Go back to Prince Cherry
Sara Cone Bryant (1873 - Unknown)
[A shortened version of the familiar tale.]
There was once an old king, so wise and
kind and true that the most powerful
good fairy of his land visited him and
asked him to name the dearest wish of his
heart, that she might grant it.
"Surely you know it," said the good
king; "it is for my only son, Prince Cherry;
do for him whatever you would have done
"Gladly," said the great fairy; "choose
what I shall give him. I can make him the
richest, the most beautiful, or the most
powerful prince in the world; choose."
"None of those things are what I want,"
said the king. "I want only that he shall
be good. Of what use will it be to him to
be beautiful, rich, or powerful, if he grows
into a bad man? Make him the best prince
in the world, I beg you!"
"Alas, I cannot make him good," said
the fairy; "he must do that for himself.
I can give him good advice, reprove him
when he does wrong, and punish him if he
will not punish himself; I can and will be
his best friend, but I cannot make him
good unless he wills it."
The king was sad to hear this, but he
rejoiced in the friendship of the fairy for
his son. And when he died, soon after,
he was happy to know that he left Prince
Cherry in her hands.
Prince Cherry grieved for his father
and often lay awake at night, thinking of
him. One night, when he was all alone
in his room, a soft and lovely light
suddenly shone before him, and a beautiful
vision stood at his side. It was the good
fairy. She was clad in robes of dazzling
white, and on her shining hair she wore
a wreath of white roses.
"I am the Fairy Candide," she said to
the prince. "I promised your father that
I would be your best friend, and as long
as you live I shall watch over your happiness.
I have brought you a gift; it is not
wonderful to look at, but it has a wonderful
power for your welfare; wear it, and
let it help you."
As she spoke, she placed a small gold
ring on the prince's little finger. "This
ring," she said, "will help you to be good;
when you do evil, it will prick you, to
remind you. If you do not heed its warnings
a worse thing will happen to you, for
I shall become your enemy." Then she
Prince Cherry wore his ring, and said
nothing to any one of the fairy's gift. It
did not prick him for a long time, because
he was good and merry and happy. But
Prince Cherry had been rather spoiled by
his nurse when he was a child; she had
always said to him that when he should
become king he could do exactly as he
pleased. Now, after a while, he began to
find out that this was not true, and it made
The first time that he noticed that even
a king could not always have his own way
was on a day when he went hunting. It
happened that he got no game. This put
him in such a bad temper that he grumbled
and scolded all the way home. The
little gold ring began to feel tight and
uncomfortable. When he reached the palace
his pet dog ran to meet him.
"Go away!" said the prince, crossly.
But the little dog was so used to being
petted that he only jumped up on his
master, and tried to kiss his hand. The
prince turned and kicked the little creature.
At the instant, he felt a sharp prick in his
little finger, like a pin prick.
"What nonsense!" said the prince to
himself. "Am I not king of the whole
land? May I not kick my own dog, if I
choose? What evil is there in that?"
A silver voice spoke in his ear: "The
king of the land has a right to do good,
but not evil; you have been guilty of bad
temper and of cruelty to-day; see that
you do better to-morrow."
The prince turned sharply, but no one
was to be seen; yet he recognized the voice
as that of Fairy Candide.
He followed her advice for a little, but
presently he forgot, and the ring pricked
him so sharply that his finger had a drop
of blood on it. This happened again and
again, for the prince grew more self-willed
and headstrong every day; he had some
bad friends, too, who urged him on, in the
hope that he would ruin himself and give
them a chance to seize the throne. He
treated his people carelessly and his servants
cruelly, and everything he wanted
he felt that he must have.
The ring annoyed him terribly; it was
embarrassing for a king to have a drop
of blood on his finger all the time! At
last he took the ring off and put it out
of sight. Then he thought he should be
perfectly happy, having his own way; but
instead, he grew more unhappy as he grew
less good. Whenever he was crossed, or
could not have his own way instantly, he
flew into a passion,
Finally, he wanted something that he
really could not have. This time it was a
most beautiful young girl, named Zelia;
the prince saw her, and loved her so much
that he wanted at once to make her his
queen. To his great astonishment, she
"Am I not pleasing to you?" asked the
prince in surprise.
"You are very handsome, very charming,
Prince," said Zelia; "but you are not
like the good king, your father; I fear you
would make me very miserable if I were
In a great rage, Prince Cherry ordered
the young girl put in prison; and the key of
her dungeon he kept. He told one of his
friends, a wicked man who flattered him
for his own purposes, about the thing,
and asked his advice.
"Are you not king?" said the bad friend,
"May you not do as you will? Keep the
girl in a dungeon till she does as you command,
and if she will not, sell her as a
"But would it not be a disgrace for me
to harm an innocent creature?" said the
"It would be a disgrace to you to have
it said that one of your subjects dared
disobey you!" said the courtier.
He had cleverly touched the Prince's
worst trait, his pride. Prince Cherry went
at once to Zelia's dungeon, prepared to
do this cruel thing.
Zelia was gone. No one had the key
save the prince himself; yet she was gone.
The only person who could have dared
to help her, thought the prince, was his
old tutor, Suliman, the only man left who
ever rebuked him for anything. In fury,
he ordered Suliman to be put in fetters
and brought before him.
As his servants left him, to carry out
the wicked order, there was a clash, as of
thunder, in the room, and then a blinding
light. Fairy Candide stood before him.
