| Good Luck Is Better Than Gold |
"WITS AND work!" cried the indignant godson. "You speak well--truly! A hillman would have made a better godfather. Give me as much gold as will fill three meal-bins, and you may keep the rest of your help for those who want it."
Now at this moment by Good Luck stood Dame Fortune. She likes handsome young men, and there was some little jealousy between her and the godfather so she smiled at the quarrel.
"You would rather have had me for your gossip?" said she.
"If you would give me three wishes, I would," replied the farmer boldly, "and I would trouble you no more."
"Will you make him over to me?" said Dame Fortune to the godfather.
"If he wishes it," replied Good Luck. "But if he accepts your gifts he has no further claim on me."
"Nor on me either," said the Dame. "Hark ye, young man, you mortals are apt to make a hobble of your three wishes, and you may end with a sausage at your nose, like your betters."
"I have thought of it too often," replied the farmer, "and I know what I want. For my first wish I desire imperishable beauty."
"It is yours," said Dame Fortune, smiling as she looked at him.
"The face of a prince and the manners of a clown are poor partners," said the farmer. "My second wish is for suitable learning and courtly manners, which cannot be gained at the plough-tail."
"You have them in perfection," said the Dame, as the young man thanked her by a graceful bow.
"Thirdly," said he, "I demand a store of gold that I can never exhaust."
"I will lead you to it," said Dame Fortune; and the young man was so eager to follow her that he did not even look back to bid farewell to his godfather.
He was soon at court. He lived in the utmost pomp. He had a suit of armour made for himself out of beaten gold. No metal less precious might come near his person, except for the blade of his sword. This was obliged to be made of steel, for gold is not always strong enough to defend one's life or his honour. But the Princess still loved the Prince of Moonshine.
"Stuff and nonsense!" said the King. "I shall give you to the Prince of Gold."
"I wish I had the good luck to please her," muttered the young Prince. But he had not, for all his beauty and his wealth. However, she was to marry him, and that was something.
The preparations for the wedding were magnificent.
"It is a great expense," sighed the King, "but then I get the Prince of Gold for a son-in-law."
The Prince and his bride drove round the city in a triumphal procession. Her hair fell over her like sunshine, but the starlight of her eyes was cold.
In the train rode the Prince of Moonshine, dressed in silver, and with no colour in his face.
As the bridal chariot approached one of the city gates, two black ravens hovered over it, and then flew away, and settled on a tree.
Good Luck was sitting under the tree to see his godson's triumph, and he heard the birds talking above him.
"Has the Prince of Gold no friend who can tell him that there is a loose stone above the archway that is tottering to fall?" said they. And Good Luck covered his face with his mantle as the Prince drove through.
Just as they were passing out of the gateway the stone fell on to the Prince's head. He wore a casque of pure gold, but his neck was broken.
"We can't have all this expense for nothing," said the King: so he married his daughter to the Prince of Moonshine. If one can't get gold one must be content with silver.
"Will you come to the funeral?" asked Dame Fortune of the godfather.
"Not I," replied Good Luck. "I had no hand in 'this' matter."
The rain came down in torrents. The black feathers on the ravens' backs looked as if they had been oiled.
"Caw! caw!" said they. "It was an unlucky end."
However, the funeral was a very magnificent one, for there was no stint of gold.