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The Restless River

THE land of Nonamia was once ruled by an extremely
original Queen. Even her childhood had been exceptional,
for, although the fairies had been invited as usual to her christen-
ing, not one of them had spoilt the fun by making unpleasant
predictions, and not one of them had given her a single gift, that
could be of any use to her afterwards. So the Queen of Nonamia
had nothing to help her through life, except her own wits ; she
was not even beautiful, and her chief virtue was the patience she
showed for the eternal stupidity of the Nonamiacs. There was
a King of Nonamia, too, but no one knew anything about him,
except that he was the husband of the Queen of Nonamia ; and
that, indeed, was the most distinctive thing that could be said
about him. For the marriage of the Queen had been just as
original as everything else about her. She employed none of the
usual devices for obtaining an interesting husband, but merely
sent into the next country for the eldest son of the reigning

“I decline to marry a tailor merely because he has killed a few
giants, or outwitted a bear,” she declared to her guardians, when
they naturally objected to such an obvious mode of selection.
“He is a tailor, for all that ; and the same may be said of the


                        168 The Restless River

woodcutter’s son, who has contrived to climb a beanstalk with
success. I am the Queen of Nonamia, and I am going to marry
a prince, and he shall not be a younger son. Younger sons are
greatly overrated, just because they are clever enough to do
things. Who wants to marry a man because he can do
things ?”

The King of Nonamia had not done very much before he
married the Queen. But he came, when he was sent for ; and, for
the rest of his life, he only did what the Queen told him. And
the Queen told him very little.

When they came to have a son, the King supposed they
would have to select a fairy to be its godmother. His wife
smiled upon him, leniently. She never realised the success of her
marriage so much as when the King made suggestions she was
able to contradict.

“That is so like you, dearest,” she said. And the King was
immensely pleased at being told he was like himself. But the
Queen of Nonamia looked at the features of the baby Prince, as
he lay in his cradle of rose leaves ; and she saw that they were
the features of his kingly father, her husband, and she nodded her
head, thoughtfully. “That child will need bringing up,” she
said. “Why not a fairy godfather ? I could manage a godfather,
but a godmother would want to manage me, and I could not
endure that for a moment.”

So the little Prince of Nonamia had a fairy godfather.

The Nonamiacs had never heard of such a thing before; but
the Queen of Nonamia did so many things that had never been
heard of before, that one, more or less, made very little difference.
And they were bound to acknowledge, that a fairy godfather was,
in many ways, a great improvement. He arrived on foot, to
begin with, and walked in at the front door, instead of coming


                        By Evelyn Sharp 169

down with a bang, in a cloud of blue smoke, after keeping every-
body waiting. And he caused no jealousy among the fairies,
who had not been asked to be godmothers ; and he talked just like
every one else, only not quite so much. In fact, there was
nothing to distinguish him from quite an ordinary person.

One or two people complained of the lack of excitement. “It
is not in the least like a royal christening,” they grumbled.
“Surely, it is time something began to go wrong ?”

But the least stupid of the Nonamiacs shook their heads.
“You forget,” they said, “that the usual things never happen to
the Queen of Nonamia.”

When the banquet was over, the fairy godfather was taken to
the cradle of the royal infant. He looked at it for a long time,
without speaking, which, again, was a feat that no fairy god-
mother had ever been known to accomplish ; and he nervously
declined the honour of taking the baby in his arms. “He is no
godfather at all,” complained the royal nurses, who disliked
innovations ; but, although he knew perfectly well what they
were thinking, he did not trouble to bewitch them for it, and
merely continued to look at the little Prince.

“Well,” said the Queen of Nonamia. “Will my son be an
exceptional prince ?”

The fairy godfather shook his head.

“I see nothing exceptional,” he said, slowly. “I see restless-
ness, and adventure, and love. The river that knows no rest will
bring him his greatest happiness ; it will call him, when the time
comes, and neither your art, nor mine, will keep him from it.
He will do everything that other princes do, especially when he is in
love. And he will always be in love from the time he is sixteen.”

