; he held himself erect.
Lame as he was, anybody could see he was born
to be a king.
"Hush!" said the nurse, as he was beginning
to speak. And then, terribly frightened all the
while,--people who have done wrong always
are frightened,--she wrote down in a few
hurried sentences his history. How his parents
had died--his uncle had usurped his throne, and
sent him to end his days in this lonely tower.
"I, too," added she, bursting into tears.
"Unless, indeed, you could get out into the world,
and fight for your rights like a man. And
fight for me also, my Prince, that I may not die
in this desolate place."
"Poor old nurse!" said the boy compassionately.
For somehow, boy as he was, when he
heard he was born to be a king, he felt like a man
--like a king--who could afford to be tender
because he was strong.
He scarcely slept that night, and even though
he heard his little lark singing in the sunrise,
he barely listened to it. Things more serious
and important had taken possession of his mind.
"Suppose," thought he, "I were to do as she
says, and go out in the world, no matter how it
hurts me--the world of people, active people, as
that boy I saw. They might only laugh at me--
poor helpless creature that I am; but still I
might show them I could do something. At any
rate, I might go and see if there were anything
for me to do. Godmother, help me!"
It was so long since he had asked her help
that he was hardly surprised when he got no
answer--only the little lark outside the window
sang louder and louder, and the sun rose,
flooding the room with light.
Prince Dolor sprang out of bed, and began
dressing himself, which was hard work, for he
was not used to it--he had always been accustomed
to depend upon his nurse for everything.
"But I must now learn to be independent,"
thought he. "Fancy a king being dressed like a
So he did the best he could,--awkwardly but
cheerily,--and then he leaped to the corner
where lay his traveling-cloak, untied it as
before, and watched it unrolling itself--which
it did rapidly, with a hearty good-will, as if
quite tired of idleness. So was Prince Dolor--or
felt as if he were. He jumped into the middle
of it, said his charm, and was out through the
skylight immediately.
"Good-by, pretty lark!" he shouted, as he
passed it on the wing, still warbling its carol
to the newly risen sun. "You have been my
pleasure, my delight; now I must go and work.
Sing to old nurse till I come back again. Perhaps
she'll hear you--perhaps she won't--but
it will do her good all the same. Good-by!"
But, as the cloak hung irresolute in air, he
suddenly remembered that he had not determined
where to go--indeed, he did not know,
and there was nobody to tell him.
"Godmother," he cried, in much perplexity,
"you know what I want,--at least, I hope you
do, for I hardly do myself--take me where I
ought to go; show me whatever I ought to see--
never mind what I like to see," as a sudden idea
came into his mind that he might see many painful
and disagreeable things. But this journey
was not for pleasure as before. He was not
a baby now, to do nothing but play--big boys
do not always play. Nor men neither--they
work. Thus much Prince Dolor knew--though
very little more.
As the cloak started off, traveling faster than
he had ever known it to do,--through sky-land
and cloud land, over freezing mountain-tops,
and desolate stretches of forest, and smiling
cultivated plains, and great lakes that seemed
to him almost as shoreless as the sea,--he was
often rather frightened. But he crouched down,
silent and quiet; what was the use of making a
fuss? and, wrapping himself up in his bear-skin,
waited for what was to happen.
After some time he heard a murmur in the
distance, increasing more and more till it grew
like the hum of a gigantic hive of bees. And,
stretching his chin over the rim of his cloak,
Prince Dolor saw--far, far below him, yet, with
his gold spectacles and silver ears on, he could
distinctly hear and see--what?
Most of us have some time or other visited a
great metropolis--have wandered through its
network of streets--lost ourselves in its crowds
of people--looked up at its tall rows of houses,
its grand public buildings, churches, and
squares. Also, perhaps, we have peeped into its
miserable little back alleys, where dirty
children play in gutters all day and half the night--
even young boys go about picking pockets, with
nobody to tell them it is wrong except the policeman,
and he simply takes them off to prison.
And all this wretchedness is close behind the
grandeur--like the two sides of the leaf of a
An awful sight is a large city, seen any how
from any where. But, suppose you were to see
it from the upper air, where, with your eyes
and ears open, you could take in everything at
once? What would it look like? How would
you feel about it? I hardly know myself. Do
Prince Dolor had need to be a king--that is,
a boy with a kingly nature--to be able to stand
such a sight without being utterly overcome.
But he was very much bewildered--as bewildered
as a blind person who is suddenly made to
He gazed down on the city below him, and
then put his hand over his eyes.
"I can't bear to look at it, it is so beautiful--
so dreadful. And I don't understand it--not
one bit. There is nobody to tell me about it.
I wish I had somebody to speak to."
"Do you? Then pray speak to me. I was
always considered good at conversation."
The voice that squeaked out this reply was an
excellent imitation of the human one, though it
came only from a bird. No lark this time, however,
but a great black and white creature that
flew into the cloak, and began walking round
and round on the edge of it with a dignified
stride, one foot before the other, like any
unfeathered biped you could name.
"I haven't the honor of your acquaintance,
sir," said the boy politely.
"Ma'am, if you please. I am a mother bird,
and my name is Mag, and I shall be happy to
tell you everything you want to know. For I
know a great deal; and I enjoy talking. My
family is of great antiquity; we have built in
this palace for hundreds--that is to say, dozens
of years. I am intimately acquainted with the
king, the queen, and the little princes and
princesses--also the maids of honor, and all the
inhabitants of the city. I talk a good deal, but I
always talk sense, and I daresay I should be exceedingly
useful to a poor little ignorant boy
like you."
"I am a prince," said the other gently.
"All right. And I am a magpie. You will
find me a most respectable bird."
"I have no doubt of it," was the polite answer
--though he thought in his own mind that Mag
must have a very good opinion of herself. But
she was a lady and a stranger, so of course
he was civil to her.
She settled herself at his elbow, and began
to chatter away, pointing out with one skinny
claw, while she balanced herself on the other,
every object of interest, evidently believing, as
no doubt all its inhabitants did, that there was
no capital in the world like the great metropolis
of Nomansland.
I have not seen it, and therefore cannot
describe it, so we will just take it upon trust, and
suppose it to be, like every other fine city, the
finest city that ever was built. Mag said so--
and of course she knew.
Nevertheless, there were a few things in it
which surprised Prince Dolor--and, as he had
said, he could not understand them at all. One
half the people seemed so happy and busy--
hurrying up and down the full streets, or driving
lazily along the parks in their grand
carriages, while the other half were so wretched
and miserable.
"Can't the world be made a little more level?
I would try to do it if I were a king."
"But you're not the king: only a little goose
of a boy," returned the magpie loftily. "And
I'm here not to explain things, only to show
them. Shall I show you the royal palace?"
It was a very magnificent palace. It had
terraces and gardens, battlements and towers. It
extended over acres of ground, and had in it
rooms enough to accommodate half the city. Its
windows looked in all directions, but none of
them had any particular view--except a small
one, high up toward the roof, which looked out
on the Beautiful Mountains. But since the
queen died there it had been closed, boarded up,
indeed, the magpie said. It was so little and
inconvenient that nobody cared to live in it.
Besides, the lower apartments, which had no view,
were magnificent--worthy of being inhabited
by the king.
"I should like to see the king," said Prince
What, I wonder, would be
people's idea of a king? What was
Prince Dolor's?
Perhaps a very splendid personage,
with a crown on his head and a scepter in
his hand, sitting on a throne and judging the
people. Always doing right, and never wrong
--"The king can do no wrong" was a law laid
down in olden times. Never cross, or tired, or
sick, or suffering; perfectly handsome and well
dressed, calm and good-tempered, ready to see
and hear everybody, and discourteous to nobody;
all things always going well with him, and
nothing unpleasant ever happening.
This, probably, was what Prince Dolor
expected to see. And what did he see? But I
must tell you how he saw it.
"Ah," said the magpie, "no levee to-day.
The King is ill, though his Majesty does not
wish it to be generally known--it would be so
very inconvenient. He can't see you, but perhaps
you might like to go and take a look at him
in a way I often do? It is so very amusing."
Amusing, indeed!
The prince was just now too much excited to
talk much. Was he not going to see the king his
uncle, who had succeeded his father and
dethroned himself; had stepped into all the pleasant
things that he, Prince Dolor, ought to have
had, and shut him up in a desolate tower? What
was he like, this great, bad, clever man? Had
he got all the things he wanted, which another
ought to have had? And did he enjoy them?
"Nobody knows," answered the magpie, just
as if she had been sitting inside the prince's
heart, instead of on the top of his shoulder. "He
is a king, and that's enough. For the rest nobody
As she spoke, Mag flew down on to the palace
roof, where the cloak had rested, settling down
between the great stacks of chimneys as
comfortably as if on the ground. She pecked at the
tiles with her beak--truly she was a wonderful
bird--and immediately a little hole opened, a
sort of door, through which could be seen
distinctly the chamber below.
"Now look in, my Prince. Make haste, for I
must soon shut it up again."
But the boy hesitated. "Isn't it rude?--
won't they think us intruding?"
"Oh, dear no! there's a hole like this in every
palace; dozens of holes, indeed. Everybody
knows it, but nobody speaks of it. Intrusion!
Why, though the royal family are supposed to
live shut up behind stone walls ever so thick, all
the world knows that they live in a glass house
where everybody can see them and throw a stone
at them. Now pop down on your knees, and
take a peep at his Majesty
His Majesty!
The Prince gazed eagerly down into a large
room, the largest room he had ever beheld, with
furniture and hangings grander than anything
he could have ever imagined. A stray sunbeam,
coming through a crevice of the darkened windows,
struck across the carpet, and it was the
loveliest carpet ever woven--just like a bed of
flowers to walk over; only nobody walked over
it, the room being perfectly empty and silent.
"Where is the King?" asked the puzzled boy.
"There," said Mag, pointing with one wrinkled
claw to a magnificent bed, large enough to
contain six people. In the center of it, just
visible under the silken counterpane,--quite
straight and still,--with its head on the lace
pillow, lay a small figure, something like waxwork,
fast asleep--very fast asleep! There was
a number of sparkling rings on the tiny yellow
hands, that were curled a little, helplessly, like
a baby's, outside the coverlet; the eyes were
shut, the nose looked sharp and thin, and the
long gray beard hid the mouth and lay over the
breast. A sight not ugly nor frightening, only
solemn and quiet. And so very silent--two little
flies buzzing about the curtains of the bed being
the only audible sound.
"Is that the King?" whispered Prince Dolor.
"Yes," replied the bird.
He had been angry--furiously angry--
ever since he knew how his uncle had taken the
crown, and sent him, a poor little helpless child,
to be shut up for life, just as if he had been dead.
Many times the boy had felt as if, king as he
was, he should like to strike him, this great,
strong, wicked man.
Why, you might as well have struck a baby!
How helpless he lay, with his eyes shut, and his
idle hands folded: they had no more work to do,
bad or good.
"What is the matter with him?" asked the
"He is dead," said the Magpie, with a croak.
No, there was not the least use in being angry
with him now. On the contrary, the Prince felt
almost sorry for him, except that he looked so
peaceful with all his cares at rest. And this was
being dead? So even kings died?
"Well, well, he hadn't an easy life, folk say,
for all his grandeur. Perhaps he is glad it is
over. Good-by, your Majesty."
With another cheerful tap of her beak, Mistress
Mag shut down the little door in the tiles,
and Prince Dolor's first and last sight of his
uncle was ended.
He sat in the center of his traveling-cloak,
silent and thoughtful.
"What shall we do now?" said the magpie.
"There's nothing much more to be done with
his majesty, except a fine funeral, which I shall
certainly go and see. All the world will. He
interested the world exceedingly when he was
alive, and he ought to do it now he's dead--just
once more. And since he can't hear me, I may
as well say that, on the whole, his majesty is
much better dead than alive--if we can only get
somebody in his place. There'll be such a row
in the city presently. Suppose we float up again
and see it all--at a safe distance, though. It
will be such fun!"
"What will be fun?"
"A revolution."
Whether anybody except a magpie would have
called it "fun" I don't know, but it certainly
was a remarkable scene.
As soon as the cathedral bell began to toll and
the minute-guns to fire, announcing to the kingdom
that it was without a king, the people
gathered in crowds, stopping at street corners
to talk together. The murmur now and then
rose into a shout, and the shout into a roar.
When Prince Dolor, quietly floating in upper air,
caught the sound of their different and opposite
cries, it seemed to him as if the whole city had
gone mad together.
"Long live the king!" "The king is dead--
down with the king!" "Down with the crown,
and the king too!" "Hurrah for the republic!"
"Hurrah for no government at all!"
Such were the shouts which traveled up to the
traveling-cloak. And then began--oh, what a
When you children are grown men and women
--or before--you will hear and read in books
about what are called revolutions--earnestly I
trust that neither I nor you may ever see one.
But they have happened, and may happen again,
in other countries besides Nomansland, when
wicked kings have helped to make their people
wicked too, or out of an unrighteous nation have
sprung rulers equally bad; or, without either of
these causes, when a restless country has fancied
any change better than no change at all.
For me, I don't like changes, unless pretty
sure that they are for good. And how good can
come out of absolute evil--the horrible evil that
went on this night under Prince Dolor's very
eyes--soldiers shooting down people by hundreds
in the streets, scaffolds erected, and heads
dropping off--houses burned, and women and
children murdered--this is more than I can
But all these things you will find in history,
my children, and must by and by judge for yourselves
the right and wrong of them, as far as
anybody ever can judge.
Prince Dolor saw it all. Things happened
so fast one after another that they quite
confused his faculties.
"Oh, let me go home," he cried at last,
stopping his ears and shutting his eyes; "only let me
go home!" for even his lonely tower seemed
home, and its dreariness and silence absolute
paradise after all this.
"Good-by, then," said the magpie, flapping
her wings. She had been chatting incessantly
all day and all night, for it was actually thus
long that Prince Dolor had been hovering over
the city, neither eating nor sleeping, with all
these terrible things happening under his very
eyes. "You've had enough, I suppose, of seeing
the world?"
"Oh, I have--I have!" cried the prince, with
a shudder.
"That is, till next time. All right, your royal
highness. You don't know me, but I know you.
We may meet again some time."
She looked at him with her clear, piercing
eyes, sharp enough to see through everything,
and it seemed as if they changed from bird's
eyes to human eyes--the very eyes of his godmother,
whom he had not seen for ever so long.
But the minute afterward she became only a
bird, and with a screech and a chatter, spread
her wings and flew away.
Prince Dolor fell into a kind of swoon of
utter misery, bewilderment, and exhaustion, and
when he awoke he found himself in his own room
--alone and quiet--with the dawn just breaking,
and the long rim of yellow light in the horizon
glimmering through the window-panes.
When Prince Dolor sat up in bed,
trying to remember where he was,
whither he had been, and what he
had seen the day before, he
perceived that his room was empty.
Generally his nurse rather worried him by
breaking his slumbers, coming in and "setting
things to rights," as she called it. Now the dust
lay thick upon chairs and tables; there was no
harsh voice heard to scold him for not getting
up immediately, which, I am sorry to say, this
boy did not always do. For he so enjoyed lying
still, and thinking lazily about everything or
nothing, that, if he had not tried hard against it,
he would certainly have become like those celebrated
"Two little men
Who lay in their bed till the clock struck ten."
