Home
  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: Fairy Taies from Spain
Author: Escomez, J. Munoz
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fairy Taies from Spain" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                           TALES FOR CHILDREN
                            FROM MANY LANDS



                         EDITED BY F. C. TILNEY



[Illustration: He found Himself tied by the Neck, Wings and Feet.]



                              FAIRY TALES
                               FROM SPAIN


                                   By
                            J. MUNOZ ESCOMEZ


                             Illustrated by
                              W. MATTHEWS



                     LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS LTD
                   NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO. INC.



                          _All rights reserved
                         Made in Great Britain
                     at The Temple Press Letchworth
                                  for
                         J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd
                     Aldine House Bedford St London
                  First Published in this Edition 1913
                    Reissued at a cheaper price 1936
                            Reprinted 1940_



                                CONTENTS

Khing-Chu-Fu
The City of Fortune
The Garden of Health
Carabi! Carabo!
The Author of the Wall
The Devil’s Tournament
The Treasure of the Dragon
The Man with the Two Faces
The Treachery of Micifuf
Trompetilla and Trompetin
The Quack Doctor
The Drawing School
The Man with the Nose
The Island of Brilliants
The Judgment of the Flowers
The Three Questions
The Captain’s Exploit
The Topsy-Turvy World
Don Suero the Proud



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

He Found Himself tied by the Neck, Wings, and Feet . . . _Frontispiece_

"Rise, Wise Man," said the Empress sweetly

The Vulture carried Him to the other side of the abyss

She transformed Herself into a Lovely Girl

"What are You doing here, Boy?"

The Quack Doctor.

He met Two Dwarfs who were playing Marbles

Pero Gil at one Bound Approached the Statue



[Illustration: headpiece to Khing-Chu-Fu]


                             *KHING-CHU-FU*


Khing-Chu-Fu, Empress of China, was doing her hair when her maids who,
on their knees witnessed the delicate operation of artistically
arranging the imperial hair of her majesty, burst into cries of
admiration scarcely repressed by the etiquette of the palace.

"What is the matter?" Khing-Chu-Fu deigned to ask, turning her head.

"Ah, lady!" exclaimed the maids in a chorus. "Brahma has deigned to
favour you with a sign of his protection."

"And what is that?" inquired the empress.

"A silver thread which appears amidst your beautiful hair."

"That is to say I have a white hair."

"So it is called amongst simple mortals, but in the Daughter of the Sun
they are threads of silver, to which poets spontaneously sing verses
under the penalty of being quartered like dogs."

"Let the seers and astrologers come at this very moment.  I must know
what this foretells."

Five minutes afterwards the royal boudoir was full of moustached men
with eye-protectors, who, kneeling, waited to be consulted.

"To-day a white hair has appeared in my head!" exclaimed the empress.

The seers tugged at their moustaches in desperation, leaving the floor
covered with hairs.

"Hail!" said the eldest, "Daughter of the Sun, who hast all the
brilliance of the diamond, the beauty of the iris, the wisdom of
Confucius, and the sweetness of the honey!  This silver thread foretells
a terrible calamity in the empire.  Know that Brahma has decreed—it
horrifies me to say so!—that one of your imperial teeth will commence to
ache."

Terror was depicted on every countenance, and all who witnessed this
scene pulled their pigtails, a sign of terrible desperation among the
Chinese.  The pages and maids groaned in chorus; the mandarins sat down
on their hats, passing the time by eating tangerine oranges and rubbing
their eyes with the peel.  The news spread into the city, and very soon
the whole of Pekin came out into the streets and places weeping salt
tears over the terrible aching of the _too_—, for simple subjects were
forbidden to pronounce completely the names of the imperial members or
other parts of their illustrious sovereign’s body.

"The too—, the too—!" shouted the maddened people, making Pekin seem
like an immense enclosure of bulls: and as if to make the illusion still
more complete, there were not lacking people who produced cattle-bells
with which the faithful are called to the pagoda—the church of the
Chinese.

In those days there came to Pekin a young Spaniard, a native of Seville,
a sharp and witty youth, who had arrived at the capital of the Chinese
Empire after having wandered over half the world on foot, without money
and without shame.  He was thought to be very wide-awake and even
clever, and all because he had been a groom and bull-ring attendant in
his own town where he was nicknamed Pinchauvas.

Well, our Pinchauvas was astonished to see the desperation of those
Chinese and above all when he heard the sound of too—! too—! which made
him fear he was going to meet a drove of bulls.  In case it was so, he
thought it better to climb up to the first window which came to hand.

He had hardly reached the window, when from the interior of the house
came forth a hand, and then an arm, which, catching hold of him firmly
by the neck, pulled him up and made him enter the house in a most
original way.

The arm was that of a palace guard who, on seeing our Sevillian climbing
up to a window of one of the imperial rooms, detained him in order to
deliver him up to justice.

This crime was a terrible one.  In China it was something daring to
profane one of the windows of the empress! That crime was punishable, at
the least, with death.

The worst of it was that Pinchauvas did not know a word of Chinese, and
was therefore amazed when the guard said to him, with a terrible air:

"Kun-chin-pon-ton!"

"What is this fellow saying to me?" thought Pinchauvas. "He seems to
have a stomach-ache and is telling me that he has indigestion.  Well,
let him get better."  And he shrugged his shoulders.

But the guard was nasty and, seizing him again by the neck, took him
through the passages of the palace to the rooms of the great chancellor.
The latter was found praying to God that the terrible prediction might
not be fulfilled, as it might cost him his destiny.  "If the empress’s
tooth hurts her, she will hurt me," said he.

So when he was told of the horrible sacrilege committed by a foreigner,
he became exceedingly angry and wished to have him beheaded.

"Take me to this youth, that I may settle him," he said to the guard.

And facing the Spaniard he said sharply:

"Kun-chin-pon-ton?"

"Another stomach-ache?  The same as the horses in the bull-ring.  But
perhaps they have worries!"

By good fortune the great chancellor spoke broken French and Pinchauvas
also, so that at last they almost came to understand each other.

"And what may you have been in your country?" asked the chancellor.

"I?  A wise monkey."[#]

[#] A wise monkey is a boy attendant in a Spanish bull-ring.

The chancellor did not understand the word monkey, but did understand
the word wise, and full of joy he said:

"I am going to ask you a question, and if you answer me rightly, count
on my protection."

The chancellor then informed Pinchauvas of the cause which had sown such
sorrow in Pekin, and the lad, smiling, said to him with the greatest
sang-froid:

"Is that all?  Well I will restore calm to the Chinese Empire.  I will
make this white hair disappear and with it the presages of these
charlatans.  What has the hair to do with the teeth?  Introduce me to
the empress and you will see something interesting."

"I will, but it would not be well for the empress to see you in these
clothes.  May God make your days happy!  We must make you look decent!"

And taking him to the bathroom, he placed him in the hands of his slaves
who, in a twinkling, perfumed and clothed him in beautiful robes of silk
and gold.

Pinchauvas, accompanied by the great chancellor, went to the imperial
rooms, and there, on account of the person who accompanied him being the
head of the government, had only to wait in eleven ante-chambers, after
which he was shown into the imperial presence.

"Here I bring you, celebrated princess, the most famous and wise
necromancer of the world," said the chancellor, who must have been fond
of exaggerating.  "A whirlwind made him fall on this palace dragging him
from far lands, and in the centre of the whirlwind it seems to me I saw
great Confucius, who held him by the neck."

"Rise, wise man!" said the empress sweetly.

[Illustration: "Rise, Wise Man," said the Empress, sweetly.]

Pinchauvas did not move.

"Get up, wise man!" repeated the chancellor in French.

"Do you mean me?" exclaimed Pinchauvas.  And with one bound he stood up.

"Bow down, or you are a dead man," shouted the chancellor to him.

"I don’t want to," answered the youth.

"What does he say?" inquired the princess.

"That he must see the silver thread that Brahma presented you with this
morning."

"Look at it!" said the queen with emphasis.

And taking out the seven hundred hair-pins and the three hundred packing
needles with which she adorned herself, she let her silky black hair
fall down, and amongst it could be seen one hair as white as snow.

Pinchauvas advanced, with more fear than shame and his mind made up,
seized the hair, and, making signs as if in prayer, sharply pulled it
out.  The queen gave a scream and Pinchauvas, approaching a window,
threw out the white hair, the cause of the misfortune of the Chinese
Empire.

"Ah!" exclaimed the queen, "do you return Brahma his gift?  What a
marvellous man!  He deserves a thousand rewards.  For the present you
will cede to him your post, and from to-day he will be my chancellor;
and, so that you will not be troubled, I will hang you this afternoon
with a rope that I made for you some days ago."

"What an honour for the family, lady!" said the chancellor, terrified.
"Do you wish me to translate your proposal to the wise man?"

"Do so at once."

The poor man translated with complete fidelity what the queen had said,
and then Pinchauvas told the chancellor that he would only accept his
post on condition that he was given him as his secretary.

The empress acceded to Pinchauvas’ request, and granted him the royal
seal as a sign of his unlimited authority.

"So that I can do what I like?" he asked.

"Whatever your highness wishes!  Now, I am going to present you to the
high functionaries of the palace."

He received them all with gestures of amiable protection, and the
chancellor translated what he said.

"See here," said Pinchauvas, "let them bring me that Chinaman who seized
me by the neck two hours ago."

"Seized your highness by your venerable neck?" indignantly asked the
secretary.

"Does your highness wish us to burn him alive or simply to hang him?"

"I want you to bring him here safe and sound."

"Really, does your highness wish to strangle him with your own hands?
He does not deserve such an extraordinary honour."

They brought the poor guard into the presence of Pinchauvas, and when
they told him he was the new chancellor he almost died of terror.

"And now shall I really give you stomach-ache?" asked Pinchauvas,
deliberately, raising his hand to his neck, which still hurt him.

The guard thought these were signs to hang him, and they would have done
so, but for the opportune intervention of the brand new chancellor, who,
besides pardoning the unfortunate man, conferred a high post upon him
close to his person.

