Prince Darling





ONCE upon a time there lived a king who was so just

and kind that his subjects called him "the Good King."

It happened one day, when he was out hunting, that a

little white rabbit, which his dogs were chasing, sprang

into his arms for shelter. The King stroked it gently,

and said to it:



"Well, bunny, as you have come to me for protection

I will see that nobody hurts you."



And he took it home to his palace and had it put in a

pretty little house, with all sorts of nice things to eat.



That night, when he was alone in his room, a beautiful

lady suddenly appeared before him; her long dress was

as white as snow, and she had a crown of white roses upon

her head. The good King was very much surprised to

see her, for he knew his door had been tightly shut, and

he could not think how she had got in. But she said

to him:



"I am the Fairy Truth. I was passing through the

wood when you were out hunting, and I wished to find

out if you were really good, as everybody said you were,

so I took the shape of a little rabbit and came to your

arms for shelter, for I know that those who are merciful

to animals will be still kinder to their fellow-men. If

you had refused to help me I should have been certain

that you were wicked. I thank you for the kindness you

have shown me, which has made me your friend for ever.

You have only to ask me for anything you want and I

promise that I will give it to you."



"Madam," said the good King, "since you are a fairy

you no doubt know all my wishes. I have but one son

whom I love very dearly, that is why he is called Prince

Darling. If you are really good enough to wish to do

me a favor, I beg that you will become his friend."



"With all my heart," answered the Fairy. "I can

make your son the handsomest prince in the world, or

the richest, or the most powerful; choose whichever you

like for him."



"I do not ask either of these things for my son," replied

the good King; "but if you will make him the best of

princes, I shall indeed be grateful to you. What good

would it do him to be rich, or handsome, or to possess all

the kingdoms of the world if he were wicked? You know

well he would still be unhappy. Only a good man can

be really contented."



"You are quite right," answered the Fairy; "but it is

not in my power to make Prince Darling a good man

unless he will help me; he must himself try hard to become

good, I can only promise to give him good advice,

to scold him for his faults, and to punish him if he will

not correct and punish himself."



The good King was quite satisfied with this promise;

and very soon afterward he died.



Prince Darling was very sorry, for he loved his father

with all his heart, and he would willingly have given all

his kingdoms and all his treasures of gold and silver if

they could have kept the good King with him.



Two days afterward, when the Prince had gone to

bed, the Fairy suddenly appeared to him and said:



"I promised your father that I would be your friend,

and to keep my word I have come to bring you a present."

At the same time she put a little gold ring upon his

finger.



"Take great care of this ring," she said: "it is more

precious than diamonds; every time you do a bad deed

it will prick your finger, but if, in spite of its pricking,

you go on in your own evil way, you will lose my friendship,

and I shall become your enemy."



So saying, the Fairy disappeared, leaving Prince

Darling very much astonished.



For some time he behaved so well that the ring never

pricked him, and that made him so contented that his

subjects called him Prince Darling the Happy.



One day, however, he went out hunting, but could get

no sport, which put him in a very bad temper; it seemed

to him as he rode along that his ring was pressing into

his finger, but as it did not prick him he did not heed it.

When he got home and went to his own room, his little

dog Bibi ran to meet him, jumping round him with

pleasure. "Get away!" said the Prince, quite gruffly.

"I don't want you, you are in the way."



The poor little dog, who didn't understand this at all,

pulled at his coat to make him at least look at her, and

this made Prince Darling so cross that he gave her quite

a hard kick.



Instantly his ring pricked him sharply, as if it had

been a pin. He was very much surprised, and sat down

in a corner of his room feeling quite ashamed of himself.



"I believe the Fairy is laughing at me," he thought.

"Surely I can have done no great wrong in just kicking

a tiresome animal! What is the good of my being ruler

of a great kingdom if I am not even allowed to beat my

own dog?"



"I am not making fun of you," said a voice, answering

Prince Darling's thoughts. "You have committed three

faults. First of all, you were out of temper because you

could not have what you wanted, and you thought all

men and animals were only made to do your pleasure;

then you were really angry, which is very naughty

indeed; and lastly, you were cruel to a poor little animal

who did not in the least deserve to be ill-treated.



