Bedtime Stories In English - The Strange Wolf

The Strange Wolf 

Once upon a time, there was a small kingdom in the northern part of France. It had a young king who was very fond of wandering in the forest, cultivating the friendship of wizards who lived there. Once he incurred the wrath of a wizard who cast a curse on him. As a result, the king became a wolf. The wizard, however, repented for his action later and modified his curse. The king was required to remain a wolf only for two days a week. The curse was to remain effective for five years. Every week the young king was obliged to enter the forest, shed his clothes, and become a wolf. Two days later he would put on his clothes and become the man that he really was. Apart from the wizard, only one person knew the king's secret. She was a young lady whose husband was a robber. The couple lived near the forest. One day, with the consent of her husband, the young lady sat under a tree and pretended to weep. A little later the king came that way and saw her. She was no doubt, very beautiful. The king asked her why she wept. She said that she was a princess who belonged to a land that was far away. She was on her way to her maternal uncle's house when bandits fell at her party. They killed everybody and took her prisoner. She somehow escaped after a few days, but without her royal clothes and ornaments. She had been loitering in the forest, not knowing what to do. "Come with me to my palace," proposed the young king.

The lady stood in silence, her eyes downcast. Feigning embarrassment, she said, "According to our custom, I can be a stranger's guest only if he marries me!" "I shall marry you," said the good-natured king. True to his word, he married her at the earliest auspicious hour. The people were happy to see a beautiful lady becoming their queen. "My dear queen, I have to be away in the forest for two days," the king confided to the lady when it was time for him to change into a wolf. "I will go with you," said the lady. The king was charmed by her eagerness to follow him. But he forbade her to do so. As the lady insisted on following him, he had to reveal his secret to her. The lady feigned innocence and surprise and asked, "But how will you change into a human being again?" "The moment I put on my clothes, I shall get back my true form," said the king. "What guarantee is there that your clothes would be safe in the forest?" demanded the lady. The king told her all about the cave inside which he kept his clothes and then took leave of her. As soon as the king had departed, the lady sent a message to her robber husband. He found the king's clothes and brought them to the palace. The lady kept them hidden in the chest. Two days later the king who had been turned into a wolf went into the cave, but was aghast to see that his clothes were not there. He could not recover his human form without his clothes. He ran here and there and raved with anguish.

He came near his palace too but was driven away by the sepoys guarding the palace. Three months passed. The king was not to be found. It was believed that he was dead. According to the custom of the area, since the king had left no heir, one who married the queen was to ascend the throne. The lady summoned her robber husband and went through a ceremony of marrying him. The robber was declared the king. Days passed. One day the emperor of France was passing through the forest. Suddenly a wolf came running towards him and rolled on the ground before him. The emperor's bodyguards were about to kill it, but the emperor stopped them. He stopped, pulling the reins of his horse. He was surprised to see the wolf behave in a manner as if it sought his protection. The emperor got down and fondled the wolf and carried it with him. That night the emperor was to camp in the palace usurped by the robber king. As soon as the robber king came out to welcome the emperor, the wolf charged at him. He fell down. The wolf was about to kill him, but the emperor stopped it from doing so. The wolf was found shivering with anger. The emperor reflected on the situation. Why did the wolf which was so gentle attack only one person? The emperor knew the real king of the state had disappeared and the lady who had become queen only for a few days had married a stranger. He summoned the queen. She came out, trembling with fear. At once the wolf charged at her, but the emperor caught hold of it and saved the lady from certain death. "I know the language of wolves and I know why the wolf is angry with you. But I would like to hear the truth from you," announced the emperor. 

The lady believed that the emperor had found out everything. She confessed to her wickedness and produced the stolen clothes of the young king. "What should we do with this criminal couple?" asked the emperor. "No kind of punishment would be sufficient for them," he added. "God has been kind to me. Otherwise, I would not have met you in the forest and you would not have been patient with a wolf. So, let us be kind to them and spare them their lives," said the king. The emperor appreciated the young king's attitude. He threw the criminal couple out of France and that is all he did. The young king married the emperor's daughter. Soon five years passed and the effect of the curse too was gone.

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