Select the desired text size
Age suitability 8 Plus
Felicia aand the pot of pinks.
From The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
Start of Story
Once upon a time there was a poor laborer who, feeling that he had not
much longer to live, wished to divide his possessions between his son
and daughter, whom he loved dearly.
So he called them to him, and said: "Your mother brought me as her dowry
two stools and a straw bed; I have, besides, a hen, a pot of pinks, and
a silver ring, which were given me by a noble lady who once lodged in my
poor cottage. When she went away she said to me:
"'Be careful of my gifts, good man; see that you do not lose the ring or
forget to water the pinks. As for your daughter, I promise you that she
shall be more beautiful than anyone you ever saw in your life; call her
Felicia, and when she grows up give her the ring and the pot of pinks to
console her for her poverty.' Take them both, then, my dear child," he
added, "and your brother shall have everything else."
The two children seemed quite contented, and when their father died they
wept for him, and divided his possessions as he had told them. Felicia
believed that her brother loved her, but when she sat down upon one of
the stools he said angrily:
"Keep your pot of pinks and your ring, but let my things alone. I like
order in my house."
Felicia, who was very gentle, said nothing, but stood up crying quietly;
while Bruno, for that was her brother's name, sat comfortably by the
fire. Presently, when supper-time came, Bruno had a delicious egg, and
he threw the shell to Felicia, saying:
"There, that is all I can give you; if you don't like it, go out and
catch frogs; there are plenty of them in the marsh close by." Felicia
did not answer, but she cried more bitterly than ever, and went away
to her own little room. She found it filled with the sweet scent of the
pinks, and, going up to them, she said sadly:
"Beautiful pinks, you are so sweet and so pretty, you are the only
comfort I have left. Be very sure that I will take care of you, and
water you well, and never allow any cruel hand to tear you from your
As she leaned over them she noticed that they were very dry. So taking
her pitcher, she ran off in the clear moonlight to the fountain, which
was at some distance. When she reached it she sat down upon the brink
to rest, but she had hardly done so when she saw a stately lady coming
toward her, surrounded by numbers of attendants. Six maids of honor
carried her train, and she leaned upon the arm of another.
When they came near the fountain a canopy was spread for her, under
which was placed a sofa of cloth-of-gold, and presently a dainty supper
was served, upon a table covered with dishes of gold and crystal, while
the wind in the trees and the falling water of the fountain murmured the
Felicia was hidden in the shade, too much astonished by all she saw to
venture to move; but in a few moments the Queen said:
"I fancy I see a shepherdess near that tree; bid her come hither."
So Felicia came forward and saluted the Queen timidly, but with so much
grace that all were surprised.
"What are you doing here, my pretty child?" asked the Queen. "Are you
not afraid of robbers?"
"Ah! madam," said Felicia, "a poor shepherdess who has nothing to lose
does not fear robbers."
"You are not very rich, then?" said the Queen, smiling.
"I am so poor," answered Felicia, "that a pot of pinks and a silver ring
are my only possessions in the world."
"But you have a heart," said the Queen. "What should you say if anybody
wanted to steal that?"
"I do not know what it is like to lose one's heart, madam," she replied;
"but I have always heard that without a heart one cannot live, and if it
is broken one must die; and in spite of my poverty I should be sorry not
"You are quite right to take care of your heart, pretty one," said the
Queen. "But tell me, have you supped?"
"No, madam," answered Felicia; "my brother ate all the supper there
Then the Queen ordered that a place should be made for her at the table,
and herself loaded Felicia's plate with good things; but she was too
much astonished to be hungry.
"I want to know what you were doing at the fountain so late?" said the
"I came to fetch a pitcher of water for my pinks, madam," she answered,
stooping to pick up the pitcher which stood beside her; but when she
showed it to the Queen she was amazed to see that it had turned to gold,
all sparkling with great diamonds, and the water, of which it was full,
was more fragrant than the sweetest roses. She was afraid to take it
until the Queen said:
"It is yours, Felicia; go and water your pinks with it, and let it
remind you that the Queen of the Woods is your friend."
The shepherdess threw herself at the Queen's feet, and thanked her
humbly for her gracious words.
"Ah! madam," she cried, "if I might beg you to stay here a moment I
would run and fetch my pot of pinks for you--they could not fall into
"Go, Felicia," said the Queen, stroking her cheek softly; "I will wait
here until you come back."
So Felicia took up her pitcher and ran to her little room, but while she
had been away Bruno had gone in and taken the pot of pinks, leaving a
great cabbage in its place. When she saw the unlucky cabbage Felicia was
much distressed, and did not know what to do; but at last she ran back
to the fountain, and, kneeling before the Queen, said:
"Madam, Bruno has stolen my pot of pinks, so I have nothing but my
silver ring; but I beg you to accept it as a proof of my gratitude."
