The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Princess Ida: A Fairy Tale for Little Folks

By James Petrie.
Volume 2, 1891/92, pg. 860-873


A long time ago, in a land far away from here, in a beautiful palace surrounded by delightful gardens, lived King Greatheart and Queen All-love.

Amongst the King's servants there was one called "Knowall," who was a great magician, a man able to tell what was going to happen, and who could do the most wonderful things, and one day the King came to him and said, "Knowall, I've been very much troubled lately; my good wife, the Queen, has set her heart on having at the palace a little Princess to live with us, and it is my delight to gratify her every wish, but, although a king, in some things I am powerless. All this I have told her, and now she requests me to consult with you, knowing that you will do all we ask if it is right. Here I am, therefore, and I must ask you to grant this request of her Majesty the Queen."

The King was always very polite, and always careful when speaking to others of the Queen to call her "Her Majesty," and this made all the attendants equally respectful to both King and Queen.

Lord Knowall looked at the King, and could not help smiling; no doubt feeling his own great power, and that what was so difficult for the King would be easy for him; so he said, "May it please your Majesty, the thing you ask is no small thing. Will you undertake to bring up this Princess in every right way; to make her good and great as your father and mother made you a good and great man?"

"This," said the King, "we will promise without any hesitation, and you will live to see the promise fulfilled."

This answer so pleased the magician that he decided to grant the request. Whereupon he took the good King out into the beautiful garden, and pointing upwards, far away above the high mountain tops that surrounded the palace at some distance, asked his Majesty if he could see what looked like a white fleecy cloud. The King told him he saw it, but had never seen one like it before. "Very likely not," said the magician, "for that is the house of the Great White Storks, and from that home I shall summon the little Princess. But," he went on to say, "before I do so you must make all preparations to receive her, and if you will send to me her Majesty the Queen's lady-in-waiting, I will tell her what will be required." With this the King bowed, and did not forget to thank the good magician before going into the palace to tell the Queen all that had passed, and to send the lady-in-waiting to the magician.

I must now leave them making the arrangements for receiving the baby Princess, and take you up to the white fleecy cloud, the home of the Great White Storks.


In a large hall were gathered many storks to discuss an important question. One of them, called "Strong-wing," who sat on a sort of throne, with his spectacles on, looking very wise, rapped on the desk before him with his bill, calling out "Attention!" Silence followed, and when all was quiet he addressed them as follows: "Gentlemen, I have received an important command from the great magician, Lord Knowall, who is now staying at the palace of the good King Greatheart. One of us is to take to the Queen All-love one of our most lovely Princess babies; so, according to our usual customs, let us select the one who shall perform this journey."

Hereupon Strong-wing sat down, and those assembled put their heads together, and for some time nothing was heard but a continual chatter, chatter, chatter, showing the great interest that was taken in the matter.

At length there was silence, and one of them walked slowly up to the desk and informed Strong-wing that they had come to the decision that the stork called "Snow-white," who was the grandson of the "Queen Stork," so called because it was she who took Queen All-love to her mother, was the most fit and proper to make the journey. At this Snow-white was summoned and made aware of the trust that was placed in him, and very proud he felt.

Once more Strong-wing demanded attention by rapping on the desk with his bill, and said, "Snow-white, you are young and strong, but know not yet all you have to meet in this journey; our brother storks will see that you are in every way prepared, and I can only say, keep a straight course, do your duty, and turn not to the right or the left; then, when you return to us, and can say you have safely delivered your charge to the magician Knowall, you shall be welcomed home with the ancient honours and customs which you well know; but, should you fail in your duty, the penalty is, as you also know, that you are shut out from us for ever, and must not return to Storkland. There have been failures, as you may see by those of our tribe now living in the land you are bound for."

