The Melancholy Prince
Peregrinãrile Prinţului cel Trist
The Thread of Wanderings and Experiences
1. We know the Melancholy Prince and his little friends: Moshopal, the uncle Aurash, Arginviu and the other dwarfs and we find out how they were spending the time in the Palace of Crystal in the Empire of Fogs.
2. What the Melancholy Prince learns from the books of his forefathers and why he becomes still more melancholy. The dwarfs are afraid of losing him and burst out weeping.
3. The dwarfs run in search of the dragon Balaur but they do not find him. Moshopal decides to cut his beard.
4. How some dwarfs walking in front with Moshopal find the Balaur and how, fearfully, they come near him and arouse him putting him in the service of the Melancholy Prince.
5. To the thankfulness of the dwarfs, the Prince smiles for the firs time. He finds in the Faithful Balaur, a reliable companion and they both set out to face the wilderness.
6. We see how hard the road is and how many unforeseen perils are waiting for them on the way. They arrive at an island and the soul of the Melancholy Prince is full of bitterness.
7. What the Melancholy Prince learned about the Trees of Steel and how he became friendly with their daughters, the small transparent fairies. The Prince wasn’t sure if he was dreaming.
8. How on an island, on which to walk you had to draw aside the rays of sun by hand, the little golden fishes from the violet ocean wanted to fly like birds.
9. The Melancholy Prince and the Balaur arrive at a castle. We learn about the Prince with Black Eyes and his story.
10. We arrive together with our friends on a wonderful island. The most beautiful night from the life of the Melancholy Prince.
11. How the Frights who were living on the Wonderful Island were looking and how wicked they were. The Prince, turned into a stone by amazement forgets to defend himself and is caught and dragged before the Emperor Hain, master of that region.
12 What happened in the Gray Fortress and what a sly decision the emperor took. The Prince doesn’t know with what a heavy curse that one has cursed him and, again, remains alone.
13. The Melancholy Prince returns unhappier then ever to the castle. The dwarfs can not comfort him with presents, or with tales and they are full of grief as well. The Prince learns about the Gem which had the power to give life and that punishes wrong. He again goes at the run, in search of this.
14. How they, the Prince and the Balaur, have been swallowed by the immeasurable Apparition. The fight with gorged serpents on the tree in the stomach.
15. About the fight of the Prince with the Greedy Granny and how he was saved from servitude by the Rose with human voice.
16. We learn what a big deadlock came over the Spirit of Earth so that he couldn’t care for his duties. The Prince goes in search of the Blonde Princess.
17. How the Melancholy Prince arrived right in the heart of the mountain in which the dragon Smeu was sleeping and how he was delivered of the curse. The Balaur defeats the Smeu. Happy, the Spirit of Earth gives his daughter as wife to our Prince and, with contented heart, remains quietly to look after his jobs.
18. How under the power of the Life-giving Gem it subdued the Elements which had tried to kill our friend before. The longing for People of the Melancholy Prince is stronger still.
19. What unimaginable changes the Prince found on the Wonderful Island and whom he met at the peak of mountain.
20. The Hoary man felts what terrible happenings the people from the island passed together and how the Hain Emperor became all-powerful.
21. We learn what the multitude of stones from the island means. The Prince together with the Nephew of the Hoary Old-man go to fight the Frights.
22. We see how the spells of the Hain Emperor have no power against Blonde Princess and Hoary oldman. The Melancholy Prince and his companion fight heroically with countless flunkeys of the Master of the island.
23. The Hain Emperor turns into a crow. He is caught and compelled to undo the curse whith which he had tied the people.
24. How the Island regained its wonderful appearance and what is being told about the Palace of Wizards and the Fountain of Tears over centuries.
25. We return with our Prince to his castle and we enjoy seeing the dwarfs again. The Balaur descends to his cave to take rest in anticipation of other journeys
We know the Melancholy Prince and his little friends: Moshopal, the uncle Aurash, Arginviu and the other dwarfs and we find out how they were spending the time in the Palace of Crystal in the Empire of Fogs.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was an emperor of darkness of turbid waters and of storms. No life and you would meet other moving fogs and waters which rushed upon you inimically. The wind fowled so that your hair stood on end, mixing the chasms of the darkness with those of the waters.
