|The Fairy Book|
|by Dinah Maria Mulock|
|One of the earliest collections of fairy tales from different countries, first published in 1863. Carefully selected and rendered anew in language close to the oral tradition. Includes old English tales, such as Jack the Giant-killer and Tom Thumb, as well as German stories from Grimm, and French tales of Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy, and many other delightful and time-honored fairy tales. Numerous black and white illustrations by Louis Rhead complement the text. Ages 6-9 |
THE FAIR ONE WITH GOLDEN LOCKS
HERE was once a king's daughter so beautiful that they
named her the Fair One with Golden Locks. These golden
locks were the most remarkable in the world, soft and
fine, and falling in long waves down to her very feet.
She wore them always thus, loose and flowing,
surmounted with a wreath of flowers; and though such
long hair was sometimes rather inconvenient, it was so
exceedingly beautiful, shining in the sun like ripples
of molten gold, that everybody agreed she fully
deserved her name.
Now there was a young king of a neighbouring country,
very handsome, very rich, and wanting nothing but a
wife to make him happy. He heard so much of the various
perfections of the Fair One with Golden Locks, that at
last, without even seeing her, he fell in love with her
so desperately that he could neither eat nor drink, and
resolved to send an ambassador at once to demand her in
marriage. So he ordered a magnificent equipage—more
than a hundred horses and a hundred footmen—in order
to bring back to him the Fair One with Golden Locks,
who, he never doubted, would be only too happy to
become his queen. Indeed, he felt so sure of her that
he refurnished the whole palace, and had
 made, by all
the dressmakers of the city, dresses enough to last a
lady for a lifetime. But, alas! when the ambassador
arrived and delivered his message, either the princess
was in a bad humor, or the offer did not appear to be
to her taste; for she returned her best thanks to his
majesty, but said she had not the slightest wish or
intention to be married. She also, being a prudent
damsel, declined receiving any of the presents which
the king had sent her; except that, not quite to offend
his majesty, she retained a box of English pins, which
were in that country of considerable value.
When the ambassador returned, alone and unsuccessful,
all the court was very much affected, and the king
himself began to weep with all his might. Now, there
was in the palace household a young gentleman named
Avenant, beautiful as the sun, besides being at once so
amiable and so wise that the king confided to him all
his affairs; and every one loved him, except those
people—to be found in all courts—who were envious
of his good fortune. These malicious folk hearing him
say gaily, "If the king had sent me to fetch the Fair
One with Golden Locks, I know she would have come back
with me," repeated the story in such a manner, that it
appeared as if Avenant thought so much of himself and
his beauty, and felt sure the princess would have
followed him all over the world; which when it came to
the ears of the king, as it was meant to do, irritated
him so much that he commanded Avenant to be imprisoned
in a high tower, and left
 to die there of hunger. The
guards accordingly carried off the young man, who had
quite forgotten his idle speech, and had not the least
idea what fault he had committed. They ill-treated him
very much, and then left him, with nothing to eat and
only water to drink. This, however, kept him alive for
a few days, during which he did not cease to complain
aloud, and to call upon the king, saying, "O king, what
harm have I done? You have no subject more faithful
than I. Never have I had a thought which could offend
And it so befel
that the king, coming by chance, or
else with a sort of remorse, past the tower, was
touched by the voice of the young Avenant, whom he had
once so much regarded. In spite of all the courtiers
could do to prevent him, he stopped to listen, and
overheard these words. The tears rushed into his eyes;
he opened the door of the tower, and called, "Avenant!"
Avenant came, creeping feebly along, fell at the king's
knees, and kissed his feet:
"Oh, sire, what have I done that you should treat me so
"You have mocked me and my ambassador; for you said, if
I had sent you to fetch the Fair One with Golden Locks,
you would have been successful and brought her back."
"I did say it, and it was true," replied Avenant
fearlessly; "for I should have told her so much about
your majesty and your various high qualities, which no
one knows so well as myself,
 that I am persuaded she
would have returned with me."
"I believe it," said the king, with an angry look at
those who had spoken ill of his favourite; he then gave
Avenant a free pardon, and took him back with him to
After having supplied the famished youth with as much
supper as he could eat, the king admitted him to a
private audience, and said, "I am as much in love as
ever with the Fair One with Golden Locks, so I will
take thee at thy word, and send thee to try and win her
"Very well, please your majesty," replied Avenant
cheerfully; "I will depart to-morrow."
