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Title: Tales of Laughter
       A third fairy book

Author: Kate Douglas Wiggin
        Nora Archibald Smith

Release Date: May 16, 2017 [EBook #54734]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
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Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Tales of Laughter
Library of Fairy Literature
Send to the publishers for Complete Descriptive Catalogue

Tales of Laughter

Copyright, 1908, by The McClure Company



The McClure Company wish to make acknowledgment of their indebtedness to the following publishers:

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, for permission to use “The Greedy Cat,” “Father Bruin in the Corner,” “The Pancake,” “The Death of Chanticleer,” “Reynard Wants to Taste Horse Flesh,” “Bruin and Reynard Partners,” “Pork and Honey,” and “Slip Root: Catch Reynard’s Foot,” from Tales from the Field; “The Most Frugal of Men,” “The Moon Cake,” “The Ladle that Fell from the Moon,” “The Young Head of the Family,” and “The Dreadful Boar,” from Chinese Nights Entertainment.

The American Book Company, for permission to use “Little Tuppen,” from Fairy Stories and Fables.

Little, Brown & Company, for permission to use “The Story of the Four Little Children who Went Round the World,” from Edward Lear’s Nonsense Books.

F. A. Stokes Company, for permission to use “Little Black Mingo,” “The Lad and the Fox,” “The Old Woman and the Tramp,” “The Cook and the Crested Hen,” and “The Old Woman and the Fish,” from Fairy Tales from the Swedish; “One’s Own Children Always Prettiest,” and “The Princess whom Nobody Could Silence,” from Fairy Tales from the Far North.

F. Warne & Company, for permission to use “The Money Box,” “The Happy Family,” and “It is Quite True,” from Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales.

J. B. Lippincott, for permission to use “Manabozho and His Toe,” from North American Indian Fairy Tales; “The Three Wishes,” “If Heaven Will It,” and “The Fox and vithe Goose,” from Spanish Fairy Tales; “Hans in Luck,” “The Fox and the Cat,” “The Fisherman and His Wife,” and “The Adventures of Chanticleer and Partlet,” from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Charles Scribner’s Sons, for permission to use “The Fox and the Dove,” “The Fox and the Hedgehog,” “The Disappointed Bear,” and “Young Neverfull,” from Russian Grandmother’s Wonder Stories.

George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., for permission to use “The Flail which Came from the Clouds,” “The Wren and the Bear,” “The Wolf and the Fox,” “The Three Luck-Children,” “The Three Sluggards,” “The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership,” “Old Sultan,” “The Shreds,” “The Fox and the Horse,” “The Seven Swabians,” “The Giant and the Tailor,” and “The Little Shepherd Boy,” from Grimm’s Household Stories.

Joseph McDonough, for permission to use “How the Sun, the Moon and the Wind went out to Dinner,” “Singh Rajah and the Cunning Little Jackals,” “The Blind Man, the Deaf Man and the Donkey,” “The Alligator and the Jackal,” and “The Selfish Sparrow and the Houseless Crows,” from Old Deccan Days.

A. L. Burt & Company, for permission to use “Gudbrand on the Hillside” and “Nanny who Wouldn’t Go to Supper,” from Fairy Tales from the Far North.



When the greenwoods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, ha, he!”
When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread;
Come live and be merry and join with me
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he!”
William Blake.


The Rats and their Son-in-Law (French) 3
The Mouse and the Sausage (French) 6
The Three Wishes (Spanish) 7
The Fox and the Goose (Spanish) 10
If Heaven Will It (Spanish) 12
The Booby (Italian) 14
The Months (Italian) 20
The Stone in the Cock’s Head (Italian) 25
The Fox and the Cat (Cossack) 30
The Straw Ox (Cossack) 32
The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox (Cossack) 36
The Fox and the Dove (Russian) 39
The Fox and the Hedgehog (Russian) 41
The Disappointed Bear (Russian) 43
Young Neverfull (Russian) 45
Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary (Celtic) 47
The Tail (Celtic) 54
Jack and the King who was a Gentleman (Celtic) 55
Hans in Luck (German) 62
The Family Servants (German) 68
The Flail which came from the Clouds (German) 69
The Sole’s Mouth (German) 71
The Three Brothers (German) 72
The Wren and the Bear (German) 74
The Musicians of Bremen (German) 77
The Fox and the Cat (German) 81
The Golden Key (German) 82
Doctor Know-All (German) 83
The Fair Catherine and Pif-Paf Poltrie (German) 86
The Wolf and the Fox (German) 88
Discreet Hans (German) 90
xKing Thrush-beard (German) 93
The Three Luck Children (German) 98
The Three Sluggards (German) 101
The Fisherman and his Wife (German) 102
The Nose-tree (German) 111
The Adventures of Chanticleer and Partlet (German) 118
The Golden Goose (German) 124
The Young Giant (German) 129
The Sweet Soup (German) 137
Seven at one Blow (German) 138
The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership (German) 146
Old Sultan (German) 149
The Nail (German) 152
The Fox and the Horse (German) 153
The Giant and the Tailor (German) 155
The Spider and the Flea (German) 157
The Little Shepherd Boy (German) 160
The Seven Swabians (German) 162
The Shreds (German) 165
The Wolf and the Seven Kids (German) 166
The Elves and the Shoemaker (German) 170
King Wren (German) 172
Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail (German) 176
Three Ways to Build a House (German) 177
How to Tell a True Princess (German) 182
The Five Servants (German) 184
The Hare and the Fox (German) 191
The Story of Zirac (Oriental) 193
Johnny-Cake (English) 197
The Wee, Wee Mannie (Scottish) 200
Sir Gammer Vans (English) 203
Tom Tit Tot (English) 205
The Old Woman and her Pig (English) 211
The Story of the Three Little Pigs (English) 215
The Three Sillies (English) 218
The Cat and the Mouse (English) 222
Hereafterthis (English) 224
Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse (English) 228
The Magpie’s Nest (English) 231
Scrapefoot (English) 233
xiThe Wise Men of Gotham (English) 236
Henny-Penny (English) 241
A Son of Adam (English) 244
The Happy Family (H. C. Andersen) 246
The Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the Donkey (Southern India) 250
The Alligator and the Jackal (Southern India) 258
Why the Fish Laughed (Indian) 263
The Selfish Sparrow and the Houseless Crows (Southern India) 269
The Lambikin (Indian) 271
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (Scandinavian) 274
The Greedy Cat (Scandinavian) 278
Well Done: Ill Paid (Scandinavian) 284
Reynard and Chanticleer (Scandinavian) 287
Father Bruin in the Corner (Scandinavian) 289
Why the Sea is Salt (Scandinavian) 291
Gudbrand on the Hillside (Scandinavian) 296
The Pancake (Scandinavian) 301
The Death of Chanticleer (Scandinavian) 305
Reynard Wants to Taste Horse-flesh (Scandinavian) 309
Bruin and Reynard Partners (Scandinavian) 311
Pork and Honey (Scandinavian) 312
How Reynard Outwitted Bruin (Scandinavian) 314
Nanny Who Wouldn’t Go Home to Supper (Scandinavian) 315
The Box With Something Pretty In It (Scandinavian) 321
The Farmer and the Troll (Scandinavian) 322
One’s Own Children Always Prettiest (Scandinavian) 323
The Princess Whom Nobody Could Silence (Scandinavian) 324
The Money-Box (H. C. Andersen) 328
The Darning-Needle (H. C. Andersen) 331
Master of All Masters (English) 335
Belling the Cat (English) 336
The Magpie and her Children (English) 338
The Cock, the Cuckoo, and the Black-cock (English) 339
The Race Between Hare and Hedgehog (English) 340
Bruno’s Story (Lewis Carroll) 344
The Bluebottle Who Went Courting (English) 346
How Two Beetles Took Lodgings (English) 351
Little Tuppen (Scandinavian) 358
xiiThe Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World (Edward Lear) 361
The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple (Edward Lear) 370
Wee Robin’s Yule-Song (Scottish) 380
The Giant’s Shoes (W. K. Clifford) 382
The Farmer and the Money-Lender (Indian) 385
How the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind Went Out to Dinner (Southern India) 388
Singh Rajah and the Cunning Little Jackals (Southern India) 390
Harisarman (Indian) 393
It Is Quite True (H. C. Andersen) 397
Manabozho and his Toe (North American Indian) 400
The Most Frugal of Men (Chinese) 401
The Moon-Cake (Chinese) 403
The Ladle that Fell from the Moon (Chinese) 404
The Young Head of the Family (Chinese) 407
A Dreadful Boar (Chinese) 412
The Old Man and the Devils (Japanese) 415
The Wonderful Tea-Kettle (Japanese) 417
The Wonderful Mallet (Japanese) 421
The Tongue-Cut Sparrow (Japanese) 425
Battle of the Monkey and the Crab (Japanese) 427
The Cub’s Triumph (Japanese) 429
The Silly Jelly-Fish (Japanese) 432
Chin-Chin Kobakama (Japanese) 435
The Old Woman who Lost her Dumplings (Japanese) 438
The Three Goats (German) 442
The Fox Turned Shepherd (German) 444
The Seven Boys and the Monster (German) 446
The Story of Little Black Mingo (H. Bannerman) 452
The Cock and the Crested Hen (Swedish) 457
The Old Woman and the Fish (Swedish) 459
The Lad and the Fox (Swedish) 462
The Old Woman and the Tramp (Swedish) 463

Tales of Laughter

The Rats and their Son-in-Law

There once lived in Japan a rat and his wife, folk of noble race, who had one beautiful daughter. They were exceedingly proud of her charms, and dreamed, as parents will, of the grand marriage she was sure to make in time. Proud of his pure rodent blood, the father saw no son-in-law more to be desired than a young rat of ancient lineage, whose attentions to his daughter were very marked. This match, however, brilliant as it was, seemed not to the mother’s taste. Like many people who think themselves made out of special clay, she had a very poor opinion of her own kind, and was ambitious for an alliance with the highest circles. Ad astra! (To the stars!) was her motto, she always said, and really, when one has a daughter of incomparable beauty, one may well hope for an equally incomparable son-in-law.

“Address yourself to the sun at once, then,” cried the impatient father one day; “there is nothing above him, surely.”

“Quite so; I had already thought of it,” she answered, “and since you, too, are in sympathy with the idea, we will make our call to-morrow.”

So, on the following morning the proud father and the haughty mother-rat went together to present their lovely daughter to the orb of day.

“Lord Sun,” said the mother, “let me present our only daughter, who is so beautiful that there is nothing like her in the whole world. Naturally we desire a son-in-law as wonderful as she, and, as you see, we have come to you first of all.”

“Really,” said the sun, “I am extremely flattered by your proposal, but you do me too much honor; there is some one 4greater than I; it is the cloud. Look, if you do not believe.” ... And at that moment the cloud arrived, and with one waft of his folds extinguished the sun with all his golden rays.

“Very well; let us speak to the cloud, then,” said the mother-rat, not in the least disconcerted.

“Immensely honored, I am sure,” replied the cloud in his turn, “but you are again mistaken; there is some one greater than I; it is the wind. You shall see.”

At the same moment along came the wind, and with one blow swept the cloud out of sight, after which, overturning father, mother, and daughter, he tumbled with them, pell-mell, at the foot of an old wall.

“Quick, quick,” cried the mother-rat, struggling to her feet, “and let us repeat our compliments to the wind.”

“You’d better address yourself to the wall,” growled the wind roughly. “You see very well he is greater than I, for he stops me and makes me draw back.”

No sooner had she heard these words than mother-rat faced about and presented her daughter to the wall. Ah, but now the fair rat-maiden imitated the wind; she drew back also. He whom she really adored in her heart of hearts was the fascinating young rat who had paid his court to her so well. However, to please her mother, she had consented to wed the sun, in spite of his blinding rays, or the cloud, in spite of his sulky look, even the wind, in spite of his brusque manner; but an old, broken wall!... No! death would be better a thousand times.

Fortunately the wall excused himself, like all the rest. “Certainly,” he said, “I can stop the wind, who can sweep away the cloud, who can cover up the sun, but there is some one greater than I: it is the rat, who can pass through my body, and can even, if he chooses, reduce me to powder with his teeth. Believe me, you need seek no better son-in-law; greater than the rat, there is nothing in the world.”

“Do you hear that, wife, do you hear it?” cried father-rat in triumph. “Didn’t I always say so?”

“Quite true! you always did,” returned the mother-rat in 5wonder, and suddenly glowed with pride in her ancient name and lineage.

So they all three went home, very happy and contented, and on the morrow the lovely rat-maiden married her faithful rat-lover.


The Mouse and the Sausage

Once upon a time a little mouse and a little sausage, who loved each other like sisters, decided to live together, and made their arrangements in such a way that every day one would go to walk in the fields, or make purchases in town, while the other remained at home to keep the house.

One day, when the little sausage had prepared cabbage for dinner, the little mouse, who had come back from town with a fine appetite, enjoyed it so greatly that she exclaimed: “How delicious the cabbage is to-day, my dear!”

“Ah!” answered the little sausage, “that is because I popped myself into the pot while it was cooking.”

On the next day, as it was her turn to prepare the meals, the little mouse said to herself: “Now I will do as much for my friend as she did for me; we will have lentils for dinner, and I will jump into the pot while they are boiling,” and she let the action follow the word, without reflecting that a simple sausage can do some things which are out of the reach of even the wisest mouse.

When the sausage came home, she found the house lonely and silent. She called again and again, “My little mouse! Mouse of my heart!” but no one answered. Then she went to look at the lentils boiling on the stove, and, alas! found within the pot her good little friend, who had perished at the post of duty.

Poor mousie, with the best intentions in the world, had stayed too long at her cookery, and when she desired to climb out of the pot, had no longer the strength to do so.

And the poor sausage could never be consoled! That is why to-day, when you put one in the pan or on the gridiron, you will hear her weep and sigh, “M-my p-poor m-mouse! Ah, m-my p-poor m-mouse!”


The Three Wishes

Many years ago there was an old married man, who, although poor, had worked very diligently all his life on his little piece of ground. One winter’s night, as this old man was seated with his wife in front of their comfortable hearth in social chat, instead of giving thanks to God for the benefits they enjoyed, they spent the time in enumerating the good things possessed by their neighbors, and in wishing that they belonged to them.

“Instead of my little hut, which is on bad soil, and only fit to house a donkey in, I would like to have the farm of old Polainas!” exclaimed the old man.

“And I,” added his wife, who was annoyed that he did not aspire higher, “instead of that, would like to have our neighbor’s house, which is nearly new.”

“And I,” continued her husband, “instead of our old donkey, which can scarcely carry an empty sack, would like to have Polainas’s mule!”

“And I,” exclaimed the wife, “would like to have such a fat porker as our neighbor has to kill! Some people seem only to wish for a thing in order to get it. How I should like to see my wishes accomplished!”

Scarcely had she uttered these words, than they beheld a most beautiful little woman standing in front of the fire. She was so small that her height could not have been more than eighteen inches, while she wore a crown like a queen’s upon her head. Her tunic and veil were almost transparent, and seemed made of white smoke, while the sparks from the fire crackled and jumped like fireworks about her, and sparkled around her as glittering spangles.

In her hand she bore a little golden scepter, the end of which was formed by a gleaming ruby.

8“I am the Fairy Fortunata,” said she to them; “I was passing by here, and I have heard your complaints. I have so much anxiety to accomplish your desires that I come to promise you the realization of three wishes: one to you,” she said to the wife; “the other to you,” to the husband, “and the third must be mutual and agreeable to the desire of you both. This last I will agree to in person to-morrow, when I will return at this time; and until then I leave you to think of what it shall be.”

When she had said these words, the beautiful fairy sprang through the flames and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

The delight of the worthy couple may be imagined, and the number of wishes, numerous as suitors at the door of a minister, which presented themselves to their minds. Their desires were so many that, not knowing which to select, they determined to defer the definite decision to the following day. After having had all the night to think the matter over, they began to discuss entirely different things, and in a little while their conversation recurred to their wealthy neighbors.

“I was at their house to-day,” said the husband; “they were making black puddings. Ah, such black puddings! It would have done you good to see them!”

“I would like to have one of them here,” replied the wife, “to roast on the ashes for supper.”

Scarcely had she uttered the words than there appeared upon the ashes the most delicious-looking black pudding that could possibly be imagined.

The woman remained staring at it with open mouth and eyes starting out of her head. But her husband jumped up in despair, and after striding up and down the room, tearing his hair in desperation, said: “Through your gluttony, you greedy woman, we have lost one of the wishes! Good Heavens, what a woman this is! More stupid than a goose! It makes me desperate; I detest you and the black pudding, too, and I wish it were stuck on to your nose!”

No sooner had he spoken than there was the black pudding hanging from the place indicated!

9Then was the old man struck with horror and his wife with desperation!

“You see what you have done, evil tongue!” exclaimed she, as she made useless exertions to tear the appendage from her nose; “if I employed my wish badly, at least it was to my own disadvantage, and not to the injury of any one else; but the sin carries its punishment with it, for I will not have any other wish, nor desire anything else than that the black pudding be taken off my nose.”

“Wife, for Heaven’s sake! What of the new house?”


“Wife, for Heaven’s sake, think of the farm!”

“It does not matter.”

“My dear, let us wish for a fortune, and then we will have a golden case for the black pudding.”

“I will not hear of it.”

“Then you would have us left just as we were before?”

“That is all that I wish for.”

And for all that the man could say, nothing could alter his wife’s determination, who grew more and more enraged with her double nose, and could scarcely keep off the dog and the cat, who both wished to make free with it.

When, on the following night, the fairy appeared and asked them what was their last wish, they said to her: “We see how blind and foolish it is of men to fancy that the realization of their wishes will make them happy.”

Nor is happiness in the accomplishment of our wishes, but rather in the not having any. He is rich who possesses what he wants; but happy is he who wishes for nothing.


The Fox and the Goose

A fox and a goose were very great friends. The goose, which, as you know, is a very honest and industrious bird, said to the fox:

“Friend fox, I have a little bit of property here, and if you like to join with me, we will cultivate it between us.”

“That would greatly please me,” answered the fox.

“Then it will be necessary to till it together when the season arrives,” said the goose.

“Very well,” replied the fox.

A little afterward, when they met, the goose said:

“It is time to sow the seed.”

“That is your business,” said the fox. “I have nothing to do with that.”

Some months passed, when the goose said to the fox:

“Friend, the grass is choking the wheat; it is necessary to weed the field.”

“Very well,” answered the fox, “you see to that; it is not my business.”

A short time passed by, when the goose said to the fox:

“Friend, the wheat is ripe, and must be reaped.”

“All right,” replied the fox, “you attend to that; it is not my business.”

Then the goose, for all her good nature, began to be distrustful, and told her friend the greyhound what had passed.

The greyhound, who was very shrewd, saw at once that the fox was going to play off one of his tricks upon the goose’s good nature, and said to her:

“Reap the wheat; put it in the barn, and hide me in a sheaf of corn, without leaving more than one eye uncovered, so that I may see all that may happen.”

11The goose did as the greyhound had said, and after a time the fox arrived, and when he saw the barn filled with splendid wheat already thrashed, he was very delighted, and, dancing about, sang:

“Lió, lió,
The straw and wheat are mine!
Lió, lió,
The straw and wheat are mine!”

As he said this, he approached the sheaf in which the greyhound was concealed, and on seeing the eye among the straw, cried:

“Ah, there’s a grape!”

“But it is not ripe,” replied the greyhound, as he leaped out of his hiding place, and killed the fox.


If Heaven Will It

Once upon a time a Galician was returning to his home after having spent some time in Seville. When he was close to his abode, he met some one who inquired where he was going.

“To my native place,” replied the Galician.

“If Heaven will it,” answered the former.

“Whether Heaven will it or no,” added the Galician to himself, already seeing his village from afar, and being only separated from its outskirts by a river.

Scarcely had he muttered the words ere he fell into the water and was changed into a frog.

In this condition the poor man lived for three years, being in continual danger from his spiteful foes, bad boys, leeches, and storks. At the end of three years another Galician returning home happened to pass by there, and a wayfarer chancing to ask him whither he was going, replied:

“To my native place.”

“If Heaven will it,” croaked a frog that poked its head up out of the water.

And when it had said this, the frog, which was the first Galician of the tale, suddenly found itself once more a man.

He went on his way gayer than Easter, and having met with another traveler, who asked him whither he went, he answered him:

“To my own place, if Heaven will it; to see my wife, if Heaven will it; to see my children, if Heaven will it; to see my cow, if Heaven will it; to sow my land, if Heaven will it; so that I may get a good harvest from it, if Heaven will it.”

13And as he religiously added to everything, “If Heaven will it,” he was allowed to see his wishes accomplished. He found his wife and children well; his cow became the mother of a fine calf; he sowed his field, and reaped a good harvest, and all because Heaven willed it.


The Booby

An ignorant man who associates with clever people has always been more praised than a wise man who keeps the company of fools, for as much profit and fame as a man gains from the former, so much wealth and honor one may lose by the fault of the latter, and as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, you will know from the story that I am going to tell you whether my proposition is true.

There was once a man who was as rich as the sea, but as there never can be any perfect happiness in this world, he had a son so idle and good-for-nothing that he could not tell a carob from a cucumber. So, being unable any longer to put up with his folly, he gave him a good handful of crowns, and sent him to travel to the Levant, for he well knew that seeing various countries and mixing with divers people works genius, sharpens the judgment, and makes men expert.

Moscione (for that was the name of the son) got on horseback and began his journey toward Venice, the arsenal of the wonders of the world, to embark on board some vessel bound for Cairo, and when he had traveled a good day’s journey he met with a person who was standing fixed at the foot of a poplar, to whom he said: “What is your name, my lad, whence are you, and what is your trade?” And the lad replied: “My name is Lightning, I am from Arrowland, and I can run like the wind.” “I should like to see a proof of it,” said Moscione, and Lightning answered, “Wait a moment, and you will see whether it is dust or flour.”

When they had stood waiting a little while a doe came bounding over the plain, and Lightning, letting her pass on some way, to give himself a handicap, darted after her so rapidly and light of foot that he would have gone over plains 15covered with flour without leaving the mark of his shoe, and in four bounds he came up with her. Moscione, amazed at this exploit, asked if he would come and live with him, and promised to pay him a salary.

So Lightning consented, and they went on their way together, but they had not journeyed many miles when they met another youth, to whom Moscione said: “What is your name, comrade, what country are you from, and what’s your trade?” “My name,” replied the lad, “is Hare’s-ear, I am from Vale Curious, and when I put my ear to the ground I hear all that is passing in the world without stirring from the spot. I perceive the monopolies and the agreements of tradespeople to raise the prices of all things, the ill-offices of courtiers, the appointments of lawyers, the plots of robbers, the reports of spies, the complaints of servants, the gossiping of old women, and the oaths of service, so that neither Lucian’s cocks nor Francois’s lantern discovered so much as my ears can.”

“If that be true,” said Moscione, “tell me what they are saying at my home.”

So the lad put his ear to the ground, and replied: “An old man is talking to his wife and saying, ‘Praised be Sol in Lea, I have got rid from my side of that fellow, Moscione, that nail in my heart, with his face of old-fashioned crockery. By traveling through the world he will at least become a man, and no longer be such a stupid donkey, such a simpleton, such a lose-the-day fellow, such a——‘”

“Stop, stop!” cried Moscione. “You told the truth, and I believe you, so come along with me, for you have found the road to good luck.”

“Well and good,” said the youth. So they all went on together and traveled ten miles farther, when they met another man, to whom Moscione said: “My brave fellow, where were you born and what can you do in the world?” And the man answered: “My name is Shoot-straight, I am from Castle Aim-well, and I can shoot with a crossbow so point-blank as to hit a crab-apple in the middle.”

“I should like to see a proof,” said Moscione, so the lad 16charged his crossbow, took aim, and made a pea leap from the top of the stone window. Moscione took him also, like the others, into his company, and they traveled on another day’s journey, until they came to some people who were building a large pier in the scorching heat of the sun, and who might well say, “Boy, put water to the wind, for my heart is burning.” So Moscione had compassion on them and said, “My masters, how is it you have the heart to stand in this furnace, which is bound to roast a buffalo?” And one of them answered: “Ah! we are as cool as roses, for we have a young man here who blows upon us from behind in such a manner that it seems as if the west wind were blowing.” “Let me see him, I pray,” cried Moscione, and so the mason called the lad, and Moscione said to him: “Tell me, by the life of your father, what is your name, what country are you from, and what is your profession?” And the lad replied: “My name is Blowblast, I am from Windy Land, and I can make all the winds with my mouth. If you wish a zephyr, I will breathe one that will send you into transports. If you wish for a squall, I will blow down houses.”

“Seeing is believing,” said Moscione, whereupon Blowblast breathed at first quite gently, so that it seemed to be the wind that blows in Posilippo toward evening; then, turning suddenly to some trees, he sent forth such a furious blast that it uprooted a row of oaks.

When Moscione saw this he took him for a companion, and, traveling on as far again, he met another lad, to whom he said: “What is your name, if I may make so bold? Whence are you, if one may ask, and what is your trade, if it is a fair question?” And the lad answered, “My name is Strongback, I am from Valentino, and I have such strength that I take a mountain on my back, and it seems to me a mere feather.” “If that be the case,” said Moscione, “you deserve to be a king of the custom house, and you should be chosen for the standard-bearer on the first of May, but I should like to see a proof of what you say.” Then Strongback began to load himself with masses of rock, stumps of trees, and so many other weights 17that a thousand large wagons could not have carried them, so, when Moscione saw the feat, he persuaded the lad to join them.

So they traveled on till they came to Fairflower, the king of which place had a daughter who ran like the wind and could pass over the waving corn without bending an ear, and the king had issued a proclamation that whoever should overtake her in running should have her to wife, but whoever was left behind should lose his head.

Moscione arrived in this country and heard the proclamation. He went straight to the king and offered to run with the daughter, making the wise agreement either to win the race or leave his noddle there. But in the morning he sent to inform the king that he was taken ill, and, being unable to run himself, he would send another man in his place. “Come who will,” said Ciennetella (for that was the king’s daughter), “I care not a fig; it is all one to me.”

So when the great square was filled with people come to see the race, insomuch that the men swarmed like ants, and the windows and roofs were all as full as an egg, Lightning came out and took his stand at the top of the square waiting for the signal, and lo, forth came Ciennetella, dressed in a little gown tucked half-way up to her knees, and a neat and pretty little shoe with a single sole. Then they placed themselves shoulder to shoulder, and, as soon as the Tarantará and the Too-too of the trumpets was heard, off they darted, running at such a rate that their hair touched their shoulders, and in truth they seemed just like foxes with the greyhounds after them, horses broken loose from the stable, dogs with kettles tied to their tails, or jackasses with furze bushes behind them. But Lightning (as he was by name and nature) left the princess more than a hand’s breadth behind him, and came first to the goal. Then you should have heard the buzzing and shouting and cries and the uproar, the whistling and clapping of all the people calling out, “Hurrah, long live the stranger!” whereat Ciennetella’s face turned as red as a schoolboy’s who is going to be whipped, and she stood lost with shame and confusion at 18seeing herself vanquished. But as there were to be two heats to the race, she fell to planning her revenge for this affront, and, going home, she put a charm in her ring with such a power that if any one had it on his finger, his legs would toddle so that he would not be able to walk, much less to run, and she sent it as a present to Lightning, begging him to wear it on his finger for love of her.

Hare’s-ear, who heard this trick plotted between the father and daughter, said nothing, and wanted to see the upshot of the affair, and when, at the trumpeting of the birds, they returned to the field, at the usual signal they fell to plying their heels. But if Ciennetella was like another Atalanta, Lightning had become like a shoulder-slipped ass and a foundered horse, for he could not stir a step, but Shoot-straight, who saw his coming danger, and heard from Hare’s-ear how matters stood, laid hold on his crossbow and shot the arrow so exactly that it hit Lightning’s finger, and out shot the stone from the ring in which the virtue of the charm lay, whereupon his legs that had been tied were set free, and with four good leaps he passed Ciennetella and won the race. The king, seeing the palm thus carried off by this figure of a blockhead, by a simpleton, the triumph of a fool, bethought himself seriously whether or not he should give him his daughter, and taking counsel with the wiseacres of his court, they replied that Ciennetella was not a mouthful for the tooth of such a miserable dog and lose-the-day bird, so that, without breaking his word, he might commute the terms of his daughter with a gift of crowns, which would be more to the taste of a poor beggar like Moscione than all the women in the world.

This advice pleased the king, and he asked Moscione how much money he would take to consider a wife who had been promised. Then Moscione, after consulting the others, said: “I will take as much gold and silver as one of my comrades can carry on his back.” The king consented, whereupon they brought Strongback, and on him began to lay bales of ducats, large purses full of crowns, pails of copper money, and kettles full of chains and rings, but the more they loaded him the 19firmer he stood, just like a tower, so that the treasurer, the bankers, the usurers, and the money dealers of the city did not suffice, and the king sent to all of the great people in every direction to borrow their silver candlesticks, basins, jugs, plates, brasses, and baskets, and yet there was not enough to make up a full load. At length Moscione and his companions went away, however, not laden, but tired and satisfied.

When the counselors saw what heaps of stores these four miserable fellows were carrying off, they said to the king that it was a great piece of nonsense to load them with all the sinews of his kingdom, and that it would be well to send people after them to lessen the load of that Atlas who was carrying on his shoulders a world of treasure. The king gave ear to this advice, and immediately despatched a party of armed men, foot and horse, to overtake Moscione and his friends, but Hare’s-ear, who had heard this counsel, informed his comrades, and while the dust was rising to the sky from the tramping of those who were coming to unload the rich cargo, Blowblast, seeing that things were come to a bad pass, began to blow at such a rate that he not only made the enemies fall flat on the ground, but he sent them flying more than a mile distant, as a north wind does those people who pass through his country. So, without meeting any more hindrances, Moscione arrived at his father’s house, where he shared the booty with his companions, since the saying goes, “A good deed deserves a good meed.” So he sent them away content and happy, but he stayed with his father, rich beyond measure, giving no lie to the saying, “Heaven sends biscuits to him who has no teeth.”


The Months

It is a saying worthy to be written in letters as big as those on a catafalque, that silence never harmed any one, and let it not be imagined that those slanderers who never speak well of others, but are always cutting and stinging and pinching and biting, ever gain anything by their malice; for when the bags come to be shaken out, it has always been seen, and is so still, that while the good word gains love and profit, slander brings enmity and ruin, and when you shall have heard how this happens, you will see I speak with reason.

Once upon a time there were two brothers, Cianne, who was as rich as a lord, and Lise, who had barely enough to live upon; but poor as one was in fortune, so pitiful was the other in mind, for he would not have given his brother a farthing were it to save his life; so that poor Lise in despair left his country, and set out to wander over the world. And he wandered on and on, till one wet and cold evening he came to an inn, where he found twelve youths seated around a fire, who, when they saw poor Lise benumbed with cold, partly from the severe season and partly from his ragged clothes, invited him to sit down by the fire.

Lise accepted the invitation, for he needed it greatly, and began to warm himself, and as he was doing so, one of the young men, whose face was such a picture of moroseness as to make you die of affright, said to him: “What think you, countryman, of this weather?”

“What do I think of it?” replied Lise. “I think that all the months of the year perform their duty; but we, who know not what we would have, wish to give less praise to Heaven, and, wanting to have things our own way, we do not fish deeply enough to the bottom to find out whether what comes into our fancy be good or evil, useful or hurtful. In winter when it 21rains, we want the sun in Leo, and in the month of August the clouds to discharge themselves; not reflecting that were this the case, the seasons would be turned topsy-turvy, the seed sown would be lost, the crops would be destroyed, the bodies of men would faint away, and nature would go head over heels. Therefore, let us leave Heaven to its own course; for it has made the tree to mitigate with wood the severity of winter, and leaves to soften the heat of summer.”

“You speak like Solomon!” said the youth; “but you cannot deny that this month of March, in which we now are, is very impertinent to send all this frost and rain, snow and hail, wind and storm, these fogs and tempests and other troubles, that make one’s life a burden.”

“You tell only the ill of this poor month,” replied Lise, “but do not speak of the benefits it yields to us; for, by bringing forward the spring, it commences the production of things, helps along the cause with the sun, and leads him to the house of the rain.”

The youth was greatly pleased at what Lise said, for he was in truth no other than March himself, who had arrived at that inn with his eleven brothers, and to reward Lise’s goodness, who had not found anything evil to say of a month so sad that the shepherds do not like to mention it, he gave him a beautiful little casket, saying, “Take this, and if you want anything, only ask for it, and, opening this box, you will see it before you.” Lise thanked the youth, with many expressions of respect, and laying the little box under his head by way of a pillow, he went to sleep.

As soon, however, as the sun, with the pencil of his rays, had retouched the dark shadows of the night, Lise took leave of the youth and set out on his way. But he had hardly proceeded fifty steps from the inn, when, opening the casket, he said: “Ah, my friend, I wish I had a litter lined with cloth, and with a little fire inside, that I might travel warm and comfortable through the snow!” No sooner had he uttered the words, than there appeared a litter, with bearers, who, lifting 22him up, placed him in it; whereupon he told them to carry him home.

When the hour was come for food, Lise opened the little box and said: “I wish for something to eat.” And instantly there appeared a profusion of the choicest food; such a banquet that ten crowned kings might have feasted on it.

One evening, having come to a wood, which did not give admittance to the sun, because he came through suspected places,[1] Lise opened the little casket and said: “I should like to rest tonight on this beautiful spot, where the river is making counterpoint on the stones as accompaniment to the canto-fermo of the cool breezes.” And instantly there appeared, under an oilcloth tent, a couch of fine scarlet, with down mattresses, covered with a Spanish counterpane and sheets as light as a feather. Then he asked for something to eat, and in a trice there was set out a sideboard covered with silver and gold fit for a prince, and under another tent a table spread with viands, the savory smell of which extended a hundred miles.

1.  Alluding to the quarantine which ships were subject to in coming from the East.

When he had eaten enough, he laid himself down to sleep, and as soon as the cock, who is the spy of the sun, announced to his master that the shades of night were worn and wearied, and it was now time for him, like a skilful general, to fall upon the rear and make a slaughter of them, Lise opened his little box and said: “I wish to have a handsome dress, for today I shall see my brother, and I should like to make his mouth water.” No sooner said than done; immediately a princely dress of the richest black velvet appeared, with edgings of red camlet, and a lining of yellow cloth embroidered all over, which looked like a field of flowers; so, dressing himself, Lise got into the litter, and soon reached his brother’s house.

When Cianne saw his brother arrive with all his splendor and luxury, he wished to know what good fortune had befallen him. Then Lise told him of the youths whom he had 23met at the inn, and of the present they had made him, but he kept to himself the conversation of the youths.

Cianne was all impatience to get away from his brother, and told him to go and rest himself, as he was no doubt tired. Then he started post-haste, and soon arrived at the inn, where, finding the same youths, he fell into chat with them. And when the youth asked him the same question, what he thought of the month of March, Cianne, making a big mouth, said: “Confound the miserable month! the enemy of the shepherds, which stirs up all the ill-humors and brings sickness to our bodies—a month of which, whenever we want to announce ruin to a man, we say, ‘Go; March has shaved you,’ a month, in short, so hateful that it would be the best fortune for the world, the greatest blessing to the earth, the greatest gain to men, were it excluded from the band of brothers.”

March, who heard himself thus slandered, suppressed his anger till the morning, intending then to reward Cianne for his calumny; and when Cianne wished to depart, he gave him a fine whip, saying to him, “Whenever you wish for anything, only say, ‘Whip, give me an hundred!’ and you shall see pearls strung upon a rush.”

Cianne, thanking the youth, went his way in great haste, not wishing to make trial of the whip until he reached home. But hardly had he set foot in the house, when he went into a secret chamber, intending to hide the money which he expected to receive from the whip, and he said, “Whip, give me an hundred!” whereupon the whip gave him more than he looked for, making counterpoint on his legs and face like a musical composer, so that Lise, hearing his cries, came running out of the study; and when he saw that the whip, like a runaway horse, could not stop itself, he opened the little box and brought it to a standstill. Then he asked Cianne what had happened to him, and, upon hearing his story, he told him he had no one to blame but himself, for, like a blockhead, he alone had caused his misfortune, acting like a camel that wanted to have horns and lose his ears. He bade him mind another time and keep a bridle on his tongue, which was the key that had opened to 24him the storehouse of misfortune; for if he had spoken well of the youths, he would, perhaps, have had the same good luck as himself, and he cautioned him especially to speak well of every one in future, good words being a merchandise that costs nothing, and usually brings profit that is not expected. In conclusion, Lise comforted him, bidding him not seek more wealth than Heaven had given him, that his little casket would suffice to fill the houses of thirty misers, and Cianne should be master of all he possessed, since, to the generous man, Heaven is treasurer, and he added that, although another brother might have ill-will toward Cianne for the cruelty with which he had treated him in his poverty, yet he reflected that his avarice had been a favorable wind which had brought him to this port, and therefore wished to show himself grateful for the benefit.

When Cianne heard these things, he begged his brother’s pardon for his past unkindness, and, entering into partnership, they enjoyed together their good fortune, and from that time forward Cianne spoke well of everything, however bad it might be.


The Stone in the Cock’s Head

There was once in the City of Dark-Grotto a certain man named Minecco Aniello, who was so persecuted by fortune that all his household goods and movables consisted only of a short-legged cock, which he had reared upon bread-crumbs. But one morning, being driven frantic with an appetite (for hunger drives the wolf from the thicket), he took it into his head to sell the cock; and, taking it to the market, he met two thievish magicians, with whom he made a bargain, and sold it for half a crown. They told him to take it to their house and they would count him out the money, and they went their way, but Minecco Aniello, following them, overheard them talking gibberish together and saying, “Who would have told us that we would meet with such a piece of good luck, Jennarone? This cock will make our fortune to a certainty by the stone which, you know, he has in his pate. We will quickly have it set in a ring, and then we shall have everything we could ask for.” “Be quiet, Jacovuccio,” answered Jennarone; “I see myself rich, and can hardly believe it; and I am longing to twist the cock’s neck, and give a kick in the face of beggary; for in this world virtue without money goes for nothing, and a man is judged of by his coat.”

When Minecco Aniello, who had traveled about in the world and eaten bread from more than one oven, heard this gibberish, he turned on his heel and scampered off, and, running home, he twisted the cock’s neck, and opening its head, found the stone, which he had instantly set in a brass ring. Then, to make a trial of its virtue, he said: “I wish to become a youth eighteen years old.”

Hardly had he uttered the words, when his blood began to 26flow more quickly, his nerves became stronger, his limbs firmer, his flesh fresher, his eyes more fiery, his silver hairs were turned to gold; his mouth, which was a sacked village, became peopled with teeth; his beard, which was as thick as wood, became like a nursery garden; in short, he was changed to a most beautiful youth. Then he said again: “I wish for a splendid palace, and to marry a king’s daughter,” and lo, there instantly appeared a palace of incredible magnificence, in which were apartments that would amaze you, columns to astound you, pictures to fill you with wonder; silver glittered around and gold was trodden under foot; the jewels dazzled your eyes; the servants swarmed like ants, the horses and carriages were not to be counted; in short, there was such a display of riches that the king stared at the sight, and willingly gave him his daughter, Nalalizia.

Meanwhile the magicians, having discovered Minecco Aniello’s great wealth, laid a plan to rob him of his good fortune; so they made a pretty little doll, which played and danced by means of clockwork, and, dressing themselves like merchants, they went to Pentella, the daughter of Minecco Aniello, under pretext of selling it to her. When Pentella saw the beautiful little thing, she asked them what price they put upon it, and they replied that it could not be bought for money, but that she might have it and welcome if she would only do them a favor, which was to let them see the make of the ring which her father possessed, in order to take a model and make another like it; then they would give her the doll without any payment at all.

Pentella, who had never heard the proverb, “Think well before you buy anything cheap,” instantly accepted this offer, and bade them return the next morning, when she promised to ask her father to lend her the ring. So the magicians went away, and when her father returned home, Pentella coaxed and caressed him, until at last she persuaded him to give her the ring, making the excuse that she was sad at heart, and wished to divert her mind a little.

When the next day came, as soon as the scavenger of the 27sun swept the last trace of the shades from the streets and squares of heaven, the magicians returned, and no sooner had they the ring in their hands than they instantly vanished, and not a trace of them was to be seen, so that poor Pentella had like to have died with terror.

But when the magicians came to a wood, where the branches of some of the trees were dancing a sword dance, and the boughs of others were playing together at hot-cockles, they desired the ring to break the spell by which the old man had become young again, and instantly Minecco Aniello, who was just at that minute in the presence of the king, was suddenly seen to grow hoary, his hairs to whiten, his forehead to wrinkle, his eyebrows to grow bristly, his eyes to sink in, his face to be furrowed, his mouth to become toothless, his beard to grow bushy, his back to be humped, his legs to tremble, and, above all, his glittering garments to return to rags and tatters.

The king, seeing this miserable beggar seated beside him at table, ordered him to be instantly driven away with blows and hard words; whereupon Aniello, thus suddenly fallen from his good luck, went weeping to his daughter, and asked for the ring in order to set matters to rights again. But when he heard the fatal trick of the false merchant, he was ready to throw himself out of the window, cursing a thousand times the ignorance of his daughter, who, for the sake of a silly doll, had turned him into a miserable scarecrow, and for a paltry thing of rags had brought him to rags himself, adding that he was resolved to go wandering about the world, like a bad shilling, until he should get tidings of those merchants. So saying, he threw a cloak about his neck and a wallet on his back, drew his sandals on his feet, took a staff in his hand, and, leaving his daughter all chilled and frozen, he set out walking desperately on until he came to the kingdom of Deep-Hole, inhabited by mice, where, having been taken for a big spy of the cats, he was instantly led before Rosecone,[2] the king. The king at once asked him who he was, whence he came, and what he was 28about in that country; and Minecco Aniello, after first giving the king a cheese-paring, in sign of tribute, related to him all his misfortunes, one by one, and concluded by saying that he was resolved to continue his toil and travel until he could get tidings of those thievish villains who had robbed him of so precious a jewel, taking from him at once the flower of his youth, the source of his wealth, and the prop of his honor.

2.  Nibbler.

At these words Rosecone felt pity nibbling at his heart; and wishing to comfort the poor man, he summoned the oldest mice to a council, and asked their opinions on the misfortunes of Minecco Aniello, commanding them to use all diligence and endeavor to obtain some tidings of those false merchants. Now among the rest it happened that Rudolo and Saltariello[3] were present, good mice who were used to the ways of the world, and had lived for six years at a tavern of great resort hard by, and they said to Aniello: “Be of good heart, comrade! Matters will turn out better than you imagine. You must know that one day, when we were in a room at the hostelry of the Horn, where the most famous men of the world lodge and make merry, two persons from the Hook Castle came in, who, after they had eaten their fill and had seen the bottom of their flagon, fell to talking of a trick they had played a certain old man of Dark-Grotto, and how they had cheated him out of a stone of great value, which one of them, named Jennarone, said he would never take from his finger, that he might not run the risk of losing it, as the old man’s daughter had done.”

3.  Nibbler and Skipjack.

When Minecco Aniello heard this, he told the two mice that if they would trust themselves to accompany him to the country where these rogues lived, and recover the ring for him, he would give them a good lot of cheese and salt meat, which they might eat and enjoy with his majesty, the king. Then the two mice, after bargaining for a suitable reward, offered to go over sea and mountain, and taking leave of his mousy majesty, they set out.

After journeying a long way, they arrived at Hook Castle, where the mice told Minecco Aniello to remain under some 29trees on the brink of the river, which, much like a leech, drew the moisture from the land and discharged it into the sea. Then they went to seek the house of the magicians; and, observing that Jennarone never took the ring from his finger, they stood to gain the victory by stratagem; so, waiting till night had dyed with purple grape-juice the sunburnt face of heaven, and the magicians had gone to bed and were fast asleep, Rudolo began to nibble the finger on which the ring was; whereupon Jennarone, feeling the smart, took the ring off and laid it on a table at the bed’s head. But as soon as Saltariello saw this, he bobbed the ring into his mouth, and in four skips he was off to find Minecco Aniello, and with even greater joy than the man at the gallows feels when the pardon arrives, he instantly turned the magicians into two jackasses, and, throwing his mantle over one of them, he bestrode him like a noble count; then he loaded the other with cheese and bacon, and set off toward Deep-Hole, where, having given presents to the king and his counselors, he thanked them for all the good fortune he had received by their assistance, praying Heaven that no mouse-trap might ever lay hold of them, that no cat might ever harm them, and that no arsenic might ever poison them. Then, leaving that country, Minecco Aniello returned to Dark-Grotto, even more handsome than before, and was received by the king and his daughter with the greatest affection of the heart, and having ordered the two asses cast down from a rock, he lived happily with his wife, never more taking the ring from his finger, that he might not again commit such a folly.


The Fox and the Cat

In a certain forest there once lived a fox, and near to the fox lived a man who had a cat that had been a good mouser in its youth, but was now old and half-blind. The man didn’t want puss any longer, but not liking to kill him, took him out into the forest and lost him there. Then the fox came up and said:

“Why, Mr. Shaggy Matthew! How d’ye do? What brings you here?”

“Alas!” said pussy, “my master loved me as long as I could bite, but now that I can bite no longer, and have left off catching mice—and I used to catch them finely once—he doesn’t like to kill me, but he has left me in the wood, where I must perish miserably.”

“No, dear pussy!” said the fox; “you leave it to me, and I’ll help you get your daily bread.”

“You are very good, dear little sister foxy!” said the cat, and the fox built him a little shed with a garden round it to walk about in.

Now one day the hare came to steal the man’s cabbage. “Kreem-kreem-kreem!” he squeaked. But the cat popped his head out of the window, and when he saw the hare, he put up his back and stuck up his tail and said:


The hare was frightened and ran away and told the bear, the wolf, and the wild boar all about it.

“Never mind,” said the bear, “I tell you what, we’ll all four give a banquet, and invite the fox and the cat, and do for the pair of them. Now, look here! I’ll steal the man’s mead; and you, Mr. Wolf, steal his fat-pot; and you, Mr. Wildboar, root up his fruit trees; and you, Mr. Bunny, go and invite the fox and the cat to dinner.”

31So they made everything ready as the bear had said, and the hare ran off to invite the guests. He came beneath the window and said:

“We invite your little ladyship, Foxy-Woxy, together with Mr. Shaggy Matthew, to dinner”—and back he ran again.

“But you should have told them to bring their spoons with them,” said the bear.

“Oh, what a head I’ve got! if I didn’t quite forget!” cried the hare, and back he went again, ran beneath the window, and cried:

“Mind you bring your spoons!”

“Very well,” said the fox.

So the cat and the fox went to the banquet, and when the cat saw the bacon, he put up his back and stuck out his tail and cried:

“Mee-oo, mee-oo!” with all his might. But they thought he said:

“Ma-lo, ma-lo!”[4]

4.  What a little! what a little!

“What!” said the bear, who was hiding behind the beeches with the other beasts, “here have all we four been getting together all we could, and this pig-faced cat calls it too little! What a monstrous cat he must be to have such an appetite!”

So they were all four very frightened, and the bear climbed up a tree, and the others hid where they could. But when the cat saw the boar’s bristles sticking out from behind the bushes he thought it was a mouse, and put up his back again and cried:

“Ft! ft! ft! Frrrrrrr!”

Then they were more frightened than ever. And the boar went into a bush still farther off, and the wolf went behind an oak, and the bear got down from the tree, and climbed up into a bigger one, and the hare ran right away.

But the cat remained in the midst of all the good things and ate away at the bacon, and the little fox gobbled up the honey, and they ate and ate till they couldn’t eat any more, and then they both went home licking their paws.


The Straw Ox

There was once upon a time an old man and an old woman. The old man worked in the fields as a pitch burner, while the old woman sat at home and spun flax. They were so poor that they could save nothing at all; all their earnings went in bare food, and when that was gone there was nothing left. At last the old woman had a good idea.

“Look, now, husband,” cried she, “make me a straw ox, and smear it all over with tar.”

“Why, you foolish woman!” said he, “what’s the good of an ox of that sort?”

“Never mind,” said she; “you just make it. I know what I am about.”

What was the poor man to do? He set to work and made the ox of straw, and smeared it all over with tar.

The night passed away, and at early dawn the old woman took her distaff and drove the straw ox out into the steppe to graze, and she herself sat down behind a hillock and began spinning her flax, and cried:

“Graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax; graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax!” And while she spun, her head drooped down, and she began to doze, and while she was dozing, from behind the dark wood and from the back of the huge pines a bear came rushing out upon the ox and said:

“Who are you? Speak and tell me!”

And the ox said:

“A three-year-old heifer am I, made of straw and smeared with tar.”

“Oh!” said the bear, “stuffed with straw and trimmed with tar, are you? Then give me of your straw and tar, that I may patch up my ragged fur again!”

33“Take some,” said the ox, and the bear fell upon him and began to tear away at the tar.

He tore and tore, and buried his teeth in it till he found he couldn’t let go again. He tugged and he tugged, but it was no good, and the ox dragged him gradually off, goodness knows where. Then the old woman awoke, and there was no ox to be seen. “Alas! old fool that I am!” cried she, “perchance it has gone home.” Then she quickly caught up her distaff and spinning-board, threw them over her shoulders, and hastened off home, and she saw that the ox had dragged the bear up to the fence, and in she went to her old man. “Dad, dad!” she cried, “look, look! the ox has brought us a bear. Come out and kill it!” Then the old man jumped up, tore off the bear, tied him up, and threw him in the cellar.

Next morning, between dark and dawn, the old woman took her distaff and drove the ox into the steppe to graze. She herself sat down by a mound, began spinning, and said:

“Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax! Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax!” And while she spun, her head drooped down, and she dozed. And, lo! from behind the dark wood, from the back of the huge pines, a gray wolf came rushing out upon the ox and said:

“Who are you? Come, tell me!”

“I am a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and trimmed with tar,” said the ox.

“Oh, trimmed with tar, are you? Then give me of your tar to tar my sides, that the dogs and the sons of dogs tear me not!”

“Take some,” said the ox. And with that the wolf fell upon him and tried to tear the tar off. He tugged and tugged, and tore with his teeth, but could get none off. Then he tried to let go, and couldn’t; tug and worry as he might, it was no good. When the old woman woke, there was no heifer in sight. “Maybe my heifer has gone home!” she cried; “I’ll go home and see.” When she got there she was astonished, for by the paling stood the ox with the wolf still tugging at it. 34She ran and told her old man, and her old man came and threw the wolf into the cellar also.

On the third day the old woman again drove her ox into the pastures to graze, and sat down by a mound and dozed off. Then a fox came running up. “Who are you?” it asked the ox.

“I’m a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and daubed with tar.”

“Then give me some of your tar to smear my sides with, when those dogs and sons of dogs tear my hide!”

“Take some,” said the ox. Then the fox fastened her teeth in him and couldn’t draw them out again. The old woman told her old man, and he took and cast the fox into the cellar in the same way. And after that they caught Pussy Swiftfoot[5] likewise.

5.  The hare.

So when he had got them all safely the old man sat down on a bench before the cellar and began sharpening a knife. And the bear said to him:

“Tell me, daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?”

“To flay your skin off, that I may make a leather jacket for myself and a pelisse for my old woman.”

“Oh, don’t flay me, daddy dear! Rather let me go, and I’ll bring you a lot of honey.”

“Very well, see you do it,” and he unbound and let the bear go. Then he sat down on the bench and again began sharpening his knife. And the wolf asked him:

“Daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for?”

“To flay off your skin, that I may make me a warm cap against the winter.”

“Oh! Don’t flay me, daddy dear, and I’ll bring you a whole herd of little sheep.”

“Well, see that you do it,” and he let the wolf go.

Then he sat down, and began sharpening his knife again. The fox put out her little snout, and asked him:

“Be so kind, dear daddy, and tell me why you are sharpening your knife?”

35“Little foxes,” said the old man, “have nice skins that do capitally for collars and trimmings, and I want to skin you!”

“Oh! Don’t take my skin away, daddy dear, and I will bring you hens and geese.”

“Very well, see that you do it!” and he let the fox go.

The hare now alone remained, and the old man began sharpening his knife on the hare’s account.

“Why do you do that?” asked puss, and he replied:

“Little hares have nice little, soft, warm skins, which will make me nice gloves and mittens against the winter!”

“Oh, daddy dear! Don’t flay me, and I’ll bring you kale and good cauliflower, if only you let me go!”

Then he let the hare go also.

Then they went to bed: but very early in the morning, when it was neither dusk nor dawn, there was a noise in the doorway like “Durrrrrr!”

“Daddy!” cried the old woman, “there’s some one scratching at the door; go and see who it is!”

The old man went out, and there was the bear carrying a whole hive full of honey. The old man took the honey from the bear; but no sooner did he lie down than again there was another “Durrrrr!” at the door. The old man looked out and saw the wolf driving a whole flock of sheep into the courtyard. Close on his heels came the fox, driving before him geese and hens, and all manner of fowls; and last of all came the hare, bringing cabbage and kale, and all manner of good food. And the old man was glad, and the old woman was glad. And the old man sold the sheep and oxen, and got so rich that he needed nothing more. As for the straw-stuffed ox, it stood in the sun till it fell to pieces.


The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox

There was once upon a time a cat and a cock, who agreed to live together; so they built them a hut in a barnyard, and the cock kept house while the cat went foraging for sausages. One day the fox came running up:

“Open the door, little cock!” cried she.

“Pussy told me not to, little fox!” said the cock.

“Open the door, little cock!” repeated the fox.

“I tell you pussy told me not to, little fox!”

At last, however, the cock grew tired of always saying “No!” so he opened the door, and in the fox rushed, seized him in her jaws, and ran off with him. Then the cock cried:

“Help! pussy-pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!”

The cat heard it, gave chase to the fox, rescued the cock, brought him home, scolded him well, and said:

“Now keep out of her jaws in the future if you don’t want to be killed altogether!”

Then the cat went out foraging for wheat, so that the cock might have something to eat. He had scarcely gone when the sly she-fox again came creeping up.

“Dear little cock!” said she, “pray open the door!”

“Nay, little fox! Pussy said I wasn’t to.”

But the fox went on asking and asking till at last the cock let him in, when the fox rushed at him, seized him by the neck, and ran off with him. Then the cock cried out:

37“Help! pussy-pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!”

The cat heard it, and again he ran after the fox and rescued the cock, and gave the fox a sound drubbing. Then he said to the cock:

“Now, mind you, never let her come in again, or she’ll eat you.”

But the next time the cat went out, the she-fox came again, and said:

“Dear little cock, open the door!”

“No, little fox! Pussy said I wasn’t to.”

But the fox begged and begged so piteously that at last the cock was quite touched, and opened the door. Then the fox caught him by the throat again, and ran away with him, and the cock cried:

“Help! pussy-pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!”

The cat heard it, and gave chase again. He ran and ran, but this time he couldn’t catch the fox up; so he returned home and wept bitterly, because he was now all alone. At last, however, he dried his tears and got him a little fiddle, a little fiddle-bow, and a big sack, and went to the fox’s hole and began to play:

The foxy so wee
Had daughters twice two,
And a little son too,
38Oh, fiddle-de-dee!
Come, foxy, and see
My sweet minstrelsy!”

Then the fox’s daughter said:

“Mammy, I’ll go out and see who it is that is playing so nicely!”

So out she skipped, but no sooner did pussy see her than he caught hold of her and popped her into his sack. Then he played again:

The foxy so wee
Had daughters twice two,
And a little son too
Oh! Fiddle-de-dee!
Come, foxy, and see
My sweet minstrelsy!”

Then the second daughter skipped out, and pussy caught her by the forehead, and popped her into his sack, and went on playing and singing till he had got all four daughters into his sack, and the little son also.

Then the old fox was left all alone, and she waited and waited, but not one of them came back. At last she said to herself:

“I’ll go out and call them home, for the cock is roasting, and the milk pottage is simmering, and ‘tis high time we had something to eat.”

So out she popped, and the cat pounced upon her and killed her too. Then he went and drank up all the soup, and gobbled up all the pottage, and then he saw the cock lying on a plate.

“Come, shake yourself, cock!” said puss.

So the cock shook himself, and got up, and the cat took the cock home, and the dead foxes too. And when they got home they skinned them to make nice beds to lie upon, and lived happily together in peace and plenty. And as they laughed over the joke as a good joke, we may laugh over it too.


The Fox and the Dove

Once upon a time there was a dove who built her nest in a high tree. Every year, about the time when her young ones were beginning to get feathers, Reynard Sly-Boots would come along and say to the dove:

“Give me your young ones to eat; throw them down to me of your own accord, or I will gobble you up, as well as them!”

The dove, frightened at the threat, would throw down the young birds and thus it had happened year after year.

Now one day, as the dove sat most melancholy upon her nest, a great bird flew up and asked why she was so sad and downcast. And the dove answered that it was because Reynard would soon come and eat up her young ones.

Upon this the great bird replied, “Oh, you goose! Why do you throw them down to him? Just bid your good friend to please give himself the trouble to come after them. Then you’ll soon see him sneak away with his tail between his legs, for Reynard cannot climb a tree.”

So when the time came round and Reynard again presented himself, the dove said to him, “If you want meat for dinner, just be so kind as to come up and help yourself.”

When the fox saw that he must go away empty he asked the dove who had counseled her to speak thus, and she answered:

“The great bird that has a nest yonder near the stream.”

Reynard at once betook himself to the stream and remonstrated with the great bird for building his nest in so exposed a place, asking what he did in case of a high wind.

The great bird answered, “When the wind blows from the right I turn to the left; when it blows from the left I turn to the right.”

40“But what do you do when it blows from all sides?” asked the fox.

“Then I stick my head under my wing,” said the great bird, showing how he did it. But quick as a wink, when the great bird stuck his head under his wing, Reynard Sly-Boots sprang upon him and seized him, saying:

“You know how to give counsel to others, but not to advise yourself.”

So he ate him up!


The Fox and the Hedgehog

A hedgehog met Master Reynard in a field, and said to him, “Hello, master! Whither away?”

“Oh, I’m just loafing around!” answered the fox.

“Tell me, now,” said Reynard to the hedgehog, after they had been chatting a while, “how manifold is your understanding?”

“Threefold,” answered the hedgehog.

“Why, how is that?” asked the fox.

“Why, you see, I have one sense above, one below, and the third everywhere,” replied the hedgehog; and added: “And how manifold is your understanding?”

“Oh, mine is seventy-sevenfold,” answered the fox.

“Well, well!” said the hedgehog.

Thereupon they walked along through the fields, and so eagerly were they talking that they gave no heed to the way, and presently stumbled into a wolf’s den. Then was good counsel precious! How should they ever get out of this scrape?

Said Reynard to the hedgehog, “Come now, search around in your head-piece for a means of getting out of this pickle.”

“I should have done that before,” answered the hedgehog, “but I was afraid that by and by you would curse me. How shall I, a little hedgehog, with only a threefold understanding, devise anything better than you, who have a seventy-sevenfold understanding?”

However, after talking back and forth a long time, the hedgehog made this suggestion: “Say, Reynard, just seize me by the ear and throw me up out of the den, because I am the smaller.”

“Yes, but how shall I get out?”

“Oh, just stick up your tail, and I will pull you out!”

42So Reynard seized the hedgehog by the ear and tossed him up out of the den. Then he called upon him to keep his word. “Hello, there, Gossip, now pull me out!”

“Do you know what,” answered the hedgehog, “I’ll tell you something. I have only a threefold understanding, and yet I found a way of helping myself. Now do you help yourself with your seventy-sevenfold understanding.”

By this time a peasant came along, and finding the fox in the den he made short work with him. But the hedgehog crept away through the thicket with his threefold understanding, while Reynard, with all his seventy-sevenfold understanding, was carried off by the peasant.


The Disappointed Bear

Once upon a time a little old woman, who was walking in the forest, climbed up into a wild-cherry tree to gather cherries. Now, a bear espied her, and he came under the tree and cried, “Come down, old woman, that I may eat you!”

“Go along with you!” answered the old woman. “Why should you eat a scrawny old woman like me. Here, gnaw upon my shoe till I come down, and I will take you to my house; I have two little children there, named Janko and Mirko; they will make you a right savory dish. So have patience till you get them.”

So said the little old woman, and threw down one of her shoes. Master Bruin gnawed and gnawed upon it, but the more he gnawed the hungrier he grew. Greatly enraged, he screamed up to the old woman:

“Come down, you old wench, and let me eat you!”

“Just wait a little longer, till the old wench has gathered enough cherries,” she answered. “Here, gnaw this other shoe a while; she’ll soon come down and show you the way to her house.” So saying, she threw down the other shoe.

When Bruin found that the second shoe was no juicier than the first, he made no further effort, but contented himself with thinking of the fat little children at the old woman’s house. When she had gathered cherries enough, down she came and went home, the bear tramping along behind her.

When they reached the house the old woman said: “I’ll tell you what; first let me give the children a good supper, that they may be all the fatter; and meanwhile do you run about till evening to get up a better appetite.”

44So Bruin went away and ran about in the woods all the rest of the day, and at evening he came back to the hut.

“Here I am, little mother!” he cried; “now bring out Janko and Mirko, and see me polish them off. I am starving to death!”

“Oho!” answered the little old woman from within; “Janko has made the door fast with bolts, and I have just put Mirko to sleep. I couldn’t think of waking him. And the little mother is so old and weak that she can’t unbolt the door alone. Come some other day!”

Then Master Bruin perceived that he had been fooled, and he walked reluctantly away, with drooping snout and an empty stomach.


Young Neverfull

A certain housewife had a young servant lad who devoured everything eatable that lay in his way. He would rummage in the storeroom until he smelled out something good, and would give himself no rest until he had devoured it all.

Now, the woman had a jar of preserved fruit, and, as she feared that the youngster would eat it and leave her nothing to put into her pies, she said to him:

“My good boy, you have now eaten everything that I have except this jam, and you have left this just as if you knew that it was poisoned. See how kind Heaven is to have preserved you from it. One single spoonful is enough to kill one instantly, so I warn you not to touch it unless you want to die.”

“Very well,” answered the boy.

On the next Sunday, as the woman was getting ready to go to mass, she said to the boy: “Cook the soup and boil the meat and roast this duck; we will have a good dinner to-day. See that you have all done and ready when I come home.”

“Very well; it shall all be done,” answered the boy.

When the woman was gone he cooked the soup and boiled the meat, and then he put the duck upon the spit to roast. When he saw what a delicious brown crisp was forming all over the duck, he thought, “It can roast itself another one,” and ate the crisp all off. He turned the spit and turned it, but the second brown crisp never came.

When he saw this, he thought: “When the mistress comes home she will pepper me well,” and he began to consider how he could escape a beating. In his desperation he remembered the jar of poison against which his mistress had warned him the day before. With a sudden resolution he went into the 46storeroom and devoured the whole jarful of preserved fruit, and then crouched down in a corner to wait for death.

Presently his mistress came home and cried out angrily: “What have you done to this duck?” She was about to belabor him well, when he cried: “Ah, leave me in peace, dear mistress! I shall die in a minute, anyway, for I have eaten up all the poison!”

At this the woman broke out into a laugh and could not refuse to forgive him. The duck and the preserves, however, were gone all the same.


Hudden and Dudden and Donald O’Neary

There was once upon a time two farmers, and their names were Hudden and Dudden. They had poultry in their yards, sheep on the uplands, and scores of cattle in the meadow land alongside the river. But for all that they weren’t happy, for just between their two farms there lived a poor man by the name of Donald O’Neary. He had a hovel over his head and a strip of grass that was barely enough to keep his one cow, Daisy, from starving, and, though she did her best, it was but seldom that Donald got a drink of milk or a roll of butter from Daisy. You would think there was little here to make Hudden and Dudden jealous, but so it is, the more one has the more one wants, and Donald’s neighbors lay awake of nights scheming how they might get hold of his little strip of grass land. Daisy, poor thing, they never thought of; she was just a bag of bones.

One day Hudden met Dudden, and they were soon grumbling as usual, and all to the tune of “If only we could get that vagabond, Donald O’Neary, out of the country.”

“Let’s kill Daisy,” said Hudden at last; “if that doesn’t make him clear out, nothing will.”

No sooner said than agreed; and it wasn’t dark before Hudden and Dudden crept up to the little shed where lay poor Daisy, trying her best to chew the cud, though she hadn’t had as much grass in the day as would cover your hand. And when Donald came to see if Daisy was all snug for the night, the poor beast had only time to lick his hand once before she died.

Well, Donald was a shrewd fellow, and, downhearted though 48he was, began to think if he could get any good out of Daisy’s death. He thought and he thought, and the next day you might have seen him trudging off early to the fair, Daisy’s hide over his shoulder, every penny he had jingling in his pockets. Just before he got to the fair, he made several slits in the hide, put a penny in each slit, walked into the best inn of the town as bold as if it belonged to him, and, hanging the hide up to a nail in the wall, sat down.

“Some of your best whisky,” says he to the landlord. But the landlord didn’t like his looks. “Is it fearing I won’t pay you, you are?” says Donald; “why, I have a hide here that gives me all the money I want.” And with that he hit it a whack with his stick, and out hopped a penny. The landlord opened his eyes, as you may fancy.

“What’ll you take for that hide?”

“It’s not for sale, my good man.”

“Will you take a gold piece?”

“It’s not for sale, I tell you. Hasn’t it kept me and mine for years?” and with that Donald hit the hide another whack, and out jumped a second penny.

Well, the long and the short of it was that Donald let the hide go, and, that very evening, who but he should walk up to Hudden’s door?

“Good-evening, Hudden. Will you lend me your best pair of scales?”

Hudden stared and Hudden scratched his head, but he lent the scales.

When Donald was safe at home, he pulled out his pocketful of bright gold, and began to weigh each piece in the scales. But Hudden had put a lump of butter at the bottom, and so the last piece of gold stuck fast to the scales when he took them back to Hudden.

If Hudden had stared before, he stared ten times more now, and no sooner was Donald’s back turned, than he was off as hard as he could pelt to Dudden’s.

“Good-evening, Dudden. That vagabond, bad luck to him——”

49“You mean Donald O’Neary?”

“And who else should I mean? He’s back here weighing out sackfuls of gold.”

“How do you know that?”

“Here are my scales that he borrowed, and here’s a gold piece still sticking to them.”

Off they went together, and they came to Donald’s door. Donald had finished making the last pile of ten gold pieces. And he couldn’t finish, because a piece had stuck to the scales.

In they walked without an “If you please” or “By your leave.”

“Well, I never!” that was all they could say.

“Good-evening, Hudden; good-evening, Dudden. Ah! you thought you had played me a fine trick, but you never did me a better turn in all your lives. When I found poor Daisy dead, I thought to myself, ‘Well, her hide may fetch something’; and it did. Hides are worth their weight in gold in the market just now.”

Hudden nudged Dudden, and Dudden winked at Hudden.

“Good-evening, Donald O’Neary.”

“Good-evening, kind friends.”

The next day there wasn’t a cow or a calf that belonged to Hudden or Dudden but her hide was going to the fair in Hudden’s biggest cart, drawn by Dudden’s strongest pair of horses.

When they came to the fair, each one took a hide over his arm, and there they were walking through the fair, bawling out at the top of their voices: “Hides to sell! hides to sell!”

Out came the tanner:

“How much for your hides, my good men?”

“Their weight in gold.”

“It’s early in the day to come out of the tavern.” That was all the tanner said, and back he went to his yard.

“Hides to sell! Fine fresh hides to sell!”

Out came the cobbler:

“How much for your hides, my men?”

“Their weight in gold.”

“Is it making game of me you are? Take that for your 50pains,” and the cobbler dealt Hudden a blow that made him stagger.

Up the people came running from one end of the fair to the other. “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” cried they.

“Here are a couple of vagabonds selling hides at their weight in gold,” said the cobbler.

“Hold ‘em fast; hold ‘em fast!” bawled the innkeeper, who was the last to come up, he was so fat. “I’ll wager it’s one of the rogues who tricked me out of thirty gold pieces yesterday for a wretched hide.”

It was more kicks than halfpence that Hudden and Dudden got before they were well on their way home again, and they didn’t run the slower because all the dogs of the town were at their heels.

Well, as you may fancy, if they loved Donald little before, they loved him less now.

“What’s the matter, friends?” said he, as he saw them tearing along, their hats knocked in, and their coats torn off, and their faces black and blue. “Is it fighting you’ve been? or mayhap you met the police, ill luck to them?”

“We’ll police you, you vagabond. It’s mighty smart you thought yourself, deluding us with your lying tales.”

“Who deluded you? Didn’t you see the gold with your own two eyes?”

But it was no use talking. Pay for it he must and should. There was a meal-sack handy, and into it Hudden and Dudden popped Donald O’Neary, tied him up tight, ran a pole through the knot, and off they started for the Brown Lake of the Bog, each with a pole-end on his shoulder, and Donald O’Neary between.

But the Brown Lake was far, the road was dusty, Hudden and Dudden were sore and weary, and parched with thirst. There was an inn by the roadside.

“Let’s go in,” said Hudden; “I’m dead beat. It’s heavy he is for the little he had to eat.”

If Hudden was willing, so was Dudden. As for Donald, you may be sure his leave wasn’t asked, but he was dumped down 51at the inn door for all the world as if he had been a sack of potatoes.

“Sit still, you vagabond,” said Dudden; “if we don’t mind waiting, you needn’t.”

Donald held his peace, but after a while he heard the glasses clink, and Hudden singing away at the top of his voice.

“I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald. But nobody heeded what he said.

“I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald; and this time he said it louder; but nobody heeded what he said.

“I won’t have her, I tell you; I won’t have her!” said Donald; and this time he said it as loud as he could.

“And who won’t you have, may I be so bold as to ask?” said a farmer, who had just come up with a drove of cattle, and was turning in for a glass.

“It’s the king’s daughter. They are bothering the life out of me to marry her.”

“You’re the lucky fellow. I’d give something to be in your shoes.”

“Do you see that, now! Wouldn’t it be a fine thing for a farmer to be marrying a princess, all dressed in gold and jewels?”

“Jewels, do you say? Ah, now, couldn’t you take me with you?”

“Well, you’re an honest fellow, and as I don’t care for the king’s daughter, though she’s as beautiful as the day, and is covered with jewels from top to toe, you shall have her. Just undo the cord and let me out; they tied me up tight, as they knew I’d run away from her.”

Out crawled Donald; in crept the farmer.

“Now lie still, and don’t mind the shaking; it’s only rumbling over the palace steps you’ll be. And maybe they’ll abuse you for a vagabond, who won’t have the king’s daughter; but you needn’t mind that. Ah, it’s a deal I’m giving up for you, sure as it is that I don’t care for the princess.”

“Take my cattle in exchange,” said the farmer; and you 52may guess it wasn’t long before Donald was at their tails, driving them homeward.

Out came Hudden and Dudden, and the one took one end of the pole, and the other the other.

“I’m thinking he’s heavier,” said Hudden.

“Ah, never mind,” said Dudden; “it’s only a step now to the Brown Lake.”

“I’ll have her now! I’ll have her now!” bawled the farmer from inside the sack.

“By my faith and you shall, though,” said Hudden, and he laid his stick across the sack.

“I’ll have her! I’ll have her!” bawled the farmer, louder than ever.

“Well, here you are,” said Dudden, for they were now come to the Brown Lake, and, unslinging the sack, they pitched it plump into the lake.

“You’ll not be playing your tricks on us any longer,” said Hudden.

“True for you,” said Dudden. “Ah, Donald, my boy, it was an ill day when you borrowed my scales!”

Off they went, with a light step and an easy heart, but when they were near home, whom should they see but Donald O’Neary, and all around him the cows were grazing, and the calves were kicking up their heels and butting their heads together.

“Is it you, Donald?” said Dudden. “Faith, you’ve been quicker than we have.”

“True for you, Dudden, and let me thank you kindly; the turn was good, if the will was ill. You’ll have heard, like me, that the Brown Lake leads to the Land of Promise. I always put it down as lies, but it is just as true as my word. Look at the cattle.”

Hudden stared, and Dudden gaped; but they couldn’t get over the cattle; fine, fat cattle they were, too.

