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From The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
Start of Story
ONCE upon a time there lived a king who was so just and kind that his
subjects called him "the Good King." It happened one day, when he was
out hunting, that a little white rabbit, which his dogs were chasing,
sprang into his arms for shelter. The King stroked it gently, and said
"Well, bunny, as you have come to me for protection I will see that
nobody hurts you."
And he took it home to his palace and had it put in a pretty little
house, with all sorts of nice things to eat.
That night, when he was alone in his room, a beautiful lady suddenly
appeared before him; her long dress was as white as snow, and she had
a crown of white roses upon her head. The good King was very much
surprised to see her, for he knew his door had been tightly shut, and he
could not think how she had got in. But she said to him:
"I am the Fairy Truth. I was passing through the wood when you were out
hunting, and I wished to find out if you were really good, as everybody
said you were, so I took the shape of a little rabbit and came to your
arms for shelter, for I know that those who are merciful to animals will
be still kinder to their fellow-men. If you had refused to help me
I should have been certain that you were wicked. I thank you for the
kindness you have shown me, which has made me your friend for ever. You
have only to ask me for anything you want and I promise that I will give
it to you."
"Madam," said the good King, "since you are a fairy you no doubt know
all my wishes. I have but one son whom I love very dearly, that is why
he is called Prince Darling. If you are really good enough to wish to do
me a favor, I beg that you will become his friend."
"With all my heart," answered the Fairy. "I can make your son the
handsomest prince in the world, or the richest, or the most powerful;
choose whichever you like for him."
"I do not ask either of these things for my son," replied the good
King; "but if you will make him the best of princes, I shall indeed be
grateful to you. What good would it do him to be rich, or handsome, or
to possess all the kingdoms of the world if he were wicked? You
know well he would still be unhappy. Only a good man can be really
"You are quite right," answered the Fairy; "but it is not in my power to
make Prince Darling a good man unless he will help me; he must himself
try hard to become good, I can only promise to give him good advice, to
scold him for his faults, and to punish him if he will not correct and
The good King was quite satisfied with this promise; and very soon
afterward he died.
Prince Darling was very sorry, for he loved his father with all his
heart, and he would willingly have given all his kingdoms and all his
treasures of gold and silver if they could have kept the good King with
Two days afterward, when the Prince had gone to bed, the Fairy suddenly
appeared to him and said:
"I promised your father that I would be your friend, and to keep my word
I have come to bring you a present." At the same time she put a little
gold ring upon his finger.
Take great care of this ring," she said: "it is more precious than
diamonds; every time you do a bad deed it will prick your finger, but
if, in spite of its pricking, you go on in your own evil way, you will
lose my friendship, and I shall become your enemy."
So saying, the Fairy disappeared, leaving Prince Darling very much
For some time he behaved so well that the ring never pricked him, and
that made him so contented that his subjects called him Prince Darling
One day, however, he went out hunting, but could get no sport, which
put him in a very bad temper; it seemed to him as he rode along that his
ring was pressing into his finger, but as it did not prick him he did
not heed it. When he got home and went to his own room, his little dog
Bibi ran to meet him, jumping round him with pleasure. "Get away!" said
the Prince, quite gruffly. "I don't want you, you are in the way."
The poor little dog, who didn't understand this at all, pulled at his
coat to make him at least look at her, and this made Prince Darling so
cross that he gave her quite a hard kick.
Instantly his ring pricked him sharply, as if it had been a pin. He was
very much surprised, and sat down in a corner of his room feeling quite
ashamed of himself.
"I believe the Fairy is laughing at me," he thought. "Surely I can have
done no great wrong in just kicking a tiresome animal! What is the good
of my being ruler of a great kingdom if I am not even allowed to beat my
I am not making fun of you," said a voice, answering Prince Darling's
thoughts. "You have committed three faults. First of all, you were out
of temper because you could not have what you wanted, and you thought
all men and animals were only made to do your pleasure; then you were
really angry, which is very naughty indeed; and lastly, you were
cruel to a poor little animal who did not in the least deserve to be
"I know you are far above a little dog, but if it were right and
allowable that great people should ill-treat all who are beneath them, I
might at this moment beat you, or kill you, for a fairy is greater than
a man. The advantage of possessing a great empire is not to be able to
do the evil that one desires, but to do all the good that one possibly
The Prince saw how naughty he had been, and promised to try and do
better in future, but he did not keep his word. The fact was he had been
brought up by a foolish nurse, who had spoiled him when he was little.
If he wanted anything he only had to cry and fret and stamp his feet
and she would give him whatever he asked for, which had made him
self-willed; also she had told him from morning to night that he would
one day be a king, and that kings were very happy, because everyone was
bound to obey and respect them, and no one could prevent them from doing
just as they liked.