Continuing to address Snow-white he said, "Soon after you leave here you pass through the land of the Invisibles, so called by us because they are invisible to all save ourselves. The Invisibles are composed of two bands or armies, one that works for good, and one for evil; you will easily know the good from the bad by their colours, the good are white, the bad are black. Our Princess babe's after life depends very much upon which of the Invisibles accompany you to the palace; should the black do so it will be easiest for her to be bad, but should the white be your companions it will be easiest for her to be good. When I tell you this I need not say you must do your best to get the white Invisibles to accompany you. By this time they will have heard of the journey you are going to make, and will be getting their forces together for battle. You now know the perils you have to encounter, the value of your charge, the importance of your journey, and the consequences of failure; are you quite prepared and willing to undertake this journey?"

Snow-white, who had listened throughout to the speech of his chief with bowed head and respectful attitude, now raised his head and resumed his proud and dignified air, declaring his willingness to risk all perils and bear the consequences of failure, adding that he was proud that he had been the one chosen for this task. This speech was received by all assembled with great pleasure, and Strong-wing sitting down requested the others to see that Snow-white was duly prepared and fully equipped for his journey.

Upon this all the storks came crowding round Snow-white. Some examined his wings, some his legs, and some the head and body; all expressed their satisfaction, and after old grandmother "Queen Stork" had looked him well over and inspected the nice soft downy spot under the wing, and pronounced it "just beautiful," all declared that Snow-white was fit for the charge.

And now a most important proceeding took place; the "Queen Stork" mysteriously disappeared, and you and I, little reader, will follow her, for when she returned she had her long neck entwined round what appeared to be a bundle of soft white feathers.

When Queen Stork had declared Snow-white to be quite ready for his charge she, unseen by the others, went first to her own house and soon came out with this bundle of white feathers, which she carried very carefully, then she began to go up, and up, and up, till she was lost to sight even if anybody had been looking; soon she came to the place she had set out for, which was "the land that always was," and from this land, which abounded in precious and everlasting jewels, she selected a jewel which she placed in the very centre of the little bundle she carried. This she did because she knew that without this jewel her babe as it grew up would not be able to have any higher enjoyment than her own pet lamb or her !@#$%^&* cat; and the babes that left the home of the storks were furnished each with one of these precious jewels. When once placed in the centre of the little bundle it was hidden from sight until it was brought back again to the land it was taken from, and then it was sure to be either brighter or duller than before. This jewel was able to give the wearer the greatest happiness or the greatest misery, the brighter it was kept the happier would be the possessor, and the duller it was kept the more miserable would he be; all good things brightened it, and all bad things dulled it. The wise old storks knew all about this, and so they made sure that every child that left their land had this jewel in safe keeping.

As soon as the jewel was safely hidden Queen Stork gathered up her charge once more, and in a short time appeared before the others and at once prepared to fasten her bundle in the soft downy spot under Snow-white's wing, tying it with the magic band and knot which could only be unloosed by the magician.

At length, when all was completed, a great bell was sounded, and all the storks in the country came flying in flocks till the sky was clouded over, making the people at the palace think it was night time. They came in hundreds and thousands, and, when all were congregated, Snow-white stood up with his charge ready for his departure, the whole multitude of storks with one voice wishing him "God-speed and a safe journey." With a graceful sweep of his wings Snow-white then began his journey. I must now tell you about the "Invisibles" before he gets amongst them.


The Invisibles lived at the very top of the highest mountain, which was nearly always in the clouds, and they were so small that the people living on this earth could not see them. They dwelt in great numbers in their unseen land, but so great had their number become that they occupied this earth, also, in untold millions. Although unseen, they were never idle, and all were working hard either for good or evil. Some were brightening the jewels from "the land that always was," and some were making them so dull you hardly knew they were there. Their home being so near the "Cloud Home" of the storks they soon got news of all that was going on there, and made their plans accordingly, for as soon as ever the magician unfastened the magic band which bound up the bundle under the wing of the stork, so soon did their influence over the child begin. It was quite true, as Strong-wing told Snow-white, that there were two armies of them, and these two armies were always fighting for the mastery.

