| Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare|
|by Edith Nesbit|
|Twenty stories from Shakespeare retold in lively prose. The author makes the complex language of Shakespeare's greatest plays accessible to young children by relating the stories that form the core of the plays. Her graceful, vivid retellings are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare's works. Ages 9-12 |
ERICLES, the Prince of Tyre, was unfortunate enough to make an
enemy of Antiochus, the powerful and wicked King of Antioch; and
so great was the danger in which he stood that, on the advice of
his trusty counselor, Lord Helicanus, he determined to travel
about the world for a time. He came to this decision despite the
fact that, by the death of his father, he was now King of Tyre.
So he set sail for Tarsus, appointing Helicanus Regent during his
absence. That he did wisely in thus leaving his kingdom was soon
Hardly had he sailed on his voyage, when Lord Thaliard arrived from
Antioch with instructions from his royal master to kill Pericles.
The faithful Helicanus soon discovered the deadly purpose of this
wicked lord, and at once sent messengers to Tarsus to warn the
King of the danger which threatened him.
 The people of Tarsus were in such poverty and distress that Pericles,
feeling that he could find no safe refuge there, put to sea again.
But a dreadful storm overtook the ship in which he was, and the
good vessel was wrecked, while of all on board only Pericles was
saved. Bruised and wet and faint, he was flung upon the cruel
rocks on the coast of Pentapolis, the country of the good King
Simonides. Worn out as he was, he looked for nothing but death,
and that speedily. But some fishermen, coming down to the beach,
found him there, and gave him clothes and bade him be of good cheer.
"Thou shalt come home with me," said one of them, "and we will have
flesh for holidays, fish for fasting days, and moreo'er, puddings
and flapjacks, and thou shalt be welcome."
They told him that on the morrow many princes and knights were
going to the King's Court, there to joust and tourney for the love
of his daughter, the beautiful Princess Thaisa.
"Did but my fortunes equal my desires," said Pericles, "I'd wish
to make one there."
 As he spoke, some of the fishermen came by, drawing their net, and
it dragged heavily, resisting all their efforts, but at last they
hauled it in, to find that it contained a suit of rusty armor;
and looking at it, he blessed Fortune for her kindness, for he
saw that it was his own, which had been given to him by his dead
father. He begged the fishermen to let him have it that he might
go to Court and take part in the tournament, promising that if
ever his ill fortunes bettered, he would reward them well. The
fishermen readily consented, and being thus fully equipped, Pericles
set off in his rusty armor to the King's Court.
In the tournament none bore himself so well as Pericles, and he
won the wreath of victory, which the fair Princess herself placed
on his brows. Then at her father's command she asked him who he
was, and whence he came; and he answered that he was a knight of
Tyre, by name Pericles, but he did not tell her that he was the
King of that country, for he knew that if once his whereabouts
became known to Antiochus, his life would not be worth a pin's
 Nevertheless Thaisa loved him dearly, and the King was so pleased
with his courage and graceful bearing that he gladly permitted
his daughter to have her own way, when she told him she would
marry the stranger knight or die.
Thus Pericles became the husband of the fair lady for whose sake
he had striven with the knights who came in all their bravery to
joust and tourney for her love.
PERICLES WINS IN THE TOURNAMENT.
Meanwhile the wicked King Antiochus had died, and the people in
Tyre, hearing no news of their King, urged Lord Helicanus to ascend
the vacant throne. But they could only get him to promise that
he would become their King, if at the end of a year Pericles did
not come back.
More-  over, he sent forth messengers far and wide
in search of the missing Pericles.
Some of these made their way to Pentapolis, and finding their King
there, told him how discontented his people were at his long
absence, and that, Antiochus being dead, there was nothing now to
hinder him from returning to his kingdom. Then Pericles told his
wife and father-in-law who he really was, and they and all the
subjects of Simonides greatly rejoiced to know that the gallant
husband of Thaisa was a King in his own right. So Pericles set
sail with his dear wife for his native land. But once more the
sea was cruel to him, for again a dreadful storm broke out, and
while it was at its height, a servant came to tell him that a
little daughter was born to him. This news would have made his
heart glad indeed, but that the servant went on to add that his
wife—his dear, dear Thaisa—was dead.
