By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Up! Horsie! - An Original Fairy Tale
Author: Chatelaine, Clara de
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Up! Horsie! - An Original Fairy Tale" ***

by The University of Florida, The Internet
Archive/Children's Library)





Original Fairy Tale.




       *       *       *       *       *




A young peasant was riding to market on a stout, well-fed nag, when he
overtook an old Scotch shepherd, who was trudging along on foot.

"I say, Sandy," cried the young man, "if you go no faster than that,
market will be over before you get to town."

The Scotchman turned round, and peered at him from under his bushy
eyebrows, saying in a strong north country accent: "Gin ye think so,
suppose we ride and tie?"

"A pretty story indeed!" quoth Gilbert--"I keep a horse for myself, and
not for you."

And as he uttered this ungracious answer, he urged on his nag, and soon
left the old Scotchman in the lurch.

Scarcely had Gilbert reached the market town, and put up his horse at an
inn, when who should he behold strolling leisurely amongst the market
folks, but the same old shepherd he had left so far behind.

"Somebody must have given you a lift, Sandy," observed he.

"Oh," replied the shepherd, "when I asked for a lift, it was only to see
if you were obliging or not--it was all the same to me--for though you
must buy your horses, I can gather mine whenever I choose."

These words sounded so odd to Gilbert that he begged the stranger to
explain his meaning, when the old man said: "Meet me at yon inn, and
we'll see."

Gilbert then hurried through his business, and went to join the shepherd
at the inn. But the wary Scotchman would not give his secret for
nothing--and why should he, to a stranger who had been uncivil to him?
Besides, as he observed truly enough, those who are curious may pay for
their curiosity, so if Gilbert wanted to know how to gather horses thus
easily, he must hand him over all the money he had received that
morning, and give him his nag into the bargain. Gilbert thought these
demands exorbitant, and tried to haggle with the stranger, but Sandy
proved too much for him, Northumbrian though he was--and the young
farmer finished by agreeing to his conditions, and after paying down
the money, brought the horse out of the stable.

"Now I'll tell you," said the Scotchman. "May be you've heard of our
late poet Burns, just over the border? Well, he told of a shepherd lad
who years and years ago learnt of some wise ones, that if you pull a
stem of ragwort, and sit astride it, and cry out: 'Up! Horsie!' it will
carry you through the air."

"And have you tried it and succeeded?" eagerly inquired Gilbert.

"Ay--for that shepherd lad was myself, and many a pleasant jaunt have I
enjoyed by that same means," said Sandy, with twinkling eyes. "Only you
must not attempt it till the moon is full, or the horse might throw an
inexperienced rider."

Delighted at having learnt such a secret, and without pausing to wonder
how, if the shepherd had lived so many years before Burns, he could
still be alive, Gilbert inquired what places he went to?

"I went to Elf-land," said the Scotchman.

Gilbert was not learned--indeed he could scarcely read--and he
confessed he did not know the road thither; but the stranger assured him
he need only express the wish to go, and the ragwort would take him.
They then parted, and the shepherd rode away with the horse, after
stowing away the money in his pouch, while Gilbert went home as best he

After waiting impatiently for the full moon, Gilbert at last went out
one night to work the charm, and to his great delight, had no sooner
bestrided the ragwort, and said: "Up! Horsie!" than it bore him at a
pretty smart pace to Elf-land. Nevertheless it just began to dawn as he
reached his journey's end, and dismounted. He had not proceeded far,
before he perceived a splendid castle on an eminence, and numerous
flocks browsing on the surrounding hills. But what arrested his
attention still more was a very lovely woman, superbly drest, sitting at
the foot of the hill, playing on an ivory fiddle of exquisite
workmanship, with golden strings, from which she drew the sweetest tones
he had ever heard in his whole life. Gilbert stood still, quite
entranced, and could have listened for ever, had not the lady, on
becoming conscious of his presence, stopped short, and blushed with
pretty confusion at having been overheard by a stranger.

"I never heard anything like it before!" exclaimed Gilbert.

She raised her soft eyes towards his, and said: "Will you enter my

"That I will," answered he, quite bewildered by her beauty. "What shall
I have to do?"

The lady pointed to the flocks grazing on the hill, saying he would
merely have to tend the sheep, and, above all, to mind that none got
lost. She then gave him the ivory fiddle, saying he need only draw the
bow across the strings, when the sheep, being accustomed to the sound,
would follow at his bidding. "Now roam about wherever you please," added
she, "only mind you return to yonder castle at nightfall, and bring the
flock back with you, and then you shall have your reward."