Pinchauvas has now learned Chinese and is called Pin-chu-chu, which
means the wisest of the wise.  And when he remembers his youth, he says
inwardly:

"What would those poor horses in the bull-ring of Seville have said if
they had been told that they had had the honour of being guided by the
future Chancellor of China!"

                               THE FUTURE
                            IS A SEALED BOOK
                                OF WHICH
                               GOD ALONE
                              HAS THE KEY



                         *THE CITY OF FORTUNE*


Once upon a time there was a boy named Rupert, the sharpest and most
prudent lad in his village, and indeed in any of those to be found for
twenty leagues around.

One night he was with a group of boys of his own age, who, gathered
round the fire, were listening with amazement to a veteran soldier,
covered with scars, which had gained him the modest stripes of a
sergeant pensioner, and who was telling the story of his adventures.
The narrator was at the most interesting point of his tale.

"The great City of Fortune," he said, "is situated on the summit of a
very high mountain, so steep that only very few have succeeded in
reaching the top.  There gold circulates in such abundance that the
inhabitants do not know what to do with the precious metal.  Houses are
built of it, the walls of the fortress are of solid silver, and the
cannons which defend it are enormous pierced diamonds.  The streets are
paved with _duros_, always new, because as soon as they begin to lose
their brilliance they are replaced by others just minted.

"You ought to see the cleanliness of it!  What dirt there is is pure
gold dust, which the dust carts collect in order to throw in large
baskets into the drains.

"The pebbles against which we stumble continually are brilliants as
large as nuts, despised on account of the extraordinary abundance with
which the soil supplies them. In a word, he who lives there may consider
the most powerful of the earth as beggars.

"The worst of it is that the path which leads there is rough and
difficult, and most people succumb without having been able to arrive at
the city of gold."

Rupert did not let the words of the soldier go in at one ear and out at
the other; and so it was that, hardly had the occasion of being alone
with him arisen before he inquired:

"Do you know the way to this enchanted city?"

"I should rather think so, my son; but I do not advise you to try the
journey."

"Why?"

"The way is long and rocky.  I came back the first day, startled at the
difficulties which must be overcome. But anyhow, if you are resolved to
go, I must give you the following warning.  In order to get to Fortune
there are two paths: a very broad one, full of stones and crags; if you
go that way the sharp points of the pebbles will tear your feet to
pieces and you will be crushed by fatigue.  A thousand terrible
difficulties will arise to meet you; you will have to struggle with
cruel enemies, and if, at last, you succeed in vanquishing all, you will
arrive at Fortune already old and worn, when riches will be of no use to
you. The other path is level and short, but..."

"Enough!  Do not say any more; show me it now, and I will look after the
rest."

"All right, all right!  I will show it to you, and God grant that your
not having wished to hear me to the end will not bring you suffering."

And the little rogue, without saying good-bye to his parents or his
brother, began to walk in the direction the old soldier had shown him;
and went on and on, happier than a sand-boy, thinking of the riches
which awaited him, and which he already believed to have within reach of
his hand.

At the end of two days he arrived at the bank of a large river.  On it
was a boat, and in the boat a negro of colossal stature.

Our lad approached the boatmen and asked him:

"Good man, is this the way to Fortune?"

"Yes, little boy, but it is necessary to cross the river."

"Good, then take me across."

"Do you know how much it costs?"

"No."

"Fifty duros."

"But do I look as if I had them, or had even seen them in my life?  Be
kind and take me over for nothing."

"This river, my little friend, is never crossed gratis. It is the first
step towards Fortune and it must be paid for somehow.  If you have no
money, never mind; let me cut off a little piece of your heart.  Perhaps
it will hurt you a bit at first, but later you will feel as if you were
whole."

Rupert allowed the negro to open his chest and to take out a piece of
his heart.  When he crossed to the other side he gave a sigh of
satisfaction.  The first step was taken, and he already saw the
beautiful City of Fortune, whose resplendent walls sent out lovely
reflections.  But he noticed that he was much less anxious to arrive at
the city of gold and had a strange emptiness in his chest. Withal, he
continued his walk; but he had not taken a hundred steps when a new
difficulty arose to obstruct the way.  This stretched between two
inaccessible mountains and the entrance to the defile was kept by
another guardian as black as the one of the boat.

"Where are you going, boy?" he asked our lad.

"To the City of Fortune."

"Quite so, this is the way; but you have to pay for the passage.  The
payment is a little piece of heart."

Without hesitating, Rupert opened his chest and left a handful of fibres
of that organ of life in the hands of the terrible gate-keeper.

And he went on and on towards the city, which each time showed itself
nearer and more beautiful to his eyes. But each time he felt less
anxiety to arrive.

Still he had not finished with the difficulties.  The path soon
shortened, forming a terrible ravine; only to think of crossing it was
more than he could dream of. Rupert believed his hopes broken, and sat
down disheartened on a stone.

At that moment a vulture of great size came down from the top of a
mountain and, drawing near him, said:

"Do you wish to go across?  Well, give me a piece of your heart."

"Take it, and carry me over," said Rupert, desperate.

The vulture thrust its beak into Rupert’s chest and took out a good
piece of heart.  At once it seized our lad with its claws and carried
him to the other side of the abyss.

[Illustration: The Vulture carried Him to the other Side of the Abyss.]

Now he was at the very gates of Fortune.  He could already count the
number of towers which raised themselves above the high walls, and took
his happiness for granted—if that consists in money.  At the gate they
stopped him.  There heart was contraband, and therefore they took out
what remained of it and put a pretty one inside of him, made of steel,
but hard as a diamond. Only one little fibre escaped their search, which
passed unnoticed behind the metal heart.

"At last I am inside," said Rupert to himself; but, strangely enough,
the city of gold produced neither surprise nor joy.

"What do I want riches for?" he exclaimed, "if I have lost my heart and
with it my illusions?"  And he walked through the city, looking with
great disdain at those riches which were within reach of his hand and
which so much tempted his ambition before.

That dazzling brilliance began to disturb him.

"Here it seems," he said to himself, "there is nothing else but gold.
Cursed metal, which has cost me my heart.  Goodness me!  Who will give
me back my little heart?"

He looked for friends, but did not succeed in finding them, because
those people had hearts of steel, and Rupert felt that that little fibre
that remained of his own made him suffer atrociously.

Without friends or affection, in that city of gold, Rupert remembered
his parents and his brother and bitterly lamented his fate.

And then he resolved to return to the little white house of his own
village and to live in it as God had ordered. On going out of the city
he felt a strange joy.  But that accursed steel heart made him suffer
horribly, only the little fibre which remained of his own beat for joy
in his breast.  He took the first path he found, and then encountered no
difficulties.  It seemed that wings had grown on his feet.  He went down
hill, and so walked very quickly. When he arrived at his village he was
as poor as before, and moreover that cold, hard heart did not let him
breathe. It beat with the regularity of a clock, tic-tac, tic-tac!

His brother was the first to come out and meet him, full of joy.  He
embraced him, kissed him, and accompanied him home, transported with
gladness.

But the steel heart did not allow Rupert to rejoice. Tears did nor run
to his eyes, and his chest felt as if a hand was pressing on it.

His old father strained him to his bosom, but not even he succeeded in
moving that hard heart.  Rupert felt an extraordinary anguish.

But his mother arrived running, out of breath, towards her son, and
embraced him weeping, and her tears fell on Rupert’s heart.  Then, oh,
the power of a mother’s love!  That steel heart quickened its beats and,
unable to resist any longer, jumped out, just as a broken spring of a
watch jumps out.  The little fibre was already a new heart and Rupert a
happy man.

And when they spoke to him of riches he said:

"God will give them if he deem it right, but don’t seek them by short
cuts at the expense of your heart and illusions."



                         *THE GARDEN OF HEALTH*


A boy of twelve years, named Enrique, was taking a walk one day in the
outskirts of his village.  He was very sad because his little sister was
ill and the doctors said she would soon die.

"Poor Luisa!" exclaimed the boy sobbing.  "So pretty and to have to
leave this world so soon!"

Enrique sat down on some stones to weep over his sorrow, and there
prayed to heaven for his sister’s life. A kid which was grazing near the
spot heard the sound of his lamentations and drawing near the
disconsolate boy said:

"Calm yourself and I will try and save Luisa."

"How?" asked Enrique, startled at hearing the kid speak.

"You have the remedy within reach of your hand. Look there, to the right
in that spring, and you will see a ring which was left there and
forgotten by the magician Agrajes.  Put it on and ask to go to the
Garden of Health, and immediately it will take you there.  Ask there for
the Blue Ivy whose juice will cure your sister, and if they deny it to
you, use the ring and you will see."

"Ay, little kid, anything to please you.  Will you tell me who you are?"

"Well, you can see: a kid with its horns and all."

"But kids don’t speak, and you do."

"That is because I am a well-bred and compassionate kid.  Anyway, I
cannot tell you who I am.  If you are grateful you will know.
Meanwhile, don’t lose time, and do what I tell you."

Enrique saw, indeed, a gold ring which was on the edge of the spring: he
seized it and on it saw certain mysterious signs engraved.

He put it on the ring finger of his left hand and said in a loud voice:
"To the Garden of Health."

Scarcely had he finished saying these words than a cloud descended and
carried him through the air at lightning speed.

In a few minutes he found himself at the gates of a beautiful garden
surrounded by a silver fence with golden ornaments.  At the gate there
were two maidens, one in white and the other in black.  The one in white
had a fresh and smiling face; the other was sad and taciturn. The former
carried an apple in her hand, the latter bore a scythe.

"Who are you?" asked Enrique.

"I am Life," said the first.

"I, Death," replied the second in dismal tones.

"What have you come here for?" they asked the boy.

"I have come for a branch of Blue Ivy to cure my sister with."

"I cannot give it to you without the permission of this maiden," said
Life, motioning towards Death.