"I know you are far above a little dog, but if it were

right and allowable that great people should ill-treat all

who are beneath them, I might at this moment beat you,

or kill you, for a fairy is greater than a man. The

advantage of possessing a great empire is not to be able to

do the evil that one desires, but to do all the good that

one possibly can."



The Prince saw how naughty he had been, and promised

to try and do better in future, but he did not keep

his word. The fact was he had been brought up by a

foolish nurse, who had spoiled him when he was little.

If he wanted anything he only had to cry and fret and

stamp his feet and she would give him whatever he

asked for, which had made him self-willed; also she had

told him from morning to night that he would one day

be a king, and that kings were very happy, because

everyone was bound to obey and respect them, and no

one could prevent them from doing just as they liked.



When the Prince grew old enough to understand, he

soon learned that there could be nothing worse than to

be proud, obstinate, and conceited, and he had really

tried to cure himself of these defects, but by that time

all his faults had become habits; and a bad habit is very

hard to get rid of. Not that he was naturally of a bad

disposition; he was truly sorry when he had been naughty,

and said:



"I am very unhappy to have to struggle against my

anger and pride every day; if I had been punished for

them when I was little they would not be such a trouble

to me now."



His ring pricked him very often, and sometimes he

left off what he was doing at once; but at other times he

would not attend to it. Strangely enough, it gave him

only a slight prick for a trifling fault, but when he was

really naughty it made his finger actually bleed. At

last he got tired of being constantly reminded, and wanted

to be able to do as he liked, so he threw his ring aside,

and thought himself the happiest of men to have got rid

of its teasing pricks. He gave himself up to doing every

foolish thing that occurred to him, until he became quite

wicked and nobody could like him any longer.



One day, when the Prince was walking about, he saw

a young girl who was so very pretty that he made up

his mind at once that he would marry her. Her name

was Celia, and she was as good as she was beautiful.



Prince Darling fancied that Celia would think herself

only too happy if he offered to make her a great queen,

but she said fearlessly:



"Sire, I am only a shepherdess, and a poor girl, but,

nevertheless, I will not marry you."



"Do you dislike me?" asked the Prince, who was very

much vexed at this answer.



"No, my Prince," replied Celia; "I cannot help

thinking you very handsome; but what good would riches be

to me, and all the grand dresses and splendid carriages

that you would give me, if the bad deeds which I should

see you do every day made me hate and despise you?"



The Prince was very angry at this speech, and

commanded his officers to make Celia a prisoner and carry

her off to his palace. All day long the remembrance of

what she had said annoyed him, but as he loved her he

could not make up his mind to have her punished.



One of the Prince's favorite companions was his foster-brother,

whom he trusted entirely; but he was not at all

a good man, and gave Prince Darling very bad advice,

and encouraged him in all his evil ways. When he saw

the Prince so downcast he asked what was the matter,

and when he explained that he could not bear Celia's

bad opinion of him, and was resolved to be a better man

in order to please her, this evil adviser said to him:



"You are very kind to trouble yourself about this little

girl; if I were you I would soon make her obey me.

Remember that you are a king, and that it would be laughable

to see you trying to please a shepherdess, who ought

to be only too glad to be one of your slaves. Keep her

in prison, and feed her on bread and water for a little

while, and then, if she still says she will not marry you,

have her head cut off, to teach other people that you

mean to be obeyed. Why, if you cannot make a girl

like that do as you wish, your subjects will soon forget

that they are only put into this world for our pleasure."



"But," said Prince Darling, "would it not be a shame

if I had an innocent girl put to death? For Celia has

done nothing to deserve punishment."



"If people will not do as you tell them they ought to

suffer for it," answered his foster-brother; "but even if

it were unjust, you had better be accused of that by your

subjects than that they should find out that they may

insult and thwart you as often as they please."