Somewhere, far off, over hostile waters and menacing fogs appeared a wondrous rock, which boasted its summits of flint of high ever higher up, toughing at powerless waves which in vain were whirling and gnawing. The evil winds vainly warned against it; the claws of storms causing merely small scratches. Vainly the deepest fogs were gathering around to hide and frighten it: on the top of its cliffs, the rock was carrying with pride and care a palace of crystal which was shining like diamond and hounded out the dark abysses all around.
This place on the rock was so beautiful, so alluring that anyone, wandering on the turbid waves of waters, or seeing it, no matter how bereft of powers and hopes he were, would bow down to it as to a life giving one and would gain courage to fight the frights and the languor. But no one human soul had ever caught wigs seeing it because nobody had ever arrived up to the foot of the majestic rock before.
The palace was so big and so silent that, even when, a rare, steps sounded in its halls the echo was repeated hundreds of times, from room to room till it gradually became weaker and weaker and lost itself who knows in what unknown corners.
On the ceilings and walls of halls and endless corridors are discovered thousands of precious stones – which are clear as diamonds, others green like the eyes of savage beasts glassily in the night, others red like blood or blue as might were exist somewhere the sky – were spreading their light in hundreds of sparkles and nuances pleasant to the eye.
But, alas, no soul of man who enjoy and delight at those wonders was visible. In hall after hall if you would run, many days, you would meet nothing else than the silence and beautiful
lights of gems.
However, someone was living in this palace. Otherwise why would the flint of rock fight the winds to protect him? Yes,sometime, a pale, tall young man, with black hair and dreamy, sad eyes, was driving away in motionless silence carrying his paces over the flags of the palace. He was this Prince, of a strange beauty, to which nostalgia was giving a note of unreal. He was passing the years alone in his palace, reading and learning from the books of his forefathers, waiting for the day when he would go to them like a sweet liberation from the chain of solitude and silence. The Melancholy Prince didn’t know whether in the endlessness which was surrounding him there were existing somewhere other beings, and even if he had know, what could he do, alone, with no help, to reach them. A living desire and a longing which he didn’t understand were calling him and he did not know this was the longing for people like him, the longing for friends and love. How could he know it for he had always been alone and his face was never lit by a smile.
His only friends were the many dwarfs from the gorges of the rock, the masters of the riches which the flint was preserving since forgotten times. The dwarfs loved the Melancholy Prince strongly because he was good and gentle and with love listened their tales or the small deadlocks. Moreover when he was feeling strongly the pressure of loneliness and the tears stood ready to fall from his beautiful eyes like two sapphires he searched for the glib old men with beards longer then themselves and asked them either about one or the other trying to drive away his ennui and to relieve his sadness. Then his little friends excelled to enlighten his face with at list a smile. But as
much as they would strive, on the face of the Prince appeared only an odd and sad simper in the corner of the mouth.
Over the dwarfs stood Moshopal, old, old, as old as his beard had grown long of hundred ells, but he became smaller and smaller, so small that he could sleep in a wonderful blue flower,
not bigger then that from the ring of your mummy. All the dwarfs listened to his advise and teachings, because Moshopal was not only the oldest but also the wisest from them. And then, he was never irked at the tricks of the younger ones who, to speak the truth, weren’t babies, but, of course, much older than grandfather himself. Not merely the younger ones played pranks. Even Uncle Aurash the Littlegold, the one who took care that all the gold from the rock to be preserved for the coming times, even though his beard was as white as Moshopal’s and only a little shorter,
what do you think he had done not very long ago to the dear old thing? He had invited a few spiders and thought them how to weave their threads in the beard of Moshopal so that he wondered how his beard had grown so much while he was sleeping. Had he slept for a thousand years? Nay, seeing not so well without spectacles, he was thinking that his beard had passed over the window and fluttered like a flag in the surrounding darkness. And he wasn’t angry at all when he learned about the hoax, on the contrary, he laughed with more gusto than everybody.
