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A Tale Of The Northland Kingdom

from The Green Forest Fairy Book,





I

Long, long ago, in a certain far-off region of the world, there was a
land of ice and snow, and this land was called the Northland Kingdom.
There each year the ice broke on the rivers and flowed out to the sea,
and the snow melted in the valleys. Then corn and rye and other good
grains would grow; but these mild seasons were short, and for the most
part ice and snow abounded everywhere.

Added to this, in the time of my tale there was no light in the
Northland Kingdom. All time was deep gray twilight or inky darkness, and
there was no day. Neither Moon nor Stars had ever pierced the
overhanging gloom and mists, and the sun had never shone upon the
Northland Kingdom. Reindeer flitted silently through this land of
shadows, and great white bears made their homes in icy caves by the sea.
When birds of passage reached this land of darkness, they trilled their
softest songs and went to rest, and when they waked, they soared away in
search of brighter lands. But knowing nothing of the light of day, the
folk of this dark land mourned not its lack and were content to dwell
ever in shadow. A thousand silver lamps and myriads of waxen tapers
gleamed always in the palace of the king; and in the fields the workers
sowed and reaped by light of flaming torches. The herders built great
fires on the hillsides, and in their light and warmth told their flocks.
The housewives spun by firelight.

Now in the time of which I tell, the good king Tamna ruled the Northland
Kingdom. He was a wealthy sovereign even as the wealth of kings is
reckoned. King Tamna owned a thousand mountains of gold and silver and
the fish of ten thousand streams. Herds of reindeer and caribou beyond
all counting were also his, as well as the forests and plains over which
they roamed. Beside all this, King Tamna was sovereign lord of one
hundred princes of the Northland Kingdom. These hundred princes paid
King Tamna tribute; that is to say, they brought him yearly certain
portions of their flocks and herds and of their grain and gold and of
all that was theirs, for such was the law of the Northland Kingdom.

Now good King Tamna had a daughter, Maiden Matanuska, Princess of the
Silver Birches. She was so called because her marriage portion was a
forest of silver birch that lay between two swift-flowing streams and
reached from sea to sea. Some folk thought Maiden Matanuska was part
wood sprite, for in spite of dark and shadows she would roam for hours
in the paths and lanes among the birches and was not afraid. The Maiden
Matanuska understood the language of the trees and learned from them
just when the ice and snow would melt.

The silver foxes that roamed this forest were her pets. They frisked and
followed her about like faithful dogs; and though their furs were worth
a king's fortune, Maiden Matanuska would not consent to have them slain.
For this the silver fox were grateful and loved her dearly. They taught
her secrets never known before by men, and from their wisdom Maiden
Matanuska learned to tell when icy winds would blow and snow begin to
fall and when the grain would grow again. Maiden Matanuska understood
the songs of birds as well, and when the birds of passage sang of other
lands, where there was light of day, she listened eagerly. But when she
begged these birds to sing her more, they answered her with sleepy
chirps, for birds would not sing long in that dark land.

It was from these sweet songs the birds of passage sang that Maiden
Matanuska came to know that there was such a thing as light of day. The
more she heard, the more she longed to see this marvel. While she
wandered in her birchen forest, she would dream bright dreams of other
lands, she knew not where,--lands where ice and snow were not, but where
gay flowers bloomed instead, and there was day as well as night.

"Oh, my father," said she with a sigh, "how pleasant our land would be
if all the shadows and the gloom departed for a time and we had light of
day as well as night."

"Ah, yes, my daughter," said King Tamna, with an answering sigh, "but
how to brighten this dark land I know not. For your sake I would that I
could; but for myself, I care not. Now I am growing old and soon must
journey all alone to lands where light or darkness matters not."

"Oh, my father! Speak not of that time," cried Maiden Matanuska,
bursting into tears. She loved her father tenderly and knew he spoke of
the time when he must die. "If you were not here with me, neither light
nor darkness would matter to me, and I should be desolate and lonely."

"Then speak no more of your longing for light," replied the king. "It
grieves me that I cannot give you what you most desire. But before I
have departed from this life, I hope to see you wedded to some brave
prince who will love you and protect you in my place."

