Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations
There was once a king and queen who ruled with the greatest kindness
and simplicity imaginable; and their subjects were just such good
folks as themselves, so that both parties agreed very well. As,
however, there is no condition in the world which has not its cares
and sorrows, so also this king and queen were not free from them; in
fact, the peace of their lives was considerably disturbed by a fairy,
who had patronised them from their earliest years. Fairy
Grumble-do--that was her name--was incessantly finding fault, would
repeat the same words a hundred times a day, and grumbled at every
thing that was doing, and at all that had been done. Setting aside
this little failing, she was in all other respects the best soul in
the world, and it gave her the greatest satisfaction when she could
oblige or serve anybody.
The union of the royal pair had hitherto proved childless, but
whenever they besought Fairy Grumble-do to give them children, she
invariably replied:--"Children! what do you want children for? To hear
them squalling from morning till night, till you, as well as I, will
be ready to jump out of our skins with the noise? What's the use of
children? Nobody knows what to do with them; they only bring care and
Some such remarks were all the king and queen got for their
entreaties; and the fairy's ill-humour, and the snuffling tone in
which she uttered these speeches made them quite unbearable. The good
king and queen, however, never lost their patience, so that at last
the fairy lost hers, and, in a pet, she all of a sudden gratified them
with seven princes at a birth.
The queen remarked in her usual mild and quiet manner, that she had
now a great many children, to which Fairy Grumble-do answered,
snarlingly:--"Well, you wished for children, Madam queen, and now you
have got them according to your wish, and in order that you may have
enough of them, I shall just double the number."
No sooner said than done, and the queen brought into the world seven
more princes at a birth. The royal pair were now quite in trouble;
fourteen princes of the blood are, in fact, no joke; for however rich
one may be, fourteen princes to nurse, educate, and establish
handsomely, costs a good bit of money. Fairy Grumble-do was quite
right there; fourteen princes do require a good deal of waiting on,
and so she found plenty to do all day, with finding fault, and
scolding first this attendant, then that nursemaid, then this servant,
or that preceptor; and when she once got into the children's
apartment, no one could hear himself speak, for the noise she made.
Still at bottom she meant very kindly, and she promised the anxious
queen that she would take good care of the princes, and one day
provide for them all. Those old times were very good ones, and things
were managed in royal residences with great simplicity. The young
princes played all day with the children of the towns-people, because
they went to the same school with them, and no one had a word to say
against it, which would hardly be the case now-a-days, for kings and
everybody else are grown much grander than they were then.
Quite close to the palace dwelt an honest charcoal-burner, who lived
in his little cottage contentedly on what he earned by the sale of his
charcoal. All his neighbours esteemed him as the worthiest man in the
world, and the king himself had great confidence in his capacity, and
would often ask his counsel in matters of government. He was called
the coal-man throughout all the country, and no one within ten miles
round would have any coals but from him, so that he had to serve every
household, even those of the nobility and the fairies. Wherever he
carried his coals, he was a favourite, and even little children were
not afraid of him, and no one ever said to them, "Behave prettily,
else the charcoal-burner will take you away." After working all day at
his business, he went to his little cottage at night to rest, and to
enjoy his freedom, for he was sole master in the house. His wife had
been long dead, and had left him only one little daughter, called
Gracious; for she was the prettiest creature in the world.
He loved this child beyond all measure; and, indeed, not without
reason, for a prettier little maiden could not be found on earth; in
spite of the coal-smoke that enveloped her, and her poor clothing, she
always appeared charming and agreeable, and no one could help
loving her on account of her wonderful amiability. The king's youngest
son, little Prince Chaffinch, who was as sprightly as he was pretty,
was extremely attached to Gracious, preferred her to all the other
children of his acquaintance, and would play with no one but her, so
that they were always seen together, and indeed, they could not live
without one another. Meanwhile the worthy coal-man, who felt old age
approaching, grew very anxious about the fate of Gracious, after he
should have ceased to live; for the partiality of the king for him did
not seem to him sufficient to put him at ease about her. "The king,"
he would say to himself, as he pondered on the subject, "has a large
family of his own, and is obliged to ask so much of the fairy for his
own necessities, that he surely will not have courage to put in a good
word for my child. Even if he were to promise to do so, I should not
depend on him. For"--thus he ever concluded his self-conferences, "the
poor king, is in fact, worse off than I am; he has fourteen to provide
for; I only one. His are princes; mine is only a poor burgher maid.