For so were the dwarfs of that rock: when it came to jokes and anecdotes, nobody was as cheery as them; but when it came to work, then the big caves were resounding with their songs while they kept the rhythm with their hammers. And each of them, according to his name was busy with a particular gem or metal. The riches were amassing heap: here only diamonds big as hen's eggs, there rubies, there sapphires, near which are raised full knolls of gold and silver. So many and beautiful rarities I would never know and can scarcely remember. But more precious than all these treasures were the friendship and diligence of the span long old things and looking at them how cheerful they are, and what loving souls they have, behave as if you wanted to be like them also, not bigger than a finger, to have a little hammer as big as yourself and to mix among them at play and at work. It is true that some are like lean Arginviu, quicksilver who gathered from the cracks of stones the grains which were running among the fingers, and who was as giddy, fast and chargeable as the busting drops which he had to take care of. This Arginviu got angry sometimes. And once Arginviu got most irked either with his playful pearls, or with some dwarf hire who was drowning with laughter watching him spitefully as he was making himself thinner, obstinately after the ones which didn't get caught. But he quickly forgave, for Arginviu had a good cheerful heart and couldn't be angry more than a few seconds.
Their life was flowing silently now with tales, then with jokes and songs and I think our dwarfs would have been very happy if their good Prince were cheerful, and they didn't hear him sighing out with so much sadness.
We arrive together with our friends on a wonderful island. The most beautiful night from the life of the Melancholy Prince.
Now their strange voyage followed easier because many things had to say each other, many dreams that had brightened their solitudes, many hopes which empowered them to fight sadness and . Hardships of way seemed to them easier and this not because waters would have been less inimical or winds more gentle, but because the cheerfulness in their souls helped them to pass through all plagues with serenity and trust.
They both stood now on through the shrouds of darkness to lightnings full of mystery wich appeared sometimes in the distances, trying to imagine what kind of beings would have been living there, hoping always that somewhere on an island with clear skies and flowers of all colors,
in the end, will meet many, many of their fellow men, who they will know and with whom they wil befriend. Thus, nor did they know when they arrived in the vicinity of a Island that seemed to be just that at which they had dreamt.
The waters around it were quiet and blue. On the azure sky in the wind breeze ran rolls of white clouds. Its shores, as eyes could see, were covered by golden sand and farther it lengthened the green carpet of grass on which the most different flowers bloomed. Among trees all kinds of birdies flew, singing one more beautiful than other.
Getting down on the shore and seeing so much beauty and harmony, they said that on this island definitely they will meet those searched for, for too much the things were inviting and wonderful around them.
After they deliberated a while, they decided that the Melancholy Prince go and research the island, and his friend remain wit the Balaur on shore until he will return and will tell them what he found out.
And thus the Prince started alone toward greened forest which heightened further. Ever going and looking around him, he saw some details which, in first minutes, escaped to him: he saw how the small and beautifully singing birdies were watched by others big and black; saw how, by place, the beautiful flowers were invaded by high brambles, which were taking all their light and water. And he told himself that this island, between good and evil, between beautiful and ugly, it was carried a struggle on life and on death, a struggle which he, stranger for places from here, only looking with great attention, had observed.
Ever going and wondering, the night was falling and our Prince saw for the first time how on the clear sky shimmered billions of stars, far, far away, and he lengthened on grass, and lost his sights in the wonderful depth over him, trying to understand mysterious tremblings of the stars, which as if talked to him. And it was silence around him, only springs soughs and night wafts were heard.
Thus it started the most beautiful night in Prince's life, charmed night, in which the soul was full of edgeless enchantment, as never he had lived.
But over short time, when over the see the pale and magic face of moon arose, the Prince felt how everything around him takes life and quiver as possessed by spell. The trees, flowers, grass , all and everything seemed plated with silver, water of spring near by him had turned into quick silver, flowing far away, in the sea, following the light path which the moon had couched on the trembling little waves of waters.
And when the moon arrived toward middle of vault, from somewhere risen, full of never heard beauty, the magic song of a bird so little, that it got lost among leaves of trees. But what charm was spread from its trills! The heart of Prince started to sing as well, feeling how all fairy play from around gathers in its chalice, and to reverse out of it after, full of heat which has filled his soul, and his eyes bathed in tears of delight, seeing such edgeless beauty and peace.
After a while, the stars and moon started to fade, the sky started to en-light itself in horizon, and the dawn found the Prince still dizzy, by the night delight, night in which he merged with all grass and trees, with stars and sea, with spring water and wind breeze; night in which he had sung in nightingale song, had shinned in stars gleam, had ran toward moon with silvery waves of waters, quivered in wind with leaves and bathed his face with the silvery rain in moonlight at once with the flowers.
By day, the mirage from around spilled, but that in his soul remained there for all life.
How looked like the Fright who lived on the Wonderful Island and how they were mischief. The Prince, hardened himself, forgets to fend off and is caught and dragged in front of the the Hain Emperor, lord of that land.