"I will not permit it, because Luisa belongs to me. She is a prize which
I will not give up," growled Death angrily.

Life smiled sadly and turning to Enrique said:

"I cannot give you what you wish, but bear in mind that you can take it
without my giving it to you."

"Well, then, I will enter, cost what it may," exclaimed the boy.

"You shall not enter alive," shouted Death, brandishing her scythe.

"Oh, yes, he will, if he is quick," said Life provoked. "Do not meddle
with this boy who is mine for many years."

"We shall see now."

Enrique jumped over the threshold of the garden gate and Death dealt him
a terrible blow with her scythe, which would have deprived him of
existence if at that moment Life had not made him smell the apple which
she held in her hand and which quite cured him.

So Enrique passed between Life and Death into the Garden of Health and
once inside commenced his quest in order to see if he could find the
famous ivy which was to cure his little sister.  It was difficult to
find it among so many and such different plants as filled that beautiful
garden where was medicine for every illness; but Enrique was resolved to
find it, and passed through, one after another, the avenues of trees
which crossed the park of health in all directions.

"I am the Red Celery, that cures all chest diseases," said a highly
coloured celery plant bowing to Enrique.

"And I am the Spanish Onion, that cures the kidneys."

"And I am the Valerian, that cures the nerves."

"And I this, and I the other," cried the other plants and trees.

"That’s enough!" shouted Enrique, "otherwise you will drive me mad."

"I cure madness," cried a shrub from the bottom of the garden.

"What I want is the Blue Ivy," exclaimed the boy.

"Here I am," cried the plant alluded to, "but I am kept closely
guarded."

Enrique searched everywhere, without ascertaining where the precious
plant was, but he always seemed to hear the noise in different places.

The trees laughed at Enrique’s despair.

"And who keeps you so hidden?" said Enrique, stopping still for a
moment.

"Death hides me in order that you may not find me. You have passed near
and have not seen me.  Your sister will die if you cannot find me."

Enrique now did not know what to do, until he presently remembered his
ring.

"Ring of Agrajes, I want to see the Blue Ivy," he exclaimed.

Instantly he saw, within reach of his hand, a lovely ivy that, clinging
to an oak, displayed beautiful leaves to the winds.

"Do not cut me now," cried the Ivy, "because your sister is going to
die, and you will not arrive in time. Death is now close to her
bedside."

"Ring of Agrajes," exclaimed Enrique at once, "bring Death to me tied
up."

Hardly had he finished saying it than Death appeared quite dishevelled,
without her scythe, her elbows tied together like a criminal.  All the
health-giving plants began to applaud.

"Bravo, bravo!" they cried.

"Don’t spare her; she is our enemy!" shouted some.

"Don’t let her go, and the world will be grateful to you!" said others.

"What have you done to my sister?" said Enrique, angrily.

"Nothing yet, but as soon as you let me go you will see," answered
Death.

"Well, if you wait until you are free before killing her, my little
sister will die of old age.  Ring, give this shameful woman a
thrashing."

Immediately a number of sticks came through the air and commenced to
bestow a fine thrashing upon Death.

The latter screamed like a mouse whose tail has been trodden on, and
heaped insults on the boy, threatening to kill him as soon as she was
free.

"Do not spare her!" said Enrique at each insult.

And the blows again descended on Death like rain. One knocked an eye
out, another knocked all her teeth out, although it must be admitted
they were false, and another took her hair out by the roots, leaving her
head quite bald.

Then Enrique cut a sprig of the Ivy and said to the ring, "Take me to my
sister’s side."

Immediately he found himself at the bedside, where all the family were
weeping over the approaching death of the girl.

"Here is something which will cure my little sister," said the boy.

And drawing near her, he squeezed into her mouth the juice of the fresh
ivy he had plucked in the Garden of Health.

The girl at once opened her eyes and called her mother, and, amidst the
general surprise, asked to be dressed.

The family would not do so until the doctor said that indeed she was
well and sound.  They all complimented Enrique enthusiastically, until
at length the boy said:

"All this is due to a kid, and I must go and thank her."

He went to the same place where he had met the kid, but did not see her.
In vain he ran about in all directions.  But he had not got the ring of
Agrajes for nothing.

"Ring," he said, "bring me the kid that was here a short time ago."

And the kid appeared.

"What do you want of me, Enrique?" asked the animal.

"To thank you, and to ask how I may serve you," answered Enrique.

"I see that you are grateful, and I wish you to know who I am.  I am
called Atala, and am the daughter of Agrajes, the magician.  I put my
father’s ring beside you with the object that you might be able to save
your sister."

"I should like to know you in your real form and not in that of a kid."

"Well, here I am," exclaimed Atala.

And thereupon she transformed herself into a lovely girl of more or less
Enrique’s age.

[Illustration: She transformed Herself into a Lovely Girl.]

"How pretty you are!" exclaimed the boy.  "Come home and play with my
little sister, who is now quite well, thanks to you."

"I can deny you nothing while you wear this ring," answered the girl.

"No, take it, I beg of you."

Atala disappeared at once, and when Enrique thought she had gone never
to return, she reappeared smiling, and said:

"I have been for a moment to ask my father’s permission to accompany
you."

They went to Enrique’s house together, and he introduced her to his
parents as Luisa’s saviour.  They fêted her with cakes and sweets, and
on saying good-bye she promised to come back every afternoon to play
with her little friends.

One day Agrajes himself visited Enrique’s home, to make the acquaintance
of the family of which his daughter spoke so much, and on going away he
touched in a special way an old chest.

"Open it, presently," he said on saying farewell.

On opening it they found it full to the brim of gold coins.  On it there
was a paper which said: "A present from Agrajes to two very nice
children."

With that money Enrique followed his career and Luisa had a splendid
dowry, and with that and the love of their parents and friends they were
two very happy beings.



                           *CARABI!  CARABO!*


Little Arthur once went out in his garden, and on sitting down at the
foot of an acacia he heard a clover leaf saying:

"I am Antonio."

And one of the points of the leaf changed into the head of a small boy.

"I am Juanita!" exclaimed the second point of the leaf. And a tiny girl
appeared.

"And I Perico."

And another head showed itself beside the others.

"Good gracious!" exclaimed little Arthur, "this could be set to music
like the rats’ dance."  He approached the clover but now saw nothing:
nor was he quite sure which was the marvellous leaf where he had seen
those three children as small as they were beautiful.

"Well, I shan’t rest until I have seen into this," said the boy.

So the following day, at the same time, he re-seated himself in the same
place, and presently a sigh: the clover leaf began to tremble and
immediately the little heads appeared in succession, saying, as on the
previous day;

"I am Antonio."

"I am Juanita."

"And I Perico."

"And I Arthur!" exclaimed the boy, showing himself suddenly, and seizing
the mysterious leaf, "Either you tell me who you are or I will pull you
up by the roots."

The stem trembled, and from another near by came forth a very sad voice
saying: "Don’t kill them for heaven’s sake, they are quite innocent of
doing any wrong: come back to-night at twelve o’clock and you will be
amazed at what you see."

Contented, the boy obeyed, and went away resolved to come back again
that night.  And so about half-past eleven Arthur went out into the
garden, and hiding himself amongst a group of magnolias, waited until
the stated hour struck.  Scarcely had the church clock chimed the last
stroke of midnight than a noise was heard in the air, and there appeared
on the ground a horse as white as snow and provided with wings which it
shook at the moment of touching the earth.  From the wings there came
millions of drops of water which fell in a fine rain on the plants in
the garden.  The effect was magical; instantly all the plants took on
the most unexpected forms.  The clover leaf was changed into a grand
stand covered with a splendid canopy of velvet and gold, and on three
gilded arm-chairs sat three children of dazzling beauty wearing rich
clothing, in which elegance and sumptuousness struggled for supremacy.

The acacias were transformed into towers of shining silver full of
soldiers, who presented arms to the children in token of homage.  The
group of magnolias was a stone castle, with a steel drawbridge hanging
by chains of red silk interwoven with gold.  A crowd of pages in bright
uniforms, soldiers on horseback provided with lances and with glittering
helmets adorned with airy plumes, walked about the garden in all
directions.  Life animated all those beings passing before the
astonished eyes of little Arthur, who, hidden behind a tower, could see
what happened without being seen himself.  Such was his amazement that,
thinking he was dreaming, he hit himself in the most fleshy part of the
body, and noticing that it hurt, convinced himself that he was not
dreaming.  Thereupon the horse neighed, and they all stopped still, full
of terror.

"Carabi!  Carabo!  Two minutes are left you of becoming like me,"
shouted the horse.

On hearing him they all wept, except the three princes who rose,
exclaiming:

"Treacherous magician, God wills that you pay for your crimes."

The horse rose on two legs and after a terrific neigh shouted: "Carabi!
Carabo!" and immediately they all resumed their original forms.  The
horse gave a jump in order to rise in the air and commenced his flight,
but this time he was not alone; for when waving his tail it caught up
good little Arthur, winding itself round his body.  The boy clung to it
in order not to fall, and when he tried to find out where he was, he
discovered himself in the air more than a thousand yards from the
ground.  Then he yelled with all the strength that fear gives, without
paying any attention to the neighing of the horse which, turning its
head, said to him: "Leave go, or I will dash your brains out with a
kick."

But little Arthur remembered that if he let go he would certainly be
killed, while it was by no means sure that the horse could reach him
with his feet, because he had climbed up to the top part of the tail,
where he hung on with one hand, while with the other he caught hold of
the other end, so that he sat on the doubled-up tail as on a trapeze.

The horse landed out half a dozen kicks, which only hurt the clouds; he
turned his head in order to see where to bite that customer who had got
the better of him; but his wings hindered him, and the only other
vengeance he could take was to snort.  This he did, making such a noise
that it could have been heard for miles around.

"What a storm!" exclaimed little Arthur.

"That is the wind I swallow in my flight," said the horse.

"That is not wind, it must be a hurricane let loose."

