|The Fairy Ring|
|by Kate Douglas Wiggin|
|A delightful collection of 63 fairy tales, selected from Scandinavian, English, French, Spanish, Gaelic, German, Russian, and East Indian sources. The authors read thousands of fairy tales to locate the best of the less familiar tales to include in this volume. Numerous black and white illustrations accompany the text. Ages 6-9 |
LONG ago there lived a monarch who was such a very
honest man that his subjects entitled him the Good
King. One day, when he was out hunting, a little white
rabbit, which had been half-killed by his hounds,
leaped right into his majesty's arms. Said he,
caressing it: "This poor creature has put itself under
my protection, and I will allow no one to injure it." So
he carried it to his palace, had prepared for it a
neat little rabbit hutch, with abundance of the
daintiest food such as rabbits love, and there he left
The same night, when he was alone in his chamber,
there appeared to him a beautiful lady. She was dressed
neither in gold, nor silver, nor brocade, but her
flowing robes were white as snow, and she wore a
garland of white roses on her head. The Good King was
greatly astonished at the sight, for his door was
locked, and he wondered how so dazzling a lady could
possibly enter; but she soon removed his doubts.
"I am the Fairy Candide," said she, with a smiling and
 gracious air. "Passing through the wood where you were
hunting, I took a desire to know if you were as good
as men say you are. I therefore changed myself into a
white rabbit, and took refuge in your arms. You saved
me and now I know that those who are merciful to dumb
beasts will be ten times more so to human beings. You
merit the name your subjects give you: you are the
Good King. I thank you for your protection, and shall
be always one of your best friends. You have but to
say what you most desire, and I promise you your wish
will be granted."
"Madam," replied the King, "if you are a fairy, you
must know without my telling you the wish of my heart.
I have one well-beloved son, Prince Cherry. Whatever
kindly feeling you have toward me, extend it to him."
"Willingly," said Candide. "I will make him the
handsomest, richest, or most powerful prince in the
world. Choose whichever you desire for him."
"None of the three," returned the father. "I only wish
him to be good—the best prince in the whole world.
Of what use would riches, power, or beauty be to him
if he were an evil man?"
"You are right," said the fairy; "but I cannot make
him good. He must do that himself. I can only change
his external fortunes; for his personal character the
utmost I can promise is to give him good counsel,
reprove him for his faults, and even punish him if he
will not punish himself. You mortals can do the same
with your children."
"Ah, yes!" said the King, sighing. Still he felt that
the kindness of a fairy was something gained for his
son, and died not long after, content and at peace.
Prince Cherry mourned deeply, for he dearly loved his
father, and would gladly have given all his kingdoms
and treasures to keep him in life a little longer. Two
days after the Good King was no more, Prince Cherry
was sleeping in his chamber when he saw the same
dazzling vision of the Fairy Candide.
"I promised your father," said she, "to be your best
 and in pledge of this take what I now give
you"; and she placed a small gold ring upon his
finger. "Poor as it looks, it is more precious than
diamonds, for whenever you do ill it will prick your
finger. If, after that warning, you still continue in
evil, you will lose my friendship and I shall become
your direst enemy."
So saying she disappeared, leaving Cherry in such
amazement that he would have believed it all a dream
save for the ring on his finger.
He was for a long time so good that the ring never
pricked him at all, and this made him so cheerful and
pleasant in his humor that everybody called him "Happy
Prince Cherry." But one unlucky day he was out hunting
and found no sport, which vexed him so much that he
showed his ill temper by his looks and his ways. He
fancied his ring felt very tight and uncomfortable,
but as it did not prick him he took no heed of this,
until, reëntering his palace, his little pet dog,
Bibi, jumped up upon him, and was sharply told to get
away. The creature, accustomed to nothing but
caresses, tried to attract his attention by pulling at
his garments, when Prince Cherry turned and gave it a
severe kick. At this moment he felt in his finger a
prick like a pin.
