The Fair One with Golden Locks
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THE FAIR ONE WITH GOLDEN LOCKS
THERE 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 neighboring 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 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 everyone loved him, except those
people—to be found in all courts—who were envious
of his good fortune. These malicious folk hearing him
say gayly, "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 saying in such a manner that it
appeared as if Avenant thought overmuch 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 you."
And it so befell that the King, coming by chance, or
else from a sense of remorse, past the tower, was
touched by the voice of 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:
"O 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
"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 favorite; 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 for me."
"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
toward 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 the gnats, had thrown
itself quite out of the water, and now 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
"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 tree.
"Avenant," screeched he, though not in the sweetest
voice in the world, "you have generously succored 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, as if in great tribulation. She
had been caught by the nets spread by birdcatchers 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
"Avenant," said she, "at daylight the birdcatchers
would have been here, and I should have been caught
and killed. I have a grateful heart; I will recompense
you one day."
These were the three principal adventures that befell
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 everyone 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 honor, "that while
 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 stain, 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
"Gentle Avenant," returned the princess, after
listening to all his reasons for 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 profound
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
down to the river."
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,
The little dog ran to the waterside—"Never believe
 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," said she.
"Madam, I am fortunate only in my desire to obey your
"Obey me still," she said graciously. "There is a
prince name 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 in his pockets instead of
pistols, and when he speaks his voice is so loud that
everyone 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 the 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 down
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 and 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
"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 vial 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 forever; if old, young;
and if young, young forever. Judge then, Avenant, if I
 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 vial which the Princess had
given him, he prepared to descend into the cave.
"Cabriole," said he, "I shall soon be dead. Then fill
this vial 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 vial. I know every corner of the Grotto of
Darkness. I will fetch you the water of beauty."
Delighted beyond words, Avenant delivered up his vial;
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 offense, 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 the prayer. The Queen entreated no
more, but fell into a deep melancholy.
When the King saw it, he though 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
Now, it happened that a waiting maid, in cleaning out
this cabinet, had, the very day before knocked down
the vial, 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, a similar vial. This she fetched and put in the
place of the other one, in which was the water of
beauty. But the King's vial 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
vial, 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 my husband."
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 scepter, 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 their days.