Allerleirauh; or The Many-Furred Creature

Today's classic tale is from the Green Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1892.

There was once upon a time a King who had a wife with golden hair, and she was so beautiful that you couldn’t find anyone like her in the world. It happened that she fell ill, and when she felt that she must soon die, she sent for the King, and said, ‘If you want to marry after my death, make no one queen unless she is just as beautiful as I am, and has just such golden hair as I have. Promise me this.’ After the King had promised her this, she closed her eyes and died.

For a long time the King was not to be comforted, and he did not even think of taking a second wife. At last his councillors said, ‘The King must marry again, so that we may have a queen.’ So messengers were sent far and wide to seek for a bride equal to the late Queen in beauty. But there was no one in the wide world, and if there had been she could not have had such golden hair. Then the messengers came home again, not having been able to find a queen.

Now, the King had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her dead mother, and had just such golden hair. One day when she had grown up, her father looked at her, and saw that she was exactly like her mother, so he said to his councillors, ‘I will marry my daughter to one of you, and she shall be queen, for she is exactly like her dead mother, and when I die her husband shall be king.’ But when the Princess heard of her father’s decision, she was not at all pleased, and said to him, ‘Before I do your bidding, I must have three dresses; one as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars. Besides these, I want a cloak made of a thousand different kinds of skin; every animal in your kingdom must give a bit of his skin to it.’ But she thought to herself, ‘This will be quite impossible, and I shall not have to marry someone I do not care for.’ The King, however, was not to be turned from his purpose, and he commanded the most skilled maidens in his kingdom to weave the three dresses, one as golden as the sun, and one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars; and he gave orders to all his huntsmen to catch one of every kind of beast in the kingdom, and to get a bit of its skin to make the cloak of a thousand pieces of fur. At last, when all was ready, the King commanded the cloak to be brought to him, and he spread it out before the Princess, and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be your wedding-day.’ When the Princess saw that there was no more hope of changing her father’s resolution, she determined to flee away. In the night, when everyone else was sleeping, she got up and took three things from her treasures, a gold ring, a little gold spinning-wheel, and a gold reel; she put the sun, moon, and star dresses in a nut-shell, drew on the cloak of many skins, and made her face and hands black with soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went out and travelled the whole night till she came to a large forest. And as she was very much tired she sat down inside a hollow tree and fell asleep.

The sun rose and she still slept on and on, although it was nearly noon. Now, it happened that the king to whom this wood belonged was hunting in it. When his dogs came to the tree, they sniffed, and ran round and round it, barking. The King said to the huntsmen, ‘See what sort of a wild beast is in there.’ The huntsmen went in, and then came back and said, ‘In the hollow tree there lies a wonderful animal that we don’t know, and we have never seen one like it; its skin is made of a thousand pieces of fur; but it is lying down asleep.’ The King said, ‘See if you can catch it alive, and then fasten it to the cart, and we will take it with us.’ When the huntsmen seized the maiden, she awoke and was frightened, and cried out to them, ‘I am a poor child, forsaken by father and mother; take pity on me, and let me go with you.’ Then they said to her, ‘Many-furred Creature, you can work in the kitchen; come with us and sweep the ashes together.’ So they put her in the cart and they went back to the palace. There they showed her a tiny room under the stairs, where no daylight came, and said to her, ‘Many-furred Creature, you can live and sleep here.’ Then she was sent into the kitchen, where she carried wood and water, poked the fire, washed vegetables, plucked fowls, swept up the ashes, and did all the dirty work.

So the Many-furred Creature lived for a long time in great poverty. Ah, beautiful King’s daughter, what is going to befall you now?

It happened once when a great feast was being held in the palace, that she said to the cook, ‘Can I go upstairs for a little bit and look on? I will stand outside the doors.’ The cook replied, ‘Yes, you can go up, but in half-an-hour you must be back here to sweep up the ashes.’ Then she took her little oil-lamp, and went into her little room, drew off her fur cloak, and washed off the soot from her face and hands, so that her beauty shone forth, and it was as if one sunbeam after another were coming out of a black cloud. Then she opened the nut, and took out the dress as golden as the sun. And when she had done this, she went up to the feast, and everyone stepped out of her way, for nobody knew her, and they thought she must be a King’s daughter. But the King came towards her and gave her his hand, and danced with her, thinking to himself, ‘My eyes have never beheld anyone so fair!’ When the dance was ended, she curtseyed to him, and when the King looked round she had disappeared, no one knew whither. The guards who were standing before the palace were called and questioned, but no one had seen her.

She had run to her little room and had quickly taken off her dress, made her face and hands black, put on the fur cloak, and was once more the Many-furred Creature. When she came into the kitchen and was setting about her work of sweeping the ashes together, the cook said to her, ‘Let that wait till to-morrow, and just cook the King’s soup for me; I want to have a little peep at the company upstairs; but be sure that you do not let a hair fall into it, otherwise you will get nothing to eat in future!’ So the cook went away, and the Many-furred Creature cooked the soup for the King. She made a bread-soup as well as she possibly could, and when it was done, she fetched her gold ring from her little room, and laid it in the tureen in which the soup was to be served up.

When the dance was ended, the King had his soup brought to him and ate it, and it was so good that he thought he had never tasted such soup in his life. But when he came to the bottom of the dish he saw a gold ring lying there, and he could not imagine how it got in. Then he commanded the cook to be brought before him. The cook was terrified when he heard the command, and said to the Many-furred Creature, ‘You must have let a hair fall into the soup, and if you have you deserve a good beating!’ When he came before the King, the King asked who had cooked the soup. The cook answered, ‘I cooked it.’ But the King said, ‘That’s not true, for it was quite different and much better soup than you have ever cooked.’ Then the cook said, ‘I must confess; I did not cook the soup; the Many-furred Creature did.’ ‘Let her be brought before me,’ said the King. When the Many-furred Creature came, the King asked her who she was. ‘I am a poor child without father or mother.’ Then he asked her, ‘What do you do in my palace?’ ‘I am of no use except to have boots thrown at my head.’ ‘How did you get the ring which was in the soup?’ he asked. ‘I know nothing at all about the ring,’ she answered. So the King could find out nothing, and was obliged to send her away.

After a time there was another feast, and the Many-furred Creature begged the cook as at the last one to let her go and look on. He answered, ‘Yes, but come back again in half-an-hour and cook the King the bread-soup that he likes so much.’ So she ran away to her little room, washed herself quickly, took out of the nut the dress as silver as the moon and put it on. Then she went upstairs looking just like a King’s daughter, and the King came towards her, delighted to see her again, and as the dance had just begun, they danced together. But when the dance was ended, she disappeared again so quickly that the King could not see which way she went. She ran to her little room and changed herself once more into the Many-furred Creature, and went into the kitchen to cook the bread-soup. When the cook was upstairs, she fetched the golden spinning-wheel and put it in the dish so that the soup was poured over it. It was brought to the King, who ate it, and liked it as much as the last time. He had the cook sent to him, and again he had to confess that the Many-furred Creature had cooked the soup. Then the Many-furred Creature came before the King, but she said again that she was of no use except to have boots thrown at her head, and that she knew nothing at all of the golden spinning-wheel.

When the King had a feast for the third time, things did not turn out quite the same as at the other two. The cook said, ‘You must be a witch, Many-furred Creature, for you always put something in the soup, so that it is much better and tastes nicer to the King than any that I cook.’ But because she begged hard, he let her go up for the usual time. Now she put on the dress as shining as the stars, and stepped into the hall in it.

The King danced again with the beautiful maiden, and thought she had never looked so beautiful. And while he was dancing, he put a gold ring on her finger without her seeing it, and he commanded that the dance should last longer than usual. When it was finished he wanted to keep her hands in his, but she broke from him, and sprang so quickly away among the people that she vanished from his sight. She ran as fast as she could to her little room under the stairs, but because she had stayed too long beyond the half-hour, she could not stop to take off the beautiful dress, but only threw the fur cloak over it, and in her haste she did not make herself quite black with the soot, one finger remaining white. The Many-furred Creature now ran into the kitchen, cooked the King’s bread-soup, and when the cook had gone, she laid the gold reel in the dish. When the King found the reel at the bottom, he had the Many-furred Creature brought to him, and then he saw the white finger, and the ring which he had put on her hand in the dance. Then he took her hand and held her tightly, and as she was trying to get away, she undid the fur-cloak a little bit and the star-dress shone out. The King seized the cloak and tore it off her. Her golden hair came down, and she stood there in her full splendour, and could not hide herself away any more. And when the soot and ashes had been washed from her face, she looked more beautiful than anyone in the world. But the King said, ‘You are my dear bride, and we will never be separated from one another.’ So the wedding was celebrated and they lived happily ever after.


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Sun, Moon and Talia

Today's classic tale was originally published in Il Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile in 1634, translated by John Edward Taylor in 1847.

There was once a great Lord, who, having a daughter born to him named Talia, commanded the seers and wise men of his kingdom to come and tell him her fortune; and after various counsellings they came to the conclusion, that a great peril awaited her from a piece of stalk in some flax. Thereupon he issued a command, prohibiting any flax or hemp, or such-like thing, to be brought into his house, hoping thus to avoid the danger.

When Talia was grown up, and was standing one day at the window, she saw an old woman pass by who was spinning. She had never seen a distaff or a spindle, and being vastly pleased with the twisting and twirling of the thread, her curiosity was so great that she made the old woman come upstairs. Then, taking the distaff in her hand, Talia began to draw out the thread, when, by mischance, a piece of stalk in the flax getting under her finger-nail, she fell dead upon the ground; at which sight the old woman hobbled downstairs as quickly as she could.

When the unhappy father heard of the disaster that had befallen Talia, after weeping bitterly, he placed her in that palace in the country, upon a velvet seat under a canopy of brocade; and fastening the doors, he quitted for ever the place which had been the cause of such misfortune to him, in order to drive all remembrance of it from his mind.

Now, a certain King happened to go one day to the chase, and a falcon escaping from him flew in at the window of that palace. When the King found that the bird did not return at his call, he ordered his attendants to knock at the door, thinking that the palace was inhabited; and after knocking for some time, the King ordered them to fetch a vine-dresser's ladder, wishing himself to scale the house and see what was inside. Then he mounted the ladder, and going through the whole palace, he stood aghast at not finding there any living person. At last he came to the room where Talia was lying, as if enchanted; and when the King saw her, he called to her, thinking that she was asleep, but in vain, for she still slept on, however loud he called. So, after admiring her beauty awhile, the King returned home to his kingdom, where for a long time he forgot all that had happened.

Meanwhile, two little twins, one a boy and the other a girl, who looked like two little jewels, wandered, from I know not where, into the palace and found Talia in a trance. At first they were afraid because they tried in vain to awaken her; but, becoming bolder, the girl gently took Talia's finger into her mouth, to bite it and wake her up by this means; and so it happened that the splinter of flax came out. Thereupon she seemed to awake as from a deep sleep; and when she saw those little jewels at her side, she took them to her heart, and loved them more than her life; but she wondered greatly at seeing herself quite alone in the palace with two children, and food and refreshment brought her by unseen hands.

After a time the King, calling Talia to mind, took occasion one day when he went to the chase to go and see her; and when he found her awakened, and with two beautiful little creatures by her side, he was struck dumb with rapture. Then the King told Talia who he was, and they formed a great league and friendship, and he remained there for several days, promising, as he took leave, to return and fetch her.

When the King went back to his own kingdom he was for ever repeating the names of Talia and the little ones, insomuch that, when he was eating he had Talia in his mouth, and Sun and Moon (for so he named the children); nay, even when he went to rest he did not leave off calling on them, first one and then the other.

Now the King's stepmother had grown suspicious at his long absence at the chase, and when she heard him calling thus on Talia, Sun, and Moon, she waxed wroth, and said to the King's secretary, "Hark ye, friend, you stand in great danger, between the axe and the block; tell me who it is that my stepson is enamoured of, and I will make you rich; but if you conceal the truth from me, I'll make you rue it."

The man, moved on the one side by fear, and on the other pricked by interest, which is a bandage to the eyes of honour, the blind of justice, and an old horse-shoe to trip up good faith, told the Queen the whole truth. Whereupon she sent the secretary in the King's name to Talia, saying that he wished to see the children. Then Talia sent them with great joy, but the Queen commanded the cook to kill them, and serve them up in various ways for her wretched stepson to eat.

