Short Stories » Princess Rosetta - Page 1 of 9

THERE was once upon a time, a king and queen, who had two fine boys. As they increased in size, they became beautiful as the day; so well were they nurtured. The queen never failed to invite the fairies at the birth of her children, and she always begged her visitors to tell her what would happen to them.

After awhile she had a beautiful little girl who was so pretty that it was impossible to see her without loving her. The queen, having regaled all the fairies who came to see her on the occasion, said to them, as they were about to leave : "Do not forget your usual custom, but tell me what will happen to Rosetta," which was the little princess's name. The fairies told her that they had left their conjuring-book at home, and that they would come to see her again, another time. "Ah!" said the queen, " that forebodes no good, you do not wish to afflict me by an unhappy prediction ; I pray you however to conceal nothing from me, but tell me all." They tried hard to excuse themselves ; but this only made the queen more anxious to know her daughter's destiny. At last the chief fairy said to her : " We fear, Madam, that Rosetta will bring a severe misfortune upon her brothers ; that they will even be put to death on her account. This is all that we can foretell of this beautiful little girl, and we are very sorry that we have not better news to give you." They then left her ; and the queen remained so sorrowful, that the king noticed it. He asked her what was the matter. She replied, that she had gone too near the fire, and had burned all the flax off her distaff. " Is that all ?" said the king. He went to his stores, and brought her more flax than she could have spun in a hundred years.

The queen was still sad, and the king asked her again what was the matter. She told him that as she was walking by the river, she had let one of her green satin slippers fall therein. "Is that all ?" said the king. He immediately summoned all the shoe-makers in his kingdom ; and took the queen ten thousand slippers made of the same material.

Still the queen was not consoled, and the king asked her a third time what was the matter. She said that eating too fast she had swallowed her wedding-ring. The king knew that she was not telling him the truth ; for he had the ring about him ; so he said to her : " My dear, you are telling a falsehood, here is your ring, which I had in my purse." The lady as may be supposed was vexed to be caught telling an untruth, (for it is the most wicked thing in the world), and she saw that the king was angry ; so she told him what the fairies had predicted of the little Rosetta ; adding, that if he knew any means of preventing it, he must tell her. The king, much grieved at this, replied : " My dear, I know of no other means of saving our two sons' lives, than putting Rosetta to death, while she is yet, in her cradle." The queen, however, said that she would rather suffer death herself, than consent to so cruel an action, and begged her husband to think of some other remedy.

While the king and queen were still thinking on this subject, the queen was told that there was, in a large wood near the town, an old hermit, who lived in a hollow tree ; and that he was consulted by people far and near. She said : "I must go then and consult him also, as the fairies have told me the evil, but they have forgotten to tell me the remedy." So the next morning she rose early ; mounted a pretty little white mule, whose shoes were of gold, and left the palace accompanied by two of her young ladies, who each rode on a nice horse also. When they were near the wood, the queen and her young ladies alighted, and sought the tree where the hermit lived. He did not like to see women ; but when he perceived that it was the queen, he said to her : "you are welcome; what do you want with me ?" She told him what the fairies had said of Rosette and asked his advice. He directed her to shut the princess in a tower, and never allow her to leave it. The queen thanked him, rewarded him liberally, and went back to tell the king.

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