"There is no gem like virtue,no wealth like happiness,no treasure like faith, and no jewel like love." -Matshona DhliwayoExcerpts from THE JEWEL PRINCESSES by Margaret Emma Faith Irwin(1889-1967) from "The Jewel Box" (circa 1920-1929) This book is a first edition owned by my mother. One of her favourite books. It went thru a fire, and survived, though quite fragile, but all the pages and illustrations are intact. Every Christmas we would read the "Jewel Princesses".I thought it would be rather neat to do some excerpts from a long forgotten fairy tale....
Seven King's daughters were playing at ball under the apple trees. The ball was gold, and it flashed thru the green branches in the sunlight.On the head of each of the King's daughters was a narrow band of gold with a precious stone set in it. The jewel in the eldest daughter's band was a diamond, the second had a ruby, the third a sapphire, the fourth an emerald, the fifth a turquoise, the sixth an amethyst, and the seventh a pearl. They threw the ball over the orchard wall. Pearl ran to go find it.She carried her daisy chain with her.
There lay the ball in the road below. A Swineherd was coming along, driving six black pigs. They squealed and grunted and flapped their ears. Pearl thought they looked horrible. She asked the boy to throw up the ball. The swineherd looked up. He was very ragged. "What will you give me if I throw up the ball? I don't want money. Will you give me your daisy chain?" Pearl shrugged and threw him the daisies. He threw up the ball.
Pearl explained to her sisters that she had given him her daisy chain for the ball. The sisters forgot about the swineherd, and they eventually went into the castle and to their long white room where they slept. About midnight, the youngest princess was wakened by something pulling at her neck. She sat up, lit her lamp, and noticed that it was a daisy chain pulling at her. It had grown very long and could not be broken. She called to her sisters. All the princess got up put on their royal garments with their jewels, and followed Pearl.
The daisy chain pulled her forward. Down the staircase to a little passage, lit with lamps.Sapphire rubbed her eyes and said she was sleepy. Diamond saw no use in going on, and Amethyst was sure the passage led nowhere. But Pearl still felt the daisy chain pulling her gently onward.After hours of walking, the daisy chain led them into the open air. The bright midnight stars twinkled above them, and all round the wild, bare hills of their country swept away into the distance.
In front was a huge rock, with the Swineherd sitting on top. He was playing pan pipes, and his six black pigs were dancing on their hind legs, their great ears flopping over their eyes. Sometimes they danced in a ring, touching noses. The moon shone clear and the daisy chain pulled Pearl forward right into the middle of the circle, and her sisters followed close. The Pipes, soft and dreamy, called them all to dance with the pigs, and so they did , for hours under the waning moon. Then there was a sound like a thunder-clap.
Pearl gasped in amazement. They were back in their room. Safe and sound. No pigs. No swineherd. No music playing. "What a strange dream I had," said Amethyst, rubbing her eyes. Turquoise sat up with a start. "Oh how I have dreamt!" All the princesses agreed they had the same awful dream. But then they checked their shoes. Their dainty slippers were torn and muddy. They were aghast that they had been dancing with pigs, and they searched for new slippers. "He has enchanted Pearls' daisy chain and has power over us," said Diamond. "I don't suppose it will happen again," said Turquoise.
BUT IT DID! Every night , as the clock struck twelve, Pearl would be wakened by the soft pulling of the daisy chain, and she and her sisters would join the swineherd and his rotund pigs and dance the night away. Every morning, when they woke, their pretty silk shoes would be muddy and torn to shreds by their night of dancing.The King, their father, got seriously annoyed with it all.But his daughters would not tell him anything about it.Pearl decided to go talk to the swineherd, and they rode their white horses out to visit him, at his hut, at the edge of the forest.
When they reached his hut, they saw the pigs digging with their snouts in the dirt, and the swineherd whittling away outside of the hut door. He got up when he saw Pearl coming towards him in her soft, pearl coloured robes. "Good afternoon," said Pearl. "Good afternoon," said the swineherd. "Won't you come in and take a seat." Pearl sat on a log bench inside the hut."I want you to give me back my daisy chain," she said. "What will you give me if I give it back to you," said the Swineherd. Pearl tried to give him coins, but he refused.
"Give me the grass ring you have wound around your finger." , he said. "Is that all?" said Pearl. She gave him the grass ring, and he threw the daisy chain over her neck. Then she left. Her sisters were glad it was over, and homewards they went. When they got home, Pearl went to see her father, the King and told him all was well. "That's good news," said the King." I have been making a new law this afternoon, and that is always hard work." "What is that?" said Pearl. " Well, it is to settle about betrothal, " said the King. " I have made it a law that if any maiden give a man a ring from off her finger , she is betrothed to him, and must marry him."
Pearl got very upset and ran off before the King could see how startled she was. She ran to see her sisters, who were so surprised to see Pearl so wild-eyed. "The King has made it a law," she said, " that whoever gives a ring from off her finger to a man, must marry him. And this very afternoon I have given the swineherd the grass ring I twisted around my finger." Her sisters said there was no way that a swineherd should have the insolence to dream of marrying a princess, and other such things. They were more comforted that night, that the night was quiet. No magic chain drew them forth at midnight to dance upon the heath. And for many nights after that the days and nights were quiet.
By the afternoon of the third day Pearl had quite forgotten her foolish fears, and was sitting with her sisters around her father's throne. The King's court was round him, and there was going to be a great banquet that evening. Everyone wore their most gorgeous clothes. Sunlight thru the windows streamed on such masses of sparkling jewels and gleaming cloth of gold and silver that it was really too dazzling to look at.The festival was in honour of Pearl's birthday. She stood by the King with her hand on her tall, slender wolf-hound dog.Every so often it looked up into her face with its melancholy brown eyes.
The great doors opened, and in marched the dirty Swineherd and his horrid pigs. "King, I have come to claim the hand of Pearl." The courtiers laughed.The Swineherd extended his finger to show a grass ring. The courtiers mocked him. Pearl and her sisters shivered in horror. The King turned to his youngest and asked her if it was true. She nodded. "Then you must marry him for the betrothal law is binding and the ring binds you." Her sisters all rustled near. The King called for a priest and they were married on the spot,while the courtiers and guests stared in silence at the strange turn of affairs. "Will you have your wedding feast here? It is all ready," said the King. "No, thank you," said the Swineherd. " I will lead my wife to my own house for the wedding feast."
The princesses vowed to follow Pearl. Out they marched, the black pigs in front .The Princesses held each other's hands as they went along. The Swineherd whistled merrily the while."We must break our journey somewhere and get supper," said one of the princesses. "There is a farmhouse over the next hill," said the Swineherd. Soon they came to it. The door was opened by an old woman. "What do you want?" said she. "Supper and rest for the night," said the Swineherd. She told them they could sleep in the kitchen, she would give them a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread. They had to drink the soup from the bowl. And because they were real King's daughters they did not spill. They rested for a while, before the Swineherd stirred them all so they could go on their journey.
The house was locked up and the old woman had the key. The Swineherd told them to leave behind some of the jewels from their dresses to pay for their time at the farmhouse. The Swineherd cut off his last button and left it with the jewels gathered by the princesses. All of the old woman's housework would be done for her as if by magic if she kept that button. The Swineherd told each princess to climb onto the back of the black pigs. Pearl he took in hand, and his walking stick flew them up the chimney with the six pigs flying behind them. "Soon we shall touch the stars," cried Pearl. On they flew, over the long, low sweep of the desolate hills, over cities dark and silent.
The moon had sunk behind a bank of clouds...only the scattered stars twinkled in the blackness above and were reflected in the blackness below. At last dawn broke, pale and chill, and the waters below turned silver grey .All that day they flew over a great ship, with her white sails spread and shining in the sunlight.The sailors below, wondered what those great birds were in the sky. One believed them to be Birds of Paradise. No one guessed they were really seven King's daughters flying from their home with a swineherd and his pigs. Their journey seemed to never end.
The sea grew dark in the twilight, and finally they saw land. Seagulls screamed in the wind. Th eland was wild and desolate. They landed there on the rocky shore till they came to a little hut under the cliff. The pigs ran among the rocks and munched the seaweed. "Is this your home?" Pearl asked. "Yes," said the Swineherd. "One can generally catch fish and the pigs live on seaweed." He brought them to a little hut and threw open the door. It creaked.It had one room, with a rough table made of uneven planks in the middle, and a stool with a broken leg.
"Now for the wedding feast," said the Swineherd. He pulled open a little cupboard and brought out a piece of salt fish and half a loaf of dry black bread. He set the wretched food in front of the princesses, and then brought out a jug of water and one cracked cup.
"We will drink to the happiness of our wedded life," said the Swineherd, and pouring water into the cup, he handed it to Pearl. She raised it to her lips. No sooner had she drunk than she saw the walls of the hut melt and whirl around her. Everything seemed to be changing...vanishing...she clutched at the rough boards of the table in front of her, but it felt hard and smooth, and she saw it was of marble.
The hut had grown into a great palace hall, like the one she had left in her father's home...the table she sat at had grown long and wide and covered with dishes of jewelled gold and silver. Her sisters still sat at either side, but at the end sat a young man in kingly robes, with a crown upon his head. He smiled at her, and she knew his face. "Yes, I am the Swineherd," he said, " and look at my pigs."
Pearl looked. They had turned into young princes and were standing behind her sisters' seats. "You have broken the enchantment," said the King who had been a Swineherd.
"Seven years ago I was king of this land, these princes are my brothers. A wicked Enchanter, who had a grudge against my father, revenged himself by turning me into a Swineherd and my brothers into black pigs. Nothing could break the spell unless I, as a Swineherd, married a King's daughter, and brought her home to the wedding feast in that hovel. The minute that she should taste of that feast, we would be free. Now you have broken the spell and rescued the whole land, for the land and all my subjects have lain as dead under the spell."
Even as he spoke, courtiers, pages, ladies in jewels and silks came in through the great arches at the ends of the hall and thronged round them. The King sat on his golden throne at the end of the table.
His new queen sat opposite him, and the wedding feast began in good earnest. His six brothers sat by the six princesses, and it may well be told now that there was very soon another great banquet in honour of six more royal weddings....
"THE JEWEL BOX" It was published in London by Henry Frowde Hodder and Stoughton, the book contains many stories compiled by Mrs. Herbert Strang ( a pseudonym).