VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of www.childrenstories.ca Informational Site Network Informational
Privacy
Home - Stories - Categories - Books - Search

Featured Stories

The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Categories

A FAIRY-TALE

Aesop

ALPHABET RHYMES

AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES

AMUSING ALPHABETS

Animal Sketches And Stories

ANIMAL STORIES

ARBOR DAY

BIRD DAY

Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon

Bohemian Story

BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS

CATS

CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES

CHRISTMAS DAY

COLUMBUS DAY

CUSTOM RHYMES

Didactic Stories

Everyday Verses

EVIL SPIRITS

FABLES

FABLES FOR CHILDREN

FABLES FROM INDIA

FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS

FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

For Classes Ii. And Iii.

For Classes Iv. And V.

For Kindergarten And Class I.

FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

GERMAN

Good Little Henry

HALLOWEEN

Happy Days

INDEPENDENCE DAY

JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]

Jean De La Fontaine

King Alexander's Adventures

KINGS AND WARRIORS

LABOR DAY

LAND AND WATER FAIRIES

Lessons From Nature

LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY

LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG

Love Lyrics

Lyrics

MAY DAY

MEMORIAL DAY

Modern

MODERN FABLES

MODERN FAIRY TALES

MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED

MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES

MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES

MOTHERS' DAY

Myths And Legends

NATURE SONGS

NEGLECT THE FIRE

NUMBER RHYMES

NURSERY GAMES

NURSERY-SONGS.

NURSEY STORIES

OLD-FASHIONED STORIES

ON POPULAR EDUCATION

OURSON

Perseus

PLACES AND FAMILIES

Poems Of Nature

Polish Story

Popular

PROVERB RHYMES

RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)

RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"

RIDDLE RHYMES

RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE

ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES

SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY

Selections From The Bible

Servian Story

SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES

Some Children's Poets

Songs Of Life

STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS

STORIES FOR CHILDREN

STORIES for LITTLE BOYS

STORIES FROM BOTANY

STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN

STORIES FROM IRELAND

STORIES FROM PHYSICS

STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA

STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY

STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS

SUPERSITITIONS

THANKSGIVING DAY

The Argonauts

THE CANDLE

THE DAYS OF THE WEEK

THE DECEMBRISTS

The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers

The Little Grey Mouse

THE OLD FAIRY TALES

The Princess Rosette

THE THREE HERMITS

THE TWO OLD MEN

Theseus

Traditional

UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES

VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES

WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

WHAT MEN LIVE BY

WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO

The Enchanted Elm

from The Firelight Fairy Book





[Illustration: Young girl sitting in a tree.]


Once upon a time, while riding, a brave, young prince dashed merrily
ahead of his friends, and after galloping across a ploughed field,
turned his horse's head down a grassy road leading to a wood. For some
time he cantered easily along, expecting any moment to hear the shouts
and halloos of his friends following after; but they by mistake took
quite another road, and no sound except the pounding of his courser's
hoofs reached the Prince's ear. Suddenly an ugly snarl and a short bark
broke the stillness of the pleasant forest, and looking down, the Prince
saw a gray wolf snapping at his horse's heels.

Though the horse, wild with fear, threatened to run away any instant,
the Prince leaned over and struck the wolf with his whip.

Hardly had he done so, when an angry voice cried, "How dare you strike
my pet?"

A little distance ahead, a wicked old witch stood at one side of the
road. With its tail between its legs, the wolf cowered close to her
skirts, and showed its long yellow fangs.

"Pet, indeed!" cried the Prince. "Keep him away from my horse or I will
strike him again."

"At your peril, Prince," answered the witch. And then, as the Prince
turned his horse's head and galloped back, she called out, "You shall
rue this day! You shall rue this day!"

Now by the time the Prince had arrived at the ploughed field and the
great road again, his friends had galloped on so far that they were lost
to sight. Thinking that he might overtake them by following a shorter
road, he turned down a byway skirting the wood in which he had
encountered the enchantress. Presently he began to feel very thirsty.
Chancing to see an old peasant woman in the fields, the Prince called to
her and asked where he could find a roadside spring.