In saying this he was touching a weak point in his

brother's character; for the Prince's fear of losing any

of his power made him at once abandon his first idea of

trying to be good, and resolve to try and frighten the

shepherdess into consenting to marry him.



His foster-brother, who wanted him to keep this

resolution, invited three young courtiers, as wicked as himself

to sup with the Prince, and they persuaded him to drink

a great deal of wine, and continued to excite his anger

against Celia by telling him that she had laughed at his

love for her; until at last, in quite a furious rage, he

rushed off to find her, declaring that if she still refused

to marry him she should be sold as a slave the very next

day.



But when he reached the room in which Celia had

been locked up, he was greatly surprised to find that she

was not in it, though he had the key in his own pocket

all the time. His anger was terrible, and he vowed

vengeance against whoever had helped her to escape. His

bad friends, when they heard him, resolved to turn his

wrath upon an old nobleman who had formerly been his

tutor; and who still dared sometimes to tell the Prince

of his faults, for he loved him as if he had been his own

son. At first Prince Darling had thanked him, but after

a time he grew impatient and thought it must be just

mere love of fault-finding that made his old tutor blame

him when everyone else was praising and flattering him.

So he ordered him to retire from his Court, though he still,

from time to time, spoke of him as a worthy man whom

he respected, even if he no longer loved him. His

unworthy friends feared that he might some day take it

into his head to recall his old tutor, so they thought they

now had a good opportunity of getting him banished for

ever.



They reported to the Prince that Suilman, for that

was the tutor's name, had boasted of having helped Celia

to escape, and they bribed three men to say that Suilman

himself had told them about it. The Prince, in

great anger, sent his foster-brother with a number of

soldiers to bring his tutor before him, in chains, like a

criminal. After giving this order he went to his own

room, but he had scarcely got into it when there was a

clap of thunder which made the ground shake, and the

Fairy Truth appeared suddenly before him.



"I promised your father," said she sternly, "to give

you good advice, and to punish you if you refused to

follow it. You have despised my counsel, and have gone

your own evil way until you are only outwardly a man;

really you are a monster--the horror of everyone who

knows you. It is time that I should fulfil my promise,

and begin your punishment. I condemn you to resemble

the animals whose ways you have imitated. You

have made yourself like the lion by your anger, and like

the wolf by your greediness. Like a snake, you have

ungratefully turned upon one who was a second father to

you; your churlishness has made you like a bull. Therefore,

in your new form, take the appearance of all these

animals."



The Fairy had scarcely finished speaking when Prince

Darling saw to his horror that her words were fulfilled.

He had a lion's head, a bull's horns, a wolf's feet, and a

snake's body. At the same instant he found himself in

a great forest, beside a clear lake, in which he could see

plainly the horrible creature he had become, and a voice

said to him:



"Look carefully at the state to which your wickedness

has brought you; believe me, your soul is a thousand

times more hideous than your body."



Prince Darling recognized the voice of the Fairy Truth

and turned in a fury to catch her and eat her up if he

possibly could; but he saw no one, and the same voice

went on:



"I laugh at your powerlessness and anger, and I intend

to punish your pride by letting you fall into the

hands of your own subjects."



The Prince began to think that the best thing he could

do would be to get as far away from the lake as he could,

then at least he would not be continually reminded of his

terrible ugliness. So he ran toward the wood, but before

he had gone many yards he fell into a deep pit which

had been made to trap bears, and the hunters, who were

hiding in a tree, leaped down, and secured him with

several chains, and led him into the chief city of his own

kingdom.



On the way, instead of recognizing that his own faults

had brought this punishment upon him, he accused the

Fairy of being the cause of all his misfortunes, and bit

and tore at his chains furiously.



As they approached the town he saw that some great

rejoicing was being held, and when the hunters asked

what had happened they were told that the Prince,

whose only pleasure it was to torment his people, had

been found in his room, killed by a thunder-bolt (for

that was what was supposed to have become of him).

