Saturday, November 10, 2007



Edited by
Books Yellow, Red, and Green and Blue,
All true, or just as good as true,
And here's the Yellow Book for YOU!
Hard is the path from A to Z,
And puzzling to a curly head,
Yet leads to Books--Green, Blue, and Red.
For every child should understand
That letters from the first were planned
To guide us into Fairy Land
So labour at your Alphabet,
For by that learning shall you get
To lands where Fairies may be met.
And going where this pathway goes,
You too, at last, may find, who knows?
The Garden of the Singing Rose.
The Editor thinks that children will readily forgive him for
publishing another Fairy Book. We have had the Blue, the Red,
the Green, and here is the Yellow. If children are pleased, and
they are so kind as to say that they are pleased, the Editor does
not care very much for what other people may say. Now, there is
one gentleman who seems to think that it is not quite right to
print so many fairy tales, with pictures, and to publish them in
red and blue covers. He is named Mr. G. Laurence Gomme, and he
is president of a learned body called the Folk Lore Society.
Once a year he makes his address to his subjects, of whom the
Editor is one, and Mr. Joseph Jacobs (who has published many
delightful fairy tales with pretty pictures)[1] is another.
Fancy, then, the dismay of Mr. Jacobs, and of the Editor, when
they heard their president say that he did not think it very nice
in them to publish fairy books, above all, red, green, and blue
fairy books! They said that they did not see any harm in it,
and they were ready to 'put themselves on their country,' and be
tried by a jury of children. And, indeed, they still see no harm
in what they have done; nay, like Father William in the poem,
they are ready 'to do it again and again.'
[1] You may buy them from Mr. Nutt, in the Strand.
Where is the harm? The truth is that the Folk Lore Society--made
up of the most clever, learned, and beautiful men and women of
the country--is fond of studying the history and geography of
Fairy Land. This is contained in very old tales, such as country
people tell, and savages:
'Little Sioux and little Crow,
Little frosty Eskimo.'
These people are thought to know most about fairyland and its
inhabitants. But, in the Yellow Fairy Book, and the rest, are
many tales by persons who are neither savages nor rustics, such
as Madame D'Aulnoy and Herr Hans Christian Andersen. The Folk
Lore Society, or its president, say that THEIR tales are not so
true as the rest, and should not be published with the rest. But
WE say that all the stories which are pleasant to read are quite
true enough for us; so here they are, with pictures by Mr. Ford,
and we do not think that either the pictures or the stories are
likely to mislead children.
As to whether there are really any fairies or not, that is a
difficult question. Professor Huxley thinks there are none. The
Editor never saw any himself, but he knows several people who
have seen them--in the Highlands--and heard their music. If ever
you are in Nether Lochaber, go to the Fairy Hill, and you may
hearthe music yourself, as grown-up people have done, but you
must goon a fine day. Again, if there are really no fairies, why
dopeople believe in them, all over the world? The ancient Greeks
believed, so did the old Egyptians, and the Hindoos, and the Red
Indians, and is it likely, if there are no fairies, that so many
different peoples would have seen and heard them? The Rev. Mr.
Baring-Gould saw several fairies when he was a boy, and was
travelling in the land of the Troubadours. For these reasons,
the Editor thinks that there are certainly fairies, but they
never do anyone any harm; and, in England, they have been
frightened away by smoke and schoolmasters. As to Giants, they
have died out, but real Dwarfs are common in the forests of
Africa. Probably a good many stories not perfectly true have
been told about fairies, but such stories have also been told
about Napoleon, Claverhouse, Julius Caesar, and Joan of Arc, all
of whom certainly existed. A wise child will, therefore,
remember that, if he grows up and becomes a member of the Folk
Lore Society, ALL the tales in this book were not offered to him
as absolutely truthful, but were printed merely for his
entertainment. The exact facts he can learn later, or he can
leave them alone.
There are Russian, German, French, Icelandic, Red Indian, and
other stories here. They were translated by Miss Cheape, Miss
Alma, and Miss Thyra Alleyne, Miss Sellar, Mr. Craigie (he did
the Icelandic tales), Miss Blackley, Mrs. Dent, and Mrs. Lang,
but the Red Indian stories are copied from English versions
published by the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology, in America.
Mr. Ford did the pictures, and it is hoped that children will
find the book not less pleasing than those which have already
been submitted to their consideration. The Editor cannot say
'good-bye' without advising them, as they pursue their studies,
to read The Rose and the Ring, by the late Mr. Thackeray, with
pictures by the author. This book he thinks quite indispensable
in every child's library, and parents should be urged to purchase
it at the first opportunity, as without it no education is
The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership
The Six Swans
The Dragon of the North
Story of the Emperor's New Clothes
The Golden Crab
The Iron Stove
The Dragon and his Grandmother
The Donkey Cabbage
The Little Green Frog
The Seven-headed Serpent
The Grateful Beasts
The Giants and the Herd-boy
The Invisible Prince
The Crow
How Six Men travelled through the Wide World
The Wizard King
The Nixy
The Glass Mountain
Alphege, or the Green Monkey
The Three Brothers
The Boy and the Wolves, or the Broken Promise
The Glass Axe
The Dead Wife
In the Land of Souls
The White Duck
The Witch and her Servants
The Magic Ring
The Flower Queen's Daughter
The Flying Ship
The Snow-daughter and the Fire-son
The Story of King Frost
The Death of the Sun-hero
The Witch
The Hazel-nut Child
The Story of Big Klaus and Little Klaus
Prince Ring
The Swineherd
How to tell a True Princess
The Blue Mountains
The Tinder-box
The Witch in the Stone Boat
The Nightingale
Hermod and Hadvor
The Steadfast Tin-soldier
Blockhead Hans
A Story about a Darning-needle
A cat had made acquaintance with a mouse, and had spoken so much
of the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at last
the Mouse consented to live in the same house with her, and to go
shares in the housekeeping. 'But we must provide for the winter
or else we shall suffer hunger,' said the Cat. 'You, little
Mouse, cannot venture everywhere in case you run at last into a
trap.' This good counsel was followed, and a little pot of fat
was bought. But they did not know where to put it. At length,
after long consultation, the Cat said, 'I know of no place where
it could be better put than in the church. No one will trouble
to take it away from there. We will hide it in a corner, and we
won't touch it till we are in want.' So the little pot was
placed in safety; but it was not long before the Cat had a great
longing for it, and said to the Mouse, 'I wanted to tell you,
little Mouse, that my cousin has a little son, white with brown
spots, and she wants me to be godmother to it. Let me go out
to-day, and do you take care of the house alone.'
'Yes, go certainly,' replied the Mouse, 'and when you eat
anything good, think of me; I should very much like a drop of the
red christening wine.'
But it was all untrue. The Cat had no cousin, and had not been
asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, slunk to
the little pot of fat, began to lick it, and licked the top off.
Then she took a walk on the roofs of the town, looked at the
view, stretched herself out in the sun, and licked her lips
whenever she thought of the little pot of fat. As soon as it was
evening she went home again.
'Ah, here you are again!' said the Mouse; 'you must certainly
have had an enjoyable day.'
'It went off very well,' answered the Cat.
'What was the child's name?' asked the Mouse.
'Top Off,' said the Cat drily.
'Topoff!' echoed the Mouse, 'it is indeed a wonderful and curious
name. Is it in your family?'
'What is there odd about it?' said the Cat. 'It is not worse
than Breadthief, as your godchild is called.'
Not long after this another great longing came over the Cat. She
said to the Mouse, 'You must again be kind enough to look after
the house alone, for I have been asked a second time to stand
godmother, and as this child has a white ring round its neck, I
cannot refuse.'
The kind Mouse agreed, but the Cat slunk under the town wall to
the church, and ate up half of the pot of fat. 'Nothing tastes
better,' said she, 'than what one eats by oneself,' and she was
very much pleased with her day's work. When she came home the
Mouse asked, 'What was this child called?'
'Half Gone,' answered the Cat.
'Halfgone! what a name! I have never heard it in my life. I
don't believe it is in the calendar.'
Soon the Cat's mouth began to water once more after her licking
business. 'All good things in threes,' she said to the Mouse; 'I
have again to stand godmother. The child is quite black, and has
very white paws, but not a single white hair on its body. This
only happens once in two years, so you will let me go out?'
'Topoff! Halfgone!' repeated the Mouse, 'they are such curious
names; they make me very thoughtful.'
'Oh, you sit at home in your dark grey coat and your long tail,'
said the Cat, 'and you get fanciful. That comes of not going out
in the day.'
The Mouse had a good cleaning out while the Cat was gone, and
made the house tidy; but the greedy Cat ate the fat every bit up.
'When it is all gone one can be at rest,' she said to herself,
and at night she came home sleek and satisfied. The Mouse asked
at once after the third child's name.
'It won't please you any better,' said the Cat, 'he was called
Clean Gone.'
'Cleangone!' repeated the Mouse. 'I do not believe that name has
been printed any more than the others. Cleangone! What can it
mean?' She shook her head, curled herself up, and went to sleep.
From this time on no one asked the Cat to stand godmother; but
when the winter came and there was nothing to be got outside, the
Mouse remembered their provision and said, 'Come, Cat, we will go
to our pot of fat which we have stored away; it will taste very
'Yes, indeed,' answered the Cat; ' it will taste as good to you
as if you stretched your thin tongue out of the window.'
They started off, and when they reached it they found the pot in
its place, but quite empty!
'Ah,' said the Mouse,' 'now I know what has happened! It has all
come out! You are a true friend to me! You have eaten it all
when you stood godmother; first the top off, then half of it
gone, then----'
'Will you be quiet!' screamed the Cat. 'Another word and I will
eat you up.'
'Cleangone' was already on the poor Mouse's tongue, and scarcely
was it out than the Cat made a spring at her, seized and
swallowed her.
You see that is the way of the world.
A king was once hunting in a great wood, and he hunted the game
so eagerly that none of his courtiers could follow him. When
evening came on he stood still and looked round him, and he saw
that he had quite lost himself. He sought a way out, but could
find none. Then he saw an old woman with a shaking head coming
towards him; but she was a witch.
'Good woman,' he said to her, 'can you not show me the way out of
the wood?'
'Oh, certainly, Sir King,' she replied, 'I can quite well do
that, but on one condition, which if you do not fulfil you will
never get out of the wood, and will die of hunger.'
'What is the condition?' asked the King.
'I have a daughter,' said the old woman, 'who is so beautiful
that she has not her equal in the world, and is well fitted to be
your wife; if you will make her lady-queen I will show you the
way out of the wood.'
The King in his anguish of mind consented, and the old woman led
him to her little house where her daughter was sitting by the
fire. She received the King as if she were expecting him, and he
saw that she was certainly very beautiful; but she did not please
him, and he could not look at her without a secret feeling of
horror. As soon as he had lifted the maiden on to his horse the
old woman showed him the way, and the King reached his palace,
where the wedding was celebrated.
The King had already been married once, and had by his first wife
seven children, six boys and one girl, whom he loved more than
anything in the world. And now, because he was afraid that their
stepmother might not treat them well and might do them harm, he
put them in a lonely castle that stood in the middle of a wood.
It lay so hidden, and the way to it was so hard to find, that he
himself could not have found it out had not a wise-woman given
him a reel of thread which possessed a marvellous property: when
he threw it before him it unwound itself and showed him the way.
But the King went so often to his dear children that the Queen
was offended at his absence. She grew curious, and wanted to
know what he had to do quite alone in the wood. She gave his
servants a great deal of money, and they betrayed the secret to
her, and also told her of the reel which alone could point out
the way. She had no rest now till she had found out where the
King guarded the reel, and then she made some little white
shirts, and, as she had learnt from her witch-mother, sewed an
enchantment in each of them.
And when the King had ridden off she took the little shirts and
went into the wood, and the reel showed her the way. The
children, who saw someone coming in the distance, thought it was
their dear father coming to them, and sprang to meet him very
joyfully. Then she threw over each one a little shirt, which
when it had touched their bodies changed them into swans, and
they flew away over the forest. The Queen went home quite
satisfied, and thought she had got rid of her step-children; but
the girl had not run to meet her with her brothers, and she knew
nothing of her.
The next day the King came to visit his children, but he found no
one but the girl.
'Where are your brothers?' asked the King.
'Alas! dear father,' she answered, 'they have gone away and left
me all alone.' And she told him that looking out of her little
window she had seen her brothers flying over the wood in the
shape of swans, and she showed him the feathers which they had
let fall in the yard, and which she had collected. The King
mourned, but he did not think that the Queen had done the wicked
deed, and as he was afraid the maiden would also be taken from
him, he wanted to take her with him. But she was afraid of the
stepmother, and begged the King to let her stay just one night
more in the castle in the wood. The poor maiden thought, 'My
home is no longer here; I will go and seek my brothers.' And
when night came she fled away into the forest. She ran all
through the night and the next day, till she could go no farther
for weariness. Then she saw a little hut, went in, and found a
room with six little beds. She was afraid to lie down on one, so
she crept under one of them, lay on the hard floor, and was going
to spend the night there. But when the sun had set she heard a
noise, and saw six swans flying in at the window. They stood on
the floor and blew at one another, and blew all their feathers
off, and their swan-skin came off like a shirt. Then the maiden
recognised her brothers, and overjoyed she crept out from under
the bed. Her brothers were not less delighted than she to see
their little sister again, but their joy did not last long.
'You cannot stay here,' they said to her. 'This is a den of
robbers; if they were to come here and find you they would kill
'Could you not protect me?' asked the little sister.
'No,' they answered, 'for we can only lay aside our swan skins
for a quarter of an hour every evening. For this time we regain
our human forms, but then we are changed into swans again.'
Then the little sister cried and said, 'Can you not be freed?'
'Oh, no,' they said, 'the conditions are too hard. You must not
speak or laugh for six years, and must make in that time six
shirts for us out of star-flowers. If a single word comes out of
your mouth, all your labour is vain.' And when the brothers had
said this the quarter of an hour came to an end, and they flew
away out of the window as swans.
But the maiden had determined to free her brothers even if it
should cost her her life. She left the hut, went into the
forest, climbed a tree, and spent the night there. The next
morning she went out, collected star-flowers, and began to sew.
She could speak to no one, and she had no wish to laugh, so she
sat there, looking only at her work.
When she had lived there some time, it happened that the King of
the country was hunting in the forest, and his hunters came to
the tree on which the maiden sat. They called to her and said
'Who are you?'
But she gave no answer.
'Come down to us,' they said, 'we will do you no harm.'
But she shook her head silently. As they pressed her further
with questions, she threw them the golden chain from her neck.
But they did not leave off, and she threw them her girdle, and
when this was no use, her garters, and then her dress. The
huntsmen would not leave her alone, but climbed the tree, lifted
the maiden down, and led her to the King. The King asked, 'Who
are you? What are you doing up that tree?'
But she answered nothing.
He asked her in all the languages he knew, but she remained as
dumb as a fish. Because she was so beautiful, however, the
King's heart was touched, and he was seized with a great love for
her. He wrapped her up in his cloak, placed her before him on
his horse. and brought her to his castle. There he had her
dressed in rich clothes, and her beauty shone out as bright as
day, but not a word could be drawn from her. He set her at table
by his side, and her modest ways and behaviour pleased him so
much that he said, 'I will marry this maiden and none other in
the world,' and after some days he married her. But the King had
a wicked mother who was displeased with the marriage, and said
wicked things of the young Queen. 'Who knows who this girl is?'
she said; 'she cannot speak, and is not worthy of a king.'
After a year, when the Queen had her first child, the old mother
took it away from her. Then she went to the King and said that
the Queen had killed it. The King would not believe it, and
would not allow any harm to be done her. But she sat quietly
sewing at the shirts and troubling herself about nothing. The
next time she had a child the wicked mother did the same thing,
but the King could not make up his mind to believe her. He said,
'She is too sweet and good to do such a thing as that. If she
were not dumb and could defend herself, her innocence would be
proved.' But when the third child was taken away, and the Queen
was again accused, and could not utter a word in her own defence,
the King was obliged to give her over to the law, which decreed
that she must be burnt to death. When the day came on which the
sentence was to be executed, it was the last day of the six years
in which she must not speak or laugh, and now she had freed her
dear brothers from the power of the enchantment. The six shirts
were done; there was only the left sleeve wanting to the last.
When she was led to the stake, she laid the shirts on her arm,
and as she stood on the pile and the fire was about to be
lighted, she looked around her and saw six swans flying through
the air. Then she knew that her release was at hand and her
heart danced for joy. The swans fluttered round her, and hovered
low so that she could throw the shirts over them. When they had
touched them the swan-skins fell off, and her brothers stood
before her living, well and beautiful. Only the youngest had a
swan's wing instead of his left arm. They embraced and kissed
each other, and the Queen went to the King, who was standing by
in great astonishment, and began to speak to him, saying,
'Dearest husband, now I can speak and tell you openly that I am
innocent and have been falsely accused.'
She told him of the old woman's deceit, and how she had taken the
three children away and hidden them. Then they were fetched, to
the great joy of the King, and the wicked mother came to no good
But the King and the Queen with their six brothers lived many
years in happiness and peace.
[2] 'Der Norlands Drache,' from Esthnische Mahrchen. Kreutzwald,
Very long ago, as old people have told me, there lived a terrible
monster, who came out of the North, and laid waste whole tracts
of country, devouring both men and beasts; and this monster was
so destructive that it was feared that unless help came no living
creature would be left on the face of the earth. It had a body
like an ox, and legs like a frog, two short fore-legs, and two
long ones behind, and besides that it had a tail like a serpent,
ten fathoms in length. When it moved it jumped like a frog, and
with every spring it covered half a mile of ground. Fortunately
its habit, was to remain for several years in the same place, and
not to move on till the whole neighbourhood was eaten up.
Nothing could hunt it, because its whole body was covered with
scales, which were harder than stone or metal; its two great eyes
shone by night, and even by day, like the brightest lamps, and
anyone who had the ill luck to look into those eyes became as it
were bewitched, and was obliged to rush of his own accord into
the monster's jaws. In this way the Dragon was able to feed upon
both men and beasts without the least trouble to itself, as it
needed not to move from the spot where it was lying. All the
neighbouring kings had offered rich rewards to anyone who should
be able to destroy the monster, either by force or enchantment,
and many had tried their luck, but all had miserably failed.
Once a great forest in which the Dragon lay had been set on fire;
the forest was burnt down, but the fire did not do the monster
the least harm. However, there was a tradition amongst the wise
men of the country that the Dragon might be overcome by one who
possessed King Solomon's signet-ring, upon which a secret writing
was engraved. This inscription would enable anyone who was wise
enough to interpret it to find out how the Dragon could be
destroyed. Only no one knew where the ring was hidden, nor was
there any sorcerer or learned man to be found who would be able
to explain the inscription.
At last a young man, with a good heart and plenty of courage, set
out to search for the ring. He took his way towards the
sunrising, because he knew that all the wisdom of old time comes
from the East. After some years he met with a famous Eastern
magician, and asked for his advice in the matter. The magician
'Mortal men have but little wisdom, and can give you no help, but
the birds of the air would be better guides to you if you could
learn their language. I can help you to understand it if you
will stay with me a few days.'
The youth thankfully accepted the magician's offer, and said, 'I
cannot now offer you any reward for your kindness, but should my
undertaking succeed your trouble shall be richly repaid.'
Then the magician brewed a powerful potion out of nine sorts of
herbs which he had gathered himself all alone by moonlight, and
he gave the youth nine spoonfuls of it daily for three days,
which made him able to understand the language of birds.
At parting the magician said to him. 'If you ever find Solomon's
ring and get possession of it, then come back to me, that I may
explain the inscription on the ring to you, for there is no one
else in the world who can do this.'
From that time the youth never felt lonely as he walked along; he
always had company, because he understood the language of birds;
and in this way he learned many things which mere human knowledge
could never have taught him. But time went on, and he heard
nothing about the ring. It happened one evening, when he was hot
and tired with walking, and had sat down under a tree in a forest
to eat his supper, that he saw two gaily-plumaged birds, that
were strange to him, sitting at the top of the tree talking to
one another about him. The first bird said:
'I know that wandering fool under the tree there, who has come so
far without finding what he seeks. He is trying to find King
Solomon's lost ring.'
The other bird answered, 'He will have to seek help from the
Witch-maiden,[3] who will doubtless be able to put him on the
right track. If she has not got the ring herself, she knows well
enough who has it.'
[3] Hollenmadchen.
'But where is he to find the Witch-maiden?' said the first bird.
'She has no settled dwelling, but is here to-day and gone
to-morrow. He might as well try to catch the wind.'
The other replied, 'I do not know, certainly, where she is at
present, but in three nights from now she will come to the spring
to wash her face, as she does every month when the moon is full,
in order that she may never grow old nor wrinkled, but may always
keep the bloom of youth.'
'Well,' said the first bird, 'the spring is not far from here.
Shall we go and see how it is she does it?'
'Willingly, if you like,' said the other.
The youth immediately resolved to follow the birds to the spring,
only two things made him uneasy: first, lest he might be asleep
when the birds went, and secondly, lest he might lose sight of
them, since he had not wings to carry him along so swiftly. He
was too tired to keep awake all night, yet his anxiety prevented
him from sleeping soundly, and when with the earliest dawn he
looked up to the tree-top, he was glad to see his feathered
companions still asleep with their heads under their wings. He
ate his breakfast, and waited until the birds should start, but
they did not leave the place all day. They hopped about from one
tree to another looking for food, all day long until the evening,
when they went back to their old perch to sleep. The next day
the same thing happened, but on the third morning one bird said
to the other, 'To-day we must go to the spring to see the
Witch-maiden wash her face.' They remained on the tree till
noon; then they flew away and went towards the south. The young
man's heart beat with anxiety lest he should lose sight of his
guides, but he managed to keep the birds in view until they again
perched upon a tree. The young man ran after them until he was
quite exhausted and out of breath, and after three short rests
the birds at length reached a small open space in the forest, on
the edge of which they placed themselves on the top of a high
tree. When the youth had overtaken them, he saw that there was a
clear spring in the middle of the space. He sat down at the foot
of the tree upon which the birds were perched, and listened
attentively to what they were saying to each other.
'The sun is not down yet,' said the first bird; 'we must wait yet
awhile till the moon rises and the maiden comes to the spring.
Do you think she will see that young man sitting under the tree?'
'Nothing is likely to escape her eyes, certainly not a young man,
said the other bird. 'Will the youth have the sense not to let
himself be caught in her toils?'
'We will wait,' said the first bird, 'and see how they get on
The evening light had quite faded, and the full moon was already
shining down upon the forest, when the young man heard a slight
rustling sound. After a few moments there came out of the forest
a maiden, gliding over the grass so lightly that her feet seemed
scarcely to touch the ground, and stood beside the spring. The
youth could not turn away his eyes from the maiden, for he had
never in his life seen a woman so beautiful. Without seeming to
notice anything, she went to the spring, looked up to the full
moon, then knelt down and bathed her face nine times, then looked
up to the moon again and walked nine times round the well, and as
she walked she sang this song:
'Full-faced moon with light unshaded,
Let my beauty ne'er be faded.
Never let my cheek grow pale!
While the moon is waning nightly,
May the maiden bloom more brightly,
May her freshness never fail!'
Then she dried her face with her long hair, and was about to go
away, when her eye suddenly fell upon the spot where the young
man was sitting, and she turned towards the tree. The youth rose
and stood waiting. Then the maiden said, 'You ought to have a
heavy punishment because you have presumed to watch my secret
doings in the moonlight. But I will forgive you this time,
because you are a stranger and knew no better. But you must tell
me truly who you are and how you came to this place, where no
mortal has ever set foot before.'
The youth answered humbly: 'Forgive me, beautiful maiden, if I
have unintentionally offended you. I chanced to come here after
long wandering, and found a good place to sleep under this tree.
At your coming I did not know what to do, but stayed where I was,
because I thought my silent watching could not offend you.'
The maiden answered kindly, 'Come and spend this night with us.
You will sleep better on a pillow than on damp moss.'
The youth hesitated for a little, but presently he heard the
birds saying from the top of the tree, 'Go where she calls you,
but take care to give no blood, or you will sell your soul.' So
the youth went with her, and soon they reached a beautiful
garden, where stood a splendid house, which glittered in the
moonlight as if it was all built out of gold and silver. When
the youth entered he found many splendid chambers, each one finer
than the last. Hundreds of tapers burnt upon golden
candlesticks, and shed a light like the brightest day. At length
they reached a chamber where a table was spread with the most
costly dishes. At the table were placed two chairs, one of
silver, the other of gold. The maiden seated herself upon the
golden chair, and offered the silver one to her companion. They
were served by maidens dressed in white, whose feet made no sound
as they moved about, and not a word was spoken during the meal.
Afterwards the youth and the Witch-maiden conversed pleasantly
together, until a woman, dressed in red, came in to remind them
that it was bedtime. The youth was now shown into another room,
containing a silken bed with down cushions, where he slept
delightfully, yet he seemed to hear a voice near his bed which
repeated to him, 'Remember to give no blood!'
The next morning the maiden asked him whether he would not like
to stay with her always in this beautiful place, and as he did
not answer immediately, she continued: 'You see how I always
remain young and beautiful, and I am under no one's orders, but
can do just what I like, so that I have never thought of marrying
before. But from the moment I saw you I took a fancy to you, so
if you agree, we might be married and might live together like
princes, because I have great riches.'
The youth could not but be tempted with the beautiful maiden's
offer, but he remembered how the birds had called her the witch,
and their warning always sounded in his ears. Therefore he
answered cautiously, 'Do not be angry, dear maiden, if I do not
decide immediately on this important matter. Give me a few days
to consider before we come to an understanding.'
'Why not?' answered the maiden. 'Take some weeks to consider if
you like, and take counsel with your own heart.' And to make the
time pass pleasantly, she took the youth over every part of her
beautiful dwelling, and showed him all her splendid treasures.
But these treasures were all produced by enchantment, for the
maiden could make anything she wished appear by the help of King
Solomon's signet ring; only none of these things remained fixed;
they passed away like the wind without leaving a trace behind.
But the youth did not know this; he thought they were all real.
One day the maiden took him into a secret chamber, where a little
gold box was standing on a silver table. Pointing to the box,
she said, 'Here is my greatest treasure, whose like is not to be
found in the whole world. It is a precious gold ring. When you
marry me, I will give you this ring as a marriage gift, and it
will make you the happiest of mortal men. But in order that our
love may last for ever, you must give me for the ring three drops
of blood from the little finger of your left hand.'
When the youth heard these words a cold shudder ran over him, for
he remembered that his soul was at stake. He was cunning enough,
however, to conceal his feelings and to make no direct answer,
but he only asked the maiden, as if carelessly, what was
remarkable about the ring?
She answered, 'No mortal is able entirely to understand the power
of this ring, because no one thoroughly understands the secret
signs engraved upon it. But even with my half-knowledge I can
work great wonders. If I put the ring upon the little finger of
my left hand, then I can fly like a bird through the air wherever
I wish to go. If I put it on the third finger of my left hand I
am invisible, and I can see everything that passes around me,
though no one can see me. If I put the ring upon the middle
finger of my left hand, then neither fire nor water nor any sharp
weapon can hurt me. If I put it on the forefinger of my left
hand, then I can with its help produce whatever I wish. I can in
a single moment build houses or anything I desire. Finally, as
long as I wear the ring on the thumb of my left hand, that hand
is so strong that it can break down rocks and walls. Besides
these, the ring has other secret signs which, as I said, no one
can understand. No doubt it contains secrets of great
importance. The ring formerly belonged to King Solomon, the
wisest of kings, during whose reign the wisest men lived. But it
is not known whether this ring was ever made by mortal hands: it
is supposed that an angel gave it to the wise King.'
When the youth heard all this he determined to try and get
possession of the ring, though he did not quite believe in all
its wonderful gifts. He wished the maiden would let him have it
in his hand, but he did not quite like to ask her to do so, and
after a while she put it back into the box. A few days after
they were again speaking of the magic ring, and the youth said,
'I do not think it possible that the ring can have all the power
you say it has.'
Then the maiden opened the box and took the ring out, and it
glittered as she held it like the clearest sunbeam. She put it
on the middle finger of her left hand, and told the youth to take
a knife and try as hard as he could to cut her with it, for he
would not be able to hurt her. He was unwilling at first, but
the maiden insisted. Then he tried, at first only in play, and
then seriously, to strike her with the knife, but an invisible
wall of iron seemed to be between them, and the maiden stood
before him laughing and unhurt. Then she put the ring on her
third finger, and in an instant she had vanished from his eyes.
Presently she was beside him again laughing, and holding the ring
between her fingers.
'Do let me try,' said the youth, 'whether I can do these
wonderful things.'
The maiden, suspecting no treachery, gave him the magic ring.
The youth pretended to have forgotten what to do, and asked what
finger he must put the ring on so that no sharp weapon could hurt
'Oh, the middle finger of your left hand,' the maiden answered,
She took the knife and tried to strike the youth, and he even
tried to cut himself with it, but found it impossible. Then he
asked the maiden to show him how to split stones and rocks with
the help of the ring. So she led him into a courtyard where
stood a great boulder-stone. 'Now,' she said, 'put the ring upon
the thumb of your left hand, and you will see how strong that
hand has become. The youth did so, and found to his astonishment
that with a single blow of his fist the stone flew into a
thousand pieces. Then the youth bethought him that he who does
not use his luck when he has it is a fool, and that this was a
chance which once lost might never return. So while they stood
laughing at the shattered stone he placed the ring, as if in
play, upon the third finger of his left hand.
'Now,' said the maiden, 'you are invisible to me until you take
the ring off again.'
But the youth had no mind to do that; on the contrary, he went
farther off, then put the ring on the little finger of his left
hand, and soared into the air like a bird.
When the maiden saw him flying away she thought at first that he
was still in play, and cried, 'Come back, friend, for now you see
I have told you the truth.' But the young man never came back.
Then the maiden saw she was deceived, and bitterly repented that
she had ever trusted him with the ring.
The young man never halted in his flight until he reached the
dwelling of the wise magician who had taught him the speech of
birds. The magician was delighted to find that his search had
been successful, and at once set to work to interpret the secret
signs engraved upon the ring, but it took him seven weeks to make
them out clearly. Then he gave the youth the following
instructions how to overcome the Dragon of the North: 'You must
have an iron horse cast, which must have little wheels under each
foot. You must also be armed with a spear two fathoms long,
which you will be able to wield by means of the magic ring upon
your left thumb. The spear must be as thick in the middle as a
large tree, and both its ends must be sharp. In the middle of
the spear you must have two strong chains ten fathoms in length.
As soon as the Dragon has made himself fast to the spear, which
you must thrust through his jaws, you must spring quickly from
the iron horse and fasten the ends of the chains firmly to the
ground with iron stakes, so that he cannot get away from them.
After two or three days the monster's strength will be so far
exhausted that you will be able to come near him. Then you can
put Solomon's ring upon your left thumb and give him the
finishing stroke, but keep the ring on your third finger until
you have come close to him, so that the monster cannot see you,
else he might strike you dead with his long tail. But when all
is done, take care you do not lose the ring, and that no one
takes it from you by cunning.'
The young man thanked the magician for his directions, and
promised, should they succeed, to reward him. But the magician
answered, 'I have profited so much by the wisdom the ring has
taught me that I desire no other reward.' Then they parted, and
the youth quickly flew home through the air. After remaining in
his own home for some weeks, he heard people say that the
terrible Dragon of the North was not far off, and might shortly
be expected in the country. The King announced publicly that he
would give his daughter in marriage, as well as a large part of
his kingdom, to whosoever should free the country from the
monster. The youth then went to the King and told him that he
had good hopes of subduing the Dragon, if the King would grant
him all he desired for the purpose. The King willingly agreed,
and the iron horse, the great spear, and the chains were all
prepared as the youth requested. When all was ready, it was
found that the iron horse was so heavy that a hundred men could
not move it from the spot, so the youth found there was nothing
for it but to move it with his own strength by means of the
magic ring. The Dragon was now so near that in a couple of
springs he would be over the frontier. The youth now began to
consider how he should act, for if he had to push the iron horse
from behind he could not ride upon it as the sorcerer had said he
must. But a raven unexpectedly gave him this advice: 'Ride upon
the horse, and push the spear against the ground, as if you were
pushing off a boat from the land.' The youth did so, and found
that in this way he could easily move forwards. The Dragon had
his monstrous jaws wide open, all ready for his expected prey. A
few paces nearer, and man and horse would have been swallowed up
by them! The youth trembled with horror, and his blood ran cold,
yet he did not lose his courage; but, holding the iron spear
upright in his hand, he brought it down with all his might right
through the monster's lower jaw. Then quick as lightning he
sprang from his horse before the Dragon had time to shut his
mouth. A fearful clap like thunder, which could be heard for
miles around, now warned him that the Dragon's jaws had closed
upon the spear. When the youth turned round he saw the point of
the spear sticking up high above the Dragon's upper jaw, and knew
that the other end must be fastened firmly to the ground; but the
Dragon had got his teeth fixed in the iron horse, which was now
useless. The youth now hastened to fasten down the chains to the
ground by means of the enormous iron pegs which he had provided.
The death struggle of the monster lasted three days and three
nights; in his writhing he beat his tail so violently against the
ground, that at ten miles' distance the earth trembled as if with
an earthquake. When he at length lost power to move his tail,
the youth with the help of the ring took up a stone which twenty
ordinary men could not have moved, and beat the Dragon so hard
about the head with it that very soon the monster lay lifeless
before him.
You can fancy how great was the rejoicing when the news was
spread abroad that the terrible monster was dead. His conqueror
was received into the city with as much pomp as if he had been
the mightiest of kings. The old King did not need to urge his
daughter to marry the slayer of the Dragon; he found her already
willing to bestow her hand upon this hero, who had done all alone
what whole armies had tried in vain to do. In a few days a
magnificent wedding was celebrated, at which the rejoicings
lasted four whole weeks, for all the neighbouring kings had met
together to thank the man who had freed the world from their
common enemy. But everyone forgot amid the general joy that they
ought to have buried the Dragon's monstrous body, for it began
now to have such a bad smell that no one could live in the
neighbourhood, and before long the whole air was poisoned, and a
pestilence broke out which destroyed many hundreds of people. In
this distress, the King's son-in-law resolved to seek help once
more from the Eastern magician, to whom he at once travelled
through the air like a bird by the help of the ring. But there
is a proverb which says that ill-gotten gains never prosper, and
the Prince found that the stolen ring brought him ill-luck after
all. The Witch-maiden had never rested night nor day until she
had found out where the ring was. As soon as she had discovered
by means of magical arts that the Prince in the form of a bird
was on his way to the Eastern magician, she changed herself into
an eagle and watched in the air until the bird she was waiting
for came in sight, for she knew him at once by the ring which was
hung round his neck by a ribbon. Then the eagle pounced upon the
bird, and the moment she seized him in her talons she tore the
ring from his neck before the man in bird's shape had time to
prevent her. Then the eagle flew down to the earth with her
prey, and the two stood face to face once more in human form.
'Now, villain, you are in my power!' cried the Witch-maiden. 'I
favoured you with my love, and you repaid me with treachery and
theft. You stole my most precious jewel from me, and do you
expect to live happily as the King's son-in-law? Now the tables
are turned; you are in my power, and I will be revenged on you
for your crimes.'
'Forgive me! forgive me!' cried the Prince; 'I know too well how
deeply I have wronged you, and most heartily do I repent it.'
The maiden answered, 'Your prayers and your repentance come too
late, and if I were to spare you everyone would think me a fool.
You have doubly wronged me; first you scorned my love, and then
you stole my ring, and you must bear the punishment.'
With these words she put the ring upon her left thumb, lifted the
young man with one hand, and walked away with him under her arm.
This time she did not take him to a splendid palace, but to a
deep cave in a rock, where there were chains hanging from the
wall. The maiden now chained the young man's hands and feet so
that he could not escape; then she said in an angry voice, 'Here
you shall remain chained up until you die. I will bring you
every day enough food to prevent you dying of hunger, but you
need never hope for freedom any more.' With these words she left
The old King and his daughter waited anxiously for many weeks for
the Prince's return, but no news of him arrived. The King's
daughter often dreamed that her husband was going through some
great suffering: she therefore begged her father to summon all
the enchanters and magicians, that they might try to find out
where the Prince was and how he could be set free. But the
magicians, with all their arts, could find out nothing, except
that he was still living and undergoing great suffering; but none
could tell where he was to be found. At last a celebrated
magician from Finland was brought before the King, who had found
out that the King's son-in-law was imprisoned in the East, not by
men, but by some more powerful being. The King now sent
messengers to the East to look for his son-in-law, and they by
good luck met with the old magician who had interpreted the signs
on King Solomon's ring, and thus was possessed of more wisdom
than anyone else in the world. The magician soon found out what
he wished to know, and pointed out the place where the Prince was
imprisoned, but said: 'He is kept there by enchantment, and
cannot be set free without my help. I will therefore go with you
So they all set out, guided by birds, and after some days came to
the cave where the unfortunate Prince had been chained up for
nearly seven years. He recognised the magician immediately, but
the old man did not know him, he had grown so thin. However, he
undid the chains by the help of magic, and took care of the
Prince until he recovered and became strong enough to travel.
When he reached home he found that the old King had died that
morning, so that he was now raised to the throne. And now after
his long suffering came prosperity, which lasted to the end of
his life; but he never got back the magic ring, nor has it ever
again been seen by mortal eyes.
Now, if YOU had been the Prince, would you not rather have stayed
with the pretty witch-maiden?
[4] Andersen.
Many years ago there lived an Emperor who was so fond of new
clothes that he spent all his money on them in order to be
beautifully dressed. He did not care about his soldiers, he did
not care about the theatre; he only liked to go out walking to
show off his new clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the
day; and just as they say of a king, 'He is in the
council-chamber,' they always said here, 'The Emperor is in the
In the great city in which he lived there was always something
going on; every day many strangers came there. One day two
impostors arrived who gave themselves out as weavers, and said
that they knew how to manufacture the most beautiful cloth
imaginable. Not only were the texture and pattern uncommonly
beautiful, but the clothes which were made of the stuff possessed
this wonderful property that they were invisible to anyone who
was not fit for his office, or who was unpardonably stupid.
'Those must indeed be splendid clothes,' thought the Emperor.
'If I had them on I could find out which men in my kingdom are
unfit for the offices they hold; I could distinguish the wise
from the stupid! Yes, this cloth must be woven for me at once.'
And he gave both the impostors much money, so that they might
begin their work.
They placed two weaving-looms, and began to do as if they were
working, but they had not the least thing on the looms. They
also demanded the finest silk and the best gold, which they put
in their pockets, and worked at the empty looms till late into
the night.
'I should like very much to know how far they have got on with
the cloth,' thought the Emperor. But he remembered when he
thought about it that whoever was stupid or not fit for his
office would not be able to see it. Now he certainly believed
that he had nothing to fear for himself, but he wanted first to
send somebody else in order to see how he stood with regard to
his office. Everybody in the whole town knew what a wonderful
power the cloth had, and they were all curious to see how bad or
how stupid their neighbour was.
'I will send my old and honoured minister to the weavers,'
thought the Emperor. 'He can judge best what the cloth is like,
for he has intellect, and no one understands his office better
than he.'
Now the good old minister went into the hall where the two
impostors sat working at the empty weaving-looms. 'Dear me!'
thought the old minister, opening his eyes wide, 'I can see
nothing!' But he did not say so.
Both the impostors begged him to be so kind as to step closer,
and asked him if it were not a beautiful texture and lovely
colours. They pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old
minister went forward rubbing his eyes; but he could see nothing,
for there was nothing there.
'Dear, dear!' thought he, 'can I be stupid? I have never thought
that, and nobody must know it! Can I be not fit for my office?
No, I must certainly not say that I cannot see the cloth!'
'Have you nothing to say about it?' asked one of the men who was
'Oh, it is lovely, most lovely!' answered the old minister,
looking through his spectacles. 'What a texture! What colours!
Yes, I will tell the Emperor that it pleases me very much.'
'Now we are delighted at that,' said both the weavers, and
thereupon they named the colours and explained the make of the
The old minister paid great attention, so that he could tell the
same to the Emperor when he came back to him, which he did.
The impostors now wanted more money, more silk, and more gold to
use in their weaving. They put it all in their own pockets, and
there came no threads on the loom, but they went on as they had
done before, working at the empty loom. The Emperor soon sent
another worthy statesman to see how the weaving was getting on,
and whether the cloth would soon be finished. It was the same
with him as the first one; he looked and looked, but because
there was nothing on the empty loom he could see nothing.
'Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?' asked the two impostors,
and they pointed to and described the splendid material which was
not there.
'Stupid I am not!' thought the man, 'so it must be my good office
for which I am not fitted. It is strange, certainly, but no one
must be allowed to notice it.' And so he praised the cloth which
he did not see, and expressed to them his delight at the
beautiful colours and the splendid texture. 'Yes, it is quite
beautiful,' he said to the Emperor.
Everybody in the town was talking of the magnificent cloth.
Now the Emperor wanted to see it himself while it was still on
the loom. With a great crowd of select followers, amongst whom
were both the worthy statesmen who had already been there before,
he went to the cunning impostors, who were now weaving with all
their might, but without fibre or thread.
'Is it not splendid!' said both the old statesmen who had already
been there. 'See, your Majesty, what a texture! What colours!'
And then they pointed to the empty loom, for they believed that
the others could see the cloth quite well.
'What!' thought the Emperor, 'I can see nothing! This is indeed
horrible! Am I stupid? Am I not fit to be Emperor? That were
the most dreadful thing that could happen to me. Oh, it is very
beautiful,' he said. 'It has my gracious approval.' And then he
nodded pleasantly, and examined the empty loom, for he would not
say that he could see nothing.
His whole Court round him looked and looked, and saw no more than
the others; but they said like the Emperor, 'Oh! it is
beautiful!' And they advised him to wear these new and
magnificent clothes for the first time at the great procession
which was soon to take place. 'Splendid! Lovely! Most
beautiful!' went from mouth to mouth; everyone seemed delighted
over them, and the Emperor gave to the impostors the title of
Court weavers to the Emperor.
Throughout the whole of the night before the morning on which the
procession was to take place, the impostors were up and were
working by the light of over sixteen candles. The people could
see that they were very busy making the Emperor's new clothes
ready. They pretended they were taking the cloth from the loom,
cut with huge scissors in the air, sewed with needles without
thread, and then said at last, 'Now the clothes are finished!'
The Emperor came himself with his most distinguished knights, and
each impostor held up his arm just as if he were holding
something, and said, 'See! here are the breeches! Here is the
coat! Here the cloak!' and so on.
'Spun clothes are so comfortable that one would imagine one had
nothing on at all; but that is the beauty of it!'
'Yes,' said all the knights, but they could see nothing, for
there was nothing there.
'Will it please your Majesty graciously to take off your
clothes,' said the impostors, 'then we will put on the new
clothes, here before the mirror.'
The Emperor took off all his clothes, and the impostors placed
themselves before him as if they were putting on each part of his
new clothes which was ready, and the Emperor turned and bent
himself in front of the mirror.
'How beautifully they fit! How well they sit!' said everybody.
'What material! What colours! It is a gorgeous suit!'
'They are waiting outside with the canopy which your Majesty is
wont to have borne over you in the procession,' announced the
Master of the Ceremonies.
'Look, I am ready,' said the Emperor. 'Doesn't it sit well!' And
he turned himself again to the mirror to see if his finery was on
all right.
The chamberlains who were used to carry the train put their hands
near the floor as if they were lifting up the train; then they
did as if they were holding something in the air. They would not
have it noticed that they could see nothing.
So the Emperor went along in the procession under the splendid
canopy, and all the people in the streets and at the windows
said, 'How matchless are the Emperor's new clothes! That train
fastened to his dress, how beautifully it hangs!'
No one wished it to be noticed that he could see nothing, for
then he would have been unfit for his office, or else very
stupid. None of the Emperor's clothes had met with such approval
as these had.
'But he has nothing on!' said a little child at last.
'Just listen to the innocent child!' said the father, and each
one whispered to his neighbour what the child had said.
'But he has nothing on!' the whole of the people called out at
This struck the Emperor, for it seemed to him as if they were
right; but he thought to himself, 'I must go on with the
procession now. And the chamberlains walked along still more
uprightly, holding up the train which was not there at all.
[5] 'Prinz Krebs,' from Griechische Mahrchen. Schmidt.
Once upon a time there was a fisherman who had a wife and three
children. Every morning he used to go out fishing, and whatever
fish he caught he sold to the King. One day, among the other
fishes, he caught a golden crab. When he came home he put all
the fishes together into a great dish, but he kept the Crab
separate because it shone so beautifully, and placed it upon a
high shelf in the cupboard. Now while the old woman, his wife,
was cleaning the fish, and had tucked up her gown so that her
feet were visible, she suddenly heard a voice, which said:
'Let down, let down thy petticoat
That lets thy feet be seen.'
She turned round in surprise, and then she saw the little
creature, the Golden Crab.
'What! You can speak, can you, you ridiculous crab?' she said,
for she was not quite pleased at the Crab's remarks. Then she
took him up and placed him on a dish.
When her husband came home and they sat down to dinner, they
presently heard the Crab's little voice saying, 'Give me some
too.' They were all very much surprised, but they gave him
something to eat. When the old man came to take away the plate
which had contained the Crab's dinner, he found it full of gold,
and as the same thing happened every day he soon became very fond
of the Crab.
One day the Crab said to the fisherman's wife, 'Go to the King
and tell him I wish to marry his younger daughter.'
The old woman went accordingly, and laid the matter before the
King, who laughed a little at the notion of his daughter marrying
a crab, but did not decline the proposal altogether, because he
was a prudent monarch, and knew that the Crab was likely to be a
prince in disguise. He said, therefore, to the fisherman's wife,
'Go, old woman, and tell the Crab I will give him my daughter if
by to-morrow morning he can build a wall in front of my castle
much higher than my tower, upon which all the flowers of the
world must grow and bloom.'
The fisherman's wife went home and gave this message.
Then the Crab gave her a golden rod, and said, 'Go and strike
with this rod three times upon the ground on the place which the
King showed you, and to-morrow morning the wall will be there.'
The old woman did so and went away again.
The next morning, when the King awoke, what do you think he saw?
The wall stood there before his eyes, exactly as he had bespoken
Then the old woman went back to the King and said to him, 'Your
Majesty's orders have been fulfilled.'
'That is all very well,' said the King, 'but I cannot give away
my daughter until there stands in front of my palace a garden in
which there are three fountains, of which the first must play
gold, the second diamonds, and the third brilliants.'
So the old woman had to strike again three times upon the ground
with the rod, and the next morning the garden was there. The
King now gave his consent, and the wedding was fixed for the very
next day.
Then the Crab said to the old fisherman, 'Now take this rod; go
and knock with it on a certain mountain; then a black man[6] will
come out and ask you what you wish for. Answer him thus: ''Your
master, the King, has sent me to tell you that you must send him
his golden garment that is like the sun.'' Make him give you,
besides, the queenly robes of gold and precious stones which are
like the flowery meadows, and bring them both to me. And bring
me also the golden cushion.'
[6] Ein Mohr.
The old man went and did his errand. When he had brought the
precious robes, the Crab put on the golden garment and then crept
upon the golden cushion, and in this way the fisherman carried
him to the castle, where the Crab presented the other garment to
his bride. Now the ceremony took place, and when the married
pair were alone together the Crab made himself known to his young
wife, and told her how he was the son of the greatest king in the
world, and how he was enchanted, so that he became a crab by day
and was a man only at night; and he could also change himself
into an eagle as often as he wished. No sooner had he said this
than he shook himself, and immediately became a handsome youth,
but the next morning he was forced to creep back again into his
crab-shell. And the same thing happened every day. But the
Princess's affection for the Crab, and the polite attention with
which she behaved to him, surprised the royal family very much.
They suspected some secret, but though they spied and spied, they
could not discover it. Thus a year passed away, and the Princess
had a son, whom she called Benjamin. But her mother still
thought the whole matter very strange. At last she said to the
King that he ought to ask his daughter whether she would not like
to have another husband instead of the Crab? But when the
daughter was questioned she only answered:
'I am married to the Crab, and him only will I have.'
Then the King said to her, 'I will appoint a tournament in your
honour, and I will invite all the princes in the world to it, and
if any one of them pleases you, you shall marry him.'
In the evening the Princess told this to the Crab, who said to
her, 'Take this rod, go to the garden gate and knock with it,
then a black man will come out and say to you, ''Why have you
called me, and what do you require of me?'' Answer him thus:
'Your master the King has sent me hither to tell you to send him
his golden armour and his steed and the silver apple.'' And bring
them to me.'
The Princess did so, and brought him what he desired.
The following evening the Prince dressed himself for the
tournament. Before he went he said to his wife, 'Now mind you do
not say when you see me that I am the Crab. For if you do this
evil will come of it. Place yourself at the window with your
sisters; I will ride by and throw you the silver apple. Take it
in your hand, but if they ask you who I am, say that you do not
know.' So saying, he kissed her, repeated his warning once more,
and went away.
The Princess went with her sisters to the window and looked on at
the tournament. Presently her husband rode by and threw the
apple up to her. She caught it in her hand and went with it to
her room, and by-and-by her husband came back to her. But her
father was much surprised that she did not seem to care about any
of the Princes; he therefore appointed a second tournament.
The Crab then gave his wife the same directions as before, only
this time the apple which she received from the black man was of
gold. But before the Prince went to the tournament he said to
his wife, 'Now I know you will betray me to-day.'
But she swore to him that she would not tell who he was. He then
repeated his warning and went away.
In the evening, while the Princess, with her mother and sisters,
was standing at the window, the Prince suddenly galloped past on
his steed and threw her the golden apple.
Then her mother flew into a passion, gave her a box on the ear,
and cried out, 'Does not even that prince please you, you fool?'
The Princess in her fright exclaimed, 'That is the Crab himself!'
Her mother was still more angry because she had not been told
sooner, ran into her daughter's room where the crab-shell was
still lying, took it up and threw it into the fire. Then the
poor Princess cried bitterly, but it was of no use; her husband
did not come back.
Now we must leave the Princess and turn to the other persons in
the story. One day an old man went to a stream to dip in a crust
of bread which he was going to eat, when a dog came out of the
water, snatched the bread from his hand, and ran away. The old
man ran after him, but the dog reached a door, pushed it open,
and ran in, the old man following him. He did not overtake the
dog, but found himself above a staircase, which he descended.
Then he saw before him a stately palace, and, entering, he found
in a large hall a table set for twelve persons. He hid himself
in the hall behind a great picture, that he might see what would
happen. At noon he heard a great noise, so that he trembled with
fear. When he took courage to look out from behind the picture,
he saw twelve eagles flying in. At this sight his fear became
still greater. The eagles flew to the basin of a fountain that
was there and bathed themselves, when suddenly they were changed
into twelve handsome youths. Now they seated themselves at the
table, and one of them took up a goblet filled with wine, and
said, 'A health to my father!' And another said, 'A health to my
mother!' and so the healths went round. Then one of them said:
'A health to my dearest lady,
Long may she live and well!
But a curse on the cruel mother
That burnt my golden shell!'
And so saying he wept bitterly. Then the youths rose from the
table, went back to the great stone fountain, turned themselves
into eagles again, and flew away.
Then the old man went away too, returned to the light of day, and
went home. Soon after he heard that the Princess was ill, and
that the only thing that did her good was having stories told to
her. He therefore went to the royal castle, obtained an audience
of the Princess, and told her about the strange things he bad
seen in the underground palace. No sooner had he finished than
the Princess asked him whether he could find the way to that
'Yes,' he answered, 'certainly.'
And now she desired him to guide her thither at once. The old
man did so, and when they came to the palace he hid her behind
the great picture and advised her to keep quite still, and he
placed himself behind the picture also. Presently the eagles
came flying in, and changed themselves into young men, and in a
moment the Princess recognised her husband amongst them all, and
tried to come out of her hiding-place; but the old man held her
back. The youths seated themselves at the table; and now the
Prince said again, while he took up the cup of wine:
'A health to my dearest lady,
Long may she live and well!
But a curse on the cruel mother
That burnt my golden shell!'
Then the Princess could restrain herself no longer, but ran
forward and threw her arms round her husband. And immediately he
knew her again, and said:
'Do you remember how I told you that day that you would betray
me? Now you see that I spoke the truth. But all that bad time
is past. Now listen to me: I must still remain enchanted for
three months. Will you stay here with me till that time is
So the Princess stayed with him, and said to the old man, 'Go
back to the castle and tell my parents that I am staying here.'
Her parents were very much vexed when the old man came back and
told them this, but as soon as the three months of the Prince's
enchantment were over, he ceased to be an eagle and became once
more a man, and they returned home together. And then they lived
happily, and we who hear the story are happier still.
[7] Grimm.
Once upon a time when wishes came true there was a king's son who
was enchanted by an old witch, so that he was obliged to sit in a
large iron stove in a wood. There he lived for many years, and
no one could free him. At last a king's daughter came into the
wood; she had lost her way, and could not find her father's
kingdom again. She had been wandering round and round for nine
days, and she came at last to the iron case. A voice came from
within and asked her, 'Where do you come from, and where do you
want to go?' She answered, 'I have lost my way to my father's
kingdom, and I shall never get home again.' Then the voice from
the iron stove said, 'I will help you to find your home again,
and that in a very short time, if you will promise to do what I
ask you. I am a greater prince than you are a princess, and I
will marry you.' Then she grew frightened, and thought, 'What
can a young lassie do with an iron stove?' But as she wanted very
much to go home to her father, she promised to do what he wished.
He said, 'You must come again, and bring a knife with you to
scrape a hole in the iron.'
Then he gave her someone for a guide, who walked near her and
said nothing, but he brought her in two hours to her house.
There was great joy in the castle when the Princess came back,
and the old King fell on her neck and kissed her. But she was
very much troubled, and said, 'Dear father, listen to what has
befallen me! I should never have come home again out of the
great wild wood if I had not come to an iron stove, to whom I
have had to promise that I will go back to free him and marry
him!' The old King was so frightened that he nearly fainted, for
she was his only daughter. So they consulted together, and
determined that the miller's daughter, who was very beautiful,
should take her place. They took her there, gave her a knife,
and said she must scrape at the iron stove. She scraped for
twenty-four hours, but did not make the least impression. When
the day broke, a voice called from the iron stove, 'It seems to
me that it is day outside.' Then she answered, 'It seems so to
me; I think I hear my father's mill rattling.'
'So you are a miller's daughter! Then go away at once, and tell
the King's daughter to come.'
Then she went away, and told the old King that the thing inside
the iron stove would not have her, but wanted the Princess. The
old King was frightened, and his daughter wept. But they had a
swineherd's daughter who was even more beautiful than the
miller's daughter, and they gave her a piece of gold to go to the
iron stove instead of the Princess. Then she was taken out, and
had to scrape for four-and-twenty hours, but she could make no
impression. As soon as the day broke the voice from the stove
called out, 'It seems to be daylight outside.' Then she
answered, ' It seems so to me too; I think I hear my father
blowing his horn.' 'So you are a swineherd's daughter! Go away
at once, and let the King's daughter come. And say to her that
what I foretell shall come to pass, and if she does not come
everything in the kingdom shall fall into ruin, and not one stone
shall be left upon another.' When the Princess heard this she
began to cry, but it was no good; she had to keep her word. She
took leave of her father, put a knife in her belt, and went to
the iron stove in the wood. As soon as she reached it she began
to scrape, and the iron gave way and before two hours had passed
she had made a little hole. Then she peeped in and saw such a
beautiful youth all shining with gold and precious stones that
she fell in love with him on the spot. So she scraped away
harder than ever, and made the hole so large that he could get
out. Then he said, 'You are mine, and I am thine; you are my
bride and have set me free!' He wanted to take her with him to
his kingdom, but she begged him just to let her go once more to
her father; and the Prince let her go, but told her not to say
more than three words to her father, then to come back again. So
she went home, but alas! she said MORE THAN THREE WORDS; and
immediately the iron stove vanished and went away over a mountain
of glass and sharp swords. But the Prince was free, and was no
longer shut up in it. Then she said good-bye to her father, and
took a little money with her, and went again into the great wood
to look for the iron stove; but she could not find it. She
sought it for nine days, and then her hunger became so great that
she did not know how she could live any longer. And when it was
evening she climbed a little tree and wished that the night would
not come, because she was afraid of the wild beasts. When
midnight came she saw afar off a little light, and thought, 'Ah!
if only I could reach that!' Then she got down from the tree and
went towards the light. She came to a little old house with a
great deal of grass growing round, and stood in front of a little
heap of wood. She thought, 'Alas! what am I coming to?' and
peeped through the window; but she saw nothing inside except big
and little toads, and a table beautifully spread with roast meats
and wine, and all the dishes and drinking-cups were of silver.
Then she took heart and knocked. Then a fat toad called out:
'Little green toad with leg like crook,
Open wide the door, and look
Who it was the latch that shook.'
And a little toad came forward and let her in. When she entered
they all bid her welcome, and made her sit down. They asked her
how she came there and what she wanted. Then she told everything
that had happened to her, and how, because she had exceeded her
permission only to speak three words, the stove had disappeared
with the Prince; and how she had searched a very long time, and
must wander over mountain and valley till she found him.
Then the old toad said:
'Little green toad whose leg doth twist,
Go to the corner of which you wist,
And bring to me the large old kist.'
And the little toad went and brought out a great chest. Then
they gave her food and drink, and led her to a beautifully made
bed of silk and samite, on which she lay down and slept soundly.
When the day dawned she arose, and the old toad gave her three
things out of the huge chest to take with her. She would have
need of them, for she had to cross a high glass mountain, three
cutting swords, and a great lake. When she had passed these she
would find her lover again. So she was given three large
needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts, which she was to take
great care of. She set out with these things, and when she came
to the glass mountain which was so slippery she stuck the three
needles behind her feet and then in front, and so got over it,
and when she was on the other side put them carefully away.
Then she reached the three cutting swords, and got on her
plough-wheel and rolled over them. At last she came to a great
lake, and, when she had crossed that, arrived at a beautiful
castle. She went in and gave herself out as a servant, a poor
maid who would gladly be engaged. But she knew that the Prince
whom she had freed from the iron stove in the great wood was in
the castle. So she was taken on as a kitchen-maid for very small
wages. Now the Prince was about to marry another princess, for
he thought she was dead long ago.
