The Pink


There was once upon a time a queen to whom God had given no children.
Every morning she went into the garden and prayed to God in heaven to
bestow on her a son or a daughter. Then an angel from heaven came to
her and said: 'Be at rest, you shall have a son with the power of
wishing, so that whatsoever in the world he wishes for, that shall he
have.' Then she went to the king, and told him the joyful tidings, and
when the time was come she gave birth to a son, and the king was
filled with gladness.

Every morning she went with the child to the garden where the wild
beasts were kept, and washed herself there in a clear stream. It
happened once when the child was a little older, that it was lying in
her arms and she fell asleep. Then came the old cook, who knew that
the child 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's apron and on her dress. Then he carried the child away to a
secret place, where a nurse was obliged to suckle it, and he ran to
the king and accused the queen of having allowed her child to be taken
from her by the wild beasts. When the king saw the blood on her apron,
he believed this, fell into such a passion that he ordered a high
tower to be built, in which neither sun nor moon could be seen and had
his wife put into it, and walled up. Here she was to stay for seven
years without meat or drink, and die of hunger. But God sent two
angels from 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 power of
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 enough to
speak, and said to him: 'Wish for a beautiful palace for yourself with
a garden, and all else that pertains to it.' Scarcely were the words
out of the boy's mouth, when everything was there that he had wished
for. After a while the cook said to him: 'It is not well for you to be
so alone, wish for a pretty girl as a companion.' Then the king's son
wished for one, and she immediately stood before him, and was more
beautiful than any painter could have painted her. The two played
together, and loved each other with all their hearts, and the old cook
went 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 thus bring 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 plunge this knife into his heart, and bring me his heart and
tongue, and if you 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 should I 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 your own life.' When he had gone away, she had a little
hind brought to her, and ordered her to be killed, and took her heart
and tongue, and laid them on a plate, and when she saw the old man
coming, she said to the boy: 'Lie down in your bed, and draw the
clothes over you.' Then the wicked wretch came in and said: 'Where are
the boy's heart and tongue?' The girl reached the plate to him, but
the king's son threw off the quilt, and said: 'You old sinner, why did
you want to kill me? Now will I pronounce thy sentence. You shall
become a black poodle and have a gold collar round your neck, and
shall eat burning coals, till the flames burst forth from your
throat.' And when he had spoken these words, the old man was changed
into a poodle dog, and had a gold collar round his neck, and the cooks
were ordered to bring up some live coals, and these he ate, until the
flames broke forth from his throat. The king's son remained there a
short while longer, and he thought of his mother, and wondered if she
were still alive. At length he said to the maiden: 'I will go home to
my own country; if you will go with me, I will provide for you.' 'Ah,'
she replied, 'the way is so long, and what shall I do in a strange
land where I am unknown?' As she did not seem quite willing, and as
they could not be parted from each other, he wished that she might be
changed into a beautiful pink, and took her with him. Then he went
away to his own country, and the poodle had to run after him. He went
to the tower in which his mother was confined, and as it was so high,
he wished for a ladder which would reach up to the very top. Then he
mounted up and looked inside, and cried: 'Beloved mother, Lady Queen,
are you still alive, or are you dead?' She answered: 'I have just
eaten, and am still satisfied,' for she thought the angels were there.
Said he: 'I am your dear 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 descended again, and went to his father, and caused
himself to be announced as a strange huntsman, and asked if he could
offer him service. The king said yes, if he was skilful and could get
game for him, he should come to him, but that deer had never taken up
their quarters in any part of the district or country. Then the
huntsman promised to procure as much game for him as he could possibly
use at the royal table. So he summoned all the huntsmen together, and
bade them go out into the forest with him. And he went with them and
made them form a great circle, open at one end where he stationed
himself, and began to wish. Two hundred deer and more came running
inside the circle at once, and the huntsmen shot them. Then they were
all placed on sixty country carts, and driven home to the king, and
for once he was able to deck his table with game, after having had
none at all for years.

Now the king felt great joy at this, and commanded that his entire
household should eat with him next day, and made a great feast. When
they were all assembled together, he said to the huntsman: 'As you are
so clever, you shall sit by me.' He replied: 'Lord King, your majesty
must excuse me, I am a poor huntsman.' But the king insisted on it,
and said: 'You shall sit by me,' until he did it. Whilst he was
sitting there, he thought of his dearest mother, and wished that one
of the king's principal servants would begin to speak of her, and
would ask how it was faring with the queen in the tower, and if she
were alive still, or had perished. Hardly had he formed the wish than
the marshal began, and said: 'Your majesty, we live joyously here, but
how is the queen living in the tower? Is she still alive, or has she
died?' But the king replied: 'She let my dear son be torn to pieces by
wild beasts; I will not have her named.' Then the huntsman arose and
said: 'Gracious lord father she is alive still, and I am her son, and
I was not carried away by wild beasts, but by that wretch the old
cook, who tore me from her arms when she was asleep, and sprinkled her
apron with the blood of a chicken.' Thereupon he took the dog with the
golden collar, and said: 'That is the wretch!' and caused live coals
to be brought, and these the dog was compelled to devour before the
sight of all, until flames burst forth from its throat. On this the
huntsman asked the king if he would like to see the dog 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 his knife by his side.
When the king saw him he fell into a passion, and ordered him to be
cast into the deepest dungeon. Then the huntsman spoke further and
said: 'Father, will you see the maiden who brought me up 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 would like to see
her.' The son said: 'Most gracious father, I will show her to you in
the form of a beautiful flower,' and he thrust his hand into his
pocket and brought forth the pink, and placed it on the royal table,
and it was so beautiful that the king had never seen one to equal it.
Then the son said: 'Now will I show her to you in her own form,' and
wished that she might become a maiden, and she stood there looking so
beautiful that no painter could have made her look more so.

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 was
led in she ate nothing, and said: 'The gracious and merciful God who
has supported me in the tower, will soon set me free.' She lived three
days more, and then died happily, and when she was buried, the two
white doves which had brought her food to the tower, and were angels
of heaven, followed her body and seated themselves on her grave. The
aged king ordered the cook to be torn in four pieces, but grief
consumed the king's own heart, and he soon died. His son married the
beautiful maiden whom he had brought with him as a flower in his
pocket, and whether they are still alive or not, is known to God.

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