Gilbert then set off to join the sheep, though not without looking back
many a time, to take a last glimpse of the lady who still sat near the
bank, smiling more bewitchingly than ever. On reaching the top of the
hill, he perceived that the sheep had already strayed down into the
valley, when he hastened after them, but only to see them enter a narrow
glen helter-skelter, as if they were running for dear life. He now
recollected the fiddle would save him all further trouble, and drew the
bow across the strings as the lady had told him, but instead of the
exquisite music she drew from them, he only obtained a sort of
screeching noise, that seemed to spread a panic amongst the flock, and
after hurrying through the glen, the sheep dispersed both right and
left. Gilbert ran after first one group and then another, scraping away
at his fiddle as hard as he could, but it was all of no use--he could
not overtake them. At length he was so tired that he was obliged to sit
down and rest. He began to feel hungry, too, not having eaten since his
ride to Elf-land, and looked about him for some cottage where he could
apply for breakfast. But no buildings of any kind were in sight. However
he soon found some trees laden with delicious fruit, and having appeased
his hunger, felt his strength so renovated that he again set out in
pursuit of his flock, which now looked like a mere speck in the horizon.

Up hill and down dale did Gilbert go the livelong day, till the sun was
beginning to set, and then just as he thought he had come up with the
stray sheep, they seemed to roll away and become clouds, that were drunk
up by the parting rays of the glorious sun. He was now at a loss what to
do, and half ashamed to return to the castle and own to the lady that he
had lost, not merely two or three sheep, but the whole flock. But while
he was considering how to put the best face on the matter, he found
himself right in front of the castle, which he had deemed to be at a
great distance, and there still sat the lady, singing most exquisitely,
and holding a goblet of wine in her hand. As soon as Gilbert drew near:
"Drink," said she, "for you must need refreshment after your day's

"Alas!" said he, "I have lost the sheep."

"Did I not tell you the fiddle would always bring them back?" rejoined
she with the sweetest smile.

Then, as she handed him the goblet, she took the ivory fiddle from him,
and drawing the bow across the strings, brought out such thrilling
sounds, that Gilbert listened in amazement, wondering why he had been
unable to elicit any such tones from the instrument when it seemed so
simple to accomplish. In a moment he saw the surrounding heights covered
with sheep or mist, he could not tell which, for the wine that had only
just moistened his lips, seemed already to have confused his brain, and
altered all the features of the landscape. By the time he had drained
the goblet, Gilbert felt elated and delighted to an extraordinary
degree, while at the same time be lost, as it were, the consciousness of
his own identity. All he could remember was, that the lady bid him go
and rest in the castle, and that he went up the hill, and, as he
thought, entered the building, when sinking down on a soft couch he was
quickly lulled to sleep by the snatches of the enchantress's song, the
breeze wafted from below, and lapped in the pleasing visions of

On waking next morning, he found himself lying on the grass near the
castle, with the ivory fiddle beside him, and saw the flocks grazing
quietly around, as if they had never ceased browsing all night. He rose
up refreshed and invigorated, and when the lady came forth from the
castle and again plied him with a draught from the goblet, he felt ready
to go forth and lead the sheep to fresh pastures.

"Mind you do not lose any of them, and don't forget the fiddle will call
any stragglers back to you," said the lady with a parting smile and wave
of her hand.

Gilbert thought nothing could be easier, having only an indistinct
remembrance of yesterday's disasters, and longing more than ever to do
everything in his power to please the lady of the castle. But in spite
of his good-will, the sheep strayed away as before, and he spent a
toilsome day in vainly running after them, and fiddling away to no
purpose. As before they seemed to merge into mist at the close of the
day, and it was with a heavy heart he presented himself at the foot of
the hill where the lady was awaiting him. Again she gave him a draught
of the delicious wine, and again took the fiddle and drew the bow
across the strings, when the flock began to return as before, but she
looked very grave as she said: "Some of them are lost--you must seek
them to-morrow. Go now and rest in the castle."

Then Gilbert, whose wits were in a still more confused state than the
first time he quaffed that richly flavoured wine, went up the hill and
fell asleep as before, and slept soundly till morning, when again the
lady brought him a bumper, bidding him be sure and bring back all the
sheep, or he would fall under her displeasure, while on the other hand,
if none were found missing, she would not only give him his evening's
draught, but a kiss into the bargain. On hearing this, Gilbert thought
no exertions would be too great for such a reward, and he set off in
high spirits; but he had not gone a hundred yards before the flock
dispersed three different ways, and let him fiddle as he would, he found
it impossible to gather them together again. Nevertheless, he followed
one of the three groups, and in the heat of the chase, was led into a
wild district amongst rocks and cascades, with overhanging trees, where
the sheep seemed to turn quite wild, and subdividing into yet smaller
bands, some were seen scaling the steep crags and looking down from
dizzy heights, while others dashed into the water and swam across the
mountain streams. Gilbert ran about almost like one possessed, vainly
striving to collect the scattered fragments of the flock entrusted to
his care, and in despair at the thought of the sorry figure he should
cut on returning to give an account of his day's work to the lady, and
sorely troubled at the prospect of losing the promised kiss which he
would not have exchanged for a kingdom.