And though Maiden Matanuska vowed she wished no prince at all, her
father gave her protests no heed. "There is a handsome youth who wears a
feather mantle with whom I see you wandering in the forest. Who is he?"
King Tamna asked.

"He is Prince Kenai of the burning mountain," said the maiden. "He, too,
has dreams of light and tells me wonder tales which I do love to hear."

"Prince Kenai is the poorest prince in all the Northland Kingdom," said
the king; "but if his wonder tales please you, I shall say nothing."

Now, as may be supposed, there was no lack of suitors for the maiden's
hand. Indeed these hundred princes of the Northland Kingdom each longed
to marry her. She was the fairest maiden in the land, and moreover, she
was as lovely of mind and manner as she was fair of face.

There came at last a certain night when good King Tamna sat in state to
greet his tribute-bearing princes, and Maiden Matanuska sat beside her
father. In robes of purple velvet bordered deep with ermine and thickly
sewn with threads of beaten gold, with golden crown and sceptre too,
King Tamna looked a very king of kings,--a monarch of great state and
dignity. The Maiden Matanuska, robed in shimmering gossamer white, her
golden hair, that fell about her like a cloak, crowned with a wreath of
leaves, and in her hand a holly branch, looked like some angel newly
come from paradise. She seemed some lovely maiden in a dream, who would
perhaps take flight and float away in the encircling gloom and mists.
These hundred princes knelt before the throne and begged the lovely
maiden's hand in marriage.

At this the king was troubled, for clearly Maiden Matanuska could not
wed them all, and how to choose among them he knew not. At last the
royal counselors advised him in the following way:

"Now since these hundred youths be princes all, and therefore suitable
in rank to wed your daughter, let Maiden Matanuska for herself decide
which one she'll wed."

When this was told, the Maiden Matanuska sat some time in thought and
then she spoke. "I'll wed the prince who brings to me the thing which I
have never seen before, for which I long with all my heart, and which I
shall love well."

The hundred princes then departed to their various lands and began to
seek among their treasures to find the thing they thought would please
the maiden. Some princes brought her toys of ivory wrought in wondrous
ways, and some brought robes of doeskin, soft as satin, white as milk,
embroidered all in beads of many colors. But these proved not the thing
for which the maiden longed. Some princes brought her great carved
silver chests, and some brought chains and bracelets made of purest
gold; but none of these were what the Maiden Matanuska wished, and all
these princes failed to win their suit. So fared they all until at last
there were but three to try their fate,--Prince Kathalan, Prince Katala,
and Prince Kenai.

Now Prince Kathalan was the greatest warrior of all the Northland
Kingdom. He had won a hundred battles and boasted that he would win a
hundred more. He gloried in his warlike fame and doubted not that Maiden
Matanuska would favor him above all others.

Katala, who was wealthiest prince of all, rejoiced because his slaves
had lately found a diamond mine, the like of which was never known
before in all the Northland Kingdom. Prince Katala had great faith in
the power of his riches and was full sure that Maiden Matanuska would
smile upon his suit.

Prince Kenai dwelt in the land of a burning mountain whose fires
destroyed his forests and laid waste his lands, and the land itself,
moreover, was not enriched with gold or silver or with any other metal.
Because of this, Prince Kenai was called poorest prince of all; but
because in all the Northland Kingdom none other dared venture near this
burning mountain, he was counted bravest prince of all.

Of these three, Prince Kathalan spoke first. "Oh, Maiden Matanuska,
Princess of the Silver Birch," cried he, "I bring to you this magic bird
of battle, my raven. Black as its wings are, wise is the bird, and
moreover it hath the gift of speech and prophecy. With this magic raven
as my omen, no warrior can worst me in battle, and I can conquer
legions. So marry me, O Maiden, and I will make you the most powerful
queen the world has ever known."

The Maiden Matanuska shook her head. "You have not guessed my meaning
rightly," answered she. "I care not to be a queen of power, for such
queens are unhappy, I have often heard; and I hate the thought of
battle. So keep your magic raven, warrior prince. I love far better the
gentle doves that flutter around me in my forest."

Prince Kathalan departed in a rage, and Prince Katala stood before the
throne.