It was striking ten now, and still no nurse was
to be seen. He was rather relieved at first, for
he felt so tired; and besides, when he stretched
out his arm, he found to his dismay that he had
gone to bed in his clothes.
Very uncomfortable he felt, of course; and
just a little frightened. Especially when he
began to call and call again, but nobody
answered. Often he used to think how nice it
would be to get rid of his nurse and live in this
tower all by himself--like a sort of monarch
able to do everything he liked, and leave undone
all that he did not want to do; but now that this
seemed really to have happened, he did not like
it at all.
"Nurse,--dear nurse,--please come back!" he
called out. "Come back, and I will be the best
boy in all the land."
And when she did not come back, and nothing
but silence answered his lamentable call, he very
nearly began to cry.
"This won't do," he said at last, dashing the
tears from his eyes. "It's just like a baby, and
I'm a big boy--shall be a man some day. What
has happened, I wonder? I'll go and see."
He sprang out of bed,--not to his feet, alas!
but to his poor little weak knees, and crawled on
them from room to room. All the four chambers
were deserted--not forlorn or untidy, for everything
seemed to have been done for his comfort
--the breakfast and dinner things were laid, the
food spread in order. He might live "like a
prince," as the proverb is, for several days.
But the place was entirely forsaken--there was
evidently not a creature but himself in the
solitary tower.
A great fear came upon the poor boy. Lonely
as his life had been, he had never known what it
was to be absolutely alone. A kind of despair
seized him--no violent anger or terror, but a
sort of patient desolation.
"What in the world am I to do?" thought he,
and sat down in the middle of the floor, half
inclined to believe that it would be better to give
up entirely, lay himself down, and die.
This feeling, however, did not last long, for
he was young and strong, and, I said before, by
nature a very courageous boy. There came into
his head, somehow or other, a proverb that his
nurse had taught him--the people of Nomansland
were very fond of proverbs:
"For every evil under the sun
There is a remedy, or there's none;
If there is one, try to find it--
If there isn't, never mind it."
"I wonder is there a remedy now, and could I
find it?" cried the Prince, jumping up and
looking out of the window.
No help there. He only saw the broad, bleak,
sunshiny plain--that is, at first. But by and by,
in the circle of mud that surrounded the base
of the tower, he perceived distinctly the marks
of a horse's feet, and just in the spot where the
deaf-mute was accustomed to tie up his great
black charger, while he himself ascended, there
lay the remains of a bundle of hay and a feed of
"Yes, that's it. He has come and gone, taking
nurse away with him. Poor nurse! how glad
she would be to go!"
That was Prince Dolor's first thought. His
second--wasn't it natural?--was a passionate
indignation at her cruelty--at the cruelty of all
the world toward him, a poor little helpless boy.
Then he determined, forsaken as he was, to try
and hold on to the last, and not to die as long as
he could possibly help it.
Anyhow, it would be easier to die here than
out in the world, among the terrible doings
which he had just beheld--from the midst of
which, it suddenly struck him, the deaf-mute
had come, contriving somehow to make the nurse
understand that the king was dead, and she need
have no fear in going back to the capital, where
there was a grand revolution, and everything
turned upside down. So, of course, she had gone.
"I hope she'll enjoy it, miserable woman--if
they don't cut off her head too."
And then a kind of remorse smote him for
feeling so bitterly toward her, after all the
years she had taken care of him--grudgingly,
perhaps, and coldly; still she had taken care
of him, and that even to the last: for, as I have
said, all his four rooms were as tidy as possible,
and his meals laid out, that he might have no
more trouble than could be helped.
"Possibly she did not mean to be cruel. I
won't judge her," said he. And afterward he
was very glad that he had so determined.
For the second time he tried to dress himself,
and then to do everything he could for himself--
even to sweeping up the hearth and putting on
more coals. "It's a funny thing for a prince
to have to do," said he, laughing. "But my
godmother once said princes need never mind
doing anything."
And then he thought a little of his godmother.
Not of summoning her, or asking her to help
him,--she had evidently left him to help himself,
and he was determined to try his best to
do it, being a very proud and independent boy,
--but he remembered her tenderly and regretfully,
as if even she had been a little hard upon
him--poor, forlorn boy that he was. But he
seemed to have seen and learned so much within
the last few days that he scarcely felt like
a boy, but a man--until he went to bed at night.
When I was a child, I used often to think
how nice it would be to live in a little house
all by my own self--a house built high up in
a tree, or far away in a forest, or halfway up
a hillside so deliciously alone and independent.
Not a lesson to learn--but no! I always
liked learning my lessons. Anyhow, to choose
the lessons I liked best, to have as many books
to read and dolls to play with as ever I wanted:
above all, to be free and at rest, with nobody to
tease or trouble or scold me, would be charming.
For I was a lonely little thing, who liked
quietness--as many children do; which other
children, and sometimes grown-up people even,
cannot understand. And so I can understand
Prince Dolor.
After his first despair, he was not merely
comfortable, but actually happy in his solitude,
doing everything for himself, and enjoying
everything by himself--until bedtime. Then
he did not like it at all. No more, I suppose,
than other children would have liked my imaginary
house in a tree when they had had
sufficient of their own company.
But the Prince had to bear it--and he did
bear it, like a prince--for fully five days. All
that time he got up in the morning and went to
bed at night without having spoken to a
creature, or, indeed, heard a single sound.
For even his little lark was silent; and as for
his traveling-cloak, either he never thought
about it, or else it had been spirited away--
for he made no use of it, nor attempted to do so.
A very strange existence it was, those five
lonely days. He never entirely forgot it. It
threw him back upon himself, and into himself
--in a way that all of us have to learn when we
grow up, and are the better for it; but it is
somewhat hard learning.
On the sixth day Prince Dolor had a strange
composure in his look, but he was very grave
and thin and white. He had nearly come to the
end of his provisions--and what was to happen
next? Get out of the tower he could not: the
ladder the deaf-mute used was always carried
away again; and if it had not been, how could
the poor boy have used it? And even if he
slung or flung himself down, and by miraculous
chance came alive to the foot of the tower, how
could he run away?
Fate had been very hard to him, or so it
He made up his mind to die. Not that he
wished to die; on the contrary, there was a
great deal that he wished to live to do; but if
he must die, he must. Dying did not seem so
very dreadful; not even to lie quiet like his
uncle, whom he had entirely forgiven now, and
neither be miserable nor naughty any more, and
escape all those horrible things that he had seen
going on outside the palace, in that awful place
which was called "the world."
"It's a great deal nicer here," said the poor
little Prince, and collected all his pretty things
round him: his favorite pictures, which he
thought he should like to have near him when
he died; his books and toys--no, he had ceased
to care for toys now; he only liked them because
he had done so as a child. And there he sat
very calm and patient, like a king in his castle,
waiting for the end.
"Still, I wish I had done something first--
something worth doing, that somebody might
remember me by," thought he. "Suppose I
had grown a man, and had had work to do, and
people to care for, and was so useful and busy
that they liked me, and perhaps even forgot I
was lame? Then it would have been nice to
live, I think."
A tear came into the little fellow's eyes, and
he listened intently through the dead silence
for some hopeful sound.
Was there one?--was it his little lark, whom
he had almost forgotten? No, nothing half so
sweet. But it really was something--something
which came nearer and nearer, so that there
was no mistaking it. It was the sound of a
trumpet, one of the great silver trumpets so
admired in Nomansland. Not pleasant music,
but very bold, grand, and inspiring.
As he listened to it the boy seemed to recall
many things which had slipped his memory for
years, and to nerve himself for whatever might
be going to happen.
What had happened was this.
The poor condemned woman had not been
such a wicked woman after all. Perhaps her
courage was not wholly disinterested, but she
had done a very heroic thing. As soon as she
heard of the death and burial of the King and
of the changes that were taking place in the
country, a daring idea came into her head--to
set upon the throne of Nomansland its rightful
heir. Thereupon she persuaded the deaf-mute
to take her away with him, and they galloped
like the wind from city to city, spreading
everywhere the news that Prince Dolor's death and
burial had been an invention concocted by his
wicked uncle that he was alive and well, and
the noblest young prince that ever was born.
It was a bold stroke, but it succeeded. The
country, weary perhaps of the late King's
harsh rule, and yet glad to save itself from the
horrors of the last few days, and the still
further horrors of no rule at all, and having no
particular interest in the other young princes,
jumped at the idea of this Prince, who was the
son of their late good King and the beloved
Queen Dolorez.
"Hurrah for Prince Dolor! Let Prince
Dolor be our sovereign!" rang from end to end
of the kingdom. Everybody tried to remember
what a dear baby he once was--how like his
mother, who had been so sweet and kind, and
his father, the finest-looking king that ever
reigned. Nobody remembered his lameness--
or, if they did, they passed it over as a matter
of no consequence. They were determined to
have him reign over them, boy as he was--
perhaps just because he was a boy, since in that
case the great nobles thought they should be
able to do as they liked with the country.
Accordingly, with a fickleness not confined to
the people of Nomansland, no sooner was the
late King laid in his grave than they
pronounced him to have been a usurper; turned
all his family out of the palace, and left it
empty for the reception of the new sovereign,
whom they went to fetch with great rejoicing,
a select body of lords, gentlemen, and soldiers
traveling night and day in solemn procession
through the country until they reached Hopeless
There they found the Prince, sitting calmly
on the floor--deadly pale, indeed, for he
expected a quite different end from this, and
was resolved, if he had to die, to die courageously,
like a Prince and a King.
But when they hailed him as Prince and
King, and explained to him how matters stood,
and went down on their knees before him,
offering the crown (on a velvet cushion, with
four golden tassels, each nearly as big as his
head),--small though he was and lame, which
lameness the courtiers pretended not to notice,
--there came such a glow into his face, such a
dignity into his demeanor, that he became
beautiful, king-like.
"Yes," he said, "if you desire it, I will be
your king. And I will do my best to make my
people happy."
Then there arose, from inside and outside
the tower, such a shout as never yet was heard
across the lonely plain.
Prince Dolor shrank a little from the deafening
sound. "How shall I be able to rule all this
great people? You forget, my lords, that I am
only a little boy still."
"Not so very little," was the respectful
answer. "We have searched in the records,
and found that your Royal Highness--your
Majesty, I mean--is fifteen years old."
"Am I?" said Prince Dolor; and his first
thought was a thoroughly childish pleasure
that he should now have a birthday, with a
whole nation to keep it. Then he remembered
that his childish days were done. He was a
monarch now. Even his nurse, to whom, the
moment he saw her, he had held out his hand,
kissed it reverently, and called him ceremoniously
"his Majesty the King."
"A king must be always a king, I suppose,"
said he half-sadly, when, the ceremonies over,
he had been left to himself for just ten minutes,
to put off his boy's clothes and be reattired in
magnificent robes, before he was conveyed away
from his tower to the royal palace.
He could take nothing with him; indeed, he
soon saw that, however politely they spoke, they
would not allow him to take anything. If he
was to be their king, he must give up his old life
forever. So he looked with tender farewell on
his old books, old toys, the furniture he knew so
well, and the familiar plain in all its levelness--
ugly yet pleasant, simply because it was
"It will be a new life in a new world," said he
to himself; "but I'll remember the old things
still. And, oh! if before I go I could but once
see my dear old godmother."
While he spoke he had laid himself down on
the bed for a minute or two, rather tired with
his grandeur, and confused by the noise of the
trumpets which kept playing incessantly down
below. He gazed, half sadly, up to the skylight,
whence there came pouring a stream of sunrays,
with innumerable motes floating there, like a
bridge thrown between heaven and earth. Sliding
down it, as if she had been made of air, came
the little old woman in gray.
So beautiful looked she--old as she was--that
Prince Dolor was at first quite startled by the
apparition. Then he held out his arms in eager
"Oh, godmother, you have not forsaken me!"
"Not at all, my son. You may not have seen
me, but I have seen you many a time."
"Oh, never mind. I can turn into anything
I please, you know. And I have been a bearskin
rug, and a crystal goblet--and sometimes I have
changed from inanimate to animate nature, put
on feathers, and made myself very comfortable
as a bird."
"Ha!" laughed the prince, a new light breaking
in upon him as he caught the infection{sic} of
her tone, lively and mischievous. "Ha! ha! a
lark, for instance?"
"Or a magpie," answered she, with a capital
imitation of Mistress Mag's croaky voice. "Do
you suppose I am always sentimental, and never
funny? If anything makes you happy, gay, or
grave, don't you think it is more than likely to
come through your old godmother?"
"I believe that," said the boy tenderly, holding
out his arms. They clasped one another in
a close embrace.
Suddenly Prince Dolor looked very anxious.
"You will not leave me now that I am a king?
Otherwise I had rather not be a king at all.
Promise never to forsake me!"
The little old woman laughed gayly. "Forsake
you? that is impossible. But it is just
possible you may forsake me. Not probable
though. Your mother never did, and she was
a queen. The sweetest queen in all the world
was the Lady Dolorez."
"Tell me about her," said the boy eagerly.
"As I get older I think I can understand more.
Do tell me."
"Not now. You couldn't hear me for the
trumpets and the shouting. But when you are
come to the palace, ask for a long-closed upper
room, which looks out upon the Beautiful
Mountains; open it and take it for your own.
Whenever you go there you will always find me,
and we will talk together about all sorts of
"And about my mother?"
The little old woman nodded--and kept
nodding and smiling to herself many times, as
the boy repeated over and over again the sweet
words he had never known or understood--"my
mother--my mother."
"Now I must go," said she, as the trumpets
blared louder and louder, and the shouts of the
people showed that they would not endure any
delay. "Good-by, good-by! Open the window
and out I fly."
Prince Dolor repeated gayly the musical
rhyme--but all the while tried to hold his
godmother fast.
Vain, vain! for the moment that a knocking
was heard at his door the sun went behind a
cloud, the bright stream of dancing motes
vanished, and the little old woman with them--
he knew not where.
So Prince Dolor quitted his tower--which he
had entered so mournfully and ignominiously as
a little helpless baby carried in the deaf-mute's
arms--quitted it as the great King of Nomansland.
The only thing he took away with him was
something so insignificant that none of the lords,
gentlemen, and soldiers who escorted him with
such triumphant splendor could possibly notice
it--a tiny bundle, which he had found lying on
the floor just where the bridge of sunbeams had
rested. At once he had pounced upon it, and
thrust it secretly into his bosom, where it dwindled
into such small proportions that it might
have been taken for a mere chest-comforter, a
bit of flannel, or an old pocket-handkerchief.
It was his traveling-cloak!
Did Prince Dolar become a great king?
Was he, though little more than a
boy, "the father of his people," as all
kings ought to be? Did his reign
last long--long and happy? and what were the
principal events of it, as chronicled in the
history of Nomansland?
Why, if I were to answer all these questions
I should have to write another book. And I'm
tired, children, tired--as grown-up people
sometimes are, though not always with play.
(Besides, I have a small person belonging to me,
who, though she likes extremely to listen to the
word-of-mouth story of this book, grumbles
much at the writing of it, and has run about the
house clapping her hands with joy when mamma
told her that it was nearly finished. But that
is neither here nor there.)