At length, after having scaled one of the highest crags, where he made
sure of catching a sheep, which seemed just as he tried to seize it to
merge into the spray of the waterfall that leaped down a kind of natural
staircase of rocks, he felt so exhausted that he lay down on a knoll in
the fissures of the rock, exclaiming: "Surely I must be bewitched!"

A loud laugh reverberated from the rocks below, and Gilbert slightly
raised his head to see whence it proceeded. Seeing no one, he concluded
it must be the cry of some strange bird, caught up by the echo, and then
to drive away a kind of grisly feeling of terror that began to creep
upon him, he took up his fiddle as he lay stretched on the grass, and
fell to scraping away without the slightest regard to time or tune, more
as if he were sawing a piece of wood, than playing on a musical
instrument. He then became aware of a very curious thing, which was that
the sheep all returned as he drew the bow backwards, tho' they were off
again the moment he drew it forwards. This convinced him he had not
attended to the manner in which the lady drew the bow, and accounted for
his losing the sheep every evening. "Now," thought he, "I am sure of
obtaining the kiss and the cup of wine, and I need take no further
trouble about the flock."

Bye and bye what he had taken for the gnarled and knotted branches of a
tree, at a short distance from the spot where he was lounging, gradually
assumed a human shape, and he saw the old Scotch shepherd advancing
towards him.

"So you have found it out at last!" said he with a merry twinkle in his
eye, "and what are you going to do next?"

"Do?" echoed Gilbert, "why I shall roam about all day, and bring the
sheep home every evening without a bit of trouble; and then the lady
will be pleased with me, and who knows, as there seems to be no other
young men hereabouts, but what she may make me the lord of her fine

The Scotchman laughed loud and long, and it was not till Gilbert had
nearly lost his temper that he could be induced to explain the cause of
his mirth, and then he said: "Why, man, you have gone clean mad, and no
wonder, as this fine lady of yours has been drugging you with Elfin wine
to make a fool of you. If you don't mind she'll keep you here like a
horse in a mill all the days of your life, running after clouds you
mistake for sheep."

Gilbert winced at this, and did not half like to be told he was a
day-dreamer. He maintained he saw the flocks all round him, while Sandy
explained that morning mists were to be seen on the tops of all
mountains, then become dispersed during the day, till they gather once
more at the approach of night, and that mists also hover over
waterfalls--and this was the whole history of Gilbert's flock. He had
been served the same way himself the first time he came to Elf-land,
only not being quite so soft-pated as his new acquaintance he had found
out the tricks that were played upon travellers; and he now asked
Gilbert whether he should help to extricate him from running after
clouds, or whether he was determined to make a fool of himself for the
rest of his life? Gilbert answered gravely that he was set upon wooing
the beautiful lady, and becoming the lord of the castle. "The castle is
about as solid as those built by youngsters with playing cards, and as
to this beautiful lady of yours, she is only an Elle-maid," said the
Scotchman contemptuously.

"Suppose she is?--What then?" returned Gilbert philosophically. For the
fact was he did not exactly know what sort of a creature that might be,
never having travelled so far before. "Come, I must take pity on you,
and save you in spite of yourself,"--said Sandy. "Here is some wax with
which you must stop up your ears to-night, when you return to the lady,
that you may not hear that singing of hers which bewitches your sober
senses, and then if you draw the bow lengthways up and down the middle
string of the fiddle, in this fashion (taking up the fiddle and showing
him) as you approach her, and refuse both the wine and the kiss, you
will see what an Elle-maid really is."

