The Story Of The Queen Of The Flowery Isles
: The Grey Fairy Book
There once lived a queen who ruled over the Flowery Isles, whose
husband, to her extreme grief, died a few years after their
marriage. On being left a widow she devoted herself almost
entirely to the education of the two charming princesses, her
only children. The elder of them was so lovely that as she grew
up her mother greatly feared she would excite the jealousy of the
Queen of all the Isles, who prided herself on
eing the most
beautiful woman in the world, and insisted on all rivals bowing
before her charms.
In order the better to gratify her vanity she had urged the king,
her husband, to make war on all the surrounding islands, and as
his greatest wish was to please her, the only conditions he
imposed on any newly-conquered country was that each princess of
every royal house should attend his court as soon as she was
fifteen years old, and do homage to the transcendent beauty of
The queen of the Flowery Isles, well aware of this law, was fully
determined to present her daughter to the proud queen as soon as
her fifteenth birthday was past.
The queen herself had heard a rumour of the young princess's
great beauty, and awaited her visit with some anxiety, which soon
developed into jealousy, for when the interview took place it was
impossible not to be dazzled by such radiant charms, and she was
obliged to admit that she had never beheld anyone so exquisitely
Of course she thought in her own mind ‘excepting myself!' for
nothing could have made her believe it possible that anyone could
But the outspoken admiration of the entire court soon undeceived
her, and made her so angry that she pretended illness and retired
to her own rooms, so as to avoid witnessing the princess's
triumph. She also sent word to the Queen of the Flowery Isles
that she was sorry not to be well enough to see her again, and
advised her to return to her own states with the princess, her
This message was entrusted to one of the great ladies of the
court, who was an old friend of the Queen of the Flowery Isles,
and who advised her not to wait to take a formal leave but to go
home as fast as she could.
The queen was not slow to take the hint, and lost no time in
obeying it. Being well aware of the magic powers of the incensed
queen, she warned her daughter that she was threatened by some
great danger if she left the palace for any reason whatever
during the next six months.
The princess promised obedience, and no pains were spared to make
the time pass pleasantly for her.
The six months were nearly at an end, and on the very last day a
splendid fête was to take place in a lovely meadow quite near the
palace. The princess, who had been able to watch all the
preparations from her window, implored her mother to let her go
as far as the meadow; and the queen, thinking all risk must be
over, consented, and promised to take her there herself.
The whole court was delighted to see their much-loved princess at
liberty, and everyone set off in high glee to join in the fête.
The princess, overjoyed at being once more in the open air, was
walking a little in advance of her party when suddenly the earth
opened under her feet and closed again after swallowing her up!
The queen fainted away with terror, and the younger princess
burst into floods of tears and could hardly be dragged away from
the fatal spot, whilst the court was overwhelmed with horror at
so great a calamity.
Orders were given to bore the earth to a great depth, but in
vain; not a trace of the vanished princess was to be found.
She sank right through the earth and found herself in a desert
place with nothing but rocks and trees and no sign of any human
being. The only living creature she saw was a very pretty little
dog, who ran up to her and at once began to caress her. She took
him in her arms, and after playing with him for a little put him
down again, when he started off in front of her, looking round
from time to time as though begging her to follow.
She let him lead her on, and presently reached a little hill,
from which she saw a valley full of lovely fruit trees, bearing
flowers and fruit together. The ground was also covered with
fruit and flowers, and in the middle of the valley rose a
fountain surrounded by a velvety lawn.
The princess hastened to this charming spot, and sitting down on
the grass began to think over the misfortune which had befallen
her, and burst into tears as she reflected on her sad condition.
The fruit and clear fresh water would, she knew, prevent her from
dying of hunger or thirst, but how could she escape if any wild
beast appeared and tried to devour her?
At length, having thought over every possible evil which could
happen, the princess tried to distract her mind by playing with
the little dog. She spent the whole day near the fountain, but as
night drew on she wondered what she should do, when she noticed
that the little dog was pulling at her dress.
She paid no heed to him at first, but as he continued to pull her
dress and then run a few steps in one particular direction, she
at last decided to follow him; he stopped before a rock with a
large opening in the centre, which he evidently wished her to
The princess did so and discovered a large and beautiful cave lit
up by the brilliancy of the stones with which it was lined, with
a little couch covered with soft moss in one corner. She lay down
on it and the dog at once nestled at her feet. Tired out with all
she had gone through she soon fell asleep.
Next morning she was awakened very early by the songs of many
birds. The little dog woke up too, and sprang round her in his
most caressing manner. She got up and went outside, the dog as
before running on in front and turning back constantly to take
her dress and draw her on.
She let him have his way and he soon led her back to the
beautiful garden where she had spent part of the day before. Here
she ate some fruit, drank some water of the fountain, and felt as
if she had made an excellent meal. She walked about amongst the
flowers, played with her little dog, and at night returned to
sleep in the cave.
In this way the princess passed several months, and as her first
terrors died away she gradually became more resigned to her fate.
The little dog, too, was a great comfort, and her constant
One day she noticed that he seemed very sad and did not even
caress her as usual. Fearing he might be ill she carried him to a
spot where she had seen him eat some particular herbs, hoping
they might do him good, but he would not touch them. He spent all
the night, too, sighing and groaning as if in great pain.
