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The light princess.
From Fairy tales every child should know
Start of Story
by Hamilton Wright Mabie.
Age Rating 8 Plus.
Once upon a time, so long ago that I have quite forgotten the date,
there lived a king and queen who had no children.
And the king said to himself, "All the queens of my acquaintance have
children, some three, some seven, and some as many as twelve; and my
queen has not one. I feel ill-used." So he made up his mind to be cross
with his wife about it. But she bore it all like a good patient queen as
she was. Then the king grew very cross indeed. But the queen pretended
to take it all as a joke, and a very good one too.
"Why don't you have any daughters, at least?" said he. "I don't say
Sons ; that might be too much to expect."
"I am sure, dear king, I am very sorry," said the queen.
"So you ought to be," retorted the king; "you are not going to make a
virtue of that , surely."
But he was not an ill-tempered king, and in any matter of less moment
would have let the queen have her own way with all his heart. This,
however, was an affair of State.
The queen smiled.
"You must have patience with a lady, you know, dear king," said she.
She was, indeed, a very nice queen, and heartily sorry that she could
not oblige the king immediately.
The king tried to have patience, but he succeeded very badly. It was
more than he deserved, therefore, when, at last, the queen gave him a
daughter--as lovely a little princess as ever cried.
The day drew near when the infant must be christened. The king wrote all
the invitations with his own hand. Of course somebody was forgotten.
Now it does not generally matter if somebody is forgotten, only you
must mind who. Unfortunately, the king forgot without intending to
forget; and so the chance fell upon the Princess Makemnoit, which was
awkward. For the princess was the king's own sister; and he ought not to
have forgotten her. But she had made herself so disagreeable to the old
king, their father, that he had forgotten her in making his will; and so
it was no wonder that her brother forgot her in writing his invitations.
But poor relations don't do anything to keep you in mind of them. Why
don't they? The king could not see into the garret she lived in, could
She was a sour, spiteful creature. The wrinkles of contempt crossed the
wrinkles of peevishness, and made her face as full of wrinkles as a pat
of butter. If ever a king could be justified in forgetting anybody, this
king was justified in forgetting his sister, even at a christening. She
looked very odd, too. Her forehead was as large as all the rest of her
face, and projected over it like a precipice. When she was angry, her
little eyes flashed blue. When she hated anybody, they shone yellow and
green. What they looked like when she loved anybody, I do not know; for
I never heard of her loving anybody but herself, and I do not think she
could have managed that if she had not somehow got used to herself. But
what made it highly imprudent in the king to forget her was--that she
was awfully clever.
In fact, she was a witch; and when she bewitched
anybody, he very soon had enough of it; for she beat all the wicked
fairies in wickedness, and all the clever ones in cleverness. She
despised all the modes we read of in history, in which offended fairies
and witches have taken their revenges; and therefore, after waiting and
waiting in vain for an invitation, she made up her mind at last to go
without one, and make the whole family miserable, like a princess as she
So she put on her best gown, went to the palace, was kindly received by
the happy monarch, who forgot that he had forgotten her, and took her
place in the procession to the royal chapel. When they were all gathered
about the font, she contrived to get next to it, and throw something
into the water; after which she maintained a very respectful demeanour
till the water was applied to the child's face. But at that moment she
turned round in her place three times, and muttered the following words,
loud enough for those beside her to hear:
"Light of spirit, by my charms,
Light of body, every part,
Never weary human arms--
Only crush thy parents' heart!"
They all thought she had lost her wits, and was repeating some foolish
nursery rhyme; but a shudder went through the whole of them
notwithstanding. The baby, on the contrary, began to laugh and crow;
while the nurse gave a start and a smothered cry, for, she thought she
was struck with paralysis: she could not feel the baby in her arms. But
she clasped it tight and said nothing.
The mischief was done.
Her atrocious aunt had deprived the child of all her gravity. If you ask
me how this was effected, I answer, "In the easiest way in the world.
She had only to destroy gravitation." For the princess was a
philosopher, and knew all the ins and outs of the laws of gravitation as
well as the ins and outs of her boot-lace. And being a witch as well,
she could abrogate those laws in a moment; or at least so clog their
wheels and rust their bearings that they would not work at all. But we
have more to do with what followed than with how it was done.
The first awkwardness that resulted from this unhappy privation was,
that the moment the nurse began to float the baby up and down, she flew
from her arms towards the ceiling. Happily, the resistance of the air
brought her ascending career to a close within a foot of it. There she
remained, horizontal as when she left her nurse's arms, kicking and
laughing amazingly. The nurse in terror flew to the bell, and begged the
footman, who answered it, to bring up the house-steps directly.
Trembling in every limb, she climbed upon the steps, and had to stand
upon the very top, and reach up, before she could catch the floating
tail of the baby's long clothes.
When the strange fact came to be known, there was a terrible commotion
in the palace. The occasion of its discovery by the king was naturally a
repetition of the nurse's experience. Astonished that he felt no weight
when the child was laid in his arms, he began to wave her up and--not
down; for she slowly ascended to the ceiling as before, and there
remained floating in perfect comfort and satisfaction, as was testified
by her peals of tiny laughter. The king stood staring up in speechless
amazement, and trembled so that his beard shook like grass in the wind.
At last, turning to the queen, who was just as horror-struck as himself,
he said, gasping, staring, and stammering:
"She can't be ours, queen!"
Now the queen was much cleverer than the king, and had begun already to
suspect that "this effect defective came by cause."
"I am sure she is ours," answered she. "But we ought to have taken
better care of her at the christening. People who were never invited
ought not to have been present."
"Oh, ho!" said the king, tapping his forehead with his forefinger, "I
have it all. I've found her out. Don't you see it, queen? Princess
Makemnoit has bewitched her."
"That's just what I say," answered the queen.
"I beg your pardon, my love; I did not hear you. John! bring the steps I
get on my throne with."
For he was a little king with a great throne, like many other kings.
The throne-steps were brought, and set upon the dining-table, and John
got upon the top of them. But, he could not reach the little princess,
who lay like a baby-laughter-cloud in the air, exploding continuously.
"Take the tongs, John," said his Majesty; and getting up on the table,
he handed them to him.
John could reach the baby now, and the little princess was handed down
by the tongs.