"Oh, Maiden Matanuska, Princess of the Silver Birch," cried he, "I bring
to you a golden casket filled full of gems called diamonds which you
have never seen before, and which you will love well, for they are truly
lovely. And these are not a thousandth part of all my wealth; so marry
me, O Maiden, and I will make you the richest queen the world has ever
known."

The gems within the casket flashed forth purple fire and shone like
brilliant stars; but Maiden Matanuska sighed again.

"I care not for great riches, Prince Katala," answered she, "for I have
riches of my own in goodly store. As for thy diamonds,--though they be
truly lovely, as you say, I should as soon love the icicles that cluster
round my casement in the storm. They are as hard and cold."

Prince Katala departed likewise in a rage, and Prince Kenai bowed low
before the throne.

"And now what treasure do you bring to win my hand, brave prince?"
asked Maiden Matanuska.

To which the prince replied, "I bring you none, and neither do I seek to
win your hand. Your heart is what I do desire, O Maiden, for I do love
you truly and would die to serve you.

"Now in your father's halls are treasures and all riches in great store.
Fair silken banners hang the walls to shut the cold drafts out; a
thousand gleaming silver lamps light the way; great chests are filled
full of ornaments of beaten gold, as well as many other things my eyes
have not discovered. With all this wealth heaped high on every hand, if
you still long for that which you have never seen, think you that in my
barren land it will be found? In my land so poor that even crows forsake
it?"

"Well said, brave prince," the king replied, "and if you have not
treasures such as men hold dear, you have indeed a noble gift of speech.
But even so, some gift or token you must surely bring, or otherwise you
had not come at all but stayed within your barren land. Come, tell us
what it is."

"I bring no treasure save the treasure of a wonder tale which you will
hear," said Prince Kenai, and then began to tell.

"Within my land, as well you know, there lies a burning mountain from
which men flee in fear, but which I love. Now when my mountain has burst
forth in flames, and tongues of fire that reach to heaven light the sky
of all the world, I have seen wondrous things. I have seen other lands
far distant, where ice and snow are not, but where the green grass
clothes the hills and plains; where poppies shaped like golden chalices
grow thick, and birds sing hour after hour. And in these pleasant lands
of which I tell, there is a time of light as well as dark. This time of
light lasts many hours long and is called day."

"Then tell me this, Prince Kenai," cried the king. "How comes this light
of day to other lands? It comes not to this dreary realm of ours, where
it would be most welcome."

"I'll tell you that," replied the prince. "There is a wondrous traveler
called the Sun who high up in the clouds does journey ceaselessly about
the world. He has great power over night and causes darkness to break
forth in light wherever he does turn his face toward any land.

"And now farewell, good king and Maiden Matanuska, whom I love. I go to
seek the Sun and beg him to return with me and shine upon the Northland
Kingdom as he does on other lands upon the earth. Then will we have the
light of day as well as night, and Maiden Matanuska will have that which
she has never seen, for which she longs with all her heart, and which
she will love well. Farewell."

Prince Kenai wrapped his flowing feather mantle around him and took
leave of the king. The Maiden Matanuska walked with him through her
forest where the silver birches grew down to the borders of the sea, and
there they parted.

"Oh, my brave prince," wept Maiden Matanuska, "my heart cries out
against your going, for since the day I met you I have loved you dearly;
but I was always fearful lest my father bid me wed another because you
had no fortune. Therefore I set the riddle which only you did guess. And
now, may all good powers guard you on your quest and bring you safely
back to me. While you are gone, the waking hours will often find me
standing on this shore, awaiting the glad sight of your return."

"My beloved maiden!" sighed the prince. "With such sweet faith and love
to bless me, I cannot fail." He rent his flowing feather mantle in two
parts and wrapped a portion of it around the maiden. "I would I had a
richer token for you, love," said he. "But even so; this feather mantle
is no mean gift. Who wears it will be ever safe from icy blasts and snow
and cold and will be ever young and fair as on the day they wore it
first. Now kiss me in farewell and promise me that when I do return and
bring the Sun, you'll marry me."

