I watch the princess ride away into the star-lit desert on a snow-white donkey. She’s looking for a four-leafed herb that grows on the point of a rocky ridge. It’s the only thing that will save her husband’s life. I told her where to find it, but she cannot know the difficulties that lie ahead. She will have to cross a dangerous chasm, and if she gets to the other side, she will have a steep, scrabbly cliff to climb. When she nears the summit, the scouring wind and dust will blind her. She will have to feel her way to the plant.

Even I cannot see how she’ll do it.

The Far-Seeing Fairy Godmother in The Prince and the Three Fates, Brown Fairy Book. Painting by Gerrit van Honthorst.