|A Child's Book of Stories|
|by Penrhyn W. Coussens|
|A choice collection of favorite fairy tales, to delight children of all ages. The 86 stories selected for this collection include folk tales from England, Norway, and India, as well as the best fairy tales from Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault. The volume also contains a handful of fables from Aesop and several tales from the Arabian Nights. Ages 5-9 |
THE STORY OF PRETTY GOLDILOCKS
NCE upon a time there was a princess who was the prettiest
creature in the world. And because she was so
beautiful, and because her hair was like the finest
gold and waved and rippled nearly to the ground, she
was called Pretty Goldilocks. She always wore a crown
of flowers, and her dresses were embroidered with
diamonds and pearls, and everybody who saw her fell in
love with her.
Now, one of her neighbors was a young king who was not
married. He was very rich and handsome, and when he
heard all that was said about Pretty Goldilocks, though
he had never seen her, he fell deeply in love with her
that he could neither eat nor drink. So he resolved to
send an ambassador to ask her in marriage. He had a
splendid carriage made for his ambassador, and gave him
more than a hundred horses and a hundred servants, and
told him to be sure to bring the princess back with
him. After he had started nothing else was talked of at
court, and the king felt so sure that the princess
would consent that he set his people to work at pretty
dresses and splendid furniture, that they might be
ready by the time she came. Meanwhile the ambassador
arrived at the princess' palace and delivered his
little message, but whether she happened to be cross
that day, or whether the compliment did not please her,
is not known. She only answered that she was very much
obliged to the king, but she had no wish to be married.
The ambassador set off sadly on his homeward way,
bringing all the king's presents back with
for the princess was too well brought up to accept the
pearls and diamonds when she would not accept the king,
so she had only kept twenty-five English pins that he
might not be vexed.
When the ambassador reached the city, where the king
was waiting impatiently, everybody was very much
annoyed with him for not bringing the princess, and the
king cried like a baby, and nobody could console him.
Now, there was at the court a young man, who was more
clever and handsome than any one else. He was called
Charming, and every one loved him, excepting a few
envious people who were angry at his being the king's
favorite and knowing all the state secrets. He happened
one day to be with some people who were speaking of the
ambassador's return and saying that his going to the
princess had not done much good, when Charming said
"If the king had sent me to the Princess Goldilocks I
am sure she would have come back with me."
His enemies at once went to the king and said:
"You will hardly believe, sire, what Charming has the
audacity to say—that if he had been sent to the
Princess Goldilocks she would certainly have come back
with him. He seems to think that he is so much
handsomer than you that the princess would have fallen
in love with him and followed him willingly." The king
was very angry when he heard this.
"Ha! ha!" said he; "does he laugh at my unhappiness and
think himself more fascinating then I am? Go, and let
him be shut up in my great tower to die of hunger."
So the king's guards went to fetch Charming, who had
thought no more of his rash speech, and carried him off
to prison with great cruelty. The poor prisoner had
only a little straw for his bed, and but for a little
stream of water which flowed through the tower he would
have died of thirst.
One day when he was in despair he said to himself:
 "How can I have offended the king? I am his most
faithful subject and have done nothing against him.
The king chanced to be passing the tower and recognised
the voice of his former favorite. He stopped to listen
in spite of Charming's enemies, who tried to persuade
him to have nothing more to do with the traitor. But
the king said:
"Be quiet. I wish to hear what he says."
And then he opened the tower door and called to
Charming, who came very sadly and kissed the king's
"What have I done, sire, to deserve this cruel
"You mocked me and my ambassador," said the king, "and
you said that if I had sent you for the Princess
Goldilocks you would certainly have brought her back."
"It is quite true, sire," replied Charming. "I should
have drawn such a picture of you, and represented your
good qualities in such a way, that I am certain the
princess would have found you irresistible. But I
cannot see what there is in that to make you angry."
The king could not see any cause for anger either when
the matter was presented to him in this light, and he
began to frown very fiercely at the courtiers who had
so misrepresented his favorite.
