“The magician you have so long sought,” said the godfather. “I have come to reclaim my gift.”
“What cruelty led you to bestow it upon me?” asked the prince.
“The king, your father, would have been dissatisfied with any ordinary present from me,” said the magician, “forgetting that the responsibilities of common gifts, and very limited power, are more than enough for most men to deal with. But I have not neglected you. I was the wise woman who brought you up. Again, I was the hermit, as your dog was sage enough to discover. I am come now to reclaim what has caused you such suffering.”
“Alas!” cried the prince, “why is your kindness so tardy? If you have not forgotten me, why have you withheld this benefit till it is too late for my happiness? My friend is dumb, my wife is dead, my dog is hanged. When wishes cannot reach these, do you think it matters to me what I may command?”
“Softly, prince,” said the magician; “I had a reason for the delay. But for these bitter lessons you would still be the slave of the violent temper which you have conquered, and which, as it was no gift of mine, I could not remove. Moreover, when the spell which made all things bend to your wish is taken away, its effects also are undone. Godson! I recall my gift.”
As the magician spoke the glass sides of the coffin melted into the air, and the princess sprang up, and threw herself into her husband’s arms. The dog also rose, stretched himself, and wagged his tail. The dumb nobleman ran to tell the good news to the king, and all the counsellors came back in a long train from the bottom of the sea, and set about the affairs of state as if nothing had happened.
The old king welcomed his children with open arms, and they all lived happily to the end of their days.
THE WIDOWS AND THE STRANGERS.
In days of yore, there were once two poor old widows who lived in the same hamlet and under the same roof. But though the cottages joined and one roof covered them, they had each a separate dwelling; and although they were alike in age and circumstances, yet in other respects they were very different. For one dame was covetous, though she had little to save, and the other was liberal, though she had little to give.
Now, on the rising ground opposite to the widows’ cottages, stood a monastery where a few pious and charitable brethren spent their time in prayer, labour, and good works. And with the alms of these monks, and the kindness of neighbours, and because their wants were few, the old women dwelt in comfort, and had daily bread, and lay warm at night.
One evening, when the covetous old widow was having supper, there came a knock at her door. Before she opened it she hastily put away the remains of her meal.
“For,” said she, “it is a stormy night, and ten to one some belated vagabond wants shelter; and when there are victuals on the table every fool must be asked to sup.”