: The Yellow Fairy Book
Once there lived a King who had no children for many years after
his marriage. At length heaven granted him a daughter of such
remarkable beauty that he could think of no name so appropriate
for her as 'Fairer-than-a-Fairy.'
It never occurred to the good-natured monarch that such a name
was certain to call down the hatred and jealousy of the fairies
in a body on the child, but this was what happened. No
had they heard of this presumptuous name than they resolved to
gain possession of her who bore it, and either to torment her
cruelly, or at least to conceal her from the eyes of all men.
The eldest of their tribe was entrusted to carry out their
revenge. This Fairy was named Lagree; she was so old that she
only had one eye and one tooth left, and even these poor remains
she had to keep all night in a strengthening liquid. She was
also so spiteful that she gladly devoted all her time to carrying
out all the mean or ill-natured tricks of the whole body of
With her large experience, added to her native spite, she found
but little difficulty in carrying off Fairer-than-a-Fairy. The
poor child, who was only seven years old, nearly died of fear on
finding herself in the power of this hideous creature. However,
when after an hour's journey underground she found herself in a
splendid palace with lovely gardens, she felt a little reassured,
and was further cheered when she discovered that her pet cat and
dog had followed her.
The old Fairy led her to a pretty room which she said should be
hers, at the same time giving her the strictest orders never to
let out the fire which was burning brightly in the grate. She
then gave two glass bottles into the Princess's charge, desiring
her to take the greatest care of them, and having enforced her
orders with the most awful threats in case of disobedience, she
vanished, leaving the little girl at liberty to explore the
palace and grounds and a good deal relieved at having only two
apparently easy tasks set her.
Several years passed, during which time the Princess grew
accustomed to her lonely life, obeyed the Fairy's orders, and by
degrees forgot all about the court of the King her father.
One day, whilst passing near a fountain in the garden, she
noticed that the sun's rays fell on the water in such a manner as
to produce a brilliant rainbow. She stood still to admire it,
when, to her great surprise, she heard a voice addressing her
which seemed to come from the centre of its rays. The voice was
that of a young man, and its sweetness of tone and the agreeable
things it uttered, led one to infer that its owner must be
equally charming; but this had to be a mere matter of fancy, for
no one was visible.
The beautiful Rainbow informed Fairer-than-a-Fairy that he was
young, the son of a powerful king, and that the Fairy, Lagree,
who owed his parents a grudge, had revenged herself by depriving
him of his natural shape for some years; that she had imprisoned
him in the palace, where he had found his confinement hard to
bear for some time, but now, he owned, he no longer sighed for
freedom since he had seen and learned to love
He added many other tender speeches to this declaration, and the
Princess, to whom such remarks were a new experience, could not
help feeling pleased and touched by his attentions.
The Prince could only appear or speak under the form of a
Rainbow, and it was therefore necessary that the sun should shine
on water so as to enable the rays to form themselves.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy lost no moment in which she could meet her
lover, and they enjoyed many long and interesting interviews.
One day, however, their conversation became so absorbing and time
passed so quickly that the Princess forgot to attend to the fire,
and it went out. Lagree, on her return, soon found out the
neglect, and seemed only too pleased to have the opportunity of
showing her spite to her lovely prisoner. She ordered
Fairer-than-a-Fairy to start next day at dawn to ask Locrinos for
fire with which to relight the one she had allowed to go out.
Now this Locrinos was a cruel monster who devoured everyone he
came across, and especially enjoyed a chance of catching and
eating any young girls. Our heroine obeyed with great sweetness,
and without having been able to take leave of her lover she set
off to go to Locrinos as to certain death. As she was crossing a
wood a bird sang to her to pick up a shining pebble which she
would find in a fountain close by, and to use it when needed.