Mine therefore will be easier to provide for. A poor girl like her can
manage to get along in the world; she stands alone; but a poor prince
never; hundreds hang about him, draining him, and consuming all his
substance." Now, after thinking it over and over, he grew quite
unhappy at heart, and he knew not what to do. So he went one day, head
and heart full of care, to a very beneficent fairy, who had always
behaved very kindly to him. She was called Fairy Bonbon; she it was,
who, in order to please epicures, both small and great, invented those
sweets which now bear her name. When the good fairy saw the coal-man
in such trouble, she asked him what ailed him; and after he had given
her a highly sensible reply, she promised him in good earnest, that
she would take Gracious under her own care, and desired him to bring
the child to her the following Sunday.
The coal-man obeyed punctually, and when the time came he made little
Gracious put on her best clothes, and the new coloured little shoes he
had bought for her the day before, and set off with his dear little
daughter. Gracious skipped before him, then ran back to him, and took
hold of his hand, saying:--"We are going to the castle, we are going
to the castle!" for her father had not told her anything further about
When they arrived, Fairy Bonbon received them very kindly, but
notwithstanding all was so fine in the castle, and that she had so
many bonbons and other nice things, Gracious could not be happy when
her father went away and left her behind. For the first time in her
life she began to cry, and could scarcely leave off again. This
touched the fairy extremely, so that she grew quite fond of Gracious,
and all who were present said:--"My daughter would not cry so if she
were obliged to part from me." But in time little Gracious became
reconciled to her new residence, and was so obedient and docile that
the good fairy Bonbon never had occasion to reprove her, nor even to
tell her twice of the same thing, so that she took great delight in
When her father came to visit her, the pretty child always ran to meet
him, and threw herself into his arms without fearing to soil the fine
clothes which the fairy had given her. After kissing and caressing her
dear papa to her heart's content, she always inquired after her
friend, Prince Chaffinch, and sent him her best bonbons and toys. The
coal-man always carried them very conscientiously to the prince, who
never failed to send his thanks and a message to say how earnestly he
longed to see her once again.
Thus Gracious lived till she was twelve years old, and then Fairy
Bonbon, who was extraordinarily fond of her, took her father one day
into her boudoir, and desired him to be seated, as she did not like to
see the old man standing up in her presence. The coal-man excused
himself at first, but the fairy insisted, so that at last he was
obliged to obey, although it seemed to him a very strange thing to sit
down in his clothes all covered with coal-dust on a white taffeta
arm-chair, and he could not think how he should manage to prevent his
jacket from leaving marks on it.
At last, however, the fairy constrained him to be seated; and she then
said to him, "Old friend, I love your daughter."
"Honoured madam," replied he, "you are very kind; but indeed you are
much in the right, for she is a very dear child."
"I wish now to consult with you what I shall do," said the fairy; "for
you must know I shall be obliged shortly to travel for a considerable
time in another country."
"Ah, madam, then do have the goodness to take her along with you,"
rejoined the coal-man.
"That is not in my power," answered she. "I can, however, provide very
well for her. Only tell me what would be most agreeable to you that I
should do for her."
"Then I would most humbly beg," replied the coal-man, "that you would
have the kindness to make her queen of a little kingdom, just such a
one as may please your ladyship."