The Maiden Matanuska kissed him thrice and promised, and springing into
his boat, Prince Kenai sailed away. She stood upon the shore and blew
him kisses and caresses, but soon his form was lost in darkness and the
mists, and Maiden Matanuska was left forlorn.



II

Now in those olden days, when princes journeyed around the world on
errands for the maidens whom they loved, the space of time they usually
were gone was a year and a day. So when a year and a day had passed, the
Maiden Matanuska often wandered through the birch wood and stood upon
the border of the sea. She strained her gaze far to the south to see the
sight of any sail; but Prince Kenai came not.

She asked the birds of passage if they had seen her prince, and
sometimes they had news of him. "Oh, tell me, ye wild Gulls, of the wild
skies," she asked, "do you know aught of my brave Prince Kenai? He wears
a feather robe like mine and seeks in lands afar to find the Sun for
me."

"Ah, yes," replied the Gulls. "We've seen a prince so dressed, and he
was sailing westward on the sea and seemed to seek the Sun."

"And found he what he sought?" cried Maiden Matanuska eagerly.

"Alas!" the Gulls replied. "The truth is, he did not. For many evenings
when the day was done, we saw this prince sail westward. He hoped to
meet the sun just where the sky bends down to meet the sea, but though
he sailed for days and days, the place he sought seemed sailing too,
and so he reached it not."

"That is sad news," the maiden sighed. "But when again you see my
prince, tell him that all my thoughts are his, and I am sure he cannot
fail."

Another time she asked a Kite-bird had he seen Prince Kenai.

"Oh, yes, dear maiden," the Kite-bird made reply. "And he was in the
Southland, whither he had gone to seek the Sun. But he was worn and
wearied with much wandering, and the road was long; and by the time he
reached there, the Sun had long departed on his journey to the
Eastland."

"That is sad news, good Kite-bird," said the maiden, "but when you see
my prince again, pray tell him that my hopes are his, and I am sure he
cannot fail to win his quest."

And still another time did Maiden Matanuska ask an Auk to tell her of
Prince Kenai.

"I saw him," said the Auk, "and from the feather robe he wore I judged
him first to be some bird. In lands where scarlet poppies lull the weary
travelers to deep sleep, and waterfalls make thunder down the mountain
sides, Prince Kenai I saw toiling up a rocky slope where it is said the
Sun does rise."

"And did he reach the top of this steep slope?" asked Maiden Matanuska.

"Now that I could not say," the Auk replied, "for I was flying swiftly
and paused not at all. But this I know; the Sun's a mighty, glowing
being and is like to burn all those who venture near his presence.
Unless Prince Kenai have some magic charm, I doubt if the Sun will heed
him."

"That is the saddest news of all," sighed Maiden Matanuska. "But even
so, I shall not weep but pray for him instead. When you next see my
prince, good Auk, tell him that all my love is his, and I'll await his
coming though he remain a thousand years."

"I shall," replied the Auk, and soared away.

And so the Maiden Matanuska waited while the time sped on. Wrapped in
her feather mantle, she wandered through the birches like a lonely
spirit, and the trees were grieved for her. She still dreamed dreams and
loved to think about the time when she would greet her prince; when the
light of day would banish all the gloom and shadows of the Northland
Kingdom. Still years passed on, and still Prince Kenai came not. King
Tamna feared him dead or that perhaps he had lost his way and was a
wanderer forlorn; but Maiden Matanuska knew no fears.

"The journey to the Sun is long, my father," she would say, "and my
brave prince no magic hath to make it short. He will return and bring
with him this wondrous traveler whom he seeks, and what a pleasant place
the Northland Kingdom then will be!"

But as the time went by there came great sadness in the Northland
Kingdom. The good King Tamna laid him down to sleep one night and never
waked again. All folk both high and low mourned deeply, for good King
Tamna had been like a kindly father rather than a king. When at last the
time of mourning passed, Lord Boreas, cousin to King Tamna, came to rule
the Northland Kingdom.