He then laid the ivory fiddle down again, and by the time Gilbert had
raised himself on one elbow to take it back, the shepherd was clean out
of sight. Gilbert thought this very strange, and he began scraping once
more on the fiddle to see if the branches of the tree would again sprout
into his singular acquaintance, but they did not stir any more. Though
not believing in the full truth of Sandy's sneers about the castle and
the lady, Gilbert thought he would just follow his advice out of
curiosity, to see what it might bring to light, and perceiving it was
now time to retrace his steps, he descended from the rocks, and
following the course of the stream, returned to his night quarters by a
different road to any he had taken before. He now stopped his ears with
the wax Sandy had given him, and it was well he did, as he had just come
within hearing of the Elle-maid's enchanting strains. He then drew the
bow rapidly across the strings in a backward direction, when all the
sheep instantly appeared on the surrounding heights, and next drew it
lengthways up and down the middle string as the Scotchman had shewn him
how to do. He had now come upon the rear of the stately castle he longed
to call his own, when he perceived it had neither a court-yard nor
back-premises of any sort, and consisted solely of a front wall with
windows, but no rooms behind, like a ruin, though he had hitherto
entertained the notion that he had slept beneath its roof, and on soft
cushions too, which he now plainly perceived could only have been clouds
like his fabulous flock. Eager to pursue his discoveries still further,
he went on fiddling as he came down the hillock towards the lady, when
what was not his horror and surprise on perceiving that the face he had
so much admired was hollow as a mask behind!

On hearing him playing in so unusual a manner, the lady turned round
her head sharply, exhibiting her bewitching countenance to his gaze, and
singing more sweetly than ever, as she offered him a goblet of wine. It
was fortunate he could not hear her sing, or that voice would have
melted all his resolutions, instead of which, he boldly dashed down the
proffered cup, and on her offering to give him a kiss, he dealt her a
box on the ear, which upset her like a card figure, when he became so
horrified at the spectral unreality of the objects about him, that he
ran off as fast as his legs would carry him, fiddling like mad as he
went along. In his frantic flight he passed by streams of water that
seemed to be nothing but tinfoil, and rocks that looked as if they were
made of pasteboard, and hollow like the Elle-maid's face, nor did he
stop to take breath till after all the objects in the landscape had
resumed their natural consistence, and clouds were clouds, and sheep
real woolly sheep, which shewed him to be beyond the limits of Elf-land.

Meantime evening had waned into night, and the moon was beginning to
rise, when Gilbert flung himself down on a bank to rest after his
headlong scamper. The cool air blew refreshingly over his fevered brow,
and he felt like one restored to reason after a fit of madness, or
awaking after a strange uneasy dream. "Now," thought he, "I need only
gather some ragwort and go home." And he looked all about for some, but
as it happened to be very rare in that neighbourhood, he walked on a
good way, peering about in the moonlight before he could find any. When
at last he hit upon the wished for herb, great was his joy, and he
plucked it as triumphantly as if he held in his hand the bridle of the
finest steed mortal ever looked upon, crying out: "Up! Horsie!" in a
loud voice. But no horsie answered to the appeal, and the ragwort
remained the simple herb it was before. Again and again he called out
the magic formula in tones now commanding and now entreating, and lastly
quite passionately, only there was no spur nor whip that could move the
ragwort to serve as his horse. He now perceived old Sandy had tricked
him after all, and sent him to Elf-land without giving him the means of
coming back. So there was nothing for it but to trudge all the way back
on foot,--and a long way it was I can tell you! It is true Gilbert
retained a hope that kept up his spirits a good while, that he should
still find some of the right sort of ragwort, and accordingly in each
new district he came to, he industriously gathered some specimens to try
the experiment, but with no better success. And after each fresh
disappointment, he could not help saying to himself: "I wish I had given
Sandy a lift, and then I should never have got into this scrape." The
worst of it was that Gilbert had scarcely any money about him, and when
that little was spent, he was at his wit's end to know how to pay his
way home. Luckily he still had the fiddle, and though he could not play
a single tune, its tones were so sweet that people liked to hear them,
and village children enjoyed having a scrape upon it, so that he always
managed to get a night's lodging and a supper as he journeyed along, and
even to get carried across the sea, for the sailors said it was as good
as listening to a mermaid.

When at last he reached home, he hung up the fiddle in his cottage, but
that same night it cracked right through with a loud moan, and fell in
shivers on the floor. Gilbert tried to mend it, but he never could
manage to restore it to its right shape again. It was like a puzzle that
baffles a child's attempts to put it together. However, he made a sort
of box of it, something like an Eolian harp, across which he stretched
the golden strings, and whenever the wind blew from Elf-land they would
play sweet mournful tunes, as the instrument lay on the window-sill.

For years Gilbert had a hankering to return to Elf-land and see a little
more of life amongst the Elle-maids and men, if there were any, but he
could never obtain a conveyance, and he knew he should not be able to
find the way on foot. And though as long as he lived he could not resist
pulling up some ragwort at every full moon, just to see if it possessed
the wished for quality, and muttering, "Up! Horsie!" certain it is he
never again obtained a horse out of the same stables, wherever they
happen to be situated.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Up! Horsie! - An Original Fairy Tale" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.