The Princess and the GoblinGeorge MacDonald / Fantasy
Produced by Jo Churcher. HTML version by Al Haines.
THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN
1. Why the Princess Has a Story About Her 2. The Princess Loses Herself 3. The Princess and--We Shall See Who 4. What the Nurse Thought of It 5. The Princess Lets Well Alone 6. The Little Miner 7. The Mines 8. The Goblins 9. The Hall of the Goblin Palace 10. The Princess's King-Papa 11. The Old Lady's Bedroom 12. A Short Chapter About Curdie 13. The Cobs' Creatures 14. That Night Week 15. Woven and then Spun 16. The Ring 17. Springtime 18. Curdie's Clue 19. Goblin Counsels 20. Irene's Clue 21. The Escape 22. The Old Lady and Curdie 23. Curdie and His Mother 24. Irene Behaves Like a Princess 25. Curdie Comes to Grief 26. The Goblin-Miners 27. The Goblins in the King's House 28. Curdie's Guide 29. Masonwork 30. The King and the Kiss 31. The Subterranean Waters 32. The Last Chapter
Why the Princess Has a Story About Her
There was once a little princess whose father was king over a greatcountry full of mountains and valleys. His palace was built upon oneof the mountains, and was very grand and beautiful. The princess,whose name was Irene, was born there, but she was sent soon after herbirth, because her mother was not very strong, to be brought up bycountry people in a large house, half castle, half farmhouse, on theside of another mountain, about half-way between its base and its peak.
The princess was a sweet little creature, and at the time my storybegins was about eight years old, I think, but she got older very fast.Her face was fair and pretty, with eyes like two bits of night sky,each with a star dissolved in the blue. Those eyes you would havethought must have known they came from there, so often were they turnedup in that direction. The ceiling of her nursery was blue, with starsin it, as like the sky as they could make it. But I doubt if ever shesaw the real sky with the stars in it, for a reason which I had bettermention at once.
These mountains were full of hollow places underneath; huge caverns,and winding ways, some with water running through them, and someshining with all colours of the rainbow when a light was taken in.There would not have been much known about them, had there not beenmines there, great deep pits, with long galleries and passages runningoff from them, which had been dug to get at the ore of which themountains were full. In the course of digging, the miners came uponmany of these natural caverns. A few of them had far-off openings outon the side of a mountain, or into a ravine.
Now in these subterranean caverns lived a strange race of beings,called by some gnomes, by some kobolds, by some goblins. There was alegend current in the country that at one time they lived above ground,and were very like other people. But for some reason or other,concerning which there were different legendary theories, the king hadlaid what they thought too severe taxes upon them, or had requiredobservances of them they did not like, or had begun to treat them withmore severity, in some way or other, and impose stricter laws; and theconsequence was that they had all disappeared from the face of thecountry. According to the legend, however, instead of going to someother country, they had all taken refuge in the subterranean caverns,whence they never came out but at night, and then seldom showedthemselves in any numbers, and never to many people at once. It wasonly in the least frequented and most difficult parts of the mountainsthat they were said to gather even at night in the open air. Those whohad caught sight of any of them said that they had greatly altered inthe course of generations; and no wonder, seeing they lived away fromthe sun, in cold and wet and dark places. They were now, notordinarily ugly, but either absolutely hideous, or ludicrouslygrotesque both in face and form. There was no invention, they said, ofthe most lawless imagination expressed by pen or pencil, that couldsurpass the extravagance of their appearance. But I suspect those whosaid so had mistaken some of their animal companions for the goblinsthemselves--of which more by and by. The goblins themselves were notso far removed from the human as such a description would imply. Andas they grew misshapen in body they had grown in knowledge andcleverness, and now were able to do things no mortal could see thepossibility of. But as they grew in cunning, they grew in mischief,and their great delight was in every way they could think of to annoythe people who lived in the open-air storey above them. They hadenough of affection left for each other to preserve them from beingabsolutely cruel for cruelty's sake to those that came in their way;but still they so heartily cherished the ancestral grudge against thosewho occupied their former possessions and especially against thedescendants of the king who had caused their expulsion, that theysought every opportunity of tormenting them in ways that were as odd astheir inventors; and although dwarfed and misshapen, they had strengthequal to their cunning. In the process of time they had got a king anda government of their own, whose chief business, beyond their ownsimple affairs, was to devise trouble for their neighbours. It willnow be pretty evident why the little princess had never seen the sky atnight. They were much too afraid of the goblins to let her out of thehouse then, even in company with ever so many attendants; and they hadgood reason, as we shall see by and by.