“It’s only the worst I could bring up with me,” said Donald O’Neary; “the others were so fat, there was no driving them. Faith, too, it’s little wonder they didn’t care to leave, with 53grass as far as you could see, and as sweet and juicy as fresh butter.”

“Ah now, Donald, we haven’t always been friends,” said Dudden, “but, as I was just saying, you were ever a decent lad, and you’ll show us the way, won’t you?”

“I don’t see that I’m called upon to do that; there is a power more cattle down there. Why shouldn’t I have them all to myself?”

“Faith, they may well say, the richer you get, the harder the heart. You always were a neighborly lad, Donald. You wouldn’t wish to keep the luck all to yourself?”

“True for you, Hudden, though it’s a bad example you set me. But I’ll not be thinking of old times. There is plenty for all there, so come along with me.”

Off they trudged, with a light heart and an eager step. When they came to the Brown Lake the sky was full of little white clouds, and, if the sky was full, the lake was as full.

“Ah, now, look! there they are!” cried Donald, as he pointed to the clouds in the lake.

“Where? where?” cried Hudden, and “Don’t be greedy!” cried Dudden, as he jumped his hardest to be up first with the fat cattle. But if he jumped first, Hudden wasn’t long behind.

They never came back. Maybe they got too fat, like the cattle. As for Donald O’Neary, he had cattle and sheep all his days to his heart’s content.


The Tail

There was a shepherd once who went out to the hill to look after his sheep. It was misty and cold, and he had much trouble to find them. At last he had them all but one; and after much searching he found that one, too, in a peat hag, half drowned; so he took off his plaid, and bent down and took hold of the sheep’s tail and he pulled! The sheep was heavy with water, and he could not lift her, so he took off his coat and he pulled!! but it was too much for him, so he spit on his hands, and took a good hold of the tail and he PULLED!! and the tail broke! and if it had not been for that this tale would have been a great deal longer.


Jack and the King who was a Gentleman

Well, children: wanst upon a time, when pigs was swine, there was a poor widdy woman lived all alone with her wan son Jack in a wee hut of a house, that on a dark night ye might aisily walk over it by mistake, not knowin’ at all, at all, it was there, barrin’ ye’d happen to strike yer toe agin’ it. An’ Jack an’ his mother lived for lee an’ long, as happy as hard times would allow them, in this wee hut of a house, Jack sthrivin’ to ‘arn a little support for them both by workin’ out, an’ doin’ wee turns back an’ forrid to the neighbors. But there was one winter, an’ times come to look black enough for them—nothin’ to do, an’ less to ate, an’ clothe themselves as best they might; an’ the winther wore on, gettin’ harder an’ harder, till at length when Jack got up out of his bed on a mornin’, an’ axed his mother to make ready the drop of stirabout for their little brakwus as usual, “Musha, Jack, a-mhic,” says his mother, says she, “the male-chist—thanks be to the Lord!—is as empty as Paddy Ruadh’s donkey that used to ate his brakwus at supper-time. It stood out long an’ well, but it’s empty at last, Jack, an’ no sign of how we’re goin’ to get it filled again—only we trust in the good Lord that niver yet disarted the widow and the orphan—He’ll not see us wantin’, Jack.”

“The Lord helps them that help themselves, mother,” says Jack back again to her.

“Thrue for ye, Jack,” says she, “but I don’t see how we’re goin’ to help ourselves.”

“He’s a mortial dead mule out an’ out that hasn’t a kick in him,” says Jack. “An’, mother, with the help of Providence—not comparin’ the Christian to the brute baste—I have a kick 56in me yet; if you thought ye could only manage to sthrive along the best way you could for a week, or maybe two weeks, till I get back again off a little journey I’d like to undhertake.”

“An’ may I make bould to ax, Jack,” says his mother to him, “where would ye be afther makin’ the little journey to?”

“You may that, then, mother,” says Jack. “It’s this: You know the King of Munsther is a great jintleman entirely. It’s put on him, he’s so jintlemanly, that he was niver yet known to make use of a wrong or disrespectable word. An’ he prides himself on it so much that he has sent word over all the known airth that he’ll give his beautiful daughter—the loveliest picthur in all Munsther, an’ maybe in all Irelan’, if we’d say it—an’ her weight in goold, to any man that in three trials will make him use the unrespectful word, an’ say, ‘Ye’re a liar!’ But every man that tries him, an’ fails, loses his head. All sorts and descriptions of people, from prences an’ peers down to bagmen an’ beggars, have come from all parts of the known world to thry for the great prize, an’ all of them up to this has failed, an’ by consequence lost their heads. But, mother dear,” says Jack, “where’s the use in a head to a man if he can’t get mail for it to ate? So I’m goin’ to thry me fortune, only axin’ your blissin’ an’ God’s blissin’ to help me on the way.”

“Why, Jack, a-thaisge,” says his mother, “it’s a dangersome task; but as you remark, where’s the good of the head to ye when ye can’t get mail to put in it? So I give ye my blissin’, an’ night, noon, an’ mornin’ I’ll be prayin’ for ye to prosper.”

An’ Jack set out, with his heart as light as his stomach, an’ his pocket as light as them both together; but a man’ll not travel far in ould Irelan’ (thanks be to God!) on the barefooted stomach—as we’ll call it—or it’ll be his own fault if he does; an’ Jack didn’t want for plenty of first-class aitin’ an’ dhrinkin’, lashin’s an’ laivin’s, and pressin’ him to more. An’ in this way he thraveled away afore him for five long days till he come to the King of Munsther’s castle. And when he was comed there he rattled on the gate, an’ out come the king.

57“Well, me man,” says the king, “what might be your business here?”

“I’m come here, your Kingship,” says Jack, mighty polite, an’ pullin’ his forelock, be raison his poor ould mother had always insthructed him in the heighth of good breedin’—“I’m come here, your R’yal Highness,” says Jack, “to thry for yer daughter.”

“Hum!” says the king. “Me good young man,” says he, “don’t ye think it a poor thing to lose yer head?”

“If I lose it,” says Jack, “sure one consolation ‘ill be that I’ll lose it in a glorious cause.”

An’ who do ye think would be listenin’ to this same deludherin’ speech of Jack’s, from over the wall, but the king’s beautiful daughter herself. She took an eyeful out of Jack, an’ right well plaised she was with his appearance, for—

“Father,” says she at once, “hasn’t the boy as good a right to get a chance as another? What’s his head to you? Let the boy in,” says she.

An’ sure enough, without another word, the king took Jack within the gates, an’ handin’ him over to the sarvints, tould him to be well looked afther an’ cared for till mornin’.

Next mornin’ the king took Jack with him an’ fetched him out into the yard. “Now then, Jack,” says he, “we’re goin’ to begin. We’ll drop into the stables here, an’ I’ll give you your first chance.”

So he took Jack into the stables an’ showed him some wondherful big horses, the likes of which poor Jack never saw afore, an’ every one of which was the heighth of the side wall of the castle an’ could step over the castle walls, which were twenty-five feet high, without strainin’ themselves.

“Thems’ purty big horses, Jack,” says the king. “I don’t suppose ever ye saw as big or as wondherful as them in yer life.”

“Oh, they’re purty big, indeed,” says Jack, takin’ it as cool as if there was nothin’ whatsomever astonishin’ to him about them. “They’re purty big, indeed,” says Jack, “for this counthry. But at home with us in Donegal we’d only count them 58little nags, shootable for the young ladies to dhrive in pony-carriages.”

“What!” says the king, “do ye mane to tell me ye have seen bigger in Donegal?”

“Bigger!” says Jack. “Phew! Blood alive, yer Kingship, I seen horses in my father’s stable that could step over your horses without thrippin’. My father owned one big horse—the greatest, I believe, in the world again.”

“What was he like?” says the king.

“Well, yer Highness,” says Jack, “it’s quite beyond me to tell ye what he was like. But I know when we wanted to mount it could only be done by means of a step-laddher, with nine hundred and ninety steps to it, every step a mile high, an’ you had to jump seven mile off the topmost step to get on his back. He ate nine ton of turnips, nine ton of oats, an’ nine ton of hay in the day, an’ it took ninety-nine men in the daytime, an’ ninety-nine more in the night-time, carrying his feeds to him; an’ when he wanted a drink, the ninety-nine men had to lead him to a lough that was nine mile long, nine mile broad, an’ nine mile deep, an’ he used to drink it dry every time,” says Jack, an’ then he looked at the king, expectin’ he’d surely have to make a liar of him for that.

But the king only smiled at Jack, an’ says he, “Jack, that was a wonderful horse entirely, an’ no mistake.”

Then he took Jack with him out into the garden for his second trial, an’ showed him a bee-skep, the size of the biggest rick of hay ever Jack had seen; an’ every bee in the skep was the size of a thrush, an’ the queeny bee as big as a jackdaw.

“Jack,” says the king, says he, “isn’t them wondherful bees? I’ll warrant ye, ye never saw anything like them?”

“Oh, they’re middlin’—middlin’ fairish,” says Jack—“for this counthry. But they’re nothin’ at all to the bees we have in Donegal. If one of our bees was flying across the fields,” says Jack, “and one of your bees happened to come in its way, an’ fall into our bee’s eye, our bee would fly to the skep, an’ ax another bee to take the mote out of his eye.”

59“Do you tell me so, Jack?” says the king. “You must have great monsthers of bees.”

“Monsthers!” says Jack. “Ah, yer Highness, monsthers is no name for some of them. I remimber,” says Jack, says he, “a mighty great breed of bees me father owned. They were that big that when my father’s new castle was a-buildin’ (in the steddin’ of the old one which he consaived to be too small for a man of his mains), and when the workmen closed in the roof, it was found there was a bee inside, an’ the hall door not bein’ wide enough, they had to toss the side wall to let it out. Then the queeny bee—ah! she was a wondherful baste entirely!” says Jack. “Whenever she went out to take the air she used to overturn all the ditches and hedges in the country; the wind of her wings tossed houses and castles; she used to swallow whole flower gardens; an’ one day she flew against a ridge of mountains nineteen thousand feet high and knocked a piece out from top to bottom, an’ it’s called Barnesmore Gap to this day. This queeny bee was a great trouble an’ annoyance to my father, seein’ all the harm she done the naybors round about; and once she took it in her head to fly over to Englan’, an’ she created such mischief an’ desolation there that the King of Englan’ wrote over to my father if he didn’t come immaidiately an’ take home his queeny bee that was wrackin’ an’ ruinin’ all afore her he’d come over himself at the head of all his army and wipe my father off the face of the airth. So my father ordhered me to mount our wondherful big horse that I tould ye about, an’ that could go nineteen mile at every step, an’ go over to Englan’ an’ bring home our queeny bee. An’ I mounted the horse an’ started, an’ when I come as far as the sea I had to cross to get over to Englan’, I put the horse’s two forefeet into my hat, an’ in that way he thrashed the sea dry all the way across an’ landed me safely. When I come to the King of Englan’ he had to supply me with nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand men an’ ninety-nine thousand mile of chains an’ ropes to catch the queeny bee an’ bind her. It took us nine years to catch her, nine more to tie her, an’ nine years and nine millions of men to drag her home, an’ the King of 60Englan’ was a beggar afther from that day till the day of his death. Now, what do ye think of that bee?” says Jack, thinkin’ he had the king this time, sure enough.

But the king was a cuter one than Jack took him for, an’ he only smiled again, an’ says he—

“Well, Jack, that was a wondherful great queeny bee entirely.”

Next, for poor Jack’s third an’ last chance, the king took him to show him a wondherful field of beans he had, with every beanstalk fifteen feet high, an’ every bean the size of a goose’s egg.

“Well, Jack,” says the king, says he, “I’ll engage ye never saw more wondherful beanstalks than them?”

“Is it them?” says Jack. “Arrah, man, yer Kingship,” says he, “they may be very good—for this counthry; but sure we’d throw them out of the ground for useless afther-shoots in Donegal. I mind one beanstalk in partickler, that my father had for a show an’ a cur’osity, that he used to show as a great wondher entirely to sthrangers. It stood on ninety-nine acres of ground, it was nine hundred mile high, an’ every leaf covered nine acres. It fed nine thousand horses, nine thousand mules, an’ nine thousand jackasses for nineteen years. He used to send nine thousand harvestmen up the stalk in spring to cut and gather off the soft branches at the top. They used to cut these off when they’d reach up as far as them (which was always in the harvest time), an’ throw them down, an’ nine hundred and ninety-nine horses an’ carts were kept busy for nine months carting the stuff away. Then the harvestmen always reached down to the foot of the stalk at Christmas again.”

“Faix, Jack,” says the king, “it was a wondherful beanstalk, that, entirely.”

“You might say that,” says Jack, trying to make the most of it, for he was now on his last leg. “You might say that,” says he. “Why, I mind one year I went up the stalk with the harvestmen, an’ when I was nine thousand mile up, doesn’t I miss my foot, and down I come. I fell feet foremost, and sunk up to my chin in a whinstone rock that was at the foot. There 61I was in a quandhary—but I was not long ruminatin’ till I hauled out my knife, an’ cut off my head, an’ sent it home to look for help. I watched after it, as it went away, an’ lo an’ behould ye, afore it had gone half a mile I saw a fox set on it, and begin to worry it. ‘By this an’ by that,’ says I to meself, ‘but this is too bad!’—an’ I jumped out an’ away as hard as I could run, to the assistance of my head. An’ when I come up, I lifted my foot, an’ give the fox three kicks, an’ knocked three kings out of him—every one of them a nicer an’ a better jintleman than you.”

“Ye’re a liar, an’ a rascally liar,” says the king.

“More power to ye!” says Jack, givin’ three buck leaps clean into the air, “an’ it’s proud I am to get you to confess it; for I have won yer daughter.”

Right enough, the king had to give up to Jack the daughter—an’ be the same token, from the first time she clapped her two eyes on Jack she wasn’t the girl to gainsay him—an’ her weight in goold. An’ they were both of them marrid, an’ had such a weddin’ as surpassed all the weddin’s ever was heerd tell of afore or since in that country or in this. An’ Jack lost no time in sendin’ for his poor ould mother, an’ neither herself nor Jack ever after knew what it was to be in want. An’ may you an’ I never know that same naither.


Hans in Luck

Hans had served his master for seven years, when he one day said to him: “Master, my time is up; I want to go home to my mother; please give me my wages.”

His master answered, “You have served me well and faithfully, and as the service has been, so shall the wages be.” And he gave him a lump of gold as big as his head.

Hans took out his pocket-handkerchief and tied up the gold in it, and then slung the bundle over his shoulder, and started on his homeward journey.

As he walked along, just putting one foot before the other, a man on horseback appeared, riding gaily and merrily along on his capering steed.

“Ah!” said Hans quite loud as he passed, “what a fine thing riding must be. You are as comfortable as if you were in an arm-chair; you don’t stumble over any stones; you save your shoes, and you get over the road you hardly know how.”

The horseman, who heard him, stopped and said: “Hallo, Hans, why are you on foot?”

“I can’t help myself,” said Hans, “for I have this bundle to carry home. It is true that it is a lump of gold, but I can hardly hold my head up for it, and it weighs down my shoulder frightfully.”

“I’ll tell you what,” said the horseman, “we will change. I will give you my horse, and you shall give me your bundle.”

“With all my heart,” said Hans; “but you will be rarely weighted with it.”

The horseman dismounted, took the gold, and helped Hans up, put the bridle into his hands, and said: “When you want to go very fast, you must click your tongue and cry ‘Gee-up! Gee-up!’”

63Hans was delighted when he found himself so easily riding along on horseback. After a time it occurred to him that he might be going faster, and he began to click with his tongue, and to cry, “Gee-up! Gee-up!” The horse broke into a gallop, and before Hans knew where he was he was thrown off into a ditch which separated the fields from the highroad. The horse would have run away if a peasant coming along the road leading a cow, had not caught it. Hans felt himself all over, and picked himself up; but he was very angry, and said to the peasant: “Riding is poor fun at times, when you have a nag like mine, which stumbles and throws you, and puts you in danger of breaking your neck. I will never mount it again. I think much more of your cow there. You can walk comfortably behind her, and you have her milk into the bargain every day, as well as butter and cheese. What would I not give for a cow like that!”

“Well,” said the peasant, “if you have such a fancy for it as all that, I will exchange the cow for the horse.”

Hans accepted the offer with delight, and the peasant mounted the horse and rode rapidly off.

Hans drove his cow peacefully on, and thought what a lucky bargain he had made. “If only I have a bit of bread, and I don’t expect ever to be without it, I shall always have butter and cheese to eat with it. If I am thirsty, I only have to milk my cow and I have milk to drink. My heart! what more can you desire?”

When he came to an inn he made a halt, and in his great joy he ate up all the food he had with him, all his dinner and his supper, and he gave the last coins he had for half a glass of beer. Then he went on farther in the direction of his mother’s village, driving the cow before him. The heat was very oppressive, and, as midday drew near, Hans found himself on a heath which it took him an hour to cross. He was so hot and thirsty that his tongue was parched and clung to the roof of his mouth.

“This can easily be set to rights,” thought Hans. “I will milk my cow and sup up the milk.” He tied her to a tree, and 64as he had no pail, he used his leather cap instead; but, try as hard as he liked, not a single drop of milk appeared. As he was very clumsy in his attempts, the impatient animal gave him a severe kick on his forehead with one of her hind legs. He was stunned by the blow, and fell to the ground, where he lay for some time, not knowing where he was.

Happily, just then a butcher came along the road, trundling a young pig in a wheelbarrow.

“What is going on here?” he cried, as he helped poor Hans up.

Hans told him all that had happened.

The butcher handed him his flask, and said: “Here, take a drink, it will do you good. The cow can’t give any milk, I suppose; she must be too old, and good for nothing but to be a beast of burden, or go to the butcher.”

“Oh, dear!” said Hans, smoothing his hair. “Now who would ever have thought it! Killing the animal is all very well, but what kind of meat will it be? For my part, I don’t like cow’s flesh; it’s not juicy enough. Now, if one had a nice young pig like that, it would taste ever so much better; and then, all the sausages!”

“Listen, Hans!” then said the butcher; “for your sake I will exchange, and let you have the pig instead of the cow.”

“God reward your friendship!” said Hans, handing over the cow, as the butcher untied the pig, and put the halter with which it was tied into his hand.

Hans went on his way, thinking how well everything was turning out for him. Even if a mishap befell him, something else immediately happened to make up for it. Soon after this, he met a lad carrying a beautiful white goose under his arm. They passed the time of day, and Hans began to tell him how lucky he was, and what successful bargains he had made. The lad told him that he was taking the goose for a christening feast. “Just feel it,” he went on, holding it up by the wings. “Feel how heavy it is; it’s true they have been stuffing it for eight weeks. Whoever eats that roast goose will have to wipe the fat off both sides of his mouth.”

65“Yes, indeed!” answered Hans, weighing it in his hand; “but my pig is no light weight, either.”

Then the lad looked cautiously about from side to side, and shook his head. “Now, look here,” he began; “I don’t think it’s all quite straight about your pig. One has just been stolen out of Schultze’s sty, in the village I have come from. I fear, I fear it is the one you are leading. They have sent people out to look for it, and it would be a bad business for you if you were found with it; the least they would do, would be to put you in the black hole.”

Poor Hans was very much frightened at this. “Oh, dear! oh, dear!” he said. “Do help me out of this trouble. You are more at home here; take my pig, and let me have your goose.”

“Well, I shall run some risk if I do, but I won’t be the means of getting you into a scrape.”

So he took the rope in his hand, and quickly drove the pig up a side road; and honest Hans, relieved of his trouble, plodded on with the goose under his arm.

“When I really come to think it over,” he said to himself, “I have still had the best of the bargain. First, there is the delicious roast goose, and then all the fat that will drip out of it in cooking will keep us in goose fat to eat on our bread for three months, at least; and, last of all, there are the beautiful white feathers, which I will stuff my pillow with, and then I shall need no rocking to send me to sleep. How delighted my mother will be!”

As he passed through the last village he came to a knife-grinder with his cart, singing to his wheel as it buzzed merrily round—

“Scissors and knives I grind so fast,
And hang up my cloak against the blast.”

Hans stopped to look at him, and at last he spoke to him and said: “You must be doing a good trade to be so merry over your grinding.”

“Yes,” answered the grinder. “The work of one’s hands 66has a golden foundation. A good grinder finds money whenever he puts his hand into his pocket. But where did you buy that beautiful goose?”

“I did not buy it; I exchanged my pig for it.”

“And the pig?”

“Oh, I got that instead of my cow.”

“And the cow?”

“I got that for a horse.”

“And the horse?”

“I gave a lump of gold as big as my head for it.”

“And the gold?”

“Oh, that was my wages for seven years’ service.”

“You certainly have known how to manage your affairs,” said the grinder. “Now, if you could manage to hear the money jingling in your pockets when you got up in the morning, you would indeed have made your fortune.”

“How shall I set about that?” asked Hans.

“You must be a grinder like me—nothing is needed for it but a whetstone; everything else will come of itself. I have one here which certainly is a little damaged, but you need not give me anything for it but your goose. Are you willing?”

“How can you ask me such a question?” said Hans. “Why, I shall be the happiest person in the world. If I can have some money every time I put my hand in my pocket, what more should I have to trouble about?”

So he handed him the goose, and took the whetstone in exchange.

“Now,” said the grinder, lifting up an ordinary large stone which lay near on the road, “here is another good stone into the bargain. You can hammer out all your old nails on it to straighten them. Take it, and carry it off.”

Hans shouldered the stone, and went on his way with a light heart, and his eyes shining with joy. “I must have been born in a lucky hour!” he cried; “everything happens just as I want it, and as it would happen to a Sunday’s child.”

In the mean time, as he had been on foot since daybreak, he began to feel very tired, and he was also very hungry, as he 67had eaten all his provisions at once, in his joy at his bargain over the cow. At last he could hardly walk any farther, and he was obliged to stop every minute to rest. Then the stones were frightfully heavy, and he could not get rid of the thought that it would be very nice if he were not obliged to carry them any farther. He dragged himself like a snail to a well in the fields, meaning to rest and refresh himself with a draught of the cool water. So as not to injure the stones by sitting on them, he laid them carefully on the edge of the well. Then he sat down, and was about to stoop down to drink when he inadvertently gave them a little push, and both the stones fell straight into the water.

When Hans saw them disappear before his very eyes he jumped for joy, and then knelt down and thanked God, with tears in his eyes, for having shown him this further grace, and relieved him of the heavy stones (which were all that remained to trouble him) without giving him anything to reproach himself with. “There is certainly no one under the sun so happy as I,” he said.

And so, with a light heart, free from every care, he bounded on home to his mother.


The Family Servants

“Where are you going to?” “To Walpe.”

“I to Walpe, you to Walpe; so, so, together we go.”

“Have you got a husband? How do you call your husband?”

“Cham.” “My husband Cham, your husband Cham; I to Walpe, you to Walpe; so, so, together we go.”

“Have you got a child? How do you call your child?”

“Grild.” “My child Grild, your child Grild; my husband Cham, your husband Cham; I to Walpe, you to Walpe; so, so, together we go.”

“Have you got a cradle? How do you call your cradle?”

“Hippodadle.” “My cradle Hippodadle, your cradle Hippodadle; my child Grild, your child Grild; my husband Cham, your husband Cham; I to Walpe, you to Walpe; so, so, together we go.”

“Have you got a man? How do you call your man?”

“Do-as-well-as-you-can.” “My man Do-as-well-as-you-can, your man Do-as-well-as-you-can; my cradle Hippodadle, your cradle Hippodadle; my child Grild, your child Grild; my husband Cham, your husband Cham; I to Walpe, you to Walpe; so, so, together we go.”


The Flail which came from the Clouds

A countryman once drove his plow with a pair of oxen, and when he came about the middle of his fields the horns of his two beasts began to grow, and grow, till they were so high that when he went home he could not get them into the stable-door. By good luck just then a Butcher passed by, to whom he gave up his beasts, and struck a bargain, that he should take to the Butcher a measure-full of turnip-seed, for every grain of which the Butcher should give him a Brabant dollar. That is what you may call a good bargain! The Countryman went home, and came again, carrying on his back a measure of seed, out of which he dropped one grain on the way. The Butcher, however, reckoned out for every seed a Brabant dollar; and had not the Countryman lost one he would have received a dollar more. Meanwhile the seed which he dropped on the road had grown up to a fine tree, reaching into the clouds. So the Countryman thought to himself he might as well see what the people in the clouds were about. Up he climbed, and at the top he found a field with some people thrashing oats; but while he was looking at them he felt the tree shake beneath him, and, peeping downward, he perceived that some one was on the point of chopping down the tree at the roots. “If I am thrown down,” said the Countryman to himself, “I shall have a bad fall;” and, quite bewildered, he could think of nothing else to save himself than to make a rope with the oat straw, which lay about in heaps. He then seized hold of a hatchet and flail which were near him, and let himself down by his straw rope. He fell into a deep, deep hole in the earth, and found it very lucky that he had 70brought the hatchet with him; for with it he cut steps, and so mounted again into the broad daylight, bringing with him the flail for a sign of the truth of his tale, which nobody, on that account, was able to doubt!

There is a wonderful adventure!!!


The Sole’s Mouth

The Fishes once grew very discontented because no order was kept in their dominions. None turned aside for the others, but each swam right or left just as it pleased him, sometimes between those who wished to be together, or else pushed them to one side, and the stronger ones gave the weaker blows with their tails, which made them get out of the way as fast as they could, or else they devoured them without more ceremony. “How nice it would be,” thought the Fishes, “if we had a king who should exercise the power of judging between us!” And so at last they assembled together to choose a lord, who should be he who could swim the quickest and render help best to the weaker fishes.

So they laid themselves all in rank and file by the shore, and the Pike gave a signal with his tail, on which they started off. Like an arrow darted away the Pike, closely followed by the Herring, the Gudgeon, the Perch, the Carp, and the rest. Even the Sole swam among them, hoping to gain the prize.

All at once a cry was heard, “The Herring is first, the Herring is first!” “Who is first?” asked the flat, envious Sole in a vexed tone. “Who is first?”

“The Herring, the Herring!” was the reply. “The nak-ed Herring, the nak-ed Herring!” cried the Sole disdainfully.

And ever since that time the Sole’s mouth has been all awry as a punishment for his wicked envy.


The Three Brothers

There was once a man who had three sons, but no fortune except the house he lived in. Now, each of them wanted to have the house after his death; but their father was just as fond of one as of the other, and did not know how to treat them all fairly. He did not want to sell the house, because it had belonged to his forefathers, or he might have divided the money between them.

At last an idea came into his head, and he said to his sons: “Go out into the world, and each learn a trade, and when you come home, the one who makes best use of his handicraft shall have the house.”

The sons were quite content with this plan, and the eldest decided to be a farrier, the second a barber, and the third a fencing master. They fixed a time when they would all meet at home again, and then they set off.

It so happened that they each found a clever master with whom they learned their business thoroughly. The farrier shod the king’s horses, and he thought, “I shall certainly be the one to have the house.”

The barber shaved nobody but grand gentlemen, so he thought it would fall to him.

The fencing master got many blows, but he set his teeth, and would not let himself be put out, because he thought, “If I am afraid of a blow, I shall never get the house.”

Now, when the given time had passed, they all went home together to their father; but they did not know how to get a good opportunity of showing off their powers, and sat down to discuss the matter.

Suddenly a hare came running over the field.

“Ah!” cried the barber, “she comes just in the nick of time.”

73He took up his bowl and his soap, and got his lather by the time the hare came quite close, then he soaped her in full career, and shaved her as she raced along, without giving her cut or missing a single hair. His father, astonished, said: “If the others don’t look out, the house will be yours.”

Before long a gentleman came along in his carriage at full gallop.

“Now, father, you shall see what I can do,” said the farrier, and he ran after the carriage and tore the four shoes off the horse as he galloped along, then, without stopping a second, shod him with new ones.

“You are a fine fellow, indeed,” said his father. “You know your business as well as your brother. I don’t know which I shall give the house to at this rate.”

Then the third one said: “Let me have a chance, too, father.”

As it was beginning to rain, he drew his sword and swirled it round and round his head, so that not a drop fell on him. Even when the rain grew heavier, so heavy that it seemed as if it was being poured from the sky out of buckets, he swung the sword faster and faster, and remained as dry as if he had been under a roof.

His father was amazed, and said: “You have done the best; the house is yours.”

Both the other brothers were quite satisfied with this decision, and as they were all so devoted to one another, they lived together in the house, and carried on their trades, by which they made plenty of money, since they were so perfect in them.

They lived happily together to a good old age, and when one fell ill and died, the others grieved so much over him that they pined away and soon after departed this life.

Then, as they had been so fond of one another, they were all buried in one grave.


The Wren and the Bear

One summer’s day the bear and the wolf were walking in the forest, and the bear heard a bird singing very sweetly, and said: “Brother Wolf, what kind of bird is that which is singing so delightfully?”

“That is the king of the birds, before whom we must do reverence,” replied the wolf; but it was only the wren.

“If that be so,” said the bear, “I should like to see his royal palace; come, lead me to it.” “That cannot be as you like,” replied the wolf. “You must wait till the queen returns.” Soon afterward the queen arrived with some food in her bill, and the king, too, to feed their young ones, and the bear would have gone off to see them, but the wolf, pulling his ear, said: “No, you must wait till the queen and the king are both off again.”

So, after observing well the situation of the nest, the two tramped off, but the bear had no rest, for he wished still to see the royal palace, and after a short delay he set off to it again. He found the king and queen absent, and, peeping into the nest, he saw five or six young birds lying in it. “Is this the royal palace?” exclaimed the bear; “this miserable place! You are no king’s children, but wretched young brats.” “No, no, that we are not!” burst out the little wrens together in a great passion, for to them this speech was addressed. “No, no, we are born of honorable parents, and you, Mr. Bear, shall make your words good!” At this speech the bear and the wolf were much frightened, and ran back to their holes; but the little wrens kept up an unceasing clamor till their parents’ return. As soon as they came back with food in their mouths the little birds began, “We will none of us touch a fly’s leg, but will starve rather, until you decide whether we are fine and handsome 75children or not, for the bear has been here and insulted us!”

“Be quiet,” replied the king, “and that shall soon be settled.” And thereupon he flew with his queen to the residence of the bear, and called to him from the entrance, “Old grumbler, why have you insulted my children? That shall cost you dear, for we will decide the matter by a pitched battle.”

War having thus been declared against the bear, all the four-footed beasts were summoned: the ox, the ass, the cow, the goat, the stag, and every animal on the face of the earth. The wren, on the other hand, summoned every flying thing; not only the birds, great and small, but also the gnat, the hornet, the bee, and the flies.

When the time arrived for the commencement of the war, the wren king sent out spies to see who was appointed commander-in-chief of the enemy. The gnat was the most cunning of all the army, and he, therefore, buzzed away into the forest where the enemy was encamped, and alighted on a leaf of the tree beneath which the watchword was given out. There stood the bear and called the fox to him, and said: “You are the most crafty of animals, so you must be general, and lead us on.” “Well,” said the fox, “but what sign shall we appoint?” Nobody answered. Then the fox said: “I have a fine long bushy tail, which looks like a red feather at a distance; if I hold this tail straight up, all is going well and you must march after me; but if I suffer it to hang down, run away as fast as you can.” As soon as the gnat heard all this she flew home and told the wren king everything to a hair.

When the day arrived for the battle to begin, the four-footed beasts all came running along to the field, shaking the earth with their roaring and bellowing. The wren king also came with his army, whirring and buzzing and humming enough to terrify any one out of his senses. Then the wren king sent the hornet forward to settle upon the fox’s tail and sting it with all his power. As soon as the fox felt the first sting he drew up his hind leg with the pain, still carrying, however, his tail as high in the air as before; at the second sting he was obliged to 76drop it a little bit; but at the third he could no longer bear the pain, but was forced to drop his tail between his legs. As soon as the other beasts saw this, they thought all was lost, and began to run each one to his own hole; so the birds won the battle without difficulty.

When all was over the wren king and his queen flew home to their children, and cried out: “Rejoice! rejoice! we have won the battle; now eat and drink as much as you please.”

The young wrens, however, said: “Still we will not eat till the bear has come to our nest and begged pardon, and admitted that we are fine and handsome children.”

So the wren king flew back to the cave of the bear, and called out, “Old grumbler, you must come to the nest and beg pardon of my children for calling them wretched young brats, else your ribs shall be crushed in your body!”

In great terror the bear crept out and begged pardon; and afterward the young wrens, being now made happy in their minds, settled down to eating and drinking, and I am afraid they were over-excited and kept up their merriment far too late.


The Musicians of Bremen

A certain man had a donkey that had served him faithfully for many long years, but whose strength was so far gone that at last he was quite unfit for work. So his master began to consider how much he could make of the donkey’s skin, but the beast, perceiving that no good wind was blowing, ran away along the road to Bremen. “There,” thought he, “I can be town musician.” When he had run some way, he found a hound lying by the roadside, yawning like one who was very tired. “What are you yawning for now, you big fellow?” asked the ass.

“Ah,” replied the hound, “because every day I grow older and weaker; I cannot go any more to the hunt, and my master has well-nigh beaten me to death, so that I took to flight; and now I do not know how to earn my bread.”

“Well, do you know,” said the ass, “I am going to Bremen, to be town musician there; suppose you go with me and take a share in the music. I will play on the lute, and you shall beat the kettledrums.” The dog was satisfied, and off they set.

Presently they came to a cat, sitting in the middle of the path, with a face like three rainy days! “Now, then, old shaver, what has crossed you?” asked the ass.

“How can one be merry when one’s neck has been pinched like mine?” answered the cat. “Because I am growing old, and my teeth are all worn to stumps, and because I would rather sit by the fire and spin, than run after mice, my mistress wanted to drown me; and so I ran away. But now good advice is dear, and I do not know what to do.”

“Go with us to Bremen. You understand nocturnal music, so you can be town musician.” The cat consented, and went with them. The three vagabonds soon came near a farmyard, 78where, upon the barn door, the cock was sitting crowing with all his might. “You crow through marrow and bone,” said the ass; “what do you do that for?”

“That is the way I prophesy fine weather,” said the cock; “but, because grand guests are coming for the Sunday, the housewife has no pity, and has told the cook-maid to make me into soup for the morrow; and this evening my head will be cut off. Now I am crowing with a full throat as long as I can.”

“Ah, but you, Red-comb,” replied the ass, “rather come away with us. We are going to Bremen, to find there something better than death; you have a good voice, and if we make music together it will have full play.”

The cock consented to this plan, and so all four traveled on together. They could not, however, reach Bremen in one day, and at evening they came into a forest, where they meant to pass the night. The ass and the dog laid themselves down under a large tree, the cat and the cock climbed up into the branches, but the latter flew right to the top, where he was most safe. Before he went to sleep he looked all round the four quarters, and soon thought he saw a little spark in the distance; so, calling his companions, he said they were not far from a house, for he saw a light. The ass said: “If it is so, we had better get up and go farther, for the pasturage here is very bad”; and the dog continued: “Yes, indeed! a couple of bones with some meat on would be very acceptable!” So they made haste toward the spot where the light was, and which shone now brighter and brighter, until they came to a well-lighted robber’s cottage. The ass, as the biggest, went to the window and peeped in. “What do you see, Gray-horse?” asked the cock. “What do I see?” replied the ass; “a table laid out with savory meats and drinks, with robbers sitting around enjoying themselves.”

“That would be the right sort of thing for us,” said the cock.

“Yes, yes, I wish we were there,” replied the ass. Then these animals took counsel together how they should contrive to drive away the robbers, and at last they thought of a way. 79The ass placed his forefeet upon the window ledge, the hound got on his back, the cat climbed up upon the dog, and, lastly, the cock flew up and perched upon the head of the cat. When this was accomplished, at a given signal they commenced together to perform their music: the ass brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cock crew; and they made such a tremendous noise, and so loud, that the panes of the window were shivered! Terrified at these unearthly sounds, the robbers got up with great precipitation, thinking nothing less than that some spirits had come, and fled off into the forest, so the four companions immediately sat down at the table, and quickly ate up all that was left, as if they had been fasting for six weeks.

As soon as they had finished, they extinguished the light, and each sought for himself a sleeping-place, according to his nature and custom. The ass laid himself down upon some straw, the hound behind the door, the cat upon the hearth, near the warm ashes, and the cock flew up on a beam which ran across the room. Weary with their long walk, they soon went to sleep.

At midnight the robbers perceived from their retreat that no light was burning in their house, and all appeared quiet; so the captain said: “We need not have been frightened into fits”; and, calling one of the band, he sent him forward to reconnoiter. The messenger, finding all still, went into the kitchen to strike a light, and, taking the glistening, fiery eyes of the cat for live coals, he held a lucifer match to them, expecting it to take fire. But the cat, not understanding the joke, flew in his face, spitting and scratching, which dreadfully frightened him, so that he made for the back door; but the dog, who laid there, sprang up and bit his leg; and as he limped upon the straw where the ass was stretched out, it gave him a powerful kick with its hind foot. This was not all, for the cock, awaking at the noise, clapped his wings, and cried from the beam: “Cock-a-doodle-doo, cock-a-doodle-do!”

Then the robber ran back as well as he could to his captain, and said: “Ah, my master, there dwells a horrible witch in the house, who spat on me and scratched my face with her long 80nails; and then before the door stands a man with a knife, who chopped at my leg; and in the yard there lies a black monster, who beat me with a great wooden club; and besides all, upon the roof sits a judge, who called out, ‘Bring the knave up, do!’ so I ran away as fast as I could.”

After this the robbers dared not again go near their house; but everything prospered so well with the four town musicians of Bremen, that they did not forsake their situation! And there they are to this day, for anything I know.


The Fox and the Cat

It happened once that the cat met Mr. Fox in the wood, and because she thought he was clever and experienced in all the ways of the world, she addressed him in a friendly manner.

“Good-morning, dear Mr. Fox! how are you, and how do you get along in these hard times?”

The fox, full of pride, looked at the cat from head to foot for some time, hardly knowing whether he would deign to answer or not. At last he said:

“Oh, you poor whisker-wiper, you silly piebald, you starveling mouse-hunter! what has come into your head? How dare you ask me how I am getting on? What sort of education have you had? How many arts are you master of?”

“Only one,” said the cat meekly.

“And what might that one be?” asked the fox.

“When the dogs run after me, I can jump into a tree and save myself.”

“Is that all?” said the fox. “I am master of a hundred arts, and I have a sackful of cunning tricks in addition. But I pity you. Come with me, and I will teach you how to escape from the dogs.”

Just then a huntsman came along with four hounds. The cat sprang trembling into a tree, and crept stealthily up to the topmost branch, where she was entirely hidden by twigs and leaves.

“Open your sack, Mr. Fox! open your sack!” cried the cat, but the dogs had gripped him, and held him fast.

“Oh, Mr. Fox!” cried the cat, “you with your hundred arts, and your sackful of tricks, are held fast, while I, with my one, am safe. Had you been able to creep up here, you would not have lost your life.”


The Golden Key

One winter, when a deep snow was lying on the ground, a poor boy had to go out in a sledge to fetch wood. As soon as he had collected together a sufficient quantity, he thought that before he returned home he would make a fire to warm himself, because his limbs were so frozen. So, sweeping the snow away, he made a clear space, and presently found a small gold key. As soon as he picked it up, he began to think that where there was a key there must also be a lock; and, digging in the earth, he found a small iron chest. “I hope the key will fit,” thought he to himself; “there are certainly great treasures in this box!” He looked all over it, but could not find any keyhole; but at last he did discover one, which was, however, so small that it could scarcely be seen. He tried the key, and behold! it fitted exactly. Then he turned it once round, and now, if you will wait until he has quite unlocked it, and lifted up the lid, then we shall learn what wonderful treasures were in the chest!


Doctor Know-All

A long time ago there lived a peasant named “Crabb,” who one day drove into a certain city his cart laden with a bundle of faggots, drawn by two oxen. He soon found a purchaser for his wood in the person of a learned doctor, who bought it for two dollars, and, while the money was being counted out, the peasant, peeping in at the door, saw how comfortably his customer was eating and drinking; and the thought thereupon came into his head that he would like to be a professor, too. So he waited a little while, and at last mustered courage to ask whether he could not be a doctor. “Oh, yes,” replied the doctor, “that can soon be managed!”

“What must I do?” asked the peasant.

“First of all, buy an A B C book, one which has a cock-a-doodle-do for a frontispiece; secondly, sell your cart and oxen, and turn them into money to buy good clothes with, and what else belongs to a doctor’s appearance; lastly, let a sign be painted, with the words, ‘I am the Doctor Know-All,’ and nail that over your house door.”

The countryman did all that he was told, and after he had practised a little time, but not to much purpose, a certain very wealthy baron had some money stolen from him. Mention was made to the baron of Doctor Know-All, who dwelt in such a village, and who would be sure to know where the money was gone. As soon as the baron heard of him, he ordered his horses put to his carriage and drove to the place where the doctor lived. The baron inquired if he were the Doctor Know-All, and he replying “Yes,” the baron said he must return with him and discover his money.

“Very well,” replied the doctor; “but my wife Gertrude must accompany me.”

84To this the baron agreed, and, all being seated in the carriage, away they drove back again. When they arrived at the house a splendid collation was on the table, of which the doctor was invited to partake. “Certainly,” said he, “but my wife Gertrude, too”; and he sat down with her at the bottom of the table. As soon as the first servant entered with a dish of delicate soup, the doctor poked his wife, saying, “He is the first!” meaning he was the first who had brought in meat. But the servant imagined he meant to say, “He is the first thief!” and because he really was so, he felt very much disturbed, and told his comrades in the kitchen, “The doctor knows all; we shall come off badly, for he has said I am the first!” When the second servant heard this he felt afraid to go; but he was obliged, and as soon as he entered the room with the dish, the man poked his wife again, and said: “Gertrude, that is the second!” This frightened the servant so much that he left the room as soon as possible; and the third servant who entered fared no better, for the doctor said to his wife, “That is the third!” The fourth servant had to bring in a covered dish, and the baron said to the doctor he must show his powers by telling truly what was in the dish. Now, there were crabs in it, and the doctor looked at the dish for some minutes, considering how to get out of the scrape. At last he cried out: “Oh, poor Crabb that I am!” When the baron heard this, he exclaimed: “Good! he knows it! he knows, too, where my money is!”

The servant, however, was terribly frightened; and he winked to the doctor to follow him out. When he had done so, he found all four servants there who had stolen the money, and were now so eager to get off that they offered him a large sum if he would not betray them; for if he did their necks would be in danger. They led him also to the place where the money lay hid, and the doctor was so pleased that he gave them the required promise, and then returned to the house, where he sat down again at table, and, producing his book, said: “I will now look in my book, baron, and discover the place where the money lies.” A fifth servant, who had had a share in the robbery, wished to hear if the doctor knew more, 85and so he crept up the chimney to listen. Below sat the countryman, turning the leaves of his book backward and forward, forward and backward, looking for the cock-a-doodle-doo. However, he could not find it, and he at length exclaimed, “You must come out, for I know you are in it!” This made the servant up the chimney believe he meant him, and down he slipped, and came out, crying, “The man knows all, the man knows all!”

Then Doctor Know-All showed the baron where the money lay; but he said nothing about who had stolen it, so that from both sides he received a large sum of money as a reward, and, moreover, he became a very celebrated character.


The Fair Catherine and Pif-Paf Poltrie

“Good Day, Father Hollenthe. How do you do?” “Very well, I thank you, Pif-paf Poltrie.” “May I marry your daughter?” “Oh, yes! if the mother Malcho (Milk-Cow), the brother Hohenstolz (High and Mighty), the sister Kâsetraut (Cheese-maker), and the fair Catherine are willing, it may be so.”

“Where is, then, the mother Malcho?”

“In the stable, milking the cow.”

“Good day, mother Malcho. How do you do?” “Very well, I thank you, Pif-paf Poltrie.” “May I marry your daughter?” “Oh, yes! if the father Hollenthe, the brother Hohenstolz, the sister Kâsetraut, and the fair Catherine are willing, it may be so.”

“Where is, then, the brother Hohenstolz?”

“In the yard, chopping up the wood.”

“Good day, brother Hohenstolz. How are you?” “Very well, I thank you, Pif-paf Poltrie.” “May I marry your sister?” “Oh, yes! if the father Hollenthe, the mother Malcho, the sister Kâsetraut, and the fair Catherine are willing, it may be so.”

“Where is, then, the sister Kâsetraut?”

“In the garden, cutting the cabbages.”

“Good day, sister Kâsetraut. How do you do?” “Very well, I thank you, Pif-paf Poltrie.” “May I marry your sister?” “Oh, yes! if the father Hollenthe, the mother Malcho, the brother Hohenstolz, and the fair Catherine are willing, it may be so.”

“Where is, then, the fair Catherine?”

87“In her chamber, counting out her pennies.”

“Good day, fair Catherine. How do you do?” “Very well, I thank you, Pif-paf Poltrie.” “Will you be my bride?” “Oh, yes! if the father Hollenthe, the mother Malcho, the brother Hohenstolz, and the sister Kâsetraut are willing, so am I.”

“How much money have you, fair Catherine?”

“Fourteen pennies in bare money, two and a half farthings owing to me, half a pound of dried apples, a handful of prunes, and a handful of roots; and don’t you call that a capital dowry? Pif-paf Poltrie, what trade are you? Are you a tailor?”

“Better than that.”

“A shoemaker?”

“Better still!”

“A plowman?”

“Better still!”

“A joiner?”

“Better still!”

“A smith?”

“Better still!”

“A miller?”

“Better still!”

“Perhaps a broom-binder?” “Yes, so I am; now, is not that a pretty trade?”


The Wolf and the Fox

A wolf, once upon a time, caught a fox. It happened one day that they were both going through the forest, and the wolf said to his companion: “Get me some food, or I will eat you up.”

The fox replied: “I know a farmyard where there are a couple of young lambs, which, if you wish, we will fetch.”

This proposal pleased the wolf, so they went, and the fox, stealing first one of the lambs, brought it to the wolf, and then ran away. The wolf devoured it quickly, but was not contented, and went to fetch the other lamb by himself, but he did it so awkwardly that he aroused the attention of the mother, who began to cry and bleat loudly, so that the peasants ran up. There they found the wolf, and beat him so unmercifully that he ran, howling and limping, to the fox, and said: “You have led me to a nice place, for, when I went to fetch the other lamb, the peasants came and beat me terribly!”

“Why are you such a glutton, then?” asked the fox.

The next day they went again into the fields, and the covetous wolf said to the fox: “Get me something to eat now, or I will devour you!”

The fox said he knew a country house where the cook was going that evening to make some pancakes, and thither they went. When they arrived, the fox sneaked and crept around round the house, until he at last discovered where the dish was standing, out of which he stole six pancakes, and took them to the wolf, saying, “There is something for you to eat!” and then ran away. The wolf dispatched these in a minute or two, and, wishing to taste some more, he went and seized the dish, but took it away so hurriedly that it broke in pieces. The noise of its fall brought out the woman, who, as soon as she saw the 89wolf, called her people, who, hastening up, beat him with such a good will that he ran home to the fox, howling, with two lame legs! “What a horrid place you have drawn me into now,” cried he; “the peasants have caught me, and dressed my skin finely!”

“Why, then, are you such a glutton?” said the fox.

When they went out again the third day, the wolf limping along with weariness, he said to the fox: “Get me something to eat now, or I will devour you!”

The fox said he knew a man who had just killed a pig, and salted the meat down in a cask in his cellar, and that they could get at it. The wolf replied that he would go with him on condition that he helped him if he could not escape. “Oh, of course I will, on mine own account!” said the fox, and showed him the tricks and ways by which they could get into the cellar. When they went in there was meat in abundance, and the wolf was enraptured at the sight. The fox, too, had a taste, but kept looking round while eating, and ran frequently to the hole by which they had entered, to see if his body would slip through it easily. Presently the wolf asked: “Why are you running about so, you fox, jumping in and out?” “I want to see if any one is coming,” replied the fox cunningly; “but mind you do not eat too much!”

The wolf said he would not leave till the cask was quite empty; and meanwhile the peasant, who had heard the noise made by the fox, entered the cellar. The fox, as soon as he saw him, made a spring, and was through the hole in a jiffy; and the wolf tried to follow his example, but he had eaten so much that his body was too big for the opening, and he stuck fast. Then came the peasant with a cudgel, and beat him sorely; but the fox leaped away into the forest, very glad to get rid of the old glutton.


Discreet Hans

Hans’ mother asked: “Whither are you going, Hans?” “To Grethel’s,” replied he. “Behave well, Hans.” “I will take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day,” said he. “Good day,” replied Grethel, “what treasure do you bring to-day?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel presented Hans with a needle. “Good-by,” said he. “Good-by, Hans.” Hans took the needle, stuck it in a load of hay, and walked home behind the wagon.

“Good evening, mother.” “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s.” “And what have you given her?” “Nothing; she has given me something.” “What has Grethel given you?” “A needle,” said Hans. “And where have you put it?” “In the load of hay.” “Then you have behaved stupidly, Hans; you should put needles on your coat-sleeve.” “To behave better, do nothing at all,” thought Hans.

“Whither are you going, Hans?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “Behave well, Hans.” “I will take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day,” said he. “Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel gave Hans a knife. “Good-by, Grethel.” “Good-by, Hans.” Hans took the knife, put it in his sleeve, and went home.

“Good evening, mother.” “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s.” “And what did you take to her?” “I took nothing; she has given to me.” “And what did she give you?” “A knife,” said Hans. “And where 91have you put it?” “In my sleeve.” “Then you have behaved foolishly again, Hans; you should put knives in your pocket.” “To behave better, do nothing at all,” thought Hans.

“Whither are you going, Hans?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “Behave well, Hans.” “I will take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day, Grethel.” “Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel gave Hans a young goat. “Good-by, Grethel.” “Good-by, Hans.” Hans took the goat, tied its legs, and put it in his pocket.

Just as he reached home it was suffocated. “Good evening, mother.” “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s.” “And what did you take to her?” “I took nothing; she gave to me.” “And what did Grethel give you?” “A goat.” “Where did you put it, Hans?” “In my pocket.” “There you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have tied the goat with a rope.” “To behave better, do nothing,” thought Hans.

“Whither away, Hans?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “Behave well, Hans.” “I’ll take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day,” said he. “Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel gave Hans a piece of bacon. “Good-by, Grethel.” “Good-by, Hans.” Hans took the bacon, tied it with a rope, and swung it to and fro so that the dogs came and ate it up. When he reached home he held the rope in his hand, but there was nothing on it.

“Good evening, mother,” said he. “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “What did you take there?” “I took nothing; she gave to me.” “And what did Grethel give you?” “A piece of bacon,” said Hans. “And where have you put it?” “I tied it with a rope, swung it about, and the dogs came and ate it up.” “There you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have carried the bacon on your head.” “To behave better, do nothing,” thought Hans.

92“Whither away, Hans?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “Behave well, Hans.” “I’ll take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day,” said he. “Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel gave Hans a calf. “Good-by,” said Hans. “Good-by.” Hans took the calf, set it on his head, and the calf scratched his face.

“Good evening, mother.” “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s.” “What did you take her?” “I took nothing; she gave to me.” “And what did Grethel give you?” “A calf,” said Hans. “And what did you do with it?” “I set it on my head, and it kicked my face.” “Then you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have led the calf home, and put it in the stall.” “To behave better, do nothing,” thought Hans.

“Whither away, Hans?” “To Grethel’s, mother.” “Behave well, Hans.” “I’ll take care; good-by, mother.” “Good-by, Hans.”

Hans came to Grethel. “Good day,” said he. “Good day, Hans. What treasure do you bring?” “I bring nothing. Have you anything to give?” Grethel said: “I will go with you, Hans.” Hans tied a rope round Grethel, led her home, put her in the stall, and made the rope fast; and then he went to his mother.

“Good evening, mother.” “Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?” “To Grethel’s.” “What did you take her?” “I took nothing.” “What did Grethel give you?” “She gave nothing; she came with me.” “And where have you left her, then?” “I tied her with a rope, put her in the stall, and threw in some grass.” “Then you acted stupidly, Hans; you should have looked at her with friendly eyes.” “To behave better, do nothing,” thought Hans; and then he went into the stall, and made sheep’s eyes at Grethel.

And after that Grethel became Hans’ wife.


King Thrush-beard

A certain king had a daughter who was beautiful above all belief, but withal so proud and haughty, that no suitor was good enough for her, and she not only turned back every one who came, but also made game of them all. Once the king proclaimed a great festival, and invited thereto from far and near all the marriageable young men. When they arrived they were all set in a row, according to their rank and standing: first the kings, then the princes, the dukes, the marquesses, the earls, and, last of all, the barons. Then the king’s daughter was led down the rows, but she found something to make game of it all. One was too fat. “The wine-tub!” said she. Another was too tall. “Long and lanky; has no grace,” she remarked. A third was too short and fat. “Too stout to have any wits,” said she. A fourth was too pale. “Like Death himself,” was her remark, and a fifth, who had a great deal of color, she called “a cockatoo.” The sixth was not straight enough, and him she called “a green log scorched in the oven!” And so she went on, nicknaming every one of the suitors, but she made particularly merry with a good young king whose chin had grown rather crooked. “Ha, ha!” laughed she, “he has a chin like a thrush’s beak”; and after that day he went by the name of Thrush-beard.

The old king, however, when he saw that his daughter did nothing but mock at and make sport of all the suitors who were collected, became very angry, and swore that she should take the first decent beggar for a husband who came to the gate.

A couple of days after this a player came beneath the windows to sing and earn some bounty if he could. As soon as the king saw him he ordered him to be called up, and presently he came into the room in all his dirty, ragged clothes, and sang 94before the king and princess, and when he had finished he begged for a slight recompense. The king said: “Thy song has pleased so much that I will give thee my daughter for a wife.”

The princess was terribly frightened, but the king said: “I have taken an oath, and mean to perform it, that I will give you to the first beggar.” All her remonstrances were in vain; the priest was called, and the princess was married in earnest to the player. When the ceremony was performed, the king said: “Now, it cannot be suffered that you should stop here with your husband, in my house; no! you must travel about the country with him.”

So the beggarman led her away, and she was forced to trudge along with him on foot. As they came to a large forest, she asked:

“To whom belongs this beautiful wood?”

The echo replied:

“King Thrush-beard the good!
Had you taken him, it had been thine.”

“Ah, silly,” said she,

“What a lot had been mine
Had I happily married King Thrush-beard!”

Next they came to a meadow, and she asked:

“To whom belongs this meadow so green?”

“To King Thrush-beard,” was again the reply.

Then they came to a great city, and she asked:

“To whom does this beautiful town belong?”

“To King Thrush-beard,” said one.

“Ah, what a simpleton was I that I did not marry him when I had the chance!” exclaimed the poor princess.

“Come,” broke in the player, “it does not please me, I can tell you, that you are always wishing for another husband; am I not good enough for you?”

95By and by they came to a very small hut, and she said: “Ah, heavens, to whom can this miserable, wretched hovel belong?”

The player replied: “That is my house, where we shall live together.”

The princess was obliged to stoop to get in at the door, and when she was inside, she asked: “Where are the servants?” “What servants?” exclaimed her husband. “You must yourself do all that you want done. Now make a fire and put on some water, that you may cook my dinner, for I am quite tired.”

The princess, however, understood nothing about making fires or cooking, and the beggar had to set to work himself, and as soon as they had finished their scanty meal they went to bed. In the morning the husband woke up his wife very early, that she might set the house to rights, and for a couple of days they lived on in this way, and made an end of their store. Then the husband said: “Wife, we must not go on in this way any longer, stopping here, doing nothing; you must weave some baskets.” So he went out and cut some osiers and brought them home, but when his wife attempted to bend them the hard twigs wounded her hands and made them bleed. “I see that won’t suit,” said her husband; “you had better spin, perhaps that will do better.”

So she sat down to spin, but the harsh thread cut her tender fingers very badly, so that the blood flowed freely. “Do you see,” said the husband, “how you are spoiling your work? I made a bad bargain in taking you! Now I must try and make a business in pots and earthen vessels; you shall sit in the market and sell them.”

“Oh, if anybody out of my father’s dominions should come and see me in the market selling pots,” thought the princess to herself, “how they would laugh at me!”

However, all her excuses were in vain; she must either do that or die of hunger.

The first time all went well, for the people bought of the princess, because she was so pretty-looking, and not only gave her what she asked, but some even laid down their money and 96left the pots behind. On her earnings this day, they lived for some time as long as they lasted; and then the husband purchased a fresh stock of pots. With these she placed her stall at a corner of the market, offering them for sale. All at once a drunken hussar came plunging down the street on his horse, and rode right into the midst of her earthenware, and shattered it into a thousand pieces. The accident, as well it might, set her a-weeping, and in her trouble, not knowing what to do, she ran home crying: “Ah, what will become of me; what will my good man say?” When she had told her husband, he cried out: “Who ever would have thought of sitting at the corner of the market to sell earthenware? but well I see you are not accustomed to any ordinary work. There, leave off crying; I have been to the king’s palace, and asked if they were not in want of a kitchen-maid; and they have agreed to take you, and there you will live free of cost.”

Now the princess became a kitchen-maid, and was obliged to do as the cook bade her, and wash up the dirty things. Then she put a jar into each of her pockets, and in them she took home what was left of what fell to her share of the good things, and of these she and her husband made their meals. Not many days afterward it happened that the wedding of the king’s eldest son was to be celebrated, and the poor wife placed herself near the door of the saloon to look on. As the lamps were lit and guests more and more beautiful entered the room, and all dressed most sumptuously, she reflected on her fate with a saddened heart, and repented of the pride and haughtiness which had so humiliated and impoverished her. Every now and then the servants threw her out of the dishes morsels of rich delicacies which they carried in, whose fragrant smells increased her regrets, and these pieces she put into her pockets to carry home. Presently the king entered, clothed in silk and velvet, and having a golden chain round his neck. As soon as he saw the beautiful maiden standing at the door, he seized her by the hand and would dance with her, but she, terribly frightened, refused; for she saw it was King Thrush-beard, who had wooed her, and whom she had laughed at. Her struggles were 97of no avail; he drew her into the ball-room, and there tore off the band to which the pots were attached, so that they fell down and the soup ran over the floor, while the pieces of meat, etc., skipped about in all directions. When the fine folks saw this sight they burst into one universal shout of laughter and derision, and the poor girl was so ashamed that she wished herself a thousand fathoms below the earth. She ran out at the door and would have escaped; but on the steps she met a man, who took her back, and when she looked at him, lo! it was King Thrush-beard again. He spoke kindly to her, and said: “Be not afraid; I and the musician, who dwelt with you in the wretched hut, are one; for love of you I have acted thus; and the hussar who rode in among the pots was also myself. All this has taken place in order to humble your haughty disposition, and to punish you for your pride, which led you to mock me.”

At these words she wept bitterly, and said: “I am not worthy to be your wife, I have done you so great a wrong.” But he replied: “Those evil days are passed; we will now celebrate our marriage.”

Immediately after came the bridesmaids, and put on her the most magnificent dresses; and then her father and his whole court arrived, and wished her happiness on her wedding-day; and now commenced her true joy as queen of the country of King Thrush-beard.


The Three Luck-Children

There was once upon a time a father, who called his three sons to him, and gave the first a cock, the second a scythe, and the third a cat, and then addressed them thus: “I am very old, and my end draweth nigh, but I wish to show my care for you before I die. Money I have not, and what I now give you appears of little worth; but do not think that, for if each of you use his gift carefully, and seek some country where such a thing is not known, your fortunes will be made.”

Soon after, the father died, and the eldest son set out on his travels with his cock, but wherever he came, such a creature was already well known. In the towns he saw it from afar, sitting upon the church steeples, and turning itself round with the wind; and in the villages he heard more than one crow, and nobody troubled himself about another, so that it did not seem as if he would ever make his fortune by it. At last, however, it fell out that he arrived on an island where the people knew nothing about cocks, nor even how to divide their time. They knew, certainly, when it was evening and morning, but at night, if they did not sleep through it, they could not comprehend the time. “See,” said he to them, “what a proud creature it is, what a fine red crown it wears on its head, and it has spurs like a knight! Thrice during the night it will crow at certain hours, and the third time it calls you may know the sun will soon rise; but, if it crows by day, you may prepare then for a change of weather.”

The good people were well pleased, and the whole night they laid awake and listened to the cock, which crowed loudly and clearly at two, four, and six o’clock. The next day they asked if the creature were not for sale, and how much he asked, and he replied: “As much gold as an ass can bear.” “A ridiculously 99small sum,” said they, “for such a marvelous creature!” and gave him readily what he asked.

When he returned home with his money, his brothers were astonished, and the second said he would also go out and see what luck his scythe would bring him. But at first it did not seem likely that fortune would favor him, for all the countrymen he met carried equally good scythes upon their shoulders. At last, however, he also came to an island whose people were ignorant of the use of scythes; for when a field of corn was ripe, they planted great cannons and shot it down! In this way, it was no uncommon thing that many of them shot quite over it; others hit the ears instead of the stalks, and shot them quite away, so that a great quantity was always ruined, and the most doleful lamentations ensued. But our hero, when he arrived, mowed away so silently and quickly, that the people held their breath and noses with wonder, and willingly gave him what he desired, which was a horse laden with as much gold as it could carry.

On his return the third brother set out with his cat to try his luck, and it happened to him exactly as it had done to the others; so long as he kept on the old roads he met with no place which did not already boast its cat; indeed, so many were there that the new-born kittens were usually drowned. At last he voyaged to an island where, luckily for him, cats were unknown animals; and yet, the mice were so numerous that they danced upon the tables and chairs, whether the master of the house were at home or not. These people complained continually of the plague, and the king himself knew not how to deliver them from it; for in every corner the mice were swarming, and destroyed what they could not carry away in their teeth. The cat, however, on its arrival, commenced a grand hunt; and so soon cleared a couple of rooms of the troublesome visitors, that the people begged the king to buy it for the use of his kingdom. The king gave willingly the price that was asked for the wonderful animal, and the third brother returned home with a still larger treasure, in the shape of a mule laden with gold.

100Meanwhile the cat was having capital sport in the royal palace with the mice, and bit so many that the dead were not to be numbered. At last she became very thirsty with the hot work, and stopped, and, raising her head, cried: “Miau, miau!” At the unusual sound, the king, together with all his courtiers, were much frightened, and in terror they ran out of the castle. There the king held a council what it were best to do, and at length it was resolved to send a herald to the cat, to demand that she should quit the castle, or force would be used to make her. “For,” said the councilors, “we would rather be plagued by the mice, to which we are accustomed, than surrender ourselves a prey to this beast.” A page was accordingly sent to the cat to ask whether she would quit the castle in peace; but the cat, whose thirst had all the while been increasing, replied nothing but “Miau, miau!” The page understood her to say, “No, no!” and brought the king word accordingly. The councilors agreed then that she should feel their power, and cannons were brought out and fired, so that the castle was presently in flames. When the fire reached the room where the cat was, she sprang out of the window, but the besiegers ceased not until the whole was leveled with the ground.


The Three Sluggards

A certain king had three sons, all of whom he loved so much that he did not know which he should name to be king after him. When the day of his death approached, he called them to his bedside, and thus spoke to them: “Dear children, I have something on my mind that I wish to tell you; whichever of you is the laziest, he shall be king when I am dead.”

“Then, father, the kingdom belongs to me,” said the eldest son; “for I am so lazy, that if I lie down to sleep, and tears come into my eyes, so that I cannot close them, I yet go to sleep without wiping them away!”

“The kingdom belongs to me,” cried the second son; “for I am so lazy that when I sit by the fire to warm myself, I allow my boots to scorch before I will draw away my feet!”

But the third son said: “The kingdom is mine, father, for I am so lazy that, were I about to be hanged, and even had I the rope round my neck, and any one should give me a sharp sword to cut it with, I should suffer myself to be swung off before I took the trouble to cut the rope!”

As soon as the father heard this, he said to his youngest son: “You have shown yourself the laziest of all, and you shall be king.”


The Fisherman and his Wife

There was once a fisherman who lived with his wife in a miserable little hovel close to the sea. He went to fish every day, and he fished and fished, and at last one day, when he was sitting looking deep down into the shining water, he felt something on his line. When he hauled it up there was a great flounder on the end of the line. The flounder said to him: “Look here, fisherman, don’t you kill me; I am no common flounder, I am an enchanted prince! What good will it do you to kill me? I sha’n’t be good to eat; put me back into the water, and leave me to swim about.”

“Well,” said the fisherman, “you need not make so many words about it. I am quite ready to put back a flounder that can talk.” And so saying, he put back the flounder into the shining water, and it sank down to the bottom, leaving a streak of blood behind it.

Then the fisherman got up and went back to his wife in the hovel. “Husband,” she said, “hast thou caught nothing today?”

“No,” said the man; “all I caught was one flounder, and he said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him go swim again.”

“Didst thou not wish for anything then?” asked the good wife.

“No,” said the man; “what was there to wish for?”

“Alas!” said his wife; “isn’t it bad enough always to live in this wretched hovel? Thou mightest at least have wished for a nice clean cottage. Go back and call him; tell him I want a pretty cottage; he will surely give us that!”

“Alas,” said the man, “what am I to go back there for?”

“Well,” said the woman, “it was thou who caught him and 103let him go again; for certain he will do that for thee. Be off now!”

The man was still not very willing to go, but he did not want to vex his wife, and at last he went back to the sea.

He found the sea no longer bright and shining, but dull and green. He stood by it and said:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

The flounder came swimming up, and said: “Well, what do you want?”

“Alas!” said the man; “I had to call you, for my wife said I ought to have wished for something, as I caught you. She doesn’t want to live in our miserable hovel any longer; she wants a pretty cottage.”

“Go home again, then,” said the flounder; “she has her wish fully.”

The man went home and found his wife no longer in the old hut, but a pretty little cottage stood in its place, and his wife was sitting on a bench by the door.

She took him by the hand, and said: “Come and look in here—isn’t this much better?”

They went inside and found a pretty sitting-room, and a bedroom with a bed in it, a kitchen, and a larder furnished with everything of the best in tin and brass, and every possible requisite. Outside there was a little yard with chickens and ducks, and a little garden full of vegetables and fruit.

“Look!” said the woman, “is not this nice?”

“Yes,” said the man; “and so let it remain. We can live here very happily.”

“We will see about that,” said the woman, and with that they ate something and went to bed.

Everything went well for a week or more, and then said the wife: “Listen, husband; this cottage is too cramped, and the garden is too small. The flounder might have given us a bigger 104house. I want to live in a big stone castle. Go to the flounder, and tell him to give us a castle.”

“Alas, wife!” said the man; “the cottage is good enough for us; what should we do with a castle?”

“Never mind,” said his wife; “do thou but go to the flounder, and he will manage it.”

“Nay, wife,” said the man; “the flounder gave us the cottage. I don’t want to go back; as likely as not he’ll be angry.”

“Go, all the same,” said the woman. “He can do it easily enough, and willingly into the bargain. Just go!”

The man’s heart was heavy, and he was very unwilling to go. He said to himself: “It’s not right.” But at last he went.

He found the sea was no longer green; it was still calm, but dark violet and gray. He stood by it and said:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

“Now, what do you want?” said the flounder.

“Alas,” said the man, half scared, “my wife wants a big stone castle.”

“Go home again,” said the flounder; “she is standing at the door of it.”

Then the man went away, thinking he would find no house, but when he got back he found a great stone palace, and his wife standing at the top of the steps, waiting to go in.

She took him by the hand and said: “Come in with me.”

With that they went in and found a great hall paved with marble slabs, and numbers of servants in attendance, who opened the great doors for them. The walls were hung with beautiful tapestries, and the rooms were furnished with golden chairs and tables, while rich carpets covered the floors, and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The tables groaned under every kind of delicate food and the most costly wines. Outside the house there was a great courtyard, with stabling for horses, and cows, and many fine carriages. Beyond this 105there was a great garden filled with the loveliest flowers, and fine fruit trees. There was also a park, half a mile long, and in it were stags and hinds, and hares, and everything of the kind one could wish for.

“Now,” said the woman, “is not this worth having?”

“Oh, yes,” said the man; “and so let it remain. We will live in this beautiful palace and be content.”

“We will think about that,” said his wife, “and sleep upon it.”

With that they went to bed.

Next morning the wife woke up first; day was just dawning, and from her bed she could see the beautiful country around her. Her husband was still asleep, but she pushed him with her elbow, and said: “Husband, get up and peep out of the window. See here, now, could we not be king over all this land? Go to the flounder. We will be king.”

“Alas, wife,” said the man, “what should we be king for? I don’t want to be king.”

“Ah,” said his wife, “if thou wilt not be king, I will. Go to the flounder. I will be king.”

“Alas, wife,” said the man, “whatever dost thou want to be king for? I don’t like to tell him.”

“Why not?” said the woman. “Go thou must. I will be king.”

So the man went; but he was quite sad because his wife would be king.

“It is not right,” he said; “it is not right.”

When he reached the sea, he found it dark, gray, and rough, and evil-smelling. He stood there and said:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

“Now, what does she want?” said the flounder.

“Alas,” said the man, “she wants to be king now.”

“Go back. She is king already,” said the flounder.

106So the man went back, and when he reached the palace he found that it had grown much larger, and a great tower had been added, with handsome decorations. There was a sentry at the door, and numbers of soldiers were playing drums and trumpets. As soon as he got inside the house, he found everything was marble and gold; and the hangings were of velvet, with great golden tassels. The doors of the saloon were thrown wide open, and he saw the whole court assembled. His wife was sitting on a lofty throne of gold and diamonds; she wore a golden crown, and carried in one hand a scepter of pure gold. On each side of her stood her ladies in a long row, each one a head shorter than the next.

He stood before her, and said: “Alas, wife, art thou now king?”

“Yes,” she said; “now I am king.”

He stood looking at her for some time, and then he said: “Ah, wife, it is a fine thing for thee to be king; now we will not wish to be anything more.”

“Nay, husband,” she answered, quite uneasily, “I find the time hangs very heavy on my hands. I can’t bear it any longer. Go back to the flounder. King I am, but I must also be emperor.”

“Alas, wife,” said the man, “why dost thou now want to be emperor?”

“Husband,” she answered, “go to the flounder. Emperor I will be.”

“Alas, wife,” said the man, “emperor he can’t make thee, and I won’t ask him. There is only one emperor in the country; and emperor the flounder cannot make thee, that he can’t.”

“What?” said the woman. “I am king, and thou art but my husband. To him thou must go, and that right quickly. If he can make a king, he can also make an emperor. Emperor I will be, so quickly go.”

He had to go, but he was quite frightened. And as he went, he thought: “This won’t end well; emperor is too shameless. The flounder will make an end of the whole thing.”

With that he came to the sea, but now he found it quite black, 107and heaving up from below in great waves. It tossed to and fro, and a sharp wind blew over it, and the man trembled. So he stood there, and said:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

“What does she want now?” said the flounder.

“Alas, flounder,” he said, “my wife wants to be emperor.”

“Go back,” said the flounder. “She is emperor.”

So the man went back, and when he got to the door, he found that the whole palace was made of polished marble, with alabaster figures and golden decorations. Soldiers marched up and down before the doors, blowing their trumpets and beating their drums. Inside the palace, counts, barons, and dukes walked about as attendants, and they opened to him the doors, which were of pure gold.

He went in, and saw his wife sitting on a huge throne made of solid gold. It was at least two miles high. She had on her head a great golden crown, set with diamonds, three yards high. In one hand she held the scepter, and in the other the ball of empire. On each side of her stood the gentlemen-at-arms in two rows, each one a little smaller than the other, from giants two miles high, down to the tiniest dwarf no bigger than my little finger. She was surrounded by princes and dukes.

Her husband stood still, and said: “Wife, art thou now emperor?”

“Yes,” said she; “now I am emperor.”

Then he looked at her for some time, and said: “Alas, wife, how much better off art thou for being emperor?”

“Husband,” she said, “what art thou standing there for? Now I am emperor, I mean to be pope! Go back to the flounder.”

“Alas, wife,” said the man, “what wilt thou not want? Pope thou canst not be. There is only one pope in Christendom. That’s more than the flounder can do.”

108“Husband,” she said, “pope I will be; so go at once. I must be pope this very day.”