"What nonsense!" said he to himself. "The fairy must
be making game of me. Why, what great evil have I
done! I, the master of a great empire, cannot I kick
my own dog?"
A voice replied, or else Prince Cherry imagined it:
"No, sire; the master of a great empire has a right to
do good, but not evil. I—a fairy—am as much above
you as you are above your dog. I might punish you,
kill you, if I chose; but I prefer leaving you to
amend your ways. You have been guilty of three faults
to-day—bad temper, passion, cruelty. Do better to-morrow."
The Prince promised, and kept his word awhile; but he
had been brought up by a foolish nurse who indulged
him in every way, and was always telling him that he
would be a king one day, when he might do as he liked
in all things. He found out now that even a king
cannot always do that; it vexed him
 and made him
angry. His ring began to prick him so often that his
little finger was continually bleeding. He disliked
this, as was natural, and soon began to consider
whether it would not be easier to throw the ring away
altogether than to be constantly annoyed by it. It was
such a queer thing for a king to have always a spot of
blood on his finger! At last, unable to put up with it
any more, he took his ring off and hid it where he
would never see it, and believed himself the happiest
of men, for he could now do exactly what he liked. He
did it, and became every day more and more miserable.
One day he saw a young girl so beautiful that, being
always accustomed to have his own way, he immediately
determined to espouse her. He never doubted that she
would be only too glad to be made a queen, for she was
very poor. But Zelia—that was her name—answered,
to his great astonishment, that she would rather not
"Do I displease you?" asked the Prince, into whose
mind it had never entered that he could displease
"Not at all, my Prince," said the honest peasant
maiden. "You are very handsome, very charming; but you
are not like your father the Good King. I will not be
your queen, for you would make me miserable."
At these words the Prince's love seemed all to turn to
hatred. He gave orders to his guards to convey Zelia
to a prison near the palace, and then took counsel
with his foster brother, the one of all his evil
companions who most incited him to do wrong.
"Sire," said this man, "if I were in your majesty's
place, I would never vex myself about a poor silly
girl. Feed her on bread and water till she comes to
her senses, and if she still refuses you, let her die
in torment, as a warning to your other subjects should
they venture to dispute your will. You will be
disgraced should you suffer yourself to be conquered
by a simple girl."
"But," said Prince Cherry, "shall I not be disgraced
if I harm a creature so perfectly innocent?"
"No one is innocent who disputes your majesty's
 said the courtier bowing; "and it is
better to commit an injustice than allow it to be
supposed you can ever be contradicted with impunity."
This touched Cherry on his weak point—his good
impulses faded; he resolved once more to ask Zelia if
she would marry him, and if she again refused, to sell
her as a slave. Arrived at the cell in which she was
confined, what was his astonishment to find her gone!
He knew not whom to accuse, for he had kept the key in
his pocket the whole time. At last the foster brother
suggested that the escape of Zelia might have been
contrived by an old man, Suliman by name, the Prince's
former tutor, who was the only one who now ventured to
blame him for anything that he did. Cherry sent
immediately and ordered his old friend to be brought
to him loaded heavily with irons. Then full of fury,
he went and shut himself up in his own chamber, where
he went raging to and fro, till startled by a noise
like a clap of thunder. The Fairy Candide stood before
"Prince," said she in a severe voice, "I promised your
father to give you good counsels, and to punish you if
you refused to follow them. My counsels were
forgotten, my punishments despised. Under the figure
of a man you have been no better than the beasts you
chase. Like a lion in fury, a wolf in gluttony, a
serpent in revenge, and a bull in brutality. Take,
therefore, in your new form the likeness of all these
Scarcely had Prince Cherry heard these words than to
his horror he found himself transformed into what the
fairy had named. He was a creature with the head of a
lion, the horns of a bull, the feet of a wolf, the
tail of a serpent. At the same time he felt himself
transported to a distant forest where, standing on the
bank of a stream, he saw reflected in the water his
own frightful shape, and heard a voice saying:
"Look at thyself, and know that thy soul has become a
thousand times uglier even than thy body."
