: The Yellow Fairy Book

Once there lived a King who had no children for many years after

his marriage. At length heaven granted him a daughter of such

remarkable beauty that he could think of no name so appropriate

for her as 'Fairer-than-a-Fairy.'

It never occurred to the good-natured monarch that such a name

was certain to call down the hatred and jealousy of the fairies

in a body on the child, but this was what happened. No

had they heard of this presumptuous name than they resolved to

gain possession of her who bore it, and either to torment her

cruelly, or at least to conceal her from the eyes of all men.

The eldest of their tribe was entrusted to carry out their

revenge. This Fairy was named Lagree; she was so old that she

only had one eye and one tooth left, and even these poor remains

she had to keep all night in a strengthening liquid. She was

also so spiteful that she gladly devoted all her time to carrying

out all the mean or ill-natured tricks of the whole body of


With her large experience, added to her native spite, she found

but little difficulty in carrying off Fairer-than-a-Fairy. The

poor child, who was only seven years old, nearly died of fear on

finding herself in the power of this hideous creature. However,

when after an hour's journey underground she found herself in a

splendid palace with lovely gardens, she felt a little reassured,

and was further cheered when she discovered that her pet cat and

dog had followed her.

The old Fairy led her to a pretty room which she said should be

hers, at the same time giving her the strictest orders never to

let out the fire which was burning brightly in the grate. She

then gave two glass bottles into the Princess's charge, desiring

her to take the greatest care of them, and having enforced her

orders with the most awful threats in case of disobedience, she

vanished, leaving the little girl at liberty to explore the

palace and grounds and a good deal relieved at having only two

apparently easy tasks set her.

Several years passed, during which time the Princess grew

accustomed to her lonely life, obeyed the Fairy's orders, and by

degrees forgot all about the court of the King her father.

One day, whilst passing near a fountain in the garden, she

noticed that the sun's rays fell on the water in such a manner as

to produce a brilliant rainbow. She stood still to admire it,

when, to her great surprise, she heard a voice addressing her

which seemed to come from the centre of its rays. The voice was

that of a young man, and its sweetness of tone and the agreeable

things it uttered, led one to infer that its owner must be

equally charming; but this had to be a mere matter of fancy, for

no one was visible.

The beautiful Rainbow informed Fairer-than-a-Fairy that he was

young, the son of a powerful king, and that the Fairy, Lagree,

who owed his parents a grudge, had revenged herself by depriving

him of his natural shape for some years; that she had imprisoned

him in the palace, where he had found his confinement hard to

bear for some time, but now, he owned, he no longer sighed for

freedom since he had seen and learned to love


He added many other tender speeches to this declaration, and the

Princess, to whom such remarks were a new experience, could not

help feeling pleased and touched by his attentions.

The Prince could only appear or speak under the form of a

Rainbow, and it was therefore necessary that the sun should shine

on water so as to enable the rays to form themselves.

Fairer-than-a-Fairy lost no moment in which she could meet her

lover, and they enjoyed many long and interesting interviews.

One day, however, their conversation became so absorbing and time

passed so quickly that the Princess forgot to attend to the fire,

and it went out. Lagree, on her return, soon found out the

neglect, and seemed only too pleased to have the opportunity of

showing her spite to her lovely prisoner. She ordered

Fairer-than-a-Fairy to start next day at dawn to ask Locrinos for

fire with which to relight the one she had allowed to go out.

Now this Locrinos was a cruel monster who devoured everyone he

came across, and especially enjoyed a chance of catching and

eating any young girls. Our heroine obeyed with great sweetness,

and without having been able to take leave of her lover she set

off to go to Locrinos as to certain death. As she was crossing a

wood a bird sang to her to pick up a shining pebble which she

would find in a fountain close by, and to use it when needed.

She took the bird's advice, and in due time arrived at the house

of Locrinos. Luckily she only found his wife at home, who was

much struck by the Princess's youth and beauty and sweet gentle

manners, and still further impressed by the present of the

shining pebble.