Though gratified by this request, the fairy represented to him, that
the higher the station, the more cares and sorrows it has; but the
coal-man assured her in return, that cares and sorrows are to be found
everywhere, and that those of royalty are the easiest to bear.
"I do not ask of you, most gracious madam fairy," continued he, "to
make me a king. I prefer remaining a charcoal-burner; that is my
trade, which I understand, and as for the trade of royalty, I do not
think that I understand that at all. But Gracious is still young, and
she can learn it, I'll be bound for it; it cannot, after all, be so
very difficult, for I see every day that people manage it one way or
"Well," answered Fairy Bonbon, as she dismissed him, "I will see what
I can do. I must tell you beforehand, however, that Gracious will have
much to suffer, and she will find it very bitter."
"Very possible, gracious Madam Bonbon," replied he. "I also have gone
through many bitter things, and have not gained very much after all,
so have the kindness still to make a queen of her; I ask nothing."
With these words he took leave.
Meanwhile Fairy Grumble-do had provided for almost all the fourteen
princes. She had sent some of them out into the wide world to seek
their fortunes, whereby they had at last succeeded in obtaining
kingdoms, and the rest she had wedded to rich princesses, so that at
least they were safe from want. For little Prince Chaffinch, as yet,
however, she had done nothing; so she came one day to court in her
usual agreeable humour, and found papa and mamma caressing and
fondling their child.
"Ha," said she, "that is a properly spoiled young gentleman, who will
never be good for anything all his days. I lay any wager he does not
know A from B. Repeat me your yesterday's lesson, sir, at once, and if
you miss a single word, you shall have a proper whipping."
Chaffinch immediately repeated his lesson, which, as usual, he had
learnt perfectly, and went through his examination in a style which
was quite wonderful for his age. The king and queen did not dare to
let their gratification at this appear, for fear thereby of
redoubling Madam Grumble-do's ill-humour, for she now maintained that
the instruction given to the prince was not worth a farthing; that it
was far too difficult and too learned for him.
She then turned to the king and queen: "Pray, what is the reason of
your never having asked me to do anything for him yet? It is just your
way. I have been worried into providing for all your other
simpletons--they are the most stupid kings reigning; but that one, of
whom something might perhaps be made, is to be spoilt by you, just
because he is your nest-quackel. But I will not allow it any longer.
He shall go out, and directly too. He is a fine youth, and it would be
a shame to leave him any longer with you. I will not have to reproach
myself with that; folks know that I am your friend, and they shall not
have to say that I encourage you in your follies. Now, let us have no
words about it; let us consider together what is best to be done, for
I am not at all obstinate; I am always willing to listen to good
The king and queen said very politely that she must decide on that,
for she knew very well that her will was theirs.
"Well then," replied Fairy Grumble-do, "he must travel; travelling
gives a young man a proper finish."
"Very true," said both king and queen with one voice. "But," continued
the queen, "consider that the outfit of the other princes very much
exhausted our coffers, and that just at present we have not the means
wherewith to send out Chaffinch in a style befitting his rank. It
would be very unpleasant for folks to say, 'That is the son of a king,
and he travels like a poor student.'"
"So, that's your vanity, is it?" growled the fairy; "truly vanity is
vastly becoming to people who have fourteen children. You say the
other youths have cost you so much; then, I did nothing for them, I
suppose; you leave all that out of your calculation. Pray, what did
they cost you? Just their bits of meals when they were at home, and a
couple of boxes full of clothes when they went on their travels. Who
found all the rest? Not you, truly; it was I; but you are a pair of
ungrateful creatures, so you are."
"Kind madam," answered the queen, "my husband has set down all the
expenses in the account-book; you can convince yourself."
"A pretty thing, indeed," rejoined Fairy Grumble-do. "Pray, how long
has it been in fashion for a king to keep a debtor-and-creditor ledger
like a tailor? That sounds vastly regal, truly. What is the use of all
the good counsels I have given you, if this is the way you conduct
yourselves. Shame on you! However, I will not worry myself, but I will
put an end to the thing at once. The youth is as giddy as a butterfly,
and wherever he goes he will be telling everybody 'I am a prince and
my father is a king,' Is it not so, eh?"
