The Blue Fairy Book HTML version

The Terrible Head
ONCE upon a time there was a king whose only child was a girl. Now the King
had been very anxious to have a son, or at least a grandson, to come after him,
but he was told by a prophet whom he consulted that his own daughter's son
should kill him. This news terrified him so much that he determined never to let
his daughter be married, for he thought it was better to have no grandson at all
than to be killed by his grandson. He therefore called his workmen together, and
bade them dig a deep round hole in the earth, and then he had a prison of brass
built in the hole, and then, when it was finished, he locked up his daughter. No
man ever saw her, and she never saw even the fields and the sea, but only the
sky and the sun, for there was a wide open window in the roof of the house of
brass. So the Princess would sit looking up at the sky, and watching the clouds
float across, and wondering whether she should ever get out of her prison. Now
one day it seemed to her that the sky opened above her, and a great shower of
shining gold fell through the window in the roof, and lay glittering in her room. Not
very long after, the Princess had a baby, a little boy, but when the King her father
heard of it he was very angry and afraid, for now the child was born that should
be his death. Yet, cowardly as he was, he had not quite the heart to kill the
Princess and her baby outright, but he had them put in a huge brass-bound chest
and thrust out to sea, that they might either be drowned or starved, or perhaps
come to a country where they would be out of his way.
So the Princess and the baby floated and drifted in the chest on the sea all day
and night, but the baby was not afraid of the waves nor of the wind, for he did not
know that they could hurt him, and he slept quite soundly. And the Princess sang
a song over him, and this was her song:
"Child, my child, how sound you sleep!
Though your mother's care is deep,