“No, wife,” he said, “I dare not tell him. It’s no good; it’s too monstrous altogether. The flounder cannot make thee pope.”

“Husband,” said the woman, “don’t talk nonsense. If he can make an emperor, he can make a pope. Go immediately. I am emperor, and thou art but my husband, and thou must obey.”

So he was frightened, and went; but he was quite dazed. He shivered and shook, and his knees trembled.

A great wind arose over the land, the clouds flew across the sky, and it grew as dark as night; the leaves fell from the trees, and the water foamed and dashed upon the shore. In the distance the ships were being tossed to and fro on the waves, and he heard them firing signals of distress. There was still a little patch of blue in the sky among the dark clouds, but toward the south they were red and heavy, as in a bad storm. In despair, he stood and said:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

“Now, what does she want?” said the flounder.

“Alas,” said the man, “she wants to be pope.”

“Go back. Pope she is,” said the flounder.

So back he went, and he found a great church, surrounded with palaces. He pressed through the crowd, and inside he found thousands and thousands of lights, and his wife, entirely clad in gold, was sitting on a still higher throne, with three golden crowns upon her head, and she was surrounded with priestly state. On each side of her were two rows of candles, the biggest as thick as a tower, down to the tiniest little taper. Kings and emperors were on their knees before her, kissing her shoe.

“Wife,” said the man, looking at her, “art thou now pope?”

109“Yes,” said she; “now I am pope.”

So there he stood gazing at her, and it was like looking at a shining sun.

“Alas, wife,” he said, “art thou better off for being pope?” At first she sat as stiff as a post, without stirring. Then he said: “Now, wife, be content with being pope; higher thou canst not go.”

“I will think about that,” said the woman, and with that they both went to bed. Still she was not content, and could not sleep for her inordinate desires. The man slept well and soundly, for he had walked about a great deal in the day; but his wife could think of nothing but what further grandeur she could demand. When the dawn reddened the sky, she raised herself up in bed and looked out of the window, and when she saw the sun rise she said:

“Ha! can I not cause the sun and the moon to rise? Husband!” she cried, digging her elbow into his side, “wake up and go to the flounder. I will be lord of the universe.”

Her husband, who was still more than half asleep, was so shocked that he fell out of bed. He thought he must have heard wrong. He rubbed his eyes and said:

“Alas, wife, what didst thou say?”

“Husband,” she said, “if I cannot be lord of the universe, and cause the sun and moon to set and rise, I shall not be able to bear it. I shall never have another happy moment.”

She looked at him so wildly that it caused a shudder to run through him.

“Alas, wife,” he said, falling on his knees before her, “the flounder can’t do that. Emperor and pope he can make, but that is indeed beyond him. I pray thee, control thyself and remain pope.”

Then she flew into a terrible rage. Her hair stood on end; she panted for breath, and screamed:

“I won’t bear it any longer; wilt thou go?”

Then he pulled on his trousers and tore away like a madman. Such a storm was raging that he could hardly keep his feet; houses and trees quivered and swayed, mountains 110trembled, and the rocks rolled into the sea. The sky was pitchy black; it thundered and lightened, and the sea ran in black waves, mountains high, crested with white foam. He shrieked out, but could hardly make himself heard:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say.”

“Now, what does she want?” asked the flounder.

“Alas,” he said, “she wants to be Lord of the Universe.”

“Now she must go back to her old hovel,” said the flounder; “and there you will find her.”

And there they are to this very day!


The Nose-tree

Did you ever hear the story of the three poor soldiers who, after having fought hard in the wars, set out on their road home, begging their way as they went?

They had journeyed on a long time, sick at heart with their bad luck at thus being turned loose on the world in their old days, when one evening they reached a deep, gloomy wood, through which lay their road. Night came fast upon them, and they found that they must, however unwillingly, sleep in this wood; so, to make all safe as they could, it was agreed that two should lie down and sleep, while a third sat up and watched, lest wild beasts should break in and tear them to pieces. When he was tired he was to wake one of the others, and sleep in his turn; and so on with the third, so as to share the work fairly among them.

The two who were to rest first soon lay down and fell fast asleep; and the other made himself a good fire under the trees, and sat down by its side to keep watch. He had not sat long before, all of a sudden, up came a little dwarf in a red jacket. “Who is there?” said he. “A friend,” said the soldier. “What sort of a friend?” “An old, broken soldier,” said the other, “with his two comrades, who have nothing left to live on; come, sit down and warm yourself.” “Well, my worthy fellow,” said the little man, “I will do what I can for you; take this and show it to your comrades in the morning.” So he took out an old cloak and gave it to the soldier, telling him that whenever he put it over his shoulders anything that he wished for would be done for him. Then the little man made him a bow and walked away.

The second soldier’s turn to watch soon came, and the first laid him down to sleep; but the second man had not sat by 112himself long before up came the dwarf in the red jacket again. The soldier treated him in as friendly a way as his comrade had done, and the little man gave him a purse, which he told him would be always full of gold, let him draw as much as he would out of it.

Then the third soldier’s turn to watch came; and he also had little Red-jacket for his guest, who gave him a wonderful horn, that drew crowds around it whenever it was played, and made every one forget his business to come and dance to its beautiful music.

In the morning each told his story, and showed the gift he had got from the elf: and as they all liked one another very much, and were old friends, they agreed to travel together to see the world, and, for a while, only to make use of the wonderful purse. And thus they spent their time very joyously, till at last they began to be tired of this roving life, and thought they should like to have a home of their own. So the first soldier put his old cloak on and wished for a fine castle. In a moment it stood before their eyes: fine gardens and green lawns spread around it, and flocks of sheep and goats; herds of oxen were grazing about; and out of the gate came a grand coach with three dapple-gray horses, to meet them and bring them home.

All this was very well for a time, but they found it would not do to stay at home always; so they got together all their rich clothes, and jewels, and money, and ordered their coach with three dapple-gray horses, and set out on a journey to see a neighboring king. Now this king had an only daughter, and as he saw the three soldiers traveling in such grand style, he took them for king’s sons, and so gave them a kind welcome. One day, as the second soldier was walking with the princess, she saw that he had the wonderful purse in his hand. Then she asked him what it was, and he was foolish enough to tell her—though, indeed, it did not much signify what he said, for she was a fairy, and knew all the wonderful things that the three soldiers had brought. Now this princess was very cunning and artful; so she set to work and made 113a purse, so like the soldier’s that no one would know the one from the other; and then she asked him to come and see her, and made him drink some wine that she had got ready for him, and which soon made him fall fast asleep. Then she felt in his pocket, and took away the wonderful purse, and left the one she had made in its place.

The next morning the soldiers set out home; and soon after they reached their castle, happening to want some money, they went to their purse for it, and found something indeed in it; but to their great sorrow, when they had emptied it, none came in the place of what they took. Then the cheat was soon found out; for the second soldier knew where he had been, and how he had told the story to the princess, and he guessed that she had played him a trick. “Alas!” cried he, “poor wretches that we are, what shall we do?” “Oh!” said the first soldier, “let no gray hairs grow for this mishap; I will soon get the purse back.” So he threw his cloak across his shoulders and wished himself in the princess’s chamber.

There he found her sitting alone, telling up her gold, that fell around her in a shower from the wonderful purse.

But the soldier stood looking at her too long; for she turned around, and the moment she saw him she started up and cried out with all her force, “Thieves! thieves!” so that the whole court came running in and tried to seize on him. The poor soldier now began to be dreadfully frightened in his turn, and thought it was high time to make the best of his way off; so, without thinking of the ready way of traveling that his cloak gave him, he ran to the window, opened it, and jumped out; and unluckily, in his haste, his cloak caught and was left hanging, to the great joy of the princess, who knew its worth.

The poor soldier made the best of his way home to his comrades on foot, and in a very downcast mood; but the third soldier told him to keep up his heart, and took his horn and blew a merry tune. At the first blast a countless host of foot-and-horse came rushing to their aid, and they set out to make war against their enemy. The king’s palace was at once 114besieged, and he was told that he must give up the purse and cloak, or that not one stone should be left upon another. So the king went into his daughter’s chamber and talked with her; but she said, “Let me try first if I cannot beat them one way or another.” So she thought of a cunning scheme to over-reach them; and dressing herself out as a poor girl, with a basket on her arm, she set out by night with her maid, and went into the enemy’s camp, as if she wanted to sell trinkets.

In the morning she began to ramble about, singing ballads so beautifully that all the tents were left empty, and the soldiers ran round in crowds, and thought of nothing but hearing her sing. Among the rest came the soldier to whom the horn belonged, and as soon as she saw him she winked to her maid, who slipped slyly through the crowd, and went into his tent where it hung and stole it away. This done, they both got safely back to the palace, the besieging army went away, the three wonderful gifts were all left in the hands of the princess, and the three soldiers were as penniless and forlorn as when little Red-jacket found them in the wood.

Poor fellows! they began to think what was now to be done. “Comrades,” at last said the second soldier, who had had the purse, “we had better part; we cannot live together, let each seek his bread as well as he can.” So he turned to the right, and the other two went to the left, for they said they would rather travel together. The second soldier strayed on till he came to a wood (which happened to be the same wood where they had met with so much good luck before), and he walked on a long time till evening began to fall, when he sat down tired beneath a tree and soon fell asleep.

Morning dawned, and he was greatly delighted, on opening his eyes, to see that the tree was laden with the most beautiful apples. He was hungry enough, so he soon plucked and ate first one, then a second, then a third apple. A strange feeling came over his nose; when he put the apple to his mouth something was in the way. He felt it—it was his nose, that grew and grew till it hung down to his breast. It did not stop there—still it grew and grew. “Heavens!” thought he, 115“when will it have done growing?” And well might he ask, for by this time it reached the ground as he sat on the grass—and thus it kept creeping on till he could not bear its weight or raise himself up; and it seemed as if it would never end, for already it stretched its enormous length all through the wood, over hill and dale.

Meantime his comrades were journeying on, till on a sudden one of them stumbled against something. “What can that be?” said the other. They looked, and could think of nothing that it was like but a nose. “We will follow it and find its owner, however,” said they. So they traced it up, till at last they found their poor comrade, lying stretched along under the apple-tree.

What was to be done? They tried to carry him, but in vain. They caught an ass that was passing, and raised him upon its back; but it was soon tired of carrying such a load. So they sat down in despair, when before long up came their old acquaintance, the dwarf with the red jacket. “Why, how now, friend,” said he, laughing: “well, I must find a cure for you, I see.” So he told them to gather a pear from another tree that grew close by, and the nose would come right again. No time was lost; and the nose, to the poor soldier’s joy, was soon brought to its proper size.

“I will do something more for you, still,” said the dwarf: “take some of those pears and apples with you; whoever eats one of the apples will have his nose grow like yours just now; but if you give him a pear, all will come right again. Go to the princess, and get her to eat some of your apples; her nose will grow twenty times as long as yours did: then look sharp, and you will get what you want from her.”

The friends thanked the dwarf very heartily for all his kindness; and it was agreed that the poor soldier, who had already tried the power of the apple, should follow out the suggestion. So he dressed himself up as a gardener’s boy, and went to the king’s palace, and said he had apples to sell, so fine and so beautiful as were never seen there before. Every one that saw them was delighted, and wanted to taste; but he said they 116were for the princess only; and she soon sent her maid to buy his stock. They were so ripe and rosy that she soon began eating; and had not eaten above a dozen before she too began to wonder what ailed her nose, for it grew and grew down to the ground, out at the window, and over the garden, and away, nobody knows where.

Then the king made known to all his kingdom that whoever would heal her of this dreadful disease should be richly rewarded. Many tried, but the princess got no relief. And now the old soldier dressed himself up very sprucely as a doctor, and said he would cure her. So he chopped up some of the apple, and, to punish her a little more, gave her a dose, saying he would call to-morrow and see her again. The morrow came, and, of course, instead of being better, the nose had been growing on all night as before; and the poor princess was in a dreadful fright. So the doctor then chopped up a very little of the pear and gave her, and said he was sure that would do good, and he would call again the next day. Next day came, and the nose was, to be sure, a little smaller, but yet it was bigger than when the doctor first began to meddle with it.

Then he thought to himself, “I must frighten this cunning princess a little more before I shall get what I want from her”; so he gave her another dose of the apple, and said he would call on the morrow. The morrow came, and the nose was ten times as bad as before. “My good lady,” said the doctor, “something works against my medicine, and is too strong for it; but I know by the force of my art what it is; you have stolen goods about you, I am sure; and if you do not give them back, I can do nothing for you.” But the princess denied very stoutly that she had anything of the kind. “Very well,” said the doctor, “you may do as you please, but I am sure I am right, and you will die if you do not own it.” Then he went to the king, and told him how the matter stood. “Daughter,” said he, “send back the cloak, the purse, and the horn, that you stole from the right owners.”

Then she ordered her maid to fetch all three, and gave them 117to the doctor, and begged him to give them back to the soldiers; and the moment he had them safe he gave her a whole pear to eat, and the nose came right. And as for the doctor, he put on the cloak, wished the king and all his court a good day, and was soon with his two friends, who lived from that time happily at home in their palace, except when they took an airing to see the world, in their coach with the three dapple-gray horses.


The Adventures of Chanticleer and Partlet


Chanticleer said to Partlet one day: “The nuts must be ripe; now we will go up the hill together and have a good feast before the squirrel carries them all off.”

“All right,” said Partlet, “come along; we’ll have a fine time.” So they went away up the hill, and, as it was a bright day, they stayed till evening.

Now whether they really had grown fat, or whether it was merely pride, I do not know, but, whatever the reason, they would not walk home, and Chanticleer had to make a little carriage of nut-shells. When it was ready, Partlet took her seat in it, and said to Chanticleer, “Now you get between the shafts.”

“That’s all very fine,” said Chanticleer, “but I would sooner go home on foot than put myself in harness. I will sit on the box and drive, but draw it myself, I never will.”

As they were squabbling over this, a duck quacked out: “You thievish folk! Who told you to come to my nut-hill? Just you wait, you will suffer for it.”

Then she rushed at Chanticleer with open bill, but he was not to be taken by surprise, and fell upon her with his spurs till she cried out for grace. At last she allowed herself to be harnessed to the carriage. Chanticleer seated himself on the box as coachman, and cried out unceasingly: “Now, duck, run as fast as you can.”

119When they had driven a little way they met two foot passengers, a pin and a needle, who called out: “Stop! stop!” They said it would soon be pitch dark, and they couldn’t walk a step farther, the road was so dirty; might they not have a lift? They had been to the Tailor’s Inn by the gate, and had lingered over their beer.

As they were both very thin, and did not take up much room, Chanticleer allowed them to get in, but he made them promise not to tread either on his toes or on Partlet’s. Late in the evening they came to an inn, and as they did not want to drive any farther in the dark, and the duck was getting rather uncertain on her feet, tumbling from side to side, they drove in.

The landlord at first made many objections to having them, and said the house was already full; perhaps he thought they were not very grand folk. But at last, by dint of persuasive words, and promising him the egg which Mrs. Partlet had laid on the way, and also that he should keep the duck, who laid an egg every day, he consented to let them stay the night.

Then they had a meal served to them, and feasted and passed the time in rioting.

In the early dawn, before it grew light and every one was asleep, Partlet woke up Chanticleer, fetched the egg, pecked a hole in it, and between them they ate it all up, and threw the shells on to the hearth. Then they went to the needle, which was still asleep, seized it by the head and stuck it in the cushion of the landlord’s arm-chair; the pin they stuck in his towel, and then, without more ado, away they flew over the heath. The duck, who preferred to sleep in the open air and had stayed in the yard, heard them whizzing by, and bestirred herself. She found a stream, and swam away down it; it was a much quicker way to get on than being harnessed to a carriage.

A couple of hours later the landlord, who was the first to leave his pillow, got up and washed. When he took up the towel to dry himself, he scratched his face and made a long red line from ear to ear. Then he went to the kitchen to light 120his pipe, but when he stooped over the hearth the egg-shells flew into his eye.

“Everything goes to my head this morning,” he said angrily, as he dropped on to the cushion of his grandfather’s arm-chair. But he quickly bounded up again, and shouted, “Gracious me!” for the needle had run into him, and this time not in the head. He grew furious, and his suspicions immediately fell on the guests who had come in so late the night before. When he went to look for them, they were nowhere to be seen. Then he swore never to take such ragamuffins into his house again; for they ate a great deal, paid nothing, and played tricks, by way of thanks, into the bargain.


Another day, when Partlet and Chanticleer were about to take a journey, Chanticleer built a fine carriage with four red wheels, and harnessed four little mice to it. Mrs. Partlet seated herself in it with Chanticleer, and they drove off together.

Before long they met a cat, who said, “Whither away?”

Chanticleer answered:

“All on our way
A visit to pay
To Mr. Korbes at home to-day.”

“Take me with you,” said the cat.

Chanticleer answered: “With pleasure; sit down behind, so that you don’t fall out forward.”

“When we’re off, away we roam,
To visit Mr. Korbes at home.
My wheels so red, pray have a care
From any splash of mud to spare.
Ye wheels sweep on with speed inclined,
Ye mice outstrip the whistling wind,
When we’re off, away to roam,
To visit Mr. Korbes at home.”

121Then came a millstone, an egg, a duck, a pin, and, last of all, a needle. They all took their places in the carriage and went with the rest.

But when they arrived at Mr. Korbes’s house, he wasn’t in. The mice drew the carriage into the coach-house, Partlet and Chanticleer flew on to a perch, the cat sat down by the fire, the duck lay down by the well-pole. The egg rolled itself up in the towel, the pin stuck itself into the cushion, the needle sprang into the pillow on the bed, and the millstone laid itself over the door.

When Mr. Korbes came home, and went to the hearth to make a fire, the cat threw ashes into his eyes. He ran into the kitchen to wash, and the duck squirted water into his face; seizing the towel to dry himself, the egg rolled out, broke, and stuck up one of his eyes. He wanted to rest, and sat down in his arm-chair, when the pin pricked him. He grew very angry, threw himself on the bed and laid his head on the pillow, when the needle ran into him and made him cry out. In a fury he wanted to rush into the open air, but when he got to the door, the millstone fell on his head and killed him. What a bad man Mr. Korbes must have been!


Partlet and Chanticleer went to the nut-hill on another occasion, and they arranged that whichever of them found a nut should share it with the other.

Partlet found a huge nut, but said nothing about it, and meant to eat it all herself; but the kernel was so big that she could not swallow it. It stuck in her throat, and she was afraid she would be choked. She shrieked: “Chanticleer, Chanticleer, run and fetch some water as fast as you can, or I shall choke!”

So Chanticleer ran as fast as he could to the well, and said: “Well, well, you must give me some water! Partlet is out on the nut-hill; she has swallowed a big nut, and is choking.”

122The well answered: “First you must run to my bride, and tell her to give you some red silk.”

Chanticleer ran to the bride, and said: “Bride, bride, give me some red silk; I will give the silk to the well, and the well will give me some water to take to Partlet, for she has swallowed a big nut and is choking.”

The bride answered: “Run first and fetch me a wreath which I left hanging on a willow.”

So Chanticleer ran to the willow, pulled the wreath off the branch, and brought it to the bride. The bride gave him the red silk, which he took to the well, and the well gave him the water for it. Then Chanticleer took the water to Partlet; but as it happened, she had choked in the meantime, and lay there dead and stiff. Chanticleer’s grief was so great that he cried aloud, and all the animals came and condoled with him.

Six mice built a little car to draw Partlet to the grave; and when the car was ready they harnessed themselves to it and drew Partlet away.

On the way, Reynard the fox joined them. “Where are you going, Chanticleer?” said he.

“I’m going to bury my wife, Partlet.”

“May I go with you?”

“Well, yes, if ride you will, you must jump up behind,
To carry weight in front, my horses aren’t inclined.”

So the fox took a seat at the back, and he was followed by the wolf, the bear, the stag, the lion, and all the other animals of the forest. The procession went on till they came to a stream.

“How shall we ever get over?” said Chanticleer.

A straw was lying by the stream, and it said: “I will stretch myself across, and then you can pass over upon me.”

But when the six mice got on to the straw it collapsed, and the mice fell into the water with it, and they were all drowned. So the travelers’ difficulty was as great as ever. Then a coal 123came along and said: “I am big enough; I will lie down and you can pass over me.”

So the coal laid itself across the stream, but unfortunately it just touched the water, hissed, went out, and was dead. A stone, seeing this, had pity on them, and, wanting to help Chanticleer, laid itself over the water. Now Chanticleer drew the car himself, and he just managed to get across with Partlet. Next he wanted to pull the others over who were hanging on behind, but it was too much for him, and the car fell back and they all fell into the water and were drowned.

So Chanticleer was left alone with the dead hen, and he dug a grave himself and laid her in it. Then he made a mound over it, and seated himself upon it and grieved till he died; and then they were all dead.


The Golden Goose

There was once a man who had three sons. The youngest of them was called Simpleton; he was scorned and despised by the others, and kept in the background.

The eldest son was going into the forest to cut wood, and, before he started, his mother gave him a nice sweet cake and a bottle of wine to take with him, so that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst. In the wood he met a little, old, gray man, who bade him good day, and said: “Give me a bit of the cake in your pocket, and let me have a drop of your wine. I am so hungry and thirsty.”

But the clever son said: “If I give you my cake and wine, I shan’t have enough for myself. Be off with you!”

He left the little man standing there, and went on his way. But he had not been long at work, cutting down a tree, before he made a false stroke, and dug the ax into his own arm, and he was obliged to go home to have it bound up.

Now, this was no accident; it was brought about by the little gray man.

The second son now had to go into the forest to cut wood, and, like the eldest, his mother gave him a sweet cake and a bottle of wine. In the same way the little gray man met him, and asked for a piece of his cake and a drop of his wine. But the second son made the same sensible answer: “If I give you any, I shall have the less for myself. Be off out of my way!” and he went on.

His punishment, however, was not long delayed. After a few blows at the tree, he hit his own leg, and had to be carried home.

Then Simpleton said: “Let me go to cut the wood, father.”

125But his father said: “Your brothers have only come to harm by it; you had better leave it alone. You know nothing about it.” But Simpleton begged so hard to be allowed to go that at last his father said: “Well, off you go then. You will be wiser when you have hurt yourself.”

His mother gave him a cake which was mixed with water only and baked in the ashes, and a bottle of sour beer. When he reached the forest, like the others, he met the little gray man, who greeted him, and said: “Give me a bit of your cake and a drop of your wine. I am so hungry and thirsty.”

Simpleton answered: “I have only a cake baked in the ashes, and some sour beer; but, if you like such fare, we will sit down and eat it together.”

So they sat down; but when Simpleton pulled out his cake, it was a sweet, nice cake, and his sour beer was turned into good wine. So they ate and drank, and the little man said: “As you have such a kind heart, and are willing to share your possessions, I will give you good luck. There stands an old tree; cut it down, and you will find something at the roots.”

So saying, he disappeared.

Simpleton cut down the tree, and when it fell, lo, and behold! a goose was sitting among the roots, and its feathers were of pure gold. He picked it up, and taking it with him, went to an inn, where he meant to stay the night. The landlord had three daughters, who saw the goose, and were very curious as to what kind of bird it could be, and wanted to get one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: “There will soon be some opportunity for me to pull out one of the feathers,” and when Simpleton went outside, she took hold of its wing to pluck out a feather; but her hand stuck fast, and she could not get away.

Soon after, the second sister came up, meaning also to pluck out one of the golden feathers; but she had hardly touched her sister when she found herself held fast.

Lastly, the third one came, with the same intention, but the others screamed out: “Keep away! For goodness sake, keep away!”

126But she, not knowing why she was to keep away, thought, “Why should I not be there, if they are there?”

So she ran up, but as soon as she touched her sisters she had to stay hanging on to them, and they all had to pass the night like this.

In the morning, Simpleton took up the goose under his arm, without noticing the three girls hanging on behind, so they had to keep running after, dodging his legs right and left.

In the middle of the fields they met the parson, who, when he saw the procession, cried out: “For shame, you bold girls! Why do you run after the lad like that? Do you call that proper behavior?”

Then he took hold of the hand of the youngest girl to pull her away; but no sooner had he touched her than he felt himself held fast, and he, too, had to run behind.

Soon after the sexton came up, and, seeing his master the parson treading on the heels of the three girls, cried out in amazement: “Hallo, your Reverence! Whither away so fast? Don’t forget that we have a christening!”

So saying, he plucked the parson by the sleeve, and soon found that he could not get away either.

As this party of five, one behind the other, tramped on, two peasants came along the road, carrying their hoes. The parson called them, and asked them to set the sexton and himself free. But as soon as ever they touched the sexton they were held fast, so now there were seven people running behind Simpleton and his goose.

By and by they reached a town where a king ruled whose only daughter was so solemn that nothing and nobody could make her laugh. So the king had proclaimed that whoever could bring her laughter should marry her.

When Simpleton heard this he took his goose, with all his following, before her, and when she saw these seven people running, one behind another, she burst into fits of laughter, and seemed as if she could never stop.

Thereupon Simpleton asked her in marriage. But the king did not like him for a son-in-law, and he made all sorts of 127conditions. First, he said Simpleton must bring him a man who could drink up a cellar full of wine.

Then Simpleton at once thought of the little gray man, who might be able to help him, and he went out to the forest to look for him. On the very spot where the tree that he had cut down had stood, he saw a man sitting with a very sad face. Simpleton asked him what was the matter, and he answered:

“I am so thirsty, and I can’t quench my thirst. I hate cold water, and I have already emptied a cask of wine; but what is a drop like that on a burning stone?”

“Well, there I can help you,” said Simpleton. “Come with me, and you shall soon have enough to drink and to spare.”

He led him to the king’s cellar, and the man set to upon the great casks, and he drank and drank till his sides ached, and by the end of the day the cellar was empty.

Then again Simpleton demanded his bride. But the king was annoyed that a wretched fellow called “Simpleton” should have his daughter, and he made new conditions. He was now to find a man who could eat up a mountain of bread.

Simpleton did not reflect long, but went straight to the forest, and there in the self-same place sat a man tightening a strap round his body, and making a very miserable face. He said: “I have eaten up a whole oven-full of rolls, but what is the good of that when any one is as hungry as I am. I am never satisfied. I have to tighten my belt every day if I am not to die of hunger.”

Simpleton was delighted, and said: “Get up and come with me. You shall have enough to eat.”

Then he took him to the court, where the king had caused all the flour in the kingdom to be brought together, and a huge mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest sat down before it and began to eat, and at the end of the day the whole mountain had disappeared.

Now, for the third time, Simpleton asked for his bride. But again the king tried to find an excuse, and demanded a ship which could sail on land as well as at sea.

128“As soon as you can furnish it, you shall have my daughter,” he said.

Simpleton went straight to the forest, and there sat the little gray man to whom he had given his cake. The little man said: “I have eaten and drunk for you, and now I will give you the ship, too. I do it all because you were merciful to me.”

Then he gave him the ship which could sail on land as well as at sea, and when the king saw it he could no longer withhold his daughter. The marriage was celebrated, and, at the king’s death, Simpleton inherited the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.


The Young Giant

Once upon a time there lived a husbandman who had a son who, when he was born, was no bigger than the length of a thumb, and who for many years did not grow a hair’s breadth taller.

One morning, just as the countryman was about to set out to plow his field, little Thumbling said:

“Father, I want to go, too.”

“I dare say you do,” said the man; “but you are much better at home. If I took you out I should be sure to lose you.”

Thereupon Thumbling fell a-crying, and cried so much that at length his father picked him up and put him in his pocket and set forth to his work.

When they reached the fields the man took his son out and set him down on the ridge of a newly turned furrow, so that he might see the world around him. Then suddenly from over the mountains a great giant came striding toward them.

“See, son,” said the husbandman, “here is an ogre coming to fetch you away because you were naughty and cried this morning.”

And the words had scarcely passed his lips when, in two great strides, the giant had reached little Thumbling’s side and had picked him up in his great hands and carried him away without uttering a sound.

The poor father stood dumb with fear, for he thought he should never see his little son again.

The giant, however, treated little Thumbling very kindly in his house in the woods. He kept him warm in his pocket, and fed him so heartily and well that Thumbling became a young giant himself, tall, and broad.

At the end of two years the old giant took him out into the woods to try his strength.

130“Pull up that birch-tree for a staff to lean upon,” he said, and the youth obeyed and pulled it up by the roots as if it had been a mere weed.

The old giant still thought he should like him to be stronger, so, after taking great care of him for another two years, they again went out into the wood. This time Thumbling playfully uprooted a stout old oak, and the old giant, well pleased, cried:

“Now you are a credit to me,” and took him back to the field where he first found him.

Here the young giant’s father happened to be just then plowing; so Thumbling went up to him and said:

“See, father, to what a great big man your son has grown!”

But the peasant was afraid.

“Be off with you! I don’t know you,” he cried.

“But really and truly, father, I am your son,” he said. “Let me take the plow, for I can guide it quite as well as you.”

The father very unwillingly let go of the plow, for he was afraid of the giant, and sat down to watch. Then Thumbling laid one hand on the plowshare and straightway drove it so deep into the ground that the peasant cried:

“Now you will do more harm than good, if you drive so deep into the earth.”

Thereupon the young giant unharnessed the horses and began to draw the plow himself, first saying:

“Now, father, get you home and tell mother to cook a hearty meal, while I just run round the field.”

And in a very short time he had done what the peasant would have taken two whole days to do.

When all was finished, he laid plow, horse, and harrow over his shoulders and carried them home as easily as though they were a truss of hay.

When he reached the house, he saw his mother sitting on a bench in the courtyard.

“Oh, who is this frightful monster of a man?” she cried.

131“That is our son,” said her husband.

“I cannot believe that,” replied the woman, “for our child was a tiny little thing,” and she begged the young giant to go away.

However, he did not take any notice of what she said, for, after feeding the horse in the stable, he came into the kitchen and sat himself down upon the edge of the dresser.

“Mother, mother,” he said, “I am so hungry. Give me my dinner.”

“Here it is,” said his mother, and set two enormous dishes of smoking stew upon the table.

It would have been enough to last the husbandman and his wife for eight whole days, but the giant ate it all up in five minutes, and then asked if they could give him more. But the woman shook her head, and said they had no more in the house.

“Mother,” he said, “I am fainting with hunger. That was a mere bite.”

The woman was so frightened at this that she ran and made some more stew in the largest fish kettle.

“Ah,” sighed the young giant, “this is something like a meal!”

But when he had finished he still felt hungry, and said:

“Well, father, I can see I shall starve if I come here to live. I will go and seek my fortune in the wide world, if you can procure me a bar of iron so strong that I cannot break it across my knee.”

The peasant quickly harnessed his two horses to the wagon, and from the smithy in the village he fetched an iron bar so heavy that the horses could hardly drag it. This the giant tried across his knee. Snap! it cracked in half, like a twig.

Then the peasant took his wagon and four horses to the smithy and brought back as heavy a bar as they could carry. But in a second the giant had broken it into two pieces and tossed them each aside.

“Father,” he said, “I need a stronger one yet. Take the 132wagon and eight horses to the smithy, and fetch me back as heavy a one as they can draw.”

This the countryman did, and again the youth broke it in two as easily as if he had cracked a nut.

“Well, father, I see you cannot get me anything strong enough. I must go and try my fortune without it.”

So he turned blacksmith and journeyed for many miles, until he came to a village, where dwelt a very grasping smith, who earned a great deal of money, but who gave not a penny of it away.

The giant stepped into his forge and asked if by any chance he were in want of help.

“What wages do you ask?” said the smith, looking the young man up and down; for, thought he: “Here is a fine, powerful fellow, who surely will be worth his salt.”

“I don’t want money,” replied the giant. “But here’s a bargain: every fortnight, when you give your workmen their wages, I will give you two strokes across your shoulders. It will be just a little amusement for me.”

The cunning smith agreed very willingly, for, he thought, in this way he would save a great deal of money.

However, next morning when the new journeyman started work, with the very first stroke he gave the red-hot iron, it shivered into a thousand pieces, and the anvil buried itself so deep in the earth that he could not pull it out again.

“Here, fellow,” cried his master, “you won’t suit me; you are far too clumsy. I must put an end to our bargain.”

“Just as you please,” said the other, “but you must pay me for the work I have done, so I will just give you one little tap on the shoulder.”

With that he gave the greedy smith such a blow that it knocked him flying over four hay-ricks. Then, picking up the stoutest iron bar he could find for a walking-stick, he set forth once more on his travels.

Presently he came to a farmhouse, where he inquired if they were in need of a bailiff. Now, the farmer just happened 133to need a head man, so he was engaged at once upon the same terms as he had arranged with the old blacksmith.

Next morning the farm servants were to go and fell trees in the wood, but just as they were ready to start they found the new bailiff was still in bed and fast asleep.

They shook him and shouted at him, but he would not open his eyes; he only grumbled at them and told them to be gone.

“I shall have done my work and reached home long before you,” he said.

So he stayed in bed for another two hours, then arose, and after eating a hearty breakfast he started with his cart and horses for the wood.

There was a narrow pathway through which he had to pass just before entering the wood, and after he had led his horses through this he went back and built up a barrier of brambles and furze and branches so thick that no horse could possibly force its way through.

Then he drove on and met his fellow-servants just leaving the wood on their way home.

“Drive on, my friends,” he said, “and I will be home before you even now.”

Then he pulled up a giant elm by its roots just on the border of the woods, and laying it on his cart, he turned and quickly overtook the others.

There they were, staring helplessly at the great barricade which barred their path, just as he had expected to find them.

“Ha, ha!” he chuckled, “you might just as well have slept an hour or two longer, for I told you you would not get home before me.”

Then, shouldering the tree, the horse and the cart, he pushed a way through the barrier as easily as if he had been carrying a bag of feathers.

When he got back to the farm he showed his new walking-stick, as he called the tree, to his master.

“Wife,” said the farmer, “we have indeed found a capital bailiff, and if he does need more sleep than the others, he works much better.”

134So the months rolled by, until a whole year had come and gone, and the time had arrived to pay the servants their wages. But the farmer was overcome with fright when he remembered the blows the giant had to give him. So he begged him to change his mind and accept his whole farm and lands instead.

“No,” said the giant, “I am a bailiff, and a bailiff I intend to remain, so you must pay me the wages we agreed upon.”

The farmer now obtained a promise that he would give him a fortnight to think the matter over, and he secretly assembled all his friends and neighbors to discuss what he should do.

The only thing they could suggest was to slay the bailiff, and it was arranged that he should be told to bring a cartload of millstones to the edge of the well, and then the farmer was to send him down to the bottom to clean it out. When the giant was safely at the bottom, all the friends and neighbors would come and roll the millstones down upon him.

Everything happened as had been planned, and when the bailiff was at the bottom of the well the millstones were rolled in. As each one fell, the water splashed over the top in a great wave.

It seemed impossible that the bailiff should not be crushed to death, but suddenly the neighbors heard him call out:

“I say, you up there, shoo away the chickens; they are scattering the gravel in my eyes!”

Then he quickly finished his task, and presently jumped out of the well with one of the millstones hanging round his neck.

“Have not I got a handsome collar?” he said.

Again the farmer was overcome with fear, and again he called together all his friends and relations. The only thing they could think of was to advise the farmer to send the bailiff to the haunted mill by night, and order him to grind eight bushels of corn. “For,” said they, “no man who has spent a night there has ever come out alive.”

So the bailiff went and fetched the corn from the loft. He put two bushels in his right-hand pocket, and two in his left, and the rest he carried in a sack across his shoulders.

135When he reached the mill the miller told him it was haunted, and he had best come to grind his corn in the daytime if he did not wish to lose his life.

“Tush, tush!” said the giant. “Make haste and leave me alone. Come back in the morning, and I promise you will find me all safe and sound.”

Then he entered the mill and emptied his sacks into the hopper, and by twelve o’clock he had finished his work. Feeling a little weary, he sat down to rest, but noticed with great interest the door opening very slowly, all by itself.

Then a table laden with rich food and wines came and set itself before him. Still there was no living creature to be seen. Next the chairs came and placed themselves round the festive board, and then he noticed fingers handling the knives and forks and placing food upon the plates.

The giant soon got tired of watching this, and as he felt quite ready for a meal himself, he drew up his chair to the table and partook of a hearty repast.

Just as he finished he felt a breath of air blow out all the lights, and then a thundering blow fell upon his head.

“Well, I’m not going to put up with this,” he said. “If I feel any more taps like that one I will just tap back.”

Then a great battle raged, and blows fell thickly all around, but he never let himself feel any fear, but only gave back as many as he could.

When morning came the miller hastened to the mill expecting to find the giant dead, but he was greeted with a hearty laugh.

“Well, miller,” said the giant, “somebody has been slapping me in the night, but I guess they have had as good blows as they have given, and I have managed to eat a hearty supper into the bargain.”

The miller was overjoyed to find the evil spell had been broken, and begged the giant to accept some money as reward, but this he refused. Slinging the meal on his shoulders, he went back to ask his wages from the farmer.

The farmer was furious to see his bailiff safe and sound 136again, and paced his floor to and fro, shivering and shaking like a leaf. He felt he could not breathe, so he threw the window open, and before he knew what had happened the giant had sent him flying out of the window straight over the hills into Nowhere Land. And as the farmer had not waited to receive the second stroke, the giant gave it to his wife, and she flew out to join her husband, and for aught I know they are flying through the air still.


The Sweet Soup

Once on a time there was a poor but very good little girl, who lived alone with her mother, and when my story begins, they had nothing in the house to eat. So the child went out into the forest, and there she met an old woman, who already knew her distress, and who presented her with a pot which had the following power. If one said to it, “Boil, little pot!” it would cook sweet soup; and when one said: “Stop, little pot!” it would immediately cease to boil. The little girl took the pot home to her mother, and now their poverty and distresses were at an end, for they could have sweet broth as often as they pleased.

One day, however, the little girl went out, and in her absence the mother said: “Boil, little pot!” So it began to cook, and she soon ate all she wished; but when the poor woman wanted to have the pot stop, she found she did not know the word. Away, therefore, the pot boiled, and very quickly was over the edge; and as it boiled and boiled the kitchen presently became full, then the house, and the next house, and soon the whole street. It seemed likely to satisfy all the world, for, though there was the greatest necessity to do so, nobody knew how to stop it. At last, when only a very small cottage of all the village was left unfilled with soup, the child returned and said at once: “Stop, little pot!”

Immediately it ceased to boil; but whoever wishes to enter the village now must eat his way through the soup!!!


Seven at one Blow

A tailor sat in his workroom one morning, stitching away busily at a coat for the Lord Mayor. He whistled and sang so gaily that all the little boys who passed the shop on their way to school thought what a fine thing it was to be a tailor, and told one another that when they grew to be men they’d be tailors, too.

“How hungry I feel, to be sure!” cried the little man, at last; “but I’m far too busy to trouble about eating. I must finish his lordship’s coat before I touch a morsel of food,” and he broke once more into a merry song.

“Fine new jam for sale,” sang out an old woman, as she walked along the street.

“Jam! I can’t resist such a treat,” said the tailor; and, running to the door, he shouted: “This way for jam, dame; show me a pot of your very finest.”

The woman handed him jar after jar, but he found fault with all. At last he hit upon some to his liking.

“And how many pounds will you take, sir?”

“I’ll take four ounces,” he replied, in a solemn tone, “and mind you give me good weight.”

The old woman was very angry, for she had expected to sell several pounds, at least; and she went off grumbling, after she had weighed out the four ounces.

“Now for a feed!” cried the little man, taking a loaf from the cupboard as he spoke. He cut off a huge slice, and spread the jam on quite half an inch thick; then he suddenly remembered his work.

“It will never do to get jam on the Lord Mayor’s coat, so I’ll finish it off before I take even one bite,” said he. So he picked up his work once more, and his needle flew in and out like lightning.

139I am afraid the Lord Mayor had some stitches in his garment that were quite a quarter of an inch long.

The tailor glanced longingly at his slice of bread and jam once or twice, but when he looked the third time it was quite covered with flies, and a fine feast they were having off it.

This was too much for the little fellow. Up he jumped, crying:

“So you think I provide bread and jam for you, indeed! Well, we’ll very soon see! Take that!” and he struck the flies such a heavy blow with a duster that no fewer than seven lay dead upon the table, while the others flew up to the ceiling in great haste.

“Seven at one blow!” said the little man with great pride. “Such a brave deed ought to be known all over the town, and it won’t be my fault if folks fail to hear of it.”

So he cut out a wide belt, and stitched on it in big golden letters the words “Seven at one blow.” When this was done he fastened it round him, crying:

“I’m cut out for something better than a tailor, it’s quite clear. I’m one of the world’s great heroes, and I’ll be off at once to seek my fortune.”

He glanced round the cottage, but there was nothing of value to take with him. The only thing he possessed in the world was a small cheese.

“You may as well come, too,” said he, stowing away the cheese in his pocket, “and now I’m off.”

When he got into the street the neighbors all crowded round him to read the words on his belt.

“Seven at one blow!” said they to one another. “What a blessing he’s going; for it wouldn’t be safe to have a man about us who could kill seven of us at one stroke.”

You see, they didn’t know that the tailor had only killed flies; they took it to mean men.

He jogged along for some miles until he came to a hedge, where a little bird was caught in the branches.

“Come along,” said the tailor; “I’ll have you to keep my 140cheese company”; so he caught the bird and put it carefully into his pocket with the cheese.

Soon he reached a lofty mountain, and he made up his mind to climb it and see what was going on at the other side. When he reached the top, there stood a huge giant, gazing down into the valley below.

“Good day,” said the tailor.

The giant turned round, and seeing nobody but the little tailor there, he cried with scorn:

“And what might you be doing here, might I ask? You’d best be off at once.”

“Not so fast, my friend,” said the little man; “read this.”

“Seven at one blow,” read the giant, and he began to wish he’d been more civil.

“Well, I’m sure nobody would think it to look at you,” he replied; “but since you are so clever, do this,” and he picked up a stone and squeezed it until water ran out.

“Do that! Why, it’s mere child’s play to me,” and the man took out his cheese and squeezed it until the whey ran from it. “Now who is cleverer?” asked the tailor. “You see, I can squeeze milk out, while you only get water.”

The giant was too surprised to utter a word for a few minutes; then, taking up another stone, he threw it so high into the air that for a moment they couldn’t see where it went; then down it fell to the ground again.

“Good!” said the tailor; “but I’ll throw a stone that won’t come back again at all.”

Taking the little bird from his pocket, he threw it into the air, and the bird, glad to get away, flew right off and never returned.

This sort of thing didn’t suit the giant at all, for he wasn’t used to being beaten by any one.

“Here’s something that you’ll never manage,” said he to the little man. “Just come and help me to carry this fallen oak-tree for a few miles.”

“Delighted!” said the tailor, “and I’ll take the end with the branches, for it’s sure to be heavier.”

“Agreed,” replied the giant, and he lifted the heavy trunk 141on to his shoulder, while the tailor climbed up among the branches at the other end, and sang with all his might, as though carrying a tree was nothing to him.

The poor giant, who was holding the tree-trunk and the little tailor as well, soon grew tired.

“I’m going to let it fall!” he shouted, and the tailor jumped down from the branches, and pretended he had been helping all the time.

“The idea of a man your size finding a tree too heavy to carry!” laughed the little tailor.

“You are a clever little fellow, and no mistake,” replied the giant, “and if you’ll only come and spend the night in our cave, we shall be delighted to have you.”

“I shall have great pleasure in coming, my friend,” answered the little tailor, and together they set off for the giant’s home.

There were seven more giants in the cave, and each one of them was eating a roasted pig for his supper. They gave the little man some food, and then showed him a bed in which he might pass the night. It was so big that, after tossing about for half an hour in it, the tailor thought he would be more comfortable if he slept in the corner, so he crept out without being noticed.

In the middle of the night the giant stole out of bed and went up to the one where he thought the little man was fast asleep. Taking a big bar of iron, he struck such a heavy blow at it that he woke up all the other giants.

“Keep quiet, friends,” said he. “I’ve just killed the little scamp.”

The tailor made his escape as soon as possible, and he journeyed on for many miles, until he began to feel very tired, so he lay down under a tree, and was soon fast asleep. When he awoke, he found a big crowd of people standing round him. Up walked one very wise-looking old man, who was really the king’s prime minister.

“Is it true that you have killed seven at one blow?” he asked.

142“It is a fact,” answered the little tailor.

“Then come with me to the king, my friend, for he’s been searching for a brave man like you for some time past. You are to be made captain of his army, and the king will give you a fine house to live in.”

“That I will,” replied the little man. “It is just the sort of thing that will suit me, and I’ll come at once.”

He hadn’t been in the king’s service long before every one grew jealous of him. The soldiers were afraid that, if they offended him, he would make short work of them all, while the members of the king’s household didn’t fancy the idea of making such a fuss over a stranger.

So the soldiers went in a body to the king and asked that another captain should be put over them, for they were afraid of this one.

The king didn’t like to refuse, for fear they should all desert, and yet he didn’t dare get rid of the captain, in case such a strong and brave man should try to have his revenge.

At last the king hit upon a plan. In some woods close by there lived two giants, who were the terror of the country side; they robbed all the travelers, and if any resistance was offered they killed the men on the spot.

Sending for the little tailor, he said:

“Knowing you to be the bravest man in my kingdom, I want to ask a favor of you. If you will kill these two giants, and bring me back proof that they are dead, you shall marry the princess, my daughter, and have half my kingdom. You shall also take one hundred men to help you, and you are to set off at once.”

“A hundred men, your majesty! Pray, what do I want with a hundred men? If I can kill seven at one blow, I needn’t be afraid of two. I’ll kill them fast enough, never fear.”

The tailor chose ten strong men, and told them to await him on the border of the wood, while he went on quite alone. He could hear the giants snoring for quite half an hour before he reached them, so he knew in which direction to go.

143He found the pair fast asleep under a tree, so he filled his pockets with stones and climbed up into the branches over their heads. Then he began to pelt one of the giants with the missiles, until after a few minutes one of the men awoke. Giving the other a rough push, he cried:

“If you strike me like that again, I’ll know the reason why.”

“I didn’t touch you,” said the other giant crossly, and they were soon fast asleep once more.

Then the tailor threw stones at the other man, and soon he awoke as the first had done.

“What did you throw that at me for?” said he.

“You are dreaming,” answered the other, “I didn’t throw anything.”

No sooner were they fast asleep again, than the little man began to pelt them afresh.

Up they both sprang, and seizing each other, they began to fight in real earnest. Not content with using their fists, they tore up huge trees by the roots, and beat each other until very soon the pair lay dead on the ground.

Down climbed the little tailor, and taking his sword in his hand he plunged it into each giant, and then went back to the edge of the forest where the ten men were waiting for him.

“They are as dead as two door nails,” shouted the little man. “I don’t say that I had an easy task, for they tore up trees by their roots to try to protect themselves with, but, of course, it was no good. What were two giants to a man who has slain seven at one blow?”

But the men wouldn’t believe it until they went into the forest and saw the two dead bodies, lying each in a pool of blood, while the ground was covered with uprooted trees.

Back they went to the king, but instead of handing over half his kingdom, as he had promised, his majesty told the little tailor that there was still another brave deed for him to do before he got the princess for his bride.

“Just name it, then; I’m more than ready,” was the man’s reply.

144“You are to kill the famous unicorn that is running wild in the forest and doing so much damage. When this is done you shall have your reward at once.”

“No trouble at all, your majesty. I’ll get rid of him in a twinkling.”

He made the ten men wait for him at the entrance to the wood, as they had done the first time, and taking a stout rope and a saw he entered the forest alone.

Up came the unicorn, but just as it was about to rush at the man he darted behind a big tree.

The unicorn dashed with such force against the tree that its horn was caught quite fast and it was kept a prisoner.

Taking his rope, he tied it tightly round the animal, and, after sawing off the horn, back he went to the palace, leading the unicorn by his side.

But even then the king was not satisfied, and he made the little tailor catch a wild boar that had been seen wandering in the woods.

He took a party of huntsmen with him, but again he made them wait on the outskirts of the forest while he went on by himself.

The wild boar made a dash at the little tailor, but the man was too quick for it. He slipped into a little building close by, with the animal at his heels. Then, catching sight of a small window, he forced his way out into the forest again, and while the boar, who was too big and clumsy to follow, stood gazing at the spot where he had disappeared, the tailor ran round and closed the door, keeping the animal quite secure inside. Then he called the hunters, who shot the boar and carried the body back to the palace.

This time the king was obliged to keep his promise; so the little tailor became a prince, and a grand wedding they had, too.

When they had been married for about a couple of years, the princess once overheard her husband talking in his sleep.

“Boy, if you have put a patch on that waistcoat, take the 145Lord Mayor’s coat home at once, or I’ll box your ears,” he said.

“Oh, dear,” cried the princess, “to think that I’ve married a common tailor! Whatever can I do to get rid of him?”

So she told her father the story, and the king said she need not worry, for he would find a way out of the difficulty. She was to leave the door open that night, and while the tailor was sleeping, the king’s servants should steal into the room, bind the tailor, and take him away to be killed.

The princess promised to see that everything was in readiness, and she tripped about all day with a very light heart.

She little knew that one of the tailor’s servants had overheard their cruel plot, and carried the news straight to his master.

That night, when the princess thought her husband was sleeping fast, she crept to the door and opened it.

To her great terror, the tailor began to speak.

“Boy, take the Lord Mayor’s coat home, or I’ll box your ears. Haven’t I killed seven at one blow? Haven’t I slain two giants, a unicorn, and a wild boar? What do I care for the men who are standing outside my door at this moment?”

At these words off flew the men as though they had been shot from a gun, and no more attempts were ever made on his life. So the princess had to make the best of a bad job.

He lived on, and when the old king died he ascended the throne in his stead. So the brave little tailor became ruler over the whole kingdom; and his motto throughout his whole life was, “Seven at one blow.”


The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership

A cat having made the acquaintance of a mouse, told her so much of the great love and affection that he had for her, that the mouse at last consented to live in the same house with him, and to have their domestic affairs in common. “But we must provide for the winter,” said the cat, “or we shall be starved; you, little mouse, cannot go everywhere looking for food, or you will meet with an accident.”

This advice was followed, and a pot was brought with some grease in it. However, when they had got it, they could not imagine where it should be put; but at last, after a long consideration, the cat said: “I know no better place to put it than in the church, for there no one dares to steal anything; we will set it beneath the organ, and not touch it till we really want it.”

So the pot was put away in safety; but not long afterward the cat began to wish for it again, so he spoke to the mouse and said: “I have to tell you that I am asked by my aunt to stand godfather to a little son, white with brown marks, whom she has just brought into the world, and so I must go to the christening. Let me go out to-day, and do you stop at home and keep house.”

“Certainly,” answered the mouse; “pray, go; and if you eat anything nice, think of me; I would also willingly drink a little of the sweet red christening-wine.”

But, alas! it was all a story; for the cat had no aunt, and had not been asked to stand godfather to any one. He went straight to the church, crept up to the grease pot, and licked it till he had eaten off the top; then he took a walk on the roofs of the houses in the town, thinking over his situation, and now and then stretching himself in the sun and stroking 147his whiskers as often as he thought of his meal. When it was evening he went home again, and the mouse said: “So you have come at last; what a charming day you must have had!”

“Yes,” answered the cat; “it went off very well!”

“What have you named the kitten?” asked the mouse.

Top-off!” said the cat very quickly.

Top-off!” replied the mouse; “that is a curious and remarkable name; is it common in your family?”

“What does that matter?” said the cat; “it is not worse than Crumb-stealer, as your children are called.”

Not long afterward the cat felt the same longing as before, and said to the mouse: “You must oblige me by taking care of the house once more by yourself; I am again asked to stand godfather, and, since the youngster has a white ring round his neck, I cannot get off the invitation.” So the good little mouse consented, and the cat crept away behind the wall to the church again, and ate half the contents of the grease-pot. “Nothing tastes better than what one eats by one’s self,” said he, quite contented with his day’s work; and when he came home the mouse asked how this child was named.

Half-out,” answered the cat.

Half-out! What do you mean? I never heard such a name before in my life; I will wager anything it is not in the calendar,” but the cat replied nothing.

Pussy’s mouth soon began to water again at the recollection of the feasting. “All good things come in threes,” said he to the mouse. “I am again required to be godfather; this child is quite black, and has little white claws, but not a single white hair on his body; such a thing only happens once in two years, so pray excuse me this time.”

Top-off! Half-out!” answered the mouse; “those are such curious names, they make me a bit suspicious.”

“Ah!” replied the cat, “there you sit in your gray coat and long tail, thinking nonsense. That comes of never going out.”

The mouse busied herself during the cat’s absence in putting the house in order, but meanwhile greedy puss licked the grease-pot clean out. “When it is all done one will rest in 148peace,” thought he to himself, and as soon as night came he went home fat and tired. The mouse, however, again asked what name the third child had received. “It will not please you any better,” answered the cat, “for he is called All-out.”

All-out!” exclaimed the mouse; “well, that is certainly the most curious name by far. I have never yet seen it in print. All-out! What can that mean?” and, shaking her head, she rolled herself up and went to sleep.

After that nobody else asked the cat to stand godfather; but the winter had arrived, and nothing more was to be picked up out of doors; so the mouse bethought herself of their store of provision, and said, “Come, friend cat, we will go to our grease-pot which we laid by; it will taste well now.”

“Yes, indeed,” replied the cat; “it will taste as well as if you stroked your tongue against the window.”

So they set out on their journey, and when they arrived at the church the pot stood in its old place—but it was empty! “Ah,” said the mouse, “I see what has happened; now I know you are indeed a faithful friend. You have eaten the whole as you stood godfather; first Top-off, then Half-out, then——”

“Will you be quiet?” cried the cat. “Not a word, or I’ll eat you.” But the poor mouse had “All-out” at her tongue’s end, and had scarcely uttered it when the cat made a spring, seized her in his mouth, and swallowed her.

This happens every day in the world.


Old Sultan

A certain peasant had a trusty dog called Sultan, who had grown quite old in his service, and had lost all his teeth, so that he could not hold anything fast. One day the peasant stood with his wife at the house door and said: “This morning I shall shoot old Sultan, for he is no longer of any use.” His wife, however, compassionating the poor animal, replied: “Well, since he has served us so long and so faithfully, I think we may very well afford him food for the rest of his life.” “Eh, what?” replied her husband; “you are not very clever; he has not a tooth in his head, and never a thief is afraid of him, so he must trot off. If he has served us, he has also received his dinner every day.”

The poor dog, lying stretched out in the sun not far from his master, heard all he said, and was much troubled at learning that the morrow would be his last day. He had one good friend, the wolf in the forest, to whom he slipped at evening, and complained of the sad fate which awaited him. “Be of good courage, my father,” said the wolf; “I will help you out of your trouble. I have just thought of something. Early to-morrow morning your master goes haymaking with his wife, and they will take with them their child, because no one will be left in the house, and while they are at work they will put him behind the hedge in the shade, and set you by to watch him. I will then spring out of the wood and steal away the child, and you must run after me hotly as if you were pursuing me. I will let it fall, and you shall take it back to its parents, who will then believe you have saved it, and they will be too thankful to do you any injury; and so you will come into great favor, and they will never let you want again.”

This plan pleased the dog, and it was carried out exactly as 150proposed. The father cried out when he saw the wolf running off with the child, but as old Sultan brought it back he was highly pleased, and stroked him, and said: “Not a hair of your head shall be touched; you shall eat your meals in comfort to the end of your days.” He then told his wife to go home and cook old Sultan some bread and broth, which would not need biting, and also to bring the pillow out of his bed, that he might give it to him for a resting-place. Henceforth old Sultan had as much as he could wish for himself; and soon afterward the wolf visited him and congratulated him on his prosperous circumstances. “But, my father,” said he slyly, “you will close your eyes if I by accident steal away a fat sheep from your master.” “Reckon not on that,” replied the dog; “my master believes me faithful; I dare not give you what you ask.” The wolf, however, thought he was not in earnest, and by night came slinking into the yard to fetch away the sheep. But the peasant, to whom the dog had communicated the design of the wolf, caught him and gave him a sound thrashing with the flail. The wolf was obliged to scamper off, but he cried out to the dog: “Wait a bit, you rascal, you shall pay for this!”

The next morning the wolf sent the boar to challenge the dog, that they might settle their affair in the forest. Old Sultan, however, could find no other second than a cat, who had only three legs, and, as they went out together, the poor cat limped along, holding her tail high in the air from pain. The wolf and his second were already on the spot selected, but as they saw their opponent coming they thought he was bringing a great sabre with him, because they saw in front the erect tail of the cat; and, whenever the poor animal hopped on its three legs, they thought nothing else than that he was going to take up a great stone to throw at them. Both of them, thereupon, became very nervous, and the boar crept into a heap of dead leaves, and the wolf climbed up a tree. As soon as the dog and cat arrived on the spot they wondered what had become of their adversary. The wild boar, however, had not quite concealed himself, for the tips of his ears were 151sticking out; and, while the cat was considering them attentively, the boar twitched one of them, and the cat took it for a mouse, and, making a spring, gave it a good bite. At this the boar shook himself with a great cry, and ran away, calling out, “There sits the guilty one, up in the tree!” The dog and the cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed at himself for being so fearful, and, begging the dog’s pardon, entered into treaty with him.


The Nail

A tradesman had once transacted a good day’s business at a fair, disposed of all his goods, and filled his purse with gold and silver. He prepared afterward to return, in order to reach home by the evening, so he strapped his portmanteau, with the money in it, upon his horse’s back, and rode off. At noon he baited in a small town, and as he was about to set out again, the stable-boy who brought his horse said to him: “Sir, a nail is wanting in the shoe on the left hind foot of your animal.”

“Let it be wanting,” replied the tradesman; “I am in a hurry and the iron will doubtless hold the six hours I have yet to travel.”

Late in the afternoon he had to dismount again, and feed his horse, and at this place also the boy came and told him that a nail was wanting in one of the shoes, and asked him whether he should take the horse to a farrier. “No, no, let it be!” replied the master; “it will last out the couple of hours that I have now to travel; I am in haste.” So saying he rode off; but his horse soon began to limp, and from limping it came to stumbling, and presently the beast fell down and broke its leg. Thereupon the tradesman had to leave his unfortunate horse lying on the road, to unbuckle the portmanteau, and to walk home with it upon his shoulder, where he arrived at last late at night.

“And all this misfortune,” said he to himself, “is owing to the want of a nail. More haste, the less speed!”


The Fox and the Horse

There was once a farmer who had a horse which served him faithfully till he was too old to work any longer, and then his master would not give him anything to eat, but said: “I cannot really find any use for you now, but still I mean you well, and so, if you will show yourself strong enough to bring home a lion, I will requite you; but now you must make yourself scarce in this stable!” So saying, the farmer drove the poor horse out; and he went with drooping head toward the forest to shelter himself there from the weather. In among the trees he met a fox, who asked him why he looked so careworn and walked so downcast.

“Alas!” said the horse, “avarice and fidelity dwell not in the same house together; my master has forgotten all the services which I have rendered him for so many years, and, because I am unable now to work any longer, he will not give me any fodder, but has driven me out of the stable.”

“Without any hope?” inquired the fox.

“The hope is slight enough,” replied the horse; “he said that if I could manage to bring him back a lion he would receive me; but he knows well I cannot do that.”

“Then I will help you,” replied the fox; “now lie down and stretch yourself out, and do not stir, so that you may appear dead.”

The horse, accordingly, did as he was bid, and the fox went to the lion, whose den was not very far off, and said to him, “Near here lies a dead horse; come with me and you may make a capital meal.” The lion accompanied the fox, and when they came to the horse the fox said: “Hist! listen to what I am about to say; you can have this beast at your convenience; 154I will bind it to you by the tail, and you shall then drag it away to your den, and devour it at your leisure.” This advice pleased the lion, and, in order that the fox might knot the horse’s tail fast to him, he stood with his back toward it, quite still. The fox, however, cunningly tied the lion’s legs together with the hairs of the horse’s tail, and pulled and knotted all so carefully that no strength could have divided it. As soon as his work was finished the fox tapped the horse on the shoulder, and cried, “Drag, my friend, drag!” The horse jumped up at once and drew the lion away with him. The beast soon began to roar, so that all the birds in the forest flew away in terror, but the horse let him roar while he quietly dragged him to his master’s door. Now, when the farmer saw this proof of the fidelity of his horse, he thought better of his former resolution, and said to the faithful animal: “You shall remain with me now, and live at your ease.” And so the good horse had good meals and good treatment till he died.


The Giant and the Tailor

A certain tailor, who was a large boaster but a very small performer, took it once into his head to go and look about him in the world. As soon as he could, he left his workshop, and traveled away over hills and valleys, now on this road, and now on that; but still onward. After he had gone some way, he perceived in the distance a steep mountain, and behind it a lofty tower, which rose from the midst of a wild, dense forest. “Good gracious!” cried the tailor, “what is this?” and driven by his curiosity, he went rapidly toward the place. But he opened his mouth and eyes wide enough when he got nearer; for the tower had legs, and sprang in a trice over the steep hill, and stood up, a mighty giant, before the tailor. “What are you about here, you puny fly-legs?” asked the giant in a voice which rumbled on all sides like thunder.

“I am trying to earn a piece of bread in this forest,” whispered the tailor.

“Well, then, it is time you entered my service,” said the giant fiercely.

“If it must be so, why not?” said the tailor humbly; “but what wage shall I have?” “What wage shall you have?” repeated the giant contemptuously; “listen and I will tell you: every year, three hundred and sixty-five days, and one besides, if it be leap-year. Is that right?”

“Quite,” said the tailor; but thought to himself: “One must cut according to his cloth; I will seek to make myself free very soon.”

“Go, little rascal, and fetch me a glass of water!” cried the giant.

“Why not the whole well, and its spring, too?” said the tailor, but fetched as he was bid. “What! the well and its 156spring, too?” bellowed the giant, who was rather cowardly and weak, and so began to be afraid, thinking to himself: “This fellow can do more than roast apples; he has a heap of courage. I must take care, or he will be too much of a servant for me!” So, when the tailor returned with the water, the giant sent him to fetch a couple of bundles of faggots from the forest, and bring them home. “Why not the whole forest at one stroke, every tree, young and old, knotty and smooth?” asked the tailor, and went away. “What! the whole forest, and the well, too, and its spring!” murmured the frightened giant in his beard; and he began to be still more afraid, and believed that the tailor was too great a man for him, and not fit for his servant. However, when the tailor returned with his load of faggots, the giant told him to shoot two or three wild boars for their supper. “Why not rather a thousand at one shot, and the rest afterward?” cried the boaster. “What, what!” gasped the cowardly giant, terribly frightened. “Oh, well! that is enough for to-day; you may go to sleep now!”

The poor giant, however, was so very much afraid of the little tailor that he could not close his eyes all the night, but tossed about thinking how to get rid of his servant, whom he regarded as an enchanter conspiring against his life. With time comes counsel. The following morning the giant and the dwarf went together to a marsh where a great many willow-trees were growing. When they got there the giant said: “Seat yourself on one of these willow rods, tailor; on my life I only wish to see if you are in a condition to bend it down.”

The boasting tailor climbed the tree, and perched himself on a bough, and then, holding his breath, he made himself heavy enough thereby, to bend the tree down. Soon, however, he had to take breath again, and immediately, having been unfortunate enough to come without his goose in his pocket, the bough flew up, and to the great joy of the giant, carried the tailor with it so high into the air that he went out of sight. And whether he has since fallen down again, or is yet flying about in the air, I am unable to tell you satisfactorily.


The Spider and the Flea

A spider and a Flea dwelt together in one house, and brewed their beer in an egg-shell. One day, when the Spider was stirring it up, she fell in and scalded herself. Thereupon the Flea began to scream. And then the door asked: “Why are you screaming, Flea?”

“Because little Spider has scalded herself in the beer-tub,” replied she.

Thereupon the door began to creak as if it were in pain; and a broom, which stood in the corner, asked, “What are you creaking for, door?”

“May I not creak?” it replied:

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps.”

So the broom began to sweep industriously, and presently a little cart came by, and asked the reason. “May I not sweep?” replied the broom:

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little door creaks with the pain,”—

Thereupon the little cart said: “So will I run,” and began to run very fast, past a heap of ashes, which cried out: “Why do you run, little cart?”

“Because,” replied the cart:

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little door creaks with the pain,
And the broom sweeps.”

158“Then,” said the ashes, “I will burn furiously.” Now, next the ashes there grew a tree, which asked: “Little heap, why do you burn?”

“Because,” was the reply:

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little door creaks with the pain,
And the broom sweeps;
The little cart runs on so fast,”—

Thereupon the tree cried, “I will shake myself!” and went on shaking till all its leaves fell off.

A little girl passing by with a water-pitcher saw it shaking, and asked: “Why do you shake yourself, little tree?”

“Why may I not?” said the tree:

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little door creaks with the pain,
And the broom sweeps;
The little cart runs on so fast,
And the ashes burn.”

Then the maiden said: “If so, I will break my pitcher”; and she threw it down and broke it.

At this the streamlet, from which she drew the water, asked: “Why do you break your pitcher, my little girl?”

“Why may I not?” she replied; for

“The little Spider’s scalt herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little door creaks with the pain,
And the broom sweeps;
The little cart runs on so fast,
And the ashes burn;
The little tree shakes down its leaves—
Now it is my turn!”

159“Ah, then,” said the streamlet, “now must I begin to flow.” And it flowed and flowed along, in a great stream, which kept getting bigger and bigger, until at last it swallowed up the little girl, the little tree, the ashes, the cart, the broom, the door, the Flea, and, last of all, the Spider, all together.


The Little Shepherd Boy

Once upon a time there was a little shepherd boy who was famed far and wide for the wise answers which he gave to all questions. Now the king of the country heard of this lad, but he would not believe what was said about him, so the boy was ordered to come to court. When he arrived the king said to him: “If you can give me answers to each of the three questions which I will now put to you, I will bring you up as my own child, and you shall live here with me in my palace.”

“What are these three questions?” asked the boy.

“The first is, How many drops of water are there in the sea?”

“My lord king,” replied the shepherd boy, “let all the waters be stopped up on the earth, so that not one drop shall run into the sea before I count it, and then I will tell you how many drops there are in the sea!”

“The second question,” said the king, “is: How many stars are there in the sky?”

“Give me a large sheet of paper,” said the boy; and then he made in it with a pin so many minute holes that they were far too numerous to see or to count, and dazzled the eyes of whomsoever looked at them. This done, he said: “So many stars are there in the sky as there are holes in this paper; now count them.” But nobody was able. Thereupon the king said: “The third question is: How many seconds are there in eternity?”

“In Lower Pomerania is situate the adamantine mountain, one mile in height, one mile in breadth, and one mile deep; and thither comes a bird once in every thousand years which rubs its beak against the hill, and, when the whole shall be 161rubbed away, then will the first second of eternity be gone by.”

“You have answered the three questions like a sage,” said the king, “and from henceforward you shall live with me in my palace, and I will treat you as my own child.”


The Seven Swabians

There were once seven Swabians in company, the first of whom was named Schulz, the second Jacky, the third Marli, the fourth Jergli, the fifth Michael, the sixth Hans, and the seventh Veitli; and they all were traveling in search of adventures, and for the performance of mighty deeds. In order that they might not be without protection, they thought fit to carry along with them a very long and strong pole. Upon this they all seven held, and in front the boldest and most courageous man, who was Schulz, walked, while the others followed behind, and Veitli was last.

One day in July, after they had traveled some distance, and had nearly entered the village where they intended to pass the night, it happened that just as they came to a large meadow a hornet or dragon-fly flew out from behind a bush and hummed about the travelers in a warlike manner. Schulz was frightened and almost let go the pole, and the perspiration stood all over his body from terror. “Listen, listen!” he cried to his companions; “I hear a trumpeting!” Jacky, who was last but one in the row, and had got I know not what into his nose, exclaimed: “Something certainly is at hand, for I can smell brimstone and powder!” At these words Schulz sprang over a hedge, in a trice, in his haste to escape, and, happening to alight on the prongs of a rake which was left in the field by the haymakers, the handle sprang up and gave him an awkward blow on the forehead. “Oh! oh! oh! woe is me!” cried Schulz; “take me prisoner, I give myself up, I surrender!” The six others thereupon jumped over the hedge too, and cried likewise: “We surrender if you surrender! we surrender if you surrender!”

At length, when they found no enemy came to bind and 163take them away, they saw they were deceived, and in order that the tale might not be told of them among the villagers, and they get laughed at and mocked, they took an oath among themselves never to say anything about it unless any one of them should open his mouth unawares.

After this adventure they went farther, but the second danger they met with must not be compared with the first. For after several days had elapsed their road chanced to lead them through an unplowed field where a hare was lying prone in the sun, with his ears pricked up to catch every sound, and his large, glossy eyes wide open. The seven Swabians were terribly frightened at the sight of this frightful, ferocious animal, and they took counsel together what would be the least dangerous plan to adopt, for if they fled away it was to be feared that the monster would pursue them and cut them to pieces. So they resolved to stand and have a great battle; for, said they, “Bravely dared is half won!” All seven, therefore, grasped hold of their spear, Schulz being among the foremost and Veitli hindmost. But Schulz wanted to have the spear himself, whereupon Veitli flew into a passion and broke away.

Then the rest advanced together upon the dragon, but first Schulz crossed himself devoutly and invoked the assistance of Heaven. Then he marched on, but as he approached the enemy he felt very fearful and cried in great terror: “Han! hurlehau! han! hauhel!” This awoke the hare, who sprang away quite frightened, and when Schulz saw it flee, he jumped for joy and shouted:

“Zounds, friends, what fools we are!
The frightful beast is but a hare!”

After they had recovered from their fright the seven Swabians sought new adventures, and by and by they arrived at the River Moselle, a smooth and deep water, over which there are not many bridges; so that one must cross in boats to the other side. The seven Swabians, however, were ignorant of this, 164and they therefore shouted to a man who was working on the other side of the river and asked him how they were to pass over. But the man did not understand what they said on account of the distance and his ignorance of their language, and so he asked in his dialect: “Wat? wat?” With this Schulz imagined the man said, “Wade, wade through the stream”; and, being foremost on the bank, he jumped into the river and began to walk across. Soon he got out of his depth and sank in the deep, driving current; but his hat was carried by the wind to the opposite shore. As it reached there a frog perched himself on it, and croaked: “Wat! wat! wat!” This noise the six other Swabians, who then reached the bank, heard, and they said to one another: “Listen! does not Schulz call us? Well, if he could wade across we can also.” With these words each one jumped into the river, but they also all sank; and so it happened that the frog caused the death of six Swabians, for nobody has heard of or seen them ever since.


The Shreds

Once upon a time there was a maiden who was very pretty, but lazy and careless. When she used to spin, she was so impatient that, if there chanced to be a little knot in the thread, she snapped off a long bit with it and threw the pieces down on the ground near her. Now she had a servant girl, who was industrious, and used to gather together the shreds of thread, clean them, and weave them, till she made herself a dress with them.

A certain young man had fallen in love with this lazy maiden; and their wedding-day was appointed. On the evening before, the industrious servant girl kept dancing about in her fine dress, till the bride exclaimed:

“Ah! how the girl does jump about,
Dressed in my shreds and leavings!”

When the bridegroom heard this, he asked the bride what she meant, and she told him that the maid had worked herself a dress with the shreds of thread which she had thrown away. As soon as the bridegroom heard this, and saw the difference between the laziness of his intended and the industry of her servant, he gave up the mistress and chose the maid for his wife.


The Wolf and the Seven Kids

There was once an old nanny-goat who had seven kids, and she was just as fond of them as a mother of her children. One day she was going into the woods to fetch some food for them, so she called them all up to her, and said:

“My dear children, I am going out into the woods. Beware of the wolf! If once he gets into the house, he will eat you up, skin, and hair, and all. The rascal often disguises himself, but you will know him by his rough voice and his black feet.”

The kids said: “Oh, we will be very careful, dear mother. You may be quite happy about us.”

Bleating tenderly, the old goat went off to her work. Before long, some one knocked at the door, and cried:

“Open the door, dear children! Your mother has come back and brought something for each of you.”

But the kids knew quite well by the voice that it was the wolf.

