The Wizard King


    There was once a king who was also a very powerful wizard.  When the time came for him to marry he chose a wife who was as clever as she was beautiful and he loved her greatly.  Soon she gave birth to a beautiful child, a boy, who was the apple of his father's and his mother's eyes.
     But the queen had a secret.  As a child, she had been entrusted into the care of a fairy godmother, who watched over her ever after.  She could not tell the wizard king about this because, as everyone knows, there has always been great rivalry between fairies and wizards, and the queen did not want to make her husband angry.
      So, when the baby was only a few weeks old, she took him in secret to visit, the fairy, who blessed him with two gifts: the power of pleasing everyone he met, and the power of learning everything he was taught with the greatest ease.  The little prince grew into a handsome young man, as clever as he was popular.
     Then when he was nineteen years - old his mother, the queen, died quite suddenly.  The prince was heartbroken but his grief was nothing to that of his father.  The wizard king was inconsolable.  Everywhere he looked he saw things that reminded him of the queen.  And so he decided to travel to distant lands, so that he! might see nothing but new and unfamiliar things. Changing himself into an eagle, he flew for and wide over land and sea. 
      Then one day he come to a most wonderful country where the sun always seemed to shine and the scent of jasmine filled the air.  The wizard king flew down and settled in the topmost branches of a tall tree.  All around him stretched the most beautiful gardens, filled with rare flowers and fountains that shot great jets of silvery water into the air. 
      There, floating on the surface of an artificial lake, was a golden barge and in the barge sat the most beautiful princess the wizard king had ever seen.  He fell in love with her at once, and without a further thought he flew down in his eaglets form and, gripping her in his huge talons, carried her off. The princess cried and cried, and struggled and struggled, but the wizard king flew onward until he was in sight of his own land.  There he landed in the midst of a flowery meadow and turned himself back into his own shape. 
      "Do not weep, I beg you," he said.  "I have brought you here to be my queen and to rule over my kingdom with me.  My only wish is to make you happy."
     But the princess began to weep all the harder.  "If you truly want to make me happy," she cried, "take me home."
     The wizard king only looked at her sadly and said, "I shall care for you    always.  You will be happy in time."
     Then he took the form of an eagle again and carried the princess to a place near his own palace.  There, with his magic, he made a wonderful dwelling for her, a tower of ivory and glass, beautifully furnished.  And he summoned maidens to wait upon her, a wonderful talking parrot to entertain her and the finest food that was ever seen.  Then he left her, for in his heart he believed that, in time, she would grow to love him.
     Every day the wizard king visited the princess, bringing her gifts and speaking kind and gentle words to her.  But there were no doors in the tower, and the princess knew that she was a prisoner.  So she felt only hatred for the wizard king, and longed to be set free.  At first the wizard king was patient, but as time passed and the princess remained as cold and sad as the day he had brought her home, he began to grow suspicious.  "Perhaps," he thought,
"she has seen my son, who is so handsome and accomplished.  She must have fallen in love with him."
     So the wizard king decided to send his son away to travel and learn more of the world outside his father's kingdom.  The prince set out with great excitement, for he loved to see new places.  He traveled through many kingdoms, until he came to the very one from which the wizard king had stolen the princess.  The king and queen of that land made him most welcome, but they could not hide the sorrow they felt at the loss of their beloved daughter.
     Then one day, when the prince was visiting the queen in her own rooms, he saw a portrait hanging on the wall.  At once he asked who the beautiful girl in the picture was and, with tears in her eyes, the queen told him it was the princess who had been carried off by a great eagle.
     The prince swore that he would not rest until he had found the lost princess for, if the truth be known, he had fallen in love with her.  The queen promised that if he succeeded he would get her daughter's hand in marriage, and half the kingdom as well.