The Queen of Nonamia looked again at the features of her tiny
son, and she sighed.


                        170 The Restless River

“Then he will only be an ordinary prince, after all,” she

“Not entirely,” resumed the fairy godfather. “For it is with
the Restless River itself, that he will be in love, and no one will
be able to prevent it.”

“That at least is original, if inconvenient,” said the Queen.

“I see one more thing,” continued the fairy godfather. “He
will end in marrying the woodcutter’s daughter.”

“What ?” exclaimed the Queen in dismay. “Just like all his
ancestors ! I will never allow such a thing. All the wood-
cutters’ daughters shall be exterminated ; all the woodcutters
shall be exterminated ! My son shall marry a princess. I have
said it.”

“Your son will marry the woodcutter’s daughter,” repeated
the fairy godfather, grimly.

“But you said yourself that he would fall in love with the
Restless River,” protested the Queen. “To fall in love with a
river is curious, but it is not the same thing as falling in love with
a woodcutter’s daughter. How do you explain the contradic-
tion ?”

“I cannot explain it,” said the fairy godfather, simply. “I
have told you all I know.”

Which, of course, was an admission that a fairy godmother
would never have made at all.

The courtiers grew discontented. Was the christening going
to pass off, without even a present ? It seemed as though the
fairy godfather guessed their thoughts, for he turned to the Queen,
with a smile.

“I shall not forget my godson,” he said. “When he wants
me, I shall be there. I have given him my gift.”

And he bowed to every one present, and walked straight out of


                        By Evelyn Sharp 171

the palace, and disappeared among the crowd, as quietly as he had
come. It was the dullest christening that had ever taken place in
Nonamia. But it was distinctly original.

And what was the present or the fairy godfather ?

“There is no present at all. That is what comes of these
new-fangled notions,” said the royal nurses, contemptuously.

“A godmother,” said the courtiers, “would have told all the
world what her present was.”

But the Queen made ready for action ; and, before sundown
that day, the decree was issued throughout the length and
breadth of Nonamia, that all woodcutters were to be gone from
the country within twenty-four hours, and that all their daughters
were to be brought to her for extermination, at noon next day.
The Queen was nothing, if she was not thorough ; and she meant
to see for herself that the usual devices were not practised, in
order to preserve an impossible wife for her son.

So, at noon next day, the Queen of Nonamia sat in judgment,
on the hill outside her palace. All around her, stretched the flat
and uninteresting land of Nonamia ; not a mountain nor a river
broke the monotony of the scene, nothing but the Sluggish Brook,
that marked the boundary of her dominions. And by her side, in
his cradle of rose leaves, the Prince of Nonamia slept peacefully.
Nobody asked where the King of Nonamia was.

The Queen beckoned to her Prime Minister. “Have all the
woodcutters been banished ?” she demanded.

The Prime Minister obviously trembled.

“Please your Majesty,” he stammered, “there was but one to
be found.” A murmur of disappointment ran through the crowd
of Nonamiacs ; they had certainly expected more excitement than

“Is all the wood in my kingdom cut down by one man ?”


                        172 The Restless River

asked the Queen scornfully. The Prime Minister put his hand
to his head instinctively.

“Please your Majesty,” he stammered afresh, “there is no
wood at all in your kingdom.”

A new sensation thrilled the crowd of Nonamiacs. It had
never occurred to them before that this, indeed, was the case.
The Queen glanced again over the land of Nonamia ; and she
saw not a tree, nor a bush, in the whole of it. The fact had
never occurred to her, either ; but she was too much of a Queen
to confess that.

“Then, what is the use of a woodcutter at all ?” she asked.