“We won’t open the door!” they cried. “You are not our mother. She has a soft, gentle voice; but yours is rough, and we are quite sure that you are the wolf.”

So he went away to a shop and bought a lump of chalk, which he ate, and it made his voice quite soft. He went back, knocked at the door again, and cried:

“Open the door, dear children. Your mother has come back and brought something for each of you.”

But the wolf had put one of his paws on the window-sill, where the kids saw it, and cried:

“We won’t open the door. Our mother has not got a black foot as you have; you are the wolf.”

167Then the wolf ran to a baker and said: “I have bruised my foot; please put some dough on it.” And when the baker had put some dough on his foot, he ran to the miller and said: “Strew some flour on my foot.”

The miller thought, “The old wolf is going to take somebody in,” and refused.

But the wolf said: “If you don’t do it, I will eat you up.”

So the miller was frightened, and whitened the wolf’s paws. People are like that, you know.

Now the wretch went for the third time to the door, and knocked and said:

“Open the door, children. Your dear mother has come home, and has brought something for each of you out of the wood.”

The kids cried: “Show us your feet first, that we may be sure you are our mother.”

He put his paws on the window-sill, and when the kids saw that these were white, they believed all he said and opened the door.

Alas! it was the wolf who walked in. They were terrified, and tried to hide themselves. One ran under the table, the second jumped into bed, the third into the oven, the fourth ran into the kitchen, the fifth got into the cupboard, the sixth into the washtub, and the seventh hid in the tall clock-case. But the wolf found them all but one, and made short work of them. He swallowed one after the other, except the youngest one in the clock-case, whom he did not find. When he had satisfied his appetite, he took himself off, and lay down in a meadow outside, where he soon fell asleep.

Not long after the old nanny-goat came back from the woods. Oh, what a terrible sight met her eyes! The house door was wide open, table, chairs, and benches were overturned, the washing-bowl was smashed to atoms, the covers and pillows torn from the bed. She searched all over the house for her children, but nowhere were they to be found. She called them by name, one by one, but no one answered. At last, when she came to the youngest, a tiny voice cried:

168“I am here, dear mother, hidden in the clock-case.”

She brought him out, and he told her that the wolf had come and devoured all the others.

You may imagine how she wept over her children.

At last, in her grief, she went out, and the youngest kid ran by her side. When they went into the meadow, there lay the wolf under a tree, making the branches shake with his snores. They examined him from every side, and they could plainly see movements within his distended body.

“Ah, heavens!” thought the goat, “is it possible that my poor children, whom he ate for his supper, should be still alive?”

She sent the kid running to the house to fetch scissors, needles, and thread. Then she cut a hole in the monster’s side, and, hardly had she begun, when a kid popped out its head, and as soon as the hole was big enough, all six jumped out, one after the other, all alive, and without having suffered the least injury, for, in his greed, the monster had swallowed them whole. You may imagine the mother’s joy. She hugged them, and skipped about like a tailor on his wedding day. At last she said:

“Go and fetch some big stones, children, and we will fill up the greedy beast’s body while he is asleep.”

Then the seven kids brought a lot of stones, as fast as they could carry them, and stuffed the wolf with them till he could hold no more. The old mother quickly sewed him up, without his having noticed anything, or even moved.

At last, when the wolf had had his sleep out, and got upon his legs, he found he was very thirsty, and wished to go to the spring to drink. But as soon as he began to move, the stones began to tumble about in his body, and he cried out:

“What rattles, what rattles
Against my poor bones?
Surely not little goats,
But only big stones!”

169And when he came to the brook he stooped down to drink, and the heavy stones made him lose his balance so that he fell, and sank beneath the water.

As soon as the seven little goats saw this, they came running up, singing aloud, “The wolf is dead! the wolf is dead!” and they danced for joy around their mother by the side of the brook.


The Elves and the Shoemaker

There was once a shoemaker who, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had only leather enough left for one pair of shoes. At evening he cut out the shoes which he intended to begin upon the next morning, and since he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly, said his prayers, and fell asleep.

In the morning when he had prayed, as usual, and was preparing to sit down to work, he found the pair of shoes standing finished on his table. He was amazed, and could not understand it in the least.

He took the shoes in his hand to examine them more closely. They were so neatly sewn that not a stitch was out of place, and were as good as the work of a master-hand.

Soon after a purchaser came in, and as he was much pleased with the shoes, he paid more than the ordinary price for them, so that the shoemaker was able to buy leather for two pairs with the money.

He cut them out in the evening, and next day, with fresh courage was about to go to work; but he had no need to, for when he got up, the shoes were finished, and buyers were not lacking. These gave him so much money that he was able to buy leather for four pairs of shoes.

Early next morning he found the four pairs finished, and so it went on; what he cut out at evening was finished in the morning, so that he was soon again in comfortable circumstances, and became a well-to-do man.

Now it happened one evening, not long before Christmas, when he had cut out shoes as usual, that he said to his wife: “How would it be if we were to sit up to-night to see who it is that lends us such a helping hand?”

171The wife agreed, lighted a candle, and they hid themselves in the corner of the room behind the clothes which were hanging there.

At midnight came two little naked men, who sat down at the shoemaker’s table, took up the cut-out work, and began with their tiny fingers to stitch, sew, and hammer so neatly and quickly, that the shoemaker could not believe his eyes. They did not stop till everything was quite finished, and stood complete on the table; then they ran swiftly away.

The next day the wife said: “The little men have made us rich, and we ought to show our gratitude. They run about with nothing on, and must freeze with cold. Now I will make them little shirts, coats, waistcoats, and hose, and will even knit them stout stockings, and you shall make them each a pair of shoes.”

The husband agreed, and at evening, when they had everything ready, they laid out the presents on the table, and hid themselves to see how the little men would behave.

At midnight they came skipping in, and were about to set to work; but, instead of the leather ready cut out, they found the charming little clothes.

At first they were surprised, then excessively delighted. With the greatest speed they put on and smoothed down the pretty clothes, singing:

“Now we’re dressed so fine and neat,
Why cobble more for others’ feet?”

Then they hopped and danced about, and leaped over chairs and tables and out at the door. Henceforward, they came back no more, but the shoemaker fared well as long as he lived, and had good luck in all his undertakings.


King Wren

Once upon a time the cuckoo gave a big tea-party. It was a grand affair, I can tell you. Every bird of note was present, from the eagle down to the sparrow. All the finches were there, the larks, crows, and swallows; so how they managed to seat them all is more than I can tell.

Now, the cuckoo was a wise old bird, and she never took a step of this sort without a reason. You sometimes hear people say, “As silly as a cuckoo,” but you may take my word for it, it is only because they know nothing at all about her.

Well, a bright idea had occurred to the cuckoo, and it was just this: She thought it was high time the birds chose a king of their own. If they had a king, you see, they might in time be able to have a “Court Circular,” which would sound very grand. Besides, who knew but that in the future some of her own family might even marry royalty? Yes, it was a good idea, she thought, but the other birds would have to be consulted first.

So she gave a big tea-party, and fed them all up with the finest worms and dainties to be had, just to put them into a good temper.

Even the hungry sparrow finished eating at last—and you have no idea what his appetite was like!—and then the cuckoo broke the news gently that she thought they ought to have a king to manage their affairs for them.

Now this caused no end of commotion. And there they sat—fathers, mothers, uncles, and cousins, all talking away at the same time.

Just then the cock and hen passed by, taking a little airing.

You must know that they had heard nothing about the teaparty. 173They were just the cock and hen, and it did not matter much what they thought; so they did not get an invitation.

“Wat! wat!” cried the hen, when she heard the dreadful din. Of course the cock understood her language, and knew that she was asking what was going on.

“I’ll find out, my dear,” he answered, and he inquired from a fat, green frog.

“They want to choose a king over the birds,” he told the hen, a minute after.

“Stuff and nonsense!” clucked the hen; only it did not sound quite like that, because she spoke in her own language, you see.

Well, the end of it all was that everybody was in favor of a king, save the plover, and he cried: “I have been free all my life, and I’ll die free!” Then away he flew to a dismal swamp, and was seen no more.

So they agreed to meet again next morning, if it was fine. Their king was to be the bird who could fly higher than all the rest, and they wanted a fine day so that nobody could say afterward, “I could have flown much higher, only it was so windy,” or something of the sort.

The next day was perfect, so they all gathered together in a big meadow. When the cuckoo had counted “Three,” they all rose up with one accord into the air, making such a cloud of dust that for a moment you could not see a thing.

Higher and higher they flew, but one by one the little birds had to give up, and in the end the eagle was the only bird left flying, and he looked as though he had reached the sun itself.

But a tiny little bird had joined them unasked, and he had not even a name.

Nobody noticed him hide himself among the feathers in the eagle’s back; so when the cuckoo had counted three, up he went with the rest, although they did not know it.

Now, when the eagle saw that all the others had given up, he, too, began to descend. Then out flew the little bird without a name, and up he went, much higher still.

174“I am king! I am king!” cried the eagle, when he reached the ground.

“Not at all,” replied the little bird without a name, “for I have flown higher still,” and then down he came.

“I am king! I am king!” he chirped, as soon as he got his breath again.

“You crafty little creature!” they shouted, with one voice. “We will have another test, and a fair one this time.”

So the bird who could fall deepest into the earth was to be their king, they said.

Well, the cock set to work and began to grub a hole in the ground, while the duck jumped down into a grave; but unluckily she sprained her foot, and she waddled off, saying: “Bad work! Bad work!”

But the little bird without a name crept right into a mouse-hole, and cried shrilly:

“I am king! I am king!”

“Then we will show you how we treat our royalty!” cried the angry birds. “We will keep you in the mouse-hole and starve you.”

So they set the owl to keep watch over the hole during the night, and if he let the bird go he was to be put to death on the spot. The others were all so tired and weary that they flew home and went to bed.

Now, when he had stared into the hole for two whole hours, the poor owl began to feel very sleepy. So he went to sleep with one eye and watched intently with the other, and all went well for a time. But as luck would have it, when he shut one eye, after a while, he forgot to open the other, and you may be sure the little bird without a name soon made his escape from his prison.

After that the poor owl never dared show his face again by day, for fear the birds should put him to death. He flies about all night long, and he is a great enemy of the little mice because they make such—to him—unfortunate holes.

As for that little bird without a name, he did not feel very 175safe either, so he always hid in the hedges, and when he felt pretty secure he would cry out: “I am king! I am king!”

In time the other birds grew to call him the “Hedge king,” just for scorn, and that means “Wren.” That is how he came by his name.


Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail

One winter’s day the bear met the fox, who came slinking along with a string of fish he had stolen.

“Hi! stop a minute! Where did you get those from?” demanded the bear.

“Oh, my lord Bruin, I’ve been out fishing and caught them,” said the fox.

So the bear had a mind to learn to fish, too, and bade the fox tell him how he was to set about it.

“Oh, it is quite easy,” answered the fox, “and soon learned. You’ve only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail down through it, and hold it there as long as you can. You’re not to mind if it smarts a little; that’s when the fish bite. The longer you hold it there, the more fish you’ll get; and then all at once out with it, with a cross pull sideways and a strong pull, too.”

Well, the bear did as the fox said, and though he felt very cold, and his tail smarted very much, he kept it a long, long time down in the hole, till at last it was frozen in, though of course he did not know that. Then he pulled it out with a strong pull, and it snapped short off, and that’s why Bruin goes about with a stumpy tail to this day!


Three Ways to Build a House

There was once upon a time a pig who lived with her three children in a large, comfortable, old-fashioned farmyard. The eldest of the little pigs was called Browny, the second Whity, and the youngest and best-looking, Blacky. Now, Browny was a very dirty little pig, and I am sorry to say spent most of his time rolling and wallowing about in the mud. He was never so happy as on a wet day, when the mud in the farmyard was soft and thick and smooth. Then he would steal away from his mother’s side, and finding the muddiest place in the yard, would roll about in it and thoroughly enjoy himself. His mother often found fault with him for this and would shake her head sadly and say: “Ah, Browny! some day you will be sorry that you did not obey your old mother.” But no words of advice or warning could cure Browny of his bad habits.

Whity was quite a clever little pig, but she was greedy. She was always thinking of her food and looking forward to her dinner; and when the farm girl was seen carrying the pails across the yard, she would rise up on her hind legs and dance and caper with excitement. As soon as the food was poured into the trough she jostled Blacky and Browny out of the way in her eagerness to get the best and biggest bits for herself. Her mother often scolded her for her selfishness, and told her that some day she would suffer for being so greedy.

Blacky was a nice little pig, neither dirty nor greedy. He had nice dainty ways, for a pig, and his skin was always as smooth and shining as black satin. He was much cleverer than either Browny or Whity, and his mother’s heart used to swell with pride when she heard the farmer’s friends say to 178each other that some day the little black fellow would be a prize pig.

Now, the time came when the mother pig felt old and feeble and near her end. One day she called the three little pigs around her and said:

“My children, I feel that I am growing old and weak and that I shall not live long. Before I die I should like to build a house for each of you, as this dear old sty in which we have lived so happily will be given to a new family of pigs, and you will have to turn out. Now, Browny, what sort of a house would you like to have?”

“A house of mud,” replied Browny, looking longingly at a wet puddle in the corner of the yard.

“And you, Whity?” said the mother pig in rather a sad voice, for she was disappointed that Browny had made so foolish a choice.

“A house of cabbage,” answered Whity, with a mouth full, and scarcely raising her snout out of the trough in which she was grubbing for some potato parings.

“Foolish, foolish child!” said the mother pig, looking quite distressed. “And you, Blacky,” turning to her youngest son, “what sort of a house shall I order for you?”

“A house of brick, please, mother, as it will be warm in winter, cool in summer, and safe all the year round.”

“That is a sensible little pig,” replied his mother, looking fondly at him. “I will see that the three houses are made ready at once. And now one last piece of advice. You have heard me talk of our old enemy, the fox. When he hears that I am dead he is sure to try and get hold of you, to carry you off to his den. He is very sly, and will no doubt disguise himself and pretend to be a friend, but you must promise me not to let him enter your houses on any pretext whatever,” and the little pigs readily promised, for they had always had a great fear of the fox, of whom they had heard many terrible tales.

A short time afterward the old pig died, and the little pigs went to live in their own houses. Browny was quite delighted with his soft mud walls and with the clay floor, which soon 179looked like nothing but a big mud pie. But that was what Browny enjoyed, and he was as happy as possible, rolling about all day and making himself exceedingly dirty. One day, as he was lying half asleep in the mud, he heard a soft knock at his door and a gentle voice said:

“May I come in, Master Browny? I want to see your beautiful new house.”

“Who are you?” said Browny, starting up in great fright, for though the voice sounded gentle, he felt sure it was a feigned voice and he feared it was the fox.

“I am a friend come to call on you,” answered the voice.

“No, no,” replied Browny, “I don’t believe you are a friend. You are the wicked fox, against whom our mother warned us. I won’t let you in.”

“Oho! is that the way you answer me?” said the fox, speaking very roughly in his natural voice. “We shall soon see who is master here,” and with his paws he set to work and scraped a large hole in the soft mud walls. A moment later he had jumped through it, and catching Browny by the neck, flung him on his shoulders and trotted off with him to his den.

The next day, as Whity was munching a few leaves of cabbage out of the corner of her house, the fox stole up to her door, determined to carry her off to join her brother in his den. He began speaking to her in the same feigned, gentle voice in which he had spoken to Browny; but it frightened her very much when he said:

“I am a friend come to visit you and to have some of your good cabbage for my dinner.”

“Please don’t touch it,” cried Whity in great distress. “The cabbages are the walls of my house, and if you eat them you will make a hole, and the wind and rain will come in and give me a cold. Do go away. I am sure you are not a friend, but our wicked enemy the fox.” And poor Whity began to whine and to whimper, and to wish that she had not been such a greedy little pig and had chosen a more solid material than cabbages for her house. But it was too late 180now, and in another minute the fox had eaten his way through the cabbage walls and had caught the trembling, shivering Whity and carried her off to his den.

The next day the fox started off for Blacky’s house, because he had made up his mind that he would get the three little pigs together in his den, then kill them, and invite all his friends to a feast. But when he reached the brick house he found that the door was bolted and barred, so in his sly manner he began: “Do let me in, dear Blacky. I have brought you a present of some eggs that I picked up in a farmyard on my way here.”

“No, no, Mr. Fox,” replied Blacky, “I am not going to open my door to you. I know your cunning ways. You have carried off poor Browny and Whity, but you are not going to get me.”

At this the fox was so angry that he dashed with all his force against the wall and tried to knock it down. But it was too strong and well built; and though the fox scraped and tore at the bricks with his paws he only hurt himself, and at last he had to give it up and limp away with his fore paws all bleeding and sore.

“Never mind!” he cried angrily as he went off. “I’ll catch you another day, see if I don’t; and won’t I grind your bones to powder when I have got you in my den!” And he snarled fiercely and showed his teeth.

Next day Blacky had to go into the neighboring town to do some marketing and to buy a big kettle. As he was walking home with it slung over his shoulder he heard a sound of steps stealthily creeping after him. For a moment his heart stood still with fear, and then a happy thought came to him. He had just reached the top of a hill, and could see his own little house nestling at the foot of it among the trees. In a moment he had snatched the lid off the kettle and had jumped in himself. Coiling himself round he lay quite snug in the bottom of the kettle, while with his foreleg he managed to put the lid on, so that he was entirely hidden. With a little kick from the inside he started the kettle off, and down 181the hill it rolled full tilt; and when the fox came up, all that he saw was a large black kettle spinning over the ground at a great pace. Very much disappointed, he was just going to turn away when he saw the kettle stop close to the little brick house, and in a moment Blacky jumped out of it and escaped with it safely inside, when he barred and bolted the door and put the shutter up over the window.

“Oho!” exclaimed the fox to himself, “you think you will escape me that way, do you? We shall soon see about that, my friend,” and very quietly and stealthily he prowled round the house looking for some way to climb on to the roof.

In the mean time Blacky had filled the kettle with water, and having put it on the fire, sat down quietly waiting for it to boil. Just as the kettle was beginning to sing and steam to come out of the spout he heard a sound like a soft, muffled step, patter, patter, patter overhead, and the next moment the fox’s head and forepaws were seen coming down the chimney. But Blacky very wisely had not put the lid on the kettle, and with a yelp of pain the fox fell into the boiling water, and before he could escape Blacky had popped the lid on and the fox was scalded to death.

As soon as he was sure that their wicked enemy was really dead and could do them no further harm, Blacky started off to rescue Browny and Whity. As he approached the den he heard piteous grunts and squeals from his poor little brother and sister, who lived in constant terror of the fox killing and eating them, but when they saw Blacky appear at the entrance to the den their joy knew no bounds. He quickly found a sharp stone and cut the cords by which they were tied to a stake in the ground, and then all three started off together for Blacky’s house, where they lived happily ever after; and Browny quite gave up rolling in the mud and Whity ceased to be greedy, for they never forgot how nearly these faults had brought them to an untimely end.


How to Tell a True Princess

There was once upon a time a prince who wanted to marry a princess, but she must be a true princess. So he traveled 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 it.

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 bedclothes, 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 lay on something so hard that my whole body is black and blue. It is dreadful!”

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.

183No 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.


The Five Servants

Once upon a time, in a country far away, there lived and ruled an old queen who had such a wicked heart that she was not happy unless she was working evil to others. She had one daughter who was very beautiful, and whom she made use of to further her own evil plans; for, whenever a suitor came to apply for her hand, the old queen set him an impossible task, and chopped off his head without any pity when he could not perform it.

Now, in another country there lived a young prince who had heard of this lovely girl, and he begged his father to let him go and try his luck.

“Not a bit of it,” said the king. “You would only lose your head like the rest.”

But the prince was very anxious to go, and when he found his father was firm, he fell ill and took to his bed for seven years, and not all the doctors in the land could make him well again or restore his fallen spirits. Then the father knew that the lad must die, unless he was allowed to have his own way, so he said:

“Get up, my son, and try your fate.”

At these joyful words the boy jumped out of bed, quite recovered, and you may be sure it was not long before he was ready for his journey and on the road.

One day, as he was swinging along over hill and dale, and fern and brake, he saw a great big thing lying by the roadside. At first he thought it was a huge animal, but as he drew nearer he saw that it was really an enormously fat man, who was as round and jolly as you can imagine. Seeing the traveler, he rose to his feet, and I do believe the earth trembled as he did so.

185“If you are in need of a servant, take me, and you will not repent,” he said, pulling off his cap and bowing.

“Why, whatever should I do with such a fat fellow as you?” answered the prince.

“If I were three thousand times as fat it would not matter, so long as I served you well,” said the man.

“Hum! well, that is very true,” replied the prince. “You may come along, and I dare say I shall be able to put you to some use.”

So they journeyed on together, and presently they came upon a man lying with his ear pressed to the ground.

“What are you doing?” asked the prince.

“I am listening,” answered the man. “I can hear everything that is going on in the world, even the growing of the grass.”

“Ah,” said the prince, “then you can tell me what you hear in the palace of the old queen.”

“I hear the cutting off of a suitor’s head.”

“Come with me, then,” said the prince, “for I can see that you will be useful.”

A little farther on they came upon a pair of legs lying stretched on the grass, but they were so long that the travelers had to walk an hour before they came to the body, and then nearly another hour before they reached the head.

“Well, what a long strip of a chap you are!” said the prince.

“Why, master, you have only seen me when I am lying down,” replied the man. “Just you wait till I stand up. I am thrice as tall as the highest mountain you have ever seen on your travels. Just let me come and be your servant, and I promise that you will find me useful.”

“Willingly,” answered the prince.

Then they all went on their way again till they came to a wood, and here they found a man who, though he was lying in the full heat of the sun, was shivering and shaking so that it was a wonder his teeth did not fall out of his head.

186“Why, my good man,” said the prince, “what makes you shiver so on this hot day?”

“Alas!” groaned the man, “the hotter the day the colder I am; the sun freezes the very marrow in my bones; and when it is what you call cold, I begin to grow hot, so that I nearly burn to death. I cannot bear cold because it is so hot, nor heat because it is so cold.”

“Well, you are an odd fellow,” said the prince. “Suppose you get up and join my train?” So the man agreed.

The next man they met was standing in a field turning his head from side to side in a way that made your neck ache to watch him.

“What are you looking for?” asked the prince.

“I am looking for nothing,” answered the man. “But I have such keen sight that I can see all over the world, through woods and forests, and hills and mountains; nothing can escape my eyes.”

“Well,” said the prince, “if you are willing to take service, join my train, for I have need of such as you.”

Then they all journeyed on together in a very merry fashion, for the prince was light-hearted at the thought of his beautiful bride that was to be. You see, he had quite made up his mind to get the better of the wicked queen. Soon they reached the palace, and the prince presented himself to the queen, and said:

“I am come to ask the hand of your daughter in marriage. Set me what task you like, so long as I may marry her when it is done.”

“Three tasks I will set you,” said the queen, “and when they are done you shall be her husband. First, you must find me the ring that I have dropped in the sea near the palace.”

The prince went home to his servants, and said:

“Now is your chance to prove your worth. You must find me a ring that lies at the bottom of the sea.”

“I will see where it lies,” said the keen-sighted one; and suddenly he shouted: “There it is; it lies on a rock at the bottom of the waves!”

187“I would soon fetch it, if I could see it,” said the long man.

“I can arrange that,” chimed in the fat one, and he lay down beside the sea and began to drink.

And he drank and drank till the sea disappeared, and the bottom lay stretched out before them as dry as a meadow. Then the long man took one stride, and picked up the ring and brought it to the prince.

The old queen was very much surprised to see the ring, but she concealed her annoyance, and, leading the youth to the window, said:

“In yonder field a hundred fat oxen are feeding. You must eat them all before noon, and, in case you are thirsty, you must drink the contents of the hundred casks of wine that are in the cellar.”

“Certainly,” said the youth, cheerfully. “But I should like to invite a friend to eat with me.”

“Oh, by all means,” replied the old hag, with a smile.

So the prince went to his friends and told them the news.

“You will help me to-day?” he said, turning to the fat man; “and for once you will have a good meal.”

So they went straightway to the field where the oxen were, and in no time at all the fat man had gobbled up every one, and still looked hungry. Then the prince took him down to the cellar, and he quenched his thirst with the hundred casks of wine.

Again the youth presented himself to the witch, and astonished her with the news that the task was done.

“Oho! my fine fellow,” she grumbled to herself, “I will catch you yet.

“To-night,” she added aloud, “I will bring the princess and leave her to sit with you; but beware lest you fall asleep, for if I come at twelve and find the princess gone, you are a lost man!”

“That does not sound difficult,” thought the prince. “Surely I can keep awake, if I want to.”

So he told his servants what the third task was to be, and 188they all agreed that a watch had better be kept, lest the old woman should play some trick.

At nightfall the old queen brought her daughter to the prince’s house and returned to the palace. As soon as she was gone, the long man wound himself around the house; the listener lay with his ear to the ground; the fat one stood in the doorway, completely blocking the entrance, and the keen-eyed one kept watch. Within sat the princess, silent as a statue, the moonlight lighting up her beautiful face with a radiant glory, so that the prince could only gaze at her in awe and wonder. So far it was well; but at half past eleven a spell, cast by the old queen, fell on them all, and they slept, and immediately the princess was spirited away.

At a quarter to twelve the spell lost its power, and they awoke to discover what a calamity had fallen upon them.

“Oh, woe is me! woe is me!” cried the prince. “What can save us now?” and the faithful servants wept in unison.

Suddenly the listener said:

“Hark! be still, and I will listen.”

They were quiet at once, and he listened for a moment.

“I hear her bewailing her fate!” he cried.

Then the keen-sighted man turned his head from side to side and cried joyfully:

“I see her sitting on a rock, three hundred miles away. Our long friend can reach her in two strides.”

“Willingly,” cried the man, and he was up and at the foot of the rock before the others could look round. He took the princess in his arms, and she was back in the prince’s house just one moment before twelve, and they all sat down together and rejoiced.

As the clock struck twelve, the old queen came creeping along, looking very spiteful, as she thought she had really won this time; for was not her daughter three hundred miles away? She was not, as we know, and when the queen saw this she felt so angry she would like to have ordered all their heads to be chopped off.

“There must be some one here who is cleverer than I!” 189she screamed, and then she fell to crying, but it was of no use. The prince was firm as a rock, and she had to consent to the wedding; but she whispered to her daughter:

“His servants have done everything for him. Aren’t you ashamed to have a husband who can do nothing at all for himself?”

The daughter had a proud and haughty temper, and her pride began to rise up angrily. So next day she commanded three hundred loads of wood to be brought and piled up in the palace yard and set alight. Then she told the prince that he had performed the tasks only by the help of his servants, and before she would marry him some one must sit upon the woodpile and stay there till it was burned out; for she thought no servant would do so much for him, and he surely would have to do this himself. However, she was wrong, for the freezing man claimed this as his share of the work, and he mounted the woodpile without delay.

For three days and three nights it blazed away, till only ashes were left, and there stood the freezing man shivering like a jelly.

“If it had burned much longer, I should have been benumbed with the cold,” he said, with chattering teeth.

Now, the princess saw that she could delay no longer, so they set off to the church, but the queen made yet another attempt to prevent the wedding. She called her attendants, and sent them to waylay the party and kill every one but the princess. However, the listener had been keeping his ears open, and he heard this order; so they put on more speed and reached the church first, and were married. At the church door the five servants took leave of their master and went out into the world to try their fortune alone.

The prince and his wife set forth on their homeward journey, and at the end of the first day they came upon a village where a swineherd stood feeding his pigs.

“Do you know who I am?” said the prince to his wife. “Yonder man is my father, and our duty now is to tend the pigs with him.”

190They went into the cottage, and during the night the prince took away her splendid clothes, so that in the morning she had to put on an old dress and shoes belonging to the swineherd’s wife.

These were given to her grudgingly, and only for her husband’s sake, as the woman told her. So the princess was now very miserable, and believed that her husband was really a swineherd; but she determined to make the best of it, and turn to and do her share of the work, and said to herself:

“It is a punishment for all my pride.”

This went on for a week, and then she was so worn out that she sat down by the wayside and burst into tears. Some kindly villagers asked her what was the matter, and if she knew what her husband was?

“He is a swineherd,” she answered, “and has just gone to market with some of his pigs.”

“Come with us, and we will show you where he is,” they said; and they took her away over the hill to the king’s palace, and there in the hall stood her husband surrounded by courtiers, and so richly dressed that she did not know him, till he fell upon her neck, saying:

“We have borne much for each other, now let us be happy.”

Then there was great rejoicing, and the marriage-feast was celebrated, and all I can say is, that I wish we had been there to share the merrymaking.


The Hare and the Fox

A hare and a Fox were traveling together. It was winter time. Not a blade of grass was to be seen, not a bird or mouse stirred in the fields.

“It’s hungry weather,” said the Fox to the Hare. “I feel as hollow as an egg-shell.”

“And so do I,” replied the Hare. “I’m hungry enough to eat my own ears, if only I could reach them.”

When they had gone a little way they spied a peasant girl coming toward them. She carried a basket, and out of the basket came a very pleasant smell—the smell of hot rolls.

“I tell you what,” said the Fox. “You lie down and pretend to be dead. The girl will put down her basket to take you up for the sake of your skin, for out of hare-skins they make gloves; then I’ll snatch the rolls, and we shall have a splendid meal!”

The Hare did as the Fox told him, fell down, and pretended to be dead, while the Fox hid behind a snow-drift. The girl came along, saw the Hare with his legs stretched out stiff and stark, put down her basket sure enough, and stooped over the Hare. The Fox snatched up the basket and scampered off with it. The Hare in a twinkling came to life, and followed his companion. But he ran on ahead, and showed quite plainly that he meant to keep the rolls all to himself.

But that was not what the Hare had bargained for, you may guess. So when they came to a little lake, he called out to the Fox:

“What do you say to catching a dish of fish? Then we should have fish and rolls to eat like any lord. Just dangle your tail down in the water; the fish haven’t much to bite these days, so they’re bound to hang on to your tail. You must make haste, though, before the lake freezes over.”

192Well, the Fox thought that a good idea. So he went to the lake, which was just beginning to freeze, and dangled his tail in the water. In a very short time the tail was frozen in.

Now, the Hare took the basket and gobbled up the rolls one after the other as comfortably as you please, right before the Fox’s face.

“Wait till it thaws,” he said to the Fox. “Wait till the spring. Wait till it thaws!” and then he ran away.

And the Fox was so angry at the way he had been caught that he barked and barked like a savage dog on a chain.


The Story of Zirac

Once upon a time a raven, a rat, and a tortoise, having agreed to be friends together, were having a pleasant chat when they saw a wild goat making its way toward them with surprising swiftness. They took it for granted by her speed that she was pursued by some hunter, and they at once without ceremony separated, every one to take care of himself. The tortoise slipped into the water, the rat crept into a hole, which he fortunately found near at hand, and the raven hid himself among the boughs of a very high tree. In the mean time the goat stopped quite suddenly, and stood to rest herself by the side of a fountain, when the raven, who had looked all round and perceived no one, called to the tortoise, who immediately peeped above the water, and seeing the goat afraid to drink, said: “Drink boldly, my friend, for the water is very clear.”

After the goat had done so, the tortoise continued: “Pray tell me what is the reason you appear in such distress?”

“Reason enough,” said the goat; “for I have just made my escape out of the hands of a hunter, who pursued me with an eager chase.”

“Come,” said the tortoise, “I am glad you are safe. I have an offer to make you. If you like our company, stay here and be one of our friends; you will find our hearts honest and our company useful to you. The sages say that a number of friends lessens trouble.”

After this short speech the raven and the rat joined in the invitation, so that the goat at once promised to become one of them, each promising the other to prove himself a real and true friend whatever might happen in days to come. After this agreement these four friends lived in perfect harmony for 194a very long time, and spent their time pleasantly together. But one day, as the tortoise, the rat, and the raven were met, as they used to do, by the side of the fountain, the goat was missing. This gave great trouble to them, as they knew not what had happened. They very soon came to a resolution, however, to seek for and assist the goat, so the raven at once mounted into the air to see what discoveries he could make; and looking round about him, at length, to his great sorrow, saw at a distance the poor goat entangled in a hunter’s net. He immediately dropped down in order to acquaint the rat and tortoise with what he had seen; and you may be sure that these ill tidings caused great grief.

“What shall we do?” said they.

“We have promised firm friendship to one another and lived very happily together so long,” said the tortoise, “that it would be shameful to break the bond and not act up to all we said. We cannot leave our innocent and good-natured companion in this dire distress and great danger. No! we must find some way to deliver our poor friend goat out of captivity.”

Said the raven to the rat, who was nicknamed Zirac: “Remember, O excellent Zirac, there is none but thyself able to set our friend at liberty; and the business must be quickly done for fear the huntsman should lay his hands upon her.”

“Doubt not,” replied Zirac, “but that I will do my best, so let us go at once that no time may be lost.”

On this the raven took up Zirac in his bill, and flew with him to the place where the poor goat was confined in the net. No sooner had he arrived than he at once commenced to gnaw the meshes of the net that held the goat’s foot and had almost set him at liberty when the tortoise arrived.

As soon as the goat saw the tortoise she cried out with a loud voice: “Oh, why have you ventured to come hither, friend tortoise?”

“Because I could no longer bear your absence,” replied the tortoise.

“Dear friend,” said the goat, “your coming to this place 195troubles me as much as the loss of my own liberty; for if the hunter should happen to come, what would you do to make your escape? For my part I am almost free, and my being able to run will prevent me from falling into his hands again; our friend the raven can find safety in flight, and Zirac can run into any hole. Only you, who are so slow of foot, will become the hunter’s prey.” No sooner had the goat thus spoken, when sure enough the hunter appeared; but the goat, being free, swiftly ran away; the raven mounted into the air, and Zirac slipped into a hole, and true enough, as the goat had said, only the slow-paced tortoise remained without help.

When the hunter arrived he was a little surprised to see his net broken and the goat missing. This was no small vexation to him, and caused him to look closely around, to see if he could discover who had done the mischief; and unfortunately, in thus searching, he spied the tortoise.

“Oh! Oh!” said he. “Very good; I am glad to see you here. I find I shall not go home empty-handed after all; here is a plump tortoise, and that is worth something, I’m sure.” Thus saying, he took up the tortoise, put it in a sack, threw the sack over his shoulder, and was soon trudging home.

After he had gone the three friends came out from their several hiding-places, and met together, when, missing the tortoise, they at once judged what had become of him. Then, uttering bitter cries and lamentations, they shed torrents of tears. At length the raven broke the silence, and said: “Dear friends, our moans and sorrow do not help the tortoise. We must, if it be at all possible, devise some means of saving his life. Our sages have often told us that there are three persons that are never well known but on special occasions—men of courage in fight, men of honesty in business, and a true friend in extreme necessity. We find, alas! our dear companion the tortoise is in a sad condition, and therefore we must, if possible, help him.”

“It is first-class advice,” replied Zirac. “Now I think I know how it can be done. Let our friend the goat go and 196show herself to the hunter, who will then be certain to lay down the sack to run after her.”

“All right,” said the goat, “I will pretend to be lame, and run limping at a little distance before him, which will encourage him to follow me, and thus draw him a good way from his sack, which will give Zirac time to set our friend at liberty.”

This plan appeared such a good one that it was at once approved of, and immediately the goat ran halting before the hunter, and appeared to be so feeble and faint that her pursuer thought he had her safe in his clutches again, and so, laying down his sack, ran after the goat with all his might. That cunning creature suffered him now and again almost to come up to her, and then led him another wild-goose chase till at last she had lured him out of sight; which Zirac seeing, began gnawing the string that tied the mouth of the sack, and soon set free the tortoise, who went at once and hid himself in a thick bush.

At length the hunter, tired of running after his prey, gave up the chase, and returned to take up his sack.

“Here,” said he, “I have something safe; thou art not quite so swift as that plaguing goat; and if thou wert, art too well confined here to find the way to make thy little legs any use to thee.” So saying, he went to the bag, but not finding the tortoise he was amazed, and thought himself in a region of hobgoblins and spirits, since he had by some mysterious means lost two valuable objects, a goat and a tortoise! He did not know, you see, what wonders true friendship can work when all are pledged to help one another.

The four friends soon met together again, congratulated one another on their escapes, made afresh their vows of friendship, and declared that they would never separate until death parted them.



Once upon a time there was an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy. One morning the old woman made a Johnny-cake, and put it in the oven to bake. “You watch the Johnny-cake while your father and I go out to work in the garden,” she said, so the old man and the old woman went out and began to hoe potatoes, and left the little boy to tend the oven. But he didn’t watch it all the time, and all of a sudden he heard a noise, and he looked up and the oven door popped open, and out of the oven jumped Johnny-cake, and went rolling along end over end, toward the open door of the house. The little boy ran to shut the door, but Johnny-cake was too quick for him and rolled through the door, down the steps, and out into the road long before the little boy could catch him. The little boy ran after him as fast as he could clip it, crying out to his father and mother, who heard the uproar, and threw down their hoes and gave chase too. But Johnny-cake outran all three a long way, and was soon out of sight, while they had to sit down, all out of breath, on a bank to rest.

On went Johnny-cake, and by and by he came to two well-diggers, who looked up from their work and called out: “Where ye going, Johnny-cake?”

He said: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and I can outrun you too-o-o!”

“Ye can, can ye? We’ll see about that,” said they; and they threw down their picks and ran after him, but couldn’t catch up with him, and soon they had to sit down by the roadside to rest.

On ran Johnny-cake, and by and by he came to two ditch-diggers who were digging a ditch. “Where ye going, Johnny-cake?” 198said they. He said: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and I can outrun you too-o-o!”

“Ye can, can ye? We’ll see about that!” said they; and they threw down their spades, and ran after him too. But Johnny-cake soon outstripped them also, and seeing they could never catch him, they gave up the chase and sat down to rest.

On went Johnny-cake, and by and by he came to a bear. The bear said: “Where are ye going, Johnny-cake?”

He said: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, and I can outrun you too-o-o!”

“Ye can, can ye?” growled the bear. “We’ll see about that!” and trotted as fast as his legs could carry him after Johnny-cake, who never stopped to look behind him. Before long the bear was left so far behind that he saw he might as well give up the hunt first as last, so he stretched himself out by the roadside to rest.

On went Johnny-cake, and by and by he came to a wolf. The wolf said: “Where ye going, Johnny-cake?”

He said: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, and a bear, and I can outrun you too-o-o!”

“Ye can, can ye?” snarled the wolf. “We’ll see about that!” And he set into a gallop after Johnny-cake, who went on and on so fast that the wolf saw there was no hope of overtaking him, and he too lay down to rest.

On went Johnny-cake, and by and by he came to a fox that lay quietly in a corner of the fence. The fox called out in a sharp voice, but without getting up: “Where ye going, Johnny-cake?”

He said: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, a bear, and a wolf, and I can outrun you too-o-o!”

The Fox said: “I can’t quite hear you, Johnny-cake. Won’t you come a little closer?” turning his head a little to one side.

199Johnny-cake stopped his race for the first time, and went a little closer, and called out in a very loud voice: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, and a bear, and a wolf, and I can outrun you too-o-o!

“Can’t quite hear you; won’t you come a little closer?” said the fox in a feeble voice, as he stretched out his neck toward Johnny-cake, and put one paw behind his ear.

Johnny-cake came up close, and leaning toward the fox screamed out: “I’ve outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two well-diggers, and two ditch-diggers, and a bear, and a wolf, and i can outrun you too-o-o!

“You can, can you?” yelped the fox, and he snapped up the Johnny-cake in his sharp teeth in the twinkling of an eye.


The Wee, Wee Mannie

Once upon a time, when all big folks were wee ones and all lies were true, there was a wee, wee Mannie that had a big, big coo. And out he went to milk her of a morning, and said:

“Hold still, my coo, my hinny,
Hold still, my hinny, my coo,
And ye shall have for your dinner
What but a milk white doo.”

But the big, big coo wouldn’t hold still. “Hout!” said the wee, wee Mannie:

“Hold still, my coo, my dearie,
And fill my bucket wi’ milk,
And if ye’ll be no contrairy
I’ll gi’e ye a gown o’ silk.”

But the big, big coo wouldn’t hold still. “Look at that, now!” said the wee, wee Mannie:

“What’s a wee, wee Mannie to do,
Wi’ such a big contrairy coo?”

So off he went to his mother at the house. “Mither,” said he, “coo won’t stand still, and wee, wee Mannie can’t milk big, big coo.”

“Hout!” said his mother, “take stick and beat coo.”

So off he went to get a stick from the tree, and said:

“Break, stick, break,
And I’ll gi’e ye a cake.”

201But the stick wouldn’t break, so back he went to the house.

“Mither,” said he, “coo won’t hold still, stick won’t break, wee, wee Mannie can’t beat big, big coo.”

“Hout!” said his mother, “go to the butcher and bid him kill coo.”

So off he went to the butcher, and said:

“Butcher, kill the big, big coo,
She’ll gi’e us no more milk noo.”

But the butcher wouldn’t kill the coo without a silver penny, so back the Mannie went to the house. “Mither,” said he, “coo won’t hold still, stick won’t break, butcher won’t kill without a silver penny, and wee, wee Mannie can’t milk big, big coo.”

“Well,” said his mother, “go to the coo and tell her there’s a weary, weary lady with long yellow hair weeping for a cup o’ milk.”

So off he went and told the coo, but she wouldn’t hold still, so back he went and told his mother.

“Well,” said she, “tell the coo there’s a fine, fine laddie from the wars sitting by the weary, weary lady with golden hair, and she weeping for a sup o’ milk.”

So off he went and told the coo, but she wouldn’t hold still, so back he went and told his mother.

“Well,” said his mother, “tell the big, big coo there’s a sharp, sharp sword at the belt of the fine, fine laddie from the wars who sits beside the weary, weary lady with the golden hair, and she weeping for a sup o’ milk.”

And he told the big, big coo, but she wouldn’t hold still.

Then said his mother: “Run quick and tell her that her head’s going to be cut off by the sharp, sharp sword in the hands of the fine, fine laddie, if she doesn’t give the sup o’ milk the weary, weary lady weeps for.”

And wee, wee Mannie went off and told the big, big coo.

And when coo saw the glint of the sharp, sharp sword in the hand of the fine, fine laddie come from the wars, and the 202weary, weary lady weeping for a sup o’ milk, she reckoned she’d better hold still; so wee, wee Mannie milked big, big coo, and the weary, weary lady with the golden hair hushed her weeping and got her sup o’ milk, and the fine, fine laddie new come from the wars put by his sharp, sharp sword, and all went well that didn’t go ill.


Sir Gammer Vans

Last Sunday morning at six o’clock in the evening as I was sailing over the tops of the mountains in my little boat, I met two men on horseback riding on one mare: So I asked them: “Could they tell me whether the little old woman was dead yet who was hanged last Saturday week for drowning herself in a shower of feathers?” They said they could not inform me positively, but if I went to Sir Gammer Vans he could tell me all about it.

“But how am I to know the house?” said I.

“Ho, ‘tis easy enough,” said they, “for ‘tis a brick house built entirely of flints, standing alone by itself in the middle of sixty or seventy others just like it.”

“Oh, nothing in the world is easier,” said I.

“Nothing can be easier,” said they: so I went on my way. Now this Sir G. Vans was a giant, and a bottle-maker. And as all giants who are bottle-makers usually pop out of a little thumb-bottle from behind the door, so did Sir G. Vans.

“How d’ye do?” says he.

“Very well, I thank you,” says I.

“Have some breakfast with me?”

“With all my heart,” says I.

So he gave me a slice of beer, and a cup of cold veal; and there was a little dog under the table that picked up all the crumbs.

“Hang him,” says I.

“No, don’t hang him,” says he; “for he killed a hare yesterday. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll show you the hare alive in a basket.”

So he took me into his garden to show me the curiosities. In one corner there was a fox hatching eagle’s eggs; in another 204there was an iron apple-tree, entirely covered with pears and lead; in the third there was the hare which the dog killed yesterday alive in the basket; and in the fourth there were twenty-four hipper switches threshing tobacco, and at the sight of me they threshed so hard that they drove the plug through the wall, and through a little dog that was passing by on the other side. I, hearing the dog howl, jumped over the wall; and turned it as neatly inside out as possible, when it ran away as if it had not an hour to live. Then he took me into the park to show me his deer; and I remembered that I had a warrant in my pocket to shoot venison for his majesty’s dinner. So I set fire to my bow, poised my arrow, and shot among them. I broke seventeen ribs on one side, and twenty-one and a half on the other; but my arrow passed clean through without ever touching it, and the worst was I lost my arrow. However, I found it again in the hollow of a tree. I felt it; it felt clammy. I smelt it; it smelt honey. “Oh, ho,” said I, “here’s a bees’ nest,” when out sprang a covey of partridges. I shot at them; some say I killed eighteen; but I am sure I killed thirty-six, besides a dead salmon which was flying over the bridge, of which I made the best apple-pie I ever tasted.


Tom Tit Tot

Once upon a time there was a woman, and she baked five pies. And when they came out of the oven, they were that over-baked the crusts were too hard to eat. So she says to her daughter:

“Darter,” says she, “put you them there pies on the shelf, and leave ‘em there a little, and they’ll come again.” She meant, you know, the crust would get soft.

But the girl, she says to herself: “Well, if they’ll come again, I’ll eat ‘em now.” And she set to work and ate ‘em all, first and last.

Well, come supper-time the woman said: “Go you, and get one o’ them there pies. I dare say they’ve come again now.”

The girl went and she looked, and there was nothing but the dishes. So back she came, and says she: “Noo, they ain’t come again.”

“Not one of ‘em?” says the mother.

“Not one of ‘em,” says she.

“Well, come again, or not come again,” said the woman, “I’ll have one for supper.”

“But you can’t, if they ain’t come,” said the girl.

“But I can,” says she. “Go you, and bring the best of ‘em.”

“Best or worst,” says the girl, “I’ve ate ‘em all, and you can’t have one till that’s come again.”

Well, the woman she was done, and she took her spinning to the door to spin, and as she span she sang:

“My darter ha’ ate five, five pies to-day.
My darter ha’ ate five, five pies to-day.”

206The king was coming down the street, and he heard her sing, but what she sang he couldn’t make out, so he stopped and said:

“What was that you were singing, my good woman?”

The woman was ashamed to let him hear what her daughter had been doing, so she sang, instead of that:

“My darter ha’ spun five, five skeins to-day.
My darter ha’ spun five, five skeins to-day.”

“Stars o’ mine!” said the king, “I never heard tell of any one that could do that.”

Then he said: “Look you here, I want a wife, and I’ll marry your daughter. But look you here,” says he, “eleven months out of the year she shall have all she likes to eat, and all the gowns she likes to get, and all the company she likes to keep; but the last month of the year she’ll have to spin five skeins every day, and if she don’t I shall kill her.”

“All right,” says the woman; for she thought what a grand marriage that was. And as for the five skeins, when the time came, there’d be plenty of ways of getting out of it, and likeliest, he’d have forgotten all about it.

Well, so they were married. And for eleven months the girl had all she liked to eat, and all the gowns she liked to get, and all the company she liked to keep.

But when the time was getting over, she began to think about the skeins and to wonder if he had ‘em in mind. But not one word did he say about ‘em, and she thought he’d wholly forgotten ‘em.

However, the last day of the last month he takes her to a room she’d never set eyes on before. There was nothing in it but a spinning-wheel and a stool. And says he: “Now, my dear, here you’ll be shut in to-morrow with some victuals and some flax, and if you haven’t spun five skeins by the night, your head’ll go off.”

And away he went about his business.

Well, she was that frightened, she’d always been such a 207gutless girl, that she didn’t so much as know how to spin, and what was she to do to-morrow with no one to come nigh her to help her? She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and law, how she did cry!

However, all of a sudden she heard a sort of a knocking low down on the door. She upped and oped it, and what should she see but a small little black thing with a long tail, that look up at her right curious, and that said:

“What are you a-crying for?”

“What’s that to you?” says she.

“Never you mind,” that said, “but tell me what you’re a-crying for.”

“That won’t do me no good if I do,” says she.

“You don’t know that,” that said, and twirled that’s tail round.

“Well,” says she, “that won’t do no harm, if that don’t do no good,” and she upped and told about the pies, and the skeins, and everything.

“This is what I’ll do,” says the little black thing: “I’ll come to your window every morning and take the flax and bring it spun at night.”

“What’s your pay?” says she.

That looked out of the corner of that’s eyes, and that said: “I’ll give you three guesses every night to guess my name, and if you haven’t guessed it before the month’s up you shall be mine.”

Well, she thought she’d be sure to guess that’s name before the month was up. “All right,” says she, “I agree.”

“All right,” that says, and law! how that twirled that’s tail.

Well, the next day, her husband took her into the room, and there was the flax and the day’s food.

“Now, there’s the flax,” says he, “and if that ain’t spun up this night, off goes your head.” And then he went out and locked the door.

He’d hardly gone, when there was a knocking against the window.

208She upped and she oped it, and there sure enough was the little old thing sitting on the ledge.

“Where’s the flax?” says he.

“Here it be,” says she. And she gave it to him.

Well, come the evening a knocking came again to the window. She upped and she oped it, and there was the little old thing with five skeins of flax on his arm.

“Here it be,” says he, and he gave it to her.

“Now, what’s my name?” says he.

“What, is that Bill?” says she.

“Noo, that ain’t,” says he, and he twirled his tail.

“Is that Ned?” says she.

“Noo, that ain’t,” says he, and he twirled his tail.

“Well, is that Mark?” says she.

“Noo, that ain’t,” says he, and he twirled his tail harder, and away he flew.

Well, when her husband came in, there were the five skeins ready for him. “I see I sha’n’t have to kill you to-night, my dear,” says he; “you’ll have your food and your flax in the morning,” says he, and away he goes.

Well, every day the flax and the food were brought, and every day that there little black impet used to come mornings and evenings. And all the day the girl sat trying to think of names to say to it when it came at night. But she never hit on the right one. And as it got toward the end of the month, the impet began to look so maliceful, and that twirled that’s tail faster and faster each time she gave a guess.

At last it came to the last day but one. The impet came at night along with the five skeins, and that said:

“What, ain’t you got my name yet?”

“Is that Nicodemus?” says she.

“Noo, ‘tain’t,” that says.

“Is that Sammee?” says she.

“Noo, ‘tain’t,” that says.

“A-well, is that Methusalem?” says she.

“Noo, ‘tain’t that neither,” that says.

Then that looks at her with that’s eyes like a coal o’ fire, 209and that says: “Woman, there’s only to-morrow night, and then you’ll be mine!” And away it flew.

Well, she felt that horrid. However, she heard the king coming along the passage. In he came, and when he sees the five skeins, he says, says he:

“Well, my dear,” says he, “I don’t see but what you’ll have your skeins ready to-morrow night as well, and as I reckon I sha’n’t have to kill you, I’ll have supper in here to-night.” So they brought supper, and another stool for him, and down the two sat.

Well, he hadn’t eaten but a mouthful or so when he stops and begins to laugh.

“What is it?” says she.

“A-why,” says he, “I was out a-hunting to-day, and I got away to a place in the wood I’d never seen before. And there was an old chalk-pit. And I heard a kind of a sort of humming. So I got off my hobby, and I went right quiet to the pit, and I looked down. Well, what should there be but the funniest little black thing you ever set eyes on. And what was that doing, but that had a little spinning-wheel, and that was spinning wonderful fast, and twirling that’s tail. And as that span that sang:

“Nimmy nimmy not,
My name’s Tom Tit Tot.”

Well, when the girl heard this, she felt as if she could have jumped out of her skin for joy, but she didn’t say a word.

Next day that there little thing looked so maliceful when he came for the flax. And when night came, she heard that knocking against the window-panes. She oped the window, and that come right in on the ledge. That was grinning from ear to ear, and Oo! that’s tail was twirling round so fast.

“What’s my name?” that says, as that gave her the skeins.

“Is that Solomon?” she says, pretending to be afeard.

“Noo, ‘tain’t,” that says, and that came farther into the room.

210“Well, is that Zebedee?” says she again.

“Noo, ‘tain’t,” says the impet. And then that laughed and twirled that’s tail till you couldn’t hardly see it.

“Take time, woman,” that says; “next guess, and you’re mine.” And that stretched out that’s black hands at her.

Well, she backed a step or two, and she looked at it, and then she laughed out, and says she, pointing her finger at it:

“Nimmy nimmy not,
Your name’s Tom Tit Tot.”

Well, when that heard her, that gave an awful shriek, and away that flew into the dark, and she never saw it any more.


The Old Woman and her Pig

Once upon a time an old woman was sweeping her little house, when, to her great joy, she found a silver sixpence.

“What,” said she, “shall I do with this little sixpence? I think I will go to market and buy a pig.” So the next day she went to market and bought a nice little white pig. She tied a string to one of the pig’s legs and began to drive him home.

On the way the old woman and her pig came to a stile, and she said:

“Please, pig, get over the stile.”
But the pig would not.

Just then a little dog came trotting up, and the old woman said to him:

“Dog, dog, bite pig;
Pig won’t get over the stile,
And I sha’n’t get home to-night.”
But the dog would not.

So the old woman held up her stick, and said:

“Stick, stick, beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t get over the stile,
And I sha’n’t get home to-night.”
But the stick would not.

So the old woman gathered some bits of wood together to make a fire, and set them on fire, and then threw her stick into the fire and said:

212“Fire, fire, burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t get over the stile,
And I sha’n’t get home to-night.”
But the fire would not.

So the old woman fetched a pail of water that was standing near and said:

“Water, water, quench fire;
Fire won’t burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t get over the stile,
And I sha’n’t get home to-night.”
But the water would not.

Then the old woman saw an ox coming; so she said:

“Ox, ox, drink water;
Water won’t quench fire;
Fire won’t burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t go;
I see by the moonlight
It’s long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago.”
But the ox would not.

So the old woman turned around and saw a butcher, and she said:

“Butcher, butcher, kill ox;
Ox won’t drink water;
Water won’t quench fire;
Fire won’t burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
213Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t go.
I see by the moonlight
It’s long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago.”
But the butcher would not.

So the old woman took a rope out of her pocket, and said:

“Rope, rope, hang butcher;
Butcher won’t kill ox;
Ox won’t drink water;
Water won’t quench fire;
Fire won’t burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t go.
I see by the moonlight
It’s long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago.”
But the rope would not.

Just then a large brown mouse ran across the meadow, and she said:

“Mouse, mouse, gnaw rope;
Rope won’t hang butcher;
Butcher won’t kill ox;
Ox won’t drink water;
Water won’t quench fire;
Fire won’t burn stick;
Stick won’t beat dog;
Dog won’t bite pig;
Pig won’t go.
I see by the moonlight
It’s long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago.”
“Yes,” said the mouse, “I will, if you will give me some cheese.”

214So the old woman put her hand in her pocket and found a nice piece of cheese; and when the mouse had eaten it:

The mouse began to gnaw the rope,
The rope began to hang the butcher,
The butcher began to kill the ox,
The ox began to drink the water,
The water began to quench the fire,
The fire began to burn the stick,
The stick began to beat the dog,
The dog began to bite the pig,
And the pig began to go.

But what time the old woman and her pig got home, you, nor I, nor nobody knows.


The Story of the Three Little Pigs

There was once an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough to keep them, she sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a man with a bundle of straw, and said to him:

“Please, man, give me that straw to build me a house.”

Which the man did, and the little pig built a house with it. Presently came along a wolf, and knocked at the door, and said:

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

To which the pig answered:

“No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.”

The wolf then answered to that:

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew the house in, and ate up the little pig.

The second little pig met a man with a bundle of furze and said:

“Please, man, give me that furze to build a house.”

Which the man did, and the pig built his house. Then along came the wolf, and said:

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

“No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

So he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, and at last he blew the house down, and he ate up the little pig.

The third little pig met a man with a load of bricks, and said:

216“Please, man, give me those bricks to build a house with.” So the man gave him the bricks, and he built his house with them. Then the wolf came, as he did to the other little pigs, and said:

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

“No, no, by the hair on my chiny chin chin.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and he huffed; but he could not get the house down. When he found that he could not, with all his huffing and puffing, blow the house down, he said:

“Little pig, I know where there is a nice field of turnips.”

“Where?” said the little pig.

“Oh, in Mr. Smith’s home field, and if you will be ready to-morrow morning I will call for you, and we will go together, and get some for dinner.”

“Very well,” said the little pig, “I will be ready. What time do you mean to go?”

“Oh, at six o’clock.”

Well, the little pig got up at five, and got the turnips before the wolf came (which he did about six), when he said:

“Little pig, are you ready?”

The little pig said: “Ready! I have been there and come back again, and got a nice potful for dinner.”

The wolf felt very angry at this, but thought that he would be even with the little pig somehow or other, so he said:

“Little pig, I know where there is a nice apple-tree.”

“Where?” said the pig.

“Down at Merry-garden,” replied the wolf, “and if you will not deceive me I will come for you at five o’clock to-morrow and get some apples.”

Well, the little pig bustled up the next morning at four o’clock, and went off for the apples, hoping to get back before the wolf came; but he had farther to go, and had to climb the tree, so that just as he was scrambling down from it, he saw the wolf coming, which, as you may suppose, frightened him very much. When the wolf came up he said:

217“Little pig, what! are you here before me? Are they nice apples?”

“Yes, very,” said the little pig. “I will throw you down one.”

And he threw it so far that, while the wolf was gone to pick it up, the little pig jumped down and ran home. The next day the wolf came again, and said to the little pig:

“Little pig, there is a fair at Shanklin this afternoon. Will you go?”

“Oh, yes,” said the pig, “I will go; what time shall you be ready?”

“At three,” said the wolf. So the little pig went off before the time, as usual, and got to the fair, and bought a butter-churn, which he was going home with when he saw the wolf coming. Then he could not tell what to do. So he got into the churn to hide, and by so doing it turned round, and rolled down the hill with him inside, which frightened the wolf so much that he ran home without going to the fair. He went to the little pig’s house, and told him how frightened he had been by a great round thing which came down the hill past him. Then the little pig said:

“Hah, I frightened you then. I had been to the fair and bought a butter-churn, and when I saw you, I got into it, and rolled down the hill.”

Then the wolf was very angry indeed, and declared he would eat up the little pig, and that he would get down the chimney after him. When the little pig saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterward.


The Three Sillies

Once upon a time there was a farmer and his wife who had one daughter, and she was courted by a gentleman. Every evening he used to come and see her, and stop to supper at the farmhouse, and the daughter used to be sent down into the cellar to draw the beer for supper. So one evening she had gone down to draw the beer, and she happened to look up at the ceiling while she was drawing, and she saw a mallet stuck in one of the beams. It must have been there a long, long time, but somehow or other she had never noticed it before, and she began a-thinking. And she thought it was very dangerous to have that mallet there, for she said to herself: “Suppose him and me was to be married, and we was to have a son, and he was to grow up to be a man, and come down into the cellar to draw the beer, like as I’m doing now, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, what a dreadful thing it would be!” And she put down the candle and the jug, and sat herself down and began a-crying.

Well, they began to wonder up-stairs how it was that she was so long drawing the beer, and her mother went down to see after her, and she found her sitting on the settle crying, and the beer running over the floor. “Why, whatever is the matter?” said her mother. “Oh, mother!” says she, “look at that horrid mallet! Suppose we was to be married, and was to have a son, and he was to grow up, and was to come down to the cellar to draw the beer, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, what a dreadful thing it would be!” “Dear, dear! what a dreadful thing it would be!” said the mother, and she sat her down aside of the daughter and started a-crying too. Then after a bit the father began to 219wonder that they didn’t come back, and he went down into the cellar to look after them himself, and there they two sat a-crying, and the beer running all over the floor. “Whatever is the matter?” says he. “Why,” says the mother, “look at that horrid mallet. Just suppose, if our daughter and her sweetheart was to be married, and was to have a son, and he was to grow up, and was to come down into the cellar to draw the beer, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, what a dreadful thing it would be!” “Dear, dear, dear! so it would!” said the father, and he sat himself down aside of the other two, and started a-crying.

Now the gentleman got tired of stopping up in the kitchen by himself, and at last he went down into the cellar too, to see what they were after; and there they three sat a-crying side by side, and the beer running all over the floor. And he ran straight and turned the tap. Then he said: “Whatever are you three doing, sitting there crying, and letting the beer run all over the floor?” “Oh!” says the father, “look at that horrid mallet! Suppose you and our daughter was to be married, and was to have a son, and he was to grow up, and was to come down into the cellar to draw the beer, and the mallet was to fall on his head and kill him!” And then they all started a-crying worse than before. But the gentleman burst out a-laughing, and reached up and pulled out the mallet, and then he said: “I’ve traveled many miles, and I never met three such big sillies as you three before; and now I shall start out on my travels again, and when I can find three bigger sillies than you three, then I’ll come back and marry your daughter.” So he wished them good-by and started off on his travels, and left them all crying because the girl had lost her sweetheart.

Well, he set out, and he traveled a long way, and at last he came to a woman’s cottage that had some grass growing on the roof. And the woman was trying to get her cow to go up a ladder to the grass, and the poor thing durst not go. So the gentleman asked the woman what she was doing. “Why, look-ye,” she said, “look at all that beautiful grass. I’m going 220to get the cow on to the roof to eat it. She’ll be quite safe, for I shall tie a string round her neck, and pass it down the chimney, and tie it to my wrist as I go about the house, so she can’t fall off without my knowing it.” “Oh, you poor silly!” said the gentleman, “you should cut the grass and throw it down to the cow!” But the woman thought it was easier to get the cow up the ladder than to get the grass down, so she pushed her and coaxed her and got her up, and tied a string round her neck, and passed it down the chimney, and fastened it to her own wrist. And the gentleman went on his way, but he hadn’t gone far when the cow tumbled off the roof, and hung by the string tied round her neck, and it strangled her. And the weight of the cow tied to her wrist pulled the woman up the chimney, and she stuck fast half-way and was smothered in the soot.

Well, that was one big silly.

And the gentleman went on and on, and he went to an inn to stop the night, and they were so full at the inn that they had to put him in a double-bedded room, and another traveler was to sleep in the other bed. The other man was a very pleasant fellow, and they got very friendly together; but in the morning, when they were both getting up, the gentleman was surprised to see the other hang his trousers on the knobs of the chest of drawers and run across the room and try to jump into them, and he tried over and over again, and couldn’t manage it; and the gentleman wondered whatever he was doing it for. At last he stopped and wiped his face with his handkerchief. “Oh, dear,” he says, “I do think trousers are the most awkwardest kind of clothes that ever were. I can’t think who could have invented such things. It takes me the best part of an hour to get into mine every morning, and I get so hot! How do you manage yours?” So the gentleman burst out a-laughing, and showed him how to put them on; and he was very much obliged to him, and said he never should have thought of doing it that way.

So that was another big silly.

Then the gentleman went on his travels again; and he came 221to a village, and outside the village there was a pond, and round the pond was a crowd of people. And they had got rakes, and brooms, and pitchforks, reaching into the pond; and the gentleman asked what was the matter. “Why,” they said, “matter enough! Moon’s tumbled into the pond, and we can’t rake her out anyhow!” So the gentleman burst out a-laughing, and told them to look up into the sky, and that it was only the shadow in the water. But they wouldn’t listen to him, and abused him shamefully, and he got away as quick as he could.

So there was a whole lot of sillies bigger than those three sillies at home. So the gentleman turned back home again and married the farmer’s daughter, and if they didn’t live happy forever after, that’s nothing to do with you or me.


The Cat and the Mouse

The Cat and the Mouse
Played in the malt-house.
The Cat bit the Mouse’s tail off.

“Pray, puss,” said the Mouse, “give me my long tail again.”

“No,” said the Cat, “I’ll not give you your tail again till you go to the cow and fetch me some milk.”

First she leaped, and then she ran,
Till she came to the cow, and thus began:

“Pray, cow, give me some milk that I may give to the Cat, so she may give me my long tail again.”

“No,” said the cow, “I will give you no milk till you go to the farmer and get me some hay.”

First she leaped, and then she ran,
Till she came to the farmer, and thus began:

“Pray, farmer, give me some hay that I may give to the cow, so she may give me some milk that I may give to the Cat, so she may give me my long tail again.”

“No,” says the farmer, “I’ll give you no hay till you go to the butcher and fetch me some meat.”

First she leaped, and then she ran,
Till she came to the butcher, and thus began:

“Pray butcher, give me some meat that I may give to the farmer, so he may give me some hay that I may give to the cow, so she may give me some milk that I may give to the Cat, so she may give me my long tail again.”

223“No,” said the butcher, “I’ll give you no meat till you go to the baker and fetch me some bread.”

First she leaped, and then she ran,
Till she came to the baker, and thus began:

“Pray, baker, give me some bread that I may give to the butcher, so he may give me some meat that I may give to the farmer, so he may give me some hay that I may give to the cow, so she may give me some milk that I may give to the Cat, so she may give me my long tail again.”

“Yes,” said the baker, “I’ll give you some bread,
But if you eat my meal, I’ll cut off your head.”

The baker gave the Mouse bread, which she brought to the butcher; the butcher gave the Mouse meat, which she brought to the farmer; the farmer gave the Mouse hay, which she brought to the cow; the cow gave the Mouse milk, which she brought to the Cat; and the Cat gave to the Mouse her long tail again.



Once upon a time there was a farmer called Jan, and he lived all alone by himself in a little farmhouse.

By and by he thought that he would like to have a wife to keep it all vitty for him.

So he went a-courting a fine maid, and he said to her: “Will you marry me?”

“That I will, to be sure,” said she.

So they went to church and were wed. After the wedding was over, she got up on his horse behind him, and he brought her home. And they lived as happy as the day was long.

One day Jan said to his wife: “Wife, can you milk-y?”

“Oh, yes, Jan, I can milk-y. Mother used to milk-y when I lived home.”

So he went to market and bought her ten red cows. All went well till one day when she had driven them to the pond to drink, she thought they did not drink fast enough. So she drove them right into the pond to make them drink faster, and they were all drowned.

When Jan came home she up and told him what she had done, and he said: “Oh, well, there, never mind, my dear; better luck next time.”

So they went on for a bit, and then one day Jan said to his wife: “Wife, can you serve pigs?”

“Oh, yes, Jan, I can serve pigs. Mother used to serve pigs when I lived home.”

So Jan went to market and bought her some pigs. All went well till one day, when she had put their food into the trough, she thought they did not eat fast enough, and she pushed their heads into the trough to make them eat faster, and they were all choked.

225When Jan came home she up and told him what she had done, and he said: “Oh, well, there, never mind, my dear; better luck next time.”

So they went on for a bit, and then one day Jan said to his wife: “Wife, can you bake-y?”

“Oh, yes, Jan, I can bake-y. Mother used to bake-y when I lived home.”

So he bought everything for his wife so that she could bake bread. All went well for a bit, till one day she thought she would bake white bread for a treat for Jan. So she carried her meal to the top of a high hill, and let the wind blow on it, for she thought to herself that the wind would blow out all the bran. But the wind blew away meal and bran and all—so there was an end of it.

When Jan came home, she up and told him what she had done, and he said: “Oh, well, there, never mind, my dear; better luck next time.”

So they went on for a bit, and then one day Jan said to his wife: “Wife, can you brew-y?”

“Oh, yes, Jan, I can brew-y. Mother used to brew-y when I lived home.”

So he bought everything proper for his wife to brew ale with. All went well for a bit, till one day when she had brewed her ale and put it in the barrel, a big black dog came in and looked up in her face. She drove him out of the house, but he stayed outside the door and still looked up in her face. And she got so angry that she pulled out the plug of the barrel, threw it at the dog, and said: “What dost look at me for? I be Jan’s wife.” Then the dog ran down the road, and she ran after him to chase him right away. When she came back again, she found that the ale had all run out of the barrel, and so there was an end of it.

When Jan came home, she up and told him what she had done, and he said: “Oh, well, there, never mind, my dear; better luck next time.”

So they went on for a bit, and then one day she thought to herself, “’Tis time to clean up my house.” When she was 226taking down her big bed she found a bag of groats on the tester. So when Jan came home, she up and said to him: “Jan, what is that bag of groats on the tester for?”

“That is for Hereafterthis, my dear.”

Now, there was a robber outside the window, and he heard what Jan said. Next day, he waited till Jan had gone to market, and then he came and knocked at the door. “What do you please to want?” said Mally.

“I am Hereafterthis,” said the robber. “I have come for the bag of groats.”

Now the robber was dressed like a fine gentleman, so she thought to herself it was very kind of so fine a man to come for the bag of groats, so she ran up-stairs and fetched the bag of groats, and gave it to the robber and he went away with it.

When Jan came home she said to him: “Jan, Hereafterthis has been for the bag of groats.”

“What do you mean, wife?” said Jan.

So she up and told him, and he said: “Then I’m a ruined man, for that money was to pay our rent with. The only thing we can do is to roam the world over till we find the bag of groats.” Then Jan took the house-door off its hinges, “That’s all we shall have to lie on,” he said. So Jan put the door on his back, and they both set out to look for Hereafterthis. Many a long day they went, and in the night Jan used to put the door on the branches of a tree, and they would sleep on it. One night they came to a big hill, and there was a high tree at the foot. So Jan put the door up in it, and they got up in the tree and went to sleep. By and by Jan’s wife heard a noise, and she looked to see what it was. It was an opening of a door in the side of the hill. Out came two gentlemen with a long table, and behind them fine ladies and lords, each carrying a bag, and one of them was Hereafterthis with the bag of groats. They sat round the table, and began to drink and talk and count up all the money in the bags. So then Jan’s wife woke him up, and asked what they should do.

227“Now’s our time,” said Jan, and he pushed the door off the branches, and it fell right in the very middle of the table, and frightened the robbers so that they all ran away. Then Jan and his wife got down from the tree, took as many moneybags as they could carry on the door, and went straight home. And Jan bought his wife more cows, and more pigs, and they lived happy ever after.


Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse

Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse both lived in a house,
Titty Mouse went a-leasing and Tatty Mouse went a-leasing,
So they both went a-leasing.
Titty Mouse leased an ear of corn, and Tatty Mouse leased an ear of corn,
So they both leased an ear of corn.
Titty Mouse made a pudding, and Tatty Mouse made a pudding,
So they both made a pudding.
And Tatty Mouse put her pudding into the pot to boil,
But when Titty went to put hers in, the pot tumbled over, and scalded her to death.

Then Tatty sat down and wept, and a three-legged stool said: “Tatty, why do you weep?” “Titty’s dead,” said Tatty, “and so I weep.” “Then,” said the stool, “I’ll hop.” So the stool hopped.

Then a broom in the corner of the room said: “Stool, why do you hop?” “Oh!” said the stool, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, and so I hop.” “Then,” said the broom, “I’ll sweep.” So the broom began to sweep.

“Then,” said the door, “Broom, why do you sweep?” “Oh!” said the broom, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and so I sweep.” “Then,” said the door, “I’ll jar.” So the door jarred.

“Then,” said the window, “Door, why do you jar?” “Oh!” said the door, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, and so I jar.”

“Then,” said the window, “I’ll creak.” So the window 229creaked. Now there was an old form outside the house, and when the window creaked, the form said: “Window, why do you creak?” “Oh!” said the window, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and so I creak.”

“Then,” said the old form, “I’ll run round the house.” Then the old form ran round the house. Now there was a fine large walnut-tree growing by the cottage, and the tree said to the form: “Form, why do you run round the house?” “Oh!” said the form, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, and so I run round the house.”

“Then,” said the walnut-tree, “I’ll shed my leaves.” So the walnut-tree shed all its beautiful green leaves. Now there was a little bird perched on one of the boughs of the tree, and when all the leaves fell, it said: “Walnut-tree, why do you shed your leaves?” “Oh!” said the tree, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form runs round the house, and so I shed my leaves.”

“Then,” said the little bird, “I’ll moult all my feathers.” So he moulted all his pretty feathers. Now there was a little girl walking below, carrying a jug of milk for her brothers’ and sisters’ supper, and when she saw the poor little bird moult all its feathers, she said: “Little bird, why do you moult all your feathers?” “Oh!” said the little bird, “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form runs round the house, the walnut-tree sheds its leaves, and so I moult all my feathers.”

