“The Magic Doll of Romania” by Queen Marie (Royal Fairy Tales by the Queens of Romania)

»Certainly this was not Nancy’s idea of a royal palace, but it was ever so much pleasanter and more homelike – although it was entirely different from anything which she had ever seen before. She had imagined a palace full of golden chairs, gorgeous silk hangings, and portraits of ancestors in heavily carved frames – and, everywhere, tall footmen in bright liveries. But this was an enchanted little castle, guarded by an old wizard with white hair – a flowery retreat to which a queen came to rest.

“Here they are, mother!” cried the Princess. “Look at her! Isn’t she darling – and she’s called Nancy!”

And there, by a plain white hearth, stood the Queen. A bright woodfire was burning behind her, casting over her a radiant glow. Was she old or young? Plain or beautiful? These questions seemed all at once to have no importance. What Nancy saw was a smile of welcome and a pair of blue eyes, which were kind, although strangely sad. “Nancy!” It was a mother’s voice. The Queen bent down and kissed the little American stranger, and she also kissed Dobre and Florica – although Dobre was a real boy! But as Nancy looked at the Queen, it seemed quite natural that she should kiss Dobre. For was she not “their mother”, as they themselves had proclaimed? Her hands, too, were a mother’s hands. Nancy had never known her own mother, but when the Queen passed her hands over her head, gently but firmly, Nancy knew that this was done as her own mother would have done it.

“So you are called Nancy! Let me look at you! You know, I am fond of Americans, large and small. In some way, I believe that we’ve always understood each other. And these are Florica and Dobre, your companions? You have a frank, affectionate face, Nancy. And I’m pleased that you have made friends with my little Romanians. I always want all people of all countries to be friends!”

“And, mother”, exclaimed the Princess, “imagine, Florica came to America as a doll! It was Florica who managed to bring Nancy here!”

“That’s a real fairy-story,” said the Queen. “Tell me about it, Nancy.”

The Queen seated herself in a large armchair near the blazing hearth, and Nancy found herself on a low stool at her feet, with her hand in that of the Queen. For some reason she did not feel shy. The Queen’s eyes and smile made her feel quite at home. She was dressed very much as was the Princess  – whom she called Ileana – but on her head was a long white veil, as white as the walls of her room.

Here also, the ceiling was vaulted, and there were even more flowers than in the little reception hall outside – especially yellow, heliotrope and bronze-colored tulips. And there was one huge old silver jar, full of white, gray and lavender tinted irises. On the windowsill stood a peasant’s jug, full of apple-blossom branches which were of the delicate color of snow when the dawn paints it pink! There was peace in this small white room, and the song of many birds in the trees made fitting music for it – as if they were a soft accompaniment which you dreamed of, rather than heard. The floor had been stained black. Yellow rugs, blue-bordered, were spread over it. There were touches of yellow about the cushions, curtains and chairs. Over the couch, hung three old silver church-lamps filled with white flowers, which took the place of the lights. Their shadows on the white walls took queer shapes. A dream-room in a dream-castle! And there sat Nancy, the little American girl, her hand quite at home in that of the Queen, who listened to her as she told of Granny, and of old Sue, and of the Romanian doll which had come to life and conjured her across the sea…«

Fragment from: “The Magic Doll of Romania. A Wonder Story in Which East and West Do Meet” by Queen Marie of Romania (New York, 1929)

Read more in:

The Child of the Sun: Royal Fairy Tales and Essays by the Queens of Romania, Elisabeth (Carmen Sylva, 1843-1916) and Marie (1875-1938)

Selected and edited, with an introduction and bibliography by Silvia Irina Zimmermann.

[Series of the Research Center Carmen Sylva – Princely Archive of Wied, vol. 9], 315 pages, 54 illustrations (7 colored), Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag (Ibidem Press), 2020, 315 pages, 54 illustrations (7 colored), ISBN-13: 978-3-8382-1393-4.

The book is available as paperback print and e-book worldwide and can be ordered through Ibidem-Verlag (Ibidem Press) and Columbia University Press resp. via online-vendors worldwide.