“Please your Majesty,” said the unhappy Prime Minister,” it
isn’t any use. But he only came here yesterday, to see the
christening ; and he came across the Sluggish Brook, no one knows
whence ; and he is prepared to go back again now, if your
Majesty so wills it.”

“Certainly, I will it,” said the Queen. “Why should we
have a woodcutter, if there are no trees ? The idea is ridiculous.
Besides, that settles the whole matter at once. If there are no
trees, there are no woodcutters ; and if there are no woodcutters,
there are no woodcutters’ daughters ; and so, my son shall marry
a princess, as I said. The assembly is over.”

“Please your Majesty,” began the Prime Minister again,
“there is a daughter, and she came with her father, yesterday ;
and I have put them both in your Majesty’s dungeon, and—”

The Queen smiled, with the indulgence she always showed
for the actions of her public ministers, and she waved him away
with her hand.

“Bring them both here at once,” she commanded. “And tell
the Royal Executioner to sharpen his axe. She shall be beheaded ;
and after that, we can have lunch.”


                        By Evelyn Sharp 173

“Please your Majesty, there is very little to behead,” said the
Prime Minister ; but the look in the Queen’s eyes sent him
flying off to the royal dungeon, without another word. The
Queen yawned ; and by her side, in his cradle of rose leaves, the
tiny Prince slept soundly.

When the Prime Minister came back again, he was accom-
panied by the Royal Executioner with his axe upon his shoulder,
and between them both walked the woodcutter. No one, at
first, could see the woodcutter’s daughter at all ; but, as the little
group stood before the throne, the tallest of the Nonamiacs were
able to distinguish a small bundle, in a red shawl, that lay in the
woodcutter’s arms. And this was the woodcutter’s daughter.

“There is certainly very little to behead,” said the Queen,
thoughtfully. The Royal Executioner looked immensely relieved.
“But, for all that,” continued the Queen, “she must be exter-

The woodcutter said nothing. But the little Prince stirred in
his sleep, and held out his tiny arms, and cried. The Queen
stamped her foot.

“There is no time to be lost,” she said, sternly. “So, choose
any death you please for her. She shall be exterminated, now.”

The woodcutter remained indifferent. He looked over the
length and breadth of Nonamia, and down at the little red bundle
in his arms.

“I should like her to be drowned in the Sluggish Brook,” he
said. And the originality of the request so pleased the Queen,
that she ordered the royal carriages, and proceeded to carry it out
immediately. All day long, the royal procession wound its way
across the Land of Nonamia, and just before sundown it arrived at
the edge of the Sluggish Brook. The woodcutter stooped down with
a smile, and laid the little red bundle on the calm water. And

The Yellow Book—Vol. XII. L


                        174 The Restless River

suddenly, the Sluggish Brook became a swift, rushing torrent,
that tossed the tiny bundle from side to side, and carried it swiftly
out of sight ; and the water sighed and trembled, and grew into a
wide and passionate river that swirled along, in the wake of the
woodcutter’s daughter. The woodcutter himself was no longer
to be seen, but no one had noticed his departure, for the crowd of
Nonamiacs were all stupefied at the change that had come over
the Sluggish Brook. They had never seen anything like it before,
and that in itself was quite enough to stupefy a Nonamiac.

The Queen, as usual, was the first to recover.

“That is done,” she said, cheerfully. “And my son shall marry
a princess.”

But she knew, as well as every one present, that the Sluggish
Brook had become the Restless River.