Now the cook, who had a tender heart, seeing the two pretty little golden pippins, took compassion on them, and gave them to his wife, bidding her keep them concealed; then he killed and dressed two little kids in a hundred different ways. When the King came, the Queen quickly ordered the dishes served up; and the King fell to eating with great delight, exclaiming, "How good this is! Oh, how excellent, by the soul of my grandfather!" And the old Queen all the while kept saying, "Eat away, for you know what you eat." At first the King paid no attention to what she said; but at last, hearing the music continue, he replied, "Ay, I know well enough what I eat, for YOU brought nothing to the house." And at last, getting up in a rage, he went off to a villa at a little distance to cool his anger.

Meanwhile the Queen, not satisfied with what she had done, called the secretary again, and sent him to fetch Talia, pretending that the King wished to see her. At this summons Talia went that very instant, longing to see the light of her eyes, and not knowing that only the smoke awaited her. But when she came before the Queen, the latter said to her, with the face of a Nero, and full of poison as a viper, "Welcome, Madam Sly-cheat! Are you indeed the pretty mischief-maker? Are you the weed that has caught my son's eye and given me all this trouble."

When Talia heard this she began to excuse herself; but the Queen would not listen to a word; and having a large fire lighted in the courtyard, she commanded that Talia should be thrown into the flames. Poor Talia, seeing matters come to a bad pass, fell on her knees before the Queen, and besought her at least to grant her time to take the clothes from off her back. Whereupon the Queen, not so much out of pity for the unhappy girl, as to get possession of her dress, which was embroidered all over with gold and pearls, said to her, "Undress yourself—I allow you." Then Talia began to undress, and as she took off each garment she uttered an exclamation of grief; and when she had stripped off her cloak, her gown, and her jacket, and was proceeding to take off her petticoat, they seized her and were dragging her away. At that moment the King came up, and seeing the spectacle he demanded to know the whole truth; and when he asked also for the children, and heard that his stepmother had ordered them to be killed, the unhappy King gave himself up to despair.

He then ordered her to be thrown into the same fire which had been lighted for Talia, and the secretary with her, who was the handle of this cruel game and the weaver of this wicked web. Then he was going to do the same with the cook, thinking that he had killed the children; but the cook threw himself at the King's feet and said, "Truly, sir King, I would desire no other sinecure in return for the service I have done you than to be thrown into a furnace full of live coals; I would ask no other gratuity than the thrust of a spike; I would wish for no other amusement than to be roasted in the fire; I would desire no other privilege than to have the ashes of the cook mingled with those of a Queen. But I look for no such great reward for having saved the children, and brought them back to you in spite of that wicked creature who wished to kill them."

When the King heard these words he was quite beside himself; he appeared to dream, and could not believe what his ears had heard. Then he said to the cook, "If it is true that you have saved the children, be assured I will take you from turning the spit, and reward you so that you shall call yourself the happiest man in the world."

As the King was speaking these words, the wife of the cook, seeing the dilemma her husband was in, brought Sun and Moon before the King, who, playing at the game of three with Talia and the other children, went round and round kissing first one and then another. Then giving the cook a large reward, he made him his chamberlain; and he took Talia to wife, who enjoyed a long life with her husband and the children, acknowledging that—

"He who has luck may go to bed,
And bliss will rain upon his head."


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Prince Darling

Today's classic tale is from the Blue Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1889.

ONCE upon a time there lived a king who was so just and kind that his subjects called him “the Good King.” It happened one day, when he was out hunting, that a little white rabbit, which his dogs were chasing, sprang into his arms for shelter. The King stroked it gently, and said to it:

“Well, bunny, as you have come to me for protection I will see that nobody hurts you.”

And he took it home to his palace and had it put in a pretty little house, with all sorts of nice things to eat.

That night, when he was alone in his room, a beautiful lady suddenly appeared before him; her long dress was as white as snow, and she had a crown of white roses upon her head. The good King was very much surprised to see her, for he knew his door had been tightly shut, and he could not think how she had got in. But she said to him:

“I am the Fairy Truth. I was passing through the wood when you were out hunting, and I wished to find out if you were really good, as everybody said you were, so I took the shape of a little rabbit and came to your arms for shelter, for I know that those who are merciful to animals will be still kinder to their fellow-men. If you had refused to help me I should have been certain that you were wicked. I thank you for the kindness you have shown me, which has made me your friend for ever. You have only to ask me for anything you want and I promise that I will give it to you.”

“Madam,” said the good King, “since you are a fairy you no doubt know all my wishes. I have but one son whom I love very dearly, that is why he is called Prince Darling. If you are really good enough to wish to do me a favor, I beg that you will become his friend.”

“With all my heart,” answered the Fairy. “I can make your son the handsomest prince in the world, or the richest, or the most powerful; choose whichever you like for him.”

“I do not ask either of these things for my son,” replied the good King; “but if you will make him the best of princes, I shall indeed be grateful to you. What good would it do him to be rich, or handsome, or to possess all the kingdoms of the world if he were wicked? You know well he would still be unhappy. Only a good man can be really contented.”

“You are quite right,” answered the Fairy; “but it is not in my power to make Prince Darling a good man unless he will help me; he must himself try hard to become good, I can only promise to give him good advice, to scold him for his faults, and to punish him if he will not correct and punish himself.”

The good King was quite satisfied with this promise; and very soon afterward he died.

Prince Darling was very sorry, for he loved his father with all his heart, and he would willingly have given all his kingdoms and all his treasures of gold and silver if they could have kept the good King with him.

Two days afterward, when the Prince had gone to bed, the Fairy suddenly appeared to him and said:

“I promised your father that I would be your friend, and to keep my word I have come to bring you a present.” At the same time she put a little gold ring upon his finger.

“Take great care of this ring,” she said: “it is more precious than diamonds; every time you do a bad deed it will prick your finger, but if, in spite of its pricking, you go on in your own evil way, you will lose my friendship, and I shall become your enemy.”

So saying, the Fairy disappeared, leaving Prince Darling very much astonished.

For some time he behaved so well that the ring never pricked him, and that made him so contented that his subjects called him Prince Darling the Happy.

One day, however, he went out hunting, but could get no sport, which put him in a very bad temper; it seemed to him as he rode along that his ring was pressing into his finger, but as it did not prick him he did not heed it. When he got home and went to his own room, his little dog Bibi ran to meet him, jumping round him with pleasure. “Get away!” said the Prince, quite gruffly. “I don’t want you, you are in the way.”

The poor little dog, who didn’t understand this at all, pulled at his coat to make him at least look at her, and this made Prince Darling so cross that he gave her quite a hard kick.

Instantly his ring pricked him sharply, as if it had been a pin. He was very much surprised, and sat down in a corner of his room feeling quite ashamed of himself.

“I believe the Fairy is laughing at me,” he thought. “Surely I can have done no great wrong in just kicking a tiresome animal! What is the good of my being ruler of a great kingdom if I am not even allowed to beat my own dog?”

“I am not making fun of you,” said a voice, answering Prince Darling’s thoughts. “You have committed three faults. First of all, you were out of temper because you could not have what you wanted, and you thought all men and animals were only made to do your pleasure; then you were really angry, which is very naughty indeed; and lastly, you were cruel to a poor little animal who did not in the least deserve to be ill-treated.

“I know you are far above a little dog, but if it were right and allowable that great people should ill-treat all who are beneath them, I might at this moment beat you, or kill you, for a fairy is greater than a man. The advantage of possessing a great empire is not to be able to do the evil that one desires, but to do all the good that one possibly can.”

The Prince saw how naughty he had been, and promised to try and do better in future, but he did not keep his word. The fact was he had been brought up by a foolish nurse, who had spoiled him when he was little. If he wanted anything he only had to cry and fret and stamp his feet and she would give him whatever he asked for, which had made him self-willed; also she had told him from morning to night that he would one day be a king, and that kings were very happy, because everyone was bound to obey and respect them, and no one could prevent them from doing just as they liked.

When the Prince grew old enough to understand, he soon learned that there could be nothing worse than to be proud, obstinate, and conceited, and he had really tried to cure himself of these defects, but by that time all his faults had become habits; and a bad habit is very hard to get rid of. Not that he was naturally of a bad disposition; he was truly sorry when he had been naughty, and said:

“I am very unhappy to have to struggle against my anger and pride every day; if I had been punished for them when I was little they would not be such a trouble to me now.”

His ring pricked him very often, and sometimes he left off what he was doing at once; but at other times he would not attend to it. Strangely enough, it gave him only a slight prick for a trifling fault, but when he was really naughty it made his finger actually bleed. At last he got tired of being constantly reminded, and wanted to be able to do as he liked, so he threw his ring aside, and thought himself the happiest of men to have got rid of its teasing pricks. He gave himself up to doing every foolish thing that occurred to him, until he became quite wicked and nobody could like him any longer.

One day, when the Prince was walking about, he saw a young girl who was so very pretty that he made up his mind at once that he would marry her. Her name was Celia, and she was as good as she was beautiful.

Prince Darling fancied that Celia would think herself only too happy if he offered to make her a great queen, but she said fearlessly:

“Sire, I am only a shepherdess, and a poor girl, but, nevertheless, I will not marry you.”

“Do you dislike me?” asked the Prince, who was very much vexed at this answer.

“No, my Prince,” replied Celia; “I cannot help thinking you very handsome; but what good would riches be to me, and all the grand dresses and splendid carriages that you would give me, if the bad deeds which I should see you do every day made me hate and despise you?”

The Prince was very angry at this speech, and commanded his officers to make Celia a prisoner and carry her off to his palace. All day long the remembrance of what she had said annoyed him, but as he loved her he could not make up his mind to have her punished.

One of the Prince’s favorite companions was his foster-brother, whom he trusted entirely; but he was not at all a good man, and gave Prince Darling very bad advice, and encouraged him in all his evil ways. When he saw the Prince so downcast he asked what was the matter, and when he explained that he could not bear Celia’s bad opinion of him, and was resolved to be a better man in order to please her, this evil adviser said to him:

“You are very kind to trouble yourself about this little girl; if I were you I would soon make her obey me. Remember that you are a king, and that it would be laughable to see you trying to please a shepherdess, who ought to be only too glad to be one of your slaves. Keep her in prison, and feed her on bread and water for a little while, and then, if she still says she will not marry you, have her head cut off, to teach other people that you mean to be obeyed. Why, if you cannot make a girl like that do as you wish, your subjects will soon forget that they are only put into this world for our pleasure.”

“But,” said Prince Darling, “would it not be a shame if I had an innocent girl put to death? For Celia has done nothing to deserve punishment.”

“If people will not do as you tell them they ought to suffer for it,” answered his foster-brother; “but even if it were unjust, you had better be accused of that by your subjects than that they should find out that they may insult and thwart you as often as they please.”

In saying this he was touching a weak point in his brother’s character; for the Prince’s fear of losing any of his power made him at once abandon his first idea of trying to be good, and resolve to try and frighten the shepherdess into consenting to marry him.

His foster-brother, who wanted him to keep this resolution, invited three young courtiers, as wicked as himself to sup with the Prince, and they persuaded him to drink a great deal of wine, and continued to excite his anger against Celia by telling him that she had laughed at his love for her; until at last, in quite a furious rage, he rushed off to find her, declaring that if she still refused to marry him she should be sold as a slave the very next day.

But when he reached the room in which Celia had been locked up, he was greatly surprised to find that she was not in it, though he had the key in his own pocket all the time. His anger was terrible, and he vowed vengeance against whoever had helped her to escape. His bad friends, when they heard him, resolved to turn his wrath upon an old nobleman who had formerly been his tutor; and who still dared sometimes to tell the Prince of his faults, for he loved him as if he had been his own son. At first Prince Darling had thanked him, but after a time he grew impatient and thought it must be just mere love of fault-finding that made his old tutor blame him when everyone else was praising and flattering him. So he ordered him to retire from his Court, though he still, from time to time, spoke of him as a worthy man whom he respected, even if he no longer loved him. His unworthy friends feared that he might some day take it into his head to recall his old tutor, so they thought they now had a good opportunity of getting him banished for ever.

They reported to the Prince that Suliman, for that was the tutor’s name, had boasted of having helped Celia to escape, and they bribed three men to say that Suliman himself had told them about it. The Prince, in great anger, sent his foster-brother with a number of soldiers to bring his tutor before him, in chains, like a criminal. After giving this order he went to his own room, but he had scarcely got into it when there was a clap of thunder which made the ground shake, and the Fairy Truth appeared suddenly before him.

“I promised your father,” said she sternly, “to give you good advice, and to punish you if you refused to follow it. You have despised my counsel, and have gone your own evil way until you are only outwardly a man; really you are a monster—the horror of everyone who knows you. It is time that I should fulfil my promise, and begin your punishment. I condemn you to resemble the animals whose ways you have imitated. You have made yourself like the lion by your anger, and like the wolf by your greediness. Like a snake, you have ungratefully turned upon one who was a second father to you; your churlishness has made you like a bull. Therefore, in your new form, take the appearance of all these animals.”