So he took Charming back to the palace with him, and
after seeing that he had a very good supper he said to
"You know that I love Pretty Goldilocks as much as
ever. Her refusal has not made any difference to me;
but I don't know how to make her change her mind. I
really should like to send you, to see if you can
persuade her to marry me."
Charming replied that he was perfectly willing to go,
and would set out the very next day.
"But you must wait till I can get a grand escort for
you," said the king. But Charming said that he only
wanted a good horse to ride, and the king, who was
delighted at his being ready
 to start so
promptly, gave him letters to the princess and bade him
good speed. It was on a Monday morning that he set out
all alone upon his errand, thinking of nothing but how
he could persuade the Princess Goldilocks to marry the
king. He had a writing-book in his pocket, and whenever
any happy thought struck him he dismounted from his
horse and sat down under the tres to put in into the
harangue, which he was preparing for the princess
before he forgot it.
One day when he had started at the very earliest dawn
and was riding over a great meadow, he suddenly had a
capital idea, and springing from his horse, he sat down
under a willow tree which grew by a little river. When
he had written it down he was looking round him,
pleased to find himself in such a pretty place, when
all at once he saw a great golden carp lying gasping
and exhausted upon the grass. In leaping after little
flies she had thrown herself high upon the bank, where
she had lain till she was nearly dead. Charming had
pity upon her, and though he could n't help thinking
that she would nave been very nice for dinner, he
picked her up gently and put her back into the water.
As soon as Dame Carp felt the refreshing coolness of
the water she sank down joyfully to the bottom of the
river, then swimming up to the back quite boldly she
"I thank you, Charming, for the kindness you have done
me. You have saved my life; one day I will repay you."
so saying, she sank down into the water again, leaving
Charming greatly astonished at her politeness.
Another day, as he journeyed on, he saw a raven in
great distress. The poor bird was closely pursued by an
eagle, which would soon have eaten it up had not
Charming quickly fitted an arrow to his bow and shot
the eagle dead. The raven perched upon a tree very
"Charming," said he, "it was very generous of you to
 a poor raven. I am not ungrateful and some
day I will repay you."
Charming thought it was very nice of the raven to say
so, and went on his way.
Before the sun rose he found himself in a thick wood,
where it was too dark for him to see his path, and here
he heard an owl crying as if it were in despair.
"Hark!" said he; "that must be an owl in great trouble.
I am sure it has got into a snare." And he began to
hunt about, and presently found a great net which some
bird-catchers had spread the night before.
"What a pity it is that men do nothing but torment and
persecute poor creatures which never do them any harm!"
said he, and he took out his knife and cut the cords of
the net, and the owl flitted away into the darkness,
but then turning, with one flicker of her wings, she
came back to Charming and said:
"It does not need many words to tell you how great a
service you have done me. I was caught; in a few
minutes the fowlers would have been here—without your
help I should have been killed. I am grateful, and one
day I will repay you."
These three adventures were the only ones of any
consequence that befell Charming upon his journey, and
he made all the haste he could to reach the palace of
the Princess Goldilocks.
When he arrived he thought everything he saw delightful
and magnificent. Diamonds were as plentiful as pebbles
and the gold and silver, the beautiful dresses, the
sweetmeats and pretty things that were everywhere quite
amazed him. He thought to himself, "If the princess
consents to leave all this and come with me to marry
the king, he may think himself lucky!"
Then he dressed himself carefully in rich brocade, with
scarlet and white plumes, and threw a splendid
embroidered scarf over his shoulder, and looking as gay
and as graceful as possible, he presented himself at
the door of the palace, carrying in his arm
 a tiny pretty dog which he had bought on the way. The
guards saluted him respectfully, and a messenger was
sent to the princess to announce the arrival of
Charming as ambassador of her neighbor the king.
"Charming," said the princess; "the name promises well.
I have no doubt that he is good-looking and fascinates
"Indeed he does, madam," said all her maids of honor in
one breath. "We saw him from the window of the garret
where we were spinning flax, and we could do nothing
but look at him as long as he was in sight."