Cherry recognized the voice of Candide, and in his
rage would have sprung upon her and devoured her; but he
saw nothing, and the same voice said behind him:
"Cease they feeble fury, and learn to conquer thy
pride by being in submission to thine own subjects."
Hearing no more, he soon quitted the stream, hoping at
least to get rid of the sight of himself; but he had
scarcely gone twenty paces when he tumbled into a
pitfall that was laid to catch bears; the bear
hunters, descending from some trees hard by, caught
him, chained him, and, only too delighted to get hold
of such a curious-looking animal, led him along with
them to the capital of his own kingdom.
There great rejoicings were taking place, and the bear
hunters, asking what it was all about, were told that
it was because Prince Cherry, the torment of his
subjects, had just been struck dead by a thunderbolt—just
punishment of all his crimes. Four courtiers, his
wicked companions, had wished to divide his throne
between them, but the people had risen up against them
and offered the crown to Suliman, the old tutor whom
Cherry had ordered to be arrested.
All this the poor monster heard. He even saw Suliman
sitting upon his own throne, and trying to calm the
populace by representing to them that it was not
certain Prince Cherry was dead; that he might return
one day to reassume with honor the crown which Suliman
only consented to wear as a sort of viceroy.
"I know his heart," said the honest and faithful old
man; "it is tainted, but not corrupt. If alive, he may
yet reform, and be all his father over again to you,
his people, whom he has caused to suffer so much."
These words touched the poor beast so deeply that he
ceased to beat himself against the iron bars of the
cage in which the hunters carried him about, becoming
gentle as a lamb, and suffered himself to be taken
quietly to a menagerie, where were kept all sorts of
strange and ferocious animals—a place which he had
often visited as a boy, but in which he never thought
he should be shut up himself.
However, he owned he had deserved it all, and began to
 make amends by showing himself very obedient to his
keeper. This man was almost as great a brute as the
animals he had charge of, and when he was in ill humor
he used to beat them without rhyme or reason. One day,
while he was sleeping, a tiger broke loose and leaped
upon him, eager to devour him. Cherry at first felt a
thrill of pleasure at the thought of being revenged;
then, seeing how helpless the man was, he wished
himself free, that he might defend him. Immediately
the doors of his cage opened. The keeper, waking up,
saw the strange beast leap out, and imagined, of
course, that he was going to be slain at once.
Instead, he saw the tiger lying dead, and the strange
beast creeping up and laying itself at his feet to be
caressed. But as he lifted up his hand to stroke it, a
voice was heard saying, "Good actions never go
unrewarded"; and, instead of a frightful monster, there
crouched on the ground nothing but a pretty little
Cherry, delighted to find himself thus metamorphosed,
caressed the keeper in every possible way, till at
last the man took him up in his arms and carried him
to the King, to whom he related this wonderful story
from beginning to end. The Queen wished to have the
charming little dog, and Cherry would have been
exceedingly happy could he have forgotten that he was
originally a man and a King. He was lodged most
elegantly, had the richest of collars to adorn his
neck, and heard himself praised continually. But his
beauty rather brought him into trouble, for the Queen,
afraid lest he might grow too large for a pet, took
advice of dog doctors, who ordered that he should be
fed entirely upon bread, and that very sparingly, so
poor Cherry was sometimes nearly starved.
One day when they gave him his crust for breakfast, a
fancy seized him to go and eat it in the palace
garden; so he took the bread in his mouth and trotted
away toward a stream which he knew, and where he
sometimes stopped to drink. But instead of the stream
he saw a splendid palace glittering with gold and
precious stones. Entering the doors was a crowd of men
and women magnificently dressed, and within there was
singing and dancing and good cheer of all sorts. Yet,
 grandly and gayly the people went in, Cherry
noticed that those who came out were pale, thin,
ragged, half-naked, covered with wounds and sores.