I have related as well as I could the history of
Prince Dolor, but with the history of Nomansland
I am as yet unacquainted. If anybody
knows it, perhaps he or she will kindly write it
all down in another book. But mine is done.
However, of this I am sure, that Prince Dolor
made an excellent king. Nobody ever does anything
less well, not even the commonest duty of
common daily life, for having such a godmother
as the little old woman clothed in gray, whose
name is--well, I leave you to guess. Nor, I
think, is anybody less good, less capable of both
work and enjoyment in after-life, for having
been a little unhappy in his youth, as the prince
had been.
I cannot take upon myself to say that he was
always happy now--who is?--or that he had no
cares; just show me the person who is quite free
from them! But whenever people worried and
bothered him--as they did sometimes, with state
etiquette, state squabbles, and the like, setting
up themselves and pulling down their neighbors--
he would take refuge in that upper room
which looked out on the Beautiful Mountains,
and, laying his head on his godmother's shoulder,
become calmed and at rest.
Also, she helped him out of any difficulty
which now and then occurred--for there never
was such a wise old woman. When the people
of Nomansland raised the alarm--as sometimes
they did--for what people can exist without a
little fault-finding?--and began to cry out, "Unhappy
is the nation whose king is a child," she
would say to him gently, "You are a child.
Accept the fact. Be humble--be teachable.
Lean upon the wisdom of others till you have
gained your own."
He did so. He learned how to take advice
before attempting to give it, to obey before he
could righteously command. He assembled
round him all the good and wise of his kingdom
--laid all its affairs before them, and was guided
by their opinions until he had maturely formed
his own.
This he did sooner than anybody would have
imagined who did not know of his godmother
and his traveling-cloak--two secret blessings,
which, though many guessed at, nobody quite
understood. Nor did they understand why he
loved so the little upper room, except that it had
been his mother's room, from the window of
which, as people remembered now, she had used
to sit for hours watching the Beautiful Mountains.
Out of that window he used to fly--not very
often; as he grew older, the labors of state
prevented the frequent use of his traveling-cloak;
still he did use it sometimes. Only now it was
less for his own pleasure and amusement than
to see something or investigate something for
the good of the country. But he prized his
godmother's gift as dearly as ever. It was a
comfort to him in all his vexations, an enhancement
of all his joys. It made him almost forget
his lameness--which was never cured.
However, the cruel things which had been once
foreboded of him did not happen. His misfortune
was not such a heavy one, after all. It
proved to be of much less inconvenience, even to
himself, than had been feared. A council of
eminent surgeons and mechanicians invented
for him a wonderful pair of crutches, with the
help of which, though he never walked easily or
gracefully, he did manage to walk so as to be
quite independent. And such was the love his
people bore him that they never heard the sound
of his crutches on the marble palace floors without
a leap of the heart, for they knew that good
was coming to them whenever he approached.
Thus, though he never walked in processions,
never reviewed his troops mounted on a magnificent
charger, nor did any of the things which
make a show monarch so much appreciated, he
was able for all the duties and a great many of
the pleasures of his rank. When he held his
levees, not standing, but seated on a throne ingeniously
contrived to hide his infirmity, the
people thronged to greet him; when he drove out
through the city streets, shouts followed him
wherever he went--every countenance brightened
as he passed, and his own, perhaps, was the
brightest of all.
First, because, accepting his affliction as
inevitable, he took it patiently; second, because,
being a brave man, he bore it bravely, trying to
forget himself, and live out of himself, and in
and for other people. Therefore other people
grew to love him so well that I think hundreds
of his subjects might have been found who were
almost ready to die for their poor lame king.
He never gave them a queen. When they
implored him to choose one, he replied that his
country was his bride, and he desired no other.
But perhaps the real reason was that he shrank
from any change; and that no wife in all the
world would have been found so perfect, so
lovable, so tender to him in all his weaknesses as
his beautiful old godmother.
His twenty-four other godfathers and
godmothers, or as many of them as were still alive,
crowded round him as soon as he ascended the
throne. He was very civil to them all, but
adopted none of the names they had given him,
keeping to the one by which he had been always
known, though it had now almost lost its meaning;
for King Dolor was one of the happiest and
cheerfulest men alive.
He did a good many things, however, unlike
most men and most kings, which a little
astonished his subjects. First, he pardoned the
condemned woman who had been his nurse, and
ordained that from henceforth there should be
no such thing as the punishment of death in
Nomansland. All capital criminals were to be
sent to perpetual imprisonment in Hopeless
Tower and the plain round about it, where they
could do no harm to anybody, and might in time
do a little good, as the woman had done.
Another surprise he shortly afterward gave
the nation. He recalled his uncle's family, who
had fled away in terror to another country, and
restored them to all their honors in their own.
By and by he chose the eldest son of his eldest
cousin (who had been dead a year), and had him
educated in the royal palace, as the heir to the
throne. This little prince was a quiet,
unobtrusive boy, so that everybody wondered at
the King's choosing him when there were so
many more; but as he grew into a fine young
fellow, good and brave, they agreed that the
King judged more wisely than they.
"Not a lame prince, either," his Majesty
observed one day, watching him affectionately; for
he was the best runner, the highest leaper, the
keenest and most active sportsman in the
country. "One cannot make one's self, but one
can sometimes help a little in the making of
somebody else. It is well."
This was said, not to any of his great lords
and ladies, but to a good old woman--his first
homely nurse whom he had sought for far and
wide, and at last found in her cottage among
the Beautiful Mountains. He sent for her to
visit him once a year, and treated her with great
honor until she died. He was equally kind,
though somewhat less tender, to his other nurse,
who, after receiving her pardon, returned to
her native town and grew into a great lady, and
I hope a good one. But as she was so grand a
personage now, any little faults she had did not
Thus King Dolor's reign passed year after
year, long and prosperous. Whether he were
happy--"as happy as a king"--is a question no
human being can decide. But I think he was,
because he had the power of making everybody
about him happy, and did it too; also because he
was his godmother's godson, and could shut himself
up with her whenever he liked, in that quiet
little room in view of the Beautiful Mountains,
which nobody else ever saw or cared to see. They
were too far off, and the city lay so low. But
there they were, all the time. No change ever
came to them; and I think, at any day throughout
his long reign, the King would sooner have
lost his crown than have lost sight of the
Beautiful Mountains.
In course of time, when the little Prince, his
cousin, was grown into a tall young man, capable
of all the duties of a man, his Majesty did one of
the most extraordinary acts ever known in a
sovereign beloved by his people and prosperous
in his reign. He announced that he wished to
invest his heir with the royal purple--at any
rate, for a time--while he himself went away on
a distant journey, whither he had long desired
to go.
Everybody marveled, but nobody opposed
him. Who could oppose the good King, who
was not a young king now? And besides, the
nation had a great admiration for the young
regent--and possibly a lurking pleasure in
So there was a fixed day when all the people
whom it would hold assembled in the great
square of the capital, to see the young prince
installed solemnly in his new duties, and undertaking
his new vows. He was a very fine young
fellow; tall and straight as a poplar tree, with a
frank, handsome face--a great deal handsomer
than the king, some people said, but others
thought differently. However, as his Majesty
sat on his throne, with his gray hair falling from
underneath his crown, and a few wrinkles showing
in spite of his smile, there was something
about his countenance which made his people,
even while they shouted, regard him with a
tenderness mixed with awe.
He lifted up his thin, slender hand, and there
came a silence over the vast crowd immediately.
Then he spoke, in his own accustomed way, using
no grand words, but saying what he had to say in
the simplest fashion, though with a clearness
that struck their ears like the first song of a bird
in the dusk of the morning.
"My people, I am tired: I want to rest. I
have had a long reign, and done much work--at
least, as much as I was able to do. Many might
have done it better than I--but none with a
better will. Now I leave it to others; I am tired,
very tired. Let me go home."
There arose a murmur--of content or
discontent none could well tell; then it died down
again, and the assembly listened silently once
"I am not anxious about you, my people--my
children," continued the King. "You are
prosperous and at peace. I leave you in good
hands. The Prince Regent will be a fitter king
for you than I."
"No, no, no!" rose the universal shout--and
those who had sometimes found fault with him
shouted louder than anybody. But he seemed
as if he heard them not.
"Yes, yes," said he, as soon as the tumult had
a little subsided: and his voice sounded firm and
clear; and some very old people, who boasted of
having seen him as a child, declared that his face
took a sudden change, and grew as young and
sweet as that of the little Prince Dolor. "Yes,
I must go. It is time for me to go. Remember
me sometimes, my people, for I have loved you
well. And I am going a long way, and I do not
think I shall come back any more."
He drew a little bundle out of his breast
pocket--a bundle that nobody had ever seen
before. It was small and shabby-looking, and
tied up with many knots, which untied themselves
in an instant. With a joyful countenance,
he muttered over it a few half-intelligible words.
Then, so suddenly that even those nearest to his
Majesty could not tell how it came about, the
King was away--away--floating right up in the
air--upon something, they knew not what,
except that it appeared to be as safe and pleasant
as the wings of a bird.
And after him sprang a bird--a dear little
lark, rising from whence no one could say, since
larks do not usually build their nests in the
pavement of city squares. But there it was, a
real lark, singing far over their heads, louder
and clearer and more joyful as it vanished
further into the blue sky.
Shading their eyes, and straining their ears,
the astonished people stood until the whole
vision disappeared like a speck in the clouds--
the rosy clouds that overhung the Beautiful
King Dolor was never again beheld or heard
of in his own country. But the good he had done
there lasted for years and years; he was long
missed and deeply mourned--at least, so far as
anybody could mourn one who was gone on such
a happy journey.
Whither he went, or who went with him, it is
impossible to say. But I myself believe that his
godmother took him on his traveling-cloak to the
Beautiful Mountains. What he did there, or
where he is now, who can tell? I cannot. But
one thing I am quite sure of, that, wherever he
is, he is perfectly happy.
And so, when I think of him, am I.
THERE were a king and queen who were
dotingly fond of their only son,
notwithstanding that he was equally deformed
in mind and person. The king was quite
sensible of the evil disposition of his son, but the
queen in her excessive fondness saw no fault
whatever in her dear Furibon, as he was named.
The surest way to win her favor was to praise
Furibon for charms he did not possess. When he
came of age to have a governor, the king made
choice of a prince who had an ancient right to the
crown, but was not able to support it. This
prince had a son, named Leander, handsome,
accomplished, amiable--in every respect the opposite
of Prince Furibon. The two were frequently
together, which only made the deformed prince
more repulsive.
One day, certain ambassadors having arrived
from a far country, the prince stood in a gallery
to see them; when, taking Leander for the king's
son, they made their obeisance to him, treating
Furibon as a mere dwarf, at which the latter
was so offended that he drew his sword, and
would have done them a mischief had not the
king just then appeared. As it was, the affair
produced a quarrel, which ended in Leander's
being sent to a far-away castle belonging to his
There, however, he was quite happy, for he
was a great lover of hunting, fishing, and walking:
he understood painting, read much, and
played upon several instruments, so that he was
glad to be freed from the fantastic humors of
Furibon. One day as he was walking in the
garden, finding the heat increase, he retired
into a shady grove and began to play upon the
flute to amuse himself. As he played, he felt
something wind about his leg, and looking down
saw a great adder: he took his handkerchief,
and catching it by the head was going to kill it.
But the adder, looking steadfastly in his face,
seemed to beg his pardon. At this instant one
of the gardeners happened to come to the place
where Leander was, and spying the snake, cried
out to his master: "Hold him fast, sir; it is but
an hour since we ran after him to kill him: it is
the most mischievous creature in the world."
Leander, casting his eyes a second time upon
the snake, which was speckled with a thousand
extraordinary colors, perceived the poor creature
still looked upon him with an aspect that
seemed to implore compassion, and never tried
in the least to defend itself.
"Though thou hast such a mind to kill it,"
said he to the gardener, "yet, as it came to me
for refuge, I forbid thee to do it any harm; for
I will keep it, and when it has cast its beautiful
skin I will let it go." He then returned home,
and carrying the snake with him, put it into a
large chamber, the key of which he kept himself,
and ordered bran, milk, and flowers to be given
to it, for its delight and sustenance; so that
never was snake so happy. Leander went sometimes
to see it, and when it perceived him it
made haste to meet him, showing him all the
little marks of love and gratitude of which a
poor snake was capable, which did not a little
surprise him, though he took no further notice
of it.
In the meantime all the court ladies were
extremely troubled at his absence, and he was the
subject of all their discourse. "Alas!" cried
they, "there is no pleasure at court since
Leander is gone, of whose absence the wicked
Furibon is the cause!" Furibon also had his
parasites, for his power over the queen made
him feared; they told him what the ladies said,
which enraged him to such a degree that in his
passion he flew to the queen's chamber, and
vowed he would kill himself before her face if
she did not find means to destroy Leander. The
queen, who also hated Leander, because he was
handsomer than her son, replied that she had
long looked upon him as a traitor, and therefore
would willingly consent to his death. To which
purpose she advised Furibon to go a-hunting
with some of his confidants, and contrive it so
that Leander should make one of the party.
"Then," said she, "you may find some way to
punish him for pleasing everybody."
Furibon understood her, and accordingly
went a-hunting; and Leander, when he heard the
horns and the hounds, mounted his horse and
rode to see who it was. But he was surprised to
meet the prince so unexpectedly; he alighted
immediately and saluted him with respect; and
Furibon received him more graciously than
usual and bade follow him. All of a sudden
he turned his horse and rode another way,
making a sign to the ruffians to take the
first opportunity to kill him; but before he had
got quite out of sight, a lion of prodigious size,
coming out of his den, leaped upon Furibon; all
his followers fled, and only Leander remained;
who, attacking the animal sword in hand, by his
valor and agility saved the life of his most cruel
enemy, who had fallen in a swoon from fear.
When he recovered, Leander presented him his
horse to remount. Now, any other than such a
wretch would have been grateful, but Furibon
did not even look upon him; nay, mounting the
horse, he rode in quest of the ruffians, to whom
he repeated his orders to kill him. They
accordingly surrounded Leander, who, setting his
back to a tree, behaved with so much bravery
that he laid them all dead at his feet. Furibon,
believing him by this time slain, rode eagerly up
to the spot. When Leander saw him he
advanced to meet him. "Sir," said he, "if it was
by your order that these assassins came to kill
me, I am sorry I made any defense."
"You are an insolent villain!" replied
Furibon, "and if ever you come into my presence
again, you shall surely die."
Leander made no answer, but retired sad and
pensive to his own home, where he spent the
night in pondering what was best for him to do;
for there was no likelihood he should be able to
defend himself against the power of the king's
son; therefore he at length concluded he would
travel abroad and see the world. Being ready
to depart, he recollected his snake, and, calling
for some milk and fruits, carried them to the
poor creature for the last time; but on opening
the door he perceived an extraordinary luster in
one corner of the room, and casting his eye on
the place he was surprised to see a lady, whose
noble and majestic air made him immediately
conclude she was a princess of royal birth. Her
habit was of purple satin, embroidered with
pearls and diamonds; she advanced toward him
with a gracious smile.