The Fairy had scarcely finished speaking when Prince Darling saw to his horror that her words were fulfilled. He had a lion’s head, a bull’s horns, a wolf’s feet, and a snake’s body. At the same instant he found himself in a great forest, beside a clear lake, in which he could see plainly the horrible creature he had become, and a voice said to him:

“Look carefully at the state to which your wickedness has brought you; believe me, your soul is a thousand times more hideous than your body.”

Prince Darling recognized the voice of the Fairy Truth and turned in a fury to catch her and eat her up if he possibly could; but he saw no one, and the same voice went on:

“I laugh at your powerlessness and anger, and I intend to punish your pride by letting you fall into the hands of your own subjects.”

The Prince began to think that the best thing he could do would be to get as far away from the lake as he could, then at least he would not be continually reminded of his terrible ugliness. So he ran toward the wood, but before he had gone many yards he fell into a deep pit which had been made to trap bears, and the hunters, who were hiding in a tree, leaped down, and secured him with several chains, and led him into the chief city of his own kingdom.

On the way, instead of recognizing that his own faults had brought this punishment upon him, he accused the Fairy of being the cause of all his misfortunes, and bit and tore at his chains furiously.

As they approached the town he saw that some great rejoicing was being held, and when the hunters asked what had happened they were told that the Prince, whose only pleasure it was to torment his people, had been found in his room, killed by a thunder-bolt (for that was what was supposed to have become of him). Four of his courtiers, those who had encouraged him in his wicked doings, had tried to seize the kingdom and divide it between them, but the people, who knew it was their bad counsels which had so changed the Prince, had cut off their heads, and had offered the crown to Suliman, whom the Prince had left in prison. This noble lord had just been crowned, and the deliverance of the kingdom was the cause of the rejoicing “For,” they said, “he is a good and just man, and we shall once more enjoy peace and prosperity.”

Prince Darling roared with anger when he heard this; but it was still worse for him when he reached the great square before his own palace. He saw Suliman seated upon a magnificent throne, and all the people crowded round, wishing him a long life that he might undo all the mischief done by his predecessor.

Presently Suliman made a sign with his hand that the people should be silent, and said: “I have accepted the crown you have offered me, but only that I may keep it for Prince Darling, who is not dead as you suppose; the Fairy has assured me that there is still hope that you may some day see him again, good and virtuous as he was when he first came to the throne. Alas!” he continued, “he was led away by flatterers. I knew his heart, and am certain that if it had not been for the bad influence of those who surrounded him he would have been a good king and a father to his people. We may hate his faults, but let us pity him and hope for his restoration. As for me, I would die gladly if that could bring back our Prince to reign justly and worthily once more.”

These words went to Prince Darling’s heart; he realized the true affection and faithfulness of his old tutor, and for the first time reproached himself for all his evil deeds; at the same instant he felt all his anger melting away, and he began quickly to think over his past life, and to admit that his punishment was not more than he had deserved. He left off tearing at the iron bars of the cage in which he was shut up, and became as gentle as a lamb.

The hunters who had caught him took him to a great menagerie, where he was chained up among all the other wild beasts, and he determined to show his sorrow for his past bad behavior by being gentle and obedient to the man who had to take care of him. Unfortunately, this man was very rough and unkind, and though the poor monster was quite quiet, he often beat him without rhyme or reason when he happened to be in a bad temper. One day when this keeper was asleep a tiger broke its chain, and flew at him to eat him up. Prince Darling, who saw what was going on, at first felt quite pleased to think that he should be delivered from his persecutor, but soon thought better of it and wished that he were free.

“I would return good for evil,” he said to himself, “and save the unhappy man’s life.” He had hardly wished this when his iron cage flew open, and he rushed to the side of the keeper, who was awake and was defending himself against the tiger. When he saw the monster had got out he gave himself up for lost, but his fear was soon changed into joy, for the kind monster threw itself upon the tiger and very soon killed it, and then came and crouched at the feet of the man it had saved.

Overcome with gratitude, the keeper stooped to caress the strange creature which had done him such a great service; but suddenly a voice said in his ear:

“A good action should never go unrewarded,” and at the same instant the monster disappeared, and he saw at his feet only a pretty little dog!

Prince Darling, delighted by the change, frisked about the keeper, showing his joy in every way he could, and the man, taking him up in his arms, carried him to the King, to whom he told the whole story.

The Queen said she would like to have this wonderful little dog, and the Prince would have been very happy in his new home if he could have forgotten that he was a man and a king. The Queen petted and took care of him, but she was so afraid that he would get too fat that she consulted the court physician, who said that he was to be fed only upon bread, and was not to have much even of that. So poor Prince Darling was terribly hungry all day long, but he was very patient about it.

One day, when they gave him his little loaf for breakfast, he thought he would like to eat it out in the garden; so he took it up in his mouth and trotted away toward a brook that he knew of a long way from the palace. But he was surprised to find that the brook was gone, and where it had been stood a great house that seemed to be built of gold and precious stones. Numbers of people splendidly dressed were going into it, and sounds of music and dancing and feasting could be heard from the windows.

But what seemed very strange was that those people who came out of the house were pale and thin, and their clothes were torn, and hanging in rags about them. Some fell down dead as they came out before they had time to get away; others crawled farther with great difficulty; while others again lay on the ground, fainting with hunger, and begged a morsel of bread from those who were going into the house, but they would not so much as look at the poor creatures.

Prince Darling went up to a young girl who was trying to eat a few blades of grass, she was so hungry. Touched with compassion, he said to himself:

“I am very hungry, but I shall not die of starvation before I get my dinner; if I give my breakfast to this poor creature perhaps I may save her life.”

So he laid his piece of bread in the girl’s hand, and saw her eat it up eagerly.

She soon seemed to be quite well again, and the Prince, delighted to have been able to help her, was thinking of going home to the palace, when he heard a great outcry, and, turning round, saw Celia, who was being carried against her will into the great house.

For the first time the Prince regretted that he was no longer the monster, then he would have been able to rescue Celia; now he could only bark feebly at the people who were carrying her off, and try to follow them, but they chased and kicked him away.

He determined not to quit the place till he knew what had become of Celia, and blamed himself for what had befallen her.

“Alas!” he said to himself, “I am furious with the people who are carrying Celia off, but isn’t that exactly what I did myself, and if I had not been prevented did I not intend to be still more cruel to her?”

Here he was interrupted by a noise above his head—someone was opening a window, and he saw with delight that it was Celia herself, who came forward and threw out a plate of most delicious-looking food, then the window was shut again, and Prince Darling, who had not had anything to eat all day, thought he might as well take the opportunity of getting something. He ran forward to begin, but the young girl to whom he had given his bread gave a cry of terror and took him up in her arms, saying:

“Don’t touch it, my poor little dog—that house is the palace of pleasure, and everything that comes out of it is poisoned!”

At the same moment a voice said:

“You see a good action always brings its reward,” and the Prince found himself changed into a beautiful white dove. He remembered that white was the favorite color of the Fairy Truth, and began to hope that he might at last win back her favor. But just now his first care was for Celia, and rising into the air he flew round and round the house, until he saw an open window; but he searched through every room in vain. No trace of Celia was to be seen, and the Prince, in despair, determined to search through the world till he found her. He flew on and on for several days, till he came to a great desert, where he saw a cavern, and, to his delight, there sat Celia, sharing the simple breakfast of an old hermit.

Overjoyed to have found her, Prince Darling perched upon her shoulder, trying to express by his caresses how glad he was to see her again, and Celia, surprised and delighted by the tameness of this pretty white dove, stroked it softly, and said, though she never thought of its understanding her:

“I accept the gift that you make me of yourself, and I will love you always.”

“Take care what you are saying, Celia,” said the old hermit; “are you prepared to keep that promise?”

“Indeed, I hope so, my sweet shepherdess,” cried the Prince, who was at that moment restored to his natural shape. “You promised to love me always; tell me that you really mean what you said, or I shall have to ask the Fairy to give me back the form of the dove which pleased you so much.”

“You need not be afraid that she will change her mind,” said the Fairy, throwing off the hermit’s robe in which she had been disguised and appearing before them.

“Celia has loved you ever since she first saw you, only she would not tell you while you were so obstinate and naughty. Now you have repented and mean to be good you deserve to be happy, and so she may love you as much as she likes.”

Celia and Prince Darling threw themselves at the Fairy’s feet, and the Prince was never tired of thanking her for her kindness. Celia was delighted to hear how sorry he was for all his past follies and misdeeds, and promised to love him as long as she lived.

“Rise, my children,” said the Fairy, “and I will transport you to the palace, and Prince Darling shall have back again the crown he forfeited by his bad behavior.”

While she was speaking, they found themselves in Suliman’s hall, and his delight was great at seeing his dear master once more. He gave up the throne joyfully to the Prince, and remained always the most faithful of his subjects.

Celia and Prince Darling reigned for many years, but he was so determined to govern worthily and to do his duty that his ring, which he took to wearing again, never once pricked him severely.


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Jorinde and Joringel

Today's classic tale is from the Green Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1892.

There was once upon a time a castle in the middle of a thick wood where lived an old woman quite alone, for she was an enchantress. In the day-time she changed herself into a cat or a night-owl, but in the evening she became like an ordinary woman again. She could entice animals and birds to come to her, and then she would kill and cook them. If any youth came within a hundred paces of the castle, he was obliged to stand still, and could not stir from the spot till she set him free; but if a pretty girl came within this boundary, the old enchantress changed her into a bird, and shut her up in a wicker cage, which she put in one of the rooms in the castle. She had quite seven thousand of such cages in the castle with very rare birds in them.

Now, there was once a maiden called Jorinde, who was more beautiful than other maidens. She and a youth named Joringel, who was just as good-looking as she was, were betrothed to one another. Their greatest delight was to be together, and so that they might get a good long talk, they went one evening for a walk in the wood. ‘Take care,’ said Joringel, ‘not to come too close to the castle.’ It was a beautiful evening; the sun shone brightly between the stems of the trees among the dark green leaves of the forest, and the turtle-dove sang clearly on the old maybushes.

Jorinde wept from time to time, and she sat herself down in the sunshine and lamented, and Joringel lamented too. They felt as sad as if they had been condemned to die; they looked round and got quite confused, and did not remember which was their way home. Half the sun was still above the mountain and half was behind it when Joringel looked through the trees and saw the old wall of the castle quite near them. He was terrified and half dead with fright. Jorinde sang:

‘My little bird with throat so red Sings sorrow, sorrow, sorrow; He sings to the little dove that’s dead, Sings sorrow, sor—jug, jug, jug.’

Joringel looked up at Jorinde. She had been changed into a nightingale, who was singing ‘jug, jug.’ A night-owl with glowing eyes flew three times round her, and screeched three times ‘tu-whit, tu-whit, tu-whoo.’ Joringel could not stir; he stood there like a stone; he could not weep, or speak, or move hand or foot. Now the sun set; the owl flew into a bush, and immediately an old, bent woman came out of it; she was yellow-skinned and thin, and had large red eyes and a hooked nose, which met her chin. She muttered to herself, caught the nightingale, and carried her away in her hand. Joringel could say nothing; he could not move from the spot, and the nightingale was gone. At last the woman came back again, and said in a gruff voice, ‘Good evening, Zachiel; when the young moon shines in the basket, you are freed early, Zachiel.’ Then Joringel was free. He fell on his knees before the old woman and implored her to give him back his Jorinde, but she said he should never have her again, and then went away. He called after her, he wept and lamented, but all in vain. ‘What is to become of me!’ he thought. Then he went away, and came at last to a strange village, where he kept sheep for a long time. He often went round the castle while he was there, but never too close. At last he dreamt one night that he had found a blood-red flower, which had in its centre a beautiful large pearl. He plucked this flower and went with it to the castle; and there everything which he touched with the flower was freed from the enchantment, and he got his Jorinde back again through it. When he awoke in the morning he began to seek mountain and valley to find such a flower. He sought it for eight days, and on the ninth early in the morning he found the blood-red flower. In its centre was a large dew-drop, as big as the most lovely pearl. He travelled day and night with this flower till he arrived at the castle. When he came within a hundred paces of it he did not cease to be able to move, but he went on till he reached the gate. He was delighted at his success, touched the great gate with the flower, and it sprung open. He entered, passed through the courtyard, and then stopped to listen for the singing of the birds; at last he heard it. He went in and found the hall in which was the enchantress, and with her seven thousand birds in their wicker cages. When she saw Joringel she was furious, and breathed out poison and gall at him, but she could not move a step towards him. He took no notice of her, and went and looked over the cages of birds; but there were many hundred nightingales, and how was he to find his Jorinde from among them? Whilst he was considering, he observed the old witch take up a cage secretly and go with it towards the door. Instantly he sprang after her, touched the cage with the flower, and the old woman as well. Now she could no longer work enchantments, and there stood Jorinde before him, with her arms round his neck, and more beautiful than ever. Then he turned all the other birds again into maidens, and he went home with his Jorinde, and they lived a long and happy life.