"Well, to be sure!" said the princess; "that's how you
amuse yourselves, is it? Looking at strangers out of
the window! Be quick and give me my blue satin
embroidered dress, and comb out my golden hair. Let
somebody make me fresh garlands of flowers, and give me
my high-heeled shoes and my fan, and tell them to sweep
my great hall and my throne, for I want every one to
say I am really 'Pretty Goldilocks.' "
You can imagine how all her maids scurried this way and
that to make the princess ready, and how in their haste
they knocked their heads together and hindered each
other, till she thought they would never have done.
However, at last they led her into the gallery of
mirrors, that she might assure herself that nothing was
lacking in her appearance, and then she mounted her
throne of gold, ebony, and ivory, while her ladies took
their guitars and began to sing softly. Then charming
was led in, and was so struck with astonishment and
admiration that at first not a word could he say. But
presently he took courage and delivered his harangue,
bravely ending by begging the princess to spare him the
disappointment of going back without her.
"Sir Charming," answered she, "all the reasons you have
given me are very good ones, and I assure you that I
should have more pleasure in obliging you than any one
else, but you must know that a month ago as I was
walking by the river with
 my ladies I took off my
glove, and as I did so a ring that I was wearing
slipped off my finger and rolled into the water. As I
valued it more than my kingdom, you may imagine how
vexed I was at losing it, and I vowed never to listen
to any proposal of marriage unless the ambassador first
brought me back my ring. So now you know what is
expected of you, for if you talked for fifteen days and
fifteen nights you could not make me change my mind."
Charming was very much surprised by this answer, but he
bowed low to the princess and begged her to accept the
embroidered scarf and the tiny dog he had brought with
him. But she answered that she did not want any
presents, and that he was to remember what she had just
told him. When he got back to his lodging he went to
bed without eating any supper, and his little dog, who
was called Frisk, could n't eat any either, but came
and lay down close to him. All night long Charming
sighed and lamented.
"How am I to find a ring that fell into the river a
month ago?" said he. "It is useless to try; the
princess must have told me to do it on purpose, knowing
it was impossible." And then he sighed again.
Frisk heard him and said:
"My dear master, don't despair; the luck may change.
You are too good not to be happy. Let us go down to the
river as soon as it is light."
But Charming only gave him two little pats and said
nothing, and very soon he fell asleep.
At the first glimmer of dawn Frisk began to jump about,
and when he had waked Charming they went out together,
first into the garden, and then down to the river's
brink, where they wandered up and down. Charming was
thinking sadly of having to go back unsuccessful, when
he heard some one calling: "Charming! Charming!" He
looked all about him and thought he
 must be
dreaming, as he could not see anybody. Then he walked
on and the voice called again: "Charming! Charming!"
"Who calls me?" said he. Frisk, who was very small and
could look closely into the water, cried out: "I see a
golden carp coming." And sure enough there was the
great carp, who said to Charming:
"You saved my life in the meadow by the willow tree,
and I promised that I would repay you. Take this; it is
Princess Goldilock's ring." Charming took the ring out
of Dame Carp's mouth, thanking her a thousand times,
and he and tiny Frisk went straight to the palace,
where some one told the princess that he was asking to
"Ah! poor fellow," said she, "he mush have come to say
good-bye, finding it impossible to do as I asked."
So in came Charming, who presented her with the ring
"Madam, I have done you bidding. Will it please you to
marry my master?" When the princess saw her ring
brought back to her unhurt she was so astonished that
she thought she must be dreaming.
"Truly, Charming," said she, "you must be the favorite
of some fairy, or you could never have found it."
"Madam," answered he, "I was helped by nothing but my
desire to obey your wishes."
"Since you are so kind," said she, "perhaps you will do
me another service, for till it is done I will never be
married. There is a prince not far from here whose name
is Galifron, who once wanted to marry me, but when I
refused he uttered the most terrible threats against
me, and vowed that he would lay waste my country. But
what could I do? I could not marry a frightful giant as
tall as a tower, who eats up people as a monkey eats
chestnuts, and who talks so loud that anybody who has
to listen to him becomes quite deaf. Nevertheless, he
 cease to persecute me and to kill my
subjects. So before I can listen to your proposal you
must kill him and bring me his head."
Charming was rather dismayed at this command, but he
"Very well, princess, I will fight this Galifron. I
believe that he will kill me, but at any rate I shall
die in your defense."
