Prince Cherry by Unknown
LONG ago there lived a monarch who was such a very
honest man that his subjects entitled him the Good
King. One day, when he was out hunting, a little
white rabbit, which had been half killed by his hounds, leaped
right into his majesty's arms. Said he, caressing it: "This
poor creature has put itself under my protection, and I will
allow no one to injure it." So he carried it to his palace, had
prepared for it a neat little rabbit hutch, with abundance of
the daintiest food such as rabbits love, and there he left it.
The same night, when he was alone in his chamber, there
appeared to him a beautiful lady. She was dressed neither in
gold, nor silver, nor brocade, but her flowing robes were white
as snow, and she wore a garland of white roses on her head.
The Good King was greatly astonished at the sight, for his
door was locked, and he wondered how so dazzling a lady
could possibly enter; but she soon removed his doubts.
"I am the Fairy Candide," said she, with a smiling and
gracious air. "Passing through the wood where you were
hunting, I took a desire to know if you were as good as men
say you are. I therefore changed myself into a white rabbit,
and took refuge in your arms. You saved me and now I
know that those who are merciful to dumb beasts will be ten
times more so to human beings. You merit the name your
subjects give you: you are the Good King. I thank you for
your protection, and shall be always one of your best friends.
You have but to say what you most desire, and I promise you
your wish shall be granted."
"Madam," replied the King, "if you are a fairy, you must
know without my telling you the wish of my heart. I have one
well-beloved son, Prince Cherry. Whatever kindly feeling
you have toward me, extend it to him."
"Willingly," said Candide. "I will make him the handsomest,
richest, or most powerful prince in the world. Choose
whichever you desire for him."
"None of the three," returned the father. "I only wish
him to be good—the best prince in the whole world. Of what
use would riches, power, or beauty be to him if he were an
"You are right," said the fairy; "but I cannot make him
good. He must do that himself. I can only change his external
fortunes; for his personal character the utmost I can
promise is to give him good counsel, reprove him for his faults,
and even punish him if he will not punish himself. You mortals
can do the same with your children."
"Ah, yes!" said the King, sighing. Still he felt that the
kindness of a fairy was something gained for his son, and
died not long after, content and at peace.
Prince Cherry mourned deeply, for he dearly loved his
father, and would have gladly given all his kingdoms and
treasures to keep him in life a little longer. Two days after
the Good King was no more, Prince Cherry was sleeping in
his chamber when he saw the same dazzling vision of the
"I promised your father," said she, "to be your best friend,
and in pledge of this take what I now give you"; and she
placed a small gold ring upon his finger. "Poor as it looks,
it is more precious than diamonds, for whenever you do ill
it will prick your finger. If, after that warning, you still continue
in evil, you will lose my friendship and I shall become
your direst enemy."
So saying she disappeared, leaving Cherry in such amazement
that he would have believed it all a dream save for the
ring on his finger.
He was for a long time so good that the ring never pricked
him at all, and this made him so cheerful and pleasant in his
humor that everybody called him "Happy Prince Cherry."
But one unlucky day he was out hunting and found no sport,
which vexed him so much that he showed his ill temper by
his looks and ways. He fancied his ring felt very tight and
uncomfortable, but as it did not prick him he took no heed
of this, until, reŽntering his palace, his little pet dog, Bibi,
jumped up upon him, and was sharply told to get away. The
creature, accustomed to nothing but caresses, tried to attract
his attention by pulling at his garments, when Prince Cherry
turned and gave it a severe kick. At this moment he felt in
his finger a prick like a pin.
"What nonsense!" said he to himself. "The fairy must
be making game of me. Why, what great evil have I done!
I, the master of a great empire, cannot I kick my own dog?"
A voice replied, or else Prince Cherry imagined it: "No,
sire; the master of a great empire has a right to do good, but
not evil. I—a fairy—am as much above you as you are above
your dog. I might punish you, kill you, if I chose; but I prefer
leaving you to amend your ways. You have been guilty
of three faults to-day—bad temper, passion, cruelty. Do better
The Prince promised, and kept his word awhile; but he had
been brought up by a foolish nurse who indulged him in every
way, and was always telling him that he would be a king one
day, when he might do as he liked in all things. He found
out now that even a king cannot always do that; it vexed him
and made him angry. His ring began to prick him so often
that his little finger was continually bleeding. He disliked this,
as was natural, and soon began to consider whether it would
not be easier to throw the ring away altogether than to be constantly
annoyed by it. It was such a queer thing for a king
to have always a spot of blood on his finger! At last, unable
to put up with it any more, he took his ring off and hid it
where he would never see it, and believed himself the happiest
of men, for he could now do exactly what he liked. He did
it, and became every day more and more miserable.
One day he saw a young girl so beautiful that, being always
accustomed to have his own way, he immediately determined
to espouse her. He never doubted that she would be only too
glad to be made a queen, for she was very poor. But Zelia—that
was her name—answered, to his great astonishment, that
she would rather not marry him.
"Do I displease you?" asked the Prince, into whose mind
it had never entered that he could displease anybody.