The king, overjoyed with his willingness and
hopefulness, would have furnished him with a still more
magnificent equipage and suite than the first
ambassador; but Avenant refused to take anything except
a good horse to ride, and letters of introduction to
the princess's father. The king embraced him, and
eagerly saw him depart.
It was on a Monday morning when, without any pomp or
show, Avenant thus started on his mission. He rode
slowly and meditatively, pondering over every possible
means of persuading the Fair One with Golden Locks to
marry the king; but, even after several days' journey
towards her country, no clear project had entered into
his mind. One morning, when he had started at break of
day, he came to a great meadow with a stream running
through it, along which were planted willows and
poplars. It was such
 a pleasant, rippling stream that
he dismounted and sat down on its banks. There he
perceived, gasping on the grass, a large golden carp,
which, in leaping too far after gnats, had thrown
itself quite out of the water, and lay dying on the
greensward. Avenant took pity on it, and though he was
very hungry, and the fish was very fat, and he would
well enough have liked it for his breakfast, still he
lifted it gently and put it back into the stream. No
sooner had the carp touched the fresh cool water than
it revived and swam away; but shortly returning, it
spoke to him from the water in this wise:—
"Avenant, I thank you for your good deed. I was dying,
and you have saved me: I will recompense you for this
After this pretty little speech, the fish popped down
to the bottom of the stream, according to the habit of
carp, leaving Avenant very much astonished, as was
Another day he met with a raven that was in great
distress, being pursued by an eagle, which would have
swallowed him up in no time. "See," thought Avenant,
"how the stronger oppress the weaker! What right has an
eagle to eat up a raven?" So taking his bow and arrow,
which he always carried, he shot the eagle dead, and
the raven, delighted, perched in safety on an opposite
"Avenant," screeched he, though not in the sweetest
voice in the world, "you have generously succoured me,
a poor miserable raven. I
 am not ungrateful, and I will
recompense you one day."
"Thank you," said Avenant, and continued his road.
Entering in a thick wood, so dark with the shadows of
early morning that he could scarcely find his way, he
heard an owl hooting, like an owl in great tribulation.
She had been caught by the nets spread by bird-catchers
to entrap finches, larks, and other small birds. "What
a pity," thought Avenant, "that men must always torment
poor birds and beasts who have done them no harm!" So
he took out his knife, cut the net, and let the owl go
free. She went sailing up into the air, but immediately
returned, hovering over his head on her brown wings.
"Avenant," said she, "at daylight the bird-catchers
would have been here, and I should have been caught and
killed. I have a grateful heart; I will recompense you
These were the three principal adventures that befel
Avenant on his way to the kingdom of the Fair One with
Golden Locks. Arrived there, he dressed himself with
the greatest care, in a habit of silver brocade, and a
hat adorned with plumes of scarlet and white. He threw
over all a rich mantle, and carried a little basket, in
which was a lovely little dog, an offering of respect
to the princess. With this he presented himself at the
palace-gates, where, even though he came alone, his
mien was so dignified and graceful, so altogether
charming, that every one did him reverence, and was
eager to run and tell
 the Fair One with Golden Locks
that Avenant, another ambassador from the king her
suitor, awaited an audience.
"Avenant!" repeated the princess, "that is a pretty
name; perhaps the youth is pretty too."
"So beautiful," said the ladies of honour, "that while
he stood under the palace-window we could do nothing
but look at him."
"How silly of you!" sharply said the princess. But she
desired them to bring her robe of blue satin, to comb
out her long hair, and adorn it with the freshest
garland of flowers; to give her her high-heeled shoes,
and her fan. "Also," added she, "take care that my
audience-chamber is well swept and my throne well
dusted. I wish in everything to appear as becomes the
Fair One with Golden Locks."
This done, she seated herself on her throne of ivory
and ebony, and gave orders for her musicians to play,
but softly, so as not to disturb conversation. Thus,
shining in all her beauty, she admitted Avenant to her
He was so dazzled that at first he could not speak: then
he began and delivered his harangue to perfection.
"Gentle Avenant," returned the princess, after
listening to all his reasons for her returning with
him, "your arguments are very strong, and I am inclined
to listen to them; but you must first find for me a
ring, which I dropped into the river about a month ago.
Until I recover it, I can listen to no propositions of
Avenant, surprised and disturbed, made her a
reverence and retired, taking with him the basket and
the little dog Cabriole, which she refused to accept.