In the evening, when she had washed up and was ready, she felt in
her pocket and found the three nuts which the old toad had given
her. She cracked one and was going to eat the kernel, when
behold! there was a beautiful royal dress inside it! When the
bride heard of this, she came and begged for the dress, and
wanted to buy it, saying that it was not a dress for a
serving-maid. Then she said she would not sell it unless she was
granted one favour--namely, to sleep by the Prince's door. The
bride granted her this, because the dress was so beautiful and
she had so few like it. When it was evening she said to her
bridegroom, 'That stupid maid wants to sleep by your door.'
'If you are contented, I am,' he said. But she gave him a glass
of wine in which she had poured a sleeping-draught. Then they
both went to his room, but he slept so soundly that she could not
wake him. The maid wept all night long, and said, 'I freed you
in the wild wood out of the iron stove; I have sought you, and
have crossed a glassy mountain, three sharp swords, and a great
lake before I found you, and will you not hear me now?' The
servants outside heard how she cried the whole night, and they
told their master in the morning.
When she had washed up the next evening she bit the second nut,
and there was a still more beautiful dress inside. When the
bride saw it she wanted to buy it also. But the maid did not
want money, and asked that she should sleep again by the Prince's
door. The bride, however, gave him a sleeping-draught, and he
slept so soundly that he heard nothing. But the kitchen-maid
wept the whole night long, and said, 'I have freed you in a wood
and from an iron stove; I sought you and have crossed a glassy
mountain, three sharp swords, and a great lake to find you, and
now you will not hear me!' The servants outside heard how she
cried the whole night, and in the morning they told their master.
And when she had washed up on the third night she bit the third
nut, and there was a still more beautiful dress inside that was
made of pure gold. When the bride saw it she wanted to have it,
but the maid would only give it her on condition that she should
sleep for the third time by the Prince's door. But the Prince
took care not to drink the sleeping-draught. When she began to
weep and to say, 'Dearest sweetheart, I freed you in the horrible
wild wood, and from an iron stove,' he jumped up and said, 'You
are right. You are mine, and I am thine.' Though it was still
night, he got into a carriage with her, and they took the false
bride's clothes away, so that she could not follow them. When
they came to the great lake they rowed across, and when they
reached the three sharp swords they sat on the plough-wheel, and
on the glassy mountain they stuck the three needles in. So they
arrived at last at the little old house, but when they stepped
inside it turned into a large castle. The toads were all freed,
and were beautiful King's children, running about for joy. There
they were married, and they remained in the castle, which was
much larger than that of the Princess's father's. But because
the old man did not like being left alone, they went and fetched
him. So they had two kingdoms and lived in great wealth.
A mouse has run,
My story's done.
There was once a great war, and the King had a great many
soldiers, but he gave them so little pay that they could not live
upon it. Then three of them took counsel together and determined
to desert.
One of them said to the others, 'If we are caught, we shall be
hanged on the gallows; how shall we set about it?' The other
said, 'Do you see that large cornfield there? If we were to hide
ourselves in that, no one could find us. The army cannot come
into it, and to-morrow it is to march on.'
They crept into the corn, but the army did not march on, but
remained encamped close around them. They sat for two days and
two nights in the corn, and grew so hungry that they nearly died;
but if they were to venture out, it was certain death.
They said at last, 'What use was it our deserting? We must
perish here miserably.'
Whilst they were speaking a fiery dragon came flying through the
air. It hovered near them, and asked why they were hidden there.
They answered, 'We are three soldiers, and have deserted because
our pay was so small. Now if we remain here we shall die of
hunger, and if we move out we shall be strung up on the gallows.'
'If you will serve me for seven years,' said the dragon, I will
lead you through the midst of the army so that no one shall catch
you.' 'We have no choice, and must take your offer,' said they.
Then the dragon seized them in his claws, took them through the
air over the army, and set them down on the earth a long way from
He gave them a little whip, saying, 'Whip and slash with this,
and as much money as you want will jump up before you. You can
then live as great lords, keep horses, and drive about in
carriages. But after seven years you are mine.' Then he put a
book before them, which he made all three of them sign. 'I will
then give you a riddle,' he said; 'if you guess it, you shall be
free and out of my power.' The dragon then flew away, and they
journeyed on with their little whip. They had as much money as
they wanted, wore grand clothes, and made their way into the
world. Wherever they went they lived in merrymaking and
splendour, drove about with horses and carriages, ate and drank,
but did nothing wrong.
The time passed quickly away, and when the seven years were
nearly ended two of them grew terribly anxious and frightened,
but the third made light of it, saying, 'Don't be afraid,
brothers, I wasn't born yesterday; I will guess the riddle.'
They went into a field, sat down, and the two pulled long faces.
An old woman passed by, and asked them why they were so sad.
'Alas! what have you to do with it? You cannot help us.' 'Who
knows?' she answered. 'Only confide your trouble in me.'
Then they told her that they had become the servants of the
Dragon for seven long years, and how he had given them money as
plentifully as blackberries; but as they had signed their names
they were his, unless when the seven years had passed they could
guess a riddle. The old woman said, 'If you would help
yourselves, one of you must go into the wood, and there he will
come upon a tumble-down building of rocks which looks like a
little house. He must go in, and there he will find help.'
The two melancholy ones thought, 'That won't save us!' and they
remained where they were. But the third and merry one jumped up
and went into the wood till he found the rock hut. In the hut
sat a very old woman, who was the Dragon's grandmother. She
asked him how he came, and what was his business there. He told
her all that happened, and because she was pleased with him she
took compassion on him, and said she would help him.
She lifted up a large stone which lay over the cellar, saying,
'Hide yourself there; you can hear all that is spoken in this
room. Only sit still and don't stir. When the Dragon comes, I
will ask him what the riddle is, for he tells me everything; then
listen carefully what he answers.'
At midnight the Dragon flew in, and asked for his supper. His
grandmother laid the table, and brought out food and drink till
he was satisfied, and they ate and drank together. Then in the
course of the conversation she asked him what he had done in the
day, and how many souls he had conquered.
'I haven't had much luck to-day,' he said, 'but I have a tight
hold on three soldiers.'
'Indeed! three soldiers!' said she. 'Who cannot escape you?'
'They are mine,' answered the Dragon scornfully, 'for I shall
only give them one riddle which they will never be able to
'What sort of a riddle is it?' she asked.
'I will tell you this. In the North Sea lies a dead sea-cat--
that shall be their roast meat; and the rib of a whale--that
shall be their silver spoon; and the hollow foot of a dead
horse--that shall be their wineglass.'
When the Dragon had gone to bed, his old grandmother pulled up
the stone and let out the soldier.
'Did you pay attention to everything?'
'Yes,' he replied, 'I know enough, and can help myself
Then he went by another way through the window secretly, and in
all haste back to his comrades. He told them how the Dragon had
been outwitted by his grandmother, and how he had heard from his
own lips the answer to the riddle.
Then they were all delighted and in high spirits, took out their
whip, and cracked so much money that it came jumping up from the
ground. When the seven years had quite gone, the Fiend came with
his book, and, pointing at the signatures, said, 'I will take
you underground with me; you shall have a meal there. If you can
tell me what you will get for your roast meat, you shall be free,
and shall also keep the whip.'
Then said the first soldier, 'In the North Sea lies a dead seacat;
that shall be the roast meat.'
The Dragon was much annoyed, and hummed and hawed a good deal,
and asked the second, 'But what shall be your spoon?'
'The rib of a whale shall be our silver spoon.'
The Dragon-made a face, and growled again three times, 'Hum, hum,
hum,' and said to the third, 'Do you know what your wineglass
shall be?'
'An old horse's hoof shall be our wineglass.'
Then the Dragon flew away with a loud shriek, and had no more
power over them. But the three soldiers took the little whip,
whipped as much money as they wanted, and lived happily to their
lives end.
There was once a young Hunter who went boldly into the forest.
He had a merry and light heart, and as he went whistling along
there came an ugly old woman, who said to him, 'Good-day, dear
hunter! You are very merry and contented, but I suffer hunger
and thirst, so give me a trifle.' The Hunter was sorry for the
poor old woman, and he felt in his pocket and gave her all he
could spare. He was going on then, but the old woman stopped him
and said, 'Listen, dear hunter, to what I say. Because of your
kind heart I will make you a present. Go on your way, and in a
short time you will come to a tree on which sit nine birds who
have a cloak in their claws and are quarrelling over it. Then
take aim with your gun and shoot in the middle of them; they will
let the cloak fall, but one of the birds will be hit and will
drop down dead. Take the cloak with you; it is a wishing-cloak,
and when you throw it on your shoulders you have only to wish
yourself at a certain place, and in the twinkling of an eye you
are there. Take the heart out of the dead bird and swallow it
whole, and early every morning when you get up you will find a
gold piece under your pillow.'
The Hunter thanked the wise woman, and thought to himself 'These
are splendid things she has promised me, if only they come to
pass!' So he walked on about a hundred yards, and then he heard
above him in the branches such a screaming and chirping that he
looked up, and there he saw a heap of birds tearing a cloth with
their beaks and feet, shrieking, tugging, and fighting, as if
each wanted it for himself. 'Well,' said the Hunter, 'this is
wonderful! It is just as the old woman said'; and he took his
gun on his shoulder, pulled the trigger, and shot into the midst
of them, so that their feathers flew about. Then the flock took
flight with much screaming, but one fell dead, and the cloak
fluttered down. Then the Hunter did as the old woman had told
him: he cut open the bird, found its heart, swallowed it, and
took the cloak home with him. The next morning when he awoke he
remembered the promise, and wanted to see if it had come true.
But when he lifted up his pillow, there sparkled the gold piece,
and the next morning he found another, and so on every time he
got up. He collected a heap of gold, but at last he thought to
himself, 'What good is all my gold to me if I stay at home? I
will travel and look a bit about me in the world.' So he took
leave of his parents, slung his hunting knapsack and his gun
round him, and journeyed into the world.
It happened that one day he went through a thick wood, and when
he came to the end of it there lay in the plain before him a
large castle. At one of the windows in it stood an old woman
with a most beautiful maiden by her side, looking out. But the
old woman was a witch, and she said to the girl, 'There comes one
out of the wood who has a wonderful treasure in his body which we
must manage to possess ourselves of, darling daughter; we have
more right to it than he. He has a bird's heart in him, and so
every morning there lies a gold piece under his pillow.'
She told her how they could get hold of it, and how she was to
coax it from him, and at last threatened her angrily, saying,
'And if you do not obey me, you shall repent it!'
When the Hunter came nearer he saw the maiden, and said to
himself, 'I have travelled so far now that I will rest, and turn
into this beautiful castle; money I have in plenty.' But the
real reason was that he had caught sight of the lovely face.
He went into the house, and was kindly received and hospitably
entertained. It was not long before he was so much in love with
the witch-maiden that he thought of nothing else, and only looked
in her eyes, and whatever she wanted, that he gladly did. Then
the old witch said, 'Now we must have the bird-heart; he will not
feel when it is gone.' She prepared a drink, and when it was
ready she poured it in a goblet and gave it to the maiden, who
had to hand it to the hunter.
'Drink to me now, my dearest,' she said. Then he took the
goblet, and when he had swallowed the drink the bird-heart came
out of his mouth. The maiden had to get hold of it secretly and
then swallow it herself, for the old witch wanted to have it.
Thenceforward he found no more gold under his pillow, and it lay
under the maiden's; but he was so much in love and so much
bewitched that he thought of nothing except spending all his time
with the maiden.
Then the old witch said, 'We have the bird-heart, but we must
also get the wishing-cloak from him.'
The maiden answered, 'We will leave him that; he has already lost
his wealth!'
The old witch grew angry, and said, 'Such a cloak is a wonderful
thing, it is seldom to be had in the world, and have it I must
and will.' She beat the maiden, and said that if she did not
obey it would go ill with her.
So she did her mother's bidding, and, standing one day by the
window, she looked away into the far distance as if she were very
'Why are you standing there looking so sad?' asked the Hunter.
'Alas, my love,' she replied, ' over there lies the granite
mountain where the costly precious stones grow. I have a great
longing to go there, so that when I think of it I am very sad.
For who can fetch them? Only the birds who fly; a man, never.'
'If you have no other trouble,' said the Hunter, 'that one I can
easily remove from your heart.'
So he wrapped her round in his cloak and wished themselves to the
granite mountain, and in an instant there they were, sitting on
it! The precious stones sparkled so brightly on all sides that
it was a pleasure to see them, and they collected the most
beautiful and costly together. But now the old witch had through
her caused the Hunter's eyes to become heavy.
He said to the maiden, 'We will sit down for a little while and
rest; I am so tired that I can hardly stand on my feet.'
So they sat down, and he laid his head on her lap and fell
asleep. As soon as he was sound asleep she unfastened the cloak
from his shoulders, threw it on her own, left the granite and
stones, and wished herself home again.
But when the Hunter had finished his sleep and awoke, he found
that his love had betrayed him and left him alone on the wild
mountain. 'Oh,' said he, 'why is faithlessness so great in the
world?' and he sat down in sorrow and trouble, not knowing what
to do.
But the mountain belonged to fierce and huge giants, who lived on
it and traded there, and he had not sat long before he saw three
of them striding towards him. So he lay down as if he had fallen
into a deep sleep.
The giants came up, and the first pushed him with his foot, and
said, 'What sort of an earthworm is that?'
The second said, 'Crush him dead.'
But the third said contemptuously, 'It is not worth the trouble!
Let him live; he cannot remain here, and if he goes higher up the
mountain the clouds will take him and carry him off.'
Talking thus they went away. But the Hunter had listened to
their talk, and as soon as they had gone he rose and climbed to
the summit. When he had sat there a little while a cloud swept
by, and, seizing him, carried him away. It travelled for a time
in the sky, and then it sank down and hovered over a large
vegetable garden surrounded by walls, so that he came safely to
the ground amidst cabbages and vegetables. The Hunter then
looked about him, saying, 'If only I had something to eat! I am
so hungry, and it will go badly with me in the future, for I see
here not an apple or pear or fruit of any kind--nothing but
vegetables everywhere.' At last he thought, 'At a pinch I can
eat a salad; it does not taste particularly nice, but it will
refresh me.' So he looked about for a good head and ate it, but
no sooner had he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls than he felt
very strange, and found himself wonderfully changed. Four legs
began to grow on him, a thick head, and two long ears, and he saw
with horror that he had changed into a donkey. But as he was
still very hungry and this juicy salad tasted very good to his
present nature, he went on eating with a still greater appetite.
At last he got hold of another kind of cabbage, but scarcely had
swallowed it when he felt another change, and he once more
regained his human form.
The Hunter now lay down and slept off his weariness. When he
awoke the next morning he broke off a head of the bad and a head
of the good cabbage, thinking, 'This will help me to regain my
own, and to punish faithlessness.' Then he put the heads in his
pockets, climbed the wall, and started off to seek the castle of
his love. When he had wandered about for a couple of days he
found it quite easily. He then browned his face quickly, so that
his own mother would not have known him, and went into the
castle, where he begged for a lodging.
'I am so tired,' he said, 'I can go no farther.'
The witch asked, 'Countryman, who are you, and what is your
He answered, 'I am a messenger of the King, and have been sent to
seek the finest salad that grows under the sun. I have been so
lucky as to find it, and am bringing it with me; but the heat of
the sun is so great that the tender cabbage threatens to grow
soft, and I do not know if I shall be able to bring it any
When the old witch heard of the fine salad she wanted to eat it,
and said, 'Dear countryman, just let me taste the wonderful
'Why not?' he answered; 'I have brought two heads with me, and
will give you one.'
So saying, he opened his sack and gave her the bad one. The
witch suspected no evil, and her mouth watered to taste the new
dish, so that she went into the kitchen to prepare it herself.
When it was ready she could not wait till it was served at the
table, but she immediately took a couple of leaves and put them
in her mouth. No sooner, however, had she swallowed them than
she lost human form, and ran into the courtyard in the shape of a
Now the servant came into the kitchen, and when she saw the salad
standing there ready cooked she was about to carry it up, but on
the way, according to her old habit, she tasted it and ate a
couple of leaves. Immediately the charm worked, and she became a
donkey, and ran out to join the old witch, and the dish with the
salad in it fell to the ground. In the meantime, the messenger
was sitting with the lovely maiden, and as no one came with the
salad, and she wanted very much to taste it, she said, 'I don't
know where the salad is.'
Then thought the Hunter, 'The cabbage must have already begun to
work.' And he said, 'I will go to the kitchen and fetch it
When he came there he saw the two donkeys running about in the
courtyard, but the salad was lying on the ground.
'That's all right,' said he; 'two have had their share!' And
lifting the remaining leaves up, he laid them on the dish and
brought them to the maiden.
'I am bringing you the delicious food my own self,' he said, 'so
that you need not wait any longer.'
Then she ate, and, as the others had done, she at once lost her
human form, and ran as a donkey into the yard.
When the Hunter had washed his face, so that the changed ones
might know him, he went into the yard, saying, 'Now you shall
receive a reward for your faithlessness.'
He tied them all three with a rope, and drove them away till he
came to a mill. He knocked at the window, and the miller put his
head out and asked what he wanted.
'I have three tiresome animals,' he answered, 'which I don't want
to keep any longer. If you will take them, give them food and
stabling, and do as I tell you with them, I will pay you as much
as you want.'
The miller replied, 'Why not? What shall I do with them?'
Then the Hunter said that to the old donkey, which was the witch,
three beatings and one meal; to the younger one, which was the
servant, one beating and three meals; and to the youngest one,
which was the maiden, no beating and three meals; for he could
not find it in his heart to let the maiden be beaten.
Then he went back into the castle, and he found there all that he
wanted. After a couple of days the miller came and said that he
must tell him that the old donkey which was to have three
beatings and only one meal had died. 'The two others,' he added,
'are certainly not dead, and get their three meals every day, but
they are so sad that they cannot last much longer.'
Then the Hunter took pity on them, laid aside his anger, and told
the miller to drive them back again. And when they came he gave
them some of the good cabbage to eat, so that they became human
again. Then the beautiful maiden fell on her knees before him,
saying, 'Oh, my dearest, forgive me the ill I have done you! My
mother compelled me to do it; it was against my will, for I love
you dearly. Your wishing-cloak is hanging in a cupboard, and as
for the bird-heart I will make a drink and give it back to you.'
But he changed his mind, and said, 'Keep it; it makes no
difference, for I will take you to be my own dear true wife.'
And the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happy together
till death.
[8] Cabinet des Fees.
In a part of the world whose name I forget lived once upon a time
two kings, called Peridor and Diamantino. They were cousins as
well as neighbours, and both were under the protection of the
fairies; though it is only fair to say that the fairies did not
love them half so well as their wives did.
Now it often happens that as princes can generally manage to get
their own way it is harder for them to be good than it is for
common people. So it was with Peridor and Diamantino; but of the
two, the fairies declared that Diamantino was much the worst;
indeed, he behaved so badly to his wife Aglantino, that the
fairies would not allow him to live any longer; and he died,
leaving behind him a little daughter. As she was an only child,
of course this little girl was the heiress of the kingdom, but,
being still only a baby, her mother, the widow of Diamantino, was
proclaimed regent. The Queen-dowager was wise and good, and
tried her best to make her people happy. The only thing she had
to vex her was the absence of her daughter; for the fairies, for
reasons of their own, determined to bring up the little Princess
Serpentine among themselves.
As to the other King, he was really fond of his wife, Queen
Constance, but he often grieved her by his thoughtless ways, and
in order to punish him for his carelessness, the fairies caused
her to die quite suddenly. When she was gone the King felt how
much he had loved her, and his grief was so great (though he
never neglected his duties) that his subjects called him Peridor
the Sorrowful. It seems hardly possible that any man should live
like Peridor for fifteen years plunged in such depth of grief,
and most likely he would have died too if it had not been for the
The one comfort the poor King had was his son, Prince Saphir, who
was only three years old at the time of his mother's death, and
great care was given to his education. By the time he was
fifteen Saphir had learnt everything that a prince should know,
and he was, besides, charming and agreeable.
It was about this time that the fairies suddenly took fright lest
his love for his father should interfere with the plans they had
made for the young prince. So, to prevent this, they placed in a
pretty little room of which Saphir was very fond a little mirror
in a black frame, such as were often brought from Venice. The
Prince did not notice for some days that there was anything new
in the room, but at last he perceived it, and went up to look at
it more closely. What was his surprise to see reflected in the
mirror, not his own face, but that of a young girl as lovely as
the morning! And, better still, every movement of the girl, just
growing out of childhood, was also reflected in the wonderful
As might have been expected, the young Prince lost his heart
completely to the beautiful image, and it was impossible to get
him out of the room, so busy was he in watching the lovely
unknown. Certainly it was very delightful to be able to see her
whom he loved at any moment he chose, but his spirits sometimes
sank when he wondered what was to be the end of this adventure.
The magic mirror had been for about a year in the Prince's
possession, when one day a new subject of disquiet seized upon
him. As usual, he was engaged in looking at the girl, when
suddenly he thought he saw a second mirror reflected in the
first, exactly like his own, and with the same power. And in
this he was perfectly right. The young girl had only possessed
it for a short time, and neglected all her duties for the sake of
the mirror. Now it was not difficult for Saphir to guess the
reason of the change in her, nor why the new mirror was consulted
so often; but try as he would he could never see the face of the
person who was reflected in it, for the young girl's figure
always came between. All he knew was that the face was that of a
man, and this was quite enough to make him madly jealous. This
was the doing of the fairies, and we must suppose that they had
their reasons for acting as they did.
When these things happened Saphir was about eighteen years old,
and fifteen years had passed away since the death of his mother.
King Peridor had grown more and more unhappy as time went on, and
at last he fell so ill that it seemed as if his days were
numbered. He was so much beloved by his subjects that this sad
news was heard with despair by the nation, and more than all by
the Prince.
During his whole illness the King never spoke of anything but the
Queen, his sorrow at having grieved her, and his hope of one day
seeing her again. All the doctors and all the water-cures in the
kingdom had been tried, and nothing would do him any good. At
last he persuaded them to let him lie quietly in his room, where
no one came to trouble him.
Perhaps the worst pain he had to bear was a sort of weight on his
chest, which made it very hard for him to breathe. So he
commanded his servants to leave the windows open in order that he
might get more air. One day, when he had been left alone for a
few minutes, a bird with brilliant plumage came and fluttered
round the window, and finally rested on the sill. His feathers
were sky-blue and gold, his feet and his beak of such glittering
rubies that no one could bear to look at them, his eyes made the
brightest diamonds look dull, and on his head he wore a crown. I
cannot tell you what the crown was made of, but I am quite
certain that it was still more splendid than all the rest. As to
his voice I can say nothing about that, for the bird never sang
at all. In fact, he did nothing but gaze steadily at the King,
and as he gazed, the King felt his strength come back to him. In
a little while the bird flew into the room, still with his eyes
fixed on the King, and at every glance the strength of the sick
man became greater, till he was once more as well as he used to
be before the Queen died. Filled with joy at his cure, he tried
to seize the bird to whom he owed it all, but, swifter than a
swallow, it managed to avoid him. In vain he described the bird
to his attendants, who rushed at his first call; in vain they
sought the wonderful creature both on horse and foot, and
summoned the fowlers to their aid: the bird could nowhere be
found. The love the people bore King Peridor was so strong, and
the reward he promised was so large, that in the twinkling of an
eye every man, woman, and child had fled into the fields, and the
towns were quite empty.
All this bustle, however, ended in nothing but confusion, and,
what was worse, the King soon fell back into the same condition
as he was in before. Prince Saphir, who loved his father very
dearly, was so unhappy at this that he persuaded himself that he
might succeed where the others had failed, and at once prepared
himself for a more distant search. In spite of the opposition he
met with, he rode away, followed by his household, trusting to
chance to help him. He had formed no plan, and there was no
reason that he should choose one path more than another. His
only idea was to make straight for those spots which were the
favourite haunts of birds. But in vain he examined all the
hedges and all the thickets; in vain he questioned everyone he
met along the road. The more he sought the less he found.
At last he came to one of the largest forests in all the world,
composed entirely of cedars. But in spite of the deep shadows
cast by the wide-spreading branches of the trees, the grass
underneath was soft and green, and covered with the rarest
flowers. It seemed to Saphir that this was exactly the place
where the birds would choose to live, and he determined not to
quit the wood until he had examined it from end to end. And he
did more. He ordered some nets to be prepared and painted of the
same colours as the bird's plumage, thinking that we are all
easily caught by what is like ourselves. In this he had to help
him not only the fowlers by profession, but also his attendants,
who excelled in this art. For a man is not a courtier unless he
can do everything.
After searching as usual for nearly a whole day Prince Saphir
began to feel overcome with thirst. He was too tired to go any
farther, when happily he discovered a little way off a bubbling
fountain of the clearest water. Being an experienced traveller,
he drew from his pocket a little cup (without which no one should
ever take a journey), and was just about to dip it in the water,
when a lovely little green frog, much prettier than frogs
generally are, jumped into the cup. Far from admiring its
beauty, Saphir shook it impatiently off; but it was no good, for
quick as lightning the frog jumped back again. Saphir, who was
raging with thirst, was just about to shake it off anew, when the
little creature fixed upon him the most beautiful eyes in the
world, and said, 'I am a friend of the bird you are seeking, and
when you have quenched your thirst listen to me.'
So the Prince drank his fill, and then, by the command of the
Little Green Frog, he lay down on the grass to rest himself.
'Now,' she began, 'be sure you do exactly in every respect what I
tell you. First you must call together your attendants, and
order them to remain in a little hamlet close by until you want
them. Then go, quite alone, down a road that you will find on
your right hand, looking southwards. This road is planted all
the way with cedars of Lebanon; and after going down it a long
way you will come at last to a magnificent castle. And now,' she
went on, 'attend carefully to what I am going to say. Take this
tiny grain of sand, and put it into the ground as close as you
can to the gate of the castle. It has the virtue both of opening
the gate and also of sending to sleep all the inhabitants. Then
go at once to the stable, and pay no heed to anything except what
I tell you. Choose the handsomest of all the horses, leap
quickly on its back, and come to me as fast as you can.
Farewell, Prince; I wish you good luck,' and with these words the
Little Frog plunged into the water and disappeared.
The Prince, who felt more hopeful than he had done since he left
home, did precisely as he had been ordered. He left his
attendants in the hamlet, found the road the frog had described
to him, and followed it all alone, and at last he arrived at the
gate of the castle, which was even more splendid than he had
expected, for it was built of crystal, and all its ornaments were
of massive gold. However, he had no thoughts to spare for its
beauty, and quickly buried his grain of sand in the earth. In
one instant the gates flew open, and all the dwellers inside fell
sound asleep. Saphir flew straight to the stable, and already
had his hand on the finest horse it contained, when his eye was
caught by a suit of magnificent harness hanging up close by. It
occurred to him directly that the harness belonged to the horse,
and without ever thinking of harm (for indeed he who steals a
horse can hardly be blamed for taking his saddle), he hastily
placed it on the animal's back. Suddenly the people in the
castle became broad awake, and rushed to the stable. They flung
themselves on the Prince, seized him, and dragged him before
their lord; but, luckily for the Prince, who could only find very
lame excuses for his conduct, the lord of the castle took a fancy
to his face, and let him depart without further questions.
Very sad, and very much ashamed of himself poor Saphir crept back
to the fountain, where the Frog was awaiting him with a good
'Whom do you take me for?' she exclaimed angrily. 'Do you really
believe that it was just for the pleasure of talking that I gave
you the advice you have neglected so abominably?'
But the Prince was so deeply grieved, and apologised so very
humbly, that after some time the heart of the good little Frog
was softened, and she gave him another tiny little grain, but
instead of being sand it was now a grain of gold. She directed
him to do just as he had done before, with only this difference,
that instead of going to the stable which had been the ruin of
his hopes, he was to enter right into the castle itself, and to
glide as fast as he could down the passages till he came to a
room filled with perfume, where he would find a beautiful maiden
asleep on a bed. He was to wake the maiden instantly and carry
her off, and to be sure not to pay any heed to whatever
resistance she might make.
The Prince obeyed the Frog's orders one by one, and all went well
for this second time also. The gate opened, the inhabitants fell
sound asleep, and he walked down the passage till he found the
girl on her bed, exactly as he had been told he would. He woke
her, and begged her firmly, but politely, to follow him quickly.
After a little persuasion the maiden consented, but only on
condition that she was allowed first to put on her dress. This
sounded so reasonable and natural that it did not enter the
Prince's head to refuse her request.
But the maiden's hand had hardly touched the dress when the
palace suddenly awoke from its sleep, and the Prince was seized
and bound. He was so vexed with his own folly, and so taken
aback at the disaster, that he did not attempt to explain his
conduct, and things would have gone badly with him if his friends
the fairies had not softened the hearts of his captors, so that
they once more allowed him to leave quietly. However, what
troubled him most was the idea of having to meet the Frog who had
been his benefactress. How was he ever to appear before her with
this tale? Still, after a long struggle with himself, he made up
his mind that there was nothing else to be done, and that he
deserved whatever she might say to him. And she said a great
deal, for she had worked herself into a terrible passion; but the
Prince humbly implored her pardon, and ventured to point out that
it would have been very hard to refuse the young lady's
reasonable request. 'You must learn to do as you are told,' was
all the Frog would reply.
But poor Saphir was so unhappy, and begged so hard for
forgiveness, that at last the Frog's anger gave way, and she held
up to him a tiny diamond stone. 'Go back,' she said, 'to the
castle, and bury this little diamond close to the door. But be
careful not to return to the stable or to the bedroom; they have
proved too fatal to you. Walk straight to the garden and enter
through a portico, into a small green wood, in the midst of which
is a tree with a trunk of gold and leaves of emeralds. Perched
on this tree you will see the beautiful bird you have been
seeking so long. You must cut the branch on which it is sitting,
and bring it back to me without delay. But I warn you solemnly
that if you disobey my directions, as you have done twice before,
you have nothing more to expect either of me or anyone else.'
With these words she jumped into the water, and the Prince, who
had taken her threats much to heart, took his departure, firmly
resolved not to deserve them. He found it all just as he had
been told: the portico, the wood, the magnificent tree, and the
beautiful bird, which was sleeping soundly on one of the
branches. He speedily lopped off the branch, and though he
noticed a splendid golden cage hanging close by, which would have
been very useful for the bird to travel in, he left it alone, and
came back to the fountain, holding his breath and walking on
tip-toe all the way, for fear lest he should awake his prize.
But what was his surprise, when instead of finding the fountain
in the spot where he had left it, he saw in its place a little
rustic palace built in the best taste, and standing in the
doorway a charming maiden, at whose sight his mind seemed to give
'What! Madam!' he cried, hardly knowing what he said. 'What!
Is it you?'
The maiden blushed and answered: 'Ah, my lord, it is long since I
first beheld your face, but I did not think you had ever seen
'Oh, madam,' replied he, 'you can never guess the days and the
hours I have passed lost in admiration of you.' And after these
words they each related all the strange things that had happened,
and the more they talked the more they felt convinced of the
truth of the images they had seen in their mirrors. After some
time spent in the most tender conversation, the Prince could not
restrain himself from asking the lovely unknown by what lucky
chance she was wandering in the forest; where the fountain had
gone; and if she knew anything of the Frog to whom he owed all
his happiness, and to whom he must give up the bird, which,
somehow or other, was still sound asleep.
'Ah, my lord,' she replied, with rather an awkward air, 'as to
the Frog, she stands before you. Let me tell you my story; it is
not a long one. I know neither my country nor my parents, and
the only thing I can say for certain is that I am called
Serpentine. The fairies, who have taken care of me ever since I
was born, wished me to be in ignorance as to my family, but they
have looked after my education, and have bestowed on me endless
kindness. I have always lived in seclusion, and for the last two
years I have wished for nothing better. I had a mirror'--here
shyness and embarrassment choked her words--but regaining her
self-control, she added, 'You know that fairies insist on being
obeyed without questioning. It was they who changed the little
house you saw before you into the fountain for which you are now
asking, and, having turned me into a frog, they ordered me to say
to the first person who came to the fountain exactly what I
repeated to you. But, my lord, when you stood before me, it was
agony to my heart, filled as it was with thoughts of you, to
appear to your eyes under so monstrous a form. However, there
was no help for it, and, painful as it was, I had to submit. I
desired your success with all my soul, not only for your own
sake, but also for my own, because I could not get back my proper
shape till you had become master of the beautiful bird, though I
am quite ignorant as to your reason for seeking it.'
On this Saphir explained about the state of his father's health,
and all that has been told before.
On hearing this story Serpentine grew very sad, and her lovely
eyes filled with tears.
'Ah, my lord,' she said, 'you know nothing of me but what you
have seen in the mirror; and I, who cannot even name my parents,
learn that you are a king's son.'
In vain Saphir declared that love made them equal; Serpentine
would only reply: 'I love you too much to allow you to marry
beneath your rank. I shall be very unhappy, of course, but I
shall never alter my mind. If I do not find from the fairies
that my birth is worthy of you, then, whatever be my feelings, I
will never accept your hand.'
The conversation was at this point, and bid fair to last some
time longer, when one of the fairies appeared in her ivory car,
accompanied by a beautiful woman past her early youth. At this
moment the bird suddenly awakened, and, flying on to Saphir's
shoulder (which it never afterwards left), began fondling him as
well as a bird can do. The fairy told Serpentine that she was
quite satisfied with her conduct, and made herself very agreeable
to Saphir, whom she presented to the lady she had brought with
her, explaining that the lady was no other than his Aunt
Aglantine, widow of Diamantino.
Then they all fell into each other's arms, till the fairy mounted
her chariot, placed Aglantine by her side, and Saphir and
Serpentine on the front seat. She also sent a message to the
Prince's attendants that they might travel slowly back to the
Court of King Peridor, and that the beautiful bird had really
been found. This matter being comfortably arranged, she started
off her chariot. But in spite of the swiftness with which they
flew through the air, the time passed even quicker for Saphir and
Serpentine, who had so much to think about.
They were still quite confused with the pleasure of seeing each
other, when the chariot arrived at King Peridor's palace. He had
had himself carried to a room on the roof, where his nurses
thought that he would die at any moment. Directly the chariot
drew within sight of the castle the beautiful bird took flight,
and, making straight for the dying King, at once cured him of his
sickness. Then she resumed her natural shape, and he found that
the bird was no other than the Queen Constance, whom he had long
believed to be dead. Peridor was rejoiced to embrace his wife
and his son once more, and with the help of the fairies began to
make preparations for the marriage of Saphir and Serpentine, who
turned out to be the daughter of Aglantine and Diamantino, and as
much a princess as he was a prince. The people of the kingdom
were delighted, and everybody lived happy and contented to the
end of their lives.
[9] 'Die Siebenkopfige Schlange,' from Schmidt's Griechische
Once upon a time there was a king who determined to take a long
voyage. He assembled his fleet and all the seamen, and set out.
They went straight on night and day, until they came to an island
which was covered with large trees, and under every tree lay a
lion. As soon as the King had landed his men, the lions all rose
up together and tried to devour them. After a long battle they
managed to overcome the wild beasts, but the greater number of
the men were killed. Those who remained alive now went on
through the forest and found on the other side of it a beautiful
garden, in which all the plants of the world flourished together.
There were also in the garden three springs: the first flowed
with silver, the second with gold, and the third with pearls.
The men unbuckled their knapsacks and filled them with those
precious things. In the middle of the garden they found a large
lake, and when they reached the edge of it the Lake began to
speak, and said to them, 'What men are you, and what brings you
here? Are you come to visit our king?' But they were too much
frightened to answer.
Then the Lake said, 'You do well to be afraid, for it is at your
peril that you are come hither. Our king, who has seven heads,
is now asleep, but in a few minutes he will wake up and come to
me to take his bath! Woe to anyone who meets him in the garden,
for it is impossible to escape from him. This is what you must
do if you wish to save your lives. Take off your clothes and
spread them on the path which leads from here to the castle. The
King will then glide over something soft, which he likes very
much, and he will be so pleased with that that he will not devour
you. He will give you some punishment, but then he will let you
The men did as the Lake advised them, and waited for a time. At
noon the earth began to quake, and opened in many places, and out
of the openings appeared lions, tigers, and other wild beasts,
which surrounded the castle, and thousands and thousands of
beasts came out of the castle following their king, the
Seven-headed Serpent. The Serpent glided over the clothes which
were spread for him, came to the Lake, and asked it who had
strewed those soft things on the path? The Lake answered that it
had been done by people who had come to do him homage. The King
commanded that the men should be brought before him. They came
humbly on their knees, and in a few words told him their story.
Then he spoke to them with a mighty and terrible voice, and said,
'Because you have dared to come here, I lay upon you the
punishment. Every year you must bring me from among your people
twelve youths and twelve maidens, that I may devour them. If you
do not do this, I will destroy your whole nation.'
Then he desired one of his beasts to show the men the way out of
the garden, and dismissed them. They then left the island and
went back to their own country, where they related what had
happened to them. Soon the time came round when the king of the
beasts would expect the youths and maidens to be brought to him.
The King therefore issued a proclamation inviting twelve youths
and twelve maidens to offer themselves up to save their country;
and immediately many young people, far more than enough, hastened
to do so. A new ship was built, and set with black sails, and in
it the youths and maidens who were appointed for the king of the
beasts embarked and set out for his country. When they arrived
there they went at once to the Lake, and this time the lions did
not stir, nor did the springs flow, and neither did the Lake
speak. So they waited then, and it was not long before the earth
quaked even more terribly than the first time. The Seven-headed
Serpent came without his train of beasts, saw his prey waiting
for him, and devoured it at one mouthful. Then the ship's crew
returned home, and the same thing happened yearly until many
years had passed.
Now the King of this unhappy country was growing old, and so was
the Queen, and they had no children. One day the Queen was
sitting at the window weeping bitterly because she was childless,
and knew that the crown would therefore pass to strangers after
the King's death. Suddenly a little old woman appeared before
her, holding an apple in her hand, and said, 'Why do you weep, my
Queen, and what makes you so unhappy?'
'Alas, good mother,' answered the Queen, 'I am unhappy because I
have no children.'
'Is that what vexes you?' said the old woman. 'Listen to me. I
am a nun from the Spinning Convent,[10] and my mother when she
died left me this apple. Whoever eats this apple shall have a
[10] Convent Gnothi.
The Queen gave money to the old woman, and bought the apple from
her. Then she peeled it, ate it, and threw the rind out of the
window, and it so happened that a mare that was running loose in
the court below ate up the rind. After a time the Queen had a
little boy, and the mare also had a male foal. The boy and the
foal grew up together and loved each other like brothers. In
course of time the King died, and so did the Queen, and their
son, who was now nineteen years old, was left alone. One day,
when he and his horse were talking together, the Horse said to
him, 'Listen to me, for I love you and wish for your good and
that of the country. If you go on every year sending twelve
youths and twelve maidens to the King of the Beasts, your country
will very soon be ruined. Mount upon my back: I will take you to
a woman who can direct you how to kill the Seven-headed Serpent.'
Then the youth mounted his horse, who carried him far away to a
mountain which was hollow, for in its side was a great
underground cavern. In the cavern sat an old woman spinning.
This was the cloister of the nuns, and the old woman was the
Abbess. They all spent their time in spinning, and that is why
the convent has this name. All round the walls of the cavern
there were beds cut out of the solid rock, upon which the nuns
slept, and in the middle a light was burning. It was the duty of
the nuns to watch the light in turns, that it might never go out,
and if anyone of them let it go out the others put her to death.
As soon as the King's son saw the old Abbess spinning he threw
himself at her feet and entreated her to tell him how he could
kill the Seven-headed Serpent.
She made the youth rise, embraced him, and said, 'Know, my son,
that it is I who sent the nun to your mother and caused you to be
born, and with you the horse, with whose help you will be able to
free the world from the monster. I will tell you what you have
to do. Load your horse with cotton, and go by a secret passage
which I will show you, which is hidden from the wild beasts, to
the Serpent's palace. You will find the King asleep upon his
bed, which is all hung round with bells, and over his bed you
will see a sword hanging. With this sword only it is possible to
kill the Serpent, because even if its blade breaks a new one will
grow again for every head the monster has. Thus you will be able
to cut off all his seven heads. And this you must also do in
order to deceive the King: you must slip into his bed-chamber
very softly, and stop up all the bells which are round his bed
with cotton. Then take down the sword gently, and quickly give
the monster a blow on his tail with it. This will make him waken
up, and if he catches sight of you he will seize you. But you
must quickly cut off his first head, and then wait till the next
one comes up. Then strike it off also, and so go on till you
have cut off all his seven heads.'
The old Abbess then gave the Prince her blessing, and he set out
upon his enterprise, arrived at the Serpent's castle by following
the secret passage which she had shown him, and by carefully
attending to all her directions he happily succeeded in killing
the monster. As soon as the wild beasts heard of their king's
death, they all hastened to the castle, but the youth had long
since mounted his horse and was already far out of their reach.
They pursued him as fast as they could, but they found it
impossible to overtake him, and he reached home in safety. Thus
he freed his country from this terrible oppression.
[11] From the Hungarian. Kletke.
There was once upon a time a man and woman who had three
fine-looking sons, but they were so poor that they had hardly
enough food for themselves, let alone their children. So the
sons determined to set out into the world and to try their luck.
Before starting their mother gave them each a loaf of bread and
her blessing, and having taken a tender farewell of her and their
father the three set forth on their travels.
The youngest of the three brothers, whose name was Ferko, was a
beautiful youth, with a splendid figure, blue eyes, fair hair,
and a complexion like milk and roses. His two brothers were as
jealous of him as they could be, for they thought that with his
good looks he would be sure to be more fortunate than they would
ever be.
One day all the three were sitting resting under a tree, for the
sun was hot and they were tired of walking. Ferko fell fast
asleep, but the other two remained awake, and the eldest said to
the second brother, 'What do you say to doing our brother Ferko
some harm? He is so beautiful that everyone takes a fancy to
him, which is more than they do to us. If we could only get him
out of the way we might succeed better.'
'I quite agree with you,' answered the second brother, 'and my
advice is to eat up his loaf of bread, and then to refuse to give
him a bit of ours until he has promised to let us put out his
eyes or break his legs.'
His eldest brother was delighted with this proposal, and the two
wicked wretches seized Ferko's loaf and ate it all up, while the
poor boy was still asleep.
When he did awake he felt very hungry and turned to eat his
bread, but his brothers cried out, 'You ate your loaf in your
sleep, you glutton, and you may starve as long as you like, but
you won't get a scrap of ours.'
Ferko was at a loss to understand how he could have eaten in his
sleep, but he said nothing, and fasted all that day and the next
night. But on the following morning he was so hungry that he
burst into tears, and implored his brothers to give him a little
bit of their bread. Then the cruel creatures laughed, and
repeated what they had said the day before; but when Ferko
continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, 'If
you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your
legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread.'
At these words poor Ferko wept more bitterly than before, and
bore the torments of hunger till the sun was high in the heavens;
then he could stand it no longer, and he consented to allow his
left eye to be put out and his left leg to be broken. When this
was done he stretched out his hand eagerly for the piece of
bread, but his brothers gave him such a tiny scrap that the
starving youth finished it in a moment and besought them for a
second bit.
But the more Ferko wept and told his brothers that he was dying
of hunger, the more they laughed and scolded him for his greed.
So he endured the pangs of starvation all that day, but when
night came his endurance gave way, and he let his right eye be
put out and his right leg broken for a second piece of bread.
After his brothers had thus successfully maimed and disfigured
him for life, they left him groaning on the ground and continued
their journey without him.
Poor Ferko ate up the scrap of bread they had left him and wept
bitterly, but no one heard him or came to his help. Night came
on, and the poor blind youth had no eyes to close, and could only
crawl along the ground, not knowing in the least where he was
going. But when the sun was once more high in the heavens, Ferko
felt the blazing heat scorch him, and sought for some cool shady
place to rest his aching limbs. He climbed to the top of a hill
and lay down in the grass, and as he thought under the shadow of
a big tree. But it was no tree he leant against, but a gallows
on which two ravens were seated. The one was saying to the other
as the weary youth lay down, 'Is there anything the least
wonderful or remarkable about this neighbourhood?'
'I should just think there was,' replied the other; 'many things
that don't exist anywhere else in the world. There is a lake
down there below us, and anyone who bathes in it, though he were
at death's door, becomes sound and well on the spot, and those
who wash their eyes with the dew on this hill become as
sharp-sighted as the eagle, even if they have been blind from
their youth.'
'Well,' answered the first raven, 'my eyes are in no want of this
healing bath, for, Heaven be praised, they are as good as ever
they were; but my wing has been very feeble and weak ever since
it was shot by an arrow many years ago, so let us fly at once to
the lake that I may be restored to health and strength again.'
And so they flew away.
Their words rejoiced Ferko's heart, and he waited impatiently
till evening should come and he could rub the precious dew on his
sightless eyes.
At last it began to grow dusk, and the sun sank behind the
mountains; gradually it became cooler on the hill, and the grass
grew wet with dew. Then Ferko buried his face in the ground till
his eyes were damp with dewdrops, and in a moment he saw clearer
than he had ever done in his life before. The moon was shining
brightly, and lighted him to the lake where he could bathe his
poor broken legs.
Then Ferko crawled to the edge of the lake and dipped his limbs
in the water. No sooner had he done so than his legs felt as
sound and strong as they had been before, and Ferko thanked the
kind fate that had led him to the hill where he had overheard the
ravens' conversation. He filled a bottle with the healing water,
and then continued his journey in the best of spirits.
He had not gone far before he met a wolf, who was limping
disconsolately along on three legs, and who on perceiving Ferko
began to howl dismally.
'My good friend,' said the youth, 'be of good cheer, for I can
soon heal your leg,' and with these words he poured some of the
precious water over the wolf's paw, and in a minute the animal
was springing about sound and well on all fours. The grateful
creature thanked his benefactor warmly, and promised Ferko to do
him a good turn if he should ever need it.
Ferko continued his way till he came to a ploughed field. Here
he noticed a little mouse creeping wearily along on its hind
paws, for its front paws had both been broken in a trap.
Ferko felt so sorry for the little beast that he spoke to it in
the most friendly manner, and washed its small paws with the
healing water. In a moment the mouse was sound and whole, and
after thanking the kind physician it scampered away over the
ploughed furrows.
Ferko again proceeded on his journey, but he hadn't gone far
before a queen bee flew against him, trailing one wing behind
her, which had been cruelly torn in two by a big bird. Ferko
was no less willing to help her than he had been to help the wolf
and the mouse, so he poured some healing drops over the wounded
wing. On the spot the queen bee was cured, and turning to Ferko
she said, 'I am most grateful for your kindness, and shall reward
you some day.' And with these words she flew away humming,
Then Ferko wandered on for many a long day, and at length reached
a strange kingdom. Here, he thought to himself, he might as well
go straight to the palace and offer his services to the King of
the country, for he had heard that the King's daughter was as
beautiful as the day.
So he went to the royal palace, and as he entered the door the
first people he saw were his two brothers who had so shamefully
ill-treated him. They had managed to obtain places in the King's
service, and when they recognised Ferko with his eyes and legs
sound and well they were frightened to death, for they feared he
would tell the King of their conduct, and that they would be
No sooner had Ferko entered the palace than all eyes were turned
on the handsome youth, and the King's daughter herself was lost
in admiration, for she had never seen anyone so handsome in her
life before. His brothers noticed this, and envy and jealousy
were added to their fear, so much so that they determined once
more to destroy him. They went to the King and told him that
Ferko was a wicked magician, who had come to the palace with the
intention of carrying off the Princess.
Then the King had Ferko brought before him, and said, 'You are
accused of being a magician who wishes to rob me of my daughter,
and I condemn you to death; but if you can fulfil three tasks
which I shall set you to do your life shall be spared, on
condition you leave the country; but if you cannot perform what I
demand you shall be hung on the nearest tree.'
And turning to the two wicked brothers he said, 'Suggest
something for him to do; no matter how difficult, he must succeed
in it or die.'
They did not think long, but replied, 'Let him build your Majesty
in one day a more beautiful palace than this, and if he fails in
the attempt let him be hung.'
The King was pleased with this proposal, and commanded Ferko to
set to work on the following day. The two brothers were
delighted, for they thought they had now got rid of Ferko for
ever. The poor youth himself was heart-broken, and cursed the
hour he had crossed the boundary of the King's domain. As he was
wandering disconsolately about the meadows round the palace,
wondering how he could escape being put to death, a little bee
flew past, and settling on his shoulder whispered in his ear,
'What is troubling you, my kind benefactor? Can I be of any help
to you? I am the bee whose wing you healed, and would like to
show my gratitude in some way.'
Ferko recognised the queen bee, and said, 'Alas! how could you
help me? for I have been set to do a task which no one in the
whole world could do, let him be ever such a genius! To-morrow I
must build a palace more beautiful than the King's, and it must
be finished before evening.'
'Is that all?' answered the bee, 'then you may comfort yourself;
for before the sun goes down to-morrow night a palace shall be
built unlike any that King has dwelt in before. Just stay here
till I come again and tell you that it is finished.' Having said
this she flew merrily away, and Ferko, reassured by her words,
lay down on the grass and slept peacefully till the next morning.
Early on the following day the whole town was on its feet, and
everyone wondered how and where the stranger would build the
wonderful palace. The Princess alone was silent and sorrowful,
and had cried all night till her pillow was wet, so much did she
take the fate of the beautiful youth to heart.
Ferko spent the whole day in the meadows waiting the return of
the bee. And when evening was come the queen bee flew by, and
perching on his shoulder she said, 'The wonderful palace is
ready. Be of good cheer, and lead the King to the hill just
outside the city walls.' And humming gaily she flew away again.
Ferko went at once to the King and told him the palace was
finished. The whole court went out to see the wonder, and their
astonishment was great at the sight which met their eyes. A
splendid palace reared itself on the hill just outside the walls
of the city, made of the most exquisite flowers that ever grew in
mortal garden. The roof was all of crimson roses, the windows of
lilies, the walls of white carnations, the floors of glowing
auriculas and violets, the doors of gorgeous tulips and narcissi
with sunflowers for knockers, and all round hyacinths and other
sweet-smelling flowers bloomed in masses, so that the air was
perfumed far and near and enchanted all who were present.
This splendid palace had been built by the grateful queen bee,
who had summoned all the other bees in the kingdom to help her.
The King's amazement knew no bounds, and the Princess's eyes
beamed with delight as she turned them from the wonderful
building on the delighted Ferko. But the two brothers had grown
quite green with envy, and only declared the more that Ferko was
nothing but a wicked magician.
The King, although he had been surprised and astonished at the
way his commands had been carried out, was very vexed that the
stranger should escape with his life, and turning to the two
brothers he said, 'He has certainly accomplished the first task,
with the aid no doubt of his diabolical magic; but what shall we
give him to do now? Let us make it as difficult as possible, and
if he fails he shall die.'
Then the eldest brother replied, 'The corn has all been cut, but
it has not yet been put into barns; let the knave collect all the
grain in the kingdom into one big heap before to-morrow night,
and if as much as a stalk of corn is left let him be put to
The Princess grew white with terror when she heard these words;
but Ferko felt much more cheerful than he had done the first
time, and wandered out into the meadows again, wondering how he
was to get out of the difficulty. But he could think of no way
of escape. The sun sank to rest and night came on, when a little
mouse started out of the grass at Ferko's feet, and said to him,
'I'm delighted to see you, my kind benefactor; but why are you
looking so sad? Can I be of any help to you, and thus repay your
great kindness to me?'
Then Ferko recognised the mouse whose front paws he had healed,
and replied, 'Alas I how can you help me in a matter that is
beyond any human power! Before to-morrow night all the grain in
the kingdom has to be gathered into one big heap, and if as much
as a stalk of corn is wanting I must pay for it with my life.'
'Is that all?' answered the mouse; 'that needn't distress you
much. Just trust in me, and before the sun sets again you shall
hear that your task is done.' And with these words the little
creature scampered away into the fields.
Ferko, who never doubted that the mouse would be as good as its
word, lay down comforted on the soft grass and slept soundly till
next morning. The day passed slowly, and with the evening came
the little mouse and said, 'Now there is not a single stalk of
corn left in any field; they are all collected in one big heap on
the hill out there.'
Then Ferko went joyfully to the King and told him that all he
demanded had been done. And the whole Court went out to see the
wonder, and were no less astonished than they had been the first
time. For in a heap higher than the King's palace lay all the
grain of the country, and not a single stalk of corn had been
left behind in any of the fields. And how had all this been
done? The little mouse had summoned every other mouse in the
land to its help, and together they had collected all the grain
in the kingdom.
The King could not hide his amazement, but at the same time his
wrath increased, and he was more ready than ever to believe the
two brothers, who kept on repeating that Ferko was nothing more
nor less than a wicked magician. Only the beautiful Princess
rejoiced over Ferko's success, and looked on him with friendly
glances, which the youth returned.
The more the cruel King gazed on the wonder before him, the more
angry he became, for he could not, in the face of his promise,
put the stranger to death. He turned once more to the two
brothers and said, 'His diabolical magic has helped him again,
but now what third task shall we set him to do? No matter how
impossible it is, he must do it or die.'
The eldest answered quickly, 'Let him drive all the wolves of the
kingdom on to this hill before to-morrow night. If he does this
he may go free; if not he shall be hung as you have said.'
At these words the Princess burst into tears, and when the King
saw this he ordered her to be shut up in a high tower and
carefully guarded till the dangerous magician should either have
left the kingdom or been hung on the nearest tree.
Ferko wandered out into the fields again, and sat down on the
stump of a tree wondering what he should do next. Suddenly a big
wolf ran up to him, and standing still said, 'I'm very glad to
see you again, my kind benefactor. What are you thinking about
all alone by yourself? If I can help you in any way only say the
word, for I would like to give you a proof of my gratitude.'
Ferko at once recognised the wolf whose broken leg he had healed,
and told him what he had to do the following day if he wished to
escape with his life. 'But how in the world,' he added, 'am I to
collect all the wolves of the kingdom on to that hill over
'If that's all you want done,' answered the wolf, 'you needn't
worry yourself. I'll undertake the task, and you'll hear from me
again before sunset to-morrow. Keep your spirits up.' And with
these words he trotted quickly away.
Then the youth rejoiced greatly, for now he felt that his life
was safe; but he grew very sad when he thought of the beautiful
Princess, and that he would never see her again if he left the
country. He lay down once more on the grass and soon fell fast
All the next day he spent wandering about the fields, and toward
evening the wolf came running to him in a great hurry and said,
'I have collected together all the wolves in the kingdom, and
they are waiting for you in the wood. Go quickly to the King,
and tell him to go to the hill that he may see the wonder you
have done with his own eyes. Then return at once to me and get
on my back, and I will help you to drive all the wolves
Then Ferko went straight to the palace and told the King that he
was ready to perform the third task if he would come to the hill
and see it done. Ferko himself returned to the fields, and
mounting on the wolf's back he rode to the wood close by.
Quick as lightning the wolf flew round the wood, and in a minute
many hundred wolves rose up before him, increasing in number
every moment, till they could be counted by thousands. He drove
them all before him on to the hill, where the King and his whole
Court and Ferko's two brothers were standing. Only the lovely
Princess was not present, for she was shut up in her tower
weeping bitterly.
The wicked brothers stamped and foamed with rage when they saw
the failure of their wicked designs. But the King was overcome
by a sudden terror when he saw the enormous pack of wolves
approaching nearer and nearer, and calling out to Ferko he said,
'Enough, enough, we don't want any more.'
But the wolf on whose back Ferko sat, said to its rider, 'Go on!
go on!' and at the same moment many more wolves ran up the hill,
howling horribly and showing their white teeth.
The King in his terror called out, 'Stop a moment; I will give
you half my kingdom if you will drive all the wolves away.' But
Ferko pretended not to hear, and drove some more thousands before
him, so that everyone quaked with horror and fear.
Then the King raised his voice again and called out, 'Stop! you
shall have my whole kingdom, if you will only drive these wolves
back to the places they came from.'
But the wolf kept on encouraging Ferko, and said, 'Go on! go
on!' So he led the wolves on, till at last they fell on the King
and on the wicked brothers, and ate them and the whole Court up
in a moment.
Then Ferko went straight to the palace and set the Princess free,
and on the same day he married her and was crowned King of the
country. And the wolves all went peacefully back to their own
homes, and Ferko and his bride lived for many years in peace and
happiness together, and were much beloved by great and small in
the land.
[12] From the Bukowniaer. Von Wliolocki.
There was once upon a time a poor boy who had neither father nor
mother. In order to gain a living he looked after the sheep of a
great Lord. Day and night he spent out in the open fields, and
only when it was very wet and stormy did he take refuge in a
little hut on the edge of a big forest. Now one night, when he
was sitting on the grass beside his flocks, he heard not very far
from him the sound as of some one crying. He rose up and
followed the direction of the noise. To his dismay and
astonishment he found a Giant lying at the entrance of the wood;
he was about to run off as fast as his legs could carry him, when
the Giant called out: 'Don't be afraid, I won't harm you. On the
contrary, I will reward you handsomely if you will bind up my
foot. I hurt it when I was trying to root up an oak-tree.' The
Herd-boy took off his shirt, and bound up the Giant's wounded
foot with it. Then the Giant rose up and said, 'Now come and I
will reward you. We are going to celebrate a marriage to-day,
and I promise you we shall have plenty of fun. Come and enjoy
yourself, but in order that my brothers mayn't see you, put this
band round your waist and then you'll be invisible.' With these
words he handed the Herd-boy a belt, and walking on in front he
led him to a fountain where hundreds of Giants and Giantesses
were assembled preparing to hold a wedding. They danced and
played different games till midnight; then one of the Giants tore
up a plant by its roots, and all the Giants and Giantesses made
themselves so thin that they disappeared into the earth through
the hole made by the uprooting of the plant. The wounded Giant
remained behind to the last and called out, 'Herd-boy, where are
you?' 'Here I am, close to you,' was the reply. 'Touch me,' said
the Giant, 'so that you too may come with us under ground.' The
Herd-boy did as he was told, and before he could have believed it
possible he found himself in a big hall, where even the walls
were made of pure gold. Then to his astonishment he saw that the
hall was furnished with the tables and chairs that belonged to
his master. In a few minutes the company began to eat and drink.