Four of his courtiers, those who had encouraged him in

his wicked doings, had tried to seize the kingdom and

divide it between them, but the people, who knew it

was their bad counsels which had so changed the Prince,

had cut off their heads, and had offered the crown to

Suilman, whom the Prince had left in prison. This

noble lord had just been crowned, and the deliverance

of the kingdom was the cause of the rejoicing "For,"

they said, "he is a good and just man, and we shall once

more enjoy peace and prosperity."



Prince Darling roared with anger when he heard this;

but it was still worse for him when he reached the great

square before his own palace. He saw Suilman seated

upon a magnificent throne, and all the people crowded

round, wishing him a long life that he might undo all

the mischief done by his predecessor.



Presently Suilman made a sign with his hand that the

people should be silent, and said: "I have accepted the

crown you have offered me, but only that I may keep it

for Prince Darling, who is not dead as you suppose; the

Fairy has assured me that there is still hope that you

may some day see him again, good and virtuous as he

was when he first came to the throne. Alas!" he

continued, "he was led away by flatterers. I knew his

heart, and am certain that if it had not been for the bad

influence of those who surrounded him he would have

been a good king and a father to his people. We may

hate his faults, but let us pity him and hope for his

restoration. As for me, I would die gladly if that could bring

back our Prince to reign justly and worthily once more."



These words went to Prince Darling's heart; he realized

the true affection and faithfulness of his old tutor, and

for the first time reproached himself for all his evil

deeds; at the same instant he felt all his anger melting

away, and he began quickly to think over his past life,

and to admit that his punishment was not more than

he had deserved. He left off tearing at the iron bars of

the cage in which he was shut up, and became as gentle

as a lamb.



The hunters who had caught him took him to a great

menagerie, where he was chained up among all the other

wild beasts, and he determined to show his sorrow for

his past bad behavior by being gentle and obedient to the

man who had to take care of him. Unfortunately, this

man was very rough and unkind, and though the poor

monster was quite quiet, he often beat him without

rhyme or reason when he happened to be in a bad temper.

One day when this keeper was asleep a tiger broke its

chain, and flew at him to eat him up. Prince Darling,

who saw what was going on, at first felt quite pleased to

think that he should be delivered from his persecutor,

but soon thought better of it and wished that he were free.



"I would return good for evil," he said to himself, "and

save the unhappy man's life." He had hardly wished

this when his iron cage flew open, and he rushed to the

side of the keeper, who was awake and was defending

himself against the tiger. When he saw the monster had

got out he gave himself up for lost, but his fear was soon

changed into joy, for the kind monster threw itself upon

the tiger and very soon killed it, and then came and

crouched at the feet of the man it had saved.



Overcome with gratitude, the keeper stooped to caress

the strange creature which had done him such a great

service; but suddenly a voice said in his ear:



"A good action should never go unrewarded," and at

the same instant the monster disappeared, and he saw

at his feet only a pretty little dog!



Prince Darling, delighted by the change, frisked about

the keeper, showing his joy in every way he could, and

the man, taking him up in his arms, carried him to the

King, to whom he told the whole story.



The Queen said she would like to have this wonderful

little dog, and the Prince would have been very happy

in his new home if he could have forgotten that he was a

man and a king. The Queen petted and took care of

him, but she was so afraid that he would get too fat that

she consulted the court physician, who said that he was

to be fed only upon bread, and was not to have much

even of that. So poor Prince Darling was terribly

hungry all day long, but he was very patient about it.



One day, when they gave him his little loaf for breakfast,

he thought he would like to eat it out in the garden;

so he took it up in his mouth and trotted away toward a

brook that he knew of a long way from the palace. But

he was surprised to find that the brook was gone, and

where it had been stood a great house that seemed to be

built of gold and precious stones. Numbers of people

splendidly dressed were going into it, and sounds of

music and dancing and feasting could be heard from the

windows.



But what seemed very strange was that those people

who came out of the house were pale and thin, and their

clothes were torn, and hanging in rags about them.

Some fell down dead as they came out before they had

time to get away; others crawled farther with great

difficulty; while others again lay on the ground, fainting

with hunger, and begged a morsel of bread from those

who were going into the house, but they would not so

much as look at the poor creatures.



