UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
IChc litie perctoal
CHILDREN'S BOOK g
LIBRARY OF THE ff
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 3J
NECKLACE OF PRINCESS FIORIMONDE
AND OTHER STORIES
lAu.thor of "On
MY SIX LITTLE NEPHEWS AND NIECES
THESE STORIES ARE AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
THEIR LOVING AUNT
MARY DE MORGAN
THE NECKLACE OF PRINCESS FIORIMONDE . . i
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON .... 43
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN . . . -79
THE PEDLAR'S PACK 131
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT , . . .140
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS . . . . 157
THE WISE PRINCESS . > . . . -175
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
2. HEADING AND INITIAL LETTER, "PRINCESS FIORIMONDE" i
3. THE PRINCESS AND HER LOOKING-GLASS . . To face 29
4. GERVAISE WITH THE NECKLACE 39
5. TAILPIECE 42
6. HEADING AND INITIAL LETTER, " THE WANDERINGS
OF ARASMON " . 43
7. ARASMON AND CHRYSEA PLAYING TO THE VILLAGERS To face 44
8. ARASMON PLAYING BEFORE THE KING . . . ,,66
9. TAILPIECE 78
10. HEADING AND INITIAL, " THE HEART OF PRINCESS
11. THE PRINCE AND THE WIZARD .... To face 87
12. THE PRISON WINDOW I2 g
13. TAILPIECE I o
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. vii
14. HEADING AND INITIAL LETTER, "THE PEDLAR'S PACK" 131
15. THE PEDLAR AND THE DONKEY .... To face 131
16. TAILPIECE 139
17. HEADING AND INITIAL, "THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT" 140
18. THE IMP AND THE BAKER To face 141
19. TAILPIECE 156
20. HEADING AND INITIAL, "THE THREE CLEVER KINGS" 157
21. THE THREE CLEVER KINGS To face 170
22. TAILPIECE 174
23. HEADING AND INITIAL, " THE WISE PRINCESS " . . 175
24. THE WISE PRINCESS ON THE SEA-SHORE . . To face 178
25. TAILPIECE 184
NCE there lived a King, whose
wife was dead, but who had
a most beautiful daughter
so beautiful that every one
thought she must be good
as well, instead of which the
Princess was really very wicked, and practised
witchcraft and black magic, which she had
learned from an old witch who lived in a hut
on the side of a lonely mountain. This old
witch was wicked and hideous, and no one but
the King's daughter knew that she lived there ;
but at night, when every one else was asleep,
the Princess, whose name was Fiorimonde,
used to visit her by stealth to learn sorcery.
2 THE NECKLACE OF
It was only the witch's arts which had made
Fiorimonde so beautiful that there was no one
like her in the world, and in return the Princess
helped her with all her tricks, and never told
any one she was there.
The time came when the King began to
think he should like his daughter to marry, so
he summoned his council and said, "We have
no son to reign after our death, so we had best
seek for a suitable prince to marry to our royal
daughter, and then, when we are too old, he
shall be king in our stead." And all the
council said he was very wise, and it would be
well for the Princess to marry. So heralds
were sent to all the neighbouring kings and
princes to say that the King would choose a
husband for the Princess, who should be king
after him. But when Fiorimonde heard this
she wept with rage, for she knew quite well
that if she had a husband he would find out
how she went to visit the old witch, and would
stop her practising magic, and then she would
lose her beauty.
When night came, and every one in the
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 3
palace was fast asleep, the Princess went to her
bedroom window and softly opened it. Then
she took from her pocket a handful of peas and
held them out of the window and chirruped low,
and there flew down from the roof a small
brown bird and sat upon her wrist and began
to eat the peas. No sooner had it swallowed
them than it began to grow and grow and grow
till it was so big that the Princess could not
hold it, but let it stand on the window-sill, and
still it grew and grew and grew till it was as
large as an ostrich. Then the Princess climbed
out of the window and seated herself on the
bird's back, and at once it flew straight away
over the tops of the trees till it came to the
mountain where the old witch dwelt, and
stopped in front of the door of her hut.
The Princess jumped off, and muttered
some words through the keyhole, when a
croaking voice from within called,
" Why do you come to-night ? Have I not
told you I wished to be left alone for thirteen
nights ; why do you disturb me ? "
" But I beg of you to let me in," said the
4 THE NECKLACE OF
Princess, "for I am in trouble and want your
"Come in then," said the voice; and the
door flew open, and the Princess trod into the
hut, in the middle of which, wrapped in a gray
cloak which almost hid her, sat the witch.
Princess Fiorimonde sat down near her, and
told her, her story. How the King wished her
to marry, and had sent word to the neigh-
bouring princes, that they might make offers
"This is truly bad hearing," croaked the
witch, " but we shall beat them yet ; and
you must deal with each Prince as he comes.
Would you like them to become dogs, to come
at your call, or birds, to fly in the air, and sing
of your beauty, or will you make them all into
beads, the beads of such a necklace as never
woman wore before, so that they may rest
upon your neck, and you may take them with
"The necklace! the necklace!" cried the
Princess, clapping her hands with joy. " That
will be best of all, to sling them upon a string
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 5
and wear them around my throat. Little will
the colirtiers know whence come my new
"But this is a dangerous play," quoth the
witch, "for, unless you are very careful, you
yourself may become a bead and hang upon the
string with the others, and there you will re-
main till some one cuts the string, and draws
" Nay, never fear," said the Princess, " I will
be careful, only tell me what to do, and I will
have great princes and kings to adorn me, and
all their greatness shall not help them."
Then the witch dipped her hand into a
black bag which stood on the ground beside
her, and drew out a long gold thread.
The ends were joined together, but no one
could see the joins, and however much you
pulled, it would not break. It would easily go
over Fiorimonde's head, and the witch slipped
it on her neck saying,
" Now mind, while this hangs here you are
safe enough, but if once you join your fingers
around the string you too will meet the fate of
6 THE NECKLACE OF
your lovers, and hang upon it yourself. As for*
the kings and princes who would marry you, all
you have to do is to make them close their
fingers around the chain, and at once they
will be strung upon it as bright hard beads,
and there they shall remain, till it is cut and
they drop off."
"This is really delightful," cried the Prin-
cess; "and I am already quite impatient for
the first to come that I may try."
"And now, M said the witch, "since you
are here, and there is yet time, we will have a
dance, and I will summon the guests." So
saying, she took from a corner a drum and a
pair of drum-sticks, and going to the door,
began to beat upon it. It made a terjrible
rattling. In a moment came flying through
the air all sorts of forms. There were little
dark elves with long tails, and goblins who
chattered and laughed, and other witches who
rode on broom-sticks. There was one wicked
fairy in the form of a large cat, with bright
green eyes, and another came sliding in like a
long shining viper.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 7
Then, when all had arrived, the witch
stopped drumming, and, going to the middle of
the hut, stamped on the floor, and a trap-door
opened in the ground. The old witch stepped
through it, and led the way down a narrow dark
passage, to a large underground chamber, and
all her strange guests followed, and here they
all danced and made merry in a terrible way,
but at first sound of cock-crow all the guests
disappeared with a whiff, and the Princess
hastened up the dark passage again, and out of
the hut to where her big bird still waited for
her, and mounting its back she flew home in a
trice. Then, when she had stepped in at her
bedroom window, she poured into a cup from
a small black bottle, a few drops of magic water,
and gave it to the bird to drink, and as it sipped
it grew smaller, and smaller, till at last it had
quite regained its natural size, and hopped on to
the roof as before, and the Princess shut her
window, and got into bed, and fell asleep, and
no one knew of her strange journey, or where
she had been.
Next day Fiorimonde declared to her father
8 THE NECKLACE OF
the King, that she was quite willing to wed any
prince he should fix upon as a husband for her,
at which he was much pleased, and soon after
informed her, that a young king was coming
from over the sea to be her husband. He was
king of a large rich country, and would take
back his bride with him to his home. He was
called King Pierrot. Great preparations were
made for his arrival, and the Princess was
decked in her finest array to greet him, and
when he came all the courtiers said, "This is
truly a proper husband for our beautiful Prin-
cess," for he was strong and handsome, with
black hair, and eyes like sloes. King Pierrot
was delighted with Fiorimonde's beauty, and was
happy as the day is long ; and all things went
merrily till the evening before the marriage.
A great feast was held, at which the Princess
looked lovelier than ever dressed in a red gown,
the colour of the inside of a rose, but she wore
no jewels nor ornaments of any kind, save one
shining gold string round her milk-white throat.
When the feast was done, the Princess
stepped from her golden chair at her father's
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 9
side, and walked softly into the garden, and
stood under an elm-tree looking at the shining
moon. In a few moments King Pierrot followed
her, and stood beside her, looking at her and
wondering at her beauty.
"To-morrow, then, my sweet Princess, you
will be my Queen, and share all I possess.
What gift would you wish me to give you on
our wedding day ?"
" I would have a necklace wrought of the
finest gold and jewels to be found, and just the
length of this gold cord which I wear around
my throat," answered Princess Fiorimonde.
"Why do you wear that cord ?" asked King
Pierrot; " it has no jewel nor ornament about it"
" Nay, but there is no cord like mine in all
the world," cried Fiorimonde, and her eyes
sparkled wickedly as she spoke ; " it is as light
as a feather, but stronger than an iron chain.
Take it in both hands and try to break it, that
you may see how strong it is ; " and King
Pierrot took the cord in both hands to pull it
hard ; but no sooner were his fingers closed
around it than he vanished like a puff of smoke,
io THE NECKLACE OF
and on the cord appeared a bright, beautiful
bead so bright and beautiful as was never
bead before clear as crystal, but shining with
all colours green, blue, and gold.
Princess Fiorimonde gazed down at it and
" Aha, my proud lover ! are you there ?" she
cried with glee ; " my necklace bids fair to beat
all others in the world," and she caressed the
bead with the tips of her soft, white fingers, but
was careful that they did not close round the
string. Then she returned into the banqueting
hall, and spoke to the King.
"Pray, sire," said she, "send some one at
once to find King Pierrot, for, as he was talking
to me a minute ago, he suddenly left me, and I
am afraid lest I may have given him offence, or
perhaps he is ill.
The King desired that the servants should
seek for King Pierrot all over the grounds, and
seek him they did, but nowhere was he to be
found, and the old King looked offended.
"Doubtless he will be ready to-morrow in
time for the wedding," quoth he, " but we are
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 11
not best pleased that he should treat us in this
Princess Fiorimonde had a little maid called
Yolande. She was a bright-faced girl with
merry brown eyes, but she was not beautiful
like Fiorimonde, and she did not love her
mistress, for she was afraid of her, and sus-
pected her of her wicked ways. When she
undressed her that night she noticed the
gold cord, and the one bright bead upon
it, and as she combed the Princess's hair
she looked over her shoulder into the look-
ing-glass, and saw how she laughed, and
how fondly she looked at the cord, and
caressed the bead, again and again with her
" That is a wonderful bead on your High-
ness's cord," said Yolande, looking at its reflec-
tion in the mirror ; " surely it must be a bridal
gift from King Pierrot."
"And so it is, little Yolande," cried Fiori-
monde, laughing merrily ; " and the best gift
he could give me. But I think one bead alone
looks ugly and ungainly ; soon I hope I shall
12 THE NECKLACE OF
have another, and another, and another, all as
beautiful as the first"
Then Yolande shook her head, and said to
herself, " This bodes no good."
Next morning all was prepared for the
marriage, and the Princess was dressed in
white satin and pearls with a long white lace
veil over her, and a bridal wreath on her head,
and she stood waiting among her grandly
dressed ladies, who all said that such a beauti-
ful bride had never been seen in the world
before. But just as they were preparing to go
down to the fine company in the hall, a
messenger came in great haste summoning the
Princess at once to her father the King, as he
was much perplexed.
" My daughter," cried he, as Fiorimonde in
all her bridal array entered the room where he
sat alone, " what can we do ? King Pierrot is
nowhere to be found ; I fear lest he may have
been seized by robbers and basely murdered for
his rich clothes, or carried away to some
mountain and left there to starve. My soldiers
are gone far and wide to seek him and we
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 13
shall hear of him ere day is done but where
there is no bridegroom there can be no bridal."
" Then let it be put off, my father," cried the
Princess, " and to-morrow we shall know if it is
for a wedding, or a funeral, we must dress ;" and
she pretended to weep, but even then could
hardly keep from laughing.
So the wedding guests went away, and the
Princess laid aside her bridal dress, and all
waited anxiously for news of King Pierrot ; and
no news came. So at last every one gave him
up for dead, and mourned for him, and wondered
how he had met his fate.
Princess Fiorimonde put on a black gown,
and begged to be allowed to live in seclusion for
one month in which to grieve for King Pierrot ;
but when she was again alone in her bedroom
she sat before her looking-glass and laughed till
tears ran down her cheeks ; and Yolande
watched her, and trembled, when she heard her
laughter She noticed, too, that beneath her
black gown, the Princess still wore her gold
cord, and did not move it night or day.
The month had barely passed away when
I 4 THE NECKLACE OF
the King came to his daughter, and announced
that another suitor had presented himself, whom
he should much like to be her husband. The
Princess agreed quite obediently to all her
father said ; and it was arranged that the marri-
age should take place. This new prince was
called Prince Hildebrandt. He came from a
country far north, of which one day he would be
king. He was tall, and fair, and strong, with
flaxen hair and bright blue eyes. When Prin-
cess Fiorimonde saw his portrait she was much
pleased, and said, " By all means let him come,
and the sooner the better." So she put off her
black clothes, and again great preparations were
made for a wedding; and King Pierrot was
Prince Hildebrandt came, and with him
many fine gentlemen, and they brought beautiful
gifts for the bride. The evening of his arrival
all went well, and again there was a grand feast,
and Fiorimonde looked so beautiful that Prince
Hildebrandt was delighted ; and this time she
did not leave her father's side, but sat by him
all the evening.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 15
Early next morning at sunrise, when every
one was still sleeping, the Princess rose, and
dressed herself in a plain white gown, and
brushed all her hair over her shoulders, and
crept quietly downstairs into the palace gardens ;
then she walked on till she came beneath the
window of Prince Hildebrandt's room, and here
she paused and began to sing a little song as
sweet and joyous as a lark's. When Prince
Hildebrandt heard it he got up and went to the
window and looked out to see who sang, and
when he saw Fiorimonde standing in the red
sunrise-light, which made her hair look gold, and
her face rosy, he made haste to dress himself
and go down to meet her.
" How, my Princess," cried he, as he stepped
into the garden beside her. " This is indeed
great happiness to meet you here so early. Tell
me why do you come out at sunrise to sing by
" I come that I may see the colours of
the sky red, blue, and gold," answered the
Princess. " Look, there are no such colours
to be seen anywhere, unless, indeed, it be
16 THE NECKLACE OF
in this bead which I wear here on my golden
"What is that bead, and where did it come
from ?" asked Hildebrandt.
"It came from over the sea, where it shall
never return again," answered the Princess.
And again her eyes began to sparkle with
eagerness, and she could scarcely conceal her
mirth. "Lift the cord off my neck and look
at it near, and tell me if you ever saw one
Hildebrandt put out his hands and took
hold of the cord, but no sooner were his fingers
closed around it than he vanished, and a new
bright bead was slung next to the first one on
Fiorimonde's chain, and this one was even
more beautiful than the other.
The Princess gave a long low laugh, quite
terrible to hear.
" Oh, my sweet necklace," cried she, " how
beautiful you are growing ! I think I love you
more than anything in the world besides."
Then she went softly back to bed, without any
one hearing her, and fell sound asleep, and slept
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 17
till Yolande came to tell her it was time for her
to get up and dress for the wedding.
The Princess was dressed in gorgeous
clothes, and only Yolande noticed that beneath
her satin gown, she wore the golden cord, but
now there were two beads upon it instead of
one. Scarcely was she ready when the King
burst into her room in a towering rage.
" My daughter," cried he, " there is a plot
against us. Lay aside your bridal attire and
think no more of Prince Hildebrandt, for he
too has disappeared, and is nowhere to be
At this the Princess wept, and entreated
that Hildebrandt should be sought for far and
near, but she laughed to herself, and said,
" Search where you will, yet you shall not find
him ;" and so again a great search was made,
and when no trace of the Prince was found, all
the palace was in an uproar.
The Princess again put off her bride's dress
and clad herself in black, and sat alone, and
pretended to weep, but Yolande, who watched
her, shook her head, and said, " More will come
!8 THE NECKLACE OF
and go before the wicked Princess has done
A month passed, in which Fiorimonde
pretended to mourn for Hildebrandt, then she
went to the King and said,
" Sire, I pray that you will not let people
say that when any bridegroom comes to marry
me, as soon as he has seen me he flies rather
than be my husband. I beg that suitors may
be summoned from far and near that I may not
be left alone unwed."
The King agreed, and envoys were sent all
the world over to bid any who would come and
be the husband of Princess Fiorimonde. And
come they did, kings and princes from south
and north, east and west, King Adrian, Prince
Sigbert, Prince Algar, and many more, but
though all went well till the wedding morning,
when it was time to go to church, no bride-
groom was to be found. The old King was
sadly frightened, and would fain have given up
all hope of rinding a husband for the Princess,
but now she implored him, with tears in her
eyes, not to let her be disgraced in this way.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 19
And so suitor after suitor continued to come, and
now it was known, far and wide, that whoever
came to ask for the hand of Princess Fiori-
monde vanished, and was seen no more of men.
The courtiers were afraid and whispered under
their breath, "It is not all right, it cannot be ;"
but only Yolande noticed how the beads came
upon the golden thread, till it was well-nigh
covered, yet there always was room for one bead
So the years passed, and every year Princess
Fiorimonde grew lovelier and lovelier, so that no
one who saw her could guess how wicked she
In a far off country lived a young prince
whose name was Florestan. He had a dear
friend named Gervaise, whom he loved better
than any one in the world. Gervaise was tall,
and broad, and stout of limb, and he loved
Prince Florestan so well, that he would gladly
have died to serve him.
It chanced that Prince Florestan saw a
portrait of Princess Fiorimonde, and at once
swore he would go to her father's court, and
20 THE NECKLACE OF
beg that he might have her for his wife, and
Gervaise in vain tried to dissuade him.
"There is an evil fate about the Princess
Fiorimonde," quoth he; "many have gone to
marry her, but where are they now ?"
" I don't know or care," answered Florestan,
" but this is sure, that I will wed her and return
here, and bring my bride with me."
So he set out for Fiorimonde's home, and
Gervaise went with him with a heavy heart.
When they reached the court, the old King
received them and welcomed them warmly, and
he said to his courtiers, " Here is a fine young
prince to whom we would gladly see our
daughter wed. Let us hope that this time all
will be well." But now Fiorimonde had grown
so bold, that she scarcely tried to conceal her
" I will gladly marry him to-morrow, if he
comes to the church," she said ; " but if he is
not there, what can I do," and she laughed
long and merrily, till those who heard her shud-
When the Princess's ladies came to tell her
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 21
that Prince Florestan was arrived, she was in
the garden, lying on the marble edge of a
fountain, feeding the gold fish who swam in the
" Bid him come to me," she said, " for I
will not go any more in state to meet any
suitors, neither will I put on grand attire for
them. Let him come and find me as I am,
since all find it so easy to come and go." So
her ladies told the prince that Fiorimonde
waited for him near the fountain.