While he was praying the gods to be good to his little baby girl,
the sailors came to him, declaring that the dead Queen must be
thrown overboard, for they believed that the storm would never
 long as a dead body remained in the vessel. So Thaisa
was laid in a big chest with spices and jewels, and a scroll on
which the sorrowful King wrote these lines:
"Here I give to understand
(If e'er this coffin drive a-land),
I, King Pericles, have lost
This Queen worth all our mundane cost.
Who finds her, give her burying;
She was the daughter of a King;
Besides this treasure for a fee,
The gods requite his charity!"
Then the chest was cast into the sea, and the waves taking it, by
and by washed it ashore at Ephesus, where it was found by the
servants of a lord named Cerimon. He at once ordered it to be
opened, and when he saw how lovely Thaisa looked, he doubted if
she were dead, and took immediate steps to restore her. Then a
great wonder happened, for she, who had been thrown into the sea
as dead, came back to life. But feeling sure that she would never
see her husband again, Thaisa retired from the world, and became
a priestess of the Goddess Diana.
 While these things were happening, Pericles went on to Tarsus with
his little daughter, whom he called Marina, because she had been
born at sea. Leaving her in the hands of his old friend the
Governor of Tarsus, the King sailed for his own dominions.
Now Dionyza, the wife of the Governor of Tarsus, was a jealous and
wicked woman, and finding that the young Princess grew up a more
accomplished and charming girl than her own daughter, she determined
to take Marina's life. So when Marina was fourteen, Dionyza
ordered one of her servants to take her away and kill her. This
villain would have done so, but that he was interrupted by some
pirates who came in and carried Marina off to sea with them, and
took her to Mitylene, where they sold her as a slave. Yet such
was her goodness, her grace, and her beauty, that she soon became
honored there, and Lysimachus, the young Governor, fell deep in
love with her, and would have married her, but that he thought
she must be of too humble parentage to become the wife of one in
his high position.
The wicked Dionyza believed, from her servant's
 report, that Marina
was really dead, and so she put up a monument to her memory, and
showed it to King Pericles, when after long years of absence he
came to see his much-loved child. When he heard that she was
dead, his grief was terrible to see. He set sail once more, and
putting on sackcloth, vowed never to wash his face or cut his hair
again. There was a pavilion erected on deck, and there he lay
alone, and for three months he spoke word to none.
At last it chanced that his ship came into the port of Mitylene,
and Lysimachus, the Governor, went on board to enquire whence the
vessel came. When he heard the story of Pericles' sorrow and
silence, he bethought him of Marina, and believing that she could
rouse the King from his stupor, sent for her and bade her try her
utmost to persuade the King to speak, promising whatever reward
she would, if she succeeded. Marina gladly obeyed, and sending
the rest away, she sat and sang to her poor grief-laden father,
yet, sweet as was her voice, he made no sign. So presently she
spoke to him, saying that her grief might equal his, for, though
 was a slave, she came from ancestors that stood equal to mighty
PERICLES AND MARINA.
Something in her voice and story touched the King's heart, and he
looked up at her, and as he looked, he saw with wonder how like
she was to his lost wife, so with a great hope springing up in
his heart, he bade her tell her story.
Then, with many interruptions from the King, she told him who she
was and how she had escaped from the cruel Dionyza. So Pericles
knew that this was indeed his daughter, and he kissed her again
and again, crying that his great seas of joy drowned
 him with
their sweetness. "Give me my robes," he said: "O Heaven, bless
Then there came to him, though none else could hear it, the sound
of heavenly music, and falling asleep, he beheld the goddess Diana,
in a vision.
"Go," she said to him, "to my temple at Ephesus, and when my maiden
priests are met together, reveal how thou at sea didst lose thy
Pericles obeyed the goddess and told his tale before her altar.
Hardly had he made an end, when the chief priestess, crying out,
"You are—you are—O royal Pericles!" fell fainting to the ground,
and presently recovering, she spoke again to him, "O my lord, are
you not Pericles?" "The voice of dead Thaisa!" exclaimed the King
in wonder. "That Thaisa am I," she said, and looking at her he
saw that she spoke the very truth.
Thus Pericles and Thaisa, after long and bitter suffering, found
happiness once more, and in the joy of their meeting they forgot
the pain of the past. To Marina great happiness was given, and
not only in being restored to her dear parents; for she married
Lysimachus, and became a princess in the land where she had been
sold as a slave.
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