She took the bird's advice, and in due time arrived at the house
of Locrinos. Luckily she only found his wife at home, who was
much struck by the Princess's youth and beauty and sweet gentle
manners, and still further impressed by the present of the
She readily let Fairer-than-a-Fairy have the fire, and in return
for the stone she gave her another, which, she said, might prove
useful some day. Then she sent her away without doing her any
Lagree was as much surprised as displeased at the happy result of
this expedition, and Fairer-than-a Fairy waited anxiously for an
opportunity of meeting Prince Rainbow and telling him her
adventures. She found, however, that he had already been told
all about them by a Fairy who protected him, and to whom he was
The dread of fresh dangers to his beloved Princess made him
devise some more convenient way of meeting than by the garden
fountain, and Fairer-than-a-Fairy carried out his plan daily with
entire success. Every morning she placed a large basin full of
water on her window-sill, and as soon as the sun's rays fell on
the water the Rainbow appeared as clearly as it had ever done in
the fountain. By this means they were able to meet without
losing sight of the fire or of the two bottles in which the old
Fairy kept her eye and her tooth at night, and for some time the
lovers enjoyed every hour of sunshine together.
One day Prince Rainbow appeared in the depths of woe. He had
just heard that he was to be banished from this lovely spot, but
he had no idea where he was to go. The poor young couple were in
despair, and only parted with the last ray of sunshine, and in
hopes of meeting next morning. Alas! next day was dark and
gloomy, and it was only late in the afternoon that the sun broke
through the clouds for a few minutes.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy eagerly ran to the window, but in her haste
she upset the basin, and spilt all the water with which she had
carefully filled it overnight. No other water was at hand except
that in the two bottles. It was the only chance of seeing her
lover before they were separated, and she did not hesitate to
break the bottle and pour their contents into the basin, when the
Rainbow appeared at once. Their farewells were full of
tenderness; the Prince made the most ardent and sincere
protestations, and promised to neglect nothing which might help
to deliver his dear Fairer-than-a-Fairy from her captivity, and
implored her to consent to their marriage as soon as they should
both be free. The Princess, on her side, vowed to have no other
husband, and declared herself willing to brave death itself in
order to rejoin him.
They were not allowed much time for their adieus; the Rainbow
vanished, and the Princess, resolved to run all risks, started
off at once, taking nothing with her but her dog, her cat, a
sprig of myrtle, and the stone which the wife of Locrinos gave
When Lagree became aware of her prisoner's flight she was
furious, and set off at full speed in pursuit. She overtook her
just as the poor girl, overcome by fatigue, had lain down to rest
in a cave which the stone had formed itself into to shelter her.
The little dog who was watching her mistress promptly flew at
Lagree and bit her so severely that she stumbled against a corner
of the cave and broke off her only tooth. Before she had
recovered from the pain and rage this caused her, the Princess
had time to escape, and was some way on her road. Fear gave her
strength for some time, but at last she could go no further, and
sank down to rest. As she did so, the sprig of myrtle she
carried touched the ground, and immediately a green and shady
bower sprang up round her, in which she hoped to sleep in peace.
But Lagree had not given up her pursuit, and arrived just as
Fairer-than-a-Fairy had fallen fast asleep. This time she made
sure of catching her victim, but the cat spied her out, and,
springing from one of the boughs of the arbour she flew at
Lagree's face and tore out her only eye, thus delivering the
Princess for ever from her persecutor.
One might have thought that all would now be well, but no sooner
had Lagree been put to fight than our heroine was overwhelmed
with hunger and thirst. She felt as though she should certainly
expire, and it was with some difficulty that she dragged herself
as far as a pretty little green and white house, which stood at
no great distance. Here she was received by a beautiful lady
dressed in green and white to match the house, which apparently
belonged to her, and of which she seemed the only inhabitant.
She greeted the fainting Princess most kindly, gave her an
excellent supper, and after a long night's rest in a delightful
bed told her that after many troubles she should finally attain
As the green and white lady took leave of the Princess she gave
her a nut, desiring her only to open it in the most urgent need.
After a long and tiring journey Fairer-than-a-Fairy was once more
received in a house, and by a lady exactly like the one she had
quitted. Here again she received a present with the same
injunctions, but instead of a nut this lady gave her a golden
pomegranate. The mournful Princess had to continue her weary
way, and after many troubles and hardships she again found rest
and shelter in a third house exactly similar to the two others.