"Dearest madam godmamma," interposed Prince Chaffinch, "I will say
nothing but what you desire me to say."
"Wait till you are asked, Master Pert!" rejoined she; "you shall say
nothing at all, and I'll take care to prevent you from opening your
self-sufficient beak. Only wait a moment!"
As she blustered out this, she touched him with her wand, and
transformed him into the little bird which to this day bears his name.
The king and queen wished to embrace him, but there was no doing that
any longer now he had become so small; they could only set him on
their fingers. They had scarcely time to kiss him even, for he flew
off, in obedience to the fairy, who pronounced these terrible words:
"Fly where thou canst; do what thou must."
The tears of the king and queen, it is true, did move Fairy Grumble-do
a little, but she would not let that be seen, and merely said, "That
is just like you; you are served quite rightly," and then she seated
herself in her post-chaise, which was drawn by seven magpies and seven
cocks, who made a shocking noise; and off she drove in a very
ill-humour to the assembly of the fairies, which was held that very
By chance she was seated next to the kind fairy Bonbon, and as the
mouth is prompt to speak about that of which the heart is full, she
related to the latter all the trouble she had had in providing
suitably for the fourteen princes; during which narration she did not
fail to give it well to the king and queen, just as if they were
present. At last she asked her colleague if she happened to have a
kingdom or a princess to bestow on Prince Chaffinch.
Fairy Bonbon, notoriously the best-hearted creature in the world, who
was quite averse to this incessant scolding, told her that she would
willingly undertake to find one, but only on condition that Fairy
Grumble-do should not interfere in it, and permit her first to put
the young prince to the proof.
"Do what you please," resumed the latter, speaking more through her
nose than ever--"do what you please, so that I hear no more about the
She then renounced all her fairy rights over Prince Chaffinch, and
then drew up a formal contract, which they both signed with their own
hands in presence of the lawyer and of competent witnesses.
Bonbon, who soon perceived that her two protege's were well suited to
each other, resolved to look still closer into the matter, in order to
proceed the more securely, and to make Gracious truly happy. But she
was much pressed for time as the day of her departure was irrevocably
fixed, and was rapidly approaching. She had therefore to devise some
means by which the two might have an opportunity of working out their
own destiny by faith and truth. The first thing she did, therefore,
was to catch Chaffinch, whose natural sprightliness caused him to
delight greatly in flying about, to shut him up in a cage, and bring
him to her castle.
As soon as the young enchanted prince beheld Gracious he was very
joyful, flapped his wings, and tried with all his strength to get out
of the cage and fly to her. He was delighted, however, when she said
to him, "Good morrow, my little bird; dear, how beautiful you are!"
Yet he felt grieved at the same time that he could only answer her by
his twittering, but he did that as agreeably as he could, and made
every demonstration of tenderness that a bird could. This greatly
touched Gracious, though she did not in the least suspect the truth;
and she said, quite unreservedly to Bonbon, that she had always been
particularly fond of chaffinches; at which the kind fairy smiled, and
made her a present of the enchanted prince, on condition of her taking
care of him as of the apple of her eye. This Gracious willingly
promised, and did so too with the greatest satisfaction.
When the day came for the fairy to depart, she said to Gracious, "Take
great care of the chaffinch, and never let him out of the cage; for
were he to fly away, I should be extremely displeased."