The banquet was a very gorgeous one, and the poor youth fell to
and ate and drank lustily. When he had eaten and drunk as much
as he could he thought to himself, 'Why shouldn't I put a loaf of
bread in my pocket? I shall be glad of it to-morrow.' So he
seized a loaf when no one was looking and stowed it away under
his tunic. No sooner had he done so than the wounded Giant
limped up to him and whispered softly, 'Herd-boy, where are you?'
'Here I am,' replied the youth. 'Then hold on to me,' said the
Giant, 'so that I may lead you up above again.' So the Herd-boy
held on to the Giant, and in a few moments he found himself on
the earth once more, but the Giant had vanished. The Herd-boy
returned to his sheep, and took off the invisible belt which he
hid carefully in his bag.
The next morning the lad felt hungry, and thought he would cut
off a piece of the loaf he had carried away from the Giants'
wedding feast, and eat it. But although he tried with all his
might, he couldn't cut off the smallest piece. Then in despair
he bit the loaf, and what was his astonishment when a piece of
gold fell out of his mouth and rolled at his feet. He bit the
bread a second and third time, and each time a piece of gold fell
out of his mouth; but the bread remained untouched. The Herd-boy
was very much delighted over his stroke of good fortune, and,
hiding the magic loaf in his bag, he hurried off to the nearest
village to buy himself something to eat, and then returned to his
Now the Lord whose sheep the Herd-boy looked after had a very
lovely daughter, who always smiled and nodded to the youth when
she walked with her father in his fields. For a long time the
Herd-boy had made up his mind to prepare a surprise for this
beautiful creature on her birthday. So when the day approached
he put on his invisible belt, took a sack of gold pieces with
him, and slipping into her room in the middle of the night, he
placed the bag of gold beside her bed and returned to his sheep.
The girl's joy was great, and so was her parents' next day when
they found the sack full of gold pieces. The Herd-boy was so
pleased to think what pleasure he had given that the next night
he placed another bag of gold beside the girl's bed. And this he
continued to do for seven nights, and the girl and her parents
made up their minds that it must be a good Fairy who brought the
gold every night. But one night they determined to watch, and
see from their hiding place who the bringer of the sack of gold
really was.
On the eighth night a fearful storm of wind and rain came on
while the Herd-boy was on his way to bring the beautiful girl
another bag of gold. Then for the first time he noticed, just as
he reached his master's house, that he had forgotten the belt
which made him invisible. He didn't like the idea of going back
to his hut in the wind and wet, so he just stepped as he was into
the girl's room, laid the sack of gold beside her, and was
turning to leave the room, when his master confronted him and
said, 'You young rogue, so you were going to steal the gold that
a good Fairy brings every night, were you?' The Herd-boy was so
taken aback by his words, that he stood trembling before him, and
did not dare to explain his presence. Then his master spoke.
'As you have hitherto always behaved well in my service I will
not send you to prison; but leave your place instantly and never
let me see your face again.' So the Herd-boy went back to his
hut, and taking his loaf and belt with him, he went to the
nearest town. There he bought himself some fine clothes, and a
beautiful coach with four horses, hired two servants, and drove
back to his master. You may imagine how astonished he was to see
his Herd-boy returning to him in this manner! Then the youth
told him of the piece of good luck that had befallen him, and
asked him for the hand of his beautiful daughter. This was
readily granted, and the two lived in peace and happiness to the
end of their lives.
Once upon a time there lived a Fairy who had power over the
earth, the sea, fire, and the air; and this Fairy had four sons.
The eldest, who was quick and lively, with a vivid imagination,
she made Lord of Fire, which was in her opinion the noblest of
all the elements. To the second son, whose wisdom and prudence
made amends for his being rather dull, she gave the government of
the earth. The third was wild and savage, and of monstrous
stature; and the Fairy, his mother, who was ashamed of his
defects, hoped to hide them by creating him King of the Seas.
The youngest, who was the slave of his passions and of a very
uncertain temper, became Prince of the Air.
Being the youngest, he was naturally his mother's favourite; but
this did not blind her to his weaknesses, and she foresaw that
some day he would suffer much pain through falling in love. So
she thought the best thing she could do was to bring him up with
a horror of women; and, to her great delight, she saw this
dislike only increased as he grew older. From his earliest
childhood he heard nothing but stories of princes who had fallen
into all sorts of troubles through love; and she drew such
terrible pictures of poor little Cupid that the young man had no
difficulty in believing that he was the root of all evil.
All the time that this wise mother could spare from filling her
son with hatred for all womenkind she passed in giving him a love
of the pleasures of the chase, which henceforth became his chief
joy. For his amusement she had made a new forest, planted with
the most splendid trees, and turned loose in it every animal that
could be found in any of the four quarters of the globe. In the
midst of this forest she built a palace which had not its equal
for beauty in the whole world, and then she considered that she
had done enough to make any prince happy.
Now it is all very well to abuse the God of Love, but a man
cannot struggle against his fate. In his secret heart the Prince
got tired of his mother's constant talk on this subject; and when
one day she quitted the palace to attend to some business,
begging him never to go beyond the grounds, he at once jumped at
the chance of disobeying her.
Left to himself the Prince soon forgot the wise counsels of his
mother, and feeling very much bored with his own company, he
ordered some of the spirits of the air to carry him to the court
of a neighbouring sovereign. This kingdom was situated in the
Island of Roses, where the climate is so delicious that the grass
is always green and the flowers always sweet. The waves, instead
of beating on the rocks, seemed to die gently on the shore;
clusters of golden bushes covered the land, and the vines were
bent low with grapes.
The King of this island had a daughter named Rosalie, who was
more lovely than any girl in the whole world. No sooner had the
eyes of the Prince of the Air rested on her than he forgot all
the terrible woes which had been prophesied to him ever since he
was born, for in one single moment the plans of years are often
upset. He instantly began to think how best to make himself
happy, and the shortest way that occurred to him was to have
Rosalie carried off by his attendant spirits.
It is easy to imagine the feelings of the King when he found that
his daughter had vanished. He wept her loss night and day, and
his only comfort was to talk over it with a young and unknown
prince, who had just arrived at the Court. Alas! he did not
know what a deep interest the stranger had in Rosalie, for he too
had seen her, and had fallen a victim to her charms.
One day the King, more sorrowful than usual, was walking sadly
along the sea-shore, when after a long silence the unknown
Prince, who was his only companion, suddenly spoke. 'There is no
evil without a remedy,' he said to the unhappy father; 'and if
you will promise me your daughter in marriage, I will undertake
to bring her back to you.'
'You are trying to soothe me by vain promises,' answered the
King. 'Did I not see her caught up into the air, in spite of
cries which would have softened the heart of any one but the
barbarian who has robbed me of her? The unfortunate girl is
pining away in some unknown land, where perhaps no foot of man
has ever trod, and I shall see her no more. But go, generous
stranger; bring back Rosalie if you can, and live happy with her
ever after in this country, of which I now declare you heir.'
Although the stranger's name and rank were unknown to Rosalie's
father, he was really the son of the King of the Golden Isle,
which had for capital a city that extended from one sea to
another. The walls, washed by the quiet waters, were covered
with gold, which made one think of the yellow sands. Above them
was a rampart of orange and lemon trees, and all the streets were
paved with gold.
The King of this beautiful island had one son, for whom a life of
adventure had been foretold at his birth. This so frightened his
father and mother that in order to comfort them a Fairy, who
happened to be present at the time, produced a little pebble
which she told them to keep for the Prince till he grew up, as by
putting it in his mouth he would become invisible, as long as he
did not try to speak, for if he did the stone would lose all its
virtue. In this way the good fairy hoped that the Prince would
be protected against all dangers.
No sooner did the Prince begin to grow out of boyhood than he
longed to see if the other countries of the world were as
splendid as the one in which he lived. So, under pretence of
visiting some small islands that belonged to his father, he set
out. But a frightful storm drove his ship on to unknown shores,
where most of his followers were put to death by the savages, and
the Prince himself only managed to escape by making use of his
magic pebble. By this means he passed through the midst of them
unseen, and wandered on till he reached the coast, where he
re-embarked on board his ship.
The first land he sighted was the Island of Roses, and he went at
once to the court of the King, Rosalie's father. The moment his
eyes beheld the Princess, he fell in love with her like everyone
He had already spent several months in this condition when the
Prince of the Air whirled her away, to the grief and despair of
every man on the island. But sad though everybody was, the
Prince of the Golden Isle was perfectly inconsolable, and he
passed both days and nights in bemoaning his loss.
'Alas!' he cried; 'shall I never see my lovely Princess again?'
Who knows where she may be, and what fairy may have her in his
keeping? I am only a man, but I am strong in my love, and I will
seek the whole world through till I find her.'
So saying, he left the court, and made ready for his journey.
He travelled many weary days without hearing a single word of the
lost Princess, till one morning, as he was walking through a
thick forest, he suddenly perceived a magnificent palace standing
at the end of a pine avenue, and his heart bounded to think that
he might be gazing on Rosalie's prison. He hastened his steps,
and quickly arrived at the gate of the palace, which was formed
of a single agate. The gate swung open to let him through, and
he next passed successively three courts, surrounded by deep
ditches filled with running water, with birds of brilliant
plumage flying about the banks. Everything around was rare and
beautiful, but the Prince scarcely raised his eyes to all these
wonders. He thought only of the Princess and where he should
find her, but in vain he opened every door and searched in every
corner; he neither saw Rosalie nor anyone else. At last there
was no place left for him to search but a little wood, which
contained in the centre a sort of hall built entirely of
orange-trees, with four small rooms opening out of the corners.
Three of these were empty except for statues and wonderful
things, but in the fourth the Invisible Prince caught sight of
Rosalie. His joy at beholding her again was, however, somewhat
lessened by seeing that the Prince of the Air was kneeling at her
feet, and pleading his own cause. But it was in vain that he
implored her to listen; she only shook her head. 'No,' was all
she would say; 'you snatched me from my father whom I loved, and
all the splendour in the world can never console me. Go! I can
never feel anything towards you but hate and contempt.' With
these words she turned away and entered her own apartments.
Unknown to herself the Invisible Prince had followed her, but
fearing to be discovered by the Princess in the presence of
others, he made up his mind to wait quietly till dark; and
employed the long hours in writing a poem to the Princess, which
he laid on the bed beside her. This done, he thought of nothing
but how best to deliver Rosalie, and he resolved to take
advantage of a visit which the Prince of the Air paid every year
to his mother and brothers in order to strike the blow.
One day Rosalie was sitting alone in her room thinking of her
troubles when she suddenly saw a pen get up from off the desk and
begin to write all by itself on a sheet of white paper. As she
did not know that it was guided by an invisible hand she was very
much astonished, and the moment that the pen had ceased to move
she instantly went over to the table, where she found some lovely
verses, telling her that another shared her distresses, whatever
they might be, and loved her with all his heart; and that he
would never rest until he had delivered her from the hands of the
man she hated. Thus encouraged, she told him all her story, and
of the arrival of a young stranger in her father's palace, whose
looks had so charmed her that since that day she had thought of
no one else. At these words the Prince could contain himself no
longer. He took the pebble from his mouth, and flung himself at
Rosalie's feet.
When they had got over the first rapture of meeting they began to
make plans to escape from the power of the Prince of the Air.
But this did not prove easy, for the magic stone would only serve
for one person at a time, and in order to save Rosalie the Prince
of the Golden Isle would have to expose himself to the fury of
his enemy. But Rosalie would not hear of this.
'No, Prince,' she said; 'since you are here this island no
longer feels a prison. Besides, you are under the protection of
a Fairy, who always visits your father's court at this season.
Go instantly and seek her, and when she is found implore the gift
of another stone with similar powers. Once you have that, there
will be no further difficulty in the way of escape.'
The Prince of the Air returned a few days later from his mother's
palace, but the Invisible Prince had already set out. He had,
however, entirely forgotten the road by which he had come, and
lost himself for so long in the forest, that when at last he
reached home the Fairy had already left, and, in spite of all his
grief, there was nothing for it but to wait till the Fairy's next
visit, and allow Rosalie to suffer three months longer. This
thought drove him to despair, and he had almost made up his mind
to return to the place of her captivity, when one day, as he was
strolling along an alley in the woods, he saw a huge oak open its
trunk, and out of it step two Princes in earnest conversation.
As our hero had the magic stone in his mouth they imagined
themselves alone, and did not lower their voices.
'What!' said one, 'are you always going to allow yourself to be
tormented by a passion which can never end happily, and in your
whole kingdom can you find nothing else to satisfy you?'
'What is the use,' replied the other, 'of being Prince of the
Gnomes, and having a mother who is queen over all the four
elements, if I cannot win the love of the Princess Argentine?
From the moment that I first saw her, sitting in the forest
surrounded by flowers, I have never ceased to think of her night
and day, and, although I love her, I am quite convinced that she
will never care for me. You know that I have in my palace the
cabinets of the years. In the first, great mirrors reflect the
past; in the second, we contemplate the present; in the third,
the future can be read. It was here that I fled after I had
gazed on the Princess Argentine, but instead of love I only saw
scorn and contempt. Think how great must be my devotion, when,
in spite of my fate, I still love on!'
Now the Prince of the Golden Isle was enchanted with this
conversation, for the Princess Argentine was his sister, and he
hoped, by means of her influence over the Prince of the Gnomes,
to obtain from his brother the release of Rosalie. So he
joyfully returned to his father's palace, where he found his
friend the Fairy, who at once presented him with a magic pebble
like his own. As may be imagined, he lost no time in setting out
to deliver Rosalie, and travelled so fast that he soon arrived at
the forest, in the midst of which she lay a captive. But though
he found the palace he did not find Rosalie. He hunted high and
low, but there was no sign of her, and his despair was so great
that he was ready, a thousand times over, to take his own life.
At last he remembered the conversation of the two Princes about
the cabinets of the years, and that if he could manage to reach
the oak tree, he would be certain to discover what had become of
Rosalie. Happily, he soon found out the secret of the passage
and entered the cabinet of the present, where he saw reflected in
the mirrors the unfortunate Rosalie sitting on the floor weeping
bitterly, and surrounded with genii, who never left her night or
This sight only increased the misery of the Prince, for he did
not know where the castle was, nor how to set about finding it.
However, he resolved to seek the whole world through till he came
to the right place. He began by setting sail in a favourable
wind, but his bad luck followed him even on the sea. He had
scarcely lost sight of the land when a violent storm arose, and
after several hours of beating about, the vessel was driven on to
some rocks, on which it dashed itself to bits. The Prince was
fortunate enough to be able to lay hold of a floating spar, and
contrived to keep himself afloat; and, after a long struggle with
the winds and waves, he was cast upon a strange island. But what
was his surprise, on reaching the shore, to hear sounds of the
most heartrending distress, mingled with the sweetest songs which
had ever charmed him! His curiosity was instantly roused, and he
advanced cautiously till he saw two huge dragons guarding the
gate of a wood. They were terrible indeed to look upon. Their
bodies were covered with glittering scales; their curly tails
extended far over the land; flames darted from their mouths and
noses, and their eyes would have made the bravest shudder; but as
the Prince was invisible and they did not see him, he slipped
past them into the wood. He found himself at once in a
labyrinth, and wandered about for a long time without meeting
anyone; in fact, the only sight he saw was a circle of human
hands, sticking out of the ground above the wrist, each with a
bracelet of gold, on which a name was written. The farther he
advanced in the labyrinth the more curious he became, till he was
stopped by two corpses lying in the midst of a cypress alley,
each with a scarlet cord round his neck and a bracelet on his arm
on which were engraved their own names, and those of two
The invisible Prince recognised these dead men as Kings of two
large islands near his own home, but the names of the Princesses
were unknown to him. He grieved for their unhappy fate, and at
once proceeded to bury them; but no sooner had he laid them in
their graves, than their hands started up through the earth and
remained sticking up like those of their fellows.
The Prince went on his way, thinking about this strange
adventure, when suddenly at the turn of the walk he perceived a
tall man whose face was the picture of misery, holding in his
hands a silken cord of the exact colour of those round the necks
of the dead men. A few steps further this man came up with
another as miserable to the full as he himself; they silently
embraced, and then without a word passed the cords round their
throats, and fell dead side by side. In vain the Prince rushed
to their assistance and strove to undo the cord. He could not
loosen it; so he buried them like the others and continued his
He felt, however, that great prudence was necessary, or he
himself might become the victim of some enchantment; and he was
thankful to slip past the dragons, and enter a beautiful park,
with clear streams and sweet flowers, and a crowd of men and
maidens. But he could not forget the terrible things he had
seen, and hoped eagerly for a clue to the mystery. Noticing two
young people talking together, he drew near thinking that he
might get some explanation of what puzzled him. And so he did.
'You swear,' said the Prince, 'that you will love me till you
die, but I fear your faithless heart, and I feel that I shall
soon have to seek the Fairy Despair, ruler of half this island.
She carries off the lovers who have been cast away by their
mistresses, and wish to have done with life. She places them in
a labyrinth where they are condemned to walk for ever, with a
bracelet on their arms and a cord round their necks, unless they
meet another as miserable as themselves. Then the cord is pulled
and they lie where they fall, till they are buried by the first
passer by. Terrible as this death would be,' added the Prince,
'it would be sweeter than life if I had lost your love.'
The sight of all these happy lovers only made the Prince grieve
the more, and he wandered along the seashore spending his days;
but one day he was sitting on a rock bewailing his fate, and the
impossibility of leaving the island, when all in a moment the sea
appeared to raise itself nearly to the skies, and the caves
echoed with hideous screams. As he looked a woman rose from the
depths of the sea, flying madly before a furious giant. The
cries she uttered softened the heart of the Prince; he took the
stone from his mouth, and drawing his sword he rushed after the
giant, so as to give the lady time to escape. But hardly had he
come within reach of the enemy, than the giant touched him with a
ring that he held in his hand, and the Prince remained immovable
where he stood. The giant then hastily rejoined his prey, and,
seizing her in his arms, he plunged her into the sea. Then he
sent some tritons to bind chains about the Prince of the Golden
Isle, and he too felt himself borne to the depths of the ocean,
and without the hope of ever again seeing the Princess.
Now the giant whom the invisible had so rashly attacked was the
Lord of the Sea, and the third son of the Queen of the Elements,
and he had touched the youth with a magic ring which enabled a
mortal to live under water. So the Prince of the Golden Isle
found, when bound in chains by the tritons, he was carried
through the homes of strange monsters and past immense seaweed
forests, till he reached a vast sandy space, surrounded by huge
rocks. On the tallest of the rocks sat the giant as on a throne.
'Rash mortal,' said he, when the Prince was dragged before him,
'you have deserved death, but you shall live only to suffer more
cruelly. Go, and add to the number of those whom it is my
pleasure to torture.'
At these words the unhappy Prince found himself tied to a rock;
but he was not alone in his misfortunes, for all round him were
chained Princes and Princesses, whom the giant had led captive.
Indeed, it was his chief delight to create a storm, in order to
add to the list of his prisoners.
As his hands were fastened, it was impossible for the Prince of
the Golden Isle to make use of his magic stone, and he passed his
nights and days dreaming of Rosalie. But at last the time came
when the giant took it into his head to amuse himself by
arranging fights between some of his captives. Lots were drawn,
and one fell upon our Prince, whose chains were immediately
loosened. The moment he was set free, he snatched up his stone,
and became invisible.
The astonishment of the giant at the sudden disappearance of the
Prince may well be imagined. He ordered all the passages to be
watched, but it was too late, for the Prince had already glided
between two rocks. He wandered for a long while through the
forests, where he met nothing but fearful monsters; he climbed
rock after rock, steered his way from tree to tree, till at
length he arrived at the edge of the sea, at the foot of a
mountain that he remembered to have seen in the cabinet of the
present, where Rosalie was held captive.
Filled with joy, he made his way to the top of the mountain which
pierced the clouds, and there he found a palace. He entered, and
in the middle of a long gallery he discovered a crystal room, in
the midst of which sat Rosalie, guarded night and day by genii.
There was no door anywhere, nor any window. At this sight the
Prince became more puzzled than ever, for he did not know how he
was to warn Rosalie of his return. Yet it broke his heart to see
her weeping from dawn till dark.
One day, as Rosalie was walking up and down her room, she was
surprised to see that the crystal which served for a wall had
grown cloudy, as if some one had breathed on it, and, what was
more, wherever she moved the brightness of the crystal always
became clouded. This was enough to cause the Princess to suspect
that her lover had returned. In order to set the Prince of the
Air's mind at rest she began by being very gracious to him, so
that when she begged that her captivity might be a little
lightened she should not be refused. At first the only favour
she asked was to be allowed to walk for one hour every day up and
down the long gallery. This was granted, and the Invisible
Prince speedily took the opportunity of handing her the stone,
which she at once slipped into her mouth. No words can paint the
fury of her captor at her disappearance. He ordered the spirits
of the air to fly through all space, and to bring back Rosalie
wherever she might be. They instantly flew off to obey his
commands, and spread themselves over the whole earth.
Meantime Rosalie and the Invisible Prince had reached, hand in
hand, a door of the gallery which led through a terrace into the
gardens. In silence they glided along, and thought themselves
already safe, when a furious monster dashed itself by accident
against Rosalie and the Invisible Prince, and in her fright she
let go his hand. No one can speak as long as he is invisible,
and besides, they knew that the spirits were all around them, and
at the slightest sound they would be recognised; so all they
could do was to feel about in the hope that their hands might
once more meet.
But, alas! the joy of liberty lasted but a short time. The
Princess, having wandered in vain up and down the forest, stopped
at last on the edge of a fountain. As she walked she wrote on
the trees: 'If ever the Prince, my lover, comes this way, let him
know that it is here I dwell, and that I sit daily on the edge of
this fountain, mingling my tears with its waters.'
These words were read by one of the genii, who repeated them to
his master. The Prince of the Air, in his turn making himself
invisible, was led to the fountain, and waited for Rosalie. When
she drew near he held out his hand, which she grasped eagerly,
taking it for that of her lover; and, seizing his opportunity,
the Prince passed a cord round her arms, and throwing off his
invisibility cried to his spirits to drag her into the lowest
It was at this moment that the Invisible Prince appeared, and at
the sight of the Prince of the Genii mounting into the air,
holding a silken cord, he guessed instantly that he was carrying
off Rosalie.
He felt so overwhelmed by despair that he thought for an instant
of putting an end to his life. 'Can I survive my misfortunes?'
he cried. 'I fancied I had come to an end of my troubles, and
now they are worse than ever. What will become of me? Never can
I discover the place where this monster will hide Rosalie.'
The unhappy youth had determined to let himself die, and indeed
his sorrow alone was enough to kill him, when the thought that by
means of the cabinets of the years he might find out where the
Princess was imprisoned, gave him a little ray of comfort. So he
continued to walk on through the forest, and after some hours he
arrived at the gate of a temple, guarded by two huge lions.
Being invisible, he was able to enter unharmed. In the middle of
the temple was an altar, on which lay a book, and behind the
altar hung a great curtain. The Prince approached the altar and
opened the book, which contained the names of all the lovers in
the world: and in it he read that Rosalie had been carried off by
the Prince of the Air to an abyss which had no entrance except
the one that lay by way of the Fountain of Gold.
Now, as the Prince had not the smallest idea where this fountain
was to be found, it might be thought that he was not much nearer
Rosalie than before. This was not, however, the view taken by
the Prince.
'Though every step that I take may perhaps lead me further from
her,' he said to himself, 'I am still thankful to know that she
is alive somewhere.'
On leaving the temple the Invisible Prince saw six paths lying
before him, each of which led through the wood. He was
hesitating which to choose, when he suddenly beheld two people
coming towards him, down the track which lay most to his right.
They turned out to be the Prince Gnome and his friend, and the
sudden desire to get some news of his sister, Princess Argentine,
caused the Invisible Prince to follow them and to listen to their
'Do you think,' the Prince Gnome was saying, 'do you think that I
would not break my chains if I could? I know that the Princess
Argentine will never love me, yet each day I feel her dearer
still. And as if this were not enough, I have the horror of
feeling that she probably loves another. So I have resolved to
put myself out of my pain by means of the Golden Fountain. A
single drop of its water falling on the sand around will trace
the name of my rival in her heart. I dread the test, and yet
this very dread convinces me of my misfortune.'
It may be imagined that after listening to these words the
Invisible Prince followed Prince Gnome like his shadow, and after
walking some time they arrived at the Golden Fountain. The
unhappy lover stooped down with a sigh, and dipping his finger in
the water let fall a drop on the sand. It instantly wrote the
name of Prince Flame, his brother. The shock of this discovery
was so real, that Prince Gnome sank fainting into the arms of his
Meanwhile the Invisible Prince was turning over in his mind how
he could best deliver Rosalie. As, since he had been touched by
the Giant's ring, he had the power to live in the water as well
as on land, he at once dived into the fountain. He perceived in
one corner a door leading into the mountain, and at the foot of
the mountain was a high rock on which was fixed an iron ring with
a cord attached. The Prince promptly guessed that the cord was
used to chain the Princess, and drew his sword and cut it. In a
moment he felt the Princess's hand in his, for she had always
kept her magic pebble in her mouth, in spite of the prayers and
entreaties of the Prince of the Air to make herself visible.
So hand in hand the invisible Prince and Rosalie crossed the
mountain; but as the Princess had no power of living under water,
she could not pass the Golden Fountain. Speechless and invisible
they clung together on the brink, trembling at the frightful
tempest the Prince of the Air had raised in his fury. The storm
had already lasted many days when tremendous heat began to make
itself felt. The lightning flashed, the thunder rattled, fire
bolts fell from heaven, burning up the forests and even the
fields of corn. In one instant the very streams were dried up,
and the Prince, seizing his opportunity, carried the Princess
over the Golden Fountain.
It took them a long time still to reach the Golden Isle, but at
last they got there, and we may be quite sure they never wanted
to leave it any more.
[13] From the Polish. Kletke.
Once upon a time there were three Princesses who were all three
young and beautiful; but the youngest, although she was not
fairer than the other two, was the most loveable of them all.
About half a mile from the palace in which they lived there stood
a castle, which was uninhabited and almost a ruin, but the garden
which surrounded it was a mass of blooming flowers, and in this
garden the youngest Princess used often to walk.
One day when she was pacing to and fro under the lime trees, a
black crow hopped out of a rose-bush in front of her. The poor
beast was all torn and bleeding, and the kind little Princess was
quite unhappy about it. When the crow saw this it turned to her
and said:
'I am not really a black crow, but an enchanted Prince, who has
been doomed to spend his youth in misery. If you only liked,
Princess, you could save me. But you would have to say good-bye
to all your own people and come and be my constant companion in
this ruined castle. There is one habitable room in it, in which
there is a golden bed; there you will have to live all by
yourself, and don't forget that whatever you may see or hear in
the night you must not scream out, for if you give as much as a
single cry my sufferings will be doubled.'
The good-natured Princess at once left her home and her family
and hurried to the ruined castle, and took possession of the room
with the golden bed.
When night approached she lay down, but though she shut her eyes
tight sleep would not come. At midnight she heard to her great
horror some one coming along the passage, and in a minute her
door was flung wide open and a troop of strange beings entered
the room. They at once proceeded to light a fire in the huge
fireplace; then they placed a great cauldron of boiling water on
it. When they had done this, they approached the bed on which
the trembling girl lay, and, screaming and yelling all the time,
they dragged her towards the cauldron. She nearly died with
fright, but she never uttered a sound. Then of a sudden the cock
crew, and all the evil spirits vanished.
At the same moment the crow appeared and hopped all round the
room with joy. It thanked the Princess most heartily for her
goodness, and said that its sufferings had already been greatly
Now one of the Princess's elder sisters, who was very
inquisitive, had found out about everything, and went to pay her
youngest sister a visit in the ruined castle. She implored her
so urgently to let her spend the night with her in the golden
bed, that at last the good-natured little Princess consented.
But at midnight, when the odd folk appeared, the elder sister
screamed with terror, and from this time on the youngest Princess
insisted always on keeping watch alone.
So she lived in solitude all the daytime, and at night she would
have been frightened, had she not been so brave; but every day
the crow came and thanked her for her endurance, and assured her
that his sufferings were far less than they had been.
And so two years passed away, when one day the crow came to the
Princess and said: 'In another year I shall be freed from the
spell I am under at present, because then the seven years will be
over. But before I can resume my natural form, and take
possession of the belongings of my forefathers, you must go out
into the world and take service as a maidservant.'
The young Princess consented at once, and for a whole year she
served as a maid; but in spite of her youth and beauty she was
very badly treated, and suffered many things. One evening, when
she was spinning flax, and had worked her little white hands
weary, she heard a rustling beside her and a cry of joy. Then
she saw a handsome youth standing beside her; who knelt down at
her feet and kissed the little weary white hands.
'I am the Prince,' he said, 'who you in your goodness, when I was
wandering about in the shape of a black crow, freed from the most
awful torments. Come now to my castle with me, and let us live
there happily together.'
So they went to the castle where they had both endured so much.
But when they reached it, it was difficult to believe that it was
the same, for it had all been rebuilt and done up again. And
there they lived for a hundred years, a hundred years of joy and
There was once upon a time a man who understood all sorts of
arts; he served in the war, and bore himself bravely and well;
but when the war was over, he got his discharge, and set out on
his travels with three farthings of his pay in his pocket.
'Wait,' he said; 'that does not please me; only let me find the
right people, and the King shall yet give me all the treasures of
his kingdom.' He strode angrily into the forest, and there he
saw a man standing who had uprooted six trees as if they were
straws. He said to him, 'Will you be my servant and travel with
'Yes,' he answered; 'but first of all I will take this little
bundle of sticks home to my mother,' and he took one of the trees
and wound it round the other five, raised the bundle on his
shoulders and bore it off. Then he came back and went with his
master, who said, 'We two ought to be able to travel through the
wide world!' And when they had gone a little way they came upon
a hunter, who was on his knees, his gun on his shoulder, aiming
at something. The master said to him, 'Hunter, what are you
aiming at?'
He answered, 'Two miles from this place sits a fly on a branch of
an oak; I want to shoot out its left eye.'
'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we three are together we
shall easily travel through the wide world.'
The hunter agreed and went with him, and they came to seven
windmills whose sails were going round quite fast, and yet there
was not a breath of wind, nor was a leaf moving. The man said,
'I don't know what is turning those windmills; there is not the
slightest breeze blowing.' So he walked on with his servants,
and when they had gone two miles they saw a man sitting on a
tree, holding one of his nostrils and blowing out of the other.
'Fellow, what are you puffing at up there?' asked the man.
He replied, 'Two miles from this place are standing seven
windmills; see, I am blowing to drive them round.'
'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we four are together we shall
easily travel through the wide world.'
So the blower got down and went with him, and after a time they
saw a man who was standing on one leg, and had unstrapped the
other and laid it near him. Then said the master, 'You have made
yourself very comfortable to rest!'
'I am a runner,' answered he; 'and so that I shall not go too
quickly, I have unstrapped one leg; when I run with two legs, I
go faster than a bird flies.'
'Oh, go with me; if we five are together, we shall easily travel
through the wide world.' So he went with him, and, not long
afterwards, they met a man who wore a little hat, but he had it
slouched over one ear.
'Manners, manners!' said the master to him; 'don't hang your hat
over one ear; you look like a madman!'
'I dare not,' said the other, 'for if I were to put my hat on
straight, there would come such a frost that the very birds in
the sky would freeze and fall dead on the earth.'
'Oh, go with me,' said the master; 'if we six are together, we
shall easily travel through the wide world.
Now the Six came to a town in which the King had proclaimed that
whoever should run with his daughter in a race, and win, should
become her husband; but if he lost, he must lose his head. This
was reported to the man who declared he would compete, 'but,' he
said, 'I shall let my servant run for me.'
The King replied, 'Then both your heads must be staked, and your
head and his must be guaranteed for the winner.'
When this was agreed upon and settled, the man strapped on the
runner's other leg, saying to him, 'Now be nimble, and see that
we win!' It was arranged that whoever should first bring water
out of a stream a long way off, should be the victor. Then the
runner got a pitcher, and the King's daughter another, and they
began to run at the same time; but in a moment, when the King's
daughter was only just a little way off, no spectator could see
the runner, and it seemed as if the wind had whistled past. In a
short time he reached the stream, filled his pitcher with water,
and turned round again. But, half way home, a great drowsiness
came over him; he put down his pitcher, lay down, and fell
asleep. He had, however, put a horse's skull which was lying on
the ground, for his pillow, so that he should not be too
comfortable and might soon wake up.
In the meantime the King's daughter, who could also run well, as
well as an ordinary man could, reached the stream, and hastened
back with her pitcher full of water. When she saw the runner
lying there asleep, she was delighted, and said, 'My enemy is
given into my hands!' She emptied his pitcher and ran on.
Everything now would have been lost, if by good luck the hunter
had not been standing on the castle tower and had seen everything
with his sharp eyes.
'Ah,' said he, 'the King's daughter shall not overreach us;' and,
loading his gun, he shot so cleverly, that he shot away the
horse's skull from under the runner's head, without its hurting
him. Then the runner awoke, jumped up, and saw that his pitcher
was empty and the King's daughter far ahead. But he did not lose
courage, and ran back to the stream with his pitcher, filled it
once more with water, and was home ten minutes before the King's
daughter arrived.
'Look,' said he, 'I have only just exercised my legs; that was
nothing of a run.'
But the King was angry, and his daughter even more so, that she
should be carried away by a common, discharged soldier. They
consulted together how they could destroy both him and his
'Then,' said the King to her, 'I have found a way. Don't be
frightened; they shall not come home again.' He said to them,
'You must now make merry together, and eat and drink,' and he led
them into a room which had a floor of iron; the doors were also
of iron, and the windows were barred with iron. In the room was
a table spread with delicious food. The King said to them, 'Go
in and enjoy yourselves,' and as soon as they were inside he had
the doors shut and bolted. Then he made the cook come, and
ordered him to keep up a large fire under the room until the iron
was red-hot. The cook did so, and the Six sitting round the
table felt it grow very warm, and they thought this was because
of their good fare; but when the heat became still greater and
they wanted to go out, but found the doors and windows fastened,
then they knew that the King meant them harm and was trying to
suffocate them.
'But he shall not succeed,' cried he of the little hat, 'I will
make a frost come which shall make the fire ashamed and die out!'
So he put his hat on straight, and at once there came such a
frost that all the heat disappeared and the food on the dishes
began to freeze. When a couple of hours had passed, and the King
thought they must be quite dead from the heat, he had the doors
opened and went in himself to see.
But when the doors were opened, there stood all Six, alive and
well, saying they were glad they could come out to warm
themselves, for the great cold in the room had frozen all the
food hard in the dishes. Then the King went angrily to the cook,
and scolded him, and asked him why he had not done what he was
But the cook answered, 'There is heat enough there; see for
yourself.' Then the King saw a huge fire burning under the iron
room, and understood that he could do no harm to the Six in this
way. The King now began again to think how he could free himself
from his unwelcome guests. He commanded the master to come
before him, and said, 'If you will take gold, and give up your
right to my daughter, you shall have as much as you like.'
'Oh, yes, your Majesty,' answered he, 'give me as much as my
servant can carry, and I will give up your daughter.'
The King was delighted, and the man said, 'I will come and fetch
it in fourteen days.'
Then he called all the tailors in the kingdom together, and made
them sit down for fourteen days sewing at a sack. When it was
finished, he made the strong man who had uprooted the trees take
the sack on his shoulder and go with him to the King. Then the
King said, 'What a powerful fellow that is, carrying that bale of
linen as large as a house on his shoulder!' and he was much
frightened, and thought 'What a lot of gold he will make away
with!' Then he had a ton of gold brought, which sixteen of the
strongest men had to carry; but the strong man seized it with one
hand, put it in the sack, saying, 'Why don't you bring me more?
That scarcely covers the bottom!' Then the King had to send
again and again to fetch his treasures, which the strong man
shoved into the sack, and the sack was only half full.
'Bring more,' he cried, 'these crumbs don't fill it.' So seven
thousand waggons of the gold of the whole kingdom were driven up;
these the strong man shoved into the sack, oxen and all.
'I will no longer be particular,' he said, 'and will take what
comes, so that the sack shall be full.'
When everything was put in and there was not yet enough, he said,
'I will make an end of this; it is easy to fasten a sack when it
is not full.' Then he threw it on his back and went with his
Now, when the King saw how a single man was carrying away the
wealth of the whole country he was very angry, and made his
cavalry mount and pursue the Six, and bring back the strong man
with the sack. Two regiments soon overtook them, and called to
them, 'You are prisoners! lay down the sack of gold or you shall
be cut down.'
'What do you say?' said the blower, 'we are prisoners? Before
that, you shall dance in the air!' And he held one nostril and
blew with the other at the two regiments; they were separated and
blown away in the blue sky over the mountains, one this way, and
the other that. A sergeant-major cried for mercy, saying he had
nine wounds, and was a brave fellow, and did not deserve this
disgrace. So the blower let him off, and he came down without
hurt. Then he said to him, 'Now go home to the King, and say
that if he sends any more cavalry I will blow them all into the
When the King received the message, he said, 'Let the fellows go;
they are bewitched.' Then the Six brought the treasure home,
shared it among themselves, and lived contentedly till the end of
their days.
[14] From Les fees illustres.
In very ancient times there lived a King, whose power lay not
only in the vast extent of his dominions, but also in the magic
secrets of which he was master. After spending the greater part
of his early youth in pleasure, he met a Princess of such
remarkable beauty that he at once asked her hand in marriage,
and, having obtained it, considered himself the happiest of men.
After a year's time a son was born, worthy in every way of such
distinguished parents, and much admired by the whole Court. As
soon as the Queen thought him strong enough for a journey she set
out with him secretly to visit her Fairy godmother. I said
secretly, because the Fairy had warned the Queen that the King
was a magician; and as from time immemorial there had been a
standing feud between the Fairies and the Wizards, he might not
have approved of his wife's visit.
The Fairy godmother, who took the deepest interest in all the
Queen's concerns, and who was much pleased with the little
Prince, endowed him with the power of pleasing everybody from his
cradle, as well as with a wonderful ease in learning everything
which could help to make him a perfectly accomplished Prince.
Accordingly, to the delight of his teachers, he made the most
rapid progress in his education, constantly surpassing everyone's
expectations. Before he was many years old, however, he had the
great sorrow of losing his mother, whose last words were to
advise him never to undertake anything of importance without
consulting the Fairy under whose protection she had placed him.
The Prince's grief at the death of his mother was great, but it
was nothing compared to that of the King, his father, who was
quite inconsolable for the loss of his dear wife. Neither time
nor reason seemed to lighten his sorrow, and the sight of all the
familiar faces and things about him only served to remind him of
his loss. He therefore resolved to travel for change, and by
means of his magic art was able to visit every country he came to
see under different shapes, returning every few weeks to the
place where he had left a few followers.
Having travelled from land to land in this fashion without
finding anything to rivet his attention, it occurred to him to
take the form of an eagle, and in this shape he flew across many
countries and arrived at length in a new and lovely spot, where
the air seemed filled with the scent of jessamine and orange
flowers with which the ground was thickly planted. Attracted by
the sweet perfume he flew lower, and perceived some large and
beautiful gardens filled with the rarest flowers, and with
fountains throwing up their clear waters into the air in a
hundred different shapes. A wide stream flowed through the
garden, and on it floated richly ornamented barges and gondolas
filled with people dressed in the most elegant manner and covered
with jewels.
In one of these barges sat the Queen of that country with her
only daughter, a maiden more beautiful than the Day Star, and
attended by the ladies of the Court. No more exquisitely lovely
mortal was ever seen than this Princess, and it needed all an
eagle's strength of sight to prevent the King being hopelessly
dazzled. He perched on the top of a large orange tree, whence he
was able to survey the scene and to gaze at pleasure on the
Princess's charms.
Now, an eagle with a King's heart in his breast is apt to be
bold, and accordingly he instantly made up his mind to carry off
the lovely damsel, feeling sure that having once seen her he
could not live without her.
He waited till he saw her in the act of stepping ashore, when,
suddenly swooping down, he carried her off before her equerry in
attendance had advanced to offer her his hand. The Princess, on
finding herself in an eagle's talons, uttered the most
heart-breaking shrieks and cries; but her captor, though touched
by her distress, would not abandon his lovely prey, and continued
to fly through the air too fast to allow of his saying anything
to comfort her.
At length, when he thought they had reached a safe distance, he
began to lower his flight, and gradually descending to earth,
deposited his burden in a flowery meadow. He then entreated her
pardon for his violence, and told her that he was about to carry
her to a great kingdom over which he ruled, and where he desired
she should rule with him, adding many tender and consoling
For some time the Princess remained speechless; but recovering
herself a little, she burst into a flood of tears. The King,
much moved, said, 'Adorable Princess, dry your tears. I implore
you. My only wish is to make you the happiest person in the
'If you speak truth, my lord,' replied the Princess, 'restore to
me the liberty you have deprived me of. Otherwise I can only
look on you as my worst enemy.'
The King retorted that her opposition filled him with despair,
but that he hoped to carry her to a place where all around would
respect her, and where every pleasure would surround her. So
saying, he seized her once more, and in spite of all her cries he
rapidly bore her off to the neighbourhood of his capital. Here
he gently placed her on a lawn, and as he did so she saw a
magnificent palace spring up at her feet. The architecture was
imposing, and in the interior the rooms were handsome and
furnished in the best possible taste.
The Princess, who expected to be quite alone, was pleased at
finding herself surrounded by a number of pretty girls, all
anxious to wait on her, whilst a brilliantly-coloured parrot said
the most agreeable things in the world.
On arriving at this palace the King had resumed his own form, and
though no longer young, he might well have pleased any other than
this Princess, who had been so prejudiced against him by his
violence that she could only regard him with feelings of hatred,
which she was at no pains to conceal. The King hoped, however,
that time might not only soften her anger, but accustom her to
his sight. He took the precaution of surrounding the palace with
a dense cloud, and then hastened to his Court, where his
prolonged absence was causing much anxiety.
The Prince and all the courtiers were delighted to see their
beloved King again, but they had to submit themselves to more
frequent absences than ever on his part. He made business a
pretext for shutting himself up in his study, but it was really
in order to spend the time with the Princess, who remained
Not being able to imagine what could be the cause of so much
obstinacy the King began to fear, lest, in spite of all his
precautions, she might have heard of the charms of the Prince his
son, whose goodness, youth and beauty, made him adored at Court.
This idea made him horribly uneasy, and he resolved to remove the
cause of his fears by sending the Prince on his travels escorted
by a magnificent retinue.
The Prince, after visiting several Courts, arrived at the one
where the lost Princess was still deeply mourned. The King and
Queen received him most graciously, and some festivities were
revived to do him honour.
One day when the Prince was visiting the Queen in her own
apartments he was much struck by a most beautiful portrait. He
eagerly inquired whose it was, and the Queen, with many tears,
told him it was all that was left her of her beloved daughter,
who had suddenly been carried off, she knew neither where nor
The Prince was deeply moved, and vowed that he would search the
world for the Princess, and take no rest till he had found and
restored her to her mother's arms. The Queen assured him of her
eternal gratitude, and promised, should he succeed, to give him
her daughter in marriage, together with all the estates she
herself owned.
The Prince, far more attracted by the thoughts of possessing the
Princess than her promised dower, set forth in his quest after
taking leave of the King and Queen, the latter giving him a
miniature of her daughter which she was in the habit of wearing.
His first act was to seek the Fairy under whose protection he had
been placed, and he implored her to give him all the assistance
of her art and counsel in this important matter.
After listening attentively to the whole adventure, the Fairy
asked for time to consult her books. After due consideration she
informed the Prince that the object of his search was not far
distant, but that it was too difficult for him to attempt to
enter the enchanted palace where she was, as the King his father
had surrounded it with a thick cloud, and that the only expedient
she could think of would be to gain possession of the Princess's
parrot. This, she added, did not appear impossible, as it often
flew about to some distance in the neighbourhood.
Having told the Prince all this, the Fairy went out in hopes of
seeing the parrot, and soon returned with the bird in her hand.
She promptly shut it up in a cage, and, touching the Prince with
her wand, transformed him into an exactly similar parrot; after
which, she instructed him how to reach the Princess.
The Prince reached the palace in safety, but was so dazzled at
first by the Princess's beauty, which far surpassed his
expectations, that he was quite dumb for a time. The Princess
was surprised and anxious, and fearing the parrot, who was her
greatest comfort, had fallen ill, she took him in her hand and
caressed him. This soon reassured the Prince, and encouraged him
to play his part well, and he began to say a thousand agreeable
things which charmed the Princess.
Presently the King appeared, and the parrot noticed with joy how
much he was disliked. As soon as the King left, the Princess
retired to her dressing-room, the parrot flew after her and
overheard her lamentations at the continued persecutions of the
King, who had pressed her to consent to their marriage. The
parrot said so many clever and tender things to comfort her that
she began to doubt whether this could indeed be her own parrot.
When he saw her well-disposed towards him, he exclaimed: 'Madam,
I have a most important secret to confide to you, and I beg you
not to be alarmed by what I am about to say. I am here on behalf
of the Queen your mother, with the object of delivering your
Highness; to prove which, behold this portrait which she gave me
herself.' So saying he drew forth the miniature from under his
wing. The Princess's surprise was great, but after what she had
seen and heard it was impossible not to indulge in hope, for she
had recognised the likeness of herself which her mother always
The parrot, finding she was not much alarmed, told her who he
was, all that her mother had promised him and the help he had
already received from a Fairy who had assured him that she would
give him means to transport the Princess to her mother's arms.
When he found her listening attentively to him, he implored the
Princess to allow him to resume his natural shape. She did not
speak, so he drew a feather from his wing, and she beheld before
her a Prince of such surpassing beauty that it was impossible not
to hope that she might owe her liberty to so charming a person.
Meantime the Fairy had prepared a chariot, to which she harnessed
two powerful eagles; then placing the cage, with the parrot in
it, she charged the bird to conduct it to the window of the
Princess's dressing-room. This was done in a few minutes, and
the Princess, stepping into the chariot with the Prince, was
delighted to find her parrot again.
As they rose through the air the Princess remarked a figure
mounted on an eagle's back flying in front of the chariot. She
was rather alarmed, but the Prince reassured her, telling her it
was the good Fairy to whom she owed so much, and who was now
conducting her in safety to her mother.
That same morning the King woke suddenly from a troubled sleep.
He had dreamt that the Princess was being carried off from him,
and, transforming himself into an eagle, he flew to the palace.
When he failed to find her he flew into a terrible rage, and
hastened home to consult his books, by which means he discovered
that it was his son who had deprived him of this precious
treasure. Immediately he took the shape of a harpy, and, filled
with rage, was determined to devour his son, and even the
Princess too, if only he could overtake them.
He set out at full speed; but he started too late, and was
further delayed by a strong wind which the Fairy raised behind
the young couple so as to baffle any pursuit.
You may imagine the rapture with which the Queen received the
daughter she had given up for lost, as well as the amiable Prince
who had rescued her. The Fairy entered with them, and warned the
Queen that the Wizard King would shortly arrive, infuriated by
his loss, and that nothing could preserve the Prince and Princess
from his rage and magic unless they were actually married.
The Queen hastened to inform the King her husband, and the
wedding took place on the spot.
As the ceremony was completed the Wizard King arrived. His
despair at being so late bewildered him so entirely that he
appeared in his natural form and attempted to sprinkle some black
liquid over the bride and bridegroom, which was intended to kill
them, but the Fairy stretched out her wand and the liquid dropped
on the Magician himself. He fell down senseless, and the
Princess's father, deeply offended at the cruel revenge which had
been attempted, ordered him to be removed and locked up in
Now as magicians lose all their power as soon as they are in
prison, the King felt himself much embarrassed at being thus at
the mercy of those he had so greatly offended. The Prince
implored and obtained his father's pardon, and the prison doors
were opened.
No sooner was this done than the Wizard King was seen in the air
under the form of some unknown bird, exclaiming as he flew off
that he would never forgive either his son or the Fairy the cruel
wrong they had done him.
Everyone entreated the Fairy to settle in the kingdom where she
now was, to which she consented. She built herself a magnificent
palace, to which she transported her books and fairy secrets, and
where she enjoyed the sight of the perfect happiness she had
helped to bestow on the entire royal family.
[15] From the German. Kletke.
There was once upon a time a miller who was very well off, and
had as much money and as many goods as he knew what to do with.
But sorrow comes in the night, and the miller all of a sudden
became so poor that at last he could hardly call the mill in
which he sat his own. He wandered about all day full of despair
and misery, and when he lay down at night he could get no rest,
but lay awake all night sunk in sorrowful thoughts.
One morning he rose up before dawn and went outside, for he
thought his heart would be lighter in the open air. As he
wandered up and down on the banks of the mill-pond he heard a
rustling in the water, and when he looked near he saw a white
woman rising up from the waves.
He realised at once that this could be none other than the nixy
of the mill-pond, and in his terror he didn't know if he should
fly away or remain where he was. While he hesitated the nixy
spoke, called him by his name, and asked him why he was so sad.
When the miller heard how friendly her tone was, he plucked up
heart and told her how rich and prosperous he had been all his
life up till now, when he didn't know what he was to do for want
and misery.
Then the nixy spoke comforting words to him, and promised that
she would make him richer and more prosperous than he had ever
been in his life before, if he would give her in return the
youngest thing in his house.
The miller thought she must mean one of his puppies or kittens,
so promised the nixy at once what she asked, and returned to his
mill full of hope. On the threshold he was greeted by a servant
with the news that his wife had just given birth to a boy.
The poor miller was much horrified by these tidings, and went in
to his wife with a heavy heart to tell her and his relations of
the fatal bargain he had just struck with the nixy. 'I would
gladly give up all the good fortune she promised me,' he said,
'if I could only save my child.' But no one could think of any
advice to give him, beyond taking care that the child never went
near the mill-pond.
So the boy throve and grew big, and in the meantime all prospered
with the miller, and in a few years he was richer than he had
ever been before. But all the same he did not enjoy his good
fortune, for he could not forget his compact with the nixy, and
he knew that sooner or later she would demand his fulfilment of
it. But year after year went by, and the boy grew up and became
a great hunter, and the lord of the land took him into his
service, for he was as smart and bold a hunter as you would wish
to see. In a short time he married a pretty young wife, and
lived with her in great peace and happiness.
One day when he was out hunting a hare sprang up at his feet, and
ran for some way in front of him in the open field. The hunter
pursued it hotly for some time, and at last shot it dead. Then
he proceeded to skin it, never noticing that he was close to the
mill-pond, which from childhood up he had been taught to avoid.
He soon finished the skinning, and went to the water to wash the
blood off his hands. He had hardly dipped them in the pond when
the nixy rose up in the water, and seizing him in her wet arms
she dragged him down with her under the waves.
When the hunter did not come home in the evening his wife grew
very anxious, and when his game bag was found close to the
mill-pond she guessed at once what had befallen him. She was
nearly beside herself with grief, and roamed round and round the
pond calling on her husband without ceasing. At last, worn out
with sorrow and fatigue, she fell asleep and dreamt that she was
wandering along a flowery meadow, when she came to a hut where
she found an old witch, who promised to restore her husband to
When she awoke next morning she determined to set out and find
the witch; so she wandered on for many a day, and at last she
reached the flowery meadow and found the hut where the old witch
lived. The poor wife told her all that had happened and how she
had been told in a dream of the witch's power to help her.
The witch counselled her to go to the pond the first time there
was a full moon, and to comb her black hair with a golden comb,
and then to place the comb on the bank. The hunter's wife gave
the witch a handsome present, thanked her heartily, and returned
Time dragged heavily till the time of the full moon, but it
passed at last, and as soon as it rose the young wife went to the
pond, combed her black hair with a golden comb, and when she had
finished, placed the comb on the bank; then she watched the water
impatiently. Soon she heard a rushing sound, and a big wave rose
suddenly and swept the comb off the bank, and a minute after the
head of her husband rose from the pond and gazed sadly at her.
But immediately another wave came, and the head sank back into
the water without having said a word. The pond lay still and
motionless, glittering in the moonshine, and the hunter's wife
was not a bit better off than she had been before.
In despair she wandered about for days and nights, and at last,
worn out by fatigue, she sank once more into a deep sleep, and
dreamt exactly the same dream about the old witch. So next
morning she went again to the flowery meadow and sought the witch
in her hut, and told her of her grief. The old woman counselled
her to go to the mill-pond the next full moon and play upon a
golden flute, and then to lay the flute on the bank.
As soon as the next moon was full the hunter's wife went to the
mill-pond, played on a golden flute, and when she had finished
placed it on the bank. Then a rushing sound was heard, and a
wave swept the flute off the bank, and soon the head of the
hunter appeared and rose up higher and higher till he was half
out of the water. Then he gazed sadly at his wife and stretched
out his arms towards her. But another rushing wave arose and
dragged him under once more. The hunter's wife, who had stood on
the bank full of joy and hope, sank into despair when she saw her
husband snatched away again before her eyes.
But for her comfort she dreamt the same dream a third time, and
betook herself once more to the old witch's hut in the flowery
meadow. This time the old woman told her to go the next full
moon to the mill-pond, and to spin there with a golden spinningwheel,
and then to leave the spinning-wheel on the bank.
The hunter's wife did as she was advised, and the first night the
moon was full she sat and spun with a golden spinning-wheel, and
then left the wheel on the bank. In a few minutes a rushing
sound was heard in the waters, and a wave swept the
spinning-wheel from the bank. Immediately the head of the hunter
rose up from the pond, getting higher and higher each moment,
till at length he stepped on to the bank and fell on his wife's
But the waters of the pond rose up suddenly, overflowed the bank
where the couple stood, and dragged them under the flood. In her
despair the young wife called on the old witch to help her, and
in a moment the hunter was turned into a frog and his wife into a
toad. But they were not able to remain together, for the water
tore them apart, and when the flood was over they both resumed
their own shapes again, but the hunter and the hunter's wife
found themselves each in a strange country, and neither knew what
had become of the other.
The hunter determined to become a shepherd, and his wife too
became a shepherdess. So they herded their sheep for many years
in solitude and sadness.
Now it happened once that the shepherd came to the country where
the shepherdess lived. The neighbourhood pleased him, and he saw
that the pasture was rich and suitable for his flocks. So he
brought his sheep there, and herded them as before. The shepherd
and shepherdess became great friends, but they did not recognise
each other in the least.
But one evening when the moon was full they sat together watching
their flocks, and the shepherd played upon his flute. Then the
shepherdess thought of that evening when she had sat at the full
moon by the mill-pond and had played on the golden flute; the
recollection was too much for her, and she burst into tears. The
shepherd asked her why she was crying, and left her no peace till
she told him all her story. Then the scales fell from the
shepherd's eyes, and he recognised his wife, and she him. So
they returned joyfully to their own home, and lived in peace and
happiness ever after.
[16] From the Polish. Kletke.
Once upon a time there was a Glass Mountain at the top of which
stood a castle made of pure gold, and in front of the castle
there grew an apple-tree on which there were golden apples.
Anyone who picked an apple gained admittance into the golden
castle, and there in a silver room sat an enchanted Princess of
surpassing fairness and beauty. She was as rich too as she was
beautiful, for the cellars of the castle were full of precious
stones, and great chests of the finest gold stood round the walls
of all the rooms.
Many knights had come from afar to try their luck, but it was in
vain they attempted to climb the mountain. In spite of having
their horses shod with sharp nails, no one managed to get more
than half-way up, and then they all fell back right down to the
bottom of the steep slippery hill. Sometimes they broke an arm,
sometimes a leg, and many a brave man had broken his neck even.
The beautiful Princess sat at her window and watched the bold
knights trying to reach her on their splendid horses. The sight
of her always gave men fresh courage, and they flocked from the
four quarters of the globe to attempt the work of rescuing her.
But all in vain, and for seven years the Princess had sat now and
waited for some one to scale the Glass Mountain.
A heap of corpses both of riders and horses lay round the
mountain, and many dying men lay groaning there unable to go any
farther with their wounded limbs. The whole neighbourhood had
the appearance of a vast churchyard. In three more days the
seven years would be at an end, when a knight in golden armour
and mounted on a spirited steed was seen making his way towards
the fatal hill.
Sticking his spurs into his horse he made a rush at the mountain,
and got up half-way, then he calmly turned his horse's head and
came down again without a slip or stumble. The following day he
started in the same way; the horse trod on the glass as if it had
been level earth, and sparks of fire flew from its hoofs. All
the other knights gazed in astonishment, for he had almost gained
the summit, and in another moment he would have reached the
apple-tree; but of a sudden a huge eagle rose up and spread its
mighty wings, hitting as it did so the knight's horse in the eye.
The beast shied, opened its wide nostrils and tossed its mane,
then rearing high up in the air, its hind feet slipped and it
fell with its rider down the steep mountain side. Nothing was
left of either of them except their bones, which rattled in the
battered golden armour like dry peas in a pod.
And now there was only one more day before the close of the seven
years. Then there arrived on the scene a mere schoolboy--a
merry, happy-hearted youth, but at the same time strong and
well-grown. He saw how many knights had broken their necks in
vain, but undaunted he approached the steep mountain on foot and
began the ascent.
For long he had heard his parents speak of the beautiful Princess
who sat in the golden castle at the top of the Glass Mountain.
He listened to all he heard, and determined that he too would try
his luck. But first he went to the forest and caught a lynx, and
cutting off the creature's sharp claws, he fastened them on to
his own hands and feet.
Armed with these weapons he boldly started up the Glass Mountain.
The sun was nearly going down, and the youth had not got more
than half-way up. He could hardly draw breath he was so worn
out, and his mouth was parched by thirst. A huge black cloud
passed over his head, but in vain did he beg and beseech her to
let a drop of water fall on him. He opened his mouth, but the
black cloud sailed past and not as much as a drop of dew
moistened his dry lips.
His feet were torn and bleeding, and he could only hold on now
with his hands. Evening closed in, and he strained his eyes to
see if he could behold the top of the mountain. Then he gazed
beneath him, and what a sight met his eyes! A yawning abyss,
with certain and terrible death at the bottom, reeking with
half-decayed bodies of horses and riders! And this had been the
end of all the other brave men who like himself had attempted the
It was almost pitch dark now, and only the stars lit up the Glass
Mountain. The poor boy still clung on as if glued to the glass
by his blood-stained hands. He made no struggle to get higher,
for all his strength had left him, and seeing no hope he calmly
awaited death. Then all of a sudden he fell into a deep sleep,
and forgetful of his dangerous position, he slumbered sweetly.