Some of them dropped dead at once; others dragged
themselves on a little way and then lay down, dying of
hunger, and vainly begged a morsel of bread from
others who were entering in—who never took the least
notice of them.
Cherry perceived one woman who was trying feebly to
gather and eat some green herbs. "Poor thing!" said he
to himself; "I know what it is to be hungry, and I
want my breakfast badly enough; but still it will not
kill me to wait till dinner time, and my crust may
save the life of this poor woman."
So the little dog ran up to her and dropped his bread
at her feet; she picked it up and ate it with avidity.
Soon she looked quite recovered, and Cherry,
delighted, was trotting back again to his kennel when
he hear loud cries, and saw a young girl dragged by
four men to the door of the palace, which they were
trying to compel her to enter. Oh, how he wished
himself a monster again, as when he slew the tiger!—for
the young girl was no other than his beloved
Zelia. Alas! what could a poor little dog do to defend
her? But he ran forward and barked at the men, and bit
their heels, until at last they chased him away with
heavy blows. And then he lay down outside the palace
door, determined to watch and see what had become of
Conscience pricked him now. "What!" thought he, "I am
furious against these wicked men, who are carrying her
away, and did I not do the same myself? Did I not cast
her into prison and intend to sell her as a slave? Who
knows how much more wickedness I might not have done
to her and others if Heaven's justice had not stopped
me in time?"
While he lay thinking and repenting, he heard a window
open, and saw Zelia throw out of it a bit of dainty
meat. Cherry, who felt hungry enough by this time, was
just about to eat it when the woman to whom he had
given his crust snatched him up in her arms.
 "Poor little beast!" cried she, patting him, "every
but of food in that palace is poisoned. You shall not
touch a morsel."
At the same time the voice in the air repeated again,
"Good actions never go unrewarded"; and Cherry found
himself changed into a beautiful white pigeon. He
remembered with joy that white was the color of the
Fairy Candide, and began to hope that she was taking
him into favor again.
So he stretched his wings, delighted that he might now
have a chance of approaching his fair Zelia. He flew
up to the palace windows, and, finding one of them
open, entered and sought everywhere, but he could not
find Zelia. Then, in despair, he flew out again,
resolved to go over the world until he beheld her once
He took flight at once, traversed many countries,
swiftly as a bird can, but found no trace of his
beloved. At length in a desert, sitting beside an old
hermit in his cave and partaking with him his frugal
repast, Cherry saw a poor peasant girl, and recognized
Zelia. Transported with joy he flew in, perched on her
shoulder, and expressed his delight and affection by a
She, charmed with the pretty little pigeon, caressed
it in her turn, and promised it that, if it would stay
with her, she would love it always.
"What have you done, Zelia?" said the hermit, smiling;
and while he spoke the white pigeon vanished, and
there stood Prince Cherry in his own natural form.
"Your enchantment ended, Prince, when Zelia promised
to love you. Indeed, she has loved you always, but
your many faults constrained her to hide her love.
These are now amended, and you may both live happy if
you will, because your union is founded upon mutual
Cherry and Zelia threw themselves at the feet of the
hermit, whose form also began to change. His soiled
garments became of dazzling whiteness, and his long
beard and withered face grew into the flowing hair and
lovely countenance of the Fairy Candide.
"Rise up, my children," said she; "I must now
 you to your palace, and restore to Prince
Cherry his father's crown, of which he is now
She had scarcely ceased speaking when they found
themselves in the chamber of Suliman, who, delighted
to find again his beloved pupil and master, willingly
resigned the throne, and became the most faithful of
King Cherry and Queen Zelia reigned together for many
years, and it is said that the former was so blameless
and strict in all his duties that though he constantly
wore the ring which Candide had restored to him, it
never once pricked his finger enough to make it bleed.
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