For sixteen years, the Prince of Nonamia was never allowed to
go beyond the palace garden. And, as the whole court was for-
bidden, under pain of instant extermination, to mention the cir-
cumstances of his christening, there seemed very little probability
of his ever discovering the fate that had been predicted for him.
To make this still more certain, he was not even taught to read
or write, and he grew up in a state of ignorance that would have
shamed the poorest person in Nonamia. But the Prince of
Nonamia did not know the meaning of shame, for he had never
had any companions ; and the courtiers tolerated him, as ordinary
people tolerate something that is strange and incomprehensible.
For, to the Nonamiacs, there was something extremely weird in
the grave and silent youth, who knew nothing of life and the
world, and only cared for being in the open air. He would sit
for hours, in the most secluded part of the garden, and dream the
daylight away ; he never asked why the garden walls were so
high, nor how the world contained so few people, nor whether


                        By Evelyn Sharp 175

there was any more of it than he had seen already. He wondered,
sometimes, why they put weapons in his hand, and told him to
kill something, or taught him to fence with them. “Why should
I injure a bird that flies and is happy ?” he asked. “And how
does it amuse you to pretend that I am dead ? It is far more
interesting to sit in the sunshine, and talk to the flowers, and
think about life.” And the Nonamiacs, who, of course, knew far
more about life than the poor, lonely Prince, smiled in their
superior knowledge, and pitied him for not understanding how
ignorant he was ; and the King, who had his own views about the
education of princes, looked on unhappily.

But the Queen was supremely content.

“My son is original,” she said. “In spite of his father, and his
godfather, and his ancestors, he is original, as I intended him to be.
And he shall marry a princess.”

People sometimes wondered at the long silence of the fairy
godfather ; but the Queen did not mind that at all. “That is
the best of having a fairy godfather,” she said. “If it had been a
godmother, now, she would have been interfering ever since, and
I cannot endure interference.”

On his sixteenth birthday, she sent for the Prince, and showed
him the pictures of all the neighbouring princesses for miles

“It is time for you to marry a princess,” she told him. “And
since you are my son, and I love you, I wish you to marry the
wife of your choice.”

“How can I choose ?” asked the Prince, in bewilderment.
“They all look alike, to me. How can I care for one more than
another ? Is there really any difference between them ?”

“Of course,” said the Queen of Nonamia, “they are all
princesses, so you cannot expect to find very much difference


                        176 The Restless River

between them. But choose the most beautiful of them all, and
she shall come here to marry you ; and, after that, you can go into
the world and travel.”

“The world ?” asked the Prince. “Where is that ? Is it the
garden on the other side of the wall ; and is it full of princesses, who
are all exactly alike ?”

“You will see, when you are married,” answered his mother.
But the Prince asked leave to think it over ; and he wandered
away to find his father, who was nodding over the morning paper
in his library. A visit from his son was so unusual, however, that
he woke up at once, and asked him what he wanted.

“That is what I don’t know,” sighed the Prince. “But I
know I don’t want to marry any of the beautiful, dull pictures my
Queen-Mother has been showing me.”

“Ah,” thought the King, “the boy is a son of mine, after all.”

“When you were a Prince, father,” pursued his son, “and knew
as little as I do about the garden on the other side of the wall, did
you want to marry the picture of my Queen-Mother ?”

The King remembered the picture of the Queen of Nonamia,
and he coughed uncomfortably.

“Perhaps not. At least—of course, yes,” he said, hastily, and
coughed again.

“I suppose,” continued the Prince, “they just showed you a
lot of princesses, who all looked exactly alike, and you had to choose
one, as I have got to. But are there no people in the world
who can be distinguished from one another ?”

“A certain number,” replied the King.

“Then why,” persisted the Prince, “may I not go out into the
garden, on the other side of the wall, and choose a princess for

The King glanced nervously over his shoulder.


                        By Evelyn Sharp 177

“You forget your Queen-Mother,” he whispered.

The Prince sprang to his feet, and began pacing restlessly up
and down the room.

“I want you to give me something, father,” he cried. “I want
the gold key that hangs on your watch-chain, the key of the Sky

The King visibly trembled. The Sky Turret was the highest
of the five turrets of the Palace of Nonamia, the one that looked
over the length and breadth of the land of Nonamia ; and no one
had been allowed to enter it since the Prince’s christening.

“Give it to me, father,” he said, holding out his hand. “I
want to look into the garden, on the other side of the wall.”

