Princess White Flame
PRINCESS WHITE FLAME
By E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
All Rights Reserved
Printed in the United States of America
My Dear Sister
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
|“Here am I, Prince Radiance, come to serve you.”||65|
|Suddenly the Giant hurled his Cloak violently forward||129|
|The Sword of Flames leapt from its scabbard and was raised on high||162|
|Prince Radiance fell on his knees before her||217|
PRINCESS WHITE FLAME
PRINCESS WHITE FLAME
OF all the fairy countries in theworld none is more wonderful orbeautiful than the country where theFire Fairies live. Into that land nofairies of the earth, or air, or water dareventure. They would be seared, orchanged to ash or vapor.
Many are the doors that open intothe Fire Kingdom—thousands, andhundreds of thousands in number.Wherever you see the firelight flicker,wherever you see flames leaping anddancing, wherever you hear the snap ofthe burning logs, there you may be sureis an open door. Then if you chooseto creep close to it, and peer in, you mayperhaps see wonderful things; fairyforms that flit and vanish, and reappear,and vanish again among the leapingflames, and smoldering embers. Perhaps,also, you may see the shiningdomes and glittering turrets of the fairypalaces.
But when the fire burns down, andthe hearth grows dark the door is closed—thereis no more to be seen of thatwonderland.
In the very heart of the Fire Countrystands the palace of King Red Flame,the gleaming flame-colored palace, thePalace of Burning Coals. Round it liesa wonderful garden, where paths windaway among great fields of fire lilies,and flame roses lift their heads, and thetall shining trees rustle in the windwith a sound like the whispering of thefire on the hearth. Here in this glowingcountry the good and happy fairieswork and play, and serve their king asall good fairies should.
But not all fairies in this land aregood and happy. Beyond the glow ofthe roses and the lilies, beyond all sightof the glimmering trees, there lies anotherpart of the country where live theevil fairies of that land. Here are greatPlains of Ash, and huge Caverns ofSoot, and stretches of gloom wherecomes and goes the Shadow Witch.Here Imps of Darkness lurk, hereDragons crouch, and Wizards dwell.Perhaps sometimes when you havelooked into the Fireplace you have seenthose dismal plains and darksomevalleys. They lie away from the heartof the Fire, at the side of the Hearth,and between the flames and the heapsof ashes.
And now listen, and I will tell you ofPrince Radiance, and Princess WhiteFlame who lived in the Fire Countryand of many strange and wonderful adventuresthrough which they journeyedon to reach at last a never-endinghappiness.
ONCE upon a time a wickedEarth Fairy went forth to seewhat mischief she could do. She flittedon and on until she came to a HouseDoor. She had come to one of thehomes where the good and usefulHouse Fairies dwell. The Door wasopen, and she crept up to it slyly, andpeered in. There she saw a great room,in perfect order, for the House Fairieshad put everything to rights before theywent away to their tasks upstairs. Thefloor was swept, the pictures hung trimand straight upon the walls, the chairswere dusted and set about invitingly,and on the Hearth the Fire burnedwarm and clear.
“Hhm!” muttered the Earth Fairy.“Here is the very chance I’ve been lookingfor!”
She slipped inside the Door and setto work at once. She sprinkled asheson the clean-swept floor, and set thechairs askew. She pulled the picturescrooked, and turned their faces to thewall. Into every corner of the roomshe went, making mischief, and leavingdisorder behind her. No one came tointerrupt her, so that she kept on andon with her malicious task until theroom was in complete confusion.Wearied with the mischief she had done,she paused and looked about her for aplace to rest. On the Hearth lay a greatbank of warm ashes, soft as a feather-bed.She went to it at once, and threwherself down upon it, thinking to restonly a moment before she journeyed on.Now this was a very dangerous thingfor an Earth Fairy to do, because nonebut Fire Fairies can safely rest so closeto Fire and Flame. But this the EarthFairy did not know, so she sank down,meaning to rest but for a short time, butshe was so weary that before she knewit she had fallen off into a deep sleep,and while she slept the Fire stole fromher all her Earth magic, and her Earthpowers.
Since the Fire was burning, thatDoor to the Fire Country was of coursewide open, so that King Red Flame ridingout that morning on his flame-coloredhorse caught a glimpse of theEarth Fairy’s yellow hair as she lay inthe ashes. He drew near to see whowas slumbering there. At the firstglance he knew that she was not a FireFairy. It was plain, too, that she wasnot a House Fairy. Whoever she was,he knew that she was in great danger,and that she must be rescued at once.
He called to her, but she neitheranswered nor stirred. He alighted fromhis horse, and bending over her shookher gently, but she gave no sign of life.He shook her more roughly, and calledlouder, but quite in vain.