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What was she running from?

The untold tale of Goldilocks...

Her story really isn't part of the original tales. In the classic tale of The Three Bears, it's all about the bears, and Goldilocks just comes in, starving and exhausted, then leaves, never to be seen again. This time...Roar tells her story.

Read an exclusive sneak peek below!

"So, does everyone understand their role in this attack?" Lord Vauquelin asked. He waited for the other men to nod before he continued, "Good. Be swift and silent, leave no survivors, and Berehaven will be ours by dawn. Ready your men. In an hour, we march."

Father's knights trooped out, leaving Bernard alone with him.

"Did you not hear me? I said get ready." Father waved his hand in dismissal.

"I still don't know what my role in all this is," Bernard began. As his father's brows descended, Bernard felt the childish urge to hide under the table from the blow he knew would be coming next. Childhood habits die hard. "I'm sorry, Father. I've never been in a battle before. The King…"

"The King is no longer your concern," Lord Vauquelin snapped. "He no longer wants you at court, and so you are no use to me there, either. So make yourself useful. Every man in my army is a skilled swordsman, and as a member of the King's court, you must have had plenty of training. In fact, I have the perfect task for a man of your talents." When Father grinned like that, Bernard often thought he looked like a wild beast about to devour his dinner alive.

Bernard shivered. "I am your obedient son, Father. Anything you command, if it is within my power to deliver it, then I shall."

Father grinned even more widely. "Your job is to make sure there is no one left alive in the maidens' tower when the sun rises. I'm sure you are man enough to defeat Baron Orson's defenceless daughters."

Bernard closed his eyes. In his imagination, he could already hear the girls' screams. But if the girls must die, better that they die on his sword, than that of some of Father's common soldiers. Anyone else would keep the girls alive as long as possible, and not kill them before dawn. He'd seen firsthand was soldiers could do. At least he would leave them their virtue, if not their lives. Bernard bowed his head. "Of course, Father. By dawn, I shall report to you that there is no one left alive in the maidens' tower."

"Good boy," Father said distractedly, already pulling on his armour.

Bernard had better do the same. The women he sought might not be fighters, but there would still be guards, and Bernard had no desire to die. There was no longer a place at court for him, but if he did well tonight, there might still be a place for him in his father's service. If he survived the night.

The allocated hour sped by, and in no time at all Lord Vauquelin sent his men marching into the valley where Berehaven lay.

Bernard wanted desperately to run, to head back to the court that he knew so well. There was no honour in this. To attack like robbers in the night, to slaughter them in their beds. The Baron of Berehaven and his family had every right to this valley, that no one had cared about until now. If he hadn't sent a message to his father about the envoy from King Siward, this backwater barony might have remained forgotten.

But Bernard was his father's son, and he'd learned a long time ago to be obedient to his father's wishes. So he'd written the letter, and he marched now. Marching into darkness and he did not know what, for who could see what awaited him in the dark?

The stories alone of this place were enough to terrify anyone.

"May heaven help us all," Bernard whispered to himself.

* * *

That was the scrape of a sword coming out of a metal scabbard, Ursula was certain of it. She'd heard the sound only on the rare occasions when her father had drawn his weapon. Ceremonial occasions, on feast days, when she was expected to stand in the great hall along with everyone else. No one should be drawing weapons in the castle tonight.

She crept over to the window, reaching up to unbolted the shutters, but the bolt was too high. Grumbling, she dragged a chair that had once been her father's over to the window so that she could reach the stubborn bolts.

Finally, she'd unfastened the shutters. She pushed them open a tiny bit.

From her room in the top of the tower, she could see the castle gates and clear across the valley, but what she saw threatened to stop her heart altogether. A river of men raced across the bridge, through the gate. Invading her home.

She wanted to scream at them that they would never take Berehaven, never, not while one of her people lived, but she had to warn her family, wake them up and get them out to safety.

Ursula fumbled in the dark for a gown, not daring to strike a light. She put on the first one she found, shoving her stockinged feet into boots before seizing a cloak.

She grabbed her dagger, wondering whether she'd need it.

The clomp of footsteps on the stairs told her she would.

Ursula whirled to face her visitor, trying not to let her hand shake too much as she pointed the dagger at the door.

The man who emerged was breathless from the climb, doubling over the moment he reached the room. Then he straightened, and Ursula saw it. The blue and gold blazon of Vauquelin across his chest.

"Get out," she hissed, brandishing the dagger.

Only then did he see her, his eyes widening inside his helm as he jerked back to avoid her blade. He snatched up her mother's chair just in time to avoid her second slash, which sliced open the fabric covering the precious chair, spilling out stuffing.

He threw the chair aside, knocking the knife out of her hand, and took a step toward her. His hand closed around the hilt of his sword.

Ursula swallowed, looking desperately around the room for another weapon she could use. Curse her stupidity for not thinking to keep a collection of swords up here. All she had was her father's chair – too hard to lift, let alone use as a weapon – and her own tiny stool.

She grabbed the stool by one leg, hefting it like a hammer, and whacked it against the man's sword arm.

"Ow!"

She laughed and advanced, whacking him with the stool when he got within reach to drive him out. What she'd do then, she didn't know – she could bar the door, but then how would she get out? She needed to get down the stairs, and this Vauquelin soldier was blocking the door.

She aimed her next blow at his head, but he ducked and the stool smashed against the wall, leaving her holding nothing but one leg. A leg that ended in a point. Wishing it were a dagger, she thrust it at the man's face and he jerked back. And kept going, down the stairs, until he hit the wall and was still.

Ursula paused, waiting for him to get up, but he didn't move. Surely with his leg bent at that angle, he should be screaming in pain. Unless the fall had killed him.

Serve him right if it had.

Cautiously, keeping to the inner curve of the staircase, she crept down to him. Even as she reached the steps where he lay, he didn't move. Dead, then. Which she would be, too, if he'd caught her, or if any of his fellows did.

She had to escape.

Ursula forced her feet to move down the stairs. The corridor was eerily empty when she reached it. Perhaps the invaders hadn't reached here yet, and the soldier she'd killed was a scout, or something. That was what they called the men who went ahead, wasn't it? Now she wished she'd listened to more of her brothers' talk of war, instead of drifting into her own daydreams.

Her brothers' room was first, the door already ajar.

She pushed the door open fully and whispered, "Gidie, Eudes! Quick, wake up, we must go!"

But the boys in their beds didn't stir. They always had been heavy sleepers.

She reached out and shook Gidie's shoulder. "Wake up!" she hissed, then wished she hadn't. Her hand came away sticky. Sticky and warm. Still, she shook Gidie again. Only then did she realise how boneless he felt, like she was shaking a rag doll instead of a boy.

Dead. He's dead. Her mind supplied the information, but she refused to believe it. She shook Eudes next, and felt the unmistakeable flow of blood over her hands. Someone had slit the boy's throat as he slept, and they'd probably done the same to Gidie, too. The boys had never felt a thing.

Her father would not go down without a fight, unlike his sleeping sons.

Ursula headed for the passage, and the door to the next room. A body lay across the threshold. She lifted her foot step over it, and a hand caught her ankle. Caught, and held.

"Invaders," the man coughed. "You have to get out."

"What do you think I'm doing?" she hissed, shaking her foot free. "I must see my father first."

"No, Ula, you have to get out. Go somewhere safe and hide. Father is dead."

Only her family called her Ula, which meant…

She stared at the man's face, blood bubbling over his lips like an obscene kind of carmine. "Geoffrey?"

"Father's dead, too. I tried to stop them, but I couldn't. You're Berehaven's only hope. Save yourself, Ula," he whispered, then slumped to the floor.

Dead, like her other brothers. And her father.

She stepped over Geoffrey's corpse, then took a deep breath and dared to look into Father's chamber. Short of the front door, her only way out lay through here.

And past Orson, Baron of Berehaven. Father had not had time to dress, but he had managed to seize a sword. That hadn't stopped his assassins, though, for she counted no less than half a dozen bloody slashes in the front of his nightgown, his flesh gleaming wetly beneath. He lay on the hearth, like his dogs did in the great hall below, but that's where the similarity ended. His blood pooled beneath him – some of those slashes had run him through before he could reach the secret passage she needed.

She wanted to fall to her knees beside him, begging his forgiveness for every uncharitable thought, every infraction, but she'd seen how many of Vauquelin's men entered the castle. One of them could return here at any moment, and she could not disobey Geoffrey's dying wish. Her father would want her safe.

Ursula found the fake panel beside the fireplace that opened onto the secret passage. She risked one glance back. "Forgive me, Father," she whispered as she closed the door, shutting out all light as she headed into the dark and the safety it held. Her future couldn't possibly be any darker than the slaughter she'd left behind.

* * *

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Three bears. Two enemies. One winter that will change everything.

Once upon a time...

Ursula thought her biggest worry was hiding her magic powers long enough to catch a husband, until Lord Vauquelin invades and slaughters her whole family. When she emerges from hiding, she finds she's snowed in with a wounded enemy soldier, in a valley full of bears.

Can a girl who can't even make porridge survive until spring?

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Reflect: Snow White Retold

A princess in danger. A heroic huntsman. A reflection revealing too much truth.

Once upon a time...

Princess Guinevere and her brother, Prince Xylander, flee the mad king's court in search of a marriage alliance with another kingdom.

But when Guinevere's new husband falls ill and his only heir goes missing, Guinevere and Xylander must save the suddenly hostile kingdom or face exile...and their father's wrath.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...whose will be the worst fate of all?

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Hunt: Red Riding Hood Retold

A witch’s vow. A knight’s quest. A wolf hunting to kill.

Once upon a time…

Six years ago, Rosa lost her family to a wolf attack during the coldest winter in living memory. But now the wolf is back, as bloodthirsty as ever, and she vows vengeance.

Work is hard to find in the dead of winter, and Sir Chase welcomes the chance to slay wolves if it means he’ll have a warm bed and food for the winter. He never counted on having to compete with a woman for his prize.

When the wolf proves more than one hunter alone can handle, can the unlikely pair join forces to defeat the menace?

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Kiss: Frog Prince Retold

A desert princess. A cursed prince. Can a kiss break the spell?

Once upon a time…

When Anahita picks up a pet frog on her way to marry a distant sheikh, she laughs at his claim to be a prince under a curse that can only be broken by a kiss.

Until he transforms into a man in her tent.

With one man in her bed as she’s preparing to marry another, what’s a desert princess to do?

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Spin: Rumpelstiltskin Retold

A miller’s daughter. A cursed knight. The power of a name.

Once upon a time…

Molina has one desire: to see her inventions spread throughout the kingdom. When Prince Lubos offers to take her to the capital as his bride, she jumps at the chance.

But impressing the king may take more than a simple spinning wheel. To marry Prince Lubos, she will need to work a miracle.

Molina enters into a desperate bargain with a mysterious man who turns all he touches into gold. A man with a tragic tale of his own, all tied up in his family name.

The future hangs in the balance, but will either of them live to see it?

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Melt: Snow Queen Retold

An enslaved enchantress. A magic mirror. Whose match will be made next?

Once upon a time…

When Queen Briska is accused of treason, she flees to the mountains, building an icy wall around her broken heart. But she cannot flee her punishment – she is forced to help other couples find love. A tough task, when the man she loves is dead.

Amani knew his life was over the moment he was enslaved to a magic lamp. But when a strange twist of fate frees him from the lamp just as he discovers the woman he loves still lives, Amani sets out to find her, and free her, too.

Will the power of love be enough to melt two frozen hearts?

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Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold (FREE)

A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.

Once upon a time…

The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.

Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

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Dance: Cinderella Retold

A dutiful daughter. A prince forced to find a bride. If the shoe fits…

Once upon a time…

When the Emperor’s army comes recruiting, Mai signs up, seeing it as the perfect escape from her stepmother and a lifetime of drudgery. Armed with her mother’s armour and a pair of magic shoes, Mai marches off to war…only to find herself sharing a tent with the General’s arrogant nephew, Prince Yi.

The best swordsman in the Empire, Prince Yi wants to make war, not love, but the Emperor insists this will be Yi’s last campaign before he must marry. Prince Yi has never met his match…until now.

