THE SONG OF THE MORROW
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The King of Duntrine had a daughter when he was
old, and she was the fairest King's daughter
between two seas; her hair was like spun gold,
and her eyes like pools in a river; and the
King gave her a castle upon the sea beach, with
a terrace, and a court of the hewn stone, and
four towers at the four corners. Here she dwelt
and grew up, and had no care for the morrow,
and no power upon the hour, after the manner of
It befell that she walked one day by the beach
of the sea, when it was autumn, and the wind
blew from the place of rains; and upon the one
hand of her the sea beat, and upon the other
the dead leaves ran. This was the loneliest
beach between two seas, and strange things had
been done there in the ancient ages. Now the
King's daughter was aware of a crone that sat
upon the beach. The sea foam ran to her feet,
and the dead leaves swarmed about her back,
and the rags blew about her face in the blowing
of the wind.
"Now," said the King's daughter, and she named
a holy name, "this is the most unhappy old crone
between two seas."
"Daughter of a King," said the crone, "you dwell
in a stone house, and your hair is like the gold:
but what is your profit? Life is not long, nor
lives strong; and you live after the way of simple
men, and have no thought for the morrow and no
power upon the hour."
"Thought for the morrow, that I have," said the
King's daughter; "but power upon the hour, that
have I not." And she mused with herself.
Then the crone smote her lean hands one within
the other, and laughed like a seagull. "Home!"
cried she. "O daughter of a King, home to your
stone house, for the longing is come upon you
now, nor can you live any more after the manner
of simple men. Home, and toil and suffer, till
the gift come that will make you bare, and till
the man come that will bring you care."
The King's daughter made no more ado, but she
turned about and went home to her house in silence.
And when she was come into her chamber she called
for her nurse.
"Nurse," said the King's daughter, "thought is
come upon me for the morrow, so that I can live
no more after the manner of simple men. Tell
me what I must do that I may have power upon the
Then the nurse moaned like a snow wind. "Alas!"
said she, "that this thing should be; but the
thought is gone into your marrow, nor is there
any cure against the thought. Be it so, then,
even as you will; though power is less than
weakness, power shall you have; and though the
thought is colder than winter, yet shall you
think it to an end."
So the King's daughter sat in her vaulted
chamber in the masoned house, and she thought
upon the thought. Nine years she sat; and the
sea beat upon the terrace, and the gulls cried
about the turrets, and wind crooned in the
chimneys of the house. Nine years she came
not abroad, nor tasted the clean air, neither
saw God's sky. Nine years she sat and looked
neither to the right nor to the left, nor
heard speech of anyone, but thought upon the
thought of the morrow. And her nurse fed her
in silence, and she took of the food with her
left hand, and ate it without grace.
Now when the nine years were out, it fell dusk
in the autumn, and there came a sound in the
wind like a sound of piping. At that the nurse
lifted up her finger in the vaulted house.
"I hear a sound in the wind," said she, "that
is like the sound of piping."
"It is but a little sound," said the King's
daughter, "but yet is it sound enough for me."
So they went down in the dusk to the doors of
the house, and along the beach of the sea.
And the waves beat upon the one hand, and upon
the other the dead leaves ran; and the clouds
raced in the sky, and the gulls flew widdershins.
And when they came to that part of the beach
where strange things had been done in the
ancient ages, lo, there was the crone, and
she was dancing widdershins.
"What makes you dance widdershins, old crone?"
said the King's daughter; "here upon the bleak
beach, between the waves and the dead leaves?"
"I hear a sound in the wind that is like a
sound of piping," quoth she. "And it is for
that that I dance widdershins. For the gift
comes that will make you bare, and the man
comes that must bring you care. But for me
the morrow is come that I have thought upon,
and the hour of my power."
"How comes it, crone," said the King's daughter,
"that you waver like a rag, and pale like a
dead leaf before my eyes?"
"Because the morrow has come that I have
thought upon, and the hour of my power,"
said the crone; and she fell on the beach,
and lo! she was but stalks of the sea
tangle, and dust of the sea sand, and the
sand lice hopped upon the place of her.
"This is the strangest thing that befell
between two seas," said the King's daughter
But the nurse broke out and moaned like an
autumn gale. "I am weary of the wind,"
quoth she; and she bewailed her day.
The King's daughter was aware of a man upon
the beach; he went hooded so that none might
perceive his face, and a pipe was underneath
his arm. The sound of his pipe was like
singing wasps, and like the wind that sings
in windlestraw; and it took hold upon men's
ears like the crying of gulls.
"Are you the comer?" quoth the King's daughter
"I am the corner," said he, "and these are
the pipes that a man may hear, and I have
power upon the hour, and this is the song of
the morrow." And he piped the song of the
morrow, and it was as long as years; and the
nurse wept out aloud at the hearing of it.
"This is true," said the King's daughter,
"that you pipe the song of the morrow; but
that ye have power upon the hour, how may I
know that? Show me a marvel here upon the
beach, between the waves and the dead leaves."
And the man said, "Upon whom?"
"Here is my nurse," quoth the King's daughter.
"She is weary of the wind. Show me a good
marvel upon her."
And lo! the nurse fell upon the beach as it
were two handfuls of dead leaves, and the
wind whirled them widdershins, and the sand
lice hopped between.
"It is true," said the King's daughter of
Duntrine, "you are the comer, and you have
power upon the hour. Come with me to my stone
So they went by the sea margin, and the man
piped the song of the morrow, and the leaves
followed behind them as they went. Then they
sat down together; and the sea beat on the
terrace, and the gulls cried about the towers,
and the wind crooned in the chimneys of the
house. Nine years they sat, and every year
when it fell autumn, the man said, "This is
the hour, and I have power in it," and the
daughter of the King said, "Nay, but pipe me
the song of the morrow." And he piped it, and
it was long like years.
Now when the nine years were gone, the King's
daughter of Duntrine got her to her feet, like
one that remembers; and she looked about her
in the masoned house; and all her servants
were gone; only the man that piped sat upon
the terrace with the hood upon his face; and
as he piped the leaves ran about the terrace
and the sea beat along the wall. Then she
cried to him with a great voice, "This is the
hour, and let me see the power in it." And
with that the wind blew off the hood from
the man's face, and lo! there was no man
there, only the clothes and the hood and
the pipes tumbled one upon another in a corner
of the terrace, and the dead leaves ran over
And the King's daughter of Duntrine got her
to that part of the beach where strange things
had been done in the ancient ages; and there
she sat her down. The sea foam ran to her
feet, and the dead leaves swarmed about her
back, and the veil blew about her face in the
blowing of the wind. And when she lifted up
her eyes, there was the daughter of a King
come walking on the beach. Her hair was like
the spun gold, and her eyes like pools in a
river, and she had no thought for the morrow
and no power upon the hour, after the manner
of simple men.
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~