| Granny's Wonderful Chair|
|by Frances Browne|
|Seven fairy tales, set in an interesting framework in which are related the adventures of the little girl Snowflower and her magical chair at the court of King Winwealth. When Snow-flower, from her nook in the kitchen, said, "Chair of my grandmother, take me to the highest banquet hall," "instantly the chair marched in a grave and courtly fashion out of the kitchen, up the grand staircase, and into the highest hall." There it told the following stories to the king and queen, the fair lords and ladies, the many fairies, and notable people from other lands: The Christmas Cuckoo, The Lords of the White and Gray Castles, The Greedy Shepherd, The Story of Fairyfoot, The Story of Childe Charity, Sour and Civil, and The Story of Merrymind. Ages 7-10 |
 Snowflower was delighted at the promise of feasting with those noble
lords and ladies, whose wonderful stories she had heard from
the chair. Her courtesy was twice as low as usual, and she
thanked King Winwealth from the bottom of her heart. All the
company were glad to make room for her, and when her golden
girdle was put on, little Snowflower looked as fine as the
best of them.
"Mamma," whispered the Princess Greedalind, while she looked
ready to cry for spite, "only see that low little girl who
came here in a coarse frock and barefooted, what finery and
favour she has gained by her story-telling chair! All the
court are praising her and overlooking me, though the feast
was made in honour of my birthday. Mamma, I must have that
chair from her. What
 business has a common little girl with
anything so amusing?"
"So you shall, my daughter," said Queen Wantall—for by this
time she saw that King Winwealth had, according to custom,
fallen asleep on his throne. So calling two of her pages,
Screw and Hardhands, she ordered them to bring the chair
from the other end of the hall where Snowflower sat, and
directly made it a present to Princess Greedalind.
Nobody in that court ever thought of disputing Queen
Wantall's commands, and poor Snowflower sat down to cry in a
corner; while Princess Greedalind, putting on what she
thought a very grand air, laid down her head on the cushion,
"Chair of my grandmother, tell me a story."
"Where did you get a grandmother?" cried the clear voice
from under the cushion; and up went the chair with such
force as to throw Princess Greedalind off on the floor,
where she lay screaming, a good deal more angry than hurt.
All the courtiers tried in vain to comfort her. But Queen
Wantall, whose temper was still worse,
 vowed that she would
punish the impudent thing, and sent for Sturdy, her chief
woodman, to chop it up with his ax.
At the first stroke the cushion was cut open, and, to the
astonishment of everybody, a bird, whose snow-white feathers
were tipped with purple, darted out and flew away through an
"Catch it! catch it!" cried the queen and the princess; and
all but King Winwealth, who still slept on his throne,
rushed out after the bird. It flew over the palace garden
and into a wild common, where houses had been before Queen
Wantall pulled them down to search for a gold mine, which
her majesty never found, though three deep pits were dug to
come at it. To make the place look smart at the feast time
these pits had been covered over with loose boughs and turf.
All the rest of the company remembered this but Queen
Wantall and Princess Greedalind. They were nearest to the
bird, and poor Snowflower, by running hard, came close behind
them but Fairfortune, the king's first page, drew her back
by the purple mantle, when, coming to the covered pit,
and turf gave way, and down went the queen and the princess.
Everybody looked for the bird, but it was nowhere to be
seen; but on the common where they saw it alight, there
stood a fair and royal prince, clad in a robe of purple and
a crown of changing colours, for sometimes it seemed of gold
and sometimes of forest leaves.
Most of the courtiers stood not knowing what to think, but
all the fairy people and all the lords and ladies of the
chair's stories, knew him, and cried, "Welcome to Prince
King Winwealth heard that sound where he slept, and came out
glad of heart to welcome back his brother. When the lord
high chamberlain and her own pages came out with ropes and
lanthorns to search for Queen Wantall and Princess
Greedalind, they found them safe and well at the bottom of
the pit, having fallen on a heap of loose sand. The pit was
of great depth, but some daylight shone down, and whatever
were the yellow grains they saw glittering among the sand,
the queen and the princess believed it was full of gold.
