The Happy Prince

The Happy Prince

Listen:     

All the next day he sat on the Prince’s shoulder, and told him stories of what he had seen in strange lands.  He told him of the red ibises, who stand in long rows on the banks of the Nile, and catch gold-fish in their beaks; of the Sphinx, who is as old as the world itself, and lives in the desert, and knows everything; of the merchants, who walk slowly by the side of their camels, and carry amber beads in their hands; of the King of the Mountains of the Moon, who is as black as ebony, and worships a large crystal; of the great green snake that sleeps in a palm-tree, and has twenty priests to feed it with honey-cakes; and of the pygmies who sail over a big lake on large flat leaves, and are always at war with the butterflies.

“Dear little Swallow,” said the Prince, “you tell me of marvellous things, but more marvellous than anything is the suffering of men and of women.  There is no Mystery so great as Misery.  Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there.”

So the Swallow flew over the great city, and saw the rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates.  He flew into dark lanes, and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets.  Under the archway of a bridge two little boys were lying in one another’s arms to try and keep themselves warm.  “How hungry we are!” they said.  “You must not lie here,” shouted the Watchman, and they wandered out into the rain.

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