Then the horse began to descend towards the earth, passing through
clouds and breaking up fogs, until, at dawn, he arrived at a lovely
palace whose roof of gold and precious stones opened of its own accord
to let that singular horse pass through.  He alighted on the floor of an
enormous room in the palace, and when on firm ground said:

"Will you please leave go of me."

"That depends," said little Arthur, "because I am just beginning to like
this way of travelling."

"Well, my son, I am sorry, but your goose is cooked for ever."

So saying he began to butt round the room with the object of smashing
poor little Arthur to pieces; but the latter, firm as firm could be,
would not leave go even if he were killed.  Then the horse sat down to
see if he could crush the boy with his weight, but the latter, by a
clever movement, dropped clear of the crupper and sat down on the floor.

"Here!" he exclaimed, "don’t do any more such silly things; if you want
to throw me off, you will have to tear your tail off first."

"Not if I know it," shouted the magician, "rather let us make an
agreement.  What do you want in order to let me go?"

"First, you must tell me the story of the enchanted children in my
garden."

"I will not."

"Well, now I shall pull out a hair of your tail by way of punishment,"
and dragging out one of them he made the horse neigh with pain.

"So, I shall pull them out one by one until you are as hairless as a
hired horse."

"No, you have persuaded me.  Listen to the story you ask me for.  You
must know that these youngsters are the children of the great King of
Samarcanda, Ali-Tebelin, who is a great enemy of mine.  I was then
condemned to be ridden by any cavalier who wished to do so, thanks to
the enchantment of a relative on my mother’s side, who knew how to do
these things better than I.  Not finding any better way of passing the
three years as saddle-horse which had been imposed upon me, I entered
the stables of Ali-Tebelin, who several times had me thrashed on the
frivolous pretext that I bit whoever wanted to ride on me, kicked
anybody who came near, and one day gave the king himself a terrible
bite.  Angry on account of this injustice I promised myself to have my
revenge, and when the period of my enchantment was finished, I became,
in my turn, an enchanter, and taking a bottle of water gathered by me
from the clouds, I caused the king’s court to be transformed into a
garden which I transported to your house.  Every night I go to it, and
as my wings are wet with the water from the clouds, which is the thing
that has the property of changing them into their original shapes, I
shake my wings, and after enjoying myself for a while I enchant them
again with my word.  Now you know all, will you leave me in peace?"

"Now less than ever," said the boy: "because if I let you go, you will
be revenged on me as on them, so that I shan’t leave you until you take
me back to my home. At this very moment you will give me something to
eat. Go somewhere slowly where there is something to put inside one; if
you don’t I will skin you."

The horse stamped on the floor, and at once several tables covered with
eatables appeared.  With one hand, while with the other he held on,
Arthur ate of what seemed best to him, and when he was satisfied, said:
"At this very instant you will take me home."  The horse, resigned, took
to flight again, rose up in the air, and flew towards Arthur’s garden.
Passing through the clouds, Arthur got all his clothing wet, being
drenched with that precious liquid.  When they arrived, and before the
horse had time to turn round, little Arthur ran away and took refuge in
his home.  His precaution was very wise, because the magician followed
him with the object of biting him, but when he was ready to do so the
boy was already in the house.  The horse had only stretched his wings
and disappeared on the horizon when Arthur went into the garden again,
and shaking his clothes, let the cloud-water with which he was soaked
fall upon the plants.  At once all the enchanted beings recovered their
original shape, and saw with surprise that it was not the magician who
disenchanted them.  On seeing such surprise, little Arthur advanced
towards the grand stand and said to the princes:

"Children of Ali-Tebelin, I have the pleasure of informing you that you
are free; but vanish from here quickly, because at twelve o’clock
to-night the magician will return."

"Thanks, kind boy," said one of the princes, "but we will not go away
from here without giving the magician a surprise and bestowing on him
something that will make him stare."

So they fastened some strong ropes to the towers, and that night, when
the horse arrived, before he knew what had happened, he found himself
tied by the neck, wings, and feet, and all the warriors and pages,
provided with strong cords, rained such a shower of blows on him that he
did not know where he was.

"Take that, Carabi!"

"Take that, Carabo!" they shouted.  And the hail of lashes was such that
the magician begged them for pardon.

"No pardon!" shouted little Arthur, "you can stay there till your feet
drop off."

Such were his groans that at last little Arthur, full of compassion,
went up to him and said:

"How can we set you free when we should only be exposing ourselves to
your vengeance?"

"To avoid that the only thing you have to do is to pull out the longest
feather in each wing, and then I shall be deprived of power."

This Arthur did, and immediately the magician took human shape, it being
seen that he was a horrid dwarf who could hardly move.  They touched him
again with the feathers and he was changed into a caged parrot which
began to shout, "Carabi!  Carabo!  It’s all over with me now!"

Arthur informed his parents, telling them all about his extraordinary
adventure, and begged them for permission to accompany the princes.
Little Arthur’s parents were astonished to see their garden changed into
a fortress; and on becoming acquainted with the series of events which,
without their knowledge, had occurred, granted their permission and at
once the expedition was organised. Little Arthur mounted one of the
magic feathers, bearing the princess behind him.  The princes bestrode
the other feather, and all the rest clung to each other.  At a given
signal they all flew away, and in a twinkling found themselves in their
own country.

There little Arthur was splendidly presented with a pair of socks and
several boxes of toys, his efforts being rewarded by a long and happy
life in the bosom of his family.


[Illustration: tailpiece to Carabi! Caribo!]



                        *THE AUTHOR OF THE WALL*


Ninin was reading in a newspaper: "They are beginning to pull down the
great wall of China."

"Is that so?  What!  Does the newspaper say so?"

"Look at it yourself," says Ninin showing me the paper where the news
was printed.

"Well," I answered, "I am glad, because of what use ... Would you like
me to tell you a story?"

"Is it about the Chinese wall?"

"You will see.  Once there was a king in the country called
Tsi-Ching-Hoang-Ti (what a name!) with a very long pigtail.  The Chinese
are recognised by their pigtails, while, in Spain, we only know
toreadors for the same reason.

"Well, the king in my story had few teeth, but a very long pigtail, and
had a stomach which could have held half his kingdom.  What a wolfish
appetite!  Every five minutes he yawned, and in every room of the palace
there were attendants whose only mission was to place a boiled egg in
the monarch’s mouth as soon as he commenced to open it.  And what a
mouth!  Once some one absent-mindedly placed his memorial in it thinking
he was putting it in the letter box.  One night, while he was sleeping,
Tsi-Ching-Hoang-Ti (Dear me! what work to call a person thus!) gave a
tremendous kick and, sitting up in bed, shouted:

"’I have an idea!’

"The guards, electrified, shouted:

"’The emperor has an idea!’

"And all the functionaries of the palace and the imperial family came to
the regal room to congratulate their emperor.

"’What a happy day!’ they exclaimed.  ’It is the first time that such a
thing has happened in China.  To have an idea.’

"’Yes, dear subjects,’ said the monarch tenderly, ’I have an idea to
prevent the disasters caused by the Tartars who fall upon us every
Monday and Tuesday.  And this idea is...’ (they all knelt down to hear
the sublime words) ’... to ask you if anything has occurred to you to
avoid them.’

"’Well thought out!’ said the courtiers in a chorus.

"’Therefore I will begin by asking the minister of war.’

"The minister touched the floor with his head and says:

"’Sire, between now and to-morrow I will answer your majesty: but I have
heard briefly that, in order to avoid being overrun, what we ought to do
is not to let them into the country.’

"’Eureka!’ exclaimed the emperor.  ’This being the idea of a minister of
war is not at all bad.  Let the audience rise; good-bye till to-morrow.’

"And chewing a boiled egg which they had just put into his mouth he lay
down in bed again and went to sleep, after having formed that tremendous
idea which had been forty years in coming.

"That very night the minister of war consulted the captain-generals,
these their lieutenant-generals, these the camp-marshals, and so on
until they came to the sergeants, and these asked the soldiers, without
finding any who dared to propose a plan, until a soldier of the awkward
squad, and the most awkward of the squad, said, ’Well, close the way
with a mud-wall.’

"’Enough, stupid!’ shouted the officer, and gave him a punch.

"The officer gave the idea as his own to the major, and the latter
passed it on to the lieutenant.  The major also appropriated the idea
and they made him a colonel, and so all were advanced except the poor
soldier, who rubbed his face with sand to take away the mark of the
blow.

"When the minister of war explained how convenient it would be to build
a wall the emperor was charmed, the court was charmed, and everybody was
charmed.

"’And they said that my army was a flock of geese!’ exclaimed the king.

"Following up the plan, the dimensions of the wall and the materials it
was to be made of were discussed. One engineer said that it had to be
six hundred leagues in length, and that to collect materials for it, it
was necessary to ask the genie of stones for them, this being the only
one who could help them in such an extraordinary enterprise.

"Moreover, the difficulty was that the emperor himself had to go and ask
this aid: and who would disturb his majesty with such a long journey!

"’That does not matter!’ exclaimed Tsi-Ching-Hoang-Ti, ’provided there
are boiled eggs on the way.’

"The emperor and the engineer entered a palanquin and shortly afterwards
set out to look for the genie of the stones.  Behind followed another
palanquin with a kitchen and then a hundred more palanquins full of
boiled eggs.  After twenty days’ march the expedition arrived at the
foot of the mountains of Chuang and rested there.  Only the emperor and
the engineer could go up to the abode of the genie, situated between
horrible precipices, and therefore his majesty and his companion filled
their pockets with boiled eggs for the journey.  When they arrived at
the foot of the grotto where the genie dwelt, a rain of rubbish met them
which nearly swept them away.  A bump appeared on the emperor which
looked as if one of the hundred thousand eggs he had eaten had come out
there; a wicked tile had torn out the architect’s plait by the roots
which caused the poor man much pain, because his pigtail was already
three yards long and was still growing.  The king became angry and went
on valorously disposed to behead the daring rascal who had stoned him,
and at last they found themselves in the chamber of the genie
Marmolillo.  The latter received them with great courtesy, asking them
the object of their visit.  When the emperor told him, the genie gave
his forehead a slap, which sounded like stones knocking together.