Then the princess was frightened and said everything
she could think of to prevent Charming from fighting
the giant, but it was of no use, and he went out to arm
himself suitably, and then, taking little Frisk with
him, he mounted his horse and set out for Galifron's
country. Every one he met told him what a terrible
giant Galifron was, and that nobody dared go near him;
and the more he heard the more frightened he grew.
Frisk tried to encourage him by saying:
"While you are fighting the giant, dear master, I will
go and bite his heels, and when he stoops down to look
at me you can kill him."
Charming praised his little dog's plan, but knew that
his help would not do much good.
At last he drew near the giant's castle, and saw to his
horror that every path that led to it was strewn with
bones. Before long he saw Galifron coming. His head was
higher than the tallest trees, and he sang in a
"Bring out your little boys and girls,
Pray do not stay to do their curls,
For I shall eat so very many,
I shall not know if they have any."
Thereupon Charming sang out as loud as he could to the
"Come out and meet the valiant Charming,
Who finds you not at all alarming;
Although he is not very tall,
He's big enough to make you fall."
 The rhymes were not very correct, but you see he
had made them up so quickly that it is a miracle that
they were not worse; especially as he was horribly
frightened all the time. When Galifron heard these
words he looked all about him, and saw charming
standing, sword in hand; this put the giant into a
terrible rage, and he aimed a blow at Charming with his
huge iron club which would certainly have killed him if
it had reached him, but at that instant a raven perched
upon the giant's head, and pecking with its strong beak
and beating with its great wings, so confused and
blinded him that all his blows fell harmlessly upon the
air, and Charming, rushing in, gave him several strokes
with his sharp sword so that he fell to the ground.
Whereupon Charming cut off his head before he knew
anything about it, and the raven from a tree close by
"You see, I have not forgotten the good turn you did me
in killing the eagle. To-day I think I have fulfilled
my promise of repaying you."
"Indeed, I owe you more gratitude than you ever owed
me," replied Charming.
And then he mounted his horse and rode off with
When he reached the city the people ran after him in
"Behold the brave Charming, who has killed the giant!"
And their shouts reached the princess' ear, but she
dared not ask what was happening, for fear she should
hear that charming had been killed. But very soon he
arrived at the palace with the giant's head, of which
she was still terrified, though it could no longer do
her any harm.
"Princess," said Charming, "I have killed your enemy. I
hope you will now consent to marry the king my master."
"Oh, dear! no," said the princess, "not until you have
brought me some water from the gloomy cavern. Not far
from here there
 is a deep cave, the entrance to
which is guarded by two dragons with fiery eyes, who
will not allow any one to pass them. When you get into
the cavern you will find an immense hole, which you
must go down, and it is full of toads and snakes; at
the bottom of this hole there is another little cave,
in which rises the fountain of health and beauty. It is
some of this water that I really must have; everything
it touches becomes wonderful. The beautiful things will
always remain beautiful and the ugly things become
lovely. If one is young one never grows old, and if one
is old one becomes young. You see, charming, I could
not leave my kingdom without taking some of it with
"Princess," said he, "you at least can never need this
water, but I am an unhappy ambassador, whose death you
desire. Where you send me I will go, though I shall
And as the Princess Goldilocks showed no sign of
relenting, he started with his little dog for the
gloomy cavern. Every one he met on the way said:
"What a pity that a handsome young man should throw
away his life so carelessly! He is going to the cavern
alone, though if he had a hundred men with him he could
not succeed. Why does the princess ask
Charming said nothing, but he was very sad. When he was
near the top of a hill he dismounted to let his horse
graze, while Frisk amused himself by chasing flies.
Charming knew he could not be far from the gloomy
cavern, and on looking about him he saw a black hideous
rock from which came a thick smoke, followed in a
moment by one of the dragons with fire blazing from his
mouth and eyes. His body was yellow and green and his
claws scarlet, and his tail was so long that it lay in
a hundred coils. Frisk was so terrified at the sight of
it that he did not know where to hide. Charming, quite
determined to get the water or die, now drew his sword,
and taking the crystal flask which Pretty Goldilocks
had given him to fill, said to Frisk:
 "I feel sure that I shall never come back from
this expedition. When I am dead, go to the princess and
tell her that her errand has cost my life. Then find
the king my master and relate all my adventures to
As he spoke he heard a voice calling: "Charming!