The old King sighed, and gave him the key. “He is so like
his dear mother,” he murmured, in extenuation. And the Prince
bounded out of the room, and ran straight up to the Sky Turret, and
stepped out on the battlements. He looked round him, breath-
lessly, over the length and breadth of Nonamia, the flat and tree-
less country of Nonamia ; and he marvelled at what he saw there ;
but, most of all, he wondered what it was that glistened and
sparkled in the sunshine, just where the sky met the land, on the
edge of the country of Nonamia.

The King had followed him up the stairs, and was standing by
his side. He noted the wild, rapt look on his son’s face, and it
frightened him. “If his mother sees him, she will know,” he
thought, uneasily.

“Tell me, father,” said the Prince, at last ; “what is that thin,
mysterious line of silver, that shines and glistens in the sun-
light ?”

“That,” said the King, “is what they call the Restless

“The Restless River ? What a beautiful name,” exclaimed


                        178 The Restless River

the Prince. “I am going there, at once. That is what I have
wanted all my life, father, and you are going to help me to get

“My son,” began the old King, in alarm; “you forget your

“It is impossible to forget her,” answered the Prince, with
dignity. “I will come back again, when I have been to the
Restless River. But I am going to find a princess for myself, a
princess who is not like every one else. What is the use of a
wife who is not to be distinguished from every one else ? Father,
I want the key of the little white door that leads into the garden
on the other side of the wall.”

And the King, who saw more resemblance, every moment,
between the Prince and his mother, gave up the key without
another word, and went back to nod over the morning paper, and
pretend that nothing had happened.

But the Prince had already unlocked the little white door, and
was speeding over the land of Nonamia, as fast as his legs would
carry him.

“Is this the way to the Restless River ?” he asked of the first
peasant he met.

“Can you not read ?” said the peasant, roughly, pointing to
the direction on the sign-post.

“No,” answered the Prince, simply; and he wondered why
the man laughed at him. But he hastened on more swiftly than
ever, and stood at last on the bank of the Restless River. There
it was, rushing along as madly, and as untiringly, as it had
done on the day when the woodcutter’s daughter was drowned
in it.

“Stop ! stop !” cried the Prince, as he knelt down beside it,
and plunged his hands into the turbulent water. “I want to


                        By Evelyn Sharp 179

speak with you, and you do not stay a moment. Are you not
weary of hurrying along like that ?”

But the river rushed on as before.

“Stay for one moment,” begged the Prince. “I am so sorry
for you, poor Restless River. Have you no time even to stay,
and be comforted ?”

But the river rushed on as before.

“Is it possible,” continued the Prince, “that you are obliged
to hurry away so fast ? I should so like to help you, poor
Restless River. Will you tell me if I can do anything to bring
you rest ?”

As he said these words, a sudden calm fell on the rushing
stream ; and down the middle of it came floating a curious craft,
all made of green lily leaves, and of white lily petals ; and in it
sat the most beautiful girl the Prince had ever seen.

She laughed outright, when she saw him kneeling there, and
she steered her boat straight for the shore. The Prince had
never heard a girl laugh before ; and he could hardly wait until
the boat touched the bank, before he stooped down, and lifted her
up in his arms, and kissed her two cheeks. Then they both
laughed together, and the Prince started at the sound of his own
voice. For he had never heard himself laugh before, either.

“Now, I know why I had to come to the Restless River,”
said the Prince, happily.

“You have been a very long time coming,” said the girl with
a pout.

“Oh, but I am going to stay, now I have come,” the Prince
assured her. “I have found a princess for myself, and the
Queen-Mother may keep all her stupid pictures for her own

But the girl shook her head.

                                                “I cannot

                        180 The Restless River

“I cannot stay here with you,” she said, sadly. “I must be
disenchanted first, for there is no rest for me, yet. See ! it is
calling me, already.” For the river had begun to toss and rock
again, and the lily boat was drifting away from the shore.