"Young prince," said she, "you find no longer
your pet snake, but me, the fairy Gentilla, ready
to requite your generosity. For know that we
fairies live a hundred years in flourishing youth,
without diseases, without trouble or pain; and
this term being expired, we become snakes for
eight days. During that time it is not in our
power to prevent any misfortune that may befall
us; and if we happen to be killed, we never
revive again. But these eight days being expired,
we resume our usual form and recover our
beauty, our power, and our riches. Now you
know how much I am obliged to your goodness,
and it is but just that I should repay my debt
of gratitude; think how I can serve you and
depend on me."
The young prince, who had never conversed
with a fairy till now, was so surprised that it
was a long time before he could speak. But
at length, making a profound reverence,
"Madam," said he, "since I have had the honor
to serve you, I know not any other happiness
that I can wish for."
"I should be sorry," replied she, "not to be
of service to you in something; consider, it is in
my power to bestow on you long life, kingdoms,
riches; to give you mines of diamonds and
houses full of gold; I can make you an excellent
orator, poet, musician, and painter; or, if you
desire it, a spirit of the air, the water, or the
Here Leander interrupted her. "Permit me,
madam," said he, "to ask you what benefit it
would be to me to be a spirit?"
"Much," replied the fairy, "you would be
invisible when you pleased, and might in an
instant traverse the whole earth; you would be
able to fly without wings, to descend into the
abyss of the earth without dying, and walk at
the bottom of the sea without being drowned;
nor doors, nor windows, though fast shut and
locked, could hinder you from entering anywhere;
and whenever you had a mind, you might
resume your natural form."
"Oh, madam!" cried Leander, "then let me
be a spirit; I am going to travel, and should
prefer it above all those other advantages you have
so generously offered me."
Gentilla thereupon stroking his face three
times, "Be a spirit," said she; and then,
embracing him, she gave him a little red cap with a
plume of feathers. "When you put on this cap
you shall be invisible; but when you take it off
you shall again become visible."
Leander, overjoyed, put his little red cap
upon his head and wished himself in the forest,
that he might gather some wild roses which he
had observed there: his body immediately became
as light as thought; he flew through the
window like a bird; though, in flying over the
river, he was not without fear lest he should fall
into it, and the power of the fairy not be able to
save him. But he arrived in safety at the rosebushes,
plucked the three roses, and returned
immediately to his chamber; presented his roses
to the fairy, overjoyed that his first experiments
had succeeded so well. She bade him keep
the roses, for that one of them would supply
him with money whenever he wanted it; that
if he put the other into his mistress' bosom,
he would know whether she was faithful or not;
and that the third would keep him always in
good health. Then, without staying to receive
his thanks, she wished him success in his travels
and disappeared.
Leander, infinitely pleased, settled his affairs,
mounted the finest horse in the stable, called
Gris-de-line, and attended by some of his servants
in livery, made his return to court. Now
you must know Furibon had given out that had
it not been for his courage Leander would have
murdered him when they were a-hunting; so the
king, being importuned by the queen, gave orders
that Leander should be apprehended. But when
he came, he showed so much courage and resolution
that Furibon ran to the queen's chamber
and prayed her to order him to be seized. The
queen, who was extremely diligent in everything
that her son desired, went immediately to the
king. Furibon, being impatient to know what
would be resolved, followed her; but stopped at
the door and laid his ear to the keyhole, putting
his hair aside that he might the better hear what
was said. At the same time, Leander entered the
court-hall of the palace with his red cap upon
his head, and perceiving Furibon listening at
the door of the king's chamber, he took a nail and
a hammer and nailed his ear to the door. Furibon
began to roar, so that the queen, hearing
her son's voice, ran and opened the door, and,
pulling it hastily, tore her son's ear from his
head. Half out of her wits, she set him in her
lap, took up his ear, kissed it, and clapped it
again upon its place; but the invisible Leander,
seizing upon a handful of twigs, with which they
corrected the king's little dogs, gave the queen
several lashes upon her hands, and her son as
many on the nose: upon which the queen cried
out, "Murder! murder!" and the king looked
about, and the people came running in; but
nothing was to be seen. Some cried that the
queen was mad, and that her madness proceeded
from her grief to see that her son had lost one
ear; and the king was as ready as any to believe
it, so that when she came near him he avoided
her, which made a very ridiculous scene. Leander,
then leaving the chamber, went into the
garden, and there, assuming his own shape, he
boldly began to pluck the queen's cherries,
apricots, strawberries, and flowers, though he knew
she set such a high value on them that it was as
much as a man's life was worth to touch one.
The gardeners, all amazed, came and told their
majesties that Prince Leander was making
havoc of all the fruits and flowers in the queen's
"What insolence!" said the queen: then
turning to Furibon, "my pretty child, forget the
pain of thy ear but for a moment, and fetch that
vile wretch hither; take our guards, both horse
and foot, seize him, and punish him as he
Furibon, encouraged by his mother, and
attended by a great number of armed soldiers,
entered the garden and saw Leander; who, taking
refuge under a tree, pelted them all with
oranges. But when they came running toward
him, thinking to have seized him, he was not to
be seen; he had slipped behind Furibon, who was
in a bad condition already. But Leander played
him one trick more; for he pushed him down
upon the gravel walk, and frightened him so
that the soldiers had to take him up, carry him
away, and put him to bed.
Satisfied with this revenge, he returned to
his servants, who waited for him, and giving
them money, sent them back to his castle, that
none might know the secret of his red cap and
roses. As yet he had not determined whither
to go; however, he mounted his fine horse Grisde-
line, and, laying the reins upon his neck,
let him take his own road: at length he arrived
in a forest, where he stopped to shelter himself
from the heat. He had not been above a minute
there before he heard a lamentable noise of
sighing and sobbing; and looking about him,
beheld a man, who ran, stopped, then ran again,
sometimes crying, sometimes silent, then tearing
his hair, then thumping his breast like some
unfortunate madman. Yet he seemed to be both
handsome and young: his garments had been
magnificent, but he had torn them all to tatters.
The prince, moved with compassion, made toward
him, and mildly accosted him. "Sir," said
he, "your condition appears so deplorable that I
must ask the cause of your sorrow, assuring you
of every assistance in my power."
"Oh, sir," answered the young man, "nothing
can cure my grief; this day my dear mistress is
to be sacrificed to a rich old ruffian of a husband
who will make her miserable."
"Does she love you, then?" asked Leander.
"I flatter myself so," answered the young
"Where is she?" continued Leander.
"In the castle at the end of this forest,"
replied the lover.
"Very well," said Leander; "stay you here
till I come again, and in a little while I will
bring you good news."
He then put on his little red cap and wished
himself in the castle. He had hardly got thither
before he heard all sorts of music; he entered
into a great room, where the friends and kindred
of the old man and the young lady were
assembled. No one could look more amiable than
she; but the paleness of her complexion, the
melancholy that appeared in her countenance,
and the tears that now and then dropped, as it
were by stealth from her eyes, betrayed the
trouble of her mind.
Leander now became invisible, and placed
himself in a corner of the room. He soon
perceived the father and mother of the bride; and
coming behind the mother's chair, whispered in
her ear, "If you marry your daughter to that
old dotard, before eight days are over you shall
certainly die." The woman, frightened to hear
such a terrible sentence pronounced upon her,
and yet not know from whence it came, gave a
loud shriek and dropped upon the floor. Her
husband asked what ailed her: she cried that she
was a dead woman if the marriage of her
daughter went forward, and therefore she would
not consent to it for all the world. Her husband
laughed at her and called her a fool. But the
invisible Leander accosting the man, threatened
him in the same way, which frightened him so
terribly that he also insisted on the marriage
being broken off. When the lover complained,
Leander trod hard upon his gouty toes and rang
such an alarm in his ears that, not being able
any longer to hear himself speak, away he
limped, glad enough to go. The real lover soon
appeared, and he and his fair mistress fell
joyfully into one another's arms, the parents
consenting to their union. Leander, assuming
his own shape, appeared at the hall door, as if
he were a stranger drawn thither by the report
of this extraordinary wedding.
From hence he traveled on, and came to a
great city, where, upon his arrival, he understood
there was a great and solemn procession,
in order to shut up a young woman against her
will among the vestal-nuns. The prince was
touched with compassion; and thinking the best
use he could make of his cap was to redress
public wrongs and relieve the oppressed, he flew
to the temple, where he saw the young woman,
crowned with flowers, clad in white, and with her
disheveled hair flowing about her shoulders.
Two of her brothers led her by each hand, and
her mother followed her with a great crowd of
men and women. Leander, being invisible, cried
out, "Stop, stop, wicked brethren: stop, rash
and inconsiderate mother; if you proceed any
further, you shall be squeezed to death like so
many frogs." They looked about, but could
not conceive from whence these terrible menaces
came. The brothers said it was only their
sister's lover, who had hid himself in some hole;
at which Leander, in wrath, took a long cudgel,
and they had no reason to say the blows were not
well laid on. The multitude fled, the vestals
ran away, and Leander was left alone with the
victim; immediately he pulled off his red cap
and asked her wherein he might serve her. She
answered him that there was a certain gentleman
whom she would be glad to marry, but that
he wanted an estate. Leander then shook his
rose so long that he supplied them with ten
millions; after which they were married and
lived happily together.
But his last adventure was the most agreeable.
Entering into a wide forest, he heard lamentable
cries. Looking about him every way, at length
he spied four men well armed, who were carrying
away by force a young lady, thirteen or
fourteen years of age; upon which, making up
to them as fast as he could, "What harm has
that girl done?" said he.
"Ha! ha! my little master," cried he who
seemed to be the ringleader of the rest, "who
bade you inquire?"
"Let her alone," said Leander, "and go
about your business."
"Oh, yes, to be sure," cried they, laughing;
whereupon the prince, alighting, put on his red
cap, not thinking it otherwise prudent to attack
four who seemed strong enough to fight a
dozen. One of them stayed to take care of the
young lady, while the three others went after
Gris-de-line, who gave them a great deal of
unwelcome exercise.
Meantime the young lady continued her cries
and complaints. "Oh, my dear princess," said
she, "how happy was I in your palace! Did you
but know my sad misfortune, you would send
your Amazons to rescue poor Abricotina."
Leander, having listened to what she said,
without delay seized the ruffian that held her,
and bound him fast to a tree before he had time
or strength to defend himself. He then went to
the second, and taking him by both arms, bound
him in the same manner to another tree. In the
meantime Abricotina made the best of her good
fortune and betook herself to her heels, not
knowing which way she went. But Leander,
missing her, called out to his horse Gris-de-line;
who, by two kicks with his hoof, rid himself of
the two ruffians who had pursued him: one of
them had his head broken and the other three
of his ribs. And now Leander only wanted to
overtake Abricotina; for he thought her so handsome
that he wished to see her again. He found
her leaning against a tree. When she saw Grisde-
line coming toward her, "How lucky am I!"
cried she; "this pretty little horse will carry me
to the palace of pleasure." Leander heard her,
though she saw him not: he rode up to her;
Gris-de-line stopped, and when Abricotina
mounted him, Leander clasped her in his arms
and placed her gently before him. Oh, how
great was Abricotina's fear to feel herself fast
embraced, and yet see nobody! She durst not
stir, and shut her eyes for fear of seeing a spirit.
But Leander took off his little cap. "How comes
it, fair Abricotina," said he, "that you are
afraid of me, who delivered you out of the hands
of the ruffians?"
With that she opened her eyes, and knowing
him again, "Oh, sir," said she, "I am infinitely
obliged to you; but I was afraid, for I felt
myself held fast and could see no one."
"Surely," replied Leander, "the danger you
have been in has disturbed you and cast a mist
before your eyes."
Abricotina would not seem to doubt him,
though she was otherwise extremely sensible.
And after they had talked for some time of
indifferent things, Leander requested her to tell
him her age, her country, and by what accident
she fell into the hands of the ruffians.
"Know then, sir," said she, "there was a
certain very great fairy married to a prince who
wearied of her: she therefore banished him from
her presence, and established herself and daughter
in the Island of Calm Delights. The princess,
who is my mistress, being very fair, has many
lovers--among others, one named Furibon,
whom she detests; he it was whose ruffians
seized me to-day when I was wandering in
search of a stray parrot. Accept, noble prince,
my best thanks for your valor, which I shall
never forget."
Leander said how happy he was to have
served her, and asked if he could not obtain
admission into the island. Abricotina assured
him this was impossible, and therefore he had
better forget all about it. While they were thus
conversing, they came to the bank of a large
river. Abricotina alighted with a nimble jump
from the horse.
"Farewell, sir," said she to the prince,
making a profound reverence; "I wish you every
"And I," said Leander, "wish that I may now
and then have a small share in your remembrance."
So saying, he galloped away and soon entered
into the thickest part of the wood, near a river,
where he unbridled and unsaddled Gris-de-line;
then, putting on his little cap, wished himself
in the Island of Calm Delights, and his wish
was immediately accomplished.
The palace was of pure gold, and stood upon
pillars of crystal and precious stones, which
represented the zodiac and all the wonders of
nature; all the arts and sciences; the sea, with
all the variety of fish therein contained; the
earth, with all the various creatures which it
produces; the chases of Diana and her nymphs;
the noble exercises of the Amazons; the amusements
of a country life; flocks of sheep with
their shepherds and dogs; the toils of agriculture,
harvesting, gardening. And among all
this variety of representations there was neither
man nor boy to be seen--not so much as a little
winged Cupid; so highly had the princess been
incensed against her inconstant husband as not
to show the least favor to his fickle sex.
"Abricotina did not deceive me," said
Leander to himself; "they have banished from
hence the very idea of men; now let us see what
they have lost by it." With that he entered into
the palaces and at every step he took he met with
objects so wonderful that when he had once
fixed his eyes upon them he had much ado to
take them off again. He viewed a vast number
of these apartments, some full of china, no less
fine than curious; others lined with porcelain, so
delicate that the walls were quite transparent.
Coral, jasper, agates, and cornelians adorned the
rooms of state, and the presence-chamber was
one entire mirror. The throne was one great
pearl, hollowed like a shell; the princess sat,
surrounded by her maidens, none of whom could
compare with herself. In her was all the innocent
sweetness of youth, joined to the dignity of
maturity; in truth, she was perfection; and so
thought the invisible Leander.
Not seeing Abricotina, she asked where she
was. Upon that, Leander, being very desirous
to speak, assumed the tone of a parrot, for there
were many in the room, and addressed himself
invisibly to the princess.
"Most charming princess," said he, "Abricotina
will return immediately. She was in great
danger of being carried away from this place but
for a young prince who rescued her."
The princess was surprised at the parrot, his
answer was so extremely pertinent.
"You are very rude, little parrot," said the
princess;" and Abricotina, when she comes,
shall chastise you for it."
"I shall not be chastised," answered Leander,
still counterfeiting the parrot's voice; "moreover,
she will let you know the great desire that
stranger had to be admitted into this palace,
that he might convince you of the falsehood of
those ideas which you have conceived against
his sex."
"In truth, pretty parrot," cried the princess,
"it is a pity you are not every day so diverting;
I should love you dearly."
"Ah! if prattling will please you, princess,"
replied Leander, "I will prate from morning
till night."
"But," continued the princess, "how shall I
be sure my parrot is not a sorcerer?"
"He is more in love than any sorcerer can be,"
replied the prince.
