The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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King’s Son Raised by Peasants

My parents were peasants, and though we lived roughly, they were good people. We never went without. When I was old enough to understand where I came from, my parents told me that I was the son of a king. My peasant parents had given their daughter to the king in exchange for me.

Why? They said that the king had become lost in a forest. A grey-bearded stranger promised to lead him out of the woods if he gave him the one who came out to greet him when he arrived home. He thought it would be his dog and he could easily give that to the stranger. Instead, the nurse came out with me in her arms. The king wouldn’t give me to the stranger. So he went to the peasants’ door and he gave me to them in exchange for their baby girl. Then he gave the girl to the stranger.

What happened to that poor innocent girl? My parents didn’t know.

From that time onward, her shadow fell over my life and it poisoned all my pleasure. When I was old enough to leave home, I decided that I would find her, even if I had to travel around the world.

My father had met the grey-bearded stranger in the woods, so I decided to start there. I dressed myself as farm servant, threw a sack of peas over my back, and marched straight into the woods where, eighteen years before, my father had become lost.

I shouted, “Oh, how unlucky I am! Where can I be? Is there no one to show me out of the forest?”

King’s Son Raised by Peasants in The Grateful Prince, Violet Fairy Book. Painting by Caspar David Fredrich.

in forest