The Crow

: The Yellow Fairy Book

From the Polish. Kletke.

Once upon a time there were three Princesses who were all three

young and beautiful; but the youngest, although she was not

fairer than the other two, was the most loveable of them all.

About half a mile from the palace in which they lived there stood

a castle, which was uninhabited and almost a ruin, but the garden

which surrounded it was a mass of blooming flowers
and in this

garden the youngest Princess used often to walk.

One day when she was pacing to and fro under the lime trees, a

black crow hopped out of a rose-bush in front of her. The poor

beast was all torn and bleeding, and the kind little Princess was

quite unhappy about it. When the crow saw this it turned to her

and said:

'I am not really a black crow, but an enchanted Prince, who has

been doomed to spend his youth in misery. If you only liked,

Princess, you could save me. But you would have to say good-bye

to all your own people and come and be my constant companion in

this ruined castle. There is one habitable room in it, in which

there is a golden bed; there you will have to live all by

yourself, and don't forget that whatever you may see or hear in

the night you must not scream out, for if you give as much as a

single cry my sufferings will be doubled.'

The good-natured Princess at once left her home and her family

and hurried to the ruined castle, and took possession of the room

with the golden bed.

When night approached she lay down, but though she shut her eyes

tight sleep would not come. At midnight she heard to her great

horror some one coming along the passage, and in a minute her

door was flung wide open and a troop of strange beings entered

the room. They at once proceeded to light a fire in the huge

fireplace; then they placed a great cauldron of boiling water on

it. When they had done this, they approached the bed on which

the trembling girl lay, and, screaming and yelling all the time,

they dragged her towards the cauldron. She nearly died with

fright, but she never uttered a sound. Then of a sudden the cock

crew, and all the evil spirits vanished.

At the same moment the crow appeared and hopped all round the

room with joy. It thanked the Princess most heartily for her

goodness, and said that its sufferings had already been greatly


Now one of the Princess's elder sisters, who was very

inquisitive, had found out about everything, and went to pay her

youngest sister a visit in the ruined castle. She implored her

so urgently to let her spend the night with her in the golden

bed, that at last the good-natured little Princess consented.

But at midnight, when the odd folk appeared, the elder sister

screamed with terror, and from this time on the youngest Princess

insisted always on keeping watch alone.

So she lived in solitude all the daytime, and at night she would

have been frightened, had she not been so brave; but every day

the crow came and thanked her for her endurance, and assured her

that his sufferings were far less than they had been.

And so two years passed away, when one day the crow came to the

Princess and said: 'In another year I shall be freed from the

spell I am under at present, because then the seven years will be

over. But before I can resume my natural form, and take

possession of the belongings of my forefathers, you must go out

into the world and take service as a maidservant.'

The young Princess consented at once, and for a whole year she

served as a maid; but in spite of her youth and beauty she was

very badly treated, and suffered many things. One evening, when

she was spinning flax, and had worked her little white hands

weary, she heard a rustling beside her and a cry of joy. Then

she saw a handsome youth standing beside her; who knelt down at

her feet and kissed the little weary white hands.

'I am the Prince,' he said, 'who you in your goodness, when I was

wandering about in the shape of a black crow, freed from the most

awful torments. Come now to my castle with me, and let us live

there happily together.'

So they went to the castle where they had both endured so much.

But when they reached it, it was difficult to believe that it was

the same, for it had all been rebuilt and done up again. And

there they lived for a hundred years, a hundred years of joy and