Can one woman win the war and the prince’s heart?

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Fly: Goose Girl Retold

Two princesses. One prince. And the war has just begun.

Once upon a time…

Princess Ava was sent to a neighbouring kingdom as a lady-in-waiting to her sister, their future queen. Until a runaway horse, a case of amnesia and a cold-hearted king conspire to bring her to the prince’s attention.

Now the prince believes Ava is his bride, and her sister is just a serving maid. One thing is certain: the prince must marry one of the princesses, or there will be war.

But when all’s fair in love and war…who will win the battle for the prince’s heart?

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Revel: Twelve Dancing Princesses Retold

Twelve princesses. One wounded soldier. A mystery that must be solved.

Once upon a time…

Princess Bianca is sent with her sisters to the summer palace, a place no maiden has ever returned from. While her sisters seem perfectly happy, she has only one desire: escape.

Vasco, a wounded soldier on his way home from war, stumbles across the summer palace and sets out to solve the mystery no man has managed to yet. If only they let him live long enough…

Can the fair maiden and the wounded soldier uncover the sinister secret before it’s too late?

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Silence: Little Mermaid Retold

A little mermaid. A prince to save. Only silence can break the spell.

Once upon a time…

The mermaid Margareta saved Prince Erik from a shipwreck. Wanting to see the prince again, Margareta strikes a bargain with the Master of Beacon Isle. If she saves his sons from a terrible curse, he will reunite her with Prince Erik. All she has to do is stay silent until the curse is broken.

Silence is a virtue…until Prince Erik arrives early, searching for the mermaid who saved his life.

Can two hearts speak louder than words?

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Awaken: Sleeping Beauty Retold

A sleeping beauty. A kingdom frozen in time. Only one can save them all.

Once upon a time…

Lord Siward intended to go hunting, but when he stumbles upon a ruined castle and accidentally wakes the mysterious maiden sleeping inside, he knows his holiday is over.

With the kingdom in trouble, Siward should be protecting the realm, but every time Rosamond looks at him, he gets lost in the girl’s green eyes. Who is the mysterious beauty, and why does he feel she holds the key to the kingdom’s deliverance?

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Embellish: Brave Little Tailor Retold

A maiden dying for adventure. A prince on a perilous quest. Monsters that must be slain.

Once upon a time…

After losing a battle with a dragon, George is desperate to salvage his reputation. Only he can’t do it alone – he needs an assistant.

Royal tailor Melitta longs for adventure, so when she hears of a job opening for an apprentice hero, she jumps at the chance. Slaying monsters must be more exciting than sewing.

Can the unlikely pair still succeed at their quest – or will they fall for each other instead?

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Appease: Princess and the Pea Retold

A princess who refuses to be a prize. A prince’s promise. Perhaps dragons aren’t so bad after all.

Once upon a time…

Promised as a prize to any hero who can slay the dragon, Princess Sativa flees the palace in search of the prince she was betrothed to as a child. But there are many miles between her and the boy who has become a king.

Can a lone princess cross the sea and convince the king she’s the princess of his dreams?

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Blow: Three Little Pigs Retold

Three sisters. An absent prince who promised to protect them. And the wolf is at the door…

Once upon a time…

When war breaks out, Rudolf promises Portia and her sisters he will protect them. But his father falls in battle, and Rudolf is forced to return home to command his father’s armies.

Shifting alliances turn Portia and her family from friends to sworn enemies. To win the war, Rudolf must conquer her home, and risk losing her forever.

When the wolf is at the door, who will win – love or war?

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Return: Hansel and Gretel Retold

An unlikely duo. A wicked witch. Whatever it takes to find their way home.

Once upon a time…

Rhona is certain her stepmother wants to kill her and her sisters, and she’ll stop at nothing to do it. Leaving them in the woods alone, drugging their food and drink…is nothing safe?

Bitter at his brother’s betrothal, Grieve is banished to Rum Island as a squire to Rhona’s father. Grieve thought he had enough trouble with Rhona’s stepmother and the threat of war with Alba, until a witch takes Grieve and Rhona prisoner.

Can Rhona and Grieve survive long enough to find their happily ever after?

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Wish: Aladdin Retold

A sultan’s daughter. A pretend prince. Can a genie make all their wishes come true?

Once upon a time…

When Princess Maram and street rat Aladdin meet in the marketplace, sparks fly, and Aladdin swears to move heaven and earth in order to make the lovely courtesan his wife.

He steals a magic lamp with a genie inside, thinking all his troubles are over…only to find they have barely begun.

Can Aladdin win the princess’s hand without losing his head?

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The Golden Root

Today's classic tale was originally published in Il Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile in 1634, translated by John Edward Taylor in 1847.

There was once a gardener who was so very very poor that, however hard he worked, he could not manage to get bread for his family. So he gave three little pigs to his three daughters, that they might rear them, and thus get something for a little dowry. Then Pascuzza and Cice, who were the eldest, drove their little pigs to feed in a beautiful meadow; but they would not let Parmetella, who was the youngest daughter, go with them, and sent her away, telling her to go and feed her pig somewhere else. So Parmetella drove her little animal into a wood, where the Shades were holding out against the assaults of the Sun; and coming to a pasture—in the middle of which flowed a fountain, that, like the hostess of an inn where cold water is sold, was inviting the passers-by with its silver tongue—she found a certain tree with golden leaves. Then plucking one of them, she took it to her father, who with great joy sold it for more than twenty ducats, which served to stop up a hole in his affairs. And when he asked Parmetella where she had found it, she said, "Take it, sir, and ask no questions, unless you would spoil your good fortune." The next day she returned and did the same; and she went on plucking the leaves from the tree until it was entirely stript, as if it had been plundered by the winds of Autumn. Then she perceived that the tree had a large golden root, which she could not pull up with her hands; so she went home, and fetching an axe set to work to lay bare the root around the foot of the tree; and raising the trunk as well as she could, she found under it a beautiful porphyry staircase.

Parmetella, who was curious beyond measure, went down the stairs, and walking through a large and deep cavern, she came to a beautiful plain, on which was a splendid palace, where only gold and silver were trodden underfoot, and pearls and precious stones everywhere met the eye. And as Parmetella stood wondering at all these splendid things, not seeing any person moving among so many beautiful fixtures, she went into a chamber, in which were a number of pictures; and on them were seen painted various beautiful things—especially the ignorance of man esteemed wise, the injustice of him who held the scales, the injuries avenged by Heaven—things truly to amaze one. And in the same chamber also was a splendid table, set out with things to eat and to drink.

Seeing no one, Parmetella, who was very hungry, sat down at a table to eat like a fine count; but whilst she was in the midst of the feast, behold a handsome Slave entered, who said, "Stay! do not go away, for I will have you for my wife, and will make you the happiest woman in the world." In spite of her fear, Parmetella took heart at this good offer, and consenting to what the Slave proposed, a coach of diamonds was instantly given her, drawn by four golden steeds, with wings of emeralds and rubies, who carried her flying through the air to take an airing; and a number of apes, clad in cloth of gold, were given to attend on her person, who forthwith arrayed her from head to foot, and adorned her so that she looked just like a Queen.

When night was come, and the Sun—desiring to sleep on the banks of the river of India untroubled by gnats—had put out the light, the Slave said to Parmetella, "My dear, now go to rest in this bed; but remember first to put out the candle, and mind what I say, or ill will betide you." Then Parmetella did as he told her; but no sooner had she closed her eyes than the blackamoor, changing to a handsome youth, lay down to sleep. But the next morning, ere the Dawn went forth to seek fresh eggs in the fields of the sky the youth arose and took his other form again, leaving Parmetella full of wonder and curiosity.

And again the following night, when Parmetella went to rest, she put out the candle as she had done the night before, and the youth came as usual and lay down to sleep. But no sooner had he shut his eyes than Parmetella arose, took a steel which she had provided, and lighting the tinder applied a match; then taking the candle, she raised the coverlet, and beheld the ebony turned to ivory, and the coal to chalk. And whilst she stood gazing with open mouth, and contemplating the most beautiful pencilling that Nature had ever given upon the canvas of Wonder, the youth awoke, and began to reproach Parmetella, saying, "Ah, woe is me! for your prying curiosity I have to suffer another seven years this accursed punishment. But begone! Run, scamper off! Take yourself out of my sight! You know not what good fortune you lose." So saying, he vanished like quicksilver.

The poor girl left the palace, cold and stiff with affright, and with her head bowed to the ground. And when she had come out of the cavern she met a fairy, who said to her, "My child, how my heart grieves at your misfortune! Unhappy girl, you are going to the slaughter-house, where you will pass over the bridge no wider than a hair. Therefore, to provide against your peril, take these seven spindles with these seven figs, and a little jar of honey, and these seven pairs of iron shoes, and walk on and on without stopping, until they are worn out; then you will see seven women standing upon a balcony of a house, and spinning from above down to the ground, with the thread wound upon the bone of a dead person. Remain quite still and hidden, and when the thread comes down, take out the bone and put in its place a spindle besmeared with honey, with a fig in the place of the little button. Then as soon as the women draw up the spindles and taste the honey, they will say—

'He who has made my spindle sweet,
Shall in return with good fortune meet!'

And after repeating these words, they will say, one after another, 'O you who brought us these sweet things appear!' Then you must answer, Nay, for you will eat me.' And they will say, We swear by our spoon that we will not eat you!' But do not stir; and they will continue, We swear by our spit that we will not eat you!' But stand firm, as if rooted to the spot; and they will say, We swear by our broom that we will not eat you!' Still do not believe them; and when they say, We swear by our pail that we will not eat you!' shut your mouth, and say not a word, or it will cost you your life. At last they will say, We swear by Thunder-and-Lightning that we will not eat you!' Then take courage and mount up, for they will do you no harm."

When Parmetella heard this, she set off and walked over hill and dale, until at the end of seven years the iron shoes were worn out; and coming to a large house, with a projecting balcony, she saw the seven women spinning. So she did as the fairy had advised her; and after a thousand wiles and allurements, they swore by Thunder-and-Lightning, whereupon she showed herself and mounted up. Then they all seven said to her, "Traitress, you are the cause that our brother has lived twice seven long years in the cavern, far away from us, in the form of a blackamoor! But never mind; although you have been clever enough to stop our throat with the oath, you shall on the first opportunity pay off both the old and the new reckoning. But now hear what you must do. Hide yourself behind this trough, and when our mother comes, who would swallow you down at once, rise up and seize her behind her back; hold her fast, and do not let her go until she swears by Thunder-and-Lightning not to harm you."

Parmetella did as she was bid, and after the ogress had sworn by the fire-shovel, by the spinning-wheel, by the reel, by the sideboard, and by the peg, at last she swore by Thunder-and-Lightning; whereupon Parmetella let go her hold, and showed herself to the ogress, who said, "You have caught me this time; but take care, Traitress! for, at the first shower, I'll send you to the Lava."

One day the ogress, who was on the look-out for an opportunity to devour Parmetella, took twelve sacks of various seeds—peas, chick-peas, lentils, vetches, kidney-beans, beans, and lupins—and mixed them all together; then she said to her, "Traitress, take these seeds and sort them all, so that each kind may be separated from the rest; and if they are not all sorted by this evening, I'll swallow you like a penny tart."

Poor Parmetella sat down beside the sacks, weeping, and said, "O mother, mother, how will this golden root prove a root of woes to me! Now is my misery completed; by seeing a black face turned white, all has become black before my eyes. Alas! I am ruined and undone—there is no help for it. I already seem as if I were in the throat of that horrid ogress; there is no one to help me, there is no one to advise me, there is no one to comfort me!"

As she was lamenting thus, lo! Thunder-and-Lightning appeared like a flash, for the banishment laid upon him by the spell had just ended. Although he was angry with Parmetella, yet his blood could not turn to water, and seeing her grieving thus he said to her, "Traitress, what makes you weep so?" Then she told him of his mother's ill-treatment of her, and her wish to make an end of her, and eat her up. But Thunder-and-Lightning replied, "Calm yourself and take heart, for it shall not be as she said." And instantly scattering all the seeds on the ground he made a deluge of ants spring up, who forthwith set to work to heap up all the seeds separately, each kind by itself, and Parmetella filled the sacks with them.

When the ogress came home and found the task done, she was almost in despair, and cried, "That dog Thunder-and-Lightning has played me this trick; but you shall not escape thus! So take these pieces of bed-tick, which are enough for twelve mattresses, and mind that by this evening they are filled with feathers, or else I will make mincemeat of you."