The news has reached them that Snow-white is about to set out on his journey with the baby Princess, reported to be the most beautiful that had ever attempted the journey through their land. This added special interest to the result of the battle which was now raging hotly between the Black and White Invisibles. They were each led by their commanders, the White by Commander Love, and the Black by Commander Hate. Commander Love had proved successful when Queen Stork had passed through their country with her babe, who was now Queen All-love, and, knowing this baby was going to Queen All-love, he was particularly anxious to be victorious on this occasion. Both sides had their commanding officers, Commander Love being well supported by Major Patience and Captain Meekness and several lieutenants, the most notable being Lieutenant Contentment, and these led the powerful army of Happiness. On the other side, the army of Misery and Discontent was led by Commander Hate, well backed up by Major Selfishness and Captain Pride, Lieutenant Laziness and others giving good assistance. They were both very formidable armies, but the army of Discontent at this time greatly outnumbered the army of Happiness, and the chances were very much against Snow-white's being able to get through with his charge accompanied by the White Invisibles only.

As Snow-white made his appearance he was hailed with a shout by the army of Discontent, who were for the moment victorious. Oh! how poor Snow-white did battle to get clear of the Black army, but they crowded round him in masses, and, do as he would they would cling to him. He had nearly got through their land when the Whites once more made a great rally, though the chances of success were so much against them. The effort was almost fruitless; the Blacks thought it was quite vain, for they raised a shout of triumph. The bulk of the White army also thought it had been a fruitless charge; in fact, all but Commander Love declared that the battle was lost, and the call for retreat was sounded. When all was over their losses were numbered; none of the officers were missing excepting Commander Love, their noble commander; where was he? Had he been killed, and was their army ever afterwards to fight without him?

Snow-white pursued his way, and Commander Hate told off Pride and Selfishness to accompany him to the palace.

Was Commander Love really dead? No, little reader, he was not; and I'll tell you where he was, so that you will know before his own army found out. In the excitement of that last charge he had seen a favourable chance to outwit his enemies, and, aided by Snow-white's quick eye, he took advantage of it. He had slipped unseen right into the bundle of feathers under Snow-white's wing. Little did Commander Hate know that his rival was in such a snug hiding place when he ordered only Pride and Selfishness to go to the palace; had he known, you may be sure he would have gone himself.

Now, although Commander Love had secured such a good hiding-place, he knew he would have to leave it as the Princess grew up. Still something had been gained; he could stay with her some years, and during that time he determined to brighten up the unseen jewel, so that when he left her she could more easily keep it bright herself.

Snow-white kept steadily on his way, and without any further adventure he arrived safely at the palace, and tapped with his bill to be let in at the window where he saw a bright light, and was glad enough that his journey was at an end.

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Great were the rejoicings in the palace the next morning when it was known that a baby Princess had arrived; and the two people most delighted were the good King and Queen.

But where was Commander Love? and Pride and Selfishness? We have not far to look for Commander Love, he had kept close to his little charge, but the other two, knowing their power, had been content for the present to go no further than the window. They had won their battle and were willing to wait awhile before making their power felt.

The King on coming to see the Queen and the little baby Princess was struck with the intense look of love and happiness resting on the Queen's face. No need to ask "Where was Commander Love?"--there he was making himself felt sure enough, and if your eyes were only good enough, little reader, there you would have seen him resting very cosily in the most lovely little dimple you ever saw, a dimple in the cheek of this beautiful baby Princess.