Now Lord Boreas was a cruel sovereign, a tyrant, and the people were
unhappy under his rule. He made harsh laws, and if these laws were not
obeyed, he punished with severity. Lord Boreas, it was whispered, had
an evil power over the icy winds and rivers in the Northland Kingdom,
and few dared resist his will. His anger, it was said, had caused many a
village to be blown into the sea and noble cities to be flooded with a
rush of waters. But while the rule of this harsh king fell hard on all
alike, on Maiden Matanuska it fell hardest. Lord Boreas was her
guardian. He scorned the simple customs of the good King Tamna and
straightway ordered all things to his liking. He planned to fell the
Maiden Matanuska's forest and build a city in its place.

"However, my sweet cousin," said Lord Boreas, "I'll wait until the next
mild season is at hand. Then when the silver foxes come from their
winter's sleep, my hunters shall lay traps for them and slay them every
one. Their skins will sell for gold, and for your marriage portion you
shall have a noble city and ten thousand chests of gold, and I myself
will marry you and make you queen."

Though Maiden Matanuska's heart was sad, and she wept bitter tears for
her loved trees and pets, she made no protest at her cousin's words.
She feared his wrath, and so she bowed her head submissively. But when
the palace slept and all was still, wrapped in her feather mantle, she
stole softly out. Down through the shadowy lanes and misty isles among
the silver birches she sped, until she reached the border of the sea.
Then through the gloom she peered to see the sight of any sail; but no
sail she saw.

"Oh, my beloved prince," she wept, "I fear that when you come 'twill be
too late. For rather than to wed my cruel cousin, I'll fling myself into
the sea and die!"

"Now, Maiden Matanuska, what grave sorrow can this be?" a gruff voice
spoke beside her. It was old Reynard, chief of all the silver foxes. He
had stolen from the burrow to learn how went the season and to know when
he might waken all his sleeping tribe.

"Oh, Reynard, my good friend!" exclaimed the maiden. "Since first you
did begin your winter's sleep, I have had many sorrows. My father, good
King Tamna, is no more, and now my cruel cousin Boreas rules the
Northland Kingdom." She told her tale of sorrows, and old Reynard
listened, all alert.

"Without a doubt, your cruel cousin Boreas hath an evil power over the
winds and streams," said he, when she had finished, "but he shall learn
it is not simple to outwit the cunning fox. Now in the past, as you,
dear maiden, have protected me and all my tribe from harm, so will we
now protect you in your need. Come, follow me; do as I bid, and all will
yet be well." So saying, old Reynard then led the maiden down beneath
the earth to where the silver foxes still slept their winter's sleep,
and birch roots wound about in and out.

"Now, Maiden Matanuska," said Reynard, "if you will place a feather from
your mantle at the root of every tree, they will be safe from cold and
icy blasts, in spite of all Lord Boreas in his wrath may do. Then when
that's done, wrap you all warmly in what's left of it and rest you
safely with my people. When Prince Kenai comes I'll waken you."

The Maiden Matanuska did as Reynard bid, and far beneath the earth she
hid herself from cruel Boreas. 'Twas well she did, for when her cousin
found her fled, his anger knew no bounds. He sent great parties out to
search the land, and he himself, with flaming torch in hand, set out to
seek her in the forest. Among the birch trees he found traces, showing
that the Maiden Matanuska passed that way. Upon a branch he found a
scarlet ribbon she had worn, and in the thorn-bush was caught a silken
scarf; but though he sought for hours and called her name, Lord Boreas
could not find the maiden.

"Because I do not know the winding paths among the trees as well as you,
you think to trick me, Maiden Matanuska," he cried at last, in fury,
"but you shall know my vengeance now." Then climbing up the steep slopes
of a near-by mountain, and summoning all his powers of evil, he
commanded thus:

"Rise, rise, ye rivers that flow swiftly to the sea, until the birchen
forest in the valley be all flooded with a mighty rush of waters! Then
blow, ye chill winds, from the east and north until these waters to a
solid wall of ice are all transformed."

The rivers, obedient at his command, then rose swiftly and overran their
banks so that soon the tallest trees were all submerged, and nothing
but a lake was seen. The winds began to blow their wildest, and the lake
became a solid bank of ice that threw off chilling mists.

Then Boreas called the people of the Northland Kingdom and addressed
them thus: "Behold the fate of Maiden Matanuska and beware! For so shall
perish all who dare defy me."