At last the princess fell asleep, and when she awoke her first
thought was for her little pet, but not finding him at her feet
as usual, she ran out of the cave to look for him. As she stepped
out of the cave she caught sight of an old man, who hurried away
so fast that she had barely time to see him before he
This was a fresh surprise and almost as great a shock as the loss
of her little dog, who had been so faithful to her ever since the
first day she had seen him. She wondered if he had strayed away
or if the old man had stolen him.
Tormented by all kinds of thoughts and fears she wandered on,
when suddenly she felt herself wrapped in a thick cloud and
carried through the air. She made no resistance and before very
long found herself, to her great surprise, in an avenue leading
to the palace in which she had been born. No sign of the cloud
As the princess approached the palace she perceived that everyone
was dressed in black, and she was filled with fear as to the
cause of this mourning. She hastened on and was soon recognised
and welcomed with shouts of joy. Her sister hearing the cheers
ran out and embraced the wanderer, with tears of happiness,
telling her that the shock of her disappearance had been so
terrible that their mother had only survived it a few days. Since
then the younger princess had worn the crown, which she now
resigned to her sister to whom it by right belonged.
But the elder wished to refuse it, and would only accept the
crown on condition that her sister should share in all the power.
The first acts of the new queen were to do honour to the memory
of her dear mother and to shower every mark of generous affection
on her sister. Then, being still very grieved at the loss of her
little dog, she had a careful search made for him in every
country, and when nothing could be heard of him she was so
grieved that she offered half her kingdom to whoever should
restore him to her.
Many gentlemen of the court, tempted by the thought of such a
reward, set off in all directions in search of the dog; but all
returned empty-handed to the queen, who, in despair announced
that since life was unbearable without her little dog, she would
give her hand in marriage to the man who brought him back.
The prospect of such a prize quickly turned the court into a
desert, nearly every courtier starting on the quest. Whilst they
were away the queen was informed one day that a very ill-looking
man wished to speak with her. She desired him to be shown into a
room where she was sitting with her sister.
On entering her presence he said that he was prepared to give the
queen her little dog if she on her side was ready to keep her
The princess was the first to speak. She said that the queen had
no right to marry without the consent of the nation, and that on
so important an occasion the general council must be summoned.
The queen could not say anything against this statement; but she
ordered an apartment in the palace to be given to the man, and
desired the council to meet on the following day.
Next day, accordingly, the council assembled in great state, and
by the princess's advice it was decided to offer the man a large
sum of money for the dog, and should he refuse it, to banish him
from the kingdom without seeing the queen again. The man refused
the price offered and left the hall.
The princess informed the queen of what had passed, and the queen
approved of all, but added that as she was her own mistress she
had made up her mind to abdicate her throne, and to wander
through the world till she had found her little dog.
The princess was much alarmed by such a resolution, and implored
the queen to change her mind. Whilst they were discussing the
subject, one of the chamberlains appeared to inform the queen
that the bay was covered with ships. The two sisters ran to the
balcony, and saw a large fleet in full sail for the port.
In a little time they came to the conclusion that the ships must
come from a friendly nation, as every vessel was decked with gay
flags, streamers, and pennons, and the way was led by a small
ship flying a great white flag of peace.
The queen sent a special messenger to the harbour, and was soon
informed that the fleet belonged to the Prince of the Emerald
Isles, who begged leave to land in her kingdom, and to present
his humble respects to her. The queen at once sent some of the
court dignitaries to receive the prince and bid him welcome.
She awaited him seated on her throne, but rose on his appearance,
and went a few steps to meet him; then begged him to be seated,
and for about an hour kept him in close conversation.
The prince was then conducted to a splendid suite of apartments,
and the next day he asked for a private audience. He was admitted
to the queen's own sitting- room, where she was sitting alone
with her sister.
After the first greetings the prince informed the queen that he
had some very strange things to tell her, which she only would
know to be true.
‘Madam,' said he, ‘I am a neighbour of the Queen of all the
Isles; and a small isthmus connects part of my states with hers.
One day, when hunting a stag, I had the misfortune to meet her,
and not recognising her, I did not stop to salute her with all
proper ceremony. You, Madam, know better than anyone how
revengeful she is, and that she is also a mistress of magic. I
learnt both facts to my cost. The ground opened under my feet,
and I soon found myself in a far distant region transformed into
a little dog, under which shape I had the honour to meet your
Majesty. After six months, the queen's vengeance not being yet
satisfied, she further changed me into a hideous old man, and in
this form I was so afraid of being unpleasant in your eyes,
Madam, that I hid myself in the depths of the woods, where I
spent three months more. At the end of that time I was so
fortunate as to meet a benevolent fairy who delivered me from the
proud queen's power, and told me all your adventures and where to
find you. I now come to offer you a heart which has been entirely
yours, Madam, since first we met in the desert.'
A few days later a herald was sent through the kingdom to
proclaim the joyful news of the marriage of the Queen of the
Flowery Isles with the young prince. They lived happily for many
years, and ruled their people well.
As for the bad queen, whose vanity and jealousy had caused so
much mischief, the Fairies took all her power away for a