But all the same, although he slept, he had stuck his sharp claws
so firmly into the glass that he was quite safe not to fall.
Now the golden apple-tree was guarded by the eagle which had
overthrown the golden knight and his horse. Every night it flew
round the Glass Mountain keeping a careful look-out, and no
sooner had the moon emerged from the clouds than the bird rose up
from the apple-tree, and circling round in the air, caught sight
of the sleeping youth.
Greedy for carrion, and sure that this must be a fresh corpse,
the bird swooped down upon the boy. But he was awake now, and
perceiving the eagle, he determined by its help to save himself.
The eagle dug its sharp claws into the tender flesh of the youth,
but he bore the pain without a sound, and seized the bird's two
feet with his hands. The creature in terror lifted him high up
into the air and began to circle round the tower of the castle.
The youth held on bravely. He saw the glittering palace, which
by the pale rays of the moon looked like a dim lamp; and he saw
the high windows, and round one of them a balcony in which the
beautiful Princess sat lost in sad thoughts. Then the boy saw
that he was close to the apple-tree, and drawing a small knife
from his belt, he cut off both the eagle's feet. The bird rose
up in the air in its agony and vanished into the clouds, and the
youth fell on to the broad branches of the apple-tree.
Then he drew out the claws of the eagle's feet that had remained
in his flesh, and put the peel of one of the golden apples on the
wound, and in one moment it was healed and well again. He pulled
several of the beautiful apples and put them in his pocket; then
he entered the castle. The door was guarded by a great dragon,
but as soon as he threw an apple at it, the beast vanished.
At the same moment a gate opened, and the youth perceived a
courtyard full of flowers and beautiful trees, and on a balcony
sat the lovely enchanted Princess with her retinue.
As soon as she saw the youth, she ran towards him and greeted him
as her husband and master. She gave him all her treasures, and
the youth became a rich and mighty ruler. But he never returned
to the earth, for only the mighty eagle, who had been the
guardian of the Princess and of the castle, could have carried on
his wings the enormous treasure down to the world. But as the
eagle had lost its feet it died, and its body was found in a wood
on the Glass Mountain.
. . . . . . .
One day when the youth was strolling about in the palace garden
with the Princess, his wife, he looked down over the edge of the
Glass Mountain and saw to his astonishment a great number of
people gathered there. He blew his silver whistle, and the
swallow who acted as messenger in the golden castle flew past.
'Fly down and ask what the matter is,' he said to the little
bird, who sped off like lightning and soon returned saying:
'The blood of the eagle has restored all the people below to
life. All those who have perished on this mountain are awakening
up to-day, as it were from a sleep, and are mounting their
horses, and the whole population are gazing on this unheard-of
wonder with joy and amazement.'
Many years ago there lived a King, who was twice married. His
first wife, a good and beautiful woman, died at the birth of her
little son, and the King her husband was so overwhelmed with
grief at her loss that his only comfort was in the sight of his
When the time for the young Prince's christening came the King
chose as godmother a neighbouring Princess, so celebrated for her
wisdom and goodness that she was commonly called 'the Good
Queen.' She named the baby Alphege, and from that moment took
him to her heart.
Time wipes away the greatest griefs, and after two or three years
the King married again. His second wife was a Princess of
undeniable beauty, but by no means of so amiable a disposition as
the first Queen. In due time a second Prince was born, and the
Queen was devoured with rage at the thought that Prince Alphege
came between her son and the throne. She took care however to
conceal her jealous feelings from the King.
At length she could control herself no longer, so she sent a
trusty servant to her old and faithful friend the Fairy of the
Mountain, to beg her to devise some means by which she might get
rid of her stepson.
The Fairy replied that, much as she desired to be agreeable to
the Queen in every way, it was impossible for her to attempt
anything against the young Prince, who was under the protection
of some greater Power than her own.
The 'Good Queen' on her side watched carefully over her godson.
She was obliged to do so from a distance, her own country being a
remote one, but she was well informed of all that went on and
knew all about the Queen's wicked designs. She therefore sent
the Prince a large and splendid ruby, with injunctions to wear it
night and day as it would protect him from all attacks, but added
that the talisman only retained its power as long as the Prince
remained within his father's dominions. The Wicked Queen knowing
this made every attempt to get the Prince out of the country, but
her efforts failed, till one day accident did what she was unable
to accomplish.
The King had an only sister who was deeply attached to him, and
who was married to the sovereign of a distant country. She had
always kept up a close correspondence with her brother, and the
accounts she heard of Prince Alphege made her long to become
acquainted with so charming a nephew. She entreated the King to
allow the Prince to visit her, and after some hesitation which
was overruled by his wife, he finally consented.
Prince Alphege was at this time fourteen years old, and the
handsomest and most engaging youth imaginable. In his infancy he
had been placed in the charge of one of the great ladies of the
Court, who, according to the prevailing custom, acted first as
his head nurse and then as his governess. When he outgrew her
care her husband was appointed as his tutor and governor, so that
he had never been separated from this excellent couple, who loved
him as tenderly as they did their only daughter Zayda, and were
warmly loved by him in return.
When the Prince set forth on his travels it was but natural that
this devoted couple should accompany him, and accordingly he
started with them and attended by a numerous retinue.
For some time he travelled through his father's dominions and all
went well; but soon after passing the frontier they had to cross
a desert plain under a burning sun. They were glad to take
shelter under a group of trees near, and here the Prince
complained of burning thirst. Luckily a tiny stream ran close by
and some water was soon procured, but no sooner had he tasted it
than he sprang from his carriage and disappeared in a moment. In
vain did his anxious followers seek for him, he was nowhere to be
As they were hunting and shouting through the trees a black
monkey suddenly appeared on a point of rock and said: 'Poor
sorrowing people, you are seeking your Prince in vain. Return to
your own country and know that he will not be restored to you
till you have for some time failed to recognise him.'
With these words he vanished, leaving the courtiers sadly
perplexed; but as all their efforts to find the Prince were
useless they had no choice but to go home, bringing with them the
sad news, which so greatly distressed the King that he fell ill
and died not long after.
The Queen, whose ambition was boundless, was delighted to see the
crown on her son's head and to have the power in her own hands.
Her hard rule made her very unpopular, and it was commonly
believed that she had made away with Prince Alphege. Indeed, had
the King her son not been deservedly beloved a revolution would
certainly have arisen.
Meantime the former governess of the unfortunate Alphege, who had
lost her husband soon after the King's death, retired to her own
house with her daughter, who grew up a lovely and most loveable
girl, and both continued to mourn the loss of their dear Prince.
The young King was devoted to hunting, and often indulged in his
favourite pastime, attended by the noblest youths in his kingdom.
One day, after a long morning's chase he stopped to rest near a
brook in the shade of a little wood, where a splendid tent had
been prepared for him. Whilst at luncheon he suddenly spied a
little monkey of the brightest green sitting on a tree and gazing
so tenderly at him that he felt quite moved. He forbade his
courtiers to frighten it, and the monkey, noticing how much
attention was being paid him, sprang from bough to bough, and at
length gradually approached the King, who offered him some food.
The monkey took it very daintily and finally came to the table.
The King took him on his knees, and, delighted with his capture,
brought him home with him. He would trust no one else with its
care, and the whole Court soon talked of nothing but the pretty
green monkey.
One morning, as Prince Alphege's governess and her daughter were
alone together, the little monkey sprang in through an open
window. He had escaped from the palace, and his manners were so
gentle and caressing that Zayda and her mother soon got over the
first fright he had given them. He had spent some time with them
and quite won their hearts by his insinuating ways, when the King
discovered where he was and sent to fetch him back. But the
monkey made such piteous cries, and seemed so unhappy when anyone
attempted to catch him, that the two ladies begged the King to
leave him a little longer with them, to which he consented.
One evening, as they sat by the fountain in the garden, the
little monkey kept gazing at Zayda with such sad and loving eyes
that she and her mother could not think what to make of it, and
they were still more surprised when they saw big tears rolling
down his cheeks.
Next day both mother and daughter were sitting in a jessamine
bower in the garden, and they began to talk of the green monkey
and his strange ways. The mother said, 'My dear child, I can no
longer hide my feelings from you. I cannot get the thought out
of my mind that the green monkey is no other than our beloved
Prince Alphege, transformed in this strange fashion. I know the
idea sounds wild, but I cannot get it out of my heart, and it
leaves me no peace.'
As she spoke she glanced up, and there sat the little monkey,
whose tears and gestures seemed to confirm her words.
The following night the elder lady dreamt that she saw the Good
Queen, who said, 'Do not weep any longer but follow my
directions. Go into your garden and lift up the little marble
slab at the foot of the great myrtle tree. You will find beneath
it a crystal vase filled with a bright green liquid. Take it
with you and place the thing which is at present most in your
thoughts into a bath filled with roses and rub it well with the
green liquid.'
At these words the sleeper awoke, and lost no time in rising and
hurrying to the garden, where she found all as the Good Queen had
described. Then she hastened to rouse her daughter and together
they prepared the bath, for they would not let their women know
what they were about. Zayda gathered quantities of roses, and
when all was ready they put the monkey into a large jasper bath,
where the mother rubbed him all over with the green liquid.
Their suspense was not long, for suddenly the monkey skin dropped
off, and there stood Prince Alphege, the handsomest and most
charming of men. The joy of such a meeting was beyond words.
After a time the ladies begged the Prince to relate his
adventures, and he told them of all his sufferings in the desert
when he was first transformed. His only comfort had been in
visits from the Good Queen, who had at length put him in the way
of meeting his brother.
Several days were spent in these interesting conversations, but
at length Zayda's mother began to think of the best means for
placing the Prince on the throne, which was his by right.
The Queen on her side was feeling very anxious. She had felt
sure from the first that her son's pet monkey was no other than
Prince Alphege, and she longed to put an end to him. Her
suspicions were confirmed by the Fairy of the Mountain, and she
hastened in tears to the King, her son.
'I am informed,' she cried, 'that some ill-disposed people have
raised up an impostor in the hopes of dethroning you. You must
at once have him put to death.'
The King, who was very brave, assured the Queen that he would
soon punish the conspirators. He made careful inquiries into the
matter, and thought it hardly probable that a quiet widow and a
young girl would think of attempting anything of the nature of a
He determined to go and see them, and to find out the truth for
himself; so one night, without saying anything to the Queen or
his ministers, he set out for the palace where the two ladies
lived, attended only by a small band of followers.
The two ladies were at the moment deep in conversation with
Prince Alphege, and hearing a knocking so late at night begged
him to keep out of sight for a time. What was their surprise
when the door was opened to see the King and his suite.
'I know,' said the King, 'that you are plotting against my crown
and person, and I have come to have an explanation with you.'
As she was about to answer Prince Alphege, who had heard all,
came forward and said, 'It is from me you must ask an
explanation, brother.' He spoke with such grace and dignity that
everyone gazed at him with mute surprise.
At length the King, recovering from his astonishment at
recognising the brother who had been lost some years before,
exclaimed, 'Yes, you are indeed my brother, and now that I have
found you, take the throne to which I have no longer a right.'
So saying, he respectfully kissed the Prince's hand.
Alphege threw himself into his arms, and the brothers hastened to
the royal palace, where in the presence of the entire court he
received the crown from his brother's hand. To clear away any
possible doubt, he showed the ruby which the Good Queen had given
him in his childhood. As they were gazing at it, it suddenly
split with a loud noise, and at the same moment the Wicked Queen
King Alphege lost no time in marrying his dear and lovely Zayda,
and his joy was complete when the Good Queen appeared at his
wedding. She assured him that the Fairy of the Mountain had
henceforth lost all power over him, and after spending some time
with the young couple, and bestowing the most costly presents on
them, she retired to her own country.
King Alphege insisted on his brother sharing his throne, and they
all lived to a good old age, universally beloved and admired.
Once there lived a King who had no children for many years after
his marriage. At length heaven granted him a daughter of such
remarkable beauty that he could think of no name so appropriate
for her as 'Fairer-than-a-Fairy.'
It never occurred to the good-natured monarch that such a name
was certain to call down the hatred and jealousy of the fairies
in a body on the child, but this was what happened. No sooner
had they heard of this presumptuous name than they resolved to
gain possession of her who bore it, and either to torment her
cruelly, or at least to conceal her from the eyes of all men.
The eldest of their tribe was entrusted to carry out their
revenge. This Fairy was named Lagree; she was so old that she
only had one eye and one tooth left, and even these poor remains
she had to keep all night in a strengthening liquid. She was
also so spiteful that she gladly devoted all her time to carrying
out all the mean or ill-natured tricks of the whole body of
With her large experience, added to her native spite, she found
but little difficulty in carrying off Fairer-than-a-Fairy. The
poor child, who was only seven years old, nearly died of fear on
finding herself in the power of this hideous creature. However,
when after an hour's journey underground she found herself in a
splendid palace with lovely gardens, she felt a little reassured,
and was further cheered when she discovered that her pet cat and
dog had followed her.
The old Fairy led her to a pretty room which she said should be
hers, at the same time giving her the strictest orders never to
let out the fire which was burning brightly in the grate. She
then gave two glass bottles into the Princess's charge, desiring
her to take the greatest care of them, and having enforced her
orders with the most awful threats in case of disobedience, she
vanished, leaving the little girl at liberty to explore the
palace and grounds and a good deal relieved at having only two
apparently easy tasks set her.
Several years passed, during which time the Princess grew
accustomed to her lonely life, obeyed the Fairy's orders, and by
degrees forgot all about the court of the King her father.
One day, whilst passing near a fountain in the garden, she
noticed that the sun's rays fell on the water in such a manner as
to produce a brilliant rainbow. She stood still to admire it,
when, to her great surprise, she heard a voice addressing her
which seemed to come from the centre of its rays. The voice was
that of a young man, and its sweetness of tone and the agreeable
things it uttered, led one to infer that its owner must be
equally charming; but this had to be a mere matter of fancy, for
no one was visible.
The beautiful Rainbow informed Fairer-than-a-Fairy that he was
young, the son of a powerful king, and that the Fairy, Lagree,
who owed his parents a grudge, had revenged herself by depriving
him of his natural shape for some years; that she had imprisoned
him in the palace, where he had found his confinement hard to
bear for some time, but now, he owned, he no longer sighed for
freedom since he had seen and learned to love
He added many other tender speeches to this declaration, and the
Princess, to whom such remarks were a new experience, could not
help feeling pleased and touched by his attentions.
The Prince could only appear or speak under the form of a
Rainbow, and it was therefore necessary that the sun should shine
on water so as to enable the rays to form themselves.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy lost no moment in which she could meet her
lover, and they enjoyed many long and interesting interviews.
One day, however, their conversation became so absorbing and time
passed so quickly that the Princess forgot to attend to the fire,
and it went out. Lagree, on her return, soon found out the
neglect, and seemed only too pleased to have the opportunity of
showing her spite to her lovely prisoner. She ordered
Fairer-than-a-Fairy to start next day at dawn to ask Locrinos for
fire with which to relight the one she had allowed to go out.
Now this Locrinos was a cruel monster who devoured everyone he
came across, and especially enjoyed a chance of catching and
eating any young girls. Our heroine obeyed with great sweetness,
and without having been able to take leave of her lover she set
off to go to Locrinos as to certain death. As she was crossing a
wood a bird sang to her to pick up a shining pebble which she
would find in a fountain close by, and to use it when needed.
She took the bird's advice, and in due time arrived at the house
of Locrinos. Luckily she only found his wife at home, who was
much struck by the Princess's youth and beauty and sweet gentle
manners, and still further impressed by the present of the
shining pebble.
She readily let Fairer-than-a-Fairy have the fire, and in return
for the stone she gave her another, which, she said, might prove
useful some day. Then she sent her away without doing her any
Lagree was as much surprised as displeased at the happy result of
this expedition, and Fairer-than-a Fairy waited anxiously for an
opportunity of meeting Prince Rainbow and telling him her
adventures. She found, however, that he had already been told
all about them by a Fairy who protected him, and to whom he was
The dread of fresh dangers to his beloved Princess made him
devise some more convenient way of meeting than by the garden
fountain, and Fairer-than-a-Fairy carried out his plan daily with
entire success. Every morning she placed a large basin full of
water on her window-sill, and as soon as the sun's rays fell on
the water the Rainbow appeared as clearly as it had ever done in
the fountain. By this means they were able to meet without
losing sight of the fire or of the two bottles in which the old
Fairy kept her eye and her tooth at night, and for some time the
lovers enjoyed every hour of sunshine together.
One day Prince Rainbow appeared in the depths of woe. He had
just heard that he was to be banished from this lovely spot, but
he had no idea where he was to go. The poor young couple were in
despair, and only parted with the last ray of sunshine, and in
hopes of meeting next morning. Alas! next day was dark and
gloomy, and it was only late in the afternoon that the sun broke
through the clouds for a few minutes.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy eagerly ran to the window, but in her haste
she upset the basin, and spilt all the water with which she had
carefully filled it overnight. No other water was at hand except
that in the two bottles. It was the only chance of seeing her
lover before they were separated, and she did not hesitate to
break the bottle and pour their contents into the basin, when the
Rainbow appeared at once. Their farewells were full of
tenderness; the Prince made the most ardent and sincere
protestations, and promised to neglect nothing which might help
to deliver his dear Fairer-than-a-Fairy from her captivity, and
implored her to consent to their marriage as soon as they should
both be free. The Princess, on her side, vowed to have no other
husband, and declared herself willing to brave death itself in
order to rejoin him.
They were not allowed much time for their adieus; the Rainbow
vanished, and the Princess, resolved to run all risks, started
off at once, taking nothing with her but her dog, her cat, a
sprig of myrtle, and the stone which the wife of Locrinos gave
When Lagree became aware of her prisoner's flight she was
furious, and set off at full speed in pursuit. She overtook her
just as the poor girl, overcome by fatigue, had lain down to rest
in a cave which the stone had formed itself into to shelter her.
The little dog who was watching her mistress promptly flew at
Lagree and bit her so severely that she stumbled against a corner
of the cave and broke off her only tooth. Before she had
recovered from the pain and rage this caused her, the Princess
had time to escape, and was some way on her road. Fear gave her
strength for some time, but at last she could go no further, and
sank down to rest. As she did so, the sprig of myrtle she
carried touched the ground, and immediately a green and shady
bower sprang up round her, in which she hoped to sleep in peace.
But Lagree had not given up her pursuit, and arrived just as
Fairer-than-a-Fairy had fallen fast asleep. This time she made
sure of catching her victim, but the cat spied her out, and,
springing from one of the boughs of the arbour she flew at
Lagree's face and tore out her only eye, thus delivering the
Princess for ever from her persecutor.
One might have thought that all would now be well, but no sooner
had Lagree been put to fight than our heroine was overwhelmed
with hunger and thirst. She felt as though she should certainly
expire, and it was with some difficulty that she dragged herself
as far as a pretty little green and white house, which stood at
no great distance. Here she was received by a beautiful lady
dressed in green and white to match the house, which apparently
belonged to her, and of which she seemed the only inhabitant.
She greeted the fainting Princess most kindly, gave her an
excellent supper, and after a long night's rest in a delightful
bed told her that after many troubles she should finally attain
her desire.
As the green and white lady took leave of the Princess she gave
her a nut, desiring her only to open it in the most urgent need.
After a long and tiring journey Fairer-than-a-Fairy was once more
received in a house, and by a lady exactly like the one she had
quitted. Here again she received a present with the same
injunctions, but instead of a nut this lady gave her a golden
pomegranate. The mournful Princess had to continue her weary
way, and after many troubles and hardships she again found rest
and shelter in a third house exactly similar to the two others.
These houses belonged to three sisters, all endowed with fairy
gifts, and all so alike in mind and person that they wished their
houses and garments to be equally alike. Their occupation
consisted in helping those in misfortune, and they were as gentle
and benevolent as Lagree had been cruel and spiteful.
The third Fairy comforted the poor traveller, begged her not to
lose heart, and assured her that her troubles should be rewarded.
She accompanied her advice by the gift of a crystal
smelling-bottle, with strict orders only to open it in case of
urgent need. Fairer-than- a-Fairy thanked her warmly, and
resumed her way cheered by pleasant thoughts.
After a time her road led through a wood, full of soft airs and
sweet odours, and before she had gone a hundred yards she saw a
wonderful silver Castle suspended by strong silver chains to four
of the largest trees. It was so perfectly hung that a gentle
breeze rocked it sufficiently to send you pleasantly to sleep.
Fairer-than-a-Fairy felt a strong desire to enter this Castle,
but besides being hung a little above the ground there seemed to
be neither doors nor windows. She had no doubt (though really I
cannot think why) that the moment had come in which to use the
nut which had been given her. She opened it, and out came a
diminutive hall porter at whose belt hung a tiny chain, at the
end of which was a golden key half as long as the smallest pin
you ever saw.
The Princess climbed up one of the silver chains, holding in her
hand the little porter who, in spite of his minute size, opened a
secret door with his golden key and let her in. She entered a
magnificent room which appeared to occupy the entire Castle, and
which was lighted by gold and jewelled stars in the ceiling. In
the midst of this room stood a couch, draped with curtains of all
the colours of the rainbow, and suspended by golden cords so that
it swayed with the Castle in a manner which rocked its occupant
delightfully to sleep.
On this elegant couch lay Prince Rainbow, looking more beautiful
than ever, and sunk in profound slumber, in which he had been
held ever since his disappearance.
Fairy-than-a-Fairy, who now saw him for the first time in his
real shape, hardly dared to gaze at him, fearing lest his
appearance might not be in keeping with the voice and language
which had won her heart. At the same time she could not help
feeling rather hurt at the apparent indifference with which she
was received.
She related all the dangers and difficulties she had gone
through, and though she repeated the story twenty times in a loud
clear voice, the Prince slept on and took no heed. She then had
recourse to the golden pomegranate, and on opening it found that
all the seeds were as many little violins which flew up in the
vaulted roof and at once began playing melodiously.
The Prince was not completely roused, but he opened his eyes a
little and looked all the handsomer.
Impatient at not being recognised, Fairer-than-a-Fairy now drew
out her third present, and on opening the crystal scent-bottle a
little syren flew out, who silenced the violins and then sang
close to the Prince's ear the story of all his lady love had
suffered in her search for him. She added some gentle reproaches
to her tale, but before she had got far he was wide awake, and
transported with joy threw himself at the Princess's feet. At
the same moment the walls of the room expanded and opened out,
revealing a golden throne covered with jewels. A magnificent
Court now began to assemble, and at the same time several elegant
carriages filled with ladies in magnificent dresses drove up. In
the first and most splendid of these carriages sat Prince
Rainbow's mother. She fondly embraced her son, after which she
informed him that his father had been dead for some years, that
the anger of the Fairies was at length appeased, and that he
might return in peace to reign over his people, who were longing
for his presence.
The Court received the new King with joyful acclamations which
would have delighted him at any other time, but all his thoughts
were full of Fairer-than-a-Fairy. He was just about to present
her to his mother and the Court, feeling sure that her charms
would win all hearts, when the three green and white sisters
They declared the secret of Fairy-than-a-Fairy's royal birth, and
the Queen taking the two lovers in her carriage set off with them
for the capital of the kingdom.
Here they were received with tumultuous joy. The wedding was
celebrated without delay, and succeeding years diminished neither
the virtues, beauty, nor the mutual affection of King Rainbow and
his Queen, Fairer-than-a-Fairy.
[17] From the Polish. Kletke.
There was once upon a time a witch, who in the shape of a hawk
used every night to break the windows of a certain village
church. In the same village there lived three brothers, who were
all determined to kill the mischievous hawk. But in vain did the
two eldest mount guard in the church with their guns; as soon as
the bird appeared high above their heads, sleep overpowered them,
and they only awoke to hear the windows crashing in.
Then the youngest brother took his turn of guarding the windows,
and to prevent his being overcome by sleep he placed a lot of
thorns under his chin, so that if he felt drowsy and nodded his
head, they would prick him and keep him awake.
The moon was already risen, and it was as light as day, when
suddenly he heard a fearful noise, and at the same time a
terrible desire to sleep overpowered him.
His eyelids closed, and his head sank on his shoulders, but the
thorns ran into him and were so painful that he awoke at once.
He saw the hawk swooping down upon the church, and in a moment he
had seized his gun and shot at the bird. The hawk fell heavily
under a big stone, severely wounded in its right wing. The youth
ran to look at it, and saw that a huge abyss had opened below the
stone. He went at once to fetch his brothers, and with their
help dragged a lot of pine-wood and ropes to the spot. They
fastened some of the burning pine-wood to the end of the rope,
and let it slowly down to the bottom of the abyss. At first it
was quite dark, and the flaming torch only lit up dirty grey
stone walls. But the youngest brother determined to explore the
abyss, and letting himself down by the rope he soon reached the
bottom. Here he found a lovely meadow full of green trees and
exquisite flowers.
In the middle of the meadow stood a huge stone castle, with an
iron gate leading to it, which was wide open. Everything in the
castle seemed to be made of copper, and the only inhabitant he
could discover was a lovely girl, who was combing her golden
hair; and he noticed that whenever one of her hairs fell on the
ground it rang out like pure metal. The youth looked at her more
closely, and saw that her skin was smooth and fair, her blue eyes
bright and sparkling, and her hair as golden as the sun. He fell
in love with her on the spot, and kneeling at her feet, he
implored her to become his wife.
The lovely girl accepted his proposal gladly; but at the same
time she warned him that she could never come up to the world
above till her mother, the old witch, was dead. And she went on
to tell him that the only way in which the old creature could be
killed was with the sword that hung up in the castle; but the
sword was so heavy that no one could lift it.
Then the youth went into a room in the castle where everything
was made of silver, and here he found another beautiful girl, the
sister of his bride. She was combing her silver hair, and every
hair that fell on the ground rang out like pure metal. The
second girl handed him the sword, but though he tried with all
his strength he could not lift it. At last a third sister came
to him and gave him a drop of something to drink, which she said
would give him the needful strength. He drank one drop, but
still he could not lift the sword; then he drank a second, and
the sword began to move; but only after he had drunk a third drop
was he able to swing the sword over his head.
Then he hid himself in the castle and awaited the old witch's
arrival. At last as it was beginning to grow dark she appeared.
She swooped down upon a big apple-tree, and after shaking some
golden apples from it, she pounced down upon the earth. As soon
as her feet touched the ground she became transformed from a hawk
into a woman. This was the moment the youth was waiting for, and
he swung his mighty sword in the air with all his strength and
the witch's head fell off, and her blood spurted up on the walls.
Without fear of any further danger, he packed up all the
treasures of the castle into great chests, and gave his brothers
a signal to pull them up out of the abyss. First the treasures
were attached to the rope and then the three lovely girls. And
now everything was up above and only he himself remained below.
But as he was a little suspicious of his brothers, he fastened a
heavy stone on to the rope and let them pull it up. At first
they heaved with a will, but when the stone was half way up they
let it drop suddenly, and it fell to the bottom broken into a
hundred pieces.
'So that's what would have happened to my bones had I trusted
myself to them,' said the youth sadly; and he began to cry
bitterly, not because of the treasures, but because of the lovely
girl with her swanlike neck and golden hair.
For a long time he wandered sadly all through the beautiful
underworld, and one day he met a magician who asked him the cause
of his tears. The youth told him all that had befallen him, and
the magician said:
'Do not grieve, young man! If you will guard the children who
are hidden in the golden apple-tree, I will bring you at once up
to the earth. Another magician who lives in this land always
eats my children up. It is in vain that I have hidden them under
the earth and locked them into the castle. Now I have hidden
them in the apple-tree; hide yourself there too, and at midnight
you will see my enemy.'
The youth climbed up the tree, and picked some of the beautiful
golden apples, which he ate for his supper.
At midnight the wind began to rise, and a rustling sound was
heard at the foot of the tree. The youth looked down and beheld
a long thick serpent beginning to crawl up the tree. It wound
itself round the stem and gradually got higher and higher. It
stretched its huge head, in which the eyes glittered fiercely,
among the branches, searching for the nest in which the little
children lay. They trembled with terror when they saw the
hideous creature, and hid themselves beneath the leaves.
Then the youth swung his mighty sword in the air, and with one
blow cut off the serpent's head. He cut up the rest of the body
into little bits and strewed them to the four winds.
The father of the rescued children was so delighted over the
death of his enemy that he told the youth to get on his back, and
in this way he carried him up to the world above.
With what joy did he hurry now to his brothers' house! He burst
into a room where they were all assembled, but no one knew who he
was. Only his bride, who was serving as cook to her sisters,
recognised her lover at once.
His brothers, who had quite believed he was dead, yielded him up
his treasures at once, and flew into the woods in terror. But
the good youth forgave them all they had done, and divided his
treasures with them. Then he built himself a big castle with
golden windows, and there he lived happily with his golden-haired
wife till the end of their lives.
[18] A North American Indian story.
Once upon a time an Indian hunter built himself a house in the
middle of a great forest, far away from all his tribe; for his
heart was gentle and kind, and he was weary of the treachery and
cruel deeds of those who had been his friends. So he left them,
and took his wife and three children, and they journeyed on until
they found a spot near to a clear stream, where they began to cut
down trees, and to make ready their wigwam. For many years they
lived peacefully and happily in this sheltered place, never
leaving it except to hunt the wild animals, which served them
both for food and clothes. At last, however, the strong man felt
sick, and before long he knew he must die.
So he gathered his family round him, and said his last words to
them. 'You, my wife, the companion of my days, will follow me
ere many moons have waned to the island of the blest. But for
you, O my children, whose lives are but newly begun, the
wickedness, unkindness, and ingratitude from which I fled are
before you. Yet I shall go hence in peace, my children, if you
will promise always to love each other, and never to forsake your
youngest brother.
'Never!' they replied, holding out their hands. And the hunter
died content.
Scarcely eight moons had passed when, just as he had said, the
wife went forth, and followed her husband; but before leaving her
children she bade the two elder ones think of their promise never
to forsake the younger, for he was a child, and weak. And while
the snow lay thick upon the ground, they tended him and cherished
him; but when the earth showed green again, the heart of the
young man stirred within him, and he longed to see the wigwams of
the village where his father's youth was spent.
Therefore he opened all his heart to his sister, who answered:
'My brother, I understand your longing for our fellow-men, whom
here we cannot see. But remember our father's words. Shall we
not seek our own pleasures, and forget the little one?'
But he would not listen, and, making no reply, he took his bow
and arrows and left the hut. The snows fell and melted, yet he
never returned; and at last the heart of the girl grew cold and
hard, and her little boy became a burden in her eyes, till one
day she spoke thus to him: 'See, there is food for many days to
come. Stay here within the shelter of the hut. I go to seek our
brother, and when I have found him I shall return hither.'
But when, after hard journeying, she reached the village where
her brother dwelt, and saw that he had a wife and was happy, and
when she, too, was sought by a young brave, then she also forgot
the boy alone in the forest, and thought only of her husband.
Now as soon as the little boy had eaten all the food which his
sister had left him, he went out into the woods, and gathered
berries and dug up roots, and while the sun shone he was
contented and had his fill. But when the snows began and the
wind howled, then his stomach felt empty and his limbs cold, and
he hid in trees all the night, and only crept out to eat what the
wolves had left behind. And by-and-by, having no other friends,
he sought their company, and sat by while they devoured their
prey, and they grew to know him, and gave him food. And without
them he would have died in the snow.
But at last the snows melted, and the ice upon the great lake,
and as the wolves went down to the shore, the boy went after
them. And it happened one day that his big brother was fishing
in his canoe near the shore, and he heard the voice of a child
singing in the Indian tone--
'My brother, my brother!
I am becoming a wolf,
I am becoming a wolf!'
And when he had so sung he howled as wolves howl. Then the heart
of the elder sunk, and he hastened towards him, crying, 'Brother,
little brother, come to me;' but he, being half a wolf, only
continued his song. And the louder the elder called him,
'Brother, little brother, come to me,' the swifter he fled after
his brothers the wolves, and the heavier grew his skin, till,
with a long howl, he vanished into the depths of the forest.
So, with shame and anguish in his soul, the elder brother went
back to his village, and, with his sister, mourned the little boy
and the broken promise till the end of his life.
[19] From the Hungarian. Kletke.
There was once upon a time a King and Queen who had everything
they could possibly wish for in this world except a child. At
last, after twelve years, the Queen gave birth to a son; but she
did not live long to enjoy her happiness, for on the following
day she died. But before her death she called her husband to her
and said, 'Never let the child put his feet on the ground, for as
soon as he does so he will fall into the power of a wicked Fairy,
who will do him much harm.' And these were the last words the
poor Queen spoke.
The boy throve and grew big, and when he was too heavy for his
nurse to carry, a chair was made for him on little wheels, in
which he could wander through the palace gardens without help; at
other times he was carried about on a litter, and he was always
carefully watched and guarded for fear he should at any time put
his feet to the ground.
But as this sort of life was bad for his health, the doctors
ordered him horse exercise, and he soon became a first-rate
rider, and used to go out for long excursions on horseback,
accompanied always by his father's stud-groom and a numerous
Every day he rode through the neighbouring fields and woods, and
always returned home in the evening safe and well. In this way
many years passed, and the Prince grew to manhood, and hardly
anyone remembered the Queen's warning, though precautions were
still taken, more from use and wont than for any other reason.
One day the Prince and his suite went out for a ride in a wood
where his father sometimes held a hunt. Their way led through a
stream whose banks were overgrown with thick brushwood. Just as
the horsemen were about to ford the river, a hare, startled by
the sound of the horses' hoofs, started up from the grass and ran
towards the thicket. The young Prince pursued the little
creature, and had almost overtaken it, when the girth of his
saddle suddenly broke in two and he fell heavily to the ground.
No sooner had his foot touched the earth than he disappeared
before the eyes of the horrified courtiers.
They sought for him far and near, but all in vain, and they were
forced to recognise the power of the evil Fairy, against which
the Queen had warned them on her death-bed. The old King was
much grieved when they brought him the news of his son's
disappearance, but as he could do nothing to free him from his
fate, he gave himself up to an old age of grief and loneliness,
cherishing at the same time the hope that some lucky chance might
one day deliver the youth out of the hands of his enemy.
Hardly had the Prince touched the ground than he felt himself
violently seized by an unseen power, and hurried away he knew not
whither. A whole new world stretched out before him, quite
unlike the one he had left. A splendid castle surrounded by a
huge lake was the abode of the Fairy, and the only approach to it
was over a bridge of clouds. On the other side of the lake high
mountains rose up, and dark woods stretched along the banks; over
all hung a thick mist, and deep silence reigned everywhere.
No sooner had the Fairy reached her own domain than she made
herself visible, and turning to the Prince she told him that
unless he obeyed all her commands down to the minutest detail he
would be severely punished. Then she gave him an axe made of
glass, and bade him cross the bridge of clouds and go into the
wood beyond and cut down all the trees there before sunset. At
the same time she cautioned him with many angry words against
speaking to a black girl he would most likely meet in the wood.
The Prince listened to her words meekly, and when she had
finished took up the glass axe and set out for the forest. At
every step he seemed to sink into the clouds, but fear gave wings
to his feet, and he crossed the lake in safety and set to work at
But no sooner had he struck the first blow with his axe than it
broke into a thousand pieces against the tree. The poor youth
was so terrified he did not know what to do, for he was in mortal
dread of the punishment the wicked old Fairy would inflict on
him. He wandered to and fro in the wood, not knowing where he
was going, and at last, worn out by fatigue and misery, he sank
on the ground and fell fast asleep.
He did not know how long he had slept when a sudden sound awoke
him, and opening his eyes he saw a black girl standing beside
him. Mindful of the Fairy's warning he did not dare to address
her, but she on her part greeted him in the most friendly manner,
and asked him at once if he were under the power of the wicked
Fairy. The Prince nodded his head silently in answer.
Then the black girl told him that she too was in the power of the
Fairy, who had doomed her to wander about in her present guise
until some youth should take pity on her and bear her in safety
to the other side of the river which they saw in the distance,
and on the other side of which the Fairy's domain and power
The girl's words so inspired the Prince with confidence that he
told her all his tale of woe, and ended up by asking her advice
as to how he was to escape the punishment the Fairy would be sure
to inflict on him when she discovered that he had not cut down
the trees in the wood and that he had broken her axe.
'You must know,' answered the black girl, 'that the Fairy in
whose power we both are is my own mother, but you must not betray
this secret, for it would cost me my life. If you will only
promise to try and free me I will stand by you, and will
accomplish for you all the tasks which my mother sets you.'
The Prince promised joyfully all she asked; then having once more
warned him not to betray her confidence, she handed him a draught
to drink which very soon sunk his senses in a deep slumber.
His astonishment was great when he awoke to find the glass axe
whole and unbroken at his side, and all the trees of the wood
lying felled around him!
He made all haste across the bridge of clouds, and told the Fairy
that her commands were obeyed. She was much amazed when she
heard that all the wood was cut down, and saw the axe unbroken in
his hand, and since she could not believe that he had done all
this by himself, she questioned him narrowly if he had seen or
spoken to the black girl. But the Prince lied manfully, and
swore he had never looked up from his work for a moment. Seeing
she could get nothing more out of him, she gave him a little
bread and water, and showing him to a small dark cupboard she
told him he might sleep there.
Morning had hardly dawned when the Fairy awoke the Prince, and
giving him the glass axe again she told him to cut up all the
wood he had felled the day before, and to put it in bundles ready
for firewood; at the same time she warned him once more against
approaching or speaking a word to the black girl if he met her in
the wood.
Although his task was no easier than that of the day before, the
youth set out much more cheerfully, because he knew he could
count an the help of the black girl. With quicker and lighter
step he crossed the bridge of clouds, and hardly had he reached
the other side than his friend stood before him and greeted him
cheerfully. When she heard what the Fairy demanded this time,
she answered smilingly, 'Never fear,' and handed him another
draught, which very soon caused the Prince to sink into a deep
When he awoke everything, was done. All the trees of the wood
were cut up into firewood and arranged in bundles ready for use.
He returned to the castle as quickly as he could, and told the
Fairy that her commands were obeyed. She was even more amazed
than she had been before, and asked him again if he had either
seen or spoken to the black girl; but the Prince knew better than
to betray his word, and once more lied freely.
On the following day the Fairy set him a third task to do, even
harder than the other two. She told him he must build a castle
on the other side of the lake, made of nothing but gold, silver,
and precious stones, and unless he could accomplish this within
an hour, the most frightful doom awaited him.
The Prince heard her words without anxiety, so entirely did he
rely on the help of his black friend. Full of hope he hurried
across the bridge, and recognised at once the spot where the
castle was to stand, for spades, hammers, axes, and every other
building implement lay scattered on the ground ready for the
workman's hand, but of gold, silver, and precious stones there
was not a sign. But before the Prince had time to feel
despondent the black girl beckoned to him in the distance from
behind a rock, where she had hidden herself for fear her mother
should catch sight of her. Full of joy the youth hurried towards
her, and begged her aid and counsel in the new piece of work he
had been given to do.
But this time the Fairy had watched the Prince's movements from
her window, and she saw him hiding himself behind the rock with
her daughter. She uttered a piercing shriek so that the
mountains re-echoed with the sound of it, and the terrified pair
had hardly dared to look out from their hiding-place when the
enraged woman, with her dress and hair flying in the wind,
hurried over the bridge of clouds. The Prince at once gave
himself up for lost, but the girl told him to be of good courage
and to follow her as quickly as he could. But before they left
their shelter she broke off a little bit of the rock, spoke some
magic words over it, and threw it in the direction her mother was
coming from. In a moment a glittering palace arose before the
eyes of the Fairy which blinded her with its dazzling splendour,
and with its many doors and passages prevented her for some time
from finding her way out of it.
In the meantime the black girl hurried on with the Prince,
hastening to reach the river, where once on the other side they
would for ever be out of the wicked Fairy's power. But before
they had accomplished half the way they heard again the rustle of
her garments and her muttered curses pursuing them closely.
The Prince was terrified; he dared not look back, and he felt his
strength giving way. But before he had time to despair the girl
uttered some more magic words, and immediately she herself was
changed into a pond, and the Prince into a duck swimming on its
When the Fairy saw this her rage knew no bounds, and she used all
her magic wits to make the pond disappear; she caused a hill of
sand to arise at her feet, meaning it to dry up the water at
once. But the sand hill only drove the pond a little farther
away, and its waters seemed to increase instead of diminishing.
When the old woman saw that the powers of her magic were of so
little avail, she had recourse to cunning. She threw a lot of
gold nuts into the pond, hoping in this way to catch the duck,
but all her efforts were fruitless, for the little creature
refused to let itself be caught.
Then a new idea struck the wicked old woman, and hiding herself
behind the rock which had sheltered the fugitives, she waited
behind it, watching carefully for the moment when the Prince and
her daughter should resume their natural forms and continue their
She had not to wait long, for as soon as the girl thought her
mother was safely out of the way, she changed herself and the
Prince once more into their human shape, and set out cheerfully
for the river.
But they had not gone many steps when the wicked Fairy hurried
after them, a drawn dagger in her hand, and was close upon them,
when suddenly, instead of the Prince and her daughter, she found
herself in front of a great stone church, whose entrance was
carefully guarded by a huge monk.
Breathless with rage and passion, she tried to plunge her dagger
into the monk's heart, but it fell shattered in pieces at her
feet. In her desperation she determined to pull down the church,
and thus to destroy her two victims for ever. She stamped three
times on the ground, and the earth trembled, and both the church
and the monk began to shake. As soon as the Fairy saw this she
retreated to some distance from the building, so as not to be
hurt herself by its fall. But once more her scheme was doomed to
failure, for hardly had she gone a yard from the church than both
it and the monk disappeared, and she found herself in a wood
black as night, and full of wolves and bears and wild animals of
all sorts and descriptions.
Then her wrath gave place to terror, for she feared every moment
to be torn in pieces by the beasts who one and all seemed to defy
her power. She thought it wisest to make her way as best she
could out of the forest, and then to pursue the fugitives once
more and accomplish their destruction either by force or cunning.
In the meantime the Prince and the black girl had again assumed
their natural forms, and were hurrying on as fast as they could
to reach the river. But when they got there they found that
there was no way in which they could cross it, and the girl's
magic art seemed no longer to have any power. Then turning to
the Prince she said, 'The hour for my deliverance has not yet
come, but as you promised to do all you could to free me, you
must do exactly as I bid you now. Take this bow and arrow and
kill every beast you see with them, and be sure you spare no
living creature.'
With these words she disappeared, and hardly had she done so than
a huge wild boar started out of the thicket near and made
straight for the Prince. But the youth did not lose his presence
of mind, and drawing his bow he pierced the beast with his arrow
right through the skull. The creature fell heavily on the
ground, and out of its side sprang a little hare, which ran like
the wind along the river bank. The Prince drew his bow once
more, and the hare lay dead at his feet; but at the same moment a
dove rose up in the air, and circled round the Prince's head in
the most confiding manner. But mindful of the black girl's
commands, he dared not spare the little creature's life, and
taking another arrow from his quiver he laid it as dead as the
boar and the hare. But when he went to look at the body of the
bird he found instead of the dove a round white egg lying on the
While he was gazing on it and wondering what it could mean, he
heard the sweeping of wings above him, and looking up he saw a
huge vulture with open claws swooping down upon him. In a moment
he seized the egg and flung it at the bird with all his might,
and lo and behold! instead of the ugly monster the most
beautiful girl he had ever seen stood before the astonished eyes
of the Prince.
But while all this was going on the wicked old Fairy had managed
to make her way out of the wood, and was now using the last
resource in her power to overtake her daughter and the Prince.
As soon as she was in the open again she mounted her chariot,
which was drawn by a fiery dragon, and flew through the air in
it. But just as she got to the river she saw the two lovers in
each other's arms swimming through the water as easily as two
Quick as lightning, and forgetful of every danger, she flew down
upon them. But the waters seized her chariot and sunk it in the
lowest depths, and the waves bore the wicked old woman down the
stream till she was caught in some thorn bushes, where she made a
good meal for all the little fishes that were swimming about.
And so at last the Prince and his lovely Bride were free. They
hurried as quickly as they could to the old King, who received
them with joy and gladness. On the following day a most gorgeous
wedding feast was held, and as far as we know the Prince and his
bride lived happily for ever afterwards.
[20] From the Iroquois.
Once upon a time there were a man and his wife who lived in the
forest, very far from the rest of the tribe. Very often they
spent the day in hunting together, but after a while the wife
found that she had so many things to do that she was obliged to
stay at home; so he went alone, though he found that when his
wife was not with him he never had any luck. One day, when he
was away hunting, the woman fell ill, and in a few days she died.
Her husband grieved bitterly, and buried her in the house where
she had passed her life; but as the time went on he felt so
lonely without her that he made a wooden doll about her height
and size for company, and dressed it in her clothes. He seated
it in front of the fire, and tried to think he had his wife back
again. The next day he went out to hunt, and when he came home
the first thing he did was to go up to the doll and brush off
some of the ashes from the fire which had fallen on its face.
But he was very busy now, for he had to cook and mend, besides
getting food, for there was no one to help him. And so a whole
year passed away.
At the end of that time he came back from hunting one night and
found some wood by the door and a fire within. The next night
there was not only wood and fire, but a piece of meat in the
kettle, nearly ready for eating. He searched all about to see
who could have done this, but could find no one. The next time
he went to hunt he took care not to go far, and came in quite
early. And while he was still a long way off he saw a woman
going into the house with wood on her shoulders. So he made
haste, and opened the door quickly, and instead of the wooden
doll, his wife sat in front of the fire.
Then she spoke to him and said, 'The Great Spirit felt sorry for
you, because you would not be comforted, so he let me come back
to you, but you must not stretch out your hand to touch me till
we have seen the rest of our people. If you do, I shall die.'
So the man listened to her words, and the woman dwelt there, and
brought the wood and kindled the fire, till one day her husband
said to her, 'It is now two years since you died. Let us now go
back to our tribe. Then you will be well, and I can touch you.'
And with that he prepared food for the journey, a string of
deer's flesh for her to carry, and one for himself; and so they
started. Now the camp of the tribe was distant six days'
journey, and when they were yet one day's journey off it began to
snow, and they felt weary and longed for rest. Therefore they
made a fire, cooked some food, and spread out their skins to
Then the heart of the man was greatly stirred, and he stretched
out his arms to his wife, but she waved her hands and said, 'We
have seen no one yet; it is too soon.'
But he would not listen to her, and caught her to him, and
behold! he was clasping the wooden doll. And when he saw it was
the doll he pushed it from him in his misery and rushed away to
the camp, and told them all his story. And some doubted, and
they went back with him to the place where he and his wife had
stopped to rest, and there lay the doll, and besides, they saw in
the snow the steps of two people, and the foot of one was like
the foot of the doll. And the man grieved sore all the days of
his life.
[21] From the Red Indian.
Far away, in North America, where the Red Indians dwell, there
lived a long time ago a beautiful maiden, who was lovelier than
any other girl in the whole tribe. Many of the young braves
sought her in marriage, but she would listen to one only--a
handsome chief, who had taken her fancy some years before. So
they were to be married, and great rejoicings were made, and the
two looked forward to a long life of happiness together, when the
very night before the wedding feast a sudden illness seized the
girl, and, without a word to her friends who were weeping round
her, she passed silently away.
The heart of her lover had been set upon her, and the thought of
her remained with him night and day. He put aside his bow, and
went neither to fight nor to hunt, but from sunrise to sunset he
sat by the place where she was laid, thinking of his happiness
that was buried there. At last, after many days, a light seemed
to come to him out of the darkness. He remembered having heard
from the old, old people of the tribe, that there was a path that
led to the Land of Souls--that if you sought carefully you could
find it.
So the next morning he got up early, and put some food in his
pouch and slung an extra skin over his shoulders, for he knew not
how long his journey would take, nor what sort of country he
would have to go through. Only one thing he knew, that if the
path was there, he would find it. At first he was puzzled, as
there seemed no reason he should go in one direction more than
another. Then all at once he thought he had heard one of the old
men say that the Land of Souls lay to the south, and so, filled
with new hope and courage, he set his face southwards. For many,
many miles the country looked the same as it did round his own
home. The forests, the hills, and the rivers all seemed exactly
like the ones he had left. The only thing that was different was
the snow, which had lain thick upon the hills and trees when he
started, but grew less and less the farther he went south, till
it disappeared altogether. Soon the trees put forth their buds,
and flowers sprang up under his feet, and instead of thick clouds
there was blue sky over his head, and everywhere the birds were
singing. Then he knew that he was in the right road.
The thought that he should soon behold his lost bride made his
heart beat for joy, and he sped along lightly and swiftly. Now
his way led through a dark wood, and then over some steep cliffs,
and on the top of these he found a hut or wigwam. An old man
clothed in skins, and holding a staff in his hand, stood in the
doorway; and he said to the young chief who was beginning to tell
his story, 'I was waiting for you, wherefore you have come I
know. It is but a short while since she whom you seek was here.
Rest in my hut, as she also rested, and I will tell you what you
ask, and whither you should go.'
On hearing these words, the young man entered the hut, but his
heart was too eager within him to suffer him to rest, and when he
arose, the old man rose too, and stood with him at the door.
'Look,' he said, 'at the water which lies far out yonder, and the
plains which stretch beyond. That is the Land of Souls, but no
man enters it without leaving his body behind him. So, lay down
your body here; your bow and arrows, your skin and your dog.
They shall be kept for you safely.'
Then he turned away, and the young chief, light as air, seemed
hardly to touch the ground; and as he flew along the scents grew
sweeter and the flowers more beautiful, while the animals rubbed
their noses against him, instead of hiding as he approached, and
birds circled round him, and fishes lifted up their heads and
looked as he went by. Very soon he noticed with wonder, that
neither rocks nor trees barred his path. He passed through them
without knowing it, for indeed, they were not rocks and trees at
all, but only the souls of them; for this was the Land of
So he went on with winged feet till he came to the shores of a
great lake, with a lovely island in the middle of it; while on
the bank of the lake was a canoe of glittering stone, and in the
canoe were two shining paddles.
The chief jumped straight into the canoe, and seizing the paddles
pushed off from the shore, when to his joy and wonder he saw
following him in another canoe exactly like his own the maiden
for whose sake he had made this long journey. But they could not
touch each other, for between them rolled great waves, which
looked as if they would sink the boats, yet never did. And the
young man and the maiden shrank with fear, for down in the depths
of the water they saw the bones of those who had died before, and
in the waves themselves men and women were struggling, and but
few passed over. Only the children had no fear, and reached the
other side in safety. Still, though the chief and the young girl
quailed in terror at these horrible sights and sounds, no harm
came to them, for their lives had been free from evil, and the
Master of Life had said that no evil should happen unto them. So
they reached unhurt the shore of the Happy Island, and wandered
through the flowery fields and by the banks of rushing streams,
and they knew not hunger nor thirst; neither cold nor heat. The
air fed them and the sun warmed them, and they forgot the dead,
for they saw no graves, and the young man's thoughts turned not
to wars, neither to the hunting of animals. And gladly would
these two have walked thus for ever, but in the murmur of the
wind he heard the Master of Life saying to him, 'Return whither
you came, for I have work for you to do, and your people need
you, and for many years you shall rule over them. At the gate my
messenger awaits you, and you shall take again your body which
you left behind, and he will show you what you are to do. Listen
to him, and have patience, and in time to come you shall rejoin
her whom you must now leave, for she is accepted, and will remain
ever young and beautiful, as when I called her hence from the
Land of Snows.'
Once upon a time a great and powerful King married a lovely
Princess. No couple were ever so happy; but before their
honeymoon was over they were forced to part, for the King had to
go on a warlike expedition to a far country, and leave his young
wife alone at home. Bitter were the tears she shed, while her
husband sought in vain to soothe her with words of comfort and
counsel, warning her, above all things, never to leave the
castle, to hold no intercourse with strangers, to beware of evil
counsellors, and especially to be on her guard against strange
women. And the Queen promised faithfully to obey her royal lord
and master in these four matters.
So when the King set out on his expedition she shut herself up
with her ladies in her own apartments, and spent her time in
spinning and weaving, and in thinking of her royal husband.
Often she was very sad and lonely, and it happened that one day
while she was seated at the window, letting salt tears drop on
her work, an old woman, a kind, homely-looking old body, stepped
up to the window, and, leaning upon her crutch, addressed the
Queen in friendly, flattering tones, saying:
'Why are you sad and cast down, fair Queen? You should not mope
all day in your rooms, but should come out into the green garden,
and hear the birds sing with joy among the trees, and see the
butterflies fluttering above the flowers, and hear the bees and
insects hum, and watch the sunbeams chase the dew-drops through
the rose-leaves and in the lily-cups. All the brightness outside
would help to drive away your cares, O Queen.'
For long the Queen resisted her coaxing words, remembering the
promise she had given the King, her husband; but at last she
thought to herself: After all, what harm would it do if I were
to go into the garden for a short time and enjoy myself among the
trees and flowers, and the singing birds and fluttering
butterflies and humming insects, and look at the dew-drops hiding
from the sunbeams in the hearts of the roses and lilies, and
wander about in the sunshine, instead of remaining all day in
this room? For she had no idea that the kind-looking old woman
leaning on her crutch was in reality a wicked witch, who envied
the Queen her good fortune, and was determined to ruin her. And
so, in all ignorance, the Queen followed her out into the garden
and listened to her smooth, flattering words. Now, in the middle
of the garden there was a pond of water, clear as crystal, and
the old woman said to the Queen:
'The day is so warm, and the sun's rays so scorching, that the
water in the pond looks very cool and inviting. Would you not
like to bathe in it, fair Queen?'
'No, I think not,' answered the Queen; but the next moment she
regretted her words, and thought to herself: Why shouldn't I
bathe in that cool, fresh water? No harm could come of it. And,
so saying, she slipped off her robes and stepped into the water.
But scarcely had her tender feet touched the cool ripples when
she felt a great shove on her shoulders, and the wicked witch had
pushed her into the deep water, exclaiming:
'Swim henceforth, White Duck!'
And the witch herself assumed the form of the Queen, and decked
herself out in the royal robes, and sat among the Court ladies,
awaiting the King's return. And suddenly the tramp of horses'
hoofs was heard, and the barking of dogs, and the witch hastened
forward to meet the royal carriages, and, throwing her arms round
the King's neck, kissed him. And in his great joy the King did
not know that the woman he held in his arms was not his own dear
wife, but a wicked witch.
In the meantime, outside the palace walls, the poor White Duck
swam up and down the pond; and near it laid three eggs, out of
which there came one morning two little fluffy ducklings and a
little ugly drake. And the White Duck brought the little
creatures up, and they paddled after her in the pond, and caught
gold-fish, and hopped upon the bank and waddled about, ruffling
their feathers and saying 'Quack, quack' as they strutted about
on the green banks of the pond. But their mother used to warn
them not to stray too far, telling them that a wicked witch lived
in the castle beyond the garden, adding, 'She has ruined me, and
she will do her best to ruin you.' But the young ones did not
listen to their mother, and, playing about the garden one day,
they strayed close up to the castle windows. The witch at once
recognised them by their smell, and ground her teeth with anger;
but she hid her feelings, and, pretending to be very kind she
called them to her and joked with them, and led them into a
beautiful room, where she gave them food to eat, and showed them
a soft cushion on which they might sleep. Then she left them and
went down into the palace kitchens, where she told the servants
to sharpen the knives, and to make a great fire ready, and hang a
large kettleful of water over it.
In the meantime the two little ducklings had fallen asleep, and
the little drake lay between them, covered up by their wings, to
be kept warm under their feathers. But the little drake could
not go to sleep, and as he lay there wide awake in the night he
heard the witch come to the door and say:
'Little ones, are you asleep?'
And the little drake answered for the other two:
'We cannot sleep, we wake and weep,
Sharp is the knife, to take our life;
The fire is hot, now boils the pot,
And so we wake, and lie and quake.'
'They are not asleep yet,' muttered the witch to herself; and she
walked up and down in the passage, and then came back to the
door, and said:
'Little ones, are you asleep?'
And again the little drake answered for his sisters:
'We cannot sleep, we wake and weep,
Sharp is the knife, to take our life;
The fire is hot, now boils the pot,
And so we wake, and lie and quake.'
'Just the same answer,' muttered the witch; 'I think I'll go in
and see.' So she opened the door gently, and seeing the two
little ducklings sound asleep, she there and then killed them.
The next morning the White Duck wandered round the pond in a
distracted manner, looking for her little ones; she called and
she searched, but could find no trace of them. And in her heart
she had a foreboding that evil had befallen them, and she
fluttered up out of the water and flew to the palace. And there,
laid out on the marble floor of the court, dead and stone cold,
were her three children. The White Duck threw herself upon them,
and, covering up their little bodies with her wings, she cried:
'Quack, quack--my little loves!
Quack, quack--my turtle-doves!
I brought you up with grief and pain,
And now before my eyes you're slain.
I gave you always of the best;
I kept you warm in my soft nest.
I loved and watched you day and night--
You were my joy, my one delight.'
The King heard the sad complaint of the White Duck, and called to
the witch: 'Wife, what a wonder is this? Listen to that White
But the witch answered, 'My dear husband, what do you mean?
There is nothing wonderful in a duck's quacking. Here, servants!
Chase that duck out of the courtyard.' But though the servants
chased and chevied, they could not get rid of the duck; for she
circled round and round, and always came back to the spot where
her children lay, crying:
'Quack, quack--my little loves!
Quack, quack--my turtle-doves!
The wicked witch your lives did take--
The wicked witch, the cunning snake.
First she stole my King away,
Then my children did she slay.
Changed me, from a happy wife,
To a duck for all my life.
Would I were the Queen again;
Would that you had never been slain.'
And as the King heard her words he began to suspect that he had
been deceived, and he called out to the servants, 'Catch that
duck, and bring it here.' But, though they ran to and fro, the
duck always fled past them, and would not let herself be caught.
