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  • The Dark King1
    Page 2
    Continued from page 1

    The next morning she took the keys and went into one of the locked rooms, and there she found so many things to surprise and amuse her that she spent the whole day there, and the next day she examined another, and so on for quite three months together, and the locked room of which she had not the key she never thought of trying to enter. But all amusements tire at last, and at the end of this time she was so melancholy that she could do nothing but cry. Then the Dark King came again and asked her tenderly what she wanted.

    'I want nothing you can give me,' she replied this time. 'I am tired of being so long away from home. I want to go back home.'

    'But remember how badly you were clothed, and how poorly you fared,' replied the Dark King.

    'Ah, I know it is much pleasanter here,' said the girl, 'for all those matters, but one cannot do without seeing one's relations, now and then at least.'

    'If you make such a point of it,' answered the Dark King, 'you shall go home and see papa and mamma, but you will come back here. I only let you go on that condition.'

    The arrangement was accepted, and next day she was driven home in a fine coach with prancing horses and bright harness. Her appearance at home caused so much astonishment that there was hardly room for pleasure, and even her own mother would hardly acknowledge her; as for her sisters, they were so changed by her altered circumstances and so filled with jealousy they would scarcely speak to her. But when she gave her mother a large pot of gold which the Dark King had given her for the purpose, their hearts were somewhat won back to her, and they began to ask all manner of questions concerning what had befallen her during her absence. So much time had been lost at first, however, that none was left for answering them, and, promising to try and come back to them soon, she drove away in her splendid coach.

    Another three months passed away after this, and at the end of it she was once more so weary, her tears and cries again called the Dark King to her side.

    Again she confided to him that her great grief was the wish to see her friends at home. She could not bear being so long without them. To content her once more he promised to let her drive home the next day; and the next day accordingly she went home.

    This time she met with a better reception, and having brought out her pot of gold at her first arrival, everyone was full of anxiety to know how it came she had such riches at her disposal.

    'What that pot of money!' replied the girl, in a tone of disparagement. 'That's nothing. You should see the beautiful things that are scattered about in my new home, just like nothing at all;' and then she went on to describe the magnificence of the place, till nothing would satisfy them but that they should go there too.

    'That's impossible,' she replied. 'I promised him not even to mention it.'

    'But if he were got rid of, then we might come,' replied the elder sisters.

    'What do you mean by "got rid of"?' asked the youngest.

    'Why, it is evident he is some bad sort of enchanter, whom it would be well to rid the earth of. If you were to take this stiletto and put it into his breast when he is asleep, we might all come down there and be happy together.'

    'Oh, I could never do that!'

    1 'Il Rè Moro.'

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    Busk, R. H. Roman Legends: a Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome. Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1877. 99-109

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