Her beautiful face was stern, and her silver
voice rang like a trumpet, as she said,
"Wicked and selfish prince, you have
become baser than the beasts you hunt;
you are furious as a lion, revengeful as a
serpent, greedy as a wolf, and brutal as a
bull; take, therefore, the shape of those
beasts whom you resemble!"
With horror, the prince felt himself
being transformed into a monster. He tried
to rush upon the fairy and kill her, but
she had vanished with her words. As he
stood, her voice came from the air, saying,
sadly, "Learn to conquer your pride by
being in submission to your own subjects."
At the same moment, Prince Cherry felt
himself being transported to a distant
forest, where he was set down by a clear
stream. In the water he saw his own
terrible image; he had the head of a lion, with
bull's horns, the feet of a wolf, and a tail
like a serpent. And as he gazed in horror,
the fairy's voice whispered, "Your soul
has become more ugly than your shape is;
you yourself have deformed it."
The poor beast rushed away from the
sound of her words, but in a moment he
stumbled into a trap, set by bear-catchers.
When the trappers found him they were
delighted to have caught a curiosity, and
they immediately dragged him to the palace
courtyard. There he heard the whole
court buzzing with gossip. Prince Cherry
had been struck by lightning and killed,
was the news, and the five favorite courtiers
had struggled to make themselves
rulers, but the people had refused them,
and offered the crown to Suliman, the
good old tutor.
Even as he heard this, the prince saw
Suliman on the steps of the palace, speaking
to the people. "I will take the crown
to keep in trust," he said. "Perhaps the
prince is not dead."
"He was a bad king; we do not want
him back," said the people.
"I know his heart," said Suliman, "it
is not all bad; it is tainted, but not corrupt;
perhaps he will repent and come back to
us a good king."
When the beast heard this, it touched
him so much that he stopped tearing at
his chains, and became gentle. He let his
keepers lead him away to the royal
menagerie without hurting them.
Life was very terrible to the prince, now,
but he began to see that he had brought
all his sorrow on himself, and he tried to
bear it patiently. The worst to bear was
the cruelty of the keeper. At last, one
night, this keeper was in great danger; a
tiger got loose, and attacked him. "Good
enough! Let him die!" thought Prince
Cherry. But when he saw how helpless
the keeper was, he repented, and sprang
to help. He killed the tiger and saved the
As he crouched at the keeper's feet, a
voice said, "Good actions never go
unrewarded!" And the terrible monster was
changed into a pretty little white dog.
The keeper carried the beautiful little
dog to the court and told the story, and
from then on, Cherry was carefully treated,
and had the best of everything. But in
order to keep the little dog from growing,
the queen ordered that he should be fed
very little, and that was pretty hard for
the poor prince. He was often half starved,
although so much petted.
One day he had carried his crust of
bread to a retired spot in the palace woods,
where he loved to be, when he saw a poor
old woman hunting for roots, and seeming
"Poor thing," he thought, "she is even
hungrier than I;" and he ran up and
dropped the crust at her feet.
The woman ate it, and seemed greatly
Cherry was glad of that, and he was
running happily back to his kennel when
he heard cries of distress, and suddenly he
saw some rough men dragging along a
young girl, who was weeping and crying for
help. What was his horror to see that the
young girl was Zelia! Oh, how he wished
he were the monster once more, so that
he could kill the men and rescue her! But
he could do nothing except bark, and bite
at the heels of the wicked men. That
could not stop them; they drove him off,
with blows, and carried Zelia into a palace
in the wood.
Poor Cherry crouched by the steps, and
watched. His heart was full of pity and
rage. But suddenly he thought, "I was
as bad as these men; I myself put Zelia in
prison, and would have treated her worse
still, if I had not been prevented." The
thought made him so sorry and ashamed
that he repented bitterly the evil he had
Presently a window opened, and Cherry
saw Zelia lean out and throw down a piece
of meat. He seized it and was just going
to devour it, when the old woman to whom
he had given his crust snatched it away
and took him in her arms. "No, you shall
not eat it, you poor little thing," she said,
"for every bit of food in that house is
At the same moment, a voice said, "Good
actions never go unrewarded!" And
instantly Prince Cherry was transformed
into a little white dove.
With great joy, he flew to the open
palace window to seek out his Zelia, to try
to help her. But though he hunted in
every room, no Zelia was to be found.
He had to fly away, without seeing her.
He wanted more than anything else to
find her, and stay near her, so he flew out
into the world, to seek her.
He sought her in many lands, until one
day, in a far eastern country, he found
her sitting in a tent, by the side of an old,
white-haired hermit. Cherry was wild with
delight. He flew to her shoulder, caressed
her hair with his beak, and cooed in her
"You dear, lovely little thing!" said
Zelia. "Will you stay with me? If you will,
I will love you always."
"Ah, Zelia, see what you have done!"
laughed the hermit. At that instant, the
white dove vanished, and Prince Cherry
stood there, as handsome and charming
as ever, and with a look of kindness and
modesty in his eyes which had never been
there before. At the same time, the hermit
stood up, his flowing hair changed to shining
gold, and his face became a lovely
woman's face; it was the Fairy Candide.
"Zelia has broken your spell," she said to
the Prince, "as I meant she should, when
you were worthy of her love."
Zelia and Prince Cherry fell at the fairy's
feet. But with a beautiful smile she bade
them come to their kingdom. In a trice,
they were transported to the Prince's palace,
where King Suliman greeted them with
tears of joy. He gave back the throne,
with all his heart, and King Cherry ruled
again, with Zelia for his queen.
He wore the little gold ring all the rest
of his life, but never once did it have to
prick him hard enough to make his finger
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