The people wept and mourned in secret for the maiden whom they dearly
loved, but there were none who dared cry out against the cruel Boreas.


III

Meanwhile Prince Kenai, bent upon his quest, was wandering still in
lands afar. Each morning in the dawn he saw the wondrous traveler that
he sought rise in the eastern sky and scatter clouds of darkness; and
each evening, when the day was done, he saw the wondrous traveler set
far in the west and take with him the day. But though Prince Kenai
journeyed all around the earth and halfway back again, he found no road
to reach the Sun, and he was sad. Still he continued on his way with
hope and courage.

It happened once, while he lay sleeping on a mountain, an eagle wounded
by a poison dart dropped down beside him.

"Ah!" cried the eagle bitterly, "from the great cloak of feathers which
you wear, I thought you to be one of my own race. But since you are a
man and I am wounded and can fly no more, I must prepare to die. You'll
take my beak and claws to show your fellow men your skill at hunting and
stuff my body to adorn your walls. Alas! That I, a prince of air, should
come to this!" the great bird moaned.

"Fear not that I shall take your life, good eagle prince," said Prince
Kenai. "For though I am not of your race, I am a prince of earth, and to
my mind all princes, whether of the earth or air, should be as
brothers."

Prince Kenai fetched water from a near-by spring and dressed the eagle's
wound with healing herbs. For many days he did the same until the pain
grew less, and by and by the great bird's wound was healed.

"Now, brother," said the eagle, when he could fly once more, "you've
served me nobly, and in my turn I shall serve you to prove my gratitude.
You told me of your quest to reach the Sun, and I will tell you this.
There is no road to reach the Sun that mortal man may tread. The way
lies through the clouds, and indeed, 'tis only I and all my brother
eagles that have strength to travel there. So get you on my back without
delay, good Prince Kenai, and we shall start."

Straight upward soared the eagle through the clouds, and when the day
was nearly done they reached the splendid mansion of the Sun. Good luck
was theirs, because the wondrous traveler had returned from his day's
journey round the world and was well pleased to see them. He bade them
welcome and asked the reason of their visit.

"Oh, Golden Sun," said Prince Kenai, "far in my land which is the
Northland Kingdom, I learned that you had power over night and brought
the light of day to lands wheresoever you did turn your face. Therefore
I set out to seek you and entreat you to return with me and shine upon
the Northland Kingdom, which is a land of night and darkness. All around
the world I've followed you in vain, and never would have met you had
not this good eagle borne me thither on his wings."

"Prince Kenai does not tell the reason why," exclaimed the eagle. "He
saved my life when it was in his power to slay me, and, therefore, I
have brought him hither, as was his wish." The eagle told his tale, and
when the Sun had heard, he praised Prince Kenai.

"Now see," the Sun declared, "the mighty power of a kindly deed. Had
you, Prince Kenai, slain this noble bird, as most men would have done,
he had not brought you to my mansion, and you could not have begged this
boon of me. For your reward, I'll go with you. To-morrow morning when I
rise, we'll start for this dark land, and thou, my eagle, bear Prince
Kenai on thy wings that he may all the faster lead the way."

For many days these three companions journeyed on through soft white
clouds and summer skies until thick, gloomy mists came into view. The
wind blew chill as though from fields of ice and snow, and the dull
skies were leaden gray. From this, Prince Kenai knew the Northland
Kingdom was at hand, although a pall of darkness overhung the landscape,
and nothing could be seen.


on through soft white clouds.--Page 86.]

"I'll soon change this!" exclaimed the Sun, and then began to shine full
on the Northland Kingdom. Straightway all the scene began to change as
though by magic. The lowering mists dissolved and rolled away in rosy
clouds or formed gay-colored rainbows in the skies; the skies themselves
changed to bright blue, all flecked with white instead of leaden gray.
The birds of passage wakened from their sleep and sang their sweetest
songs. Upon the mountain side the snow began to melt away, and
many-colored flowers bloomed where it had been. No bank of ice or snow,
however high or deep, was able to withstand the genial warmth of all the
beams the Sun poured down. The wall of ice that bound the birchen forest
broke and with a roar plunged down into the sea. Then upon the waves
were seen a thousand glittering banks of ice that seemed like noble
palaces afloat. The birch trees all began to bud and bloom with silvery
leaves that rustled softly; and green grass, thick with violets, went
creeping underfoot.

