|The Blue Fairy Book|
|by Andrew Lang|
|A favorite collection of the best-known fairy tales, drawn from the folklore of many nations. It is the first and one of the best volumes in the series of colored fairy books produced by Andrew Lang at the turn of the twentieth century. Like the other volumes in the series, it includes engaging black and white illustrations that enliven the text. Inside you will find such favorites as Cinderella, Jack the Giant Killer, the Princess on the Glass Hill, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, and dozens of others. Ages 8-12 |
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
Now one of her neighbours 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 so 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 and 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's
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 him, 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 anyone else. He
 was called
Charming, and everyone loved him, excepting a few
envious people who were angry at his being the King's
favourite 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 than 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
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 favourite. 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
"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 treatment?"
"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 favourite.
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
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 trees to put it 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 couldn't help thinking that she would have 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 bank quite
boldly, she said:
"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 joyfully.
"Charming," said he, "it was very generous of you to
rescue a poor raven; I am not ungrateful, some day I will
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 gone 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
 that befell Charming upon his journey, and he
made all the haste he could to reach the palace of the
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
neighbour the King.
"Charming," said the Princess, "the name promises
well; I have no doubt that he is good-looking and
"Indeed he does, madam," said all her maids of honour
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 everyone 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 anyone
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 to never 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, couldn't eat any either, but came and lay
down close to him. All night 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
 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 someone 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
someone told the Princess that he was asking to see her.
"Ah! poor fellow," said she, "he must 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 your 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 favourite
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
does not 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
"Very well, Princess, I will fight this Galifron; I believe
that he will kill me, but at any rate I shall die in your
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. Everyone
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
this 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 terrible
"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 same tune:
"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 croaked out:
"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's 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 anyone 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 me."
"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 know
I shall never return."
And, as the Princess Goldilocks showed no sign of
relenting, he started with his little dog for the Gloomy
Cavern. Everyone 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 impossibilities?"
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 me my life. Then find the
King my master, and relate all my adventures to him."
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
 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 didn'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
 master so much, even for a kingdom, or to
please you, though I think you are as beautiful as the
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 hadn'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 every year."
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 much!"
"It is quite true, now I come to think of it," said the
King. "Let him be chained hand and foot, and thrown
into the tower."
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 gaoler, 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
into 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's
room, where she had placed it that she might see it often.
Now it happened that one of the Princess's ladies in chasing
a spider had knocked the flask off the shelf and broken
it, and every drop of the water had been spilt. 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
 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
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's side, and said:
"Madam, do not forget poor Charming."
Then she remembered all he had done for her, and without
saying a word to anyone 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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