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The Beautiful Princess Goldenlocks

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - THE OLD FAIRY TALES





There was once a lovely Princess who had such beautiful golden hair
that everyone called her Goldenlocks. She possessed everything that she
wanted: she was lovely to look at, she had beautiful clothes, and great
wealth, and besides all these, she was the Princess in a large kingdom.

In the country next to that of Goldenlocks there ruled a rich and
handsome young King. When he heard about the charming Princess he
decided that he wanted her for his Queen. The question was, of course,
how to make her feel that she wanted him for her husband!

This young King did not go about his wooing after the manner of people
that you and I know. He called one of the chief men of his court, and
said: "You have heard of the lovely Princess Goldenlocks. I have
determined that she shall be my bride. I want you to go and see her;
tell her about me, and beg her to become my Queen."

Then the King ordered a great number of horses brought for the
ambassador, and he directed his men to send more than a hundred
servants also. You see, in that way he hoped to be able to impress
the Princess with his wealth and importance.

The King was conceited, and did not think for a moment that any
Princess, no matter how beautiful, would refuse to become his wife. So
he ordered his servants to make great preparations for her coming, and
to refurnish the palace. He told his ambassador to be sure to bring the
Princess back with him.

The King waited with great impatience for the return of the ambassador,
who had quite a long journey to make before he could get to the court
of the Princess Goldenlocks. Then one day he appeared in the King's
court.

"Where is my lovely bride?" the King asked eagerly, expecting the
ambassador to say that she was in the next room, and would come in
at once.

"Your Majesty," replied the ambassador, very sadly, "I could not bring
the Princess to you. She sent you her thanks for your offer, but she
could not accept the gifts which you sent her, and she will not marry
you."

"What!" the King exclaimed indignantly, as he fingered the pearls and
diamonds which he had sent Goldenlocks, and which she had sent back. "I
and my jewels are not good enough for the Princess Goldenlocks!" And
the King cried and cried, just as if he had not been grown up.

All the people in the court were greatly disturbed because the
ambassador had failed in his mission. They felt themselves injured
to think that Goldenlocks would not marry their King. There was one
courtier, named Charming, who felt especially bad, for he was very fond
of the King. He even said one day that he was certain that if the King
had only let him go to Goldenlocks, she would have consented to a royal
marriage.

Now, there were in that court some very jealous men, who thought that
Charming was altogether too great a favorite with the King. When they
heard him say that he could have won Goldenlocks for his master, they
got together and agreed to tell the King that Charming was making silly
boasts.

"Your majesty," one of them said, "Charming told us that if you had let
him go to Goldenlocks she would never have refused to marry you. He
thinks that he is so attractive that the Princess would have fallen in
love with him immediately, and would have consented to go anywhere he
wished with him."

"Villain!" the King exclaimed. "And I thought he was my friend."

Of course, you and I know that if the King himself had been any sort of
a friend he would never have doubted the good faith of Charming just
because someone else spoke evil of him. But what did the King do but
order Charming put into a dungeon and given no food or water, so that
the poor fellow should die of hunger!

Poor Charming was bewildered when the King's guards came to carry him
off to prison. He could not imagine why the King had turned against him
in this unfair way. It made him miserable enough to be in a cold, damp
cell, with no food to eat, and no water to drink except that from a
little stream which flowed through the cell. He had no bed--just a
dirty pile of straw. But all these discomforts were as nothing to the
worry he had as to why the King, whom he had always liked, had treated
him so unjustly. He used to talk to himself about it. One day he said,
as he had thought dozens of times before:

"What have I done that my kindest friend, to whom I have always been
faithful, should have turned against me and left me to die in this
prison cell?"

As luck would have it, the King himself was passing by the dungeon
where Charming was confined when he spoke these words, and the King
heard them. Perhaps the King's better self had been telling him that he
ought at least to have given Charming a chance to tell his side of the
story before condemning him to die. I do not know. At any rate when he
heard this voice coming out of the dungeon he insisted on going in at
once to see Charming.

"Your Gracious Majesty," said Charming, "I could not believe that it
was really your wish that I be confined in this cell. All my life I
have had no wish but to serve you faithfully."

"Charming!" the King exclaimed, "can this be true! They told me that
you have made fun of me because the Princess Goldenlocks had refused
to marry me."

"I, Your Majesty, mocked you?" Charming was astonished. "That is not
true. It is true, however, that I said that if you would send me to
Goldenlocks I believed I could persuade her to become your wife,
because I know so many good things about you which I would tell her. I
could paint such a lovely picture of you that she could not possibly
help falling in love with your Majesty."