After the christening, which we must pass over, nothing of any great importance happened to our little Princess until the eve of her fourth birthday. During these first four years of her life she had learned to walk and to talk, and naturally she had grown very much. Everybody loved her, she was so good and beautiful, her childish happy prattle had gone to the hearts of all about her, and her nurse in particular thought she was the best and most lovely child ever born. And so she was, but alas! I am sorry to say it was not always to be so. A change came over her, which began on the eve of her fourth birthday. She had gone to bed and was lying in her nice little cot when she thought she heard a small silver bell-like voice (perhaps she was dreaming, who knows?) saying, "Good-bye, I must leave you now, but whenever you really want me I will come back to you." She could not understand this voice at all; it did not make her feel one bit afraid, but she wondered who it was that spoke so gently, and where the voice came from. You and I know who it was. It was Commander Love. He was obliged to leave her, having received a most pressing call from his army. Patience and the other officers had been doing their best, but they sent word that unless Love came again to lead the army of Happiness they would be driven out of existence, so he was obliged to go, and now he was taking leave of Princess Ida. She lay quite still and listened, and when she again heard the voice saying, "Good-bye," she sat up and looked about her, replying "Where are you? Who are you? I've never seen you, I don't know you at all, so how can I say good-bye to you? Tell me who you are and let me see you, please." The soft musical voice answered her, "I am Commander Love; I command the army of Happiness. I know you have never seen me because you can't, but you have felt me every day since you came to this palace. I came with you four years ago and have never left you yet, but now I am obliged to leave you."

"How strange it is I cannot see you," said the Princess. "Why can't I see you? Do tell me, please, what you are like."

"In shape," said the voice, "I am like nothing you have ever seen or ever will see in this world, and you can't see me, because no mortals can see me, but I can be felt. When your beautiful mother kisses you, and puts her arms round you, and you put your little arms round her neck, what do you feel then?"

"What do I feel?" said the Princess. "Let me see." Then shutting her eyes quite tight, she said, "Oh, yes, I know, I fee something go right through me that makes me feel so happy and contented, and makes me want more kisses and more hugs."

"Yes, yes, that's it, that is I," said Commander Love; "but I can't stay longer now, I must go."

"Stay," said the Princess, "tell me before you go, shan't I feel happy like that any more if you go?"

"Oh! yes," replied the voice, "often, always, if you like. I only want to say one thing more, remember this, my dear Princess, never, never forget it, that my power is such that whenever you really and truly want me you have only to say so in your heart and I shall be with you again and drive off all my old enemies once more.

Then she heard the voice, getting fainter and fainter, saying, "Good-bye, don't forget; good-bye, don't forget," and she remembered nothing more until she awoke the next morning and found it broad daylight, and many beautiful presents were round her bed, reminding her that this was the morning of her fourth birthday.


In our last chapter we left our little Princess surrounded by her presents on her fourth birthday, and we must now follow her until she becomes quite grown up. Amongst the presents was a beautiful doll, a present from her mother, which pleased her better than any of the rest. She couldn't let it out of her hands for a minute, and for the first time in her life her nurse got impatient with her. As soon as she was dressed she was off to her mother's room, but on the way, having to pass a large mirror in the hall, she stopped to look at herself. She had gone past this mirror many times before, but had never thought of stopping; this time she stood and admired herself, and for the first time thought how pretty she was, and what a pretty dress she had on. "And how beautiful you are too, Dolly, but not nearly so nice as I; your eyes can't look as mine can. No, I'm nicer than you, my dolly." Just then she heard a voice laughing very rudely, "Ha! ha! ha!" She soon reached her mother's room and there found the King and Queen ready to receive her thanks and kisses for their presents, and delighted to find that the doll pleased her so much. She had a birthday party, and little boys and girls, princes and princesses, some of them, like herself, came to her party. Somehow, it was not quite so nice as she expected; another little princess told her that she had a nicer and a bigger doll than hers at home, then she thought she was neglected because the older children who understood games better got more attention than she did. But she said to herself, "I don't care, I'm sure I'm nicer than they are, because everybody says so." Before she went to bed she told her mother that when she had another birthday party there were some of her visitors she would not ask again. When her mother went to give her her good-night kiss in bed, she found that her little pet had not been quite so happy as she expected; but her mother explained to her that her little companions had not intended to be unkind, and that it was only natural they should play with those they got the most enjoyment from, and that as her little Ida grew up to be a big girl, she must try to learn how to please others, then she would be happy herself. This made our little Princess feel happier, and she went off to sleep dreaming of Commander Love.