The poor girl took the bed-ticks, and sitting down upon the ground began to weep and lament bitterly, making two fountains of her eyes. But presently Thunder-and-Lightning appeared, and said to her, "Do not weep, Traitress,—leave it to me, and I will bring you to port; so let down your hair, spread the bed-ticks upon the ground, and fall to weeping and wailing, and crying out that the king of the birds is dead, then you'll see what will happen."

Parmetella did as she was told, and behold a cloud of birds suddenly appeared that darkened the air; and flapping their wings they let fall their feathers by basketfuls, so that in less than an hour the mattresses were all filled. When the ogress came home and saw the task done, she swelled up with rage till she almost burst, saying, "Thunder-and-Lightning is determined to plague me, but may I be dragged at an ape's tail if I let her escape!" Then she said to Parmetella, "Run quickly to my sister's house, and tell her to send me the musical instruments; for I have resolved that Thunder-and-Lightning shall marry, and we will make a feast fit for a king." At the same time she sent to bid her sister, when the poor girl came to ask for the instruments, instantly to kill and cook her, and she would come and partake of the feast.

Parmetella, hearing herself ordered to perform an easier task, was in great joy, thinking that the weather had begun to grow milder. Alas, how crooked is human judgment! On the way she met Thunder-and-Lightning, who, seeing her walking at a quick pace, said to her, "Whither are you going, wretched girl? See you not that you are on the way to the slaughter; that you are forging your own fetters, and sharpening the knife and mixing the poison for yourself; that you are sent to the ogress for her to swallow you? But listen to me and fear not. Take this little loaf, this bundle of hay, and this stone; and when you come to the house of my aunt, you will find a bulldog, which will fly barking at you to bite you; but give him this little loaf, and it will stop his throat. And when you have passed the dog, you will meet a horse running loose, which will run up to kick and trample on you; but give him the hay, and you will clog his feet. At last you will come to a door, banging to and fro continually; put this stone before it, and you will stop its fury. Then mount upstairs and you find the ogress, with a little child in her arms, and the oven ready heated to bake you. Whereupon she will say to you, Hold this little creature, and wait here till I go and fetch the instruments.' But mind—she will only go to whet her tusks, in order to tear you in pieces. Then throw the little child into the oven without pity, take the instruments which stand behind the door, and hie off before the ogress returns, or else you are lost. The instruments are in a box, but beware of opening it, or you will repent."

Parmetella did all that Thunder-and-Lightning told her; but on her way back with the instruments she opened the box, and lo and behold! they all flew out and about—here a flute, there a flageolet, here a pipe, there a bagpipe, making a thousand different sounds in the air, whilst Parmetella stood looking on and tearing her hair in despair.

Meanwhile the ogress came downstairs, and not finding Parmetella, she went to the window, and called out to the door, "Crush that traitress!" But the door answered:

"I will not use the poor girl ill,
For she has made me at last stand still."

Then the ogress cried out to the horse, "Trample on the thief!" But the horse replied:

"Let the poor girl go her way,
For she has given me the hay."

And lastly, the ogress called to the dog, saying, "Bite the rogue!" But the dog answered:

"I'll not hurt a hair of her head,
For she it was who gave me the bread."

Now as Parmetella ran crying after the instruments, she met Thunder-and-Lightning, who scolded her well, saying, "Traitress, will you not learn at your cost that by your fatal curiosity you are brought to this plight?" Then he called back the instruments with a whistle, and shut them up again in the box, telling Parmetella to take them to his mother. But when the ogress saw her, she cried aloud, "O cruel fate! even my sister is against me, and refuses to give me this pleasure."

Meanwhile the new bride arrived—a hideous pest, a compound of ugliness, a harpy, an evil shade, a horror, a monster, a large tub, who with a hundred flowers and boughs about her looked like a newly opened inn. Then the ogress made a great banquet for her; and being full of gall and malice, she had the table placed close to a well, where she seated her seven daughters, each with a torch in one hand; but she gave two torches to Parmetella, and made her sit at the edge of the well, on purpose that, when she fell asleep, she might tumble to the bottom.

Now whilst the dishes were passing to and fro, and their blood began to get warm, Thunder-and-Lightning, who turned quite sick at the sight of the new bride, said to Parmetella, "Traitress, do you love me?" "Ay, to the top of the roof," she replied. And he answered, "If you love me, give me a kiss." "Nay," said Parmetella, "YOU indeed, who have such a pretty creature at your side! Heaven preserve her to you a hundred years in health and with plenty of sons!" Then the new bride answered, "It is very clear that you are a simpleton, and would remain so were you to live a hundred years, acting the prude as you do, and refusing to kiss so handsome a youth, whilst I let a herdsman kiss me for a couple of chestnuts."

At these words the bridegroom swelled with rage like a toad, so that his food remained sticking in his throat; however, he put a good face on the matter and swallowed the pill, intending to make the reckoning and settle the balance afterwards. But when the tables were removed, and the ogress and his sisters had gone away, Thunder-and-Lightning said to the new bride, "Wife, did you see this proud creature refuse me a kiss?" "She was a simpleton," replied the bride, "to refuse a kiss to such a handsome young man, whilst I let a herdsman kiss me for a couple of chestnuts."

Thunder-and-Lightning could contain himself no longer; the mustard got up into his nose, and with the flash of scorn and the thunder of action, he seized a knife and stabbed the bride, and digging a hole in the cellar he buried her. Then embracing Parmetella he said to her, "You are my jewel, the flower of women, the mirror of honour! Then turn those eyes upon me, give me that hand, put out those lips, draw near to me, my heart! for I will be yours as long as the world lasts."

The next morning, when the Sun aroused his fiery steeds from their watery stable, and drove them to pasture on the fields sown by the Dawn, the ogress came with fresh eggs for the newly married couple, that the young wife might be able to say, "Happy is she who marries and gets a mother-in-law!" But finding Parmetella in the arms of her son, and hearing what had passed, she ran to her sister, to concert some means of removing this thorn from her eyes without her son's being able to prevent it. But when she found that her sister, out of grief at the loss of her daughter, had crept into the oven herself and was burnt, her despair was so great, that from an ogress she became a ram, and butted her head against the wall under she broke her pate. Then Thunder-and-Lightning made peace between Parmetella and her sisters-in-law, and they all lived happy and content, finding the saying come true, that—

"Patience conquers all."


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Toads and Diamonds

Today's classic tale is from the Blue Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1889.

There was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in the face and humor that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there was no living with them.

The youngest, who was the very picture of her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother even doted on her eldest daughter and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngest—she made her eat in the kitchen and work continually.

Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.

“Oh! ay, with all my heart, Goody,” said this pretty little girl; and rinsing immediately the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier.

The good woman, having drunk, said to her:

“You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift.” For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. “I will give you for a gift,” continued the Fairy, “that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.”

When this pretty girl came home her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain.

“I beg your pardon, mamma,” said the poor girl, “for not making more haste.”

And in speaking these words there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.

“What is it I see there?” said the mother, quite astonished. “I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl’s mouth! How happens this, child?”

This was the first time she had ever called her child.

The poor creature told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.

“In good faith,” cried the mother, “I must send my child thither. Come hither, Fanny; look what comes out of thy sister’s mouth when she speaks. Wouldst not thou be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given thee? Thou hast nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly.”

“It would be a very fine sight indeed,” said this ill-bred minx, “to see me go draw water.”

“You shall go, hussy!” said the mother; “and this minute.”

So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.

She was no sooner at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her, and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to her sister, but now had taken the air and dress of a princess, to see how far this girl’s rudeness would go.

“Am I come hither,” said the proud, saucy one, “to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy.”

“You are not over and above mannerly,” answered the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. “Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.”

So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out:

“Well, daughter?”

“Well, mother?” answered the pert hussy, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.

“Oh! mercy,” cried the mother; “what is it I see? Oh! it is that wretch her sister who has occasioned all this; but she shall pay for it”; and immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her, and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence.

The King’s son, then on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone and why she cried.

“Alas! sir, my mamma has turned me out of doors.”

The King’s son, who saw five or six pearls and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how that happened. She thereupon told him the whole story; and so the King’s son fell in love with her, and, considering himself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the King his father, and there married her.

As for the sister, she made herself so much hated that her own mother turned her off; and the miserable wretch, having wandered about a good while without finding anybody to take her in, went to a corner of the wood, and there died.


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Little One-Eye, Little Two-Eyes and Little Three-Eyes

Today's classic tale is from the Green Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1892.

There was once a woman who had three daughters, of whom the eldest was called Little One-eye, because she had only one eye in the middle of her forehead; and the second, Little Two-eyes, because she had two eyes like other people; and the youngest, Little Three-eyes, because she had three eyes, and her third eye was also in the middle of her forehead. But because Little Two-eyes did not look any different from other children, her sisters and mother could not bear her. They would say to her, ‘You with your two eyes are no better than common folk; you don’t belong to us.’ They pushed her here, and threw her wretched clothes there, and gave her to eat only what they left, and they were as unkind to her as ever they could be.

It happened one day that Little Two-eyes had to go out into the fields to take care of the goat, but she was still quite hungry because her sisters had given her so little to eat. So she sat down in the meadow and began to cry, and she cried so much that two little brooks ran out of her eyes. But when she looked up once in her grief there stood a woman beside her who asked, ‘Little Two-eyes, what are you crying for?’ Little Two-eyes answered, ‘Have I not reason to cry? Because I have two eyes like other people, my sisters and my mother cannot bear me; they push me out of one corner into another, and give me nothing to eat except what they leave. To-day they have given me so little that I am still quite hungry.’ Then the wise woman said, ‘Little Two-eyes, dry your eyes, and I will tell you something so that you need never be hungry again. Only say to your goat,

“Little goat, bleat, Little table, appear,”

and a beautifully spread table will stand before you, with the most delicious food on it, so that you can eat as much as you want. And when you have had enough and don’t want the little table any more, you have only to say,

“Little goat, bleat, Little table, away,”

and then it will vanish.’ Then the wise woman went away.

But Little Two-eyes thought, ‘I must try at once if what she has told me is true, for I am more hungry than ever’; and she said,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table appear,’

and scarcely had she uttered the words, when there stood a little table before her covered with a white cloth, on which were arranged a plate, with a knife and fork and a silver spoon, and the most beautiful dishes, which were smoking hot, as if they had just come out of the kitchen. Then Little Two-eyes said the shortest grace she knew, and set to work and made a good dinner. And when she had had enough, she said, as the wise woman had told her,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table, away,’

and immediately the table and all that was on it disappeared again. ‘That is a splendid way of housekeeping,’ thought Little Two-eyes, and she was quite happy and contented.

In the evening, when she went home with her goat, she found a little earthenware dish with the food that her sisters had thrown to her, but she did not touch it. The next day she went out again with her goat, and left the few scraps which were given her. The first and second times her sisters did not notice this, but when it happened continually, they remarked it and said, ‘Something is the matter with Little Two-eyes, for she always leaves her food now, and she used to gobble up all that was given her. She must have found other means of getting food.’ So in order to get at the truth, Little One-eye was told to go out with Little Two-eyes when she drove the goat to pasture, and to notice particularly what she got there, and whether anyone brought her food and drink.

Now when Little Two-eyes was setting out, Little One-eye came up to her and said, ‘I will go into the field with you and see if you take good care of the goat, and if you drive him properly to get grass.’ But Little Two-eyes saw what Little One-eye had in her mind, and she drove the goat into the long grass and said, ‘Come, Little One-eye, we will sit down here, and I will sing you something.’

Little One-eye sat down, and as she was very much tired by the long walk to which she was not used, and by the hot day, and as Little Two-eyes went on singing.

‘Little One-eye, are you awake? Little One-eye, are you asleep?’

she shut her one eye and fell asleep. When Little Two-eyes saw that Little One-eye was asleep and could find out nothing, she said,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table, appear,’

and sat down at her table and ate and drank as much as she wanted. Then she said again,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table, away.’

and in the twinkling of an eye all had vanished.

Little Two-eyes then woke Little One-eye and said, ‘Little One-eye, you meant to watch, and, instead, you went to sleep; in the meantime the goat might have run far and wide. Come, we will go home.’ So they went home, and Little Two-eyes again left her little dish untouched, and Little One-eye could not tell her mother why she would not eat, and said as an excuse, ‘I was so sleepy out-of-doors.’