So the King himself stepped down amongst them, and instantly the
duck fluttered down into his hands. And as he stroked her wings
she was changed into a beautiful woman, and he recognised his
dear wife. And she told him that a bottle would be found in her
nest in the garden, containing some drops from the spring of
healing. And it was brought to her; and the ducklings and little
drake were sprinkled with the water, and from the little dead
bodies three lovely children arose. And the King and Queen were
overjoyed when they saw their children, and they all lived
happily together in the beautiful palace. But the wicked witch
was taken by the King's command, and she came to no good end.
[22] From the Russian. Kletke.
Long time ago there lived a King who had three sons; the eldest
was called Szabo, the second Warza, and the youngest Iwanich.
One beautiful spring morning the King was walking through his
gardens with these three sons, gazing with admiration at the
various fruit-trees, some of which were a mass of blossom, whilst
others were bowed to the ground laden with rich fruit. During
their wanderings they came unperceived on a piece of waste land
where three splendid trees grew. The King looked on them for a
moment, and then, shaking his head sadly, he passed on in
The sons, who could not understand why he did this, asked him the
reason of his dejection, and the King told them as follows:
'These three trees, which I cannot see without sorrow, were
planted by me on this spot when I was a youth of twenty. A
celebrated magician, who had given the seed to my father,
promised him that they would grow into the three finest trees the
world had ever seen. My father did not live to see his words
come true; but on his death-bed he bade me transplant them here,
and to look after them with the greatest care, which I
accordingly did. At last, after the lapse of five long years, I
noticed some blossoms on the branches, and a few days later the
most exquisite fruit my eyes had ever seen.
'I gave my head-gardener the strictest orders to watch the trees
carefully, for the magician had warned my father that if one
unripe fruit were plucked from the tree, all the rest would
become rotten at once. When it was quite ripe the fruit would
become a golden yellow.
'Every day I gazed on the lovely fruit, which became gradually
more and more tempting-looking, and it was all I could do not to
break the magician's commands.
'One night I dreamt that the fruit was perfectly ripe; I ate some
of it, and it was more delicious than anything I had ever tasted
in real life. As soon as I awoke I sent for the gardener and
asked him if the fruit on the three trees had not ripened in the
night to perfection.
'But instead of replying, the gardener threw himself at my feet
and swore that he was innocent. He said that he had watched by
the trees all night, but in spite of it, and as if by magic, the
beautiful trees had been robbed of all their fruit.
'Grieved as I was over the theft, I did not punish the gardener,
of whose fidelity I was well assured, but I determined to pluck
off all the fruit in the following year before it was ripe, as I
had not much belief in the magician's warning.
'I carried out my intention, and had all the fruit picked off the
tree, but when I tasted one of the apples it was bitter and
unpleasant, and the next morning the rest of the fruit had all
rotted away.
'After this I had the beautiful fruit of these trees carefully
guarded by my most faithful servants; but every year, on this
very night, the fruit was plucked and stolen by an invisible
hand, and next morning not a single apple remained on the trees.
For some time past I have given up even having the trees
When the King had finished his story, Szabo, his eldest son, said
to him: 'Forgive me, father, if I say I think you are mistaken.
I am sure there are many men in your kingdom who could protect
these trees from the cunning arts of a thieving magician; I
myself, who as your eldest son claim the first right to do so,
will mount guard over the fruit this very night.'
The King consented, and as soon as evening drew on Szabo climbed
up on to one of the trees, determined to protect the fruit even
if it cost him his life. So he kept watch half the night; but a
little after midnight he was overcome by an irresistible
drowsiness, and fell fast asleep. He did not awake till it was
bright daylight, and all the fruit on the trees had vanished.
The following year Warza, the second brother, tried his luck, but
with the same result. Then it came to the turn of the third and
youngest son.
Iwanich was not the least discouraged by the failure of his elder
brothers, though they were both much older and stronger than he
was, and when night came climbed up the tree as they had done,
The moon had risen, and with her soft light lit up the whole
neighbourhood, so that the observant Prince could distinguish the
smallest object distinctly.
At midnight a gentle west wind shook the tree, and at the same
moment a snow-white swan-like bird sank down gently on his
breast. The Prince hastily seized the bird's wings in his hands,
when, lo! to his astonishment he found he was holding in his
arms not a bird but the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
'You need not fear Militza,' said the beautiful girl, looking at
the Prince with friendly eyes. 'An evil magician has not robbed
you of your fruit, but he stole the seed from my mother, and
thereby caused her death. When she was dying she bade me take
the fruit, which you have no right to possess, from the trees
every year as soon as it was ripe. This I would have done
to-night too, if you had not seized me with such force, and so
broken the spell I was under.'
Iwanich, who had been prepared to meet a terrible magician and
not a lovely girl, fell desperately in love with her. They spent
the rest of the night in pleasant conversation, and when Militza
wished to go away he begged her not to leave him.
'I would gladly stay with you longer,' said Militza, 'but a
wicked witch once cut off a lock of my hair when I was asleep,
which has put me in her power, and if morning were still to find
me here she would do me some harm, and you, too, perhaps.'
Having said these words, she drew a sparkling diamond ring from
her finger, which she handed to the Prince, saying: 'Keep this
ring in memory of Militza, and think of her sometimes if you
never see her again. But if your love is really true, come and
find me in my own kingdom. I may not show you the way there, but
this ring will guide you.
'If you have love and courage enough to undertake this journey,
whenever you come to a cross-road always look at this diamond
before you settle which way you are going to take. If it
sparkles as brightly as ever go straight on, but if its lustre is
dimmed choose another path.'
Then Militza bent over the Prince and kissed him on his forehead,
and before he had time to say a word she vanished through the
branches of the tree in a little white cloud.
Morning broke, and the Prince, still full of the wonderful
apparition, left his perch and returned to the palace like one in
a dream, without even knowing if the fruit had been taken or not;
for his whole mind was absorbed by thoughts of Militza and how he
was to find her.
As soon as the head-gardener saw the Prince going towards the
palace he ran to the trees, and when he saw them laden with ripe
fruit he hastened to tell the King the joyful news. The King was
beside himself for joy, and hurried at once to the garden and
made the gardener pick him some of the fruit. He tasted it, and
found the apple quite as luscious as it had been in his dream.
He went at once to his son Iwanich, and after embracing him
tenderly and heaping praises on him, he asked him how he had
succeeded in protecting the costly fruit from the power of the
This question placed Iwanich in a dilemma. But as he did not
want the real story to be known, he said that about midnight a
huge wasp had flown through the branches, and buzzed incessantly
round him. He had warded it off with his sword, and at dawn,
when he was becoming quite worn out, the wasp had vanished as
suddenly as it had appeared.
The King, who never doubted the truth of this tale, bade his son
go to rest at once and recover from the fatigues of the night;
but he himself went and ordered many feasts to be held in honour
of the preservation of the wonderful fruit.
The whole capital was in a stir, and everyone shared in the
King's joy; the Prince alone took no part in the festivities.
While the King was at a banquet, Iwanich took some purses of
gold, and mounting the quickest horse in the royal stable, he
sped off like the wind without a single soul being any the wiser.
It was only on the next day that they missed him; the King was
very distressed at his disappearance, and sent search-parties all
over the kingdom to look for him, but in vain; and after six
months they gave him up as dead, and in another six months they
had forgotten all about him. But in the meantime the Prince,
with the help of his ring, had had a most successful journey, and
no evil had befallen him.
At the end of three months he came to the entrance of a huge
forest, which looked as if it had never been trodden by human
foot before, and which seemed to stretch out indefinitely. The
Prince was about to enter the wood by a little path he had
discovered, when he heard a voice shouting to him: 'Hold, youth!
Whither are you going?'
Iwanich turned round, and saw a tall, gaunt-looking man, clad in
miserable rags, leaning on a crooked staff and seated at the foot
of an oak tree, which was so much the same colour as himself that
it was little wonder the Prince had ridden past the tree without
noticing him.
'Where else should I be going,' he said, 'than through the wood?'
'Through the wood?' said the old man in amazement. 'It's easily
seen that you have heard nothing of this forest, that you rush so
blindly to meet your doom. Well, listen to me before you ride
any further; let me tell you that this wood hides in its depths a
countless number of the fiercest tigers, hyenas, wolves, bears,
and snakes, and all sorts of other monsters. If I were to cut
you and your horse up into tiny morsels and throw them to the
beasts, there wouldn't be one bit for each hundred of them. Take
my advice, therefore, and if you wish to save your life follow
some other path.'
The Prince was rather taken aback by the old man's words, and
considered for a minute what he should do; then looking at his
ring, and perceiving that it sparkled as brightly as ever, he
called out: 'If this wood held even more terrible things than it
does, I cannot help myself, for I must go through it.'
Here he spurred his horse and rode on; but the old beggar
screamed so loudly after him that the Prince turned round and
rode back to the oak tree.
'I am really sorry for you,' said the beggar, 'but if you are
quite determined to brave the dangers of the forest, let me at
least give you a piece of advice which will help you against
these monsters.
'Take this bagful of bread-crumbs and this live hare. I will
make you a present of them both, as I am anxious to save your
life; but you must leave your horse behind you, for it would
stumble over the fallen trees or get entangled in the briers and
thorns. When you have gone about a hundred yards into the wood
the wild beasts will surround you. Then you must instantly seize
your bag, and scatter the bread-crumbs among them. They will
rush to eat them up greedily, and when you have scattered the
last crumb you must lose no time in throwing the hare to them; as
soon as the hare feels itself on the ground it will run away as
quickly as possible, and the wild beasts will turn to pursue it.
In this way you will be able to get through the wood unhurt.'
Iwanich thanked the old man for his counsel, dismounted from his
horse, and, taking the bag and the hare in his arms, he entered
the forest. He had hardly lost sight of his gaunt grey friend
when he heard growls and snarls in the thicket close to him, and
before he had time to think he found himself surrounded by the
most dreadful-looking creatures. On one side he saw the
glittering eye of a cruel tiger, on the other the gleaming teeth
of a great she-wolf; here a huge bear growled fiercely, and
there a horrible snake coiled itself in the grass at his feet.
But Iwanich did not forget the old man's advice, and quickly put
his hand into the bag and took out as many bread-crumbs as he
could hold in his hand at a time. He threw them to the beasts,
but soon the bag grew lighter and lighter, and the Prince began
to feel a little frightened. And now the last crumb was gone,
and the hungry beasts thronged round him, greedy for fresh prey.
Then he seized the hare and threw it to them.
No sooner did the little creature feel itself on the ground than
it lay back its ears and flew through the wood like an arrow from
a bow, closely pursued by the wild beasts, and the Prince was
left alone. He looked at his ring, and when he saw that it
sparkled as brightly as ever he went straight on through the
He hadn't gone very far when he saw a most extraordinary looking
man coming towards him. He was not more than three feet high,
his legs were quite crooked, and all his body was covered with
prickles like a hedgehog. Two lions walked with him, fastened to
his side by the two ends of his long beard.
He stopped the Prince and asked him in a harsh voice: 'Are you
the man who has just fed my body-guard?'
Iwanich was so startled that he could hardly reply, but the
little man continued: 'I am most grateful to you for your
kindness; what can I give you as a reward?'
'All I ask,' replied Iwanich, 'is, that I should be allowed to go
through this wood in safety.'
'Most certainly,' answered the little man; 'and for greater
security I will give you one of my lions as a protector. But
when you leave this wood and come near a palace which does not
belong to my domain, let the lion go, in order that he may not
fall into the hands of an enemy and be killed.'
With these words he loosened the lion from his beard and bade the
beast guard the youth carefully.
With this new protector Iwanich wandered on through the forest,
and though he came upon a great many more wolves, hyenas,
leopards, and other wild beasts, they always kept at a respectful
distance when they saw what sort of an escort the Prince had with
Iwanich hurried through the wood as quickly as his legs would
carry him, but, nevertheless, hour after hour went by and not a
trace of a green field or a human habitation met his eyes. At
length, towards evening, the mass of trees grew more transparent,
and through the interlaced branches a wide plain was visible.
At the exit of the wood the lion stood still, and the Prince took
leave of him, having first thanked him warmly for his kind
protection. It had become quite dark, and Iwanich was forced to
wait for daylight before continuing his journey.
He made himself a bed of grass and leaves, lit a fire of dry
branches, and slept soundly till the next morning.
Then he got up and walked towards a beautiful white palace which
he saw gleaming in the distance. In about an hour he reached the
building, and opening the door he walked in.
After wandering through many marble halls, he came to a huge
staircase made of porphyry, leading down to a lovely garden.
The Prince burst into a shout of joy when he suddenly perceived
Militza in the centre of a group of girls who were weaving
wreaths of flowers with which to deck their mistress.
As soon as Militza saw the Prince she ran up to him and embraced
him tenderly; and after he had told her all his adventures, they
went into the palace, where a sumptuous meal awaited them. Then
the Princess called her court together, and introduced Iwanich to
them as her future husband.
Preparations were at once made for the wedding, which was held
soon after with great pomp and magnificence.
Three months of great happiness followed, when Militza received
one day an invitation to visit her mother's sister.
Although the Princess was very unhappy at leaving her husband,
she did not like to refuse the invitation, and, promising to
return in seven days at the latest, she took a tender farewell of
the Prince, and said: 'Before I go I will hand you over all the
keys of the castle. Go everywhere and do anything you like; only
one thing I beg and beseech you, do not open the little iron door
in the north tower, which is closed with seven locks and seven
bolts; for if you do, we shall both suffer for it.'
Iwanich promised what she asked, and Militza departed, repeating
her promise to return in seven days.
When the Prince found himself alone he began to be tormented by
pangs of curiosity as to what the room in the tower contained.
For two days he resisted the temptation to go and look, but on
the third he could stand it no longer, and taking a torch in his
hand he hurried to the tower, and unfastened one lock after the
other of the little iron door until it burst open.
What an unexpected sight met his gaze! The Prince perceived a
small room black with smoke, lit up feebly by a fire from which
issued long blue flames. Over the fire hung a huge cauldron full
of boiling pitch, and fastened into the cauldron by iron chains
stood a wretched man screaming with agony.
Iwanich was much horrified at the sight before him, and asked the
man what terrible crime he had committed to be punished in this
dreadful fashion.
'I will tell you everything,' said the man in the cauldron; 'but
first relieve my torments a little, I implore you.'
'And how can I do that?' asked the Prince.
'With a little water,' replied the man; 'only sprinkle a few
drops over me and I shall feel better.'
The Prince, moved by pity, without thinking what he was doing,
ran to the courtyard of the castle, and filled a jug with water,
which he poured over the man in the cauldron.
In a moment a most fearful crash was heard, as if all the pillars
of the palace were giving way, and the palace itself, with towers
and doors, windows and the cauldron, whirled round the bewildered
Prince's head. This continued for a few minutes, and then
everything vanished into thin air, and Iwanich found himself
suddenly alone upon a desolate heath covered with rocks and
The Prince, who now realised what his heedlessness had done,
cursed too late his spirit of curiosity. In his despair he
wandered on over the heath, never looking where he put his feet,
and full of sorrowful thoughts. At last he saw a light in the
distance, which came from a miserable-looking little hut.
The owner of it was none other than the kind-hearted gaunt grey
beggar who had given the Prince the bag of bread-crumbs and the
hare. Without recognising Iwanich, he opened the door when he
knocked and gave him shelter for the night.
On the following morning the Prince asked his host if he could
get him any work to do, as he was quite unknown in the
neighbourhood, and had not enough money to take him home.
'My son,' replied the old man, 'all this country round here is
uninhabited; I myself have to wander to distant villages for my
living, and even then I do not very often find enough to satisfy
my hunger. But if you would like to take service with the old
witch Corva, go straight up the little stream which flows below
my hut for about three hours, and you will come to a sand-hill on
the left-hand side; that is where she lives.'
Iwanich thanked the gaunt grey beggar for his information, and
went on his way.
After walking for about three hours the Prince came upon a
dreary-looking grey stone wall; this was the back of the building
and did not attract him; but when he came upon the front of the
house he found it even less inviting, for the old witch had
surrounded her dwelling with a fence of spikes, on every one of
which a man's skull was stuck. In this horrible enclosure stood
a small black house, which had only two grated windows, all
covered with cobwebs, and a battered iron door.
The Prince knocked, and a rasping woman's voice told him to
Iwanich opened the door, and found himself in a smoke-begrimed
kitchen, in the presence of a hideous old woman who was warming
her skinny hands at a fire. The Prince offered to become her
servant, and the old hag told him she was badly in want of one,
and he seemed to be just the person to suit her.
When Iwanich asked what his work, and how much his wages would
be, the witch bade him follow her, and led the way through a
narrow damp passage into a vault, which served as a stable. Here
he perceived two pitch-black horses in a stall.
'You see before you,' said the old woman, 'a mare and her foal;
you have nothing to do but to lead them out to the fields every
day, and to see that neither of them runs away from you. If you
look after them both for a whole year I will give you anything
you like to ask; but if, on the other hand, you let either of the
animals escape you, your last hour is come, and your head shall
be stuck on the last spike of my fence. The other spikes, as you
see, are already adorned, and the skulls are all those of
different servants I have had who have failed to do what I
Iwanich, who thought he could not be much worse off than he was
already, agreed to the witch's proposal.
At daybreak nest morning he drove his horses to the field, and
brought them back in the evening without their ever having
attempted to break away from him. The witch stood at her door
and received him kindly, and set a good meal before him.
So it continued for some time, and all went well with the Prince.
Early every morning he led the horses out to the fields, and
brought them home safe and sound in the evening.
One day, while he was watching the horses, he came to the banks
of a river, and saw a big fish, which through some mischance had
been cast on the land, struggling hard to get back into the
Iwanich, who felt sorry for the poor creature, seized it in his
arms and flung it into the stream. But no sooner did the fish
find itself in the water again, than, to the Prince's amazement,
it swam up to the bank and said:
'My kind benefactor, how can I reward you for your goodness?'
'I desire nothing,' answered the Prince. 'I am quite content to
have been able to be of some service to you.'
'You must do me the favour,' replied the fish, 'to take a scale
from my body, and keep it carefully. If you should ever need my
help, throw it into the river, and I will come to your aid at
Iwanich bowed, loosened a scale from the body of the grateful
beast, put it carefully away, and returned home.
A short time after this, when he was going early one morning to
the usual grazing place with his horses, he noticed a flock of
birds assembled together making a great noise and flying wildly
backwards and forwards.
Full of curiosity, Iwanich hurried up to the spot, and saw that a
large number of ravens had attacked an eagle, and although the
eagle was big and powerful and was making a brave fight, it was
overpowered at last by numbers, and had to give in.
But the Prince, who was sorry for the poor bird, seized the
branch of a tree and hit out at the ravens with it; terrified at
this unexpected onslaught they flew away, leaving many of their
number dead or wounded on the battlefield.
As soon as the eagle saw itself free from its tormentors it
plucked a feather from its wing, and, handing it to the Prince,
said: 'Here, my kind benefactor, take this feather as a proof of
my gratitude; should you ever be in need of my help blow this
feather into the air, and I will help you as much as is in my
Iwanich thanked the bird, and placing the feather beside the
scale he drove the horses home.
Another day he had wandered farther than usual, and came close to
a farmyard; the place pleased the Prince, and as there was plenty
of good grass for the horses he determined to spend the day
there. Just as he was sitting down under a tree he heard a cry
close to him, and saw a fox which had been caught in a trap
placed there by the farmer.
In vain did the poor beast try to free itself; then the
good-natured Prince came once more to the rescue, and let the fox
out of the trap.
The fox thanked him heartily, tore two hairs out of his bushy
tail, and said: 'Should you ever stand in need of my help throw
these two hairs into the fire, and in a moment I shall be at your
side ready to obey you.'
Iwanich put the fox's hairs with the scale and the feather, and
as it was getting dark he hastened home with his horses.
In the meantime his service was drawing near to an end, and in
three more days the year was up, and he would be able to get his
reward and leave the witch.
On the first evening of these last three days, when he came home
and was eating his supper, he noticed the old woman stealing into
the stables.
The Prince followed her secretly to see what she was going to do.
He crouched down in the doorway and heard the wicked witch
telling the horses to wait next morning till Iwanich was asleep,
and then to go and hide themselves in the river, and to stay
there till she told them to return; and if they didn't do as she
told them the old woman threatened to beat them till they bled.
When Iwanich heard all this he went back to his room, determined
that nothing should induce him to fall asleep next day. On the
following morning he led the mare and foal to the fields as
usual, but bound a cord round them both which he kept in his
But after a few hours, by the magic arts of the old witch, he was
overpowered by sleep, and the mare and foal escaped and did as
they had been told to do. The Prince did not awake till late in
the evening; and when he did, he found, to his horror, that the
horses had disappeared. Filled with despair, he cursed the
moment when he had entered the service of the cruel witch, and
already he saw his head sticking up on the sharp spike beside the
Then he suddenly remembered the fish's scale, which, with the
eagle's feather and the fox's hairs, he always carried about with
him. He drew the scale from his pocket, and hurrying to the
river he threw it in. In a minute the grateful fish swam towards
the bank on which Iwanich was standing, and said: 'What do you
command, my friend and benefactor?'
The Prince replied: 'I had to look after a mare and foal, and
they have run away from me and have hidden themselves in the
river; if you wish to save my life drive them back to the land.'
'Wait a moment,' answered the fish, 'and I and my friends will
soon drive them out of the water.' With these words the creature
disappeared into the depths of the stream.
Almost immediately a rushing hissing sound was heard in the
waters, the waves dashed against the banks, the foam was tossed
into the air, and the two horses leapt suddenly on to the dry
land, trembling and shaking with fear.
Iwanich sprang at once on to the mare's back, seized the foal by
its bridle, and hastened home in the highest spirits.
When the witch saw the Prince bringing the horses home she could
hardly conceal her wrath, and as soon as she had placed Iwanich's
supper before him she stole away again to the stables. The
Prince followed her, and heard her scolding the beasts harshly
for not having hidden themselves better. She bade them wait next
morning till Iwanich was asleep and then to hide themselves in
the clouds, and to remain there till she called. If they did not
do as she told them she would beat them till they bled.
The next morning, after Iwanich had led his horses to the fields,
he fell once more into a magic sleep. The horses at once ran
away and hid themselves in the clouds, which hung down from the
mountains in soft billowy masses.
When the Prince awoke and found that both the mare and the foal
had disappeared, he bethought him at once of the eagle, and
taking the feather out of his pocket he blew it into the air.
In a moment the bird swooped down beside him and asked: 'What do
you wish me to do?'
'My mare and foal,' replied the Prince, 'have run away from me,
and have hidden themselves in the clouds; if you wish to save my
life, restore both animals to me.'
'Wait a minute,' answered the eagle; 'with the help of my friends
I will soon drive them back to you.'
With these words the bird flew up into the air and disappeared
among the clouds.
Almost directly Iwanich saw his two horses being driven towards
him by a host of eagles of all sizes. He caught the mare and
foal, and having thanked the eagle he drove them cheerfully home
The old witch was more disgusted than ever when she saw him
appearing, and having set his supper before him she stole into
the stables, and Iwanich heard her abusing the horses for not
having hidden themselves better in the clouds. Then she bade
them hide themselves next morning, as soon as Iwanich was asleep,
in the King's hen-house, which stood on a lonely part of the
heath, and to remain there till she called. If they failed to do
as she told them she would certainly beat them this time till
they bled.
On the following morning the Prince drove his horses as usual to
the fields. After he had been overpowered by sleep, as on the
former days, the mare and foal ran away and hid themselves in the
royal hen house.
When the Prince awoke and found the horses gone he determined to
appeal to the fox; so, lighting a fire, he threw the two hairs
into it, and in a few moments the fox stood beside him and asked:
'In what way can I serve you?'
'I wish to know,' replied Iwanich, 'where the King's hen-house
'Hardly an hour's walk from here,' answered the fox, and offered
to show the Prince the way to it.
While they were walking along the fox asked him what he wanted to
do at the royal hen-house. The Prince told him of the misfortune
that had befallen him, and of the necessity of recovering the
mare and foal.
'That is no easy matter,' replied the fox. 'But wait a moment.
I have an idea. Stand at the door of the hen-house, and wait
there for your horses. In the meantime I will slip in among the
hens through a hole in the wall and give them a good chase, so
that the noise they make will arouse the royal henwives, and they
will come to see what is the matter. When they see the horses
they will at once imagine them to be the cause of the
disturbance, and will drive them out. Then you must lay hands on
the mare and foal and catch them.
All turned out exactly as the sly fox had foreseen. The Prince
swung himself on the mare, seized the foal by its bridle, and
hurried home.
While he was riding over the heath in the highest of spirits the
mare suddenly said to her rider: 'You are the first person who
has ever succeeded in outwitting the old witch Corva, and now you
may ask what reward you like for your service. If you promise
never to betray me I will give you a piece of advice which you
will do well to follow.'
The Prince promised never to betray her confidence, and the mare
continued: 'Ask nothing else as a reward than my foal, for it has
not its like in the world, and is not to be bought for love or
money; for it can go from one end of the earth to another in a
few minutes. Of course the cunning Corva will do her best to
dissuade you from taking the foal, and will tell you that it is
both idle and sickly; but do not believe her, and stick to your
Iwanich longed to possess such an animal, and promised the mare
to follow her advice.
This time Corva received him in the most friendly manner, and set
a sumptuous repast before him. As soon as he had finished she
asked him what reward he demanded for his year's service.
'Nothing more nor less,' replied the Prince, 'than the foal of
your mare.'
The witch pretended to be much astonished at his request, and
said that he deserved something much better than the foal, for
the beast was lazy and nervous, blind in one eye, and, in short,
was quite worthless.
But the Prince knew what he wanted, and when the old witch saw
that he had made up his mind to have the foal, she said, 'I am
obliged to keep my promise and to hand you over the foal; and as
I know who you are and what you want, I will tell you in what way
the animal will be useful to you. The man in the cauldron of
boiling pitch, whom you set free, is a mighty magician; through
your curiosity and thoughtlessness Militza came into his power,
and he has transported her and her castle and belongings into a
distant country.
'You are the only person who can kill him; and in consequence he
fears you to such an extent that he has set spies to watch you,
and they report your movements to him daily.
'When you have reached him, beware of speaking a single word to
him, or you will fall into the power of his friends. Seize him
at once by the beard and dash him to the ground.'
Iwanich thanked the old witch, mounted his foal, put spurs to its
sides, and they flew like lightning through the air.
Already it was growing dark, when Iwanich perceived some figures
in the distance; they soon came up to them, and then the Prince
saw that it was the magician and his friends who were driving
through the air in a carriage drawn by owls.
When the magician found himself face to face with Iwanich,
without hope of escape, he turned to him with false friendliness
and said: 'Thrice my kind benefactor!'
But the Prince, without saying a word, seized him at once by his
beard and dashed him to the ground. At the same moment the foal
sprang on the top of the magician and kicked and stamped on him
with his hoofs till he died.
Then Iwanich found himself once more in the palace of his bride,
and Militza herself flew into his arms.
From this time forward they lived in undisturbed peace and
happiness till the end of their lives.
Once upon a time there lived an old couple who had one son called
Martin. Now when the old man's time had come, he stretched
himself out on his bed and died. Though all his life long he had
toiled and moiled, he only left his widow and son two hundred
florins. The old woman determined to put by the money for a
rainy day; but alas! the rainy day was close at hand, for their
meal was all consumed, and who is prepared to face starvation
with two hundred florins at their disposal? So the old woman
counted out a hundred of her florins, and giving them to Martin,
told him to go into the town and lay in a store of meal for a
So Martin started off for the town. When he reached the
meat-market he found the whole place in turmoil, and a great
noise of angry voices and barking of dogs. Mixing in the crowd,
he noticed a stag-hound which the butchers had caught and tied to
a post, and which was being flogged in a merciless manner.
Overcome with pity, Martin spoke to the butchers, saying:
'Friends, why are you beating the poor dog so cruelly?'
'We have every right to beat him,' they replied; 'he has just
devoured a newly-killed pig.'
'Leave off beating him,' said Martin, 'and sell him to me
'If you choose to buy him,' answered the butchers derisively;
'but for such a treasure we won't take a penny less than a
hundred florins.'
'A hundred!' exclaimed Martin. 'Well, so be it, if you will not
take less;' and, taking the money out of his pocket, he handed it
over in exchange for the dog, whose name was Schurka.
When Martin got home, his mother met him with the question:
'Well, what have you bought?'
'Schurka, the dog,' replied Martin, pointing to his new
possession. Whereupon his mother became very angry, and abused
him roundly. He ought to be ashamed of himself, when there was
scarcely a handful of meal in the house, to have spent the money
on a useless brute like that. On the following day she sent him
back to the town, saying, 'Here, take our last hundred florins,
and buy provisions with them. I have just emptied the last
grains of meal out of the chest, and baked a bannock; but it
won't last over to-morrow.'
Just as Martin was entering the town he met a rough-looking
peasant who was dragging a cat after him by a string which was
fastened round the poor beast's neck.
'Stop,' cried Martin; 'where are you dragging that poor cat?'
'I mean to drown him,' was the answer.
'What harm has the poor beast done?' said Martin.
'It has just killed a goose,' replied the peasant.
'Don't drown him, sell him to me instead,' begged Martin.
'Not for a hundred florins,' was the answer.
'Surely for a hundred florins you'll sell it?' said Martin.
'See! here is the money;' and, so saying, he handed him the
hundred florins, which the peasant pocketed, and Martin took
possession of the cat, which was called Waska.
When he reached his home his mother greeted him with the
'Well, what have you brought back?'
'I have brought this cat, Waska,' answered Martin.
'And what besides?'
'I had no money over to buy anything else with,' replied Martin.
'You useless ne'er-do-weel!' exclaimed his mother in a great
passion. 'Leave the house at once, and go and beg your bread
among strangers;' and as Martin did not dare to contradict her,
he called Schurka and Waska and started off with them to the
nearest village in search of work. On the way he met a rich
peasant, who asked him where he was going.
'I want to get work as a day labourer,' he answered.
'Come along with me, then. But I must tell you I engage my
labourers without wages. If you serve me faithfully for a year,
I promise you it shall be for your advantage.'
So Martin consented, and for a year he worked diligently, and
served his master faithfully, not sparing himself in any way.
When the day of reckoning had come the peasant led him into a
barn, and pointing to two full sacks, said: 'Take whichever of
these you choose.'
Martin examined the contents of the sacks, and seeing that one
was full of silver and the other of sand, he said to himself:
'There must be some trick about this; I had better take the
sand.' And throwing the sack over his shoulders he started out
into the world, in search of fresh work. On and on he walked,
and at last he reached a great gloomy wood. In the middle of the
wood he came upon a meadow, where a fire was burning, and in the
midst of the fire, surrounded by flames, was a lovely damsel,
more beautiful than anything that Martin had ever seen, and when
she saw him she called to him:
'Martin, if you would win happiness, save my life. Extinguish
the flames with the sand that you earned in payment of your
faithful service.'
'Truly,' thought Martin to himself, 'it would be more sensible to
save a fellow-being's life with this sand than to drag it about
on one's back, seeing what a weight it is.' And forthwith he
lowered the sack from his shoulders and emptied its contents on
the flames, and instantly the fire was extinguished; but at the
same moment lo! and behold the lovely damsel turned into a
Serpent, and, darting upon him, coiled itself round his neck, and
whispered lovingly in his ear:
'Do not be afraid of me, Martin; I love you, and will go with you
through the world. But first you must follow me boldly into my
Father's Kingdom, underneath the earth; and when we get there,
remember this--he will offer you gold and silver, and dazzling
gems, but do not touch them. Ask him, instead, for the ring
which he wears on his little finger, for in that ring lies a
magic power; you have only to throw it from one hand to the
other, and at once twelve young men will appear, who will do your
bidding, no matter how difficult, in a single night.'
So they started on their way, and after much wandering they
reached a spot where a great rock rose straight up in the middle
of the road. Instantly the Serpent uncoiled itself from his
neck, and, as it touched the damp earth, it resumed the shape of
the lovely damsel. Pointing to the rock, she showed him an
opening just big enough for a man to wriggle through. Passing
into it, they entered a long underground passage, which led out
on to a wide field, above which spread a blue sky. In the middle
of the field stood a magnificent castle, built out of porphyry,
with a roof of gold and with glittering battlements. And his
beautiful guide told him that this was the palace in which her
father lived and reigned over his kingdom in the Under-world.
Together they entered the palace, and were received by the King
with great kindness. Turning to his daughter, he said:
'My child, I had almost given up the hope of ever seeing you
again. Where have you been all these years?'
'My father,' she replied, 'I owe my life to this youth, who saved
me from a terrible death.'
Upon which the King turned to Martin with a gracious smile,
saying: 'I will reward your courage by granting you whatever your
heart desires. Take as much gold, silver, and precious stones as
you choose.'
'I thank you, mighty King, for your gracious offer,' answered
Martin,' 'but I do not covet either gold, silver, or precious
stones; yet if you will grant me a favour, give me, I beg, the
ring from off the little finger of your royal hand. Every time
my eye falls on it I shall think of your gracious Majesty, and
when I marry I shall present it to my bride.'
So the King took the ring from his finger and gave it to Martin,
saying: 'Take it, good youth; but with it I make one condition--
you are never to confide to anyone that this is a magic ring. If
you do, you will straightway bring misfortune on yourself.'
Martin took the ring, and, having thanked the King, he set out on
the same road by which he had come down into the Under-world.
When he had regained the upper air he started for his old home,
and having found his mother still living in the old house where
he had left her, they settled down together very happily. So
uneventful was their life that it almost seemed as if it would go
on in this way always, without let or hindrance. But one day it
suddenly came into his mind that he would like to get married,
and, moreover, that he would choose a very grand wife--a King's
daughter, in short. But as he did not trust himself as a wooer,
he determined to send his old mother on the mission.
'You must go to the King,' he said to her, 'and demand the hand
of his lovely daughter in marriage for me.'
'What are you thinking of, my son?' answered the old woman,
aghast at the idea. 'Why cannot you marry someone in your own
rank? That would be far more fitting than to send a poor old
woman like me a-wooing to the King's Court for the hand of a
Princess. Why, it is as much as our heads are worth. Neither my
life nor yours would be worth anything if I went on such a fool's
'Never fear, little mother,' answered Martin. 'Trust me; all
will be well. But see that you do not come back without an
answer of some kind.'
And so, obedient to her son's behest, the old woman hobbled off
to the palace, and, without being hindered, reached the
courtyard, and began to mount the flight of steps leading to the
royal presence chamber. At the head of the landing rows of
courtiers were collected in magnificent attire, who stared at the
queer old figure, and called to her, and explained to her, with
every kind of sign, that it was strictly forbidden to mount those
steps. But their stern words and forbidding gestures made no
impression whatever on the old woman, and she resolutely
continued to climb the stairs, bent on carrying out her son's
orders. Upon this some of the courtiers seized her by the arms,
and held her back by sheer force, at which she set up such a yell
that the King himself heard it, and stepped out on to the balcony
to see what was the matter. When he beheld the old woman
flinging her arms wildly about, and heard her scream that she
would not leave the place till she had laid her case before the
King, he ordered that she should be brought into his presence.
And forthwith she was conducted into the golden presence chamber,
where, leaning back amongst cushions of royal purple, the King
sat, surrounded by his counsellors and courtiers. Courtesying
low, the old woman stood silent before him. 'Well, my good old
dame, what can I do for you?' asked the King.
'I have come,' replied Martin's mother--'and your Majesty must
not be angry with me--I have come a-wooing.'
'Is the woman out of her mind?' said the King, with an angry
But Martin's mother answered boldly: 'If the King will only
listen patiently to me, and give me a straightforward answer, he
will see that I am not out of my mind. You, O King, have a
lovely daughter to give in marriage. I have a son--a wooer--as
clever a youth and as good a son-in-law as you will find in your
whole kingdom. There is nothing that he cannot do. Now tell me,
O King, plump and plain, will you give your daughter to my son as
wife?' The King listened to the end of the old woman's strange
request, but every moment his face grew blacker, and his features
sterner; till all at once he thought to himself, 'Is it worth
while that I, the King, should be angry with this poor old fool?'
And all the courtiers and counsellors were amazed when they saw
the hard lines round his mouth and the frown on his brow grow
smooth, and heard the mild but mocking tones in which he answered
the old woman, saying:
'If your son is as wonderfully clever as you say, and if there is
nothing in the world that he cannot do, let him build a
magnificent castle, just opposite my palace windows, in four and
twenty hours. The palace must be joined together by a bridge of
pure crystal. On each side of the bridge there must be growing
trees, having golden and silver apples, and with birds of
Paradise among the branches. At the right of the bridge there
must be a church, with five golden cupolas; in this church your
son shall be wedded to my daughter, and we will keep the wedding
festivities in the new castle. But if he fails to execute this
my royal command, then, as a just but mild monarch, I shall give
orders that you and he are taken, and first dipped in tar and
then in feathers, and you shall be executed in the market-place
for the entertainment of my courtiers.'
And a smile played round the King's lips as he finished speaking,
and his courtiers and counsellors shook with laughter when they
thought of the old woman's folly, and praised the King's wise
device, and said to each other, 'What a joke it will be when we
see the pair of them tarred and feathered! The son is just as
able to grow a beard on the palm of his hand as to execute such a
task in twenty-four hours.'
Now the poor old woman was mortally afraid and, in a trembling
voice she asked:
'Is that really your royal will, O King? Must I take this order
to my poor son?'
'Yes, old dame; such is my command. If your son carries out my
order, he shall be rewarded with my daughter; but if he fails,
away to the tar-barrel and the stake with you both!'
On her way home the poor old woman shed bitter tears, and when
she saw Martin she told him what the King had said, and sobbed
'Didn't I tell you, my son, that you should marry someone of your
own rank? It would have been better for us this day if you had.
As I told you, my going to Court has been as much as our lives
are worth, and now we will both be tarred and feathered, and
burnt in the public market-place. It is terrible!' and she
moaned and cried.
'Never fear, little mother,' answered Martin; 'trust me, and you
will see all will be well. You may go to sleep with a quiet
And, stepping to the front of the hut, Martin threw his ring from
the palm of one hand into the other, upon which twelve youths
instantly appeared, and demanded what he wanted them to do. Then
he told them the King's commands, and they answered that by next
morning all should be accomplished exactly as the King had
Next morning when the King awoke, and looked out of his window,
to his amazement he beheld a magnificent castle, just opposite
his own palace, and joined to it a bridge of pure crystal.
At each side of the bridge trees were growing, from whose
branches hung golden and silver apples, among which birds of
Paradise perched. At the right, gleaming in the sun, were the
five golden cupolas of a splendid church, whose bells rang out,
as if they would summon people from all corners of the earth to
come and behold the wonder. Now, though the King would much
rather have seen his future son-in-law tarred, feathered, and
burnt at the stake, he remembered his royal oath, and had to make
the best of a bad business. So he took heart of grace, and made
Martin a Duke, and gave his daughter a rich dowry, and prepared
the grandest wedding-feast that had ever been seen, so that to
this day the old people in the country still talk of it.
After the wedding Martin and his royal bride went to dwell in the
magnificent new palace, and here Martin lived in the greatest
comfort and luxury, such luxury as he had never imagined. But
though he was as happy as the day was long, and as merry as a
grig, the King's daughter fretted all day, thinking of the
indignity that had been done her in making her marry Martin, the
poor widow's son, instead of a rich young Prince from a foreign
country. So unhappy was she that she spent all her time
wondering how she should get rid of her undesirable husband. And
first she determined to learn the secret of his power, and, with
flattering, caressing words, she tried to coax him to tell her
how he was so clever that there was nothing in the world that he
could not do. At first he would tell her nothing; but once, when
he was in a yielding mood, she approached him with a winning
smile on her lovely face, and, speaking flattering words to him,
she gave him a potion to drink, with a sweet, strong taste. And
when he had drunk it Martin's lips were unsealed, and he told her
that all his power lay in the magic ring that he wore on his
finger, and he described to her how to use it, and, still
speaking, he fell into a deep sleep. And when she saw that the
potion had worked, and that he was sound asleep, the Princess
took the magic ring from his finger, and, going into the
courtyard, she threw it from the palm of one hand into the other.
On the instant the twelve youths appeared, and asked her what she
commanded them to do. Then she told them that by the next
morning they were to do away with the castle, and the bridge, and
the church, and put in their stead the humble hut in which Martin
used to live with his mother, and that while he slept her husband
was to be carried to his old lowly room; and that they were to
bear her away to the utmost ends of the earth, where an old King
lived who would make her welcome in his palace, and surround her
with the state that befitted a royal Princess.
'You shall be obeyed,' answered the twelve youths at the same
moment. And lo and behold! the following morning, when the King
awoke and looked out of his window he beheld to his amazement
that the palace, bridge, church, and trees had all vanished, and
there was nothing in their place but a bare, miserable-looking
Immediately the King sent for his son-in-law, and commanded him
to explain what had happened. But Martin looked at his royal
father-in-law, and answered never a word. Then the King was very
angry, and, calling a council together, he charged Martin with
having been guilty of witchcraft, and of having deceived the
King, and having made away with the Princess; and he was
condemned to imprisonment in a high stone tower, with neither
meat nor drink, till he should die of starvation.
Then, in the hour of his dire necessity, his old friends Schurka
(the dog) and Waska (the cat) remembered how Martin had once
saved them from a cruel death; and they took counsel together as
to how they should help him. And Schurka growled, and was of
opinion that he would like to tear everyone in pieces; but Waska
purred meditatively, and scratched the back of her ear with a
velvet paw, and remained lost in thought. At the end of a few
minutes she had made up her mind, and, turning to Schurka, said:
'Let us go together into the town, and the moment we meet a baker
you must make a rush between his legs and upset the tray from off
his head; I will lay hold of the rolls, and will carry them off
to our master.' No sooner said than done. Together the two
faithful creatures trotted off into the town, and very soon they
met a baker bearing a tray on his head, and looking round on all
sides, while he cried:
'Fresh rolls, sweet cake,
Fancy bread of every kind.
Come and buy, come and take,
Sure you'll find it to your mind,'
At that moment Schurka made a rush between his legs--the baker
stumbled, the tray was upset, the rolls fell to the ground, and,
while the man angrily pursued Schurka, Waska managed to drag the
rolls out of sight behind a bush. And when a moment later
Schurka joined her, they set off at full tilt to the stone tower
where Martin was a prisoner, taking the rolls with them. Waska,
being very agile, climbed up by the outside to the grated window,
and called in an anxious voice:
'Are you alive, master?'
'Scarcely alive--almost starved to death,' answered Martin in a
weak voice. 'I little thought it would come to this, that I
should die of hunger.'
'Never fear, dear master. Schurka and I will look after you,'
said Waska. And in another moment she had climbed down and
brought him back a roll, and then another, and another, till she
had brought him the whole tray-load. Upon which she said: 'Dear
master, Schurka and I are going off to a distant kingdom at the
utmost ends of the earth to fetch you back your magic ring. You
must be careful that the rolls last till our return.'
And Waska took leave of her beloved master, and set off with
Schurka on their journey. On and on they travelled, looking
always to right and left for traces of the Princess, following up
every track, making inquiries of every cat and dog they met,
listening to the talk of every wayfarer they passed; and at last
they heard that the kingdom at the utmost ends of the earth where
the twelve youths had borne the Princess was not very far off.
And at last one day they reached that distant kingdom, and, going
at once to the palace, they began to make friends with all the
dogs and cats in the place, and to question them about the
Princess and the magic ring; but no one could tell them much
about either. Now one day it chanced that Waska had gone down to
the palace cellar to hunt for mice and rats, and seeing an
especially fat, well-fed mouse, she pounced upon it, buried her
claws in its soft fur, and was just going to gobble it up, when
she was stopped by the pleading tones of the little creature,
saying, 'If you will only spare my life I may be of great service
to you. I will do everything in my power for you; for I am the
King of the Mice, and if I perish the whole race will die out.'
'So be it,' said Waska. 'I will spare your life; but in return
you must do something for me. In this castle there lives a
Princess, the wicked wife of my dear master. She has stolen away
his magic ring. You must get it away from her at whatever cost;
do you hear? Till you have done this I won't take my claws out
of your fur.'
'Good!' replied the mouse; 'I will do what you ask.' And, so
saying, he summoned all the mice in his kingdom together. A
countless number of mice, small and big, brown and grey,
assembled, and formed a circle round their king, who was a
prisoner under Waska's claws. Turning to them he said: 'Dear and
faithful subjects, who ever among you will steal the magic ring
from the strange Princess will release me from a cruel death; and
I shall honour him above all the other mice in the kingdom.'
Instantly a tiny mouse stepped forward and said: 'I often creep
about the Princess's bedroom at night, and I have noticed that
she has a ring which she treasures as the apple of her eye. All
day she wears it on her finger, and at night she keeps it in her
mouth. I will undertake, sire, to steal away the ring for you.'
And the tiny mouse tripped away into the bedroom of the Princess,
and waited for nightfall; then, when the Princess had fallen
asleep, it crept up on to her bed, and gnawed a hole in the
pillow, through which it dragged one by one little down feathers,
and threw them under the Princess's nose. And the fluff flew
into the Princess's nose, and into her mouth, and starting up she
sneezed and coughed, and the ring fell out of her mouth on to the
coverlet. In a flash the tiny mouse had seized it, and brought
it to Waska as a ransom for the King of the Mice. Thereupon
Waska and Schurka started off, and travelled night and day till
they reached the stone tower where Martin was imprisoned; and the
cat climbed up the window, and called out to him:
'Martin, dear master, are you still alive?'
'Ah! Waska, my faithful little cat, is that you?' replied a weak
voice. 'I am dying of hunger. For three days I have not tasted
'Be of good heart, dear master,' replied Waska; 'from this day
forth you will know nothing but happiness and prosperity. If
this were a moment to trouble you with riddles, I would make you
guess what Schurka and I have brought you back. Only think, we
have got you your ring!'
At these words Martin's joy knew no bounds, and he stroked her
fondly, and she rubbed up against him and purred happily, while
below Schurka bounded in the air, and barked joyfully. Then
Martin took the ring, and threw it from one hand into the other,
and instantly the twelve youths appeared and asked what they were
to do.
'Fetch me first something to eat and drink, as quickly as
possible; and after that bring musicians hither, and let us have
music all day long.'
Now when the people in the town and palace heard music coming
from the tower they were filled with amazement, and came to the
King with the news that witchcraft must be going on in Martin's
Tower, for, instead of dying of starvation, he was seemingly
making merry to the sound of music, and to the clatter of plates,
and glass, and knives and forks; and the music was so
enchantingly sweet that all the passers-by stood still to listen
to it. On this the King sent at once a messenger to the
Starvation Tower, and he was so astonished with what he saw that
he remained rooted to the spot. Then the King sent his chief
counsellors, and they too were transfixed with wonder. At last
the King came himself, and he likewise was spellbound by the
beauty of the music.
Then Martin summoned the twelve youths, spoke to them, saying,
'Build up my castle again, and join it to the King's Palace with
a crystal bridge; do not forget the trees with the golden and
silver apples, and with the birds of Paradise in the branches;
and put back the church with the five cupolas, and let the bells
ring out, summoning the people from the four corners of the
kingdom. And one thing more: bring back my faithless wife, and
lead her into the women's chamber.'
And it was all done as he commanded, and, leaving the Starvation
Tower, he took the King, his father-in-law, by the arm, and led
him into the new palace, where the Princess sat in fear and
trembling, awaiting her death. And Martin spoke to the King,
saying, 'King and royal father, I have suffered much at the hands
of your daughter. What punishment shall be dealt to her?'
Then the mild King answered: 'Beloved Prince and son-in-law, if
you love me, let your anger be turned to grace--forgive my
daughter, and restore her to your heart and favour.'
And Martin's heart was softened and he forgave his wife, and they
lived happily together ever after. And his old mother came and
lived with him, and he never parted with Schurka and Waska; and I
need hardly tell you that he never again let the ring out of his
[23] From the Bukowinaer. Von Wliolocki.
A young Prince was riding one day through a meadow that stretched
for miles in front of him, when he came to a deep open ditch. He
was turning aside to avoid it, when he heard the sound of someone
crying in the ditch. He dismounted from his horse, and stepped
along in the direction the sound came from. To his astonishment
he found an old woman, who begged him to help her out of the
ditch. The Prince bent down and lifted her out of her living
grave, asking her at the same time how she had managed to get
'My son,' answered the old woman, 'I am a very poor woman, and
soon after midnight I set out for the neighbouring town in order
to sell my eggs in the market on the following morning; but I
lost my way in the dark, and fell into this deep ditch, where I
might have remained for ever but for your kindness.'
Then the Prince said to her, 'You can hardly walk; I will put you
on my horse and lead you home. Where do you live?'
'Over there, at the edge of the forest in the little hut you see
in the distance,' replied the old woman.
The Prince lifted her on to his horse, and soon they reached the
hut, where the old woman got down, and turning to the Prince
said, 'Just wait a moment, and I will give you something.' And
she disappeared into her hut, but returned very soon and said,
'You are a mighty Prince, but at the same time you have a kind
heart, which deserves to be rewarded. Would you like to have the
most beautiful woman in the world for your wife?'
'Most certainly I would,' replied the Prince.
So the old woman continued, 'The most beautiful woman in the
whole world is the daughter of the Queen of the Flowers, who has
been captured by a dragon. If you wish to marry her, you must
first set her free, and this I will help you to do. I will give
you this little bell: if you ring it once, the King of the Eagles
will appear; if you ring it twice, the King of the Foxes will
come to you; and if you ring it three times, you will see the
King of the Fishes by your side. These will help you if you are
in any difficulty. Now farewell, and heaven prosper your
undertaking.' She handed him the little bell, and there
disappeared hut and all, as though the earth had swallowed her
Then it dawned on the Prince that he had been speaking to a good
fairy, and putting the little bell carefully in his pocket, he
rode home and told his father that he meant to set the daughter
of the Flower Queen free, and intended setting out on the
following day into the wide world in search of the maid.
So the next morning the Prince mounted his fine horse and left
his home. He had roamed round the world for a whole year, and
his horse had died of exhaustion, while he himself had suffered
much from want and misery, but still he had come on no trace of
her he was in search of. At last one day he came to a hut, in
front of which sat a very old man. The Prince asked him, 'Do you
not know where the Dragon lives who keeps the daughter of the
Flower Queen prisoner?'
'No, I do not,' answered the old man. 'But if you go straight
along this road for a year, you will reach a hut where my father
lives, and possibly he may be able to tell you.'
The Prince thanked him for his information, and continued his
journey for a whole year along the same road, and at the end of
it came to the little hut, where he found a very old man. He
asked him the same question, and the old man answered, 'No, I do
not know where the Dragon lives. But go straight along this road
for another year, and you will come to a hut in which my father
lives. I know he can tell you.'
And so the Prince wandered on for another year, always on the
same road, and at last reached the hut where he found the third
old man. He put the same question to him as he had put to his
son and grandson; but this time the old man answered, 'The Dragon
lives up there on the mountain, and he has just begun his year of
sleep. For one whole year he is always awake, and the next he
sleeps. But if you wish to see the Flower Queen's daughter go up
the second mountain: the Dragon's old mother lives there, and she
has a ball every night, to which the Flower Queen's daughter goes
So the Prince went up the second mountain, where he found a
castle all made of gold with diamond windows. He opened the big
gate leading into the courtyard, and was just going to walk in,
when seven dragons rushed on him and asked him what he wanted?
The Prince replied, 'I have heard so much of the beauty and
kindness of the Dragon's Mother, and would like to enter her
This flattering speech pleased the dragons, and the eldest of
them said, 'Well, you may come with me, and I will take you to
the Mother Dragon.'
They entered the castle and walked through twelve splendid halls,
all made of gold and diamonds. In the twelfth room they found
the Mother Dragon seated on a diamond throne. She was the
ugliest woman under the sun, and, added to it all, she had three
heads. Her appearance was a great shock to the Prince, and so
was her voice, which was like the croaking of many ravens. She
asked him, 'Why have you come here?'
The Prince answered at once, 'I have heard so much of your beauty
and kindness, that I would very much like to enter your service.'
'Very well,' said the Mother Dragon; 'but if you wish to enter my
service, you must first lead my mare out to the meadow and look
after her for three days; but if you don't bring her home safely
every evening, we will eat you up.'
The Prince undertook the task and led the mare out to the meadow.
But no sooner had they reached the grass than she vanished. The
Prince sought for her in vain, and at last in despair sat down on
a big stone and contemplated his sad fate. As he sat thus lost
in thought, he noticed an eagle flying over his head. Then he
suddenly bethought him of his little bell, and taking it out of
his pocket he rang it once. In a moment he heard a rustling
sound in the air beside him, and the King of the Eagles sank at
his feet.
'I know what you want of me,' the bird said. 'You are looking
for the Mother Dragon's mare who is galloping about among the
clouds. I will summon all the eagles of the air together, and
order them to catch the mare and bring her to you.' And with
these words the King of the Eagles flew away. Towards evening
the Prince heard a mighty rushing sound in the air, and when he
looked up he saw thousands of eagles driving the mare before
them. They sank at his feet on to the ground and gave the mare
over to him. Then the Prince rode home to the old Mother Dragon,
who was full of wonder when she saw him, and said, 'You have
succeeded to-day in looking after my mare, and as a reward you
shall come to my ball to-night.' She gave him at the same time a
cloak made of copper, and led him to a big room where several
young he-dragons and she-dragons were dancing together. Here,
too, was the Flower Queen's beautiful daughter. Her dress was
woven out of the most lovely flowers in the world, and her
complexion was like lilies and roses. As the Prince was dancing
with her he managed to whisper in her ear, 'I have come to set
you free!'
Then the beautiful girl said to him, 'If you succeed in bringing
the mare back safely the third day, ask the Mother Dragon to give
you a foal of the mare as a reward.'
The ball came to an end at midnight, and early next morning the
Prince again led the Mother Dragon's mare out into the meadow.
But again she vanished before his eyes. Then he took out his
little bell and rang it twice.
In a moment the King of the Foxes stood before him and said: 'I
know already what you want, and will summon all the foxes of the
world together to find the mare who has hidden herself in a
With these words the King of the Foxes disappeared, and in the
evening many thousand foxes brought the mare to the Prince.
Then he rode home to the Mother-Dragon, from whom he received
this time a cloak made of silver, and again she led him to the
The Flower Queen's daughter was delighted to see him safe and
sound, and when they were dancing together she whispered in his
ear: 'If you succeed again to-morrow, wait for me with the foal
in the meadow. After the ball we will fly away together.'
On the third day the Prince led the mare to the meadow again; but
once more she vanished before his eyes. Then the Prince took out
his little bell and rang it three times.
In a moment the King of the Fishes appeared, and said to him: 'I
know quite well what you want me to do, and I will summon all the
fishes of the sea together, and tell them to bring you back the
mare, who is hiding herself in a river.'
Towards evening the mare was returned to him, and when he led her
home to the Mother Dragon she said to him:
'You are a brave youth, and I will make you my body-servant. But
what shall I give you as a reward to begin with?'
The Prince begged for a foal of the mare, which the Mother Dragon
at once gave him, and over and above, a cloak made of gold, for
she had fallen in love with him because he had praised her
So in the evening he appeared at the ball in his golden cloak;
but before the entertainment was over he slipped away, and went
straight to the stables, where he mounted his foal and rode out
into the meadow to wait for the Flower Queen's daughter. Towards
midnight the beautiful girl appeared, and placing her in front of
him on his horse, the Prince and she flew like the wind till they
reached the Flower Queen's dwelling. But the dragons had noticed
their flight, and woke their brother out of his year's sleep. He
flew into a terrible rage when he heard what had happened, and
determined to lay siege to the Flower Queen's palace; but the
Queen caused a forest of flowers as high as the sky to grow up
round her dwelling, through which no one could force a way.
When the Flower Queen heard that her daughter wanted to marry the
Prince, she said to him: 'I will give my consent to your marriage
gladly, but my daughter can only stay with you in summer. In
winter, when everything is dead and the ground covered with snow,
she must come and live with me in my palace underground.' The
Prince consented to this, and led his beautiful bride home, where
the wedding was held with great pomp and magnificence. The young
couple lived happily together till winter came, when the Flower
Queen's daughter departed and went home to her mother. In summer
she returned to her husband, and their life of joy and happiness
began again, and lasted till the approach of winter, when the
Flower Queen's daughter went back again to her mother. This
coming and going continued all her life long, and in spite of it
they always lived happily together.
[24] From the Russian.
Once upon a time there lived an old couple who had three sons;
the two elder were clever, but the third was a regular dunce.
The clever sons were very fond of their mother, gave her good
clothes, and always spoke pleasantly to her; but the youngest was
always getting in her way, and she had no patience with him.
Now, one day it was announced in the village that the King had
issued a decree, offering his daughter, the Princess, in marriage
to whoever should build a ship that could fly. Immediately the
two elder brothers determined to try their luck, and asked their
parents' blessing. So the old mother smartened up their clothes,
and gave them a store of provisions for their journey, not
forgetting to add a bottle of brandy. When they had gone the
poor Simpleton began to tease his mother to smarten him up and
let him start off.
'What would become of a dolt like you?' she answered. 'Why, you
would be eaten up by wolves.'
But the foolish youth kept repeating, 'I will go, I will go, I
will go!'
Seeing that she could do nothing with him, the mother gave him a
crust of bread and a bottle of water, and took no further heed of
So the Simpleton set off on his way. When he had gone a short
distance he met a little old manikin. They greeted one another,
and the manikin asked him where he was going.
'I am off to the King's Court,' he answered. 'He has promised to
give his daughter to whoever can make a flying ship.'
'And can you make such a ship?'
'Not I.'
'Then why in the world are you going?'
'Can't tell,' replied the Simpleton.
'Well, if that is the case,' said the manikin, 'sit down beside
me; we can rest for a little and have something to eat. Give me
what you have got in your satchel.'
Now, the poor Simpleton was ashamed to show what was in it.
However, he thought it best not to make a fuss, so he opened the
satchel, and could scarcely believe his own eyes, for, instead of
the hard crust, he saw two beautiful fresh rolls and some cold
meat. He shared them with the manikin, who licked his lips and
'Now, go into that wood, and stop in front of the first tree, bow
three times, and then strike the tree with your axe, fall on your
knees on the ground, with your face on the earth, and remain
there till you are raised up. You will then find a ship at your
side, step into it and fly to the King's Palace. If you meet
anyone on the way, take him with you.'