“Then,” said the little girl, “I’ll spill the milk.” So she dropped the pitcher and spilt the milk. Now there was an old man just by on the top of a ladder thatching a rick, and when he saw the little girl spill the milk, he said: “Little girl, what do you mean by spilling the milk? Your little brothers and sisters must go without their supper.” Then said the little girl: “Titty’s dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool 230hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form runs round the house, the walnut-tree sheds all its leaves, the little bird moults all its feathers, and so I spill the milk.”

“Oh!” said the old man, “then I’ll tumble off the ladder and break my neck.” So he tumbled off the ladder and broke his neck; and when the old man broke his neck, the great walnut-tree fell down with a crash, and upset the old form and house, and the house falling knocked the window out, and the window knocked the door down, and the door upset the broom, and the broom upset the stool, and poor little Tatty Mouse was buried beneath the ruins.


The Magpie’s Nest

Once upon a time all the birds of the air came to the Magpie and asked her to teach them how to build nests, for the Magpie is the cleverest of all at building. So she put them all around her and began to show them how to do it. First of all she took some mud and made a sort of round cake with it.

“Oh, that’s how it’s done,” said the thrush; and away it flew, and so that’s how thrushes build their nests.

Then the Magpie took some twigs and arranged them around in the mud.

“Now I know all about it,” said the blackbird, and off he flew; and that’s how the blackbirds make their nests to this very day.

Then the Magpie put another layer of mud over the twigs.

“Oh, that’s quite obvious,” said the wise owl, and away he flew; and owls have never made better nests since.

After this the Magpie took some twigs and twined them around the outside.

“The very thing!” said the sparrow, and off he went; so sparrows make rather slovenly nests to this day.

Well, then Madge Magpie took some feathers and stuff and lined the nest very comfortably with it.

“That suits me,” cried the starling, and off he flew; and very comfortable nests have starlings.

So it went on, every bird taking away some knowledge of how to build nests, but none of them waiting to the end. Meanwhile Madge Magpie went on working and working without looking up till the only bird that remained was the turtle-dove, and that hadn’t paid any attention all along, but only kept on saying its silly cry: “Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o.”

232At last the Magpie heard this just as she was putting a twig across. So she said: “One’s enough.”

But the turtle-dove kept on saying: “Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o.”

Then the Magpie grew angry and said: “One’s enough, I tell you.”

Still the turtle-dove cried: “Take two, Taffy, take two-o-o-o.”

At last, and at last, the Magpie looked up and saw nobody near her but the silly turtle-dove, and then she grew very angry and refused to teach any more.

And that is why all the birds build their nests in different ways up to this day. Each one made off, you see, as soon as he thought he had learned the Magpie’s secret, and each is perfectly contented with his own way.



Once upon a time, there were three bears who lived in a castle in a great wood. One of them was a great big bear, and one was a middling bear, and one was a little bear. And in the same wood there was a fox who lived all alone. His name was Scrapefoot. Scrapefoot was very much afraid of the bears, but for all that he wanted very much to know about them. And one day as he went through the wood he found himself near the bears’ castle, and he wondered whether he could get into the castle. He looked all about him everywhere, and he could not see any one. So he came on very quietly, till at last he came up to the door of the castle, and he tried whether he could open it. Yes! the door was not locked, and he opened it just a little way, and put his nose in and looked, and he could not see any one. So then he opened it a little way farther, and put one paw in, and then another paw, and another, and another, and then he was all in the bears’ castle. He found he was in a great hall with three chairs in it—one big, one middling, and one little chair; and he thought he would like to sit down and rest and look about him; so he sat down on the big chair. But he found it so hard and uncomfortable that it made his bones ache, and he jumped down at once and got into the middling chair, and he turned round and round in it, but he couldn’t make himself comfortable. So then he went to the little chair and sat down in it, and it was so soft and warm and comfortable that Scrapefoot was quite happy; but all at once it broke to pieces under him and he couldn’t put it together again! So he got up and began to look about him again, and on one table he saw three saucers, of which one was very big, one was middling, and one was quite a little saucer. Scrapefoot was very thirsty, and 234he began to drink out of the big saucer. But he only just tasted the milk in the big saucer, which was so sour and so horrid that he would not taste another drop of it. Then he tried the middling saucer, and he drank a little of that. He tried two or three mouthfuls, but it was not nice, and then he left it and went to the little saucer, and the milk in the little saucer was so sweet and so nice that he went on drinking it till it was all gone.

Then Scrapefoot thought he would like to go up-stairs; and he listened and he could not hear any one. So up-stairs he went, and he found a great room with three beds in it; one was a big bed, and one was a middling bed, and one was a little white bed; and he climbed up into the big bed, but it was so hard and lumpy and uncomfortable that he jumped down again at once, and tried the middling bed. That was rather better, but he could not lie comfortably in it, so after turning about a little while he got up and went to the little bed; and that was so soft and so warm and so nice that he fell fast asleep at once.

And after a time the bears came home, and when they got into the hall the big bear went to his chair and said: “WHO’S BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR?” and the middling bear said: “WHO’S BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR?” and the little bear said: “Who’s been sitting in my chair and has broken it all to pieces?” And then they went to have their milk, and the big bear said: “WHO’S BEEN DRINKING MY MILK?” and the middling bear said: “WHO’S BEEN DRINKING MY MILK?” and the little bear said: “Who’s been drinking my milk and has drunk it all up?” Then they went up-stairs and into the bedroom, and the big bear said: “WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED?” and the middling bear said: “WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED?” and the little bear said: “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?—and see, here he is!” So then the bears came and wondered what they should do with him; and the big bear said: “Let’s hang him!” and then the middling bear said: “Let’s drown him!” and then the little bear said: “Let’s throw him out of the 235window.” And then the bears took him to the window, and the big bear took two legs on one side and the middling bear took two legs on the other side, and they swung him backward and forward, backward and forward, and out of the window. Poor Scrapefoot was so frightened, and he thought every bone in his body must be broken. But he got up and first shook one leg—no, that was not broken; and then another, and that was not broken; and another and another, and then he wagged his tail and found there were no bones broken. So then he galloped off home as fast as he could go, and never went near the bears’ castle again.


The Wise Men of Gotham


There were two men of Gotham, and one of them was going to market to Nottingham to buy sheep, and the other came from the market, and they both met together upon Nottingham bridge.

“Where are you going?” said the one who came from Nottingham.

“Marry,” said he that was going to Nottingham, “I am going to buy sheep.”

“Buy sheep?” said the other, “and which way will you bring them home?”

“Marry,” said the other, “I will bring them over this bridge.”

“By Robin Hood,” said he that came from Nottingham, “but thou shalt not.”

“By Maid Marian,” said he that was going thither, “but I will.”

“You will not,” said the one.

“I will,” said the other.

Then they beat their staves against the ground one against the other, as if there had been a hundred sheep between them.

“Hold in,” said one; “beware lest my sheep leap over the bridge.”

“I care not,” said the other; “they shall not come this way.”

“But they shall,” said the other.

Then the other said: “If that thou make much to do, I will put my fingers in thy mouth.”

“Will you?” said the other.

237Now, as they were at their contention, another man of Gotham came from the market with a sack of meal upon a horse, and seeing and hearing his neighbors at strife about sheep, though there were none between them, said:

“Ah, fools! will you ever learn wisdom? Help me, and lay my sack upon my shoulders.”

They did so, and he went to the side of the bridge, unloosened the mouth of the sack, and shook all his meal out into the river.

“Now, neighbors,” he said, “how much meal is there in my sack?”

“Marry,” said they, “there is none at all.”

“Now, by my faith,” said he, “even as much wit as is in your two heads to stir up strife about a thing you have not.”

Which was the wisest of these three persons, judge yourself.


Once upon a time the men of Gotham would have kept the cuckoo so that she might sing all the year, and in the midst of their town they made a hedge round in compass, and they got a cuckoo, and put her into it, and said: “Sing there all through the year, or thou shalt have neither meat nor water.” The cuckoo, as soon as she perceived herself within the hedge, flew away. “A vengeance on her!” said they. “We did not make our hedge high enough.”


There was a man of Gotham who went to the market at Nottingham to sell cheese, and as he was going down the hill to Nottingham bridge, one of his cheeses fell out of his wallet and rolled down the hill. “Ah, gaffer,” said the fellow, “can you run to market alone? I will send one after another after you.” Then he laid down his wallet and took out the cheeses, and rolled them down the hill. Some went into one bush, and some went into another.

238“I charge you all to meet me near the marketplace”; and when the fellow came to the market to meet his cheeses, he stayed there till the market was nearly done. Then he went about to inquire of his friends and neighbors, and other men, if they did see his cheeses come to the market.

“Who should bring them?” said one of the market-men.

“Marry, themselves,” said the fellow; “they know the way well enough.”

And then he said: “A vengeance on them all. I did fear to see them run so fast that they would run beyond the market. I am now fully persuaded that they must be now almost at York.” Thereupon he forthwith hired a horse to ride to York, to seek his cheeses where they were not, but to this day no man can tell him of his cheeses.


When Good Friday came, the men of Gotham cast their heads together what to do with their white herrings, their red herrings, their sprats, and other salt fish. One consulted with the other, and agreed that such fish should be cast into their pond (which was in the middle of the town), that they might breed against the next year, and every man that had salt fish left, cast them into the pool.

“I have many white herrings,” said one.

“I have many sprats,” said another.

“I have many red herrings,” said the other.

“I have much salt fish. Let all go into the pond or pool, and we shall fare like lords next year.”

At the beginning of next year following, the men drew near the pond to have their fish, and there was nothing but a great eel. “Ah,” said they all, “a mischief on this eel, for he has eaten up all our fish.”

“What shall we do to him?” said one to the others.

“Kill him,” said one.

“Chop him into pieces,” said another. “Not so,” said another; “let us drown him.”

239“Be it so,” said all. And they went to another pond, and cast the eel into the pond. “Lie there and shift for yourself, for no help thou shalt have from us”; and they left the eel to drown.


Once on a time the men of Gotham had forgotten to pay their landlord. One said to the other: “To-morrow is our pay-day, and whom shall we find to send our money to our landlord?”

The one said: “This day I have caught a hare, and he shall carry it, for he is light of foot.”

“Be it so,” said all; “he shall have a letter and a purse to put our money in, and we shall direct him the right way.” So when the letters were written and the money put in a purse, they tied it round the hare’s neck, saying: “First you go to Lancaster, then you must go to Loughborough, and Newarke is our landlord, and commend us to him, and there are his dues.”

The hare, as soon as he was out of their hands, ran on along the country way. Some cried: “You must go to Lancaster first.”

“Let the hare alone,” said another; “he can tell a nearer way than the best of us all. Let him go.”

Another said: “It is a subtle hare, let him alone; he will not keep the highway for fear of dogs.”


On a certain time there were twelve men of Gotham who went fishing, and some went into the water and some on dry ground; and, as they were coming back, one of them said: “We have ventured much this day wading; I pray God that none of us that did come from home be drowned.”

“Marry,” said one, “let us see about that. Twelve of us 240came out,” and every man did count eleven, and the twelfth man did never count himself.

“Alas!” said one to another, “one of us is drowned.” They went back to the brook where they had been fishing, and looked up and down for him that was drowned, and made great lamentation. A courtier came riding by, and he did ask what they were seeking, and why they were so sorrowful. “Oh,” said they, “this day we came to fish in this brook, and there were twelve of us, and one is drowned.”

“Why,” said the courtier, “count me how many of you there be,” and one counted eleven and did not count himself. “Well,” said the courtier, “what will you give me if I find the twelfth man?”

“Sir,” said they, “all the money we have.”

“Give me the money,” said the courtier; and he began with the first, and gave him a whack over the shoulders that he groaned, and said, “There is one,” and he served all of them that they groaned; but when he came to the last he gave him a good blow, saying, “Here is the twelfth man.”

“God bless you on your heart,” said all the company; “you have found our neighbor.”



One day Henny-penny was picking up corn in the corn-yard when—whack!—something hit her upon the head.

“Goodness gracious me!” says Henny-penny; “the sky’s a-going to fall; I must go and tell the king.”

So she went along, and she went along, and she went along till she met Cocky-locky. “Where are you going, Henny-penny?” says Cocky-locky. “Oh! I’m going to tell the king the sky’s a-falling,” says Henny-penny. “May I come with you?” says Cocky-locky. “Certainly,” says Henny-penny. So Henny-penny and Cocky-locky went to tell the king the sky was falling.

They went along, and they went along, and they went along till they met Ducky-daddles. “Where are you going to, Henny-penny and Cocky-locky?” says Ducky-daddles. “Oh! we’re going to tell the king the sky’s a-falling,” says Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. “May I come with you?” says Ducky-daddles. “Certainly,” says Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles went to tell the king the sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along till they met Goosey-poosey. “Where are you going to, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles?” says Goosey-poosey. “Oh! we’re going to tell the king the sky’s a-falling,” says Henny-penny and Cocky-locky and Ducky-daddles. “May I come with you?” says Goosey-poosey. “Certainly,” says Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey went to tell the king the sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along till they met Turkey-lurkey. “Where are you going, 242Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?” says Turkey-lurkey. “Oh! we’re going to tell the king the sky’s a-falling,” says Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey. “May I come with you, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?” says Turkey-lurkey. “Oh, certainly, Turkey-lurkey,” says Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey all went to tell the king the sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along till they met Foxy-woxy, and Foxy-woxy says to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey: “Where are you going, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey?” And Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey says to Foxy-woxey: “We’re going to tell the king the sky’s a-falling.” “Oh! but this is not the way to the king, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey,” says Foxy-woxy; “I know the proper way; shall I show it you?” “Oh, certainly, Foxy-woxy,” says Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, Turkey-lurkey, and Foxy-woxy all went to tell the king the sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along till they came to a narrow and dark hole. Now this was the door of Foxy-woxy’s cave. But Foxy-woxy says to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey: “This is the short way to the king’s palace: you’ll soon get there if you follow me. I will go first and you come after, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey.” “Why, of course, certainly, without doubt, why not?” says Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey.

So Foxy-woxy went into his cave, and he didn’t go very far, but turned round to wait for Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, 243Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. So at last Turkey-lurkey went through the dark hole into the cave. He hadn’t got far when “Hrumph!” Foxy-woxy snapped off Turkey-lurkey’s head and threw his body over his left shoulder. Then Goosey-poosey went in, and “Hrumph!” off went her head and Goosey-poosey was thrown beside Turkey-lurkey. Then Ducky-daddles waddled down, and “Hrumph!” snapped Foxy-woxy, and Ducky-daddles’s head was off, and Ducky-daddles was thrown alongside Turkey-lurkey and Goosey-poosey. Then Cocky-locky strutted down into the cave, and he hadn’t gone far when “Snap, Hrumph!” went Foxy-woxy, and Cocky-locky was thrown alongside of Turkey-lurkey, Goosey-poosey, and Ducky-daddles.

But Foxy-woxy had made two bites at Cocky-locky, and when the first snap only hurt Cocky-locky, but didn’t kill him, he called out to Henny-penny. So she turned tail and off she ran home, and she never told the king the sky was a-falling.


A Son of Adam

A man was working one day. It was very hot, and he was digging. By and by he stopped to rest and wipe his face; and he grew very angry to think he had to work so hard just because of Adam’s sin. So he complained bitterly, and said some very hard words about Adam.

It happened that his master heard him, and he asked: “Why do you blame Adam? You’d ha’ done just like Adam, if you’d a-been in his place.”

“No, I shouldn’t,” says the man. “I should ha’ know’d better.”

“Well, I’ll try you,” says his master. “Come to me at dinner-time.”

So come dinner-time, the man came, and his master took him into a room where the table was a-set with good things of all sorts. And he said: “Now, you can eat as much as ever you like from any of the dishes on the table; but don’t touch the covered dish in the middle till I come back.” And with that the master went out of the room and left the man there all by himself. So the man began to taste some o’ this dish and some o’ that, and enjoyed himself finely. But after a while, as his master didn’t come back, he began to look at the covered dish, and to wonder whatever was in it. And he wondered more and more, and he says to himself: “It must be something very nice. Why shouldn’t I just look at it? I won’t touch it. There can’t be any harm in just peeping.” So at last he could hold back no longer, and he lifted up the cover a tiny bit; but he couldn’t see anything. Then he lifted it up a bit more, and out popped a mouse. The man tried to catch it; but it ran away and jumped off the table 245and he ran after it. It ran first into one corner, and then, just as he thought he’d got it, into another, and under the table, and all about the room. And the man made such a clatter, jumping and banging and running round after the mouse, a-trying to catch it, that at last his master came in.

“Ah!” he said; “never you blame Adam again, my man!”


The Happy Family

The largest green leaf in this country is certainly the burdock leaf. If you hold it in front of you, it is large enough for an apron; and if you hold it over your head, it is almost as good as an umbrella, it is so wonderfully large. A burdock never grows alone; where it grows, there are many more, and it is a splendid sight; and all this splendor is good for snails. Grand people in olden times used to have the great white snails made into fricassees; and when they had eaten them, they would say: “Oh, what a delicious dish!” for these people really thought them good. Such snails lived on burdock leaves, and for them the burdock was planted.

There was once an old estate where no one now lived to require snails; indeed, the owners had all died out, but the burdock still flourished; it grew over all the beds and walks of the garden—its growth had no check—till it became at last quite a forest of burdocks. Here and there stood an apple- or a plum-tree; but for this, nobody would have thought the place had ever been a garden. It was burdock from one end to the other; and here lived the last two surviving snails. They knew not themselves how old they were; but they could remember the time when there were a great many more of them, and that they were descended from a family which came from foreign lands, and that the whole forest had been planted for them and theirs. They had never been away from the garden; but they knew that another place once existed in the world, called the Duke’s Palace Castle, in which some of their relations had been boiled till they became black, and were then laid on a silver dish; but what was done afterward they did not know. Besides, they could not imagine exactly how it 247felt to be boiled and placed on a silver dish; but no doubt it was something very fine and highly genteel. Neither the cockchafer, nor the toad, nor the earthworm, whom they questioned about it, could give them the least information; for none of their relations had ever been cooked or served on a silver dish. The old white snails were the most aristocratic race in the world—they knew that. The forest had been planted for them, and the nobleman’s castle had been built solely that they might be cooked and laid on silver dishes.

They lived quite retired and very happily; and as they had no children of their own, they had adopted a little common snail, which they brought up as their own child. The little one would not grow, for he was only a common snail; but the old people, particularly the mother snail, declared that she could easily see how he grew; and when the father said he could not perceive it, she begged him to feel the little snail’s shell, and he did so, and found that the mother was right.

One day it rained very fast. “Listen, what a drumming there is on the burdock leaves; tum, tum, tum; tum, tum, tum,” said the father snail.

“There come the drops,” said the mother; “they are trickling down the stalks. We shall have it very wet here presently. I am very glad we have such good houses, and that the little one has one of his own. There has been really more done for us than for any other creature; it is quite plain that we are the most noble people in the world. We have houses from our birth, and the burdock forest has been planted for us. I should very much like to know how far it extends, and what lies beyond it.”

“There can be nothing better than we have here,” said the father snail; “I wish for nothing more.”

“Yes, but I do,” said the mother; “I should like to be taken to the palace, and boiled, and laid upon a silver dish, as was done to all our ancestors; and you may be sure it must be something very uncommon.”

“The nobleman’s castle, perhaps, has fallen to decay,” said the snail father, “or the burdock wood may have grown over 248it, so that those who live there cannot get out. You need not be in a hurry; you are always so impatient, and the youngster is getting just the same. He has been three days creeping to the top of that stalk. I feel quite giddy when I look at him.”

“You must not scold him,” said the mother snail; “he creeps so very carefully. He will be the joy of our home; and we old folks have nothing else to live for. But have you ever thought where we are to get a wife for him? Do you think that farther out in the wood there may be others of our race?”

“There may be black snails, no doubt,” said the old snail; “black snails without houses; though they are vulgar and conceited too. But we can give the ants a commission; they run here and there, as if they all had much business to get through. They, most likely, will know of a wife for our youngster.”

“I certainly know a most beautiful bride,” said one of the ants; “but I fear it would not do, for she is a queen.”

“That does not matter,” said the old snail. “Has she a house?”

“She has a palace,” replied the ant, “a most beautiful ant-palace with seven hundred passages.”

“Thank you,” said the mother snail; “but our boy shall not go to live in an ant-hill. If you know of nothing better, we will give the commission to the white gnats; they fly about in rain and sunshine; they know the burdock wood from one end to the other.”

“We have a wife for him,” said the gnats; “a hundred man-steps from here, there is a little snail with a house, sitting on a gooseberry-bush; she is quite alone, and old enough to be married. It is only a hundred man-steps from here.”

“Then let her come to him,” said the old people. “He has the whole burdock forest; she has only a bush.”

So they brought the little lady-snail. She took eight days to perform the journey; but that was just as it ought to be, for it showed her to be one of the right breeding. And then 249they had a wedding. Six glowworms gave as much light as they could; but in other respects it was all very quiet; for the old snails could not bear festivities or a crowd. But a beautiful speech was made by the mother snail. The father could not speak; he was too much overcome. Then they gave the whole burdock forest to the young snails as an inheritance, and repeated what they had so often said, that it was the finest place in the world, and that if they led upright and honorable lives, and their family increased, they and their children might some day be taken to the nobleman’s palace, to be boiled black, and laid on a silver dish. And when they had finished speaking, the old couple crept into their houses, and came out no more; for they slept.

The young snail pair now ruled in the forest, and had a numerous progeny. But as the young ones were never boiled or laid in silver dishes, they concluded that the castle had fallen into decay, and that all the people in the world were dead; and as nobody contradicted them, they thought they must be right. And the rain fell upon the burdock leaves, to play the drum for them, and the sun shone to paint colors on the burdock forest for them, and they were very happy; the whole family was entirely and perfectly happy.

Hans Christian Andersen.

The Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the Donkey

A blind Man and a Deaf Man once entered into partnership. The Deaf Man was to see for the Blind Man, and the Blind Man was to hear for the Deaf Man.

One day both went to a nautch[6] together. The Deaf Man said: “The dancing is very good, but the music is not worth listening to”; and the Blind Man said: “On the contrary, I think the music very good, but the dancing is not worth looking at.”

6.  Musical and dancing entertainment.

After this they went together for a walk in the jungle, and there found a Dhobee’s Donkey that had strayed away from its owner, and a great big chattee (such as Dhobees boil clothes in), which the Donkey was carrying with him.

The Deaf Man said to the Blind Man: “Brother, here are a Donkey and a Dhobee’s great big chattee, with nobody to own them! Let us take them with us—they may be useful to us some day.” “Very well,” said the Blind Man; “we will take them with us.” So the Blind Man and the Deaf Man went on their way, taking the Donkey and the great big chattee with them. A little farther on they came to an ant’s nest, and the Deaf Man said to the Blind Man: “Here are a number of very fine black ants, much larger than any I ever saw before. Let us take some of them home to show our friends.” “Very well,” answered the Blind Man; “we will take them as a present to our friends.” So the Deaf Man took a silver snuff-box out of his pocket, and put four or five of the finest black ants into it; which done, they continued their journey.

251But before they had gone very far a terrible storm came on. It thundered and lightened and rained and blew with such fury that it seemed as if the whole heavens and earth were at war. “Oh dear! oh dear!” cried the Deaf Man, “how dreadful this lightning is! Let us make haste and get to some place of shelter.” “I don’t see that it’s dreadful at all,” answered the Blind Man; “but the thunder is very terrible; we had better certainly seek some place of shelter.”

Now, not far off was a lofty building, which looked exactly like a fine temple. The Deaf Man saw it, and he and the Blind Man resolved to spend the night there; and having reached the place, they went in and shut the door, taking the Donkey and the great big chattee with them. But this building, which they mistook for a temple, was in truth no temple at all, but the house of a very powerful Rakshas;[7] and hardly had the Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the Donkey got inside and fastened the door, than the Rakshas, who had been out, returned home. To his surprise, he found the door fastened and heard people moving about inside his house. “Ho! ho!” cried he to himself, “some men have got in here, have they? I’ll soon make mince-meat of them.” So he began to roar in a voice louder than the thunder, and to cry: “Let me into my house this minute, you wretches; let me in, let me in, I say,” and to kick the door and batter it with his great fists. But though his voice was very powerful, his appearance was still more alarming, insomuch that the Deaf Man, who was peeping at him through a chink in the wall, felt so frightened that he did not know what to do. But the Blind Man was very brave (because he couldn’t see), and went up to the door and called out: “Who are you, and what do you mean by coming battering at the door in this way and at this time of night?”

7.  A kind of ogre.

“I’m a Rakshas,” answered the Rakshas angrily, “and this is my house. Let me in this instant or I’ll kill you.” All this time the Deaf Man, who was watching the Rakshas, was shivering and shaking in a terrible fright, but the Blind 252Man was very brave (because he couldn’t see), and he called out again: “Oh, you’re a Rakshas, are you? Well, if you’re Rakshas, I’m Bakshas; and Bakshas is as good as Rakshas.” “Bakshas!” roared the Rakshas. “Bakshas! Bakshas! What nonsense is this? There is no such creature as a Bakshas!” “Go away,” replied the Blind Man, “and don’t dare to make any further disturbance, lest I punish you with a vengeance; for know that I’m Bakshas, and Bakshas is Rakshas’s father.” “My father?” answered the Rakshas. “Heavens and earth! Bakshas, and my father! I never heard such an extraordinary thing in my life. You my father; and in there! I never knew my father was called Bakshas!”

“Yes,” replied the Blind Man; “go away instantly, I command you, for I am your father Bakshas.” “Very well,” answered the Rakshas (for he began to get puzzled and frightened); “but if you are my father, let me first see your face.” (For he thought: “Perhaps they are deceiving me.”) The Blind Man and the Deaf Man didn’t know what to do; but at last they opened the door a very tiny chink and poked the Donkey’s nose out. When the Rakshas saw it he thought to himself: “Bless me, what a terribly ugly face my father Bakshas has!” He then called out: “O father Bakshas, you have a very big, fierce face; but people have sometimes very big heads and very little bodies. Pray let me see your body as well as head before I go away.” Then the Blind Man and the Deaf Man rolled the great, big Dhobee’s chattee with a thundering noise past the chink in the door, and the Rakshas, who was watching attentively, was very much surprised when he saw this great black thing rolling along the floor, and he thought: “In truth, my father Bakshas has a very big body as well as a big head. He’s big enough to eat me up altogether. I’d better go away.” But still he could not help being a little doubtful, so he cried: “O Bakshas, father Bakshas! you have indeed got a very big head and a very big body; but do, before I go away, let me hear you scream,” for all Rakshas scream fearfully. Then the cunning Deaf Man (who was getting less frightened) pulled the silver snuff-box out of his 253pocket, and took the black ants out of it, and put one black ant in the Donkey’s right ear, and another black ant in the Donkey’s left ear, and another and another. The ants pinched the poor Donkey’s ears dreadfully, and the Donkey was so hurt and frightened he began to bellow as loud as he could: “Eh augh! eh augh! eh augh! augh! augh!” and at this terrible noise the Rakshas fled away in a great fright, saying: “Enough, enough, father Bakshas! the sound of your voice would make the most refractory obedient.” And no sooner had he gone than the Deaf Man took the ants out of the Donkey’s ears, and he and the Blind Man spent the rest of the night in peace and comfort.

Next morning the Deaf Man woke the Blind Man early, saying: “Awake, brother, awake; here we are indeed in luck! The whole floor is covered with heaps of gold and silver and precious stones.” And so it was, for the Rakshas owned a vast amount of treasure, and the whole house was full of it. “That is a good thing,” said the Blind Man. “Show me where it is and I will help you to collect it.” So they collected as much treasure as possible and made four great bundles of it. The Blind Man took one great bundle, the Deaf Man took another, and, putting the other two great bundles on the Donkey, they started off to return home. But the Rakshas, whom they had frightened away the night before, had not gone very far off, and was waiting to see what his father Bakshas might look like by daylight. He saw the door of his house open and watched attentively, when out walked—only a Blind Man, a Deaf Man, and a Donkey, who were all three laden with large bundles of his treasure. The Blind Man carried one bundle, the Deaf Man carried another bundle, and two bundles were on the Donkey.

The Rakshas was extremely angry, and immediately called six of his friends to help him kill the Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the Donkey, and recover the treasure.

The Deaf Man saw them coming (seven great Rakshas, with hair a yard long and tusks like an elephant’s), and was dreadfully frightened; but the Blind Man was very brave (because 254he couldn’t see), and said: “Brother, why do you lag behind in that way?” “Oh!” answered the Deaf Man, “there are seven great Rakshas with tusks like an elephant’s coming to kill us! What can we do?” “Let us hide the treasure in the bushes,” said the Blind Man; “and do you lead me to a tree; then I will climb up first, and you shall climb up afterward, and so we shall be out of their way.” The Deaf Man thought this good advice; so he pushed the Donkey and the bundles of treasure into the bushes, and led the Blind Man to a high soparee-tree that grew close by; but he was a very cunning man, this Deaf Man, and instead of letting the Blind Man climb up first and following him, he got up first and let the Blind Man clamber after, so that he was farther out of harm’s way than his friend.

When the Rakshas arrived at the place and saw them both perched out of reach in the soparee-tree, he said to his friends: “Let us get on each other’s shoulders; we shall then be high enough to pull them down.” So one Rakshas stooped down, and the second got on his shoulders, and the third on his, and the fourth on his, and the fifth on his, and the sixth on his; and the seventh and the last Rakshas (who had invited all the others) was just climbing up when the Deaf Man (who was looking over the Blind Man’s shoulder) got so frightened that in his alarm he caught hold of his friend’s arm, crying: “They’re coming, they’re coming!” The Blind Man was not in a very secure position, and was sitting at his ease, not knowing how close the Rakshas were. The consequence was, that when the Deaf Man gave him this unexpected push, he lost his balance and tumbled down on to the neck of the seventh Rakshas, who was just then climbing up. The Blind Man had no idea where he was, but thought he had got on to the branch of some other tree; and, stretching out his hand for something to catch hold of, caught hold of the Rakshas’s two great ears, and pinched them very hard in his surprise and fright. The Rakshas couldn’t think what it was that had come tumbling down upon him; and the weight of the Blind Man upsetting his balance, down he also fell to the ground, 255knocking down in their turn the sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, and first Rakshas, who all rolled one over another, and lay in a confused heap at the foot of the tree together.

Meanwhile the Blind Man called out to his friend: “Where am I? What has happened? Where am I? Where am I?” The Deaf Man (who was safe up in the tree) answered: “Well done, brother! never fear! never fear! You’re all right, only hold on tight. I’m coming down to help you.” But he had not the least intention of leaving his place of safety. However, he continued to call out: “Never mind, brother; hold on as tight as you can. I’m coming, I’m coming,” and the more he called out, the harder the Blind Man pinched the Rakshas’s ears, which he mistook for some kind of palm branches.

The six other Rakshas, who had succeeded, after a good deal of kicking, in extricating themselves from their unpleasant position, thought they had had quite enough of helping their friend, and ran away as fast as they could; and the seventh, thinking from their going that the danger must be greater than he imagined, and being, moreover, very much afraid of the mysterious creature that sat on his shoulders, put his hands to the back of his ears and pushed off the Blind Man, and then (without staying to see who or what he was) followed his six companions as fast as he could.

As soon as all the Rakshas were out of sight, the Deaf Man came down from the tree, and, picking up the Blind Man, embraced him, saying: “I could not have done better myself. You have frightened away all our enemies, but you see I came to help you as fast as possible.” He then dragged the Donkey and the bundles of treasure out of the bushes, gave the Blind Man one bundle to carry, took the second himself, and put the remaining two on the Donkey, as before. This done, the whole party set off to return home. But when they had got nearly out of the jungle the Deaf Man said to the Blind Man: “We are now close to the village; but if we take all this treasure home with us, we shall run great risk of being robbed. I think our best plan would be to divide it equally; then you can take care of your half, and I will take care of 256mine, and each one can hide his share here in the jungle, or wherever pleases him best.” “Very well,” said the Blind Man; “do you divide what we have in the bundles into two equal portions, keeping one half yourself and giving me the other.” The cunning Deaf Man, however, had no intention of giving up half of the treasure to the Blind Man; so he first took his own bundle of treasure and hid it in the bushes, and then he took the two bundles off the Donkey and hid them in the bushes; and he took a good deal of treasure out of the Blind Man’s bundle, which he also hid. Then, taking the small quantity that remained, he divided it into two equal portions, and placing half before the Blind Man and half in front of himself, said: “There, brother, is your share to do what you please with.” The Blind Man put out his hand, but when he felt what a very little heap of treasure it was, he got very angry, and cried: “This is not fair—you are deceiving me; you have kept almost all the treasure for yourself and only given me a very little.” “Oh, oh! how can you think so?” answered the Deaf Man; “but if you will not believe me, feel for yourself. See, my heap of treasure is no larger than yours.”

The Blind Man put out his hands again to feel how much his friend had kept; but in front of the Deaf Man lay only a very small heap, no larger than what he had himself received. At this he got very cross, and said: “Come, come, this won’t do. You think you can cheat me in this way because I am blind; but I’m not so stupid as all that. I carried a great bundle of treasure, you carried a great bundle of treasure, and there were two great bundles on the Donkey. Do you mean to pretend that all that made no more treasure than these two little heaps! No, indeed; I know better than that.” “Stuff and nonsense!” answered the Deaf Man. “Stuff or no stuff,” continued the other, “you are trying to take me in, and I won’t be taken in by you.” “No, I’m not,” said the Deaf Man. “Yes, you are,” said the Blind Man; and so they went on bickering, scolding, growling, contradicting, until the Blind Man got so enraged that he gave the Deaf Man a tremendous 257box on the ear. The blow was so violent that it made the Deaf Man hear! The Deaf Man, very angry, gave his neighbor in return so hard a blow in the face that it opened the Blind Man’s eyes!

So the Deaf Man could hear as well as see, and the Blind Man could see as well as hear! This astonished them both so much that they became good friends at once. The Deaf Man confessed to having hidden the bulk of the treasure, which he thereupon dragged forth from its place of concealment, and, having divided it equally, they went home and enjoyed themselves.


The Alligator and the Jackal

A hungry Jackal once went down to the riverside in search of little crabs, bits of fish, and whatever else he could find for his dinner. Now it chanced that in this river there lived a great big Alligator, who, being also very hungry, would have been extremely glad to eat the Jackal.

The Jackal ran up and down, here and there, but for a long time could find nothing to eat. At last, close to where the Alligator was lying among some tall bulrushes under the clear, shallow water, he saw a little crab sidling along as fast as his legs could carry him. The Jackal was so hungry that when he saw this he poked his paw into the water to try and catch the crab, when snap! the old Alligator caught hold of him. “Oh dear!” thought the Jackal to himself, “what can I do? This great, big Alligator has caught my paw in his mouth, and in another minute he will drag me down by it under the water and kill me. My only chance is to make him think he has made a mistake.” So he called out in a cheerful voice: “Clever Alligator, clever Alligator, to catch hold of a bulrush root instead of my paw! I hope you find it very tender.” The Alligator, who was so buried among the bulrushes that he could hardly see, thought, on hearing this: “Dear me, how tiresome! I fancied I had caught hold of the Jackal’s paw; but there he is, calling out in a cheerful voice. I suppose I must have seized a bulrush root instead, as he says,” and he let the Jackal go.

The Jackal ran away as fast as he could, crying: “O wise Alligator, wise Alligator! So you let me go again!” Then the Alligator was very much vexed, but the Jackal had run away too far to be caught. Next day the Jackal returned 259to the riverside to get his dinner as before; but because he was very much afraid of the Alligator he called out: “Whenever I go to look for my dinner, I see the nice little crabs peeping up through the mud; then I catch them and eat them. I wish I could see one now.”

The Alligator, who was buried in the mud at the bottom of the river, heard every word. So he popped the little point of his snout above it, thinking: “If I do but just show the tip of my nose, the Jackal will take me for a crab and put in his paw to catch me, and as soon as ever he does I’ll gobble him up.”

But no sooner did the Jackal see the little tip of the Alligator’s nose than he called out: “Aha, my friend! there you are. No dinner for me in this part of the river, then, I think.” And so saying, he ran farther on and fished for his dinner a long way from that place. The Alligator was very angry at missing his prey a second time, and determined not to let him escape again.

So on the following day, when his little tormentor returned to the waterside, the Alligator hid himself close to the bank, in order to catch him if he could. Now the Jackal was rather afraid of going near the river, for he thought: “Perhaps the Alligator will catch me to-day.” But yet, being hungry, he did not wish to go without his dinner; so to make all as safe as he could, he cried: “Where are all the little crabs gone? There is not one here and I am so hungry; and generally, even when they are under water, one can see them going bubble, bubble, bubble, and all the little bubbles go pop! pop! pop!” On hearing this the Alligator, who was buried in the mud under the river bank, thought: “I will pretend to be a little crab.” And he began to blow, “Puff, puff, puff! Bubble, bubble, bubble!” and all the great bubbles rushed to the surface of the river and burst there, and the waters eddied round and round like a whirlpool; and there was such a commotion when the huge monster began to blow bubbles in this way that the Jackal saw very well who must be there, and he ran away as fast as he could, saying: “Thank you, kind Alligator, 260thank you; thank you! Indeed, I would not have come here had I known you were so close.”

This enraged the Alligator extremely; it made him quite cross to think of being so often deceived by a little Jackal, and he said to himself: “I will be taken in no more. Next time I will be very cunning.” So for a long time he waited and waited for the Jackal to return to the riverside; but the Jackal did not come, for he had thought to himself: “If matters go on in this way, I shall some day be caught and eaten by the wicked old Alligator. I had better content myself with living on wild figs,” and he went no more near the river, but stayed in the jungles and ate wild figs, and roots which he dug up with his paws.

When the Alligator found this out, he determined to try and catch the Jackal on land; so, going under the largest of the wild fig-trees, where the ground was covered with the fallen fruit, he collected a quantity of it together, and, burying himself under the great heap, waited for the Jackal to appear. But no sooner did the cunning little animal see this great heap of wild figs all collected together than he thought: “That looks very like my friend the Alligator.” And to discover if it were so or not, he called out: “The juicy little wild figs I love to eat always tumble down from the tree, and roll here and there as the wind drives them; but this great heap of figs is quite still; these cannot be good figs; I will not eat any of them.” “Ho, ho!” thought the Alligator, “is that all? How suspicious this Jackal is! I will make the figs roll about a little, then, and when he sees that, he will doubtless come and eat them.”

So the great beast shook himself, and all the heap of little figs went roll, roll, roll—some a mile this way, some a mile that, farther than they had ever rolled before or than the most blustering wind could have driven them.

Seeing this, the Jackal scampered away, saying: “I am so much obliged to you, Alligator, for letting me know you are there, for indeed I should hardly have guessed it. You were so buried under that heap of figs.” The Alligator, hearing 261this, was so angry that he ran after the Jackal, but the latter ran very, very fast away, too quickly to be caught.

Then the Alligator said to himself: “I will not allow that little wretch to make fun of me another time and then run away out of reach; I will show him that I can be more cunning than he fancies.” And early the next morning he crawled as fast as he could to the Jackal’s den (which was a hole in the side of a hill) and crept into it, and hid himself, waiting for the Jackal, who was out, to return home. But when the Jackal got near the place, he looked about him and thought: “Dear me! the ground looks as if some heavy creature had been walking over it, and here are great clods of earth knocked down from each side of the door of my den, as if a very big animal had been trying to squeeze himself through it. I certainly will not go inside until I know that all is safe there.” So he called out: “Little house, pretty house, my sweet little house, why do you not give an answer when I call? If I come, and all is safe and right, you always call out to me. Is anything wrong, that you do not speak?”

Then the Alligator, who was inside, thought: “If that is the case I had better call out, that he may fancy all is right in his house.” And in as gentle a voice as he could, he said: “Sweet little Jackal.”

At hearing these words the Jackal felt quite frightened, and thought to himself: “So the dreadful old Alligator is there. I must try to kill him if I can, for if I do not he will certainly catch and kill me some day.” He therefore answered: “Thank you, my dear little house. I like to hear your pretty voice. I am coming in in a minute, but first I must collect firewood to cook my dinner.” And he ran as fast as he could, and dragged all the dry branches and bits of stick he could find close up to the mouth of the den. Meantime, the Alligator inside kept as quiet as a mouse, but he could not help laughing a little to himself as he thought: “So I have deceived this tiresome little Jackal at last. In a few minutes he will run in here, and then won’t I snap him up!”

When the Jackal had gathered together all the sticks he 262could find and put them round the mouth of his den, he set them on fire and pushed them as far into it as possible. There was such a quantity of them that they soon blazed up into a great fire, and the smoke and flames filled the den and smothered the wicked old Alligator and burned him to death, while the little Jackal ran up and down outside dancing for joy and singing:

“How do you like my house, my friend? Is it nice and warm? Ding-dong! ding-dong! The Alligator is dying! ding-dong, ding-dong! He will trouble me no more. I have defeated my enemy! Ring-a-ting! ding-a-ting! ding-ding-dong!”


Why the Fish Laughed

As a certain fisherwoman passed by a palace crying her fish, the queen appeared at one of the windows and beckoned her to come near and show what she had. At that moment a very big fish jumped about in the bottom of the basket.

“Is it a he or a she?” inquired the queen. “I wish to purchase a she-fish.”

On hearing this the fish laughed aloud.

“It’s a he,” replied the fisherwoman, and proceeded on her rounds.

The queen returned to her room in a great rage; and on coming to see her in the evening, the king noticed that something had disturbed her.

“Are you indisposed?” he said.

“No; but I am very much annoyed at the strange behavior of a fish. A woman brought me one to-day, and on my inquiring whether it was a male or female, the fish laughed most rudely.”

“A fish laugh! Impossible! You must be dreaming.”

“I am not a fool. I speak of what I have seen with my own eyes and have heard with my own ears.”

“Passing strange! Be it so. I will inquire concerning it.”

On the morrow the king repeated to his vizier what his wife had told him, and bade him investigate the matter, and be ready with a satisfactory answer within six months, on pain of death. The vizier promised to do his best, though he felt almost certain of failure. For five months he labored indefatigably to find a reason for the laughter of the fish. He sought everywhere and from every one. The wise and learned, and they who were skilled in magic and in all manner of 264trickery, were consulted. Nobody, however, could explain the matter; and so he returned broken-hearted to his house, and began to arrange his affairs in prospect of certain death, for he had had sufficient experience of the king to know that his majesty would not go back from his threat. Among other things, he advised his son to travel for a time, until the king’s anger should have somewhat cooled.

The young fellow, who was both clever and handsome, started off whithersoever Kismet might lead him. He had been gone some days, when he fell in with an old farmer, who also was on a journey to a certain village. Finding the old man very pleasant, he asked him if he might accompany him, professing to be on a visit to the same place. The old farmer agreed, and they walked along together. The day was hot, and the way was long and weary.

“Don’t you think it would be pleasanter if you and I sometimes gave each other a lift?” said the youth.

“What a fool the man is!” thought the old farmer.

Presently they passed through a field of corn ready for the sickle, and looking like a sea of gold as it waved to and fro in the breeze.

“Is this eaten or not?” said the young man.

Not understanding his meaning, the old man replied: “I don’t know.”

After a little while the two travelers arrived at a big village, where the young man gave his companion a clasp-knife, and said: “Take this, friend, and get two horses with it; but mind and bring it back, for it is very precious.”

The old man, looking half amused and half angry, pushed back the knife, muttering something to the effect that his friend was either a fool himself, or else trying to play the fool with him. The young man pretended not to notice his reply, and remained almost silent till they reached the city, a short distance outside which was the old farmer’s house. They walked about the bazaar and went to the mosque, but nobody saluted them or invited them to come in and rest.

“What a large cemetery!” exclaimed the young man.

265“What does the man mean,” thought the old farmer, “calling this largely populated city a cemetery?”

On leaving the city their way led through a graveyard where a few people were praying beside a tomb and distributing chapatis and kulchas to passers-by, in the name of their beloved dead. They beckoned to the two travelers and gave them as much as they would.

“What a splendid city this is!” said the young man.

“Now, the man must surely be demented!” thought the old farmer. “I wonder what he will do next? He will be calling the land water, and the water land; and be speaking of light where there is darkness, and of darkness when it is light.” However, he kept his thoughts to himself.

Presently they had to wade through a stream that ran along the edge of the cemetery. The water was rather deep, so the old farmer took off his shoes and pajamas and crossed over; but the young man waded through it with his shoes and pajamas on.

“Well! I never did see such a perfect fool, both in word and in deed,” said the old man to himself.

However, he liked the fellow; and thinking that he would amuse his wife and daughter, he invited him to come and stay at his house as long as he had occasion to remain in the village.

“Thank you very much,” the young man replied; “but let me first inquire, if you please, whether the beam of your house is strong.”

The old farmer left him in despair, and entered his house laughing.

“There is a man in yonder field,” he said, after returning their greetings. “He has come the greater part of the way with me, and I wanted him to put up here as long as he had to stay in this village. But the fellow is such a fool that I cannot make anything out of him. He wants to know if the beam of this house is all right. The man must be mad!” and saying this, he burst into a fit of laughter.

“Father,” said the farmer’s daughter, who was a very sharp 266and wise girl, “this man, whosoever he is, is no fool, as you deem him. He only wishes to know if you can afford to entertain him.”

“Oh, of course,” replied the farmer. “I see. Well, perhaps you can help me to solve some of his other mysteries. While we were walking together he asked whether he should carry me or I should carry him, as he thought that would be a pleasanter mode of proceeding.”

“Most assuredly,” said the girl; “he meant that one of you should tell a story to beguile the time.”

“Oh, yes. Well, we were passing through a corn-field, when he asked me whether it was eaten or not.”

“And didn’t you know the meaning of this, father? He simply wished to know if the man was in debt or not; because, if the owner of the field was in debt, then the produce of the field was as good as eaten to him; that is, it would have to go to his creditors.”

“Yes, yes, yes, of course! Then, on entering a certain village, he bade me take his clasp-knife and get two horses with it, and bring back the knife again to him.”

“Are not two stout sticks as good as two horses for helping one along on the road? He only asked you to cut a couple of sticks and be careful not to lose his knife.”

“I see,” said the farmer. “While we were walking over the city we did not see anybody that we knew, and not a soul gave us a scrap of anything to eat, till we were passing the cemetery; but there some people called to us and put into our hands some chapatis and kulchas; so my companion called the city a cemetery, and the cemetery a city.”

“This also is to be understood, father, if one thinks of the city as the place where everything is to be obtained, and of inhospitable people as worse than the dead. The city, though crowded with people, was as if dead, as far as you were concerned; while, in the cemetery, which is crowded with the dead, you were saluted by kind friends and provided with bread.”

“True, true!” said the astonished farmer. “Then, just 267now, when we were crossing the stream, he waded through it without taking off his shoes and pajamas.”

“I admire his wisdom,” replied the girl. “I have often thought how stupid people were to venture into that swiftly flowing stream and over those sharp stones with bare feet. The slightest stumble and they would fall, and be wetted from head to foot. This friend of yours is a most wise man. I should like to see him and speak to him.”

“Very well,” said the farmer; “I will go and find him, and bring him in.”

“Tell him, father, that our beams are strong enough, and then he will come in. I’ll send on ahead a present to the man, to show him that we can afford to have him for our guest.”

Accordingly she called a servant and sent him to the young man with a present of a basin of ghee, twelve chapatis, and a jar of milk, and the following message: “O friend, the moon is full; twelve months make a year, and the sea is overflowing with water.”

Half-way the bearer of this present and message met his little son, who, seeing what was in the basket, begged his father to give him some of the food. His father foolishly complied. Presently he saw the young man, and gave him the rest of the present and the message.

“Give your mistress my salaam,” he replied, “and tell her that the moon is new, and that I can find only eleven months in the year, and the sea is by no means full.”

Not understanding the meaning of these words, the servant repeated them word for word, as he had heard them, to his mistress; and thus his theft was discovered, and he was severely punished. After a little while the young man appeared with the old farmer. Great attention was shown to him, and he was treated in every way as if he were the son of a great man, although his humble host knew nothing of his origin. At length he told them everything—about the laughing of the fish, his father’s threatened execution, and his own banishment—and asked their advice as to what he should do.

“The laughing of the fish,” said the girl, “which seems 268to have been the cause of all this trouble, indicates that there is a man in the palace who is plotting against the king’s life.”

“Joy, joy!” exclaimed the vizier’s son. “There is yet time for me to return and save my father from an ignominious and unjust death, and the king from danger.”

The following day he hastened back to his own country, taking with him the farmer’s daughter. Immediately on arrival he ran to the palace and informed his father of what he had heard. The poor vizier, now almost dead from the expectation of death, was at once carried to the king, to whom he repeated the news that his son had just brought.

“Never!” said the king.

“But it must be so, your majesty,” replied the vizier; “and in order to prove the truth of what I have heard, I pray you to call together all the maids in your palace and order them to jump over a pit, which must be dug. We’ll soon find out whether there is any man there.”

The king had the pit dug, and commanded all the maids belonging to the palace to try to jump it. All of them tried, but only one succeeded. That one was found to be a man!

Thus was the queen satisfied, and the faithful old vizier saved.

Afterward, as soon as could be, the vizier’s son married the old farmer’s daughter; and a most happy marriage it was.


The Selfish Sparrow and the Houseless Crows

A sparrow once built a nice little house for herself, and lined it well with wool and protected it with sticks, so that it resisted equally the summer sun and the winter rains. A Crow who lived close by had also built a house, but it was not such a good one, being only made of a few sticks laid one above another on the top of a prickly-pear hedge. The consequence was that one day, when there was an unusually heavy shower, the Crow’s nest was washed away, while the Sparrow’s was not at all injured.

In this extremity the Crow and her mate went to the Sparrow, and said: “Sparrow, Sparrow, have pity on us and give us shelter, for the wind blows and the rain beats, and the prickly-pear hedge-thorns stick into our eyes.” But the Sparrow answered: “I’m cooking the dinner; I cannot let you in now; come again presently.”

In a little while the Crows returned and said: “Sparrow, Sparrow, have pity on us and give us shelter, for the wind blows and the rain beats, and the prickly-pear hedge-thorns stick into our eyes.” The Sparrow answered: “I’m eating my dinner; I cannot let you in now; come again presently.”

The Crows flew away, but in a little while returned, and cried once more: “Sparrow, Sparrow, have pity on us and give us shelter, for the wind blows and the rain beats, and the prickly-pear hedge-thorns stick into our eyes.” The Sparrow replied: “I’m washing the dishes; I cannot let you in now; come again presently.”

The Crows waited a while and then called out: “Sparrow, Sparrow, have pity on us and give us shelter, for the wind 270blows and the rain beats, and the prickly-pear hedge-thorns stick into our eyes.” But the Sparrow would not let them in; she only answered: “I’m sweeping the floor; I cannot let you in now; come again presently.”

Next time the Crows came and cried: “Sparrow, Sparrow, have pity on us and give us shelter, for the wind blows and the rain beats, and the prickly-pear hedge-thorns stick into our eyes.” She answered: “I’m making the beds; I cannot let you in now; come again presently.”

So, on one pretense or another she refused to help the poor birds. At last, when she and her children had had their dinner, and she had prepared and put away the dinner for next day, and had put all the children to bed and gone to bed herself, she cried to the Crows: “You may come in now and take shelter for the night.” The Crows came in, but they were much vexed at having been kept out so long in the wind and the rain, and when the Sparrow and all her family were asleep, the one said to the other: “This selfish Sparrow had no pity on us; she gave us no dinner, and would not let us in till she and all her children were comfortably in bed; let us punish her.” So the two Crows took all the nice dinner the Sparrow had prepared for herself and her children to eat the next day, and flew away with it.


The Lambikin

Once upon a time there was a wee, wee Lambikin, who frolicked about on his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly.

Now one day he set off to visit his granny, and was jumping with joy to think of all the good things he should get from her, when whom should he meet but a jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said:

“To granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The jackal thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

By and by he met a vulture, and the vulture, looking hungrily at the tender morsel before him, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”

But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said:

“To granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

The vulture thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.

And by and by he met a tiger, and then a wolf, and a dog, and an eagle; and all these, when they saw the tender little morsel, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”

But to all of them Lambikin replied, with a little frisk:

“To granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”

272At last he reached his granny’s house, and said, all in a hurry: “Granny dear, I’ve promised to get very fat; so, as people ought to keep their promises, please put me into the corn-bin at once.”

So his granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn-bin, and there the greedy little Lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate, and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his granny said he was fat enough for anything, and must go home. But cunning little Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender.

“I’ll tell you what you must do,” said Master Lambikin; “you must make a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I’m as tight as a drum myself.”

So his granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother’s skin, with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled himself up snug and warm in the middle, and trundled away gaily. Soon he met the eagle, who called out:

“Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?”

And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied:

“Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On, little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum-too!”

“How very annoying!” sighed the eagle, thinking regretfully of the tender morsel he had let slip.

Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing:

“Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too!”

Every animal and bird he met asked him the same question:

“Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?”

273And to each of them the little slyboots replied:

“Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On, little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too; tum-pa, tum-too!”

Then they all sighed to think of the tender little morsel they had let slip.

At last the jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as sharp as a needle, and he too called out:

“Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?”

And Lambikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gaily:

“Fallen into the fire, and so will you
On, little Drumikin. Tum-pa——”

But he never got any farther, for the jackal recognized his voice at once, and cried: “Hullo! you’ve turned yourself inside out, have you? Just you come out of that!”

Whereupon he tore open drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.


The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

Once upon a time a Town Mouse met a Country Mouse on the outskirts of a wood. The Country Mouse was sitting under a hazel thicket plucking nuts.

“Busy harvesting, I see,” said the Town Mouse. “Who would think of our meeting in this out-of-the-way part of the world?”

“Just so,” said the Country Mouse.

“You are gathering nuts for your winter store?” said the Town Mouse.

“I am obliged to do so if we intend having anything to live upon during the winter,” said the Country Mouse.

“The husk is big and the nut full this year, enough to satisfy any hungry body,” said the Town Mouse.

“Yes, you are right there,” said the Country Mouse; and then she related how well she lived and how comfortable she was at home.

The Town Mouse maintained that she was the better off, but the Country Mouse said that nowhere could one be so well off as in the woods and hills. The Town Mouse, however, declared she was best off; and as they could not agree on this point they promised to visit each other at Christmas; then they could see for themselves which was really the more comfortable.

The first visit was to be paid by the Town Mouse.

Now, although the Country Mouse had moved down from the mountains for the winter, the road to her house was long and tiring, and one had to travel up hill and down dale; the snow lay thick and deep, so the Town Mouse found it hard 275work to get on, and she became both tired and hungry before she reached the end of her journey.

“How nice it will be to get some food,” she thought.

The Country Mouse had scraped together the best she had. There were nut kernels, polypody, and other sorts of roots, and many other good things which grow in woods and fields. She kept it all in a hole far under ground, so the frost could not reach it, and close by was a running spring, open all the winter, so she could drink as much water as she liked. There was an abundance of all she had, and they ate both well and heartily; but the Town Mouse thought it was very poor fare indeed.

“One can, of course, keep body and soul together on this,” said she; “but I don’t think much of it. Now you must be good enough to visit me and taste what we have.”

Yes, that her hostess would, and before long she set out. The Town Mouse had gathered together all the scraps from the Christmas fare which the woman of the house had dropped on the floor during the holidays—bits of cheese, butter, and tallow ends, cake-crumbs, pastry, and many other good things. In the dish under the ale-tap she had drink enough; in fact, the place was full of all kinds of dainties.

They ate and fared well; the Country Mouse seemed never to have enough; she had never tasted such delicacies. But then she became thirsty, for she found the food both strong and rich, and now she wanted something to drink.

“We haven’t far to go for the beer we shall drink,” said the Town Mouse, and jumped upon the edge of the dish and drank till she was no longer thirsty; she did not drink too much, for she knew the Christmas beer was strong. The Country Mouse, however, thought the beer a splendid drink; she had never tasted anything but water, so she took one sip after another, but as she could not stand strong drink she became dizzy before she left the dish.

The drink got into her head and down into her toes and she began running and jumping about from one beer-barrel to the other, and to dance and tumble about on the shelves 276among the cups and mugs; she squeaked and squealed as if she were intoxicated.

“You must not carry on as if you had just come from the backwoods and make such a row and noise,” said the Town Mouse; “the master of the house is a bailiff, and he is very strict indeed,” she said.

The Country Mouse said she didn’t care either for bailiffs or beggars. But the cat sat at the top of the cellar steps, lying in wait, and heard all the chatter and noise. When the woman of the house went down to draw some beer and lifted the trap-door the cat slipped by into the cellar and struck its claws into the Country Mouse. Then there was quite another sort of dance.

The Town Mouse slid back into her hole and sat in safety looking on, while the Country Mouse suddenly became sober when she felt the claws of the cat in her back.

“Oh, my dear bailiff, oh, dearest bailiff, be merciful and spare my life and I will tell you a fairy tale,” she said.

“Well, go on,” said the cat.

“Once upon a time there were two little mice,” said the Country Mouse, squeaking slowly and pitifully, for she wanted to make the story last as long as she could.

“Then they were not lonely,” said the cat dryly and curtly.

“And they had a steak which they were going to fry.”

“Then they could not starve,” said the cat.

“And they put it out on the roof to cool,” said the Country Mouse.

“Then they did not burn themselves,” said the cat.

“But there came a fox and a crow and ate it all up,” said the Country Mouse.

“Then I’ll eat you,” said the cat. But just at that moment the woman shut the trap-door with a slam, which so startled the cat that she let go her hold of the mouse. One bound and the Country Mouse found herself in the hole with the Town Mouse.

From there a passage led out into the snow, and you may 277be sure the Country Mouse did not wait long before she set out homeward.

“And this is what you call living at ease and being well off,” she said to the Town Mouse. “Heaven preserve me from having such a fine place and such a master! Why, I only just got away with my life!”


The Greedy Cat

Once on a time there was a man who had a Cat, and she was so awfully big, and such a beast to eat, he couldn’t keep her any longer. So she was to go down to the river with a stone round her neck, but before she started she was to have a meal of meat. So the goody set before her a bowl of porridge and a little trough of fat. That the creature crammed into her, and ran off and jumped through the window. Outside stood the goodman by the barndoor threshing.

“Good day, goodman,” said the Cat.

“Good day, pussy,” said the goodman; “have you had any food to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge and a trough of fat—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she took the goodman and gobbled him up.

When she had done that, she went into the byre, and there sat the goody milking.

“Good day, goody,” said the Cat.

“Good day, pussy,” said the goody; “are you here, and have you eaten up your food yet?”

“Oh, I’ve eaten a little to-day, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said pussy; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she took the goody and gobbled her up.

“Good day, you cow at the manger,” said the Cat to Daisy the cow.

“Good day, pussy,” said the bell-cow; “have you had any food to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the 279Cat; “I’ve only had a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she took the cow and gobbled her up.

Then off she set into the home-field, and there stood a man picking up leaves.

“Good day, you leaf-picker in the field,” said the Cat.

“Good day, pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?” said the leaf-picker.

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and Daisy the cow—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.” So she took the leaf-picker and gobbled him up.

Then she came to a heap of stones, and there stood a stoat and peeped out.

“Good day, Mr. Stoat of Stoneheap,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.” So she took the stoat and gobbled him up.

When she had gone a bit farther, she came to a hazel-brake, and there sat a squirrel gathering nuts.

“Good day, Sir Squirrel of the Brake,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.” So she took the squirrel and gobbled him up.

When she had gone a little farther, she saw Reynard the fox, who was prowling about by the woodside.

“Good day, Reynard Slyboots,” said the Cat.

280“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.” So she took Reynard and gobbled him up.

When she had gone a little farther she met Long Ears, the hare.

“Good day, Mr. Hopper the hare,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat today?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.” So she took the hare and gobbled him up.

When she had gone a bit farther she met a wolf.

“Good day, you Greedy Graylegs,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare—and, now I think of it, I may as well take you too.” So she took and gobbled up Graylegs too.

So she went on into the wood, and when she had gone far and farther than far, o’er hill and dale, she met a bear-cub.

“Good day, you bare-breeched bear,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy,” said the bear-cub; “have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and 281the wolf—and, now I think of it, I may as well take you too.” And so she took the bear-cub and gobbled him up.

When the Cat had gone a bit farther, she met a she-bear, who was tearing away at a stump till the splinters flew, so angry was she at having lost her cub.

“Good day, you Mrs. Bruin,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she took Mrs. Bruin and gobbled her up too.

When the Cat got still farther on, she met Baron Bruin himself.

“Good day, you Baron Bruin,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy,” said Bruin; “have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and the she-bear—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she took Bruin and ate him up too.

So the Cat went on and on, and farther than far, till she came to the abodes of men again, and there she met a bridal train on the road.

“Good day, you bridal train on the king’s highway,” said she.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and 282the wolf, and the bear-cub, and the she-bear, and the he-bear—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too,” and so she rushed at them, and gobbled up both the bride and bridegroom, and the whole train, with the cook and the fiddler, and the horses and all.

When she had gone still farther, she came to a church, and there she met a funeral.

“Good day, you funeral train,” said she.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom, and the whole train—and, now, I don’t mind if I take you too,” and so she fell on the funeral train and gobbled up both the body and the bearers.

Now when the Cat had got the body in her, she was taken up to the sky, and when she had gone a long, long way, she met the moon.

“Good day, Mrs. Moon,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?”

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom, and the whole train, and the funeral train—and, now I think of it, I don’t mind if I take you too,” and so she seized hold of the moon, and gobbled her up, both new and full.

So the Cat went a long way still, and then she met the sun.

“Good day, you sun in heaven.”

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy,” said the sun; “have you had anything to eat to-day?”

283“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting,” said the Cat; “it was only a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody, and the cow, and the leaf-picker, and the stoat, and the squirrel, and the fox, and the hare, and the wolf, and the bear-cub, and the she-bear, and the he-bear, and the bride and bridegroom, and the whole train, and the funeral train, and the moon—and, now I think of it, I don’t mind if I take you too,” and so she rushed at the sun in heaven and gobbled him up.

So the cat went far and farther than far, till she came to a bridge, and on it she met a big billy-goat.

“Good day, you Billy-goat on Broad-bridge,” said the Cat.

“Good day, Mrs. Pussy; have you had anything to eat to-day?” said the billy-goat.

“Oh, I’ve had a little, but I’m ‘most fasting; I’ve only had a bowl of porridge, and a trough of fat, and the goodman, and the goody in the byre, and Daisy the cow at the manger, and the leaf-picker in the home-field, and Mr. Stoat of Stoneheap, and Sir Squirrel of the Brake, and Reynard Slyboots, and Mr. Hopper the hare, and Greedy Graylegs the wolf, and Bare-breech the bear-cub, and Mrs. Bruin, and Baron Bruin, and a bridal train on the king’s highway, and a funeral at the church, and Lady Moon in the sky, and Lord Sun in heaven—and, now I think of it, I’ll take you too.”

“That we’ll fight about,” said the billy-goat, and butted at the Cat till she fell right over the bridge into the river, and there she burst.

So they all crept out one after the other, and went about their business, and were just as good as ever, all that the Cat had gobbled up. The goodman of the house, and the goody in the byre, and Daisy the cow at the manger, and the leaf-picker in the home-field, and Mr. Stoat of Stoneheap, and Sir Squirrel of the Brake, and Reynard Slyboots, and Mr. Hopper the hare, and Greedy Graylegs the wolf, and Bare-breech the bear-cub, and Mrs. Bruin, and Baron Bruin, and the bridal train on the highway, and the funeral train at the church, and Lady Moon in the sky, and Lord Sun in heaven.


Well Done: Ill Paid

Once upon a time there was a man who had to drive his sledge to the wood for fuel, and a bear met him on the way.

“Hand over your horse,” growled the bear, “or I’ll kill all your sheep by summer.”

“Oh, Heaven help me!” said the man. “There’s not a stick of firewood in the house; you must let me drive home a load of fuel, else we shall be frozen to death. I’ll bring the horse to you to-morrow morning.”

Yes; on these terms he might drive the wood home, that was a bargain; but Bruin said, if he didn’t come back, he should lose all his sheep by summer.

So the man got the wood on the sledge and rattled homeward, but he wasn’t over-pleased with his bargain, you may fancy.

So just then a fox met him. “Why, what’s the matter?” said the fox. “Why are you so down in the mouth?”

“Oh, if you want to know,” said the man, “I met a bear up yonder in the wood, and I had to give my word to him to bring Dobbin back to-morrow, at this very hour; for if he didn’t get him, he said he would tear all my sheep to death by summer.”

“Stuff! Nothing worse than that?” said the fox. “If you’ll give me your fattest wether I’ll soon set you free; see if I don’t.”

Yes, the man gave his word, and swore he would keep it true.

“Well, when you come with Dobbin, to-morrow, for the bear,” said the fox, “I’ll make a clatter up in the heap of stones yonder, and so, when the bear asks what that noise 285is, you must say it is Peter the Marksman, who is the best shot in the world. And after that you must help yourself.”

Now, next day, off set the man, and when he met the bear something began to make a clatter up in the heap of stones.

“Hist, hist! what’s that?” said the bear.

“Oh, that’s Peter the Marksman, to be sure,” said the man. “He’s the best shot in the world; I know him by his voice.”

“Have you seen any bear about here, Eric?” shouted out a voice in the wood.

“Say no,” said the bear.

“No, I haven’t seen any,” said Eric.

“What’s that, then, that stands alongside your sledge?” bawled out the voice in the wood.

“Say it’s an old fir-stump,” said the bear.

“Oh, it’s only an old fir-stump,” said the man.

“Such fir-stumps we take in our country and roll them on our sledges,” bawled out the voice. “If you can’t do it yourself, I’ll come and help you.”

“Say you can help yourself, and roll me up on the sledge,” said the bear.

“No, thank ye, I can help myself well enough,” said the man, and rolled the bear on the sledge.

“Such fir-stumps we always bind fast on our sledges in our part of the world,” bawled out the voice. “Shall I come and help you?”

“Say you can help yourself, and bind me fast, do,” said the bear.

“No, thanks, I can help myself well enough,” said the man, who set to binding Bruin fast with all the ropes he had, so that at last the bear couldn’t stir a paw.

“Such fir-stumps we always drive our ax into, in our part of the world,” bawled out the voice, “for then we guide them better going down steep pitches.”

“Pretend to drive the ax into me, do now,” said the bear.

Then the man took up his ax, and at one blow split the bear’s skull, so that Bruin lay dead in a trice; and so the man and the fox were great friends, and on the best of terms.

286But when they came near the farm, the fox said: “I’ve no mind to go right home with you, for I can’t say I like your dogs; so I’ll just wait here, and you can bring the wether to me; but mind you pick out one nice and fat.”

Yes, the man would be sure to do that, and thanked the fox much for his help. So when he had put the horse into the stable he went across to the sheep-pen.

“Where are you going?” asked his wife.

“Oh, I am only going over to the sheep-pen to fetch a fat ram for that good fox who saved our horse,” said the man, “as I have promised him one.”

“Why on earth give that thief of a fox any ram?” said the woman. “We have got the horse quite safe and the bear besides, and the fox has stolen more geese from us than the ram is worth; or, if he hasn’t already taken them, he is sure to do so some time. No, take the most savage pair of those dogs of yours and let them loose on him, then perhaps we’ll get rid of that thieving old rascal,” said the woman.

The man thought this was sensible advice and took two of his savage red dogs, put them in a bag and set out with them.

“Have you got the ram?” said the fox.

“Yes, come and fetch it,” said the man, undoing the string round the bag and setting the dogs at the fox.

“Ugh!” said the fox, bounding away, “the old saying: ‘Well done: ill paid,’ is only too true; and now I find it is also true that one’s relations are one’s worst enemies,” and he panted as he saw the red dogs at his heels.


Reynard and Chanticleer

Once on a time there was a cock who stood on a dungheap and crew and flapped his wings. Then the fox came by.

“Good day,” said Reynard. “I heard you crowing so nicely; but you can stand on one leg and crow, and wink your eyes?”

“Oh, yes,” said Chanticleer, “I can do that very well.” So he stood on one leg and crew; but he winked only with one eye, and when he had done that he made himself big and flapped his wings, as though he had done a great thing.

“Very pretty, to be sure,” said Reynard. “Almost as pretty as when the parson preaches in church; but can you stand on one leg and wink both your eyes at once? I hardly think you can.”

“Can’t I, though!” said Chanticleer, and stood on one leg, and winked both his eyes and crew. But Reynard caught hold of him, took him by the throat, and threw him over his back, so that he was off to the wood before he had crowed his crow out, as fast as Reynard could lay legs to the ground.

When they had come under an old spruce fir, Reynard threw Chanticleer on the ground, and set his paw on his breast, and was going to take a bite.

“You are a heathen, Reynard!” said Chanticleer. “Good Christians say grace, and ask a blessing before they eat.”

But Reynard would be no heathen. God forbid it! So he let go his hold, and was about to fold his paws over his breast and say grace—when pop! up flew Chanticleer into a tree.

“You sha’n’t get off, for all that,” said Reynard to himself. So he went away, and came again with a few chips which the woodcutters had left. Chanticleer peeped and peered to see what they could be.

288“What in the world have you there?” he asked.

“These are letters I have just got,” said Reynard. “Won’t you help me to read them, for I don’t know how to read writing?”

“I’d be so happy, but I dare not read them now,” said Chanticleer, “for here comes a hunter. I see him, I see him, as I sit by the tree-trunk.”

When Reynard heard Chanticleer chattering about a hunter, he took to his heels as quick as he could.

So this time Reynard was made game of again!


Father Bruin in the Corner

Once on a time there was a man who lived far, far away in the wood. He had many, many goats and sheep, but never a one could he keep for fear of Graylegs, the wolf.

At last he said: “I’ll soon trap Grayboots,” and so he set to work digging a pitfall. When he had dug it deep enough, he put a pole down in the midst of the pit, and on the top of the pole he set a board, and on the board he put a little dog. Over the pit itself he spread boughs and branches and leaves, and other rubbish, and a-top of all he strewed snow, so that Graylegs might not see there was a pit underneath.

So when it got on in the night, the little dog grew weary of sitting there. “Bow-wow, bow-wow,” it said, and bayed at the moon. Just then up came a fox, slouching and sneaking, and thought here was a fine time for marketing, and with that gave a jump—head over heels down into the pitfall.

And when it got a little farther on in the night, the little dog got so weary and hungry, and it fell to yelping and howling. “Bow-wow, bow-wow,” it cried out. Just at that very moment up came Graylegs, trotting and trotting. He, too, thought he should get a fat steak, and he, too, made a spring—head over heels down into the pitfall.

When it was getting on toward gray dawn in the morning, down fell snow, with a north wind, and it grew so cold that the little dog stood and froze, and shivered and shook; it was so weary and so hungry. “Bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow,” it called out, and barked and yelped and howled. Then up came a bear, tramping and tramping along, and thought to himself how he could get a morsel for breakfast at the very top of the morning, and so he thought and thought among 290the boughs and branches till he too went bump—head over heels down into the pitfall.

So when it got a little farther on in the morning, an old beggar wife came walking by, who toddled from farm to farm with a bag on her back. When she set eyes on the little dog that stood there and howled, she couldn’t help going near to look and see if any wild beasts had fallen into the pit during the night. So she crawled up on her knees and peeped down into it.

“Art thou come into the pit at last, Reynard?” she said to the fox, for he was the first she saw; “a very good place, too, for such a hen-roost robber as thou. And thou, too, Graypaw,” she said to the wolf; “many a goat and sheep hast thou torn and rent, and now thou shalt be plagued and punished to death. Bless my heart! Thou, too, Bruin! Art thou, too, sitting in this room, thou mare-flayer? Thee, too, will we strip, and thee shall we flay, and thy skull shall be nailed up on the wall.” All this the old lass screeched out as she bent over toward the bear. But just then her bag fell over her ears, and dragged her down, and slap! down went the old crone—head over heels into the pitfall.

So there they all four sat and glared at one another, each in a corner—the fox in one, Graylegs in another, Bruin in a third, and the old crone in a fourth.

But as soon as it was broad daylight, Reynard began to peep and peer, and to twist and turn about, for he thought he might as well try to get out.