Then the King knew that he had been deceived by his courtiers, and he
felt that he had been very silly to believe them. He took Charming with
him to the palace right away, and, after having the best supper which
the cooks could prepare served for Charming, the King asked him to go
and see whether it was not yet possible to persuade Goldenlocks to
marry him.

Charming did not set off with any such retinue of servants as had
the other ambassador. The King gave him letters to the Princess, and
Charming picked out one present for her--a lovely scarf embroidered
with pearls.

The next morning Charming started out. He had armed himself with a
notebook and pencil. As he rode along he thought much about what he
might say to the Princess that would make her want to marry his King.

One day as he rode along he saw a deer stretching out its neck to reach
the leaves of the tree above it. "What a graceful creature!" thought
Charming. "I will tell Goldenlocks that the King is as graceful as a
deer." Then on the road ahead he saw a great shadow, cast by an eagle
in its flight. "How swift and strong that eagle is," he mused. "I will
tell the Princess that the King is like the eagle in strength and
swiftness and majesty."

Charming got off his horse and sat down by a brook to jot down his
thoughts in his notebook. As he opened his book to write he saw,
struggling in the grass by his side, a golden carp. The fish had jumped
too high when it tried to catch a fly, and had landed on the ground.
The poor creature was helpless to get back into the water, and was
gasping for breath; fish, you know, cannot live long out of water.
Charming felt so sorry for the carp that he could not write until he
had put it carefully back into the brook.

"Thank you, Charming," said a voice from the water. Charming had never
heard a fish speak before, and you can imagine that he was mightily
surprised. "Some day I will repay this kindness."

For several days after this adventure Charming journeyed on. Then, one
morning, he heard a great crying in the air, above him. A huge vulture
was pursuing a raven. The vulture was drawing closer and closer to its
prey--was almost upon it. Charming could not stand idly by and watch
the helpless little raven fight against its enormous enemy. He drew his
bow, and shot an arrow straight into the vulture's heart. The raven
flew down, and as it passed Charming it said gratefully: "I have you to
thank that I am not now in that great vulture's beak. I will remember
your great kindness."

Not long afterward, Charming came upon a great net which men had
stretched in the woods in order to catch birds. A poor owl was caught
in it. "Men are cruel creatures," thought Charming. "I don't think it
is very kind or praiseworthy to set a trap for these creatures who do
no one any harm." And Charming proceeded to cut the net and set the owl
free.

The owl flapped its wings noisily as it flew out of the net. "Thank
you, Charming," it said. "You know I can't see well in the daylight,
and I did not notice this trap. I shall never forget that I have you
to thank for my being alive."

Charming found Goldenlocks surrounded by a splendor greater than any
he had ever seen before. Pearls and diamonds were so plentiful that he
began to think they must grow on trees in this kingdom! It worried him
a little, for he thought he would have to be very clever to persuade
Goldenlocks to leave so much luxury.

With fear and trembling Charming presented himself at the door of
Princess Goldenlocks' palace on the morning after his arrival. He had
dressed himself with the greatest care in a handsome suit of crimson
velvet. On his head was a hat of the same brocaded material, trimmed
with waving ostrich plumes, which were fastened to his hat with a clasp
set with flashing diamonds. A messenger was sent at once to the
Princess to announce his arrival.

"Your Majesty," the messenger said. "There is the most handsome
gentleman sent from a King awaiting you below. He is dressed like a
Prince, and he is the most charming person I have ever seen. In fact,
his very name is Charming."

"His name sounds as if I would like him," said the Princess, musingly.
"I will see him presently. Honora, bring me my best blue satin
gown--the one embroidered with pearls."

Then the Princess had a fresh wreath of pink roses made to wind in her
lovely golden hair; Honora pushed tiny blue satin slippers on the feet
of her mistress, and handed her an exquisite silver lace fan. Then
Goldenlocks was all ready. She assumed her most princess-like manner,
and entered the great throne room. You may be sure, however, that she
stopped on the way, in the hall of mirrors, to see that she really
deserved all the compliments which her handmaids gave her.

When Goldenlocks was seated on the throne of gold and ivory, and her
handmaids were posed gracefully about her, playing idly on guitars,
Charming was brought in. He was as though struck dumb by the beauty
which greeted his eyes. He forgot for the moment all that he had
intended to say--all the long harangue prepared so carefully on the
way. Then he took a deep breath, and began, just as he had intended,
with:

"Most lovely Princess Goldenlocks, I have come to ask your hand in
marriage for the most noble King in the world."

I think his speech must have been very interesting, for Goldenlocks did
not take her eyes from Charming's face during the hour in which
Charming described the glories of his King.