 They called the miners false knaves, lazy rogues, and a score
of bad names beside, for leaving so much wealth behind them,
and utterly refused to come out of the pit; saying, that
since Prince Wisewit was come, they could find no pleasure
in the palace, but would stay there and dig for gold, and buy
the world with it for themselves. King Winwealth thought the
plan was a good one for keeping peace in his palace. He
commanded shovels and picks to be lowered to the queen and
the princess. The two pages, Screw and Hardhands, went down
to help them in hopes of halving the profits, and there they
stayed, digging for gold. Some of the courtiers said they
would find it; others believed they never could; and the
gold was not found when this story was written.
As for Prince Wisewit, he went home with the rest of the
company, leading Snowflower by the hand, and telling them all
how he had been turned into a bird by the cunning fairy
Fortunetta, who found him off his guard in the forest; how
she had shut him up under the cushion of that curious chair,
and given it to old Dame Frostyface; and
 how all his comfort
had been in little Snowflower, to whom he told so many
King Winwealth was so rejoiced to find his brother again,
that he commanded another feast to be held for seven days.
All that time the gates of the palace stood open; all comers
were welcome, all complaints heard. The houses and lands
which Queen Wantall had taken away were restored to their
rightful owners. Everybody got what they most wanted. There
were no more clamours without, nor discontents within the
palace; and on the seventh day of the feast who should
arrive but Dame Frostyface, in her grey hood and mantle.
Snowflower was right glad to see her grandmother—so were the
king and prince, for they had known the dame in her youth.
They kept the feast for seven days more; and when it was
ended everything was right in the kingdom. King Winwealth
and Prince Wisewit reigned once more together; and because
Snowflower was the best girl in all that country, they chose
her to be their heiress, instead of Princess Greedalind.
 that day forward she wore white velvet and satin; she
had seven pages, and lived in the grandest part of the
palace. Dame Frostyface, too, was made a great lady. They
put a new velvet cushion on her chair, and she sat in a gown
of grey cloth, edged with gold, spinning on an ivory wheel
in a fine painted parlour. Prince Wisewit built a great
summer-house, covered with vines and roses, on the spot where
her old cottage stood. He also made a highway through the
forest, that all good people might come and go there at
their leisure; and the cunning fairy Fortunetta, finding
that her reign was over in those parts, set off on a journey
round the world, and did not return in the time of this
story. Good boys and girls, who may chance to read it, that
time is long ago. Great wars, work, and learning, have passed
over the world since then, and altered all its fashions.
Kings make no seven-day feasts for all comers now. Queens
and princesses, however greedy, do not mine for gold. Chairs
tell no tales. Wells work no wonders; and there are no such
doings on hills and forests, for the fairies dance no more.
 Some say it was the hum of schools—some think it was the din
of factories that frightened them; but nobody has been known
to have seen them for many a year, except, it is said, one
Hans Christian Andersen, in Denmark, whose tales of the
fairies are so good that they must have been heard from the
It is certain that no living man knows the subsequent
history of King Winwealth's country, nor what became of all
the notable characters who lived and visited at his palace.
Yet there are people who believe that the monarch still
falls asleep on his throne, and into low spirits after
supper; that Queen Wantall and Princess Greedalind have
found the gold, and begun to buy; that Dame Frostyface yet
spins—they cannot tell where; that Snowflower may still be
seen at the new year's time in her dress of white velvet,
looking out for the early spring; that Prince Wisewit has
somehow fallen under a stronger spell and a thicker cushion,
that he still tells stories to Snowflower and her friends,
and when both cushion and spell are broken by another stroke
hatchet—  which they expect will happen some
time—the prince will make all things right again, and bring
back the fairy times to the world.
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