But the old lass cried out: “Canst thou not sit still, thou whirligig thief, and not go twisting and turning? Only look at Father Bruin himself in the corner, how he sits as grave as a judge,” for now she thought she might as well make friends with the bear. But just then up came the man who owned the pitfall. First he drew up the old wife, and after that he slew all the beasts, and spared neither Father Bruin himself in the corner, nor Graylegs, nor Reynard the whirligig thief. That night, at least, he thought he had made a good haul.


Why the Sea is Salt

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were two brothers, the one rich and the other poor. When Christmas eve came the poor one had not a bite in the house, either of meat or bread; so he went to his brother and begged him, in Heaven’s name, to give him something for Christmas Day. It was by no means the first time that the brother had been forced to give something to him, and he was not better pleased at being asked now than he generally was.

“If you will do what I ask you, you shall have a whole ham,” said he. The poor one immediately thanked him and promised this.

“Well, here is the ham, and now you must go straight to Dead Man’s Hall,” said the rich brother, throwing the ham to him.

“Well, I will do what I have promised,” said the other, and he took the ham and set off. He went on and on for the livelong day, and at nightfall he came to a place where there was a bright light.

“I have no doubt this is the place,” thought the man with the ham, and he drew near an old man with a long white beard who was standing in the outhouse chopping Yule-logs.

“Good evening,” said the man with the ham.

“Good evening to you. Where are you going at this late hour?” said the man.

“I am going to Dead Man’s Hall, if only I am in the right track,” answered the poor man.

“Oh, yes, you are right enough, for it is here,” said the old man. “When you get inside they will all want to buy your ham, for they don’t get much meat to eat there. But you must not sell it unless you can get for it the hand-mill 292which stands behind the door. When you come out again I will teach you how to stop the hand-mill, which is useful for almost everything.”

So the man with the ham thanked the other for his good advice and rapped at the door.

When he got in, everything happened just as the old man had said it would: all the people, great and small, came round him like ants on an ant-hill, and each tried to outbid the other for the ham.

“By rights my old woman and I ought to have it for our Christmas dinner, but since you have set your hearts upon it I must just give it up to you,” said the man. “But if I sell it I will have the hand-mill which is standing there behind the door.”

At first they would not hear to this, and haggled and bargained with the man, but he stuck to what he had said, and the people were forced to give him the hand-mill. When the man came out again into the yard he asked the old wood-cutter how he was to stop the hand-mill, and when he had learned that, he thanked him and set off home with all the speed he could, but did not get there until after the clock had struck twelve on Christmas eve.

“But where in the world have you been?” said the old woman. “Here I have sat waiting hour after hour, and have not even two sticks to lay across each other under the Christmas porridge-pot.”

“Oh, I could not come before. I had something of importance to see about, and a long way to go, too; but now you shall just see!” said the man, and then he set the hand-mill on the table and bade it first grind light, then a tablecloth, and then meat, and beer, and everything else that was good for a Christmas eve’s supper; and the mill ground all that he ordered. “Bless me!” said the old woman as one thing after another appeared; and she wanted to know where her husband had got the mill from, but he would not tell her that.

“Never mind where I got it. You can see that it is a good 293one, and the water that turns it will never freeze,” said the man. So he ground meat and drink and all kinds of good things to last all Christmastide, and on the third day he invited all his friends to come to a feast.

Now, when the rich brother saw all that there was at the banquet, and in the house, he was both vexed and angry, for he grudged everything his brother had. “On Christmas eve he was so poor that he came to me and begged for a trifle, for Heaven’s sake, and now he gives a feast as if he were both a count and a king!” thought he. “But tell me, I pray you, where you got your riches from?” said he to his brother.

“From behind the door,” said he who owned the mill, for he did not choose to satisfy his brother on that point; but later in the evening, when he had taken a drop too much, he could not refrain from telling how he had come by the hand-mill. “There you see what has brought me all my wealth!” said he, and brought out the mill and made it grind first one thing and then another. When the brother saw that, he insisted on having the mill, and after a great deal of persuasion got it; but he had to give three hundred dollars for it, and the poor brother was to keep it till the haymaking was over, for he thought: “If I keep it as long as that, I can make it grind meat and drink that will last many a long year.” During that time you may imagine that the mill did not grow rusty, and when hay-harvest came the rich brother got it, but the other had taken good care not to teach him how to stop it. It was evening when the rich man got the mill home, and in the morning he bade his wife go out and spread the hay after the mowers, and he would attend to the house himself that day.

So when dinner-time drew near he set the mill on the kitchen table and said: “Grind herrings and milk pottage, and do it both quickly and well.”

So the mill began to grind herrings and milk pottage, and first all the dishes and tubs were filled, and then the food came out all over the kitchen floor. The man twisted and turned the mill and did all he could to make it stop, but howsoever he turned and screwed, it went on grinding, and in a short 294time the pottage rose so high that the man was like to be drowned. So he threw open the parlor door, but it was not long before the mill had ground the parlor full too, and it was with difficulty and danger that the man could go through the stream of pottage and get hold of the door-latch. When he had the door open he did not stay long in the room, but ran out, and the herrings and pottage came after him, and streamed out over both farm and field. Now, the wife, who was out spreading the hay, began to think dinner was long in coming, and said to the women and the mowers: “Though the master does not call us home, we may as well go. It may be that he finds he is not good at making pottage, and I should do well to help him.” So they began to straggle homeward, but when they had got a little way up the hill they met the herrings and pottage and bread, all pouring forth and winding about one over the other, and the man himself in front of the flood. “Would to Heaven that each of you had a hundred stomachs! Take care that you are not drowned in the pottage,” he cried as he went by them as if mischief were at his heels, down to where his brother dwelt. Then he begged him, for pity’s sake, to take the mill back again, and that in an instant, “for,” said he, “if it grind one hour more the whole district will be destroyed by herrings and pottage.” But the brother would not take it until the other paid him three hundred dollars, and that he was obliged to do. Now the poor brother had both the money and the mill again. So it was not long before he had a farmhouse much finer than that in which his brother lived, but the mill ground him so much money that he covered it with plates of gold; and the farmhouse lay close by the seashore, so it shone and glittered far out to sea. Every one who sailed by there now had to put in to visit the rich man in the gold farmhouse, and every one wanted to see the wonderful mill, for the report of it spread far and wide, and there was no one who had not heard tell of it.

After a long, long time a skipper came who wished to see the mill. He asked if it could make salt. “Yes, it could make 295salt,” said he who owned it, and when the skipper heard that he wished with all his might and main to have the mill, let it cost what it might, for, he thought, if he had it he would get off having to sail far away over the perilous sea for freights of salt. At first the man would not hear of parting with it, but the skipper begged and prayed, and at last the man sold it to him, and got many, many thousand dollars for it. When the skipper had the mill on his back he did not long stay there, for he was so afraid that the man would change his mind, and he had no time to ask how he was to stop its grinding, but got on board his ship as fast as he could.

When he had gone a little way out to sea he took the mill on deck. “Grind salt, and grind both quickly and well,” said the skipper. So the mill began to grind salt till it spouted out like water, and when the skipper had the ship filled he wanted to stop the mill, but whichever way he turned it and howsoever much he tried it went on grinding, and the heap of salt grew higher and higher, until at last the ship sank. There lies the mill at the bottom of the sea, and still, day by day, it grinds on; and that is why the sea is salt.


Gudbrand on the Hillside

There was once upon a time a man whose name was Gudbrand. He had a farm which lay far away up on the side of a hill, and therefore they called him Gudbrand on the hillside.

He and his wife lived so happily together, and agreed so well, that whatever the man did the wife thought it so well done that no one could do it better. No matter what he did, she thought it was always the right thing.

They lived on their own farm, and had a hundred dollars at the bottom of their chest and two cows in their cow-shed. One day the woman said to Gudbrand:

“I think we ought to go to town with one of the cows and sell it, so that we may have some ready money by us. We are pretty well off, and ought to have a few shillings in our pocket like other people. The hundred dollars in the chest we mustn’t touch, but I can’t see what we want with more than one cow, and it will be much better for us, as I shall have only one to look after instead of the two I have now to mind and feed.”

Yes, Gudbrand thought, that was well and sensibly spoken. He took the cow at once and went to town to sell it; but when he got there no one would buy the cow.

“Ah, well!” thought Gudbrand, “I may as well take the cow home again. I know I have both stall and food for it, and the way home is no longer than it was here.” So he strolled homeward again with the cow.

When he had got a bit on the way he met a man who had a horse to sell, and Gudbrand thought it was better to have a horse than a cow, and so he changed the cow for the horse.

297When he had gone a bit farther he met a man who was driving a fat pig before him, and then he thought it would be better to have a fat pig than a horse, and so he changed with the man.

He now went a bit farther, and then he met a man with a goat, and so he thought it was surely better to have a goat than a pig, and changed with the man who had the goat.

Then he went a long way, till he met a man who had a sheep. He changed with him, for he thought it was always better to have a sheep than a goat.

When he had got a bit farther he met a man with a goose, and so he changed the sheep for the goose. And when he had gone a long, long way he met a man with a cock. He changed the goose with him, for he thought this wise: “It is surely better to have a cock than a goose.”

He walked on till late in the day, when he began to feel hungry. So he sold the cock for sixpence and bought some food for himself. “For it is always better to keep body and soul together than to have a cock,” thought Gudbrand.

He then set off again homeward till he came to his neighbor’s farm, and there he went in.

“How did you get on in town?” asked the people.

“Oh, only so-so,” said the man. “I can’t boast of my luck, nor can I grumble at it either.” And then he told them how it had gone with him from first to last.

“Well, you’ll have a fine reception when you get home to your wife,” said the man. “Heaven help you! I should not like to be in your place.”

“I think I might have fared much worse,” said Gudbrand; “but whether I have fared well or ill, I have such a kind wife that she never says anything, no matter what I do.”

“Aye, so you say; but you won’t get me to believe it,” said the neighbor.

“Shall we have a wager on it?” said Gudbrand. “I have a hundred dollars in my chest at home. Will you lay the same?”

298So they made the wager and Gudbrand remained there till the evening, when it began to get dark, and then they went together to the farm.

The neighbor was to remain outside the door and listen while Gudbrand went in to his wife.

“Good evening!” said Gudbrand when he came in.

“Good evening!” said the wife. “Heaven be praised you are back again.”

“Yes, here I am!” said the man. And then the wife asked him how he had got on in town.

“Oh, so-so,” answered Gudbrand. “Not much to brag of. When I came to town no one would buy the cow, so I changed it for a horse.”

“Oh, I’m so glad of that,” said the woman. “We are pretty well off and we ought to drive to church like other people, and when we can afford to keep a horse I don’t see why we should not have one. Run out, children, and put the horse in the stable.”

“Well, I haven’t got the horse, after all,” said Gudbrand; “for when I had got a bit on the way I changed it for a pig.”

“Dear me!” cried the woman, “that’s the very thing I should have done myself. I’m so glad of that, for now we can have some bacon in the house and something to offer people when they come to see us. What do we want with a horse? People would only say we had become so grand that we could no longer walk to church. Run out, children, and let the pig in.”

“But I haven’t got the pig either,” said Gudbrand, “for when I had got a bit farther on the road I changed it into a milch goat.”

“Dear! dear! how well you manage everything!” cried the wife. “When I really come to think of it, what do I want with the pig? People would only say: ‘Over yonder they eat up everything they have.’ No, now I have a goat I can have both milk and cheese and keep the goat into the bargain. Let in the goat, children.”

“But I haven’t got the goat either,” said Gudbrand. 299“When I got a bit on the way I changed the goat and got a fine sheep for it.”

“Well!” returned the woman, “you do everything just as I should wish it—just as if I had been there myself. What do we want with a goat? I should have to climb up hill and down dale to get it home at night. No, when I have a sheep I can have wool and clothes in the house and food as well. Run out, children, and let in the sheep.”

“But I haven’t got the sheep any longer,” said Gudbrand, “for when I had got a bit on the way I changed it for a goose.”

“Well, thank you for that!” said the woman; “and many thanks, too! What do I want with a sheep? I have neither wheel nor spindle, and I do not care either to toil and drudge making clothes; we can buy clothes now as before. Now I can have goose-fat, which I have so long been wishing for, and some feathers to stuff that little pillow of mine. Run, children, and let in the goose.”

“Well, I haven’t got the goose either,” said Gudbrand. “When I had got a bit farther on the way I changed it for a cock.”

“Well, I don’t know how you can think of it all!” cried the woman. “It’s just as if I had done it all myself. A cock! Why, it’s just the same as if you’d bought an eight-day clock, for every morning the cock will crow at four, so we can be up in good time. What do we want with a goose? I can’t make goose-fat and I can easily fill my pillow with some soft grass. Run, children, and let in the cock.”

“But I haven’t the cock either,” said Gudbrand; “for when I had got a bit farther I became so terribly hungry I had to sell the cock for sixpence and get some food to keep body and soul together.”

“Heaven be praised you did that!” cried the woman. “Whatever you do, you always do the very thing I could have wished. Besides, what did we want with the cock? We are our own masters and can lie as long as we like in the mornings. Heaven be praised! As long as I have got you back 300again, who manage everything so well, I shall neither want cock, nor goose, nor pig, nor cows.”

Gudbrand then opened the door. “Have I won the hundred dollars now?” he asked. And the neighbor was obliged to confess that he had.


The Pancake

Once on a time there was a goody who had seven hungry bairns, and she was frying a Pancake for them. It was a sweet-milk Pancake, and there it lay in the pan bubbling and frizzling so thick and good, it was a sight for sore eyes to look at. And the bairns stood round about, and the goodman sat by and looked on.

“Oh, give me a bit of Pancake, mother, dear; I am so hungry,” said one bairn.

“Oh, darling mother,” said the second.

“Oh, darling, good mother,” said the third.

“Oh, darling, good, nice mother,” said the fourth.

“Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice mother,” said the fifth.

“Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice, clever mother,” said the sixth.

“Oh, darling, pretty, good, nice, clever, sweet mother,” said the seventh.

So they begged for the Pancake all round, the one more prettily than the other; for they were so hungry and so good.

“Yes, yes, bairns, only bide a bit till it turns itself”—she ought to have said, “till I can get it turned”—“and then you shall all have some—a lovely sweet-milk Pancake; only look how fat and happy it lies there.”

When the Pancake heard that it got afraid, and in a trice it turned itself all of itself, and tried to jump out of the pan; but it fell back into it again t’other side up, and so when it had been fried a little on the other side, too, till it got firmer in its flesh, it sprang out on the floor, and rolled off like a wheel through the door and down the hill.

“Holloa! Stop, Pancake!” and away went the goody after it, with the frying-pan in one hand and the ladle in the other, 302as fast as she could, and her bairns behind her, while the goodman limped after them last of all.

“Hi! won’t you stop? Seize it. Stop, Pancake,” they all screamed out, one after the other, and tried to catch it on the run and hold it; but the Pancake rolled on and on, and in the twinkling of an eye it was so far ahead that they couldn’t see it, for the Pancake was faster on its feet than any of them.

So when it had rolled a while it met a man.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the man.

“God bless you, Manny-panny!” said the Pancake.

“Dear Pancake,” said the man, “don’t roll so fast; stop a little and let me eat you.”

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, I may well slip through your fingers, Manny-panny,” said the Pancake, and rolled on and on till it met a hen.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the hen.

“The same to you, Henny-penny,” said the Pancake.

“Pancake, dear, don’t roll so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up,” said the hen.

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, and Manny-panny, I may well slip through your claws, Henny-penny,” said the Pancake, and so it rolled on like a wheel down the road.

Just then it met a cock.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the cock.

“The same to you, Cocky-locky,” said the Pancake.

“Pancake, dear, don’t roll so fast, but bide a bit and let me eat you up.”

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, and to Manny-panny, and Henny-penny, I may well slip through your claws, Cocky-locky,” said the Pancake, and off it set rolling away as fast as it could; and when it had rolled a long way it met a duck.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the duck.

“The same to you, Ducky-lucky.”

303“Pancake, dear, don’t roll away so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up.”

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, and Manny-panny, and Henny-penny, and Cocky-locky, I may well slip through your fingers, Ducky-lucky,” said the Pancake, and with that it took to rolling and rolling faster than ever; and when it had rolled a long, long while, it met a goose.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the goose.

“The same to you, Goosey-poosey.”

“Pancake, dear, don’t roll so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up.”

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, and Manny-panny, and Henny-penny, and Cocky-locky, and Ducky-lucky, I can well slip through your feet, Goosey-poosey,” said the Pancake, and off it rolled.

So when it had rolled a long, long way farther, it met a gander.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the gander.

“The same to you, Gander-pander,” said the Pancake.

“Pancake, dear, don’t roll so fast; bide a bit and let me eat you up.”

“When I have given the slip to Goody-poody, and the goodman, and seven squalling children, and Manny-panny, and Henny-penny, and Cocky-locky, and Ducky-lucky, and Goosey-poosey, I may well slip through your feet, Gander-pander,” said the Pancake, and it rolled off as fast as ever.

So when it had rolled a long, long time, it met a pig.

“Good day, Pancake,” said the pig.

“The same to you, Piggy-wiggy,” said the Pancake, which, without a word more, began to roll and roll like mad.

“Nay, nay,” said the pig, “you needn’t be in such a hurry; we two can then go side by side and see each other over the wood; they say it is not too safe in there.”

The Pancake thought there might be something in that, and so they kept company. But when they had gone awhile, they 304came to a brook. As for Piggy, he was so fat he swam safely across, it was nothing to him; but the poor Pancake couldn’t get over.

“Seat yourself on my snout,” said the pig, “and I’ll carry you over.”

So the Pancake did that.

“Ouf, ouf,” said the pig, and swallowed the Pancake at one gulp; and then, as the poor Pancake could go no farther, why—this story can go no farther either.


The Death of Chanticleer

Once on a time there was a cock and a hen, who walked out into the field and scratched, and scraped, and scrabbled. All at once Chanticleer found a burr of hop, and Partlet found a barley-corn; and they said they would make malt and brew Yule ale.

“Oh, I pluck barley, and I malt malt, and I brew ale, and the ale is good,” cackled Dame Partlet.

“Is the wort strong enough?” crew Chanticleer; and as he crowed he flew up on the edge of the cask, and tried to have a taste; but just as he bent over to drink a drop he took to flapping his wings, and so he fell head over heels into the cask and was drowned. When Dame Partlet saw that, she clean lost her wits, and flew up into the chimney-corner, and fell a-screaming and screeching out. “Harm in the house! harm in the house!” she screeched out all in a breath, and there was no stopping her.

“What ails you, Dame Partlet, that you sit there sobbing and sighing?” said the handquern.

“Why not,” said Dame Partlet, “when Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned himself, and lies dead? That’s why I sigh and sob.”

“Well, if I can do naught else, I will grind and groan,” said the handquern; and so it fell to grinding as fast as it could.

When the chair heard that it said:

“What ails you, handquern, that you grind and groan so fast and oft?”

“Why not, when Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned himself, and Dame Partlet sits in the ingle and sighs and sobs? That’s why I grind and groan,” said the handquern.

306“If I can do naught else I will crack,” said the chair; and with that he fell to creaking and cracking.

When the door heard that it said:

“What’s the matter? Why do you creak and crack so, Mr. Chair?”

“Why not?” said the chair. “Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing, and the handquern grinds and groans. That’s why I creak and crackle, and croak and crack.”

“Well,” said the door, “if I can do naught else, I can rattle and bang, and whistle and slam”; and with that it began to open and shut, and bang and slam; it deaved one to hear, and all one’s teeth chattered.

All this the stove heard, and it opened its mouth and called out:

“Door! door! why all this slamming and banging?”

“Why not,” said the door, “when Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds and groans, and the chair creaks and cracks. That’s why I bang and slam.”

“Well,” said the stove, “if I can do naught else, I can smolder and smoke”; and so it fell a-smoking and steaming till the room was all in a cloud.

The ax saw this as it stood outside, and peeped with its shaft through the window.

“What’s all this smoke about, Mrs. Stove?” said the ax in a sharp voice.

“Why not,” said the stove, “when Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds and groans; the chair creaks and cracks, and the door bangs and slams. That’s why I smoke and steam.”

“Well, if I can do naught else, I can rive and rend,” said the ax; and with that it fell to riving and rending all around about.

307This the aspen stood by and saw.

“Why do you rive and rend everything so, Mr. Ax?” said the aspen.

“Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned himself,” said the ax; “Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds and groans; the chair creaks and cracks; the door slams and bangs, and the stove smokes and steams. That’s why I rive and rend all about.”

“Well, if I can do naught else,” said the aspen, “I can quiver and quake in all my leaves”; so it grew all of a quake.

The birds saw this, and twittered out:

“Why do you quiver and quake, Miss Aspen?”

“Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned himself,” said the aspen, with a trembling voice; “Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds and groans; the chair creaks and cracks; the door slams and bangs; the stove steams and smokes, and the ax rives and rends. That’s why I quiver and quake.”

“Well, if we can do naught else, we will pluck off all our feathers,” said the birds; and with that they fell a-pilling and plucking themselves till the room was full of feathers.

This the master stood by and saw; and, when the feathers flew about like fun, he asked the birds:

“Why do you pluck off all your feathers, you birds?”

“Oh, Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and drowned himself,” twittered out the birds; “Dame Partlet sits sighing and sobbing in the ingle; the handquern grinds and groans; the chair creaks and cracks; the door slams and bangs; the stove smokes and steams; the ax rives and rends, and the aspen quivers and quakes. That’s why we are pilling and plucking all our feathers off.”

“Well, if I can do nothing else, I can tear the brooms asunder,” said the man; and with that he fell tearing and tossing the brooms till the birch-twigs flew about east and west.

308The goody stood cooking porridge for supper, and saw all this.

“Why, man!” she called out, “what are you tearing the brooms to bits for?”

“Oh,” said the man, “Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-vat and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits sighing and sobbing in the ingle; the handquern grinds and groans; the chair cracks and creaks; the door slams and bangs; the stove smokes and steams; the ax rives and rends; the aspen quivers and quakes; the birds are pilling and plucking all their feathers off, and that’s why I am tearing the besoms to bits.”

“So, so!” said the goody; “then I’ll dash the porridge over all the walls,” and she did it; for she took one spoonful after the other, and dashed it against the walls, so that no one could see what they were made of for very porridge.

That was how they drank the burial ale after Goodman Chanticleer, who fell into the brewing-vat and was drowned; and, if you don’t believe it, you may set off thither and have a taste both of the ale and the porridge.


Reynard Wants to Taste Horse-flesh

One day as Bruin lay by a horse which he had slain, and was hard at work eating it, Reynard came along that way, and came up spying about and licking his lips, to see if he might get a taste of the horse-flesh. So he doubled and turned till he got just behind Bruin’s back, and then he jumped on the other side of the carcass and snapped a mouthful as he ran by. Bruin was not slow either, for he made a grab at Reynard and caught the tip of his red brush in his paw; and ever since then Reynard’s brush is white at the tip, as any one may see.

But that day Bruin was merry, and called out:

“Bide a bit, Reynard, and come hither, and I’ll tell you how to catch a horse for yourself.”

Yes, Reynard was ready enough to learn, but he did not for all that trust himself to go very close to Bruin.

“Listen,” said Bruin. “When you see a horse asleep, basking in the sunshine, you must mind and bind yourself fast by the hair of his tail to your brush, and then you must make your teeth meet in the flesh of his thigh.”

As you may fancy, it was not long before Reynard found out a horse that lay asleep in the sunshine, and then he did as Bruin had told him; for he knotted and bound himself well into the hair of his tail, and made his teeth meet in the horse’s thigh.

Up sprang the horse, and began to kick and rear and gallop, so that Reynard was dashed against stock and stone, and got battered black and blue, so that he was not far off losing both wit and sense. And while the horse galloped, they passed Jack Longears, the hare.

310“Whither away so fast, Reynard?” cried Jack Longears.

“Post-haste, on business of life and death, dear Jack,” cried Reynard.

And with that Jack stood upon his hind-legs, and laughed till his sides ached and his jaws split right up to his ears. It was so funny to see Reynard ride post-haste.

But you must know, since that ride Reynard has never thought of catching a horse for himself. For that once at least it was Bruin who had the best of it in wit, though they do say he is nearly always as simple-minded as the trolls.


Bruin and Reynard Partners

Once on a time Bruin and Reynard were to own a field in common. They had a little clearing up in the wood, and the first year they sowed rye.

“Now we must share the crop as is fair and right,” said Reynard. “If you like to have the root, I’ll take the top.”

Yes, Bruin was ready to do that; but when they had threshed out the crop, Reynard got all the corn, but Bruin got nothing but roots and rubbish. He did not like that at all, but Reynard said it was how they had agreed to share it.

“This year I have the gain,” said Reynard; “next year it will be your turn. Then you shall have the top, and I shall have to put up with the root.”

But when the spring came, and it was time to sow, Reynard asked Bruin what he thought of turnips.

“Aye, aye!” said Bruin, “that’s better food than corn”; and so Reynard thought also. But when harvest came Reynard got the roots, while Bruin got the turnip-tops. And then Bruin was so angry with Reynard that he put an end at once to his partnership with him.


Pork and Honey

At dawn the other day, when Bruin came tramping over the bog with a fat pig, Reynard sat up on a stone by the moor-side.

“Good day, grandsire,” said the fox. “What’s that so nice that you have there?”

“Pork,” said Bruin.

“Well, I have got a dainty bit too,” said Reynard.

“What is that?” asked the bear.

“The biggest wild bee’s comb I ever saw in my life,” said Reynard.

“Indeed, you don’t say so,” said Bruin, who grinned and licked his lips, he thought it would be so nice to taste a little honey. At last he said: “Shall we swap our fare?”

“Nay, nay!” said Reynard, “I can’t do that.”

The end was that they made a bet, and agreed to name three trees. If the fox could say them off faster than the bear, he was to have leave to take one bite of the bacon; but if the bear could say them faster, he was to have leave to take one sup out of the comb. Greedy Bruin thought he was sure to sup out all the honey at one breath.

“Well,” said Reynard, “it’s all fair and right, no doubt, but all I say is, if I win, you shall be bound to tear off the bristles where I am to bite.”

“Of course,” said Bruin, “I’ll help you, as you can’t help yourself.”

So they were to begin and name the trees.

Fir, Scotch Fir, Spruce,” growled out Bruin, for he was gruff in his tongue, that he was. But for all that he only named two trees, for fir and Scotch fir are both the same.

Ash, Aspen, Oak,” screamed Reynard, so that the wood rang again.

313So he had won the wager, and down he ran and took the heart out of the pig at one bite, and was just running off with it. But Bruin was angry because Reynard had taken the best bit out of the whole pig, and so he laid hold of his tail and held him fast.

“Stop a bit, stop a bit,” he said, and was wild with rage.

“Never mind,” said the fox, “it’s all right; let me go, grandsire, and I’ll give you a taste of my honey.”

When Bruin heard that, he let go his hold, and away went Reynard after the honey.

“Here, on this honeycomb,” said Reynard, “lies a leaf, and under this leaf is a hole, and that hole you are to suck.”

As he said this he held up the comb under the bear’s nose, took off the leaf, jumped up on a stone, and began to gibber and laugh, for there was neither honey nor honeycomb, but a wasp’s nest, as big as a man’s head, full of wasps, and out swarmed the wasps and settled on Bruin’s head, and stung him in his eyes and ears, and mouth and snout. And he had such hard work to rid himself of them that he had no time to think of Reynard.

And that’s why, ever since that day, Bruin is so afraid of wasps.


How Reynard Outwitted Bruin

Once on a time there was a bear, who sat on a hillside in the sun and slept. Just then Reynard came slouching by and caught sight of him.

“There you sit taking your ease, grandsire,” said the fox. “Now, see if I don’t play you a trick.” So he went and caught three field-mice and laid them on a stump close under Bruin’s nose, and then he bawled out into his ear, “Bo! Bruin, here’s Peter the Hunter, just behind this stump”; and as he bawled this out he ran off through the wood as fast as ever he could.

Bruin woke up with a start, and when he saw the three little mice, he was as mad as a March hare, and was going to lift up his paw and crush them, for he thought it was they who had bellowed in his ear.

But just as he lifted it he caught sight of Reynard’s tail among the bushes by the woodside, and away he set after him, so that the underwood crackled as he went, and, to tell the truth, Bruin was so close upon Reynard that he caught hold of his off hind-foot just as he was crawling into an earth under a pine-root. So there was Reynard in a pinch; but for all that he had his wits about him, for he screeched out, “Slip the pine-root and catch Reynard’s foot,” and so the silly bear let his foot slip and laid hold of the root instead. But by that time Reynard was safe inside the earth, and called out:

“I cheated you that time, too, didn’t I, grandsire?”

“Out of sight isn’t out of mind,” growled Bruin down the earth, and was wild with rage.


Nanny Who Wouldn’t Go Home to Supper

There was once upon a time a woman who had a son and a goat. The son was called Espen and the goat was called Nanny. But they were not good friends, and did not get on together, for the goat was perverse and wayward, as goats will be, and she would never go home at the right time for her supper. So it happened one evening that Espen went out to fetch her home, and when he had been looking for her awhile, he saw Nanny high, high up on a crag.

“My dear Nanny, you must not stay any longer up there; you must come home now, it is just supper-time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I sha’n’t,” said Nanny, “not before I have finished the grass on this tussock, and that tussock—and this and that tussock.”

“Then I’ll go and tell mother,” said the lad.

“That you may, and then I shall be left to eat in peace,” said Nanny.

So Espen went and told his mother.

“Go to the fox and ask him to bite Nanny,” said his mother.

The lad went to the fox. “My dear fox, bite Nanny, for Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry, and I want my supper,” said Espen.

“No, I don’t want to spoil my snout on pig’s bristles and goat’s beard,” said the fox.

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the wolf,” said his mother.

316The lad went to the wolf. “My dear wolf, tear the fox, for the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry, and I want my supper.”

“No,” said the wolf, “I won’t wear out my paws and teeth on a skinny fox.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the bear and ask him to slay the wolf,” said the mother.

The lad went to the bear. “My dear bear, slay the wolf, for the wolf won’t tear the fox, and the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, that I won’t,” said the bear; “I don’t want to wear out my claws for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the Finn and ask him to shoot the bear.”

The lad went to the Finn. “My dear Finn, shoot the bear, for the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the Finn; “I am not going to shoot away my bullets for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the fir,” said his mother, “and ask it to crush the Finn.”

The lad went to the fir-tree. “My dear fir, crush the Finn, for the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the fir; “I am not going to break my boughs for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the fire,” said his mother, “and ask it to burn the fir.”

The lad went to the fire. “My dear fire, burn the fir, for the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, 317the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the fire; “I am not going to burn myself out for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the water, and ask it to quench the fire,” she said.

The lad went to the water. “My dear water, quench the fire, for the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the water; “I am not going to waste myself for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the ox,” said she, “and ask him to drink up the water.”

The lad went to the ox. “My dear ox, drink up the water, for the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the ox; “I am not going to burst myself for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the yoke,” said she, “and ask it to throttle the ox.”

The lad went to the yoke. “My dear yoke, throttle the ox, for the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

318“No, I will not,” said the yoke; “I am not going to break myself in two for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the ax,” said she, “and tell it to split the yoke.”

The lad went to the ax. “My dear ax, split the yoke, for the yoke won’t throttle the ox, the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time, I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the ax; “I am not going to blunt my edge for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the smith,” said she, “and ask him to hammer the ax.”

The lad went to the smith. “My dear smith, hammer the ax, for the ax won’t split the yoke, the yoke won’t throttle the ox, the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the smith; “I’ll not burn my coals and wear out my sledge-hammers for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the rope,” said she, “and ask it to hang the smith.”

The lad went to the rope. “My dear rope, hang the smith, for the smith won’t hammer the ax, the ax won’t split the yoke, the yoke won’t throttle the ox, the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, 319the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the rope; “I am not going to break in two for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the mouse,” said she, “and ask her to gnaw the rope.”

The lad went to the mouse. “My dear mouse, gnaw the rope, for the rope won’t hang the smith, the smith won’t hammer the ax, the ax won’t split the yoke, the yoke won’t throttle the ox, the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“No, I will not,” said the mouse; “I am not going to wear out my teeth for that.”

So the lad went and told his mother.

“Well, go to the cat,” said she, “and ask her to catch the mouse.”

The lad went to the cat. “My dear cat, catch the mouse, for the mouse won’t gnaw the rope, the rope won’t hang the smith, the smith won’t hammer the ax, the ax won’t split the yoke, the yoke won’t throttle the ox, the ox won’t drink the water, the water won’t quench the fire, the fire won’t burn the fir, the fir won’t crush the Finn, the Finn won’t shoot the bear, the bear won’t slay the wolf, the wolf won’t tear the fox, the fox won’t bite Nanny, and Nanny won’t come home in time. I am so hungry and want my supper.”

“Yes, but give me a drop of milk for my kittens and then—” said the cat.

Yes, that she should have. So the cat caught the mouse, and the mouse gnawed the rope, and the rope hanged the smith, and the smith hammered the ax, and the ax split the yoke, and the yoke throttled the ox, and the ox drank the water, and the water quenched the fire, and the fire burned 320the fir, and the fir crushed the Finn, and the Finn shot the bear, and the bear slew the wolf, and the wolf tore the fox, and the fox bit Nanny, and Nanny took to her heels, scampered home, and ran against the barn wall and broke one of her legs.

“M—a—h—a—h!” bleated the goat. There she lay, and if she isn’t dead she is still limping about on three legs. But Espen said it served her right, because she would not come home in time for supper that day.


The Box With Something Pretty In It

Once on a time there was a little boy who was out walking on the road, and when he had walked a bit he found a box.

“I am sure there must be something pretty in this box,” he said to himself; but however much he turned it, and however much he twisted it, he was not able to get it open.

But when he had walked a bit farther, he found a little tiny key. Then he grew tired and sat down, and all at once he thought what fun it would be if the key fitted the box, for it had a little keyhole in it. So he took the little key out of his pocket, and then he blew first into the pipe of the key, and afterward into the keyhole, and then he put the key into the keyhole and turned it. “Snap!” it went within the lock; and when he tried the hasp, the box was open.

But can you guess what there was in the box? Why, a cow’s tail; and if the cow’s tail had been longer, this story would have been longer too.


The Farmer and the Troll

A troll once lived in a little hill that stood in the corner of a farm. Thinking that the ground should not lie idle the Farmer came one day and began to plow it up. He had hardly begun, when the Troll appeared and asked:

“How dare you plow in the roof of my house?”

“I did not know it was the roof of your house,” returned the Farmer. “I thought it a pity to let such a good piece of land lie idle, and I think so still. Let me make an agreement with you.”

“What is your agreement?” said the Troll.

“Well, let me see. I will plow, sow, and reap the ground every year, and we will take the produce year and year about. One year you will take what grows above ground, and I will take what grows below. Then we can change around, and I will take what grows above ground, and you, what grows below. What do you say?”

“Very well,” answered the Troll; “that will satisfy me.”

The agreement was then made; but the crafty Farmer took care to sow carrots the year the Troll was to have what grew above ground, and corn the year the Troll was to have what grew below. So the poor elf got only carrot-tops and corn-roots. However, he was content, and the Farmer and he lived for years amicably under this arrangement.


One’s Own Children Always Prettiest

Once upon a time a man went out shooting in a forest, and there he met a woodcock.

“Pray, don’t shoot my children,” cried the woodcock.

“What are your children like?” asked the man.

“Mine are the prettiest children in the forest,” answered the woodcock.

“I suppose I mustn’t shoot them, then,” said the man.

When he came back he carried in his hand a whole string of young woodcocks which he had shot.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear! Why, you have shot my children after all!” wept the woodcock.

“Are these yours?” said the man. “Why, I shot the ugliest I could find.”

“Yes, yes,” answered the woodcock; “but don’t you know that every one thinks his own children the prettiest?”


The Princess Whom Nobody Could Silence

There was once upon a time a king, and he had a daughter who would always have the last word; she was so perverse and contrary in her speech that no one could silence her. So the king therefore promised that he who could outwit the Princess should have her in marriage and half the kingdom besides. There were plenty of those who wanted to try, I can assure you; for it isn’t every day that a princess and half a kingdom are to be had.

The gate to the palace hardly ever stood still. The suitors came in swarms and flocks from east and west, both riding and walking. But there was no one who could silence the Princess. At last the king announced that those who tried and did not succeed should be branded on both ears with a large iron; he would not have all this running about the palace for nothing.

So there were three brothers who had also heard about the Princess, and as they were rather badly off at home, they thought they would try their luck and see if they could win the Princess and half the kingdom. They were good friends, and so they agreed to set out together.

When they had got a bit on the way Ashiepattle found a dead magpie.

“I have found something! I have found something!” cried he.

“What have you found?” asked the brothers.

“I have found a dead magpie,” said he.

“Faugh! throw it away; what can you do with that?” said the other two, who always believed they were the wisest.

325“Oh, I’ve nothing else to do. I can easily carry it,” said Ashiepattle.

When they had gone on a bit farther Ashiepattle found an old willow twig, which he picked up.

“I have found something! I have found something!” he cried.

“What have you found now?” said the brothers.

“I have found a willow twig,” said he.

“Pooh! what are you going to do with that? Throw it away,” said the two.

“I have nothing else to do. I can easily carry it with me,” said Ashiepattle.

When they had gone still farther he found a broken saucer, which he also picked up.

“Here lads, I have found something! I have found something!” said he.

“Well, what have you found now?” asked the brothers.

“A broken saucer,” said he.

“Pshaw! Is it worth while dragging that along with you too? Throw it away!” said the brothers.

“Oh, I’ve nothing else to do. I can easily carry it with me,” said Ashiepattle.

When they had gone a little bit farther he found a crooked goat-horn, and soon after he found the fellow to it.

“I have found something! I have found something, lads!” said he.

“What have you found now?” said the others.

“Two goat-horns,” answered Ashiepattle.

“Ugh! Throw them away! What are you going to do with them?” said they.

“Oh, I have nothing else to do. I can easily carry them with me,” said Ashiepattle.

In a little while he found a wedge.

“I say, lads, I have found something! I have found something!” he cried.

“You are everlastingly finding something! What have you found now?” asked the two eldest.

326“I have found a wedge,” he answered.

“Oh, throw it away! What are you going to do with it?” said they.

“Oh, I have nothing else to do. I can easily carry it with me,” said Ashiepattle.

As he went across the king’s fields, which had been freshly manured, he stooped down and took up an old boot-sole.

“Hullo, lads! I have found something! I have found something!” said he.

“Heaven grant you may find a little sense before you get to the palace!” said the two. “What is it you have found now?”

“An old boot-sole,” said he.

“Is that anything worth picking up? Throw it away! What are you going to do with it?” said the brothers.

“Oh, I have nothing else to do. I can easily carry it with me, and—who knows?—it may help me to win the Princess and half the kingdom,” said Ashiepattle.

“Yes, you look a likely one, don’t you?” said the other two. So they went in to the Princess, the eldest first.

“Good day!” said he.

“Good day to you!” answered she, with a shrug.

“It’s terribly hot here,” said he.

“It’s hotter in the fire,” said the Princess. The branding-iron was lying waiting in the fire.

When he saw this he was struck speechless, and so it was all over with him.

The second brother fared no better.

“Good day!” said he.

“Good day to you,” said she, with a wriggle.

“It’s terribly hot here!” said he.

“It’s hotter in the fire,” said she. With that he lost both speech and wits, and so the iron had to be brought out.

Then came Ashiepattle’s turn.

“Good day!” said he.

“Good day to you!” said she, with a shrug and a wriggle.

“It is very nice and warm here!” said Ashiepattle.

327“It’s warmer in the fire,” she answered. She was in no better humor now she saw the third suitor.

“Then there’s a chance for me to roast my magpie on it,” said he, bringing it out.

“I’m afraid it will sputter,” said the Princess.

“No fear of that! I’ll tie this willow twig round it,” said the lad.

“You can’t tie it tight enough,” said she.

“Then I’ll drive in a wedge,” said the lad, and brought out the wedge.

“The fat will be running off it,” said the Princess.

“Then I’ll hold this under it,” said the lad, and showed her the broken saucer.

“You are so crooked in your speech,” said the Princess.

“No, I am not crooked,” answered the lad; “but this is crooked”; and he brought out one of the goat-horns.

“Well, I’ve never seen the like!” cried the Princess.

“Here you see the like,” said he, and brought out the other horn.

“It seems you have come here to wear out my soul!” she said.

“No, I have not come here to wear out your soul, for I have one here which is already worn out,” answered the lad, and brought out the old boot-sole.

The Princess was so dumfounded at this that she was completely silenced.

“Now you are mine!” said Ashiepattle, and so he got her and half the kingdom into the bargain.


The Money-box

In a nursery where a number of toys lay scattered about, a Money-box stood on the top of a very high wardrobe. It was made of clay in the shape of a pig, and had been bought of the potter. In the back of the pig was a slit, and this slit had been enlarged with a knife, so that dollars, or crown pieces, might slip through; and, indeed, there were two crown pieces in the box, besides a number of pence. The money-pig was stuffed so full that it could no longer rattle, which is the highest state of perfection to which a money-pig can attain. There he stood upon the cupboard, high and lofty, looking down upon everything else in the room. He knew very well that he had enough inside him to buy up all the other toys, and this gave him a very good opinion of his own value. The rest thought of this fact also, although they did not speak of it, for there were so many other things to talk about. A large doll, still handsome, though rather old, for her neck had been mended, lay inside one of the drawers which was partly open. She called out to the others: “Let us have a game at being men and women; that is worth playing at.”

Upon this there was a great uproar; even the engravings, which hung in frames on the wall, turned round in their excitement, and showed that they had a wrong side to them, although they had not the least intention to expose themselves in this way, or to object to the game. It was late at night, but as the moon shone through the windows, they had light at a cheap rate, and as the game was now to begin, all were invited to take part in it, even the children’s wagon, which certainly belonged to the coarser playthings. “Each has its own value,” said the wagon; “we cannot all be noblemen; there must be some to do the work.”

329The money-pig was the only one who received a written invitation. He stood so high that they were afraid he would not accept a verbal message. But in his reply he said that, if he had to take a part, he must enjoy the sport from his own home; they were to arrange for him to do so; and so they did. The little toy theater was therefore put up in such a way that the money-pig could look directly into it. Some wanted to begin with a comedy, and afterward to have a tea-party and a discussion for mental improvement, but they commenced with the latter first. The rocking-horse spoke of training and races; the wagon, of railways and steam-power, for these subjects belonged to each of their professions, and it was right they should talk of them. The clock talked politics—“tick, tick”; he professed to know what was the time of day, but there was a whisper that he did not go correctly. The bamboo cane stood by, looking stiff and proud—he was vain of his brass ferrule and silver top; and on the sofa lay two worked cushions, pretty but stupid. When the play at the little theater began, the rest sat and looked on; they were requested to applaud and stamp, and the whip to crack, when they felt gratified with what they saw. But the riding-whip said he never cracked for old people, only for the young who were not yet married. “I crack for everybody,” said the cracker.

“Yes, and a fine noise you make,” thought the audience, as the play went on.

It was not worth much, but it was very well played, and all the characters turned their painted sides to the audience, for they were made only to be seen on one side. The acting was wonderful, excepting that sometimes they came out beyond the lamps, because the wires were a little too long. The doll, whose neck had been darned, was so excited that the place in her neck burst, and the money-pig declared he must do something for one of the players, as they had all pleased him so much. So he made up his mind to mention one of them in his will, as the one to be buried with him in the family vault, whenever that event should happen. They all enjoyed the comedy so much that they gave up all thoughts of the teaparty, 330and only carried out their idea of intellectual amusement, which they called playing at men and women; and there was nothing wrong about it, for it was only play. All the while, each one thought most of himself, or of what the money-pig could be thinking. His thoughts were on (as he supposed) a very distant time—of making his will, and of his burial, and of when it might all come to pass. Certainly sooner than he expected—for all at once down he came from the top of the press, fell on the ground, and was broken to pieces. Then the pennies hopped and danced about in the most amusing manner. The little ones twirled round like tops, and the large ones rolled away as far as they could, especially one of the great silver crown pieces who had often wanted to go out into the world, and now he had his wish as well as all the rest of the money. The pieces of the money-pig were thrown into the dust-bin, and the next day there stood a new money-pig on the cupboard, but it had not a farthing in its inside yet, and therefore it could not rattle like the old one. This was the beginning with him, and we will make it the end of our story.

Hans Christian Andersen.

The Darning-Needle

Once upon a time there was a Darning-needle which thought itself so fine and grand it ought to have been a sewing-needle.

“Be careful,” it said to the fingers which held it. “Be sure you don’t let me fall, for I am so thin you will never find me again.”

“That’s what you think,” said the fingers, as they closed firmly round its body.

“Look out! I am followed by my train,” said the Darning-needle, and a long thread came trailing behind it; but the thread had no knot in it.

The fingers guided the needle straight toward the cook’s slipper.

There was a little tear in the leather, and it must be mended.

“This sort of work is quite beneath me,” said the Needle; “I can never do it. I shall break—I know I shall!” And break it did. “Did not I tell you I was too slender for such a task?” asked the Darning-needle.

“There, now you are good for nothing,” said the fingers; but they still held the needle firmly, and soon they had fixed a ball of sealing-wax on the top.

The cook now used it as a pin to fasten her scarf.

“Ho, ho! So I’m a scarf-pin now! I always knew I should make my way in the world. Worth always tells in the end,” said the Needle. And it chuckled to itself, although you could not see it do so. A darning-needle never lets you see it laugh.

This one sat bolt upright and gazed in all directions, just as if it were riding in a state carriage.

“Might I be allowed to inquire if you are made of gold?” 332it asked of its neighbor—a pin. “You have a very bright look, and a head of your own, though it is ridiculously small. You must do your best to grow a bit. Of course, it is not every one who is decorated with a ball of red sealing-wax!”

The Darning-needle drew itself up so proudly as it said this, that it overbalanced and fell out of the scarf into the sink, which the cook at that moment was rinsing down.

“Now I am going to see the world,” thought the Needle. “I hope I shall not lose myself.” But lose itself it did. And as it was washed through a long, greasy pipe and carried away into the gutter, it said: “I am not coarse and strong enough to hold my own in this world, but I know who and what I am, and that’s a great comfort.”

And the Darning-needle kept its proud bearing, and did not lose its bright way of looking at things, although all sorts of objects passed over it—chips of wood, and pieces of straw, and old newspaper.

“Look how they sail!” it said. “But they little know what lies beneath them. I stick fast here, and there goes a chip, a mere chip, looking as if it thought it was all the world. And there’s a straw floating by, too. How it whirls round and round; it had better take care lest it run against a stone. Ah! and now there is a piece of newspaper. Giving itself such airs, too! as if all that was printed on it was not forgotten long ago. I have to sit still, patiently and alone; but I know who I am, and that I shall continue still to be, and that is a great comfort.”

One day a piece of glass bottle lay beside the Darning-needle, and because it glittered so splendidly the needle thought it must certainly be a diamond; so it spoke and introduced itself.

“Good morning,” it said. “I am a scarf-pin. I believe I have the pleasure of speaking to a diamond?”

“Yes, I am a member of that family, I believe,” was the answer.

And thus they both thought each other very superior, and spoke together of the vanity and pride of the world.

333“I lived in a girl’s work-box,” the Darning-needle said. “She was a cook, and had five fingers on each hand; but I never saw anything so conceited as those fingers in my life! And after all is said and done, they were only there to take me out and put me back into the box again.”

“Were they very aristocratic, then?” the piece of glass asked.

“Aristocratic? No; but very proud. They were brothers, all born fingers, and they kept to themselves. They were various heights, too. The first—named the Thumb—was short and broad, and held himself rather aloof from the others. He only had one joint in his back, so could only make one bow; but he said a man could not be a soldier unless he possessed one like him on his hand. The second was called Sweet-tooth, and was used to put into sweet and sour dishes, to point to the sky and the stars, and to make the down-strokes of the pen when the fingers wrote a letter. Long-one was the third, and could look over all the heads of the others. Ringold, the fourth, wore a golden belt round his waist; and the last one of all was Playboy, who never did a stroke of work, and was proud of it. But I had to leave them,” said the Needle; “they could do nothing but boast.”

“And now here we sit and glitter,” murmured the piece of glass.

But at that moment the water came rushing along the gutter and carried off the piece of glass in its arms.

“He has received promotion already,” said the Darning-needle. “It is my pride that stands in my way. I am so very fine, and I am quite right to keep myself to myself,” and it sat up erect and proud, and was filled with great thoughts. “I surely must be the child of some sunbeam,” it thought. “I am so very fine, and the sunbeams always seem to me to be trying to find me beneath the water. Perhaps I am too slender for my mother to be able to see me. I’m sure if I had my old eye that was broken off I should cry. But I won’t; it’s not well-bred to cry.”

Then one day some ragamuffins came poking in the gutter 334to find farthings and old nails, and other such precious things. It was very muddy and dirty, but they only enjoyed it the better for that.

“Ugh!” cried one, as the Darning-needle ran into his finger. “Ugh! you great ugly fellow!”

“I am a miss, and not a fellow!” shrieked the Darning-needle; but no one heard it.

The ball of sealing-wax had fallen off, and the needle had turned quite black, but it felt more pleased with itself than ever, for one looks so much slimmer in black.

“Here, let us stick it into this egg-shell!” they called, and the Darning-needle was fixed firmly.

“These white walls must be very becoming to me,” the Darning-needle thought. “I shall show up well against them, and shall certainly be seen at last. I hope I shall not become seasick or break.”

But the Darning-needle became neither seasick, nor did it break. A steel stomach is a good preventive against seasickness; and it did not forget that it was something better than a mere man.

“Really, the finer one is, the more one can bear,” it thought.

“C-r-r-rack!” groaned the egg-shell, as the wheels of a cart passed over it.

“Gracious heavens! how it presses!” gasped the Darning-needle. “I do believe I am going to be seasick, after all. I shall break!”

But, although the heavy cart rolled over it, it did not break, only lay stretched full length in the mud, and there it may stay, for there is no more of its story worth listening to.

Hans Christian Andersen.

Master of All Masters

A girl once went to the fair to hire herself for a servant. At last a funny-looking old gentleman engaged her, and took her home to his house. When she got there, he told her that he had something to teach her, for that in his house he had his own names for things.

He said to her: “What will you call me?”

“Master or mister, or whatever you please, sir,” says she.

He said: “You must call me ‘Master of all Masters.’ And what would you call this?” pointing to his bed.

“Bed or couch, or whatever you please, sir.”

“No, that’s my ‘barnacle.’ And what do you call these?” said he, pointing to his pantaloons.

“Breeches or trousers, or whatever you please, sir.”

“You must call them ‘squibs and crackers.’ And what would you call her?” pointing to the cat.

“Cat or kit, or whatever you please, sir.”

“You must call her ‘white-faced simminy.’ And this, now,” showing the fire, “what would you call this?”

“Fire or flame, or whatever you please, sir.”

“You must call it ‘hot cockalorum.’ And what, this?” he went on, pointing to the water.

“Water or wet, or whatever you please, sir.”

“No, ‘pondalorum’ is its name. And what do you call all this?” asked he, as he pointed to the house.

“House or cottage, or whatever you please, sir.”

“You must call it ‘high topper mountain.’”

That very night the servant woke her master up in a fright and said: “Master of all Masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers. For white-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum on its tail, and unless you get some pondalorum, high topper mountain will be all on hot cockalorum.” ... That’s all.


Belling the Cat

Once upon a time the mice sat in council and talked of how they might outwit their enemy, the Cat. But good advice was scarce, and in vain the president called upon all the most experienced mice present to find a way.

At last a very young mouse held up two fingers and asked to be allowed to speak, and as soon as he could get permission he said:

“I’ve been thinking for a long time why the Cat is such a dangerous enemy. Now, it’s not so much because of her quickness, though people make so much fuss about that. If we could only notice her in time, I’ve no doubt we’re nimble enough to jump into our holes before she could do us any harm. It’s in her velvet paws, there’s where she hides her cruel claws till she gets us in her clutches—that’s where her power lies. With those paws she can tread so lightly that we can’t hear her coming. And so, while we are still dancing heedlessly about the place, she creeps close up, and before we know where we are she pounces down on us and has us in her clutches. Well, then, it’s my opinion we ought to hang a bell round her neck to warn us of her coming while there’s yet time.”

Every one applauded this proposal, and the council decided that it should be carried out.

Now the question to be settled was, who should undertake to fasten the bell round the Cat’s neck?

The president declared that no one could be better fitted for the task than he who had given such excellent advice.

But at that the young mouse became quite confused and stammered an excuse. He was too young for the deed, he said. He didn’t know the Cat well enough. His grandfather, who knew her better, would be more suited to the job.

337But the grandfather declared that just because he knew the Cat very well he would take good care not to attempt such a task.

And the long and the short of it was that no other mouse would undertake the duty; and so this clever proposal was never carried out, and the Cat remained mistress of the situation.


The Magpie and her Children

Said a Magpie to her children: “It’s high time you learned to look for your own food; it is indeed.”

And with that she turned the whole lot of them out of their nest and took them into the fields.

But the Magpie’s children didn’t care about that.

“We’d rather go back to our nest!” they cried. “It’s so comfortable to have you bringing our food to us in your beak!”

“I dare say!” said their mother. “But you’re big enough to feed yourselves. I was turned out of the nest when I was much younger, I can tell you that!”

“But people will kill us with their bows and arrows,” said the young magpies.

“No fear of that!” replied their mother. “People can’t shoot without taking aim, and that takes time. When you see them raising their bows to their faces, ready to draw, you must just fly away!”

“We might do that,” said the children; “but if some one were to throw a stone at us, he wouldn’t have to take aim.”

“Well, you’ll see him stooping down to pick up the stone,” said the old Magpie.

“But supposing he carries a stone in his hand, ready?”

“Why, if you’re sharp enough to think of that,” said their mother, “you’re sharp enough to take care of yourselves!”

And with that she flew away and left them.


The Cock, the Cuckoo, and the Black-cock

Once upon a time the Cock, the Cuckoo, and the Black-cock bought a cow between them. But when they came to share it, and couldn’t agree which should buy the others out, they settled among them that he who woke first in the morning should have the cow.

So the Cock woke first.

“Now the cow’s mine!
Now the cow’s mine!
Hurrah! Hurrah!”

he crew, and so pleased was he that in his excitement he awoke the Cuckoo.

“Half cow!
Half cow!”

sang the Cuckoo, and woke up the Black-cock.

“A like share, a like share;
Dear friends, that’s only fair;
Saw see, see saw!”

That’s what the Black-cock said.

And now can you tell me which of them ought to have the cow?


The Race Between Hare and Hedgehog

It was once upon a time on a Saturday morning in autumn, while the barley-fields were still in bloom.

The sun was shining, the morning wind was blowing over the stubble, the larks were singing high in the air, the bees were buzzing in the barley blossoms, and the people were going blithely about their day’s work; in short, all the world was happy, and the Hedgehog, too.

The Hedgehog stood in front of his door with folded arms, looked at the weather, and hummed a tune as only a hedgehog can hum on a Saturday morning.

Now, as he stood there humming, he thought to himself all at once that, while his wife was washing and dressing the children, he might as well go for a little walk in the fields and see how his turnips were getting on.

The turnips grew near his house, and he and his family ate as many of them as ever they wanted, and so he looked upon them quite naturally as his property.

Well, the Hedgehog slammed his door and started for the turnip-field. He hadn’t got very far, and was just sauntering round the brier-bush that stood outside the field, when he met the Hare, who was out on the same errand—namely, to look at his cabbages.

When the Hedgehog caught sight of the Hare, he gave him a pleasant “Good morning.”

But the Hare, who was a very aristocratic person in his own way, and very high and mighty in his manner, didn’t answer the Hedgehog’s greeting, but said, with a nasty sneer:

“What are you running about the fields for so early in the morning?”

341“I’m out walking,” said the Hedgehog.

“Walking?” grinned the Hare. “I should have thought you could use your legs for something better!”

This remark annoyed the Hedgehog, for, though he was a good-natured fellow enough, he was touchy on the subject of his legs, which were, by nature, bandy.

“I suppose,” he said tartly, “you think your legs are better than mine?”

“That I do,” said the Hare.

“It remains to be seen,” said the Hedgehog. “I bet you that if we two were to run a race I should outstrip you.”

“Absurd!” cried the Hare. “You with your crooked legs! But if you’re so anxious to try, I’ve no objection. What do you wager?”

“A golden guinea,” said the Hedgehog.

“Done!” said the Hare. “We’ll start right away!”

“Oh, don’t be in such a hurry,” said the Hedgehog. “I haven’t had my breakfast yet, and I feel a bit faint. I’ll come back here in an hour.”

So away he trotted, for the Hare made no objection.

Then he thought to himself:

“The Hare thinks a lot of his long legs, but I’ll get the better of him all the same. For all his haughty ways, he’s not so very clever, and I’ll make him pay; see if I don’t.”

As soon as he got home, he said to his wife:

“Quick! go and get dressed. You must come out with me.”

“What’s the matter?” said his wife.

“I’ve wagered the Hare a golden guinea. I’m to run a race with him, and I want you to be there.”

“Good gracious me!” cried the Hedgehog’s wife. “Have you lost your senses? How can you think of racing the Hare?”

“Don’t be so quick with your words, woman,” said the Hedgehog. “That’s my affair; you mustn’t meddle with what you don’t understand. Look sharp; put on your things, and come along.”

342What was the wife to do? She had to obey, whether she wanted to or not.

On the way to the field, the Hedgehog said:

“Now, listen to what I’m going to tell you. In that plowed field over there we’re to run our race. The Hare will run in one furrow, and I in the other. We begin at the top. Now, all you’ve got to do is to stand at the other end of my furrow, and directly the Hare arrives, you call out to him:

“‘Here I am already!’”

With that they reached the field. The Hedgehog told his wife where to stand, and went on to the other end.

The Hare was there waiting for him.

“Shall we start?” asked the Hare.

“Right,” said the Hedgehog.

“Now then!”

Each took up his place.

The Hare counted:

“One, two, three!”

And away he went like the wind.

But the Hedgehog took about three paces, then he went back, ducked down in his furrow, and stood there as comfortably as you please, and laughing as if he would split his sides.

Now, the moment the Hare came rushing up to the other end, the Hedgehog’s wife called out to him:

“Here I am already!”

The Hare was quite taken aback, for he made sure it was the Hedgehog himself who was sitting there calling to him, since, as every one knows, a hedgehog’s wife looks exactly like her husband.

“There’s something not quite right here,” said the Hare. “We must run again back to the starting-point.”

And away he flew like the wind. But the Hedgehog’s wife never moved.

When the Hare got to the other end, the Hedgehog called out:

“Here I am already!”

343But the Hare, quite beside himself with jealousy, shouted:

“We must run again!”

“Right!” said the Hedgehog. “As often as you like.”

And so the Hare went on, running backward and forward seventy-three times, and every time the Hedgehog got the better of him. Every time the Hare arrived at one end or the other, the Hedgehog or his wife called out:

“Here I am already!”

But the seventy-fourth time the Hare dropped down dead tired before he got half-way. So the Hedgehog took his golden guinea, and he and his wife went home very well pleased with themselves. And so my tale is finished.


Bruno’s Story

[From “Sylvie and Bruno.”]

“Once there were a mouse and a crocodile and a man and a goat and a lion,” said Bruno.

“And the mouse found a shoe, and it thought it were a mouse-trap. So it got right in, and it stayed in ever so long.”

“Why did it stay in?”

“‘Cause it thought it couldn’t get out again,” Bruno explained. “It were a clever mouse. It knew it couldn’t get out of traps.”

“But why did it go in, then?”

“No matter why!” said Bruno decisively; “and it jamp, and it jamp, and at last it got right out again. And it looked at the mark in the shoe. And the man’s name were in it. So it knew it wasn’t its own shoe.

So the mouse gave the man his shoe. And the man were welly glad, ‘cause he hadn’t got but one shoe, and he were hopping to get the other.

And the man took the goat out of the sack.... No, I know oo hasn’t heard of the sack before, and oo won’t again.... And he said to the goat: ‘Oo will walk about here till I comes back.’ And he went and he tumbled into a deep hole. And the goat walked round and round. And it walked under the tree. And it wug its tail. And it looked up in the tree. And it sang a sad little song. Oo never heard such a sad little song!

It singed it right froo. I sawed it singing with its long beard.

And when it had singed all the song, it ran away—for to get along to look for the man, oo know. And the crocodile got along after it—for to bite it, oo know. And the mouse got along after the crocodile.”

“Wasn’t the crocodile running?”

345“He wasn’t running,” said Bruno, “and he wasn’t crawling. He went struggling along like a portmanteau. And he held his chin ever so high in the air——”

“What did he do that for?”

“‘Cause he hadn’t got a toofache!” said Bruno. “Can’t oo make out nuffin wizout I ‘splain it? Why, if he’d had a toofache, a course he’d have held his head down—like this—and he’d have put a lot of warm blankets round it!”

“Did he have any blankets?”

“Course he had blankets,” said Bruno. “Does oo think crocodiles goes walks wisout blankets? And he frowned with his eyebrows. And the goat was welly flightened at his eyebrows.”

“I’d never be afraid of eyebrows.”

“I should think oo would, though, if they’d got a crocodile fastened to them, like these had!”

And so the man jamp, and he jamp, and at last he got right out of the hole.

And he runned away—for to look for the goat, oo know. And he heard the lion grunting.

And its mouth were like a large cupboard. And it had plenty of room in its mouth. And the lion runned after the man—for to eat him, oo know. And the mouse runned after the lion.

“And first he caught the crocodile, and then he didn’t catch the lion. And when he’d caught the crocodile, what does oo think he did—‘cause he’d got pincers in his pocket? Why, he wrenched out that crocodile’s toof!”

“Which tooth?”

“The toof he were going to bite the goat with, a course!”

“And what became of the man?”

“Well, the lion springed at him. But it came so slow, it were three weeks in the air——”

“Did the man wait for it all that time?”

“Course he didn’t. He sold his house, and he packed up his things, while the lion were coming. And he went and he lived in another town. So the lion ate the wrong man.”

Lewis Carroll.

The Bluebottle Who Went Courting

A gay young Bluebottle went out courting.

And first he flew into the king’s palace to woo the king’s daughter.

Now, she was the most beautiful princess in all the world, and had a thousand suitors at her feet.

So the Bluebottle came and settled on her hand, and sang:

“Zum, zum, zoo,
I want to marry you!”

But the princess didn’t understand the song. She only saw a great bluebottle fly, and she tried to flick it off her hand. But the Bluebottle sat fast. Then the princess cried out:

“Here’s a great horrid fly on my hand, and it won’t move! Quick! some one take it away!”

At that, you may be sure, all the suitors came running up, and made grabs at the Bluebottle; and the cleverest of them caught him between his finger and thumb and nearly crushed the life out of him. But he managed to wriggle free, and in his flight he flew at the king himself and settled right on the tip of the royal nose.

Then the king gave a terrific snort and hit the Bluebottle such a blow that if it hadn’t just missed him he would certainly have been killed.

By this time, I can tell you, the Bluebottle was in such a state that he didn’t know whether he was on his head or his heels. So he buzzed round and round the room, and was chased from one courtier to the other, and dashed his wings against the window-panes, and at last the king threw his 347scepter at him, and the scepter hit the fattest duchess in the room, and bounded off and struck the Bluebottle on the head.

You may fancy how that confused the poor thing! And so he flew into the fireplace, and got his left wing scorched, and he only just managed to crawl up the chimney by the skin of his teeth.

But a maiden bluebottle, who was distantly related to his family, nursed his wing for him, and so pretty soon he was as gay as ever. Then he said:

“Very well, if I can’t have the princess, I’ll have the next best thing.”

And so he flew into the king’s stable and sat himself down right on the back of the princess’s favorite mare.

“Zum, zum, zoo,
I want to marry you!”

he hummed.

But the mare took not the least notice of his song. She only shifted her feet irritably, for the Bluebottle tickled her.

“Zum, zum, zoo,
I want to marry you!”

repeated the Bluebottle, quite boldly.

At that the mare gave a flick of her tail and hit the Bluebottle slap! bang! right in the middle of his bright azure waistcoat, so that he was sent spinning in among the straw that littered the floor.

So there he lay, buzzing mournfully, till the maiden bluebottle came along and rubbed him all over, and put him on his feet again.

And pretty soon he was gayer than ever, and thought how he would go courting once more.

“Better stick to your own station,” said his lady friend.

But he only tossed his head and sniffed scornfully.

And then he put on a brand-new waistcoat and flew into the king’s kitchen, where the princess’s favorite cat lay purring on the hearth.

348And the Bluebottle lost no time at all, but crept straight into the cat’s right ear and sang his song:

“Zum, zum, zoo,
I want to marry you!”

Now, the cat had just been dreaming the most delicious dream about the fattest mouse you can think of, and the buzzing in her ear just woke her up in the most exciting part.

And so, you may guess, she wasn’t in the best of tempers.

Whether she heard the Bluebottle’s proposal of marriage or not, I really can’t say. If she did, you may be sure it didn’t please her, for she just made a snatch with her paw and grabbed him by the leg.

Now, it would have been all up with him if the maiden relative hadn’t flown up in the very nick of time and tickled the cat’s nose.

Very well, that made the cat sneeze so violently that she let go of the Bluebottle’s leg, and so he flew away. But his leg was broken; and the doctor came every day for a week, and then he sent in his bill. And the maiden friend brought all her savings rolled up in an old stocking of her mother’s. And so the Bluebottle paid the doctor, and there was an end of that.

Now, would you believe it, the Bluebottle was so young and giddy that his leg was scarcely well before he began to wonder where he should go courting next.

“When there are so many old maids in the world,” said he, “it’s a bachelor’s duty to look round for a wife. I do it out of charity.”

“Charity begins at home,” said his lady friend, and blushed in a modest way.

But the Bluebottle was not the kind of person to take a hint. So he just put on another new waistcoat, and away he flew into the woods.

And there a fine young lady woodpecker was hopping about digging for worms in a ladylike manner.

“Now, here is a person after my own heart,” said the Bluebottle. 349“She doesn’t wait for us men to bring her food; she just helps herself. I might do worse than marry her.”

And without a minute’s hesitation he began to buzz round and round the woodpecker, singing his old song:

“Zum, zum, zoo,
I want to marry you!”

When the woodpecker caught sight of him, she cocked her tail in a knowing way.

“Change of food is as good as change of air,” said she, and gave a peck that nearly finished the Bluebottle there and then, and tore his right wing from end to end.

So there he was, sprawling on his back with his legs curled up in agony, for a torn wing is no trifle. And now the woodpecker would certainly have gobbled him up; but just then the faithful maiden friend, who had followed the Bluebottle because he was bound to get into mischief, hurried up. When she saw the state of things, she didn’t stop twice to think, but took a dead leaf and dropped it right over the Bluebottle.

Now, when the woodpecker saw the maiden Bluebottle, she took her for the bachelor, and gave another peck. But the maiden flew away and hid behind a fern, and so the woodpecker went back to her worms.

“Oh! Oh! I’m dead! I’m dead!” groaned the Bluebottle under the leaf.

“Nonsense!” said his lady friend. “Rubbish doesn’t die so easily!”

You see, she was severe because her pride had been hurt.

“Oh, dear, kind friend, don’t fly away and leave me!” begged the Bluebottle meekly.

“You’ve flown away and left me often enough,” said the lady friend.

“I’ll never do it again as long as I live!” cried he.

“You couldn’t if you wanted to,” said she, and stroked the broken wing.

350“Oh, why wasn’t I content with a bluebottle bride?” groaned he.

“No lady bluebottle will look at you now,” said she, “for you’ll always fly lame as long as you live.”

“Oh, won’t you take pity on me?” asked the poor Bluebottle, who felt thoroughly humble by this time.

Then his lady friend put her own strong wing under his broken one.

“I’ll marry you—out of charity,” she said, and flew away with him.


How Two Beetles Took Lodgings

Once upon a time there was a worthy set of ants, who lived together as happily as possible in their little town at the foot of a fine old oak-tree.

They were honest, peaceable folk, and always did as the three queen ants who ruled over them told them to do.

The young men stayed quietly at home until it was time for them to get married, and the young ladies, who had nothing else to do, did the same.

As for the working people—But here’s a curious state of things! You’ll never find a working “man” in an ant city as long as you live, for all the workers are females, even the soldiers, you may take my word for that!

Well, as for these, they were at it morning, noon, and night, digging and building and fetching food for the whole town, looking after the eggs—of which there were so many you could never have counted them—and seeing that all the baby ants were quite happy and comfortable.

Now, things would have gone on very well indeed if other people had only left these worthy ants alone. But they did not—and this is where my story really begins.

One fine day a set of ants belonging to quite another tribe came to the forest, and built themselves a town not far from the first.

And these ants—it grieves me to write it—were far from peaceful and honest like their neighbors. To tell the truth, they were nothing more nor less than robbers.

They had not been very long in the place before their soldiers—all womenfolk, too!—made a raid on the town of the mild and harmless ants, and carried off all the girl babies they could lay hands on. And the moment the children were old 352enough to work, they were made into slaves, and had to do all the roughest and hardest work.

Well, you may guess there was sorrow in the town of the peaceful ants. They were too weak to fight their foes, and so they just had to sit down and bear it as best they could.

Now, what happened once, happened again, and yet again, till at last the harmless ants made up their minds to move and build themselves a new city in another part of the forest.

And so they did. But it was all of no use, for the robbers followed them, and then the same thing happened all over again. So soon as there was a fine, fat, promising bunch of girl babies in the town, the robbers came and carried them into slavery.

One misfortune followed fast upon another. Not long after the ants had moved into their new town, a beetle and his wife came stalking in, and demanded lodgings in the queen’s palace.

They were smartly dressed in blue and green coats of the latest cut, but they carried no baggage except a tooth-brush, that stuck out of the Beetle’s wife’s pocket. This was suspicious, and they looked so hungry and thirsty, into the bargain, that it was not to be wondered at that the poor queen ant pulled a long face.

“We’re traveling for pleasure,” said the Beetle’s wife, “and we shall have much pleasure in staying here as long as we like.”

With that she walked straight up to the best bedroom, said she hoped the sheets were aired, and went to bed, while her husband talked pleasantly with the three queens, and ate three dozen new-laid ants’ eggs for his supper.

The unhappy queens soon saw what kind of visitors they had got. The Beetles made themselves at home everywhere—in the palace and out of it—and called for whatever they wanted. The working ants had to wait on them hand and foot. There was the Beetle’s shaving water to be got first thing in the morning, and the Beetle’s wife’s cup of milk fresh from the cow. For ants, you must know, keep their cows, 353just as human beings do, though the milk of the ant cow is more like sugar water than anything else we have.

Then there never was any one who could do with so many meals in the course of a single day as that Beetle and his wife. They just ate and drank from morning to night, and it was all the ants could do to keep the palace larder stocked.

All the choicest morsels, the finest seeds and salads the workers could bring fell to the Beetles’ share, while the queens got what was left.

There was no peace and quiet in the town. The Beetles pried into every hole and corner, spread themselves in everybody’s parlor, and paraded the streets singing and whistling when quiet folks wanted to rest.

But, what was worst of all, they showed never a sign of moving on.

“I thought you said you were traveling,” the bravest of the queens ventured to remark at last.

“Why, so we were!” said the Beetles. “But one must settle down some time or other, and your air really suits us very well.”

“Did you hear that?” whispered one young working ant to another.

The two had come to the palace with a pitcher of milk just in time to listen to the conversation.

“They’ll never leave us,” said the second ant.

“Not unless some one takes steps,” returned the first ant.

“And, pray, whose steps, and why?” asked the second.

“You always were stupid,” said the first one, and gave her waist a twitch—which is a way ants have when they are put out. “Now, if some one were to take my advice,” she went on, “but there’s nobody in all the town with two pennyworth of spirit. Nobody would take my advice.”

“I suppose you couldn’t take it yourself?” asked the second ant, who really was not quite as stupid as people thought.

“It never occurred to me,” said the first ant; “but now you mention it, perhaps I might.”

354And then the first ant thought and thought, and the end of it was that she slipped out of the town so soon as her day’s work was finished and strolled away toward the town where the robber ants lived.