"But if I take your ring, my pretty shepherdess," said the Queen, "you
will have nothing left; and what will you do then?"
"Ah! madam," she answered simply, "if I have your friendship I shall do
So the Queen took the ring and put it on her finger, and mounted her
chariot, which was made of coral studded with emeralds, and drawn by six
milk-white horses. And Felicia looked after her until the winding of
the forest path hid her from her sight, and then she went back to the
cottage, thinking over all the wonderful things that had happened.
The first thing she did when she reached her room was to throw the
cabbage out of the window.
But she was very much surprised to hear an odd little voice cry out:
"Oh! I am half killed!" and could not tell where it came from, because
cabbages do not generally speak.
As soon as it was light, Felicia, who was very unhappy about her pot of
pinks, went out to look for it, and the first thing she found was the
unfortunate cabbage. She gave it a push with her foot, saying: "What are
you doing here, and how dared you put yourself in the place of my pot of
"If I hadn't been carried," replied the cabbage, "you may be very sure
that I shouldn't have thought of going there."
It made her shiver with fright to hear the cabbage talk, but he went on:
"If you will be good enough to plant me by my comrades again, I can tell
you where your pinks are at this moment--hidden in Bruno's bed!"
Felicia was in despair when she heard this, not knowing how she was
to get them back. But she replanted the cabbage very kindly in his old
place, and, as she finished doing it, she saw Bruno's hen, and said,
catching hold of it:
"Come here, horrid little creature! you shall suffer for all the unkind
things my brother has done to me."
"Ah! shepherdess," said the hen, "don't kill me; I am rather a gossip,
and I can tell you some surprising things that you will like to hear.
Don't imagine that you are the daughter of the poor laborer who brought
you up; your mother was a queen who had six girls already, and the King
threatened that unless she had a son who could inherit his kingdom she
should have her head cut off.
"So when the Queen had another little daughter she was quite frightened,
and agreed with her sister (who was a fairy) to exchange her for the
fairy's little son. Now the Queen had been shut up in a great tower
by the King's orders, and when a great many days went by and still she
heard nothing from the Fairy she made her escape from the window by
means of a rope ladder, taking her little baby with her. After wandering
about until she was half dead with cold and fatigue she reached this
cottage. I was the laborer's wife, and was a good nurse, and the Queen
gave you into my charge, and told me all her misfortunes, and then died
before she had time to say what was to become of you.
"As I never in all my life could keep a secret, I could not help telling
this strange tale to my neighbors, and one day a beautiful lady came
here, and I told it to her also. When I had finished she touched me with
a wand she held in her hand, and instantly I became a hen, and there was
an end of my talking! I was very sad, and my husband, who was out
when it happened, never knew what had become of me. After seeking me
everywhere he believed that I must have been drowned, or eaten up by
wild beasts in the forest. That same lady came here once more, and
commanded that you should be called Felicia, and left the ring and
the pot of pinks to be given to you; and while she was in the house
twenty-five of the King's guards came to search for you, doubtless
meaning to kill you; but she muttered a few words, and immediately they
all turned into cabbages. It was one of them whom you threw out of your
"I don't know how it was that he could speak--I have never heard either
of them say a word before, nor have I been able to do it myself until
The Princess was greatly astonished at the hen's story, and said kindly:
"I am truly sorry for you, my poor nurse, and wish it was in my power to
restore you to your real form. But we must not despair; it seems to
me, after what you have told me, that something must be going to happen
soon. Just now, however, I must go and look for my pinks, which I love
better than anything in the world."
Bruno had gone out into the forest, never thinking that Felicia
would search in his room for the pinks, and she was delighted by
his unexpected absence, and thought to get them back without further
trouble. But as soon as she entered the room she saw a terrible army
of rats, who were guarding the straw bed; and when she attempted to
approach it they sprang at her, biting and scratching furiously. Quite
terrified, she drew back, crying out: "Oh! my dear pinks, how can you
stay here in such bad company?"
Then she suddenly bethought herself of the pitcher of water, and, hoping
that it might have some magic power, she ran to fetch it, and sprinkled
a few drops over the fierce-looking swarm of rats. In a moment not a
tail or a whisker was to be seen. Each one had made for his hole as fast
as his legs could carry him, so that the Princess could safely take her
pot of pinks. She found them nearly dying for want of water, and hastily
poured all that was left in the pitcher upon them. As she bent over
them, enjoying their delicious scent, a soft voice, that seemed to
rustle among the leaves, said:
"Lovely Felicia, the day has come at last when I may have the happiness
of telling you how even the flowers love you and rejoice in your
The Princess, quite overcome by the strangeness of hearing a cabbage,
a hen, and a pink speak, and by the terrible sight of an army of rats,
suddenly became very pale, and fainted away.
