The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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guards were always pacing to and fro outside, with orders to cut off the head of any one who tried to approach, which they would certainly have done without thinking twice about it. The queen told every one, with much pretended sorrow, that the princess was so ugly, and so troublesome, and altogether so impossible to love, that to keep her out of sight was the only thing that could be done for her. And this tale she repeated so often that at last the whole court believed it. Things were in this state, and the princess was about fifteen years old, when Prince Narcis­sus, attracted by the report of Queen Frivola's gay doings, presented himself at the court. He was not much older than the princess, and was as handsome a prince as you would see in a day's journey, and really, for his age, not so very scatter-brained. His parents were a king and queen, whose story you will perhaps read some day. They died almost at the same time, leaving their kingdom to the eldest of their children and commending their youngest son, Prince Narcissus, to the care of the fairy Melinette. In this they did very well for him, for the fairy was as kind as she was powerful, and she spared no pains in teaching the little prince everything it was good for him to know, and even imparted to him some of her own fairy lore. But as soon as he was grown up she sent him out to see the world for himself, though all the time she was secretly keeping watch over him, ready to help in any time of need. Before he started she gave him a ring which would render him invisible when he put it on his finger. These rings seem to be quite common; you must often have heard of them, even if you have never seen one. It was in the course of the prince's wanderings, in search of experience of men and things, that he came to the court of Queen Frivola, where he was extremely well received. The queen was delighted with him, so were all her ladies; and the king was very polite to him, though he did not quite see why the whole court was making such a fuss over him.
Prince Narcissus enjoyed all that went on and found the time pass very pleasantly. Before long, of course, he heard the story about the Princess Potentilla, and as it had by that time been repeated many times and had been added to here and there, she was represented as such a monster of ugliness that he was really quite curious to see
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