“Can I do nothing to disenchant you?” said the Prince,
frantically. “I will go to the end of the world to serve you.”

“Alas ! I cannot tell you,” answered the girl. “I only know
that none but my true lover can disenchant me, and that he will
be a Prince, who can neither read nor write.”

“I am he ! I am he !” cried the Prince, joyfully. “But, tell
me first who you are ?”

“I,” said the girl, as she sprang into her green and white boat,
“am the Restless River.” And with that she was whirled away
out of sight. And the river rushed on as before.

Then the Prince walked thoughtfully along the bank of the
Restless River.

“I wonder why the Queen-Mother did not bring me up like
other Princes ?” he murmured. “Most people, I have been told,
have a fairy godmother, who comes and helps them whenever
they want to disenchant anybody. But I have only a godfather,
and he never comes near me at all.”

The words were hardly out of his mouth when a grave-looking
man suddenly came from nowhere at all, and stood in the path
just in front of him.

“You have never wanted me before,” he said calmly. “And
you need not explain what you do want, now. I know all about
it, and I hate unnecessary details. But, first of all, are you pre-
pared to go through a certain amount of discomfort, and, if
necessary, to fight ?”

“I am a coward, and I hate fighting,” said the Prince, sadly.
“But I am a true lover, and I will die for my love if need be.”


                        By Evelyn Sharp 181

“That I know full well, for are you not my godson ?” said the
fairy godfather, chuckling. “So, go and wrest the sharpest sword
in the world from the strongest giant in the world, and take it to
the head of the Restless River, and remove the dragon, who never
ceases to flap his wings. And, after that, the river will be at

“But where is the strongest giant in the world to be found ?”
asked the Prince.

“Over there, in a great stone castle, he sits alone,” replied his
godfather ; “and only you, who can neither read nor write, will
be allowed to enter there ; for all the secrets of the world are in
his keeping, and they are written on all the ceilings, and all
the walls, and all the floors. So, start at once, and luck be with

“But when I have removed the dragon, what then ?” asked
the Prince.

“If you do not know what to do then” laughed his godfather,
“you are no godson of mine.”

And the Prince, who was about to thank him for his informa-
tion, found that there was no one left to thank, for the fairy
godfather had already gone back to nowhere at all ; and he was
left to find the castle of the strongest giant in the world. This
was not very difficult, however, for there was but one castle to be
seen ; and the Prince walked up to it boldly, and shouted for

“Go away,” growled a disagreeable voice from within. “All
the secrets in the world are written here, and you must not come

“Nonsense,” said the Prince. “I can neither read nor write,
so let me in. Surely, you must be very tired of keeping all the
secrets in the world ?”


                        182 The Restless River

“Keeping a secret is the dullest occupation imaginable,
especially when it is nearly always the same secret,” confessed the
giant ; and he stretched a long arm out of the window, and fished
up the Prince, and set him on the table before him. “You are
quite sure you can neither read nor write ?” he added, sus-

“If I could,” laughed the Prince, “it would never make me
wish to keep a secret. Besides, I have a secret of my own,
that is far more precious than all those you are guarding so

“What is that ?” asked the giant, anxiously. “I am so tired
of keeping the same old secrets, and I would give anything I
possess to learn a new one.”

“Done with you,” said the Prince, who was delighted at the
prospect of not having to fight, after all. “Give me the sword,
that is hanging at your side, and I will tell you my secret.”

And the weary old giant unbuckled the sharpest sword in the
world, and handed it to the Prince.

“Now, tell me your secret,” he said.

The Prince folded his arms, and laughed.

“I am in love with the most beautiful woman in the world,” he

But the giant rushed at him, furiously.

“You have cheated me,” he screamed. “Give me back my
sword ! That is not a new secret, it is the oldest secret there is ;
it is exactly the same as all the secrets I have been keeping for
millions of years !”

