The Violet Fairy Book HTML version

The Grateful Prince
Once upon a time the king of the Goldland lost himself in a forest, and try as he would he
could not find the way out. As he was wandering down one path which had looked at first
more hopeful than the rest he saw a man coming towards him.
'What are you doing here, friend?' asked the stranger; 'darkness is falling fast, and soon
the wild beasts will come from their lairs to seek for food.'
'I have lost myself,' answered the king, 'and am trying to get home.'
'Then promise me that you will give me the first thing that comes out of your house, and I
will show you the way,' said the stranger.
The king did not answer directly, but after awhile he spoke: 'Why should I give away my
BEST sporting dog. I can surely find my way out of the forest as well as this man.'
So the stranger left him, but the king followed path after path for three whole days, with
no better success than before. He was almost in despair, when the stranger suddenly
appeared, blocking up his way.
'Promise you will give me the first thing that comes out of your house to meet you?'
But still the king was stiff-necked and would promise nothing.
For some days longer he wandered up and down the forest, trying first one path, then
another, but his courage at last gave way, and he sank wearily on the ground under a tree,
feeling sure his last hour had come. Then for the third time the stranger stood before the
king, and said:
'Why are you such a fool? What can a dog be to you, that you should give your life for
him like this? Just promise me the reward I want, and I will guide you out of the forest.'
'Well, my life is worth more than a thousand dogs,' answered the king, 'the welfare of my
kingdom depends on me. I accept your terms, so take me to my palace.' Scarcely had he
uttered the words than he found himself at the edge of the wood, with the palace in the
dim distance. He made all the haste he could, and just as he reached the great gates out
came the nurse with the royal baby, who stretched out his arms to his father. The king
shrank back, and ordered the nurse to take the baby away at once.
Then his great boarhound bounded up to him, but his caresses were only answered by a
violent push.
When the king's anger was spent, and he was able to think what was best to be done, he
exchanged his baby, a beautiful boy, for the daughter of a peasant, and the prince lived
roughly as the son of poor people, while the little girl slept in a golden cradle, under
silken sheets. At the end of a year, the stranger arrived to claim his property, and took
away the little girl, believing her to be the true child of the king. The king was so
delighted with the success of his plan that he ordered a great feast to be got ready, and
gave splendid presents to the foster parents of his son, so that he might lack nothing. But
he did not dare to bring back the baby, lest the trick should be found out. The peasants