The Simpleton thanked the manikin very kindly, bade him farewell,
and went into the road. When he got to the first tree he stopped
in front of it, did everything just as he had been told, and,
kneeling on the ground with his face to the earth, fell asleep.
After a little time he was aroused; he awoke and, rubbing his
eyes, saw a ready-made ship at his side, and at once got into it.
And the ship rose and rose, and in another minute was flying
through the air, when the Simpleton, who was on the look out,
cast his eyes down to the earth and saw a man beneath him on the
road, who was kneeling with his ear upon the damp ground.
'Hallo!' he called out, 'what are you doing down there?'
'I am listening to what is going on in the world,' replied the
'Come with me in my ship,' said the Simpleton.
So the man was only too glad, and got in beside him; and the ship
flew, and flew, and flew through the air, till again from his
outlook the Simpleton saw a man on the road below, who was
hopping on one leg, while his other leg was tied up behind his
ear. So he hailed him, calling out:
'Hallo! what are you doing, hopping on one leg?'
'I can't help it,' replied the man. 'I walk so fast that unless
I tied up one leg I should be at the end of the earth in a
'Come with us on my ship,' he answered; and the man made no
objections, but joined them; and the ship flew on, and on, and
on, till suddenly the Simpleton, looking down on the road below,
beheld a man aiming with a gun into the distance.
'Hallo!' he shouted to him, 'what are you aiming at? As far as
eye can see, there is no bird in sight.'
'What would be the good of my taking a near shot?' replied the
man; 'I can hit beast or bird at a hundred miles' distance. That
is the kind of shot I enjoy.'
'Come into the ship with us,' answered the Simpleton; and the man
was only too glad to join them, and he got in; and the ship flew
on, farther and farther, till again the Simpleton from his
outlook saw a man on the road below, carrying on his back a
basket full of bread. And he waved to him, calling out:
'Hallo! where are you going?'
'To fetch bread for my breakfast.'
'Bread? Why, you have got a whole basket-load of it on your
'That's nothing,' answered the man; 'I should finish that in one
'Come along with us in my ship, then.'
And so the glutton joined the party, and the ship mounted again
into the air, and flew up and onward, till the Simpleton from his
outlook saw a man walking by the shore of a great lake, and
evidently looking for something.
'Hallo!' he cried to him,' what are you seeking?
'I want water to drink, I'm so thirsty,' replied the man.
'Well, there's a whole lake in front of you; why don't you drink
some of that?'
'Do you call that enough?' answered the other. 'Why, I should
drink it up in one gulp.'
'Well, come with us in the ship.'
And so the mighty drinker was added to the company; and the ship
flew farther, and even farther, till again the Simpleton looked
out, and this time he saw a man dragging a bundle of wood,
walking through the forest beneath them.
'Hallo!' he shouted to him, 'why are you carrying wood through a
'This is not common wood,' answered the other.
'What sort of wood is it, then?' said the Simpleton.
'If you throw it upon the ground,' said the man, 'it will be
changed into an army of soldiers.'
'Come into the ship with us, then.'
And so he too joined them; and away the ship flew on, and on, and
on, and once more the Simpleton looked out, and this time he saw
a man carrying straw upon his back.
'Hallo! Where are you carrying that straw to?'
'To the village,' said the man.
'Do you mean to say there is no straw in the village?'
'Ah! but this is quite a peculiar straw. If you strew it about
even in the hottest summer the air at once becomes cold, and snow
falls, and the people freeze.'
Then the Simpleton asked him also to join them.
At last the ship, with its strange crew, arrived at the King's
Court. The King was having his dinner, but he at once despatched
one of his courtiers to find out what the huge, strange new bird
could be that had come flying through the air. The courtier
peeped into the ship, and, seeing what it was, instantly went
back to the King and told him that it was a flying ship, and that
it was manned by a few peasants.
Then the King remembered his royal oath; but he made up his mind
that he would never consent to let the Princess marry a poor
peasant. So he thought and thought, and then said to himself:
'I will give him some impossible tasks to perform; that will be
the best way of getting rid of him.' And he there and then
decided to despatch one of his courtiers to the Simpleton, with
the command that he was to fetch the King the healing water from
the world's end before he had finished his dinner.
But while the King was still instructing the courtier exactly
what he was to say, the first man of the ship's company, the one
with the miraculous power of hearing, had overheard the King's
words, and hastily reported them to the poor Simpleton.
'Alas, alas!' he cried; 'what am I to do now? It would take me
quite a year, possibly my whole life, to find the water.'
'Never fear,' said his fleet-footed comrade, 'I will fetch what
the King wants.'
Just then the courtier arrived, bearing the King's command.
'Tell his Majesty,' said the Simpleton, 'that his orders shall be
obeyed; 'and forthwith the swift runner unbound the foot that was
strung up behind his ear and started off, and in less than no
time had reached the world's end and drawn the healing water from
the well.
'Dear me,' he thought to himself, 'that's rather tiring! I'll
just rest for a few minutes; it will be some little time yet
before the King has got to dessert.' So he threw himself down on
the grass, and, as the sun was very dazzling, he closed his eyes,
and in a few seconds had fallen sound asleep.
In the meantime all the ship's crew were anxiously awaiting him;
the King's dinner would soon be finished, and their comrade had
not yet returned. So the man with the marvellous quick hearing
lay down and, putting his ear to the ground, listened.
'That's a nice sort of fellow!' he suddenly exclaimed. 'He's
lying on the ground, snoring hard!'
At this the marksman seized his gun, took aim, and fired in the
direction of the world's end, in order to awaken the sluggard.
And a moment later the swift runner reappeared, and, stepping on
board the ship, handed the healing water to the Simpleton. So
while the King was still sitting at table finishing his dinner
news was brought to him that his orders had been obeyed to the
What was to be done now? The King determined to think of a still
more impossible task. So he told another courtier to go to the
Simpleton with the command that he and his comrades were
instantly to eat up twelve oxen and twelve tons of bread. Once
more the sharp-eared comrade overheard the King's words while he
was still talking to the courtier, and reported them to the
'Alas, alas!' he sighed; 'what in the world shall I do? Why, it
would take us a year, possibly our whole lives, to eat up twelve
oxen and twelve tons of bread.'
'Never fear,' said the glutton. 'It will scarcely be enough for
me, I'm so hungry.'
So when the courtier arrived with the royal message he was told
to take back word to the King that his orders should be obeyed.
Then twelve roasted oxen and twelve tons of bread were brought
alongside of the ship, and at one sitting the glutton had
devoured it all.
'I call that a small meal,' he said. 'I wish they'd brought me
some more.'
Next, the King ordered that forty casks of wine, containing forty
gallons each, were to be drunk up on the spot by the Simpleton
and his party. When these words were overheard by the
sharp-eared comrade and repeated to the Simpleton, he was in
'Alas, alas!' he exclaimed; 'what is to be done? It would take
us a year, possibly our whole lives, to drink so much,'
'Never fear,' said his thirsty comrade. 'I'll drink it all up at
a gulp, see if I don't.' And sure enough, when the forty casks
of wine containing forty gallons each were brought alongside of
the ship, they disappeared down the thirsty comrade's throat in
no time; and when they were empty he remarked:
'Why, I'm still thirsty. I should have been glad of two more
Then the King took counsel with himself and sent an order to the
Simpleton that he was to have a bath, in a bath-room at the royal
palace, and after that the betrothal should take place. Now the
bath-room was built of iron, and the King gave orders that it was
to be heated to such a pitch that it would suffocate the
Simpleton. And so when the poor silly youth entered the room, he
discovered that the iron walls were red hot. But, fortunately,
his comrade with the straw on his back had entered behind him,
and when the door was shut upon them he scattered the straw
about, and suddenly the red-hot walls cooled down, and it became
so very cold that the Simpleton could scarcely bear to take a
bath, and all the water in the room froze. So the Simpleton
climbed up upon the stove, and, wrapping himself up in the bath
blankets, lay there the whole night. And in the morning when
they opened the door there he lay sound and safe, singing
cheerfully to himself.
Now when this strange tale was told to the King he became quite
sad, not knowing what he should do to get rid of so undesirable a
son-in-law, when suddenly a brilliant idea occurred to him.
'Tell the rascal to raise me an army, now at this instant!' he
exclaimed to one of his courtiers. 'Inform him at once of this,
my royal will.' And to himself he added, 'I think I shall do for
him this time.'
As on former occasions, the quick-eared comrade had overheard the
King's command and repeated it to the Simpleton.
'Alas, alas!' he groaned; 'now I am quite done for.'
'Not at all,' replied one of his comrades (the one who had
dragged the bundle of wood through the forest). 'Have you quite
forgotten me?'
In the meantime the courtier, who had run all the way from the
palace, reached the ship panting and breathless, and delivered
the King's message.
'Good!' remarked the Simpleton. 'I will raise an army for the
King,' and he drew himself up. 'But if, after that, the King
refuses to accept me as his son-in-law, I will wage war against
him, and carry the Princess off by force.'
During the night the Simpleton and his comrade went, together
into a big field, not forgetting to take the bundle of wood with
them, which the man spread out in all directions--and in a moment
a mighty army stood upon the spot, regiment on regiment of foot
and horse soldiers; the bugles sounded and the drums beat, the
chargers neighed, and their riders put their lances in rest, and
the soldiers presented arms.
In the morning when the King awoke he was startled by these
warlike sounds, the bugles and the drums, and the clatter of the
horses, and the shouts of the soldiers. And, stepping to the
window, he saw the lances gleam in the sunlight and the armour
and weapons glitter. And the proud monarch said to himself, 'I
am powerless in comparison with this man.' So he sent him royal
robes and costly jewels, and commanded him to come to the palace
to be married to the Princess. And his son-in-law put on the
royal robes, and he looked so grand and stately that it was
impossible to recognise the poor Simpleton, so changed was he;
and the Princess fell in love with him as soon as ever she saw
Never before had so grand a wedding been seen, and there was so
much food and wine that even the glutton and the thirsty comrade
had enough to eat and drink.
[25] From the Bukowinaer Tales and Legends. Von Wliolocki.
There was once upon a time a man and his wife, and they had no
children, which was a great grief to them. One winter's day,
when the sun was shining brightly, the couple were standing
outside their cottage, and the woman was looking at all the
little icicles which hung from the roof. She sighed, and turning
to her husband said, 'I wish I had as many children as there are
icicles hanging there.' 'Nothing would please me more either,'
replied her husband. Then a tiny icicle detached itself from the
roof, and dropped into the woman's mouth, who swallowed it with a
smile, and said, 'Perhaps I shall give birth to a snow child
now!' Her husband laughed at his wife's strange idea, and they
went back into the house.
But after a short time the woman gave birth to a little girl, who
was as white as snow and as cold as ice. If they brought the
child anywhere near the fire, it screamed loudly till they put it
back into some cool place. The little maid throve wonderfully,
and in a few months she could run about and speak. But she was
not altogether easy to bring up, and gave her parents much
trouble and anxiety, for all summer she insisted on spending in
the cellar, and in the winter she would sleep outside in the
snow, and the colder it was the happier she seemed to be. Her
father and mother called her simply 'Our Snow-daughter,' and this
name stuck to her all her life.
One day her parents sat by the fire, talking over the
extraordinary behaviour of their daughter, who was disporting
herself in the snowstorm that raged outside. The woman sighed
deeply and said, 'I wish I had given birth to a Fire-son!' As she
said these words, a spark from the big wood fire flew into the
woman's lap, and she said with a laugh, 'Now perhaps I shall give
birth to a Fire-son!' The man laughed at his wife's words, and
thought it was a good joke. But he ceased to think it a joke
when his wife shortly afterwards gave birth to a boy, who
screamed lustily till he was put quite close to the fire, and who
nearly yelled himself into a fit if the Snow-daughter came
anywhere near him. The Snow-daughter herself avoided him as much
as she could, and always crept into a corner as far away from him
as possible. The parents called the boy simply 'Our Fire-son,' a
name which stuck to him all his life. They had a great deal of
trouble and worry with him too; but he throve and grew very
quickly, and before he was a year old he could run about and
talk. He was as red as fire, and as hot to touch, and he always
sat on the hearth quite close to the fire, and complained of the
cold; if his sister were in the room he almost crept into the
flames, while the girl on her part always complained of the great
heat if her brother were anywhere near. In summer the boy always
lay out in the sun, while the girl hid herself in the cellar: so
it happened that the brother and sister came very little into
contact with each other--in fact, they carefully avoided it.
Just as the girl grew up into a beautiful woman, her father and
mother both died one after the other. Then the Fire-son, who had
grown up in the meantime into a fine, strong young man, said to
his sister, 'I am going out into the world, for what is the use
of remaining on here?'
'I shall go with you,' she answered, 'for, except you, I have no
one in the world, and I have a feeling that if we set out
together we shall be lucky.'
The Fire-son said, 'I love you with all my heart, but at the same
time I always freeze if you are near me, and you nearly die of
heat if I approach you! How shall we travel about together
without being odious the one to the other?'
'Don't worry about that,' replied the girl, 'for I've thought it
all over, and have settled on a plan which will make us each able
to bear with the other! See, I have had a fur cloak made for
each of us, and if we put them on I shall not feel the heat so
much nor you the cold.' So they put on the fur cloaks, and set
out cheerfully on their way, and for the first time in their
lives quite happy in each other's company.
For a long time the Fire-son and the Snow-daughter wandered
through the world, and when at the beginning of winter they came
to a big wood they determined to stay there till spring. The
Fire-son built himself a hut where he always kept up a huge
fire, while his sister with very few clothes on stayed outside
night and day. Now it happened one day that the King of the land
held a hunt in this wood, and saw the Snow-daughter wandering
about in the open air. He wondered very much who the beautiful
girl clad in such garments could be, and he stopped and spoke to
her. He soon learnt that she could not stand heat, and that her
brother could not endure cold. The King was so charmed by the
Snow-daughter, that he asked her to be his wife. The girl
consented, and the wedding was held with much state. The King
had a huge house of ice made for his wife underground, so that
even in summer it did not melt. But for his brother-in-law he
had a house built with huge ovens all round it, that were kept
heated all day and night. The Fire-son was delighted, but the
perpetual heat in which he lived made his body so hot, that it
was dangerous to go too close to him.
One day the King gave a great feast, and asked his brother-inlaw
among the other guests. The Fire-son did not appear till
everyone had assembled, and when he did, everyone fled outside to
the open air, so intense was the heat he gave forth. Then the
King was very angry and said, 'If I had known what a lot of
trouble you would have been, I would never have taken you into my
house.' Then the Fire-son replied with a laugh, 'Don't be angry,
dear brother! I love heat and my sister loves cold--come here
and let me embrace you, and then I'll go home at once.' And
before the King had time to reply, the Fire-son seized him in a
tight embrace. The King screamed aloud in agony, and when his
wife, the Snow-daughter, who had taken refuge from her brother
in the next room, hurried to him, the King lay dead on the ground
burnt to a cinder. When the Snow-daughter saw this she turned on
her brother and flew at him. Then a fight began, the like of
which had never been seen on earth. When the people, attracted
by the noise, hurried to the spot, they saw the Snow-daughter
melting into water and the Fire-son burn to a cinder. And so
ended the unhappy brother and sister.
[26] From the Russian.
There was once upon a time a peasant-woman who had a daughter and
a step-daughter. The daughter had her own way in everything, and
whatever she did was right in her mother's eyes; but the poor
step-daughter had a hard time. Let her do what she would, she
was always blamed, and got small thanks for all the trouble she
took; nothing was right, everything wrong; and yet, if the truth
were known, the girl was worth her weight in gold--she was so
unselfish and good-hearted. But her step-mother did not like
her, and the poor girl's days were spent in weeping; for it was
impossible to live peacefully with the woman. The wicked shrew
was determined to get rid of the girl by fair means or foul, and
kept saying to her father: 'Send her away, old man; send her
away--anywhere so that my eyes sha'n't be plagued any longer by
the sight of her, or my ears tormented by the sound of her voice.
Send her out into the fields, and let the cutting frost do for
In vain did the poor old father weep and implore her pity; she
was firm, and he dared not gainsay her. So he placed his
daughter in a sledge, not even daring to give her a horse-cloth
to keep herself warm with, and drove her out on to the bare, open
fields, where he kissed her and left her, driving home as fast as
he could, that he might not witness her miserable death.
Deserted by her father, the poor girl sat down under a fir-tree
at the edge of the forest and began to weep silently. Suddenly
she heard a faint sound: it was King Frost springing from tree to
tree, and cracking his fingers as he went. At length he reached
the fir-tree beneath which she was sitting, and with a crisp
crackling sound he alighted beside her, and looked at her lovely
'Well, maiden,' he snapped out, 'do you know who I am? I am King
Frost, king of the red-noses.'
'All hail to you, great King!' answered the girl, in a gentle,
trembling voice. 'Have you come to take me?'
'Are you warm, maiden?' he replied.
'Quite warm, King Frost,' she answered, though she shivered as
she spoke.
Then King Frost stooped down, and bent over the girl, and the
crackling sound grew louder, and the air seemed to be full of
knives and darts; and again he asked:
'Maiden, are you warm? Are you warm, you beautiful girl?'
And though her breath was almost frozen on her lips, she
whispered gently, 'Quite warm, King Frost.'
Then King Frost gnashed his teeth, and cracked his fingers, and
his eyes sparkled, and the crackling, crisp sound was louder than
ever, and for the last time he asked her:
'Maiden, are you still warm? Are you still warm, little love?'
And the poor girl was so stiff and numb that she could just gasp,
'Still warm, O King!'
Now her gentle, courteous words and her uncomplaining ways
touched King Frost, and he had pity on her, and he wrapped her up
in furs, and covered her with blankets, and he fetched a great
box, in which were beautiful jewels and a rich robe embroidered
in gold and silver. And she put it on, and looked more lovely
than ever, and King Frost stepped with her into his sledge, with
six white horses.
In the meantime the wicked step-mother was waiting at home for
news of the girl's death, and preparing pancakes for the funeral
feast. And she said to her husband: 'Old man, you had better go
out into the fields and find your daughter's body and bury her.'
Just as the old man was leaving the house the little dog under
the table began to bark, saying:
'YOUR daughter shall live to be your delight;
HER daughter shall die this very night.'
'Hold your tongue, you foolish beast!' scolded the woman.
'There's a pancake for you, but you must say:
"HER daughter shall have much silver and gold;
HIS daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold." '
But the doggie ate up the pancake and barked, saying:
'His daughter shall wear a crown on her head;
Her daughter shall die unwooed, unwed.'
Then the old woman tried to coax the doggie with more pancakes
and to terrify it with blows, but he barked on, always repeating
the same words. And suddenly the door creaked and flew open, and
a great heavy chest was pushed in, and behind it came the
step-daughter, radiant and beautiful, in a dress all glittering
with silver and gold. For a moment the step-mother's eyes were
dazzled. Then she called to her husband: 'Old man, yoke the
horses at once into the sledge, and take my daughter to the same
field and leave her on the same spot exactly; 'and so the old man
took the girl and left her beneath the same tree where he had
parted from his daughter. In a few minutes King Frost came past,
and, looking at the girl, he said:
'Are you warm, maiden?'
'What a blind old fool you must be to ask such a question!' she
answered angrily. 'Can't you see that my hands and feet are
nearly frozen?'
Then King Frost sprang to and fro in front of her, questioning
her, and getting only rude, rough words in reply, till at last he
got very angry, and cracked his fingers, and gnashed his teeth,
and froze her to death.
But in the hut her mother was waiting for her return, and as she
grew impatient she said to her husband: 'Get out the horses, old
man, to go and fetch her home; but see that you are careful not
to upset the sledge and lose the chest.'
But the doggie beneath the table began to bark, saying:
'Your daughter is frozen quite stiff and cold,
And shall never have a chest full of gold.'
'Don't tell such wicked lies!' scolded the woman. 'There's a
cake for you; now say:
"HER daughter shall marry a mighty King."
At that moment the door flew open, and she rushed out to meet her
daughter, and as she took her frozen body in her arms she too was
chilled to death.
[27] From the Bukowinaer Tales and Legends. Von Wliolocki.
Many, many thousand years ago there lived a mighty King whom
heaven had blessed with a clever and beautiful son. When he was
only ten years old the boy was cleverer than all the King's
counsellors put together, and when he was twenty he was the
greatest hero in the whole kingdom. His father could not make
enough of his son, and always had him clothed in golden garments
which shone and sparkled like the sun; and his mother gave him a
white horse, which never slept, and which flew like the wind.
All the people in the land loved him dearly, and called him the
Sun-Hero, for they did not think his like existed under the sun.
Now it happened one night that both his parents had the same
extraordinary dream. They dreamt that a girl all dressed in red
had come to them and said: 'If you wish that your son should
really become the Sun-Hero in deed and not only in name, let him
go out into the world and search for the Tree of the Sun, and
when he has found it, let him pluck a golden apple from it and
bring it home.'
When the King and Queen had each related their dreams to the
other, they were much amazed that they should both have dreamt
exactly the same about their son, and the King said to his wife,
'This is clearly a sign from heaven that we should send our son
out into the world in order that he may come home the great
Sun-Hero, as the Red Girl said, not only in name but in deed.'
The Queen consented with many tears, and the King at once bade
his son set forth in search of the Tree of the Sun, from which he
was to pluck a golden apple. The Prince was delighted at the
prospect, and set out on his travels that very day.
For a long time he wandered all through the world, and it was not
till the ninety-ninth day after he started that he found an old
man who was able to tell him where the Tree of the Sun grew. He
followed his directions, and rode on his way, and after another
ninety-nine days he arrived at a golden castle, which stood in
the middle of a vast wilderness. He knocked at the door, which
was opened noiselessly and by invisible hands. Finding no one
about, the Prince rode on, and came to a great meadow, where the
Sun-Tree grew. When he reached the tree he put out his hand to
pick a golden apple; but all of a sudden the tree grew higher, so
that he could not reach its fruit. Then he heard some one behind
him laughing. Turning round, he saw the girl in red walking
towards him, who addressed him in these words:
'Do you really imagine, brave son of the earth, that you can
pluck an apple so easily from the Tree of the Sun? Before you
can do that, you have a difficult task before you. You must
guard the tree for nine days and nine nights from the ravages of
two wild black wolves, who will try to harm it. Do you think you
can undertake this?'
'Yes,' answered the Sun-Hero, 'I will guard the Tree of the Sun
nine days and nine nights.'
Then the girl continued: 'Remember, though, if you do not succeed
the Sun will kill you. Now begin your watch.'
With these words the Red Girl went back into the golden castle.
She had hardly left him when the two black wolves appeared: but
the Sun-Hero beat them off with his sword, and they retired,
only, however, to reappear in a very short time. The Sun-Hero
chased them away once more, but he had hardly sat down to rest
when the two black wolves were on the scene again. This went on
for seven days and nights, when the white horse, who had never
done such a thing before, turned to the Sun-Hero and said in a
human voice: 'Listen to what I am going to say. A Fairy gave me
to your mother in order that I might be of service to you; so let
me tell you, that if you go to sleep and let the wolves harm the
tree, the Sun will surely kill you. The Fairy, foreseeing this,
put everyone in the world under a spell, which prevents their
obeying the Sun's command to take your life. But all the same,
she has forgotten one person, who will certainly kill you if you
fall asleep and let the wolves damage the tree. So watch and
keep the wolves away.'
Then the Sun-Hero strove with all his might and kept the black
wolves at bay, and conquered his desire to sleep; but on the
eighth night his strength failed him, and he fell fast asleep.
When he awoke a woman in black stood beside him, who said: 'You
have fulfilled your task very badly, for you have let the two
black wolves damage the Tree of the Sun. I am the mother of the
Sun, and I command you to ride away from here at once, and I
pronounce sentence of death upon you, for you proudly let
yourself be called the Sun-Hero without having done anything to
deserve the name.'
The youth mounted his horse sadly, and rode home. The people all
thronged round him on his return, anxious to hear his adventures,
but he told them nothing, and only to his mother did he confide
what had befallen him. But the old Queen laughed, and said to
her son: 'Don't worry, my child; you see, the Fairy has protected
you so far, and the Sun has found no one to kill you. So cheer
up and be happy.'
After a time the Prince forgot all about his adventure, and
married a beautiful Princess, with whom he lived very happily for
some time. But one day when he was out hunting he felt very
thirsty, and coming to a stream he stooped down to drink from it,
and this caused his death, for a crab came swimming up, and with
its claws tore out his tongue. He was carried home in a dying
condition, and as he lay on his death-bed the black woman
appeared and said: 'So the Sun has, after all, found someone, who
was not under the Fairy's spell, who has caused your death. And
a similar fate will overtake everyone under the Sun who
wrongfully assumes a title to which he has no right.'
[28] From the Russian.
Once upon a time there was a peasant whose wife died, leaving him
with two children--twins--a boy and a girl. For some years the
poor man lived on alone with the children, caring for them as
best he could; but everything in the house seemed to go wrong
without a woman to look after it, and at last he made up his mind
to marry again, feeling that a wife would bring peace and order
to his household and take care of his motherless children. So he
married, and in the following years several children were born to
him; but peace and order did not come to the household. For the
step-mother was very cruel to the twins, and beat them, and
half-starved them, and constantly drove them out of the house;
for her one idea was to get them out of the way. All day she
thought of nothing but how she should get rid of them; and at
last an evil idea came into her head, and she determined to send
them out into the great gloomy wood where a wicked witch lived.
And so one morning she spoke to them, saying:
'You have been such good children that I am going to send you to
visit my granny, who lives in a dear little hut in the wood. You
will have to wait upon her and serve her, but you will be well
rewarded, for she will give you the best of everything.'
So the children left the house together; and the little sister,
who was very wise for her years, said to the brother:
'We will first go and see our own dear grandmother, and tell her
where our step-mother is sending us.'
And when the grandmother heard where they were going, she cried
and said:
'You poor motherless children! How I pity you; and yet I can do
nothing to help you! Your step-mother is not sending you to her
granny, but to a wicked witch who lives in that great gloomy
wood. Now listen to me, children. You must be civil and kind to
everyone, and never say a cross word to anyone, and never touch a
crumb belonging to anyone else. Who knows if, after all, help
may not be sent to you?'
And she gave her grandchildren a bottle of milk and a piece of
ham and a loaf of bread, and they set out for the great gloomy
wood. When they reached it they saw in front of them, in the
thickest of the trees, a queer little hut, and when they looked
into it, there lay the witch, with her head on the threshold of
the door, with one foot in one corner and the other in the other
corner, and her knees cocked up, almost touching the ceiling.
'Who's there?' she snarled, in an awful voice, when she saw the
And they answered civilly, though they were so terrified that
they hid behind one another, and said:
'Good-morning, granny; our step-mother has sent us to wait upon
you, and serve you.'
'See that you do it well, then,' growled the witch. 'If I am
pleased with you, I'll reward you; but if I am not, I'll put you
in a pan and fry you in the oven--that's what I'll do with you,
my pretty dears! You have been gently reared, but you'll find my
work hard enough. See if you don't.'
And, so saying, she set the girl down to spin yarn, and she gave
the boy a sieve in which to carry water from the well, and she
herself went out into the wood. Now, as the girl was sitting at
her distaff, weeping bitterly because she could not spin, she
heard the sound of hundreds of little feet, and from every hole
and corner in the hut mice came pattering along the floor,
squeaking and saying:
'Little girl, why are your eyes so red?
If you want help, then give us some bread.'
And the girl gave them the bread that her grandmother had given
her. Then the mice told her that the witch had a cat, and the
cat was very fond of ham; if she would give the cat her ham, it
would show her the way out of the wood, and in the meantime they
would spin the yarn for her. So the girl set out to look for the
cat, and, as she was hunting about, she met her brother, in great
trouble because he could not carry water from the well in a
sieve, as it came pouring out as fast as he put it in. And as
she was trying to comfort him they heard a rustling of wings, and
a flight of wrens alighted on the ground beside them. And the
wrens said:
'Give us some crumbs, then you need not grieve.
For you'll find that water will stay in the sieve.'
Then the twins crumbled their bread on the ground, and the wrens
pecked it, and chirruped and chirped. And when they had eaten
the last crumb they told the boy to fill up the holes of the
sieve with clay, and then to draw water from the well. So he did
what they said, and carried the sieve full of water into the hut
without spilling a drop. When they entered the hut the cat was
curled up on the floor. So they stroked her, and fed her with
ham, and said to her:
'Pussy, grey pussy, tell us how we are to get away from the
Then the cat thanked them for the ham, and gave them a pockethandkerchief
and a comb, and told them that when the witch
pursued them, as she certainly would, all they had to do was to
throw the handkerchief on the ground and run as fast as they
could. As soon as the handkerchief touched the ground a deep,
broad river would spring up, which would hinder the witch's
progress. If she managed to get across it, they must throw the
comb behind them and run for their lives, for where the comb fell
a dense forest would start up, which would delay the witch so
long that they would be able to get safely away.
The cat had scarcely finished speaking when the witch returned to
see if the children had fulfilled their tasks.
'Well, you have done well enough for to-day,' she grumbled; 'but
to-morrow you'll have something more difficult to do, and if you
don't do it well, you pampered brats, straight into the oven you
Half-dead with fright, and trembling in every limb, the poor
children lay down to sleep on a heap of straw in the corner of
the hut; but they dared not close their eyes, and scarcely
ventured to breathe. In the morning the witch gave the girl two
pieces of linen to weave before night, and the boy a pile of wood
to cut into chips. Then the witch left them to their tasks, and
went out into the wood. As soon as she had gone out of sight the
children took the comb and the handkerchief, and, taking one
another by the hand, they started and ran, and ran, and ran. And
first they met the watch-dog, who was going to leap on them and
tear them to pieces; but they threw the remains of their bread to
him, and he ate them and wagged his tail. Then they were
hindered by the birch-trees, whose branches almost put their eyes
out. But the little sister tied the twigs together with a piece
of ribbon, and they got past safely, and, after running through
the wood, came out on to the open fields.
In the meantime in the hut the cat was busy weaving the linen and
tangling the threads as it wove. And the witch returned to see
how the children were getting on; and she crept up to the window,
and whispered:
'Are you weaving, my little dear?'
'Yes, granny, I am weaving,' answered the cat.
When the witch saw that the children had escaped her, she was
furious, and, hitting the cat with a porringer, she said: 'Why
did you let the children leave the hut? Why did you not scratch
their eyes out?'
But the cat curled up its tail and put its back up, and answered:
'I have served you all these years and you never even threw me a
bone, but the dear children gave me their own piece of ham.'
Then the witch was furious with the watch-dog and with the
birch-trees, because they had let the children pass. But the dog
'I have served you all these years and you never gave me so much
as a hard crust, but the dear children gave me their own loaf of
And the birch rustled its leaves, and said: 'I have served you
longer than I can say, and you never tied a bit of twine even
round my branches; and the dear children bound them up with their
brightest ribbons.'
So the witch saw there was no help to be got from her old
servants, and that the best thing she could do was to mount on
her broom and set off in pursuit of the children. And as the
children ran they heard the sound of the broom sweeping the
ground close behind them, so instantly they threw the
handkerchief down over their shoulder, and in a moment a deep,
broad river flowed behind them.
When the witch came up to it, it took her a long time before she
found a place which she could ford over on her broom-stick; but
at last she got across, and continued the chase faster than
before. And as the children ran they heard a sound, and the
little sister put her ear to the ground, and heard the broom
sweeping the earth close behind them; so, quick as thought, she
threw the comb down on the ground, and in an instant, as the cat
had said, a dense forest sprung up, in which the roots and
branches were so closely intertwined, that it was impossible to
force a way through it. So when the witch came up to it on her
broom she found that there was nothing for it but to turn round
and go back to her hut.
But the twins ran straight on till they reached their own home.
Then they told their father all that they had suffered, and he
was so angry with their step-mother that he drove her out of the
house, and never let her return; but he and the children lived
happily together; and he took care of them himself, and never let
a stranger come near them.
[29] From the Bukowniaer. Van Wliolocki.
There was once upon a time a couple who had no children, and they
prayed Heaven every day to send them a child, though it were no
bigger than a hazel-nut. At last Heaven heard their prayer and
sent them a child exactly the size of a hazel-nut, and it never
grew an inch. The parents were very devoted to the little
creature, and nursed and tended it carefully. Their tiny son too
was as clever as he could be, and so sharp and sensible that all
the neighbours marvelled over the wise things he said and did.
When the Hazel-nut child was fifteen years old, and was sitting
one day in an egg-shell on the table beside his mother, she
turned to him and said, 'You are now fifteen years old, and
nothing can be done with you. What do you intend to be?'
'A messenger,' answered the Hazel-nut child.
Then his mother burst out laughing and said, 'What an idea! You
a messenger! Why, your little feet would take an hour to go the
distance an ordinary person could do in a minute!'
But the Hazel-nut child replied, 'Nevertheless I mean to be a
messenger! Just send me a message and you'll see that I shall be
back in next to no time.'
So his mother said, 'Very well, go to your aunt in the
neighbouring village, and fetch me a comb.' The Hazel-nut child
jumped quickly out of the egg-shell and ran out into the street.
Here he found a man on horseback who was just setting out for the
neighbouring village. He crept up the horse's leg, sat down
under the saddle, and then began to pinch the horse and to prick
it with a pin. The horse plunged and reared and then set off at
a hard gallop, which it continued in spite of its rider's efforts
to stop it. When they reached the village, the Hazel-nut child
left off pricking the horse, and the poor tired creature pursued
its way at a snail's pace. The Hazel-nut child took advantage of
this, and crept down the horse's leg; then he ran to his aunt and
asked her for a comb. On the way home he met another rider, and
did the return journey in exactly the same way. When he handed
his mother the comb that his aunt had given him, she was much
amazed and asked him, 'But how did you manage to get back so
'Ah! mother,' he replied, 'you see I was quite right when I said
I knew a messenger was the profession for me.'
His father too possessed a horse which he often used to take out
into the fields to graze. One day he took the Hazel-nut child
with him. At midday the father turned to his small son and said,
'Stay here and look after the horse. I must go home and give
your mother a message, but I shall be back soon.'
When his father had gone, a robber passed by and saw the horse
grazing without any one watching it, for of course he could not
see the Hazel-nut child hidden in the grass. So he mounted the
horse and rode away. But the Hazel-nut child, who was the most
active little creature, climbed up the horse's tail and began to
bite it on the back, enraging the creature to such an extent that
it paid no attention to the direction the robber tried to make it
go in, but galloped straight home. The father was much
astonished when he saw a stranger riding his horse, but the
Hazel-nut child climbed down quickly and told him all that had
happened, and his father had the robber arrested at once and put
into prison.
One autumn when the Hazel-nut child was twenty years old he said
to his parents: 'Farewell, my dear father and mother. I am going
to set out into the world, and as soon as I have become rich I
will return home to you.'
The parents laughed at the little man's words, but did not
believe him for a moment. In the evening the Hazel-nut child
crept on to the roof, where some storks had built their nest.
The storks were fast asleep, and he climbed on to the back of the
father-stork and bound a silk cord round the joint of one of its
wings, then he crept among its soft downy feathers and fell
The next morning the storks flew towards the south, for winter
was approaching. The Hazel-nut child flew through the air on the
stork's back, and when he wanted to rest he bound his silk cord
on to the joint of the bird's other wing, so that it could not
fly any farther. In this way he reached the country of the black
people, where the storks took up their abode close to the
capital. When the people saw the Hazel-nut child they were much
astonished, and took him with the stork to the King of the
country. The King was delighted with the little creature and
kept him always beside him, and he soon grew so fond of the
little man that he gave him a diamond four times as big as
himself. The Hazel-nut child fastened the diamond firmly under
the stork's neck with a ribbon, and when he saw that the other
storks were getting ready for their northern flight, he untied
the silk cord from his stork's wings, and away they went, getting
nearer home every minute. At length the Hazel-nut child came to
his native village; then he undid the ribbon from the stork's
neck and the diamond fell to the ground; he covered it first with
sand and stones, and then ran to get his parents, so that they
might carry the treasure home, for he himself was not able to
lift the great diamond.
So the Hazel-nut child and his parents lived in happiness and
prosperity after this till they died.
In a certain village there lived two people who had both the same
name. Both were called Klaus, but one owned four horses and the
other only one. In order to distinguish the one from the other,
the one who had four horses was called Big Klaus, and the one who
had only one horse, Little Klaus. Now you shall hear what befell
them both, for this is a true story.
The whole week through Little Klaus had to plough for Big Klaus,
and lend him his one horse; then Big Klaus lent him his four
horses, but only once a week, and that was on Sunday. Hurrah!
how loudly Little Klaus cracked his whip over all the five
horses! for they were indeed as good as his on this one day.
The sun shone brightly, and all the bells in the church-towers
were pealing; the people were dressed in their best clothes, and
were going to church, with their hymn books under their arms, to
hear the minister preach. They saw Little Klaus ploughing with
the five horses; but he was so happy that he kept on cracking his
whip, and calling out 'Gee-up, my five horses!'
'You mustn't say that,' said Big Klaus. 'Only one horse is
But as soon as someone else was going by Little Klaus forgot that
he must not say it, and called out 'Gee-up, my five horses!'
'Now you had better stop that,' said Big Klaus, 'for if you say
it once more I will give your horse such a crack on the head that
it will drop down dead on the spot!'
'I really won't say it again!' said Little Klaus. But as soon as
more people passed by, and nodded him good-morning, he became so
happy in thinking how well it looked to have five horses
ploughing his field that, cracking his whip, he called out
'Gee-up, my five horses!'
'I'll see to your horses!' said Big Klaus; and, seizing an iron
bar, he struck Little Klaus' one horse such a blow on the head
that it fell down and died on the spot.
'Alas! Now I have no horse!' said Little Klaus, beginning to
cry. Then he flayed the skin off his horse, dried it, and put it
in a sack, which he threw over his shoulder, and went into the
town to sell it. He had a long way to go, and had to pass
through a great dark forest. A dreadful storm came on, in which
he lost his way, and before he could get on to the right road
night came on, and it was impossible to reach the town that
Right in front of him was a large farm-house. The
window-shutters were closed, but the light came through the
chinks. 'I should very much like to be allowed to spend the
night there,' thought Little Klaus; and he went and knocked at
the door. The farmer's wife opened it, but when she heard what
he wanted she told him to go away; her husband was not at home,
and she took in no strangers.
'Well, I must lie down outside,' said Little Klaus; and the
farmer's wife shut the door in his face. Close by stood a large
haystack, and between it and the house a little out-house,
covered with a flat thatched roof.
'I can lie down there,' thought Little Klaus, looking at the
roof; 'it will make a splendid bed, if only the stork won't fly
down and bite my legs.' For a live stork was standing on the
roof, where it had its nest. So Little Klaus crept up into the
out-house, where he lay down, and made himself comfortable for
the night. The wooden shutters over the windows were not shut at
the top, and he could just see into the room.
There stood a large table, spread with wine and roast meat and a
beautiful fish. The farmer's wife and the sexton sat at the
table, but there was no one else. She was filling up his glass,
while he stuck his fork into the fish which was his favourite
'If one could only get some of that!' thought Little Klaus,
stretching his head towards the window. Ah, what delicious cakes
he saw standing there! It WAS a feast!
Then he heard someone riding along the road towards the house.
It was the farmer coming home. He was a very worthy man; but he
had one great peculiarity--namely, that he could not bear to see
a sexton. If he saw one he was made quite mad. That was why the
sexton had gone to say good-day to the farmer's wife when he knew
that her husband was not at home, and the good woman therefore
put in front of him the best food she had. But when they heard
the farmer coming they were frightened, and the farmer's wife
begged the sexton to creep into a great empty chest. He did so,
as he knew the poor man could not bear to see a sexton. The wife
hastily hid all the beautiful food and the wine in her oven; for
if her husband had seen it, he would have been sure to ask what
it all meant.
'Oh, dear! oh, dear!' groaned Little Klaus up in the shed, when
he saw the good food disappearing.
'Is anybody up there?' asked the farmer, catching sight of Little
Klaus. 'Why are you lying there? Come with me into the house.'
Then Little Klaus told him how he had lost his way, and begged to
be allowed to spend the night there.
'Yes, certainly,' said the farmer; 'but we must first have
something to eat!'
The wife received them both very kindly, spread a long table, and
gave them a large plate of porridge. The farmer was hungry, and
ate with a good appetite; but Little Klaus could not help
thinking of the delicious dishes of fish and roast meats and
cakes which he knew were in the oven. Under the table at his
feet he had laid the sack with the horse-skin in it, for, as we
know, he was going to the town to sell it. The porridge did not
taste good to him, so he trod upon his sack, and the dry skin in
the sack squeaked loudly.
'Hush!' said Little Klaus to his sack, at the same time treading
on it again so that it squeaked even louder than before.
'Hallo! what have you got in your sack?' asked the farmer.
'Oh, it is a wizard!' said Little Klaus. 'He says we should not
eat porridge, for he has conjured the whole oven full of roast
meats and fish and cakes.'
'Goodness me!' said the farmer; and opening the oven he saw all
the delicious, tempting dishes his wife had hidden there, but
which he now believed the wizard in the sack had conjured up for
them. The wife could say nothing, but she put the food at once
on the table, and they ate the fish, the roast meat, and the
cakes. Little Klaus now trod again on his sack, so that the skin
'What does he say now?' asked the farmer.
'He says,' replied Little Klans, 'that he has also conjured up
for us three bottles of wine; they are standing in the corner by
the oven!'
The wife had to fetch the wine which she had hidden, and the
farmer drank and grew very merry. He would very much like to
have had such a wizard as Little Klaus had in the sack.
'Can he conjure up the Devil?' asked the farmer. 'I should like
to see him very much, for I feel just now in very good spirits!'
'Yes,' said Little Klaus; 'my wizard can do everything that I
ask. Isn't that true?' he asked, treading on the sack so that it
squeaked. 'Do you hear? He says ''Yes;'' but that the Devil
looks so ugly that we should not like to see him.'
'Oh! I'm not at all afraid. What does he look like?'
'He will show himself in the shape of a sexton!'
'I say!' said the farmer, 'he must be ugly! You must know that I
can't bear to look at a sexton! But it doesn't matter. I know
that it is the Devil, and I sha'n't mind! I feel up to it now.
But he must not come too near me!'
'I must ask my wizard,' said Little Klaus, treading on the sack
and putting his ear to it.
'What does he say?'
'He says you can open the chest in the corner there, and you will
see the Devil squatting inside it; but you must hold the lid so
that he shall not escape.'
'Will you help me to hold him?' begged the farmer, going towards
the chest where his wife had hidden the real sexton, who was
sitting inside in a terrible fright. The farmer opened the lid a
little way, and saw him inside.
'Ugh!' he shrieked, springing back. 'Yes, now I have seen him;
he looked just like our sexton. Oh, it was horrid!'
So he had to drink again, and they drank till far on into the
'You MUST sell me the wizard,' said the farmer. 'Ask anything
you like! I will pay you down a bushelful of money on the spot.'
'No, I really can't,' said Little Klans. 'Just think how many
things I can get from this wizard!'
'Ah! I should like to have him so much!' said the farmer,
begging very hard.
'Well!' said Little Klaus at last, 'as you have been so good as
to give me shelter to-night, I will sell him. You shall have the
wizard for a bushel of money, but I must have full measure.'
'That you shall,' said the farmer. 'But you must take the chest
with you. I won't keep it another hour in the house. Who knows
that he isn't in there still?'
Little Klaus gave the farmer his sack with the dry skin, and got
instead a good bushelful of money. The farmer also gave him a
wheelbarrow to carry away his money and the chest. 'Farewell,'
said Little Klaus; and away he went with his money and the big
chest, wherein sat the sexton.
On the other side of the wood was a large deep river. The water
flowed so rapidly that you could scarcely swim against the
A great new bridge had been built over it, on the middle of which
Little Klaus stopped, and said aloud so that the sexton might
'Now, what am I to do with this stupid chest? It is as heavy as
if it were filled with stones! I shall only be tired, dragging
it along; I will throw it into the river. If it swims home to
me, well and good; and if it doesn't, it's no matter.'
Then he took the chest with one hand and lifted it up a little,
as if he were going to throw it into the water.
'No, don't do that!' called out the sexton in the chest. 'Let me
get out first!'
'Oh, oh!' said Little Klaus, pretending that he was afraid. 'He
is still in there! I must throw him quickly into the water to
drown him!'
'Oh! no, no!' cried the sexton. 'I will give you a whole
bushelful of money if you will let me go!'
'Ah, that's quite another thing!' said Little Klaus, opening the
chest. The sexton crept out very quickly, pushed the empty chest
into the water and went to his house, where he gave Little Klaus
a bushel of money. One he had had already from the farmer, and
now he had his wheelbarrow full of money.
'Well, I have got a good price for the horse!' said he to himself
when he shook all his money out in a heap in his room. 'This
will put Big Klaus in a rage when he hears how rich I have become
through my one horse; but I won't tell him just yet!'
So he sent a boy to Big Klaus to borrow a bushel measure from
'Now what can he want with it?' thought Big Klaus; and he smeared
some tar at the bottom, so that of whatever was measured a little
should remain in it. And this is just what happened; for when he
got his measure back, three new silver five-shilling pieces were
sticking to it.
What does this mean?' said Big Klaus, and he ran off at once to
Little Klaus.
'Where did you get so much money from?'
'Oh, that was from my horse-skin. I sold it yesterday evening.'
'That's certainly a good price!' said Big Klaus; and running home
in great haste, he took an axe, knocked all his four horses on
the head, skinned them, and went into the town.
'Skins! skins! Who will buy skins?' he cried through the
All the shoemakers and tanners came running to ask him what he
wanted for them. 'A bushel of money for each,' said Big Klaus.
'Are you mad?' they all exclaimed. 'Do you think we have money
by the bushel?'
'Skins! skins! Who will buy skins?' he cried again, and to all
who asked him what they cost, he answered, 'A bushel of money.'
'He is making game of us,' they said; and the shoemakers seized
their yard measures and the tanners their leathern aprons and
they gave Big Klaus a good beating. 'Skins! skins!' they cried
mockingly; yes, we will tan YOUR skin for you! Out of the town
with him!' they shouted; and Big Klaus had to hurry off as
quickly as he could, if he wanted to save his life.
'Aha!' said he when he came home, 'Little Klaus shall pay dearly
for this. I will kill him!'
Little Klaus' grandmother had just died. Though she had been
very unkind to him, he was very much distressed, and he took the
dead woman and laid her in his warm bed to try if he could not
bring her back to life. There she lay the whole night, while he
sat in the corner and slept on a chair, which he had often done
before. And in the night as he sat there the door opened, and
Big Klaus came in with his axe. He knew quite well where Little
Klaus's bed stood, and going up to it he struck the grandmother
on the head just where he thought Little Klaus would be.
'There!' said he. 'Now you won't get the best of me again!' And
he went home.
'What a very wicked man!' thought Little Klaus. 'He was going to
kill me! It was a good thing for my grandmother that she was
dead already, or else he would have killed her!'
Then he dressed his grandmother in her Sunday clothes, borrowed a
horse from his neighbour, harnessed the cart to it, sat his
grandmother on the back seat so that she could not fall out when
he drove, and away they went. When the sun rose they were in
front of a large inn. Little Klaus got down, and went in to get
something to drink. The host was very rich. He was a very
worthy but hot-tempered man.
'Good morning!' said he to Little Klaus. 'You are early on the
'Yes,' said Little Klaus. 'I am going to the town with my
grandmother. She is sitting outside in the cart; I cannot bring
her in. Will you not give her a glass of mead? But you will
have to speak loud, for she is very hard of hearing.'
'Oh yes, certainly I will!' said the host; and, pouring out a
large glass of mead, he took it out to the dead grandmother, who
was sitting upright in the cart.
'Here is a glass of mead from your son,' said the host. But the
dead woman did not answer a word, and sat still. 'Don't you
hear?' cried the host as loud as he could. 'Here is a glass of
mead from your son!'
Then he shouted the same thing again, and yet again, but she
never moved in her place; and at last he grew angry, threw the
glass in her face, so that she fell back into the cart, for she
was not tied in her place.
'Hullo!' cried Little Klaus, running out of the door, and seizing
the host by the throat. 'You have killed my grandmother! Look!
there is a great hole in her forehead!'
'Oh, what a misfortune!' cried the host, wringing his hands. 'It
all comes from my hot temper! Dear Little Klaus! I will give
you a bushel of money, and will bury your grandmother as if she
were my own; only don't tell about it, or I shall have my head
cut off, and that would be very uncomfortable.'
So Little Klaus got a bushel of money, and the host buried his
grandmother as if she had been his own.
Now when Little Klaus again reached home with so much money he
sent his boy to Big Klaus to borrow his bushel measure.
'What's this?' said Big Klaus. 'Didn't I kill him? I must see
to this myself!'
So he went himself to Little Klaus with the measure.
'Well, now, where did you get all this money?' asked he, opening
his eyes at the heap.
'You killed my grandmother--not me,' said Little Klaus. 'I sold
her, and got a bushel of money for her.'
'That is indeed a good price!' said Big Klaus; and, hurrying
home, he took an axe and killed his grandmother, laid her in the
cart, and drove off to the apothecary's, and asked whether he
wanted to buy a dead body.
'Who is it, and how did you get it?' asked the apothecary.
'It is my grandmother,' said Big Klaus. 'I killed her in order
to get a bushel of money.'
'You are mad!' said the apothecary. 'Don't mention such things,
or you will lose your head!' And he began to tell him what a
dreadful thing he had done, and what a wicked man he was, and
that he ought to be punished; till Big Klaus was so frightened
that he jumped into the cart and drove home as hard as he could.
The apothecary and all the people thought he must be mad, so they
let him go.
'You shall pay for this!' said Big Klaus as he drove home. 'You
shall pay for this dearly, Little Klaus!'
So as soon as he got home he took the largest sack he could find,
and went to Little Klaus and said: 'You have fooled me again!
First I killed my horses, then my grandmother! It is all your
fault; but you sha'n't do it again!' And he seized Little Klaus,
pushed him in the sack, threw it over his shoulder, crying out
'Now I am going to drown you!'
He had to go a long way before he came to the river, and Little
Klaus was not very light. The road passed by the church; the
organ was sounding, and the people were singing most beautifully.
Big Klaus put down the sack with Little Klaus in it by the
church-door, and thought that he might as well go in and hear a
psalm before going on farther. Little Klaus could not get out,
and everybody was in church; so he went in.
'Oh, dear! oh, dear!' groaned Little Klaus in the sack, twisting
and turning himself. But he could not undo the string.
There came by an old, old shepherd, with snow-white hair and a
long staff in his hand. He was driving a herd of cows and oxen.
These pushed against the sack so that it was overturned.
'Alas!' moaned Little Klans, 'I am so young and yet I must die!'
'And I, poor man,' said the cattle-driver, 'I am so old and yet I
cannot die!'
'Open the sack,' called out Little Klaus; 'creep in here instead
of me, and you will die in a moment!'
'I will gladly do that,' said the cattle-driver; and he opened
the sack, and Little Klaus struggled out at once.
'You will take care of the cattle, won't you?' asked the old man,
creeping into the sack, which Little Klaus fastened up and then
went on with the cows and oxen. Soon after Big Klaus came out of
the church, and taking up the sack on his shoulders it seemed to
him as if it had become lighter; for the old cattle-driver was
not half as heavy as Little Klaus.
'How easy he is to carry now! That must be because I heard part
of the service.'
So he went to the river, which was deep and broad, threw in the
sack with the old driver, and called after it, for he thought
Little Klaus was inside:
'Down you go! You won't mock me any more now!'
Then he went home; but when he came to the cross-roads, there he
met Little Klaus, who was driving his cattle.
'What's this?' said Big Klaus. 'Haven't I drowned you?'
'Yes,' replied Little Klaus; 'you threw me into the river a good
half-hour ago!'
'But how did you get those splendid cattle?' asked Big Klaus.
'They are sea-cattle!' said Little Klaus. 'I will tell you the
whole story, and I thank you for having drowned me, because now I
am on dry land and really rich! How frightened I was when I was
in the sack! How the wind whistled in my ears as you threw me
from the bridge into the cold water! I sank at once to the
bottom; but I did not hurt myself for underneath was growing the
most beautiful soft grass. I fell on this, and immediately the
sack opened; the loveliest maiden in snow-white garments, with a
green garland round her wet hair, took me by the hand, and said!
''Are you Little Klaus? Here are some cattle for you to begin
with, and a mile farther down the road there is another herd,
which I will give you as a present!'' Now I saw that the river
was a great high-road for the sea-people. Along it they travel
underneath from the sea to the land till the river ends. It was
so beautiful, full of flowers and fresh grass; the fishes which
were swimming in the water shot past my ears as the birds do here
in the air. What lovely people there were, and what fine cattle
were grazing in the ditches and dykes!'
'But why did you come up to us again?' asked Big Klaus. 'I
should not have done so, if it is so beautiful down below!'
'Oh!' said Little Klaus, 'that was just so politic of me. You
heard what I told you, that the sea-maiden said to me a mile
farther along the road--and by the road she meant the river, for
she can go by no other way--there was another herd of cattle
waiting for me. But I know what windings the river makes, now
here, now there, so that it is a long way round. Therefore it
makes it much shorter if one comes on the land and drives across
the field to the river. Thus I have spared myself quite half a
mile, and have come much quicker to my sea-cattle!'
'Oh, you're a lucky fellow!' said Big Klaus. 'Do you think I
should also get some cattle if I went to the bottom of the
'Oh, yes! I think so,' said Little Klaus. 'But I can't carry
you in a sack to the river; you are too heavy for me! If you
like to go there yourself and then creep into the sack, I will
throw you in with the greatest of pleasure.'
'Thank you,' said Big Klaus; 'but if I don't get any sea-cattle
when I come there, you will have a good hiding, mind!'
'Oh, no! Don't be so hard on me!' Then they went to the river.
When the cattle, which were thirsty, caught sight of the water,
they ran as quickly as they could to drink.
'Look how they are running!' said Little Klaus. 'They want to go
to the bottom again!'
'Yes; but help me first,' said Big Klaus, 'or else you shall have
a beating!'
And so he crept into the large sack, which was lying on the back
of one of the oxen. 'Put a stone in, for I am afraid I may not
reach the bottom,' said Big Klaus.
'It goes all right!' said Little Klaus; but still he laid a big
stone in the sack, fastened it up tight, and then pushed it in.
Plump! there was Big Klaus in the water, and he sank like lead
to the bottom.
'I doubt if he will find any cattle!' said Little Klaus as he
drove his own home.
[30] From the Icelandic.
Once upon a time there was a King and his Queen in their kingdom.
They had one daughter, who was called Ingiborg, and one son,
whose name was Ring. He was less fond of adventures than men of
rank usually were in those days, and was not famous for strength
or feats of arms. When he was twelve years old, one fine winter
day he rode into the forest along with his men to enjoy himself.
They went on a long way, until they caught sight of a hind with a
gold ring on its horns. The Prince was eager to catch it, if
possible, so they gave chase and rode on without stopping until
all the horses began to founder beneath them. At last the
Prince's horse gave way too, and then there came over them a
darkness so black that they could no longer see the hind. By
this time they were far away from any house, and thought it was
high time to be making their way home again, but they found they
had got lost now. At first they all kept together, but soon each
began to think that he knew the right way best; so they
separated, and all went in different directions.
The Prince, too, had got lost like the rest, and wandered on for
a time until he came to a little clearing in the forest not far
from the sea, where he saw a woman sitting on a chair and a big
barrel standing beside her. The Prince went up to her and
saluted her politely, and she received him very graciously. He
looked down into the barrel then, and saw lying at the bottom an
unusually beautiful gold ring, which pleased him so much that he
could not take his eyes off it. The woman saw this, and said
that he might have it if he would take the trouble to get it; for
which the Prince thanked her, and said it was at least worth
trying. So he leaned over into the barrel, which did not seem
very deep, and thought he would easily reach the ring; but the
more he stretched down after it the deeper grew the barrel. As
he was thus bending down into it the woman suddenly rose up and
pushed him in head first, saying that now he could take up his
quarters there. Then she fixed the top on the barrel and threw
it out into the sea.
The Prince thought himself in a bad plight now, as he felt the
barrel floating out from the land and tossing about on the waves.
How many days he spent thus he could not tell, but at last he
felt that the barrel was knocking against rocks, at which he was
a little cheered, thinking it was probably land and not merely a
reef in the sea. Being something of a swimmer, he at last made
up his mind to kick the bottom out of the barrel, and having done
so he was able to get on shore, for the rocks by the sea were
smooth and level; but overhead there were high cliffs. It seemed
difficult to get up these, but he went along the foot of them for
a little, till at last he tried to climb up, which at last he
Having got to the top, he looked round about him and saw that he
was on an island, which was covered with forest, with apples
growing, and altogether pleasant as far as the land was
concerned. After he had been there several days, he one day
heard a great noise in the forest, which made him terribly
afraid, so that he ran to hide himself among the trees. Then he
saw a Giant approaching, dragging a sledge loaded with wood, and
making straight for him, so that he could see nothing for it but
to lie down just where he was. When the Giant came across him,
he stood still and looked at the Prince for a little; then he
took him up in his arms and carried him home to his house, and
was exceedingly kind to him. He gave him to his wife, saying he
had found this child in the wood, and she could have it to help
her in the house. The old woman was greatly pleased, and began
to fondle the Prince with the utmost delight. He stayed there
with them, and was very willing and obedient to them in
everything, while they grew kinder to him every day.
One day the Giant took him round and showed him all his rooms
except the parlour; this made the Prince curious to have a look
into it, thinking there must be some very rare treasure there.
So one day, when the Giant had gone into the forest, he tried to
get into the parlour, and managed to get the door open half-way.
Then he saw that some living creature moved inside and ran along
the floor towards him and said something, which made him so
frightened that he sprang back from the door and shut it again.
As soon as the fright began to pass off he tried it again, for he
thought it would be interesting to hear what it said; but things
went just as before with him. He then got angry with himself,
and, summoning up all his courage, tried it a third time, and
opened the door of the room and stood firm. Then he saw that it
was a big Dog, which spoke to him and said:
'Choose me, Prince Ring.'
The Prince went away rather afraid, thinking with himself that it
was no great treasure after all; but all the same what it had
said to him stuck in his mind.
