The Red Fairy Book HTML version
The Enchanted Canary
ONCE upon a time, in the reign of King Cambrinus, there lived at Avesnes one of his
lords, who was the finest man--by which I mean the fattest--in the whole country of
Flanders. He ate four meals a day, slept twelve hours out of the twenty-four, and the only
thing he ever did was to shoot at small birds with his bow and arrow.
Still, with all his practice he shot very badly, he was so fat and heavy, and as he grew
daily fatter, he was at last obliged to give up walking, and be dragged about in a wheel-
chair, and the people made fun of him, and gave him the name of my Lord Tubby.
Now, the only trouble that Lord Tubby had was about his son, whom he loved very
much, although they were not in the least alike, for the young Prince was as thin as a
cuckoo. And what vexed him more than all was, that though the young ladies throughout
all his lands did their best to make the Prince fall in love with them, he would have
nothing to say to any of them, and told his father he did not wish to marry.
Instead of chatting with them in the dusk, he wandered about the woods, whispering to
the moon. No wonder the young ladies thought him very odd, but they liked him all the
better for that; and as he had received at his birth the name of Desire, they all called him
`What is the matter with you?' his father often said to him. `You have everything you can
possibly wish for: a good bed, good food, and tuns full of beer. The only thing you want,
in order to become as fat as a pig, is a wife that can bring you broad, rich lands. So marry,
and you will be perfectly happy.'
`I ask nothing better than to marry,' replied Desire, `but I have never seen a woman that
pleases me. All the girls here are pink and white, and I am tired to death of their eternal
lilie and roses.
`My faith!' cried Tubby; `do you want to marry a negress, and give me grandchildren as
ugly as monkeys and as stupid as owls?'
`No, father, nothing of the sort. But there must be women somewhere in the world who
are neither pink nor white, and I tell you, once for all, that I will never marry until I have
found one exactly to my taste.'
Some time afterwards, it happened that the Prior of the Abbey of Saint Amand sent to the
Lord of Avesnes a basket of oranges, with a beautifully-written letter saying that these
golden fruit, then unknown in Flanders, came straight from a land where the sun always
That evening Tubby and his son ate the golden apples at supper, and thought them