"’Well, it is true!’ he exclaimed.  ’And it had not occurred to me!  The
truth is that I have a head of stone. Well, all right,’ he added, ’I
will help you, and with my aid and that of all the Chinese it may be
that within twenty days you will see it finished.’

"And so, when Tsi-Ching-Hoang-Ti returned to the court, he arranged that
all Chinamen from fifteen to fifty years should go to the frontier to
begin the work: and in a few days sixty million workmen were working on
the wall and setting themselves to work with truly Chinese ardour.

"That was twenty-one centuries ago, Mr. Ninin, so that you had not yet
studied the map when the wall was already finished, which, as was seen
afterwards, was of no use only to make the Tartars carry ladders.  They
came back and invaded China and made themselves kings of it. The present
dynasty is Tartar, the same as the celebrated sauce which you like so
much."

"Good, but I should like the story to have some sort of a moral."

"Well, here is one: that the real walls to defend ourselves from our
enemies are our faith in God and in the justice of our cause."



                        *THE DEVIL’S TOURNAMENT*


Great anger filled the breast of the very ugly Don Teobaldo de
Miguelturra as he rode his horse at full gallop after a cunning hare.
Lance at rest he pursued it, blind with fury, for the wicked animal from
time to time stopped, sat down on its hind paws, and made amusing
grimaces at its pursuer.

The latter, filled with wrath, did not leave off using his spurs, and
followed after the animal, loudly calling it a coward, rogue, and thief.

"Wait, wait!" he shouted; "you will have to pay for all this!  What a
fine stew I shall make with you this evening!"

And he rode on like a madman, leaping streams, rocks, and pits.  But it
seemed as if wings had grown on the hare’s feet, such were its leaps,
while fleeing from the proposed stew.  And at each instant it turned
round and jocularly made signs with its ears and fore-paws, and smiled
in that amusing way which disturbed the knight so much.

"Even if you hide yourself in the very middle of the earth, I shall
reach you," he roared.

And he again spurred on his horse, which was nearly frantic, excited by
pain and the shouting of its rider.

A moment arrived in which the knight almost had it within lance thrust,
but once more it commenced to gain ground.

"One effort more, my horse," shouted Don Teobaldo, but in vain.  In
going up a very steep slope the poor animal fell dead from fatigue, and
the rider also was quite dazed.

As soon as he could he disengaged himself from the stirrups, and
throwing down his useless lance beside the dead horse, Don Teobaldo
unsheathed his sword, victorious in a hundred fights, in order to pursue
to the very end that hare which had stopped very tranquilly on a rock
from which it made fun of the knight at its ease.

This raised the hunter’s indignation to its highest, and in a moment of
anger he exclaimed:

"I would give a year of my life to run my sword through you."

The hare, on hearing this, gave a jump and fell at Don Teobaldo’s feet,
who cut it into two pieces.  The spitted hare said to him before dying:
"It will cost you a year of your life; don’t forget it."

The man shuddered and would have liked to undo the mischief, but now it
was too late.

"And to think that such a little beast should make me lose three hundred
and sixty-five days of my life!" he cried.  And, full of rage, he
trampled on the hare until he was quite tired.

But on raising his eyes once more he saw another exactly the same as
that he had killed, and which made the same gestures as the first.

Then he could not any longer contain himself, and started to run after
the second hare, entangling his spurs in the under-growth and stumbling
and falling at every step.

Like one who took no interest the hare went slowly to its lair, and
after it our enraged Don Teobaldo, resolved to make a terrible hash of
the jesting animal.

"This seems to be a thing of the devil," he said. "All the hares have
agreed to make fun of me."

At length, after a good while, Don Teobaldo, with his tongue hanging
out, arrived at a kind of cave, in the black depths of which he lost
sight of the hare.

"Well, now, I have to find you even if you are the devil himself in
person."

"Your servant," said a voice of rare quality; and a man with a strange
face and eyes of fire presented himself before Don Teobaldo, saluting
him with burlesque courtesy.

"Caramba!" exclaimed Don Teobaldo, without being frightened, because he
was a very valorous man.  "If I must tell the truth, I wished to know
you personally."

"And do you not feel afraid?"

"Not at all.  And since you are so familiar with me, I shall treat you
in the same way.  I want to make an arrangement with you."

"Speak."

"First answer me: are you the hare that I pursued?"

"The same.  I knew that you were engaged in an affair and wished to
speak to me, and brought you to my house so that we could talk
comfortably."

And the devil started laughing, flames shooting out of his mouth.  It
was a sign that he was happy.

"Well, you shall see.  You must know that to-morrow the tournament in
which the hand of the king’s daughter is to be disputed will take place.
The victor will become hereditary prince, and I, frankly, wish to occupy
the post.  It is therefore necessary that you make me conquer in the
fray."

"And what will you give me in exchange?"

"Whatever you ask me."

"That you make the princess forget her faith in God. I already have you,
and I want the princess."

"Agreed."

"Agreed."

And the devil and Don Teobaldo shook hands.  The latter drew his back,
saying:

"How you burn."

The devil said to him:

"To-morrow, at the hour of the fight, a squire in black armour will come
and see you.  I will give you a cuirass made in such a way that it
cannot be pierced through; a shield which will dazzle and stupefy your
adversaries if only looked at; a charmed sword, a touch with which will
produce death; and a horse as black as ebony which has the advantage of
requiring neither curb nor spurs: you will only wear them as
ornaments....  In a word, the horse—will be me."

"Oh, thanks, but I am sorry to trouble you."

"Don’t let us say a word about this affair.  I have resolved to carry
away the soul of this princess, who wearies me with her prayers and
psalms, and I have not been able to make her sin, even in thought."

And the devil caught up Don Teobaldo with his cape and left him at the
door of his house, after passing through the air at a prodigious speed.
On disappearing, he said in his ear: "Good-bye till to-morrow."

On the following day the city was decorated with pennons and banners.
The entire population flocked to the place where the hand of the
beautiful princess, whose virtues everybody praised highly, was to be
won in open contest.

Thirty knights took part in the struggle, and as they were the bravest
in the kingdom the spectacle promised to be interesting, though
barbarous; but such were the customs of those times.

The king and the court occupied the grand stand, the princess being in
the front row.  The public took the rest of the seats, and the heralds
announced that the jousts were about to commence.

Don Teobaldo appeared in the foreground upon a beautiful black horse,
large black plumes waved over the crest of his helmet, and the armour
which he wore was also black.

On seeing his proud countenance one could not doubt his certainty of
obtaining the victory.

The signal was given, and another valiant knight came into the arena and
rushed upon horrible Don Teobaldo at his horse’s full gallop.

When he was near, the devil’s friend oscillated his shield, and his
adversary, without being able to prevail, fell to the ground
unconscious.

Another and another and another, and twenty more, went forth to fight
and suffered the same fate.  Whoever resisted the mysterious action of
the shield, fell dead from a blow of the sword, even when only touched
with the flat of it.

The people gave shouts of despair on account of the horror which that
man inspired in them.  The princess was on the point of losing
consciousness from terror on seeing that terrible spouse who was
offering her his disgrace.

"Heaven!" she exclaimed, "death before being the wife of that wicked
man."

And now, the last champion having suffered the same defeat as the
others, they were about to proclaim Don Teobaldo conqueror, and
therefore the husband of the princess, when the trumpet sounded,
announcing that a noble knight asked permission to take part in the
struggle.

The king looked at his daughter and, on seeing her so sorrow-stricken,
gave the desired permission, with the remote hope that the new-comer,
whoever he might be, would vanquish the terrible champion.

They requested him to tell his name and surname, but the knight said:

"My name is Miguel; my surname I reserve until after the fight, if I
emerge victorious, but rest assured that there is no one more noble on
earth."

And he rode into the lists, arousing a murmur of admiration; his armour
was all white as ermine, and the plumes of his helmet were also white.

White, of a dazzling white, was the beautiful horse he rode.

Don Teobaldo was greatly impressed by the sight, and more so the devil,
who with a neigh said: "I am glad you have come to fight, Miguel; we
have an old account to settle."

And turning his head to Don Teobaldo, he added:

"Pull out one of the hairs of my mane and keep it in your pocket, with
this you will have as much power as I. Try to defend yourself to the
last, for our adversary is terrible."

No sooner said than done.  Don Teobaldo pulled out one of the hairs of
the devil’s mane and kept it, and immediately felt strong and powerful.
Blinded by all the pride of the Infernal One, he assailed the knight of
the white armour, trying to fascinate him with his shield. Useless task!

The knight raised the visor of his helmet and showed the handsomest
countenance that ever was seen.  That lovely face sent out celestial
rays.

"Ah, Luzbel!" cried he.  "Do you rebel against me?"

And, throwing aside his spear, he drew his sword, whose brilliance
eclipsed that of the sun itself, and threw himself upon Don Teobaldo.
The black horse snorted, roared, bounded, evading the blows with
superhuman skill.  Don Teobaldo’s sword fell upon Miguel’s white shield
two hundred times, but in vain, until dazed and vanquished horse and
rider fell at the feet of the handsome knight.

"Get you hence!" he said in a voice of infinite pity. "Know that you are
my slave until the completion of the centuries, and that you have no
power against God our Lord."

"Princess," he added, "you are saved.  Your prayer reached the Most
High, and I, who am the Archangel Miguel, came to set you free from the
snares of the demon. Continue virtuous and you will receive your
reward."

And so saying he disappeared.

Meanwhile the devil wished to vanish, but Don Teobaldo remembered his
deceit, and as he had power over the demon, thanks to the hair that he
had pulled out, began to belabour him with spurs and sword, making him
bounce as high as the highest houses.  Don Teobaldo did not move from
the saddle and finished by giving the devil such a superb thrashing as
nearly finished him.