"Who calls me?" said he; then he saw an owl sitting in
a hollow tree, who said to him:
"You saved my life when I was caught in the net; now I
can repay you. Trust me with the flask, for I know all
the ways of the gloomy cavern and can fill it from the
fountain of beauty." Charming was only too glad to give
her the flask, and she flitted into the cavern quite
unnoticed by the dragon, and after some time returned
with the flask, filled to the very brim with sparkling
water. Charming thanked her with all his heart and
joyfully hastened back to the town.
He went straight to the palace and gave the flask to
the princess, who had no further objection to make. So
she thanked Charming and ordered that preparations
should be made for her departure, and they soon set out
together. The princess found Charming such an agreeable
companion that she sometimes said to him:
"Why did n't we stay where we were? I could have made
you king and we should have been so happy!"
But Charming only answered:
"I could not have done anything that would have vexed
my master so much, even for a kingdom, or to please
you, though I think you are as beautiful as the sun."
At last they reached the king's great city, and he came
out to meet the princess, bringing magnificent
presents, and the marriage was celebrated with great
rejoicings. But Goldilocks was so fond of Charming that
she could not be happy unless he was near her, and she
was always singing his praises.
 "If it had n't been for Charming," she said to
the king, "I should never have come here. You ought to
be very much obliged to him, for he did the most
impossible things and got me water from the fountain of
beauty, so I can never grow old and shall get prettier
Then Charming's enemies said to the king:
"It is a wonder that you are not jealous; the queen
thinks there is nobody in the world like Charming. As
if anybody you had sent could not have done just as
"It is quite true, now I come to think of it," said the
king. "Let him be chained hand and foot and thrown into
So they took Charming, and as a reward for having
served the king so faithfully he was shut up in the
tower, where he only saw the jailor, who brought him a
piece of black bread and a pitcher of water every day.
However, little Frisk came to console him and told him
all the news.
When Pretty Goldilocks heard what had happened she
threw herself at the king's feet and begged him to set
Charming free, but the more she cried the more angry he
was, and at last she saw that it was useless to say any
more; but it made her very sad. Then the king took it
in his head that perhaps he was not handsome enough to
please the Princess Goldilocks, and he thought he would
bathe his face with the water from the fountain of
beauty, which was in the flask on a shelf in the
princess' room, where she had placed it that she might
see if often. Now, it happened that one of the
princess' ladies in chasing a spider had knocked the
flask off the shelf and broken it, and every drop of
the water had been spilled. Not knowing what to do, she
had hastily swept away the pieces of crystal, and then
remembered that in the king's room she had seen a flask
of exactly the same shape, also filled with sparkling
water. So, without saying a word, she fetched it and
stood it upon the queen's shelf.
 Now, the water in this flask was what was used in
the kingdom for getting rid of troublesome people.
Instead of having their heads cut off in the usual way,
their faces were bathed with the water, and they
instantly fell asleep and never woke up any more.
So when the king, thinking to improve his beauty, took
the flask and sprinkled the water upon his face, he
fell asleep and nobody could wake him.
Little Frisk was the first to hear the news, and he ran
to tell Charming, who sent him to beg the princess not
to forget the poor prisoner. All the palace was in
confusion on account of the king's death, but tiny
Frisk made his way through the crowd to the princess'
side and said:
"Madam, do not forget poor Charming!"
Then she remembered all he had done for her, and
without saying a word to any one went straight to the
tower, and with her own hands took off Charming's
chains. Then, putting a golden crown upon his head and
the royal mantle upon his shoulders, she said:
"Come, faithful charming: I make you king and will take
you for my husband."
Charming, once more free and happy, fell at her feet
and thanked her for her gracious words.
Everybody was delighted that he should be king, and the
wedding, which took place at once, was the prettiest
that can be imagined, and Prince Charming and Princess
Goldilocks lived happily ever after.
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