     The prince set out, carrying with him a miniature portrait of the princess. He went straight to the fairy under whose protection his mother had placed him.  She listened to the prince's story and went to consult her magic books. When she came back she said, "It was your own father who carried off the princess.  She is nearby, imprisoned in a tower, surrounded by a magical mist.  It will be very hard to get through."
      "What can I do?" asked the prince.
      The fairy thought for a while, then she said, "The princess has a wonderful talking parrot in her tower.  It is the only thing, except for the wizard king, that is allowed to come and go as it pleases. it often flies this way.  I will catch it and use my magic to turn you into the shape of the parrot.  That wag you can visit the princess and no one will ever know."
       Everything turned out as the fairy planned.  She caught the parrot the next time it left the tower and shut it in a golden cage.  Then the prince, in the shape of the bird, flew through the magical mist and entered the tower.
      The princess was every bit as beautiful as her portrait.  The prince was so dazzled that he could not speak, and the princess became quite worried, for she loved the parrot dearly.  She took the bird in her arms and cradled it, stroking its head and wings.  This made the prince very happy indeed.
      Then the wizard king came in and the prince saw at once how much the princess disliked him.  As soon as he had gone - having once again failed-to persuade the princess to like him even a little - the prince spoke. "My lady, don't be afraid. I am here to help you."
      "What can you do, dear parrot?" cried the princess in astonishment.
       "I am not really your parrot," said the prince. I have come from your mother, the queen."  And he took from beneath one wing the miniature portrait which the queen had given him.  When she saw it the princess burst out crying again.
       "Please don't weep," said the prince.  He told her of the fairy and how she had promised to help them.  Then he asked if he might take his own shape again.  Drying her tears the princess said yes.  The parrot pulled one feather from its wing, and there stood the prince in human form.  The princess thought she had never seen a more handsome person and she fell in love with him at once.
       Meanwhile the fairy prepared a magic chariot, to which she harnessed two mighty eagles.  Then she took the parrot from the golden cage and commanded the bird to take them to the princess.
     Thus they passed through the mist quite easily and hovered outside the princess's window.  The prince and princess looked out and saw the fairy, an the princess was very happy to see her parrot again.  Together they climbed out of the window and got into the chariot.  Then the fairy, who was riding on the back of one of the eagles, commanded the great birds to fly back through the mist to the princess's own country.
     Meanwhile, the wizard king dreamed that the princess was being carried off.  When he woke he went straight to the magic tower and, sure enough, the princess was gone.  The wizard king was furious.  He went to consult his magic books, and very quickly discovered what had happened.  Raging, he     turned himself into a fearsome monster and set off in pursuit. But the fairy sent a powerful wind to slow him down so that the prince and princess arrived safely at the princess's home.
     The king and queen greeted them with delight and deep gratitude, but the fairy warned them that the wizard king would soon be there.  "The only way to stop him killing you both is to get married at once," the fairy said.  The prince and princess were more than willing, and the king and queen kept their promise.  So a wedding was quickly celebrated.
     But just as the ceremony was ending, the wizard king arrived.  He was so angry at the sight of the prince and princess happy together, that he changed back into his human shape and tried to sprinkle some evil black liquid over the bride and groom.
     If it had touched them they would have lost their power to move but luckily for them, the fairy made a magical wind that blew the liquid all over the wizard king instead.  He fell down in a heap at once, unable to move hand or foot.  While he was unconscious, the princess's father ordered that the wizard king be carried away and put in prison.
      Now it is well known that wizards lose all their power when they are imprisoned.  The wizard king was thus completely helpless, and felt very sorry for himself.  The prince took pity on his father and pleaded with the king to set him free.  In his gratitude the king agreed and as soon as the doors of the prison were opened, the wizard king flew out in the shape of a strange bird.  With a cry he flew off, vowing never to see his son again.
      After that everything was very peaceful. The prince and princess settled down together, and in time they ruled the kingdom wisely.  They were helped by the fairy, who was persuaded to settle in that land, and who sent for all her books and built a great palace for herself next to that of the prince and princess.



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