“I shall have to take her to thepalace,” murmured King Red Flame tohimself. “Here I can do nothing.Queen Glow and I must consult togetherover the matter.”
He lifted the Earth Fairy in his arms,and laid her across his horse. Thenmounting again, he rode away with herin the direction of the Palace of BurningCoals, satisfied that there, in counselwith his queen, he could bring succor tothe stranger in her great need.
Queen Glow was a very beautifulfairy, and as wise and good as she wasbeautiful. Always her thought washow she could help and comfort thosewho were in trouble or distress. Assoon as King Red Flame arrived at thepalace, Queen Glow had the insensibleEarth Fairy carried to her own room,and laid upon her royal bed. Here shebent over her, chafing her hands, andtrying in every way to revive her.
There was deep silence in the room,except for the suppressed whisperingof a little group of Fire Fairies gatheredabout the door. One by one otherfairies that belonged to the palace cameto join them, and among the rest cameGrey Smoke, old and wise, she who hadnursed Queen Glow as a child.
As soon as Grey Smoke saw the EarthFairy, she said, “She has rested too longon the Hearth. She has rested too longin the heat. Never again can she returnto her own life. There is only onething left for us to do. We must changeher into a Fire Fairy. In this way onlycan she again be wakened into life.Then she can live happily among us,and fill her uses in the Fire Kingdom.”
“How is so great a change as that tobe wrought?” asked King Red Flame.“Have you knowledge of such a spellas will accomplish this?”
Dame Grey Smoke shook her head.“No, Your Majesty, not I,” she said.“But there is in the palace, greaterknowledge than I possess. It was writtenlong ago in the Book of Spells, thatlies locked away in your treasury.”
“True,” cried the King. “Why hadI not thought of that? Let the book bebrought!”
The King and Queen waited insilence while a trusted messenger wasdispatched to fetch it from the treasurechamber where it lay. When it wasbrought the King drew from his bosoma tiny key, which hung about his neckfrom a golden thread. As the King unlockedthe book, a thin mist of magicfloated out from its pages, and circledabout his head for a moment before itdisappeared. A thrill of awe passedthrough the watching fairies.
Slowly the King turned page afterpage, until at last he paused. “It ishere,” said he. He and the Queenstooped above the book, reading thestrange and crabbed letters written somany ages ago by the masters of fairymagic. When they had read the charmthrough to the end, the King lifted hishead: “None but those who work thischarm may see it wrought,” commandedhe. Then one by one the fairiespassed from the royal bedchamber, leavingthe King and Queen alone.
All was silent in the room. Thecharm had been spoken—the spell hadbeen wrought. The King and Queenstood watching the still motionless formof the Earth Fairy.
At last through her passed a thrill ofwakening life. She turned upon herside. Her eyelids fluttered, then openedwide, and her eyes rested in bewildermentupon the two bending over her.From them her eyes wandered to theroom about her. She raised herselfupon her elbow. “Where am I?” shedemanded in a trembling voice.
“You are in the Kingdom of the FireFairies,” answered Queen Glow gently.“But do not be afraid. You are safehere, for we have changed you into aFire Fairy, and there is now no moredanger for you here from heat or flamethan there is for our own royal selves.”
The Earth Fairy’s face grew blackwith anger. “A Fire Fairy!” she cried.“I, a Fire Fairy! That must never be.I am of the Earth. How dared youmeddle with an Earth Fairy? Let mego instantly. I am going back to myown country—to my own kind.”
“That cannot be,” answered theKing. “There is no spell to transformyou to what you were, and it was only bychanging you into a Fire Fairy that wewere able to awaken you from sleep. Ifwe had not done this, you would haveslept and slept yourself away into a filmof ashes.”
Carefully then he explained to herwhere he had found her, and how everymeans had been tried to rouse her, butin vain, and only by the power of theBook of Spells had it been possible tosave her. But nothing that the King orQueen could say—no words, howeverkind or wise, made the slightest differenceto the Earth Fairy. She sprangfrom the bed, and stamped her foot.She wept, she stormed.
By and by, however, she becamesulky, and sank into silence, and wouldnot even answer what the King andQueen said to her. They were obligedto leave her alone, and though she atethe food that was presently sent to her,she would neither speak, nor look at theattendants who brought it.
But as time passed the Earth Fairygrew less sullen, and even seemed to bein some measure content with her newhome, and her life in the palace, butQueen Glow felt sorry for her, and kepther near as her own personal attendant.If any difference was made by theQueen between her and the Fire Fairies,it was that she treated her with especialkindness and affection. But the newlady in waiting never forgot her oldlife, and although she was now a FireFairy, she always insisted upon beingcalled Earth Fairy, and that was thename by which everyone knew her.
At last there came a time when shereally seemed to respond to kindness,and to feel a certain love for the Queen.She sought to please her, and wasalways cheerful and complacent, and