All night long he sat sighing to himself, "How can I
ever find a ring which she dropped into the river a
month ago? She has set me an impossibility."
"My dear master," said Cabriole, "nothing is an
impossibility to one so young and charming as you are:
let us go at daybreak to the riverside."
Avenant patted him, but replied nothing: until, worn
out with grief, he slept. Before dawn Cabriole wakened
him, saying, "Master, dress yourself and let us go to
There Avenant walked up and down, with his arms folded
and his head bent, but saw nothing. At last he heard a
voice, calling from a distance, "Avenant, Avenant!"
The little dog ran to the water-side—"Never believe
me again, master, if it is not a golden carp, with a
ring in its mouth!"
"Yes, Avenant," said the carp, "this is the ring which
the princess has lost. You saved my life in the willow
meadow, and I have recompensed you. Farewell!"
Avenant took the ring gratefully and returned to the
palace with Cabriole, who scampered about in great
glee. Craving an audience, he presented the princess
with her ring, and begged her to accompany him to his
master's kingdom. She took the ring, looked at it, and
thought she was surely dreaming.
 "Some fairy must have assisted you, fortunate Avenant,"
"Madam, I am only fortunate in my desire to obey your
"Obey me still," she said graciously. "There is a
prince named Galifron, whose suit I have refused. He is
a giant as tall as a tower, who eats a man as a monkey
eats a nut: he puts cannons into his pockets instead of
pistols; and when he speaks, his voice is so loud that
every one near him becomes deaf. Go and fight him, and
bring me his head."
Avenant was thunderstruck; but after a time he
recovered himself—"Very well, madam. I shall certainly
perish, but I will perish like a brave man. I will
depart at once to fight the Giant Galifron."
The princess, now in her turn surprised and alarmed,
tried every persuasion to induce him not to go, but in
vain. Avenant armed himself and started, carrying his
little dog in its basket. Cabriole was the only
creature that gave him consolation: "Courage, master!
While you attack the giant, I will bite his legs: he
will stoop down to strike me, and then you can knock
him on the head." Avenant smiled at the little dog's
spirit, but he knew it was useless.
Arrived at the castle of Galifron, he found the road
all strewn with bones and carcasses of men. Soon he saw
the giant walking. His head was level with the highest
trees, and he sang in a terrific voice—
"Bring me babies to devour;
Men and women, tender and tough;
All the world holds not enough."
To which Avenant replied, imitating the tune—
"Avenant you here may see,
He is come to punish thee:
Be he tender, be he tough,
To kill thee, giant, he is enough."
Hearing these words, the giant took up his massive
club, looked around for the singer, and, perceiving
him, would have slain him on the spot, had not a raven,
sitting on a tree close by, suddenly flown out upon him
and picked out both his eyes. Then Avenant easily
killed him and cut off his head, while the raven,
watching him, said—
"You shot the eagle who was pursuing me: I promised to
recompense you, and to-day I have done it. We are
"No, it is I who am your debtor, Sir Raven," replied
Avenant, as, hanging the frightful head to his
saddle-bow, he mounted his horse and rode back to the
city of the Fair One with Golden Locks.
There everybody followed him, shouting, "Here is brave
Avenant, who has killed the giant," until the princess,
hearing the noise, and fearing it was Avenant himself
who was killed, appeared, all trembling; and even when
he appeared with Galifron's head, she trembled still,
although she had nothing to fear.
"Madam," said Avenant, "your enemy is dead: so I trust
you will accept the hand of the king my master."
 "I cannot," replied she thoughtfully, "unless you first
bring me a phial of the water in the Grotto of
Darkness. It is six leagues in length, and guarded at
the entrance by two fiery dragons. Within it is a pit,
full of scorpions, lizards, and serpents, and at the
bottom of this place flows the Fountain of Beauty and
Health. All who wash in it become, if ugly, beautiful,
and if beautiful, beautiful for ever; if old, young;
and if young, young for ever. Judge then, Avenant, if I
can quit my kingdom without carrying with me some of
this miraculous water."
"Madam," replied Avenant, "you are already so beautiful
that you require it not; but I am an unfortunate
ambassador whose death you desire: I will obey you,
though I know I shall never return."