She then entered her carriage, which was made of silver-paper. Her
castle, her garden, her domestics and her horses, all went off through
the air with her, and Gracious now remained alone and sorrowful in her
little house of porcelain, which assuredly was very pretty; but what
avails prettiness when one is sad? The garden was constantly full of
cherries, gooseberries, oranges, and, in short, of all imaginable
fruits, always ripe and well-flavoured; the oven, of biscuits,
tea-cakes, and macaroons; the store-room, of sweetmeats and
confectionery of all kinds: and all these good things might well have
consoled her, but she could not enjoy them, for the little chaffinch
slept unbrokenly in his cage. She visited him every five minutes, but
still he did not wake, and she mentally reproached the fairy with
having robbed her of such sweet consolation. At last, after trying
vainly every means of awaking him, she resolved to examine him closer,
to see if she could not discover the fairy's secret.
It is true she did not arrive at this resolution without that
uneasiness and self-reproach which one always feels when acting
contrary to an express command. She even opened the cage several
times, and then shut it again suddenly; but at last she blamed herself
for her timidity, summoned courage, and took the bird in her pretty
little hand. No sooner was he out of the cage than he flew out and
perched on the window-frame, which most unfortunately she had not
closed, so little had she thought on what might occur to her.
Embarrassed and alarmed, she endeavoured to catch him again.
The chaffinch flew into the garden, and she jumped out of the window,
which fortunately was on the ground-floor; but such was her anxiety
that she would have sprung out, had it been on the fourth story.
Calling him by the prettiest and tenderest names, she sought to entice
him, but whenever she fancied she would certainly catch him, off he
flew, from the garden to the field, and on towards a great forest,
which filled her with despair, for she knew perfectly well how useless
it would be to hunt after a chaffinch in a forest; when suddenly, the
bird, of which she had never lost sight, turned into the prince as she
had seen him when she was a child.
"What! is it you, Prince Chaffinch," exclaimed she,--"and you fly me?"
"Yes, it is I, lovely Gracious," replied he; "but a supernatural force
obliges me to keep far from thee; I desire to approach thee, and
They now indeed perceived that they were always at least four paces
distant from each other. Gracious, enraptured at again seeing the
prince, forgot how disobedient she had been to the fairy, and her
fears grew calm, in proportion as love took possession of her heart.
As neither of them dared return to the little dwelling which they had
left, nor indeed did they know the way back, they went into the wood,
gathered nuts, and asked each other a hundred questions as to what had
occurred since they last met. They then rejoiced at their good fortune
in being again together, and refreshed themselves with the hope of now
remaining near each other. At last they saw a peasant's hut, and went
to it to request shelter for the night, that they might resolve on
what they should do the next day.
The prince, when they got very near to it, said to Gracious, "Wait
here under this great tree, whilst I go and reconnoitre the house and
When he got there, he found a woman who was sweeping before her door,
and of her he inquired if she would receive him and Gracious for the
night into her house.
The old woman answered: "You seem to me to be two disobedient
children, who have run away from your parents, and do not deserve to
meet with compassion."
Chaffinch was, to say the truth, a little embarrassed by this remark,
but he said all sorts of flattering things to her, and offered to
labour for her; in short, he spoke like a lover willing to make any
sacrifice for his beloved, for he began to fear that Gracious would
have to pass the night in the wood, exposed to the wolves, of which he
had heard such terrible stories.
Whilst he was trying to persuade the hard-hearted old woman, it
happened that the giant Koloquintius, the king, or to speak more
accurately, the tyrant of the whole district, who was hunting in the
wood, rode past the very spot where Gracious was waiting. He thought
her surprisingly charming, and was a good deal astonished that she did
not think him equally so, nor appear to be enchanted at seeing him.
Without saying a word to her, he desired one of his suite to lift up
the little maiden and place her under his arm, which being done, he
set spurs to his horse, and galloped off to his capital city.
The cries and lamentations of Gracious did not move him in the least,
and she now--when it was too late--repented of her disobedience. Her
cries disturbed Prince Chaffinch and the old woman in their
conversation; the former ran towards the spot where he had left
Gracious; but who can describe his grief, when he saw her under the
giant's arm! Had he been there at the right moment, he would have
endeavoured at the risk of his life to prevent that deed of violence,
but now he had nothing to do but to follow her. But night overtook
him, he lost sight of her, and quite exhausted, he sat down to give
free course to his grief and tears.