She did not rise when he came to where
she lay, but his heart bounded with joy, for he
had never in his life beheld such a beautiful
She wore a thin soft white dress, which clung
to her lithe figure. Her beautiful arms and
hands were bare, and she dabbled with them in
the water, and played with the fish. Her great
blue eyes were sparkling with mirth, and were
so beautiful, that no one noticed the wicked look
hid in them ; and on her neck lay the mar-
vellous many-coloured necklace, which was itself
a wonder to behold.
22 THE NECKLACE OF
" You have my best greetings, Prince Flores-
tan," she said. "And you, too, would be my
suitor. Have you thought well of what you
would do, since so many princes who have seen
me have fled for ever, rather than marry me ?"
and as she spoke, she raised her white hand
from the water, and held it out to the Prince,
who stooped and kissed it, and scarcely knew
how to answer her for bewilderment at her
Gervaise followed his master at a short
distance, but he was ill at ease, and trembled
for fear of what should come.
"Come, bid your friend leave us," said
Fiorimonde, looking at Gervaise, " and sit be-
side me, and tell me of your home, and why
you wish to marry me, and all pleasant things."
Florestan begged that Gervaise would leave
them for a little, and he walked slowly away,
in a very mournful mood.
He went on down the walks, not heeding
where he was going, till he met Yolande, who
stood beneath a tree laden with rosy apples,
picking the fruit, and throwing it into a basket
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 23
at her feet. He would have passed her in
silence, but she stopped him, and said,
" Have you come with the new Prince ?
Do you love your master ?"
" Ay, better than any one else on the earth,"
answered Gervaise. " Why do you ask ?"
" And where is he now," said Yolande, not
heeding Gervaise's question.
"He sits by the fountain with the beautiful
Princess," said Gervaise.
" Then, I hope you have said good-bye to
him well, for be assured you shall never see
him again," said Yolande nodding her head.
"Why not, and who are you to talk like
this ?" asked Gervaise.
" My name is Yolande," answered she, " and
I am Princess Fiorimonde's maid. Do you not
know that Prince Florestan is the eleventh
lover who has come to marry her, and one by
one they have disappeared, and only I know
where they are gone."
"And where are they gone ?" cried Gervaise,
" and why do you not tell the world, and prevent
good men being lost like this ?"
24 THE NECKLACE OF
" Because I fear my mistress," said Yolande,
speaking low and drawing near to him ; " she
is a sorceress, and she wears the brave kings
and princes who come to woo her, strung upon a
cord round her neck. Each one forms the bead
of a necklace which she wears, both day and night.
I have watched that necklace growing ; first it
was only an empty gold thread ; then came
King Pierrot, and when he disappeared the first
bead appeared upon it. Then came Hilde-
brandt, and two beads were on the string instead
of one ; then followed Adrian, Sigbert, and
Algar, and Cenred, and Pharamond, and Bald-
wyn, and Leofric, and Raoul, and all are gone,
and ten beads hang upon the string, and to-
night there will be eleven, and the eleventh
will be your Prince Florestan."
" If this be so," cried Gervaise, " I will
never rest till I have plunged my sword into
Fiorimonde's heart;" but Yolande shook her
" She is a sorceress," she said, " and it might
be hard to kill her; besides, that might not
break the spell, and bring back the princes to
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 25
life. I wish I could show you the necklace,
and you might count the beads, and see if I do
not speak truth, but it is always about her neck,
both night and day, so it is impossible."
"Take me to her room to-night when
she is asleep, and let me see it there," said
" Very well, we will try," said Yolande ; " but
you must be very still, and make no noise, for
if she wakes, remember it will be worse for us
When night came and all in the palace were
fast asleep, Gervaise and Yolande met in the
great hall, and Yolande told him that the
Princess slumbered soundly.
" So now let us go," said she, " and I will
show you the necklace on which Fiorimonde
wears her lovers strung like beads, though how
she transforms them I know not."
" Stay one instant, Yolande," said Gervaise,
holding her back, as she would have tripped
upstairs. " Perhaps, try how I may, I shall be
beaten, and either die or become a bead like
those who have come before me. But if I
26 THE NECKLACE OF
succeed and rid the land of your wicked Prin-
cess, what will you promise me for a reward ?"
"What would you have ?" asked Yolande.
" I would have you say you will be my wife,
and come back with me to my own land," said
" That I will promise gladly," said Yolande,
kissing him, " but we must not speak or think
of this till we have cut the cord from Fiori-
monde's neck, and all her lovers are set free."
So they went softly up to the Princess's
room, Yolande holding a small lantern, which
gave only a dim light. There, in her grand
bed, lay Princess Fiorimonde. They could just
see her by the lantern's light, and she looked so
beautiful that Gervaise began to think Yolande
spoke falsely, when she said she was so wicked.
Her face was calm and sweet as a baby's ;
her hair fell in ruddy waves on the pillow ; her
rosy lips smiled, and little dimples showed in
her cheeks ; her white soft hands were folded
amidst the scented lace and linen of which the
bed was made. Gervaise almost forgot to look
at the glittering beads hung round her throat^
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 27
in wondering at her loveliness, but Yolande
pulled him by the arm.
" Do not look at her," she whispered softly,
" since her beauty has cost dear already ; look
rather at what remains of those who thought
her as fair as you do now ; see here," and she
pointed with her finger to each bead in turn.
" This was Pierrot, and this Hildebrandt,
and these are Adrian, and Sigbert, and Algar,
and Cenred, and that is Pharamond, and that
Raoul, and last of all here is your own master
Prince Florestan. Seek him now where you will
and you will not find him, and you shall never
see him again till the cord is cut and the charm
"Of what is the cord made?" whispered
" It is of the finest gold," she answered.
"Nay, do not you touch her lest she wake.
I will show it to you." And Yolande put down
the lantern and softly put out her hands to slip
the beads aside, but as she did so, her fingers
closed around the golden string, and directly she
was gone. Another bead was added to the
2 g THE NECKLACE OF
necklace, and Gervaise was alone with the sleep-
ing Princess. He gazed about him in sore
amazement and fear. He dared not call lest
Fiorimonde should wake.
"Yolande," he whispered as loud as he
dared, " Yolande where are you ?" but no Yo-
Then he bent down over the Princess and
gazed at the necklace. Another bead was
strung upon it next to the one to which Yolande
had pointed as Prince Florestan. Again he
counted them. " Eleven before, now there are
twelve. Oh hateful Princess ! I know now
where go the brave kings and princes who came
to woo you, and where, too, is my Yolande," and
as he looked at the last bead, tears filled his eyes.
It was brighter and clearer than the others, and
of a warm red hue, like the red dress Yolande
had worn. The Princess turned and laughed in
her sleep, and at the sound of her laughter
Gervaise was filled with horror and loathing.
He crept shuddering from the room, and all night
long sat up alone, plotting how he might defeat
Fiorimonde, and set Florestan and Yolande free.
"Next morning when Fiorimonde dressed she looked at her necklace and counted its
beads, but she was much perplexed, for a new bead was added to the string." p. 29.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 29
Next morning when Fiorimonde dressed she
looked at her necklace and counted its beads,
but she was much perplexed, for a new bead was
added to the string.
" Who can have come and grasped my
chain unknown to me ?" she said to herself, and
she sat and pondered for a long time. At last
she broke into weird laughter.
" At any rate, whoever it was, is fitly pun-
ished," quoth she. " My brave necklace, you
can take care of yourself, and if any one tries to
steal you, they will get their reward, and add to
my glory. In truth I may sleep in peace, and
The day passed away and no one missed
Yolande. Towards sunset the rain began to
pour in torrents, and there was such a terrible
thunderstorm that every one was frightened.
The . thunder roared, the lightning gleamed
flash after flash, every moment it grew fiercer
and fiercer. The sky was so dark that, save
for the lightning's light, nothing could be seen,
but Princess Fiorimonde loved the thunder and
3 o THE NECKLACE OF
She sat in a room high up in one of the
towers, clad in a black velvet dress, and she
watched the lightning from the window, and
laughed at each peal of thunder. In the midst
of the storm a stranger, wrapped in a cloak,
rode to the palace door, and the ladies ran to
tell the Princess that a new prince had come to
be her suitor. " And he will not tell his name,"
said they, " but says he hears that all are bidden
to ask for the hand of Princess Fiorimonde,
and he too would try his good fortune."
" Let him come at once," cried the Princess.
" Be he prince or knave what care I ? If
princes all fly from me it may be better to
marry a peasant."
So they led the new-comer up to the room
where Fiorimonde sat. He was wrapped in a
thick cloak, but he flung it aside as he came in,
and showed how rich was his silken clothing
underneath ; and so well was he disguised, that
Fiorimonde never saw that it was Gervaise, but
looked at him, and thought she had never seen
"You are most welcome, stranger prince,
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 31
who has come through such lightning and thun-
der to find me," said she. "Is it true, then, that
you wish to be my suitor ? What have you
heard of me ? "
"It is quite true, Princess," said Gervaise.
" And I have heard that you are the most beau-
tiful woman in the world."
" And is that true also?" asked the Princess.
" Look at me now, and see."
Gervaise looked at her and in his heart he
said, "It is quite true, oh wicked Princess !
There never was woman as beautiful as you,
and never before did I hate a woman as I hate
you now ;" but aloud he said,
" No, Princess, that is not true; you are very
beautiful, but I have seen a woman who is fairer
than you for all that your skin looks ivory against
your velvet dress, and your hair is like gold."
" A woman who is fairer than I ? " cried
Fiorimonde, and her breast began to heave and
her eyes to sparkle with rage, for never before
had she heard such a thing said. "Who are
you who dares come and tell me of women
more beautiful than I am ?"
3 2 THE NECKLACE OF
"I am a suitor who asks to be your hus-
band, Princess," answered Gervaise, " but still I
say I have seen a woman who was fairer than
" Who is she where is she ? " cried Fiori-
monde, who could scarcely contain her anger.
" Bring her here at once that I may see if you
speak the truth."
"What will you give me to bring her to
you ?" said Gervaise. " Give me that necklace
you wear on your neck, and then I will summon
her in an instant ; " but Fiorimonde shook her
"You have asked," said she, "for the only
thing from which I cannot part," and then she
bade her maids bring her her jewel-casket,
and she drew out diamonds, and rubies, and
pearls, and offered them, all or any, to Gervaise.
The lightning shone on them and made them
shine and flash, but he shook his head.
" No, none of these will do," quoth he.
"You can see her for the necklace, but for
" Take it off for yourself then," cried Fiori-
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 33
monde, who now was so angry that she only
wished to be rid of Gervaise in any way.
" No, indeed," said Gervaise, " I am no tire-
woman, and should not know how to clasp and
unclasp it ;" and in spite of all Fiorimonde could
say or do, he would not touch either her or the
At night the storm grew even fiercer, but
it did not trouble the Princess. She waited till
all were asleep, and then she opened her bed-
room window and chirruped softly to the little
brown bird, who flew down from the roof at her
call. Then she gave him a handful of seeds as
before, and he grew and grew and grew till he
was as large as an ostrich, and she sat upon his
back and flew out through the air, laughing at
the lightning and thunder which flashed and
roared around her. Away they flew till they
came to the old witch's cave, and here they
found the witch sitting at her open door catch-
ing the lightning to make charms with.
"Welcome, my dear," croaked she, as Fiori-
monde stepped from the bird ; " here is a
night we both love well. And how goes
34 THE NECKLACE OF
the necklace ? right merrily I see. Twelve
beads already but what is that twelfth ?" and
she looked at it closely.
" Nay, that is one thing I want you to tell
me," said Fiorimonde, drying the rain from her
golden hair. "Last night when I slept there
were eleven, and this morning there are twelve;
and I know not from whence comes the twelfth."
" It is no suitor," said the witch, " but from
some young maid, that that bead is made. But
why should you mind ? It looks well with the
"Some young maid," said the Princess.
"Then, it must be Cicely or Marybel, or Yo-
lande, who would have robbed me of my neck-
lace as I slept. But what care I ? The silly
wench is punished now, and so may all others
be, who would do the same."
"And when will you get the thirteenth
bead, and where will he come from ?" asked the
" He waits at the palace now," said Fiori-
monde, chuckling. " And this is why I have to
speak to you;" and then she told the witch of
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 35
the stranger who had come in the storm, and of
how he would not touch her necklace, nor take
the cord in his hand, and how he said also that
he knew a woman fairer than she.
" Beware, Princess, beware," cried the witch
in a warning voice, as she listened. "Why
should you heed tales of other women fairer
than you ? Have I not made you the most
beautiful woman in the world, and can any
others do more than I ? Give no ear to what
this stranger says or you shall rue it." But
still the Princess murmured, and said she did
not love to hear any one speak of others as
beautiful as she.
" Be warned in time," cried the witch, " or
you will have cause to repent it. Are you so
silly or so vain as to be troubled because a
Prince says idly what you know is not true ? I
tell you do not, listen to him, but let him be
slung to your chain as soon as may be, and
then he will speak no more." And then they
talked together of how Fiorimonde could make
Gervaise grasp the fatal string.
Next morning when the sun rose, Gervaise
36 THE NECKLACE OF
started off into the woods, and there he plucked
acorns and haws, and hips, and strung them
on to a string to form a rude necklace. This
he hid in his bosom, and then went back to the
palace without telling any one.
When the Princess rose, she dressed herself
as beautifully as she could, and braided her
golden locks with great care, for this morning
she meant her new suitor to meet his fate.
After breakfast, she stepped into the garden,
where the sun shone brightly, and all looked
fresh after the storm. Here from the grass
she picked up a golden ball, and began to play
"Go to our new guest," cried she to her
ladies, " and ask him to come here and play at
ball with me." So they went, and soon they
returned bringing Gervaise with them.
" Good morrow, prince," cried she. " Pray,
come and try your skill at this game with me ;
and you," she said to her ladies, " do not wait
to watch our play, but each go your way, and
do what pleases you best." So they all went
away, and left her alone with Gervaise.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 37
" Well, prince," cried she as they began to
play, "what do you think of me by morning
light ? Yesterday when you came it was so
dark, with thunder and clouds, that you could
scarcely see my face, but now that there is
bright sunshine, pray look well at me, and see
if you do not think me as beautiful as any
woman on earth," and she smiled at Gervaise,
and looked so lovely as she spoke, that he
scarce knew how to answer her ; but he re-
membered Yolande, and said,
" Doubtless you are very beautiful ; then why
should you mind my telling you that I have
seen a woman lovelier than you ?"
At this the Princess again began to be
angry, but she thought of the witch's words and
" Then, if you think there is a woman fairer
than I, look at my beads, and now, that you see
their colours in the sun, say if you ever saw
such jewels before."
"It is true I have never seen beads like
yours, but I have a necklace here, which
pleases me better;" and from his pocket he
38 THE NECKLACE OF
drew the haws and acorns, which he had strung
" What is that necklace, and where did you
get it? Show it to me!" cried Fiorimonde;
but Gervaise held it out of her reach, and
" I like my necklace better than yours,
Princess ; and, believe me, there is no necklace
like mine in all the world."
" Why ; is it a fairy necklace ? What does
it do ? Pray give it to me !" cried Fiorimonde,
trembling with anger and curiosity, for she
thought, " Perhaps it has power to make the
wearer beautiful ; perhaps it was worn by the
woman whom he thought more beautiful than I,
and that is why she looked so fair."
" Come, I will make a fair exchange," said
Gervaise. "Give me your necklace and you
shall have mine, and when it is round your
throat I will truthfully say that you are the
fairest woman in the world; but first I must
have your necklace."
" Take it, then," cried the Princess, who, in
her rage and eagerness, forgot all else, and she
" Then he picked up the necklace on the point of his sword and carried it, slung thereon,
into the council chamber." p. 39.
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 39
seized the string of beads to lift it from her
neck, but no sooner had she taken it in her
hands than they fell with a rattle to the earth,
and Fiorimonde herself was nowhere to be seen.
Gervaise bent down over the necklace as it lay
upon the grass, and, with a smile, counted
thirteen beads; and he knew that the thirteenth
was the wicked Princess, who had herself met
the evil fate she had prepared for so many
"Oh, clever Princess!" cried he, laughing
aloud, " you are not so very clever, I think, to
be so easily outwitted." Then he picked up
the necklace on the point of the sword and
carried it, slung thereon, into the council cham-
ber, where sat the King surrounded by states-
men and courtiers busy with state affairs.
" Pray, King," said Gervaise, " send some
one to seek for Princess Fiorimonde. A
moment ago she played with me at ball in the
garden, and now she is nowhere to be seen."
The King desired that servants should seek
her Royal Highness; but they came back saying
she was not to be found.
4 o THE NECKLACE OF
" Then let me see if I cannot bring her to
you ; but first let those who have been longer
lost than she, come and tell their own tale."
And, so saying, Gervaise let the necklace slip
from his sword on to the floor, and taking from
his breast a sharp dagger, proceeded to cut the
golden thread on which the beads were strung
and as he clave it in two there came a mighty
noise like a clap of thunder.
"Now;" cried he, "look, and see King
Pierrot who was lost," and as he spoke he drew
from the cord a bead, and King Pierrot, in his
royal clothes, with his sword at his side, stood
"Treachery!" he cried, but ere he could
say more Gervaise had drawn off another bead,
and King Hildebrandt appeared, and after him
came Adrian, and Sigbert, and Algar, and
Cenred, and Pharamond, and Raoul, and last
of the princes, Gervaise's own dear master
Florestan, and they all denounced Princess
Fiorimonde and her wickedness.
"And now," cried Gervaise, "here is she
who has helped to save you all," and he drew
PRINCESS FIORIMONDE. 41
off the twelfth bead, and there stood Yolande
in her red dress; and when he saw her Gervaise
flung away his dagger and took her in his arms,
and they wept for joy.
The King and all the courtiers sat pale
and trembling, unable to speak for fear and
shame. At length the King said with a deep
" We owe you deep amends, O noble kings
and princes ! What punishment do you wish us
to prepare for our most guilty daughter ? " but
here Gervaise stopped him, and said,
"Give her no other punishment than what
she has chosen for herself. See, here she is,
the thirteenth bead upon the string ; let no one
dare to draw it off, but let this string be hung
up where all people can see it and see the one
bead, and know the wicked Princess is punished
for her sorcery, so it will be a warning to others
who would do like her."
So they lifted the golden thread with great
care and hung it up outside the town-hall, and
there the one bead glittered and gleamed in the
sunlight, and all who saw it knew that it was
42 THE NECKLACE OF PRINCESS FIORIMONDE.
the wicked Princess Fiorimonde who had justly
met her fate.
Then all the kings and princes thanked
Gervaise and Yolande, and loaded them with
presents, and each went to his own land.
And Gervaise married Yolande, and they
went back with Prince Florestan to their home,
and all lived happily to the end of their lives.