At dawn, the Prince hit the road, amid a delightful forest. The trees, old and lordly, were charged with green leaves, squirrels and and songbirds who saw their affairs at shelter of the thick foliage. Some of the more curious, flashed with wonder their small heads among the twigs.
The playful squirrels accompanied him jumping from a tree to another, along the path which winded hidden in the pleasant shadow of the forest. In the glades full of sunshine and flowers met creatures he had never seen before: deers, bucks, bunnies, foxes, bears and many others which were living in the shelter of that forest cover. But no man!
When he got out of the forest in which the deers had kept him comradeship and shown him the path, in front of his eyes a wide plain opened, covered with boulders and strange shapes. At the edge of horizon the gray walls of a city arose. He went and went among those stones lying everywhere, some alone, others gathered several together, wondering what can be with that multitude of boulders, when, suddenly, he just saw before him, perched on a stab, an apparition which almost tousled his hair on head! It was a misshape who, at body looked somehow cracked, but, you see, it seemed like a man, but instead of head he had a big fist, which kept pressed a pole as all days, which he was rotating threateningly toward our Prince. This remained nailed to place in amazement and rubbed his eyes , not being able to believe that what he saw was really. The apparition howled as high as his fist kept him, crying to him rough words and calling his comrades to do him for. For, the apparition said, he would have come to steel food and from their richness, or maybe even with the thought to kill His Highness the Emperor.
At his outcries other few apparitions came, one stranger and noisier than other. Some of them looked like the first one, others, however, had not at all head, but just on their swollen bellies opened a big mouth, shouting that they want him, to eat it alive. Only that these, with all their mouths as penthouse, could not do big thing alone, for they were like some swollen barrels, put on two thin legs, like of stork – barely could keep them up! - that you wondered how don't they break under the big weight of bellies as barrels. As about hands, what to speak any more that they were long and sapless, and weren't able to work anything else, but only to throw always in unsaturated mouth, mouthful after mouthful.
Other fearful apparitions had one foot on the shoulders and believed themselves so clever with such pates, demanding to the others, which seemed to be a kind of bosses, to catch on the Prince and bring him to the trial in front of Emperor, accusing him that was walking with♪
heads by down, for they said that the two legs of the Prince would be his heads, and that it was murder of les-Majesty to have someone more than just a head, while they, so big councilors of His Highness, had only one, and kept it in high esteem, on shoulders and not derided it leashing it through the dust! How walked they? Well, they didn't walk! They had two thin scrawny legs of frog, hopping hither and thither, of more laughter!
The Prince couldn't believe to his eyes, seeing such misshapes, evil and ugly, just on the island which charmed him so much with beauty and peace of its nights. But after he saw that the apparitions gather around him, ready-ready to strike him down with stones and bats, and to fasten him with ropes, opened his moth to tell them how did he arrived there and he has no thought to cause them any trouble. But as if he had to whom to speak! Nobody listened to his words, but each searched how to flap him better with the stone or to throw the noose of rope. And look at our poor Prince, who, by amazement, had forgotten even to defend himself, or to take the run toward forest, fastened tightly and full of blood because of stones.
After making this job, the apparitions, which were enough numerous, sat on boulder to draw their souffle, for powers didn't helped them so much. And, while taking rest, they started to argue, who out of them to take the prisoner in charge. Those with hands on shoulder said that he is theirs, that one of them had seen him the first, and hardly waited to seize with their big fists, which kept place of heads, and to tear him up. Those with moths on the belly said that he is theirs, for they are more numerous and that without them they would never have caught, and their slobbers flown of appetite. Those who believed themselves most intelligent, for, see you God, they had the legs on the shoulders, with which to judge, and which, I believe, were the proteges of the Emperor, because finally all the other apparitions listened of them, said that he must be carried and judged by His Highness, who will decide also what punishment will be applied to him.
Meanwhile the Prince asked himself repeatedly for which guilt want they to judge and punish him, because he didn't know himself guilty for wrong deed and nor of a bad thought and needed much time until to understand that this was the nature of the Apparitions from the Wonderful Island: full of rapacity, of wiliness and of wickedness.
The Apparition sat up taking each from where they could the ropes which kept tied the Prince, and, mostly dragging him and drawing him into all parts, directed themselves limping along toward the gray palace.
