Excerpt: ...the culprit without remorse. So the emerald on these occasions would answer, 'Not so! the Princess Pepperina is asleep. It is the world that wakes.' Then the wicked women would shrink away, for they knew they had no power to harm the Princess while the talisman was round her neck. At last it so happened that when the young Queen was bathing she took off the emerald talisman, and left it by mistake in the bathing-place. So that night, when the jealous women as usual came whispering round the door, 'The Princess Pepperina is awake, but all the world sleeps,' the truthful talisman called out from the bathing-place, 'Not so! the Princess Pepperina sleeps. It is the world that wakes.' Knowing by the sound of the talisman's voice that it was not in its usual place, these wicked creatures stole into the room gently, killed the infant Prince, who was peacefully sleeping in his little crib, cut him into little bits, laid them in his mother's bed, and gently stained her lips with the blood. Early next morning they flew to the King, weeping and wailing, bidding him come and see the horrible sight. 'Look!' said they, 'the beautiful wife you loved so much is an ogress! We warned you against her, and now she has killed her child in order to eat its flesh!' The King was terribly grieved and wroth, for he loved his wife, and yet could not deny she was an ogress; so he ordered her to be whipped out of his kingdom and then slain. So the lovely tender fair young Queen was scourged out of the land, and then cruelly murdered, whilst the wicked jealous women rejoiced at their evil success. But when Princess Pepperina died, her body became a high white marble wall, her eyes turned into liquid pools of water, her green mantle changed into stretches of verdant grass, her long curling hair into lovely creepers and tendrils, while her scarlet mouth and white teeth became a beautiful bed of roses and narcissus. Then her soul took the form of a sheldrake and its mate,-those...
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Flora Annie Steel (1847 – 1929) was an English writer who lived in British India for 22 years. She was noted especially for writing books set in India or otherwise connected with it. Flora Annie Steel was interested in relating to all classes of Indian society. The birth of her daughter gave her a chance to interact with local women and learn their language. She encouraged the production of local handicrafts and collected folk-tales, a collection of which she published in 1894. Her interest in schools and the education of women gave her a special insight into native life and character. A year before leaving India, she coauthored and published The Complete Indian Housekeeper, giving detailed directions to European women on all aspects of household management in India. In 1889 the family moved back to Scotland, and she continued her writing there. Some of her best work, according to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, is contained in two collections of short stories, From the Five Rivers and Tales of the Punjab. Her novel On the Face of the Waters (1896) describes incidents in the Indian Mutiny. She also wrote a popular history of India. John F. Riddick describes Steel's The Hosts of the Lord as one of the "three significant works" produced by Anglo-Indian writers on Indian missionaries, along with The Old Missionary (1895) by William Wilson Hunter and Idolatry (1909) by Alice Perrin. Among her other literary associates in India was Bithia Mary Croker.
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