"What, O most gracious Princess, may I take to the King as an answer
to his plea?" Charming finally inquired.

"Tell him," said Goldenlocks kindly, "I believe that no King who was
not worthy and charming himself could have an ambassador like you."

"But," she added after a pause, "tell him also that Goldenlocks may not
marry. I have taken a solemn vow that I will not marry until a ring
which I lost in the brook a month ago is found. I valued that ring more
than my whole kingdom, but it cannot be found."

Charming went away disheartened, because he did not have the slightest
idea how to go about finding the Princess's ring. Luckily for him, he
had brought with him a cunning little dog named Frisk. Frisk was a
light-hearted creature. He always was hopeful. So he said to Charming:

"Why, master, let us not give up hope without even trying. Let's go
down to the brook to-morrow morning and see if we can't find the
Princess's bothersome ring."

So, bright and early the next day, Charming and Frisk walked slowly
along the edge of the brook which flowed near the palace, hunting for
the ring. They walked for about half an hour, when a voice spoke to
them out of nowhere:

"Well, Charming, I have kept my promise. You once saved my life, you
know. Now I have brought you the Princess Goldenlocks' ring."

Charming looked up and down and all around in great amazement. Then, at
his very feet, he saw the golden carp which he had rescued a few days
before; and, best of all, in the carp's mouth was the Princess's gold
ring.

With joy in his heart Charming rushed to the palace, with Frisk dancing
along at his heels. Goldenlocks was disappointed to hear that he had
come back so soon. "He must have given up already," she told her
handmaids, as she made ready to receive Charming.

When Charming entered the Princess's throne room he did not say a word;
he simply handed her the ring.

"My ring!" the Princess called out in amazement. "You have found it!"
And she seemed delighted that Charming had succeeded.

"Now," said Charming, with something of assurance, "you will make ready
to return to my King with me, will you not?"

"Oh, no!" the Princess cried, as if she had never thought of such a
thing. "I can never marry until an awful enemy of mine is killed. There
is a fierce giant who lives near here. He once asked me to marry him,
and I, of course, refused. It made him very angry. He swore vengeance
upon me, and I am afraid to leave my kingdom while he is alive. I think
the creature--his name is Galifron--can really have no human heart at
all, for he can kill two or three or four persons a day without feeling
anything but joy in his crimes."

Charming shuddered at this appalling picture of his enemy-to-be.

"If it be in my power so to do, Princess Goldenlocks, I will slay your
enemy." With these words Charming turned on his heels and left the
palace.

Frisk realized that Charming was worried about the difficult new task
which Goldenlocks had given him. "Never you worry, Master," he said
cheerfully. "If you will but attack the monster I will bark and bite at
his heels until he won't know what he is doing. He will be so confused
that I know you will be able to conquer him."

Charming rode up to the giant's castle boldly enough. He knew the
monster was coming toward him, because he could hear the crash of
trees which broke under the huge feet. Then he heard a voice roaring
like thunder:

"Poof, woof, clear the way!
Bing, bang, 'tis to-day!
Zip, zook, I must slay!
Whizz, fizz, the King's pet, Charming!
Pish, tush, isn't it alarming!"

Charming trembled, and he could feel the cold perspiration stand out on
his brow. But he took a deep breath, and shouted as loud as he could
(which was not nearly as loud as the giant could):

"Galifron, take warning,
For your day is ending.
Prepare to find that Charming
Is really quite alarming!"

Galifron was so high above Charming that he had to hunt quite hard
before he could discover who was saying these words. When he saw the
little fellow standing ready to fight him he laughed, and yet he was
angry. He lifted his great club and would have knocked the life out
of Charming in a trice, but suddenly he could not see. He roared with
pain, for a raven had plucked out his eyes. Galifron beat wildly in
the air, trying to protect himself from the bird; meanwhile Charming
seized his opportunity, and it was only a moment until Galifron lay at
Charming's feet. Only Galifron was so big that Charming had to stand on
top of him in order to make sure that he was really dead.

To the Princess, Charming rode back as fast as his horse could carry
him. In front of him, on his saddle, he carried the giant's head. The
Princess was taking her afternoon nap, when she was awakened by loud
shouts of "Hail, Charming! Hail, conqueror of hideous Galifron!"

Goldenlocks could scarcely believe her ears. She rushed to the front of
the palace, and sure enough, there she was greeted by Charming, bearing
her enemy's head.

It seemed as if such a feat of daring should have been enough to
satisfy even Goldenlocks.

"Now, fair Princess, will you not return with me to my King?"

