The Crimson Fairy Book HTML version

The Three Robes
Long, long ago, a king and queen reigned over a large and powerful country. What their
names were nobody knows, but their son was called Sigurd, and their daughter Lineik,
and these young people were famed throughout the whole kingdom for their wisdom and
There was only a year between them, and they loved each other so much that they could
do nothing apart. When they began to grow up the king gave them a house of their own to
live in, with servants and carriages, and everything they could possibly want.
For many years they all lived happily together, and then the queen fell ill, and knew that
she would never get better.
'Promise me two things,' she said one day to the king; 'one, that if you marry again, as
indeed you must, you will not choose as your wife a woman from some small state or
distant island, who knows nothing of the world, and will be taken up with thoughts of her
grandeur. But rather seek out a princess of some great kingdom, who has been used to
courts all her life, and holds them at their true worth. The other thing I have to ask is, that
you will never cease to watch over our children, who will soon become your greatest joy.'
These were the queen's last words, and a few hours later she was dead. The king was so
bowed down with sorrow that he would not attend even to the business of the kingdom,
and at last his Prime Minister had to tell him that the people were complaining that they
had nobody to right their wrongs. 'You must rouse yourself, sir,' went on the minister,
'and put aside your own sorrows for the sake of your country.'
'You do not spare me,' answered the king; 'but what you say is just, and your counsel is
good. I have heard that men say, likewise, that it will be for the good of my kingdom for
me to marry again, though my heart will never cease to be with my lost wife. But it was
her wish also; therefore, to you I entrust the duty of finding a lady fitted to share my
throne; only, see that she comes neither from a small town nor a remote island.'
So an embassy was prepared, with the minister at its head, to visit the greatest courts in
the world, and to choose out a suitable princess. But the vessel which carried them had
not been gone many days when a thick fog came on, and the captain could see neither to
the right nor to the left. For a whole month the ship drifted about in darkness, till at length
the fog lifted and they beheld a cliff jutting out just in front. On one side of the cliff lay a
sheltered bay, in which the vessel was soon anchored, and though they did not know
where they were, at any rate they felt sure of fresh fruit and water.
The minister left the rest of his followers on board the ship, and taking a small boat
rowed himself to land, in order to look about him and to find out if the island was really
as deserted as it seemed.