"Not at all, my Prince," said the honest peasant maiden.
"You are very handsome, very charming; but you are not like
your father the Good King. I will not be your queen, for you
would make me miserable."
At these words the Prince's love seemed all to turn to hatred.
He gave orders to his guards to convey Zelia to a prison
near the palace, and then took counsel with his foster brother,
the one of all his evil companions who most incited him to do
"Sire," said this man, "if I were in your majesty's place, I
would never vex myself about a poor silly girl. Feed her on
bread and water till she comes to her senses, and if she still
refuses you, let her die in torment, as a warning to your other
subjects should they venture to dispute your will. You will
be disgraced should you suffer yourself to be conquered by a
"But," said Prince Cherry, "shall I not be disgraced if I
harm a creature so perfectly innocent?"
"No one is innocent who disputes your majesty's authority,"
said the courtier bowing; "and it is better to commit an injustice
than allow it to be supposed you can ever be contradicted
This touched Cherry on his weak point—his good impulses
faded; he resolved once more to ask Zelia if she would marry
him, and if she again refused, to sell her as a slave. Arrived at
the cell in which she was confined, what was his astonishment
to find her gone! He knew not whom to accuse, for he had
kept the key in his pocket the whole time. At last the foster
brother suggested that the escape of Zelia might have been
contrived by an old man, Suliman by name, the Prince's former
tutor, who was the only one who now ventured to blame
him for anything that he did. Cherry sent immediately and
ordered his old friend to be brought to him loaded heavily
with irons. Then, full of fury, he went and shut himself up
in his own chamber, where he went raging to and fro, till
startled by a noise like a clap of thunder. The Fairy Candide
stood before him.
"Prince," said she in a severe voice, "I promised your
father to give you good counsels, and to punish you if you
refused to follow them. My counsels were forgotten, my punishments
despised. Under the figure of a man you have been
no better than the beasts you chase. Like a lion in fury, a
wolf in gluttony, a serpent in revenge, and a bull in brutality.
Take, therefore, in your new form the likeness of all these
Scarcely had Prince Cherry heard these words than to his
horror he found himself transformed into what the fairy
had named. He was a creature with the head of a lion, the
horns of a bull, the feet of a wolf, and the tail of a serpent.
At the same time he felt himself transported to a distant forest
where, standing on the bank of a stream, he saw reflected
in the water his own frightful shape, and heard a voice
"Look at thyself, and know that thy soul has become a
thousand times uglier even than thy body."
Cherry recognized the voice of Candide, and in his rage
would have sprung upon her and devoured her; but he saw
nothing, and the same voice said behind him:
"Cease thy feeble fury, and learn to conquer thy pride by
being in submission to thine own subjects."
Hearing no more, he soon quitted the stream, hoping at
least to get rid of the sight of himself; but he had scarcely
gone twenty paces when he tumbled into a pitfall that was
laid to catch bears; the bear hunters, descending from some
trees hard by, caught him, chained him, and, only too delighted
to get hold of such a curious-looking animal, led him along
with them to the capital of his own kingdom.
There great rejoicings were taking place, and the bear
hunters, asking what it was all about, were told that it was
because Prince Cherry, the torment of his subjects, had just
been struck dead by a thunderbolt—just punishment of all his
crimes. Four courtiers, his wicked companions, had wished to
divide his throne between them, but the people had risen up
against them and offered the crown to Suliman, the old tutor
whom Cherry had ordered to be arrested.
All this the poor monster heard. He even saw Suliman sitting
upon his own throne, and trying to calm the populace by
representing to them that it was not certain Prince Cherry was
dead; that he might return one day to reassume with honor
the crown which Suliman only consented to wear as a sort of
"I know his heart," said the honest and faithful old man;
"it is tainted, but not corrupt. If alive, he may yet reform,
and be all his father over again to you, his people, whom he
has caused to suffer so much."
These words touched the poor beast so deeply that he ceased
to beat himself against the iron bars of the cage in which the
hunters carried him about, became gentle as a lamb, and suffered
himself to be taken quietly to a menagerie, where were
kept all sorts of strange and ferocious animals—a place which
he had often visited as a boy, but in which he never thought
he should be shut up himself.
However, he owned he had deserved it all, and began to
make amends by showing himself very obedient to his keeper.
This man was almost as great a brute as the animals he had
charge of, and when he was in ill humor he used to beat them
without rhyme or reason. One day, while he was sleeping,
a tiger broke loose and leaped upon him, eager to devour him.
Cherry at first felt a thrill of pleasure at the thought of being
revenged; then, seeing how helpless the man was, he wished
himself free, that he might defend him. Immediately the doors
of his cage opened. The keeper, waking up, saw the strange
beast leap out, and imagined, of course, that he was going
to be slain at once. Instead, he saw the tiger lying dead, and
the strange beast creeping up and laying itself at his feet to be
caressed. But as he lifted up his hand to stroke it, a voice was
heard saying, "Good actions never go unrewarded"; and, instead
of the frightful monster, there crouched on the ground
nothing but a pretty little dog.