These houses belonged to three sisters, all endowed with fairy
gifts, and all so alike in mind and person that they wished their
houses and garments to be equally alike. Their occupation
consisted in helping those in misfortune, and they were as gentle
and benevolent as Lagree had been cruel and spiteful.
The third Fairy comforted the poor traveller, begged her not to
lose heart, and assured her that her troubles should be rewarded.
She accompanied her advice by the gift of a crystal
smelling-bottle, with strict orders only to open it in case of
urgent need. Fairer-than- a-Fairy thanked her warmly, and
resumed her way cheered by pleasant thoughts.
After a time her road led through a wood, full of soft airs and
sweet odours, and before she had gone a hundred yards she saw a
wonderful silver Castle suspended by strong silver chains to four
of the largest trees. It was so perfectly hung that a gentle
breeze rocked it sufficiently to send you pleasantly to sleep.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy felt a strong desire to enter this Castle,
but besides being hung a little above the ground there seemed to
be neither doors nor windows. She had no doubt (though really I
cannot think why) that the moment had come in which to use the
nut which had been given her. She opened it, and out came a
diminutive hall porter at whose belt hung a tiny chain, at the
end of which was a golden key half as long as the smallest pin
you ever saw.
The Princess climbed up one of the silver chains, holding in her
hand the little porter who, in spite of his minute size, opened a
secret door with his golden key and let her in. She entered a
magnificent room which appeared to occupy the entire Castle, and
which was lighted by gold and jewelled stars in the ceiling. In
the midst of this room stood a couch, draped with curtains of all
the colours of the rainbow, and suspended by golden cords so that
it swayed with the Castle in a manner which rocked its occupant
delightfully to sleep.
On this elegant couch lay Prince Rainbow, looking more beautiful
than ever, and sunk in profound slumber, in which he had been
held ever since his disappearance.
Fairy-than-a-Fairy, who now saw him for the first time in his
real shape, hardly dared to gaze at him, fearing lest his
appearance might not be in keeping with the voice and language
which had won her heart. At the same time she could not help
feeling rather hurt at the apparent indifference with which she
She related all the dangers and difficulties she had gone
through, and though she repeated the story twenty times in a loud
clear voice, the Prince slept on and took no heed. She then had
recourse to the golden pomegranate, and on opening it found that
all the seeds were as many little violins which flew up in the
vaulted roof and at once began playing melodiously.
The Prince was not completely roused, but he opened his eyes a
little and looked all the handsomer.
Impatient at not being recognised, Fairer-than-a-Fairy now drew
out her third present, and on opening the crystal scent-bottle a
little syren flew out, who silenced the violins and then sang
close to the Prince's ear the story of all his lady love had
suffered in her search for him. She added some gentle reproaches
to her tale, but before she had got far he was wide awake, and
transported with joy threw himself at the Princess's feet. At
the same moment the walls of the room expanded and opened out,
revealing a golden throne covered with jewels. A magnificent
Court now began to assemble, and at the same time several elegant
carriages filled with ladies in magnificent dresses drove up. In
the first and most splendid of these carriages sat Prince
Rainbow's mother. She fondly embraced her son, after which she
informed him that his father had been dead for some years, that
the anger of the Fairies was at length appeased, and that he
might return in peace to reign over his people, who were longing
for his presence.
The Court received the new King with joyful acclamations which
would have delighted him at any other time, but all his thoughts
were full of Fairer-than-a-Fairy. He was just about to present
her to his mother and the Court, feeling sure that her charms
would win all hearts, when the three green and white sisters
They declared the secret of Fairy-than-a-Fairy's royal birth, and
the Queen taking the two lovers in her carriage set off with them
for the capital of the kingdom.
Here they were received with tumultuous joy. The wedding was
celebrated without delay, and succeeding years diminished neither
the virtues, beauty, nor the mutual affection of King Rainbow and
his Queen, Fairer-than-a-Fairy.