And presently a fierce old soldier-ant came marching out at the gate.

Then the little worker’s heart beat very fast, and she turned as pale as an ant can turn.

“‘Nothing venture, nothing win,’” she said to herself, and walked straight up to the soldier.

“Hallo! Who are you?” said the soldier.

“Oh, I’m a neighbor of yours, from Beechtown,” said the little ant. “I’m just taking a stroll before supper.”

“A stroll before supper!” cried the soldier, staring very hard. “You don’t seem to have much work to do over there.”

“Why, no, I can’t say I have,” said the little ant.

“But I can see by your dress you’re a servant,” said the soldier-woman.

“So I am,” said the little ant. “But we servants of Beechtown have an easy place. A bit of dusting now and then, and a little light needlework; that’s all.”

“I heard a very different story only the other day,” said the soldier.

“Ah, but everything’s changed since the Beetles came,” said the little worker. “They do all the dirty work; and, my goodness! they can work, you may take my word for that! It’s worth something, I can tell you, to have two fine Beetles like that in the town!”

“Aha!” thought the soldier-woman to herself, “here’s something for us!”

And she was so taken up with thinking that she forgot to bid the little ant good night, and there and then she marched straight back to her town to tell the general what she had heard.

But the little ant went home well pleased with herself. And, sure enough, what she expected would happen did happen.

The robber-ants, as soon as they heard the soldier’s story, 355were as eager as possible to carry off the two Beetles who could work so well.

And to prevent any fuss and bother, this is what they did:

They took a great pitcher of ant-cow’s milk and mixed with it a few drops of the poison, which, as every one knows, an ant always carries about with her in her poison-bag. Then twelve soldiers took the pitcher to Beechtown and waited outside the gate for the Beetles to come out. And directly they saw them coming they put down the pitcher and hid behind a mountain of dead leaves.

But the Beetles drank up the sweet stuff till there was not a drop left at the bottom of the pail, and immediately the poison began to work, and both the Beetle and his wife fell back in a heap on to the grass, and there they lay, and could stir neither hand nor foot.

The robbers, you may fancy, lost no time, bundled the pair on to a stout rhubarb leaf, and dragged them away to their own city as fast as they could go.

Now, scarcely had they got them there when the poison began to wear off—for ants’ poison is not very strong, you see—and pretty soon the Beetle’s wife sat up and pinched her husband. It was not long before he sat up, too; and by and by those two were as clear in their heads and as firm on their legs as any two beetles ever were.

And now there was an unpleasant surprise in store for the robber-ants. When the Beetle’s wife had looked round a bit, she said to her husband:

“Why, it seems comfortable enough here. I don’t think we’ll trouble to go back to Beechtown. I think this will suit us very well.”

“Well, well, we’ll just see what the cooking’s like,” said he, and went straight to the palace where the six queen-ants who ruled over the robbers lived. He just said: “How-d’ye-do?” to the queens in an off-hand way, and then he sat down and helped himself to all the dishes he could find in the larder.

His wife, she did the same, and between them they finished all the food there was.

356And so they went on, just as they were used to doing in Beechtown, and it did not take the robbers long to find out the mistake they had made.

The Beetles had never done a day’s work in their lives, and they had no notion of beginning now, just because the robbers expected it.

When they heard how they had been carried off, and why, they thought the whole affair a very good joke, and laughed and laughed till they grew purple in the face, and had to slap each other on the back to keep from choking.

The robbers, you may believe me, were as angry as angry could be. They coaxed and they threatened, but neither the Beetle nor his wife would do a stroke of work. On the contrary, they took such a deal of waiting upon that the robbers were driven well-nigh crazy, and racked their brains for a way to get rid of them.

But the Beetles liked their new quarters very well, and there they stopped.

So things went on, till at last the robbers made up their minds to give the Beetles the slip. And one dark night, while they were asleep, they packed their trunks and left the town. But the gate wanted oiling, and creaked so as they swung it open that the Beetle’s wife got nightmare and woke up.

In a minute, you may be sure, she had found out what was going on, and had wakened her husband. Then the two crept very softly out at the gate and kept the ants at a comfortable distance.

So the end of it all was that, though the robbers went far into the forest, many leagues from their old town, they had no sooner finished building the new one than in marched the Beetles, and went on in their old way as though nothing had happened.

Now, the robbers had settled so far away from Beechtown that it was not worth their while to come and steal the children of the harmless ants, for they found another town nearer to hand.

And so the harmless ants lived together quite happily and 357peacefully once more, and the clever little worker, to whom they owed their good fortune, was raised to great honor and glory.

But the robbers had to make the best of the Beetles, for get rid of them they never could. And if ever you should be passing that way, why, I make no doubt you’ll find them there still.


Little Tuppen

One day an old hen whose name was Cluck-cluck went into the woods with her little chick Tuppen to get some blueberries to eat. But a berry stuck fast in the little one’s throat, and he fell upon the ground, choking and gasping. Cluck-cluck, in great fright, ran to fetch some water for him.

She ran to the Spring and said: “My dear Spring, please give me some water. I want it for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The Spring said: “I will give you some water if you will bring me a cup.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Oak-tree and said: “Dear Oak-tree, please give me a cup. I want it for the Spring; and then the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The Oak-tree said: “I will give you a cup if some one will shake my branches.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to Maid Marian, the wood-cutter’s child, and said: “Dear Maid Marian, please shake the Oak-tree’s branches; and then the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The wood-cutter’s child, Maid Marian, said: “I will shake the Oak-tree’s branches if you will give me some shoes.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Shoemaker and said: “Dear Shoemaker, please give me some shoes. I want them for Maid Marian, the wood-cutter’s child; for then Maid Marian will 359shake the Oak-tree’s branches, and the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The Shoemaker said: “I will give you some shoes if you will give me some leather.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to Moo-moo, the ox, and said: “Dear Moo-moo, please give me some leather. I want it for the Shoemaker; for then the Shoemaker will give me some shoes, and I will give the shoes to Maid Marian, and Maid Marian will shake the Oak-tree’s branches, and the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The ox, Moo-moo, said: “I will give you some leather if you will give me some corn.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Farmer and said: “Dear Farmer, please give me some corn. I want it for Moo-moo, the ox; for then the ox will give me some leather, and I will give the leather to the Shoemaker, and the Shoemaker will give me shoes, and I will give the shoes to Maid Marian, and Maid Marian will shake the Oak-tree’s branches, and the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The Farmer said: “I will give you some corn if you will give me a plow.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to the Blacksmith and said: “Dear Blacksmith, please give me a plow. I want it for the Farmer; for then the Farmer will give me some corn, and I will give the corn to the ox, and the ox will give me leather, and I will give the leather to the Shoemaker, and the Shoemaker will give me shoes, and I will give the shoes to Maid Marian, and Maid Marian will shake the Oak-tree’s branches, and the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, 360and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The Blacksmith said: “I will give you a plow if you will give me some iron.”

Then Cluck-cluck ran to the busy little dwarfs who live under the mountains, and have all the iron that is found in the mines. “Dear, dear dwarfs,” she said, “please give me some of your iron. I want it for the Blacksmith; for then the Blacksmith will give me a plow, and I will give the plow to the Farmer, and the Farmer will give me corn, and I will give the corn to the ox, and the ox will give me leather, and I will give the leather to the Shoemaker, and the Shoemaker will give me shoes, and I will give the shoes to Maid Marian, and Maid Marian will shake the Oak-tree’s branches, and the Oak-tree will give me a cup, and I will give the cup to the Spring, and the Spring will give me water for my little chick Tuppen, who lies choking and gasping under the blueberry-bush in the green woods.”

The little dwarfs who live under the mountains had pity on poor Cluck-cluck, and they gave her a great heap of red iron-ore from their mines.

Then she gave the iron to the Blacksmith, and the plow to the Farmer, and the corn to the ox, and the leather to the Shoemaker, and the shoes to Maid Marian; and Maid Marian shook the Oak-tree, and the Spring got the acorn cup, and Cluck-cluck carried it full of water to her little chick Tuppen.

Then little Tuppen drank the water, and was well again, and ran chirping and singing in the long grass as if nothing had happened to him.


The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World

[From “Nonsense Stories.”]

Once upon a time, a long while ago, there were four little people whose names were Violet, Slingsby, Guy, and Lionel; and they all thought they should like to see the world. So they bought a large boat to sail quite round the world by sea, and then they were to come back on the other side by land. The boat was painted blue with green spots, and the sail was yellow with red stripes; and, when they set off, they only took a small cat to steer and look after the boat, besides an elderly quangle-wangle, who had to cook the dinner and make the tea; for which purposes they took a large kettle.

For the first ten days they sailed on beautifully, and found plenty to eat, as there were lots of fish; and they had only to take them out of the sea with a long spoon, when the quangle-wangle instantly cooked them; and the pussy-cat was fed with the bones, with which she expressed herself pleased on the whole; so that all the party was very happy.

During the daytime Violet chiefly occupied herself in putting salt water into a churn, while her three brothers churned it violently in the hope that it would turn into butter, which it seldom, if ever, did; and in the evening they all retired into the tea-kettle, where they all managed to sleep very comfortably, while pussy and the quangle-wangle managed the boat.

After a time they saw some land at a distance; and, when they came to it, they found it was an island made of water quite surrounded by earth. Besides that, it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses, with a great gulf-stream running about 362all over it; so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, five hundred and three feet high.

When they had landed, they walked about, but found, to their great surprise, that the island was quite full of veal-cutlets and chocolate-drops, and nothing else. So they all climbed up the single high tree to discover, if possible, if there were any people; but having remained on the top of the tree for a week, and not seeing anybody, they naturally concluded that there were no inhabitants; and accordingly, when they came down, they loaded the boat with two thousand veal-cutlets and a million of chocolate-drops; and these afforded them sustenance for more than a month, during which time they pursued their voyage with the utmost delight and apathy.

After this they came to a shore where there were no less than sixty-five great red parrots with blue tails, sitting on a rail all of a row, and all fast asleep. And I am sorry to say that the pussy-cat and the quangle-wangle crept softly, and bit off the tail-feathers of all the sixty-five parrots, for which Violet reproved them both severely.

Notwithstanding which, she proceeded to insert all the feathers—two hundred and sixty in number—in her bonnet; thereby causing it to have a lovely and glittering appearance, highly prepossessing and efficacious.

The next thing that happened to them was in a narrow part of the sea, which was so entirely full of fishes that the boat could go on no farther; so they remained there about six weeks, till they had eaten nearly all the fishes, which were soles, and all ready cooked, and covered with shrimp-sauce, so that there was no trouble whatever. And as the few fishes who remained uneaten complained of the cold, as well as of the difficulty they had in getting any sleep on account of the extreme noise made by the arctic bears and the tropical turnspits, which frequented the neighborhood in great numbers, Violet most amiably knitted a small woolen frock for several of the fishes, and Slingsby administered some opium-drops to them; through which kindness they became quite warm, and slept soundly.

363Then they came to a country which was wholly covered with immense orange-trees of a vast size, and quite full of fruit. So they all landed, taking with them the tea-kettle, intending to gather some of the oranges and place them in it. But, while they were busy about this, a most dreadfully high wind rose, and blew out most of the parrot-tail feathers from Violet’s bonnet. That, however, was nothing compared with the calamity of the oranges falling down on their heads by millions and millions, which thumped and bumped and bumped and thumped them all so seriously that they were obliged to run as hard as they could for their lives; besides that, the sound of the oranges rattling on the tea-kettle was of the most fearful and amazing nature.

Nevertheless, they got safely to the boat, although considerably vexed and hurt; and the quangle-wangle’s right foot was so knocked about that he had to sit with his head in his slipper for at least a week.

This event made them all for a time rather melancholy, and perhaps they might never have become less so had not Lionel, with a most praiseworthy devotion and perseverance, continued to stand on one leg, and whistle to them in a loud and lively manner; which diverted the whole party so extremely that they gradually recovered their spirits, and agreed that, whenever they should reach home, they would subscribe toward a testimonial to Lionel, entirely made of gingerbread and raspberries, as an earnest token of their sincere and grateful infection.

After sailing on calmly for several more days they came to another country, where they were much pleased and surprised to see a countless multitude of white mice with red eyes, all sitting in a great circle, slowly eating custard-pudding with the most satisfactory and polite demeanor.

And as the four travelers were rather hungry, being tired of eating nothing but soles and oranges for so long a period, they held a council as to the propriety of asking the mice for some of their pudding in a humble and affecting manner, by which they could hardly be otherwise than gratified. It was 364agreed, therefore, that Guy should go and ask the mice, which he immediately did; and the result was, that they gave a walnut-shell only half full of custard diluted with water. Now, this displeased Guy, who said: “Out of such a lot of pudding as you have got, I must say, you might have spared a somewhat larger quantity.” But no sooner had he finished speaking than the mice turned round at once, and sneezed at him in an appalling and vindictive manner (and it is impossible to imagine a more scroobious and unpleasant sound than that caused by the simultaneous sneezing of many millions of angry mice); so that Guy rushed back to the boat, having first shied his cap into the middle of the custard-pudding, by which means he completely spoiled the mice’s dinner.

By and by the four children came to a country where there were no houses, but only an incredibly innumerable number of large bottles without corks, and of a dazzling and sweetly susceptible blue color. Each of these blue bottles contained a bluebottle fly; and all these interesting animals live continually together in the most copious and rural harmony; nor perhaps in many parts of the world is such perfect and abject happiness to be found. Violet and Slingsby and Guy and Lionel were greatly struck with this singular and instructive settlement; and, having previously asked permission of the bluebottle flies (which was most courteously granted), the boat was drawn up to the shore, and they proceeded to make tea in front of the bottles; but, as they had no tea-leaves, they merely placed some pebbles in the hot water; and the quangle-wangle played some tunes over it on an accordion, by which, of course, tea was made directly, and of the very best quality.

The four children then entered into conversation with the bluebottle flies, who discoursed in a placid and genteel manner, though with a slightly buzzing accent, chiefly owing to the fact that they each held a small clothes-brush between their teeth, which naturally occasioned a fizzy, extraneous utterance.

“Why,” said Violet, “would you kindly inform us, do you reside in bottles; and, if in bottles at all, why not, rather, in green or purple, or, indeed, in yellow bottles?”

365To which questions a very aged bluebottle fly answered: “We found the bottles here all ready to live in; that is to say, our great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers did, so we occupied them at once. And, when the winter comes on, we turn the bottles upside down, and consequently rarely feel the cold at all; and you know very well that this could not be the case with bottles of any other color than blue.”

“Of course it could not,” said Slingsby. “But, if we may take the liberty of inquiring, on what do you chiefly subsist?”

“Mainly on oyster-patties,” said the bluebottle fly; “and, when these are scarce, on raspberry vinegar and Russian leather boiled down to a jelly.”

“How delicious!” said Guy.

To which Lionel added, “Huzz!” And all the bluebottle flies said, “Buzz!”

At this time an elderly fly said it was the hour for the evening song to be sung; and, on a signal being given, all the bluebottle flies began to buzz at once in a sumptuous and sonorous manner, the melodious and mucilaginous sounds echoing all over the waters, and resounding across the tumultuous tops of the transitory titmice upon the intervening and verdant mountains with a serene and sickly suavity only known to the truly virtuous. The moon was shining slobaciously from the star-bespangled sky, while her light irrigated the smooth and shiny sides and wings and backs of the bluebottle flies with a peculiar and trivial splendor, while all nature cheerfully responded to the cerulean and conspicuous circumstances.

In many long-after years the four little travelers looked back to that evening as one of the happiest in all their lives; and it was already past midnight when—the sail of the boat having been set up by the quangle-wangle, the tea-kettle and churn placed in their respective positions, and the pussy-cat stationed at the helm—the children each took a last and affectionate farewell of the bluebottle flies, who walked down in a body to the water’s edge to see the travelers embark.

As a token of parting respect and esteem, Violet made a courtesy quite down to the ground, and stuck one of her few 366remaining parrot-tail feathers into the back hair of the most pleasing of the bluebottle flies; while Slingsby, Guy, and Lionel offered them three small boxes, containing, respectively, black pins, dried figs, and Epsom salts; and thus they left that happy shore forever.

Overcome by their feelings, the four little travelers instantly jumped into the tea-kettle and fell fast asleep. But all along the shore, for many hours, there was distinctly heard a sound of severely suppressed sobs, and of a vague multitude of living creatures using their pocket-handkerchiefs in a subdued simultaneous snuffle, lingering sadly along the walloping waves as the boat sailed farther and farther away from the land of the happy bluebottle flies.

Nothing particular occurred for some days after these events, except that, as the travelers were passing a low tract of sand, they perceived an unusual and gratifying spectacle; namely, a large number of crabs and crawfish—perhaps six or seven hundred—sitting by the waterside, and endeavoring to disentangle a vast heap of pale pink worsted, which they moistened at intervals with a fluid composed of lavender-water and white-wine negus.

“Can we be of any service to you, oh, crusty crabbies?” said the four children.

“Thank you kindly,” said the crabs consecutively. “We are trying to make some worsted mittens, but do not know how.”

On which Violet, who was perfectly acquainted with the art of mitten-making, said to the crabs, “Do your claws unscrew, or are they fixtures?”

“They are all made to unscrew,” said the crabs; and forthwith they deposited a great pile of claws close to the boat, with which Violet uncombed all the pale pink worsted, and then made the loveliest mittens with it you can imagine. These the crabs, having resumed and screwed on their claws, placed cheerfully upon their wrists and walked away rapidly on their hind-legs, warbling songs with a silvery voice and in a minor key.

367After this the four little people sailed on again till they came to a vast and wide plain of astonishing dimensions, on which nothing whatever could be discovered at first; but, as the travelers walked onward, there appeared in the extreme and dim distance a single object, which on a nearer approach, and on an accurately cutaneous inspection, seemed to be somebody in a large white wig, sitting on an arm-chair made of sponge-cakes and oyster-shells. “It does not quite look like a human being,” said Violet doubtfully; nor could they make out what it really was till the quangle-wangle (who had previously been round the world) exclaimed softly in a loud voice, “It is the coöperative cauliflower!”

And so, in truth, it was; and they soon found that what they had taken for an immense wig was in reality the top of the cauliflower, and that he had no feet at all, being able to walk tolerably well with a fluctuating and graceful movement on a single cabbage-stalk—an accomplishment which naturally saved him the expense of stockings and shoes.

Presently, while the whole party from the boat was gazing at him with mingled affection and disgust, he suddenly arose, and, in a somewhat plumdomphious manner, hurried off toward the setting sun—his steps supported by two superincumbent confidential cucumbers, and a large number of water-wagtails proceeding in advance of him by three and three in a row—till he finally disappeared on the brink of the western sky in a crystal cloud of sudorific sand.

So remarkable a sight, of course, impressed the four children very deeply; and they returned immediately to their boat with a strong sense of undeveloped asthma and a great appetite.

Shortly after this the travelers were obliged to sail directly below some high overhanging rocks, from the top of one of which a particularly odious little boy, dressed in rose-colored knickerbockers, and with a pewter plate upon his head, threw an enormous pumpkin at the boat, by which it was instantly upset.

But this upsetting was of no consequence, because all the 368party knew how to swim very well; and, in fact, they preferred swimming about till after the moon rose, when, the water growing chilly, they sponge-taneously entered the boat. Meanwhile the quangle-wangle threw back the pumpkin with immense force, so that it hit the rocks where the malicious little boy in rose-colored knickerbockers was sitting, when, being quite full of lucifer-matches, the pumpkin exploded surreptitiously into a thousand bits; whereon the rocks instantly took fire, and the odious little boy became unpleasantly hotter and hotter and hotter, till his knickerbockers were turned quite green, and his nose was burned off.

Two or three days after this had happened they came to another place, where they found nothing at all except some wide and deep pits full of mulberry-jam. This is the property of the tiny, yellow-nosed apes who abound in these districts, and who store up the mulberry-jam for their food in winter, when they mix it with pellucid pale periwinkle-soup, and serve it out in Wedgwood china bowls, which grow freely all over that part of the country. Only one of the yellow-nosed apes was on the spot, and he was fast asleep; yet the four travelers and the quangle-wangle and pussy were so terrified by the violence and sanguinary sound of his snoring that they merely took a small cupful of the jam, and returned to reëmbark in their boat without delay.

What was their horror on seeing the boat (including the churn and the tea-kettle) in the mouth of an enormous seeze pyder, an aquatic and ferocious creature truly dreadful to behold, and, happily, only met with in those excessive longitudes! In a moment the beautiful boat was bitten into fifty-five thousand million hundred billion bits; and it instantly became quite clear that Violet, Slingsby, Guy, and Lionel could no longer preliminate their voyage by sea.

The four travelers were therefore obliged to resolve on pursuing their wanderings by land; and, very fortunately, there happened to pass by at that moment an elderly rhinoceros, on which they seized; and, all four mounting on his back—the quangle-wangle sitting on his horn, and holding on by his ears, 369and the pussy-cat swinging at the end of his tail—they set off, having only four small beans and three pounds of mashed potatoes to last through their whole journey.

They were, however, able to catch numbers of the chickens and turkeys and other birds who incessantly alighted on the head of the rhinoceros for the purpose of gathering the seeds of the rhododendron plants which grew there; and these creatures they cooked in the most translucent and satisfactory manner by means of a fire lighted on the end of the rhinoceros’s back. A crowd of kangaroos and gigantic cranes accompanied them, from feelings of curiosity and complacency; so that they were never at a loss for company, and went onward, as it were, in a sort of profuse and triumphant procession.

Thus in less than eighteen weeks they all arrived safely at home, where they were received by their admiring relatives with joy tempered with contempt, and where they finally resolved to carry out the rest of their traveling plans at some more favorable opportunity.

As for the rhinoceros, in token of their grateful adherence, they had him killed and stuffed directly, and then set him up outside the door of their father’s house as a diaphanous door-scraper.

Edward Lear.

The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple

[From “Nonsense Stories.”]


In former days—that is to say, once upon a time—there lived in the Land of Gramble-blamble seven families. They lived by the side of the great Lake Pipple-popple (one of the seven families, indeed, lived in the lake), and on the outskirts of the city of Tosh, which, excepting when it was quite dark, they could see plainly. The names of all these places you have probably heard of; and you have only not to look in your geography books to find out all about them.

Now, the seven families who lived on the borders of the great Lake Pipple-popple were as follows in the next chapter.


There was a family of two old parrots and seven young parrots.

There was a family of two old storks and seven young storks.

371There was a family of two old geese and seven young geese.

There was a family of two old owls and seven young owls.

There was a family of two old guinea-pigs and seven young guinea-pigs.

There was a family of two old cats and seven young cats.

And there was a family of two old fishes and seven young fishes.


The parrots lived upon the soffsky-poffsky trees, which were beautiful to behold, and covered with blue leaves; and they fed upon fruit, artichokes, and striped beetles.

The storks walked in and out of the Lake Pipple-popple, and ate frogs for breakfast, and buttered toast for tea; but on account of the extreme length of their legs they could not sit down, and so they walked about continually.

The geese, having webs to their feet, caught quantities of flies, which they ate for dinner.

The owls anxiously looked after mice, which they caught and made into sago-puddings.

The guinea-pigs toddled about the gardens, and ate lettuces and Cheshire cheese.

The cats sat still in the sunshine, and fed upon sponge biscuits.

The fishes lived in the lake, and fed chiefly on boiled periwinkles.

And all these seven families lived together in the utmost fun and felicity.


One day all the seven fathers and the seven mothers of the seven families agreed that they would send their children out to see the world.

372So they called them all together, and gave them each eight shillings and some good advice, some chocolate-drops, and a small green morocco pocket-book to set down their expenses in.

They then particularly entreated them not to quarrel; and all the parents sent off their children with a parting injunction.

“If,” said the old parrots, “you find a cherry, do not fight about who should have it.”

“And,” said the old storks, “if you find a frog, divide it carefully into seven bits, but on no account quarrel about it.”

And the old geese said to the seven young geese: “Whatever you do, be sure you do not touch a plum-pudding flea.”

And the old owls said: “If you find a mouse, tear him up into seven slices, and eat him cheerfully, but without quarreling.”

And the old guinea-pigs said: “Have a care that you eat your lettuces, should you find any, not greedily, but calmly.”

And the old cats said: “Be particularly careful not to meddle with a clangle-wangle if you should see one.”

And the old fishes said: “Above all things, avoid eating a blue boss-woss, for they do not agree with fishes, and give them a pain in their toes.”

So all the children of each family thanked their parents, and, making in all forty-nine polite bows, they went into the wide world.


The seven young parrots had not gone far when they saw a tree with a single cherry on it, which the oldest parrot picked 373instantly; but the other six, being extremely hungry, tried to get it also. On which all the seven began to fight; and they

and huffled,
and ruffled,
and shuffled,
and puffled,
and muffled,
and buffled,
and duffled,
and fluffled,
and guffled,
and bruffled, and

screamed, and shrieked, and squealed, and squeaked, and clawed, and snapped, and bit, and bumped, and thumped, and dumped, and flumped each other, till they were all torn into little bits; and at last there was nothing left to record this painful incident except the cherry and seven small green feathers.

And that was the vicious and voluble end of the seven young parrots.


When the seven young storks set out, they walked or flew for fourteen weeks in a straight line, and for six weeks more in a crooked one; and after that they ran as hard as they could for one hundred and eight miles; and after that they stood still, and made a himmeltanious chatter-clatter-blattery noise with their bills.

About the same time they perceived a large frog, spotted with green, and with a sky-blue stripe under each ear.

So, being hungry, they immediately flew at him, and were going to divide him into seven pieces when they began to quarrel as to which of his legs should be taken off first. One said 374this, and another said that; and while they were all quarreling, the frog hopped away. And when they saw that he was gone they began to


more violently than ever; and after they had fought for a week they pecked each other all to little pieces, so that at last nothing was left of any of them except their bills.

And that was the end of the seven young storks.


When the seven young geese began to travel, they went over a large plain, on which there was but one tree, and that was a very bad one.

So four of them went up to the top of it, and looked about them; while the other three waddled up and down, and repeated poetry, and their last six lessons in arithmetic, geography, and cookery.

Presently they perceived, a long way off, an object of the most interesting and obese appearance, having a perfectly round body exactly resembling a boiled plum-pudding, with two little wings and a beak, and three feathers growing out of his head, and only one leg.

So, after a time, all the seven young geese said to each other: “Beyond all doubt this beast must be a plum-pudding flea!”

On which they incautiously began to sing aloud:

“Plum-pudding flea,
Plum-pudding flea,
Wherever you be,
Oh! come to our tree,
And listen, oh! listen, oh! listen to me!”

375And no sooner had they sung this verse than the plum-pudding flea began to hop and skip on his one leg with the most dreadful velocity, and came straight to the tree, where he stopped, and looked about him in a vacant and voluminous manner.

On which the seven young geese were greatly alarmed, and all of a tremble-bemble; so one of them put out his long neck and just touched him with the tip of his bill; but no sooner had he done this than the plum-pudding flea skipped and hopped about more and more, and higher and higher; after which he opened his mouth, and, to the great surprise and indignation of the seven geese, began to bark so loudly, and furiously, and terribly that they were totally unable to bear the noise; and by degrees every one of them suddenly tumbled down quite dead.

So that was the end of the seven young geese.


When the seven young owls set out, they sat every now and then on the branches of old trees, and never went far at one time.

And one night, when it was quite dark, they thought they heard a mouse; but, as the gas-lamps were not lighted, they could not see him.

So they called out, “Is that a mouse?”

On which a mouse answered, “Squeaky-peeky-weeky! yes, it is!”

And immediately all the young owls threw themselves off the tree, meaning to alight on the ground; but they did not perceive that there was a large well below them, into which they all fell superficially, and were every one of them drowned in less than half a minute.

So that was the end of the seven young owls.



The seven young guinea-pigs went into a garden full of gooseberry-bushes and tiggory-trees, under one of which they fell asleep. When they awoke they saw a large lettuce, which had grown out of the ground while they had been sleeping, and which had an immense number of green leaves. At which they all exclaimed:

“Lettuce! O lettuce
Let us, O let us,
O lettuce-leaves,
O let us leave this tree, and eat
Lettuce, O let us, lettuce-leaves!”

And instantly the seven young guinea-pigs rushed with such extreme force against the lettuce-plant, and hit their heads so vividly against its stalk, that the concussion brought on directly an incipient transitional inflammation of their noses, which grew worse and worse, and worse and worse, till it incidentally killed them—all seven.

And that was the end of the seven young guinea-pigs.


The seven young cats set off on their travels with great delight and rapacity. But, on coming to the top of a high hill, they perceived at a long distance off a clangle-wangle (or, as it is more properly written, clangel-wangel); and, in spite of the warning they had had, they ran straight up to it.

(Now, the clangle-wangles are most dangerous and delusive 377beasts, and by no means commonly to be met with. They live in the water as well as on land, using their long tails as a sail when in the former element. Their speed is extreme, but their habits of life are domestic and superfluous, and their general demeanor pensive and pellucid. On summer evenings they may sometimes be observed near the Lake Pipple-popple, standing on their heads, and humming their national melodies. They subsist entirely on vegetables, excepting when they eat veal or mutton, or pork or beef, or fish or saltpetre.)

The moment the clangle-wangle saw the seven young cats approach, he ran away; and as he ran straight on for four months, and the cats, though they continued to run, could never overtake him, they all gradually died of fatigue and exhaustion, and never afterward recovered.

And this was the end of the seven young cats.


The seven young fishes swam across the Lake Pipple-popple, and into the river, and into the ocean, where, most unhappily for them, they saw on the fifteenth day of their travels, a bright-blue boss-woss, and instantly swam after him. But the blue boss-woss plunged into a


circular depth of soft mud; where, in fact, his house was.

And the seven young fishes, swimming with great and uncomfortable velocity, plunged also into the mud quite against their will, and, not being accustomed to it, were all suffocated in a very short period.

And that was the end of the seven young fishes.



After it was known that the
seven young parrots,
and the seven young storks,
and the seven young geese,
and the seven young owls,
and the seven young guinea-pigs,
and the seven young cats,
and the seven young fishes,

were all dead, then the frog, and the plum-pudding flea, and the mouse, and the clangle-wangle, and the blue boss-woss all met together to rejoice over their good fortune. And they collected the seven feathers of the seven young parrots, and the seven bills of the seven young storks, and the lettuce, and the cherry; and having placed the latter on the lettuce, and the other objects in a circular arrangement at their base, they danced a hornpipe round all these memorials until they were quite tired, after which they gave a tea-party, and a garden-party, and a ball, and a concert, and then returned to their respective homes full of joy and respect, sympathy, satisfaction, and disgust.


But when the two old parrots,
and the two old storks,
and the two old geese,
and the two old owls,
and the two old guinea-pigs,
and the two old cats,
and the two old fishes

379became aware, by reading in the newspapers, of the calamitous extinction of the whole of their families, they refused all further sustenance; and, sending out to various shops, they purchased great quantities of cayenne pepper and brandy and vinegar and blue sealing-wax, besides seven immense glass bottles with air-tight stoppers. And, having done this, they ate a light supper of brown bread and Jerusalem artichokes, and took an affecting and formal leave of the whole of their acquaintance, which was very numerous and distinguished and select and responsible and ridiculous.


And after this they filled the bottles with the ingredients for pickling, and each couple jumped into a separate bottle; by which effort, of course, they all died immediately, and became thoroughly pickled in a few minutes, having previously made their wills (by the assistance of the most eminent lawyers of the district), in which they left strict orders that the stoppers of the seven bottles should be carefully sealed up with the blue sealing-wax they had purchased; and that they themselves, in the bottles, should be presented to the principal museum of the city of Tosh, to be labeled with parchment or any other anti-congenial succedaneum, and to be placed on a marble table with silver-gilt legs, for the daily inspection and contemplation, and for the perpetual benefit, of the pusillanimous public.

And if you ever happen to go to Gramble-blamble, and visit that museum in the city of Tosh, look for them on the ninety-eighth table in the four hundred and twenty-seventh room of the right-hand corridor of the left wing of the central quadrangle of that magnificent building; for, if you do not, you certainly will not see them.

Edward Lear.

Wee Robin’s Yule-Song

There was an auld gray Pussie Baudrons, and she gaed awa’ down by a waterside, and there she saw a Wee Robin Redbreast hoppin’ on a brier; and Pussie Baudrons says: “Where’s tu gaun, Wee Robin?” And Wee Robin says: “I’m gaun awa’ to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning.” And Pussie Baudrons says: “Come here, Wee Robin, and I’ll let you see a bonny white ring round my neck.” But Wee Robin says: “Na, na! gray Poussie Baudrons, na, na! Ye worry’t the wee mousie, but ye’se no worry me.” So Wee Robin flew awa’ till he came to a fail fauld-dike (turf wall), and there he saw a gray greedy gled (hawk) sitting. And gray greedy gled says: “Where’s tu gaun, Wee Robin?” And Wee Robin says: “I’m gaun awa’ to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning.” And gray greedy gled says: “Come here, Wee Robin, and I’ll let ye see a bonny feather in my wing.” But Wee Robin says: “Na, na! gray greedy gled, na, na! Ye pookit (pecked) a’ the wee lintie, but ye’se no pook me.” So Wee Robin flew awa’ till he came to the cleuch (hollow) o’ a craig, and there he saw slee Tod Lowrie (sly fox) sitting. And slee Tod Lowrie says: “Where’s tu gaun, Wee Robin?” And Wee Robin says: “I’m gaun awa’ to the king to sing him a sang this guid Yule morning.” And slee Tod Lowrie says: “Come here, Wee Robin, and I’ll let ye see a bonny spot on the tap o’ my tail.” But Wee Robin says: “Na, na! slee Tod Lowrie, na, na! Ye worry’t the wee lammie, but ye’se no worry me.” So Wee Robin flew awa’ till he came to a bonny burn-side, and there he saw a wee callant sitting. And the wee callant says: “Where’s tu gaun, Wee Robin?” And Wee Robin says: “I’m gaun awa’ to the king to sing him a 381sang this guid Yule morning.” And the wee callant says: “Come here, Wee Robin, and I’ll gie ye a wheen grand moolins (crumbs) out o’ my pooch.” But Wee Robin says: “Na, na! wee callant, na, na! Ye speldert (knocked down) the gowdspink (goldfinch), but ye’se no spelder me.” So Wee Robin flew awa’ till he came to the king; and there he sat on a winnock sole (plowshare), and sang the king a bonny sang. And the king says to the queen: “What’ll we gie to Wee Robin for singing us this bonny sang?” And the queen says to the king: “I think we’ll gie him the wee wran to be his wife.” So Wee Robin and the wee wran were married, and the king, and the queen, and a’ the court danced at the waddin’; syne he flew awa’ home to his ain waterside, and hoppit on a brier.

Attributed to Robert Burns.

The Giant’s Shoes

Once upon a time there was a large giant who lived in a small castle; at least he didn’t all of him live there, but he managed things in this wise. From his earliest youth up, his legs had been of a surreptitiously small size, unsuited to the rest of his body; so he sat upon the southwest wall of the castle with his legs inside, and his right foot came out of the east gate, and his left foot out of the north gate, while his gloomy but spacious coat tails covered up the south and the west gates; and in this way the castle was defended against all comers, and was deemed impregnable by the military authorities. This, however, as we shall soon see, was not the case, for the giant’s boots were inside as well as his legs, but, as he had neglected to put them on in the giddy days of his youth, he was never afterward able to do so, because there was not enough room. And in this bootless but compact manner he passed his time.

The giant slept for three weeks at a time, and two days after he woke his breakfast was brought to him, consisting of bright brown horses sprinkled on his bread and butter. Besides his boots, the giant had a pair of shoes, and in one of them his wife lived when she was at home; on other occasions she lived in the other shoe. She was a sensible, practical kind of woman, with two wooden legs and a clothes-horse; but in other respects not rich. The wooden legs were kept pointed at the end in order that, if the giant were dissatisfied with his breakfast, he might pick up any stray people that were within reach, using his wife as a fork. This annoyed the inhabitants of the district, so that they built their church in a southwestern 383direction from the castle behind the giant’s back, that he might not be able to pick them up as they went in. But those who stayed outside to play pitch-and-toss were exposed to great danger and sufferings.

Now, in the village there were two brothers of altogether different tastes and dispositions, and talents, and peculiarities, and accomplishments, and in this way they were discovered not to be the same person. The elder of them was most marvelously good at singing, and could sing the Old Hundredth an old hundred times without stopping. Whenever he did this, he stood on one leg and tied the other round his neck to avoid catching cold and spoiling his voice, but the neighbors fled. And he was also a rare hand at making guava dumplings out of three cats and a shoe-horn, which is an accomplishment seldom met with. But his brother was a more meager, magnanimous person, and his chief accomplishment was to eat a wagon-load of hay overnight, and wake up thatched in the morning.

The whole interest of this story depends upon the fact that the giant’s wife’s clothes-horse broke in consequence of a sudden thaw, being made of organ-pipes. So she took off her wooden legs and stuck them in the ground, tying a string from the top of one to the top of the other, and hung out her clothes to dry on that. Now, this was astutely remarked by the two brothers, who therefore went up in front of the giant after he had had his breakfast. The giant called out, “Fork! fork!” but his wife, trembling, hid herself in the more recondite toe of the second shoe. Then the singing brother began to sing, but he had not taken into account the pious disposition of the giant, who instantly joined in the psalm; and this caused the singing brother to burst his head off, but, as it was tied by the leg, he did not lose it altogether.

But the other brother, being well thatched on account of the quantity of hay he had eaten overnight, lay down between the great toe of the giant and the next, and wriggled. So the giant, being unable to bear tickling in the feet, kicked out in 384an orthopædal manner; whereupon the castle broke, and he fell backward, and was impaled upon the sharp steeple of the church. So they put a label on him on which was written: “Nudipes Gigantens.”

That’s all.

William Kingdon Clifford.

The Farmer and the Money-Lender

There was once a Farmer who suffered much at the hands of a Money-lender. Good harvests or bad the Farmer was always poor, the Money-lender rich. At the last, when he hadn’t a farthing left, the Farmer went to the Money-lender’s house and said: “You can’t squeeze water from a stone, and, as you have nothing to get by me now, you might tell me the secret of becoming rich.”

“My friend,” returned the Money-lender piously, “riches come from Ram—ask him.”

“Thank you, I will!” replied the simple Farmer; so he prepared three girdle-cakes to last him on the journey, and set out to find Ram.

First he met a Brahman, and to him he gave a cake, asking him to point out the road to Ram; but the Brahman only took the cake, and went on his way without a word. Next the Farmer met a yogi, or devotee, and to him he gave a cake, without receiving any help in return. At last he came upon a poor man sitting under a tree, and finding out he was hungry the kindly Farmer gave him his last cake, and, sitting down to rest beside him, entered into conversation.

“And where are you going?” asked the poor man, at length.

“Oh, I have a long journey before me, for I am going to find Ram!” replied the Farmer. “I don’t suppose you could tell me which way to go?”

“Perhaps I can,” said the poor man, smiling, “for I am Ram! What do you want of me?”

Then the Farmer told the whole story, and Ram, taking pity on him, gave him a conch-shell, and showed him how to blow it in a particular way, saying: “Remember! whatever 386you wish for, you have only to blow the conch that way, and your wish will be fulfilled. Only, have a care of that Money-lender, for even magic is not proof against his wiles!”

The Farmer went back to his village rejoicing. In fact, the Money-lender noticed his high spirits at once, and said to himself: “Some good fortune must have befallen the stupid fellow, to make him hold his head so jauntily.” Therefore he went over to the simple Farmer’s house, and congratulated him on his good fortune in such cunning words, pretending to have heard all about it, that before long the Farmer found himself telling the whole story—all except the secret of blowing the conch, for, with all his simplicity, the Farmer was not quite such a fool as to tell that.

Nevertheless, the Money-lender determined to have the conch by hook or by crook, and, as he was villain enough not to stick at trifles, he waited for a favorable opportunity and stole the conch.

But, after nearly bursting himself with blowing the conch in every conceivable way, he was obliged to give up the secret as a bad job. However, being determined to succeed, he went back to the Farmer, and said coolly: “Look here! I’ve got your conch, but I can’t use it; you haven’t got it, so it’s clear you can’t use it either. Business is at a standstill unless we make a bargain. Now, I promise to give you back your conch, and never to interfere with your using it, on one condition, which is this—whatever you get from it, I am to get double.”

“Never!” cried the Farmer; “that would be the old business all over again!”

“Not at all!” replied the wily Money-lender; “you will have your share! Now, don’t be a dog in the manger, for, if you get all you want, what can it matter to you if I am rich or poor?”

At last, though it went sorely against the grain to be of any benefit to a Money-lender, the Farmer was forced to yield, and from that time, no matter what he gained by the power of the conch, the Money-lender gained double. And the 387knowledge that this was so, preyed upon the Farmer’s mind day and night, so that he had no satisfaction out of anything.

At last there came a very dry season—so dry that the Farmer’s crops withered for want of rain. Then he blew his conch, and wished for a well to water them, and lo! there was the well, but the Money-lender had two!—two beautiful new wells! This was too much for any Farmer to stand; and our friend brooded over it, and brooded over it, till at last a bright idea came into his head. He seized the conch, blew it loudly, and cried out: “Oh, Ram! I wish to be blind of one eye!” And so he was, in a twinkling, but the Money-lender, of course, was blind of both, and in trying to steer his way between the two new wells he fell into one, and was drowned.

Now, this true story shows that a Farmer once got the better of a Money-lender—but only by losing one of his eyes.


How the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind Went Out to Dinner

One day the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind went out to dine with their uncle and aunt, the thunder and lightning. Their mother (one of the most distant stars you see far up in the sky) waited alone for her children’s return.

Now both the Sun and the Wind were greedy and selfish. They enjoyed the great feast that had been prepared for them, without a thought of saving any of it to take home to their mother; but the gentle Moon did not forget her. Of every dainty dish that was brought round, she placed a small portion under one of her beautiful long finger-nails, that the Star might also have a share in the treat.

On their return, their mother, who had kept watch for them all night long with her little bright eye, said: “Well, children, what have you brought home for me?” Then the Sun (who was the eldest) said: “I have brought nothing home for you. I went out to enjoy myself with my friends, not to fetch a dinner for my mother!” And the Wind said: “Neither have I brought anything home for you, mother. You could hardly expect me to bring a collection of good things for you when I merely went out for my own pleasure.” But the Moon said: “Mother, fetch a plate; see what I have brought you.” And, shaking her hands, she showered down such a choice dinner as never was seen before.

Then the Star turned to the Sun and spoke thus: “Because you went out to amuse yourself with your friends, and feasted and enjoyed yourself without any thought of your mother at home, you shall be cursed. Henceforth, your rays shall ever 389be hot and scorching, and shall burn all that they touch. And men shall hate you and cover their heads when you appear.”

(And that is why the Sun is so hot to this day.)

Then she turned to the Wind and said: “You also, who forgot your mother in the midst of your selfish pleasures, hear your doom. You shall always blow in the hot, dry weather, and shall parch and shrivel all living things. And men shall detest and avoid you from this very time.”

(And that is why the Wind in the hot weather is still so disagreeable.)

But to the Moon she said: “Daughter, because you remembered your mother, and kept for her a share in your own enjoyment, from henceforth you shall be ever cool, and calm, and bright. No noxious glare shall accompany your pure rays, and men shall always call you ‘blessed.’”

(And that is why the Moon’s light is so soft, and cool, and beautiful even to this day.)


Singh Rajah and the Cunning Little Jackals

Once upon a time, in a great jungle, there lived a great lion. He was rajah of all the country round, and every day he used to leave his den, in the deepest shadow of the rocks, and roar with a loud, angry voice; and when he roared, the other animals in the jungle, who were all his subjects, got very much frightened and ran here and there; and Singh Rajah would pounce upon them and kill them, and gobble them up for his dinner.

This went on for a long, long time until, at last, there were no living creatures left in the jungle but two little jackals—a Rajah Jackal and a Ranee Jackal—husband and wife.

A very hard time of it the poor little jackals had, running this way and that to escape the terrible Singh Rajah; and every day the little Ranee Jackal would say to her husband: “I am afraid he will catch us to-day; do you hear how he is roaring? Oh, dear! oh, dear!” And he would answer her: “Never fear; I will take care of you. Let us run on a mile or two. Come; come quick, quick, quick!” And they would both run away as fast as they could.

After some time spent in this way, they found, however, one fine day, that the lion was so close upon them that they could not escape. Then the little Ranee Jackal said: “Husband, husband, I feel much frightened. The Singh Rajah is so angry he will certainly kill us at once. What can we do?” But he answered: “Cheer up; we can save ourselves yet. Come, and I’ll show you how we may manage it.”

So what did these cunning little jackals do but they went 391to the great lion’s den; and, when he saw them coming, he began to roar and shake his mane, and he said: “You little wretches, come and be eaten at once! I have had no dinner for three whole days, and all that time I have been running over hill and dale to find you. Ro-a-ar! Ro-a-ar! Come and be eaten, I say!” and he lashed his tail and gnashed his teeth, and looked very terrible indeed. Then the Jackal Rajah, creeping quite close up to him, said: “Oh, great Singh Rajah, we all know you are our master, and we would have come at your bidding long ago; but, indeed, sir, there is a much bigger rajah even than you in this jungle, and he tried to catch hold of us and eat us up, and frightened us so much that we were obliged to run away.”

“What do you mean?” growled Singh Rajah. “There is no king in this jungle but me!” “Ah, sire,” answered the jackal, “in truth one would think so, for you are very dreadful. Your very voice is death. But it is as we say, for we, with our own eyes, have seen one with whom you could not compete—whose equal you can no more be than we are yours—whose face is as flaming fire, his step as thunder, and his power supreme.” “It is impossible!” interrupted the old lion; “but show me this rajah of whom you speak so much, that I may destroy him instantly!”

Then the little jackals ran on before him until they reached a great well, and, pointing down to his own reflection in the water, they said: “See, sire, there lives the terrible king of whom we spoke.” When Singh Rajah looked down the well he became very angry, for he thought he saw another lion there. He roared and shook his great mane, and the shadow lion shook his and looked terribly defiant. At last, beside himself with rage at the violence of his opponent, Singh Rajah sprang down to kill him at once, but no other lion was there—only the treacherous reflection—and the sides of the well were so steep that he could not get out again to punish the two jackals, who peeped over the top. After struggling for some time in the deep water, he sank to rise no more. And the little jackals threw stones down upon him from above, and 392danced round and round the well, singing: “Ao! Ao! Ao! Ao! The king of the forest is dead, is dead! We have killed the great lion who would have killed us! Ao! Ao! Ao! Ao! Ring-a-ting—ding-a-ting! Ring-a-ting—ding-a-ting! Ao! Ao! Ao!”



There was a certain Brahman in a certain village, named Harisarman. He was poor and foolish and in evil case for want of employment, and he had very many children, that he might reap the fruit of his misdeeds in a former life. He wandered about begging with his family, and at last he reached a certain city, and entered the service of a rich householder called Sthuladatta. His sons became keepers of Sthuladatta’s cows and other property, and his wife a servant to him, and he himself lived near his house, performing the duty of an attendant. One day there was a feast on account of the marriage of the daughter of Sthuladatta, largely attended by many friends of the bridegroom and merry-makers. Harisarman hoped that he would be able to fill himself up to the throat with ghee and flesh and other dainties, and get the same for his family, in the house of his patron. While he was anxiously expecting to be fed, no one thought of him.

Then he was distressed at getting nothing to eat, and he said to his wife at night: “It is owing to my poverty and stupidity that I am treated with such disrespect here; so I will pretend by means of an artifice to possess a knowledge of magic, so that I may become an object of respect to this Sthuladatta; so, when you get an opportunity, tell him that I possess magical knowledge.” He said this to her, and after turning the matter over in his mind, while people were asleep he took away from the house of Sthuladatta a horse on which his master’s son-in-law rode. He placed it in concealment at some distance, and in the morning the friends of the bridegroom could not find the horse, though they searched in every direction. Then, while Sthuladatta was distressed at the evil 394omen, and searching for the thieves who had carried off the horse, the wife of Harisarman came and said to him: “My husband is a wise man, skilled in astrology and magical sciences; he can get the horse back for you—why do you not ask him?” When Sthuladatta heard that, he called Harisarman, who said, “Yesterday I was forgotten, but to-day, now the horse is stolen, I am called to mind,” and Sthuladatta then propitiated the Brahman with these words, “I forgot you, forgive me,” and asked him to tell him who had taken away their horse. Then Harisarman drew all kinds of pretended diagrams, and said: “The horse has been placed by thieves on the boundary line south from this place. It is concealed there, and before it is carried off to a distance, as it will be at close of day, go quickly and bring it.” When they heard that, many men ran and brought the horse quickly, praising the discernment of Harisarman. Then Harisarman was honored by all men as a sage, and dwelt there in happiness, honored by Sthuladatta.

Now, as days went on, much treasure, both of gold and jewels, had been stolen by a thief from the palace of the king. As the thief was not known, the king quickly summoned Harisarman on account of his reputation for knowledge of magic. And he, when summoned, tried to gain time, and said, “I will tell you to-morrow,” and then he was placed in a chamber by the king and carefully guarded. And he was sad because he had pretended to have knowledge. Now, in that palace there was a maid named Jihva (which means Tongue), who, with the assistance of her brother, had stolen that treasure from the interior of the palace. She, being alarmed at Harisarman’s knowledge, went at night and applied her ear to the door of that chamber in order to find out what he was about. And Harisarman, who was alone inside, was at that very moment blaming his own tongue, that had made a vain assumption of knowledge. He said: “Oh, tongue, what is this that you have done through your greediness? Wicked one, you will soon receive punishment in full.” When Jihva heard this, she thought, in her terror, that she had been 395discovered by this wise man, and she managed to get in where he was, and, falling at his feet, she said to the supposed wizard: “Brahman, here I am, that Jihva whom you have discovered to be the thief of the treasure, and after I took it I buried it in the earth in a garden behind the palace, under a pomegranate tree. So spare me, and receive the small quantity of gold which is in my possession.”

When Harisarman heard that, he said to her proudly: “Depart, I know all this; I know the past, present, and future, but I will not denounce you, being a miserable creature that has implored my protection. But whatever gold is in your possession you must give back to me.” When he said this to the maid, she consented, and departed quickly. But Harisarman reflected in his astonishment: “Fate brings about, as if in sport, things impossible; for, when calamity was so near, who would have thought chance would have brought us success? While I was blaming my jihva, the thief Jihva suddenly flung herself at my feet. Secret crimes manifest themselves by means of fear.” Thus thinking, he passed the night happily in the chamber. And in the morning he brought the king, by some skilful parade of pretended knowledge, into the garden and led him up to the treasure, which was buried under the pomegranate tree, and said that the thief had escaped with a part of it. Then the king was pleased, and gave him the revenue of many villages.

But the minister, named Devajnanin, whispered in the king’s ear: “How can a man possess such knowledge unattainable by men without having studied the books of magic? You may be certain that this is a specimen of the way he makes a dishonest livelihood, by having a secret intelligence with thieves. It will be much better to test him by some new artifice.” Then the king of his own accord brought a covered pitcher into which he had thrown a frog, and said to Harisarman: “Brahman, if you can guess what there is in this pitcher, I will do you great honor to-day.” When the Brahman Harisarman heard that, he thought that his last hour had come, and he called to mind the pet name of “Froggie,” which his 396father had given him in his childhood in sport; and, impelled by luck, he called to himself by his pet name, lamenting his hard fate, and suddenly called out: “This is a fine pitcher for you, Froggie; it will soon become the swift destroyer of your helpless self.” The people there, when they heard him say that, raised a shout of applause, because his speech chimed in so well with the object presented to him, and murmured: “Ah! a great sage; he knows even about the frog!” Then the king, thinking that this was all due to knowledge of divination, was highly delighted, and gave Harisarman the revenue of more villages, with gold, an umbrella, and state carriages of all kinds. So Harisarman prospered in the world.


It Is Quite True

“What a dreadful story!” exclaimed a hen; “it so frightened me that I did not dare to sleep alone in the hen-house all night. I was glad there were so many of us.” And she began to relate to the other hens who were on the roosting-perch above, the story she had heard, till their feathers stood on end, and even the cock let his comb droop, it was so dreadful.

But we will begin at the beginning, and discover what really had happened in the hen-house on the other side of the town.

One evening just before sunset the hens as usual went early to roost, and among them was a pretty hen with white feathers and short legs, who laid regularly such fine eggs that she was very valuable, and much esteemed by all her relations.

As this hen was flying up in the hen-house to the roosting-perch, she either pecked or scratched herself with her beak till one of her feathers fell off.

“There goes another,” she said good humoredly; “how beautiful I shall look if one falls off every time I scratch myself.” This white hen was not only very much esteemed, but also the merriest of all the hens in the hen-house.

But she forgot all about the fallen feather, and was soon asleep.

It became quite dark. The hens were seated side by side near each other on the perch, but one of them could not sleep, for she had partly heard what the white hen said.

The wakeful hen stayed and thought, and then said to her next neighbor: “Have you heard? I name no one, but a hen has plucked out all her feathers, and is not fit to be seen. If I were the cock, I should despise her.”

The gossiping hen soon after left the hen-house, and went 398to visit an owl who lived just opposite with her husband and children. The owl families have very sharp ears, and they heard every word that their neighbor the hen said, and the little ones rolled their eyes about while the mother owl fanned herself with her wings.

“To repeat just what you have been told is nothing,” continued the hen, “but I really and truly heard what was said with my own ears, and people must hear a great deal, even if they do disapprove. It is about a hen who has forgotten what was due to herself in her high position; she has pulled out all her feathers, and then allowed the world to see her in that bare condition.”

Prenez garde aux enfants,” said the owl father, “all this is not fit for the children to hear.”

“I will just fly over and tell my neighbor,” said the mother owl; “she is a very highly esteemed owl, and worthy of our acquaintance.”

“Hu! hu! uhu!” howled the children, as the mother flew away and passed by her neighbors, the pigeons, who were in the pigeon-house.

“Have you heard—have you heard about the hen that has plucked off all her feathers, and is going about quite bare? She will freeze to death, if she is not dead already.”

“Ooo! Ooo!” cooed the pigeons.

“I heard of it in the neighboring farm-yard,” said another; “I have as good as seen it with my own eyes. The story is really so improper that no one cares to relate it, but it is certainly true.”

“We believe it, we believe every word,” said the pigeons, and they flew down cooing to the farm-yard, and exclaimed:

“Have you heard about the hen?”

“The hen! why, people now say there are two hens who have plucked off all their feathers; yet one of them is not like the first, who did not wish to be seen, for she has positively tried to attract the attention of everybody.”

“It was a daring game; however, they caught cold, and are both dead from a fever.”

399“Wake up! wake up!” crowed the cock as he flew out of the hen-house to the palings. Sleep was still in his eyes, yet he stood and crowed lustily.

“Listen,” said the hen. “There is a cock in the next farm who has unluckily lost three of his wives; they had plucked off all their feathers, and died of cold.”

“Go away!” he exclaimed. “I will not hear it—it is an ugly story. Send it away!”

“Send it away!” hissed the bat, while the hens cackled and the cock crowed.

“Send it away! send it away!” and so the story flew from one farm-yard to another, until it came back at last to the place where the original circumstance occurred.

“There are five hens,” thus now ran the story, “who have plucked off all their feathers, at least so they say; and it made the cock so unhappy that he became quite thin. And he has pecked himself so dreadfully ever since from indignation and shame that at last he has fallen down and died, covered with blood. For these hens had not only disgraced his family, but occasioned a great loss to his owner.”

And the hen who had really lost the one feather naturally could not recognize her own story, but she was a sensible, worthy hen, and she said:

“I despise these cackling hens; however, there shall be no more tittle-tattle of this sort. When people have a secret among themselves to gossip about in future, I will find it out, and send it to the newspapers, so that it may travel through the whole land and be heard of by everybody.

“This will just serve these cackling hens and their families right.”

And the newspapers took it up and so altered the wonderful story that at the last “it was actually true”—“ONE LITTLE FEATHER HAD BECOME FIVE HENS!”

Hans Christian Andersen.

Manabozho and his Toe

Manabozho, the great wizard of the Indians, was so powerful that he began to think there was nothing he could not do. Very wonderful were many of his feats, and he grew more conceited day by day. Now, it chanced that one day he was walking about amusing himself by exercising his extraordinary powers, and at length he came to an encampment where one of the first things he noticed was a child lying in the sunshine, curled up with its toe in its mouth.

Manabozho looked at the child for some time, and wondered at its extraordinary posture.

“I have never seen a child before lie like that,” said he to himself, “but I could lie like it.”

So saying, he put himself down beside the child, and, taking his right foot in his hand, drew it toward his mouth. When he had brought it as near as he could, it was yet a considerable distance away from his lips.

“I will try the left foot,” said Manabozho. He did so, and found that he was no better off; neither of his feet could he get to his mouth. He curled and twisted, and bent his large limbs, and gnashed his teeth in rage to find that he could not get his toe to his mouth. All, however, was vain.

At length he rose, worn out with his exertions and passion, and walked slowly away in a very ill humor, which was not lessened by the sound of the child’s laughter, for Manabozho’s efforts had awakened it.

“Ah, ah!” said Manabozho, “shall I be mocked by a child?”

He did not, however, revenge himself on his victor, but on his way homeward, meeting a boy who did not treat him with proper respect, he transformed him into a cedar-tree.

“At least,” said Manabozho, “I can do something.”


The Most Frugal of Men

A man who was considered the most frugal of all the dwellers in a certain kingdom heard of another man who was the most frugal in the whole world. He said to his son thereupon: “We, indeed, live upon little, but if we were more frugal still, we might live upon nothing at all. It will be well worth while for us to get instructions in economy from the Most Frugal of Men.” The son agreed, and the two decided that the son should go and inquire whether the master in economic science would take pupils. An exchange of presents being a necessary preliminary to closer intercourse, the father told the son to take the smallest of coins, one farthing, and to buy a sheet of paper of the cheapest sort. The boy, by bargaining, got two sheets of paper for the farthing. The father put away one sheet, cut the other sheet in halves, and on one half drew a picture of a pig’s head. This he put into a large covered basket, as if it were the thing which it represented—the usual gift sent in token of great respect. The son took the basket, and after a long journey reached the abode of the most frugal man in the world.

The master of the house was absent, but his son received the traveler, learned his errand, and accepted the offering. Having taken from the basket the picture of the pig’s head, he said courteously to his visitor: “I am sorry that we have nothing in the house that is worthy to take the place of the pig’s head in your basket. I will, however, signify our friendly reception of it by putting in four oranges for you to take home with you.”

Thereupon the young man, without having any oranges at hand, made the motions necessary for putting the fruit into 402the basket. The son of the most frugal man in the kingdom then took the basket and went to his father to tell of thrift surpassing his own.

When the most frugal man in the world returned home, his son told him that a visitor had been there, having come from a great distance to take lessons in economy. The father inquired what offering he brought as an introduction, and the son showed the small outline of the pig’s head on thin brown paper. The father looked at it, and then asked his son what he had sent as a return present. The son told him he had merely made the motions necessary for transferring four oranges, and showed how he had clasped the imaginary fruit and deposited it in the visitor’s basket. The father immediately flew into a terrible rage and boxed the boy’s ears, exclaiming: “You extravagant wretch! With your fingers thus far apart you appeared to give him large oranges. Why didn’t you measure out small ones?”


The Moon-Cake

A little boy had a cake that a big boy coveted. Designing to get the cake without making the little boy cry so loud as to attract his mother’s attention, the big boy remarked that the cake would be prettier if it were more like the moon. The little boy thought that a cake like the moon must be desirable, and on being assured by the big boy that he had made many such, he handed over his cake for manipulation. The big boy took out a mouthful, leaving a crescent with jagged edge. The little boy was not pleased by the change, and began to whimper; whereupon the big boy pacified him by saying that he would make the cake into a half-moon. So he nibbled off the horns of the crescent, and gnawed the edge smooth; but when the half-moon was made, the little boy perceived that there was hardly any cake left, and he again began to snivel. The big boy again diverted him by telling him that, if he did not like so small a moon, he should have one that was just the size of the real orb. He then took the cake, and explained that, just before the new moon is seen, the old moon disappears. Then he swallowed the rest of the cake and ran off, leaving the little boy waiting for the new moon.


The Ladle that Fell from the Moon

Once there was an old woman who lived on what she got by wile from her relatives and neighbors. Her husband’s brother lived alone with his only son, in a house near hers, and when the son brought home a wife the old woman went to call on the bride. During the call she inquired of the bride whether she had not, since her arrival in the house, heard a scratching at night among the boxes containing her wedding outfit. The bride said she had not. A few days later the old woman came again, and during the visit the bride remarked that, before the matter was mentioned, she had heard no scratching among her boxes, but that since that time she had listened for it, and had heard it every night. The old woman advised her to look carefully after her clothing, saying that there were evidently many mice in the house, and that she would be likely at any time to find her best garments nibbled into shreds. The old woman knew there was no cat in the house, but she inquired whether there was one, and on hearing that there was not, she offered to lend the young woman her own black-and-white cat, saying that it would soon extirpate all the mice. The bride accepted the loan, and the old woman brought the cat, and left it in the bride’s apartment. After a few hours the cat disappeared, and the bride, supposing it to have gone home, made no search for it. It did, indeed, go home, and the old woman secretly disposed of it; but several days later she came to the young woman and said that, when she lent the cat, her house had been free from mice, but that, as soon as the cat was gone, the mice came and multiplied so fast that now everything was overrun by them, and she would be obliged to take the cat home again. The young woman told her that the cat went 405away the same day that it came, and she had supposed it had gone home. The old woman said it had not, and that nothing could compensate her for the loss of it, for she had reared it herself; that there was never before seen such a cat for catching mice; that a cat, spotted as that one was, was seldom found; and that it was of the rare breed which gave rise to the common saying:

A coal-black cat, with snowy loins,
Is worth its weight in silver coins.

and that the weight of her cat was two hundred ounces.

The young woman was greatly surprised by this estimate of the value of the lost cat, and went to her father-in-law and related all that had occurred. The father-in-law, knowing the character of the old woman, could neither eat nor sleep, so harassed was he by the expectation that she would worry his daughter-in-law till the two hundred ounces of silver should be paid. The young woman, being a new-comer, thought but lightly of the matter, till the old woman came again and again to make mention of the cat. When it became apparent that she must defend herself, the young woman asked her father-in-law if he had ever lent anything to the old woman; and when he said he could not remember having lent anything, she begged him to think carefully, and see if he could not recall the loan of a tool, a dish, or a fagot. He finally recollected that he had lent to her an old wooden ladle, but he said it originally cost but a few farthings, and was certainly not worth speaking about.

The next time the old woman came to dun for the amount due for her cat, the young woman asked her to return the borrowed ladle. The old woman said that the ladle was old and valueless; that she had allowed the children to play with it, and that they had dropped it in the dirt, where it had lain until she had picked it up and used it for kindlings. The bride responded: “You expect to enrich yourself and your family by means of your cat. I and my family also want money. 406Since you cannot give back the ladle, we will both go before the magistrate and present our cases. If your cat is adjudged to be worth more than my ladle, I will pay you the excess; and if my ladle be worth more than your cat, then you must pay me.” Being sure that the cat would, by any judge, be considered of greater value than the ladle, the old woman agreed to the proposition, and the two went before the magistrate. The young woman courteously gave precedence to the elder, and allowed her to make the accusation. The old woman set forth her case, and claimed two hundred ounces of silver as a compensation for the loss of the cat. When she had concluded her statement, the judge called on the young woman for her defense. She said she could not disprove the statement, but that the claim was offset by a ladle that had been borrowed by the plaintiff. There was a common saying:

In the moon overhead, at its full, you can see
The trunk, branch, and leaf of a cinnamon tree.

A branch from this tree had one night been blown down before her father-in-law’s door, and he had had a ladle made from the wood. Whatever the ladle was put into never diminished by use. Whether wine, oil, rice, or money, the bulk remained the same if no ladle beside this one were used in dipping it. A foreign innkeeper, hearing of this ladle, came and offered her father-in-law three thousand ounces of silver for it, but the offer was refused. And this ladle was the one that the plaintiff had borrowed and destroyed.

The magistrate, on hearing this defense, understood that the cat had been a pretext for extortion, and decided that the two claims offset each other, so that no payment was due from either one.


The Young Head of the Family

There was once a family consisting of a father, his three sons, and his two daughters-in-law. The two daughters-in-law, wives of the two elder sons, had but recently been brought into the house, and were both from one village a few miles away. Having no mother-in-law living, they were obliged to appeal to their father-in-law whenever they wished to visit their former homes, and as they were lonesome and homesick they perpetually bothered the old man by asking leave of absence.

Vexed by these constant petitions, he set himself to invent a method of putting an end to them, and at last gave them leave in this wise: “You are always begging me to allow you to go and visit your mothers, and thinking that I am very hard-hearted because I do not let you go. Now you may go, but only upon condition that when you come back you will each bring me something I want. The one shall bring me some fire wrapped in paper, and the other some wind in a paper. Unless you promise to bring me these, you are never to ask me to let you go home; and if you go, and fail to get these for me, you are never to come back.”

The old man did not suppose that these conditions would be accepted, but the girls were young and thoughtless, and in their anxiety to get away did not consider the impossibility of obtaining the articles required. So they made ready with speed, and in great glee started off on foot to visit their mothers. After they had walked a long distance, chatting about what they should do and whom they should see in their native village, the high heel of one of them slipped from under her foot, and she fell down. Owing to this mishap both 408stopped to adjust the misplaced footgear, and while doing this the conditions under which alone they could return to their husbands came to mind, and they began to cry.

While they sat there crying by the roadside a young girl came riding along from the fields on a water buffalo. She stopped and asked them what was the matter, and whether she could help them. They told her she could do them no good; but she persisted in offering her sympathy and inviting their confidence, till they told her their story, and then she at once said that if they would go home with her she would show them a way out of their trouble. Their case seemed so hopeless to themselves, and the child was so sure of her own power to help them, that they finally accompanied her to her father’s house, where she showed them how to comply with their father-in-law’s demand.

For the first a paper lantern only would be needed. When lighted it would be a fire, and its paper surface would compass the blaze, so that it would truly be “some fire wrapped in paper.” For the second a paper fan would suffice. When flapped, wind would issue from it, and the “wind wrapped in paper” could thus be carried to the old man.

The two young women thanked the wise child, and went on their way rejoicing. After a pleasant visit to their old homes, they took a lantern and a fan, and returned to their father-in-law’s house. As soon as he saw them he began to vent his anger at their light regard for his commands, but they assured him that they had perfectly obeyed him, and showed him that what they had brought fulfilled the conditions prescribed. Much astonished, he inquired how it was that they had suddenly become so astute, and they told him the story of their journey, and of the little girl who had so opportunely come to their relief. He inquired whether the little girl was already betrothed, and, finding that she was not, engaged a go-between to see if he could get her for a wife for his youngest son.

Having succeeded in securing the girl as a daughter-in-law, he brought her home, and told all the rest of the family that 409as there was no mother in the house, and as this girl had shown herself to be possessed of extraordinary wisdom, she should be the head of the household.

The wedding festivities being over, the sons of the old man made ready to return to their usual occupations on the farm; but, according to their father’s order, they came to the young bride for instructions. She told them that they were never to go to or from the fields empty-handed. When they went they must carry fertilizers of some sort for the land, and when they returned they must bring bundles of sticks for fuel. They obeyed, and soon had the land in fine condition, and so much fuel gathered that none need be bought. When there were no more sticks, roots, or weeds to bring, she told them to bring stones instead; and they soon accumulated an immense pile of stones, which were heaped in a yard near their house.

One day an expert in the discovery of precious stones came along, and saw in this pile a block of jade of great value. In order to get possession of this stone at a small cost, he undertook to buy the whole heap, pretending that he wished to use them in building. The little head of the family asked an exorbitant price for them, and, as he could not induce her to take less, he promised to pay her the sum she asked, and to come two days later to bring the money and to remove the stones. That night the girl thought about the reason for the buyer’s being willing to pay so large a sum for the stones, and concluded that the heap must contain a gem. The next morning she sent her father-in-law to invite the buyer to supper, and she instructed the men of her family in regard to his entertainment. The best of wine was to be provided, and the father-in-law was to induce him to talk of precious stones, and to cajole him into telling in what way they were to be distinguished from other stones.

The head of the family, listening behind a curtain, heard how the valuable stone in her heap could be discovered. She hastened to find and remove it from the pile; and, when her guest had recovered from the effect of the banquet, he saw 410that the value had departed from his purchase. He went to negotiate again with the seller, and she conducted the conference with such skill that she obtained the price originally agreed upon for the heap of stones, and a large sum besides for the one in her possession.

The family, having become wealthy, built an ancestral hall of fine design and elaborate workmanship, and put the words “No Sorrow” as an inscription over the entrance. Soon after, a mandarin passed that way, and, noticing this remarkable inscription, had his sedan-chair set down, that he might inquire who were the people that professed to have no sorrow. He sent for the head of the family, was much surprised on seeing so young a woman thus appear, and remarked: “Yours is a singular family. I have never before seen one without sorrow, nor one with so young a head. I will fine you for your impudence. Go and weave me a piece of cloth as long as this road.”

“Very well,” responded the little woman; “so soon as your Excellency shall have found the two ends of the road, and informed me as to the number of feet in its length, I will at once begin the weaving.”

Finding himself at fault, the mandarin added, “And I also fine you as much oil as there is water in the sea.”

“Certainly,” responded the woman; “as soon as you shall have measured the sea, and sent me correct information as to the number of gallons, I will at once begin to press out the oil from my beans.”

“Indeed,” said the mandarin, “since you are so sharp, perhaps you can penetrate my thoughts. If you can, I will fine you no more. I hold this pet quail in my hand; now tell me whether I mean to squeeze it to death, or to let it fly in the air.”

“Well,” said the woman, “I am an obscure commoner, and you are a famed magistrate; if you are no more knowing than I, you have no right to fine me at all. Now I stand with one foot on one side my threshold and the other foot on the other side; tell me whether I mean to go in or come out. If you 411cannot guess my riddle, you should not require me to guess yours.”

Being unable to guess her intention the mandarin took his departure, and the family lived long in opulence and good repute under its chosen head.


A Dreadful Boar

A poor old woman who lived with her one little granddaughter in a wood was out gathering sticks for fuel, and found a green stalk of sugar-cane, which she added to her bundle. She presently met an elf in the form of a wild Boar, that asked her for the cane, but she declined giving it to him, saying that, at her age, to stoop and to rise again was to earn what she picked up, and that she was going to take the cane home, and let her little granddaughter suck its sap. The Boar, angry at her refusal, said that he would, during the coming night, eat her granddaughter instead of the cane, and went off into the wood.

When the old woman reached her cabin she sat down by the door and wailed, for she knew she had no means of defending herself against the Boar. While she sat crying, a vender of needles came along and asked her what was the matter. She told him, and he said that all he could do for her was to give her a box of needles. This he did, and went on his way. The old woman stuck the needles thickly over the lower half of her door, on its outer side, and then she went on crying. Just then a man came along with a basket of crabs, heard her lamentations, and stopped to inquire what ailed her. She told him, and he said he knew no help for her, but he would do the best he could for her by giving her half his crabs. The old woman put the crabs in her water-jar, behind her door, and again sat down and cried. A farmer soon came along from the fields, leading his ox, and he also asked the cause of her distress and heard her sad story. He said he was sorry he could not think of any way of preventing the evil she expected, but that he would leave his ox to stay all night with her, as it might be a sort of company for her 413in her loneliness. She led the ox into her cabin, tied it to the head of her bedstead, gave it some straw, and then cried again.

A courier, returning on horseback from a neighboring town, next passed her door, and dismounted to inquire what troubled her. Having heard her tale, he said he would leave his horse to stay with her, and make the ox more contented. So she tied the horse to the foot of her bed, and, thinking how surely evil was coming upon her with the night, she burst out crying anew. A boy just then came along with a snapping-turtle that he had caught, and stopped to ask what had happened to her. On learning the cause of her weeping, he said it was of no use to contend against sprites, but that he would give her his snapping-turtle as a proof of his sympathy. She took the turtle, tied it in front of her bedstead, and continued to cry.

