("Uletka a kilencz törptéknél.")
N a certain country there dwelt a prince whose name was
Elkàbo. He had a dear little daughter called Uletka, who
was a most sweet child. She and her father lived quite alone
in an old castle with four towers, that stood in a beautiful
glade in the centre of a great forest.
Uletka was a most dainty and lovely little maid, her
wings—she had wings, being related to a fairy—had grown
quite strong, and glistened in the sunshine, reflecting all
the colours of the rainbow. So sweet and graceful was
little Uletka, that perhaps you would imagine she had no
faults. Unfortunately she had one, which a wicked and
revengeful fairy, who was offended with Nastia, her mother,
had endowed her with, and this was the dreadful fault of
This wicked fairy, whose name was Mutà, had done even worse
than this. She it was who had lured poor Nastia to
destruction. In the forest was a great lake, overshadowed
by trees, and covered over with water-lilies and lotus,
while round its edge grew tall rushes. One day, when Nastia
was walking by the shore of this lake, Mutà hid herself in
the water, and calling out for help, pretended she was in
danger of drowning. Nastia crept out on the great leaves of the
water-lilies and grasped Mutà's hands, whereupon the
spiteful fairy dragged her down to the bottom.
Poor Nastia could
not swim, besides which, Mutà held both her hands.
She tried to struggle and to call for help, but it was useless,
 and thus she drowned. Prince Elkàbo, her husband, and all
the neighbours, searched for her everywhere, and when they
reached the edge of the lake they saw her body floating far
the lotus flowers. As they watched she slowly changed
into a most beautiful snow-white water-lily.
Elkàbo wept bitterly, and even the birds ceased to sing. A
kingfisher, who was sitting on a flag-leaf, cried
out to him that it was the work of the wicked fairy, Mutà.
Then Elkàbo mounted his horse and quickly
sought audience of the Queen of the Fairies, who lived at
the furthest end of the country in a palace of
crystal that had been erected among the
mountains. He told her and all her
courtiers, wise men and magicians, what misfortune had
befallen him. Mutà's evil deed excited general indignation
throughout the court, and the Queen ordered that the fairy
should be transformed into a white lizard, which her head
magician immediately proceeded to do. Then Her Majesty
decreed that if Elkàbo could catch the lizard, he might be
allowed to retain it captive until his little daughter,
Uletka, who was then a baby, should release it with her own
hands. In the event of this happening not even the Fairy
Queen herself could prevent Mutà from resuming her
natural form, together with her evil powers.
So Elkàbo returned home and searched day and night,
travelling far and wide, until, at last, far away in Japan,
he found the white lizard, hidden away under a cluster of
orchids. He captured it and fastened it in a little cage
made of silver wire, and every day he fed it himself, and
would let no one else come near it. But as time went on
Elkàbo grow afraid that Uletka might open the cage, as she
was such a very inquisitive little girl. So he built
 tower near the edge of the lake, and there hung the cage,
and every day he went down to the tower and fed the lizard
with his own hands. The key of the tower he always wore
suspended from his neck by a little gold chain, and no one
but himself knew the secret of the tower by the lake.
Now Uletka was excessively curious, and often she would
wander round the tower and turn the handle of the door, and
fret because she always found it locked. She
dared not ask her father any more about it, for she had done
so once, and then she thought that she never had seen her
dear, kind father so angry before.
At last, one day, Elkàbo was obliged to go on a journey, and
as Uletka was getting quite a big girl, he felt he could
safely entrust her with the key of the tower. He was going
to be away two or three days, and told her that in the
meanwhile she must go up every day to the tower and take
with her a small bowl of bread. Uletka promised to obey her
father implicitly, and really meant to keep her promise.
Nevertheless, no sooner had Elkàbo departed than Uletka,
unable to check her curiosity, started off to see the
wonderful lizard in the tower by the lake. She opened
the door with a trembling hand, and there, in a cage made
entirely of silver wire, was the loveliest lizard she had
ever seen. It ran up and down the cage and played with
a straw that Uletka held out. She was quite enchanted, and
remained a long time watching it play.
"What a lovely fairy you are," the lizard said suddenly.
Uletka was not at all astonished at hearing the lizard talk.
