The Crimson Fairy Book HTML version
Once upon a time there lived a king and a queen who had one son. The king loved the
boy very much, but the queen, who was a wicked woman, hated the sight of him; and this
was the more unlucky for, when he was twelve years old, his father died, and he was left
alone in the world.
Now the queen was very angry because the people, who knew how bad she was, seated
her son on the throne instead of herself, and she never rested till she had formed a plan to
get him out of the way. Fortunately, however, the young king was wise and prudent, and
knew her too well to trust her.
One day, when his mourning was over, he gave orders that everything should be made
ready for a grand hunt. The queen pretended to be greatly delighted that he was going to
amuse himself once more, and declared that she would accompany him. 'No, mother, I
cannot let you come,' he answered; 'the ground is rough, and you are not strong.' But he
might as well have spoken to the winds: when the horn was sounded at daybreak the
queen was there with the rest.
All that day they rode, for game was plentiful, but towards evening the mother and son
found themselves alone in a part of the country that was strange to them. They wandered
on for some time, without knowing where they were going, till they met with a man
whom they begged to give them shelter. 'Come with me,' said the man gladly, for he was
an ogre, and fed on human flesh; and the king and his mother went with him, and he led
them to his house. When they got there they found to what a dreadful place they had
come, and, falling on their knees, they offered him great sums of money, if he would only
spare their lives. The ogre's heart was moved at the sight of the queen's beauty, and he
promised that he would do her no harm; but he stabbed the boy at once, and binding his
body on a horse, turned him loose in the forest.
The ogre had happened to choose a horse which he had bought only the day before, and
he did not know it was a magician, or he would not have been so foolish as to fix upon it
on this occasion. The horse no sooner had been driven off with the prince's body on its
back than it galloped straight to the home of the fairies, and knocked at the door with its
hoof. The fairies heard the knock, but were afraid to open till they had peeped from an
upper window to see that it was no giant or ogre who could do them harm. 'Oh, look,
sister!' cried the first to reach the window, 'it is a horse that has knocked, and on its back
there is bound a dead boy, the most beautiful boy in all the world!' Then the fairies ran to
open the door, and let in the horse and unbound the ropes which fastened the young king
on its back. And they gathered round to admire his beauty, and whispered one to the
other: 'We will make him alive again, and will keep him for our brother.' And so they did,
and for many years they all lived together as brothers and sisters.