It is not said how long the Prince stayed with the Giant, but one
day the latter came to him and said he would now take him over to
the mainland out of the island, for he himself had no long time
to live. He also thanked him for his good service, and told him
to choose some-one of his possessions, for he would get whatever
he wanted. Ring thanked him heartily, and said there was no need
to pay him for his services, they were so little worth; but if he
did wish to give him anything he would choose what was in the
parlour. The Giant was taken by surprise, and said:
'There, you chose my old woman's right hand; but I must not break
my word.'
Upon this he went to get the Dog, which came running with signs
of great delight; but the Prince was so much afraid of it that it
was all he could do to keep from showing his alarm.
After this the Giant accompanied him down to the sea, where he
saw a stone boat which was just big enough to hold the two of
them and the Dog. On reaching the mainland the Giant took a
friendly farewell of Ring, and told him he might take possession
of all that was in the island after he and his wife died, which
would happen within two weeks from that time. The Prince thanked
him for this and for all his other kindnesses, and the Giant
returned home, while Ring went up some distance from the sea; but
he did not know what land he had come to, and was afraid to speak
to the Dog. After he had walked on in silence for a time the Dog
spoke to him and said:
'You don't seem to have much curiosity, seeing you never ask my
The Prince then forced himself to ask, 'What is your name?'
'You had best call me Snati-Snati,' said the Dog. 'Now we are
coming to a King's seat, and you must ask the King to keep us all
winter, and to give you a little room for both of us.'
The Prince now began to be less afraid of the Dog. They came to
the King and asked him to keep them all the winter, to which he
agreed. When the King's men saw the Dog they began to laugh at
it, and make as if they would tease it; but when the Prince saw
this he advised them not to do it, or they might have the worst
of it. They replied that they didn't care a bit what he thought.
After Ring had been with the King for some days the latter began
to think there was a great deal in him, and esteemed him more
than the others. The King, however, had a counsellor called Red,
who became very jealous when he saw how much the King esteemed
Ring; and one day he talked to him, and said he could not
understand why he had so good an opinion of this stranger, who
had not yet shown himself superior to other men in anything. The
King replied that it was only a short time since he had come
there. Red then asked him to send them both to cut down wood
next morning, and see which of them could do most work.
Snati-Snati heard this and told it to Ring, advising him to ask
the King for two axes, so that he might have one in reserve if
the first one got broken. Next morning the King asked Ring and
Red to go and cut down trees for him, and both agreed. Ring got
the two axes, and each went his own way; but when the Prince had
got out into the wood Snati took one of the axes and began to hew
along with him. In the evening the King came to look over their
day's work, as Red had proposed, and found that Ring's wood-heap
was more than twice as big.
'I suspected,' said the King, 'that Ring was not quite useless;
never have I seen such a day's work.'
Ring was now in far greater esteem with the King than before, and
Red was all the more discontented. One day he came to the King
and said, 'If Ring is such a mighty man, I think you might ask
him to kill the wild oxen in the wood here, and flay them the
same day, and bring you the horns and the hides in the evening.'
'Don't you think that a desperate errand?' said the King, 'seeing
they are so dangerous, and no one has ever yet ventured to go
against them?'
Red answered that he had only one life to lose, and it would be
interesting to see how brave he was; besides, the King would have
good reason to ennoble him if he overcame them. The King at last
allowed himself, though rather unwillingly, to be won over by
Red's persistency, and one day asked Ring to go and kill the oxen
that were in the wood for him, and bring their horns and hides to
him in the evening. Not knowing how dangerous the oxen were,
Ring was quite ready, and went off at once, to the great delight
of Red, who was now sure of his death.
As soon as Ring came in sight of the oxen they came bellowing to
meet him; one of them was tremendously big, the other rather
less. Ring grew terribly afraid.
'How do you like them?' asked Snati.
'Not well at all,' said the Prince.
'We can do nothing else,' said Snati, 'than attack them, if it is
to go well; you will go against the little one, and I shall take
the other.'
With this Snati leapt at the big one, and was not long in
bringing him down. Meanwhile the Prince went against the other
with fear and trembling, and by the time Snati came to help him
the ox had nearly got him under, but Snati was not slow in
helping his master to kill it.
Each of them then began to flay their own ox, but Ring was only
half through by the time Snati had finished his. In the evening,
after they had finished this task, the Prince thought himself
unfit to carry all the horns and both the hides, so Snati told
him to lay them all on his back until they got to the Palace
The Prince agreed, and laid everything on the Dog except the skin
of the smaller ox, which he staggered along with himself. At the
Palace gate he left everything lying, went before the King, and
asked him to come that length with him, and there handed over to
him the hides and horns of the oxen. The King was greatly
surprised at his valour, and said he knew no one like him, and
thanked him heartily for what he had done.
After this the King set Ring next to himself, and all esteemed
him highly, and held him to be a great hero; nor could Red any
longer say anything against him, though he grew still more
determined to destroy him. One day a good idea came into his
head. He came to the King and said he had something to say to
'What is that?' said the King.
Red said that he had just remembered the gold cloak, gold
chess-board, and bright gold piece that the King had lost about a
year before.
'Don't remind me of them!' said the King.
Red, however, went on to say that, since Ring was such a mighty
man that he could do everything, it had occurred to him to advise
the King to ask him to search for these treasures, and come back
with them before Christmas; in return the King should promise him
his daughter.
The King replied that he thought it altogether unbecoming to
propose such a thing to Ring, seeing that he could not tell him
where the things were; but Red pretended not to hear the King's
excuses, and went on talking about it until the King gave in to
him. One day, a month or so before Christmas, the King spoke to
Ring, saying that he wished to ask a great favour of him.
'What is that?' said Ring.
'It is this,' said the King: 'that you find for me my gold cloak,
my gold chess-board, and my bright gold piece, that were stolen
from me about a year ago. If you can bring them to me before
Christmas I will give you my daughter in marriage.'
'Where am I to look for them, then?' said Ring.
'That you must find out for yourself,' said the King: 'I don't
Ring now left the King, and was very silent, for he saw he was in
a great difficulty: but, on the other hand, he thought it was
excellent to have such a chance of winning the King's daughter.
Snati noticed that his master was at a loss, and said to him that
he should not disregard what the King had asked him to do; but he
would have to act upon his advice, otherwise he would get into
great difficulties. The Prince assented to this, and began to
prepare for the journey.
After he had taken leave of the King, and was setting out on the
search, Snati said to him, 'Now you must first of all go about
the neighbourhood, and gather as much salt as ever you can.' The
Prince did so, and gathered so much salt that he could hardly
carry it; but Snati said, 'Throw it on my back,' which he
accordingly did, and the Dog then ran on before the Prince, until
they came to the foot of a steep cliff.
'We must go up here,' said Snati.
'I don't think that will be child's play,' said the Prince.
'Hold fast by my tail,' said Snati; and in this way he pulled
Ring up on the lowest shelf of the rock. The Prince began to get
giddy, but up went Snati on to the second shelf. Ring was nearly
swooning by this time, but Snati made a third effort and reached
the top of the cliff, where the Prince fell down in a faint.
After a little, however, he recovered again, and they went a
short distance along a level plain, until they came to a cave.
This was on Christmas Eve. They went up above the cave, and
found a window in it, through which they looked, and saw four
trolls lying asleep beside the fire, over which a large
porridge-pot was hanging.
'Now you must empty all the salt into the porridge-pot,' said
Ring did so, and soon the trolls wakened up. The old hag, who
was the most frightful of them all, went first to taste the
'How comes this?' she said; 'the porridge is salt! I got the
milk by witchcraft yesterday out of four kingdoms, and now it is
All the others then came to taste the porridge, and thought it
nice, but after they had finished it the old hag grew so thirsty
that she could stand it no longer, and asked her daughter to go
out and bring her some water from the river that ran near by.
'I won't go,' said she, 'unless you lend me your bright gold
'Though I should die you shan't have that,' said the hag.
'Die, then,' said the girl.
'Well, then, take it, you brat,' said the old hag, 'and be off
with you, and make haste with the water.'
The girl took the gold and ran out with it, and it was so bright
that it shone all over the plain. As soon as she came to the
river she lay down to take a drink of the water, but meanwhile
the two of them had got down off the roof and thrust her, head
first, into the river.
The old hag began now to long for the water, and said that the
girl would be running about with the gold piece all over the
plain, so she asked her son to go and get her a drop of water.
'I won't go,' said he, 'unless I get the gold cloak.'
'Though I should die you shan't have that,' said the hag.
'Die, then,' said the son.
'Well, then, take it,' said the old hag, 'and be off with you,
but you must make haste with the water.'
He put on the cloak, and when he came outside it shone so bright
that he could see to go with it. On reaching the river he went
to take a drink like his sister, but at that moment Ring and
Snati sprang upon him, took the cloak from him, and threw him
into the river.
The old hag could stand the thirst no longer, and asked her
husband to go for a drink for her; the brats, she said, were of
course running about and playing themselves, just as she had
expected they would, little wretches that they were.
'I won't go,' said the old troll, 'unless you lend me the gold
'Though I should die you shan't have that,' said the hag.
'I think you may just as well do that,' said he, 'since you won't
grant me such a little favour.'
'Take it, then, you utter disgrace!' said the old hag, 'since you
are just like these two brats.'
The old troll now went out with the gold chess-board, and down to
the river, and was about to take a drink, when Ring and Snati
came upon him, took the chess-board from him, and threw him into
the river. Before they had got back again, however, and up on
top of the cave, they saw the poor old fellow's ghost come
marching up from the river. Snati immediately sprang upon him,
and Ring assisted in the attack, and after a hard struggle they
mastered him a second time. When they got back again to the
window they saw that the old hag was moving towards the door.
'Now we must go in at once,' said Snati, 'and try to master her
there, for if she once gets out we shall have no chance with her.
She is the worst witch that ever lived, and no iron can cut her.
One of us must pour boiling porridge out of the pot on her, and
the other punch her with red-hot iron.'
In they went then, and no sooner did the hag see them than she
said, 'So you have come, Prince Ring; you must have seen to my
husband and children.'
Snati saw that she was about to attack them, and sprang at her
with a red-hot iron from the fire, while Ring kept pouring
boiling porridge on her without stopping, and in this way they at
last got her killed. Then they burned the old troll and her to
ashes, and explored the cave, where they found plenty of gold and
treasures. The most valuable of these they carried with them as
far as the cliff, and left them there. Then they hastened home
to the King with his three treasures, where they arrived late on
Christmas night, and Ring handed them over to him.
The King was beside himself with joy, and was astonished at how
clever a man Ring was in all kinds of feats, so that he esteemed
him still more highly than before, and betrothed his daughter to
him; and the feast for this was to last all through
Christmastide. Ring thanked the King courteously for this and
all his other kindnesses, and as soon as he had finished eating
and drinking in the hall went off to sleep in his own room.
Snati, however, asked permission to sleep in the Prince's bed for
that night, while the Prince should sleep where the Dog usually
lay. Ring said he was welcome to do so, and that he deserved
more from him than that came to. So Snati went up into the
Prince's bed, but after a time he came back, and told Ring he
could go there himself now, but to take care not to meddle with
anything that was in the bed.
Now the story comes back to Red, who came into the hall and
showed the King his right arm wanting the hand, and said that now
he could see what kind of a man his intended son-in-law was, for
he had done this to him without any cause whatever. The King
became very angry, and said he would soon find out the truth
about it, and if Ring had cut off his hand without good cause he
should be hanged; but if it was otherwise, then Red should die.
So the King sent for Ring and asked him for what reason he had
done this. Snati, however, had just told Ring what had happened
during the night, and in reply he asked the King to go with him
and he would show him something. The King went with him to his
sleeping-room, and saw lying on the bed a man's hand holding a
'This hand,' said Ring, 'came over the partition during the
night, and was about to run me through in my bed, if I had not
defended myself.'
The King answered that in that case he could not blame him for
protecting his own life, and that Red was well worthy of death.
So Red was hanged, and Ring married the King's daughter.
The first night that they went to bed together Snati asked Ring
to allow him to lie at their feet, and this Ring allowed him to
do. During the night he heard a howling and outcry beside them,
struck a light in a hurry and saw an ugly dog's skin lying near
him, and a beautiful Prince in the bed. Ring instantly took the
skin and burned it, and then shook the Prince, who was lying
unconscious, until he woke up. The bridegroom then asked his
name; he replied that he was called Ring, and was a King's son.
In his youth he had lost his mother, and in her place his father
had married a witch, who had laid a spell on him that he should
turn into a dog, and never be released from the spell unless a
Prince of the same name as himself allowed him to sleep at his
feet the first night after his marriage. He added further, 'As
soon as she knew that you were my namesake she tried to get you
destroyed, so that you might not free me from the spell. She was
the hind that you and your companions chased; she was the woman
that you found in the clearing with the barrel, and the old hag
that we just now killed in the cave.'
After the feasting was over the two namesakes, along with other
men, went to the cliff and brought all the treasure home to the
Palace. Then they went to the island and removed all that was
valuable from it. Ring gave to his namesake, whom he had freed
from the spell, his sister Ingiborg and his father's kingdom to
look after, but he himself stayed with his father-in-law the
King, and had half the kingdom while he lived and the whole of it
after his death.
There was once a poor Prince. He possessed a kingdom which,
though small, was yet large enough for him to marry on, and
married he wished to be.
Now it was certainly a little audacious of him to venture to say
to the Emperor's daughter, 'Will you marry me?' But he did
venture to say so, for his name was known far and wide. There
were hundreds of princesses who would gladly have said 'Yes,' but
would she say the same?
Well, we shall see.
On the grave of the Prince's father grew a rose-tree, a very
beautiful rose-tree. It only bloomed every five years, and then
bore but a single rose, but oh, such a rose! Its scent was so
sweet that when you smelt it you forgot all your cares and
troubles. And he had also a nightingale which could sing as if
all the beautiful melodies in the world were shut up in its
little throat. This rose and this nightingale the Princess was
to have, and so they were both put into silver caskets and sent
to her.
The Emperor had them brought to him in the great hall, where the
Princess was playing 'Here comes a duke a-riding' with her
ladies-in-waiting. And when she caught sight of the big caskets
which contained the presents, she clapped her hands for joy.
'If only it were a little pussy cat!' she said. But the
rose-tree with the beautiful rose came out.
'But how prettily it is made!' said all the ladies-in-waiting.
'It is more than pretty,' said the Emperor, 'it is charming!'
But the Princess felt it, and then she almost began to cry.
'Ugh! Papa,' she said, 'it is not artificial, it is REAL!'
'Ugh!' said all the ladies-in-waiting, 'it is real!'
'Let us see first what is in the other casket before we begin to
be angry,' thought the Emperor, and there came out the
nightingale. It sang so beautifully that one could scarcely
utter a cross word against it.
'Superbe! charmant!' said the ladies-in-waiting, for they all
chattered French, each one worse than the other.
'How much the bird reminds me of the musical snuff-box of the
late Empress!' said an old courtier. 'Ah, yes, it is the same
tone, the same execution!'
'Yes,' said the Emperor; and then he wept like a little child.
'I hope that this, at least, is not real?' asked the Princess.
'Yes, it is a real bird,' said those who had brought it.
'Then let the bird fly away,' said the Princess; and she would
not on any account allow the Prince to come.
'But he was nothing daunted. He painted his face brown and
black, drew his cap well over his face, and knocked at the door.
'Good-day, Emperor,' he said. 'Can I get a place here as servant
in the castle?'
'Yes,' said the Emperor, 'but there are so many who ask for a
place that I don't know whether there will be one for you; but,
still, I will think of you. Stay, it has just occurred to me
that I want someone to look after the swine, for I have so very
many of them.'
And the Prince got the situation of Imperial Swineherd. He had a
wretched little room close to the pigsties; here he had to stay,
but the whole day he sat working, and when evening was come he
had made a pretty little pot. All round it were little bells,
and when the pot boiled they jingled most beautifully and played
the old tune--
'Where is Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here!'
But the most wonderful thing was, that when one held one's finger
in the steam of the pot, then at once one could smell what dinner
was ready in any fire-place in the town. That was indeed
something quite different from the rose.
Now the Princess came walking past with all her ladies-inwaiting,
and when she heard the tune she stood still and her face
beamed with joy, for she also could play 'Where is Augustus
It was the only tune she knew, but that she could play with one
'Why, that is what I play!' she said. 'He must be a most
accomplished Swineherd! Listen! Go down and ask him what the
instrument costs.'
And one of the ladies-in-waiting had to go down; but she put on
wooden clogs. 'What will you take for the pot?' asked the
'I will have ten kisses from the Princess,' answered the
'Heaven forbid!' said the lady-in-waiting.
'Yes, I will sell it for nothing less,' replied the Swineherd.
'Well, what does he say?' asked the Princess.
'I really hardly like to tell you,' answered the lady-in-waiting.
'Oh, then you can whisper it to me.'
'He is disobliging!' said the Princess, and went away. But she
had only gone a few steps when the bells rang out so prettily--
'Where is Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here.'
'Listen!' said the Princess. 'Ask him whether he will take ten
kisses from my ladies-in-waiting.'
'No, thank you,' said the Swineherd. 'Ten kisses from the
Princess, or else I keep my pot.'
'That is very tiresome!' said the Princess. 'But you must put
yourselves in front of me, so that no one can see.'
And the ladies-in-waiting placed themselves in front and then
spread out their dresses; so the Swineherd got his ten kisses,
and she got the pot.
What happiness that was! The whole night and the whole day the
pot was made to boil; there was not a fire-place in the whole
town where they did not know what was being cooked, whether it
was at the chancellor's or at the shoemaker's.
The ladies-in-waiting danced and clapped their hands.
'We know who is going to have soup and pancakes; we know who is
going to have porridge and sausages--isn't it interesting?'
'Yes, very interesting!' said the first lady-in-waiting.
'But don't say anything about it, for I am the Emperor's
'Oh, no, of course we won't!' said everyone.
The Swineherd--that is to say, the Prince (though they did not
know he was anything but a true Swineherd)--let no day pass
without making something, and one day he made a rattle which,
when it was turned round, played all the waltzes, galops, and
polkas which had ever been known since the world began.
'But that is superbe!' said the Princess as she passed by. 'I
have never heard a more beautiful composition. Listen! Go down
and ask him what this instrument costs; but I won't kiss him
'He wants a hundred kisses from the Princess,' said the
lady-in-waiting who had gone down to ask him.
'I believe he is mad!' said the Princess, and then she went on;
but she had only gone a few steps when she stopped.
'One ought to encourage art,' she said. 'I am the Emperor's
daughter! Tell him he shall have, as before, ten kisses; the
rest he can take from my ladies-in-waiting.'
'But we don't at all like being kissed by him,' said the
'That's nonsense,' said the Princess; 'and if I can kiss him, you
can too. Besides, remember that I give you board and lodging.'
So the ladies-in-waiting had to go down to him again.
'A hundred kisses from the Princess,' said he, 'or each keeps his
'Put yourselves in front of us,' she said then; and so all the
ladies-in-waiting put themselves in front, and he began to kiss
the Princess.
'What can that commotion be by the pigsties?' asked the Emperor,
who was standing on the balcony. He rubbed his eyes and put on
his spectacles. 'Why those are the ladies-in-waiting playing
their games; I must go down to them.'
So he took off his shoes, which were shoes though he had trodden
them down into slippers. What a hurry he was in, to be sure!
As soon as he came into the yard he walked very softly, and the
ladies-in-waiting were so busy counting the kisses and seeing
fair play that they never noticed the Emperor. He stood on
'What is that?' he said, when he saw the kissing; and then he
threw one of his slippers at their heads just as the Swineherd
was taking his eighty-sixth kiss.
'Be off with you!' said the Emperor, for he was very angry. And
the Princess and the Swineherd were driven out of the empire.
Then she stood still and wept; the Swineherd was scolding, and
the rain was streaming down.
'Alas, what an unhappy creature I am!' sobbed the Princess.
'If only I had taken the beautiful Prince! Alas, how unfortunate
I am!'
And the Swineherd went behind a tree, washed the black and brown
off his face, threw away his old clothes, and then stepped
forward in his splendid dress, looking so beautiful that the
Princess was obliged to courtesy.
'I now come to this. I despise you!' he said. 'You would have
nothing to do with a noble Prince; you did not understand the
rose or the nightingale, but you could kiss the Swineherd for the
sake of a toy. This is what you get for it!' And he went into
his kingdom and shut the door in her face, and she had to stay
outside singing--
'Where's my Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here!
There was once upon a time a Prince who wanted to marry a
Princess, but she must be a true Princess. So he travelled
through the whole world to find one, but there was always
something against each. There were plenty of Princesses, but he
could not find out if they were true Princesses. In every case
there was some little defect, which showed the genuine article
was not yet found. So he came home again in very low spirits,
for he had wanted very much to have a true Princess. One night
there was a dreadful storm; it thundered and lightened and the
rain streamed down in torrents. It was fearful! There was a
knocking heard at the Palace gate, and the old King went to open
There stood a Princess outside the gate; but oh, in what a sad
plight she was from the rain and the storm! The water was
running down from her hair and her dress into the points of her
shoes and out at the heels again. And yet she said she was a
true Princess!
'Well, we shall soon find that!' thought the old Queen. But she
said nothing, and went into the sleeping-room, took off all the
bed-clothes, and laid a pea on the bottom of the bed. Then she
put twenty mattresses on top of the pea, and twenty eider-down
quilts on the top of the mattresses. And this was the bed in
which the Princess was to sleep.
The next morning she was asked how she had slept.
'Oh, very badly!' said the Princess. 'I scarcely closed my eyes
all night! I am sure I don't know what was in the bed. I laid
on something so hard that my whole body is black and blue. It is
Now they perceived that she was a true Princess, because she had
felt the pea through the twenty mattresses and the twenty
eider-down quilts.
No one but a true Princess could be so sensitive.
So the Prince married her, for now he knew that at last he had
got hold of a true Princess. And the pea was put into the Royal
Museum, where it is still to be seen if no one has stolen it.
Now this is a true story.
There were once a Scotsman and an Englishman and an Irishman
serving in the army together, who took it into their heads to run
away on the first opportunity they could get. The chance came
and they took it. They went on travelling for two days through a
great forest, without food or drink, and without coming across a
single house, and every night they had to climb up into the trees
through fear of the wild beasts that were in the wood. On the
second morning the Scotsman saw from the top of his tree a great
castle far away. He said to himself that he would certainly die
if he stayed in the forest without anything to eat but the roots
of grass, which would not keep him alive very long. As soon,
then, as he got down out of the tree he set off towards the
castle, without so much as telling his companions that he had
seen it at all; perhaps the hunger and want they had suffered had
changed their nature so much that the one did not care what
became of the other if he could save himself. He travelled on
most of the day, so that it was quite late when he reached the
castle, and to his great disappointment found nothing but closed
doors and no smoke rising from the chimneys. He thought there
was nothing for it but to die after all, and had lain down beside
the wall, when he heard a window being opened high above him. At
this he looked up, and saw the most beautiful woman he had ever
set eyes on.
'Oh, it is Fortune that has sent you to me,' he said.
'It is indeed,' said she. 'What are you in need of, or what has
sent you here?'
'Necessity,' said he. 'I am dying for want of food and drink.'
'Come inside, then,' she said; 'there is plenty of both here.'
Accordingly he went in to where she was, and she opened a large
room for him, where he saw a number of men lying asleep. She
then set food before him, and after that showed him to the room
where the others were. He lay down on one of the beds and fell
sound asleep. And now we must go back to the two that he left
behind him in the wood.
When nightfall and the time of the wild beasts came upon these,
the Englishman happened to climb up into the very same tree on
which the Scotsman was when he got a sight of the castle; and as
soon as the day began to dawn and the Englishman looked to the
four quarters of heaven, what did he see but the castle too! Off
he went without saying a word to the Irishman, and everything
happened to him just as it had done to the Scotsman.
The poor Irishman was now left all alone, and did not know where
the others had gone to, so he just stayed where he was, very sad
and miserable. When night came he climbed up into the same tree
as the Englishman had been on the night before. As soon as day
came he also saw the castle, and set out towards it; but when he
reached it he could see no signs of fire or living being about
it. Before long, however, he heard the window opened above his
head, looked up, and beheld the most beautiful woman he had ever
seen. He asked if she would give him food and drink, and she
answered kindly and heartily that she would, if he would only
come inside. This he did very willingly, and she set before him
food and drink that he had never seen the like of before. In the
room there was a bed, with diamond rings hanging at every loop of
the curtains, and everything that was in the room besides
astonished him so much that he actually forgot that he was
hungry. When she saw that he was not eating at all, she asked
him what he wanted yet, to which he replied that he would neither
eat nor drink until he knew who she was, or where she came from,
or who had put her there.
'I shall tell you that,' said she. 'I am an enchanted Princess,
and my father has promised that the man who releases me from the
spell shall have the third of his kingdom while he is alive, and
the whole of it after he is dead, and marry me as well. If ever
I saw a man who looked likely to do this, you are the one. I
have been here for sixteen years now, and no one who ever came to
the castle has asked me who I was, except yourself. Every other
man that has come, so long as I have been here, lies asleep in
the big room down there.'
'Tell me, then,' said the Irishman, 'what is the spell that has
been laid on you, and how you can be freed from it.'
'There is a little room there,' said the Princess, 'and if I
could get a man to stay in it from ten o'clock till midnight for
three nights on end I should be freed from the spell.'
'I am the man for you, then,' said he; 'I will take on hand to do
Thereupon she brought him a pipe and tobacco, and he went into
the room; but before long he heard a hammering and knocking on
the outside of the door, and was told to open it
'I won't,' he said.
The next moment the door came flying in, and those outside along
with it. They knocked him down, and kicked him, and knelt on his
body till it came to midnight; but as soon as the cock crew they
all disappeared. The Irishman was little more than alive by this
time. As soon as daylight appeared the Princess came, and found
him lying full length on the floor, unable to speak a word. She
took a bottle, rubbed him from head to foot with something from
it, and thereupon he was as sound as ever; but after what he had
got that night he was very unwilling to try it a second time.
The Princess, however, entreated him to stay, saying that the
next night would not be so bad, and in the end he gave in and
When it was getting near midnight he heard them ordering him to
open the door, and there were three of them for every one that
there had been the previous evening. He did not make the
slightest movement to go out to them or to open the door, but
before long they broke it up, and were in on top of him. They
laid hold of him, and kept throwing him between them up to the
ceiling, or jumping above him, until the cock crew, when they all
disappeared. When day came the Princess went to the room to see
if he was still alive, and taking the bottle put it to his
nostrils, which soon brought him to himself. The first thing he
said then was that he was a fool to go on getting himself killed
for anyone he ever saw, and was determined to be off and stay
there no longer, When the Princess learned his intention she
entreated him to stay, reminding him that another night would
free her from the spell. 'Besides,' she said, 'if there is a
single spark of life in you when the day comes, the stuff that is
in this bottle will make you as sound as ever you were.'
With all this the Irishman decided to stay; but that night there
were three at him for every one that was there the two nights
before, and it looked very unlikely that he would be alive in the
morning after all that he got. When morning dawned, and the
Princess came to see if he was still alive, she found him lying
on the floor as if dead. She tried to see if there was breath in
him, but could not quite make it out. Then she put her hand on
his pulse, and found a faint movement in it. Accordingly she
poured what was in the bottle on him, and before long he rose up
on his feet, and was as well as ever he was. So that business
was finished, and the Princess was freed from the spell.
The Princess then told the Irishman that she must go away for the
present, but would return for him in a few days in a carriage
drawn by four grey horses. He told her to 'be aisy,' and not
speak like that to him. 'I have paid dear for you for the last
three nights,' he said, 'if I have to part with you now;' but in
the twinkling of an eye she had disappeared. He did not know
what to do with himself when he saw that she was gone, but before
she went she had given him a little rod, with which he could,
when he pleased, waken the men who had been sleeping there, some
of them for sixteen years.
After being thus left alone, he went in and stretched himself on
three chairs that were in the room, when what does he see coming
in at the door but a little fair-haired lad.
'Where did you come from, my lad?' said the Irishman.
'I came to make ready your food for you,' said he.
'Who told you to do that?' said the Irishman.
'My mistress,' answered the lad--'the Princess that was under the
spell and is now free.'
By this the Irishman knew that she had sent the lad to wait on
him. The lad also told him that his mistress wished him to be
ready next morning at nine o'clock, when she would come for him
with the carriage, as she had promised. He was greatly pleased
at this, and next morning, when the time was drawing near, went
out into the garden; but the little fair-haired lad took a big
pin out of his pocket, and stuck it into the back of the
Irishman's coat without his noticing it, whereupon he fell sound
Before long the Princess came with the carriage and four horses,
and asked the lad whether his master was awake. He said that he
wasn't. 'It is bad for him,' said she, 'when the night is not
long enough for him to sleep. Tell him that if he doesn't meet
me at this time to-morrow it is not likely that he will ever see
me again all his life.'
As soon as she was gone the lad took the pin out of his master's
coat, who instantly awoke. The first word he said to the lad
was, 'Have you seen her?'
'Yes,' said he, 'and she bade me tell you that if you don't meet
her at nine o'clock to-morrow you will never see her again.'
He was very sorry when he heard this, and could not understand
why the sleep should have fallen upon him just when she was
coming. He decided, however, to go early to bed that night, in
order to rise in time nest morning, and so he did. When it was
getting near nine o'clock he went out to the garden to wait till
she came, and the fair-haired lad along with him; but as soon as
the lad got the chance he stuck the pin into his master's coat
again and he fell asleep as before. Precisely at nine o'clock
came the Princess in the carriage with four horses, and asked the
lad if his master had got up yet; but he said 'No, he was asleep,
just as he was the day before.' 'Dear! dear!' said the
Princess, 'I am sorry for him. Was the sleep he had last night
not enough for him? Tell him that he will never see me here
again; and here is a sword that you will give him in my name, and
my blessing along with it.'
With this she went off, and as soon as she had gone the lad took
the pin out of his master's coat. He awoke instantly, and the
first word he said was, 'Have you seen her?' The lad said that he
had, and there was the sword she had left for him. The Irishman
was ready to kill the lad out of sheer vexation, but when he gave
a glance over his shoulder not a trace of the fair-haired lad was
Being thus left all alone, he thought of going into the room
where all the men were lying asleep, and there among the rest he
found his two comrades who had deserted along with him. Then he
remembered what the Princess had told him--that he had only to
touch them with the rod she had given him and they would all
awake; and the first he touched were his own comrades. They
started to their feet at once, and he gave them as much silver
and gold as they could carry when they went away. There was
plenty to do before he got all the others wakened, for the two
doors of the castle were crowded with them all the day long.
The loss of the Princess, however, kept rankling in his mind day
and night, till finally he thought he would go about the world to
see if he could find anyone to give him news of her. So he took
the best horse in the stable and set out. Three years he spent
travelling through forests and wildernesses, but could find no
one able to tell him anything of the Princess. At last he fell
into so great despair that he thought he would put an end to his
own life, and for this purpose laid hold of the sword that she
had given him by the hands of the fair-haired lad; but on drawing
it from its sheath he noticed that there was some writing on one
side of the blade. He looked at this, and read there, 'You will
find me in the Blue Mountains.' This made him take heart again,
and he gave up the idea of killing himself, thinking that he
would go on in hope of meeting some one who could tell him where
the Blue Mountains were. After he had gone a long way without
thinking where he was going, he saw at last a light far away, and
made straight for it. On reaching it he found it came from a
little house, and as soon as the man inside heard the noise of
the horse's feet he came out to see who was there. Seeing a
stranger on horseback, he asked what brought him there and where
he was going.
'I have lived here,' said he, 'for three hundred years, and all
that time I have not seen a single human being but yourself.'
'I have been going about for the last three years,' said the
Irishman, 'to see if I could find anyone who can tell me where
the Blue Mountains are.'
'Come in,' said the old man, 'and stay with me all night. I have
a book which contains the history of the world, which I shall go
through to-night, and if there is such a place as the Blue
Mountains in it we shall find it out.'
The Irishman stayed there all night, and as soon as morning came
rose to go. The old man said he had not gone to sleep all night
for going through the book, but there was not a word about the
Blue Mountains in it. 'But I'll tell you what,' he said, 'if
there is such a place on earth at all, I have a brother who lives
nine hundred miles from here, and he is sure to know where they
are, if anyone in this world does.' The Irishman answered that
he could never go these nine hundred miles, for his horse was
giving in already. 'That doesn't matter,' said the old man; 'I
can do better than that. I have only to blow my whistle and you
will be at my brother's house before nightfall.'
So he blew the whistle, and the Irishman did not know where on
earth he was until he found himself at the other old man's door,
who also told him that it was three hundred years since he had
seen anyone, and asked him where he was going.
'I am going to see if I can find anyone that can tell me where
the Blue Mountains are,' he said.
'If you will stay with me to-night,' said the old man, 'I have a
book of the history of the world, and I shall know where they are
before daylight, if there is such a place in it at all.'
He stayed there all night, but there was not a word in the book
about the Blue Mountains. Seeing that he was rather cast down,
the old man told him that he had a brother nine hundred miles
away, and that if information could be got about them from anyone
it would be from him; 'and I will enable you,' he said, 'to reach
the place where he lives before night.' So he blew his whistle,
and the Irishman landed at the brother's house before nightfall.
When the old man saw him he said he had not seen a single man for
three hundred years, and was very much surprised to see anyone
come to him now.
'Where are you going to?' he said.
'I am going about asking for the Blue Mountains,' said the
'The Blue Mountains?' said the old man.
'Yes,' said the Irishman.
'I never heard the name before; but if they do exist I shall find
them out. I am master of all the birds in the world, and have
only to blow my whistle and every one will come to me. I shall
then ask each of them to tell where it came from, and if there is
any way of finding out the Blue Mountains that is it.'
So he blew his whistle, and when he blew it then all the birds of
the world began to gather. The old man questioned each of them
as to where they had come from, but there was not one of them
that had come from the Blue Mountains. After he had run over
them all, however, he missed a big Eagle that was wanting, and
wondered that it had not come. Soon afterwards he saw something
big coming towards him, darkening the sky. It kept coming nearer
and growing bigger, and what was this after all but the Eagle?
When she arrived the old man scolded her, and asked what had kept
her so long behind.
'I couldn't help it,' she said; 'I had more than twenty times
further to come than any bird that has come here to-day.'
'Where have you come from, then?' said the old man.
'From the Blue Mountains,' said she.
'Indeed!' said the old man; and what are they doing there?'
'They are making ready this very day,' said the Eagle, 'for the
marriage of the daughter of the King of the Blue Mountains. For
three years now she has refused to marry anyone whatsoever, until
she should give up all hope of the coming of the man who released
her from the spell. Now she can wait no longer, for three years
is the time that she agreed with her father to remain without
The Irishman knew that it was for himself she had been waiting so
long, but he was unable to make any better of it, for he had no
hope of reaching the Blue Mountains all his life. The old man
noticed how sad he grew, and asked the Eagle what she would take
for carrying this man on her back to the Blue Mountains.
'I must have threescore cattle killed,' said she, 'and cut up
into quarters, and every time I look over my shoulder he must
throw one of them into my mouth.'
As soon as the Irishman and the old man heard her demand they
went out hunting, and before evening they had killed three-score
cattle. They made quarters of them, as the Eagle told them, and
then the old man asked her to lie down, till they would get it
all heaped up on her back. First of all, though, they had to get
a ladder of fourteen steps, to enable them to get on to the
Eagle's back, and there they piled up the meat as well as they
could. Then the old man told the Irishman to mount, and to
remember to throw a quarter of beef to her every time she looked
round. He went up, and the old man gave the Eagle the word to be
off, which she instantly obeyed; and every time she turned her
head the Irishman threw a quarter of beef into her mouth.
As they came near the borders of the kingdom of the Blue
Mountains, however, the beef was done, and, when the Eagle looked
over her shoulder, what was the Irishman at but throwing the
stone between her tail and her neck! At this she turned a
complete somersault, and threw the Irishman off into the sea,
where he fell into the bay that was right in front of the King's
Palace. Fortunately the points of his toes just touched the
bottom, and he managed to get ashore.
When he went up into the town all the streets were gleaming with
light, and the wedding of the Princess was just about to begin.
He went into the first house he came to, and this happened to be
the house of the King's hen-wife. He asked the old woman what
was causing all the noise and light in the town.
'The Princess,' said she, 'is going to be married to-night
against her will, for she has been expecting every day that the
man who freed her from the spell would come.'
'There is a guinea for you,' said he; 'go and bring her here.'
The old woman went, and soon returned along with the Princess.
She and the Irishman recognised each other, and were married, and
had a great wedding that lasted for a year and a day.
A soldier came marching along the high road--left, right! A
left, right! He had his knapsack on his back and a sword by his
side, for he had been to the wars and was now returning home.
An old Witch met him on the road. She was very ugly to look at:
her under-lip hung down to her breast.
'Good evening, Soldier!' she said. 'What a fine sword and
knapsack you have! You are something like a soldier! You ought
to have as much money as you would like to carry!'
'Thank you, old Witch,' said the Soldier.
'Do you see that great tree there?' said the Witch, pointing to a
tree beside them. 'It is hollow within. You must climb up to
the top, and then you will see a hole through which you can let
yourself down into the tree. I will tie a rope round your waist,
so that I may be able to pull you up again when you call.'
'What shall I do down there?' asked the Soldier.
'Get money!' answered the Witch. 'Listen! When you reach the
bottom of the tree you will find yourself in a large hall; it is
light there, for there are more than three hundred lamps burning.
Then you will see three doors, which you can open--the keys are
in the locks. If you go into the first room, you will see a
great chest in the middle of the floor with a dog sitting upon
it; he has eyes as large as saucers, but you needn't trouble
about him. I will give you my blue-check apron, which you must
spread out on the floor, and then go back quickly and fetch the
dog and set him upon it; open the chest and take as much money as
you like. It is copper there. If you would rather have silver,
you must go into the next room, where there is a dog with eyes as
large as mill-wheels. But don't take any notice of him; just
set him upon my apron, and help yourself to the money. If you
prefer gold, you can get that too, if you go into the third room,
and as much as you like to carry. But the dog that guards the
chest there has eyes as large as the Round Tower at Copenhagen!
He is a savage dog, I can tell you; but you needn't be afraid of
him either. Only, put him on my apron and he won't touch you,
and you can take out of the chest as much gold as you like!'
'Come, this is not bad!' said the Soldier. 'But what am I to
give you, old Witch; for surely you are not going to do this for
'Yes, I am!' replied the Witch. 'Not a single farthing will I
take! For me you shall bring nothing but an old tinder-box which
my grandmother forgot last time she was down there.'
'Well, tie the rope round my waist! 'said the Soldier.
'Here it is,' said the Witch, 'and here is my blue-check apron.'
Then the Soldier climbed up the tree, let himself down through
the hole, and found himself standing, as the Witch had said,
underground in the large hall, where the three hundred lamps were
Well, he opened the first door. Ugh! there sat the dog with
eyes as big as saucers glaring at him.
'You are a fine fellow!' said the Soldier, and put him on the
Witch's apron, took as much copper as his pockets could hold;
then he shut the chest, put the dog on it again, and went into
the second room. Sure enough there sat the dog with eyes as
large as mill-wheels.
'You had better not look at me so hard!' said the Soldier. 'Your
eyes will come out of their sockets!'
And then he set the dog on the apron. When he saw all the silver
in the chest, he threw away the copper he had taken, and filled
his pockets and knapsack with nothing but silver.
Then he went into the third room. Horrors! the dog there had
two eyes, each as large as the Round Tower at Copenhagen,
spinning round in his head like wheels.
'Good evening!' said the Soldier and saluted, for he had never
seen a dog like this before. But when he had examined him more
closely, he thought to himself: 'Now then, I've had enough of
this!' and put him down on the floor, and opened the chest.
Heavens! what a heap of gold there was! With all that he could
buy up the whole town, and all the sugar pigs, all the tin
soldiers, whips and rocking-horses in the whole world. Now he
threw away all the silver with which he had filled his pockets
and knapsack, and filled them with gold instead--yes, all his
pockets, his knapsack, cap and boots even, so that he could
hardly walk. Now he was rich indeed. He put the dog back upon
the chest, shut the door, and then called up through the tree:
'Now pull me up again, old Witch!'
'Have you got the tinder-box also?' asked the Witch.
'Botheration!' said the Soldier, 'I had clean forgotten it!' And
then he went back and fetched it.
The Witch pulled him up, and there he stood again on the high
road, with pockets, knapsack, cap and boots filled with gold.
'What do you want to do with the tinder-box?' asked the Soldier.
'That doesn't matter to you,' replied the Witch. 'You have got
your money, give me my tinder-box.'
'We'll see!' said the Soldier. 'Tell me at once what you want to
do with it, or I will draw my sword, and cut off your head!'
'No!' screamed the Witch.
The Soldier immediately cut off her head. That was the end of
her! But he tied up all his gold in her apron, slung it like a
bundle over his shoulder, put the tinder-box in his pocket, and
set out towards the town.
It was a splendid town! He turned into the finest inn, ordered
the best chamber and his favourite dinner; for now that he had so
much money he was really rich.
It certainly occurred to the servant who had to clean his boots
that they were astonishingly old boots for such a rich lord. But
that was because he had not yet bought new ones; next day he
appeared in respectable boots and fine clothes. Now, instead of
a common soldier he had become a noble lord, and the people told
him about all the grand doings of the town and the King, and what
a beautiful Princess his daughter was.
'How can one get to see her?' asked the Soldier.
'She is never to be seen at all!' they told him; 'she lives in a
great copper castle, surrounded by many walls and towers! No one
except the King may go in or out, for it is prophesied that she
will marry a common soldier, and the King cannot submit to that.'
'I should very much like to see her,' thought the Soldier; but he
could not get permission.
Now he lived very gaily, went to the theatre, drove in the King's
garden, and gave the poor a great deal of money, which was very
nice of him; he had experienced in former times how hard it is
not to have a farthing in the world. Now he was rich, wore fine
clothes, and made many friends, who all said that he was an
excellent man, a real nobleman. And the Soldier liked that. But
as he was always spending money, and never made any more, at last
the day came when he had nothing left but two shillings, and he
had to leave the beautiful rooms in which he had been living, and
go into a little attic under the roof, and clean his own boots,
and mend them with a darning-needle. None of his friends came to
visit him there, for there were too many stairs to climb.
It was a dark evening, and he could not even buy a light. But
all at once it flashed across him that there was a little end of
tinder in the tinder-box, which he had taken from the hollow tree
into which the Witch had helped him down. He found the box with
the tinder in it; but just as he was kindling a light, and had
struck a spark out of the tinder-box, the door burst open, and
the dog with eyes as large as saucers, which he had seen down in
the tree, stood before him and said:
'What does my lord command?'
'What's the meaning of this?' exclaimed the Soldier. 'This is a
pretty kind of tinder-box, if I can get whatever I want like
this. Get me money!' he cried to the dog, and hey, presto! he
was off and back again, holding a great purse full of money in
his mouth.
Now the Soldier knew what a capital tinder-box this was. If he
rubbed once, the dog that sat on the chest of copper appeared; if
he rubbed twice, there came the dog that watched over the silver
chest; and if he rubbed three times, the one that guarded the
gold appeared. Now, the Soldier went down again to his beautiful
rooms, and appeared once more in splendid clothes. All his
friends immediately recognised him again, and paid him great
One day he thought to himself: 'It is very strange that no one
can get to see the Princess. They all say she is very pretty,
but what's the use of that if she has to sit for ever in the
great copper castle with all the towers? Can I not manage to see
her somehow? Where is my tinder-box?' and so he struck a spark,
and, presto! there came the dog with eyes as large as saucers.
'It is the middle of the night, I know,' said the Soldier; 'but I
should very much like to see the Princess for a moment.'
The dog was already outside the door, and before the Soldier
could look round, in he came with the Princess. She was lying
asleep on the dog's back, and was so beautiful that anyone could
see she was a real Princess. The Soldier really could not
refrain from kissing her--he was such a thorough Soldier. Then
the dog ran back with the Princess. But when it was morning, and
the King and Queen were drinking tea, the Princess said that the
night before she had had such a strange dream about a dog and a
Soldier: she had ridden on the dog's back, and the Soldier had
kissed her.
'That is certainly a fine story,' said the Queen. But the next
night one of the ladies-in-waiting was to watch at the Princess's
bed, to see if it was only a dream, or if it had actually
The Soldier had an overpowering longing to see the Princess
again, and so the dog came in the middle of the night and fetched
her, running as fast as he could. But the lady-in-waiting
slipped on indiarubber shoes and followed them. When she saw
them disappear into a large house, she thought to herself: 'Now I
know where it is; 'and made a great cross on the door with a
piece of chalk. Then she went home and lay down, and the dog
came back also, with the Princess. But when he saw that a cross
had been made on the door of the house where the Soldier lived,
he took a piece of chalk also, and made crosses on all the doors
in the town; and that was very clever, for now the
lady-in-waiting could not find the right house, as there were
crosses on all the doors.
Early next morning the King, Queen, ladies-in-waiting, and
officers came out to see where the Princess had been.
'There it is!' said the King, when he saw the first door with a
cross on it.
'No, there it is, my dear!' said the Queen, when she likewise saw
a door with a cross.
'But here is one, and there is another!' they all exclaimed;
wherever they looked there was a cross on the door. Then they
realised that the sign would not help them at all.
But the Queen was an extremely clever woman, who could do a great
deal more than just drive in a coach. She took her great golden
scissors, cut up a piece of silk, and made a pretty little bag of
it. This she filled with the finest buckwheat grains, and tied
it round the Princess' neck; this done, she cut a little hole in
the bag, so that the grains would strew the whole road wherever
the Princess went.
In the night the dog came again, took the Princess on his back
and ran away with her to the Soldier, who was very much in love
with her, and would have liked to have been a Prince, so that he
might have had her for his wife.
The dog did not notice how the grains were strewn right from the
castle to the Soldier's window, where he ran up the wall with the
In the morning the King and the Queen saw plainly where their
daughter had been, and they took the Soldier and put him into
There he sat. Oh, how dark and dull it was there! And they told
him: 'To-morrow you are to be hanged.' Hearing that did not
exactly cheer him, and he had left his tinder-box in the inn.
Next morning he could see through the iron grating in front of
his little window how the people were hurrying out of the town to
see him hanged. He heard the drums and saw the soldiers
marching; all the people were running to and fro. Just below his
window was a shoemaker's apprentice, with leather apron and
shoes; he was skipping along so merrily that one of his shoes
flew off and fell against the wall, just where the Soldier was
sitting peeping through the iron grating.
'Oh, shoemaker's boy, you needn't be in such a hurry!' said the
Soldier to him. 'There's nothing going on till I arrive. But if
you will run back to the house where I lived, and fetch me my
tinder-box, I will give you four shillings. But you must put
your best foot foremost.'
The shoemaker's boy was very willing to earn four shillings, and
fetched the tinder-box, gave it to the Soldier, and--yes--now you
shall hear.
Outside the town a great scaffold had been erected, and all round
were standing the soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of people.
The King and Queen were sitting on a magnificent throne opposite
the judges and the whole council.
The Soldier was already standing on the top of the ladder; but
when they wanted to put the rope round his neck, he said that the
fulfilment of one innocent request was always granted to a poor
criminal before he underwent his punishment. He would so much
like to smoke a small pipe of tobacco; it would be his last pipe
in this world.
The King could not refuse him this, and so he took out his
tinder-box, and rubbed it once, twice, three times. And lo, and
behold I there stood all three dogs--the one with eyes as large
as saucers, the second with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the
third with eyes each as large as the Round Tower of Copenhagen.
'Help me now, so that I may not be hanged!' cried the Soldier.
And thereupon the dogs fell upon the judges and the whole
council, seized some by the legs, others by the nose, and threw
them so high into the air that they fell and were smashed into
'I won't stand this!' said the King; but the largest dog seized
him too, and the Queen as well, and threw them up after the
others. This frightened the soldiers, and all the people cried:
'Good Soldier, you shall be our King, and marry the beautiful
Then they put the Soldier into the King's coach, and the three
dogs danced in front, crying 'Hurrah!' And the boys whistled and
the soldiers presented arms.
The Princess came out of the copper castle, and became Queen; and
that pleased her very much.
The wedding festivities lasted for eight days, and the dogs sat
at table and made eyes at everyone.
[31] From the Icelandic.
There were once a King and a Queen, and they had a son called
Sigurd, who was very strong and active, and good-looking. When
the King came to be bowed down with the weight of years he spoke
to his son, and said that now it was time for him to look out for
a fitting match for himself, for he did not know how long he
might last now, and he would like to see him married before he
Sigurd was not averse to this, and asked his father where he
thought it best to look for a wife. The King answered that in a
certain country there was a King who had a beautiful daughter,
and he thought it would be most desirable if Sigurd could get
her. So the two parted, and Sigurd prepared for the journey, and
went to where his father had directed him.
He came to the King and asked his daughter's hand, which he
readily granted him, but only on the condition that he should
remain there as long as he could, for the King himself was not
strong and not very able to govern his kingdom. Sigurd accepted
this condition, but added that he would have to get leave to go
home again to his own country when he heard news of his father's
death. After that Sigurd married the Princess, and helped his
father-in- law to govern the kingdom. He and the Princess loved
each other dearly, and after a year a son came to them, who was
two years old when word came to Sigurd that his father was dead.
Sigurd now prepared to return home with his wife and child, and
went on board ship to go by sea.
They had sailed for several days, when the breeze suddenly fell,
and there came a dead calm, at a time when they needed only one
day's voyage to reach home. Sigurd and his Queen were one day on
deck, when most of the others on the ship had fallen asleep.
There they sat and talked for a while, and had their little son
along with them. After a time Sigurd became so heavy with sleep
that he could no longer keep awake, so he went below and lay
down, leaving the Queen alone on the deck, playing with her son.
A good while after Sigurd had gone below the Queen saw something
black on the sea, which seemed to be coming nearer. As it
approached she could make out that it was a boat, and could see
the figure of some one sitting in it and rowing it. At last the
boat came alongside the ship, and now the Queen saw that it was a
stone boat, out of which there came up on board the ship a
fearfully ugly Witch. The Queen was more frightened than words
can describe, and could neither speak a word nor move from the
place so as to awaken the King or the sailors. The Witch came
right up to the Queen, took the child from her and laid it on the
deck; then she took the Queen, and stripped her of all her fine
clothes, which she proceeded to put on herself, and looked then
like a human being. Last of all she took the Queen, put her into
the boat, and said--
'This spell I lay upon you, that you slacken not your course
until you come to my brother in the Underworld.'
The Queen sat stunned and motionless, but the boat at once shot
away from the ship with her, and before long she was out of
When the boat could no longer be seen the child began to cry, and
though the Witch tried to quiet it she could not manage it; so
she went below to where the King was sleeping with the child on
her arm, and awakened him, scolding him for leaving them alone on
deck, while he and all the crew were asleep. It was great
carelessness of him, she said, to leave no one to watch the ship
with her.
Sigurd was greatly surprised to hear his Queen scold him so much,
for she had never said an angry word to him before; but he
thought it was quite excusable in this case, and tried to quiet
the child along with her, but it was no use. Then he went and
wakened the sailors, and bade them hoist the sails, for a breeze
had sprung up and was blowing straight towards the harbour.
They soon reached the land which Sigurd was to rule over, and
found all the people sorrowful for the old King's death, but they
became glad when they got Sigurd back to the Court, and made him
King over them.
The King's son, however, hardly ever stopped crying from the time
he had been taken from his mother on the deck of the ship,
although he had always been such a good child before, so that at
last the King had to get a nurse for him--one of the maids of the
Court. As soon as the child got into her charge he stopped
crying, and behaved well as before.
After the sea-voyage it seemed to the King that the Queen had
altered very much in many ways, and not for the better. He
thought her much more haughty and stubborn and difficult to deal
with than she used to be. Before long others began to notice
this as well as the King. In the Court there were two young
fellows, one of eighteen years old, the other of nineteen, who
were very fond of playing chess, and often sat long inside
playing at it. Their room was next the Queen's, and often during
the day they heard the Queen talking.
One day they paid more attention than usual when they heard her
talk, and put their ears close to a crack in the wall between the
rooms, and heard the Queen say quite plainly, 'When I yawn a
little, then I am a nice little maiden; when I yawn half-way,
then I am half a troll; and when I yawn fully, then I am a troll
As she said this she yawned tremendously, and in a moment had put
on the appearance of a fearfully ugly troll. Then there came up
through the floor of the room a three-headed Giant with a trough
full of meat, who saluted her as his sister and set down the
trough before her. She began to eat out of it, and never stopped
till she had finished it. The young fellows saw all this going
on, but did not hear the two of them say anything to each other.
They were astonished though at how greedily the Queen devoured
the meat, and how much she ate of it, and were no longer
surprised that she took so little when she sat at table with the
King. As soon as she had finished it the Giant disappeared with
the trough by the same way as he had come, and the Queen returned
to her human shape.
Now we must go back to the King's son after he had been put in
charge of the nurse. One evening, after she had lit a candle and
was holding the child, several planks sprang up in the floor of
the room, and out at the opening came a beautiful woman dressed
in white, with an iron belt round her waist, to which was
fastened an iron chain that went down into the ground. The woman
came up to the nurse, took the child from her, and pressed it to
her breast; then she gave it back to the nurse and returned by
the same way as she had come, and the floor closed over her
again. Although the woman had not spoken a single word to her,
the nurse was very much frightened, but told no one about it.
Next evening the same thing happened again, just as before, but
as the woman was going away she said in a sad tone, 'Two are
gone, and one only is left,' and then disappeared as before. The
nurse was still more frightened when she heard the woman say
this, and thought that perhaps some danger was hanging over the
child, though she had no ill-opinion of the unknown woman, who,
indeed, had behaved towards the child as if it were her own. The
most mysterious thing was the woman saying 'and only one is
left;' but the nurse guessed that this must mean that only one
day was left, since she had come for two days already.
At last the nurse made up her mind to go to the King, and told
him the whole story, and asked him to be present in person next
day about the time when the woman usually came. The King
promised to do so, and came to the nurse's room a little before
the time, and sat down on a chair with his drawn sword in his
hand. Soon after the planks in the floor sprang up as before,
and the woman came up, dressed in white, with the iron belt and
chain. The King saw at once that it was his own Queen, and
immediately hewed asunder the iron chain that was fastened to the
belt. This was followed by such noises and crashings down in the
earth that all the King's Palace shook, so that no one expected
anything else than to see every bit of it shaken to pieces. At
last, however, the noises and shaking stopped, and they began to
come to themselves again.
The King and Queen embraced each other, and she told him the
whole story--how the Witch came to the ship when they were all
asleep and sent her off in the boat. After she had gone so far
that she could not see the ship, she sailed on through darkness
until she landed beside a three-headed Giant. The Giant wished
her to marry him, but she refused; whereupon he shut her up by
herself, and told her she would never get free until she
consented. After a time she began to plan how to get her
freedom, and at last told him that she would consent if he would
allow her to visit her son on earth three days on end. This he
agreed to, but put on her this iron belt and chain, the other end
of which he fastened round his own waist, and the great noises
that were heard when the King cut the chain must have been caused
by the Giant's falling down the underground passage when the
chain gave way so suddenly. The Giant's dwelling, indeed, was
right under the Palace, and the terrible shakings must have been
caused by him in his death-throes.
The King now understood how the Queen he had had for some time
past had been so ill-tempered. He at once had a sack drawn over
her head and made her be stoned to death, and after that torn in
pieces by untamed horses. The two young fellows also told now
what they had heard and seen in the Queen's room, for before this
they had been afraid to say anything about it, on account of the
Queen's power.
The real Queen was now restored to all her dignity, and was
beloved by all. The nurse was married to a nobleman, and the
King and Queen gave her splendid presents.
There was once a woman who wanted to have quite a tiny, little
child, but she did not know where to get one from. So one day
she went to an old Witch and said to her: 'I should so much like
to have a tiny, little child; can you tell me where I can get
'Oh, we have just got one ready!' said the Witch. 'Here is a
barley-corn for you, but it's not the kind the farmer sows in his
field, or feeds the cocks and hens with, I can tell you. Put it
in a flower-pot, and then you will see something happen.'
'Oh, thank you!' said the woman, and gave the Witch a shilling,
for that was what it cost. Then she went home and planted the
barley-corn; immediately there grew out of it a large and
beautiful flower, which looked like a tulip, but the petals were
tightly closed as if it were still only a bud.
'What a beautiful flower!' exclaimed the woman, and she kissed
the red and yellow petals; but as she kissed them the flower
burst open. It was a real tulip, such as one can see any day;
but in the middle of the blossom, on the green velvety petals,
sat a little girl, quite tiny, trim, and pretty. She was
scarcely half a thumb in height; so they called her Thumbelina.
An elegant polished walnut-shell served Thumbelina as a cradle,
the blue petals of a violet were her mattress, and a rose-leaf
her coverlid. There she lay at night, but in the day-time she
used to play about on the table; here the woman had put a bowl,
surrounded by a ring of flowers, with their stalks in water, in
the middle of which floated a great tulip pedal, and on this
Thumbelina sat, and sailed from one side of the bowl to the
other, rowing herself with two white horse-hairs for oars. It
was such a pretty sight! She could sing, too, with a voice more
soft and sweet than had ever been heard before.
One night, when she was lying in her pretty little bed, an old
toad crept in through a broken pane in the window. She was very
ugly, clumsy, and clammy; she hopped on to the table where
Thumbelina lay asleep under the red rose-leaf.
'This would make a beautiful wife for my son,' said the toad,
taking up the walnut-shell, with Thumbelina inside, and hopping
with it through the window into the garden.
There flowed a great wide stream, with slippery and marshy banks;
here the toad lived with her son. Ugh! how ugly and clammy he
was, just like his mother! 'Croak, croak, croak!' was all he
could say when he saw the pretty little girl in the walnutshell.
'Don't talk so load, or you'll wake her,' said the old toad.
'She might escape us even now; she is as light as a feather. We
will put her at once on a broad water-lily leaf in the stream.
That will be quite an island for her; she is so small and light.
She can't run away from us there, whilst we are preparing the
guest-chamber under the marsh where she shall live.'
Outside in the brook grew many water-lilies, with broad green
leaves, which looked as if they were swimming about on the water.
