My dogs were in hot pursuit of a white rabbit when all of a sudden, the rabbit turned around and leapt into my arms. “Why, bunny,” I said, “As you have come to me for protection, I will see that nobody hurts you.”
I took it home to my palace where it was given a pretty little house and all sorts of good things to eat.
That night, when I was alone in my room, a beautiful lady appeared before me. She wore a long white dress and a crown of white roses. I was surprised to see her, for I had locked my door, and I could not think how she had entered.
She said, “I am the Fairy Truth. I was passing through the wood when you were out hunting, and, to find out if you really are as good as everybody says you are, I took the shape of a little rabbit and leapt into your arms. I thank you for the kindness you have shown me. It has made me your friend for ever. Ask me for anything and I promise that I will give it to you.”
I said, “Madam, since you are a fairy you no doubt know that I have only one son. I love him very dearly, which is why he is called Prince Darling. If you are really good enough to do me a favor, I beg that you become his friend.”
“With all my heart,” said the Fairy. “I can make your son the handsomest prince in the world, or the richest, or the most powerful. Choose whatever you like for him.”
“I do not ask any of those things for my son,” I said. “But if you will make him the best of princes, I shall be very grateful to you. What good will it do him to be rich, or handsome, or to possess all the kingdoms of the world if he is wicked? He will still be unhappy. Only a good man can be truly contented.”
“You are quite right,” said the Fairy. “But it is not in my power to make Prince Darling a good man. He must do that for himself.”
That worried me. Even though he was still a boy, Prince Darling was too darling, the darling of everyone.
The Good King in Prince Darling, Blue Fairy Book. Painting by Gustav Klimt, “Study of an Old Man with Ivy Wreath.”