It was so very pretty, that she at once knew it must be a
fairy in disguise.
"Oh! I am not a fairy," said Uletka, modestly. "I
am only a little girl, and am living with my father, Prince
Elkàbo, at the palace yonder."
"How funny," said the lizard, "I made sure you
were a fairy, you had such pretty wings; I
 am a fairy you know, my name is Mutà. What is yours?"
"My name is Uletka."
"What a pretty name," said the wily lizard. "I am sure
I could easily make you into a fairy if I only had my magic
cloak here. I would throw it over your shoulders,
and you would become one immediately, and have the power to
appear or disappear at will, turn into a tiny mouse, or a
monstrous giant, and, in fact, go anywhere, and see
everything just as you chose."
"Oh!" said Uletka, excitedly, "tell me where our
magic cloak is, I will fetch it for you. I do so long
to be a
fairy. Do you really think I could become one?"
"'There is no doubt about it," said the lizard; "my cloak
would soon turn a pretty little girl like you into a fairy.
Dear me, dear me, if I only could get out, I know
exactly where to find it, together with the necessary wand.
Hobo, the king of the gnomes, once hid it in a rose-bush,
out of spite, and changed me into a lizard, and locked me
up in a cage, so that I should not be able to get at it. But
I know where it is, and if you will help me to get out you
shall become a great and powerful fairy."
In one moment Uletka quite forgot her promise to her
father, and only thought of the delights of becoming a real
fairy, and being able to go
where she liked, and see and know everything.
 the cage, and the lizard jumped out. In an instant it
changed into a fairy, with raven hair, and great flashing
eyes, dressed in a garment of black gauze, all covered
over with golden stars.
She turned on Uletka, tore her
pretty clothes, and broke her dainty
wings. Laughing at her for her vanity and curiosity in
thinking she could ever become a fairy, she drove her
along into the forest,
right to the other side of the lake, all among the dark
trees, where she had never been before; then the wicked
fairy vanished, and left her lying on the ground, weeping
After poor little Uletka had been there some time she
thought she heard her name softly whispered by the wind;
then it sounded more distinctly, breathed in a sweet, sad
voice, like a flower sighing. Uletka stalked gently
towards the sound, and it grew louder and louder, until it
seemed as if the trees murmured her name, one to another,
and as she reached again the enchanted lake the voice rose
from the waters, calling "Uletka! Uletka!"
As she stood listening, spellbound, the petals of a
magnificent water-lily unfolded, and disclosed a fairy form
of exquisite beauty, the spirit of her mother—Nastia. She
beckoned to Uletka to approach, which the little girl did,
stepping on the great flat leaves of the lilies. Nastia
then told her to go into the forest, past the
silver poplars and the enchanted palm-tree, till she found a
great beech standing all alone. There she would find
friends, and be safe from the power of the cruel Mutà,
who otherwise would be certain to pursue her.
Uletka then knelt on the lily-leaves, and kissed her
mother among the silver petals,
then slowly saw them fold, hiding her mother from her view.
 Away she sped, quickly past the poplars and the enchanted
palm tree, till she was so tired and her feet so sore that
she could hardly walk, but at last she came up to
the tall solitary beech, standing towering above all the
other trees of the forest. She went round it, and there in
the very centre of the trunk, she discovered a little door.
She knocked, but no one came; only the squirrels chattered
together and called, "Who is that knocking at the Gnomes'
door? whilst a blackbird echoing, said, "Yes; who can that
be knocking at the Gnomes' door?"
At last, Uletka, tired of knocking, turned the little handle
and went in. There, right in the very heart of the tree was
a room with nine little chairs, and a table carved out of
the wood of the tree, and on the table were dishes and
spoons of wood, and a great feast of nuts, berries and other
kinds of fruit, and large bowls full of delicious honey.
So, as Uletka was very hungry, she sat down and ate some
honey and nuts,
after which, feeling much better, she lay down on the floor
and fell asleep. . . . .
When she awoke she was
surrounded by a number of
little men, with funny faces all laughing and looking at her;
some of them
were pulling her hair and saying, "Yes, yes,
we know you; you are Uletka,
you have let the
wicked fairy, Mutà, escape. If she finds you she will
kill you, but you
are quite safe with us, therefore with us you must stay."