So he departed with his only friends—his horse and
his faithful dog Cabriole; while all who met him looked
at him compassionately, pitying so pretty a youth bound
on such a hopeless errand. But, however kindly they
addressed him, Avenant rode on and answered nothing,
for he was too sad at heart.
He reached a mountain-side, where he sat down to rest,
leaving his horse to graze, and Cabriole to run after
the flies. He knew that the Grotto of Darkness was not
far off, yet he looked about him like one who sees
nothing. At last he perceived a rock, as black as ink,
whence came a thick smoke; and in a moment appeared one
of the two dragons, breathing out flames. It had a
yellow and green body, claws, and a long
 tail. When
Cabriole saw the monster, the poor little dog hid
himself in terrible fright. But Avenant resolved to die
bravely; so, taking a phial which the princess had
given him, he prepared to descend into the cave.
"Cabriole," said he, "I shall soon be dead: then fill
this phial with my blood, and carry it to the Fair One
with Golden Locks, and afterwards to the king my
master, to show him I have been faithful to the last."
While he was thus speaking, a voice called, "Avenant,
Avenant!"—and he saw an owl sitting on a hollow tree.
Said the owl: "You cut the net in which I was caught,
and I vowed to recompense you. Now is the time. Give me
the phial: I know every corner of the Grotto of
Darkness—I will fetch you the water of beauty."
Delighted beyond words, Avenant delivered up his phial;
the owl flew with it into the grotto, and in less than
half-an-hour reappeared, bringing it quite full and
well corked. Avenant thanked her with all his heart,
and joyfully took once more the road to the city.
The Fair One with Golden Locks had no more to say. She
consented to accompany him back, with all her suite, to
his master's court. On the way thither she saw so much
of him, and found him so charming, that Avenant might
have married her himself had he chosen; but he would
not have been false to his master for all the beauties
under the sun. At length they arrived at the king's
city, and the Fair One with Golden Locks became his
spouse and queen. But she
 still loved Avenant in her
heart, and often said to the king her lord—"But for
Avenant I should not be here; he has done all sorts of
impossible deeds for my sake; he has fetched me the
water of beauty, and I shall never grow old—in short,
I owe him everything."
And she praised him in this sort so much, that at
length the king became jealous; and though Avenant gave
him not the slightest cause of offence, he shut him up
in the same high tower once more—but with irons on
his hands and feet, and a cruel jailer besides, who fed
him with bread and water only. His sole companion was
his little dog Cabriole.
When the Fair One with Golden Locks heard of this, she
reproached her husband for his ingratitude, and then,
throwing herself at his knees, implored that Avenant
might be set free. But the king only said, "She loves
him!" and refused her prayer. The queen entreated no
more, but fell into a deep melancholy.
When the king saw it, he thought she did not care for
him because he was not handsome enough; and that if he
could wash his face with her water of beauty, it would
make her love him more. He knew that she kept it in a
cabinet in her chamber, where she could find it always.
Now it happened that a waiting-maid, in cleaning out
this cabinet, had, the very day before, knocked down
the phial, which was broken in a thousand pieces, and
all the contents were lost. Very much alarmed, she then
remembered seeing, in a cabinet belonging to the king,
 phial. This she fetched, and put in the place
of the other one, in which was the water of beauty. But
the king's phial contained the water of death. It was a
poison, used to destroy great criminals—that is,
noblemen, gentlemen, and such like. Instead of hanging
them or cutting their heads off, like common people,
they were compelled to wash their faces with this
water; upon which they fell asleep, and woke no more.
So it happened that the king, taking up this phial,
believing it to be the water of beauty, washed his face
with it, fell asleep, and—died.
Cabriole heard the news, and, gliding in and out among
the crowd which clustered round the young and lovely
widow, whispered softly to her—"Madam, do not forget
poor Avenant." If she had been disposed to do so, the
sight of his little dog would have been enough to
remind her of him—his many sufferings, and his great
fidelity. She rose up, without speaking to anybody, and
went straight to the tower where Avenant was confined.
There, with her own hands, she struck off his chains,
and putting a crown of gold on his head, and a purple
mantle on his shoulders, said to him, "Be king—and
Avenant could not refuse; for in his heart he had loved
her all the time. He threw himself at her feet, and
then took the crown and sceptre, and ruled her kingdom
like a king. All the people were delighted to have him
as their sovereign. The marriage was celebrated in all
imaginable pomp, and Avenant and the Fair One with
Golden Locks lived and reigned happily together all
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