She readily let Fairer-than-a-Fairy have the fire, and in return

for the stone she gave her another, which, she said, might prove

useful some day. Then she sent her away without doing her any


Lagree was as much surprised as displeased at the happy result of

this expedition, and Fairer-than-a Fairy waited anxiously for an

opportunity of meeting Prince Rainbow and telling him her

adventures. She found, however, that he had already been told

all about them by a Fairy who protected him, and to whom he was


The dread of fresh dangers to his beloved Princess made him

devise some more convenient way of meeting than by the garden

fountain, and Fairer-than-a-Fairy carried out his plan daily with

entire success. Every morning she placed a large basin full of

water on her window-sill, and as soon as the sun's rays fell on

the water the Rainbow appeared as clearly as it had ever done in

the fountain. By this means they were able to meet without

losing sight of the fire or of the two bottles in which the old

Fairy kept her eye and her tooth at night, and for some time the

lovers enjoyed every hour of sunshine together.

One day Prince Rainbow appeared in the depths of woe. He had

just heard that he was to be banished from this lovely spot, but

he had no idea where he was to go. The poor young couple were in

despair, and only parted with the last ray of sunshine, and in

hopes of meeting next morning. Alas! next day was dark and

gloomy, and it was only late in the afternoon that the sun broke

through the clouds for a few minutes.

Fairer-than-a-Fairy eagerly ran to the window, but in her haste

she upset the basin, and spilt all the water with which she had

carefully filled it overnight. No other water was at hand except

that in the two bottles. It was the only chance of seeing her

lover before they were separated, and she did not hesitate to

break the bottle and pour their contents into the basin, when the

Rainbow appeared at once. Their farewells were full of

tenderness; the Prince made the most ardent and sincere

protestations, and promised to neglect nothing which might help

to deliver his dear Fairer-than-a-Fairy from her captivity, and

implored her to consent to their marriage as soon as they should

both be free. The Princess, on her side, vowed to have no other

husband, and declared herself willing to brave death itself in

order to rejoin him.

They were not allowed much time for their adieus; the Rainbow

vanished, and the Princess, resolved to run all risks, started

off at once, taking nothing with her but her dog, her cat, a

sprig of myrtle, and the stone which the wife of Locrinos gave


When Lagree became aware of her prisoner's flight she was

furious, and set off at full speed in pursuit. She overtook her

just as the poor girl, overcome by fatigue, had lain down to rest

in a cave which the stone had formed itself into to shelter her.

The little dog who was watching her mistress promptly flew at

Lagree and bit her so severely that she stumbled against a corner

of the cave and broke off her only tooth. Before she had

recovered from the pain and rage this caused her, the Princess

had time to escape, and was some way on her road. Fear gave her

strength for some time, but at last she could go no further, and

sank down to rest. As she did so, the sprig of myrtle she

carried touched the ground, and immediately a green and shady

bower sprang up round her, in which she hoped to sleep in peace.

But Lagree had not given up her pursuit, and arrived just as

Fairer-than-a-Fairy had fallen fast asleep. This time she made

sure of catching her victim, but the cat spied her out, and,

springing from one of the boughs of the arbour she flew at

Lagree's face and tore out her only eye, thus delivering the

Princess for ever from her persecutor.

One might have thought that all would now be well, but no sooner

had Lagree been put to fight than our heroine was overwhelmed

with hunger and thirst. She felt as though she should certainly

expire, and it was with some difficulty that she dragged herself

as far as a pretty little green and white house, which stood at

no great distance. Here she was received by a beautiful lady

dressed in green and white to match the house, which apparently

belonged to her, and of which she seemed the only inhabitant.

She greeted the fainting Princess most kindly, gave her an

excellent supper, and after a long night's rest in a delightful

bed told her that after many troubles she should finally attain

her desire.

As the green and white lady took leave of the Princess she gave

her a nut, desiring her only to open it in the most urgent need.

After a long and tiring journey Fairer-than-a-Fairy was once more

received in a house, and by a lady exactly like the one she had

quitted. Here again she received a present with the same

injunctions, but instead of a nut this lady gave her a golden

pomegranate. The mournful Princess had to continue her weary

way, and after many troubles and hardships she again found rest

and shelter in a third house exactly similar to the two others.