 And the birds outside sang in chorus, "Yes, yes; it is
little Uletka, Prince Elkàbo's child!" and then twittered
all the more to show their gratification at her safety.
Uletka stayed with the Gnomes in the tree. Mutà could not
hurt her there, for it belonged to Hobo, the King of the
Gnomes, who reigned supreme in the forest. Every
day the little Gnomes gathered nuts and acorns for their
dinner. The shells of these they cut into cups and goblets.
Sometimes the grass-elves would come and dine with them,
and after dinner they all danced round the tree in the
moonlight, while the white owl on the tree-top called
"te-whit, te-whoo! te-whit, te-whoo!"
The little Gnomes manufactured a chair for Uletka, and
carved a plate for her out of the shell of a hazelnut. They
made her a spoon of white fir-wood, and wove
garments for her out of cobwebs. She lived in the tree with
the good little fellows, and
made their garments from the fibres of dead leaves,
which looked like the finest lace, using the thorn
of a wild rose for a needle. Every day she
laid the table for their dinner, and
 did all the house-work. She was kept busy all the day,
though sometimes she would lie in the grass and
talk to the violets, who smiled and nodded their dainty
heads. She was good friecids with every one in the forest;
even the tall fox-glove nodded to her as she ran past him.
The squirrel who lived at the top of the tree would crack
nuts for her. A green and gold beetle was her particular
friend. He would carry her on his back as he flew about
the wood. But the blackbird loved her most of all, and
sat and sang to her all day.
The good little Gnomes were continually trying to invent new
games and pastimes in order to distract her thoughts. They
composed new music, which they played
on their funny little instruments made of wood, with fibres
for strings, and danced new dances for her all day long.
They also built her a most beautiful little summer house,
thatched with rose leaves, where she could rest after having
seen to the wants of her kind protectors. But poor little
Uletka was not happy, for she could not help thinking of her
poor mother and father, who would no doubt be so anxious and
lonely without her, and she bitterly repented her curiosity
which had placed her in this fearful position. She also
thought of the wicked old fairy Mutà, who had been so cruel
to her and caused her all this pain; and then she would cry
bitterly, and wonder whether she would ever see her
beautiful home with the four towers.
As her kind protectors did everything they could to make
her feel contented, she did not let them see that she was
pining for her home, as she knew that if they
thought she was not happy, they would be quite miserable.
One day King Hobo called together a lot of his
 subjects and told
them that early in the morning he intended
starting on a grand beechnut
hunting expedition in a distant part of the wood, where he had
never been before, and commanded them to get ready so as
to make an early start. Uletka was up betimes to see her
little friends start, and promised to have a nice supper
ready for them on their return.
King Hobo led his little army deep into the forest, and soon
all were busy looking for the nuts. Suddenly one of them
called out:—"Oh, I have found such a beautiful stone, but
it is so large I cannot move it, come and help me!" Some
friends ran up to help him and after much digging, puffing
and blowing they managed to
dig it up. When Hobo saw it he exclaimed, "Why, that
is a Diamond, and the largest I have ever seen. We will
carry it home and give it to Uletka."—But the diamond was so
heavy that it took two of the strongest gnomes to carry it.
As it was the largest diamond ever discovered they held a
great feast in honour of the event. The tables, covered with
the good things prepared by Uletka, were spread all round
the pine trees, and invitations were at once sent out to all
Among the guests who came were the frogs from the pond by
the willows, who were accompanied by their fat cousins, old
Mr. and Mrs. Toad, a lot of grass-elves and little wood
goblins; then there also came the large family of mice and
the squirrels, all the birds and beetles, to say nothing of
all the moths, the butterflies, the bees and the ants.
After every one had satisfied their hunger (and very little
was left on the tables) a great concert was held, at
 which all the birds sang, but Uletka's friend, the
blackbird, sang louder than any of the others to try and
cheer her up, for he saw she did not feel quite happy. Then
King Hobo asked Uletka to dance with him, the Gnomes keeping
time by clapping their wooden cymbals. And so they kept up
the gaiety until the bats and the white owl came out, when
every one hurried off home, especially the mouse family, who
were afraid that the owl might take a liking to one of them
for supper. So soon everything was quiet in the forest and
no one could guess that just before there had been such
goings on under the pine trees.
