Red White And Black
Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations
The eldest son of a mighty monarch was once walking alone in a field,
which, as it was the depth of winter, happened to be covered with
snow. He perceived a raven flying by, and shot him. The bird fell dead
on the ground and the snow was sprinkled with his blood. The glossy
black of his plumage, the dazzling white of the snow, and the red
blood, formed a combination of colours which delighted the eyes of the
prince. The impression did not pass away from his memory; the colours
seemed perpetually to float before his eyes, and at length he
conceived in his heart an intense desire to possess a wife who should
be as rosy as that blood, as white as that snow, and have hair as
black as the plumage of that raven.
One day as he sat profoundly musing on the object of his desires, a
voice said to him:--"My prince, go travel into Marvel-land, and there
in the centre of an immense forest you will find an apple-tree,
bearing larger and fairer fruit than you have ever yet beheld; pluck
three of the apples, but forbear to open them until you shall be again
at home; they will present you with a bride exactly such as you
Marvel-land was very remote from the prince's home, and very difficult
of access, but nothing could deter him from undertaking the journey.
He started forthwith, travelled over land and sea, and searched the
forest with the utmost diligence, till at length he found the tree. He
broke off three fine apples, and as, in the first transports of his
joy, he could not resist the curiosity which urged him, he opened one
of them on the spot. A lovely maiden came out of it so enchantingly
fair, and so exactly corresponding to the image he had formed, that he
was lost in admiration. But the maiden, so far from being well
disposed towards him, gazed on him with looks of scorn, and bitterly
reproaching him for having carried her off, vanished from his sight.
This great disappointment might naturally have reduced him to despair;
but as he was of a disposition to be easily consoled, he soon
comforted himself with the trust that the two remaining apples would
give him compensation for his loss. Full of this sweet hope, he
resolved not to open them until he should reach his own country. But
even the saddest experience does not always suffice to enable us to
resist temptation. The prince's impatience was stronger than his
reason, and a second time he yielded to his desire of opening one of
the remaining apples.
He was at that time on the sea, and as there is very little amusement
to be had during a voyage on that element, perhaps very few persons
would have acted otherwise than he did. He persuaded himself that if
he caused the whole of the deck to be covered with an awning, the fair
one could not escape him. He therefore opened the second apple, and as
before, a maiden of unequalled beauty stood before him; she manifested
the same displeasure as the former one, and notwithstanding the
precautions he had taken, disappeared in like manner. But even these
two experiences barely sufficed to render the prince prudent.
At length however he reached his native country, and on opening the
remaining apple, a third maiden as lovely as the others, but far more
gentle, appeared. He immediately married her, and they were the
happiest couple in the world.
After a time he was obliged to go out to war against a neighbouring
potentate, and thus to quit his beloved. The queen-mother, in whose
power the young bride now found herself, had never approved the
marriage. She caused her daughter-in-law to be murdered in a barbarous
manner, flung the corpse into the moat that surrounded the castle, and
to complete her guilty deed, she substituted for the unhappy queen a
person who was entirely devoted to herself.
When the prince returned he was greatly astonished to find a wife so
different from the one he had left. But the queen his mother assured
him confidently that the person she presented to him was his wife. She
did not attempt to deny the great alteration in her appearance, but
she ascribed the transformation to the effect of magic.
In truth, the mode by which the prince had obtained his wife did give
some appearance of probability to the queen's assertion, and at all
events, whether from softness of disposition, or absence of distrust,
the prince believed what he was told. But all was unavailing to make
him forget his first passion. Night and day he mused upon the past,
and would pass whole hours leaning against the window of his palace.
One day as he was thus musing in deep melancholy, he perceived in the
castle moat a fish whose shining scales were red, white, and black. He
was so struck by the sight that he never withdrew his eyes from the
fish. The old queen, who considered this extraordinary attention to
the fish as a consequence of his early passion, resolved to destroy
every object that might tend to recall it to his memory. She therefore
commanded the false princess to feign the most vehement longing to eat
the very fish which had so attracted her husband's attention. He could
not deny a request which in the opinion of all others was so innocent.
The fish was caught, served at the table of the supposed princess, and
the prince relapsed into his usual melancholy.
Not very long after he was comforted by the appearance of a tree which
was red, white, and black. The tree was of an unknown genus, no one
had planted it, nor sown any seed; it had suddenly grown up on the
spot where the scales of the fish had been thrown away.
This fair tree gave the prince great pleasure and the queen equal
displeasure; she at once resolved on its destruction in spite of the
sad prince's remonstrances. It was uprooted and burnt; but from its
ashes suddenly arose a magnificent palace constructed of red rubies,
white pearls, and black ebony. The three colours which the prince so
loved, produced now an enchanting effect. Long did he endeavour in
vain to enter that fair palace; the gates remained fast closed, and at
last he contented himself with incessantly contemplating it, and
passed day after day in this occupation which recalled to him the
object of his wishes.
His constancy was at last rewarded; the gates flew open; he entered
the palace, and after traversing numerous apartments, he found in a
small chamber his first wife whom he had so tenderly loved, and whose
memory was so dear to him. She reproached him for having by his
yielding disposition caused her so much suffering, but at the same
time testified the vivid joy which she felt as she perceived that he
was so deserving of the forgiveness she bestowed on him.
The happiness of the re-united pair was not again disturbed, and they
lived together perfectly satisfied with their destiny.
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