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Age suitability 8 Plus
Earl Mars daughter.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
One fine summer's day Earl Mar's daughter went into the castle garden,
dancing and tripping along. And as she played and sported she would
stop from time to time to listen to the music of the birds. After a
while as she sat under the shade of a green oak tree she looked up and
spied a sprightly dove sitting high up on one of its branches. She
looked up and said: "Coo-my-dove, my dear, come down to me and I will
give you a golden cage. I'll take you home and pet you well, as well
as any bird of them all." Scarcely had she said these words when the
dove flew down from the branch and settled on her shoulder, nestling
up against her neck while she smoothed its feathers. Then she took it
home to her own room.
The day was done and the night came on and Earl Mar's daughter was
thinking of going to sleep when, turning round, she found at her side
a handsome young man. She _was_ startled, for the door had been
locked for hours. But she was a brave girl and said: "What are you
doing here, young man, to come and startle me so? The door was barred
these hours ago; how ever did you come here?"
"Hush! hush!" the young man whispered. "I was that cooing dove that
you coaxed from off the tree."
"But who are you then?" she said quite low; "and how came you to be
changed into that dear little bird?"
"My name is Florentine, and my mother is a queen, and something more
than a queen, for she knows magic and spells, and because I would not
do as she wished she turned me into a dove by day, but at night her
spells lose their power and I become a man again.
To-day I crossed the
sea and saw you for the first time and I was glad to be a bird that I
could come near you. Unless you love me, I shall never be happy more."
"But if I love you," says she, "will you not fly away and leave me one
of these fine days?"
"Never, never," said the prince; "be my wife and I'll be yours for
ever. By day a bird, by night a prince, I will always be by your side
as a husband, dear."
So they were married in secret and lived happily in the castle and no
one knew that every night Coo-my-dove became Prince Florentine. And
every year a little son came to them as bonny as bonny could be. But
as each son was born Prince Florentine carried the little thing away
on his back over the sea to where the queen his mother lived and left
the little one with her.
Seven years passed thus and then a great trouble came to them. For the
Earl Mar wished to marry his daughter to a noble of high degree who
came wooing her. Her father pressed her sore but she said: "Father
dear, I do not wish to marry; I can be quite happy with Coo-my-dove
Then her father got into a mighty rage and swore a great big oath, and
said: "To-morrow, so sure as I live and eat, I'll twist that birdie's
neck," and out he stamped from her room.
"Oh, oh!" said Coo-my-dove; "it's time that I was away," and so he
jumped upon the window-sill and in a moment was flying away. And he
flew and he flew till he was over the deep, deep sea, and yet on he
flew till he came to his mother's castle. Now the queen his mother was
taking her walk abroad when she saw the pretty dove flying overhead
and alighting on the castle walls.
"Here, dancers come and dance your jigs," she called, "and pipers,
pipe you well, for here's my own Florentine, come back to me to stay
for he's brought no bonny boy with him this time."
"No, mother," said Florentine, "no dancers for me and no minstrels,
for my dear wife, the mother of my seven, boys, is to be wed to-
morrow, and sad's the day for me."
"What can I do, my son?" said the queen, "tell me, and it shall be
done if my magic has power to do it."
"Well then, mother dear, turn the twenty-four dancers and pipers into
twenty-four grey herons, and let my seven sons become seven white
swans, and let me be a goshawk and their leader."
"Alas! alas! my son," she said, "that may not be; my magic reaches not
so far. But perhaps my teacher, the spaewife of Ostree, may know
better." And away she hurries to the cave of Ostree, and after a while
comes out as white as white can be and muttering over some burning
herbs she brought out of the cave. Suddenly Coo-my-dove changed into a
goshawk and around him flew twenty-four grey herons and above them
flew seven cygnets.
Without a word or a good-bye off they flew over the deep blue sea
which was tossing and moaning. They flew and they flew till they
swooped down on Earl Mar's castle just as the wedding party were
setting out for the church. First came the men-at-arms and then the
bridegroom's friends, and then Earl Mar's men, and then the
bridegroom, and lastly, pale and beautiful, Earl Mar's daughter
They moved down slowly to stately music till they came past
the trees on which the birds were settling. A word from Prince
Florentine, the goshawk, and they all rose into the air, herons
beneath, cygnets above, and goshawk circling above all. The weddineers
wondered at the sight when, swoop! the herons were down among them
scattering the men-at-arms. The swanlets took charge of the bride
while the goshawk dashed down and tied the bridegroom to a tree. Then
the herons gathered themselves together into one feather bed and the
cygnets placed their mother upon them, and suddenly they all rose in
the air bearing the bride away with them in safety towards Prince
Florentine's home. Surely a wedding party was never so disturbed in
this world. What could the weddineers do? They saw their pretty bride
carried away and away till she and the herons and the swans and the
goshawk disappeared, and that very day Prince Florentine brought Earl
Mar's daughter to the castle of the queen his mother, who took the
spell off him and they lived happy ever afterwards.