The next day the mother said to Little Three-eyes, ‘This time you shall go with Little Two-eyes and watch whether she eats anything out in the fields, and whether anyone brings her food and drink, for eat and drink she must secretly.’ So Little Three-eyes went to Little Two-eyes and said, ‘I will go with you and see if you take good care of the goat, and if you drive him properly to get grass.’ But little Two-eyes knew what Little Three-eyes had in her mind, and she drove the goat out into the tall grass and said, ‘We will sit down here, Little Three-eyes, and I will sing you something.’ Little Three-eyes sat down; she was tired by the walk and the hot day, and Little Two-eyes sang the same little song again:

‘Little Three eyes, are you awake?’

but instead of singing as she ought to have done,

‘Little Three-eyes, are you asleep?’

she sang, without thinking,

‘Little Two-eyes, are you asleep?’

She went on singing,

‘Little Three-eyes, are you awake? Little Two-eyes, are you asleep?’

so that the two eyes of Little Three-eyes fell asleep, but the third, which was not spoken to in the little rhyme, did not fall asleep. Of course Little Three-eyes shut that eye also out of cunning, to look as if she were asleep, but it was blinking and could see everything quite well.

And when Little Two-eyes thought that Little Three-eyes was sound asleep, she said her rhyme,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table, appear,’

and ate and drank to her heart’s content, and then made the table go away again, by saying,

‘Little goat, bleat, Little table, away.’

But Little Three-eyes had seen everything. Then Little Two-eyes came to her, and woke her and said, ‘Well, Little Three-eyes, have you been asleep? You watch well! Come, we will go home.’ When they reached home, Little Two-eyes did not eat again, and Little Three-eyes said to the mother, ‘I know now why that proud thing eats nothing. When she says to the goat in the field,

“Little goat, bleat, Little table, appear,”

a table stands before her, spread with the best food, much better than we have; and when she has had enough, she says,

“Little goat, bleat, Little table, away,”

and everything disappears again. I saw it all exactly. She made two of my eyes go to sleep with a little rhyme, but the one in my forehead remained awake, luckily!’

Then the envious mother cried out, ‘Will you fare better than we do? you shall not have the chance to do so again!’ and she fetched a knife, and killed the goat.

When Little Two-eyes saw this, she went out full of grief, and sat down in the meadow and wept bitter tears. Then again the wise woman stood before her, and said, ‘Little Two-eyes, what are you crying for?’ ‘Have I not reason to cry?’ she answered, ‘the goat, which when I said the little rhyme, spread the table so beautifully, my mother has killed, and now I must suffer hunger and want again.’ The wise woman said, ‘Little Two-eyes, I will give you a good piece of advice. Ask your sisters to give you the heart of the dead goat, and bury it in the earth before the house-door; that will bring you good luck.’ Then she disappeared, and Little Two-eyes went home, and said to her sisters, ‘Dear sisters, do give me something of my goat; I ask nothing better than its heart.’ Then they laughed and said, ‘You can have that if you want nothing more.’ And Little Two-eyes took the heart and buried it in the evening when all was quiet, as the wise woman had told her, before the house-door. The next morning when they all awoke and came to the house-door, there stood a most wonderful tree, which had leaves of silver and fruit of gold growing on it—you never saw anything more lovely and gorgeous in your life! But they did not know how the tree had grown up in the night; only Little Two-eyes knew that it had sprung from the heart of the goat, for it was standing just where she had buried it in the ground. Then the mother said to Little One-eye, ‘Climb up, my child, and break us off the fruit from the tree.’ Little One-eye climbed up, but just when she was going to take hold of one of the golden apples the bough sprang out of her hands; and this happened every time, so that she could not break off a single apple, however hard she tried. Then the mother said, ‘Little Three-eyes, do you climb up; you with your three eyes can see round better than Little One-eye.’ So Little One-eye slid down, and Little Three-eyes climbed up; but she was not any more successful; look round as she might, the golden apples bent themselves back. At last the mother got impatient and climbed up herself, but she was even less successful than Little One-eye and Little Three-eyes in catching hold of the fruit, and only grasped at the empty air. Then Little Two-eyes said, ‘I will just try once, perhaps I shall succeed better.’ The sisters called out, ‘You with your two eyes will no doubt succeed!’ But Little Two-eyes climbed up, and the golden apples did not jump away from her, but behaved quite properly, so that she could pluck them off, one after the other, and brought a whole apron-full down with her. The mother took them from her, and, instead of behaving better to poor Little Two-eyes, as they ought to have done, they were jealous that she only could reach the fruit and behaved still more unkindly to her.

It happened one day that when they were all standing together by the tree that a young knight came riding along. ‘Be quick, Little Two-eyes,’ cried the two sisters, ‘creep under this, so that you shall not disgrace us,’ and they put over poor Little Two-eyes as quickly as possible an empty cask, which was standing close to the tree, and they pushed the golden apples which she had broken off under with her. When the knight, who was a very handsome young man, rode up, he wondered to see the marvellous tree of gold and silver, and said to the two sisters, ‘Whose is this beautiful tree? Whoever will give me a twig of it shall have whatever she wants.’ Then Little One-eye and Little Three-eyes answered that the tree belonged to them, and that they would certainly break him off a twig. They gave themselves a great deal of trouble, but in vain; the twigs and fruit bent back every time from their hands. Then the knight said, ‘It is very strange that the tree should belong to you, and yet that you have not the power to break anything from it!’ But they would have that the tree was theirs; and while they were saying this, Little Two-eyes rolled a couple of golden apples from under the cask, so that they lay at the knight’s feet, for she was angry with Little One-eye and Little Three-eyes for not speaking the truth. When the knight saw the apples he was astonished, and asked where they came from. Little One-eye and Little Three-eyes answered that they had another sister, but she could not be seen because she had only two eyes, like ordinary people. But the knight demanded to see her, and called out, ‘Little Two-eyes, come forth.’ Then Little Two-eyes came out from under the cask quite happily, and the knight was astonished at her great beauty, and said, ‘Little Two-eyes, I am sure you can break me off a twig from the tree.’ ‘Yes,’ answered Little Two-eyes, ‘I can, for the tree is mine.’ So she climbed up and broke off a small branch with its silver leaves and golden fruit without any trouble, and gave it to the knight. Then he said, ‘Little Two-eyes, what shall I give you for this?’ ‘Ah,’ answered Little Two-eyes, ‘I suffer hunger and thirst, want and sorrow, from early morning till late in the evening; if you would take me with you, and free me from this, I should be happy!’ Then the knight lifted Little Two-eyes on his horse, and took her home to his father’s castle. There he gave her beautiful clothes, and food and drink, and because he loved her so much he married her, and the wedding was celebrated with great joy.

When the handsome knight carried Little Two-eyes away with him, the two sisters envied her good luck at first. ‘But the wonderful tree is still with us, after all,’ they thought, ‘and although we cannot break any fruit from it, everyone will stop and look at it, and will come to us and praise it; who knows whether we may not reap a harvest from it?’ But the next morning the tree had flown, and their hopes with it; and when Little Two-eyes looked out of her window there it stood underneath, to her great delight. Little Two-eyes lived happily for a long time. Once two poor women came to the castle to beg alms. Then Little Two-eyes looked at then and recognised both her sisters, Little One-eye and Little Three-eyes, who had become so poor that they came to beg bread at her door. But Little Two-eyes bade them welcome, and was so good to them that they both repented from their hearts of having been so unkind to their sister.


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Pintosmalto

Today's classic tale was originally published in Il Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile in 1634, translated by John Edward Taylor in 1847.

A merchant once had an only daughter, whom he wished greatly to see married; but as often as he struck this note, he found her a hundred miles off from the desired pitch, for the foolish girl would never consent to marry, and the father was in consequence the most unhappy and miserable man in the world. Now it happened one day that he was going to a fair; so he asked his daughter, who was named Betta, what she would like him to bring her on his return. And she said, "Papa, if you love me, bring me half a hundredweight of Palermo sugar, and as much again of sweet almonds, with four to six bottles of scented water, and a little musk and amber, also forty pearls, two sapphires, a few garnets and rubies, with some gold thread, and above all a trough and a little silver trowel." Her father wondered at this extravagant demand, nevertheless he would not refuse his daughter; so he went to the fair, and on his return brought her all that she had requested.

As soon as Betta received these things, she shut herself up in a chamber, and began to make a great quantity of paste of almonds and sugar, mixed with rosewater and perfumes, and set to work to form a most beautiful youth, making his hair of gold thread, his eyes of sapphires, his teeth of pearls, his lips of rubies; and she gave him such grace that speech alone was wanting to him. When she had done all this, having heard say that at the prayers of a certain King of Cyprus a statue had once come to life, she prayed to the goddess of Love so long that at last the statue began to open its eyes; and increasing her prayers, it began to breathe; and after breathing, words came out; and at last, disengaging all its limbs, it began to walk.

With a joy far greater than if she had gained a kingdom, Betta embraced and kissed the youth, and taking him by the hand, she led him before her father and said, "My lord and father, you have always told me that you wished to see me married, and in order to please you I have now chosen a husband after my own heart." When her father saw the handsome youth come out of his daughter's room, whom he had not seen enter it, he stood amazed, and at the sight of such beauty, which folks would have paid a halfpenny a head to gaze at, he consented that the marriage should take place. So a great feast was made, at which, among the other ladies present, there appeared a great unknown Queen, who, seeing the beauty of Pintosmalto (for that was the name Betta gave him), fell desperately in love with him. Now Pintosmalto, who had only opened his eyes on the wickedness of the world three hours before, and was as innocent as a babe, accompanied the strangers who had come to celebrate his nuptials to the stairs, as his bride had told him; and when he did the same with this Queen, she took him by the hand and led him quietly to her coach, drawn by six horses, which stood in the courtyard; then taking him into it, she ordered the coachman to drive off and away to her country.

After Betta had waited a while in vain expecting Pintosmalto to return, she sent down into the courtyard to see whether he were speaking with any one there; then she sent up to the roof to see if he had gone to take fresh air; but finding him nowhere, she directly imagined that, on account of his great beauty, he had been stolen from her. So she ordered the usual proclamations to be made; but at last, as no tidings of him were brought, she formed the resolution to go all the world over in search of him, and dressing herself as a poor girl, she set out on her way. After some months she came to the house of a good old woman, who received her with great kindness; and when she had heard Betta's misfortune, she took compassion on her, and taught her three sayings. The first was, "Tricche varlacche, the house rains!" the second, "Anola tranola, the fountain plays!"; the third, "Scatola matola, the sun shines!"—telling her to repeat these words whenever she was in trouble, and they would be of good service to her.

Betta wondered greatly at this present of chaff, nevertheless she said to herself, "He who blows into your mouth does not wish to see you dead, and the plant that strikes root does not wither; everything has its use; who knows what good fortune may be contained in these words?" So saying, she thanked the old woman, and set out upon her way. And after a long journey she came to a beautiful city called Round Mount, where she went straight to the royal palace, and begged for the love of Heaven a little shelter in the stable. So the ladies of the court ordered a small room to be given her on the stairs; and while poor Betta was sitting there she saw Pintosmalto pass by, whereat her joy was so great that she was on the point of slipping down from the tree of life. But seeing the trouble she was in, Betta wished to make proof of the first saying which the old woman had told her; and no sooner had she repeated the words, "Tricche varlacche, the house rains!" than instantly there appeared before her a beautiful little coach of gold set all over with jewels, which ran about the chamber of itself and was a wonder to behold.

When the ladies of the court saw this sight they went and told the Queen, who without loss of time ran to Betta's chamber; and when she saw the beautiful little coach, she asked whether she would sell it, and offered to give whatever she might demand. But Betta replied that, although she was poor she would not sell it for all the gold in the world, but if the Queen wished for the little coach, she must allow her to pass one night at the door of Pintosmalto's chamber.

The Queen was amazed at the folly of the poor girl, who although she was all in rags would nevertheless give up such riches for a mere whim; however, she resolved to take the good mouthful offered her, and, by giving Pintosmalto a sleeping-draught, to satisfy the poor girl but pay her in bad coin.

As soon as the Night was come, when the stars in the sky and the glowworms on the earth were to pass in review, the Queen gave a sleeping-draught to Pintosmalto, who did everything he was told, and sent him to bed. And no sooner had he thrown himself on the mattress than he fell as sound asleep as a dormouse. Poor Betta, who thought that night to relate all her past troubles, seeing now that she had no audience, fell to lamenting beyond measure, blaming herself for all that she had done for his sake; and the unhappy girl never closed her mouth, nor did the sleeping Pintosmalto ever open his eyes until the Sun appeared with the aqua regia of his rays to separate the shades from the light, when the Queen came down, and taking Pintosmalto by the hand, said to Betta, "Now be content."

"May you have such content all the days of your life!" replied Betta in an undertone; "for I have passed so bad a night that I shall not soon forget it."

