|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 PRINCE WITH THE NOSE
HERE was once a king who was passionately in love with
a beautiful princess, but she could not be married because
a magician had enchanted her. The king went to a good
fairy to inquire what he should do. Said the fairy, after
receiving him graciously: "Sir, I will tell you a secret.
The princess has a great cat whom she loves so well that
she cares for nothing and nobody else; but she will be
obliged to marry any person who is adroit enough to walk
upon the cat's tail."
"That will not be very difficult," thought the king
to himself, and departed, resolving to trample the cat's
tail to pieces rather than not succeed in walking upon it.
He went immediately to the palace of his fair mistress and
the cat; the animal came in front of him, arching its back
in anger as it was wont to do. The king lifted up his
foot, thinking nothing would be so easy as to tread on the
tail, but he found himself mistaken. Minon—that was
the creature's name—twisted itself round so sharply that
the king only hurt his own foot by stamping on the floor.
For eight days did he pursue the cat everywhere: up and
down the palace he was after it from morning till night,
but with no better success; the tail seemed
 made of quicksilver, so very lively was it.
At last the king had the
good fortune to catch Minon sleeping, when tramp, tramp!
he trod on the tail with all his force.
Minon woke up, mewed horribly, and immediately
changed from a cat into a large, fierce-looking man, who
regarded the king with flashing eyes.
"You must marry the princess," cried he, "because
you have broken the enchantment in which I held her;
but I will be revenged on you. You shall have a son
with a nose as long as—that;" he made in the air a
curve of half a foot; "yet he shall believe it is just like
all other noses, and shall be always unfortunate till he has
found out it is not. And if you ever tell anybody of this
threat of mine, you shall die on the spot." So saying, the
The king, who was at first much terrified, soon began
to laugh at this adventure. "My son might have a worse
misfortune than too long a nose," thought he. "At least
it will hinder him neither in seeing nor hearing. I will
go and find the princess, and marry her at once."
He did so, but he only lived a few months after, and
died before his little son was born, so that nobody knew
anything about the secret of the nose.
The little prince was so much wished for, that when
he came into the world they agreed to call him Prince
Wish. He had beautiful blue eyes, and a sweet little
mouth, but his nose was so big that it covered half his
face. The queen, his
 mother, was inconsolable; but her
ladies tried to satisfy her by telling her that the nose was
not nearly so large as it seemed, that it would grow
smaller as the prince grew bigger, and that if it did not a
large nose was indispensable to a hero. All great soldiers,
they said, had great noses, as everybody knew. The
queen was so very fond of her son that she listened eagerly
to all this comfort. Shortly she grew so used to the
prince's nose that it did not seem to her any larger than
ordinary noses of the court; where, in process of time,
everybody with a long nose was very much admired, and
the unfortunate people who had only snubs were taken
very little notice of.
Great care was observed in the education of the prince;
and as soon as he could speak they told him all sorts of
amusing tales, in which all the bad people had short noses,
and all the good people long ones. No person was
suffered to come near him who had not a nose of more
than ordinary length; nay, to such an extent did the
courtiers carry their fancy, that the noses of all the little
babies were ordered to be pulled out as far as possible
several times a day, in order to make them grow. But
grow as they would, they never could grow as long as that
of Prince Wish. When he was old enough his tutor taught
him history; and whenever any great king or lovely
princess was referred to, the tutor always took care to
mention that he or she had a long nose. All the royal
apartments were filled with pictures and portraits having
this peculiarity, so that at
 last Prince Wish began to
regard the length of his nose as his greatest perfection,
and would not have had it an inch less even to save his
When he was twenty years old his mother and his
people wished him to marry. They procured for him the
likenesses of many princesses, but the one he preferred
was Princess Darling, daughter of a powerful monarch
and heiress to several kingdoms. Alas! with all her
beauty, this princess had one great misfortune, a little
turned-up nose, which, every one else said, made her only
the more bewitching. But here, in the kingdom of Prince
Wish, the courtiers were thrown by it into the utmost
perplexity. They were in the habit of laughing at all
small noses; but how dared they make fun of the nose of
Princess Darling? Two unfortunate gentlemen, whom
Prince Wish had overheard doing so, were ignominiously
banished from the court and capital.
After this, the courtiers became alarmed, and tried to
correct their habit of speech; but they would have found
themselves in constant difficulties, had not one clever person
struck out a bright idea. He said that though it was
indispensably necessary for a man to have a great nose,
women were different; and that a learned man had
discovered in a very old manuscript that the celebrated
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, the beauty of the ancient
world, had a turned-up nose. At this information Prince
Wish was so delighted that he made the courtier a very
handsome present, and immediately sent off ambassadors
to demand Princess Darling in marriage.
 She accepted his offer at once, and returned with the
ambassadors. He made all haste to meet and welcome
her; but when she was only three leagues distant from
his capital, before he had time even to kiss her hand, the
magician who had once assumed the shape of his mother's
cat, Minon, appeared in the air and carried her off before
the lover's very eyes.
Prince Wish, almost beside himself with grief, declared
that nothing should induce him to return to his throne
and kingdom till he had found Darling. He would suffer
none of his courtiers or attendants to follow him; but,
bidding them all adieu, mounted a good horse, laid the
reins on the animal's neck, and let him take him wherever
The horse entered a wide-extended plain, and trotted
on steadily the whole day without finding a single house.
Master and beast began almost to faint with hunger; and
Prince Wish might have wished himself safe at home again,
had he not discovered, just at dusk, a cavern, where there
sat, beside a bright lantern, a little woman who might have
been more than a hundred years old.
She put on her spectacles the better to look at the
stranger, and he noticed that her nose was so small that
the spectacles would hardly stay on; then the prince and
the fairy,—for it was a fairy,—burst into a mutual fit of
"What a funny nose!" cried the one.
"Not so funny as yours, madam," returned the other.
"But pray let us leave our noses alone,
 and be good
enough to give me something to eat, for I am dying with
hunger, and so is my poor horse."
"With all my heart," answered the fairy. "Although
your nose is ridiculously long, you are no less the son of
one of my best friends. I loved your father like a brother;
he had a very handsome nose."
"What is wanting to my nose?" asked Wish, rather
"Oh! nothing at all. On the contrary, there is a
great deal too much of it; but never mind, one may be a
very honest man, and yet have too big a nose. As I said,
I was a great friend of your father's; he came often to
see me. I was very pretty then, and oftentimes he used
to say to me, 'My sister—' "
"I will hear the rest, madam, with pleasure, when I
have supped; but will you condescend to remember that
I have tasted nothing all day?"
"Poor boy!" said the fairy, "I will give you some
supper directly; and while you eat it I will tell you my
history in six words, for I hate much talking. A long
tongue is as insupportable as a long nose; and I remember
when I was young how much I used to be admired because
I was not a talker; indeed, some one said to the queen,
my mother,—for poor as you see me now, I am the
daughter of a great king, who always—"
"Ate when he was hungry, I hope," interrupted the
prince, whose patience was fast departing.
 "You are right," said the imperturbable old fairy;
and I will bring you your supper directly, only I wish
first just to say that the king my father—"
"Hang the king your father!" Prince Wish was
about to exclaim, but he stopped himself, and only observed
that however the pleasure of her conversation might make
him forget his hunger, it could not have the same effect
upon his horse, who was really starving.
The fairy, pleased at his civility, called her servants
and bade them supply him at once with all he needed.
"And," added she, "I must say you are very polite and
very good-tempered, in spite of your nose."
"What has the old woman to do with my nose?"
thought the prince. "If I were not so very hungry I would
soon show her what she is—a regular old gossip and
chatter-box. She to fancy she talks little, indeed! One
must be very foolish not to know one's own defects.
This comes of being born a princess. Flatterers have
spoiled her, and persuaded her that she talks little. Little,
indeed! I never knew anybody chatter so much."
While the prince thus meditated, the servants were
laying the table, the fairy asking them a hundred unnecessary
questions, simply for the pleasure of hearing
herself talk. "Well," thought Wish, "I am delighted
that I came hither, if only to learn how wise I have been
in never listening to flatterers, who hide from us our faults,
or make us believe they are
perfec-  tions. But they could
never deceive me. I know all my own weak points, I
trust." As truly he believed he did.
So he went on eating contentedly, nor stopped till the
old fairy began to address him.
"Prince," said she, " will you be kind enough to turn
a little? Your nose casts such a shadow that I cannot see
what is in my plate. And, as I was saying, your father
admired me and always made me welcome at court.
What is the court etiquette there now? Do the ladies
still go to assemblies, promenades, balls?—I beg your
pardon for laughing, but how very long your nose is."
"I wish you would cease to speak of my nose," said
the prince, becoming annoyed. "It is what it is, and I do
not desire it any shorter."
"Oh! I see that I have vexed you," returned the
fairy. "Nevertheless, I am one of your best friends, and so
I shall take the liberty of always—" She would doubtless
have gone on talking till midnight; but the prince, unable
to bear it any longer, here interrupted her, thanked her
for her hospitality, bade her a hasty adieu, and rode
He travelled for a long time, half over the world, but
he heard no news of Princess Darling. However, in each
place he went to, he heard one remarkable fact—the great
length of his own nose. The little boys in the streets
jeered at him, the peasants stared at him, and the more
polite ladies and gentlemen whom he met in society used
to try in vain to keep from
 laughing, and to get out of
his way as soon as they could. So the poor prince became
gradually quite forlorn and solitary; he thought all the
world was mad, but still he never thought of there being
anything queer about his own nose.
At last the old fairy, who, though she was a chatter-box,
was very good-natured, saw that he was almost
breaking his heart. She felt sorry for him, and wished to
help him in spite of himself, for she knew the enchantment,
which hid from him the Princess Darling, could never be
broken till he had discovered his own defect. So she went
in search of the princess, and being more powerful than
the magician, since she was a good fairy, and he was an
evil magician, she got her away from him, and shut her
up in a palace of crystal, which she placed on the road
which Prince Wish had to pass.
He was riding along, very melancholy, when he saw
the palace; and at its entrance was a room, made of the
purest glass, in which sat his beloved princess, smiling and
beautiful as ever. He leaped from his horse, and ran
towards her. She held out her hand for him to kiss, but
he could not get at it for the glass. Transported with
eagerness and delight, he dashed his sword through the
crystal, and succeeded in breaking a small opening, to
which she put up her beautiful rosy mouth. But it was
in vain, Prince Wish could not approach it. He twisted
his neck about, and turned his head on all sides, till at
length, putting up his hand to his face, he discovered the
 "It must be confessed," exclaimed he, "that my nose
is too long."
That moment the glass walls all split asunder, and the
old fairy appeared, leading Princess Darling.
"Avow, prince," said she, "that you are very much
obliged to me, for now the enchantment is ended. You
may marry the object of your choice. But," added she,
smiling, "I fear I might have talked to you for ever on
the subject of your nose, and you would not have believed
me in its length, till it became an obstacle to your own
inclinations. Now behold it!" and she held up a crystal
mirror. Are you satisfied to be no different from other
"Perfectly," said Prince Wish, who found his nose
had shrunk to an ordinary length. And, taking the
Princess Darling by the hand, he kissed her, courteously,
affectionately, and satisfactorily. Then they departed to
their own country, and lived very happy all their days.
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