Once upon a time in a far-off land, there lived a young prince named Little Prince Freedling. One morning, Little Prince Freedling rose out of bed like a holiday firecracker, which made sense, as it was a particularly special day.
It was his fifth birthday, and all of the church bells and grandfather clocks and cornetists of the kingdom were announcing the day, even at this early hour.
However, the prince did not make it past the foot of his bed, for there he found piles of beautifully wrapped and ribboned birthday gifts.
The first gift that Freedling unwrapped was from his fairy godmother. The note attached to the gift read: "Break me and I shall turn into something else." And the toy did just that. What started out as a spinning hoop changed once Freedling broke it. In just one hour, the toy became a top, a great ark, a jump rope, a battleship, building blocks, a jigsaw puzzle, a booming bass drum, a kaleidoscope, a tin whistle, and a thousand other things. However, once it became a kite, its string broke, and off it flew, never to be seen again.
Disappointed, Little Prince Freedling looked for another gift to keep him busy. He found such a gift by his bay window: a great golden rocking horse, with flaring nostrils and a flowing mane and tail.
Freedling dashed to the bay window and threw his little arms around the horse's strong neck. The horse's big, beautiful eyes shone so bright, one might have thought they were alive. The prince climbed atop the horse's back and spent the rest of the day there, chasing the dragons and stags and villains that populated his bedroom.
That night, Little Prince Freedling woke up, longing to see his great, golden rocking horse just once more. Climbing out of bed, the prince was shocked to find that the horse was not where he had left it. Instead, it had somehow crossed his bedroom and now stood staring out the window and into the dark, dark night.
As Freedling crept close to the horse, he saw that its eyes were full of tears that streamed down its neck and shone in the starlight.
"Why are you crying?" Freedling asked.
Much to Freedling's surprise, the rocking horse answered him. "I cry because I am not free. Won't you open the window and let me go?" it asked.
"How do I know you'll come back?" asked Freedling.
The rocking horse replied, "My name is Rollonde. My brothers call me to come gallop to Rocking-Horse Land. Look through my mane and you will find one black hair. Pluck that hair and wrap it around your little finger. So long as that hair is wound just so, you are my master, and I shall return to your bedroom each morning."
The prince did just this, throwing open the bedroom window and calling, "Rollonde, go to Rocking-Horse Land, but please, please return to me come morning!"
The great, golden horse did just that, spending the night galloping across the starry sky with his brothers. And in the morning, he returned to the prince's bedroom.
Read more about Little Prince Freedling and Rollonde on the next page.