As he sat, he perceived, close to him, a little light, like that of a
glow-worm. At first he paid no attention to it, but the light grew
larger and larger, and at last changed into a female clothed in a
brown garment, who said to him: "Console thyself, Chaffinch, do not
give way to despair; take this flask, which is made of a gourd, and
this shepherd's pouch; thou wilt find them always filled with whatever
thou desirest to eat and drink. Take also this hazel-rod, and when
thou hast need of me, put it under thy left foot and call me; I will
always come to thy assistance. This little dog is commanded never to
leave thee, thou may'st want him. Farewell, Chaffinch. I am the kind
Chaffinch was already greatly moved by these gifts, but when he heard
the name which Gracious had so often pronounced, he sank at the
fairy's feet, embraced her knees, and cried: "Ah, beneficent lady,
Gracious has been carried off, how is it possible that your Highness
did not hasten to deliver her?"
"I know what has befallen her," replied Bonbon,--"but she was
disobedient, I want not to know anything about her; thou alone must
At these words, the light and the fairy disappeared, and Chaffinch sat
in such darkness that he could not see his hand when he held it before
his eyes. He was however, much comforted by thinking that he could now
be of assistance to Gracious, though fear and anxiety still tormented
him greatly, and his new friend, the little dog, was unable by all its
caresses to divert him.
At last, the longed-for day dawned, and he was now able to continue
his wanderings. Towards evening he arrived at the chief city, where he
found everybody talking only of Gracious' beauty, and of Koloquintius'
passion for her. It was said that the giant was very shortly to marry
her, and that he had already commenced building a palace for the new
queen. This news cut little Chaffinch to the heart.
When the people with whom he was speaking, saw his shepherd's pouch,
they said, "This is a handsome little shepherd, why should he not tend
the king's sheep? His majesty is in want of a shepherd, and would no
doubt confer that high office upon him."
The desire of being near Gracious determined Chaffinch to take this
hint. He therefore presented himself before Koloquintius, who regarded
him attentively: as he only asked for courteous treatment, and
required no wages, the king appointed him to be his own private
shepherd. His new office did not, however, bring him into the vicinity
of Gracious, so that he did not gain much thereby. He only learned
that Koloquintius was very melancholy because Gracious did not respond
to his love, and this comforted him a little.
Some days after, as he was following his sheep, he saw a state
carriage, attended by twelve negroes on horseback, with drawn swords,
quit the palace, and in this carriage sat Gracious. Little Chaffinch
heroically threw himself in the way of the horses, held his shepherd's
staff before them, and thundered out with his feeble voice, "Wretches!
whither go you?"
When Gracious saw her Chaffinch in such great peril, she fainted, and
he also lost his senses. When he came to himself, he seized his hazel
wand,--instantly the good Bonbon stood beside him.
"Ah, kind lady!" said he, "Gracious is lost, perhaps already dead!"
"No," replied the Fairy, "Koloquintius is only sending her to the
tower because he is furious at her coldness to him, and her fidelity
to thee. Consider how thou may'st get thither also; think for thyself.
I will assist thee; only I cannot change thee into a bird, because
thou hast already been one; at all events Gracious will have much to
suffer, for the tower is a terrible prison, but it serves her quite
right,--why was she disobedient?"
Thereupon she vanished.
The prince, in great distress, conducted (that is, his little dog did
it for him) the king's sheep along the road which the carriage that
conveyed Gracious had taken, and he shortly came within sight of the
terrible tower, which stood in the midst of a great plain, and had
neither windows nor doors, only a small aperture at the top; it could
only be entered by a subterranean passage, the entrance to which was
concealed in a neighbouring mountain, which it was necessary to point
out to those who were unacquainted with it. Prince Chaffinch was very
glad that he had received such a clever little dog from the fairy, for
it did all his business for him, whilst he kept his eyes constantly
fixed on the tower. The more he considered, the more he was convinced
of the impossibility of getting into it; but love, which conquers all
difficulties, at last inspired him with a plan.