The leaf farthest away was the largest, and to this the old toad
swam with Thumbelina in her walnut-shell.
The tiny Thumbelina woke up very early in the morning, and when
she saw where she was she began to cry bitterly; for on every
side of the great green leaf was water, and she could not get to
the land.
The old toad was down under the marsh, decorating her room with
rushes and yellow marigold leaves, to make it very grand for her
new daughter-in-law; then she swam out with her ugly son to the
leaf where Thumbelina lay. She wanted to fetch the pretty cradle
to put it into her room before Thumbelina herself came there.
The old toad bowed low in the water before her, and said: 'Here
is my son; you shall marry him, and live in great magnificence
down under the marsh.'
'Croak, croak, croak!' was all that the son could say. Then they
took the neat little cradle and swam away with it; but Thumbelina
sat alone on the great green leaf and wept, for she did not want
to live with the clammy toad, or marry her ugly son. The little
fishes swimming about under the water had seen the toad quite
plainly, and heard what she had said; so they put up their heads
to see the little girl. When they saw her, they thought her so
pretty that they were very sorry she should go down with the ugly
toad to live. No; that must not happen. They assembled in the
water round the green stalk which supported the leaf on which she
was sitting, and nibbled the stem in two. Away floated the leaf
down the stream, bearing Thumbelina far beyond the reach of the
On she sailed past several towns, and the little birds sitting in
the bushes saw her, and sang, 'What a pretty little girl!' The
leaf floated farther and farther away; thus Thumbelina left her
native land.
A beautiful little white butterfly fluttered above her, and at
last settled on the leaf. Thumbelina pleased him, and she, too,
was delighted, for now the toads could not reach her, and it was
so beautiful where she was travelling; the sun shone on the water
and made it sparkle like the brightest silver. She took off her
sash, and tied one end round the butterfly; the other end she
fastened to the leaf, so that now it glided along with her faster
than ever.
A great cockchafer came flying past; he caught sight of
Thumbelina, and in a moment had put his arms round her slender
waist, and had flown off with her to a tree. The green leaf
floated away down the stream, and the butterfly with it, for he
was fastened to the leaf and could not get loose from it. Oh,
dear! how terrified poor little Thumbelina was when the
cockchafer flew off with her to the tree! But she was especially
distressed on the beautiful white butterfly's account, as she had
tied him fast, so that if he could not get away he must starve to
death. But the cockchafer did not trouble himself about that; he
sat down with her on a large green leaf, gave her the honey out
of the flowers to eat, and told her that she was very pretty,
although she wasn't in the least like a cockchafer. Later on,
all the other cockchafers who lived in the same tree came to pay
calls; they examined Thumbelina closely, and remarked, 'Why, she
has only two legs! How very miserable!'
'She has no feelers!' cried another.
'How ugly she is!' said all the lady chafers--and yet Thumbelina
was really very pretty.
The cockchafer who had stolen her knew this very well; but when
he heard all the ladies saying she was ugly, he began to think so
too, and would not keep her; she might go wherever she liked. So
he flew down from the tree with her and put her on a daisy.
There she sat and wept, because she was so ugly that the
cockchafer would have nothing to do with her; and yet she was the
most beautiful creature imaginable, so soft and delicate, like
the loveliest rose-leaf.
The whole summer poor little Thumbelina lived alone in the great
wood. She plaited a bed for herself of blades of grass, and hung
it up under a clover-leaf, so that she was protected from the
rain; she gathered honey from the flowers for food, and drank the
dew on the leaves every morning. Thus the summer and autumn
passed, but then came winter--the long, cold winter. All the
birds who had sung so sweetly about her had flown away; the trees
shed their leaves, the flowers died; the great clover-leaf under
which she had lived curled up, and nothing remained of it but the
withered stalk. She was terribly cold, for her clothes were
ragged, and she herself was so small and thin. Poor little
Thumbelina! she would surely be frozen to death. It began to
snow, and every snow-flake that fell on her was to her as a whole
shovelful thrown on one of us, for we are so big, and she was
only an inch high. She wrapt herself round in a dead leaf, but
it was torn in the middle and gave her no warmth; she was
trembling with cold.
Just outside the wood where she was now living lay a great
corn-field. But the corn had been gone a long time; only the
dry, bare stubble was left standing in the frozen ground. This
made a forest for her to wander about in. All at once she came
across the door of a field-mouse, who had a little hole under a
corn-stalk. There the mouse lived warm and snug, with a
store-room full of corn, a splendid kitchen and dining-room.
Poor little Thumbelina went up to the door and begged for a
little piece of barley, for she had not had anything to eat for
the last two days.
'Poor little creature!' said the field-mouse, for she was a kindhearted
old thing at the bottom. 'Come into my warm room and
have some dinner with me.'
As Thumbelina pleased her, she said: 'As far as I am concerned
you may spend the winter with me; but you must keep my room clean
and tidy, and tell me stories, for I like that very much.'
And Thumbelina did all that the kind old field-mouse asked, and
did it remarkably well too.
'Now I am expecting a visitor,' said the field-mouse; 'my
neighbour comes to call on me once a week. He is in better
circumstances than I am, has great, big rooms, and wears a fine
black-velvet coat. If you could only marry him, you would be
well provided for. But he is blind. You must tell him all the
prettiest stories you know.'
But Thumbelina did not trouble her head about him, for he was
only a mole. He came and paid them a visit in his black-velvet
'He is so rich and so accomplished,' the field-mouse told her.
'His house is twenty times larger than mine; he possesses great
knowledge, but he cannot bear the sun and the beautiful flowers,
and speaks slightingly of them, for he has never seen them.'
Thumbelina had to sing to him, so she sang 'Lady-bird, ladybird,
fly away home!' and other songs so prettily that the mole
fell in love with her; but he did not say anything, he was a very
cautious man. A short time before he had dug a long passage
through the ground from his own house to that of his neighbour;
in this he gave the field-mouse and Thumbelina permission to walk
as often as they liked. But he begged them not to be afraid of
the dead bird that lay in the passage: it was a real bird with
beak and feathers, and must have died a little time ago, and now
laid buried just where he had made his tunnel. The mole took a
piece of rotten wood in his mouth, for that glows like fire in
the dark, and went in front, lighting them through the long dark
passage. When they came to the place where the dead bird lay,
the mole put his broad nose against the ceiling and pushed a hole
through, so that the daylight could shine down. In the middle of
the path lay a dead swallow, his pretty wings pressed close to
his sides, his claws and head drawn under his feathers; the poor
bird had evidently died of cold. Thumbelina was very sorry, for
she was very fond of all little birds; they had sung and
twittered so beautifully to her all through the summer. But the
mole kicked him with his bandy legs and said:
'Now he can't sing any more! It must be very miserable to be a
little bird! I'm thankful that none of my little children are;
birds always starve in winter.'
'Yes, you speak like a sensible man,' said the field-mouse.
'What has a bird, in spite of all his singing, in the
winter-time? He must starve and freeze, and that must be very
pleasant for him, I must say!'
Thumbelina did not say anything; but when the other two had
passed on she bent down to the bird, brushed aside the feathers
from his head, and kissed his closed eyes gently. 'Perhaps it
was he that sang to me so prettily in the summer,' she thought.
'How much pleasure he did give me, dear little bird!'
The mole closed up the hole again which let in the light, and
then escorted the ladies home. But Thumbelina could not sleep
that night; so she got out of bed, and plaited a great big
blanket of straw, and carried it off, and spread it over the dead
bird, and piled upon it thistle-down as soft as cotton-wool,
which she had found in the field-mouse's room, so that the poor
little thing should lie warmly buried.
'Farewell, pretty little bird!' she said. 'Farewell, and thank
you for your beautiful songs in the summer, when the trees were
green, and the sun shone down warmly on us!' Then she laid her
head against the bird's heart. But the bird was not dead: he had
been frozen, but now that she had warmed him, he was coming to
life again.
In autumn the swallows fly away to foreign lands; but there are
some who are late in starting, and then they get so cold that
they drop down as if dead, and the snow comes and covers them
Thumbelina trembled, she was so frightened; for the bird was very
large in comparison with herself--only an inch high. But she
took courage, piled up the down more closely over the poor
swallow, fetched her own coverlid and laid it over his head.
Next night she crept out again to him. There he was alive, but
very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment and look at
Thumbelina, who was standing in front of him with a piece of
rotten wood in her hand, for she had no other lantern.
'Thank you, pretty little child!' said the swallow to her. 'I am
so beautifully warm! Soon I shall regain my strength, and then I
shall be able to fly out again into the warm sunshine.'
'Oh!' she said, 'it is very cold outside; it is snowing and
freezing! stay in your warm bed; I will take care of you!'
Then she brought him water in a petal, which he drank, after
which he related to her how he had torn one of his wings on a
bramble, so that he could not fly as fast as the other swallows,
who had flown far away to warmer lands. So at last he had
dropped down exhausted, and then he could remember no more. The
whole winter he remained down there, and Thumbelina looked after
him and nursed him tenderly. Neither the mole nor the
field-mouse learnt anything of this, for they could not bear the
poor swallow.
When the spring came, and the sun warmed the earth again, the
swallow said farewell to Thumbelina, who opened the hole in the
roof for him which the mole had made. The sun shone brightly
down upon her, and the swallow asked her if she would go with
him; she could sit upon his back. Thumbelina wanted very much to
fly far away into the green wood, but she knew that the old
field-mouse would be sad if she ran away. 'No, I mustn't come!'
she said.
'Farewell, dear good little girl!' said the swallow, and flew off
into the sunshine. Thumbelina gazed after him with the tears
standing in her eyes, for she was very fond of the swallow.
'Tweet, tweet!' sang the bird, and flew into the green wood.
Thumbelina was very unhappy. She was not allowed to go out into
the warm sunshine. The corn which had been sowed in the field
over the field-mouse's home grew up high into the air, and made a
thick forest for the poor little girl, who was only an inch high.
'Now you are to be a bride, Thumbelina!' said the field-mouse,
'for our neighbour has proposed for you! What a piece of fortune
for a poor child like you! Now you must set to work at your
linen for your dowry, for nothing must be lacking if you are to
become the wife of our neighbour, the mole!'
Thumbelina had to spin all day long, and every evening the mole
visited her, and told her that when the summer was over the sun
would not shine so hot; now it was burning the earth as hard as a
stone. Yes, when the summer had passed, they would keep the
But she was not at all pleased about it, for she did not like the
stupid mole. Every morning when the sun was rising, and every
evening when it was setting, she would steal out of the
house-door, and when the breeze parted the ears of corn so that
she could see the blue sky through them, she thought how bright
and beautiful it must be outside, and longed to see her dear
swallow again. But he never came; no doubt he had flown away far
into the great green wood.
By the autumn Thumbelina had finished the dowry.
'In four weeks you will be married!' said the field-mouse; 'don't
be obstinate, or I shall bite you with my sharp white teeth! You
will get a fine husband! The King himself has not such a velvet
coat. His store-room and cellar are full, and you should be
thankful for that.'
Well, the wedding-day arrived. The mole had come to fetch
Thumbelina to live with him deep down under the ground, never to
come out into the warm sun again, for that was what he didn't
like. The poor little girl was very sad; for now she must say
good-bye to the beautiful sun.
'Farewell, bright sun!' she cried, stretching out her arms
towards it, and taking another step outside the house; for now
the corn had been reaped, and only the dry stubble was left
standing. 'Farewell, farewell!' she said, and put her arms round
a little red flower that grew there. 'Give my love to the dear
swallow when you see him!'
'Tweet, tweet!' sounded in her ear all at once. She looked up.
There was the swallow flying past! As soon as he saw Thumbelina,
he was very glad. She told him how unwilling she was to marry
the ugly mole, as then she had to live underground where the sun
never shone, and she could not help bursting into tears.
'The cold winter is coming now,' said the swallow. 'I must fly
away to warmer lands: will you come with me? You can sit on my
back, and we will fly far away from the ugly mole and his dark
house, over the mountains, to the warm countries where the sun
shines more brightly than here, where it is always summer, and
there are always beautiful flowers. Do come with me, dear little
Thumbelina, who saved my life when I lay frozen in the dark
'Yes, I will go with you,' said Thumbelina, and got on the
swallow's back, with her feet on one of his outstretched wings.
Up he flew into the air, over woods and seas, over the great
mountains where the snow is always lying. And if she was cold
she crept under his warm feathers, only keeping her little head
out to admire all the beautiful things in the world beneath. At
last they came to warm lands; there the sun was brighter, the sky
seemed twice as high, and in the hedges hung the finest green and
purple grapes; in the woods grew oranges and lemons: the air was
scented with myrtle and mint, and on the roads were pretty little
children running about and playing with great gorgeous
butterflies. But the swallow flew on farther, and it became more
and more beautiful. Under the most splendid green trees besides
a blue lake stood a glittering white-marble castle. Vines hung
about the high pillars; there were many swallows' nests, and in
one of these lived the swallow who was carrying Thumbelina.
'Here is my house!' said he. 'But it won't do for you to live
with me; I am not tidy enough to please you. Find a home for
yourself in one of the lovely flowers that grow down there; now I
will set you down, and you can do whatever you like.'
'That will be splendid!' said she, clapping her little hands.
There lay a great white marble column which had fallen to the
ground and broken into three pieces, but between these grew the
most beautiful white flowers. The swallow flew down with
Thumbelina, and set her upon one of the broad leaves. But there,
to her astonishment, she found a tiny little man sitting in the
middle of the flower, as white and transparent as if he were made
of glass; he had the prettiest golden crown on his head, and the
most beautiful wings on his shoulders; he himself was no bigger
than Thumbelina. He was the spirit of the flower. In each
blossom there dwelt a tiny man or woman; but this one was the
King over the others.
'How handsome he is!' whispered Thumbelina to the swallow.
The little Prince was very much frightened at the swallow, for in
comparison with one so tiny as himself he seemed a giant. But
when he saw Thumbelina, he was delighted, for she was the most
beautiful girl he had ever seen. So he took his golden crown
from off his head and put it on hers, asking her her name, and if
she would be his wife, and then she would be Queen of all the
flowers. Yes! he was a different kind of husband to the son of
the toad and the mole with the black-velvet coat. So she said
'Yes' to the noble Prince. And out of each flower came a lady
and gentleman, each so tiny and pretty that it was a pleasure to
see them. Each brought Thumbelina a present, but the best of all
was a beautiful pair of wings which were fastened on to her back,
and now she too could fly from flower to flower. They all wished
her joy, and the swallow sat above in his nest and sang the
wedding march, and that he did as well as he could; but he was
sad, because he was very fond of Thumbelina and did not want to
be separated from her.
'You shall not be called Thumbelina!' said the spirit of the
flower to her; 'that is an ugly name, and you are much too pretty
for that. We will call you May Blossom.'
'Farewell, farewell!' said the little swallow with a heavy heart,
and flew away to farther lands, far, far away, right back to
Denmark. There he had a little nest above a window, where his
wife lived, who can tell fairy-stories. 'Tweet, tweet!' he sang
to her. And that is the way we learnt the whole story.
In China, as I daresay you know, the Emperor is a Chinaman, and
all his courtiers are also Chinamen. The story I am going to
tell you happened many years ago, but it is worth while for you
to listen to it, before it is forgotten.
The Emperor's Palace was the most splendid in the world, all made
of priceless porcelain, but so brittle and delicate that you had
to take great care how you touched it. In the garden were the
most beautiful flowers, and on the loveliest of them were tied
silver bells which tinkled, so that if you passed you could not
help looking at the flowers. Everything in the Emperor's garden
was admirably arranged with a view to effect; and the garden was
so large that even the gardener himself did not know where it
ended. If you ever got beyond it, you came to a stately forest
with great trees and deep lakes in it. The forest sloped down to
the sea, which was a clear blue. Large ships could sail under
the boughs of the trees, and in these trees there lived a
Nightingale. She sang so beautifully that even the poor
fisherman who had so much to do stood and listened when he came
at night to cast his nets. 'How beautiful it is!' he said; but
he had to attend to his work, and forgot about the bird. But
when she sang the next night and the fisherman came there again,
he said the same thing, 'How beautiful it is!'
From all the countries round came travellers to the Emperor's
town, who were astonished at the Palace and the garden. But when
they heard the Nightingale they all said, 'This is the finest
thing after all!'
The travellers told all about it when they went home, and learned
scholars wrote many books upon the town, the Palace, and the
garden. But they did not forget the Nightingale; she was praised
the most, and all the poets composed splendid verses on the
Nightingale in the forest by the deep sea.
The books were circulated throughout the world, and some of them
reached the Emperor. He sat in his golden chair, and read and
read. He nodded his head every moment, for he liked reading the
brilliant accounts of the town, the Palace, and the garden. 'But
the Nightingale is better than all,' he saw written.
'What is that?' said the Emperor. 'I don't know anything about
the Nightingale! Is there such a bird in my empire, and so near
as in my garden? I have never heard it! Fancy reading for the
first time about it in a book!'
And he called his First Lord to him. He was so proud that if
anyone of lower rank than his own ventured to speak to him or ask
him anything, he would say nothing but 'P!' and that does not
mean anything.
'Here is a most remarkable bird which is called a Nightingale!'
said the Emperor. 'They say it is the most glorious thing in my
kingdom. Why has no one ever said anything to me about it?'
'I have never before heard it mentioned!' said the First Lord.
'I will look for it and find it!'
But where was it to be found? The First Lord ran up and down
stairs, through the halls and corridors; but none of those he met
had ever heard of the Nightingale. And the First Lord ran again
to the Emperor, and told him that it must be an invention on the
part of those who had written the books.
'Your Irmperial Majesty cannot really believe all that is
written! There are some inventions called the Black Art!'
'But the book in which I read this,' said the Emperor, 'is sent
me by His Great Majesty the Emperor of Japan; so it cannot be
untrue, and I will hear the Nightingale! She must be here this
evening! She has my gracious permission to appear, and if she
does not, the whole Court shall be trampled under foot after
'Tsing pe!' said the First Lord; and he ran up and down stairs,
through the halls and corridors, and half the Court ran with him,
for they did not want to be trampled under foot. Everyone was
asking after the wonderful Nightingale which all the world knew
of, except those at Court.
At last they met a poor little girl in the kitchen, who said,
'Oh! I know the Nightingale well. How she sings! I have
permission to carry the scraps over from the Court meals to my
poor sick mother, and when I am going home at night, tired and
weary, and rest for a little in the wood, then I hear the
Nightingale singing! It brings tears to my eyes, and I feel as
if my mother were kissing me!'
'Little kitchenmaid!' said the First Lord, 'I will give you a
place in the kitchen, and you shall have leave to see the Emperor
at dinner, if you can lead us to the Nightingale, for she is
invited to come to Court this evening.'
And so they all went into the wood where the Nightingale was wont
to sing, and half the Court went too.
When they were on the way there they heard a cow mooing.
'Oh!' said the Courtiers, 'now we have found her! What a
wonderful power for such a small beast to have! I am sure we
have heard her before!'
'No; that is a cow mooing!' said the little kitchenmaid. 'We
are still a long way off!'
Then the frogs began to croak in the marsh. 'Splendid!' said the
Chinese chaplain. 'Now we hear her; it sounds like a little
'No, no; those are frogs!' said the little kitchenmaid. 'But I
think we shall soon hear her now!'
Then the Nightingale began to sing.
'There she is!' cried the little girl. 'Listen! She is sitting
there!' And she pointed to a little dark-grey bird up in the
'Is it possible!' said the First Lord. 'I should never have
thought it! How ordinary she looks! She must surely have lost
her feathers because she sees so many distinguished men round
'Little Nightingale,' called out the little kitchenmaid, 'our
Gracious Emperor wants you to sing before him!'
'With the greatest of pleasure!' said the Nightingale; and she
sang so gloriously that it was a pleasure to listen.
'It sounds like glass bells!' said the First Lord. 'And look how
her little throat works! It is wonderful that we have never
heard her before! She will be a great success at Court.'
'Shall I sing once more for the Emperor?' asked the Nightingale,
thinking that the Emperor was there.
'My esteemed little Nightingale,' said the First Lord, 'I have
the great pleasure to invite you to Court this evening, where His
Gracious Imperial Highness will be enchanted with your charming
'It sounds best in the green wood,' said the Nightingale; but
still, she came gladly when she heard that the Emperor wished it.
At the Palace everything was splendidly prepared. The porcelain
walls and floors glittered in the light of many thousand gold
lamps; the most gorgeous flowers which tinkled out well were
placed in the corridors. There was such a hurrying and draught
that all the bells jingled so much that one could not hear
oneself speak. In the centre of the great hall where the Emperor
sat was a golden perch, on which the Nightingale sat. The whole
Court was there, and the little kitchenmaid was allowed to stand
behind the door, now that she was a Court-cook. Everyone was
dressed in his best, and everyone was looking towards the little
grey bird to whom the Emperor nodded.
The Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears came into the
Emperor's eyes and ran down his cheeks. Then the Nightingale
sang even more beautifully; it went straight to all hearts. The
Emperor was so delighted that he said she should wear his gold
slipper round her neck. But the Nightingale thanked him, and
said she had had enough reward already. 'I have seen tears in
the Emperor's eyes--that is a great reward. An Emperor's tears
have such power!' Then she sang again with her gloriously sweet
'That is the most charming coquetry I have ever seen!' said all
the ladies round. And they all took to holding water in their
mouths that they might gurgle whenever anyone spoke to them.
Then they thought themselves nightingales. Yes, the lackeys and
chambermaids announced that they were pleased; which means a
great deal, for they are the most difficult people of all to
satisfy. In short, the Nightingale was a real success.
She had to stay at Court now; she had her own cage, and
permission to walk out twice in the day and once at night.
She was given twelve servants, who each held a silken string
which was fastened round her leg. There was little pleasure in
flying about like this.
The whole town was talking about the wonderful bird, and when two
people met each other one would say 'Nightin,' and the other
'Gale,' and then they would both sigh and understand one another.
Yes, and eleven grocer's children were called after her, but not
one of them could sing a note.
One day the Emperor received a large parcel on which was written
'The Nightingale.'
'Here is another new book about our famous bird!' said the
But it was not a book, but a little mechanical toy, which lay in
a box--an artificial nightingale which was like the real one,
only that it was set all over with diamonds, rubies, and
sapphires. When it was wound up, it could sing the piece the
real bird sang, and moved its tail up and down, and glittered
with silver and gold. Round its neck was a little collar on
which was written, 'The Nightingale of the Emperor of Japan is
nothing compared to that of the Emperor of China.'
'This is magnificent!' they all said, and the man who had
brought the clockwork bird received on the spot the title of
'Bringer of the Imperial First Nightingale.'
'Now they must sing together; what a duet we shall have!'
And so they sang together, but their voices did not blend, for
the real Nightingale sang in her way and the clockwork bird sang
'It is not its fault!' said the bandmaster; 'it keeps very good
time and is quite after my style!'
Then the artificial bird had to sing alone. It gave just as much
pleasure as the real one, and then it was so much prettier to
look at; it sparkled like bracelets and necklaces.
Three-and-thirty times it sang the same piece without being
tired. People would like to have heard it again, but the Emperor
thought that the living Nightingale should sing now--but where
was she? No one had noticed that she had flown out of the open
window away to her green woods.
'What SHALL we do!' said the Emperor.
And all the Court scolded, and said that the Nightingale was very
ungrateful. 'But we have still the best bird!' they said and the
artificial bird had to sing again, and that was the thirty-fourth
time they had heard the same piece. But they did not yet know it
by heart; it was much too difficult. And the bandmaster praised
the bird tremendously; yes, he assured them it was better than a
real nightingale, not only because of its beautiful plumage and
diamonds, but inside as well. 'For see, my Lords and Ladies and
your Imperial Majesty, with the real Nightingale one can never
tell what will come out, but all is known about the artificial
bird! You can explain it, you can open it and show people where
the waltzes lie, how they go, and how one follows the other!'
'That's just what we think!' said everyone; and the bandmaster
received permission to show the bird to the people the next
Sunday. They should hear it sing, commanded the Emperor. And
they heard it, and they were as pleased as if they had been
intoxicated with tea, after the Chinese fashion, and they all
said 'Oh!' and held up their forefingers and nodded time. But
the poor fishermen who had heard the real Nightingale said: 'This
one sings well enough, the tunes glide out; but there is
something wanting-- I don't know what!'
The real Nightingale was banished from the kingdom.
The artificial bird was put on silken cushions by the Emperor's
bed, all the presents which it received, gold and precious
stones, lay round it, and it was given the title of Imperial
Night-singer, First from the left. For the Emperor counted that
side as the more distinguished, being the side on which the heart
is; the Emperor's heart is also on the left.
And the bandmaster wrote a work of twenty-five volumes about the
artificial bird. It was so learned, long, and so full of the
hardest Chinese words that everyone said they had read it and
understood it; for once they had been very stupid about a book,
and had been trampled under foot in consequence. So a whole year
passed. The Emperor, the Court, and all the Chinese knew every
note of the artificial bird's song by heart. Bat they liked it
all the better for this; they could even sing with it, and they
did. The street boys sang 'Tra-la-la-la-la, and the Emperor sang
too sometimes. It was indeed delightful.
But one evening, when the artificial bird was singing its best,
and the Emperor lay in bed listening to it, something in the bird
went crack. Something snapped! Whir-r-r! all the wheels ran
down and then the music ceased. The Emperor sprang up, and had
his physician summoned, but what could HE do! Then the
clockmaker came, and, after a great deal of talking and
examining, he put the bird somewhat in order, but he said that it
must be very seldom used as the works were nearly worn out, and
it was impossible to put in new ones. Here was a calamity! Only
once a year was the artificial bird allowed to sing, and even
that was almost too much for it. But then the bandmaster made a
little speech full of hard words, saying that it was just as good
as before. And so, of course, it WAS just as good as before. So
five years passed, and then a great sorrow came to the nation.
The Chinese look upon their Emperor as everything, and now he was
ill, and not likely to live it was said.
Already a new Emperor had been chosen, and the people stood
outside in the street and asked the First Lord how the old
Emperor was. 'P!' said he, and shook his head.
Cold and pale lay the Emperor in his splendid great bed; the
whole Court believed him dead, and one after the other left him
to pay their respects to the new Emperor. Everywhere in the
halls and corridors cloth was laid down so that no footstep could
be heard, and everything was still--very, very still. And
nothing came to break the silence.
The Emperor longed for something to come and relieve the monotony
of this deathlike stillness. If only someone would speak to him!
If only someone would sing to him. Music would carry his
thoughts away, and would break the spell lying on him. The moon
was streaming in at the open window; but that, too, was silent,
quite silent.
'Music! music!' cried the Emperor. 'You little bright golden
bird, sing! do sing! I gave you gold and jewels; I have hung my
gold slipper round your neck with my own hand--sing! do sing!'
But the bird was silent. There was no one to wind it up, and so
it could not sing. And all was silent, so terribly silent!
All at once there came in at the window the most glorious burst
of song. It was the little living Nightingale, who, sitting
outside on a bough, had heard the need of her Emperor and had
come to sing to him of comfort and hope. And as she sang the
blood flowed quicker and quicker in the Emperor's weak limbs, and
life began to return.
'Thank you, thank you!' said the Emperor. 'You divine little
bird! I know you. I chased you from my kingdom, and you have
given me life again! How can I reward you?'
'You have done that already!' said the Nightingale. 'I brought
tears to your eyes the first time I sang. I shall never forget
that. They are jewels that rejoice a singer's heart. But now
sleep and get strong again; I will sing you a lullaby.' And the
Emperor fell into a deep, calm sleep as she sang.
The sun was shining through the window when he awoke, strong and
well. None of his servants had come back yet, for they thought
he was dead. But the Nightingale sat and sang to him.
'You must always stay with me!' said the Emperor. 'You shall
sing whenever you like, and I will break the artificial bird into
a thousand pieces.'
'Don't do that!' said the Nightingale. 'He did his work as long
as he could. Keep him as you have done! I cannot build my nest
in the Palace and live here; but let me come whenever I like. I
will sit in the evening on the bough outside the window, and I
will sing you something that will make you feel happy and
grateful. I will sing of joy, and of sorrow; I will sing of the
evil and the good which lies hidden from you. The little
singing-bird flies all around, to the poor fisherman's hut, to
the farmer's cottage, to all those who are far away from you and
your Court. I love your heart more than your crown, though that
has about it a brightness as of something holy. Now I will sing
to you again; but you must promise me one thing----'
'Anything!' said the Emperor, standing up in his Imperial robes,
which he had himself put on, and fastening on his sword richly
embossed with gold.
'One thing I beg of you! Don't tell anyone that you have a
little bird who tells you everything. It will be much better not
to!' Then the Nightingale flew away.
The servants came in to look at their dead Emperor.
The Emperor said, 'Good-morning!'
[32] From the Icelandic.
Once upon a time there were a King and a Queen who had an only
daughter, called Hadvor, who was fair and beautiful, and being an
only child, was heir to the kingdom. The King and Queen had also
a foster son, named Hermod, who was just about the same age as
Hadvor, and was good-looking, as well as clever at most things.
Hermod and Hadvor often played together while they were children,
and liked each other so much that while they were still young
they secretly plighted their troth to each other.
As time went on the Queen fell sick, and suspecting that it was
her last illness, sent for the King to come to her. When he came
she told him that she had no long time to live, and therefore
wished to ask one thing of him, which was, that if he married
another wife he should promise to take no other one than the
Queen of Hetland the Good. The King gave the promise, and
thereafter the Queen died.
Time went past, and the King, growing tired of living alone,
fitted out his ship and sailed out to sea. As he sailed there
came upon him so thick a mist that he altogether lost his
bearings, but after long trouble he found land. There he laid
his ship to, and went on shore all alone. After walking for some
time he came to a forest, into which he went a little way and
stopped. Then he heard sweet music from a harp, and went in the
direction of the sound until he came to a clearing, and there he
saw three women, one of whom sat on a golden chair, and was
beautifully and grandly dressed; she held a harp in her hands,
and was very sorrowful. The second was also finely dressed, but
younger in appearance, and also sat on a chair, but it was not so
grand as the first one's. The third stood beside them, and was
very pretty to look at; she had a green cloak over her other
clothes, and it was easy to see that she was maid to the other
After the King had looked at them for a little he went forward
and saluted them. The one that sat on the golden chair asked him
who he was and where he was going; and he told her all the story
--how he was a king, and had lost his queen, and was now on his
way to Hetland the Good, to ask the Queen of that country in
marriage. She answered that fortune had contrived this
wonderfully, for pirates had plundered Hetland and killed the
King, and she had fled from the land in terror, and had come
hither after great trouble, and she was the very person he was
looking for, and the others were her daughter and maid. The King
immediately asked her hand; she gladly received his proposal and
accepted him at once. Thereafter they all set out, and made
their way to the ship; and after that nothing is told of their
voyage until the King reached his own country. There he made a
great feast, and celebrated his marriage with this woman; and
after that things are quiet for a time.
Hermod and Hadvor took but little notice of the Queen and her
daughter, but, on the other hand, Hadvor and the Queen's maid,
whose name was Olof, were very friendly, and Olof came often to
visit Hadvor in her castle. Before long the King went out to
war, and no sooner was he away than the Queen came to talk with
Hermod, and said that she wanted him to marry her daughter.
Hermod told her straight and plain that he would not do so, at
which the Queen grew terribly angry, and said that in that case
neither should he have Hadvor, for she would now lay this spell
on him, that he should go to a desert island and there be a lion
by day and a man by night. He should also think always of
Hadvor, which would cause him all the more sorrow, and from this
spell he should never be freed until Hadvor burned the lion's
skin, and that would not happen very soon.
As soon as the Queen had finished her speech Hermod replied that
he also laid a spell on her, and that was, that as soon as he was
freed from her enchantments she should become a rat and her
daughter a mouse, and fight with each other in the hall until he
killed them with his sword.
After this Hermod disappeared, and no one knew what had become of
him; the Queen caused search to be made for him, but he could
nowhere be found. One time, when Olof was in the castle beside
Hadvor, she asked the Princess if she knew where Hermod had gone
to. At this Hadvor became very sad, and said that she did not.
'I shall tell you then,' said Olof, 'for I know all about it.
Hermod has disappeared through the wicked devices of the Queen,
for she is a witch, and so is her daughter, though they have put
on these beautiful forms. Because Hermod would not fall in with
the Queen's plans, and marry her daughter, she has laid a spell
on him, to go on an island and be a lion by day and a man by
night, and never be freed from this until you burn the lion's
skin. Besides,' said Olof, 'she has looked out a match for you;
she has a brother in the Underworld, a three-headed Giant, whom
she means to turn into a beautiful prince and get him married to
you. This is no new thing for the Queen; she took me away from
my parents' house and compelled me to serve her; but she has
never done me any harm, for the green cloak I wear protects me
against all mischief.
Hadvor now became still sadder than before at the thought of the
marriage destined for her, and entreated Olof to think of some
plan to save her.
'I think,' said Olof, 'that your wooer will come up through the
floor of the castle to you, and so you must be prepared when you
hear the noise of his coming and the floor begins to open, and
have at hand blazing pitch, and pour plenty of it into the
opening. That will prove too much for him.'
About this time the King came home from his expedition, and
thought it a great blow that no one knew what had become of
Hermod; but the Queen consoled him as best she could, and after a
time the King thought less about his disappearance.
Hadvor remained in her castle, and had made preparations to
receive her wooer when he came. One night, not long after, a
loud noise and rumbling was heard under the castle. Hadvor at
once guessed what it was, and told her maids to be ready to help
her. The noise and thundering grew louder and louder, until the
floor began to open, whereupon Hadvor made them take the caldron
of pitch and pour plenty of it into the opening. With that the
noises grew fainter and fainter, till at last they ceased
Next morning the Queen rose early, and went out to the Palace
gate, and there she found her brother the Giant lying dead. She
went up to him and said, 'I pronounce this spell, that you become
a beautiful prince, and that Hadvor shall be unable to say
anything against the charges that I shall bring against her.'
The body of the dead Giant now became that of a beautiful prince,
and the Queen went in again.
'I don't think,' said she to the King, 'that your daughter is as
good as she is said to be. My brother came and asked her hand,
and she has had him put to death. I have just found his dead
body lying at the Palace gate.'
The King went along with the Queen to see the body, and thought
it all very strange; so beautiful a youth, he said, would have
been a worthy match for Hadvor, and he would readily have agreed
to their marriage. The Queen asked leave to decide what Hadvor's
punishment should be, which the King was very willing to allow,
so as to escape from punishing his own daughter. The Queen's
decision was that the King should make a big grave-mound for her
brother, and put Hadvor into it beside him.
Olof knew all the plans of the Queen, and went to tell the
Princess what had been done, whereupon Hadvor earnestly entreated
her to tell her what to do.
'First and foremost,' said Olof, 'you must get a wide cloak to
wear over your other clothes, when you are put into the mound.
The Giant's ghost will walk after you are both left together in
there, and he will have two dogs along with him. He will ask you
to cut pieces out of his legs to give to the dogs, but that you
must not promise to do unless he tells you where Hermod has gone
to, and tells you how to find him. He will then let you stand on
his shoulders, so as to get out of the mound; but he means to
cheat you all the same, and will catch you by the cloak to pull
you back again; but you must take care to have the cloak loose on
your shoulders, so that he will only get hold of that.'
The mound was all ready now, and the Giant laid in it, and into
it Hadvor also had to go without being allowed to make any
defence. After they were both left there everything happened
just as Olof had said. The prince became a Giant again, and
asked Hadvor to cut the pieces out of his legs for the dogs; but
she refused until he told her that Hermod was in a desert island,
which she could not reach unless she took the skin off the soles
of his feet and made shoes out of that; with these shoes she
could travel both on land and sea. This Hadvor now did, and the
Giant then let her get up on his shoulders to get out of the
mound. As she sprang out he caught hold of her cloak; but she
had taken care to let it lie loose on her shoulders, and so
She now made her way down to the sea, to where she knew there was
the shortest distance over to the island in which Hermod was.
This strait she easily crossed, for the shoes kept her up. On
reaching the island she found a sandy beach all along by the sea,
and high cliffs above. Nor could she see any way to get up
these, and so, being both sad at heart and tired with the long
journey, she lay down and fell asleep. As she slept she dreamed
that a tall woman came to her and said, 'I know that you are
Princess Hadvor, and are searching for Hermod. He is on this
island; but it will be hard for you to get to him if you have no
one to help you, for you cannot climb the cliffs by your own
strength. I have therefore let down a rope, by which you will be
able to climb up; and as the island is so large that you might
not find Hermod's dwelling-place so easily, I lay down this clew
beside you. You need only hold the end of the thread, and the
clew will run on before and show you the way. I also lay this
belt beside you, to put on when you awaken; it will keep you from
growing faint with hunger.'
The woman now disappeared, and Hadvor woke, and saw that all her
dream had been true. The rope hung down from the cliff, and the
clew and belt lay beside her. The belt she put on, the rope
enabled her to climb up the cliff, and the clew led her on till
she came to the mouth of a cave, which was not very big. She
went into the cave, and saw there a low couch, under which she
crept and lay down.
When evening came she heard the noise of footsteps outside, and
became aware that the lion had come to the mouth of the cave, and
shook itself there, after which she heard a man coming towards
the couch. She was sure this was Hermod, because she heard him
speaking to himself about his own condition, and calling to mind
Hadvor and other things in the old days. Hadvor made no sign,
but waited till he had fallen asleep, and then crept out and
burned the lion's skin, which he had left outside. Then she went
back into the cave and wakened Hermod, and they had a most joyful
In the morning they talked over their plans, and were most at a
loss to know how to get out of the island. Hadvor told Hermod
her dream, and said she suspected there was some one in the
island who would be able to help them. Hermod said he knew of a
Witch there, who was very ready to help anyone, and that the only
plan was to go to her. So they went to the Witch's cave, and
found her there with her fifteen young sons, and asked her to
help them to get to the mainland.
'There are other things easier than that,' said she, 'for the
Giant that was buried will be waiting for you, and will attack
you on the way, as he has turned himself into a big whale. I
shall lend you a boat, however, and if you meet the whale and
think your lives are in danger, then you can name me by name.'
They thanked her greatly for her help and advice, and set out
from the island, but on the way they saw a huge fish coming
towards them, with great splashing and dashing of waves. They
were sure of what it was, and thought they had as good reason as
ever they would have to call on the Witch, and so they did. The
next minute they saw coming after them another huge whale,
followed by fifteen smaller ones. All of these swam past the
boat and went on to meet the whale. There was a fierce battle
then, and the sea became so stormy that it was not very easy to
keep the boat from being filled by the waves. After this fight
had gone on for some time, they saw that the sea was dyed with
blood; the big whale and the fifteen smaller ones disappeared,
and they got to land safe and sound.
Now the story goes back to the King's hall, where strange things
had happened in the meantime. The Queen and her daughter had
disappeared, but a rat and a mouse were always fighting with each
other there. Ever so many people had tried to drive them away,
but no one could manage it. Thus some time went on, while the
King was almost beside himself with sorrow and care for the loss
of his Queen, and because these monsters destroyed all mirth in
the hall.
One evening, however, while they all sat dull and down-hearted,
in came Hermod with a sword by his side, and saluted the King,
who received him with the greatest joy, as if he had come back
from the dead. Before Hermod sat down, however, he went to where
the rat and the mouse were fighting, and cut them in two with his
sword. All were astonished then by seeing two witches lying dead
on the floor of the hall.
Hermod now told the whole story to the King, who was very glad to
be rid of such vile creatures. Next he asked for the hand of
Hadvor, which the King readily gave him, and being now an old
man, gave the kingdom to him as well; and so Hermod became King.
Olof married a good-looking nobleman, and that is the end of the
There were once upon a time five-and twenty tin-soldiers--all
brothers, as they were made out of the same old tin spoon. Their
uniform was red and blue, and they shouldered their guns and
looked straight in front of them. The first words that they
heard in this world, when the lid of the box in which they lay
was taken off, were: 'Hurrah, tin-soldiers!' This was exclaimed
by a little boy, clapping his hands; they had been given to him
because it was his birthday, and now he began setting them out on
the table. Each soldier was exactly like the other in shape,
except just one, who had been made last when the tin had run
short; but there he stood as firmly on his one leg as the others
did on two, and he is the one that became famous.
There were many other playthings on the table on which they were
being set out, but the nicest of all was a pretty little castle
made of cardboard, with windows through which you could see into
the rooms. In front of the castle stood some little trees
surrounding a tiny mirror which looked like a lake. Wax swans
were floating about and reflecting themselves in it. That was
all very pretty; but the most beautiful thing was a little lady,
who stood in the open doorway. She was cut out of paper, but she
had on a dress of the finest muslin, with a scarf of narrow blue
ribbon round her shoulders, fastened in the middle with a
glittering rose made of gold paper, which was as large as her
head. The little lady was stretching out both her arms, for she
was a Dancer, and was lifting up one leg so high in the air that
the Tin-soldier couldn't find it anywhere, and thought that she,
too, had only one leg.
'That's the wife for me!' he thought; 'but she is so grand, and
lives in a castle, whilst I have only a box with four-and-twenty
others. This is no place for her! But I must make her
acquaintance.' Then he stretched himself out behind a snuff-box
that lay on the table; from thence he could watch the dainty
little lady, who continued to stand on one leg without losing her
When the night came all the other tin-soldiers went into their
box, and the people of the house went to bed. Then the toys
began to play at visiting, dancing, and fighting. The
tin-soldiers rattled in their box, for they wanted to be out too,
but they could not raise the lid. The nut-crackers played at
leap-frog, and the slate-pencil ran about the slate; there was
such a noise that the canary woke up and began to talk to them,
in poetry too! The only two who did not stir from their places
were the Tin-soldier and the little Dancer. She remained on
tip-toe, with both arms outstretched; he stood steadfastly on his
one leg, never moving his eyes from her face.
The clock struck twelve, and crack! off flew the lid of the
snuff- box; but there was no snuff inside, only a little black
imp--that was the beauty of it.
'Hullo, Tin-soldier!' said the imp. 'Don't look at things that
aren't intended for the likes of you!'
But the Tin-soldier took no notice, and seemed not to hear.
'Very well, wait till to-morrow!' said the imp.
When it was morning, and the children had got up, the Tin-soldier
was put in the window; and whether it was the wind or the little
black imp, I don't know, but all at once the window flew open and
out fell the little Tin-soldier, head over heels, from the thirdstorey
window! That was a terrible fall, I can tell you! He
landed on his head with his leg in the air, his gun being wedged
between two paving-stones.
The nursery-maid and the little boy came down at once to look for
him, but, though they were so near him that they almost trod on
him, they did not notice him. If the Tin-soldier had only called
out 'Here I am!' they must have found him; but he did not think
it fitting for him to cry out, because he had on his uniform.
Soon it began to drizzle; then the drops came faster, and there
was a regular down-pour. When it was over, two little street
boys came along.
'Just look!' cried one. 'Here is a Tin-soldier! He shall sail
up and down in a boat!'
So they made a little boat out of newspaper, put the Tin-soldier
in it, and made him sail up and down the gutter; both the boys
ran along beside him, clapping their hands. What great waves
there were in the gutter, and what a swift current! The
paper-boat tossed up and down, and in the middle of the stream it
went so quick that the Tin-soldier trembled; but he remained
steadfast, showed no emotion, looked straight in front of him,
shouldering his gun. All at once the boat passed under a long
tunnel that was as dark as his box had been.
'Where can I be coming now?' he wondered. 'Oh, dear! This is
the black imp's fault! Ah, if only the little lady were sitting
beside me in the boat, it might be twice as dark for all I should
Suddenly there came along a great water-rat that lived in the
'Have you a passport?' asked the rat. 'Out with your passport!'
But the Tin-soldier was silent, and grasped his gun more firmly.
The boat sped on, and the rat behind it. Ugh! how he showed his
teeth, as he cried to the chips of wood and straw: 'Hold him,
hold him! he has not paid the toll! He has not shown his
But the current became swifter and stronger. The Tin-soldier
could already see daylight where the tunnel ended; but in his
ears there sounded a roaring enough to frighten any brave man.
Only think! at the end of the tunnel the gutter discharged
itself into a great canal; that would be just as dangerous for
him as it would be for us to go down a waterfall.
Now he was so near to it that he could not hold on any longer.
On went the boat, the poor Tin-soldier keeping himself as stiff
as he could: no one should say of him afterwards that he had
flinched. The boat whirled three, four times round, and became
filled to the brim with water: it began to sink! The Tin-soldier
was standing up to his neck in water, and deeper and deeper sank
the boat, and softer and softer grew the paper; now the water was
over his head. He was thinking of the pretty little Dancer,
whose face he should never see again, and there sounded in his
ears, over and over again:
'Forward, forward, soldier bold!
Death's before thee, grim and cold!'
The paper came in two, and the soldier fell--but at that moment
he was swallowed by a great fish.
Oh! how dark it was inside, even darker than in the tunnel, and
it was really very close quarters! But there the steadfast
little Tin-soldier lay full length, shouldering his gun.
Up and down swam the fish, then he made the most dreadful
contortions, and became suddenly quite still. Then it was as if
a flash of lightning had passed through him; the daylight
streamed in, and a voice exclaimed, 'Why, here is the little
Tin-soldier!' The fish had been caught, taken to market, sold,
and brought into the kitchen, where the cook had cut it open with
a great knife. She took up the soldier between her finger and
thumb, and carried him into the room, where everyone wanted to
see the hero who had been found inside a fish; but the
Tin-soldier was not at all proud. They put him on the table,
and--no, but what strange things do happen in this world!--the
Tin-soldier was in the same room in which he had been before! He
saw the same children, and the same toys on the table; and there
was the same grand castle with the pretty little Dancer. She was
still standing on one leg with the other high in the air; she too
was steadfast. That touched the Tin-soldier, he was nearly going
to shed tin-tears; but that would not have been fitting for a
soldier. He looked at her, but she said nothing.
All at once one of the little boys took up the Tin-soldier, and
threw him into the stove, giving no reasons; but doubtless the
little black imp in the snuff-box was at the bottom of this too.
There the Tin-soldier lay, and felt a heat that was truly
terrible; but whether he was suffering from actual fire, or from
the ardour of his passion, he did not know. All his colour had
disappeared; whether this had happened on his travels or whether
it was the result of trouble, who can say? He looked at the
little lady, she looked at him, and he felt that he was melting;
but he remained steadfast, with his gun at his shoulder.
Suddenly a door opened, the draught caught up the little Dancer,
and off she flew like a sylph to the Tin-soldier in the stove,
burst into flames--and that was the end of her! Then the
Tin-soldier melted down into a little lump, and when next morning
the maid was taking out the ashes, she found him in the shape of
a heart. There was nothing left of the little Dancer but her
gilt rose, burnt as black as a cinder.
Far away in the country lay an old manor-house where lived an old
squire who had two sons. They thought themselves so clever, that
if they had known only half of what they did know, it would have
been quite enough. They both wanted to marry the King's
daughter, for she had proclaimed that she would have for her
husband the man who knew best how to choose his words.
Both prepared for the wooing a whole week, which was the longest
time allowed them; but, after all, it was quite long enough, for
they both had preparatory knowledge, and everyone knows how
useful that is. One knew the whole Latin dictionary and also
three years' issue of the daily paper of the town off by heart,
so that he could repeat it all backwards or forwards as you
pleased. The other had worked at the laws of corporation, and
knew by heart what every member of the corporation ought to know,
so that he thought he could quite well speak on State matters and
give his opinion. He understood, besides this, how to embroider
braces with roses and other flowers, and scrolls, for he was very
ready with his fingers.
'I shall win the king's daughter!' they both cried.
Their old father gave each of them a fine horse; the one who knew
the dictionary and the daily paper by heart had a black horse,
while the other who was so clever at corporation law had a milkwhite
one. Then they oiled the corners of their mouths so that
they might be able to speak more fluently. All the servants
stood in the courtyard and saw them mount their steeds, and here
by chance came the third brother; for the squire had three sons,
but nobody counted him with his brothers, for he was not so
learned as they were, and he was generally called
'Oh, oh!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Where are you off to? You are
in your Sunday-best clothes!'
'We are going to Court, to woo the Princess! Don't you know what
is known throughout all the country side?' And they told him all
about it.
'Hurrah! I'll go to!' cried Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers
laughed at him and rode off.
'Dear father!' cried Blockhead-Hans, 'I must have a horse too.
What a desire for marriage has seized me! If she will have me,
she WILL have me, and if she won't have me, I will have her.'
'Stop that nonsense!' said the old man. 'I will not give you a
horse. YOU can't speak; YOU don't know how to choose your words.
Your brothers! Ah! they are very different lads!'
'Well,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'if I can't have a horse, I will
take the goat which is mine; he can carry me!'
And he did so. He sat astride on the goat, struck his heels into
its side, and went rattling down the high-road like a hurricane.
'Hoppetty hop! what a ride!' Here I come!' shouted Blockhead-
Hans, singing so that the echoes were roused far and near. But
his brothers were riding slowly in front. They were not
speaking, but they were thinking over all the good things they
were going to say, for everything had to be thought out.
'Hullo!' bawled Blockhead-Hans, 'here I am! Just look what I
found on the road!'--and he showed them a dead crow which he had
picked up.
'Blockhead!' said his brothers, 'what are you going to do with
'With the crow? I shall give it to the Princess!'
'Do so, certainly!' they said, laughing loudly and riding on.
'Slap! bang! here I am again! Look what I have just found!
You don't find such things every day on the road!' And the
brothers turned round to see what in the world he could have
'Blockhead!' said they, 'that is an old wooden shoe without the
top! Are you going to send that, too, to the Princess?'
'Of course I shall!' returned Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers
laughed and rode on a good way.
'Slap! bang! here I am!' cried Blockhead-Hans; 'better and
better--it is really famous!'
'What have you found now?' asked the brothers.
'Oh,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'it is really too good! How pleased
the Princess will be!'
'Why!' said the brothers, 'this is pure mud, straight from the
'Of course it is!' said Blockhead-Hans, 'and it is the best kind!
Look how it runs through one's fingers!' and, so saying, he
filled his pocket with the mud.
But the brothers rode on so fast that dust and sparks flew all
around, and they reached the gate of the town a good hour before
Blockhead-Hans. Here came the suitors numbered according to
their arrival, and they were ranged in rows, six in each row, and
they were so tightly packed that they could not move their arms.
This was a very good thing, for otherwise they would have torn
each other in pieces, merely because the one was in front of the
All the country people were standing round the King's throne, and
were crowded together in thick masses almost out of the windows
to see the Princess receive the suitors; and as each one came
into the room all his fine phrases went out like a candle!
'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Away! out with him!'
At last she came to the row in which the brother who knew the
dictionary by heart was, but he did not know it any longer; he
had quite forgotten it in the rank and file. And the floor
creaked, and the ceiling was all made of glass mirrors, so that
he saw himself standing on his head, and by each window were
standing three reporters and an editor; and each of them was
writing down what was said, to publish it in the paper that came
out and was sold at the street corners for a penny. It was
fearful, and they had made up the fire so hot that it was
'It is hot in here, isn't it!' said the suitor.
'Of course it is! My father is roasting young chickens to-day!'
said the Princess.
'Ahem!' There he stood like an idiot. He was not prepared for
such a speech; he did not know what to say, although he wanted to
say something witty. 'Ahem!'
'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Take him out!' and out
he had to go.
Now the other brother entered.
'How hot it is!' he said.
'Of course! We are roasting young chickens to-day!' remarked the
'How do you--um!' he said, and the reporters wrote down. 'How do
'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Take him out!'
Now Blockhead-Hans came in; he rode his goat right into the hall.
'I say! How roasting hot it is here!' said he.
'Of course! I am roasting young chickens to-day!' said the
'That's good!' replied Blockhead-Hans; 'then can I roast a crow
with them?'
'With the greatest of pleasure!' said the Princess; 'but have you
anything you can roast them in? for I have neither pot nor
'Oh, rather!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Here is a cooking implement
with tin rings,' and he drew out the old wooden shoe, and laid
the crow in it.
'That is quite a meal!' said the Princess; 'but where shall we
get the soup from?'
'I've got that in my pocket!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'I have so
much that I can quite well throw some away!' and he poured some
mud out of his pocket.
'I like you!' said the Princess. 'You can answer, and you can
speak, and I will marry you; but do you know that every word
which we are saying and have said has been taken down and will be
in the paper to-morrow? By each window do you see there are
standing three reporters and an old editor, and this old editor
is the worst, for he doesn't understand anything!' but she only
said this to tease Blockhead-Hans. And the reporters giggled,
and each dropped a blot of ink on the floor.
'Ah! are those the great people?' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Then I
will give the editor the best!' So saying, he turned his pockets
inside out, and threw the mud right in his face.
'That was neatly done!' said the Princess. 'I couldn't have done
it; but I will soon learn how to!'
Blockhead-Hans became King, got a wife and a crown, and sat on
the throne; and this we have still damp from the newspaper of the
editor and the reporters--and they are not to be believed for a
There was once a Darning-needle who thought herself so fine that
she believed she was an embroidery-needle. 'Take great care to
hold me tight!' said the Darning-needle to the Fingers who were
holding her. 'Don't let me fall! If I once fall on the ground I
shall never be found again, I am so fine!'
'It is all right!' said the Fingers, seizing her round the waist.
'Look, I am coming with my train!' said the Darning-needle as she
drew a long thread after her; but there was no knot at the end of
the thread.
The Fingers were using the needle on the cook's shoe. The upper
leather was unstitched and had to be sewn together.
'This is common work!' said the Darning-needle. 'I shall never
get through it. I am breaking! I am breaking!' And in fact she
did break. 'Didn't I tell you so!' said the Darning-needle. 'I
am too fine!'
'Now she is good for nothing!' said the Fingers; but they had to
hold her tight while the cook dropped some sealing-wax on the
needle and stuck it in the front of her dress.
'Now I am a breast-pin!' said the Darning-needle. 'I always knew
I should be promoted. When one is something, one will become
something!' And she laughed to herself; you can never see when a
Darning-needle is laughing. Then she sat up as proudly as if she
were in a State coach, and looked all round her.
'May I be allowed to ask if you are gold?' she said to her
neighbour, the Pin. 'You have a very nice appearance, and a
peculiar head; but it is too small! You must take pains to make
it grow, for it is not everyone who has a head of sealing-wax.'
And so saying the Darning-needle raised herself up so proudly
that she fell out of the dress, right into the sink which the
cook was rinsing out.
'Now I am off on my travels!' said the Darning-needle. 'I do
hope I sha'n't get lost!' She did indeed get lost.
'I am too fine for this world!' said she as she lay in the
gutter; 'but I know who I am, and that is always a little
And the Darning-needle kept her proud bearing and did not lose
her good-temper.
All kinds of things swam over her--shavings, bits of straw, and
scraps of old newspapers.
'Just look how they sail along!' said the Darning-needle. 'They
don't know what is underneath them! Here I am sticking fast!
There goes a shaving thinking of nothing in the world but of
itself, a mere chip! There goes a straw--well, how it does twist
and twirl, to be sure! Don't think so much about yourself, or
you will be knocked against a stone. There floats a bit of
newspaper. What is written on it is long ago forgotten, and yet
how proud it is! I am sitting patient and quiet. I know who I
am, and that is enough for me!'
One day something thick lay near her which glittered so brightly
that the Darning-needle thought it must be a diamond. But it was
a bit of bottle-glass, and because it sparkled the Darning-needle
spoke to it, and gave herself out as a breast-pin.
'No doubt you are a diamond?'
'Yes, something of that kind!' And each believed that the other
was something very costly; and they both said how very proud the
world must be of them.
'I have come from a lady's work-box,' said Darning-needle, 'and
this lady was a cook; she had five fingers on each hand; anything
so proud as these fingers I have never seen! And yet they were
only there to take me out of the work-box and to put me back
'Were they of noble birth, then?' asked the bit of bottle-glass.
'Of noble birth!' said the Darning-needle; 'no indeed, but proud!
They were five brothers, all called ''Fingers.'' They held
themselves proudly one against the other, although they were of
different sizes. The outside one, the Thumb, was short and fat;
he was outside the rank, and had only one bend in his back, and
could only make one bow; but he said that if he were cut off from
a man that he was no longer any use as a soldier. Dip-intoeverything,
the second finger, dipped into sweet things as well
as sour things, pointed to the sun and the moon, and guided the
pen when they wrote. Longman, the third, looked at the others
over his shoulder. Goldband, the fourth, had a gold sash round
his waist; and little Playman did nothing at all, and was the
more proud. There was too much ostentation, and so I came away.'
'And now we are sitting and shining here!' said the bit of
At that moment more water came into the gutter; it streamed over
the edges and washed the bit of bottle-glass away.
'Ah! now he has been promoted!' said the Darning-needle. 'I
remain here; I am too fine. But that is my pride, which is a
sign of respectability!' And she sat there very proudly, thinking
lofty thoughts.
'I really believe I must have been born a sunbeam, I am so fine!
It seems to me as if the sunbeams were always looking under the
water for me. Ah, I am so fine that my own mother cannot find
me! If I had my old eye which broke off, I believe I could weep;
but I can't--it is not fine to weep!'
One day two street-urchins were playing and wading in the gutter,
picking up old nails, pennies, and such things. It was rather
dirty work, but it was a great delight to them.
'Oh, oh!' cried out one, as he pricked himself with the
Darning-needle; 'he is a fine fellow though!'
'I am not a fellow; I am a young lady!' said the Darning-needle;
but no one heard. The sealing-wax had gone, and she had become
quite black; but black makes one look very slim, and so she
thought she was even finer than before.
'Here comes an egg-shell sailing along!' said the boys, and they
stuck the Darning-needle into the egg-shell.
'The walls white and I black--what a pretty contrast it makes!'
said the Darning-needle. 'Now I can be seen to advantage! If
only I am not sea-sick! I should give myself up for lost!'
But she was not sea-sick, and did not give herself up.
'It is a good thing to be steeled against sea-sickness; here one
has indeed an advantage over man! Now my qualms are over. The
finer one is the more one can beat.'
'Crack!' said the egg-shell as a wagon-wheel went over it.
'Oh! how it presses!' said the Darning-needle. 'I shall indeed
be sea-sick now. I am breaking!' But she did not break, although
the wagon-wheel went over her; she lay there at full length, and
there she may lie.

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