The Hoary man felts what terrible happenings the people from the island passed together and how the Hain Emperor became all-powerful.
Long ago, on the island, there were living lots of people, strong, beautiful and good. They were living in peace, everybody watching after his own affairs: some plowing the earth, some grazing the cattle, some were building houses, all the things to make life easier. And so, many centuries passed in happiness and peace. But one day, from the depth of a distant marsh a bad and ugly Shtima has come together with her sniper-snapper, an apparition of a child, big of head, feeble of body, and so bad and cleaver that only his mother outstripped him. This deformed and soulless sorceress wanted to make her son an emperor over the Wonderful Island.
First she hid in the depth of the forest, in a cave, and from here the dame simulated beggar going to the houses of people allegedly to gain a crust of bread, but in fact with another scheme in mind. She ran day after day, ever praying here and there and met all sorts of people. Many manly men gave her some food, and some cloth to cover herself in the cold. More, some of them told her that she could remain with them, that they would take care of her and she would miss nothing. But you see, the dame knew what she needed. As much as the people showed themselves as pitiful and soulful the more the which hated them with her black heart. Very rarely, she found herself at houses where she wasn't received: the master was driving her away with the dogs, and with the pole fearing she must steal something from the courtyard; another as soon as he saw her coming started rapidly swallowing un-chewed all the dainties from the table, greedy for even a cramp of bread which might be asked by the old woman. And the proxy did meet some others stupid like sheep but who were boasting about their cleverness, others pretended, liars and fluttering ones; others so quarrelsome that you wondered their neighbors didn’t have peace.
But I must tell you that there were only a few such men at that time. And even they weren’t very sinful. You see, as soon as the old woman came close to them all the wrong hidden in their souls came to the surface about which even they didn’t know till then. The sorceress remembered them and came again and again although those men didn’t try at least to stifle the bad propensities, all the time becoming worse and worse.
In the night, the old woman was going to her cave where her misshapen son was asking her when will she put at last emperor and how much longer will keep him hidden in that underground
cave. The dame was starting magic and spells and on the next day went right to those whom she liked and was dropped on the gate of each a few drops from the boiled and spelled
And as today, so tomorrow those men with faults fall more attracted by this old woman and searched trying to enter in her will that the magics had taken possession of them. And they begun to follow day after day till the old plague gathered all of them into her cave. They have gone after her, women and men no one worse and more rascal then the other, leaving children and houses and lands, wanting no more to know about anything but the cheating of the dime who promised falsely to one- power, to another – food and drink, but to others – immeasurable riches flurrying the minds of all that they held on to her word. When she brought the last scoundrel in the cave the dame invited all of them to dinner, trifling them that now they will see the one whowill fulfill all their lusts and so take care not to miss anything.
I forgot to tell you that the dame had prepared before a charmed drink which she poured in their food, when they stayed at the table and started to feast they turned in to all sorts of mishaps as bad as the defects in them souls to some in lieu of a head; appeared fist, as big as a club for others only the belly remained; to others who were pretending to be wise she put a leg instead of a head; what more, not even one was looking now like a man. And instantly, what smattering of goodness and honesty had still remained in them now disappeared and only the evil was master over their souls.
When the sorceress brought her son telling them that from now onwards they were his servants, who is their emperor and of whose orders they must listen all of them fell down on their
knees in front of him and no one remembered that sometime he was a free man and didn’t know any master other than his own will. Each tried to outdo the other in flattering to obtain the
mean desires of their souls.
The emperor was overjoyed! Immediately rowed them four by four and begun to order them like a general. He wanted to go with his army just then to destroy all the living and the good and to take the whole island in possession.
Then the sorceress charmed once again to make them always victorious and always obedient to her son and all of them left the cave.
They found a marvelous place, in which the wheat, dense like the brush was rocking in the breath of the wind and when the dame muttered a charm the land turned into a desert full of stones where no living thing moved.
Here the fresh emperor set his servants to build a big palace but around it were rising, stately, the houses of the dignitaries and the more miserable ones, of the lay servants. They have
surrounded all with a strong wall and all around was turned intostone and ash.
Once installed among his servants, the emperor started to learn from his mother all the evil bringing charms and spells. He went on learning till the dame told him, ready, now he knows all and she has nothing more to teach him. Then her son watched her till she went asleep, and with his devilish power poured on her a venom which turned the sorceress into a little heap of black ashes.
Translation by George Anca