I loved my husband but I couldn’t conceive a child. We never talked about it, but when we watched other people play with their children, we couldn’t hide our sadness.
Then one day I went into the park near the castle, and sat alone by a waterfall. I didn’t want my ladies to see me cry. Then I heard something rustle on the rocks below the waterfall, and to my amazement a large crab climbed onto the stone beside me. “Great queen,” said the crab, “your heart’s desire will soon be granted. First permit me to lead you to the palace of the fairies which has never been seen by mortal eyes. A great mist surrounds it, you see. When we arrive, you will know more, if you will trust yourself to me.”
I had never heard a crab speak! When I agreed to follow it, the crab transformed into an old woman dressed in white and crimson. She had green ribbons in her hair and not a drop of water fell from her clothes. She ran lightly down the path I had walked hundreds of times before. It had never been easy-going, but instead of having to push through briars and brambles, I wandered through a bower of roses and jasmine flowers. They hung over my head, while violets sprang up under my feet. The orange trees were tall and thick, and loaded with fruit. I will never forget breathing in the scent of roses, orange and jasmine, and peeking ahead into something so dazzling I had to shield my eyes.
Queen Who Goes to Fairyland in The White Doe, Orange Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.