The Yellow Fairy Book
Once there lived a King who had no children for many years after his marriage.
At length heaven granted him a daughter of such remarkable beauty that he
could think of no name so appropriate for her as 'Fairer-than-a-Fairy.'
It never occurred to the good-natured monarch that such a name was certain to
call down the hatred and jealousy of the fairies in a body on the child, but this
was what happened. No sooner had they heard of this presumptuous name than
they resolved to gain possession of her who bore it, and either to torment her
cruelly, or at least to conceal her from the eyes of all men.
The eldest of their tribe was entrusted to carry out their revenge. This Fairy was
named Lagree; she was so old that she only had one eye and one tooth left, and
even these poor remains she had to keep all night in a strengthening liquid. She
was also so spiteful that she gladly devoted all her time to carrying out all the
mean or ill-natured tricks of the whole body of fairies.
With her large experience, added to her native spite, she found but little difficulty
in carrying off Fairer-than-a-Fairy. The poor child, who was only seven years old,
nearly died of fear on finding herself in the power of this hideous creature.
However, when after an hour's journey underground she found herself in a
splendid palace with lovely gardens, she felt a little reassured, and was further
cheered when she discovered that her pet cat and dog had followed her.
The old Fairy led her to a pretty room which she said should be hers, at the same
time giving her the strictest orders never to let out the fire which was burning
brightly in the grate. She then gave two glass bottles into the Princess's charge,
desiring her to take the greatest care of them, and having enforced her orders
with the most awful threats in case of disobedience, she vanished, leaving the
little girl at liberty to explore the palace and grounds and a good deal relieved at
having only two apparently easy tasks set her.