A king and queen who have long had everything they desire except a child, are finally graced with one but are immediately faced with tragedy. The queen dies on the day after her son is born, but not before she warns her husband to never let their son's feet touch the ground or else he will be immediately taken by an evil fairy. As he grew, everyone was careful to keep him from touching the ground - using wheelchairs, litters, and even horses, which he especially excelled at.
One day when he was out riding, his saddle broke and he fell to the ground and immediately vanished. Under the control of the evil fairy, he is told he must obey her every command or else he will be severely punished. Her first order was for him to cut down all the trees in a forest using a glass axe - and to NOT speak to a girl he might encounter on his way. Of course, the glass axe shattered at its first contact with the tree. Scared and hopeless, he curls up and falls asleep, only to be woken by the same girl he had been warned against.
The girl is also imprisoned by the fairy, who is also her mother, and she offers to help the prince do whatever is asked of him, as long as he promised to help her in return. When the evil fairy discovers the two are helping one another, she is outraged and decides to take her anger out on both of them. The two are then left to try to escape and outwit the evil fairy on their quest to be free.
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scottish writer who collected fairy and folk tales from various cultures and put them together in twelve volumes of tales. He was noted for taking the tales from as many original sources as possible, keeping the fairy tales close to their intended meanings.
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