At this moment in came Bruno. Working hard in the heat had not improved
his temper, and when he saw that Felicia had succeeded in finding her
pinks he was so angry that he dragged her out into the garden and shut
the door upon her. The fresh air soon made her open her pretty eyes, and
there before her stood the Queen of the Woods, looking as charming as
"You have a bad brother," she said; "I saw he turned you out. Shall I
punish him for it?"
"Ah! no, madam," she said; "I am not angry with him.
"But supposing he was not your brother, after all, what would you say
then?" asked the Queen.
"Oh! but I think he must be," said Felicia.
"What!" said the Queen, "have you not heard that you are a Princess?"
"I was told so a little while ago, madam, but how could I believe it
without a single proof?"
"Ah! dear child," said the Queen, "the way you speak assures me that, in
spite of your humble upbringing, you are indeed a real princess, and I
can save you from being treated in such a way again."
She was interrupted at this moment by the arrival of a very handsome
young man. He wore a coat of green velvet fastened with emerald clasps,
and had a crown of pinks on his head. He knelt upon one knee and kissed
the Queen's hand.
"Ah!" she cried, "my pink, my dear son, what a happiness to see you
restored to your natural shape by Felicia's aid!" And she embraced him
joyfully. Then, turning to Felicia, she said:
"Charming Princess, I know all the hen told you, but you cannot have
heard that the zephyrs, to whom was entrusted the task of carrying my
son to the tower where the Queen, your mother, so anxiously waited for
him, left him instead in a garden of flowers, while they flew off to
tell your mother. Whereupon a fairy with whom I had quarrelled changed
him into a pink, and I could do nothing to prevent it.
"You can imagine how angry I was, and how I tried to find some means of
undoing the mischief she had done; but there was no help for it. I could
only bring Prince Pink to the place where you were being brought up,
hoping that when you grew up he might love you, and by your care be
restored to his natural form. And you see everything has come right, as
I hoped it would. Your giving me the silver ring was the sign that the
power of the charm was nearly over, and my enemy's last chance was to
frighten you with her army of rats. That she did not succeed in doing;
so now, my dear Felicia, if you will be married to my son with this
silver ring your future happiness is certain. Do you think him handsome
and amiable enough to be willing to marry him?"
"Madam," replied Felicia, blushing, "you overwhelm me with your
kindness. I know that you are my mother's sister, and that by your art
you turned the soldiers who were sent to kill me into cabbages, and my
nurse into a hen, and that you do me only too much honor in proposing
that I shall marry your son. How can I explain to you the cause of my
hesitation? I feel, for the first time in my life, how happy it would
make me to be beloved. Can you indeed give me the Prince's heart?"
"It is yours already, lovely Princess!" he cried, taking her hand in
his; "but for the horrible enchantment which kept me silent I should
have told you long ago how dearly I love you."
This made the Princess very happy, and the Queen, who could not bear
to see her dressed like a poor shepherdess, touched her with her wand,
"I wish you to be attired as befits your rank and beauty." And
immediately the Princess's cotton dress became a magnificent robe of
silver brocade embroidered with carbuncles, and her soft dark hair was
encircled by a crown of diamonds, from which floated a clear white veil.
With her bright eyes, and the charming color in her cheeks, she was
altogether such a dazzling sight that the Prince could hardly bear it.
"How pretty you are, Felicia!" he cried. "Don't keep me in suspense, I
entreat you; say that you will marry me."
"Ah!" said the Queen, smiling, "I think she will not refuse now."
Just then Bruno, who was going back to his work, came out of the
cottage, and thought he must be dreaming when he saw Felicia; but she
called him very kindly, and begged the Queen to take pity on him.
"What!" she said, "when he was so unkind to you?"
"Ah! madam," said the Princess, "I am so happy that I should like
everybody else to be happy too."
The Queen kissed her, and said: "Well, to please you, let me see what I
can do for this cross Bruno." And with a wave of her wand she turned the
poor little cottage into a splendid palace, full of treasures; only the
two stools and the straw bed remained just as they were, to remind him
of his former poverty. Then the Queen touched Bruno himself, and made
him gentle and polite and grateful, and he thanked her and the Princess
a thousand times. Lastly, the Queen restored the hen and the cabbages
to their natural forms, and left them all very contented. The Prince and
Princess were married as soon as possible with great splendor, and lived
happily ever after.(1)