Now this old peasant woman was the wicked witch under another form.
Overjoyed at having the Prince fall so easily into her power, she
curtsied; and replied that within the wood was to be found the finest
spring in the country. Anxious not to lose time, the Prince begged her
to lead him to the water. Little did he know that the witch was leading
him back into the wood, and that she had just bewitched the water!

When they arrived at the pool, the Prince dismounted, and kneeling by
the brim, made a cup of his hands and drank till his thirst was
satisfied. He was just about to seize his horse again by the bridle and
put his foot into the stirrup, when a terrible pang shot through his
body, darkness swam before his eyes, his arms lengthened and became
branches, his fingers, twigs; his feet shot into the ground, and he
found himself turned into a giant elm.

A giant elm he was; a giant elm he remained. Unable to find him after a
long search, his friends gave him up for lost, and a new Prince ruled
over the land. Though the elm tried many times to tell passers-by of his
plight, none ever seemed to understand his words. Again and again, when
simple wood-cutters ventured into the great dark wood, he would tell
them his story and cry out, "I am the Prince! I am the Prince!" But the
wood-cutters heard only the wind stirring in the branches. Ah, how cold
it was in winter when the skies were steely black and the giant stars
sparkled icily! And how pleasant it was when spring returned, and the
gossipy birds came back again!

The first year a pair of wood-pigeons took to housekeeping in his
topmost branches. The Prince was glad to welcome them, for though denied
human speech, he understood the language of trees and birds. On
Midsummer Eve, the pigeons said to him, "To-night the King of the Trees
comes through the wood. Do you not hear the stir in the forest? All the
real trees are preparing for the King's coming; they are shedding dead
leaves and shaking out their branches."

"Tell me of the King," said the Prince.

"He is tall and dark and strong," said the doves. "He dwells in a great
pine in the North. On Midsummer Eve, he goes through the world to see if
all is well with the tree people."

"Do you think he can help me?" asked the Prince.

"You might ask him," replied the doves.

The long, long twilight of Midsummer Eve came to a close; night folded
the world beneath its starry curtains. At twelve o'clock, though not a
breath of air was stirring, the trees were shaken as if by a mighty
wind, the rustling of the leaves blending into strange and lovely music,
and presently the King of the Trees entered the haunted wood. Even as
the wood-doves had said, he was tall and dark and stately.

"Is all well with you, O my people?" said the King, in a voice as sweet
and solemn as the wind in the branches on a summer's day.

"Yes, all is well," answered the trees softly. Though some replied, "I
have lost a branch"; and a little tree called out unhappily, "My
neighbors are shutting out all my sunlight."

"Then fare ye well, my people, till next Midsummer Eve," said the
stately King. And he was about to stride onward through the dark wood
when the enchanted Prince called aloud to him!

"Stay, O King of the Trees," cried the poor Prince. "Hear me even though
I am not of your people. I am a mortal, a prince, and a wicked witch has
turned me into a tree. Can you not help me?"

"Alas, poor friend, I can do nothing," replied the King. "However, do
not despair. In my travels through the world, I shall surely find
someone who can help you. Look for me on next Midsummer Eve."

So the great elm swayed his branches sadly, and the King went on his
way.

The winter came again, silent and dark and cold. At the return of
spring, a maiden who dwelt with a family of wood-cutters came often to
rest in the shade of the great tree. Her father had once been a rich
merchant, but evil times had overtaken him, and at his death the only
relatives who could be found to take care of the little girl were a
family of rough wood-cutters in the royal service. These grudging folk
kept the poor maiden always hard at work and gave her the most difficult
household tasks. The Prince, who knew the whole story, pitied her very
much, and ended by falling quite in love with her. As for the unhappy
maiden, it seemed to her that beneath the sheltering shade of the great
elm she enjoyed a peace and happiness to be found nowhere else.

Now it was the custom of the wood-men to cut down, during the summer,
such trees as would be needed for the coming winter, and one day the
wood-cutter in whose family the maiden dwelt announced his intention of
cutting down the great elm.

"Not the great elm which towers above all the forest?" cried the maiden.

"Yes, that very tree," answered the woodcutter gruffly. "To-morrow
morning we shall fell it to the ground, and to-morrow night we shall
build the midsummer fire with its smaller branches. What are you crying
about, you silly girl?"

"Oh, please don't cut the great elm!" begged the good maiden.

"Nonsense!" said the wood-cutter. "I wager you have been wasting your
time under its branches. I shall certainly cut the tree down in the
morning."