Many more birthdays came and went, and Ida was beginning to grow into a big Princess, and those about her told her she got more beautiful every day. Pride and Selfishness kept pretty close to her during all the years she was growing up. Her nurse, perhaps, was the first to notice the effect of their presence; she found it very hard to please her at times, her playthings were all wrong, or her dresses were not right, and instead of being kind and loving towards her nurse, she delighted in never allowing her to forget that she was Princess Ida.

She very seldom remembered her promise to Commander Love that she would "never forget him." I am sorry to say that she learnt to think it very nice indeed to be thought more beautiful than anybody else. She sometimes had playmates with her, and her great delight was to make them feel that she was better and more beautiful than they were; but there came a time when these playmates enjoyed themselves more when they were playing with somebody else, and at last our little Princess began to feel miserable.

By this time she was fifteen years of age; she had gone through most of her schooling, having for her principal teacher a learned and pious master, who tried his best to make her good; but beyond teaching her what was to be found in his books he made very little progress, and she became discontented with herself and everybody else.

I don't want you to think that Commander Love had never been near her at all during this time; he had been many times; at first very often. He came oftenest when she sat on her mother's knee listening to a story or being kissed and petted by her good mother; but as she grew older she listened more to her two other attendants, and began to think that she was getting too big for that sort of pleasure. Greatly to her sorrow the Queen saw that her daughter was not giving her her confidence as of old. The change from great happiness to being miserable and discontented had been so gradual she had hardly noticed what was going on during the eleven years that had passed since her fourth birthday.

One day she sat by herself thinking; she was all alone in her own room-a beautiful room furnished with every comfort. While she sat there her mother came in, and noticing her unhappy looks asked her what was the matter. Then Princess Ida began to tell of her troubles, how that all her friends had deserted her, and she didn't know what to do with herself, and altogether felt very miserable.

She certainly felt happier after telling her mother her troubles, but she could not understand how it would add to her happiness to forget all about herself and think of others. "How can I do that, I wonder?" she said to herself when once more alone; "I'm better than anybody about me; everybody knows that. Why am I so miserable though? I get everything I ask for, no matter what it is. I can't understand it; I was much happier when I was very little, I am sure, for I can remember being always so very, very happy. Let me see, how long ago was that? a long, long time ago it seems to me now." And then her mind carried her back to what she heard when she was lying in her little cot on the night previous to her fourth birthday, and this made her think more and more of what was said then, and thinking about it she fell asleep.

