The Yellow Dwarf

: The Best Popular Stories Selected And Rendered Anew

There was once a queen, who had been the mother of several children,

but all were dead, except one daughter, of whom she was excessively

fond, humouring and indulging her in all her ways and wishes. This

princess was so extremely beautiful, that she was called All-Fair, and

twenty kings were, at one time, paying their addresses to her. She had

so many lovers, indeed, that she did not know which to choose, and

refused t
em all. Her mother, being advanced in years, was anxious to

see her married and settled before she died; but as no entreaties

could prevail, she determined to go to the Desert Fairy to ask advice

concerning her stubborn daughter.

Now, this fairy being guarded by two fierce lions, the queen made a

cake of millet, sugar-candy, and crocodiles' eggs, in order to appease

their fury, and pass by them; and having thus provided herself, she

set out. After travelling some time she found herself weary, and lying

down under a tree fell asleep. When she awoke, she heard the roaring

of the lions which guarded the fairy, and on looking for her cake she

found it was gone. This threw her into the utmost agony, as she felt

sure she should be devoured; when, hearing somebody approach, she

raised her eyes, and saw in a tree a little yellow man half a yard

high, picking and eating oranges.

Ah! queen, said the Yellow Dwarf, for so he was called on account of

his complexion, and the orange-tree in which he lived, how will you

escape the lions? There is but one way; I know what business brought

you here; promise me your daughter in marriage and I will save you.

The queen, though she could not look without horror upon so frightful

a figure, was forced to consent; and having agreed to the terms

proposed, she instantly found herself in her own palace, and all that

had passed seemed much like a dream: nevertheless, she was so

thoroughly persuaded of the reality of it, that she became melancholy.

The young princess being unable to learn the cause of her mother's

dejection, resolved in her turn to go and inquire of the Desert Fairy;

and, accordingly, having prepared a cake for the lions, she also set

off on the same journey. It happened that All-Fair took exactly the

route her mother had done before her; and coming to the fatal tree

which was loaded with oranges, she felt inclined to pick some;

therefore, laying down her basket, in which she carried the cake, she

plentifully indulged herself with the delicious fruit.

The lions now began to roar; All-Fair, looking for her cake, was

thrown into the utmost despair to find it gone; and as she was

lamenting her deplorable situation, the Yellow Dwarf presented himself

to her with these words:--Lovely princess, dry your tears, and hear

what I am going to say. You need not proceed to the Desert Fairy, to

know the reason of your mother's indisposition--it is this: she is

ungenerous enough to repent having promised you, her only daughter, to

me in marriage--

How! interrupted the princess; my mother promised me to you in

marriage;--you such a fright as you!

None of your scoffs, returned the Yellow Dwarf; I warn you not to

rouse my anger. If you will promise to marry me, I will be the

tenderest and most loving husband in the world; if not, save yourself

from the lions, if you can.

The princess, overcome with terror, gave the promise; but such was the

agony of her mind, that she fell into a swoon, and, when she

recovered, she found herself in her own bed, finely adorned with

ribands, with a ring of a single red hair so fastened round her finger

that it could not be got off.

This adventure had the same effect upon All Fair as the former one had

had upon her mother. She grew melancholy, which was remarked and

wondered at by the whole court. The best way to divert her, they

thought, would be to urge her to marry; which the princess, who was

now become less obstinate on that point than formerly, consented to.

Trusting that such a pigmy as the Yellow Dwarf would not dare to

contend with so gallant a person as the King of the Golden Mines, she

fixed upon that prince for her husband. He was exceedingly rich and

powerful, and loved her to distraction. The most superb preparations

were made for the nuptials, and the happy day was fixed when, as they

were proceeding to the ceremony, they saw moving towards them a box,

upon which sat an old woman remarkable for her ugliness.

Hold, queen and princess! cried she, knitting her brows; remember

the promises you have both made to my friend the Yellow Dwarf. I am

the Desert Fairy; and unless All-Fair consent to marry him, I solemnly

swear to burn my crutch.

The queen and princess were struck almost motionless by this

unexpected address of the fairy; but the Prince of the Golden Mines

was exceeding angry, and holding his sword to her throat, he said,

Fly, wretch! or thy malice shall cost thee thy life.

No sooner had he uttered these words, than the top of the box flying

off, out came the Yellow Dwarf, mounted upon a large Spanish cat.

Placing himself between the king and the fairy, he exclaimed, Rash

youth! thy rage shall be levelled at me, not at the Desert Fairy. I am

thy rival, and claim thy princess, who is fast bound to me by her own

promise, her mother's, and the single red hair that you see round her


This so enraged the king, that he cried out, Contemptible creature!

wert thou worthy of notice, I would sacrifice thee for thy


The Yellow Dwarf, clapping spurs to his cat, and drawing a cutlass,

now defied the king to combat; and down they went into the courtyard.

