Select the desired text size

Trusty John.

From The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
Age Rating 6 to 8.

Start of Story

Once upon a time there was an old king who was so ill that he thought to himself, "I am most likely on my death-bed." Then he said, "Send Trusty John to me." Now Trusty John was his favorite servant, and was so called because all his life he had served him so faithfully. When he approached the bed the King spake to him: "Most trusty John, I feel my end is drawing near, and I could face it without a care were it not for my son. He is still too young to decide everything for himself, and unless you promise me to instruct him in all he should know, and to be to him as a father, I shall not close my eyes in peace." Then Trusty John answered: "I will never desert him, and will serve him faithfully, even though it should cost me my life." Then the old King said: "Now I die comforted and in peace"; and then he went on: "After my death you must show him the whole castle, all the rooms and apartments and vaults, and all the treasures that lie in them; but you must not show him the last room in the long passage, where the picture of the Princess of the Golden Roof is hidden. When he beholds that picture he will fall violently in love with it and go off into a dead faint, and for her sake he will encounter many dangers; you must guard him from this." And when Trusty John had again given the King his hand upon it the old man became silent, laid his head on the pillow, and died.



When the old King had been carried to his grave Trusty John told the young King what he had promised his father on his death-bed, and added: "And I shall assuredly keep my word, and shall be faithful to you as I have been to him, even though it should cost me my life." Now when the time of mourning was over, Trusty John said to him: "It is time you should see your inheritance. I will show you your ancestral castle." So he took him over everything, and let him see all the riches and splendid apartments, only the one room where the picture was he did not open. But the picture was placed so that if the door opened you gazed straight upon it, and it was so beautifully painted that you imagined it lived and moved, and that it was the most lovable and beautiful thing in the whole world. But the young King noticed that Trusty John always missed one door, and said: "Why do you never open this one for me?" "There is something inside that would appall you," he answered. But the King replied: "I have seen the whole castle, and shall find out what is in there"; and with these words he approached the door and wanted to force it open. But Trusty John held him back, and said: "I promised your father before his death that you shouldn't see what that room contains. It might bring both you and me to great grief." "Ah! no," answered the young King; "if I don't get in, it will be my certain destruction; I should have no peace night or day till I had seen what was in the room with my own eyes. Now I don't budge from the spot till you have opened the door."



Then Trusty John saw there was no way out of it, so with a heavy heart and many sighs he took the key from the big bunch. When he had opened the door he stepped in first, and thought to cover the likeness so that the King might not perceive it; but it was hopeless: the King stood on tiptoe and looked over his shoulder. And when he saw the picture of the maid, so beautiful and glittering with gold and precious stones, he fell swooning to the ground. Trusty John lifted him up, carried him to bed, and thought sorrowfully: "The curse has come upon us; gracious heaven! what will be the end of it all?" Then he poured wine down his throat till he came to himself again. The first words he spoke were: "Oh! who is the original of the beautiful picture?" "She is the Princess of the Golden Roof," answered Trusty John. Then the King continued: "My love for her is so great that if all the leaves on the trees had tongues they could not express it; my very life depends on my winning her. You are my most trusty John: you must stand by me."



The faithful servant pondered long how they were to set about the matter, for it was said to be difficult even to get into the presence of the Princess. At length he hit upon a plan, and spoke to the King: "All the things she has about her--tables, chairs, dishes, goblets, bowls, and all her household furniture--are made of gold. You have in your treasure five tons of gold; let the goldsmiths of your kingdom manufacture them into all manner of vases and vessels, into all sorts of birds and game and wonderful beasts; that will please her. We shall go to her with them and try our luck." The King summoned all his goldsmiths, and they had to work hard day and night, till at length the most magnificent things were completed. When a ship had been laden with them the faithful John disguised himself as a merchant, and the King had to do the same, so that they should be quite unrecognizable. And so they crossed the seas and journeyed till they reached the town where the Princess of the Golden Roof dwelt. Trusty John made the King remain behind on the ship and await his return. "Perhaps," he said, "I may bring the Princess back with me, so see that everything is in order; let the gold ornaments be arranged and the whole ship decorated." Then he took a few of the gold things in his apron, went ashore, and proceeded straight to the palace.

       



back to top
Back To Top
next page
Next Page