"Let me be, and I will not trouble you again," cried Luzbel.

"Will you ask for my soul?"

"Neither your soul nor your body, but let me alone now."

Then Don Teobaldo, whose heart had been touched by the glance of the
angel and moved to repentance, dismounted from the horse and left it
free to disappear.

And so ended those famous jousts, which were never eradicated from the
memory of the public.

The princess, the following year, married a prince as virtuous as
herself, and Don Teobaldo did penance and became a good Christian who
had a just satisfaction in having administered a sound thrashing to the
devil.


[Illustration: tailpiece to The Devil’s Tournament]



                      *THE TREASURE OF THE DRAGON*


An old sailor brought to my town the news of having seen, in a very
distant island, a terrible dragon which guarded an immense treasure.
Half of the body of this guardian was a fish, the other half a lion; it
moreover had such powerful wings that it could rise to an extraordinary
height.  Air, water, or land were his elements, and when any ships came
near to the coast they were soon attacked by that ever vigilant monster.

Many expeditions were made, but all succumbed to the talons of that
invincible animal; moreover, the treasure was so splendid that it
excited the envy of adventurers from all parts of the earth.

Among the innumerable precious stones which with thousands of gold bars
formed those riches, there was a statue of natural size made out of a
single diamond, and which was worth such a fabulous sum that all the
treasures of the earth would not suffice to buy it.

The fear of the dragon did not lessen the enthusiasm of the lads of my
town; on the contrary, it was a further stimulus to their bravery and
daring, and so, in little less than a month, an expedition was formed of
the bravest and most ambitious.

They set out on the 15th of September on a bark named the _Temeraire_—a
handsome brigantine, the swiftest that ever glided over the waves.
After fourteen days’ sailing they found themselves at about a league
from the island where the treasure and the dragon were.  Behold what
happened!

The members of the expedition met in council in order to take their
measures, and agreed as follows: to launch some boats in order to land
in three or four places at the same time; to carry a great quantity of
ammunition so as to be able to fire upon the dragon; and, lastly, to
divide the treasure in equal parts and to distribute it among the
expeditionaries.  There was only one vote against, that of a cabin boy,
a youth of eighteen, who opposed the dividing of the party, believing it
better to wait for the dragon on board the ship, and from there to fight
it with cannons.

"If you are afraid, stay behind," they all said to him, and nobody paid
any attention to the cabin boy’s scheme.

As nobody trusted his companions, all embarked in the bunches, fearful
of being cheated if they did not witness the division of the treasure,
leaving on board only the cabin boy and the pilot, a very experienced
old sailor who had not uttered any opinion at the meeting.  The launches
being full and the crews armed, they left the ship and rowed near to the
coast.

Pascual, for so the cabin boy was named, prepared the bow-gun, loading
it up to the mouth, and also seized a strong sharp spear.  Then he sat
down in the bows, and from there, with a telescope, watched the progress
of his companions.  The latter were about a hundred yards from the coast
when a tremendous roar was heard; he saw the dragon fly up into the air
and fall upon one of the launches.  Several gunshots were heard, and
soon the launch disappeared under the water.  The bullets glanced off
the skin of the terrible animal, which threw itself in turn upon the
other launches and sank them.

Its work of extermination finished, the dragon returned to the island,
shaking its wings, reddened by the blood of its victims.

The pilot, terrified, wished to go back to his country, but Pascual
prevented it, and directed him to go at full sail towards the island.

The pilot gave way to the solicitations of the cabin boy, who now no
longer thought of the treasure but of avenging the death of his
companions.

They had arrived at some hundred fathoms from the coast when they saw
the dragon, which was advancing towards them.  Pascual rapidly aimed the
small cannon, but the ball struck on some rocks, and the dragon, more
irritated than ever, threw himself upon the brigantine. It described a
couple of circles in the air like an eagle choosing its prey, and at
length threw itself upon Pascual, who, mounted on a round house,
valiantly waited for it.

Such was the violence of the attack that the dragon, on attempting to
break the spear with which the heroic boy greeted it, sent it quite
through one of its claws, and so great was the pain that it made a
horrible outcry and rose up in the air full of terrible frenzy.  The
spear remained fixed in the claw, and to it hung Pascual, who, by his
weight, increased the woes of the dragon.  In vain the latter tried to
get rid of that singular guest; all its efforts were useless, Pascual
bestrode his spear like an enthusiastic gymnast.  Then becoming furious,
it threw itself into the sea in order to try to drown him. Pascual swam
like a fish and dived like a seal; so his enemy was not able to liberate
itself from him.  Being now desperate, it went to the island, dragging
the cabin boy with it; the latter had hardly touched terra firma when,
using the spear as a lever, he gave it a turn with all his might,
twisting the wounded claw in such a way that the pain deprived the
monster of its strength and consciousness.  Giving a cry it fell to the
ground defenceless.  Pascual then got out his jack-knife and looked with
care for the joints between the formidable scales which served the
dragon as armour.  There he thrust it in many times, with the aid of a
stone which he used in place of a hammer.

The dragon was now dead, and Pascual thought of his companions and went
down to the shore to seek them. His search was useless, for he did not
even find a trace of them.  He looked towards the spot where he had left
the brigantine, and that had also disappeared; doubtless the old pilot
was afraid and had gone away with the ship.

Then our hero decided to seek the treasure, but in vain he went over the
island in all directions: he found not the least sign of it.  Then he
returned to the spot where he had seen the dragon lying when they had
approached the island, and he saw that there was an enormous stone which
no doubt covered the entrance of the grotto where the treasure was to be
found.  He applied the spear to the joints and succeeded in moving it,
and after some effort he brought into view a winding staircase, down
which he hurriedly went.  The first room to which the staircase gave
access had its walls covered with rubies, the second with emeralds, and
the third with pearls and diamonds.  In the centre stood the magnificent
statue made out of a single diamond, and which represented a very
beautiful princess.  Pascual was astounded at such extraordinary beauty,
and burst into an exclamation of admiration.

Presently he noticed the pedestal of the statue, on which might be read:

"In a stone lies the disenchantment."

Then the cabin boy looked at all the projections of the room, and
pressing one of them heard a creak, and instantaneously, as the scenes
in a fairy comedy are changed, the grotto disappeared; each precious
stone was changed into a human being, and the beautiful princess, again
turned to flesh and blood, came slowly down from her pedestal, and,
giving her hand to the valiant lad, offered to reward his bravery by
giving him all the riches of her kingdom, and with them her heart. Among
the disenchanted beings were all his companions of the expedition, who
embraced Pascual, and, what was very strange, did not envy him,
recognising that his triumph was deserved.  All the destroyed boats
appeared on the coast, and in them they embarked, each one going to his
own country and the cabin boy to that of the princess.

Pascual is now no longer Pascual, but His Highness Prince Pascual I., a
very good man, according to what his subjects say.



[Illustration: headpiece to The Man with Two Faces]


                      *THE MAN WITH THE TWO FACES*


Claudio was screaming madly when his grandmother said to him:

"If you cry any more you will see the man with two faces."

"Oh, I say, who is he?"

"Well, he is a very strange being, who laughs with one face and cries
with the other.  If a child looks at his smiling face he gives it a toy;
if it looks at his sad face he bites it and tears off the tip of his
ear."

"Well, then, I wish he would come, because I will be very good and he
will give me a toy."

"It would be much better if he did not come, because you are very bad
and you would get your ear bitten."

"But I want to see him," said the boy.

"Look for him if you like," said the grandmother, "but mind he does not
hurt you."

Claudio, who was eight years old and very innocent, quite believed in
the man with two faces, and resolved to look for him everywhere.

That afternoon he went to the outskirts of the town and asked some
woodmen:

"Where is the man with two faces?"

And they said to him mockingly:

"Go to the mountain over there and you will come to him."

He followed their counsel and climbed up the mountain without finding
anybody.  That night he had to spend on the mountain, climbing up to the
top of a tree because the howling of the wolves frightened him so much
that he did not dare to go back to his home.  In the morning, on getting
down from the tree, a squirrel saluted him with great ceremony, and said
"Good morning."

"Listen, squirrel," said Claudio, "do you know where the man with two
faces is?"

"I do not know, but my friend the eagle knows many things.  Come with me
and we will ask him."

The boy and the squirrel went together and on the top-most part of the
mountain came upon the eagle’s nest. The eagle turned towards the
squirrel and asked what he wanted.  On being told of what Claudio wanted
he said to him: "I have sometimes heard this man spoken of, but I have
never seen him.  I only know that he is very unhappy, because he can
only look at himself in the glass with his sad face, and on seeing
himself so afflicted the poor fellow bursts into tears."

"And where does he live?" said the boy.

"He lives so far away that you would never be able to reach the place,
but if you like I will carry you there, through the air, in my claws,
and we shall be there in a twinkling.  I cannot do any more for you than
carry you to the door of his house, and I cannot answer for what may
happen to you."

"Never mind," said the boy; "take me, for I want to see him."

The eagle caught up the boy by his belt and the squirrel got into one of
Claudio’s pockets.  The eagle began its flight and the three found
themselves in the air.  When Claudio saw that he was so high up he shut
his eyes, full of terror.

When the squirrel appeared from the boy’s pocket the trees looked like
the size of pins, and he went quickly back again for fear of being
seasick.  After several hours’ flying, the eagle descended on a little
mountain and there left Claudio, startled at his own temerity.

"When you wish to come back—if they let you—blow on the whistle which I
am carrying round my neck.  Keep it, for I have very sharp ears and can
hear the sound of it for five hundred leagues.  As soon as I hear it I
will come, and pop!  I will take you by the belt to my nest."

When the eagle had gone the squirrel came out of Claudio’s pocket and
said to him:

"Have we arrived already, my little friend?"

"Have you come too?" exclaimed Claudio joyfully.

"Yes, but incognito.  I liked the look of you and wish to help you with
my advice: you know that squirrels, modesty apart, are very sharp."

"All right, what am I going to do now?"

