Short Stories » The Fair One with the Golden Hair

The Fair One with the Golden Hair - Page 5 of 5

He went straight to the palace, and presented the phial to the Fair One with the Golden Hair, who had no more to say ; she thanked Graceful, gave orders for every thing to be prepared for her departure ; and then, all being ready, she set out with him. The princess who thought he was amiable, said to him : "If you had wished it I would have made you king ; it would not then have been necessary to leave my kingdom ; " but he answered : "I would not have been guilty of so wicked a piece of treachery to my master, for all the kingdoms of the earth, though I confess that your beauty is more dazzling than the sun."

They presently arrived at the king's capital ; and the king knowing that the Fair One with the Golden Hair was coming, went forth to meet her, and made her the handsomest presents in the world. The nuptials between them were celebrated with so many rejoicings that nothing else was spoken of ; but the Fair One with the Golden Hair, who in her heart preferred Graceful to the king, was never easy when he was out of her sight, and was continually praising him. " Had it not been for Graceful," she would say to the king : "I should certainly not have come ; for my sake he performed impossibilities ; you are under infinite obligations to him ; he procured me the water of beauty, so that I shall never grow old, and shall always be beautiful."

GracefuTs old enemies who overheard the queen's words, said to the king: "You are not jealous, and yet you have cause enough to be so : your queen is so violently in love with Graceful, that she can neither eat nor drink ; she speaks incessantly of him and the obligations you owe him, as though another ambassador would not have met with the like success." The king answered : " Indeed I am now sensible enough of the truth of what you tell me ; let him be taken to the round tower and fettered hand and foot." Graceful was seized ; and as a return for all his faithful sen-ices to the king, he was again incarcerated and heavily chained. He saw no one but the gaoler, who threw him a morsel of black bread through a hole in the wall, and left him some water in an earthen porringer. However, his little dog Dolce did not leave him, but consoled his master by informing him of all the news of the day.

When the Fair One with the Golden Hair was informed of Graceful's misfortune, she threw herself at the king's feet, and besought him, all in tears, to release the prisoner from his confinement. But the more she entreated, the more angry the king became, thinking that her affection for Graceful, alone, prompted her supplications. As she could not prevail, she said no more, but became very sad and low-spirited.

The king took it into his head, that perhaps he was not handsome enough for her ; so he determined to wash his face with the water of beauty, with the design of causing the queen to conceive a greater affection for him than she then had. The water was in a phial which stood on the mantel- piece in the queen's bed chamber. She had placed it there that it might never be out of her sight ; but as one of her chamber-maids was killing a spider with a broom, she accidentally overturned the phial, which, falling on the floor, broke into a thousand pieces, and all the water was lost. She swept the pieces quickly away, and not knowing what to do, remembered to have seen in the king's closet, a phial, exactly resembling the one she had broken, full of a clear liquid like the water of beauty ; so without saying a word of what she had done, she removed it dexterously from where it was standing to the queen's mantel-piece.

The liquid which was in the king's closet was a certain poison that he made use of to put to death the great lords and nobles of his court when they were convicted of any great crime. Instead of having their heads cut off or hanging them, their faces were rubbed with this water, which threw them into a profound sleep from which they never awakened. Accordingly one evening the king took the phial from the mantel-piece in the queen's chamber, and rubbing his face over well with the liquid that was in it, fell into a deep sleep, and died. The little Dolce was one of the first who heard of it, and did not fail to inform Graceful of what had taken place, when his master desired him to seek the Fair One with the Golden Hair, and remind her of the poor prisoner.

Dolce slipped quietly through the crowd, for there was a great bustle and confusion about the court, on the king's death. " Madam," said he to the queen, "do not forget the poor Graceful." She but too well remembered the misfortunes he had suffered for her sake, and his great fidelity; so she went out without saying: a word to any one, immediately entered the tower, and herself took off the shackles from his hands and feet ; which done, she placed a golden crown upon his head and the royal mantle over his shoulders, saying to him : " Come amiable Graceful, I will make you a king, and take you for my husband." Graceful threw himself on his knees, and thanked her in the most fervent and respectful manner. All the people were enchanted to have him for their king : the wedding-feast was the most gorgeous that was ever seen ; and the Fair One with the Golden Hair long reigned with the handsome Graceful, each of them happy and contented in the enjoyment of the other.

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