Yet, in spite of all this gaiety, Uletka's sadness daily
increased. She seemed to long more intently than ever
for her home. At last her friend the blackbird, could not
help noticing this, and determined, if possible, to help the
little girl to whom he was so attached; so, one day, he flew
to the palace of the Fairy Queen, far away beyond the great
And as her Majesty was sitting at supper with
all her court the blackbird arrived, and
humbly begged she would graciously hear his request.
Then he told her that he had a very dear
little friend, Uletka, the
daughter of Prince
Elkàbo. She was so sweet, so loving, and
so winning that all the birds
and beasts in the
forest were in love
with her, and entirely devoted
themselves to making her happy. But Uletka was a dear
affectionate little girl, and although she was made so
much of, as the guest of Hobo,
King of the Gnomes, and was worshipped there almost like a
queen, yet she could not manage
to be happy, for she loved her father dearly, and knew he
was longing for her company again. He (the blackbird)
could not bear to see
 his little friend pining away like this, and had come to beg
Her Majesty, the Queen of the Fairies, to help him.
Prince Repto, the Queen's son, heard the blackbird's story with
wonder and delight, he thought he never heard anything so
beautifully romantic. Immediately he begged his royal
mother to allow him to go off with the blackbird, and bring
little Uletka home with him, and make her his wife. The
queen, who was very kind-hearted, and quite genuinely
interested in Uletka, and in frustrating the
wicked Mutà's plans, readily gave her consent,
and Prince Repto, accompanied by the
blackbird, started off for the kingdom of Hobo and his
When he arrived it was late
at night, the moon was shining
brightly, and there, at the foot of
the pine-tree he suddenly caught sight of
Uletka. She was sitting on a large toadstool, while all the little
dancing round her, to the tune of
harps played by the grass-elves,
and the tinkling of the blue bells.
Prince Repto had never seen such a beautiful princess
before, and at once fell in love with her. Just at that
moment Uletka looked up and saw the Prince, she
gave a little cry in which fear and admiration were mingled
at seeing such a handsome stranger. "Do not be alarmed,
Princess," said Prince Repto, advancing and doffing his
cap, "I have come to your aid,"
and then seating himself on a little toadstool
at her feet he told her who he was, and how if she
would consent he would marry her, when she would
be one of the highest in Fairyland, and live with him in a
palace of gold, where the wicked Mutà would be powerless to
This was rather premature for the first meeting, and Uletka
was a little startled; but the Prince looked so very
handsome, and was dressed so charmingly, the prospect also
was so dazzling, that she did not hesitate long, more
 especially as it was so natural for her to love him, when,
in addition to all these good qualities, he had taken so
much trouble to win her. She therefore soon consented, much
to the delight of the Prince and all the gnomes.
Prince Repto gave Hobo a crown of gold, and made him king of
all the woods in the world, to reward him for his kindness
to Uletka; all the gnomes clapped their hands, which
sounded like twigs crackling, and the elves played a tune of
joy, and sang a love-song. There never was such
rejoicing in the forest. And although it
was long after their usual
bedtime, all the birds
stayed up and sang the
most beautiful songs, so
glad were they that
dear little Uletka
would at last be
free from trouble;
the nightingale and lark had
a special duet together, which was
the most beautiful
music that is possible. But the sweetest
song of all and the one
that Uletka enjoyed the most, was the one that
was sung by her little friend the blackbird, who had been
the happy means of bringing her this good fortune. And in
after years the blackbird was always a welcome guest in
The next morning when the sun was shining brightly, the
prince brought a beautiful coach made of a sea-shell; it
was drawn by six white doves; he placed Uletka in it,
then sat beside her, and all the gnomes gave a loud cheer as
the coach rose high in the air, bearing the happy pair to
the fairy kingdom beyond the trees. On the way they stopped,
so that Uletka might kiss her dear father, who still dwelt
in the castle with the four towers. They took him with
 them to Fairyland, where there were more festivities and
rejoicings in honour of the wedding, and Repto and Uletka
have lived happily together ever since. Hobo and the gnomes,
and the frogs, and the squirrels, and the blackbird often go
to see them, but nothing more has been heard of the wicked