The sun was immediately turned as red as blood, the air became dark,

it thundered heavily, and the flashes of lightning discovered two

giants vomiting fire on each side of the Yellow Dwarf. The king

behaved with such undaunted courage, as to give the dwarf great

trouble; but he was dismayed when he saw the Desert Fairy, mounted on

a winged griffin, and with her head covered with snakes, strike the

princess so hard with a lance, that she fell into the queen's arms,

covered with blood. He immediately left the combat, to go to the

relief of his beloved, but the dwarf was too quick for him; and flying

on his Spanish cat to the balcony where she was, he took her from her

mother's arms, leaped with her upon the top of the palace, and

immediately disappeared.

As the king stood confused and astonished at this strange adventure,

he suddenly found a mist before his eyes, and felt himself lifted up

in the air by some extraordinary power; for the Desert Fairy had

fallen in love with him. To secure him for herself, therefore, she

carried him to a frightful cavern, hoping he would there forget

All-Fair. But finding this scheme ineffectual, she resolved to carry

him to a place altogether as pleasant as the other was terrible; and

accordingly placed him in a chariot drawn by swans. In passing through

the air, he was unspeakably surprised to see his beloved princess in a

castle of polished steel, leaning her head on one hand, and wiping

away her tears with the other. She happened to look up, and had the

mortification to see the king sitting by the fairy who then, by her

art, made herself appear extremely beautiful. Had not the king been

sensible of the fairy's power, he would certainly have tried to free

himself from her by some means or other; but he knew it would be in

vain, and therefore made believe to have a liking for her. At last

they came to a stately palace, fenced on one side by walls of

emeralds, and on the other by a boisterous sea. The king, by

pretending an attachment to the fairy, obtained the liberty to walk by

himself on the shore. There, one day, he heard a voice, and presently

after was surprised by the appearance of a mermaid, who, swimming up

to him with a pleasing smile, spoke to this effect:--O King of the

Golden Mines, I well know all that has befallen you and the Princess

All-Fair. Do not suspect this to be a contrivance of the fairy to try

you, for I am an inveterate enemy both to her and the Yellow Dwarf;

therefore, if you will place confidence in me, I will lend you my

assistance to procure the release, not only of yourself, but of

All-Fair also.

The overjoyed king promised to do whatever the mermaid should direct,

and seating himself by her desire upon her fish's tail, they sailed

away together over the rolling sea.

When they had sailed some time, Now, said the mermaid to the king,

we are approaching the place where your princess is kept prisoner by

the Yellow Dwarf. You will have many enemies to fight before you can

come to her, take, therefore, this sword, with which you may overcome

everything, provided you never let it go out of your hand.

The king returned her all the thanks that the most grateful heart

could suggest; and the mermaid landed and took leave of him, promising

him farther assistance when necessary. The king boldly advanced, and,

meeting with two terrible sphinxes, laid them dead at his feet with

the sword. Next he attacked six dragons that opposed him, and

despatched them also. Then he met four-and-twenty nymphs, crowned with

garlands of flowers, at the sight of whom he stopped, being unwilling

to destroy so much beauty; when he heard a voice say, Strike! strike!

or you lose your princess for ever! So he threw himself into the

midst of the nymphs, smiting right and left, and soon dispersed them.

Presently he came to the castle, where was imprisoned the princess

All-Fair. O my princess, exclaimed he, behold your faithful lover!

Faithful lover! she replied, drawing herself back: Did I not see

you passing through the air with a beautiful nymph? were you faithful


Yes, replied the king, I was. That was the detested Desert Fairy,

who was carrying me to a place where I must have languished out all my

days, had it not been for a kind mermaid, by whose assistance it is

that I am now come to release you. Having uttered these words, he

threw himself at her feet; but, catching hold of her gown he

unfortunately let go the magic sword, which the Yellow Dwarf no sooner

discovered, than, leaping from behind a shrub, where he had been

concealed, he ran and seized it. By two cabalistical words he then

conjured up a couple of giants, who laid the king in irons.

Now, said the Dwarf, my rival's fate is in my own hands; however,

if he will consent to my marriage with the princess All-Fair, he shall

have his life and liberty.

No, said the king, I scorn thy favour on such terms.

The dwarf was so exasperated by this reply, that he instantly stabbed

the king to the heart. The disconsolate princess stood a moment

petrified, and then exclaimed, Thou hideous creature! since

entreaties could not avail thee, perhaps thou now reliest upon force;

but thou shalt be disappointed. I will die for the love I have for the

King of the Golden Mines! and so saying she sank down upon his body,

and expired without a sigh.

Thus ended the fate of these two faithful lovers, whom the mermaid

very much regretted; but as all her power lay in the sword, she could

only change them into two palm-trees, which, preserving a constant and

mutual affection, still fondly unite their branches together.