On learning what had come to pass, old Reynard wakened Maiden Matanuska
and led her from the burrows until she stood once more upon the border
of the sea.

"Oh, my beloved Prince Kenai!" she cried, as she beheld him. "Though in
your absence I have suffered many sorrows, now that you are returned,
I'll soon forget them all. How marvelous is the light of day! And how
divine the Sun!"

"And tell me, maiden," said Prince Kenai, "now that you see all around
the light of day, dost love it still as well as in the old dark days
when you did dream of it?"

"Indeed, I find the light which you bring more lovely than my wildest
dreams," she answered. "To see the smiling skies, the blue sea all
a-sparkle with great glittering banks of ice, the green grass thick with
flowers everywhere, and over all the Sun shine down in wealth of golden
beams--I knew not how to dream a dream so fair; and next to thee, my
prince, I love the light of day above all else."

Here they heard shouts of cheer and praise, and soon great multitudes of
folk went running through the forest. "A miracle! A marvel 'tis," cried
they, "that Maiden Matanuska is alive!" And then, in deep amazement,
they listened to the tales the Maiden Matanuska and Prince Kenai told.
Such tales were rare, even in those olden days of wonders. When both
were done, the Chief Counselor of the Northland Kingdom spoke.

"Now listen, all good folk," said he, "and learn that in this very hour
the cruel Boreas, fearing the great power of the Sun, has fled the
Northland Kingdom, and we are now without a king. Whom shall we choose?"

"Prince Kenai! Prince Kenai!" cried the people. "'Twas he who gave our
Maiden Matanuska the magic robe that saved her life; and he it was who
brought the Sun to brighten our dark land. He was our benefactor; let
him be our king!"

"Wilt be our king, Prince Kenai?" asked the counselor.

"If Maiden Matanuska marry me and be your queen, I shall be king," said
Prince Kenai. "What say you, my loved one?"

"I'll marry you, my prince," she answered, "for I do love you truly. Our
feather mantles which have so nobly served us in the past shall be our
wedding robes; the birds our royal choristers; the birches tall our
stately chapel walls, and the blue sky above all, glowing with the
Golden Sun, shall be our ceiling. Your good eagle and my good Reynard
shall stand beside us and let all folk both high and low be bidden to
our feast to wish us joy and happiness."

All things were done as Maiden Matanuska ordered, and they were married
on that very day. A royal feast was made, and sports and games were set;
indeed there was a holiday that lasted forty days. The Sun was bidden to
attend, and so well pleased was he that he stayed in the sky above the
Northland Kingdom and set not once until the forty days had passed, and
all that time was burning daylight.

Then, when the holiday was done at last, the Sun took leave. "Farewell,
all folk, and you good king and queen," said he. "And though night come
when I have turned my face from you, fear not. For in the morning I will
come again and bring with me the light of day." Which thing he did.

And from that time the Northland Kingdom was no more a land of darkness
and of gloom. The overhanging mists returned no more, and when 't was
night, the Moon and Stars shone softly down. The Sun his face turned
toward there every day, and though his beams were pale and wan when he
was in the Southland, he stayed each summer forty days and nights and
set not once; which custom he continues to this very day.

Prince Kenai and the Maiden Matanuska reigned many years and were
beloved by all their subjects. Though scores of years passed, by virtue
of their feather mantles they were always young and fair as on the day
they wore them first. Indeed, 'tis said they never died, though folk who
dwell still in the Northland Kingdom differ as to what became of them.
Some say that when Prince Kenai and Maiden Matanuska grew weary of this
life at last, they wrapped their feather mantles round them, and borne
upon the eagle's wings, set off to visit at the mansion of the Sun. But
other folk declare that on dark misty nights a pair resembling them are
often seen to wander through the dim aisles of a certain birchen forest
where the silver foxes are found.





Next: The Little Tree That Never Grew Up

Previous: Dame Grumble And Her Curious Apple Tree



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