“Then you won’t keep them any longer,” said the Prince ; and
the sharpest sword in the world sent the giant’s head rolling down
the stairs. And the Prince opened all the doors, and all the
windows ; and every secret in the castle flew out on the four winds


                        By Evelyn Sharp 183

of heaven ; and that is why no one has ever kept a secret again,
from that day to this. And the Prince walked on swiftly, until
he reached the head of the Restless River.

And there lay a great dragon, in the middle of the stream, cease-
lessly flapping his enormous wings, and making such a disturbance
in the water, that the river was forced to rush downwards in its
mad career.

“So you are the cause of all the trouble, eh ?” said the Prince.
“Just come out of that, at once, will you ?”

“I only wish I could,” groaned the dragon, disconsolately.
“I have been at it, for sixteen years, now ; and I shall never be
released, until the Prince comes, who can neither read nor write.
And that is never likely to happen ; for even Princes are educated,

“It has already happened,” said the Prince. “I am the Prince
who can neither read nor write, and I have got the sharpest sword
in the world ; so come out of that, and let me kill you.”

The dragon stopped flapping his wings, and looked at him,
rather pathetically.

“Isn’t it a little hard,” he said, “that I should have to be killed
for doing exactly as I wish to do ? I am only too glad to come
out of this horribly cold water, and I really don’t see why I should
be killed for it.”

“Neither do I,” observed the Prince, sheathing his sword.
“And, now I come to think of it, my godfather never told me to
kill anybody at all. It’s very unusual, for, in all the stories I ever
heard, the Prince always had to kill somebody.”

“I’ve heard those stories, too,” said the dragon ; “but all the
Princes in them seem to have had fairy godmothers, instead of
godfathers ; and godmothers always complicate things, if they
can.” By this time, he had waded to shore, and stood shivering


                        184 The Restless River

with cold, before the Prince. “Are you really going to kill
me ?” he asked, gloomily.

The Prince swung his arm round his head, and threw away
the sharpest sword in the world ; and it fell with a splash into the
water, and disappeared from sight.

“No,” he said ; “I am never going to kill anybody again.”

And the woodcutter stood before him, in the place of the
dripping, dreary dragon.

“I knew you wouldn’t,” he remarked quietly. “Your god-
father settled that, before you could speak. Now, we will go and
look for my daughter.”

They did not have far to go ; for, on the spot where the sword
had fallen, the beautiful girl had again appeared, in her green and
white boat ; and her laugh rang gaily across the motionless

“It is really quite a relief to be able to rest, at last,” she said,
as the Prince lifted her on to the shore, for the second time.
“Tossing about perpetually on a river like that becomes a little
wearisome, when one has done it for sixteen whole years.”

“So does splashing about in the cold water, in all weathers,”
added the woodcutter, holding out his hands to her. “Do you
not see who I am ?”

“It is not easy to recognise one’s father, all in a hurry, when
he has been a dragon for so long,” laughed his daughter.

The Prince was looking puzzled.

“What is the good of all these spells and things,” he observed,
reflectively, “when we might have met one another, without any
trouble at all ?”

“No good whatever,” said the voice of his godfather, who had
again suddenly arrived from nowhere at all. “But, if you had
had a godmother, instead of a godfather, you would have had


                        By Evelyn Sharp 185

twice as many spells and things as I gave you. On the whole,”
he added, looking critically at the two lovers, “I think I have
managed your love affairs very successfully.”

“Oh, no,” they both exclaimed at once. “You are surely
mistaken. We managed our love affairs quite by ourselves. You
only managed the spell that kept us apart.”

“No doubt,” chuckled the fairy godfather. “But who is
going to manage the Queen of Nonamia ?”

Their faces fell, for every one had completely forgotten the
Queen of Nonamia. Then the Prince threw back his head, and
put his arm round the woodcutter’s daughter.

“Will you come home with me, sweetheart ?” he asked her.
“I am going to manage the Queen-Mother, myself.”

