I had lost myself in the forest. I couldn’t find my way home. Three times, a stranger came along and offered to show me the way out if I would give him the first thing that came out to greet me when I returned. The first couple of times he made his offer, I thought, Why should I give away my best sporting dog? I can find my way out of the forest as well as any man.
But I couldn’t. The forest must have been enchanted, I wandered up and down the pathways, trying one after the other, mapping them in my mind. At last my courage gave way and I sank to the ground under a tree. Then the stranger came along again. “Why are you such a fool? What can a dog be to you that you should give your life for him? Just give me the reward I want and I will guide you out of the forest.”
I thought, Well my life is worth a thousand dogs, and the welfare of my kingdom depends on me. So I accepted his terms and instantly found myself at the edge of the wood with the palace in the dim distance. I made haste to return and just as I reached the great gates, the nurse came out with our newborn son, who stretched out his arms to me.
King Lost in the Woods in The Grateful Prince, Violet Fairy Book. Painting of St. Joseph and baby Jesus. Artist unknown.