I have fallen in love with a pea-hen! I met her when I was keeping watch because every night my father’s golden apple trees were getting stripped of their fruit.
I woke at midnight and saw nine golden pea-hens light in the tree. The ninth hen fluttered to the ground where I lay and instantly changed into a beautiful maiden. When her sisters were finished plucking the fruit, she had to leave. She gave me two glistening apples, one for myself and one for my father. Then she changed herself into a bird and flew away with the others.
After that, I went back to the tree every night, and every morning I brought my father a golden apple. My brother became jealous. He ordered an old woman to hide under the tree, and when my darling pea-hen changed into a maiden, the witch stretched out her hand and cut a lock of her hair. She sprang to her feet, turned into a bird, spread her wings, and flew away.
I haven’t seen her since. Where did she go? Night after night I go back to the tree, but the birds never come. My father has his apples, but I am bereft.
Prince Who Loves a Maiden Under a Spell in Nine Pea-Hens and Golden Apples, Violet Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.