When asleep she had a dream, which was so vivid that she remembered it all when she awoke. She thought she was in a beautiful garden, the most beautiful she had ever seen, and she began to gather flowers, but when she plucked a flower it faded as soon as she touched it; flower after flower she gathered, but she only found a nosegay of dead flowers in her hand. What was the matter with her hand that made the flowers fade so? She looked at it, but only saw what she thought was the most beautiful hand in the world. "But why did they fade?" she asked herself. I'll try again, she thought, and taking hold of the prettiest flower she could see she plucked it, but before she could put it with the rest, it had faded too. Then she began to feel afraid, and looked up into the trees for some company from the birds, but as she looked the birds ceased their singing and flew away. Then she felt more lonely than ever. On turning down another path she heard voices, children's voices, and as she got nearer she saw that they came from a little boy and girl who had their arms full of beautiful flowers. She saw that what they gathered did not wither. She determined to speak to them, so walked forward, and calling to them said "Little ones, tell me who you are and whose garden is this we are in?" The little ones looked at her in astonishment, but on her repeating the question they said, "This, your Royal Highness, is our Father's , and it is called the Garden of Love." Just when they said this another figure appeared, and both little ones called out "This is our Father." Then Princess Ida, looking, saw what she thought was the kindest face she had ever looked upon. She thought it was her father's and her mother's face as it were in one; and the figure wore a crown of sparkling gems. Advancing, he said, "Yes, the little ones are right, this is the Garden of Love. All the beautiful things you see here are grown by Love, and if any hand but that of Love touches them they fade. I see you have got some faded flowers in your hand, which tells me you are not fit to enjoy these beauties, and if you stay our garden will become a wilderness. I am sorry, but I must ask you to go away." Princess Ida listened to this and her spirit began to rebel. She though, "I! Princess Ida! not good enough for this garden, and those little children allowed to play here. He doesn't know me; I must tell him who I am." So she spoke up and asked him if he knew to whom he was speaking when he said that she was not fit to be there. To her astonishment he told her he knew all about her, both who she was and what she was, and further, he told her there had been a time when he would have bid her welcome to his beautiful garden, but that was a long time ago, before she was four years old. "You had then with you Commander Love, and he would never have been with you if you had not been fit to come here, but I am sorry to say I must tell you once more to go. Come, my children, let us leave her." Then they vanished, and she thought that all around her began to fade away, the grass withered under her feet and all was desolate. At this she awoke and sat up, not knowing really where she was, to find herself in her own beautiful room, but she could not forget her dream. All the next day the thought of this dream clung to her, and when she retired next night it was uppermost in her thoughts, so it was little wonder that she had another dream. This time she thought she had got to the gates of the beautiful garden, and there she saw three men fighting, but it was two to one. "Who are they, I wonder?" A voice replied "One is Commander Love, and he is fighting Pride and Selfishness." "But why are they fighting, and what are they fighting about?" she asked. "Can't you see?" the voice replied. And on looking more intently it appeared to her that she was looking at herself, as it were in a large mirror, and then she became greatly interested.

The fight was a long one; first one got the advantage, then the other; but in the end she saw the two running away, and the other figure beckoning to her, the garden gates opening wider with every motion of his arm.

As she got closer she asked him who he was. Once more she was told he was Commander Love, and he took her hand, leading her towards the now wide open gate.

On getting through the gate she became aware that her companion was wounded and faint.

"Oh, you are hurt, badly hurt! and you were fighting for me!"

"Yes, I am wounded, deeply wounded," her companion said; "but I shall soon recover if you help me, for the flowers in this garden possess the power to heal my wounds. This is the Garden of Love."

"Yes, yes, I know," she hastily replied. "I've been here before. Tell me what to do."

"Gather the flowers, and while they are fresh place them on my wounds. I will rest here while you gather them," saying which he sat on a soft grassy bank.

"Alas!" she replied, "that is the one thing I cannot do; every flower will wither at my touch; I have tried and I know it. Cannot I possibly help you some other way?"

"No, you cannot," he said; "but you will find the flowers won't fade when they are gathered for me! Go now and try; waste no more time. Look! there is a beautiful bank of flowers close by; gather a handful and bring them here. Ah! how beautiful," he said, when she had brought him a handful. "Do you see what they are? There is no flower in the whole garden which will so effectually heal me. Do you see they are 'Forget-me-nots'?"

"Yes, they are beautiful," she said.

"More than beautiful," he replied, "as you will see if you place them here," pointing to his wounds.

Complying with his request, she gently placed them as directed, and to her surprise and pleasure she saw his wounds heal, and he was able to rise and walk through the garden.

"Forget-me-not," "Forget-me-not," she kept repeating, while she gathered armfuls of flowers and none of them faded. The last armful she gathered were "Forget-me-nots," and as she laid them at the feet of her companion she awoke.

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The next day, and every day afterwards, she endeavoured to forget herself, and to find her happiness in thinking about others.

Typed October 2013; Proofread Nov 2023 by LNL