"Charming, I cannot," said the Princess; and to Charming her words
sounded like the stroke of doom. "Before I marry I must have some
water from the spring of eternal youth. This spring is at the bottom
of Gloomy Cavern--a great cave not far from here, which is guarded by
two fierce dragons. If I have a flask from that spring I shall always
remain young and beautiful. I should never dare to marry without its
protection."

"Beautiful Goldenlocks, you could never be anything but young and
beautiful; but I will none the less try to fulfill your mission."

Even though Charming had just conquered a giant he did not feel very
comfortable at the idea of having to find his way past two dragons
into a dark and gloomy cavern. He approached the cavern with much
determination, but with many misgivings. When Frisk saw the black smoke
belching out of the rocks at the entrance of the cavern the dog shook
all over with fear; and I have been told that when Charming saw Frisk
run off and try to hide, he himself would have been very glad if he
could have run away, too. But being a man, he, of course, had to be
brave; so he set his teeth and approached the cave.

Then he saw the first dragon--a huge, slimy creature, all yellow and
green, with great red claws, and a tail which seemed to Charming to be
nearly a mile long.

Charming turned back and called to Frisk. "Dear Frisk," he said sadly,
"I know I shall never see the light of day again if I enter this
cavern. Wait here for me until nightfall; then, if I have not come
back, go and tell the Princess that I have lost my life trying to win
for her eternal youth and beauty. Then tell the King that I did my best
for him, but failed."

Charming turned again to attack the dragon.

"Wait a minute, Charming!"

Charming looked around to see who spoke these words. "It's I, Charming,
the owl you rescued from the net the fowlers set for us poor birds. Let
me take Goldenlocks' flask, and I will fetch the water for you. I know
every turn of that dark cavern, and the dragons will not notice whether
I pass them or not." And the owl took the flask out of Charming's hand,
fluttered into the cavern, and disappeared.

"Here you are, Charming. You see I did not forget your kindness to me."
With these words the owl handed to Charming the flask full of water
from the magic spring. Charming was so happy that he could hardly find
words to thank the owl. He rode straight to Goldenlocks with the
wonderful liquid.

"Beautiful Goldenlocks, here is the water you asked me to get for
you. My mind cannot conceive of anything, however, which would add
to your beauty. I do know, however, something which would add to your
happiness. I have found your ring, slain your enemy, brought you the
secret of youth and health; now will you not come with me to my King,
who loves you so much that he will make you the happiest woman on
earth?"

"Yes," said Goldenlocks, softly. Her answer really surprised Charming
very much, because he had come to think that she would never cease to
find new tasks for him to perform. She gave orders at once for the
necessary preparations for the journey, and in a few days she and
Charming and little Frisk set out for home, with a great retinue of
servants, of course.

The King greeted them with the greatest enthusiasm. He proclaimed a
holiday throughout his kingdom, and every one feasted and danced.

But, strange to say, the Princess Goldenlocks found herself daily
thinking more and more, not of the King, but of Charming.

One day Charming found himself once more in prison, bound hand and
foot. The King thought this would be a good way to rid himself of his
rival.

Goldenlocks used to beg the King to set Charming free, but that only
made things worse. Little Frisk was Charming's only comfort; he used
to take him all the court news.

"Maybe," said the King to himself one day, "the reason Goldenlocks
prefers Charming to me is that I am not beautiful enough to suit her. I
believe I will try some of that water of eternal beauty and health that
she is always talking about."

Without a word to anyone the King stole into the Queen's room and
hunted about until he found the flask of water. He bathed his face in
the water and stood in front of a mirror to watch the change. A few
hours later the Queen found him sound asleep. She could not awaken him,
and they sent for the court physician; he could not rouse the King.
"The King," the physician told the Queen, "is dead."

Now this is what had happened. One day when the Princess's maid Honora
was cleaning her room she knocked over the flask which contained the
precious water, and broke it in a thousand pieces. Honora was terribly
frightened. She would not have let the Princess know what had occurred
for anything. She remembered seeing a flask in the King's room just
like the one she had broken, and she put it in the very spot from which
she had knocked the other.

Unluckily for the King, the maid took a flask which contained a deadly
water which was used to "do away" with criminals.

"Woof, woof!" said Frisk in the Queen's ear. "Please have pity on my
poor master, good Queen! Remember all he did for you, and how he is
suffering for your sake now!"

Goldenlocks at once left the room where the King's body lay in state
and went to the tower where Charming was confined. She opened his cell
and set him free. She put a golden crown on his head, and removed the
chains from his wrists and ankles.

"King Charming!" said the Queen, "now you and I shall be married,
and--live happily ever after!"





Next: Prince Hyacinth And The Dear Little Princess

Previous: The Road To Fairy Land



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