Prince Darling went up to a young girl who was trying

to eat a few blades of grass, she was so hungry. Touched

with compassion, he said to himself:



"I am very hungry, but I shall not die of starvation

before I get my dinner; if I give my breakfast to this

poor creature perhaps I may save her life."



So he laid his piece of bread in the girl's hand, and saw

her eat it up eagerly.



She soon seemed to be quite well again, and the Prince,

delighted to have been able to help her, was thinking of

going home to the palace, when he heard a great outcry,

and, turning round, saw Celia, who was being carried

against her will into the great house.



For the first time the Prince regretted that he was no

longer the monster, then he would have been able to

rescue Celia; now he could only bark feebly at the people

who were carrying her off, and try to follow them, but

they chased and kicked him away.



He determined not to quit the place till he knew what

had become of Celia, and blamed himself for what had

befallen her.



"Alas!" he said to himself, "I am furious with the

people who are carrying Celia off, but isn't that exactly

what I did myself, and if I had not been prevented did I

not intend to be still more cruel to her?"



Here he was interrupted by a noise above his head--someone

was opening a window, and he saw with delight

that it was Celia herself, who came forward and threw

out a plate of most delicious-looking food, then the

window was shut again, and Prince Darling, who had not

had anything to eat all day, thought he might as well

take the opportunity of getting something. He ran

forward to begin, but the young girl to whom he had

given his bread gave a cry of terror and took him up in

her arms, saying:



"Don't touch it, my poor little dog--that house is the

palace of pleasure, and everything that comes out of it

is poisoned!"



At the same moment a voice said:



"You see a good action always brings its reward," and

the Prince found himself changed into a beautiful white

dove. He remembered that white was the favorite

color of the Fairy Truth, and began to hope that he

might at last win back her favor. But just now his

first care was for Celia, and rising into the air he flew

round and round the house, until he saw an open window;

but he searched through every room in vain. No trace

of Celia was to be seen, and the Prince, in despair,

determined to search through the world till he found her.

He flew on and on for several days, till he came to a

great desert, where he saw a cavern, and, to his delight,

there sat Celia, sharing the simple breakfast of an old

hermit.



Overjoyed to have found her, Prince Darling perched

upon her shoulder, trying to express by his caresses how

glad he was to see her again, and Celia, surprised and

delighted by the tameness of this pretty white dove,

stroked it softly, and said, though she never thought of

its understanding her:



"I accept the gift that you make me of yourself, and

I will love you always."



"Take care what you are saying, Celia," said the old

hermit; "are you prepared to keep that promise?"



"Indeed, I hope so, my sweet shepherdess," cried the

Prince, who was at that moment restored to his natural

shape. "You promised to love me always; tell me that

you really mean what you said, or I shall have to ask

the Fairy to give me back the form of the dove which

pleased you so much."



"You need not be afraid that she will change her

mind," said the Fairy, throwing off the hermit's robe in

which she had been disguised and appearing before them.



"Celia has loved you ever since she first saw you, only

she would not tell you while you were so obstinate and

naughty. Now you have repented and mean to be good

you deserve to be happy, and so she may love you as

much as she likes."



Celia and Prince Darling threw themselves at the

Fairy's feet, and the Prince was never tired of thanking

her for her kindness. Celia was delighted to hear how

sorry he was for all his past follies and misdeeds, and

promised to love him as long as she lived.



"Rise, my children," said the Fairy, "and I will

transport you to the palace, and Prince Darling shall have

back again the crown he forfeited by his bad behavior."



While she was speaking, they found themselves in

Suilman's hall, and his delight was great at seeing his

dear master once more. He gave up the throne joyfully

to the Prince, and remained always the most faithful

of his subjects.



Celia and Prince Darling reigned for many years, but

he was so determined to govern worthily and to do his

duty that his ring, which he took to wearing again, never

once pricked him severely.





Prince Cherry Prince Darling facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback