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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Earl Mar's daughter"

Earl Mar's daughter

One fine summer's day Earl Mar's daughter went into the castle garden, dancing and tripping along. And as she played and sported she would stop from time to time to listen to the music of the birds. After a while as she sat under the shade of a green oak tree she looked up and spied a sprightly dove sitting high up on one of its branches. She looked up and said: "Coo-my-dove, my dear, come down to me and I will give you a golden cage. I'll take you home and pet you well, as well as any bird of them all." Scarcely had she said these words when the dove flew down from the branch and settled on her shoulder, nestling up against her neck while she smoothed its feathers. Then she took it home to her own room.

The day was done and the night came on and Earl Mar's daughter was thinking of going to sleep when, turning round, she found at her side a handsome young man. She was startled, for the door had been locked for hours. But she was a brave girl and said: "What are you doing here, young man, to come and startle me so? The door was barred these hours ago; how ever did you come here?"

"Hush! hush!" the young man whispered. "I was that cooing dove that you coaxed from off the tree."

"But who are you then?" she said quite low; "and how came you to be changed into that dear little bird?"

"My name is Florentine, and my mother is a queen, and something more than a queen, for she knows magic and spells, and because I would not do as she wished she turned me into a dove by day, but at night her spells lose their power and I become a man again. To-day I crossed the sea and saw you for the first time and I was glad to be a bird that I could come near you. Unless you love me, I shall never be happy more."

"But if I love you," says she, "will you not fly away and leave me one of these fine days?"

"Never, never," said the prince; "be my wife and I'll be yours for ever. By day a bird, by night a prince, I will always be by your side as a husband, dear."

So they were married in secret and lived happily in the castle and no one knew that every night Coo-my-dove became Prince Florentine.

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