Some men who were carrying mill-stones then came along, inquired into her trouble, and expressed their compassion by giving her a mill-stone, which they rolled into her back yard. A little later a man arrived carrying hoes and pickax, and asked her why she was crying so hard. She told him her grief, and he said he would gladly help her if he could, but he was only a well-digger, and could do nothing for her other than to dig her a well. She pointed out a place in the middle of her back yard, and he went to work and quickly dug a well.

On his departure the old woman cried again, until a paper-seller came and inquired what was the matter. When she had told him, he gave her a large sheet of white paper, as a token of pity, and she laid it smoothly over the mouth of the well.

Nightfall came; the old woman shut and barred her door, put her granddaughter snugly on the wall-side of the bed, and then lay down beside her, to await the foe.

At midnight the Boar came, and threw himself against the door to break it in. The needles wounded him sorely, so that when he had gained an entrance he was heated and thirsty, and went to the water-jar to drink. When he thrust in his snout the crabs attacked him, clung to his bristles and pinched 414his ears, till he rolled over and over to disencumber himself. Then in a rage he approached the front of the bed, but the snapping-turtle nipped his tail, and made him retreat under the feet of the horse, who kicked him over to the ox, who tossed him back to the horse; and thus beset, he was glad to escape to the back yard to take a rest, and to consider the situation. Seeing a clean paper spread on the ground, he went to lie upon it, and fell into the well. The old woman heard the fall, rushed out, rolled the mill-stone down on him, and crushed him.


The Old Man and the Devils

A long time ago there was an old man who had a big lump on the right side of his face. One day he went into the mountain to cut wood, when the rain began to pour and the wind to blow so very hard that, finding it impossible to return home, and filled with fear, he took refuge in the hollow of an old tree. While sitting there doubled up and unable to sleep, he heard the confused sound of many voices in the distance gradually approaching to where he was. He said to himself: “How strange! I thought I was all alone in the mountain, but I hear the voices of many people.” So, taking courage, he peeped out, and saw a great crowd of strange-looking beings. Some were red, and dressed in green clothes; others were black, and dressed in red clothes; some had only one eye; others had no mouth; indeed, it is quite impossible to describe their varied and strange looks. They kindled a fire, so that it became as light as day. They sat down in two cross-rows, and began to drink wine and make merry just like human beings. They passed the wine-cup around so often that many of them soon drank too much. One of the young devils got up and began to sing a merry song and to dance; so also many others; some danced well, others badly. One said: “We have had uncommon fun tonight, but I would like to see something new.”

Then the old man, losing all fear, thought he would like to dance, and saying, “Let come what will, if I die for it, I will have a dance, too,” crept out of the hollow tree and, with his cap slipped over his nose and his ax sticking in his belt, began to dance. The devils in great surprise jumped up, saying, “Who is this?” but the old man advancing and receding, swaying to and fro, and posturing this way and that way, the 416whole crowd laughed and enjoyed the fun, saying: “How well the old man dances! You must always come and join us in our sport; but, for fear you might not come, you must give us a pledge that you will.” So the devils consulted together, and, agreeing that the lump on his face, which was a token of wealth, was what he valued most highly, demanded that it should be taken. The old man replied: “I have had this lump many years, and would not without good reason part with it; but you may have it, or an eye, or my nose either if you wish.” So the devils laid hold of it, twisting and pulling, and took it off without giving him any pain, and put it away as a pledge that he would come back. Just then the day began to dawn, and the birds to sing, so the devils hurried away.

The old man felt his face and found it quite smooth, and not a trace of the lump left. He forgot all about cutting wood, and hastened home. His wife, seeing him, exclaimed in great surprise, “What has happened to you?” So he told her all that had befallen him.

Now, among the neighbors there was another old man who had a big lump on the left side of his face. Hearing all about how the first old man had got rid of his misfortune, he determined that he would also try the same plan. So he went and crept into the hollow tree, and waited for the devils to come. Sure enough, they came just as he was told, and they sat down, drank wine, and made merry just as they did before. The second old man, afraid and trembling, crept out of the hollow tree. The devils welcomed him, saying: “The old man has come; now let us see him dance.” This old fellow was awkward, and did not dance as well as the other, so the devils cried out: “You dance badly, and are getting worse and worse; we will give you back the lump which we took from you as a pledge.” Upon this, one of the devils brought the lump, and stuck it on the other side of his face; so the poor old fellow returned home with a lump on each side.


The Wonderful Tea-Kettle

A long, long time ago, at the temple of Morinji, in the province of Kotsuke, there lived an old priest.

This old priest was very fond of the ceremonial preparing and drinking of tea known as Chanoyu; indeed, it was his chief interest and pleasure in life to conduct this ceremony.

One day he chanced to find in a second-hand shop a very nice-looking old Tea-kettle, which he bought and took home with him, highly pleased by its fine shape and artistic appearance.

Next day he brought out his new purchase, and sat for a long time turning it round on this side and on that, and admiring it.

“You are a regular beauty, that’s what you are,” he said; “I shall invite all my friends to the Chanoyu, and how astonished they will be at finding such an exquisite kettle as this!”

He placed his treasure on the top of a box where he could see it to the best advantage, and sat admiring it and planning how he should invite his guests. After a while he became drowsy and began to nod, and at last fell forward, his head on his desk, fast asleep.

Then a wonderful transformation took place. The Tea-kettle began to move. From its spout appeared a hairy head; at the other side out came a fine bushy tail; next, four feet made themselves visible, while fine fur seemed gradually to cover the surface of the kettle. At last, jumping off the box, it began capering about the room for all the world just like a badger.

Three young novices, pupils of the priest, who were at study in the next room, heard the noise; and, when one of them 418peeped through the sliding doors, what was his astonishment to see the Tea-kettle on four feet dancing up and down the room!

He cried out: “Oh! what a wonderful thing! The Tea-kettle is changed into a badger!”

“What!” said the second novice. “Do you mean to say that the Tea-kettle is turned into a badger? What nonsense!” So saying, he pushed his companion to one side and peeped in, but he also was terrified by what he saw, and screamed: “It’s a goblin! It’s coming at us; let us run away!”

The third novice was not so easily frightened.

“Come, this is rather fun,” said he; “how the creature does jump, to be sure! I will rouse the master, and let him see, too.”

So he went into the room and shook the priest, crying: “Wake! Master, wake! A strange thing has happened.”

“What’s the matter?” said the old man, drowsily rubbing his eyes, “what a noisy fellow you are!”

“Any one would be noisy when such a strange thing as this is going on,” said the novice. “Only look, master, your Tea-kettle has got feet, and is running about.”

“What! what! what! What’s that you say?” asked the priest again. “The kettle got feet! What’s this! Let me see!”

But by the time the old man was thoroughly roused, the Tea-kettle had turned into its ordinary shape, and stood quietly on its box again.

“What foolish young fellows you are!” said the priest. “There stands a kettle on the top of a box; surely there is nothing very strange in that. No, no, I have heard of the rolling-pin that grew a pair of wings and flew away, but, long as I have lived, never have I heard before of a tea-kettle walking about on its own feet. You will never make me believe that.”

But for all that, the priest was a little uneasy in his mind, and kept thinking of the incident all that day. When evening came, and he was alone in his room, he took down the kettle, 419filled it with water, and set it upon the embers to boil, intending to make some tea. But, as soon as the water began to boil, “Hot! hot!” cried the kettle, and jumped off the fire.

“Help! help!” cried the priest, terrified out of his wits. But when the novices rushed to his help, the kettle at once resumed its natural form; so one of them, seizing a stick, cried, “We’ll soon find out whether it’s alive or not,” and began beating it with might and main. There was evidently no life in the thing, and only a metallic clang! clang! responded to his lusty blows.

Then the old priest heartily repented having bought the mischievous Tea-kettle, and was debating in his own mind how he should get rid of it when who should drop in but the tinker?

“Here’s the very man,” thought the priest. A bargain was soon struck; the tinker bought the Tea-kettle for a few coppers, and carried it home, well pleased with his purchase.

Before going to bed he took another look at it, and found it still better than he had at first thought, so he went to sleep that night in the best of spirits.

In the midst of a pleasant dream the tinker suddenly started up, thinking he heard somebody moving in the room, but, when he opened his eyes and looked about, he could see nobody.

“It was only a dream, I suppose,” said he to himself as he turned over and went to sleep again.

But he was disturbed once more by some one calling: “Tinker! tinker! Get up! get up!”

This time he sprang up, wide awake, and lo and behold! there was the Tea-kettle, with the head, tail, feet, and fur of a badger strutting up and down the room!

“Goblin! goblin!” shrieked the tinker. But the Tea-kettle laughed and said:

“Don’t be frightened, my dear tinker. I am not a goblin, only a wonderful tea-kettle. My name is Bumbuku-Chagama, and I will bring good luck to any one who treats me well; but, of course, I don’t like to be set on the fire, and then 420beaten with sticks, as happened to me up at the temple yesterday.”

“How can I please you, then?” asked the tinker. “Shall I keep you in a box?”

“Oh! no, no!” answered the Tea-kettle; “I like nice sweet things to eat, and sometimes a little wine to drink, just like yourself. Will you keep me in your house and feed me? And, as I would not be a burden upon you, I will work for you in any way you like.”

To this the tinker agreed.

Next morning he provided a good feast for Bumbuku, who then spoke:

“I certainly am a wonderful and accomplished Tea-kettle, and my advice is that you take me round the country as a show, with accompaniments of singing and music.”

The tinker, thinking well of this advice, at once started a show, which he named the Bumbuku-Chagama. The lucky Tea-kettle at once made the affair a success, for not only did he walk about on four legs, but he danced the tight rope, and went through all kinds of acrobatic performances, ending by making a profound bow to the spectators, and begging for their future patronage.

The fame of these performances soon spread abroad, and the theater was filled daily to overflowing until, at length, even the princes of the land sent to order the tinker and his kettle to come to them, and the show would take place, to the great delight of the princesses and ladies of the court.

At last the tinker grew so rich that he retired from business, and, wishing his faithful kettle also to be at rest, he took it back, together with a large share of his wealth, to the temple of Morinji, where it was laid up as a precious treasure and, some say, even worshiped as a saint.


The Wonderful Mallet

Once upon a time there were two brothers. The elder was an honest and good man, but he was very poor, while the younger, who was dishonest and stingy, had managed to pile up a large fortune. The name of the elder was Kané, and that of the younger was Chô.

Now, one day Kané went to Chô’s house, and begged for the loan of some seed-rice and some silkworms’ eggs, for last season had been unfortunate, and he was in want of both.

Chô had plenty of good rice and excellent silkworms’ eggs, but he was such a miser that he did not want to lend them. At the same time, he felt ashamed to refuse his brother’s request, so he gave him some worm-eaten musty rice and some dead eggs, which he felt sure would never hatch.

Kané, never suspecting that his brother would play him such a shabby trick, put plenty of mulberry leaves with the eggs, to be food for the silkworms when they should appear. Appear they did, and throve and grew wonderfully, much better than those of the stingy brother, who was angry and jealous when he heard of it.

Going to Kané’s house one day, and finding his brother was out, Chô took a knife and killed all the silkworms, cutting each poor little creature in two; then he went home without having been seen by anybody.

When Kané came home he was dismayed to find his silkworms in this state, but he did not suspect who had done him this bad trick, and tried to feed them with mulberry leaves as before. The silkworms came to life again, and doubled the number, for now each half was a living worm. They grew and throve, and the silk they spun was twice as much as Kané had expected. So now he began to prosper.

422The envious Chô, seeing this, cut all his own silkworms in half, but, alas! they did not come to life again, so he lost a great deal of money, and became more jealous than ever.

Kané also planted the rice-seed which he had borrowed from his brother, and it sprang up, and grew and flourished far better than Chô’s had done.

The rice ripened well, and he was just intending to cut and harvest it when a flight of thousands upon thousands of swallows came and began to devour it. Kané was much astonished, and shouted and made as much noise as he could in order to drive them away. They flew away, indeed, but came back immediately, so that he kept driving them away, and they kept flying back again.

At last he pursued them into a distant field, where he lost sight of them. He was by this time so hot and tired that he sat down to rest. By little and little his eyes closed, his head dropped upon a mossy bank, and he fell fast asleep.

Then he dreamed that a merry band of children came into the field, laughing and shouting. They sat down upon the ground in a ring, and one who seemed the eldest, a boy of fourteen or fifteen, came close to the bank on which he lay asleep, and, raising a big stone near his head, drew from under it a small wooden Mallet.

Then in his dream Kané saw this big boy stand in the middle of the ring with the Mallet in his hand, and ask the children each in turn, “What would you like the Mallet to bring you?” The first child answered, “A kite.” The big boy shook the Mallet, upon which appeared immediately a fine kite with tail and string all complete. The next cried, “A battledore.” Out sprang a splendid battledore and a shower of shuttlecocks. Then a little girl shyly whispered, “A doll.” The Mallet was shaken, and there stood a beautifully dressed doll. “I should like all the fairy-tale books that have ever been written in the whole world,” said a bright-eyed intelligent maiden, and no sooner had she spoken than piles upon piles of beautiful books appeared. And so at last the wishes of all the children were granted, and they stayed a long time in 423the field with the things the Mallet had given them. At last they got tired, and prepared to go home; the big boy first carefully hiding the Mallet under the stone from whence he had taken it. Then all the children went away.

Presently Kané awoke, and gradually remembered his dream. In preparing to rise he turned round, and there, close to where his head had lain, was the big stone he had seen in his dream. “How strange!” he thought, expecting he hardly knew what; he raised the stone, and there lay the Mallet!

He took it home with him, and, following the example of the children he had seen in his dream, shook it, at the same time calling out, “Gold” or “Rice,” “Silk” or “Saké.” Whatever he called for immediately flew out of the Mallet, so that he could have everything he wanted, and as much of it as he liked.

Kané being now a rich and prosperous man, Chô was of course jealous of him, and determined to find a magic mallet which would do as much for him. He came, therefore, to Kané and borrowed seed-rice, which he planted and tended with care, being impatient for it to grow and ripen soon.

It grew well and ripened soon, and now Chô watched daily for the swallows to appear. And, to be sure, one day a flight of swallows came and began to eat up the rice.

Chô was delighted at this, and drove them away, pursuing them to the distant field where Kané had followed them before. There he lay down, intending to go to sleep as his brother had done, but the more he tried to go to sleep the wider awake he seemed.

Presently the band of children came skipping and jumping, so he shut his eyes and pretended to be asleep, but all the time watched anxiously what the children would do. They sat down in a ring, as before, and the big boy came close to Chô’s head and lifted the stone. He put down his hand to lift the Mallet, but no mallet was there.

One of the children said, “Perhaps that lazy old farmer has taken our Mallet.” So the big boy laid hold of Chô’s nose, which was rather long, and gave it a good pinch, and 424all the other children ran up and pinched and pulled his nose, and the nose itself got longer and longer; first it hung down to his chin, then over his chest, next down to his knees, and at last to his very feet.

It was in vain that Chô protested his innocence; the children pinched and pummeled him to their hearts’ content, then capered round him, shouting and laughing, and making game of him, and so at last went away.

Now Chô was left alone, a sad and angry man. Holding his long nose painfully in both hands, he slowly took his way toward his brother Kané’s house. Here he related all that had happened to him from the very day when he had behaved so badly about the seed-rice and silkworms’ eggs. He humbly begged his brother to pardon him, and, if possible, do something to restore his unfortunate nose to its proper size.

The kind-hearted Kané pitied him, and said: “You have been dishonest and mean, and selfish and envious, and that is why you have got this punishment. If you promise to behave better for the future, I will try what can be done.”

So saying, he took the Mallet and rubbed Chô’s nose with it gently, and the nose gradually became shorter and shorter until at last it came back to its proper shape and size. But ever after, if at any time Chô felt inclined to be selfish and dishonest, as he did now and then, his nose began to smart and burn, and he fancied he felt it beginning to grow. So great was his terror of having a long nose again that these symptoms never failed to bring him back to his good behavior.


The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

Once upon a time a cross old woman laid some starch in a basin, intending to put it in the clothes in her washtub; but a Sparrow that a woman, her neighbor, kept as a pet, ate it up. Seeing this, the cross old woman seized the Sparrow and, saying “You hateful thing!” cut its tongue and let it go.

When the neighbor woman heard that her pet Sparrow had got its tongue cut for its offense, she was greatly grieved, and set out with her husband over mountains and plains to find where it had gone, crying: “Where does the tongue-cut Sparrow stay? Where does the tongue-cut Sparrow stay?”

At last they found its home. When the Sparrow saw that its old master and mistress had come to see it, it rejoiced, and brought them into its house and thanked them for their kindness in old times. It spread a table for them, and loaded it with sake and fish till there was no more room, and made its wife and children and grandchildren all serve the table.

At last, throwing away its drinking-cup, it danced a jig called the Sparrow’s dance, and thus they spent the day. When it began to grow dark, and there was talk of going home, the Sparrow brought out two wicker baskets and said: “Will you take the heavy one, or shall I give you the light one?” The old people replied: “We are old, so give us the light one; it will be easier to carry it.” The Sparrow then gave them the light basket, and they returned with it to their home. “Let us open and see what is in it,” they said. And when they had opened it and looked, they found gold and silver and jewels and rolls of silk. They never expected anything like this. The more they took out, the more they found inside. The supply was inexhaustible, so that the house at once 426became rich and prosperous. When the cross old woman who had cut the Sparrow’s tongue saw this, she was filled with envy, and went and asked her neighbor where the Sparrow lived, and all about the way. “I will go, too,” she said, and at once set out on her search.

Again the Sparrow brought out two wicker baskets, and asked as before: “Will you take the heavy one, or shall I give you the light one?”

Thinking the treasure would be great in proportion to the weight of the basket, the old woman replied, “Let me have the heavy one.”

Receiving this, she started home with it on her back, the sparrows laughing at her as she went. It was as heavy as a stone, and hard to carry, but at last she got back with it to her house.

Then, when she took off the lid and looked in, a whole troop of frightful creatures came bouncing out from the inside, and at once they caught her up and flew away with her.


Battle of the Monkey and the Crab

A Monkey and a Crab once met when going round a mountain.

The Monkey had picked up a persimmon-seed, and the Crab had a piece of toasted rice-cake. The Monkey, seeing this, and wishing to get something that could be turned to good account at once, said, “Pray, exchange that rice-cake for this persimmon-seed.” The Crab, without a word, gave up his cake, and took the persimmon-seed and planted it. At once it sprung up, and soon became a tree so high one had to look far up to see it. The tree was full of persimmons, but the Crab had no means of climbing it, so he asked the Monkey to scramble up and get the fruit for him. The Monkey got up on a limb of the tree and began to eat the persimmons. The unripe ones he threw at the Crab, but all the ripe and good ones he put in his pouch. The Crab under the tree thus got his shell badly bruised, and only by good luck escaped into his hole, where he lay distressed with pain, and not able to get up. Now, when the relatives and household of the Crab heard how matters stood, they were surprised and angry, and declared war, and attacked the Monkey, who, leading forth a numerous following, bade defiance to the other party. The crabs, finding themselves unable to meet and cope with this force, became still more exasperated and enraged, and retreated into their hole and held a council of war. Then came a rice-mortar, a pestle, a bee, and an egg, and together they devised a deep-laid plot to be avenged.

First, they requested that peace be made with the crabs; and thus they induced the king of the monkeys to enter their hole unattended, and seated him on the hearth. The Monkey, 428not suspecting any plot, took the hibashi, or poker, to stir up the slumbering fire, when bang! went the egg, which was lying hidden in the ashes, and burned the Monkey’s arm. Surprised and alarmed, he plunged his arm into the pickle-tub in the kitchen to relieve the pain of the burn. Then the bee which was hidden near the tub stung him sharply in his face, already wet with tears. Without waiting to brush off the bee, and howling bitterly, he rushed for the back door; but just then some seaweed entangled his legs and made him slip. Then down came the pestle, tumbling on him from a shelf, and the mortar, too, came rolling down on him from the roof of the porch and broke his back, and so weakened him that he was unable to rise up. Then out came the crabs in a crowd, and brandishing on high their pinchers they pinched the Monkey so sorely that he begged them for forgiveness and promised never to repeat his meanness and treachery.


The Cub’s Triumph

Once upon a time there lived in a forest a badger and a mother fox with one little Cub.

There were no other beasts in the wood, because the hunters had killed them all with bows and arrows, or by setting snares. The deer, and the wild boar, the hares, the weasels, and the stoats—even the bright little squirrels—had been shot, or had fallen into traps. At last, only the badger and the fox, with her young one, were left, and they were starving, for they dared not venture from their holes for fear of the traps.

They did not know what to do, or where to turn for food. At last the badger said:

“I have thought of a plan. I will pretend to be dead. You must change yourself into a man, and take me into the town and sell me. With the money you get for me, you must buy food and bring it into the forest. When I get a chance I will run away, and come back to you, and we will eat our dinner together. Mind you wait for me, and don’t eat any of it until I come. Next week it will be your turn to be dead, and my turn to sell—do you see?”

The fox thought this plan would do very well; so, as soon as the badger had lain down and pretended to be dead, she said to her little Cub:

“Be sure not to come out of the hole until I come back. Be very good and quiet, and I will soon bring you some nice dinner.”

She then changed herself into a wood-cutter, took the badger by the heels and swung him over her shoulders, and trudged off into the town. There she sold the badger for a fair price, and with the money bought some fish, some tofu,[8] 430and some vegetables. She then ran back to the forest as fast as she could, changed herself into a fox again, and crept into her hole to see if little Cub was all right. Little Cub was there, safe enough, but very hungry, and wanted to begin upon the tofu at once.

8.  Curd made from white beans.

“No, no,” said the mother fox. “Fair play’s a jewel. We must wait for the badger.”

Soon the badger arrived, quite out of breath with running so fast.

“I hope you haven’t been eating any of the dinner,” he panted. “I could not get away sooner. The man you sold me to, brought his wife to look at me, and boasted how cheap he had bought me. You should have asked twice as much. At last they left me alone, and then I jumped up and ran away as fast as I could.”

The badger, the fox, and the Cub now sat down to dinner, and had a fine feast, the badger taking care to get the best bits for himself.

Some days after, when all the food was finished, and they had begun to get hungry again, the badger said to the fox:

“Now it’s your turn to die.” So the fox pretended to be dead, and the badger changed himself into a hunter, shouldered the fox, and went off to the town, where he made a good bargain, and sold her for a nice little sum of money.

You have seen already that the badger was greedy and selfish. What do you think he did now? He wished to have all the money, and all the food it would buy for himself, so he whispered to the man who had bought the fox:

“That fox is only pretending to be dead; take care he doesn’t run away.”

“We’ll soon settle that,” said the man, and he knocked the fox on the head with a big stick, and killed her.

The badger next laid out the money in buying all the nice things he could think of. He carried them off to the forest, and there ate them all up himself, without giving one bit to the poor little Cub, who was all alone, crying for its mother, very sad, and very hungry.

431Poor little motherless Cub! But, being a clever little fox, he soon began to put two and two together, and at last felt quite sure that the badger had, in some way, caused the loss of his mother.

He made up his mind that he would punish the badger; and, as he was not big enough or strong enough to do it by force, he was obliged to try another plan.

He did not let the badger see how angry he was with him, but said in a friendly way:

“Let us have a game of changing ourselves into men. If you can change yourself so cleverly that I cannot find you out, you will have won the game; but, if I change myself so that you cannot find me out, then I shall have won the game. I will begin, if you like; and, you may be sure, I shall turn myself into somebody very grand while I am about it.”

The badger agreed. So then, instead of changing himself at all, the cunning little Cub just went and hid himself behind a tree, and watched to see what would happen. Presently there came along the bridge leading into the town a nobleman, seated in a sedan-chair, a great crowd of servants and men at arms following him.

The badger was quite sure that this must be the fox, so he ran up to the sedan-chair, put in his head, and cried:

“I’ve found you out! I’ve won the game!”

“A badger! A badger! Off with his head,” cried the nobleman.

So one of the retainers cut off the badger’s head with one blow of his sharp sword, the little Cub all the time laughing unseen behind the tree.


The Silly Jelly-Fish

Once upon a time the king of the dragons, who had till then lived as a bachelor, took it into his head to get married. His bride was a young dragonette just sixteen years old—lovely enough, in very sooth, to become the wife of a king. Great were the rejoicings on the occasion. The fishes, both great and small, came to pay their respects, and to offer gifts to the newly wedded pair; and for some days all was feasting and merriment.

But, alas! even dragons have their trials. Before a month had passed, the young dragon queen fell ill. The doctors dosed her with every medicine that was known to them, but all to no purpose. At last they shook their heads, declaring that there was nothing more to be done. The illness must take its course, and she would probably die. But the sick queen said to her husband:

“I know of something that will cure me. Only fetch me a live monkey’s liver to eat, and I shall get well at once.”

“A live monkey’s liver!” exclaimed the king. “What are you thinking of, my dear? Why! you forget that we dragons live in the sea, while monkeys live far away from here, among the forest trees on land. A monkey’s liver! Why! darling, you must be mad.” Hereupon the young dragon queen burst into tears. “I only ask you for one small thing,” whimpered she, “and you won’t get it for me. I always thought you didn’t really love me. Oh! I wish I had stayed at home with my own m-m-m-mama and my own papa-a-a-a!” Here her voice choked with sobs, and she could say no more.

Well, of course the dragon king did not like to have it thought that he was unkind to his beautiful young wife. So he sent for his trusty servant, the Jelly-fish, and said: “It is 433rather a difficult job, but what I want you to try to do is to swim across to the land, and persuade a live monkey to come here with you. In order to make the monkey willing to come, you can tell him how much nicer everything is here in dragon-land than away where he lives. But what I really want him for is to cut out his liver, and use it as medicine for your young mistress, who, as you know, is dangerously ill.”

So the Jelly-fish went off on his strange errand. In those days he was just like any other fish, with eyes, and fins, and a tail. He even had little feet, which made him able to walk on the land as well as to swim in the water. It did not take him many hours to swim across to the country where the monkeys lived; and, fortunately, there just happened to be a fine monkey skipping about among the branches of the trees near the place where he landed. So the Jelly-fish said: “Mr. Monkey, I have come to tell you of a country far more beautiful than this. It lies beyond the waves, and is called dragon-land. There is pleasant weather there all the year round; there is always plenty of ripe fruit on the trees, and there are none of those mischievous creatures called men. If you will come with me, I will take you there. Just get on my back.”

The monkey thought it would be fun to see a new country. So he leaped on to the Jelly-fish’s back, and off they started across the water. But when they had gone about half-way, he began to fear that perhaps there might be some hidden danger, for it seemed so odd to be fetched suddenly in that way by a stranger. So he said to the Jelly-fish: “What made you think of coming for me?” The Jelly-fish answered: “My master, the king of the dragons, wants you in order to cut out your liver, and give it as medicine to his wife, the queen, who is sick.”

“Oh! that’s your little game, is it?” thought the monkey. But he kept his thoughts to himself, and only said: “Nothing could please me better than to be of service to their Majesties, but it so happens that I left my liver hanging to a branch of that big chestnut-tree where you found me skipping about. 434A liver is a thing that weighs a good deal, so I generally take it out, and play about without it during the daytime. We must go back for it.” The Jelly-fish agreed that there was nothing else to be done under the circumstances; for, silly creature that he was, he did not see that the monkey was telling a story in order to avoid getting killed, and having his liver used as medicine for the fanciful young dragon queen.

When they reached the shore of monkey-land again, the monkey bounded off the Jelly-fish’s back, and up to the topmost branch of the chestnut-tree in less than no time. Then he said: “I do not see my liver here. Perhaps somebody has taken it away. But I will look for it. You, meantime, had better go back and tell your master what has happened. He might be anxious about you if you did not get home before dark.”

So the Jelly-fish started off a second time, and when he got home he told the dragon king everything just as it had happened. But the king flew into a passion with him for his stupidity, and hallooed to his officers, saying: “Away with this fellow! Take him, and beat him to a jelly! Don’t let a single bone remain unbroken in his body!” So the officers seized him and beat him, as the king had commanded. That is the reason why, to this very day, jelly-fishes have no bones, but are just nothing more than a mass of pulp.

As for the dragon queen, when she found she could not have the monkey’s liver, why, she made up her mind that the I only thing to do was to get well without it.


Chin-Chin Kobakama

Once there was a little girl who was very pretty, but also very lazy. Her parents were rich, and had a great many servants; and these servants were very fond of the little girl, and did everything for her which she ought to have been able to do for herself. Perhaps this was what made her so lazy. When she grew up into a beautiful woman she still remained lazy; but as the servants always dressed and undressed her, and arranged her hair, she looked very charming, and nobody thought about her faults.

At last she was married to a brave warrior, and went away with him to live in another house where there were but few servants. She was sorry not to have as many servants as she had had at home, because she was obliged to do several things for herself which other folks had always done for her, and it was a great deal of trouble to her to dress herself, and take care of her own clothes, and keep herself looking neat and pretty to please her husband. But as he was a warrior, and often had to be far away from home with the army, she could sometimes be just as lazy as she wished, and her husband’s parents were very old and good-natured, and never scolded her.

Well, one night while her husband was away with the army, she was awakened by queer little noises in her room. By the light of a big paper lantern she could see very well, and she saw strange things.

Hundreds of little men, dressed just like Japanese warriors, but only about one inch high, were dancing all around her pillow. They wore the same kind of dress her husband wore on holidays (Kamishimo, a long robe with square shoulders), and their hair was tied up in knots, and each wore two tiny 436swords. They all looked at her as they danced, and laughed, and they all sang the same song over and over again:

Chin-chin Kobakama,
Yomo fuké sōro—
Oshizumare, Hime-gimi!—
Ya ton ton!—

Which meant: “We are the Chin-chin Kobakama; the hour is late; sleep, honorable, noble darling!”

The words seemed very polite, but she soon saw that the little men were only making cruel fun of her. They also made ugly faces at her.

She tried to catch some of them, but they jumped about so quickly that she could not. Then she tried to drive them away, but they would not go, and they never stopped singing:

Chin-chin Kobakama ...

and laughing at her. Then she knew they were little fairies, and became so frightened that she could not even cry out. They danced around her until morning; then they all vanished suddenly.

She was ashamed to tell anybody what had happened, because, as she was the wife of a warrior, she did not wish anybody to know how frightened she had been.

Next night, again, the little men came and danced; and they came also the night after that, and every night, always at the same hour, which the old Japanese used to call the “hour of the ox”; that is, about two o’clock in the morning by our time. At last she became very sick, through want of sleep and through fright. But the little men would not leave her alone.

When her husband came back home he was very sorry to find her sick in bed. At first she was afraid to tell him what had made her ill, for fear that he would laugh at her. But he was so kind, and coaxed her so gently, that after a while she told him what happened every night.

437He did not laugh at her at all, but looked very serious for a time. Then he asked:

“At what time do they come?”

She answered, “Always at the same hour—the ‘hour of the ox.’”

“Very well,” said her husband; “to-night I shall hide, and watch for them. Do not be frightened.”

So that night the warrior hid himself in a closet in the sleeping-room, and kept watch through a chink between the sliding doors.

He waited and watched until the “hour of the ox.” Then, all at once, the little men came up through the mats, and began their dance and their song:

Chin-chin Kobakama,
Yomo fuké Sōro....

They looked so queer, and danced in such a funny way, that the warrior could scarcely keep from laughing. But he saw his young wife’s frightened face; and then, remembering that nearly all Japanese ghosts and goblins are afraid of a sword, he drew his blade and rushed out of the closet, and struck at the little dancers. Immediately they all turned into—what do you think?


There were no more little warriors—only a lot of old toothpicks scattered over the mats.

The young wife had been too lazy to put her toothpicks away properly; and every day, after having used a new toothpick, she would stick it down between the mats on the floor, to get rid of it. So the little fairies who take care of the floor-mats became angry with her, and tormented her.

Her husband scolded her, and she was so ashamed that she did not know what to do. A servant was called, and the toothpicks were taken away and burned, and after that the little men never came back again.


The Old Woman who Lost her Dumplings

Long, long ago there was a funny old woman who liked to laugh and to make dumplings of rice-flour.

One day, while she was preparing some dumplings for dinner, she let one fall, and it rolled into a hole in the earthen floor of her little kitchen and disappeared. The old woman tried to reach it by putting her hand down the hole, and all at once the earth gave way, and the old woman fell in.

She fell quite a distance, but was not a bit hurt; and when she got up on her feet again, she saw that she was standing on a road just like the road before her house. It was quite light down there; and she could see plenty of rice-fields, but no one in them. How all this happened I cannot tell you, but it seems that the old woman had fallen into another country.

The road she had fallen upon sloped very much; so, after having looked for her dumpling in vain, she thought that it must have rolled farther away down the hill. She ran down the road to look, crying: “My dumpling! my dumpling! Where is that dumpling of mine?”

After a little while she saw a stone image standing by the roadside, and she said, calling it by its name:

“O Jizō San, did you see my dumpling?”

Jizō answered:

“Yes, I saw your dumpling rolling by me down the road. But you had better not go any farther, because there is a wicked oni living down there who eats people.”

But the old woman only laughed, and ran on farther down the road, crying: “My dumpling! my dumpling! Where is that dumpling of mine?” And she came to another statue of Jizō, and asked it:

439“O kind Jizō, did you see my dumpling?”

And Jizō said:

“Yes, I saw your dumpling go by a little while ago. But you must not run any farther, because there is a wicked oni down there who eats people.”

But she only laughed and ran on, still crying out: “My dumpling! my dumpling! Where is that dumpling of mine?” And she came to a third Jizō, and asked it:

“O dear Jizō, did you see my dumpling?”

But Jizō said:

“Don’t talk about your dumpling now. Here is the oni coming. Squat down here behind my sleeve, and don’t make any noise.”

Presently the oni came very close, and stopped and bowed to Jizō, and said:

“Good day, Jizō San!”

Jizō said good day, too, very politely.

Then the oni suddenly snuffed the air two or three times in a suspicious way, and cried out: “Jizō San, Jizō San! I smell a smell of mankind somewhere—don’t you?”

“Oh!” said Jizō, “perhaps you are mistaken.”

“No, no!” said the oni after snuffing the air again; “I smell a smell of mankind.”

Then the old woman could not help laughing—“Te-he-he!”—and the oni immediately reached down his big hairy hand behind Jizō’s sleeve, and pulled her out—still laughing, “Te-he-he!

“Ah! ha!” cried the oni.

Then Jizō said:

“What are you going to do with that good old woman? You must not hurt her.”

“I won’t,” said the oni; “but I will take her home with me to cook for us.”

Te-he-he!” laughed the old woman.

“Very well,” said Jizō, “but you must really be kind to her. If you are not, I shall be very angry.”

“I won’t hurt her at all,” promised the oni; “and she will 440only have to do a little work for us every day. Good-by, Jizō San.”

Then the oni took the old woman far down the road till they came to a wide deep river, where there was a boat. He put her into the boat, and took her across the river to his house. It was a very large house. He led her at once into the kitchen, and told her to cook some dinner for himself and the other oni who lived with him. And he gave her a small wooden rice-paddle, and said:

“You must always put only one grain of rice into the pot, and, when you stir that one grain of rice in the water with this paddle, the grain will multiply until the pot is full.”

So the old woman put just one rice-grain into the pot, as the oni told her, and began to stir it with the paddle; and, as she stirred, the one grain became two, then four, then eight, then sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, and so on. Every time she moved the paddle the rice increased in quantity, and in a few minutes the great pot was full.

After that, the funny old woman stayed a long time in the house of the oni, and every day cooked food for him and for all his friends. The oni never hurt or frightened her, and her work was made quite easy by the magic paddle, although she had to cook a very, very great quantity of rice, because an oni eats much more than any human being eats.

But she felt lonely, and always wished very much to go back to her own little house, and make her dumplings; and one day, when the oni were all out somewhere, she thought she would try to run away.

She first took the magic paddle and slipped it under her girdle, and then she went down to the river. No one saw her, and the boat was there. She got into it and pushed off, and, as she could row very well, she was soon far away from the shore.

But the river was very wide, and she had not rowed more than one-fourth of the way across when the oni, all of them, came back to the house.

They found that their cook was gone, and the magic paddle, 441too. They ran down to the river at once, and saw the old woman rowing away very fast.

Perhaps they could not swim; at all events, they had no boat, and they thought the only way they could catch the funny old woman would be to drink up all the water of the river before she got to the other bank. So they knelt down, and began to drink so fast that, before the old woman had got half-way over, the water had become quite low.

But the old woman kept on rowing until the water had got so shallow that the oni stopped drinking, and began to wade across. Then she dropped her oar, took the magic paddle from her girdle, and shook it at the oni, and made such funny faces that the oni all burst out laughing.

But, the moment they laughed, all the water came up that they had drunk, and so the river became full again. The oni could not cross, and the funny old woman got safely over to the other side, and ran away up the road as fast as she could. She never stopped running until she found herself at home again.

After that she was very happy, for she could make dumplings whenever she pleased. Besides, she had the magic paddle to make rice for her. She sold her dumplings to her neighbors and passengers, and in quite a short time she became rich.


The Three Goats

Once upon a time there were three goats that were sent to some pasture-lands in order to be fattened, and all three happened to be named Brausewind. On their road to the pasture there was a bridge across a river which they must pass, and under the bridge lived a gigantic and horrible spirit, whose eyes were as large as two pewter plates, and whose nose was as long as the handle of a hoe.

The youngest goat Brausewind first came along, and stepped upon the bridge.

“Creak, creak!” complained the bridge.

“Who is tripping over my bridge?” cried the elf underneath.

“Oh! it is only the smallest of the goats named Brausewind,” said the goat in a very shrill voice.

“Then I shall come and fetch you,” cried the elf.

“Nay, do not come for me, for I am still so little,” said the goat; “wait a bit, till the second Brausewind comes, for he is much larger than I am.”

“Very well,” quoth the elf.

After a while the other goat Brausewind came along, and he began to go over the bridge.

Creaky creak!” cried the bridge again.

“Who is tramping over my bridge?” cried the elf.

“Oh! it is only the second goat Brausewind; I am going to the pasture-lands to get a little fatter,” answered the goat, but in a less soft voice than the first.

“Then I shall come and fetch you,” said the elf.

“Nay, do not take me, but wait a bit till the large goat Brausewind comes, for he is a great deal bigger than I am.”

“Very well,” replied the elf.

443It was not long before the big goat Brausewind reached the same spot.

Creak, creak!” went the bridge, as if it were going to split.

“Who comes thundering over my bridge?” cried the elf.

“The big goat Brausewind,” said the goat in a gruff voice.

“Then I shall come and fetch you,” cried the elf.

“Well, come if you like; I’ve two spears in my head,
With which I can easily strike you dead.
Yes, come if you like; and with thundering stones
I shiver to powder your brains and your bones,”

replied the goat; and, butting at the elf, he easily broke every bone in his body, after which he threw him into the river, and followed the other goats to the pastures.

And here the goats grew so very, very, very fat that they were not able to come home again; and, unless they have grown thinner since, they are probably there still.


The Fox Turned Shepherd

There was once a farmer’s wife who rode out to try and find a shepherd. She happened to meet a bear on the way, and the bear inquired whither she was going.

“Oh, I’m going to hire a shepherd,” answered she.

“Will you take me for a shepherd?” asked the bear.

“Yes,” said the woman, “provided you can call the sheep properly.”

“Ho—o—y!” growled the bear.

“No,” said the woman on hearing this, “I can’t hire you,” and on she went.

Soon after she met a wolf. “Where are you going?” asked the wolf.

“Oh, I’m going to hire a shepherd,” answered the woman.

“Will you take me for a shepherd?” asked the wolf.

“Yes, if you can call the sheep properly,” replied the woman.

“Uh—uh!” howled the wolf.

“No, I can’t hire you,” said the woman.

A little farther on she met a Fox. “Where are you going?” asked he.

“Oh, I’m only going to hire a shepherd,” answered the woman.

“Will you take me for a shepherd?” asked the Fox.

“Yes, provided you can but call the sheep properly,” replied the woman.

“Dil—dal—holom!” cried the Fox in a pretty, proper tone.

“Yes, I will hire you,” said the woman; and she took him for a shepherd to watch over the cattle.

The first day, on driving the cattle to the meadows, the Fox 445ate up all the goats. On the second day he made a dainty meal upon the sheep, and on the third day it was the turn for the cows to be eaten.

On returning home in the evening, the woman asked him where he had left the cattle. “Their heads are in the brook, and their bones are in the bushes,” replied the Fox. The farmer’s wife was just then at the butter-tub, busy making butter; still, she wanted to go and see for herself how things stood. While she went to look, the Fox put his head into the butter-tub and drank up all the cream.

When the woman came back and saw what he had done, she was so exasperated that she seized a clot of cream that still remained in the tub and flung it at the Fox, so that it made a spot upon his tail. And this is the reason why the Fox’s tail has a white tip.


The Seven Boys and the Monster

It was Saturday afternoon, and Caspar, Michael, Fritz, and little Bessy were playing before their house, when presently little Hans came running toward them, and breathlessly cried:

“What have I seen? what have I seen?”

“What have you seen, then?” exclaimed all the children with one voice, collecting around him.

“A monster! a frightful monster!” answered Hans, wiping the sweat from his brow.

“You are afraid of your own shadow, fearful Hans,” said Caspar mockingly; “perhaps your neighbor’s black cat has turned her fiery eyes on you again.”

“I am not afraid of my shadow,” answered Hans angrily; “had you only been there, your ridicule would soon have vanished. A cat is not a bit like a grasshopper—a fearful great grasshopper, on which one could ride!”

At this the children wondered very much; and when Hans related that he had seen the monster in the shepherd’s hut in the field—that it had horns, and such a voice that the whole hut trembled—they almost believed him; and little Fritz thought: “Who knows if it is not one of the rhinoceroses of which Herr Gulmann told us yesterday?”

“Has the monster done you any harm?” asked little Bessy.

“No,” answered Hans; “when I screamed, it shrank back into its house.”

“But I must go and see it,” said Caspar; “and, if you will all follow, I will go now.”

The children determined to go, but little Hans said:

“I will not go unarmed!”

447So Caspar mounted his horse-stick, put on his helmet, and buckled his saber to his side; Michael took his gun, Fritz the drum, and little Hans his lance.

“You must remain at home, little Bessy,” said Hans; “I won’t bear the blame if the monster hurts you.”

“But I want to go with you,” answered little Bessy, almost crying; “and, if you will not take me, I will tell my mother.”

“Let her go, then,” said Fritz; “but remember, Bessy, you must always keep ten yards behind.”

Thus, having armed themselves, they took courage, and Caspar thought: “Oh, if we could only catch the monster, dead or alive! Ah! here come Peter, and Frank, and George—they can also go with us, but they must take the great bean-pole out of the garden, that we may be able to attack the monster at a distance.”

Now the little army set itself in motion. Caspar on “Roho” (for so his horse was named) came first, as commander; then came Hans with the spear, Fritz with the drum, Michael with the gun, and lastly, Peter, Frank, and George, with the pole. Little Bessy came ten yards behind them. All were full of courage, and they sang:

The general on his horse comes first,
And next the spear and drum;
The soldier, with his gun; and three
Armed with a bean-pole come.
But Bessy marches after all,
That unto her no harm may fall.

When they came to the little wood through which one must go in order to get to the great meadow where the shepherd’s cot stands, Hans cried out all at once, his flag nearly falling from his hand:

“Did you not hear a noise?”

“Yes!” cried all, trembling; but Fritz had still courage enough to say:

“Bessy must remain behind.”

Then they whispered to one another, “The monster, perhaps, 448has hidden here”; but they dared not run away, for fear the monster should fall on them from behind, and they resolved to lie on the ground and listen. So they laid down all apart, and presently they whispered:

“Hans trembles very much.”

After a long time Fritz asked:

“Have you heard nothing, Caspar?”

“No,” said he, and the others also said “no”; and Frank thought, perhaps, it was only the wind. At this they took courage, and, in order to show they were not afraid, they sang:

O wind, in the wood whistle all the day long,
We’ll whistle as boldly, we’ll whistle as strong,

and they began to whistle, with all their strength, against the wind.

When they had come out of the wood they saw the shepherd’s hut standing quite alone; in the distance the sheep were peacefully feeding, and their little bells sounded merrily along the meadows. Only an old ram saw the young band of heroes, and it ventured nearer in order to look wonderingly. But Caspar rode against it, brandishing his sword, which made the ram bleat and gallop away.

“Now is the time!” said Caspar; “we will first walk three times round the hut, but no one must make any noise!”

“Bessy still stops behind!” cried Fritz, out of the strength of his love.

“Once more I say,” exclaimed Caspar loudly and forcibly, “no one must make a noise. We will now walk around, and when we are about to attack, Fritz shall give the signal with his drum.”

So they began to walk round the hut, but they marched round much oftener than three times, and each time they stopped at the same place.

“We cannot go round any more,” said Caspar, “we must attack the monster from some place. Do you hide first, behind the oak-tree, one behind another, that the monster may 449not see you; I will step on to the wheel there, and look in at the window, but—mind you are all ready at the first call.”

As they hid themselves behind the oak, he walked slowly with drawn sword to the hut, and little Hans whispered behind the tree:

“If there should be a wolf in the hut! Do you remember the story of ‘Little Red Riding-hood’?”

This made them very much afraid, and they held the faster to one another. Only Frank dared look out to see how their captain got on.

He had arrived at the hut, and, having fastened his horse to a stake, he mounted the wheel in order to look through the window. But—what a monster!—a great bearded beast with horns sprang with a loud cry at him; and Caspar, pale as death from terror, fell back, and could scarcely cry:

“Help! help!—the monster!”

As he called out, Franz said, “It has a beard and horns, and such a voice!” and Hans, who stood next to the oak, fell back on the rest, and one after the other fell to the ground.

Fritz picked himself up first, and called to Caspar from afar:

“Has he eaten you up yet, dear Caspar?”

“Who?” cried Caspar, springing up, “who?” And out of the hut sounded again the cry; it shook the door, and all fell back again. A goat came running up, with playful jumps, to our heroes.

“Herr Gulmann’s sick goat!” cried out all, “which, since the day before yesterday, we have not seen in the schoolyard.”

“Did I not say so?” cried Caspar. “But, ah, fearful Hans! where is the monster?”

“That must still be within,” protested Hans. “You also have seen it.”

“We will look again,” cried the enraged Caspar, in anger; “but, as the monster has not eaten the goat, it is no cannibal. Just come here, and stand around while Hans and I go in; 450and do you hold the bar of the door, that the monster may not come out.”

All were, in spite of their former terror, become courageous; still, Hans would willingly have gone back if he had not disliked to be called “fearful Hans.” He placed himself, therefore, at the door, behind Caspar, holding his banner before his eyes, and pressing it close to him. But Caspar did not remark that Hans had placed himself behind him; and Hans, on the other hand, did not see Caspar turn himself angrily and quickly round, the hut being very dark; and it so happened that he overturned Hans and fell over him.

“The monster! the monster!” cried Hans; and Caspar exclaimed, too, “The monster! the monster!” for each thought that it had overthrown him. With the quickness of lightning they sprang up again, in order to escape through the door, but those outside only held the bar faster from terror; and Hans and Caspar kicked with such violence against the wood that the others cried, “The monster! the monster!”

But this time it was not a goat, but the specter, which every one sometimes sees and feels. This our hero, Caspar, very soon found out; and springing up, he stamped thrice on the ground with his foot, and seizing poor Hans by the collar, he shook him angrily, and cried out in a voice nearly choked with rage:

“You are a coward! you are a coward!”

“Dear Caspar, let me go; I will not do it again!”

“Hans, you are a coward!” replied Caspar, for the third time shaking him.

But as little Hans said, “I will certainly show you a monster!” and as the others begged for his life, he let him loose, stamped again on the ground, and exclaimed:

“Oh, I would have commanded a band of heroes; I would have caught the monster, and led it in triumph home, but now it is gone, and you are the cause!”

But meanwhile the goat, which at first had so frightened them, approached again, and performed various playful capers to induce them to play with it. This increased Caspar’s rage, 451who would have seized the animal and beaten it; but it ran back, and then lowering its horns rushed against Caspar, not very softly. This excited him the more; he made a bold spring, seized the brute by the hair, and mounted it, in order the better to hold it; but, lo! the goat ran wildly away with him, with mad jumps through the wood, past shrieking Bessy, away into the village, where the people pointed their fingers at him mockingly.

Where did the goat stop?—for Caspar, while he lives, will not forget this! It easily found the way to the schoolhouse where it once joyfully fed, and flying to the yard, where the affrighted dog tried to seize it, it rushed into the school at the principal entrance, and stood suddenly in the schoolroom, where Herr Gulmann was correcting the exercises of his scholars. He heard the tremendous noise and outcry, and putting on his spectacles he discovered all!

What further happened I will omit, out of pity for Caspar, who may read this history some time. Only this must I mention: that Herr Gulmann made him read and explain on Monday morning, for a religious exercise, the history of David and Goliath, and soon after he unwillingly related the story of the Seven Suabians, who allowed themselves to be conquered by a hare, and at that seven little boys blushed very deeply. I believe, however, that seven times seven-and-seventy little boys would blush at this story I have just told if it had happened to them!


The Story of Little Black Mingo

Once upon a time there was a little black girl, and her name was Little Black Mingo.

She had no father and mother, so she had to live with a horrid cross old woman called Black Noggy, who used to scold her every day, and sometimes beat her with a stick, even though she had done nothing naughty.

One day Black Noggy called her, and said: “Take this chatty down to the river and fill it with water, and come back as fast as you can—quick now!”

So Little Black Mingo took the chatty and ran down to the river as fast as she could, and began to fill it with water, when cr-r-rrrack!!! bang!!! a horrible big mugger poked its nose up through the bottom of the chatty and said: “Ha, ha! Little Mingo, I’m going to eat you up!”

Little Black Mingo did not say anything. She turned and ran away as fast as ever she could, and the mugger ran after her. But the broken chatty round his neck caught his paws, so he could not overtake her.

But when she got back to Black Noggy, and told her how the mugger had broken the chatty, Black Noggy was fearfully angry. “You naughty girl,” she said, “you have broken the chatty yourself. I have a good mind to beat you.” And if she had not been in such a hurry for the water she would have beaten her.

Then she went and fetched the great big chatty that the dhobi used to boil the clothes in. “Take this,” said she, “and mind you don’t break it, or I will beat you.”

“But I can’t carry that when it is full of water,” said Little Black Mingo.

“You must go twice, and bring it half-full each time,” said Black Noggy.

453So Little Black Mingo took the dhobi’s great big chatty, and started again to go to the river. But first she went to a little bank above the river, and peeped up and down to see if she could see the old mugger anywhere. But she could not see him, for he was hiding under the very bank she was standing on, and, though his tail stuck out a little, she never saw him at all.

She would have liked to run home, but she was too much afraid that Black Noggy would beat her.

So Little Black Mingo crept down to the river, and began to fill the big chatty with water. And while she was filling it the mugger came creeping softly down behind her and caught her by the leg, saying: “Aha, Little Black Mingo, now I’ve got you.”

And Little Black Mingo said: “Oh! please don’t eat me up, great big mugger!”

“What will you give me if I don’t eat you up?” said the mugger. But Little Black Mingo was so poor she had nothing to give. So the mugger caught her in his great cruel mouth and swam away with her to an island in the middle of the river, and set her down beside a huge pile of eggs.

“Those are my eggs,” said he; “to-morrow a little mugger will come out of each, and then we will have a great feast, and we will eat you up.”

Then he waddled off to catch fish for himself, and left Little Black Mingo alone beside the big pile of eggs.

And Little Black Mingo sat down on a big stone and hid her face in her hands, and cried bitterly, because she couldn’t swim, and she didn’t know how to get away.

Presently she heard a queer little squeaky noise that sounded like “Squeak, squeak, squeak!!! Oh, Little Black Mingo, help me, or I shall be drowned.” She got up and looked to see what was calling, and she saw a bush coming floating down the river with something wriggling and scrambling about in it, and as it came near she saw that it was a mongoose that was in the bush. So she waded out as far as she could, and caught hold of the bush and pulled it in, and the 454poor mongoose crawled up her arm on to her shoulder, and she carried him to shore.

When they got to shore the mongoose shook himself, and Little Black Mingo wrung out her petticoat, and so they both very soon got dry.

The mongoose then began to poke about for something to eat, and very soon he found the great big pile of muggers’ eggs. “Oh, joy!” said he, “what’s this?”

“Those are muggers’ eggs,” said Little Black Mingo.

“I’m not afraid of muggers!” said the mongoose; and he sat down and began to crack the eggs, and eat the little muggers as they came out. And he threw the shells into the water, so that the old mugger should not see that any one had been eating them. But he was careless, and he left one egg-shell on the edge, and he was hungry, and he ate so many that the pile got much smaller, and when the old mugger came back he saw at once that some one had been meddling with them.

So he ran to Little Black Mingo, and said, “How dare you eat my eggs?”

“Indeed, indeed, I didn’t,” said Little Black Mingo.

“Then who could it have been?” said the mugger, and he ran back to the eggs as fast as he could, and, sure enough, when he got back he found the mongoose had eaten a whole lot more!!

Then he said to himself, “I must stay beside my eggs till they are hatched into little muggers, or the mongoose will eat them all.” So he curled himself into a ring round the eggs and went to sleep.

But while he was asleep the mongoose came to eat some more of the eggs, and ate as many as he wanted, and when the mugger woke this time, oh! what a rage he was in, for there were only six eggs left! He roared so loud that all the little muggers inside the shells gnashed their teeth, and tried to roar, too.

Then he said: “I know what I’ll do. I’ll fetch Little Black Mingo’s big chatty, and cover my eggs with that; then the 455mongoose won’t be able to get at them.” So he swam across to the shore, and fetched the dhobi’s big chatty, and covered the eggs with it. “Now, you wicked little mongoose, come and eat my eggs if you can,” said he, and he went off quite proud and happy.

By and by the mongoose came back, and he was terribly disappointed when he found the eggs all covered with the big chatty.

So he ran off to Little Black Mingo, and asked her to help him, and Little Black Mingo came and took the big chatty off the eggs, and the mongoose ate them, every one.

“Now,” said he, “there will be no little muggers to make a feast for to-morrow.”

“No,” said Little Black Mingo, “but the mugger will eat me all by himself, I am afraid.”

“No, he won’t,” said the mongoose, “for we will sail away together in the big chatty before he comes back.”

So he climbed on to the edge of the chatty, and Little Black Mingo pushed the chatty out into the water, and then she clambered into it and paddled with her two hands as hard as she could, and the big chatty just sailed beautifully.

So they got across safely, and Little Black Mingo filled the chatty half-full of water and took it on her head, and they went up the bank together.

But when the mugger came back, and found only empty egg-shells, he was fearfully angry. He roared and he raged, and he howled and he yelled, till the whole island shook, and his tears ran down his cheeks and pattered on the sand like rain.

So he started to chase Little Black Mingo and the mongoose, and he swam across the river as fast as ever he could, and when he was half-way across he saw them landing, and as he landed they hurried over the first ridge.

So he raced after them, but they ran, and just before he caught them they got into the house, and banged the door in his face. Then they shut all the windows, so he could not get in anywhere.

456“All right,” said he, “you will have to come out some time, and then I will catch you both, and eat you up.”

So he hid behind the back of the house and waited.

Now, Black Noggy was just coming home from the bazaar with a tin of kerosene on her head and a box of matches in her hand.

And when he saw her the mugger rushed out and gobbled her up, kerosene tin, matches, and all!!!

When Black Noggy found herself in the mugger’s dark inside, she wanted to see where she was, so she felt for the match-box, and took out a match and lit it. But the mugger’s teeth had made holes in the kerosene tin, so that the flame of the match caught the kerosene, and Bang!! the kerosene exploded, and blew the old mugger and Black Noggy into little bits.

At the fearful noise Little Black Mingo and the mongoose came running out, and there they found Black Noggy and the old mugger all blown to bits.

So Little Black Mingo and the mongoose got the nice little house for their very own, and there they lived happy ever after. And Little Black Mingo got the mugger’s head for her seat, and the mongoose got Black Noggy’s handkerchief for his. But he was so wee he used to put it on the mugger’s nose, and there they sat, and had their tea every evening.

Helen Bannerman.

The Cock and the Crested Hen

There was once a Cock who had a whole farm-yard of hens to look after and manage; and among them was a tiny little Crested Hen. She thought she was altogether too grand to be in company with the other hens, for they looked so old and shabby; she wanted to go out and strut about all by herself, so that people could see how fine she was, and admire her pretty crest and beautiful plumage.

So one day when all the hens were strutting about on the dust-heap and showing themselves off, and picking and clucking, as they were wont to do, this desire seized her, and she began to cry:

“Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, over the fence! cluck, cluck, cluck, over the fence!” and wanted to get away.

The Cock stretched his neck and shook his comb and feathers, and cried:

“Go not there!” And all the old hens cackled:

“Go-go-go-go not there!”

But she set off for all that; and was not a little proud when she got away, and could go about pluming and showing herself off quite alone.

Just then a hawk began to fly round in a circle above her, and all of a sudden he swooped down upon her. The Cock, as he stood on top of the dust-heap, stretching his neck and peering first with one eye and then with the other, had long noticed him, and cried with all his might:

“Come, come, come and help! Come, come, come and help!” till the people came running to see what was the matter. They frightened the hawk so that he let go the Hen, and had to be satisfied with her tuft and her finest feathers, which he had plucked from her. And then, you may be sure, she 458lost no time in running home; she stretched her neck, and tripped along, crying:

“See, see, see, see how I look! See, see, see, see how I look!”

The Cock came up to her in his dignified way, drooped one of his wings, and said:

“Didn’t I tell you?”

From that time the Hen did not consider herself too good to be in the company of the old hens on the dust-heap.


The Old Woman and the Fish

There was once upon a time an old woman who lived in a miserable cottage on the brow of a hill overlooking the town. Her husband had been dead for many years, and her children were in service round about the parish, so she felt rather lonely and dreary by herself, and otherwise she was not particularly well off either.

But when it has been ordained that one shall live, one cannot think of one’s funeral; and so one has to take the world as it is, and still be satisfied; and that was about all the old woman could console herself with. But that the road up which she had to carry the pails from the well should be so heavy; and that the ax should have such a blunt and rusty edge, so that it was only with the greatest difficulty that she could cut the little firewood she had; and that the stuff she was weaving was not sufficient—all this grieved her greatly, and caused her to complain from time to time.

So one day, when she had pulled the bucket up from the well, she happened to find a small pike in the bucket, which did not at all displease her.

“Such fish does not come into my pot every day,” she said; and now she could have a really grand dish, she thought. But the fish that she had got this time was no fool; it had the gift of speech, that it had.

“Let me go!” said the fish.

The old woman began to stare, you may be sure. Such a fish she had never before seen in this world.

“Are you so much better than other fish, then?” she said, “and too good to be eaten?”

“Wise is he who does not eat all he gets hold of,” said the fish; “only let me go, and you shall not remain without reward for your trouble.”

460“I like a fish in the bucket better than all those frisking about free and frolicsome in the lakes,” said the old woman. “And what one can catch with one hand, one can also carry to one’s mouth,” she said.

“That may be,” said the fish; “but if you do as I tell you, you shall have three wishes.”

“Wish in one fist, and pour water in the other, and you’ll soon see which you will get filled first,” said the woman. “Promises are well enough, but keeping them is better, and I sha’n’t believe much in you till I have got you in the pot,” she said.

“You should mind that tongue of yours,” said the fish, “and listen to my words. Wish for three things, and then you’ll see what will happen,” he said.

Well, the old woman knew well enough what she wanted to wish, and there might not be so much danger in trying how far the fish would keep his word, she thought.

She then began thinking of the heavy hill up from the well.

“I would wish that the pails could go of themselves to the well and home again,” she said.

“So they shall,” said the fish.

Then she thought of the ax, and how blunt it was.

“I would wish that whatever I strike shall break right off,” she said.

“So it shall,” said the fish.

And then she remembered that the stuff she was weaving was not long enough.

“I would wish that whatever I pull shall become long,” she said.

“That it shall,” said the fish. “And now, let me down into the well again.”

Yes, that she would, and all at once the pails began to shamble up the hill.

“Dear me, did you ever see anything like it?” The old woman became so glad and pleased that she slapped herself across the knees.

461Crack, crack! it sounded; and then both her legs fell off, and she was left sitting on the top of the lid over the well.

Now came a change. She began to cry and wail, and the tears started from her eyes, whereupon she began blowing her nose with her apron, and as she tugged at her nose it grew so long, so long, that it was terrible to see.

That is what she got for her wishes! Well, there she sat, and there she no doubt still sits, on the lid of the well. And if you want to know what it is to have a long nose, you had better go there and ask her, for she can tell you all about it, she can.


The Lad and the Fox

There was once upon a time a little lad, who was on his way to church, and when he came to a clearing in the forest he caught sight of a fox, that was lying on the top of a big stone so fast asleep that he did not know the lad had seen him.

“If I kill that fox,” said the lad, taking a heavy stone in his fist, “and sell the skin, I shall get money for it, and with that money I shall buy some rye, and that rye I shall sow in father’s corn-field at home. When the people who are on their way to church pass by my field of rye they’ll say: ‘Oh, what splendid rye that lad has got!’ Then I shall say to them: ‘I say, keep away from my rye!’ But they won’t heed me. Then I shall shout to them: ‘I say, keep away from my rye!’ But still they won’t take any notice of me. Then I shall scream with all my might: ‘Keep away from my rye!’ and then they’ll listen to me.”

But the lad screamed so loudly that the fox woke up and made off at once for the forest, so that the lad did not even get as much as a handful of his hair.

No; it’s best always to take what you can reach, for of undone deeds you should never screech, as the saying goes.


The Old Woman and the Tramp

There was once a tramp who went plodding his way through a forest. The distance between the houses was so great that he had little hope of finding a shelter before the night set in. But all of a sudden he saw some lights between the trees. He then discovered a cottage, where there was a fire burning on the hearth. How nice it would be to roast one’s self before that fire, and to get a bite of something, he thought; and so he dragged himself toward the cottage.

Just then an old woman came toward him.

“Good evening, and well met!” said the tramp.

“Good evening,” said the woman. “Where do you come from?”

“South of the sun, and east of the moon,” said the tramp; “and now I am on the way home again, for I have been all over the world with the exception of this parish,” he said.

“You must be a great traveler, then,” said the woman. “What may be your business here?”

“Oh, I want a shelter for the night,” he said.

“I thought as much,” said the woman; “but you may as well get away from here at once, for my husband is not at home, and my place is not an inn,” she said.

“My good woman,” said the tramp, “you must not be so cross and hard-hearted, for we are both human beings, and should help one another, as it is written.”

“Help one another?” said the woman, “help? Did you ever hear such a thing? Who’ll help me, do you think? I haven’t got a morsel in the house! No, you’ll have to look for quarters elsewhere,” she said.

But the tramp was like the rest of his kind; he did not consider himself beaten at the first rebuff. Although the old 464woman grumbled and complained as much as she could, he was just as persistent as ever, and went on begging and praying like a starved dog, until at last she gave in, and he got permission to lie on the floor for the night.

That was very kind, he thought, and he thanked her for it.

“Better on the floor without sleep, than suffer cold in the forest deep,” he said; for he was a merry fellow, this tramp, and was always ready with a rhyme.

When he came into the room he could see that the woman was not so badly off as she had pretended; but she was a greedy and stingy woman of the worst sort, and was always complaining and grumbling.

He now made himself very agreeable, of course, and asked her in his most insinuating manner for something to eat.

“Where am I to get it from?” said the woman. “I haven’t tasted a morsel myself the whole day.”

But the tramp was a cunning fellow, he was.

“Poor old granny, you must be starving,” he said. “Well, well, I suppose I shall have to ask you to have something with me, then?”

“Have something with you!” said the woman. “You don’t look as if you could ask any one to have anything! What have you got to offer one, I should like to know?”

“He who far and wide does roam sees many things not known at home; and he who many things has seen has wits about him and senses keen,” said the tramp. “Better dead than lose one’s head! Lend me a pot, granny!”

The old woman now became very inquisitive, as you may guess, and so she let him have a pot.

He filled it with water and put it on the fire, and then he blew with all his might till the fire was burning fiercely all round it. Then he took a four-inch nail from his pocket, turned it three times in his hand, and put it into the pot.

The woman stared with all her might.

“What’s this going to be?” she asked.

“Nail broth,” said the tramp, and began to stir the water with the porridge-stick.

465“Nail broth?” asked the woman.

“Yes, nail broth,” said the tramp.

The old woman had seen and heard a good deal in her time, but that anybody could have made broth with a nail, well, she had never heard the like before.

“That’s something for poor people to know,” she said, “and I should like to learn how to make it.”

“That which is not worth having will always go a-begging,” said the tramp, but if she wanted to learn how to make it she had only to watch him, he said, and went on stirring the broth.

The old woman squatted on the ground, her hands clasping her knees, and her eyes following his hand as he stirred the broth.

“This generally makes good broth,” he said; “but this time it will very likely be rather thin, for I have been making broth the whole week with the same nail. If one only had a handful of sifted oatmeal to put in, that would make it all right,” he said. “But what one has to go without, it’s no use thinking more about,” and so he stirred the broth again.

“Well, I think I have a scrap of flour somewhere,” said the old woman, and went out to fetch some, and it was both good and fine.

The tramp began putting the flour into the broth, and went on stirring, while the woman sat staring now at him and then at the pot until her eyes nearly burst their sockets.

“This broth would be good enough for company,” he said, putting in one handful of flour after another. “If I had only a bit of salted beef and a few potatoes to put in, it would be fit for gentlefolks, however particular they might be,” he said. “But what one has to go without, it’s no use thinking more about.”

When the old woman really began to think it over, she thought she had some potatoes, and perhaps a bit of beef as well; and these she gave the tramp, who went on stirring, while she sat and stared as hard as ever.

466“This will be grand enough for the best in the land,” he said.

“Well, I never!” said the woman; “and just fancy—all with a nail!”

He was really a wonderful man, that tramp! He could do more than drink a sup and turn the tankard up, he could.

“If one had only a little barley and a drop of milk, we could ask the king himself to have some of it,” he said; “for this is what he has every blessed evening—that I know, for I have been in service under the king’s cook,” he said.

“Dear me! Ask the king to have some! Well, I never!” exclaimed the woman, slapping her knees. She was quite awestruck at the tramp and his grand connections.

“But what one has to go without, it’s no use thinking more about,” said the tramp.

And then she remembered she had a little barley; and as for milk, well, she wasn’t quite out of that, she said, for her best cow had just calved. And then she went to fetch both the one and the other.

The tramp went on stirring, and the woman sat staring, one moment at him and the next at the pot.

Then all at once the tramp took out the nail.

“Now it’s ready, and now we’ll have a real good feast,” he said. “But to this kind of soup the king and the queen always take a dram or two, and one sandwich at least. And then they always have a cloth on the table when they eat,” he said. “But what one has to go without, it’s no use thinking more about.”

But by this time the old woman herself had begun to feel quite grand and fine, I can tell you; and if that was all that was wanted to make it just as the king had it, she thought it would be nice to have it exactly the same way for once, and play at being king and queen with the tramp. She went straight to a cupboard and brought out the brandy bottle, dram glasses, butter and cheese, smoked beef and veal, until at last the table looked as if it were decked out for company.

Never in her life had the old woman had such a grand 467feast, and never had she tasted such broth, and just fancy, made only with a nail!

She was in such a good and merry humor at having learned such an economical way of making broth that she did not know how to make enough of the tramp who had taught her such a useful thing.

So they ate and drank, and drank and ate, until they became both tired and sleepy.

The tramp was now going to lie down on the floor. But that would never do, thought the old woman; no, that was impossible. “Such a grand person must have a bed to lie in,” she said.

He did not need much pressing. “It’s just like the sweet Christmas time,” he said, “and a nicer woman I never came across. Ah, well! Happy are they who meet with such good people,” said he; and he lay down on the bed and went asleep.

And next morning, when he woke, the first thing he got was coffee and a dram.

When he was going, the old woman gave him a bright dollar piece.

“And thanks, many thanks, for what you have taught me,” she said. “Now I shall live in comfort, since I have learned how to make broth with a nail.”

“Well, it isn’t very difficult if one only has something good to add to it,” said the tramp as he went his way.

The woman stood at the door staring after him.

“Such people don’t grow on every bush,” she said.

The Crimson Classics
Kate Douglas Wiggin
Nora Archibald Smith

The problem of children’s reading is one of the greatest with which parents and teachers are confronted. It is the purpose of this series to provide the very best literature in every field for the use of children and young people of all ages,—poetry, fairy lore, fables, nursery rhymes, short entertaining stories, etc., etc. To accomplish this purpose the editors have spared no trouble and the publishers no expense, to the end that this series may take its place permanently in the home and in the school library, superseding all others less complete and less carefully selected with reference to the mental and spiritual needs and the simple æsthetic tastes of children. A full description of the five volumes already published will be found on the following pages.


This volume is absolutely unique in scope and conception. It is a collection of all the best nursery rhymes, nonsense verses, guessing games, lullabies and slumber songs for the delectation of the very littlest readers, just as The Posy Ring was designed for children a little older, and Golden Numbers for their brothers and sisters who are beginning to grow up and to prepare for school and college. The editors have, as in the case of the former volumes in the series, gone through the entire field of available material, and drawn upon many sources that are remote or inaccessible for the general reader. In this way they have been able to recover many a veritable little masterpiece of nursery lore, as well as to bring together all the old favorites from Mother Goose and other collections in a form at once compact and comprehensive. Teachers of kindergartens everywhere, as well as mothers with children to entertain at home, will welcome this little book and keep it on the most convenient shelf of the nursery bookcase. “Every home, large or small, poor or rich,” writes Mrs. Wiggin in her delightful Introduction to The Mother in Pinafore Palace; and, she adds later, “no greater love for a task nor happiness in doing it, no more ardent wish to please a child or meet a mother’s need, ever went into a book than has been brought into this volume.”


This volume, a companion to “The Fairy Ring,” completes that volume and makes, with it, the most exhaustive collection of fairy lore available for young readers. The editors, with their unerring gift for selection which in itself amounts to genius, have gathered those stories which have in them the greatest degree of that glamour which, in the language of Keats, opens “magic casements” on the world of Fairyland. These stories are for the most part longer and more elaborate than those in the preceding volume and are designed for slightly older readers.


Designed by its editors to be the standard fairy book for children. The educational value of the fairy story cannot be denied in its healthy stimulation of the child’s imaginative powers. Here the collections of Grimm, Andersen, Joseph Jacobs, Laboulaye, Perrault, and Dasent have yielded their richest stores, but the editors have not confined themselves to these better-known sources. They have gone far afield, read and examined all existing books of fairy literature, sifting all the material till they have made a generous selection which is inclusive of the very best that has ever been written.

“Can hardly fail to prove the most popular anthology of its kind ever published.” Boston Herald.

Each volume beautifully printed and bound; about 450 pages: Gilt top; postpaid, $1.50

The best anthology of English verse ever prepared for young people from the ages of 12 to 17. It is composed entirely of the finest examples of English poetical literature, selected with special reference to the requirements of young people of the grammar and high school age.

“The book will charm the child for the moment; it will educate his tastes without awakening the suspicion that he is at school, and it will enrich his memory for all time to come.” Outlook.

With an introduction by Kate Douglas Wiggin, and interleaves. Cloth, 500 pages; postpaid, $2.17; net, $2.00

A companion volume to “Golden Numbers,” suitable for children from the ages of 7 to 12. The compilers have drawn largely on the works of Longfellow, Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, Eugene Field, Mary Mapes Dodge and James Whitcomb Riley. Every poem will give delight to the child, and also to the mother who would read them to the little ones.

“Into its pages have been gathered the cream of poetry for children.” Boston Transcript.

Printed in very large, readable type. Cloth, postpaid, $1.37; net, $1.25


  1. Changed ‘shall everything’ to ‘shall have everything’ on p. 25.
  2. Changed ‘of in all’ to ‘of it all’ on p. 93.
  3. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  4. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.

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Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith


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