"Do you not want to see this man?  Then let us go on, because I also
would like to know him."

"And if he wants to hurt us?"

"Then we will defend ourselves.  I will go first and explore the
surroundings, and will come back at once."

And saying this, the squirrel started to run with the quickness usual to
his race, returning after a little while very much frightened.

"Do you know," he said, "that the man with the two faces is at the
present moment giving a terrible hiding to some boys that he has shut up
in a cage?"

"They must be naughty boys, but I am good, and he will give me toys."

"I don’t know about that, because the only thing I have seen him give is
knocks; and do you know what he was saying?

    "’This one I like, that one, no;
    But I shall kill them all, O!’"


"Was he saying that?"

"Just what I am telling you.  I have only seen his gay face which is in
the back of his head, and on seeing him I closed my eyes and came away
quickly, for if he sees me he will tear me to bits."

"What are we going to do?" said Claudio, startled.

"Climb up this pine tree with me and from there we will watch."

They climbed up a tree and from it saw a house, or rather a great cage,
formed of big iron bars with an iron roof.  In the centre was seated the
man with the two faces with a whip in his hand, punishing a number of
boys of all ages who filled the cage.

The temptation seized Claudio to blow the whistle and make the eagle
come back to fetch him away, but his curiosity overcame his fear, and he
said to himself:

"After all, I can go away whenever I like."

A little later they saw the man with two faces come out of the cage and
walk in the direction of the place where Claudio was.  On his approach
they saw such a woebegone countenance that Claudio was filled with fear.
As the squirrel saw him shudder, he said to him in a very low voice:

"Close your eyes or we are lost."

The boy obeyed and the man with two faces passed close to them without
noticing their presence.  When he felt him pass, Claudio half opened his
eyes and saw his gay face.  Again he had to close them, for he could
hardly stop laughing, so strange was the face.

On his disappearing in the distance, both the friends descended from the
tree and went up to the cage.  On seeing them the boy prisoners began to
shout, full of joy:

"Have you come to set us free?"

"Yes," said Claudio, "but I don’t know how to, because you are locked
up.  Well, failing the key, let us look for other means."

And, examining the doors, he came upon one without a lock.  He opened it
and went into the cage, but he had no sooner entered than the door
closed of its own accord, leaving him a prisoner.

"Poor little boy!" shouted the others, "you are quite lost, for this is
a kind of mouse-trap where you can enter but can’t get out."

At this moment, the man with two faces arrived; he opened the door and,
facing Claudio, looked at him with the serious face which made the boy
shut his eyes to keep from crying.

"What!  Have I got one pupil more?" he exclaimed. "Good, now it is your
turn to laugh, as it is the first day."

And seizing his head with both hands he turned it round so that the gay
face came in front of the boy.  The latter looked a moment, and again
shut his eyes to keep from laughing aloud.

"I see that you are strong, but to-morrow we shall see," said the
monster, and he locked Claudio up with the other little ones.

Now it was night; all were sleeping, including the horrible gaoler.

Claudio was half asleep when he heard himself called softly.  It was his
friend the squirrel, who had got in through the iron bars and said to
him:

"Be sure that to-morrow I will save you."

And without anything more he turned and went out by the way he had
entered.

The following day, at the usual time, the monster showed his sad face.
The prisoners began to cry.  Claudio shut his eyes, and the monster gave
one of his ears a bite and showed him his teeth.

"That’s for to-day; to-morrow there will be more," he said.

And after throwing a few pieces of bread to the boys he went away.

No sooner had he gone than millions of squirrels gathered round, and
with the quickness of lightning made an enormous gap.  Through this the
boys escaped, and the squirrels entered in their place.  The boys hid
themselves in a distant grotto, and there waited to see what would
happen.

The man with the two faces arrived at the cage and, on seeing the
squirrels there, became extremely angry, and seized a whip with which to
give them the daily beating, when all those little animals came out
through the iron bars.

The monster, putting on some very high stilts, started to run in search
of the boys, blowing a whistle.  They, terror-stricken, were hiding in
the grotto without daring to breathe for fear of being discovered.
After eight or ten hours of giddy running, the man with the two faces
fell down exhausted and went to sleep on the ground near the grotto.
Then the squirrel asked Claudio for the whistle that the eagle had given
him, and without making any noise hung it round the monster’s neck.

Then the latter, awakened by the cold of the night, again caught hold of
the whistle and started to blow it madly.  The eagle hastened to the
sound of his whistle, and thinking that it was Claudio, seized the man
with the two faces in his claws and rose up to a great height.

The eagle soon noticed that his voice was unknown, and without more ado
let go of his load and the monster was dashed to pieces on the rocks
below.

He flew again towards the place where he had left Claudio.

"Don’t be afraid," said the eagle, "because of the two faces neither
remains.  They have just been smashed up against the stones, and he will
never torment anybody any more."

The children returned to their homes, where their coming was celebrated
with great feasts, and Claudio’s grandmother, when she heard what had
happened, after welcoming him on his return, only said to him:

"Do you want to see the man with two faces again?"



                       *THE TREACHERY OF MICIFUF*


Rather more than a fortnight ago an importunate guest disturbed my quiet
and would not leave me in peace during those tranquil hours of the night
which I am accustomed to spend in work.

You will say that I ought to have got rid of him. Nothing more simple,
apparently, than to seize the disturbing guest and to put him on his
feet in the street, saying to him: "Good friend, do me the favour not to
come back to this house while I live in it and while you behave so
badly."

But with my guest there is no reasoning at all.  I begged him, with the
most delicate phrases from the book of courtesy, to go away, or not to
make a noise.  On seeing his insistence, I reached, by degrees, from the
simple threat of dismissal to the terrible one (it frightens me to
remember!) of dealing him a vile and treacherous death. To such a point
does hastiness on occasions blind us! Even to crime!

And to any one in the same circumstances I suspect the same thing would
occur.

Because what he does is so irritating.  At the moment when I compose
myself for writing, at that very moment he makes an unbearable noise
that gets on my nerves and prevents me from writing calmly a single
line, and from even putting together my ideas.  When, tired of the
torture, I throw down my pen and go to bed, the mocking noise at once
ceases as if by magic, and the silence of the dead, or of those who
work, reigns again in my room.

But there is still more!  As I leave them scattered on the table, my
poor papers appear the following morning as if they were the remains of
a kite, crumpled and even torn, turning my writing to strange
hieroglyphics, incapable of being read, and my books, my poor books,
which are so dear to me, they are cut as if with a saw, covers and all!

Such an enemy well deserved the tremendous punishment which my
legitimate indignation prepared for him. I maintain him, but he,
however, illtreats me!  Have you ever seen such black ingratitude?

So I spoke to several friends of mine not long ago, and finding my
pacific and easy-going nature so changed to such a decided and
determined attitude, and to such a fixed project of sanguinary
vengeance, they said to me, quite surprised and bewildered:

"We did not believe you capable of such thoughts! To assassinate! to
avenge!  When, even in extreme cases, it might be legitimate and
honourable it leaves a stain in the mouth and in the mind of him who
thinks it. We do not understand you now, my friend; with such principles
one goes to prison or to the scaffold with surprising ease.  If it is an
ingrate who is to be dealt with, turn him ignominiously out of your
house and leave him alone."

And I noticed in my audience a movement of repulsion that made me feel
uneasy.

"But now it occurs to me that I have spoken," I added, "without telling
who is the person concerned. It is a mouse which, hidden behind my
bookcase, makes an infernal noise about twelve o’clock at night, the
hour at which I dedicate myself to my work.  It is he who destroys
everything within the reach of his nails or teeth, who must have in his
body more letters than a printing press and more paper than a
paper-mill."

Either it was an old and seasoned mouse, experienced in malicious
tricks, or what he has gnawed has taught him to be on his guard against
everything.  Be that as it may, it is certain that there is no
instrument, mouse-trap, or poison which could put the wretch to death
and ensure my tranquillity.

You ought to have seen me some nights handling an old cavalry sabre,
pursuing the little mouse, which finished by hiding itself between the
bookcase and the wall, laughing at my cutting and thrusting.

Convinced that there was nothing to be done against such an agile enemy,
I called to my aid a cat who was well known for his courage and hatred
of the mouse tribe, big Micifuf, who, although old and retired from
active life, had no objection to placing himself at my disposal, only on
certain fixed conditions.

"If you want me to help you," he said to me, "you must entertain me like
a prince; must buy me a fine gilt collar; and when I have killed the
mouse who troubles you, must make me a good present for my family."

I agreed to all this, provided I was freed of the diabolical creature
and in the belief that that same night it would fall into the power of
my ally.

After a little time I noticed that the noise disappeared, which was
something of a consolation, and I observed that the good Micifuf was
lying near the bookcase.  He looked at me and smiled as if to say,
"There, you see! as soon as they smell me about all is over."

I do not Know whether it was instinct or suspicion: it is certain and
true that I thought a certain understanding existed between the mouse
and Micifuf, and decided to spy upon them to convince myself of this
treachery.

"The mouse does not come out," I said to myself, "and if he does not
come out from behind the bookcase for these three or four days and has
not eaten anything all this time, the unhappy creature must be on the
point of dying of hunger, if it is not already dead.  Well, then, if it
is alive there is doubtless some trickery here!"

A few days afterwards I overheard a long conversation between Micifuf
and the mouse.

Said the former to the latter: "Now you see I don’t interfere with you
at all.  On the contrary, I myself supply you with food, giving it to
you on the sly as we agreed. But if you make a noise I shall be obliged
to lay hands on you, in which case, frankly, neither you nor I would
derive any benefit—you, because you run the risk of my devouring you at
a mouthful; and I because, once you are dead, the master would send me
away, and I shall not be able to find another fool like this, who keeps
me and treats me famously without my doing any work whatever."

"For my part," said the mouse, "I don’t think I shall break the compact.
I don’t move, even to sneeze; so that you ought to be very pleased.  By
the way, you might be good enough to increase my rations of cheese, for
you know I like it immensely, and above all Gruyère."

