The Grey Fairy Book HTML version
An Impossible Enchantment
There once lived a king who was much loved by his people, and he, too, loved them
warmly. He led a very happy life, but he had the greatest dislike to the idea of marrying,
nor had he ever felt the slightest wish to fall in love. His subjects begged him to marry,
and at last he promised to try to do so. But as, so far, he had never cared for any woman
he had seen, he made up his mind to travel in hopes of meeting some lady he could love.
So he arranged all the affairs of state in an orderly manner, and set out, attended by only
one equerry, who, though not very clever, had most excellent good sense. These people
indeed generally make the best fellow travellers.
The king explored several countries, doing all he could to fall in love, but in vain; and at
the end of two years' journeys he turned his face towards home, with as free a heart as
when he set out.
As he was riding along through a forest he suddenly heard the most awful miawing and
shrieking of cats you can imagine. The noise drew nearer, and nearer, and at last they saw
a hundred huge Spanish cats rush through the trees close to them. They were so closely
packed together that you could easily have covered them with a large cloak, and all were
following the same track. They were closely pursued by two enormous apes, dressed in
purple suits, with the prettiest and best made boots you ever saw.
The apes were mounted on superb mastiffs, and spurred them on in hot haste, blowing
shrill blasts on little toy trumpets all the time.
The king and his equerry stood still to watch this strange hunt, which was followed by
twenty or more little dwarfs, some mounted on wolves, and leading relays, and others
with cats in leash. The dwarfs were all dressed in purple silk liveries like the apes.
A moment later a beautiful young woman mounted on a tiger came in sight. She passed
close to the king, riding at full speed, without taking any notice of him; but he was at
once enchanted by her, and his heart was gone in a moment.
To his great joy he saw that one of the dwarfs had fallen behind the rest, and at once
began to question him.
The dwarf told him that the lady he had just seen was the Princess Mutinosa, the daughter
of the king in whose country they were at that moment. He added that the princess was
very fond of hunting, and that she was now in pursuit of rabbits.