At this moment Abricotina entered the room,
and falling at her lovely mistress' feet, gave her
a full account of what had befallen her, and
described the prince in the most glowing colors.
"I should have hated all men," added she,
"had I not seen him! Oh, madam, how charming
he is! His air and all his behavior have
something in them so noble; and though whatever
he spoke was infinitely pleasing, yet I think
I did well in not bringing him hither."
To this the princess said nothing, but she
asked Abricotina a hundred other questions
concerning the prince; whether she knew his name,
his country, his birth, from whence he came, and
whither he was going; and after this she fell
into a profound thoughtfulness.
Leander observed everything, and continued
to chatter as he had begun.
"Abricotina is ungrateful, madam," said he;
"that poor stranger will die for grief if he sees
you not."
"Well, parrot, let him die," answered the
princess with a sigh; "and since thou undertakest
to reason like a person of wit, and not a
little bird, I forbid thee to talk to me any more
of this unknown person."
Leander was overjoyed to find that Abricotina's
and the parrot's discourse had made such
an impression on the princess. He looked upon
her with pleasure and delight. "Can it be,"
said he to himself, "that the masterpiece of
nature, that the wonder of our age, should be
confined eternally in an island, and no mortal
dare to approach her? But," continued he,
"wherefore am I concerned that others are
banished hence, since I have the happiness to be
with her, to hear and to admire her; nay, more,
to love her above all the women in the universe?"
It was late, and the princess retired into a
large room of marble and porphyry, where
several bubbling fountains, refreshed the air
with an agreeable coolness. As soon as she
entered the music began, a sumptuous supper
was served up, and the birds from several
aviaries on each side of the room, of which
Abricotina had the chief care, opened their little
throats in the most agreeable manner.
Leander had traveled a journey long enough
to give him a good appetite, which made him
draw near the table, where the very smell of such
viands was agreeable and refreshing. The princess
had a curious tabby-cat, for which she had
a great kindness. This cat one of the maids of
honor held in her arms, saying, "Madam, Bluet
is hungry!" With that a chair was presently
brought for the cat; for he was a cat of quality,
and had a necklace of pearl about his neck. He
was served on a golden plate with a laced napkin
before him; and the plate being supplied with
meat, Bluet sat with the solemn importance of
an alderman.
"Ho! ho!" cried Leander to himself; "an
idle tabby malkin, that perhaps never caught a
mouse in his life, and I dare say is not descended
from a better family than myself, has the honor
to sit at table with my mistress: I would fain
know whether he loves her so well as I do."
Saying this, he placed himself in the chair with
the cat upon his knee, for nobody saw him, because
he had his little red cap on; finding Bluet's
plate well supplied with partridge, quails, and
pheasants, he made so free with them that whatever
was set before Master Puss disappeared in
a trice. The whole court said no act{sic} ever ate with
a better appetite. There were excellent ragouts,
and the prince made use of the cat's paw to taste
them; but he sometimes pulled his paw too
roughly, and Bluet, not understanding raillery,
began to mew and be quite out of patience. The
princess observing it, "Bring that fricassee and
that tart to poor Bluet," said she; "see how he
cries to have them."
Leander laughed to himself at the pleasantness
of this adventure; but he was very thirsty,
not being accustomed to make such large meals
without drinking. By the help of the cat's paw
he got a melon, with which he somewhat
quenched his thirst; and when supper was quite
over, he went to the buffet and took two bottles
of delicious wine.
The princess now retired into her boudoir,
ordering Abricotina to follow her and make fast
the door; but they could not keep out Leander,
who was there as soon as they. However, the
princess, believing herself alone with her confidante:
"Abricotina," said she, "tell me truly, did
you exaggerate in your description of the unknown
prince, for methinks it is impossible he
should be as amiable as you say?"
"Madam," replied the damsel, "if I have
failed in anything, it was ln coming short of
what was due to him."
The princess sighed and was silent for a time;
then resuming her speech: "I am glad," said
she, "thou didst not bring him with thee."
"But, madam," answered Abricotina, who
was a cunning girl, and already penetrated her
mistress' thoughts, "suppose he had come to
admire the wonders of these beautiful mansions,
what harm could he have done us? Will you
live eternally unknown in a corner of the world,
concealed from the rest of human kind? Of
what use is all your grandeur, pomp, magnificence,
if nobody sees it?"
"Hold thy peace, prattler," replied the
princess, "and do not disturb that happy repose
which I have enjoyed so long."
Abricotina durst make no reply; and the
princess, having waited her answer for some time,
asked her whether she had anything to say.
Abricotina then said she thought it was to very
little purpose her mistress having sent her
picture to the courts of several princes, where
it only served to make those who saw it miserable;
that every one would be desirous to marry
her, and as she could not marry them all, indeed
none of them, it would make them desperate.
"Yet, for all that," said the princess, I could
wish my picture were in the hands of this same
"Oh, madam," answered Abricotina, "is not
his desire to see you violent enough already?
Would you augment it?"
"Yes," cried the princess; "a certain impulse
of vanity, which I was never sensible of till now,
has bred this foolish fancy in me."
Leander heard all this discourse, and lost not
a tittle of what she said; some of her expressions
gave him hope, others absolutely destroyed
it. The princess presently asked Abricotina
whether she had seen anything extraordinary
during her short travels.
"Madam," said she, "I passed through one
forest where I saw certain creatures that
resembled little children: they skip and dance
upon the trees like squirrels; they are very ugly,
but have wonderful agility and address."
"I wish I had one of them," said the princess;
"but if they are so nimble as you say they are,
it is impossible to catch one."
Leander, who passed through the same forest,
knew what Abricotina meant, and presently
wished himself in the place. He caught a dozen
of little monkeys, some bigger, some less, and all
of different colors, and with much ado put them
into a large sack; then, wishing himself at Paris,
where, he had heard, a man might have everything
for money, he went and bought a little gold
chariot. He taught six green monkeys to draw
it; they were harnessed with fine traces of flamecolored
morocco leather. He went to another
place, where he met with two monkeys of merit,
the most pleasant of which was called Briscambril,
the other Pierceforest--both very spruce
and well educated. He dressed Briscambril like
a king and placed him in the coach; Pierceforest
he made the coachman; the others were dressed
like pages; all which he put into his sack, coach
and all.
The princess not being gone to bed, heard a
rumbling of a little coach in the long gallery; at
the same time, her ladies came to tell her that
the king of the dwarfs was arrived, and the
chariot immediately entered her chamber with
all the monkey train. The country monkeys began
to show a thousand tricks, which far
surpassed those of Briscambril and Pierceforest.
To say the truth, Leander conducted the
whole machine. He drew the chariot where
Briscambril sat arrayed as a king, and making
him hold a box of diamonds in his hand, he
presented it with a becoming grace to the princess.
The princess' surprise may be easily imagined.
Moreover, Briscambril made a sign for Pierceforest
to come and dance with him. The most
celebrated dancers were not to be compared with
them in activity. But the princess, troubled
that she could not guess from whence this
curious present came, dismissed the dancers
sooner than she would otherwise have done,
though she was extremely pleased with them.
Leander, satisfied with having seen the
delight the princess had taken in beholding the
monkeys, thought of nothing now but to get a
little repose, which he greatly wanted. He
stayed sometime in the great gallery; afterward,
going down a pair of stairs, and finding a door
open, he entered into an apartment the most
delightful that ever was seen. There was in it a
bed of cloth-of-gold, enriched with pearls,
intermixed with rubies and emeralds: for by this
time there appeared daylight sufficient for him
to view and admire the magnificence of this
sumptuous furniture. Having made fast the
door, he composed himself to sleep. Next day
he rose very early, and looking about on every
side, he spied a painter's pallet, with colors ready
prepared and pencils. Remembering what the
princess had said to Abricotina touching her
own portrait, he immediately (for he could paint
as well as the most excellent masters) seated
himself before a mirror and drew his own picture
first; then, in an oval, that of the princess.
He had all her features so strong in his
imagination that he had no occasion for her sitting;
and as his desire to please her had set him to
work, never did portrait bear a stronger resemblance.
He had painted himself upon one knee,
holding the princess' picture in one hand, and
in the other a label with this inscription, "She
is better in my heart." When the princess went
into her cabinet, she was amazed to see the
portrait of a man; and she fixed her eyes upon it
with so much the more surprise, because she also
saw her own with it, and because the words
which were written upon the label afforded her
ample room for curiosity. She persuaded herself
that it was Abricotina's doing; and all she
desired to know was whether the portrait was
real or imaginary. Rising in haste, she called
Abricotina, while the invisible Leander, with
his little red cap, slipped into the cabinet,
impatient to know what passed. The princess bade
Abricotina look upon the picture and tell her
what she thought of it.
After she had viewed it, "I protest!" said she,
"'tis the picture of that generous stranger to
whom I am indebted for my life. Yes, yes, I am
sure it is he; his very features, shape, and hair."
"Thou pretendest surprise," said the
princess, "but I know it was thou thyself who put it
"Who! I, madam?" replied Abricotina. "I
protest I never saw the picture before in my life.
Should I be so bold as to conceal from your
knowledge a thing that so nearly concerns you?
And by what miracle could I come by it? I
never could paint, nor did any man ever enter
this place; yet here he is painted with you?"
"Some spirit, then, must have brought it
hither," cried the princess.
"How I tremble for fear, madam!" said
Abricotina. "Was it not rather some lover?
And therefore, if you will take my advice, let us
burn it immediately."
"'Twere a pity to burn it," cried the princess,
sighing; "a finer piece, methinks, cannot adorn
my cabinet." And saying these words, she cast
her eyes upon it. But Abricotina continued
obstinate in her opinion that it ought to be
burned, as a thing that could not come there but
by the power of magic.
"And these words--`She is better in my
heart,' " said the princess; "must we burn them
"No favor must be shown to anything," said
Abricotina, "not even to your own portrait."
Abricotina ran away immediately for some
fire, while the princess went to look out at the
window. Leander, unwilling to let his performance
be burned, took this opportunity to convey
it away without being perceived. He had hardly
quitted the cabinet, when the princess turned
about to look once more upon that enchanting
picture, which had so delighted her. But how
was she surprised to find it gone! She sought
for it all the room over; and Abricotina,
returning, was no less surprised than her mistress; so
that this last adventure put them both in the
most terrible fright.
Leander took great delight in hearing and
seeing his incomparable mistress; even though
he had to eat every day at her table with the
tabby-cat, who fared never the worse for that;
but his satisfaction was far from being complete,
seeing he durst neither speak nor show himself;
and he knew it was not a common thing for
ladies to fall in love with persons invisible.
The princess had a universal taste for amusement.
One day, she was saying to her attendants
that it would give her great pleasure to
know how the ladies were dressed in all the
courts of the universe. There needed no more
words to send Leander all over the world. He
wished himself in China, where he bought the
richest stuffs he could lay his hands on, and got
patterns of all the court fashions. From thence
he flew to Siam, where he did the same; in three
days he traveled over all the four parts of the
world, and from time to time brought what he
bought to the Palace of Calm Delights, and hid
it all in a chamber, which he kept always locked.
When he had thus collected together all the
rarities he could meet with--for he never wanted
money, his rose always supplying him--he went
and bought five or six dozen of dolls, which he
caused to be dressed at Paris, the place in the
world where most regard is paid to fashions.
They were all dressed differently, and as
magnificent as could be, and Leander placed them all
in the princess' closet. When she entered it, she
was agreeably surprised to see such company of
little mutes, every one decked with watches
bracelets, diamond buckles, or necklaces; and
the most remarkable of them held a picture box
in its hand, which the princess opening, found it
contained Leander's portrait. She gave a loud
shriek, and looking upon Abricotina, "There
have appeared of late," said she, "so many
wonders in this place, that I know not what to
think of them: my birds are all grown witty; I
cannot so much as wish, but presently I have
my desires; twice have I now seen the portrait
of him who rescued thee from the ruffians; and
here are silks of all sorts, diamonds,
embroideries, laces, and an infinite number of other
rarities. What fairy is it that takes such care to
pay me these agreeable civilities?"
Leander was overjoyed to hear and see her so
much interested about his picture, and calling to
mind that there was in a grotto which she often
frequented a certain pedestal, on which a Diana,
not yet finished, was to be erected, on this pedestal
he resolved to place himself, crowned with
laurel, and holding a lyre in his hand, on which
he played like another Apollo. He most
anxiously waited the princess' retiring to the
grotto, which she did every day since her
thoughts had taken up with this unknown person;
for what Abricotina had said, joined to the
sight of the picture, had almost destroyed her
repose: her lively humor changed into a pensive
melancholy, and she grew a great lover of
solitude. When she entered the grotto, she made a
sign that nobody should follow her, so that her
young damsels dispersed themselves into the
neighboring walks. The princess threw herself
upon a bank of green turf, sighed, wept, and
even talked, but so softly that Leander could not
hear what she said. He had put his red cap on,
that she might not see him at first; but having
taken it off, she beheld him standing on the
pedestal. At first she took him for a real statue,
for he observed exactly the attitude in which he
had placed himself, without moving so much as
a finger. She beheld with a kind of pleasure
intermixed with fear, but pleasure soon dispelled
her fear, and she continued to view the
pleasing figure, which so exactly resembled life.
The prince having tuned his lyre, began to
play; at which the princess, greatly surprised,
could not resist the fear that seized her; she
grew pale and fell into a swoon. Leander
leaped from the pedestal, and putting on his
little red cap, that he might not be perceived,
took the princess in his arms and gave her all the
assistance that his zeal and tenderness could
inspire. At length she opened her charming eyes
and looked about in search of him, but she could
perceive nobody; yet she felt somebody who held
her hands, kissed them, and bedewed them with
his tears. It was a long time before she durst
speak, and her spirits were in a confused agitation
between fear and hope. She was afraid of
the spirit, but loved the figure of the unknown.
At length she said: "Courtly invisible, why are
you not the person I desire you should be?" At
these words Leander was going to declare himself,
but durst not do it yet. "For," thought he,
"if I again affright the object I adore and make
her fear me, she will not love me." This
consideration caused him to keep silence.
The princess, then, believing herself alone,
called Abricotina and told her all the wonders
of the animated statue; that it had played
divinely, and that the invisible person had given
her great assistance when she lay in a swoon.
"What pity 'tis," said she, "that this person
should be so frightful, for nothing can be more
amiable or acceptable than his behavior!"
"Who told you, madam," answered Abricotina,
"that he is frightful? If he is the youth
who saved me, he is beautiful as Cupid himself."
"If Cupid and the unknown are the same,"
replied the princess, blushing, "I could be
content to love Cupid; but alas! how far am I from
such a happiness! I love a mere shadow; and
this fatal picture, joined to what thou hast told
me, have inspired me with inclinations so contrary
to the precepts which I received from my
mother that I am daily afraid of being punished
for them."
"Oh! madam," said Abricotina, interrupting
her, "have you not troubles enough already?
Why should you anticipate afflictions which may
never come to pass?"
It is easy to imagine what pleasure Leander
took in this conversation.