The poor girl, however, could not resist her longing, and resolved to make trial of the second saying; so she repeated the words, "Anola tranola, the fountain plays!" and instantly there appeared a golden cage, with a beautiful bird made of precious stones and gold, which sang like a nightingale. When the ladies saw this they went and told it to the Queen, who wished to see the bird; then she asked the same question as about the little coach, and Betta made the same reply as before. Whereupon the Queen, who perceived, as she thought, what a silly creature Betta was, promised to grant her request, and took the cage with the bird. And as soon as night came she gave Pintosmalto a sleeping-draught as before, and sent him to bed. When Betta saw that he slept like a dead person, she began again to wail and lament, saying things that would have moved a flintstone to compassion; and thus she passed another night, full of trouble, weeping and wailing and tearing her hair. But as soon as it was day the Queen came to fetch her captive, and left poor Betta in grief and sorrow, and biting her hands with vexation at the trick that had been played her.

In the morning when Pintosmalto went to a garden outside the city gate to pluck some figs, he met a cobbler, who lived in a room close to where Betta lay and had not lost a word of all she had said. Then he told Pintosmalto of the weeping, lamentation, and crying of the unhappy beggar-girl; and when Pintosmalto, who already began to get a little more sense, heard this, he guessed how matters stood, and resolved that, if the same thing happened again, he would not drink what the Queen gave him.

Betta now wished to make the third trial, so she said the words, "Scatola matola, the sun shines!" and instantly there appeared a quantity of stuffs of silk and gold, and embroidered scarfs, with a golden cup; in short, the Queen herself could not have brought together so many beautiful ornaments. When the ladies saw these things they told their mistress, who endeavoured to obtain them as she had done the others; but Betta replied as before, that if the Queen wished to have them she must let her spend the night at the door of the chamber. Then the Queen said to herself, "What can I lose by satisfying this silly girl, in order to get from her these beautiful things?" So taking all the treasures which Betta offered her, as soon as Night appeared, the instrument for the debt contracted with Sleep and Repose being liquidated, she gave the sleeping-draught to Pintosmalto; but this time he did not swallow it, and making an excuse to leave the room, he spat it out again, and then went to bed.

Betta now began the same tune again, saying how she had kneaded him with her own hands of sugar and almonds, how she had made his hair of gold, and his eyes and mouth of pearls and precious stones, and how he was indebted to her for his life, which the gods had granted to her prayers, and lastly how he had been stolen from her, and she had gone seeking him with such toil and trouble. Then she went on to tell him how she had watched two nights at the door of his room, and for leave to do so had given up two treasures, and yet had not been able to hear a single word from him, so that this was the last night of her hopes and the conclusion of her life.

When Pintosmalto, who had remained awake, heard these words, and called to mind as a dream all that had passed, he rose and embraced her; and as Night had just come forth with her black mask to direct the dance of the Stars, he went very quietly into the chamber of the Queen, who was in a deep sleep, and took from her all the things that she had taken from Betta, and all the jewels and money which were in a desk, to repay himself for his past troubles. Then returning to his wife, they set off that very hour, and travelled on and on until they arrived at her father's house, where they found him alive and well; and from the joy of seeing his daughter again he became like a boy of fifteen years. But when the Queen found neither Pintosmalto, nor beggar-girl, nor jewels, she tore her hair and rent her clothes, and called to mind the saying—

"He who cheats must not complain if he be cheated."


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The Goose Girl

Today's classic tale is from the Blue Fairy Book, a collection of tales assembled and translated by Andrew Lang, published in 1889.

Once upon a time an old queen, whose husband had been dead for many years, had a beautiful daughter. When she grew up she was betrothed to a prince who lived a great way off. Now, when the time drew near for her to be married and to depart into a foreign kingdom, her old mother gave her much costly baggage, and many ornaments, gold and silver, trinkets and knicknacks, and, in fact, everything that belonged to a royal trousseau, for she loved her daughter very dearly. She gave her a waiting-maid also, who was to ride with her and hand her over to the bridegroom, and she provided each of them with a horse for the journey. Now the Princess’s horse was called Falada, and could speak.

When the hour for departure drew near the old mother went to her bedroom, and taking a small knife she cut her fingers till they bled; then she held a white rag under them, and letting three drops of blood fall into it, she gave it to her daughter, and said: “Dear child, take great care of this rag: it may be of use to you on the journey.”

So they took a sad farewell of each other, and the Princess stuck the rag in front of her dress, mounted her horse, and set forth on the journey to her bridegroom’s kingdom. After they had ridden for about an hour the Princess began to feel very thirsty, and said to her waiting-maid: “Pray get down and fetch me some water in my golden cup out of yonder stream: I would like a drink.” “If you’re thirsty,” said the maid, “dismount yourself, and lie down by the water and drink; I don’t mean to be your servant any longer.” The Princess was so thirsty that she got down, bent over the stream, and drank, for she wasn’t allowed to drink out of the golden goblet. As she drank she murmured: “Oh! heaven, what am I to do?” and the three drops of blood replied:

“If your mother only knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.”

But the Princess was meek, and said nothing about her maid’s rude behavior, and quietly mounted her horse again. They rode on their way for several miles, but the day was hot, and the sun’s rays smote fiercely on them, so that the Princess was soon overcome by thirst again. And as they passed a brook she called once more to her waiting-maid: “Pray get down and give me a drink from my golden cup,” for she had long ago forgotten her maid’s rude words. But the waiting-maid replied, more haughtily even than before: “If you want a drink, you can dismount and get it; I don’t mean to be your servant.” Then the Princess was compelled by her thirst to get down, and bending over the flowing water she cried and said: “Oh! heaven, what am I to do?” and the three drops of blood replied:

“If your mother only knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.”

And as she drank thus, and leaned right over the water, the rag containing the three drops of blood fell from her bosom and floated down the stream, and she in her anxiety never even noticed her loss. But the waiting-maid had observed it with delight, as she knew it gave her power over the bride, for in losing the drops of blood the Princess had become weak and powerless. When she wished to get on her horse Falada again, the waiting-maid called out: “I mean to ride Falada: you must mount my beast”; and this too she had to submit to. Then the waiting-maid commanded her harshly to take off her royal robes, and to put on her common ones, and finally she made her swear by heaven not to say a word about the matter when they reached the palace; and if she hadn’t taken this oath she would have been killed on the spot. But Falada observed everything, and laid it all to heart.

The waiting-maid now mounted Falada, and the real bride the worse horse, and so they continued their journey till at length they arrived at the palace yard. There was great rejoicing over the arrival, and the Prince sprang forward to meet them, and taking the waiting-maid for his bride, he lifted her down from her horse and led her upstairs to the royal chamber. In the meantime the real Princess was left standing below in the courtyard. The old King, who was looking out of his window, beheld her in this plight, and it struck him how sweet and gentle, even beautiful, she looked. He went at once to the royal chamber, and asked the bride who it was she had brought with her and had left thus standing in the court below. “Oh!” replied the bride, “I brought her with me to keep me company on the journey; give the girl something to do, that she may not be idle.” But the old King had no work for her, and couldn’t think of anything; so he said, “I’ve a small boy who looks after the geese, she’d better help him.” The youth’s name was Curdken, and the real bride was made to assist him in herding geese.

Soon after this the false bride said to the Prince: “Dearest husband, I pray you grant me a favor.” He answered: “That I will.” “Then let the slaughterer cut off the head of the horse I rode here upon, because it behaved very badly on the journey.” But the truth was she was afraid lest the horse should speak and tell how she had treated the Princess. She carried her point, and the faithful Falada was doomed to die. When the news came to the ears of the real Princess she went to the slaughterer, and secretly promised him a piece of gold if he would do something for her. There was in the town a large dark gate, through which she had to pass night and morning with the geese; would he “kindly hang up Falada’s head there, that she might see it once again?” The slaughterer said he would do as she desired, chopped off the head, and nailed it firmly over the gateway.

Early next morning, as she and Curdken were driving their flock through the gate, she said as she passed under:

“Oh! Falada, ‘tis you hang there”;
and the head replied:

“‘Tis you; pass under, Princess fair:
If your mother only knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.”

Then she left the tower and drove the geese into a field. And when they had reached the common where the geese fed she sat down and unloosed her hair, which was of pure gold. Curdken loved to see it glitter in the sun, and wanted much to pull some hair out. Then she spoke:

“Wind, wind, gently sway,
Blow Curdken’s hat away;
Let him chase o’er field and wold
Till my locks of ruddy gold,
Now astray and hanging down,
Be combed and plaited in a crown.”

Then a gust of wind blew Curdken’s hat away, and he had to chase it over hill and dale. When he returned from the pursuit she had finished her combing and curling, and his chance of getting any hair was gone. Curdken was very angry, and wouldn’t speak to her. So they herded the geese till evening and then went home.

The next morning, as they passed under the gate, the girl said:

“Oh! Falada, ‘tis you hang there;”

and the head replied:

“‘Tis you; pass under, Princess fair:
If your mother only knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.”

Then she went on her way till she came to the common, where she sat down and began to comb out her hair; then Curdken ran up to her and wanted to grasp some of the hair from her head, but she called out hastily:

“Wind, wind, gently sway,
Blow Curdken’s hat away;
Let him chase o’er field and wold
Till my locks of ruddy gold,
Now astray and hanging down,
Be combed and plaited in a crown.”

Then a puff of wind came and blew Curdken’s hat far away, so that he had to run after it; and when he returned she had long finished putting up her golden locks, and he couldn’t get any hair; so they watched the geese till it was dark.

But that evening when they got home Curdken went to the old King, and said: “I refuse to herd geese any longer with that girl.” “For what reason?” asked the old King. “Because she does nothing but annoy me all day long,” replied Curdken; and he proceeded to relate all her iniquities, and said: “Every morning as we drive the flock through the dark gate she says to a horse’s head that hangs on the wall:

“‘Oh! Falada, ‘tis you hang there’;
and the head replies:

“‘’Tis you; pass under, Princess fair:
If your mother only knew,
Her heart would surely break in two.’”

And Curdken went on to tell what passed on the common where the geese fed, and how he had always to chase his hat.

The old King bade him go and drive forth his flock as usual next day; and when morning came he himself took up his position behind the dark gate, and heard how the goose-girl greeted Falada. Then he followed her through the field, and hid himself behind a bush on the common. He soon saw with his own eyes how the goose-boy and the goose-girl looked after the geese, and how after a time the maiden sat down and loosed her hair, that glittered like gold, and repeated:

“Wind, wind, gently sway,
Blow Curdken’s hat away;
Let him chase o’er field and wold
Till my locks of ruddy gold
Now astray and hanging down,
Be combed and plaited in a crown.”

Then a gust of wind came and blew Curdken’s hat away, so that he had to fly over hill and dale after it, and the girl in the meantime quietly combed and plaited her hair: all this the old King observed, and returned to the palace without anyone having noticed him. In the evening when the goose-girl came home he called her aside, and asked her why she behaved as she did. “I may not tell you why; how dare I confide my woes to anyone? for I swore not to by heaven, otherwise I should have lost my life.” The old King begged her to tell him all, and left her no peace, but he could get nothing out of her. At last he said: “Well, if you won’t tell me, confide your trouble to the iron stove there,” and he went away. Then she crept to the stove, and began to sob and cry and to pour out her poor little heart, and said: “Here I sit, deserted by all the world, I who am a king’s daughter, and a false waiting-maid has forced me to take off my own clothes, and has taken my place with my bridegroom, while I have to fulfill the lowly office of goose-girl.

“If my mother only knew
Her heart would surely break in two.”

But the old King stood outside at the stove chimney, and listened to her words. Then he entered the room again, and bidding her leave the stove, he ordered royal apparel to be put on her, in which she looked amazingly lovely. Then he summoned his son, and revealed to him that he had got the false bride, who was nothing but a waiting-maid, while the real one, in the guise of the ex-goose-girl, was standing at his side. The young King rejoiced from his heart when he saw her beauty and learned how good she was, and a great banquet was prepared, to which everyone was bidden. The bridegroom sat at the head of the table, the Princess on one side of him and the waiting-maid on the other; but she was so dazzled that she did not recognize the Princess in her glittering garments. Now when they had eaten and drunk, and were merry, the old King asked the waiting-maid to solve a knotty point for him. “What,” said he, “should be done to a certain person who has deceived everyone?” and he proceeded to relate the whole story, ending up with, “Now what sentence should be passed?” Then the false bride answered: “She deserves to be put stark naked into a barrel lined with sharp nails, which should be dragged by two white horses up and down the street till she is dead.”

“You are the person,” said the King, “and you have passed sentence on yourself; and even so it shall be done to you.” And when the sentence had been carried out the young King was married to his real bride, and both reigned over the kingdom in peace and happiness.


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