Cherry, delighted to find himself thus metamorphosed, caressed
the keeper in every possible way, till at last the man
took him up in his arms and carried him to the King, to
whom he related this wonderful story from beginning to end.
The Queen wished to have the charming little dog, and Cherry
would have been exceedingly happy could he have forgotten
that he was originally a man and a King. He was lodged most
elegantly, had the richest of collars to adorn his neck, and
heard himself praised continually. But his beauty rather
brought him into trouble, for the Queen, afraid lest he might
grow too large for a pet, took advice of dog doctors, who
ordered that he should be fed entirely upon bread, and that
very sparingly, so poor Cherry was sometimes nearly starved.
One day when they gave him his crust for breakfast, a fancy
seized him to go and eat it in the palace garden; so he took the
bread in his mouth and trotted away toward a stream which
he knew, and where he sometimes stopped to drink. But instead
of the stream he saw a splendid palace glittering with
gold and precious stones. Entering the doors was a crowd of
men and women magnificently dressed, and within there was
singing and dancing and good cheer of all sorts. Yet, however
grandly and gayly the people went in, Cherry noticed that
those who came out were pale, thin, ragged, half-naked, covered
with wounds and sores. Some of them dropped dead at
once; others dragged themselves on a little way and then lay
down, dying of hunger, and vainly begged a morsel of bread
from others who were entering in—who never took the least
notice of them.
Cherry perceived one woman who was trying feebly to
gather and eat some green herbs. "Poor thing!" said he
to himself; "I know what it is to be hungry, and I want my
breakfast badly enough; but still it will not kill me to wait
till dinner time, and my crust may save the life of this poor
So the little dog ran up to her and dropped his bread at her
feet; she picked it up and ate it with avidity. Soon she looked
quite recovered, and Cherry, delighted, was trotting back
again to his kennel when he heard loud cries, and saw a young
girl dragged by four men to the door of the palace, which
they were trying to compel her to enter. Oh, how he wished
himself a monster again, as when he slew the tiger!—for the
young girl was no other than his beloved Zelia. Alas! what
could a poor little dog do to defend her? But he ran forward
and barked at the men, and bit their heels, until at last they
chased him away with heavy blows. And then he lay down
outside the palace door, determined to watch and see what had
become of Zelia.
Conscience pricked him now. "What!" thought he, "I
am furious against these wicked men, who are carrying her
away, and did I not do the same myself? Did I not cast
her into prison and intend to sell her as a slave? Who knows
how much more wickedness I might not have done to her and
others if Heaven's justice had not stopped me in time?"
While he lay thinking and repenting, he heard a window
open, and saw Zelia throw out of it a bit of dainty meat.
Cherry, who felt hungry enough by this time, was just about
to eat it when the woman to whom he had given his crust
snatched him up in her arms.
"Poor little beast!" cried she, patting him, "every bit of
food in that palace is poisoned. You shall not touch a morsel."
At the same time the voice in the air repeated again, "Good
actions never go unrewarded"; and Cherry found himself
changed into a beautiful little white pigeon. He remembered
with joy that white was the color of the Fairy Candide, and
began to hope that she was taking him into favor again.
So he stretched his wings, delighted that he might now
have a chance of approaching his fair Zelia. He flew up to
the palace windows, and, finding one of them open, entered
and sought everywhere, but he could not find Zelia. Then,
in despair, he flew out again, resolved to go over the world
until he beheld her once more.
He took flight at once, and traversed many countries,
swiftly as a bird can, but found no trace of his beloved. At
length in a desert, sitting beside an old hermit in his cave and
partaking with him his frugal repast, Cherry saw a poor
peasant girl, and recognized Zelia. Transported with joy he
flew in, perched on her shoulder, and expressed his delight
and affection by a thousand caresses.
She, charmed with the pretty little pigeon, caressed it in her
turn, and promised it that, if it would stay with her, she would
love it always.
"What have you done, Zelia?" said the hermit, smiling;
and while he spoke the white pigeon vanished, and there stood
Prince Cherry in his own natural form. "Your enchantment
ended, Prince, when Zelia promised to love you. Indeed, she
has loved you always, but your many faults constrained her to
hide her love. These are now amended, and you may both
live happy if you will, because your union is founded upon
Cherry and Zelia threw themselves at the feet of the hermit,
whose form also began to change. His soiled garments became
of dazzling whiteness, and his long beard and withered
face grew into the flowing hair and lovely countenance of the
"Rise up, my children," said she; "I must now transport
you to your palace, and restore to Prince Cherry his father's
crown, of which he is now worthy."
She had scarcely ceased speaking when they found themselves
in the chamber of Suliman, who, delighted to find again
his beloved pupil and master, willingly resigned the throne,
and became the most faithful of his subjects.
King Cherry and Queen Zelia reigned together for many
years, and it is said that the former was so blameless and strict
in all his duties that though he constantly wore the ring which
Candide had restored him, it never once pricked his finger
enough to make it bleed.