PRINCE DARLING 279
son the handsomest prince in the world, or the richest, or the most powerful; choose whichever you like for him.'
' I do not ask either of these things for my son,' replied the good King; ' but if you will make him the best of princes, I shall indeed be grateful to you. "What good would it do him to be rich, or handsome, or to possess all the kingdoms of the world if he were wicked ? You know well he would still be unhappy. Only a good man can be really contented.'
' You are quite right,' answered the Fairy; ' but it is not in my power to make Prince Darling a good man unless he will help me; he must himself try hard to become good; I can only promise to give him good advice, to scold him for his faults, and to punish him if he will not correct and punish himself.'
The good King was quite satisfied with this promise; and very soon afterwards he died.
Prince Darling was very sorry, for he loved his father with all his heart, and he would willingly have given all his kingdoms and all his treasures of gold and silver if they could have kept the good King with him. Two days afterwards, when the Prince had gone to bed, the Fairy suddenly appeared to him and said :
' I promised your father that I would be your friend, and to keep my word I have come to bring you a present.' At the same time she put a little gold ring upon his finger.
'Take great care of this ring,' she said: 'it is more precious than diamonds; every time you do a bad deed it will prick your finger, but if, in spite of its pricking, you go on in your own evil way, you will lose my friendship, and I shall become your enemy.'