After he had lamented a thousand times that he could not again be a
bird, he besought the good fairy Bonbon, to change him into a paper
kite. She granted his request, and conferred on his little dog the
power of effecting the transformation; he barked three times, took the
hazel-rod in his mouth, and touched the prince with it, who now became
a paper kite, with power to resume his own form as occasion might
require. Then, by the aid of his faithful dog, the prince succeeded in
first reaching the top of the tower, and then getting within it to
It was no small delight to her to hear the assurances of his love, nor
was it a less one to him to hear the same from her, and gratefully did
he express his acknowledgments--for, in spite of his altered form, he
still retained his speech. The pleasures of this conversation would
have caused him to forget altogether that he could not remain for ever
in the tower, and that he must feed his flock, if the little dog, more
faithful to duty than he, had not pulled the string to which he was
fastened, just at the right moment.
Chaffinch no sooner reached the ground, than he resumed his own
figure, and drove the flock back again to the royal sheepfold; but his
whole thought was on the pleasure of flying to his dear Gracious,
which caused him to be greatly vexed whenever the wind blew too
strongly for him to be able to ascend, and Gracious shared in his
Thus they went on for some time; but as there are always to be found
people who interfere in what does not concern them, others who want to
know everything, and still more, others who are always striving to
show themselves very obliging to the great and rich; it was soon
observed by some of these, that the kite very often descended from the
dark tower. Koloquintius was informed of it; he instantly went
thither, in order to punish the audacious persons who dared to convey
letters in this manner to Gracious, for it never struck him that the
kite could serve for any other purpose. Chaffinch and Gracious were
just in the most interesting conversation, when they were disturbed
from it by the vehemence with which the faithful dog pulled back the
prince, for Koloquintius ran up to him, exclaiming vehemently: "Where
is the shepherd, where is the shepherd? I must kill him, because he
has not informed me of what is going on here."
The dog, fearing that Koloquintius might take the string out of his
mouth, and so get the prince into his own hands, let the kite fly,
which was carried far away by the wind, which happened to be very
high, and catching up the gourd flask, and the shepherd's pouch, ran
off to his master, whom he loved very much, and who now had resumed
his own figure. Favoured by the approaching night, they concealed
themselves in the mountains, whilst Koloquintius, foaming with rage,
was obliged to drive his sheep home himself. In order that no one
should approach little Gracious, he caused his whole army to draw up
on the plain, and commanded them to watch day and night, that no one
whatsoever should approach the tower.
Prince Chaffinch beheld all this from the high mountain where he and
the dog had placed themselves, and again appealed to Bonbon for
assistance. She immediately appeared, but when he begged her to give
him an army, wherewith to combat that of Koloquintius, she vanished
without saying a word, and only left him a rod, and a great bag of
sugar-plums. When one is sad, and one's heart is heavy, one is not
much inclined to take a joke; and at first Chaffinch thought she meant
to make a jest of him; but when he reflected how kindly she had always
acted towards him, his confidence in her returned, and he took the bag
of sugar-plums under his arm, and the rod in his right hand, and
accompanied by his faithful dog, advanced valiantly to meet the foe.
As he came nearer to them, he remarked that they grew gradually less
and less, and that their lines contracted; and when he got so near
that they could hear him speak, he perceived, to his no small
astonishment, that all these formidable soldiers, and moustached
grenadiers, had shrunk into children of four years old, so that he
cried aloud to them:--"Yield this moment, or you shall all be
whipped." Then the whole army began to cry, and ran away, pursued by
the dog, who soon threw them into complete disorder. To as many as he
could catch, Chaffinch gave sugar-plums, whereupon they immediately
swore to obey him.