All night long, you may be sure, the maiden pondered on the best way to
save the great tree; and since she was as clever as she was good, she at
length hit upon a plan. Rising early on Midsummer Morn, she ran to the
forest, climbed the great elm, and concealed herself in its topmost
branches. She saw the rest of the wood beneath her, and the distant
peaks of the Adamant Mountains; and she rejoiced in the dawn songs of
the birds.

An hour after the sun had risen, she heard the voices of the wood-cutter
and his men as they came through the wood. Soon the band arrived at the
foot of the tree. Imagine the feelings of the poor Prince when he saw
the sharp axes at hand to cut him down!

"I shall strike the first blow," said the chief wood-cutter, and he
lifted his axe in the air.

Suddenly from the tree-top a warning voice sang,--

"Throw the axe down, harm not me.
I am an enchanted tree.
He who strikes shall breathe his last,
Before Midsummer Eve hath passed."

"There is a spirit in the tree," cried the woodcutters, thoroughly
frightened. "Let us hurry away from here before it does us a mischief."
And in spite of all the chief wood-cutter's remonstrances, they ran
away as fast as their legs could carry them.

The chief wood-cutter, however, was bolder-hearted, and lifted the axe
again. As the blade shone uplifted in the sun, the maiden sang once
more,--

"Throw the axe down, harm not me.
I am an enchanted tree.
He who strikes shall breathe his last
Before Midsummer Eve hath passed."

Hearing the voice again, the chief began to feel just the littlest bit
alarmed; nevertheless, he stood his ground and lifted the axe a third
time. Once more the girl sang,--

"Throw the axe down, harm not me.
I am an enchanted tree.
He who strikes shall breathe his last
Before Midsummer Eve hath passed."

At the same moment, the elm managed to throw down a great branch which
struck the rogue a sound thump on the shoulders. Now thoroughly
terrified, the chief wood-cutter himself fled from the spot.

All day long, for fear lest he return, the maiden remained hidden in the
tree. At twilight, overcome by weariness, she fell into a deep sleep.
Just before midnight, alas, she was awakened from her slumber by hearing
an angry voice cry,--

"Come down from the tree, wicked, deceitful girl, or I shall cut it down
at once!"

Very much alarmed, the poor maiden looked down through the branches, and
discovered the wood-cutter standing at the foot of the elm. A lantern
swung from his left hand, and his sharpest axe rested on his right
shoulder. He had returned home, and not finding the maiden there, had
suspected that it was her voice which had frightened his men away.

"Come down," roared the rascal. "I'll teach you, you minx, to play
tricks with me. One--two--three." And lifting the axe in the air, he was
about to send it crashing into the trunk of the elm, when the mysterious
murmur which heralded the coming of the King of the Trees sounded
through the wood. Perplexed and frightened again, the chief wood-cutter
let fall his axe. Presently he perceived two beings coming toward him
through the solemn forest. Uttering a howl of fear, the rogue would have
fled, but, lifting his wand, the elder of the newcomers transfixed him
to the spot. The two personages were the King of the Trees and his
friend, the mighty enchanter, Gorbodoc.

"Descend and fear not, maiden," said the King of the Trees. "You have
done bravely and well. Your misfortunes are over, and a happier day is
at hand."

So the brave girl hurried down the tree, and stood before the enchanter
and the King. Very pretty she was, too, in her rustic dress and ribbons.


Lifting his wand with great solemnity, Gorbodoc touched the trunk of the
elm. There was a blinding flash of rosy fire; the great tree appeared to
shrink and dissolve, and presently the Prince stood before them.

"Welcome, Prince," said the enchanter.

"Your enemy, the witch, will trouble you no more. I have turned her into
an owl and given her to the Queen of Lantern Land. As for you," and here
the enchanter turned fiercely upon the wood-cutter, "you shall be a
green monkey, until you have planted and brought to full growth as many
trees as you have cut down."

An instant later, a green monkey swung off into the tree-tops.

Then the grateful Prince thanked the King of the Trees, the mighty
Gorbodoc, and the brave maiden, with all his heart. I am glad to say
that he got his castle back again and married the maiden who had saved
his life, and they lived happily ever after.





Next: The Bird Boy

Previous: The Lost Half-hour



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK



Viewed: 1258