He did the impossible for me. He built me a palace of ice, which was kept warm by fires in every room. The whole palace was filled with a rosy pink glow, and the rarest singing birds in the world. Surely that should have been enough for me!
But then a pedlar came to the door and laid before me a chest of beautiful stones. Lovely rubies. Rare pearls! I was making dresses and I wondered what sort of trimming I would put on them, and, of course, I wanted to outshine all the other ladies at the court balls. At first, I simply admired them. It would be too costly to buy them.
“Of course, said the pedlar. “But I have a necklace of shining stones that was given to me by my father. The stones are engraved with weird characters, and one of them is missing. I understand that the missing stone is in your husband’s possession. If you could get me that stone, I would give you any of the jewels you choose.”
We had only been married for a week, and my husband would give me anything. My birthday was coming up, and so I asked him for the bright stone with the funny marks on it. It was very difficult for him to part with it, and he made me swear I would always keep it safe.
Oh, I am so foolish. The pedlar came back and he persuaded me to give it to him. Now I have the string of pearls I coveted, but the walls in my room have gone cold. When I touch them, they are wet. Is it my imagination, or is the fire in the hearth burning more dimly than before? There are pools of water on the floor in the hall, and the maid is running to me, crying, “The palace is disappearing under our very eyes!
Princess Who Gives Away the Magic Stone in The Clever Cat, Orange Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.