“The boy is certainly my godson,” laughed the fairy godfather ;
and he prepared to go back to the palace too, for he wanted to see
the fun.

But the woodcutter shook his head. “I will stay where I
am,” he said ; “and build a cottage for myself. I had quite
enough of the Queen of Nonamia, sixteen years ago.”

So the lovers went back to the palace, and the fairy godfather
went with them. It was only reasonable to suppose that the
Queen would be furious at the overthrow of all her plans ; and
the Prince trembled a little, in spite of himself, when he led his
little betrothed before the throne.

“I have come back from the garden, on the other side of the
wall,” he said, quietly. “And I have brought my own princess
with me. Don’t you think she is far more beautiful than all
those others you showed me ?”

The courtiers whispered to one another, in admiration of her
great beauty. Truly, there had never been so beautiful a woman
in the court of Nonamia before. But the Queen stared at the


                        186 The Restless River

two lovers, and was speechless. And the fairy godfather looked on,
and smiled.

Then the little betrothed looked up at her lover, and sighed.

“I am no princess, dearest,” she said, with her eyes full of tears.
“I am only a woodcutter’s daughter. Does it mean that I must
go away, and leave you ?”

The courtiers stopped making remarks about her great beauty,
and hoped that no one had heard them. And still, the Queen
stared speechlessly before her ; and still, the fairy godfather looked
on, and smiled.

“What’s the difference ?” asked the Prince, in surprise. “Are
not all women princesses ? And, since you are the most beautiful
of all women, then, surely, you must be the greatest of all
princesses ?”

“Oh no, dearest,” sighed his betrothed, hanging her head,
humbly. “I am no princess, and you will have to send me

Then the Queen spoke, at last. She looked at the fairy god-
father, and slightly shrugged her queenly shoulders.

“You have won,” she said. “My son will marry the wood-
cutter’s daughter. And he shall marry her now, without any
more fuss ; and I have the honour to bid you to his wedding. I
have said it !”

And the fairy godfather chuckled.

“At least,” he said, “you are the most original Queen the
world has ever seen !”

The wedding was decidedly original, too, for there were no
preparations for it whatever. No one had time to order a new
dress, and there was no cake ; and the King knew nothing about
it, until it was all over. But the Prince and his bride were quite
oblivious of everything except of one another ; and when it was


                        By Evelyn Sharp 187

all over, they went back to the river again, and helped the wood-
cutter to build a house that was big enough for them all ; and
there they took up their abode, and there they may be still, for
all that anybody can tell.

“I don’t want to be a king,” the Prince declared. “I don’t
like killing things, and I hate stuffy rooms, and ceremonies, and
stupid subjects. Besides, what more does Nonamia want than
the Queen-mother ?”

And that is all that Nonamia has ever had, for the Queen is
still enduring the stupidity of the Nonamiacs, and the King still
does what the Queen tells him.

And the fairy godfather ?

When the wedding was over, the Queen sent for him ; and the
impudence of such a proceeding so amused him, that he obeyed
the summons at once, just as though he had not been a fairy god-
father at all.

“Kindly tell me,” said the Queen, ” whether you really did
give my son a christening present, or not ?”

“I gave him the gift of being a true lover,” replied the fairy

“Is that all ?” exclaimed the Queen. “I need hardly have
fetched you from Fairyland, just for that !”

“Your Majesty’s originality is to blame,” chuckled the fairy
godfather. And he forthwith took the Queen’s advice, and re-
tired into private life.

But it is said that others have followed the example of the
original Queen of Nonamia ; and that, now and then, a fairy
godfather, who looks just like an ordinary person, is present at
the christening of one or another of us. And, perhaps, that is
why there are still some true lovers left in the world.

MLA citation:

Sharp, Evelyn. “The Restless River.” The Yellow Book, vol. 12, January 1897, pp. 167-187. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020.