These houses belonged to three sisters, all endowed with fairy

gifts, and all so alike in mind and person that they wished their

houses and garments to be equally alike. Their occupation

consisted in helping those in misfortune, and they were as gentle

and benevolent as Lagree had been cruel and spiteful.

The third Fairy comforted the poor traveller, begged her not to

lose heart, and assured her that her troubles should be rewarded.

She accompanied her advice by the gift of a crystal

smelling-bottle, with strict orders only to open it in case of

urgent need. Fairer-than- a-Fairy thanked her warmly, and

resumed her way cheered by pleasant thoughts.

After a time her road led through a wood, full of soft airs and

sweet odours, and before she had gone a hundred yards she saw a

wonderful silver Castle suspended by strong silver chains to four

of the largest trees. It was so perfectly hung that a gentle

breeze rocked it sufficiently to send you pleasantly to sleep.

Fairer-than-a-Fairy felt a strong desire to enter this Castle,

but besides being hung a little above the ground there seemed to

be neither doors nor windows. She had no doubt (though really I

cannot think why) that the moment had come in which to use the

nut which had been given her. She opened it, and out came a

diminutive hall porter at whose belt hung a tiny chain, at the

end of which was a golden key half as long as the smallest pin

you ever saw.

The Princess climbed up one of the silver chains, holding in her

hand the little porter who, in spite of his minute size, opened a

secret door with his golden key and let her in. She entered a

magnificent room which appeared to occupy the entire Castle, and

which was lighted by gold and jewelled stars in the ceiling. In

the midst of this room stood a couch, draped with curtains of all

the colours of the rainbow, and suspended by golden cords so that

it swayed with the Castle in a manner which rocked its occupant

delightfully to sleep.

On this elegant couch lay Prince Rainbow, looking more beautiful

than ever, and sunk in profound slumber, in which he had been

held ever since his disappearance.

Fairy-than-a-Fairy, who now saw him for the first time in his

real shape, hardly dared to gaze at him, fearing lest his

appearance might not be in keeping with the voice and language

which had won her heart. At the same time she could not help

feeling rather hurt at the apparent indifference with which she

was received.

She related all the dangers and difficulties she had gone

through, and though she repeated the story twenty times in a loud

clear voice, the Prince slept on and took no heed. She then had

recourse to the golden pomegranate, and on opening it found that

all the seeds were as many little violins which flew up in the

vaulted roof and at once began playing melodiously.

The Prince was not completely roused, but he opened his eyes a

little and looked all the handsomer.

Impatient at not being recognised, Fairer-than-a-Fairy now drew

out her third present, and on opening the crystal scent-bottle a

little syren flew out, who silenced the violins and then sang

close to the Prince's ear the story of all his lady love had

suffered in her search for him. She added some gentle reproaches

to her tale, but before she had got far he was wide awake, and

transported with joy threw himself at the Princess's feet. At

the same moment the walls of the room expanded and opened out,

revealing a golden throne covered with jewels. A magnificent

Court now began to assemble, and at the same time several elegant

carriages filled with ladies in magnificent dresses drove up. In

the first and most splendid of these carriages sat Prince

Rainbow's mother. She fondly embraced her son, after which she

informed him that his father had been dead for some years, that

the anger of the Fairies was at length appeased, and that he

might return in peace to reign over his people, who were longing

for his presence.

The Court received the new King with joyful acclamations which

would have delighted him at any other time, but all his thoughts

were full of Fairer-than-a-Fairy. He was just about to present

her to his mother and the Court, feeling sure that her charms

would win all hearts, when the three green and white sisters


They declared the secret of Fairy-than-a-Fairy's royal birth, and

the Queen taking the two lovers in her carriage set off with them

for the capital of the kingdom.

Here they were received with tumultuous joy. The wedding was

celebrated without delay, and succeeding years diminished neither

the virtues, beauty, nor the mutual affection of King Rainbow and

his Queen, Fairer-than-a-Fairy.