ONG ago there lived a wan-
dering musician and his wife,
whose names were Arasmon
and Chrysea. Arasmon
played upon a lute to which
Chrysea sang, and their
music was so beautiful that people followed
them in crowds and gave them as much money
as they wanted. When Arasmon played all
who heard him were silent from wonder and
admiration, but when Chrysea sang they could
riot refrain from weeping, for her voice was
more beautiful than anything they had ever
Both were young and lovely, and were as
happy as the day was long, for they loved each
44 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
other dearly, and liked wandering about seeing
new countries and people and making sweet
music. They went to all sorts of places, some-
times to big cities, sometimes to little villages,
sometimes to lonely cottages by the sea-shore,
and sometimes they strolled along the green
lanes and fields, singing and playing so exquis-
itely, that the very birds flew down from the
trees to listen to them.
One day they crossed a dark line of hills,
and came out on a wild moorland country,
where they had never been before. On the
side of the hill they saw a little village, and at
once turned towards it, but as they drew near
" What gloomy place is this ? See how
dark and miserable it looks."
" Let us try to cheer it with some music,"
said Arasmon, and began to play upon his lute,
while Chrysea sang. One by one the villagers
came out of their cottages and gathered round
them to listen, but Chrysea thought she had
never before seen such forlorn-looking people.
They were thin and bent, their faces were pale
" One by one the villagers came out of their cottages, and gathered round them to
listen." P. 44.
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 45
and haggard, also their clothes looked old and
threadbare, and in some places were worn into
holes. But they crowded about Arasmon and
Chrysea, and begged them to go on playing and
singing, and as they listened the women shed
tears, and the men hid their faces and were
silent. When they stopped, the people began
to feel in their pockets as if to find some coins,
but Arasmon cried,
" Nay, good friends, keep your money for
yourselves. You have not too much of it, to
judge by your looks. But let us stay with you
for to-night, and give us food and lodging, and
we shall think ourselves well paid, and will
play and sing to you as much as you like."
" Stay with us as long as you can, stay with
us always," begged the people ; and each one
entreated to be allowed to receive the strangers
and give them the best they had. So Arasmon
and Chrysea played and sang to them till they
were tired, and at last, when the heavy rain
began to fall, they turned towards the village,
but as they passed through its narrow streets
they thought the place itself looked even sadder
46 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
than its inmates. The houses were ill-built,
and seemed to be almost tumbling down. The
streets were uneven and badly kept. In the
gardens they saw no flowers, but dank dark
weeds. They went into a cottage which the
people pointed out to them, and Arasmon lay
down by the fire, calling to Chrysea to rest also,
as they had walked far, and she must be weary.
He soon fell asleep, but Chrysea sat at the door
watching the dark clouds as they drifted over
the darker houses. Outside the cottage hung
a blackbird in a cage, with drooping wings and
scanty plumage. It was the only animal they
had yet seen in the village, for of cats or dogs
or singing-birds there seemed to be none,
When she saw it, Chrysea turned to the woman
of the house, who stood beside her, and said,
" Why don't you let it go ? It would be
much happier flying about in the sunshine."
"The sun never shines here," said the
woman sadly. "It could not pierce through
the dark clouds which hang over the village.
Besides, we do not think of happiness. It is
as much as we can do to live."
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 47
" But tell me," said Chrysea, " what is it that
makes you so sad and your village such a
dreary place ? I have been to many towns in
my life, but to none which looked like this."
4 ' Don't you know," said the woman, "that
this place is spell-bound ?"
" Spell-bound ? " cried Chrysea. " What do
you mean ?"
The woman turned and pointed towards the
moor. " Over yonder," she said, " dwells a
terrible old wizard by whom we are bewitched,
and he has a number of little dark elves who
are his servants, and these are they who make
our village what you see it. You don't know
how sad it is to live here. The elves steal our
eggs, and milk, and poultry, so that there is
never enough for us to eat, and we are half-
starved. They pull down our houses, and
undo our work as fast as we do it. They steal
our corn when it is standing in sheaves, so
that we find nothing but empty husks ; " and
as she ceased speaking the woman sighed
" But if they do all this harm," said Chrysea,
48 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
" why do not some of you go to the moor and
drive them away ? "
"It is part of the spell," said the woman,
"that we can neither hear nor see them. I
have heard my grandfather say that in the old
time this place was no different to others, but
one day this terrible old magician came and
offered the villagers a great deal of money if
they would let him dwell upon the moor ; for
before that it was covered with golden gorse
and heather, and the country folk held all their
merrymakings there, but they were tempted
with the gold, and sold it, and from that day
the elves have tormented us ; and as we can-
not see them, we cannot get rid of them, but
must just bear them as best we may."
" That is a sad way to speak," said Chrysea.
" Cannot you find out what the spell really is
and break it ?"
" It is a song," said the woman, " and every
night they sing it afresh. It is said that if
any one could go to the moor between mid-
night and dawn, and could hear them singing it,
and then sing through the tune just as they
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 49
themselves do, the charm would be broken, and
we should be free. But it must be some one
who has never taken their money, so we cannot
do it, for we can neither see nor hear them."
" But I have not taken their money," said
Chrysea. " And there is no tune I cannot sing
when I have heard it once. So I will go to the
moor for you and break the spell."
" Nay, do not think of such a thing," cried
the woman. " For the elves are most spiteful,
and you don't know what harm they might do
to you, even if you set us free."
Chrysea said no more, but all the evening
she thought of what the woman had told her,
and still stood looking out into the dismal
street. When she went to bed she did not
sleep, but lay still till the clock struck one.
Then she rose softly, and wrapping herself
in a cloak, opened the door and stepped out
into the rain. As she passed, she looked up
and saw the blackbird crouching in the bottom
of its cage. She opened the cage door to let
it fly, but still it did not move, so she lifted it
out in her hand.
50 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
" Poor bird !" said she gently ; " I wish I
could give this village its liberty as easily as I
can give you yours," and carrying it with her
she walked on towards the moor. It was a
large waste piece of land, and looked as though
it had been burnt, for the ground was charred
and black, and there was no grass or green
plant growing on it, but there were some
blackened stumps of trees, and to these Chry-
sea went, and hid herself behind one to wait
and see what would come. She watched for
a long time without seeing any one, but at last
there rose from the ground not far from her a
lurid gleam, which spread and spread until it
became a large circle of light, in the midst of
which she saw small dark figures moving,
like ugly little men. The light was now so
bright that she could distinguish each one quite
plainly, and never before had she seen anything
so ugly, for they were black as ink, and their
faces were twisted and looked cruel and wicked.
They joined hands, and, forming a ring,
danced slowly round, and, as they did so, the
ground opened, and there rose up in their centre
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 51
a tiny village exactly like the spell-bound village,
only that the houses were but a few inches high.
Round this the elves danced, and then they
began to sing. Chrysea listened eagerly to
their singing, and no sooner had they done,
than she opened her lips and sang the same
tune through from beginning to end just as she
had heard it.
Her voice rang out loud and clear, and at
the sound the little village crumbled and fell
away as though it had been made of dust.
The elves stood silent for a moment, and
then with a wild cry they all rushed towards
Chrysea, and at their head she saw one about
three times the size of the others, who appeared
to be their chief.
" Come, quickly, let us punish the woman
who has dared to thwart us," he cried. " What
shall we change her to ?"
" A frog to croak on the ground," cried one.
" No, an owl to hoot in the night," cried
"Oh, for pity's sake," implored Chrysea,
"don't change me to one of these loathsome
52 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
creatures, so that, if Arasmon finds me, he will
"Hear her," cried the chief, "and let her
have her will. Let us change her to no bird or
beast, but to a bright golden harp, and thus shall
she remain, until upon her strings some one shall
play our tune, which she has dared to sing."
" Agreed !" cried the others, and all began to
dance round Chrysea and to sing as they had
sung around the village. She shrieked and
tried to run, but they stopped her on every side.
She cried, "Arasmon! Arasmon!" but no one
came, and when the elves' song was done, and
they disappeared, all that was left was a little
gold harp hanging upon the boughs of the tree,
and only the blackbird who sat above knew
what had come of poor Chrysea.
When morning dawned, and the villagers
awoke, all felt that some great change had taken
place. The heavy cloud which hung above
the village had cleared away ; the sun shone
brightly, and the sky was blue ; streams which
had been dry for years, were running clear and
fresh : and the people all felt strong, and able to
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 53
work again ; the trees were beginning to bud,
and in their branches sang birds, whose voices
had not been heard there for many a long year.
The villagers looked from one to another and
said, " Surely the spell is broken ; surely the
elves must have fled ;" and they wept for joy.
Arasmon woke with the first beam of the
sun, and finding Chrysea was not there, he rose,
and went to seek her in the village, calling,
" Chrysea, Chrysea ! the sun is up and we must
journey on our way ;" but no Chrysea answered,
so he walked down all the streets, calling
"Chrysea! come, Chrysea!" but no Chrysea
came. Then he said,
" She has gone into the fields to look for
wild flowers, and will soon be back." So he
waited for her patiently, but the sun rose high,
the villagers went to their work, and she did
not return. At this Arasmon was frightened,
and asked every one he met if they had seen
her, but each one shook his head and said " No,
they had seen nothing of her."
Then he called some of the men together
and told them that his wife had wandered away,
54 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
and he feared lest she might lose herself and
go still farther, and he asked them to help him
to look for her. So some went one way, and
some another, to search, and Arasmon himself
walked for miles the whole country round, call-
ing " Chrysea ! Chrysea !" but no answer came.
The sun was beginning to set and twi-
light to cover the land, when Arasmon came on
to the moor where Chrysea had met her fate.
That, too, was changed. Flowers and grass
were already beginning to grow there, and
the children of the village, who till now had
never dared to venture near it, were playing
about it. Arasmon could hear their voices as he
came near the tree against which Chrysea had
leaned, and on which now hung the golden harp.
In the branches above sat the blackbird singing,
and Arasmon stopped and listened to its song,
and thought he had never heard a bird sing so
sweetly before. For it sang the magic song by
which Chrysea had broken the elves' spell, the
first tune it had heard since it regained its liberty.
" Dear blackbird/' said Arasmon, looking up
to it, " I wish your singing could tell me where to
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 55
find my wife Chrysea ;" and as he looked up he
saw a golden harp hanging upon the branches,
and he took it down and ran his fingers over
the strings. Never before did harp give forth
such music. It was like a woman's voice, and
was most beautiful, but so sad that when Aras-
mon heard it he felt inclined to cry. It seemed
to be calling for help, but he could not under-
stand what it said, though each time he touched
the strings it cried, " Arasmon, Arasmon, I am
here! It is I, Chrysea;" but though Arasmon
listened, and wondered at its tones, yet he did
not know what it said.
He examined it carefully. It was a beauti-
ful little harp, made of pure gold, and at the top
was a pair of golden hands and arms clasped
" I will keep it," said Arasmon, " for I never
yet heard a harp with such a tone, and when
Chrysea comes she shall sing to it"
But Chrysea was nowhere to be found, and
at last the villagers declared she must be lost,
or herself have gone away on purpose, and
that it was vain to seek her farther. At this
56 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
Arasmon was angry, and saying that he would
seek Chrysea as long as he had life, he left the
village to wander over the whole world till he
should find her. He went on foot, and took
with him the golden harp.
He walked for many, many miles far away
from the village and the moor, and when he
came to any farmhouses, or met any country
people on the road he began to play, and every
one thronged round him and stared, in breath-
less surprise at his beautiful music. When he
had done he would ask them, " Have you seen
my wife Chrysea ? She is dressed in white and
gold, and sings more sweetly than any of the
birds of heaven."
But all shook their heads and said, " No, she
had not been there ;" and whenever he came to
a strange village, where he had not been before,
he called, " Chrysea, Chrysea, are you here ?"
but no Chrysea answered, only the harp in his
hands cried whenever he touched its strings,
"It is I, Arasmon! It is I, Chrysea!" but
though he thought its notes like Chrysea's
voice, he never understood them.
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 57
He wandered for days and months and
years through countries and villages which he
had never known before. When night came
and he found himself in the fields alone, he
would lie down upon his cloak and sleep with
his head resting upon the harp, and if by chance
one of its golden threads was touched it would
cry, "Arasmon, awake, I am here!" Then he
would dream that Chrysea was calling him, and
would wake and start up to look for her, think-
ing she must be close at hand.
One day, towards night, when he had walked
far, and was very tired, he came to a little village
on a lonely, rocky coast by the sea, and he found
that a thick mist had come up, and hung over
the village, so that he could barely see the path
before him as he walked. But he found his way
down on to the beach, and there stood a number
of fisherwomen, trying to look through the mist
towards the sea, and speaking anxiously.
"What is wrong, and for whom are you
watching, good folk ?" ne asked them.
"We are watching for our husbands,"
answered one. " They went out in their boats
58 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
fishing in the early morning, when it was quite
light, and then arose this dreadful fog, and they
should have come back long ago, and we fear
lest they may lose their way in the darkness
and strike on a rock and be drowned."
" I too, have lost my wife Chrysea," cried
Arasmon. " Has she passed by here ? She
had long golden hair, and her gown was white
and gold, and she sang with a voice like an
The women all said, " No, they had not seen
her;" but still they strained their eyes towards
the sea, and Arasmon also began to watch for
the return of the boats.
They waited and waited, but they did not
come, and every moment the darkness grew
thicker and thicker, so that the women could
not see each other's faces, though they stood
quite near together.
Then Arasmon took his harp and began to
play, and its music floated over the water for
miles through the darkness, but the women were
weeping so for their husbands, that they did
not heed it
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 59
"It is useless to watch," said one. " They
cannot steer their boats in such a darkness.
We shall never see them again."
" I will wait all night till morning," said
another, " and all day next day, and next night,
till I see some sign of the boats, and know if
they be living or dead," but as she stopped
speaking, there rose a cry of " Here they are,"
and two or three fishing-boats were pushed on
to the sand close by where they stood, and the
women threw their arms round their husbands'
necks, and all shouted for joy.
The fishermen asked who it was who had
played the harp ; " For," they said, " it was that
which saved us. We were far from land, and
it was so dark that we could not tell whether to
go to left or to right, and had no sign to guide
us to shore ; when of a sudden we heard the
most beautiful music, and we followed the
sound, and came in quite safely.
"'Twas this good harper who played while
we watched," said the women, and one and all
turned to Arasmon, and told him with tears of
their gratitude, and asked him what they could
60 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
do for him, or what they could give him in
token of their thankfulness ; but Arasmon shook
his head and said, "You can do nothing for
me, unless you can tell me where to seek my
wife Chrysea. It is to find her I am wander-
ing ;" and when the women shook their heads,
and said again they knew nothing of her, the
harp-strings as he touched them cried again,
" Arasmon ! Arasmon ! listen to me. It is
I, Chrysea ;" but again no one understood it, and
though all pitied him, no one could help him.
Next morning when the mist had cleared
away, and the sun was shining, a little ship set
sail for foreign countries, and Arasmon begged
the captain to take him in it that he might seek
Chrysea still farther.
They sailed and sailed, till at last they came
to the country for which they were bound ; but
they found the whole land in confusion, and war
and fighting everywhere, and all the people
were leaving their homes and hiding them-
selves in the towns, for fear of a terrible enemy,
who was invading them. But no one hurt Aras-
mon as he wandered on with his harp in his hand,
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 61
only no one would stop to answer him, when he
asked if Chrysea had been there, for every one
was too frightened and hurried to heed him.
At last he came to the chief city where the
King dwelt, and here he found all the men
building walls and fortresses, and preparing to
defend the town, because they knew their enemy
was coming to besiege it, but all the soldiers
were gloomy and low-spirited.
"It is impossible for us to conquer," they
said, "for there are three of them to every one
of us, and they will take our city and make our
That night as the watchmen looked over the
walls, they saw in the distance an immense army
marching towards them, and their swords and
helmets glittered in the moonlight.
Then they gave the signal, and the captains
gathered together their men to prepare them for
fighting ; but so sure were they of being beaten
that it was with difficulty their officers could
bring them to the walls.
" It would be better," said the soldiers, "to
lay down our arms at once and let the enemy
62 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
enter, for then we should not lose our lives as
well as our city and our wealth."
When Arasmon heard this he sat upon the
walls of the town, and began to play upon his
harp, and this time its music was so loud and
clear, that it could be heard far and wide, and
its sound was so exultant and joyous, that when
the soldiers heard it they raised their heads, and
their fears vanished, and they started forward,
shouting and calling that they would conquer or
Then the enemy attacked the city, but the
soldiers within met them with so much force
that they were driven back, and had to fly, and
the victorious army followed them and drove
them quite out of their country, and Arasmon
went with them, playing on his harp, to cheer
them as they went.
When they knew the victory was theirs, all
the captains wondered what had caused their
sudden success, and one of the lieutenants said,
"It was that strange harper who went with us,
playing on his harp. When our men heard it,
they became as brave as lions." So the cap-
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 63
tains sent for Arasmon, but when he came they
were astonished to see how worn and thin he
looked, and could scarcely believe it was he who
had made such wonderful music, for his face had
grown thin and pale, and there were gray locks
in his hair.
They asked him what he would like to have,
saying they would give him whatever he would
choose, for the great service he had done them.
Arasmon only shook his head and said,
" There is nothing I want that you can give
me. I am seeking the whole world round to
find my wife Chrysea. It is many many years
since I lost her. We two were as happy as
birds on the bough. We wandered over the
world singing and playing in the sunshine. But
now she is gone, and I care for nothing else."
And the captains looked pityingly at him, for
they all thought him mad, and could not under-
stand what the harp said when he played on it
again, and it cried,
" Listen, Arasmon ! I too am here I , Chrysea."
So Arasmon left that city, and started again,
and wandered for days and months and years.
64 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
He came by many strange places, and met
with many strange people, but he found no
trace of Chrysea, and each day he looked older
and sadder and thinner.
At length he came to a country where the
King loved nothing on earth so much as music.
So fond of it was he, that he had musicians and
singers by the score, always living in his palace,
and there was no way of pleasing him so well
as by sending a new musician or singer. So
when Arasmon came into the country, and the
people heard how marvellously he played, they
said at once, " Let us take him to the King.
The poor man is mad. Hear how he goes on
asking for his wife ; but, mad or not, his playing
will delight the King. Let us take him at once
to the palace." So, though Arasmon would
have resisted them, they dragged him away to
the court, and sent a messenger to the King, to
say they had found a poor mad wandering
harper, who played music the like of which they
had never heard before.
The King and Queen, and all the court, sat
feasting when the messenger came in saying
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 65
that the people were bringing a new harper to
play before his majesty.
" A new harper !" quoth he. " That is good
hearing. Let him be brought here to play to
us at once."
So Arasmon was led into the hall, and up to
the golden thrones on which sat the King and
Queen. A wonderful hall it was, made of
gold and silver, and crystal and ivory, and the
courtiers, dressed in blue and green and gold
and diamonds, were a sight to see. Behind the
throne were twelve young maids dressed in pure
white, who sang most sweetly, and behind them
were the musicians who accompanied them on
every kind of instrument. Arasmon had never
in his life seen such a splendid sight.
" Come here," cried the King to him, " and
let us hear you play." And the singers ceased
singing, and the musicians smiled scornfully,
for they could not believe Arasmon's music
could equal theirs. For he looked to be in a
most sorry plight. He had walked far, and the
dust of the roads was on him. His clothes
were worn threadbare, and stained and soiled,
66 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
while his face was so thin and anxious and sad
that it was pitiful to see ; but his harp of pure
shining gold was undulled, and untarnished.
He began to play, and then all smiles ceased,
and the women began to weep, and the men
sat and stared at him in astonishment. When
he had done the King started up, and throwing
his arms about his neck, cried, " Stay with me.
You shall be my chief musician. Never before
have I heard playing like yours, and whatever
you want I will give you." But when he heard
this, Arasmon knelt on one knee and said,
" My gracious lord, I cannot stay. I have
lost my wife Chrysea. I must search all over
the world till I find her. Ah ! how beau-
tiful she was, and how sweetly she sang; her
singing was far sweeter than even the music of
"Indeed!" cried the King. "Then I too
would fain hear her. But stay with me, and I
will send messengers all over the world to seek
her far and near, and they will find her much
sooner than you."
So Arasmon stayed at the court, but he said
' He began to play, and then all smiles ceased." P. 66.
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 67
that if Chrysea did not come soon he must go
farther to seek her himself.
The King gave orders that he should be
clad in the costliest clothes and have all he
could want given to him, and after this he
would hear no music but Arasmon's playing, so
all the other musicians were jealous, and wished
he had never come to the palace. But the
strangest thing was that no one but Arasmon
could play upon his golden harp. All the
King's harpers tried, and the King himself tried
also, but when they touched the strings there
came from them a strange, melancholy wailing,
and no one but Arasmon could bring out its
But the courtiers and musicians grew more
and more angry with Arasmon, till at last they
hated him bitterly, and only wanted to do him
some harm ; for they said,
"Who is he, that our King should love
and honour him before us ? After all, it is not
his playing which is so beautiful ; it is chiefly
the harp on which he plays, and if that were
taken from him he would be no better than the
68 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
rest of us ; " and then they began to consult
together as to how they should steal his harp.
One hot summer evening Arasmon went
into the palace gardens, and sat down to rest
beneath a large beech-tree, when a little way
off he saw two courtiers talking together, and
heard that they spoke of him, though they did
not see him or know he was there.
" The poor man is mad," said one ; " of that
there is little doubt, but, mad or not, as long as
he plays on his harp the King will not listen
to any one else."
" The only way is to take the harp from him,"
said the other. " But it is hard to know how to
get it away, for he will never let it go out of
"We must take it from him when he is
sleeping," said the first.
" Certainly," said the other ; and then Aras-
mon heard them settle how and when they
would go to his room at night to steal his harp.
He sat still till they were gone, and then he
rose, and grasping it tenderly, turned from the
palace and walked away through the garden gates.
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 69
" I have lost Chrysea," he said, " and now
they would take from me even my harp, the
only thing I have to love in all this world, but
I will go away, far off where they will never
find me," and when he was out of sight, he ran
with all his might, and never rested till he was
far away on a lonely hill, with no one near to
The stars were beginning to shine though it
was not yet dark. Arasmon sat on a stone and
looked at the country far and near. He could
hear the sheep bells tinkling around him, and
far, far off in the distance he could see the city
and the palace he had left.
Then he began to play on his harp, and as
he played the sheep stopped browsing and drew
near him to listen.
The stars grew brighter and the evening
darker, and he saw a woman carrying a child
coming up the hill.
She looked pale and tired, but her face was
very happy as she sat down not far from Aras-
mon and listened to his playing, whilst she
looked eagerly across the hill as if she watched
70 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
for some one who was coming. Presently she
turned and said, " How beautifully you play ; I
never heard music like it before, but what
makes you look so sad ? Are you unhappy ? "
" Yes," said Arasmon, " I am very miserable.
I lost my wife Chrysea many years ago, and
now I don't know where she can be."
" It is a year since I have seen my husband,"
said the woman. " He went to the war a year
ago, but now there is peace and he is coming
back, and to-night he will come over this hill.
It was just here we parted, and now I am come
to meet him."
" How happy you must be," said Arasmon.
" I shall never see Chrysea again," and as he
spoke he struck a chord on the harp, which cried,
" O Arasmon, my husband ! why do you not
know me ? It is I, Chrysea."
" Do not say that," continued the woman ;
"you will find her some day. Why do you sit
here ? Was it here you parted from her ? "
Then Arasmon told her how they had gone
to a strange desolate village and rested there
for the night, and in the morning Chrysea was
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 71
gone, and that he had wandered all over the
world looking for her ever since.
" I think you are foolish," said the woman ;
"perhaps your wife has been waiting for you at
that village all this time. I would go back to
the place where I parted from her if I were you,
and wait there till she returns. How could I
meet my husband if I did not come to the spot
where we last were together ? We might both
wander on for ever and never find each other ;
and now, see, here he is coming," and she gave a
cry of joy and ran to meet a soldier who was
walking up the hill.
Arasmon watched them as they met and
kissed, and saw the father lift the child in his
arms, then the three walked over the hill
together, and when they were gone he sat down
and wept bitterly. " What was it she said ? "
he said. " That I ought to go back to the spot
where we parted. She will not be there, but I
will go and die at the place where I last saw
her." So again he grasped his harp and started.
He travelled many days and weeks by land and
sea, till late one day he came in sight of the hill
72 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
on which stood the little village. But at first
he could not believe that he had come to the
right place, so changed did all appear. He
stopped and looked around him in astonishment.
He stood in a shady lane, the arching trees met
over his head. The banks were full of spring
flowers, and either side of the hedge were fields
full of young green corn.
" Can this be the wretched bare road down
which we walked together ? I would indeed it
were, and that she were with me now," said he.
When he looked across to the village, the
change seemed greater still. There were many
more cottages, and they were trim and well
kept, standing in neat gardens full of flowers.
He heard the cheerful voices of the peasants,
and the laughter of the village children. The
whole place seemed to be full of life and happi-
ness. He stopped again upon the mound
where he and Chrysea had first played and
" It is many, many a long year since I was
here," he said. " Time has changed all things
strangely ; but it would be hard to say which is
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 73
the more altered, this village or I, for then it
was sunk in poverty and wretchedness, and
now it has gained happiness and wealth, and I,
who was so happy and glad, now am broken-
down and worn. I have lost my only wealth, my
wife Chrysea. It was just here she stood and
sang, and now I shall never see her again or
hear her singing."
There came past him a young girl driving
some cows, and he turned and spoke to her.
" Tell me, I beg/' he said, " is not your village
much changed of late years ? I was here long
ago, but I cannot now think it the same place,
for this is as bright and flourishing a town as
I have ever seen, and I remember it only as a
dreary tumble-down village where the grass
" Oh !" said the girl, " then you were here in
our bad time, but we do not now like to speak
of that, for fear our troubles should return.
Folks say we were spell-bound. 'Tis so long
ago that I can scarcely remember it, for I was
quite a little child then. But a wandering
musician and his wife set us free ; at least,
74 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
everything began to mend after they came, and
now we think they must have been angels from
heaven, for next day they went, and we have
never seen them since."
"It was I and my wife Chrysea," cried
Arasmon. " Have you seen her ? Has she
been here ? I have sought all over the world
ever since, but I cannot find her, and now I fear
lest she be dead."
The girl stared at him in surprise. " You ?
you poor old man ! Of what are you talking ?
You must surely be mad to say such things.
These musicians were the most beautiful people
upon the earth, and they were young and dressed
in shining white and gold, and you are old and
gray and ragged, and surely you are very ill
too, for you seem to be so weak that you can
scarcely walk. Come home with me, and I will
give you food and rest till you are better."
Arasmon shook his head. " I am seeking
Chrysea," he said, " and I will rest no more till
I have found her ;" and the girl, seeing that he
was determined, left him alone and went on her
way driving her cows before her.
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 75
When she had gone Arasmon sat by the
wayside and wept as though his heart would
break. "It is too true," he said ; " I am so old
and worn that when I find her she will not
know me," and as he again fell a-weeping his
hand struck the harp-strings, and they cried, " I
have watched you through all these years, my
Arasmon. Take comfort, I am very near,"
and his tears ceased, and he was soothed by
the voice of the harp, though he knew not why.
Then he rose. " I will go to the moor," he
said, " and look for the tree on which I found
my harp, and that will be my last resting-place,
for surely my strength will carry me no farther."
So he tottered slowly on, calling, as he went, in
a weak voice, " Chrysea, my Chrysea ! are you
here ? I have sought you over the world since
you left me, and now that I am old and like to
die, I am come to seek you where we parted."
When he came upon the moor, he wondered
again at the change of all the country round.
He thought of the charred, blackened waste on
which he had stood before, and now he looked
with amazement at the golden gorse, the purple
76 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
heather, so thick that he could scarcely pick his
way amongst it.
" It is a beautiful place now," he said, "but
I liked it better years ago, deserted and desolate
though it was, for my Chrysea was here."
There were so many trees upon the common
that he could not tell which was the one on
which his harp had hung, but, unable to go any
farther, he staggered and sank down beneath a
large oak-tree, in whose branches a blackbird
was singing most sweetly. The sun was setting
just as of yore when he had found his harp, and
most of the birds' songs were over, but this one
bird still sang sweet and clear, and Arasmon,
tired and weak though he was, raised his head
" I never heard bird sing like that," he said.
" What is the tune it sings ? I will play it on
my harp before I die." And with what strength
remained to him he reached forth his trembling
hand, and grasping his harp struck upon it the
notes of the bird's song, then he fell back ex-
hausted, and his eyes closed.
At once the harp slid from his hand, and
THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON. 77
Chrysea stood beside him Chrysea dressed as
of old, in shining white and gold, with bright
hair and eyes.
"Arasmon!" she cried, "see, it is I, Chry-
sea !" but Arasmon did not move. Then she
raised her voice and sang more sweetly than the
bird overhead, and Arasmon opened his eyes
and looked at her.
"Chrysea!" cried he; "I have found my
wife Chrysea!" and he laid his head on her
bosom and died. And when Chrysea saw it her
heart broke, and she lay beside him and died
without a word.
In the morning when some of the villagers
crossed the common they saw Arasmon and
Chrysea lying beneath the oak-tree in each
other's arms, and drew near them, thinking they
were asleep, but when they saw their faces they
knew they were dead.
Then an old man stooped and looked at
Chrysea, and said,
"Surely it is the woman who came to us
and sang long ago, when we were in our
troubles ; and, though he is sadly changed and
78 THE WANDERINGS OF ARASMON.
worn, it is like her husband who played for her
Then came the girl who had driven the
cows and told them how she had met Arasmon,
and all he had said to her.
"He searched everywhere for his wife, he
said," said she. " I am glad he has found her.
Where could she be ?"
" Would that we had known it was he," said
they all, " how we would have greeted him ! but
see, he looks quite content and as if he wished
nothing more, since he has found his wife
ONG ago, in the days of
fairies, there lived a King
and Queen, who were rich
But the Queen was a
proud, haughty woman, and
disliked every one more powerful than herself.
And most of all, she hated the fairy folk, and
could not bear them to come to the castle where
she and the King dwelt.
Time passed, and the Queen had a little
baby, a daughter whom they called Joan
and the bells were rung, and there were great
rejoicings all over the country, and the King
and Queen were happy as the day is long.
One day as the Queen sat by the cradle of
8o THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
the little Princess, watching it, she said, " My
pretty babe, when you are grown to be a woman
you will be rich and beautiful, and you shall
marry some young Prince, who will love you
dearly, and then in your turn be Queen, and
have a fine palace, and jewels, and lands to
your heart's content." Scarcely had she done
speaking when she heard a little noise beside
her, and, looking up, saw a woman dressed
in yellow from head to foot standing on the
other side of the cradle. She wore a yellow
cap, which covered her head completely, so
that no hair was seen, and her eyes, which
looked cunning and fierce, were yellow as her
" And how do you know, Queen, that your
child will be so happy ? Whose help will you
seek to get her all these fine things ?" said the
" I will ask no one's help," said the Queen
haughtily, " for I am Queen of the land, and can
have what I please."
The yellow woman laughed, and said,
" Don't be too sure, proud Queen ; but the next
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 81
night that the moon is bright, guard well the
Princess when the clock strikes twelve, lest
aught of her's be stolen from her."
" No thief shall come near her," cried the
Queen; but ere she had done speaking the
woman had vanished, and the Queen knew it
was a fairy.
The sky that night was dark and overcast,
and no moon to be seen, and the next night was
the same, but the third night the moon shone
bright and dear, and as the clock struck twelve
the Queen awoke and looked at the baby, who
was sleeping peacefully in its cradle ; but 'twixt
the strokes of the clock she heard a faint
whistling outside the window, which grew
louder and fuller each moment. 'Twas as if
some one whistled to decoy away a bird, and on
hearing it the baby awoke and began to cry
bitterly. The Queen could not quiet her, try
how she might. At last the little one gave one
scream louder than all the others and then lay
quite still, and at that moment the Queen saw
something flutter across the room like a tiny
bird, with pink, soft feathers. It flew straight
82 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
out of the window, and the whistling ceased, and
all again was quiet as before. The Queen took
the baby in her arms and looked at it anxiously
by the light of the moon, but it looked well and
slept calmly, so its mother placed it in its
cradle and tried to forget the yellow fairy and
The nurse of the Princess Joan was a very
wise old woman who knew a great deal of
fairies and their ways, and as the child grew up
she watched her with an anxious face.
" She is under a charm," she said, " though
what it is I don't know; but before she is a
woman they will see how different she is from
The nurse's words proved to be true. No
one had ever seen a little girl like the Princess.
Nothing troubled her. She never shed one
tear. If she were angry she would stamp her
feet and her eyes would flash, but she never
wept, and she loved nobody. When her little
dog died she laughed outright ; when the King
her father went to the war it did not grieve
her ; and when he returned she was no happier
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN* 83
than she had been when he was away. She
never kissed her mother, or her ladies, and
when they said they loved her, she stared at
them, and asked what they meant. At this the
ladies were angry with her and chid her for
being hard-hearted, but the old nurse always
stopped them, saying,
"'Tis not her you should blame. She is
enchanted, but 'tis not her fault."
Princess Joan grew up and was the loveliest
woman in the land. It was many long years
since any one so fair had been seen, but for all
that her mother mourned over her sorely, and
her eyes were red with crying for her beautiful
daughter, who had never yet wept one tear
The neighbouring country was governed by
a King and Queen who had only one son,
named Michael, whom everybody loved dearly.
He was a handsome young man, and as good
as he was handsome. He was as gracious to
the poorest beggar as to the greatest lord, and
all the poor folk came to him to tell him their
troubles, if they thought they were badly treated ;
84 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
and because he was brave and handsome also,
the court people loved him as well as the
In this country there stood on a high hill
a round tower, and at the top of it lived
an old wizard. No man knew his age, for
he had dwelt there for hundreds of years, and
no one knew how the tower had been built,
for it was made of one huge stone, and there
were no joins in it at all.
The King and Queen were afraid of the old
magician, and never went near him ; indeed, no
one in all the country had ever ventured to
climb the tower and see the old man at his
work except Prince Michael, who knew the old
sorcerer well and did not fear him at all, but
went up and down the tower as he chose.
One bright moonlight night it chanced that
the Prince found himself alone on the hill-side,
and seeing a bright light shining from the top
of the tower he resolved to enter and pay the
old man a visit. So he went to a little door,
and pushing it open stepped into a narrow,
dark, winding staircase, that went straight up
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 85
the centre to the room at the top, in which
the wizard dwelt. The staircase was pitch
dark, for there were no windows. Moreover,
it was so narrow that only one person could
walk in it at a time, but Prince Michael knew
the way quite well, and climbed and climbed
till he saw a chink of light, and at last trod
through a little doorway into the room in which
the sorcerer sat.
This room was as light as day, for it was lit
by a lamp which the old man himself had made,
and in which no oil or wick was burning, but
every day it was filled with sunbeams, and held
them at night after the sun had set.
So the whole room was brilliant, and in the
middle sat the wizard, who was a wonderful old
man to look on, for he was all white. His
beard was white as snow, and from afar you
could not tell which was beard and which gown,
but when you came near you saw that the beard
flowed nearly to his feet, and his skin was as
white as either beard or gown. And his eyes
were quite colourless, but as bright as two
86 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN
When Michael entered he sat looking at an
enormous book full of coloured pictures of little
men and women about three inches high each.
They were not like other pictures, for they
walked and moved over the page as though
they were alive.
" It is I, father. What book are you looking
at ?" said Michael, stepping up to the old man's
"In this book," said the wizard, " I keep
the portraits of all the men and women in the
world, and they are living portraits too, for they
move, and look just like the originals."
" That must be very amusing," cried Michael.
" Pray show me the portraits of all the Kings,
and Queens, and Princesses. This will be
delightful," and he knelt down by the old man
and looked over his shoulder.
The sorcerer muttered to himself and turned
over the pages, and then stopped at one on
which Michael saw little figures of Kings and
Queens of all sorts, some of which he knew, and
some of which he had never seen before.
" There," he cried, " is old King Re"n6 who
" Tis their daughter, Princess Joan," said the wizard with a sigh. " But do not look at
her, my son, for she will bring nothing but trouble to all who know her." p. 87.
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 87
came to our court last year, and that is Queen
Constance, and that is their nephew Prince
Guilbert, who will be king when they are dead,
and here are our neighbours the King and
Queen of the next country, and oh, my father,
who is this lovely Princess next to them ?"
"'Tis their daughter Princess Joan," said
the wizard with a sigh. " But do not look at
her, my son, for she will bring nothing but
trouble to all who know her."
" I don't care if she bring trouble or happi-
ness," cried the Prince. " But for certain she
is the most beautiful creature in the world," and
he seized the book and looked long at the tiny
figure of the Princess. Truly it was very beau-
tiful. It was dressed in white, with a golden
girdle round the waist, and a wreath of golden
daisies on its head, and as Michael looked, it
turned upon the pages, and smiled at him till he
smiled back again, and could not move his eyes
When the wizard saw this, he took the book
from the young man's hands, and hid it away,
88 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
" Think no more of Princess Joan, however
beautiful she be, or one day you will rue it
Prince Michael made no answer, but he
thought all the more of the little picture of the
Princess. After he had left the tower, and re-
turned to the palace, he could not forget her,
but dreamt of her all night, and thought of her
Next morning he went to the King and said,
"My father, I am come to beg that you will
send to the King of the next country and ask
if I may have his daughter, Princess Joan, for
my wife, for I have seen her portrait, and there
is no one in the world whom I love so well."
When the King heard this he was delighted.
"Our good neighbours," he said, "are rich
and powerful, and it will be a capital thing for
our son to marry their daughter." So he at
once sent off an ambassador to beg for the hand
of Princess Joan for Prince Michael.
Joan's father and mother were delighted
with the offer, and at once resolved to accept
it; but the Queen's heart sank within her,
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 89
for she thought, " Our poor Joan is not like any
other maid who ever lived before, and perhaps
when Prince Michael sees her and finds this
out, he will refuse to wed her after all ;" but she
said nothing of her fears, and the ambassador
returned to the court, loaded with presents, and
bearing a message of acceptance.
Till his return Prince Michael knew no
peace or rest, but wandered about among the
hills by himself, thinking of Joan, and still, in
his heart, he wondered what the magician had
meant when he said that if he thought much of
Princess Joan, one day he would rue it
At last he said to himself, " I will disguise
myself as a poor man, and go and see my
Princess for myself before the ambassador*
returns, then shall I know what the wizard
So he dressed himself as a peasant, and
started alone without telling any one whither he
went, and he travelled day and night till he
came to the country where Joan dwelt and to
her father s palace. Then he walked near the
palace gardens, and no one noticed him, and he
90 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
saw a group of lovely ladies, who sat together
on the grass.
His heart beat high as he looked at them,
for in their midst, most beautiful of all, sat
the Princess Joan. Her yellow hair fell to her
waist, her face was like a blush rose, and her
eyes were blue as forget-me-nots, but when she
lifted them, he saw that they were clear and
hard as glass, and her voice when she spoke
was like a bright cold bell.
There ran up to her a little serving-maid,
crying bitterly, and said,
" I beg of you, Princess, to let me return to
my own home for a time, for my father, the
huntsman, has broken his leg and is very ill."
"Why should you cry for that?" said the
Princess. " 'Tis your father and not you that
is hurt ; but you may go, for when you cry and
your eyes look red you are ugly, and I don't like
to see you, so be sure that when you return you
are pretty and bright as ever.*'
When her ladies heard her they looked
angry, but no one spoke, and the little maid went
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 91
Up there came a groom from the palace and
"Your Royal Highness, the horse that you
rode yesterday is dead, and we think it is
because you would ride so far when it was
already tired, as we told you."
"Dead is it ?" cried the Princess. "Then
see quickly and get me another, that I may ride
again to-morrow, and be sure this time that it is
a good strong horse, or it may give way beneath
me and so my ride be shortened."
The groom went away muttering, and the
Princess's ladies looked even graver than before,
but the Princess's own face was bright as a
summer sky, and she talked on without heeding
their sad looks.
Prince Michael turned away with a heavy
"The magician spoke truly," he said to
himself, " and there will be nothing but sorrow
for all those who love my poor Princess Joan."
Yet he could not bear to leave her and re-
turn at once to his own home, and still he
remained near the palace, and for some days
92 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
watched her unnoticed, when she walked and
rode, and listened to all she said, and each day
he grieved more and more, for she never said
one kind loving word to any one ; yet each day
when he saw how beautiful she was he loved
her more and more.
When he again returned to his own home he
found great rejoicings everywhere, for the ambas-
sador had returned with a message from Joan's
father promising she should marry the Prince,
and everywhere preparations were being made
for the entry of the Princess to her new home.
" And now, my son," said the King, " all is
arranged for you to journey in state to her
father's court and bring back your bride, so
now I hope that you are happy and wish for
On hearing this Prince Michael's face was
sad and grave, and his father and mother
wondered what ailed him. But he said to him-
self, " I will never marry my Joan till she loves
me as I do her, and how can she ever do that
when she loves no one, not even her own father
and mother ?"
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 93
At the court of Joan's father grand prepara-
tions had been made, and all was in excitement
when Prince Michael arrived with servants, and
horses, and presents for the bride.
The King and Queen sat in state to receive
him, and beside them was Joan, and she looked
so beautiful, in a dress as blue as her eyes, that
every one said, " How glad he will be when he
sees how lovely she is."
* There was a blowing of trumpets and ringing
of bells when Prince Michael, followed by his
attendants, entered, and the King and Queen
and all the courtiers rose.
He passed up the hall to the thrones on
which they sat, and kneeling on one knee, kissed
their hands, and last he kissed the hand of the
Princess, but he did not lift his eyes from the
ground or look in her face, and his own was so
sad that the people whispered to each other, and
said, "What is the matter, and why does he
look so unhappy ? Surely he ought to be con-
tent when he sees how beautiful she is."
At night when the merrymakings were over
the Prince sent a message to the Queen,
94 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
begging she would speak with him alone, and
when she heard this her heart sank, and she
thought, " He must know that there is something
amiss with Joan, and perhaps he comes to say
he will not marry her after all."
So she sent every one away, except the old
nurse and bid the Prince to come.
When he came in and saw her sad looks
he said, "You have guessed then, Queen,
why I come to speak to you. Tell me truly
what ails Princess Joan, and why is she unlike
any one I ever saw." The Queen cried
bitterly, and said, " I know not ; would I did !"
but the old nurse said,
" I know and will tell you, Prince. Princess
Joan is under a spell. A bad fairy enchanted
her when she was a tiny baby, and till this
charm is broken, she will never be like other
" And what is the charm ? " asked the
"Nay, that I don't know," said the nurse.
Then she told Michael of the yellow woman
and the whistling the Queen had heard at night;
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 95
and as he listened the Prince sighed and said,
" There is no charm which cannot be broken if
one does but know how, but this is hard to do,
for we do not know what the spell is, or who is
the fairy who cast it. But bid the people cease
their preparations, Queen, and stop the wedding
rejoicings, for there will be no wedding. No,
not till I have found the fairy who has wronged
my Joan, and made her set her free. To-morrow
I shall start at break of day, and journey to the
farthest ends of the world, to search for what
can break the charm. But I pray, Queen, that
Joan may wait for me for seven years, and if,
when they are past, I have not returned, and
you have heard nothing of me, you must think
that I am dead and gone, and marry her to
whom you will, for if I be alive, I will return
before then. And till seven years are past
remember that Joan is still mine."
On hearing this the Queen wept still more,
and begged the Prince either to remain and
marry Joan, or to leave her and return to his
home and forget her ; but if he wandered away
to lands of goblins and fairies, no one would
96 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
know what had become of him, and he would
never find the fairy who had charmed Joan or
learn how to break the spell; but Prince Michael
only shook his head, and said, " I have sworn
that I will not marry Joan till she loves me as I
do her, neither can I return to my home and
forget her, so bid her be ready at dawn to-
morrow to bid me farewell, and tell none that I
am going till I have gone. Also I beg you
to send a messenger to my father and mother
to tell them why I do not return, for I will
not see them first, lest they too should try to
dissuade me." The Queen said no more, but
she cried very bitterly ; but the old nurse smiled
and nodded to Michael and said,
" You do well. You are a noble Prince, and
would well deserve our Princess's love."
Next morning at break of day the Queen
awoke the Princess and bade her rise, for Prince
Michael waited to bid her good-bye. The
Prince stood at the door of the palace, and
when Princess Joan came out looking lovelier
than ever in the dim morning light, the tears
filled his eyes, and he thought, " Most likely I
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 97
shall never see her again, and then she will
never know how much I have loved her."
" Good-bye, Joan," he said ; " do not quite
forget me for seven years, for perhaps I may
yet come back and marry you."
" And why do you go ?" said Joan ; " I had
thought there would be a grand wedding, and
I should have all the gifts that are being pre-
pared for me, and now I shall have nothing;
but good-bye, if go you must."
Michael sighed as he mounted his horse
and bade her farewell. When he looked back
at the palace, the Queen and Joan still stood at
the door, and the Queen sobbed ; but Princess
Joan looked quite happy and contented, and
Prince Michael rode and rode, till he came
to his own home, and then he turned at once
to the tower in which dwelt the magician. He
climbed the tower and found the old man sitting
alone as before, but he had no book before him,
and he looked very grave.
" I know why you are come," he said, as
soon as Michael entered the room. "So you
98 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
have seen Princess Joan ; and do you still wish
to marry her ?"
" I will marry her, or no one," said Michael.
"But not till I have found out who has bewitched
her, and have broken the charm."
" You will have to search far for that," said
the wizard ; " And it may be years ere you could
set her free. Forget her, my son, and return to
your own home, and do not waste your life in
a fruitless quest."
" I will seek to break the charm, even if it
take my whole life," said Michael. "But tell me
what it is, and how shall I find out how to
"A fairy has stolen her heart," said the
wizard, " and that is why she loves no one, and
can feel no sorrow ; she has no heart with
which to love or pity, and till it is found and
restored to her, she will be hard and cold
as stone. The fairy swore she would be
revenged on her mother for her pride, and so
"Then I will go and seek her heart, and
bring it back to her," said Michael. "But
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 99
where shall I look for it ? Tell me at least where
has the fairy hidden it."
" She has taken it to a castle in which are
kept all the hearts of men and women, that
fairies steal, or that they themselves throw
away ; and this castle is very far from here ;
moreover, it is guarded by an old gnome,
who is spiteful and cruel, and who pays no
heed to those who beg him to let them enter.
Give up the Princess and return to your home,
for if you go, you will only die, or be enchanted
like poor Princess Joan."
" Nevertheless, I shall go," said Michael.
" So tell me what path to take, and I will start
On hearing this the sorcerer took from his
bosom a small round piece of glass, and gave it
to the young man. " Take this," he said ; "It is
all that I can give you, to help you, and through
it you must look at the stars, and you will see
that they are all of different colours blue,
green, red, and yellow ; look for the one which
is the deepest, brightest red, and follow it ; it
will lead you many miles both by land and sea,
ioo THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
but follow steadily, and let nothing turn you
from your course, and you will surely come to
the castle wherein is imprisoned the heart of
The Prince thanked the magician, and took
the glass ; then bidding him " Good-bye," he
left the strangely lighted chamber, and went
down the dark staircase, and stood again on
the hill outside, with the dark sky overhead
filled with shining stars.
Michael raised the glass and looked at them
through it, and then he almost shouted with
surprise, for they looked wonderful. They were
like jewels of all colours green, blue, yellow,
pink and in the south was one of a deep glow-
ing red, like a blood-red rose, and Michael knew
that that was the star he must follow.
Then he looked back towards his father's
palace. " Farewell," he said ; "some day I will
return, and bring with me my Princess Joan."
So he set off, and journeyed and journeyed,
till he had reached towns and villages which he
had never seen before. All that night he
travelled while the stars shone, and he could see
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 101
the rosy star to follow. But when the stars
grew pale, and the sun rose, and people began
to wake up and turn to their work, he lay down
under a tree and slept soundly. When he
woke the day was almost done, and the sun
was sinking. So he went to a little town near
and bought food, and rested till again the stars
shone in the sky. Then he rose and went on all
night, still following the crimson star. So passed
many days and nights, and he journeyed through
strange lands, and his heart sank when he
thought, " So may I wander all round the world,
and come no nearer to the star, or to the castle
where they keep the heart of my poor Joan."
At last he came to the sea-shore, and in
front of him lay a great cold sea, and beyond it
he saw no sign of land. But the star shone
right over it, and he knew that he must cross,
if he still would follow it. It was in the even-
ing, the sun had set, but some fishermen still
remained on the beach, resting beside their
boats. Michael went up to them, and taking
some money from his pocket, asked for how
much they would sell him one of their boats.
102 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
At this the men looked surprised, and one
of them said, "Why do you wish to buy a
boat ? We use them to fish near the shore,
but no boat or ship has ever crossed this sea,
for no one knows what land is beyond.'*
" Then I will be the first to find out," said
Michael. " Tell me how much you want, and
give me your largest boat." On this the men
muttered together, and one said, "He is mad."
" Yes," said another, " but his money is good,
for all that. Let the madman have his way.
It will hurt him, not us." So they gave Michael
their best boat, and he paid them well, and
he set sail and steered where the red star
shone. He sailed all night till he had left
every trace of land behind him, and saw no
shore in front, only the cold, gray sea on every
side. By day he kept the boat still, afraid
lest he should get out of the track of the star,
but when the second night came he was so
weary that in spite of himself he fell asleep.
When he awoke he found the sun had risen,
and his boat was drifting close to land. It
was a flat, lonely shore, without trees or grass
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 103
growing in sight, and facing him was an
immense castle. It was built of black marble,
and a more gloomy place could not be, for the
windows were small and high up, and were all
barred across, with heavy iron bars, and the
castle had no spires or towers, but was one
square black block, and looked more like a
prison than a castle. Around it was a high
wall, and outside this a moat, without a bridge.
Michael steered his boat to shore, and
stepped from it, and looked about for some way
by which he could cross the moat, and try for
entrance to the castle. Then he saw a little
hut near, and beside it lay an old man appar-
ently fast asleep. He was small and dark,
and his face was gray and wrinkled as a
monkey's, and he had no hair on his head.
Close beside him coiled up was a large snake,
also asleep. Michael stood watching them
both, afraid to wake them, when, without a
word, the gray man raised his head, and open-
ing a pair of dull, gray eyes, fixed them on him.
Still he did not speak, and at last the Prince,
growing impatient, went up to him and said,
104 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
"Friend, I beg you to tell me how I am
to enter the castle ; or if you have the key, to
give it to me."
On this the old man answered, " I have the
key, and no one can enter without my leave.
What will you give me for it ?"
" Why," said Michael, " I have nothing but
money," and he took some coins from his
pocket as he spoke.
At this the old man laughed. " Your
money is nothing to me," he said ; " But look
yonder. Over there I am building a wall of
heavy stones, and I am old, and my strength
fails me ; stay and work for me at that wall,
and in return I will give you the key of the
" But how long must I work ?" said Michael,
" For unless I can enter the castle before seven
years are over, it will be no use to me.
" Look at that serpent," said the old man ;
"It is sitting on its eggs. When they are
hatched you shall have the key and open
the castle door. Till then you must be my
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 105
" Gladly," said Michael, who was delighted ;
" for no snake could take seven years hatching
Then the old man rose, and beckoning to
him to follow, went into the little cottage.
From a nail upon the wall he took a pair of
manacles fastened together by a heavy iron
chain. These he slipped over Michael's wrists,
and stooping down over them, muttered a few
words, and at once the manacles fastened to-
gether as if they had been locked, and Michael
could not move them, or draw out his hands.
Then the old man took down another heavy
chain and passed it over the first and fastened
it with more iron rings to his ankles, so that he
could only move his arms and hands a little
way, and could not raise them high, and could
only walk with slow careful steps. This done,
he pointed to where, on the wall high up, hung
a gleaming golden sword, the handle of which
was set with precious stones.
" That," said he, " is the key of the castle,
and you need only push the doors with its point
and they will all fly open ; but while your hands
io6 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
are chained you cannot reach it to lift it down,
but when the serpent's eggs are hatched your
iron rings will fall off, and you yourself may take
the sword down from its place, and push your
way into the castle. Now get you to your
work, and work hard, or you may rue it."
Then he showed Michael how he was to
move the heavy stones, and where to build with
them, and he himself sat down by the serpent
and watched him, while the Prince went to work
with a light heart, for he thought, "It is hard
work while it lasts, but 'twill not be for long,
and 'tis not much to do to win my Joan." So
he worked hard till the sun had set, and then
the old man rose, saying, " Enough," and called
him into the hut and gave him food and drink,
but he ate nothing himself, and then he showed
him where he could sleep in one corner, and
Michael lay down and slept soundly and
dreamed of Joan.
At break of day he was waked by the old
man, who again gave him plenty to eat, and
again ate nothing, but what he gave to him
he took from an urn in the corner, and when
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 107
he had done he put into the urn the fragments
that were left.
All day Michael worked hard, and in the
evening as he passed by the snake, he looked at
it as it lay coiled over its eggs, and said,
" How soon will your work be done, and
mine also, good snake ? Make haste, I pray,
that I may find my way into the castle, and
return to my Princess."
So the days passed. Each morning the old
man awoke Michael and gave him food, and
set him to work, and all day he laboured
hard. Then when night approached, he called
" Enough," and beckoning him into the hut,
gave him plenty to eat and drink, but never
ate himself, and beside that one word never
spoke, but crouched all day beside the snake,
with closed eyes as if asleep.
Meantime, the doors of the castle never
opened, and no one was seen going in, or
coming out ; but sometimes, towards night,
strange noises might be heard from within its
walls ; sometimes there were wails and moans,
which it filled Michael with horror to hear, and
io8 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
sometimes there was sweet singing, so sweet
that it drew tears to his eyes.
But the days passed, and the serpent never
moved from its eggs, and Michael's heart began
to be oppressed with fear, lest the old man
was deceiving him, and they should never be
hatched at all. As each day passed, he put
aside a stone on a bare rock, and one day when
he counted over the stones to see how many
days were gone, he found that more than a
year had passed since his boat had brought him
to the shore. His hands had grown hard and
brown and cracked, with working at the heavy
stones, and his face and neck were blistered
and sunburnt with the fierce sun that beat
upon them as he worked. His clothes were
cut and torn and soiled, and yet he seemed to
be no nearer entering the castle. Then he rose
and went into the cottage, and looked longingly
at the sword which hung high up, on the walls,
and raised his arms to try and reach it, but the
chains held him down, and as he turned from it
in despair he saw the old man standing in the
doorway watching him with his cold dull eyes.
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 109
"What would you do here?" he asked;
" have I not bid you serve me till the serpent's
eggs are hatched, and then the sword shall be
"And when will the serpent's eggs be
hatched ?" cried Michael in despair.
" That," said the old man, " I cannot tell,
but a bargain is a bargain ; keep you your
part and I will keep mine." Then he turned
again to where the serpent lay, and lying down
beside it closed his eyes, and Michael returned
to his work mournfully.
Time passed, but there came no change.
Michael despaired in his heart, but he could not
have escaped even if he would, because of the
chains which hung from his arms.
" I will work here," he said, " till the seven
years are out, then I will climb on the wall which
I have built and throw myself into the sea and
end my troubles."
Sometimes at night he would take from his
bosom the piece of magic glass which the wizard
had given him and would gaze through it at the
star which still looked a bright crimson colour.
no THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
" Why have you led me here, cruel star," he
asked sadly, " if you cannot help me more ?
Are you shining over my home and my Prin-
cess, and does she remember me ? The seven
long years will soon be passed, and they will
wed her to another king, and it will be all of no
avail that I have given up everything to find
her heart, since I have only broken my own."
So the time passed. Michael worked hard
by day, but by night he lay and wept. One
day, when the seven years had nearly worn
themselves away, he bent over a pool of water,
and in it saw his own form, and he saw that his
hair was thin and streaked with gray, and his
face furrowed and seamed, and his eyes dim
with crying, also his shoulders were bowed with
hard work, and his clothes, once so gorgeous,
now hung mere rags upon his bent form.
" Now all is in vain," said he, " for if even I
returned to my own home no one will know me,
so changed am I. I will go and kill the snake
that has caused my misery, and then I will slay
the old man who has deceived me."
So he went up to the snake, who lay
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. in
motionless coiled over its eggs as usual, and
reached out his hand to grasp its throat, but as
he did so his tears fell and dropped upon its
head, and it writhed fearfully and then glided
away so fast that he could not see where it
went, and left the heap of gray eggs bare be-
neath his hand. The old man lay beside them
as still as usual, and did not move or open his
eyes, even when the snake glided hissing past
" If the snake has escaped me," cried
Michael, " then at least I can destroy the
eggs ;" and lifting his heel he struck them with
all his might, but his foot left no mark upon
them, nor even moved them from their place.
They might have been made of iron, and each
one nailed to the ground, so hard and firm they
Michael burst out weeping afresh. "How
foolish I am," he said, "Yes, and wicked too.
It is not the fault of the poor snake that its
eggs are not hatched. Perhaps it is enchanted
like me, and waits as patiently for them ;" and
he bent his head till his tears fell upon the eggs.
112 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
No sooner did they touch them, than the
shells broke, and the pieces fell asunder, and
from each egg came a small moving thing,
though what it was Michael did not see, for he
leaped to his feet with a shout of joy, which
filled the air, and echoed again from the castle.
At this the old man opened his eyes, and rais-
ing himself gazed, as if thunderstruck, with
astonishment at the eggs.
"'Tis a miracle," he cried, chuckling with
But out of the eggs, there came no one fully
formed animal, but from one egg came a foot,
from another a leg, from another a tail, and
from one a head, and each looked as though it
belonged to some different beast, yet all these
drew themselves together, and joined so well
that the join was not to be seen. And they
made a hideous monster of many colours.
Then the manacles on Michael's wrists burst
asunder, and the chains fell to the ground.
" Now," he cried, " I will go and take for
myself the sword from the wall, and win my
way into the castle, and nothing shall hinder
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 113
me more." And he turned and rushed into the
hut. There, upon the wall hung the shining
sword, and Michael reached out his hand and
seized it firmly, and drew it down from its
" I will swear a vow," he cried, " upon this
sword, that when I enter the castle, I will say
not one word for good or for ill to any one,
save to ask for what I come to seek, lest I
should again be kept for years. Moreover, I
will not taste food or drink, till I have found
the heart of my Joan to take back to her/'
Then, with the sword in his hand, he passed
the old man, who still sat chuckling over the
monster, too busy to heed him, and he went
straight on to the bridgeless moat. It was not
wide, and he swam it easily, and scrambled
up the bank by the stone wall. He pushed
with the point of the sword at the gate, and
it at once flew open, and he stood in the
outer court. Then he saw a heavy door in
the wall of the castle, and went up to it, nothing
fearing, and, on touching it with the sword's
point, it too flew open at once, and he entered.
114 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
He stepped into a passage filled with flowers
and hung with silken hangings. He trod upon
a velvet carpet, and the air was laden with
sweet scents, and from afar he heard sweet
voices singing. He strode on through another
door, and yet another, and at each step he took
all things became lovelier, till at last he passed
into a splendid chamber, the like of which he
had never seen before. In the ceiling were
precious stones set in patterns of flowers and
crowns, on the walls were soft velvet hangings
and embroideries. The furniture was of carven
gold and silver and ivory, and everywhere grew
flowers of wonderful beauty, which sprang from
the floor and crept along the walls, and filled
the air with sweet scents, and hanging on the
walls were cages which held what Michael
thought were birds, which sang most sweetly.
On a table in the centre of the room was a
banquet all laid ready, and as Michael looked
at it and wondered where he should go farther,
a curtain was drawn aside, and there stepped
forth a stately dame dressed in black velvet,
who came smiling towards him and held out
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 115
her hand, saying, " I am indeed glad to see
you, I am mistress of this castle, and you are
very welcome ; but I beg that before you tell
me from where you come and what you seek,
you will sit down and share this feast with me."
Michael was beginning to answer, when he felt
the sword in his hand, and remembered his
oath, and looking full in the face of the new-
comer, said, " I seek the heart of Princess
" And you shall find it," answered the grand
lady. " But first you must rest and eat, for
you must be both tired and hungry;" and so
saying she sat at one end of the table, and
signed to Michael to sit at the other, and took
the golden covers from the dishes, and prepared
to begin the feast. Michael knew not what
to do, but he sat at the table in silence, and
all at once bethought him of the magic glass
in his bosom, and drawing it forth when she
was not looking, gazed through it at her,
and then he beheld no finely-dressed lady, but
a wizened old woman, robed in yellow, with
an evil yellow face and evil yellow eyes. He
n6 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
hid the glass again, and sat still as stone, though
the yellow woman pressed on him the different
dishes again and again. He saw that her face
grew white with rage. Then all of a sudden she
disappeared, and the lights went out, and he
was left alone in the darkness. He rose and
searched for the door by which he had entered,
but could not find it nor any way out of the
room ; so there he was, a prisoner alone with
" Never mind," quoth he to himself cheerily ;
" I have at last reached the inside of the castle,
and surely shall find the heart of my Joan, and
if I keep my vow and neither eat nor drink here
or say aught but ask for that which I seek,
nothing can harm me."
So he sat down contentedly to wait for what
might come. There he sat the whole night, and
no one came near him, but the birds sang so
beautifully that he almost forgot how the time
When morning dawned and light again
shone through the windows, he searched every-
where for some way out of the room, but the
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 117
door had quite disappeared. Moreover, the
feast had gone from the table. The day passed,
and still he was all alone, and as evening again
drew in he sat and lamented, quite wearied out
and faint for want of food. But when the
darkness came, the lamps about the room were
suddenly lit as if by magic, and all was brilliant,
and a curtain was drawn aside, and there came
in a little child with bright eyes and hair, who
held in one hand a goblet and in the other a well-
filled plate. These she placed before Michael,
saying, " My mistress sends you these, and begs
that you will eat and drink, for you must be both
hungry and thirsty;" but Michael pushed away
the goblet and the plate, and said,
" I seek the heart of Princess Joan ; I beg
you to give it to me."
To this the seeming child answered nothing,
but still pressed on him the food and wine.
Then Michael took from his bosom the magic
glass and looked through it, and saw no lovely
child, but the same yellow hag with shrivelled
face and evil eyes. With a cry of rage she dis-
appeared, and though Michael searched every-
n8 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
where, he could not find the way by which she
Now indeed he began to feel that unless he
ate he could not live much longer, and wept
from very weakness.
" Still I will neither eat nor drink," he said,
"till I have found what I came to seek, and the
fairy cannot refuse me much longer."
Night passed and day came, and he lay upon
a couch quite still, too weak to move, yet he
feared to sleep lest some spell should be thrown
So he lay all day, and as evening again
drew near he began to feel despair, for he knew
that in another day he would be dead of
" Oh ! Why have I toiled for seven years,"
he cried aloud, " and at last won my way into
the castle, if now I am to be starved to death,
and Joan will never know how I have laboured
for her sake ?"
" And why should you be starved to death,
my Prince ?" said a voice ; and at once the
lights lit themselves, and into the room stepped
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 119
the figure of the Princess Joan just as he had
seen her last, dressed in white and gold, and in
one hand bearing a golden goblet filled with
clear ruby-coloured wine.
Michael gave a cry of joy and held out his
arms to clasp her in them, but as he did so the
sword sprang as it hung at his side, and he
remembered his vow and drew back and gazed
at her without speaking.
She knelt down beside him and raised the
goblet to his lips, saying softly, " My poor love,
how long you have worked for me ! Pray
drink now, that you may be refreshed ere we
two start for our home."
Then as he looked at her face and saw how
beautiful she was his heart wavered, and he
thought, " Can it be my Joan, and that I have
truly won her ?" and almost had he let her place
the wine at his lips, while with one hand she
stroked his hair and murmured to him the while
in a soft voice, when the cup struck against the
magic glass in his bosom, and he drew it forth
and looked at her, and he trembled with horror
and disgust, for there he saw no lovely Princess
120 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
Joan, but the same yellow hag, who held in one
skinny hand a goblet, formed from a skull, from
which she would have him drink.
Michael sprang to his feet and dashed it
from him, and the ruby wine poured on the
floor, and there followed an awful noise like a
peal of thunder, and the room was full of smoke,
and wild cries were heard.
He grasped the sword and sat still, trembling
all over ; but when the smoke cleared away the
whole aspect of the room was changed; the
silken hangings, and gold, and pearls, and
flowers, were all gone, and he was sitting in a
grim gray chamber like a vault, and in front of
him stood the yellow hag, whose eyes shone
spitefully and her lips laughed wickedly ; but in
one hand she held what it made Michael rejoice
to see. It was a soft pink feathery thing, with
wings, but shaped like a heart, and it trembled
and quivered in her hand.
" Take it," she cried, " for well have you won
it. Take it, and tell the Queen how many years
of toil and labour her proud words and boasting
have cost. Then when you see her, from whom
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 121
it was stolen, let it fly, but first say over it these
" Heart of Joan
Lost and won
Fly back home,
Thy journey's done.
Take back joy
Take back pain
Heart of Joan,
Fly home again."
and it will fly to her side, and you will see it no
more ; and now begone."
Michael seized the heart with a cry of joy
and exultation, and then turned and fled from
the room through an open iron door, and
passed through the passages, no longer softly
carpeted and hung with silk, but dreary and
bare, made of cold stone, down which his foot-
steps echoed and clashed.
He hurried from the castle as quickly as
might be, and once -outside did not stop to look
for the old man or the monster, but swam the
moat, and went straight to where his boat lay
moored as he had left it, nearly seven years
before, and never paused till he had rowed so
122 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
far that the gray castle and the shore had
almost passed from view. At last he came
again to the shore where he had bought his
boat of the fishermen, and here he went on
land, and started to walk till he had reached
Joan's country, and her father's castle.
He had no money, and his clothes were
rags, his hair was thin and gray, and his
shoulders bent. He looked like a poor beggar,
and he had to beg food as he went, or he would
have been starved. Still, he was ready to cry
for joy, because he took with him the little
soft heart he had gone so far to find.
He trudged on both day and night, making
great haste, for he knew that the seven years
were almost gone, and he was afraid lest
already he might be too late, and find that Joan
had married some one else. At last, after many
weary miles, he reached her country, and drew
near to the palace where she lived, and here he
found that the people were all decorating their
houses, and making preparations as if for some
He stopped and begged for food from a
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 123
woman who stood by a cottage door, and when
she had given him some bread, as he ate it he
asked her to tell him what went on in the
country, and why there was such rejoicing.
"It is for the marriage of the King's
daughter Joan," said the woman ; " To-morrow
she is to be married to old King Lambert, and
the wedding will be very grand, but none of
the country folk like it, for he is old and ugly,
and they say he does not love her at all, but
only marries her that he may be king of this
country as well as his own. The Queen is
in sore distress about it, and for seven years
refused her consent; but they will be over
to-morrow, and so they will be wed, and
the guests are already beginning to arrive at
the palace, and each one brings some splendid
" I will be a guest at that wedding," cried
Michael; "And I bring the best gift of all
for the bride ;" and he hurried on again, not
heeding the woman's scorn and laughter.
When he came to the palace, he found that
it was hung with flags, and arches of flowers
124 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
were erected in front of it, and grand lords and
ladies, and servants stood at the door to receive
the guests who came.
Michael went as near as he dared, afraid
lest he should be driven away by the servants,
and then he saw a little foot-page, and he went
to him and said,
" Please tell me where is the Princess Joan,
and what she is doing."
" She is sitting with the King and Queen
and King Lambert in the state-room, to receive
the guests and accept the presents they bring,"
said the page.
" I am a guest, and I bring a present
for her," cried Michael; "Tell me how I
shall get into the palace that I may give it to
On hearing this the page burst out laughing,
and told the other servants what he said. And
they were very angry, and seized Michael, and
some would have ducked him in the pond, and
some would have taken him before the King,
but they said, " Not now wait till the wedding
is over to-morrow, and then we will see how he
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 125
will punish the beggar-man for his imperti-
So they took him off to a stone tower out-
side the garden gates and thrust him into it,
and locked the door, and there was only one
little window high up and barred across with
bars, and from it he could see the palace and
Then at last he gave way to despair. " Of
what avail were all my years of toil, and for
what am I gray and old before my time," he
cried, " if after all, when I have earned that for
which I worked so long, I may not give it to
Joan, but must remain a prisoner and see her
pass by to marry some one else?" and he threw
himself on the ground and cried aloud.
At night as he lay and mourned, he heard
sounds of merrymaking, and music and laughter
from the castle. Sometimes he called out, "Joan !
Joan ! I am here I who have worked for you
for years, and brought home your stolen heart,
and now will you wed King Lambert in spite of
all?" sometimes he beat against the bars of the
prison window, but all in vain, and at last, when
126 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
all sound had ceased from the castle, he lay
silent upon the ground, caring no more for life.
When the sun rose, and there was again a
stir without, he got up and looked from the
window, and saw the old nurse who walked by
herself in the garden, and she looked very
sad. Then Michael called out, " Do you
not know me ? You at least, who bid me go,
and praised me then, should remember me
now." On hearing this the old nurse drew
near the prison window, and looked at him, and
said, " Who are you, and why are you here ?
My eyes are old, and my ears are deaf, but I
think I have seen you, and heard your voice
" Seven years ago," said Michael, " I too was
a bridegroom, who came to wed your Princess,
and for seven long years have I worked, that
I might bring home to her the heart she had
not. Go and ask your Queen, why she has
broken her pledge to wait for seven years, till
Prince Michael should return."
" Prince Michael ! Is it really Prince
Michael ?" cried the old nurse joyfully. " And
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 127
you come in time, for our Princess is not
married yet, and she must pass by here, on her
way to church. So you shall call to her as she
passes by, and speak for yourself."
"Then keep near and tell me when she
comes," said Michael, "lest she go by without
Presently the whole castle was astir, and
trumpets were sounding, and clarions ringing.
Then when the sun was high, Michael heard the
tramping of horses, and the sound of music, and
the old nurse said to him, " Here she is," and
he looked between the bars of the prison window
and saw a grand procession, and his heart gave
a bound, for in their midst, in a golden gown,
and seated on a white palfrey, was Princess
Joan, and she looked just as lovely as when he
went away seven years before.
On one side of her rode her father and
mother, and the Queen's face was most mourn-
ful, and her eyes were red with crying. On
the other rode an ugly old man, whom Michael
guessed to be King Lambert, and he smiled
and bowed to the people, but they muttered
128 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
and grumbled, when they looked at him, and
saw how ugly and wicked, he looked.
When Michael saw them coming, he took
from his bosom the little pink heart, and stroked
it fondly as he whispered over it,
"Heart of Joan
Lost and won
Fly back home,
Thy journey's done.
Take back joy
Take back pain
Heart of Joan,
Fly home again ;"
and at once it spread its wings and fluttered
through the bars of the prison, and over the
heads of the people, who shouted, "Look at
the pink bird !" For a moment it rested at the
side of the Princess Joan, and then disappeared.
She gave a scream, and cried,
" My mother ! My father ! What has hap-
pened ? Oh see, it is Michael who has re-
turned !" and ere they could stop her she had
turned her palfrey's head towards the prison
window, and pushed her white arms through the
bars to clasp the Prince.
and ere they could stop her she had turned her palfrey's head towards the prison
indow, and pushed her white arms through the bars to clasp the Prince." v. 128.
THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN. 129
"Michael, my love!'* she cried, "How
gray and worn you are now. How hard you
must have laboured for me through these long
years. Now, how shall I pay you, save by
loving you all my life!" and she tried to beat
down the bars of the prison window.
When the people heard her, they cried, "It
is Prince Michael, who went seven years ago,
and who we all thought was dead, and he is
returned in time to marry our Princess. Now
will we indeed have a wedding, and she shall
marry the Prince who has toiled so long for her;"
and King and Queen and people laughed for
joy. 'Twas in vain for King Lambert to rage,
and cry that the Princess was betrothed to him.
"Nay!" said the Queen, "She has been
pledged to Prince Michael for seven years.
We are grieved for your sake, King Lambert,
but we cannot break our royal word."
Then the people burst into the prison and
brought out Michael, all torn and gray as he
was, and Princess Joan kissed him before them
all, and begged that he would marry her at
once, that every one might see how well she
130 THE HEART OF PRINCESS JOAN.
loved him and how grateful she was. So they
brought a fine white horse with a grand gold
saddle, and jewelled bridle, and placed Michael
upon it, and he rode to church beside the
Princess, and married her, and the people threw
flowers before them, and bells rang and trum-
pets sounded, and all were glad.
And when it was done Michael was dressed
in purple and gold, and messengers were sent
to his father and mother and the old wizard,
that they might come and see how he had come
home victorious, and rejoicings filled the whole
" For now we are sure of a good King/' the
people said. " See, he has already shown what
he can do. Surely no one else could ever have
found the heart of Princess Joan."
" Good-day, friend," said he. " If you have nothing to do, perhaps you would not mind
carrying my load for me for a little." p. 131.
PEDLAR was toiling along
a dusty road carrying his pack
on his back, when he saw a
donkey grazing by the way-
"Good -day, friend," said
he. "If you have nothing to do, perhaps you
would not mind carrying my load for me for a
" If I do so, what will you give me ?" said
" I will give you two pieces of gold," said
the pedlar, but he did not speak the truth, for
he knew he had no gold to give.
"Agreed," said the donkey. So they
journeyed on together in a very friendly
132 THE PEDLAR'S PACK.
manner, the donkey carrying the pedlar's pack,
and the pedlar walking by his side. After a
time they met a raven, who was looking for
worms in the roadside, and the donkey called
out to him,
"Good-morrow, black friend. If you are
going our way, you would do well to sit upon
my back and drive away the flies, which worry
" And what will you pay me to do this ? "
asked the raven.
" Money is no object to me," said the
donkey, "so I will give you three pieces of
gold." And he too knew he was making a
false promise, for he had no gold at all to
" Agreed," said the raven. So they went on
in high good humour, the donkey carrying the
pedlar's wares, and the raven sitting on the
donkey's back driving away the flies.
After a time they met a hedge-sparrow, and
the raven called out to it,
" Good-day, little cousin. Do you want to
earn a little money ? If so, bring me some
THE PEDLAR'S PACK. 133
worms from the bank as we go along, for I had
no breakfast, and am very hungry."
"What will you give me for it?" asked the
" Let us say four pieces of gold," said the
raven grandly ; " for I have saved more during
my long life than I know how to spend." But
he knew this was not true, for he had not saved
any gold at all.
"Very well," said the hedge-sparrow, and so
on they went, the donkey carrying the pedlar's
pack, and the raven keeping the flies away from
the donkey, and the hedge-sparrow bringing
worms to the raven.
Presently they saw in the distance a good-
sized town, and the pedlar took out from his
pack, some shawls and stuffs and hung them
over the donkey's back that the passers-by
might see, and buy if they were so disposed.
On the top of the other goods lay a small
scarlet blanket, and when he saw it the hedge-
sparrow said to the pedlar,
" What will you take for that little blanket ?
It seems to be a good one. Name your price
134 THE PEDLAR'S PACK.
and you shall have it whatever it is, for I am
badly in want of a blanket just now ;" but as the
hedge-sparrow had not a penny in the world,
he knew he could not pay for it.
" The price of the blanket is five pieces of
gold," said the pedlar.
"That seems to me to be very dear," said
the hedge - sparrow. " I don't mind giving
you four pieces of gold for it, but five is too
" Agreed," said the pedlar, and he chuckled
to himself and thought, "Now I shall be able
to pay the donkey, otherwise I might have had
some trouble in getting rid of him."
The hedge-sparrow flew to the raven's side
and whispered in his ear, " Please to pay me
the four pieces of gold you owe me, for we are
coming to a town, and I must be turning back."
" Four pieces of gold is really too much for
bringing a few worms," said the raven. " It is
absurd to expect such payment, but I will give
you three, and you shall have them almost
immediately," and he bent down over the don-
key's ear and whispered,
THE PEDLAR'S PACK. 135
" My friend, it is time you paid me the three
pieces of gold which you promised, for the
pedlar will stop at this town, and you will not
have to go farther with him."
" On thinking it over," said the donkey, " I
have come to the conclusion that three pieces
of gold are really a great deal too much to give
for having a few flies driven away. You must
have known that I was only joking when I said
it, but I will let you have two, though I con-
sider that it is much more than the job was
worth ;" and the donkey turned again to the
pedlar, saying, " Now, good sir, your two
pieces of gold, if you please."
" In a moment," said the pedlar, and turn-
ing to the hedge-sparrow, said, " I really must
have the money for the blanket at once."
" So you shall," answered the hedge-sparrow,
and cried angrily to the raven, " I want my
money now, and cannot wait."
"In an instant," answered the raven, and
again whispered to the donkey, "Why can't
you pay me honestly? I should be ashamed
of trying to slip out of my debts in such a way."
136 THE PEDLAR'S PACK.
" I won't keep you waiting a second,"
said the donkey, and he turned once more to
the pedlar and cried, " Come, give me my
money. For shame ! a man like you trying to
cheat a poor beast like me."
Then the pedlar said to the hedge-sparrow,
" Pay me for my blanket, or I '11 wring your
And the hedge-sparrow cried to the raven,
" Give me my money or I '11 peck out your
And the raven croaked to the donkey, "If
you don't pay me, I '11 bite off your tail."
And the donkey again cried to the pedlar,
" You dishonest wretch, pay me my money or
I'll kick you soundly."
And they made such an uproar outside the
walls of the town, that the beadle came out to
see what it was all about. Each turned to him
and began to complain of the other loudly.
" You are a set of rogues and vagabonds,"
said the beadle, " and you shall all come before
the mayor, and he'll settle your quarrels pretty
quickly, and treat you as you deserve."
THE PEDLAR'S PACK. 137
At this they all begged to be allowed to go
away, each one saying he did not care about
being paid at all. But the beadle would not
listen to them, and led them straight away to
the market-place, where the mayor sat judging
" Now, whom have we here ?" cried he. " A
pedlar, a donkey, a raven, and a hedge-sparrow.
A set of worthless vagabonds, 1 11 be bound !
Let us hear what they have to say for themselves."
On this the pedlar began to complain of the
hedge-sparrow, and the hedge-sparrow of the
raven, and the raven of the donkey, and the
donkey of the pedlar.
The mayor did not heed them much, but he
eyed the pedlar's pack, and at length inter-
rupted them, and said,
" I am convinced that you are a set of good-
for-nothing fellows, and one is quite as bad as
the other, so I order that the pedlar be locked
up in the prison, that the donkey be soundly
well thrashed, and that the raven and the
hedge-sparrow both have their tail-feathers
pulled out, and then be turned out of the town.
138 THE PEDLAR'S PACK.
As for the blanket, it seems to me to be the
only good thing in the whole matter, and as I
cannot allow you to keep the cause of such a
disturbance, I will take it for myself. Beadle,
lead the prisoners away."
So the beadle did as he was told, and the ped-
lar was locked up for many days in the prison.
"It is very sad to think to what straits an
honest man may be brought," he sighed to
himself as he sat lamenting his hard fate. " In
future this will be a warning to me to keep clear
of hedge-sparrows. If the hedge-sparrow had
paid me as he ought, I should not be here now."
Meantime the donkey was being soundly
well thrashed, and after each blow he cried,
" Alas ! alas ! See what comes to an inno-
cent quadruped for having to do with human
beings. Had the pedlar given me the money
he owed, I should not now be beaten thus. In
future I will never make a bargain with men."
The raven and the hedge-sparrow hopped
out of the town by different roads, and both
were very sad, for they had lost all their tail
feathers, which the beadle had pulled out.
THE PEDLAR'S PACK. 139
"Alas!" croaked the raven, "my fate is
indeed a hard one. But it serves me right for
trusting a donkey who goes on his feet and can-
not fly. It is truly a warning to me never again
to trust anything without a beak."
The hedge-sparrow was quite crestfallen, and
could scarcely keep from tears. "It all comes
of my being so taken in by that raven," he
sighed. " But I should have known that these
large birds are never honest. In future I will
be wise, and never make a bargain with any-
thing bigger or stronger than myself."
NCE there was a baker who
had a very bad, violent tem-
per, and whenever a batch
of bread was spoiled he flew
into such a rage, that his
wife and daughters dared
not go near him. One day it happened that all
his bread was burnt, and on this he stamped
and raved with anger. He threw the loaves
all about the floor, when one, burnt blacker than
the rest, broke in half, and out of it crept a tiny
thin black man, no thicker than an eel, with
long arms and legs.
" What are you making all this fuss about,
Master Baker ?" said he. "If you will give me
a home in your oven I will see to the baking of
" If you will give me a home in your oven I will see to the baking of your bread, and will
answer fur it that you shall never have so much as a loaf spoiled." P. 141.
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 141
your bread, and will answer for it that you shall
never have so much as a loaf spoiled."
"And pray what sort of bread would it be, if
you were in the oven, and helped to bake it ?"
said the baker ; " I think my customers might
not like to eat it."
"On the contrary," said the imp, "they
would like it exceedingly. It is true that it
would make them rather unhappy, but that will
not hurt you, as you need not eat it yourself."
" Why should it make them unhappy ?"
said the baker. "If it is good bread it won't
do any one harm, and if it is bad they won't
"It will taste very good," replied the imp,
" But it will make all who eat it discontented,
and they will think themselves very unfortunate
whether they are so or no ; but this will not do
you any harm, and I promise you that you shall
sell as much as you wish."
" Agreed !" said the baker. So the little imp
crept into the oven and curled himself into the
darkness behind, and the baker saw no more of
142 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
But next day he made a great batch of bread,
and though he took no heed of the time when he
put it in, and drew it out, just as he wanted it, it
was done quite right neither too dark nor too
light and the baker was in high good humour.
The first person who tasted the bread was
the chief justice. He came down to breakfast
in high spirits, for he had just heard that an old
aunt was dead, and had left him a great deal of
money. So he kissed his wife and chucked his
daughters under the chin, and told them that he
had good news for them. His old aunt had left
him twenty thousand pounds in her will. On this
his wife clapped her hands for joy, and his daugh-
ters ran to him and kissed him, and begged him
to let them have some of it. So they all sat down
to breakfast in great glee, but no sooner had the
justice tasted the bread than his face fell.
" This is excellent bread," he said, taking a
large slice ; " I wish everything else were as
good ;" and he heaved a deep sigh.
"Why?" cried his wife, who had not yet
begun to eat. " This morning, I am sure, there
is nothing for you to complain of."
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 143
" Nay !" said the mayor ; " it is very nice to
have twenty thousand pounds, but think how
much nicer it would have been if it had been
thirty. How much more one could have done
with that ! Or even if it had been twenty -five
thousand pounds, or even twenty-one. Twenty-
one thousand pounds is a very nice sum of money,
but twenty thousand pounds is no good at all.
I am not sure that it would not be better not to
have had any."
"Nonsense!" cried his wife, who was now
eating her breakfast also ; " you are very wicked
to be so discontented ; but one thing I do say.
It would have been much nicer if we had had it
when we were young and better able to enjoy
it. Money is very little use to people at our
time of life. It would have been really nice if
we had had it fifteen years ago. As it is, I can't
say I care much for it, and it makes me sad to
think we did not get it before."
" Nay," cried the daughters ; " in that case
how much better it would have been for us to
have it instead of you; we are young, and
able to enjoy ourselves, and we could have
144 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
given you a little of it if you'd liked, but we
could have been very happy with the rest ; as
it is, it is no pleasure to us."
So they fell to quarrelling about the money,
and by the time breakfast was done, they all
had tears in their eyes, and felt discontented
The next person to eat the bread was the
village doctor. All night long he had been
sitting up with a man who had broken his leg,
and he had feared lest he should die, but as
morning came he saw he would live, so he
returned home to his wife in very good spirits,
although he was sadly tired. The wife had
already had her breakfast, but she had made
all ready for her husband, with a loaf of the
baker's new bread.
" See, dear husband," she said, " here is
your breakfast, and some nice bread quite new,
because I know you like it. How glad we
ought to be, that this poor man is likely to
" Yes, indeed," said the doctor ; " being up
all night is tiring work, but I don't grudge it
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 145
when I know that it does some good/' and then
he began to eat. " I am not sure, after all, that
I have done such a good thing in curing this
man. It is true that his broken leg hurt him
very much, but perhaps when he is well again,
he may break his back, and that would be
much worse. Perhaps I had better have left
him to die. I daresay when he is quite well,
all kinds of misfortunes will befall him ; I had
much better have let him alone."
"Why," cried his wife in surprise, "what
are you saying, husband ? Are you not a
doctor, and is it not your business to cure
people ? And when you succeed ought you not
to be glad?"
" I wish I were not a doctor," said the hus-
band, sighing. "It would be much better if
there were no doctors at all ;" and he sat and
lamented, and nothing his wife could say, could
In a pretty little cottage near the doctor's
house lived a young couple, who were newly
married, and were as happy as the day was long.
Their cottage was covered with roses, and filled
146 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
with pretty things, and they had everything
their hearts could desire. This morning they
both came down smiling and happy, and the
young wife kissed her husband, and sang for
joy. So they sat down to breakfast, chattering
like two birds in a nest ; but no sooner had the
husband tasted the bread than his face fell, and
he was silent for a time ; then he said,
"It is a very terrible thing to think how
happy we are, for it cannot last. Something
melancholy is sure to happen to us, and till it
comes we shall live in dread of it ; for we know
happiness never lasts, and this is a thought that
makes me very sad."
The wife had now also taken some bread.
" What is this you are saying ?" she said.
" How can you think such dreadful things ? I
do not like you when you talk like that ; and I
think it is very hard for me to be married to a
man who wants to be unhappy."
" The best thing we can hope for," said the
husband, sighing, " is for some great misfortune
to befall us ; then we should be all right, for we
should know then, that we knew the worst that
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 147
could come. As it is we shall live in suspense
all our days."
" Now," cried his wife, " I am indeed un-
fortunate. What could be worse than to have
a husband who does not like being happy ? I
wish I had married some one else ; or indeed
had no husband at all."
So both began to grumble, and at last
to quarrel, and finally both were crying with
Not far out of the village was a large
pleasant farmhouse, standing amongst fields, and
the farmer was a hale, bright man, with a good
wife and pretty children. He was very busy
just now getting in the corn, for it was autumn,
and he stood among his men, directing them as
they worked in the fields. He had not had
time to have a proper breakfast before going
to work, but his wife sent some out to him
with some of the baker's new bread, and he
sat down under a tree to eat it. As he did
so he looked up at the farmhouse, and thought,
with pride, that it was the largest farm in all
the country round, and that it had belonged to
148 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
his father, and his grandfather, and his great-
grandfather, before him.
"'Tis a fine old house, for sure," thought he,
as he took a large piece of bread, " 'Tis so well
built and strong ;" but no sooner had he swal-
lowed a mouthful than his thoughts changed.
" What should I do if it were to fall down
and crush me some day," he said to himself.
"After all, 'tis only built of brick, and might
tumble any day. How much stronger it would
have been if it had been built of stone. Then
it would not have been nearly so likely to give
way. Really when my great-grandfather built
it he should have thought of this. How selfish
all men are;" and he became quite unhappy
lest his house should fall, and lamented while
In the kitchen the farmer's wife was very
busy cooking and cleaning, and scarcely stopped
to eat till near mid-day. Then she took up a
piece of bread and cheese, and leant against the
window as she ate it, that she might watch for
her eldest girl and boy, Janey and Jimmy, who
would now be returning from school.
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 149
" Our baker really bakes very decent bread,"
said she ; " 'tis almost as good as my own ;" and
she went on eating till she saw her two children
coming through the fields together.
" Here they come," said she ; " How bonny
they look. Really I ought to be very proud of
them. I don't know which is the prettier,
Janey or Jimmy, but 'tis a pity, for sure, that
Janey is the eldest. It would be much better
if Jimmy were older than she. 'Tis a bad thing
for the sister to be older than the brother.
Now, if he were her age, and she were his, that
would be really nice, for then he could take care
of her and see after her; but, as it is, she will try
to direct him, and boys never like to obey their
sisters ; I really almost think I had better not
have had any children at all," and the tears
filled her eyes, and when her girl and boy ran in
to her, her face was very sad, and she seemed
to be scarcely glad to see them.
So things went on all over the village.
Each one as he tasted the bread grew discon-
tented and angry, till at last all the people went
about grumbling and complaining, or else shed-
150 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
ding tears outright. Only the baker himself
was cheerful and merry, and sang as he kneaded
his dough, and sold it to his customers with a
light heart, for his trade had never been so
good. Every atom of bread he made was sold
at once, so he cared not one whit for the trouble
of the other people, and laughed to himself
when he heard them complaining, and thought
of the words of the dark little elf.
One day as he stood kneading at the door
and whistling to himself, the doctor walked past
and looked angrily at him.
" What on earth are you making that whist-
ling for ?" he asked. " I declare one would
think that you were as happy as a man could
" And so I am," said the baker, " And so I
should think were you too, for you have nothing
to trouble you."
" Nothing to trouble me, forsooth !" cried
the doctor in a rage. " How dare you insult
me in this way ? I tell you what it is, my fine
fellow, I think you are very impertinent, and
if I have any more of your impudence I will
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 151
take my stick and thrash you soundly. It
really is not to be borne, that one man should
be allowed to tell another that he has nothing
to complain of."
" Nay, you can have as much to complain
of as you like, so long as I have not," cried
the baker, and he laughed loudly. This only
made the doctor angrier still, and he was just
going to seize the baker when up came the
"Was there ever such a village as this?"
he cried. "It is not fit for any one to live in,
there is always such fighting and quarrelling
going on. What is the matter here ?"
" Matter enough," cried the doctor. " Here
is a fellow dares to tell me I have nothing to
complain of, nor he either."
" This is monstrous ! " said the farmer ; " he
deserves to be hung. How dares he say such
a thing on such a wretched day as this, with
such a blue sky and such a bright sun ?"
"Why, Master Farmer," cried the baker,
" yesterday you grumbled because it was rain-
ing, and now you grumble because it is fine."
152 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
" And I tell you that it is enough to make
one grumble," said the farmer. "It should
have been fair yesterday, and should have
rained to-day. You ought to be ashamed of
such talk, Master Baker, and I think it would
serve you justly right if we took you before the
Justice and let us see what he thinks of your
"Nay!" cried the baker, beginning to be
frightened, " what have I done that I am to be
taken before the Justice ?"
"What have you done, indeed!" said the
doctor. " We will see if the Justice cannot find
that out pretty quickly." So they seized the
baker and dragged him away in spite of himself,
and as they pulled him through the village the
people thronged about them, and followed till
there was quite a large crowd.
The Justice sat at his door smoking a pipe,
with tears in his eyes.
" Now what is all this uproar for ?" cried he.
" Am I never to be left in peace ? How hard
is the life of a Justice!" but he got up and
came out on the steps to meet them.
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 153
" See here," cried the doctor ; " here is a
man who says he has nothing to complain of,
and we have brought him to you, to know if he
is to be punished, or to be allowed to go on
talking like this."
"Certainly not," cried the Justice, "or we
shall soon have the whole village in an uproar.
Let him be taken to the market-place, and I
will order that he be publicly flogged by the
At this the poor baker burst out crying,
and entreated to be let off, saying that now
indeed he had plenty to complain of, but
at this the justice was angrier still. "Then,"
said he, "you certainly deserve to be flogged
for having told an untruth before, when you
said you had not. Take him away, and do as
So they dragged the baker off to the
market-place, and made a ring round him, so
that he could not escape, and then there came
down two or three soldiers with ropes in their
hands, and they seized him, and began to beat
him before all the crowd.
154 THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
But by this time all the people were so en-
raged against him, that a number of them cried,
" Let us go to his house and pull it down." So
off they ran to the baker's house, and broke the
windows and knocked about the furniture, and
then some of them fell on the oven, and
wrenched off the door, and others seized the
pokers and tongs, and smashed in its sides, and
in the hurry and scuffle, the little dark man
crept out of the oven and scuttled away unseen
by any one. But no sooner had he gone than
a great change came across the people.
The soldiers on the green stopped beating
the baker, and looked at each other aghast, and
the Justice called out,
" Stop ! What is all this uproar about ?
And what has this man done that you are
beating him without my orders ?" and the
people in the crowd whispered to each other ;
"It is true, what has he done ?" and they
slunk away, looking ashamed.
The Justice also at first looked somewhat
ashamed of himself, but he drew himself up,
and looking very important, said,
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT. 155
" There, my man, you are forgiven for this
once, and now go your way, and see that you
behave better in future ;" and then he walked
away with much dignity.
So the baker was left alone in the market-
place, and he cried for rage and pain.
" This all comes of the oven imp," cried he,
as he limped home. " Directly I get home I will
drive him out of my oven, and away from my
house. Better to have a hundred batches of
bread spoiled than to be flogged for saying one
is happy." But when he reached his house
the little dark man was nowhere to be found ;
there was nought but the broken oven with
its sides battered in.
The baker mended the oven, and from that
time forth his bread was just like other people's ;
but for all that he had learnt to be quite
contented, for now he knew that there were
worse things than having his loaves burnt
black, and he was only too well pleased to take
his chance with other people, without the help
of fairy folk. As for the little black imp, he
was never heard of more, and the people in
I 5 6
THE BREAD OF DISCONTENT.
the village soon recovered their good humour,
and were just as happy and contented as they
had been before they tasted the bread of
LD King Roland lay upon his
death-bed, and as he had no
son to reign after him he
sent for his three nephews,
Aldovrand, Aldebert, and
Alderete, and addressed them
as follows :
" My dear nephews, I feel that my days are
now drawing to an end, and one of you will
have to be King when I am dead. But there
is no pleasure in being King. My people have
been difficult to govern and never content with
what I did for them, so that my life has been a
hard one, and though I have watched you all
closely, still I know not, which is most fit to
wear the crown ; so my wish is that you should
158 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
each try it in turn. You, Aldovrand, as you
are the oldest, shall be King first, and if you
reign happily, all well and good ; but if you fail,
let Aldebert take your place ; and if he fail, let
him give it up to Alderete, and then you will
know which is the best fitted to govern."
On this the three young men all thanked
their uncle, and each one declared that he would
do his best, and soon after old King Roland died
and was buried with great state and ceremony.
So now Aldovrand was to be King, and he
was crowned, and there were great rejoicings
" 'Tis a fine thing to be King," cried he in
much glee ; " Now I can amuse myself and do
just as I please, and there will be no one to
stop me, and I will lie in bed as late as I like in
the morning, for who dares blame one, if one
is King ?"
Next morning the Prime Minister and the
Chancellor came to the palace to see the new
King and settle affairs of state, but they were
told that his majesty was in bed and had given
orders that no one should disturb him.
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 159
" This is a bad beginning," sighed the
" Very bad," echoed the Chancellor.
When they came back to the palace later in
the day the King was playing at battledore and
shuttlecock with some of his gentlemen, and was
very angry at being interrupted in his game.
"A pretty thing," he cried, "That I the
King am to be sent for hither and thither as if
I were a lacquey. They must go away and
come another time ;" and on hearing this the
Prime Minister and Chancellor looked graver
But next morning there came the Com-
matider-in-Chief and the Lord High Admiral,
as well as the Prime Minister and the Chan-
cellor, all wanting to have an audience with the
King, and as he was not out of bed and they
could not wait any longer, they all stood outside
his bedroom door, and knocked to gain admit-
tance, and at last he came out in a towering
rage, and throwing them his crown, cried,
" Here, let one of my cousins be King, for
I will not bear this longer. It is much more
160 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
trouble than it is worth, so Aldebert or Alderete
may try it and see how they like it, but as for
me, I have had enough of it," and he ran down-
stairs and out of the palace door, leaving the
Prime Minister and the Chancellor and the
General and Admiral staring at each other in
Aldovrand walked out of the town unnoticed,
and turned towards the country, whistling
cheerily to himself. When he had gone some
way in the fields, he came to a farmhouse, and
in a meadow near, the farmer stood talking
to his men. Aldovrand went straight up to
him, and, touching his hat, asked if he could
give him any work.
" Work ?" cried the farmer, little thinking he
was talking to his late king. " Why, what sort
of work can you do ?"
" Well," said Aldovrand, " I am not very
fond of running about, but if you want any one
to mind your sheep, or keep the birds from your
corn, I could do that nicely."
" I tell you what you can do if you like,"
said the farmer. " I am wanting a goose-boy
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 161
to take care of my geese. See, there they are
on the common. All you will have to do is to
see that they don't stray away, and to drive
them in at night."
" That will suit me exactly," cried Aldo-
vrand. " I will begin at once ;" and he went
straight on to the common, and when he had
collected the geese together lay down to watch
them in high good humour.
"This is capital," he cried, "and much
better than being King at the palace. Here
there is no Prime Minister or Chancellor to
come worrying ;" and he lay watching the geese
all day very contentedly.
When the Prime Minister and the Chan-
cellor knew that Aldovrand was really gone,
they went in a great hurry to Aldebert to tell
him that it was his turn to be King. But when
he heard how his cousin had run away, he looked
" I will do my best," quoth he ; "but I really
know very little about the matter. However,
you must tell me, and I will do whatever you
1 62 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
At hearing this the Prime Minister and the
Chancellor were delighted.
" Now we have got the right sort of King,"
they said ; and both wagged their heads with
So King Aldebert was crowned, and there
were great rejoicings all over the country.
Early next morning he was up all ready to
receive his Ministers, and first came the Prime
" Your Majesty," said he, " I come to you
on an affair of much importance. A great part
of our city is falling down, and it is very neces-
sary that we should rebuild it at once. If you
will command it, therefore, I will see that it is
" I have no doubt you are right," said the
King; "pray let them begin building at once ;"
and the Prime Minister went away delighted.
Scarcely had he gone when in came the
"Your Majesty," said he, "I wish to lay
before you the state of our army. Our soldiers
have had a great deal of fighting to do lately,
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 163
and are beginning to be discontented, but the
late King, your uncle, would never attend to
" Pray do what you like," said King Alde-
"To satisfy them," said the Commander-
in-Chief, " I think that we should double their
pay. This would keep them in a good humour,
and all will go well."
"By all means, that will certainly be the
best way," said Aldebert. Let it be given to
them at once ;" and on hearing this, the
Commander-in-Chief went away right merrily.
When he had gone, there came in the
Chancellor with a long face.
"Your Majesty," he said, "I have this
morning been to the treasury, and I find that
there is scarcely any money left. The late
King, your uncle, spent so much in spite of all
I could say, that now it is almost all gone.
Your Majesty must now save all you can for the
next year or two, and you ought also to lower
the soldiers' pay, and stop all public works."
" I have no doubt you are quite right," cried
164 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
the King. " You know best, let it be done as
But next morning in came the Prime
Minister with a frowning face. " How is this,
your Majesty?" cried he. "Just as we are
beginning our buildings, the Chancellor comes
and tells us that we are not to have any money
to build with." He had not done speaking
when the Commander-in-Chief burst into the
room unable to conceal his rage.
" Yesterday your Majesty told me that all
the soldiers should have double pay, and this
morning I hear, that instead of that, their wages
are to be lowered !" Here he was interrupted
by the Chancellor, who came running in looking
"Your Majesty," he cried, "did you not
yesterday say we were now to begin saving,
and that I was not to allow any more money
to be spent, and that the army must do with
less pay ?"
And then all three began to quarrel among
themselves. When he saw how angry they
were, King Aldebert took off his crown and said,
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 165
" I am sure you are each of you quite right ;
but I think I am scarcely fit to be a King.
Indeed I think you had better find my cousin
Alderete, and let him be crowned, and I will
seek my fortune elsewhere." And he had
slipped out of the room, and run downstairs
and out of the palace, before they could stop
He went briskly down the highroad into
the country, the same way that Aldovrand had
After he had gone some way, he met a
travelling tinker who sat by the roadside
mending tin cans, with his little fire at his side.
Aldebert stood watching him, and at last
said, "How cleverly you mend those holes !
You must lead a pleasant life, going from house
to house in the green lanes mending wares.
Do you think I could learn how to do it if you
would teach me ? "
The tinker, who was an old man, looked at
him and said,
" Well, I don't mind giving you a trial if you
like to come with me, for I want a strong young
1 66 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
man sometimes to help me wheel my little cart,
and I'll teach you my trade, and we'll see what
you can make of it."
So Aldebert was delighted, and went with
When they knew he was really gone the
Prime Minister and the Chancellor looked at
each other in dismay.
" This will never do/' cried they ; " we must
go at once to Prince Alderete ; and let us hope
he may do better than his cousins."
When Prince Alderete heard that it was
his turn to reign he jumped for joy.
" Now," cried he, " at last I will show what
a king should really be like. My cousins were
neither of them any good, but they shall now
see how different I will be."
So he was crowned, and again there were
great rejoicings all over the country.
Next day he sat in state to receive the
Chancellor and Prime Minister and hear what
they had to say.
"My friends," said he to them, "a good
King ought to be like a father to his people,
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 167
and this is what I mean to be. I mean to
arrange everything for them myself, and if they
will only obey me, and do as I direct, they are
sure to be both prosperous and happy."
On hearing this both Prime Minister and
Chancellor looked anxious, and the Chancellor
" I fear, your Majesty, your people will not
like to be too much meddled with." At this the
King was very angry, and bid them see about
their own business, and not presume to teach
When they had gone he went to take a
drive in his city, that he might see it and know
it well; but directly he returned to the palace he
sent for the Prime Minister, and when he had
" I already see much to be altered in my
kingdom. I do not like the houses in which
many of the people dwell, nor indeed the
dresses they wear ; but what strikes me most of
all is, that wherever I go I smell a strong smell
of pea soup. Now, nothing is so unwholesome
as pea soup, and therefore it would not be right
1 68 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
in me to allow the people to go on eating it. I
command, therefore, that no one shall again
make, or eat pea soup, within my realm on pain
Again the Prime Minister looked very
grave, and began to say,
" Your Majesty, your subjects will surely not
like to be hindered from eating and drinking what
pleases them !" But the King cried out in a rage,
" Go at once and do as I bid you." So the
Prime Minister had to obey.
Early next morning when the King arose
he heard a great hubbub under his window, and
when he went to see what it was, he saw a vast
mob of people all shouting, "The King, the
King ! Where is this King who would dictate
to us what we shall eat and drink ?"
When he saw them he was terribly
frightened, and at once sent off for the Prime
Minister and Chancellor to come to his aid.
" Pray go and tell them to eat what they
like," he cried when they arrived ; " But, do you
know, I find it will not at all suit me to be
King. You had best try Aldovrand, or Aide-
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 169
bert, again;" and, so saying, he took off his
crown and laid it down, and slipped away out
of the palace before either Prime Minister or
Chancellor could stop him.
He went out of the back door, and ran,
and ran, and ran, till he had left the town far
behind, and came to the country fields and
lanes the same way that his two cousins had
gone ; and as he went he met a sweep trudg-
ing along carrying his long brooms over his
" My friend," cried Alderete, stopping him,
" Of all things in the world I should like to be a
sweep and learn how to sweep chimneys. May
I go with you, and will you teach me your
The sweep looked surprised, but said, " Yes,
Alderete could go with him if he chose, and as
he was now going on to the farmhouses, on the
road, to sweep the chimneys, he could begin at
once." So Alderete went with the sweep, carry-
ing some of his brooms for him.
After a time the people outside the palace
grew quiet, when they heard that the King
i;o THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
would not interfere with them further. And
when all was again still, the Prime Minister and
Chancellor went to seek the King, but he was
nowhere to be found in the palace.
"This will never do," cried they. "We
must have a King somehow, so we had best
have back one of the others." So they started
to look for Aldovrand or Aldebert.
They sought them all over the city, and at
last they came into the same country road down
which the three cousins had gone, and there
they saw Aldovrand lying in a meadow watching
his flock of geese.
" Good day, my friends," cried he when he
saw them ; " And how are things going on at the
palace ? I hope my cousins like reigning better
than I did. Now, here I lie peacefully all day
long and watch my geese, and it is much nicer
than being King."
Then the Prime Minister and Chancellor
told him all that had happened, and begged
that he would come back with them to the
palace again, but at this Aldovrand laughed
" Now, here I He peacefully all day long and watch my geese, and it is much nicer thai
being King." v. 170.
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 171
"No indeed!" cried he, "I would not be
King again for any man living. You had
best go and seek my cousin Aldebert, and ask
him. I saw him go down the road with a
tinker, helping him to mend his tins. So go
and ask him, and leave me to mind my geese
So the Prime Minister, and the Chancellor
had to seek still farther.
They trudged on and on, till at last
they met Aldebert, who sat by the side of
the road mending a tin kettle, and whistling
" Heyday, whom have we here ?" cried he.
"The Prime Minister and the Chancellor! And
I am right glad to see you both. See how
clever I have grown ; I am learning to be a
tinker, and I mended that hole all myself."
Then the Prime Minister and Chancellor
begged him to leave his pots, and come back
to the palace and be King, but he fell to work
again, harder than ever, and said,
" No indeed ; go and ask my cousins, who
are both much cleverer than I. I really don't
i;2 THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
do for it at all, but I make a very good tinker,
and I like that much better."
"Then what can we do? "cried the Prime
Minister, " for we don't know where Alderete
" I saw him go by here with a sweep a little
time ago," said Aldebert ; " and he went into
that farmhouse yonder, so you had best seek
So the Prime Minister and the Chancellor
went on to the farmhouse. At the door stood
the farmer's wife, but when they asked her if
she had seen the King go by, she stared with
" Nay," said she ; " no one has been here
but our sweep and his apprentice. He is in
there sweeping the chimney now." On hear-
ing this, the Prime Minister and Chancellor
at once ran into the farmhouse, and saw
the old sweep standing by the kitchen fire-
place. " And where is the other sweep ? "
cried they. "He is gone up the chimney,
and is just going to begin sweeping," said
the old man. "So if you want to speak to
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS. 173
him you must shout." So they shouted and
" King Alderete, King Alderete !" as loud
as ever they could, but he did not hear. Then
the Chancellor knelt in front of the grate, and
put his head up the chimney, and called,
" King Alderete, King Alderete ! It is the
Prime Minister and I, the Chancellor, come to
fetch your Majesty back to the palace."
When Alderete heard him up the chimney,
he trembled in every limb, but he replied,
"I'm not going to come down ; I don't want
to be King. I am going to be a sweep, and I
like that much better. I shan't come down till
you are gone away, and now you had best go
quickly, for I am going to begin sweeping, and
all the soot will fall on your head," and then
they heard the rattle of the broom in the
chimney, and a whole shower of soot fell on
the Chancellor's head.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor
turned back to the city very disconsolately.
" We must go and look for a King elsewhere,"
they said. " It is no use troubling about
THE THREE CLEVER KINGS.
Aldovrand, Aldebert, and Alderete." So they
left the one to his geese, and one to his tins,
and the other to sweep chimneys, and that was
the end of the three clever Kings.
NCE upon a time lived a King
whose wife was dead and who
had one' little daughter who
was named Fernanda. She
was very good and pretty,
but when she was a child she
vexed all her ladies by asking them questions
about everything she saw.
"Your Highness should not wish to know
too much," they told her, whereat Princess
Fernanda threw up her little head, and said,
" I want to know everything."
As she grew up she had masters and mis-
tresses to teach her, and learnt every language
and every science ; but still she said, " It is not
enough ; I want to know more."
176 THE WISE PRINCESS.
In a deep cave underground there lived
an old Wizard who was so wise that his face
was well-nigh black with wrinkles, and his long
white beard flowed to his feet. He knew all
sorts of magic, and every day and night sat
poring over his books till now there seemed to
be nothing left for him to learn.
One night after every one was asleep, Prin-
cess Fernanda rose and slipped softly down the
stairs and out of the palace unheard by any
one, and stole away to the Wizard's cave.
The old man was sitting on his low stool
reading out of an immense book by a dim green
light, but he raised his eyes as the Princess
entered at the low doorway, and looked at her.
She wore a blue and silver robe, but her bright
hair was unbound, and fell in ripples to her
" Who are you, and what do you want with
me ?" he asked shortly.
" I am the Princess Fernanda," she said,
"and I wish to be your pupil. Teach me all
" Why do you wish for that ?" said the
THE WISE PRINCESS. 177
Wizard : " you will not be better or happier
" I am not happy now," said the Princess
sighing wearily. " Teach me and you shall find
me an apt pupil, and I will pay you with gold."
"I will not have your gold," said the Wizard,
" but come to me every night at this hour, and
in three years you shall know all I do."
So every night the Princess went down to
the Wizard's cave while all the court were sleep-
ing. And the people wondered at her more
and more, and said, " How much she knows !
How wise she is !"
When the three years had gone by the
Wizard said to her, " Go ! I can teach you no
more now. You are as wise as I." Then the
Princess thanked him and went back to her
father s palace.
She was very wise. She knew the lan-
guages of all animals. The fishes came from
the deep at her call, and the birds from the
trees. She could tell when the winds would
rise, and when the sea would be still. She
could have turned her enemies to stone, or
178 THE WISE PRINCESS.
given untold wealth to her friends. But for all
that, when she smiled, her lips were very sad,
and her eyes were always full of care. She
said she was weary, and her father thought she
was sick, and would have sent for the physicians,
but she stopped him.
" How should physicians help me, my
father," she said, "seeing that I know more
than they ?"
One night, a year after she had taken her
last lesson from the Wizard, she arose and
returned to his cave, and he raised his eyes and
saw her standing before him as formerly.
"What do you want?" he said. "I have
taught you all I know."
"You have taught me much," she said,
falling on her knees beside him, "yet I am
ignorant of one thing teach me that also
how to be happy!'
" Nay," said the Wizard with a very mourn-
ful smile ; " I cannot teach you that, for I do not
know it myself. Go and ask it of them who
know and are wiser than I."
Then the Princess left the cave and
"Then the Princess left the cave and wandered down to the sea-shore." i-. 178.
THE WISE PRINCESS. 179
wandered down to the sea-shore. All that
night she spent sitting on a rock that jutted out
into the sea, watching the wild sky and the moon
coming and going behind the clouds. The sea
dashed up around her, and the wind blew, but
she did not fear them, and when the sun rose
the waters were still and the wind fell. A sky-
lark rose from the fields and flew straight up
to heaven, singing as though his heart would
burst with pure joy.
"Surely that bird is happy," said the Princess
to herself; and she called it in its own tongue.
"Why do you sing?" she asked.
" I sing because I am so happy," answered
"And why are you so happy ?" asked the
"So happy?" said the lark. "God is so
good. The sky is so blue, and the fields are so
green. Is that not enough to make me happy?"
" Teach me, then, that I may be happy too,"
said Princess Fernanda.
" I cannot," said the lark ; " I don't know
how to teach ;" and then he rose, singing, into
i8o THE WISE PRINCESS.
the blue overhead, and Princess Fernanda
sighed and turned back towards the palace.
Outside her door she met her little lap-dog,
who barked and jumped for joy on seeing her.
" Little dog," she said ; " poor little dog, are
you so glad to see me? Why are you so
"Why am I so happy ?" said the little dog,
surprised. " I have plenty to eat, and a soft
cushion to rest upon, and you to caress me. Is
not it enough to make me happy ?"
" It is not enough for me," said the Princess,
sighing ; but the little dog only wagged his tail
and licked her hand.
Inside her room was the Princess's favourite
little maid Doris, folding up her dresses.
" Doris," she said, " you look very merry.
Why are you so happy ?"
" Please your Royal Highness, I am going
to the fair," answered Doris, "and Luke is to
meet me there; only," she added, pouting a little,
" I wish I had a pretty new hat to wear with
my new dress."
" Then you are not perfectly happy, so you
THE WISE PRINCESS. 181
cannot teach me," said Princess Fernanda, and
then she sighed again.
In the evening at sunset she arose, and
went out into the village, and at the door of the
first cottage to which she came, sat a woman
nursing a baby, and hushing it to sleep. The
baby was fat and rosy, and the mother looked
down at it proudly.
The Princess stopped, and spoke to her.
"You have a fine little child there," she
said. " Surely you must be very happy."
The woman smiled.
"Yes," she said, "so I am; only just now
my goodman is out fishing, and as he's rather
late, it makes me anxious."
"Then you could not teach me," said the
Princess, sighing to herself as she moved away.
She wandered on till she came to a church,
which she entered. All was still within, for
the church was empty ; but before the altar, on
a splendid bier, lay the body of a young man,
who had been killed in the war. He was
dressed in his gay uniform, and his breast was
covered with medals, and his sword lay beside
182 THE WISE PRINCESS.
him. He was shot through the heart, but his
face was peaceful and his lips were smiling.
The Princess walked to his side, and looked at
the quiet face. Then she stooped and kissed
the cold forehead, and envied the soldier. "If
he could speak," she said, "he surely could
teach me. No living mouth could ever smile
like that." Then she looked up and saw a
white angel standing on the other side of the
bier, and she knew it was Death.
"You have taught him," she said, holding
out her arms. "Will you not teach me to
smile like that ?"
" Nay," said Death, pointing to the medals
on the dead man's breast, " I taught him whilst
he was doing his duty. I cannot teach you,"
And so saying he vanished from her sight.
She went out from the church down to the
sea-shore. There was a high sea, and a great
wind, a little child had been playing on a row
of rocks, and had slipped off them into the
water, and was struggling among the waves,
and would soon be drowned, for he was beyond
his depth in the water.
THE WISE PRINCESS. 183
When the Princess saw him, she plunged
into the water and swam to where the child
was, and taking him in her arms, placed him
safely on the rocks again, but the waves were
so strong that she could scarcely keep above
them. As she tried to seize the rocks, she
saw Death coming over the water towards her,
and she turned to meet him gladly.
" Now," said he, clasping her in his arms,
" I will teach you all you want to know ;" and
he drew her under the water, and she died.
* # * # *
The King's servants found her lying on the
shore, with her face white and her lips cold, but
smiling as they had never smiled before, and her
face was very calm. They carried her home,
and she was laid out in great state, covered
with gold and silver.
" She was so wise," sobbed her little maid,
as she placed flowers in the cold hand, "she
" Not everything," said the skylark from the
window ; " for she asked me, ignorant though I
am, to teach her how to be happy."
184 THE WISE PRINCESS.
" That was the one thing I could not teach,
her," said the old Wizard, looking at the dead
Princess's face. " Yet I think now she must
be wiser than I, and have learned that too.
For see how she smiles."
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.