The king is ailing, and he wants me to marry before he dies. I do not know of any woman I could give him as a daughter-in-law. He tells me to go up the staircase to the top of the tower and look carefully at what I find there.
I haven’t been up here before. I unlock an iron door with a golden key and come into a vast room with a blue ceiling. It’s sprinkled with golden stars and the carpet is made of green silk, soft as turf. Sun streams through twelve windows, and a beautiful maiden is painted in every one. I turn round and round. Each one I look at lifts her eyes and smiles at me, but does not speak.
Then I notice that one of the windows is covered by a white silk curtain. I lift it, and a maiden stands before me, beautiful as the day, and sad as a tomb. She’s clothed in a white robe, and wears a crown of pearls.
Gazing at her, I feel as if have been turned to stone, and her sadness passes straight into my heart.
The Prince in the Tower in Long, Broad, and Quickeye, Grey Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.