In the meantime the little Furibon, still
enamored of the princess whom he had never
seen, expected with impatience the return of the
four servants whom he had sent to the Island of
Calm Delights. One of them at last came back,
and after he had given the prince a particular
account of what had passed, told him that the
island was defended by Amazons, and that unless
he sent a very powerful army, it would be
impossible to get into it. The king his father
was dead, and Furibon was now lord of all:
disdaining, therefore, any repulse, he raised an
army of four hundred thousand men, and put
himself at the head of them, appearing like
another Tom Thumb upon a war-horse. Now,
when the Amazons perceived his mighty host,
they gave the princess notice of its who
immediately dispatched away her trusty
Abricotina to the kingdom of the fairies, to beg her
mother's instructions as to what she should do
to drive the little Furibon from her territories.
But Abricotina found the fairy in an angry
"Nothing that my daughter does," said she,
"escapes my knowledge. The Prince Leander is
now in her palace; he loves her, and she has a
tenderness for him. All my cares and precepts
have not been able to guard her from the
tyranny of love, and she is now under its fatal
dominion. But it is the decree of destiny, and I
must submit; therefore, Abricotina, begone! nor
let me hear a word more of a daughter whose
behavior has so much displeased me."
Abricotina returned with these ill tidings,
whereat the princess was almost distracted; and
this was soon perceived by Leander, who was
near her, though she did not see him. He beheld
her grief with the greatest pain. However, he
durst not then open his lips; but recollecting
that Furibon was exceedingly covetous, he
thought that, by giving him a sum of money, he
might perhaps prevail with him to retire. Thereupon,
he dressed himself like an Amazon, and
wished himself in the forest, to catch his horse.
He had no sooner called him than Gris-de-line
came leaping, prancing, and neighing for joy,
for he was grown quite weary of being so long
absent from his dear master; but when he beheld
him dressed as a woman he hardly knew him.
However, at the sound of his voice, he suffered
the prince to mount, and they soon arrived in the
camp at Furibon, where they gave notice that a
lady was come to speak with him from the
Princess of Calm Delights. Immediately the
little fellow put on his royal robes, and having
placed himself upon his throne, he looked like a
great toad counterfeiting a king.
Leander harangued him, and told him that the
princess, preferring a quiet and peaceable life
to the fatigues of war, had sent to offer his
majesty as much money as he pleased to demand,
provided he would suffer her to continue in
peace; but if he refused her proposal, she would
omit no means that might serve for her defense.
Furibon replied that he took pity on her, and
would grant her the honor of his protection; but
that he demanded a hundred thousand millions
of pounds, and without which he would not return
to his kingdom. Leander answered that
such a vast sum would be too long a-counting,
and therefore, if he would say how many rooms
full he desired to have, the princess was generous
and rich enoug hto{sic} satisfy him. Furibon was
astonished to hear that, instead of entreating,
she would rather offer more; and it came into
his wicked mind to take all the money he could
get, and then seize the Amazon and kill her, that
she might never return to her mistress. He told
Leander, therefore, that he would have thirty
chambers of gold, all full to the ceiling.
Leander, being conducted into the chambers,
took his rose and shook it, till every room was
filled with all sorts of coin. Furibon was in an
ecstasy, and the more gold he saw the greater
was his desire to get hold of the Amazon; so that
when all the rooms were full, he commanded his
guards to seize her, alleging she had brought
him counterfeit money. Immediately Leander
put on his little red cap and disappeared. The
guards, believing that the lady had escaped, ran
out and left Furibon alone; when Leander,
availing himself of the opportunity, took the
tyrant by the hair, and twisted his head off with
the same ease he would a pullet's; nor did the
little wretch of a king see that hand that killed
Leander having got his enemy's head, wished
himself in the Palace of Calm Delights, where
he found the princess walking, and with grief
considering the message which her mother had
sent her, and on the means to repel Furibon.
Suddenly she beheld a head hanging in the
air, with nobody to hold it. This prodigy
astonished her so that she could not tell what to
think of it; but her amazement was increased
when she saw the head laid at her feet, and heard
a voice utter these words:
"Charming Princess, cease your fear
Of Furibon; whose head see here."
Abricotina, knowing Leander's voice, cried:
"I protest, madam, the invisible person who
speaks is the very stranger that rescued me."
The princess seemed astonished, but yet
"Oh," said she, "if it be true that the invisible
and the stranger are the same person, I confess
I shall be glad to make him my acknowledgments."
Leander, still invisible, replied, "I will yet do
more to deserve them;" and so saying he
returned to Furibon's army, where the report of
the king's death was already spread throughout
the camp. As soon as Leander appeared there
in his usual habit, everybody knew him; all the
officers and soldiers surrounded him, uttering
the loudest acclamations of joy. In short, they
acknowledged him for their king, and that the
crown of right belonged to him, for which he
thanked them, and, as the first mark of his royal
bounty, divided the thirty rooms of gold among
the soldiers. This done he returned to his
princess, ordering his army to march back into
his kingdom.
The princess was gone to bed. Leander,
therefore, retired into his own apartment, for
he was very sleepy--so sleepy that he forgot to
bolt his door; and so it happened that the
princess, rising early to taste the morning air,
chanced to enter into this very chamber, and was
astonished to find a young prince asleep upon
the bed. She took a full view of him, and was
convinced that he was the person whose picture
she had in her diamond box. "It is impossible,"
said she, "that this should be a spirit; for can
spirits sleep? Is this a body composed of air
and fire, without substance, as Abricotina told
me?" She softly touched his hair, and heard
him breathe, and looked at him as if she could
have looked forever. While she was thus
occupied, her mother, the fairy entered with such a
noise that Leander started out of his sleep. But
how deeply was he afflicted to behold his beloved
princess in the most deplorable condition! Her
mother dragged her by the hair and loaded her
with a thousand bitter reproaches. In what
grief and consternation were the two young
lovers, who saw themselves now upon the point
of being separated forever! The princess durst
not open her lips, but cast her eyes upon
Leander, as if to beg his assistance. He judged
rightly that he ought not to deal rudely with a
power superior to his own, and therefore he
sought, by his eloquence and submission, to
move the incensed fairy. He ran to her, threw
himself at her feet, and besought her to have
pity upon a young prince who would never
change in his affection for her daughter.
The princess, encouraged, also embraced her
mother's knees, and declared that without
Leander she should never be happy.
"Happy!" cried the fairy; "you know not
the miseries of love nor the treacheries of which
lovers are capable. They bewitch us only to
poison our lives; I have known it by experience;
and will you suffer the same?"
"Is there no exception, madam?" replied
Leander, and his countenance showed him to be
But neither tears nor entreaties could move
the implacable fairy; and it is very probable
that she would have never pardoned them, had
not the lovely Gentilla appeared at that instant
in the chamber, more brilliant than the sun.
Embracing the old fairy:
"Dear sister," said she, "I am persuaded you
cannot have forgotten the good office I did you
when, after your unhappy marriage, you
besought a readmittance into Fairyland; since
then I never desired any favor at your hands,
but now the time is come. Pardon, then, this
lovely princess; consent to her nuptials with
this young prince. I will engage he shall be
ever constant to her; the thread of their days
shall be spun of gold and silk; they shall live to
complete your happiness; and I will never forget
the obligation you lay upon me."
"Charming Gentilla," cried the fairy, "I
consent to whatever you desire. Come, my dear
children, and receive my love." So saying, she
embraced them both.
Abricotina, just then entering, cast her eyes
upon Leander; she knew him again, and saw he
was perfectly happy, at which she, too, was quite
"Prince," condescendingly said the fairymother,
"I will remove the Island of Calm
Delights into your own kingdom, live with you
myself, and do you great services."
Whether or not Prince Leander appreciated
this offer, he bowed low, and assured his motherin-
law that no favor could be equal to the one he
had that day received from her hands. This
short compliment pleased the fairy exceedingly,
for she belonged to those ancient days when
people used to stand a whole day upon one leg
complimenting one another. The nuptials were
performed in a most splendid manner, and the
young prince and princess lived together
happily many years, beloved by all around them.
LONG ago there lived a monarch, who
was such a very, honest man that his
subjects entitled him the Good King.
One day, when he was out hunting, a
little white rabbit, which had been half-killed
by his hounds, leaped right into his majesty's
arms. Said he, caressing it: "This poor creature
has put itself under my protection, and I
will allow no one to injure it." So he carried it
to his palace, had prepared for it a neat little
rabbit-hutch, with abundance of the daintiest
food, such as rabbits love, and there he left it.
The same night, when he was alone in his
chamber, there appeared to him a beautiful lady.
She was dressed neither in gold, nor silver, nor
brocade; but her flowing robes were white as
snow, and she wore a garland of white roses on
her head. The Good King was greatly astonished
at the sight; for his door was locked, and
he wondered how so dazzling a lady could
possibly enter; but she soon removed his doubts.
"I am the fairy Candide," said she, with a
smiling and gracious air. "Passing through the
wood where you were hunting, I took a desire to
know if you were as good as men say you are I
therefore changed myself into a white rabbit
and took refuge in your arms. You saved me
and now I know that those who are merciful to
dum beasts will be ten times more so to human
beings. You merit the name your subjects give
you: you are the Good King. I thank you for
your protection, and shall be always one of your
best friends. You have but to say what you
most desire, and I promise you your wish shall
be granted."
"Madam," replied the king, "if you are a
fairy, you must know, without my telling you,
the wish of my heart. I have one well-beloved
son, Prince Cherry: whatever kindly feeling
you have toward me, extend it to him."
"Willingly," said Candide. "I will make him
the handsomest, richest, or most powerful prince
in the world: choose whichever you desire for
"None of the three," returned the father. "I
only wish him to be good--the best prince in the
whole world. Of what use would riches, power,
or beauty be to him if he were a bad man?"
"You are right," said the fairy; "but I can
not make him good: he must do that himself. I
can only change his external fortunes; for his
personal character, the utmost I can promise is
to give him good counsel, reprove him for his
faults, and even punish him, if he will not
punish himself. You mortals can do the same
with your children."
"Ah, yes!" said the king, sighing. Still, he
felt that the kindness of a fairy was something
gained for his son, and died not long after, content
and at peace.
Prince Cherry mourned deeply, for he dearly
loved his father, and would have gladly given all
his kingdoms and treasures to keep him in life a
little longer. Two days after the Good King
was no more, Prince Cherry was sleeping in his
chamber, when he saw the same dazzling vision
of the fairy Candide.
"I promised your father," said she, "to be
your best friend, and in pledge of this take what
I now give you;" and she placed a small gold
ring upon his finger. "Poor as it looks, it is
more precious than diamonds; for whenever you
do ill it will prick your finger. If, after that
warning, you still continue in evil, you will lose
my friendship, and I shall become your direst
So saying, she disappeared, leaving Cherry
in such amazement that he would have believed
it all a dream, save for the ring on his finger.
He was for a long time so good that the ring
never pricked him at all; and this made him so
cheerful and pleasant in his humor that everybody
called him "Happy Prince Cherry." But
one unlucky day he was out hunting and found
no sport, which vexed him so much that he
showed his ill temper by his looks and ways. He
fancied his ring felt very tight and uncomfortable,
but as it did not prick him he took no heed
of this: until, re-entering his palace, his little
pet dog, Bibi, jumped up upon him and was
sharply told to get away. The creature, accustomed
to nothing but caresses, tried to attract
his attention by pulling at his garments, when
Prince Cherry turned and gave it a severe kick.
At this moment he felt in his finger a prick like
a pin.
"What nonsense!" said he to himself. "The
fairy must be making game of me. Why, what
great evil have I done! I, the master of a great
empire, cannot I kick my own dog?"
A voice replied, or else Prince Cherry
imagined it, "No, sire; the master of a great
empire has a right to do good, but not evil. I--a
fairy--am as much above you as you are above
your dog. I might punish you, kill you, if
I chose; but I prefer leaving you to amend your
ways. You have been guilty of three faults
today--bad temper, passion, cruelty: do better
The prince promised, and kept his word a
while; but he had been brought up by a foolish
nurse, who indulged him in every way and was
always telling him that he would be a king one
day, when he might do as he liked in all things.
He found out now that even a king cannot always
do that; it vexed him and made him angry.
His ring began to prick him so often that his
little finger was continually bleeding. He
disliked this, as was natural, and soon began to
consider whether it would not be easier to throw
the ring away altogether than to be constantly
annoyed by it. It was such a queer thing for a
king to have a spot of blood on his finger! At
last, unable to put up with it any more, he took
his ring off and hid it where he would never see
it; and believed himself the happiest of men, for
he could now do exactly what he liked. He did
it, and became every day more and more miserable.
One day he saw a young girl, so beautiful that,
being always accustomed to have his own way,
he immediately determined to espouse her. He
never doubted that she would be only too glad to
be made a queen, for she was very poor. But
Zelia--that was her name--answered, to his
great astonishment, that she would rather not
marry him.
"Do I displease you?" asked the prince, into
whose mind it had never entered that he could
displease anybody.
"Not at all, my prince," said the honest
peasant maiden. "You are very handsome, very
charming; but you are not like your father the
Good King. I will not be your queen, for you
would make me miserable."
At these words the prince's love seemed all to
turn to hatred: he gave orders to his guards to
convey Zelia to a prison near the palace, and
then took counsel with his foster brother, the one
of all his ill companions who most incited him to
do wrong.
"Sir," said this man, "if I were in your
majesty's place, I would never vex myself about a
poor silly girl. Feed her on bread and water till
she comes to her senses; and if she still refuses
you, let her die in torment, as a warning to your
other subjects should they venture to dispute
your will. You will be disgraced should you
suffer yourself to be conquered by a simple
"But," said Prince Cherry, "shall I not be
disgraced if I harm a creature so perfectly
"No one is innocent who disputes your
majesty's authority," said the courtier, bowing;
"and it is better to commit an injustice than
allow it to be supposed you can ever be contradicted
with impunity."
This touched Cherry on his weak point--his
good impulses faded; he resolved once more to
ask Zelia if she would marry him, and if she
again refused, to sell her as a slave. Arrived at
the cell in which she was confined, what was his
astonishment to find her gone! He knew not
whom to accuse, for he had kept the key in his
pocket the whole time. At last, the fosterbrother
suggested that the escape of Zelia might
have been contrived by an old man, Suliman by
name, the prince's former tutor, who was the
only one who now ventured to blame him for
anything that he did. Cherry sent immediately,
and ordered his old friend to be brought to him,
loaded heavily with irons. Then, full of fury,
he went and shut himself up in his own chamber,
where he went raging to and fro, till startled by
a noise like a clap of thunder. The fairy Candide
stood before him.
"Prince," said she, in a severe voice, "I
promised your father to give you good counsels
and to punish you if you refused to follow them.
My counsels were forgotten, my punishment
despised. Under the figure of a man, you have
been no better than the beasts you chase: like a
lion in fury, a wolf in gluttony, a serpent in
revenge, and a bull in brutality. Take, therefore,
in your new form the likeness of all these
Scarcely had Prince Cherry heard these
words than to his horror he found himself transformed
into what the Fairy had named. He
was a creature with the head of a lion, the horns
of a bull, the feet of a wolf, and the tail of a
serpent. At the same time he felt himself
transported to a distant forest, where, standing
on the bank of a stream, he saw reflected in the
water his own frightful shape, and heard a
voice saying:
"Look at thyself, and know thy soul has
become a thousand times uglier even than thy
Cherry recognized the voice of Candide, and
in his rage would have sprung upon her and
devoured her; but he saw nothing and the same
voice said behind him:
"Cease thy feeble fury, and learn to conquer
thy pride by being in submission to thine own
Hearing no more, he soon quitted the stream,
hoping at least to get rid of the sight of himself;
but he had scarcely gone twenty paces when he
tumbled into a pitfall that was laid to catch
bears; the bear-hunters, descending from some
trees hard by, caught him, chained him, and
only too delighted to get hold of such a curiouslooking
animal, led him along with them to the
capital of his own kingdom.