Encouraged by their example, the others soon returned, and they one
and all submitted to Chaffinch; so that Koloquintius was now left
without an army to defend him, whilst the prince had a formidable one;
for as soon as they submitted voluntarily to him, they all recovered
their former size and strength.
By this time Koloquintius arrived; but he no sooner saw Prince
Chaffinch than he likewise lost his giant form and strength, and
became not merely a little child like the others, but a very little
dwarf, with crooked legs. The prince caused a dragoon's cap, and a
gay-coloured garment, with hanging sleeves, to be made for him, and
destined him to be train-bearer to Gracious, and to attend upon her in
After this great victory the first care of Chaffinch was to hasten to
the dark tower, in order to set his beloved free. After so many
sufferings and sorrows, her joy at finding herself again free was
indescribable. As they reached the city, Fairy Bonbon and Fairy
Grumble-do also arrived there from opposite directions. The two lovers
now expressed to them their warmest gratitude, and requested them to
decide their fate. Fairy Grumble-do replied:--
"I assure you I have never troubled my head about you; I should have
been a fool indeed to concern myself with such light ware. You are
nothing to me, for the rest of your blessed family give me quite
enough to do without you. Such a parcel of relations as belong to
Prince Chaffinch, never did king's son, in all the wide world, possess
before; a pretty brood truly."
"Dear madam and sister," interposed Fairy Bonbon, in the gentlest
manner, "you know our agreement; only have the kindness to cause the
king and queen, and the worthy coal-man, to come hither, and I will
undertake the rest."
"So," rejoined Madam Grumble-do, "I am to be wedding coachman--am I?"
"Oh! not so, dear madam and sister," answered Bonbon; "you have only
to say if it is not agreeable to you, and I will go myself."
"A pretty errand--a dog's errand," snarled Madam Grumble-do, who
nevertheless ordered her car to turn into a coach, and to bring
thither the desired guests. Whilst Bonbon, Gracious, and Chaffinch,
were caressing each other, Fairy Grumble-do met the Court-dwarf,
Koloquintius, who came in her way just at the right moment,--for
every one was welcome to her so that she had some one to scold,--and
she gave it him prettily on the text of his vanity and self-love.
"Now you are punished," said she, "and nobody pities you; but, on the
contrary, you are the laughingstock of all your former subjects; that,
however, you have always been, though formerly they ridiculed you
secretly, and in whispers; now, however, they do it loudly, and in the
market-place; it will do you a deal of good."
So she continued to abuse him till the arrival of the king and queen,
when she let him go and turned to them.
"You need not trouble yourselves to thank me for anything; it was not
I who sent for you, and indeed I am very sorry you are come, for now
there will be no getting rid of you again. Good counsel would be
thrown away upon you now, you irrational creatures."
She then perceived the old coal-man, and exclaimed:--"A pretty
father-in-law that, for a prince."
The coal-man was not the sort of person to take such an address
pleasantly, and would soon have given her a rough answer, but that the
good Fairy Bonbon came up and begged the company to walk into the
house. But Fairy Grumble-do did not like that neither; the general
joy made her peevish.
Gracious embraced her dear father a thousand times, who all this while
had not suffered any privation, for Bonbon had made him a present of
the porcelain house in which she had often received the king and
queen. These fondled their little Chaffinch, and willingly consented
to his marriage with Gracious, when proposed to them by Bonbon. The
subjects of Koloquintius were absolved from the oath they had sworn to
him, and acknowledged Prince Chaffinch as their lawful monarch. Thus
did the pretty prince obtain a fine kingdom and a charming wife.
Chaffinch and Gracious long governed in peace and happiness, and had a
great many dear children, who also became kings and queens, for a good
and pretty daughter makes not alone her own happiness, but also that
of her parents, and her husband.
Next: The Wolf And The Nightingale
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