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The Pink

There was once upon a time a queen to whom God had given nochildren. Every morning she went into the garden and prayed t...

The Pink

There was once upon a time a queen to whom God had given nochildren. Every morning she went into the garden and prayed to Godin heaven to bestow on her a son or a daughter. Then an angel fromheaven came to her and said: «Be at rest, you shall have a son with thepower of wishing, so that whatsoever in the world he wishes for, thatshall he have.» Then she went to the king, and told him the joyfultidings, and when the time was come she gave birth to a son, and theking was filled with gladness.

Every morning she went with the child to the garden where the wildbeasts were kept, and washed herself there in a clear stream. Ithappened once when the child was a little older, that it was lying inher arms and she fell asleep. Then came the old cook, who knew that thechild had the power of wishing, and stole it away, and he took a hen,and cut it in pieces, and dropped some of its blood on the queen’sapron and on her dress. Then he carried the child away to a secretplace, where a nurse was obliged to suckle it, and he ran to the kingand accused the queen of having allowed her child to be taken from herby the wild beasts. When the king saw the blood on her apron, hebelieved this, fell into such a passion that he ordered a high towerto be built, in which neither sun nor moon could be seen and had hiswife put into it, and walled up. Here she was to stay for seven yearswithout meat or drink, and die of hunger. But God sent two angelsfrom heaven in the shape of white doves, which flew to her twice a day,and carried her food until the seven years were over.

The cook, however, thought to himself: «If the child has the powerof wishing, and I am here, he might very easily get me into trouble.’So he left the palace and went to the boy, who was already big enoughto speak, and said to him: «Wish for a beautiful palace for yourselfwith a garden, and all else that pertains to it.» Scarcely were thewords out of the boy’s mouth, when everything was there that he hadwished for. After a while the cook said to him: «It is not well foryou to be so alone, wish for a pretty girl as a companion.» Then theking’s son wished for one, and she immediately stood before him, and wasmore beautiful than any painter could have painted her. The two playedtogether, and loved each other with all their hearts, and the old cookwent out hunting like a nobleman. The thought occurred to him, however,that the king’s son might some day wish to be with his father, and thusbring him into great peril. So he went out and took the maiden aside,and said: «Tonight when the boy is asleep, go to his bed and plungethis knife into his heart, and bring me his heart and tongue, and ifyou do not do it, you shall lose your life.» Thereupon he went away,and when he returned next day she had not done it, and said: «Why shouldI shed the blood of an innocent boy who has never harmed anyone?’The cook once more said: «If you do not do it, it shall cost you yourown life.» When he had gone away, she had a little hind brought toher, and ordered her to be killed, and took her heart and tongue, andlaid them on a plate, and when she saw the old man coming, she said tothe boy: «Lie down in your bed, and draw the clothes over you.» Thenthe wicked wretch came in and said: «Where are the boy’s heart andtongue?» The girl reached the plate to him, but the king’s son threwoff the quilt, and said: «You old sinner, why did you want to killme? Now will I pronounce thy sentence. You shall become a black poodleand have a gold collar round your neck, and shall eat burning coals,till the flames burst forth from your throat.» And when he had spokenthese words, the old man was changed into a poodle dog, and had agold collar round his neck, and the cooks were ordered to bring upsome live coals, and these he ate, until the flames broke forth fromhis throat. The king’s son remained there a short while longer, and hethought of his mother, and wondered if she were still alive. At lengthhe said to the maiden: «I will go home to my own country; if you will gowith me, I will provide for you.» «Ah,» she replied, «the way is solong, and what shall I do in a strange land where I am unknown?» As shedid not seem quite willing, and as they could not be parted from eachother, he wished that she might be changed into a beautiful pink, andtook her with him. Then he went away to his own country, and thepoodle had to run after him. He went to the tower in which hismother was confined, and as it was so high, he wished for a ladderwhich would reach up to the very top. Then he mounted up and lookedinside, and cried: «Beloved mother, Lady Queen, are you still alive,or are you dead?» She answered: «I have just eaten, and am stillsatisfied,» for she thought the angels were there. Said he: «I am yourdear son, whom the wild beasts were said to have torn from your arms;but I am alive still, and will soon set you free.» Then he descendedagain, and went to his father, and caused himself to be announced asa strange huntsman, and asked if he could offer him service. The kingsaid yes, if he was skilful and could get game for him, he shouldcome to him, but that deer had never taken up their quarters inany part of the district or country. Then the huntsman promisedto procure as much game for him as he could possibly use at the royaltable. So he summoned all the huntsmen together, and bade them go outinto the forest with him. And he went with them and made them form agreat circle, open at one end where he stationed himself, and beganto wish. Two hundred deer and more came running inside the circle atonce, and the huntsmen shot them. Then they were all placed on sixtycountry carts, and driven home to the king, and for once he was able todeck his table with game, after having had none at all for years.

Now the king felt great joy at this, and commanded that hisentire household should eat with him next day, and made a great feast.When they were all assembled together, he said to the huntsman: «Asyou are so clever, you shall sit by me.» He replied: «Lord King, yourmajesty must excuse me, I am a poor huntsman.» But the king insistedon it, and said: «You shall sit by me,» until he did it. Whilst hewas sitting there, he thought of his dearest mother, and wished thatone of the king’s principal servants would begin to speak of her, andwould ask how it was faring with the queen in the tower, and if shewere alive still, or had perished. Hardly had he formed the wishthan the marshal began, and said: «Your majesty, we live joyouslyhere, but how is the queen living in the tower? Is she still alive, orhas she died?» But the king replied: «She let my dear son be torn topieces by wild beasts; I will not have her named.» Then the huntsmanarose and said: «Gracious lord father she is alive still, and I amher son, and I was not carried away by wild beasts, but by that wretchthe old cook, who tore me from her arms when she was asleep, andsprinkled her apron with the blood of a chicken.» Thereupon he tookthe dog with the golden collar, and said: «That is the wretch!» andcaused live coals to be brought, and these the dog was compelled todevour before the sight of all, until flames burst forth from itsthroat. On this the huntsman asked the king if he would like to see thedog in his true shape, and wished him back into the form of the cook,in the which he stood immediately, with his white apron, and hisknife by his side. When the king saw him he fell into a passion, andordered him to be cast into the deepest dungeon. Then the huntsmanspoke further and said: «Father, will you see the maiden who brought meup so tenderly and who was afterwards to murder me, but did not do it,though her own life depended on it?» The king replied: «Yes, I wouldlike to see her.» The son said: «Most gracious father, I will show herto you in the form of a beautiful flower,» and he thrust his hand intohis pocket and brought forth the pink, and placed it on the royaltable, and it was so beautiful that the king had never seen one toequal it. Then the son said: «Now will I show her to you in her ownform,» and wished that she might become a maiden, and she stoodthere looking so beautiful that no painter could have made her look moreso.

And the king sent two waiting-maids and two attendants into the tower,to fetch the queen and bring her to the royal table. But when she wasled in she ate nothing, and said: «The gracious and merciful Godwho has supported me in the tower, will soon set me free.» She livedthree days more, and then died happily, and when she was buried, thetwo white doves which had brought her food to the tower, and wereangels of heaven, followed her body and seated themselves on hergrave. The aged king ordered the cook to be torn in four pieces, butgrief consumed the king’s own heart, and he soon died. His son marriedthe beautiful maiden whom he had brought with him as a flower in hispocket, and whether they are still alive or not, is known to God.

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