There great rejoicings were taking place, and
the bear-hunters, asking what it was all about,
were told that it was because Prince Cherry, the
torment of his subjects, had just been struck
dead by a thunderbolt--just punishment of all
his crimes. Four courtiers, his wicked companions,
had wished to divide his throne between
them; but the people had risen up against them
and offered the crown to Suliman, the old tutor
whom Cherry had ordered to be arrested.
All this the poor monster heard. He even saw
Suliman sitting upon his own throne and trying
to calm the populace by representing to them
that it was not certain Prince Cherry was dead;
that he might return one day to reassume with
honor the crown which Suliman only consented
to wear as a sort of viceroy.
"I know his heart," said the honest and
faithful old man; "it is tainted, but not corrupt.
If alive, he may reform yet, and be all his father
over again to you, his people, whom he has caused
to suffer so much."
These words touched the poor beast so deeply
that he ceased to beat himself against the iron
bars of the cage in which the hunters carried him
about, became gentle as a lamb, and suffered
himself to be taken quietly to a menagerie,
where were kept all sorts of strange and
ferocious animals a place which he had himself
often visited as a boy, but never thought he
should be shut up there himself.
However, he owned he had deserved it all, and
began to make amends by showing himself very
obedient to his keeper. This man was almost as
great a brute as the animals he had charge of,
and when he was in ill humor he used to beat
them without rhyme or reason. One day, while
he was sleeping, a tiger broke loose and leaped
upon him, eager to devour him. Cherry at first
felt a thrill of pleasure at the thought of being
revenged; then, seeing how helpless the man was,
he wished himself free, that he might defend
him. Immediately the doors of his cage opened.
The keeper, waking up, saw the strange beast
leap out, and imagined, of course, that he was
going to be slain at once. Instead, he saw the
tiger lying dead, and the strange beast creeping
up and laying itself at his feet to be caressed.
But as he lifted up his hand to stroke it, a voice
was heard saying, "Good actions never go
unrewarded;" and instead of the frightful monster,
there crouched on the ground nothing but a
pretty little dog.
Cherry, delighted to find himself thus
metamorphosed, caressed the keeper in every possible
way, till at last the man took him up into his
arms and carried him to the king, to whom he
related this wonderful story, from beginning to
end. The queen wished to have the charming
little dog; and Cherry would have been exceedingly
happy could he have forgotten that he was
originally a man and a king. He was lodged
most elegantly, had the richest of collars to adorn
his neck, and heard himself praised continually.
But his beauty rather brought him into trouble,
for the queen, afraid lest he might grow too
large for a pet, took advice of dog-doctors, who
ordered that he should be fed entirely upon
bread, and that very sparingly; so poor Cherry
was sometimes nearly starved.
One day, when they gave him his crust for
breakfast, a fancy seized him to go and eat it in
the palace garden; so he took the bread in his
mouth and trotted away toward a stream which
he knew, and where he sometimes stopped to
drink. But instead of the stream he saw a
splendid palace, glittering with gold and
precious stones. Entering the doors was a crowd of
men and women, magnificently dressed; and
within there was singing and dancing and good
cheer of all sorts. Yet, however grandly and
gayly the people went in, Cherry noticed that
those who came out were pale, thin, ragged,
half-naked, covered with wounds and sores.
Some of them dropped dead at once; others
dragged themselves on a little way and then lay
down, dying of hunger, and vainly begged a
morsel of bread from others who were entering
in--who never took the least notice of them.
Cherry perceived one woman, who was trying
feebly to gather and eat some green herbs.
"Poor thing!" said he to himself; "I know what
it is to be hungry, and I want my breakfast
badly enough; but still it will kill me to wait
till dinner time, and my crust may save the life
of this poor woman."
So the little dog ran up to her and dropped
his bread at her feet; she picked it up and ate it
with avidity. Soon she looked quite recovered,
and Cherry, delighted, was trotting back again
to his kennel, when he heard loud cries, and saw
a young girl dragged by four men to the door of
the palace, which they were trying to compel
her to enter. Oh, how he wished himself a monster
again, as when he slew the tiger!--for the
young girl was no other than his beloved Zelia.
Alas! what could a poor little dog do to defend
her? But he ran forward and barked at the
men, and bit their heels, until at last they chased
him away with heavy blows. And then he lay
down outside the palace door, determined to
watch and see what had become of Zelia.
Conscience pricked him now. "What!"
thought he, "I am furious against these wicked
men, who are carrying her away; and did I not
do the same myself? Did I not cast her into
prison, and intend to sell her as a slave? Who
knows how much more wickedness I might not
have done to her and others, if Heaven's justice
had not stopped me in time?"
While he lay thinking and repenting, he heard
a window open and saw Zelia throw out of it a
bit of dainty meat. Cherry, who felt hungry
enough by this time, was just about to eat it,
when the woman to whom he had given his crust
snatched him up in her arms
"Poor little beast!" cried she, patting him,
"every bit of food in that palace is poisoned:
you shall not touch a morsel."
And at the same time the voice in the air
repeated again, "Good actions never go
unrewarded;" and Cherry found himself changed
into a beautiful little white pigeon. He
remembered with joy that white was the color of the
fairy Candide, and began to hope that she was
taking him into favor again.
So he stretched his wings, delighted that he
might now have a chance of approaching his
fair Zelia. He flew up to the palace windows,
and, finding one of them open, entered and
sought everywhere, but he could not find Zelia.
Then, in despair, he flew out again, resolved to
go over the world until he beheld her once more.
He took flight at once and traversed many
countries, swiftly as a bird can, but found no
trace of his beloved. At length in a desert,
sitting beside an old hermit in his cave and partaking
with him his frugal repast, Cherry saw
a poor peasant girl and recognized Zelia. Transported
with joy, he flew in, perched on her
shoulder, and expressed his delight and affection
by a thousand caresses.
She, charmed with the pretty little pigeon,
caressed it in her turn, and promised it that if it
would stay with her she would love it always.
"What have you done, Zelia?" said the
hermit, smiling; and while he spoke the white pigeon
vanished, and there stood Prince Cherry in his
own natural form. "Your enchantment ended,
prince, when Zelia promised to love you. Indeed,
she has loved you always, but your many
faults constrained her to hide her love. These
are now amended, and you may both live happy
if you will, because your union is founded upon
mutual esteem."
Cherry and Zelia threw themselves at the feet
of the hermit, whose form also began to change.
His soiled garments became of dazzling whiteness,
and his long beard and withered face grew
into the flowing hair and lovely countenance of
the fairy Candide.
"Rise up, my children," said she; "I must
now transport you to your palace and restore to
Prince Cherry his father's crown, of which he
is now worthy."
She had scarcely ceased speaking when they
found themselves in the chamber of Suliman,
who, delighted to find again his beloved pupil
and master, willingly resigned the throne, and
became the most faithful of his subjects.
King Cherry and Queen Zelia reigned
together for many years, and it is said that the
former was so blameless and strict in all his
duties that though he constantly wore the ring
which Candide had restored to him, it never
once pricked his finger enough to make it bleed.
THERE was once a king who was
passionately in love with a beautiful
princess, but she could not be married
because a magican{sic} had enchanted her.
The king went to a good fairy to inquire what he
should do. Said the fairy, after receiving him
graciously: "Sir, I will tell you a great secret.
The princess has a great cat whom she loves so
well that she cares for nothing and nobody else;
but she will be obliged to marry any person who
is adroit enough to walk upon the cat's tail."
"That will not be very difficult," thought the
king to himself, and departed, resolving to
trample the cat's tail to pieces rather than not
succeed in walking upon it. He went immediately
to the palace of his fair mistress and the
cat; the animal came in front of him, arching its
back in anger as it was wont to do. The king
lifted up his foot, thinking nothing would be so
easy as to tread on the tail, but he found
himself mistaken. Minon--that was the creature's
name--twisted itself round so sharply that the
king only hurt his own foot by stamping on the
floor. For eight days did he pursue the cat
everywhere: up and down the palace he was
after it from morning till night, but with no
better success; the tail seemed made of quicksilver,
so very lively was it. At last the king had the
good fortune to catch Minon sleeping, when
tramp! tramp! he trod on the tail with all his
Minon woke up, mewed horribly, and immediately
changed from a cat into a large, fiercelooking
man, who regarded the king with flashing
"You must marry the princess," cried he,
"because you have broken the enchantment in
which I held her; but I will be revenged on you.
You shall have a son with a nose as long as--
that;" he made in the air a curve of half a foot;
"yet he shall believe it is just like all other noses,
and shall be always unfortunate till he has found
out it is not. And if you ever tell anybody of
this threat of mine, you shall die on the spot."
So saying the magician disappeared.
The king, who was at first much terrified, soon
began to laugh at this adventure. "My son
might have a worse misfortune than too long a
nose," thought he. "At least it will hinder him
neither in seeing nor hearing. I will go and find
the princess and marry her at once."
He did so, but he only lived a few months
after, and died before his little son was born, so
that nobody knew anything about the secret of
the nose.
The little prince was so much wished for that
when he came into the world they agreed to
call him Prince Wish. He had beautiful blue
eyes and a sweet little mouth, but his nose was
so big that it covered half his face. The queen,
his mother, was inconsolable; but her ladies
tried to satisfy her by telling her that the nose
was not nearly so large as it seemed, that it would
grow smaller as the prince grew bigger, and that
if it did not a large nose was indispensable to a
hero. All great soldiers, they said, had great
noses, as everybody knew. The queen was so
very fond of her son that she listened eagerly to
all this comfort. Shortly she grew so used to
the princes's nose that it did not seem to her any
larger than ordinary noses of the court; where,
in process of time, everybody with a long nose
was very much admired, and the unfortunate
people who had only snubs were taken very little
notice of.
Great care was observed in the education of
the prince; and as soon as he could speak they
told him all sorts of amusing tales, in which all
the bad people had short noses, and all the good
people had long ones. No person was suffered to
come near him who had not a nose of more than
ordinary length; nay, to such an extent did the
countries carry their fancy, that the noses of all
the little babies were ordered to be pulled out as
far as possible several times a day, in order to
make them grow. But grow as they would, they
never could grow as long as that of Prince Wish.
When he was old enough his tutor taught him
history; and whenever any great king or lovely
princess was referred to, the tutor always took
care to mention that he or she had a long nose.
All the royal apartments were filled with pictures
and portraits having this peculiarity, so
that at last Prince Wish began to regard the
length of his nose as his greatest perfection, and
would not have had it an inch less even to save
his crown.
When he was twenty years old his mother and
his people wished him to marry. They procured
for him the likenesses of many princesses, but
the one he preferred was Princess Darling,
daughter of a powerful monarch and heiress to
several kingdoms. Alas! with all her beauty,
this princess had one great misfortune, a little
turned-up nose, which, every one else said made
her only the more bewitching. But here, in the
kingdom of Prince Wish, the courtiers were
thrown by it into the utmost perplexity. They
were in the habit of laughing at all small noses;
but how dared they make fun of the nose of
Princess Darling? Two unfortunate gentlemen,
whom Prince Wish had overheard doing so,
were ignominiously banished from the court and
After this, the courtiers became alarmed, and
tried to correct their habit of speech; but they
would have found themselves in constant difficulties,
had not one clever person struck out a
bright idea. He said that though it was
indispensably necessary for a man to have a great
nose, women were very different; and that a
learned man had discovered in a very old manuscript
that the celebrated Cleopatra, Queen of
Egypt, the beauty of the ancient world, had a
turned-up nose. At this information Prince
Wish was so delighted that he made the courtier
a very handsome present, and immediately sent
off ambassadors to demand Princess Darling in
She accepted his offer at once, and returned
with the ambassadors. He made all haste to
meet and welcome her, but when she was only
three leagues distant from his capital, before he
had time even to kiss her hand, the magician
who had once assumed the shape of his mother's
cat, Minon, appeared in the air and carried her
off before the lover's very eyes.
Prince Wish, almost beside himself with grief,
declared that nothing should induce him to return
to his throne and kingdom till he had found
Darling. He would suffer none of his courtiers
or attendants to follow him; but bidding them
all adieu, mounted a good horse, laid the reins on
the animal's neck, and let him take him wherever
he would.
The horse entered a wide-extended plain, and
trotted on steadily the whole day without finding
a single house. Master and beast began almost
to faint with hunger; and Prince Wish might
have wished himself at home again, had he not
discovered, just at dusk, a cavern, where there
sat, beside a bright lantern, a little woman who
might have been more than a hundred years old.
She put on her spectacles the better to look
at the stranger, and he noticed that her nose was
so small that the spectacles would hardly stay
on; then the prince and the fairy--for she was a
fairy--burst into laughter.
"What a funny nose!" cried the one.
"Not so funny as yours, madam," returned
the other. "But pray let us leave our noses
alone, and be good enough to give me something
to eat, for I am dying with hunger, and so is my
poor horse."
"With all my heart," answered the fairy.
"Although your nose is ridiculously long, you
are no less the son of one of my best friends. I
loved your father like a brother; he had a very
handsome nose."
"What is wanting to my nose?" asked Wish
rather savagely.
"Oh! nothing at all. On the contrary, there is
a great deal too much of it; but never mind, one
may be a very honest man, and yet have too big
a nose. As I said, I was a great friend of your
father's; he came often to see me. I was very
pretty then, and oftentimes he used to say to me,
`My sister----' "
"I will hear the rest, madam, with pleasure,
when I have supped; but will you condescend to
remember that I have tasted nothing all day?"
"Poor boy," said the fairy, "I will give you
some supper directly; and while you eat it I will
tell you my history in six words, for I hate
much talking. A long tongue is as insupportable
as a long nose; and I remember when I was
young how much I used to be admired because I
was not a talker; indeed, some one said to the
queen my mother--for poor as you see me now,
I am the daughter of a great king, who
"Ate when he was hungry, I hope,"
interrupted the prince, whose patience was fast
"You are right," said the imperturbable old
fairy; "and I will bring you your supper
directly, only I wish first just to say that the king
my father----"
"Hang the king your father!" Prince Wish
was about to exclaim, but he stopped himself,
and only observed that however the pleasure of
her conversation might make him forget his
hunger, it could not have the same effect upon
his horse, who was really starving.
The fairy, pleased at his civility, called her
servants and bade them supply him at once with
all he needed. "And," added she, "I must say
you are very polite and very good-tempered, in
spite of your nose."
"What has the old woman to do with my
nose?" thought the prince. "If I were not so
very hungry, I would soon show her what she is
--a regular old gossip and chatterbox. She to
fancy she talks little, indeed! One must be very
foolish not to know one's own defects. This
comes of being born a princess. Flatterers have
spoiled her and persuaded her that she talks
little. Little, indeed! I never knew anybody
chatter so much."
While the prince thus meditated, the servants
were laying the table, the fairy asking them a
hundred unnecessary questions, simply for the
pleasure of hearing herself talk. "Well,"
thought Wish, "I am delighted that I came
hither, if only to learn how wise I have been in
never listening to flatterers, who hide from us
our faults, or make us believe they are perfections.
But they could never deceive me. I know
all my own weak points, I trust." As truly he
believed he did.
So he went on eating contentedly, nor stopped
till the old fairy began to address him.
"Prince," said she, "will you be kind enough
to turn a little? Your nose casts such a shadow
that I cannot see what is on my plate. And, as
I was saying, your father admired me and always
made me welcome at court. What is the
court etiquette there now? Do the ladies still
go to assemblies, promenades, balls?--I beg your
pardon for laughing, but how very long your
nose is."
"I wish you would cease to speak of my nose,"
said the prince, becoming annoyed. "It is what
it is, and I do not desire it any shorter."
"Oh! I see that I have vexed you," returned
the fairy. "Nevertheless, I am one of your best
friends, and so I shall take the liberty of
always----" She would doubtless have gone on
talking till midnight; but the prince, unable to
bear it any longer, here interrupted her, thanked
her for her hospitality, bade her a hasty adieu,
and rode away.
He traveled for a long time, half over the
world, but he heard no news of Princess Darling.
However, in each place he went to, he
heard one remarkable fact--the great length of
his own nose. The little boys in the streets
jeered at him, the peasants stared at him, and the
more polite ladies and gentlemen whom he met
in society used to try in vain to keep from
laughing, and to get out of his way as soon as they
could. So the poor prince became gradually
quite forlorn and solitary; he thought all the
world was mad, but still he never thought of
there being anything queer about his own nose.
At last the old fairy, who, though she was a
chatterbox, was very good-natured; saw that he
was almost breaking his heart. She felt sorry
for him and wished to help him in spite of
himself, for she knew the enchantment which hid
from him the Princess Darling could never be
broken till he had discovered his own defect.
So she went in search of the princess, and being
more powerful than the magician, since she was
a good fairy and he was an evil magician, she got
her away from him and shut her up in a palace
of crystal, which she placed on the road which
Prince Wish had to pass.
He was riding along, very melancholy, when
he saw the palace; and at its entrance was a
room, made of the purest glass, in which sat his
beloved princess, smiling and beautiful as ever.
He leaped from his horse and ran toward her.
She held out her hand for him to kiss, but he
could not get at it for the glass. Transported
with eagerness and delight, he dashed his sword
through the crystal and succeeded in breaking a
small opening, to which she put up her beautiful
rosy mouth. But it was in vain; Prince Wish
could not approach it. He twisted his neck
about, and turned his head on all sides, till at
length, putting up his hand to his face, he
discovered the impediment.
"It must be confessed,'t exclaimed he, "that
my nose is too long."
That moment the glass walls all split asunder,
and the old fairy appeared, leading Princess
"Avow, prince," said she, "that you are very
much obliged to me, for now the enchantment is
ended. You may marry the object of your
choice. But," added she, smiling, "I fear I
might have talked to you forever on the subject
of your nose, and you would not have believed
me in its length, till it became an obstacle to your
own inclinations. Now behold it!" and she held
up a crystal mirror. "Are you satisfied to be
no different from other people?"
"Perfectly," said Prince Wish, who found
his nose had shrunk to an ordinary length. And
taking the Princess Darling by the hand, he
kissed her courteously, affectionately, and
satisfactorily. Then they departed to their own
country, and lived very happily all their days.
IN times of yore, when wishes were both
heard and granted, lived a king whose
daughters were all beautiful but the youngest
was so lovely that the sun himself, who
has seen so much, wondered at her beauty every
time he looked in her face. Now, near the king's
castle was a large dark forest; and in the forest,
under an old linden tree, was a deep well. When
the day was very hot, the king's daughter used
to go to the wood and seat herself at the edge of
the cool well; and when she became wearied, she
would take a golden ball, throw it up in the air,
and catch it again. This was her favorite amusement.
Once it happened that her golden ball,
instead of falling back into the little hand that
she stretched out for it, dropped on the ground,
and immediately rolled away into the water.
The king's daughter followed it with her eyes,
but the ball had vanished, and the well was so
deep that no one could see down to the bottom.
Then she began to weep, wept louder and louder
every minute, and could not console herself at
While she was thus lamenting some one called
to her: "What is the matter with you, king's
daughter? You weep so that you would touch
the heart of a stone."
She looked around to see whence the voice
came, and saw a frog stretching his thick ugly
head out of the water.
"Ah! it is you, old water-paddler!" said she.
"I am crying for my golden ball, which has
fallen into the well."
"Be content," answered the frog; "I dare say
I can give you some good advice; but what will
you give me if I bring back your plaything to
"Whatever you like, dear frog," said she,
"my clothes, my pearls and jewels, even the
golden crown I wear."
The frog answered, "Your clothes, your
pearls and jewels, even your golden crown, I do
not care for; but if you will love me, and let me
be your companion and play-fellow, sit near you
at your little table, eat from your little golden
plate, drink from your little cup, and sleep in
your little bed--if you will promise me this,
then I will bring you back your golden ball from
the bottom of the well."
"Oh, yes!" said she; "I promise you everything,
if you will only bring me back my golden
She thought to herself, meanwhile: "What
nonsense the silly frog talks! He sits in the
water with the other frogs, and croaks, and cannot
be anybody's playfellow!"
But the frog, as soon as he had received the
promise dipped his head under the water and
sank down. In a little while up he came again
with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the
grass. The king's daughter was overjoyed when
she beheld her pretty plaything again, picked it
up, and ran away with it.
"Wait! wait!" cried the frog; "take me with
you. I cannot run as fast as you."
Alas! of what use was it that he croaked after
her as loud as he could. She would not listen to
him, but hastened home, and soon forgot the poor
frog, who was obliged to plunge again to the
bottom of his well.
The next day, when she was sitting at dinner
with the king and all the courtiers, eating from
her little gold plate, there came a sound of
something creeping up the marble staircase--splish,
splash; and when it had reached the top, it
knocked at the door and cried, "Youngest king's
daughter, open to me."
She ran, wishing to see who was outside; but
when she opened the door and there sat the frog,
she flung it hastily to again and sat down at
table, feeling very, very uncomfortable. The
king saw that her heart was beating violently,
and said, "How, my child, why are you afraid?
Is a giant standing outside the door to carry you
"Oh, no!" answered she, "it is no giant, but a
nasty frog, who yesterday, when I was playing
in the wood near the well, fetched my golden ball
out of the water. For this I promised him he
should be my companion, but I never thought he
could come out of his well. Now he is at the door,
and wants to come in."
Again, the second time there was a knock, and
a voice cried:
"Youngest king's daughter,
Open to me;
Know you what yesterday
You promised me,
By the cool water?
Youngest king's daughter,
Open to me."
Then said the king, "What you promised you
must perform. Go and open the door."
She went and opened the door; the frog
hopped in, always following and following her
till he came up to her chair. There he sat and
cried out, "Lift me up to you on the table."
She refused, till the king, her father,
commanded her to do it. When the frog was on the
table, he said, "Now push your little golden plate
nearer to me, that we may eat together." She
did as he desired, but one could easily see that
she did it unwillingly. The frog seemed to enjoy
his dinner very much, but every morsel she ate
stuck in the throat of the poor little princess.
Then said the frog, "I have eaten enough, and
am tired; carry me to your little room, and make
your little silken bed smooth, and we will lay
ourselves down to sleep together."
At this the daughter of the king began to
weep; for she was afraid of the cold frog, who
wanted to sleep in her pretty clean bed.
But the king looked angrily at her, and said
again: "What you have promised you must perform.
The frog is your companion."
It was no use to complain; whether she liked
it or not, she was obliged to take the frog with
her up to her little bed. So she picked him up
with two fingers, hating him bitterly the while,
and carried him upstairs: but when she got into
bed, instead of lifting him up to her, she threw
him with all her strength against the wall, saying,
"Now you nasty frog, there will be an end
of you."
But what fell down from the wall was not a
dead frog, but a living young prince, with beautiful
and loving eyes, who at once became, by her
own promise and her father's will, her dear
companion and husband. He told her how he
had been cursed by a wicked sorceress, and that
no one but the king's youngest daughter could
release him from his enchantment and take him
out of the well.
The next day a carriage drove up to the palace
gates with eight white horses, having white
feathers on their heads and golden reins. Behind
it stood the servant of the young prince,
called the faithful Henry. This faithful Henry
had been so grieved when his master was changed
into a frog that he had been compelled to have
three iron bands fastened round his heart, lest
it should break. Now the carriage came to convey
the prince to his kingdom, so the faithful
Henry lifted in the bride and bridegroom and
mounted behind, full of joy at his lord's release.
But when they had gone a short distance, the
prince heard behind him a noise as if something
was breaking. He cried out, "Henry, the carriage
is breaking!"
But Henry replied: "No, sir, it is not the
carriage but one of the bands from my heart, with
which I was forced to bind it up, or it would have
broken with grief while you sat as a frog at the
bottom of the well."
Twice again this happened, and the prince
always thought the carriage was breaking; but it
was only the bands breaking off from the heart
of the faithful Henry, out of joy that his lord,
the frog-prince, was a frog no more.
ONCE upon a time there was a man who
had a daughter who was called
"Clever Alice," and when she was
grown up, her father said, "We must
see about her marrying."
"Yes," replied her mother, "whenever a
young man shall appear who is worthy of her."
At last a certain youth, by name Hans, came
from a distance to make a proposal of marriage;
but he required one condition, that the clever
Alice should be very prudent.
"Oh," said her father, "no fear of that! she
has got a head full of brains;" and the mother
added, "ah, she can see the wind blow up the
street, and hear the flies cough!"
"Very well," replied Hans; "but remember,
if she is not very prudent, I will not take her."
Soon afterward they sat down to dinner, and her
mother said, "Alice, go down into the cellar and
draw some beer."
So Clever Alice took the jug down from the
wall, and went into the cellar, jerking the lid
up and down on her way, to pass away the time.
As soon as she got downstairs she drew a stool
and placed it before the cask, in order that she
might not have to stoop, for she thought stooping
might in some way injure her back and give it
an undesirable bend. Then she placed the can
before her and turned the tap, and while the beer
was running, as she did not wish her eyes to be
idle, she looked about upon the wall above and
below. Presently she perceived, after much
peeping into this corner and that corner, a
hatchet, which the bricklayers had left behind?
sticking out of the ceiling right above her head.
At the sight of this Clever Alice began to cry,
saying, "Oh! if I marry Hans, and we have a
child, and he grows up, and we send him into the
cellar to draw beer, the hatchet will fall upon his
head and kill him," and so she sat there weeping
with all her might over the impending misfortune.
Meanwhile the good folks upstairs were waiting
for the beer, but as Clever Alice did not
come, her mother told the maid to go and see
what she was stopping for. The maid went
down into the cellar and found Alice sitting before
the cask crying heartily, and she asked,
"Alice, what are you weeping about?"
"Ah," she replied, "have I not cause? If I
marry Hans, and we have a child, and he grows
up, and we send him here to draw beer, that
hatchet will fall upon his head and kill him."
"Oh," said the maid, "what a clever Alice we
have!" And sitting down, she began to weep,
too, for the misfortune that was to happen.
After a while, when the servant did not
return, the good folks above began to feel very
thirsty; so the husband told the boy to go down
into the cellar and see what had become of Alice
and the maid. The boy went down, and there sat
Clever Alice and the maid both crying, so he
asked the reason; and Alice told him the same
tale, of the hatchet that was to fall on her child,
if she married Hans, and if they had a child.
When she had finished, the boy exclaimed,
"What a clever Alice we have!" and fell weeping
and howling with the others.
Upstairs they were still waiting, and the
husband said, when the boy did not return, "Do you
go down, wife, into the cellar and see why Alice
stays so long." So she went down, and finding
all three sitting there crying, asked the reason,
and Alice told her about the hatchet which must
inevitably fall upon the head of her son. Then
the mother likewise exclaimed, "Oh, what a
clever Alice we have!" and, sitting down, began
to weep as much as any of the rest.
Meanwhile the husband waited for his wife's
return; but at last he felt so very thirsty that he
said, "I must go myself down into the cellar and
see what is keeping our Alice." As soon as he
entered the cellar, there he found the four sitting
and crying together, and when he heard the
reason, he also exclaimed, "Oh, what a clever
Alice we have!" and sat down to cry with the
whole strength of his lungs.
All this time the bridegroom above sat waiting,
but when nobody returned, he thought they
must be waiting for him, and so he went down to
see what was the matter. When he entered,
there sat the five crying and groaning, each one
in a louder key than his neighbor.
"What misfortune has happened?" he asked.
"Ah, dear Hans!" cried Alice, "if you and I
should marry one another, and have a child,
and he grew up, and we, perhaps, send him down
to this cellar to tap the beer, the hatchet which
has been left sticking up there may fall on his
head, and so kill him; and do you not think this
is enough to weep about?"
"Now," said Hans, "more prudence than this
is not necessary for my housekeeping; because
you are such a clever Alice, I will have you for
my wife." And, taking her hand, he led her
home, and celebrated the wedding directly.
After they had been married a little while,
Hans, said one morning, "Wife, I will go out to
work and earn some money; do you go into the
field and gather some corn wherewith to make
"Yes," she answered, "I will do so, dear
Hans." And when he was gone, she cooked herself
a nice mess of pottage to take with her. As
she came to the field, she said to herself, "What
shall I do? Shall I cut first, or eat first? Aye,
I will eat first!" Then she ate up the contents of
her pot, and when it was finished, she thought to
herself, "Now, shall I reap first or sleep first?
Well, I think I will have a nap!" and so she laid
herself down among the corn, and went to sleep.
Meanwhile Hans returned home, but Alice did
not come, and so he said, "Oh, what a prudent
Alice I have! She is so industrious that she does
not even come home to eat anything." By and
by, however, evening came on, and still she did
not return; so Hans went out to see how much
she had reaped; but, behold, nothing at all, and
there lay Alice fast asleep among the corn! So
home he ran very fast, and brought a net with
little bells hanging on it, which he threw over
her head while she still slept on. When he had
done this, he went back again and shut to the
house door, and, seating himself on his stool,
began working very industriously.
At last, when it was nearly dark, the clever
Alice awoke, and as soon as she stood up, the net
fell all over her hair, and the bells jingled at
every step she took. This quite frightened her,
and she began to doubt whether she were really
Clever Alice, and said to herself, "Am I she, or
am I not?" This was a question she could not
answer, and she stood still a long while considering
about it. At last she thought she would go
home and ask whether she was really herself--
supposing somebody would be able to tell her.
When she came up to the house door it was
shut; so she tapped at the window, and asked,
"Hans, is Alice within?" "Yes," he replied,
"she is." At which answer she became really
terrified, and exclaiming, "Ah, heaven, then I
am not Alice!" she ran up to another house,
intending to ask the same question. But as soon as
the folks within heard the jingling of the bells
in her net, they refused to open their doors, and
nobody would receive her. So she ran straight
away from the village, and no one has ever seen
her since.

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