At this moment I could not restrain my indignation, and calling Micifuf
I said to him:

"You are a cat without honour; what you have done is a really dirty
trick of the worst kind.  I should never have brought you here for that
purpose, for I could have made an arrangement with the mouse myself.  I
prefer to keep him rather than to feed you both."

"Come, come!" exclaimed Micifuf with the utmost coolness.  "I see you
have not understood my plan. Listen!  By acting so with the mouse, which
is an unhappy creature in the fullest sense of the word, I shall succeed
in getting him out of his haunts, and he will yield himself trustingly
to my claws and teeth."

So that very night he approached the bookcase and said:

"Little mouse, my friend!  Come out, for now nobody is about and we can
chat at our ease."

The mouse showed its little snout from behind the bookcase and came out,
little by little, with justifiable fear.

"Come now, draw near, and don’t make me raise my voice, I don’t know
whether they can hear us.  Listen to what I have to tell you.  You must
know, my good friend, that I have always felt a great affection for your
race, by reason of a tradition which has been preserved in my family for
many years.  According to this, one of our ancestors, a beautiful Angora
cat—I don’t know exactly whether it was my great-grandfather or my
great-great-grandfather—was once very ill and without resources, lying
on the miserable straw of a garret, when a compassionate mouse brought
him some cheese-rinds and, I suppose, some other eatables right up to
his own bed. He was going to take them when another mouse, of
disagreeable appearance, with some red marks on its back, drew near and
took away the food, taking advantage of the fact that my
great-grandfather had rheumatism and could not move.

"Since then we have decided to kill all the descendants of that wicked
fellow who made our relative die of hunger, and also to reward the one
who was so good to him in time of trouble."

"That appears quite right to me," said the mouse.

"Listen, by the by: do you know it seems to me that you have some red
spots on your back?"

The mouse was startled and said that his good friend the cat must have
cobwebs in his eyes.

"Really, I am very shortsighted, and it would not be at all
extraordinary if I were mistaken.  I will come near in order to
recognise you better."

He had no sooner approached than, seizing him with his claws, he began
to shout:

"Master!  Master!  Here is the mouse!"

I hastened at the call, and, if the truth must be told, far from being
pleased, the deed troubled me in the highest degree.

The little mouse lay dead in Micifuf’s claws, and the cat was showing
himself off, proud of his achievement.

"I hope," said he, "that you will give me the reward agreed on."

Then I could no longer restrain my indignation, and, seizing a stick, I
began to whack the traitor, saying to him:

"Wretch!  At first you would have deceived me, and now, by practising
the wiles of traitors, you have murdered him to whom you offered
protection.  Take the reward which all traitors receive."

At each blow with the stick Micifuf snorted, leaping high into the air,
until at length he dashed through a pane of the window and threw himself
out into the street.  I did not wish to know whether he was killed or
not.  He well deserved to be killed.

And since then, everybody who has recourse to deceit seems hateful to
me, even though they deceive for the purpose of killing the most
troublesome of little mice.



                      *TROMPETILLA AND TROMPETIN*


"What are you doing here, boy?" asked a venerable friar of Rupert, who
was sitting near his accordion in the neighbourhood of a wood as if he
were preparing himself to give a solemn performance to the oaks.

[Illustration: "What are You doing here, Boy."]

"I was resting after a long walk," answered the boy, "and as they say
that sleep is food, I wished to forget in slumber that not a mouthful
has passed my lips for many hours."

"Poor little boy," exclaimed the father; "if you want a sumptuous meal
go near the third cork-tree on the right-hand side; go round the tree
three times, playing the accordion, and a door will open.  Pass through
it and you shall eat splendidly."

Rupert went to the spot indicated and, playing a "Habanera" dance, made
the three turns prescribed; a piece of bark came away and disclosed a
little iron door, artistically ornamented.  He pushed it gently; it
opened noiselessly, and there was Rupert inside a beautiful palace,
whose magnificent rooms were illuminated with hidden fires, which, while
giving light, sent out sweet fragrance. "These smells are not bad," said
Rupert, "but I would rather they came from a nicely cooked chop."

At that moment a hundred succulent chops which were saying "Eat me!"
began to balance themselves in space.  Being neither stupid nor lazy,
Rupert tried to get hold of the nearest, but they all began a frantic
career round the room.  In the centre of the latter appeared a table
covered with appetising eatables, but as soon as Rupert went near they
once more took to flight as if on invisible wings.  A magnificent
stuffed turkey hit him on the nose; the breast of a chicken nearly
knocked him over; all this while the boy was running, like a mad thing,
after those exquisite dainties, hungrier than a bear after a fortnight’s
fast.

"This is only an invitation to see!" exclaimed the lad.  "It is enough
to make one’s teeth grow longer!"

He had hardly uttered these words than his teeth began to grow in such a
disordered fashion, and so quickly, that the shortest was not less than
three yards long.  The viands were caught on them as if on lances, a
further difficulty for Rupert, who could not succeed in seizing the
coveted prey which was fixed on his own teeth.

On this a monkey appeared, and climbing on to the boy’s teeth, began
very impudently to eat those exquisite viands, making signs of
satisfaction which threw Rupert into a rage.

"You great thief!" he cried.  "What do you mean by laughing at me?"

And catching up his accordion he threw it at the animal with such
accuracy that, hitting him on the head, it knocked him senseless.  A
great noise was heard, the monkey disappeared, Rupert’s teeth grew
shorter, and while the accordion played, of its own accord, the
celebrated air "No me matas," a woman appeared in the middle of the room
who, for size, looked like a whale, and who would have been beautiful if
she had not had a turned-up nose and fixed eyes, one weeping oil and the
other vinegar, and who would certainly have had a fine head of hair if
she had not been bald, and a fine set of teeth if a single tooth had
remained in her head.

"Who are you?" asked Rupert, a trifle startled.

"I am the witch Trompetilla, the daughter of the celebrated Trompeton
and grand-daughter of Trompetazo, and am looking for my son Trompetin
everywhere, without being able to find him."

"Why do you speak to me about Trompetilla and Trompetin when I never
played a trumpet in my life?"

"Ah, unhappy me!" sobbed the witch.  "In vain I have offered a
pennyworth of toasted chick peas and a measure of tiger nuts to the
mortal who discovers the whereabouts of my son.  I have wept so much oil
and vinegar that I have spoilt all the furniture in my house."

"What a fine salad you could make if you bought some lettuces!"

"You will get a salad made of blows if you don’t help me to look for my
Trompetin, and if we find him I will invite you to supper, and moreover
will give you a penny so that you need never do any more work in your
life."

Roused by such a magnificent promise, Rupert offered to look for
Trompetin, even if he were under a cruet.

"What is he like?" he asked.

"The size of a pea, a head like that of a pin, and legs like needles."

"Well, then, he must be sticking in a pin cushion or in a needle-case."

"A needle-case would not hold him, for he has a beard two yards long."

"It must trail on the ground!" said Rupert, full of astonishment.

"Well, now," said the witch, "while I go and mend some clothes, begin to
look for my pet."

This said, she disappeared.

The boy was confused by so many comings and goings, appearances and
disappearances; but as hunger afflicted him, he proposed to find
Trompetin, and taking a turn round the room, began to shout:

"Trompetin, where are you?"

"Here!" groaned a tiny voice.

"Where?  I can’t see you."

"In this crack," replied the voice.

Rupert searched, and at last found the witch’s son in a crack between
two bricks.  The enormous beard was a hair two yards long, which grew
out of his nose.

Rupert took him up carefully, and placing him on his hand, asked him:

"Are you Trompetin, the son of Trompetilla?"

"The same."

"Why have you been lost so long?"

"Because my mother is deaf and cannot see well, so that, although I
shouted a lot, she did not hear me."

"Well, now, tell me who the monkey is that climbed up on to my teeth?"

"It is a wizard, nastier than medicine, who is angry with us because his
grandfather died from a trumpet-blast that my great-great-grandfather
sounded in his ear.  It was he who made your teeth grow, and didn’t
allow you to eat.  Knock on this wall and he will reappear, then pull
out my hair and thrash him with it."

"A fine thrashing to be given with a hair!"

"Try, and you will see!"

Rupert struck the wall, and at once the monkey appeared, sparks flying
from his eyes.  He was about to throw himself on Rupert, but the boy
pulled out Trompetin’s hair, which turned itself into a fine cudgel,
with which he dealt the monkey a vigorous hiding.  The animal leapt high
into the air several times, but that was useless, as the stick
lengthened as if it were elastic and reached him wherever he was.  When
the monkey could resist no longer, he took human shape, and going on his
knees begged Rupert not to grind his ribs, and in return he offered to
give him as much wealth as he might desire.

"Call Trompetilla," exclaimed the lad, "and let us have a talk."

The witch appeared, this time crying with joy at seeing her son, and
after kissing him, stuck him in her dress so that he should not be lost
again.  The wizard gave Rupert a lot of money and the witch gave him a
splendid supper of stew and hemp-seed.

When supper was over they affectionately took leave of one another, and
the wizard took Rupert out into the fresh air, carrying him carefully to
the same spot in which he was when he met the priest.  There he left the
boy sleeping soundly, dreaming of a sweet awakening—the dream of the
person who sees his future assured by reason of not having done anything
wrong.



                           *THE QUACK DOCTOR*


I do not know whether it was true or not, but as it was told to me so I
tell it to you.

There used to pass through the goodly streets, whether of Constantinople
or Babylon I am not sure which—however, it makes no difference to my
story—a quack doctor who, while beating a drum and clashing a pair of
cymbals, announced his medicines and practised his cures.

You must place the action of this story in a place where there are no
medical men, for if there were, certainly they would put the quack in
prison where he would not see daylight for a long time.  And the fact is
that, with all his quackery, the man had acquired great fame in the
difficult art to which he devoted himself.  His adaptability was
extraordinary.  It was just the same to him to extract a big man’s tooth
as to pull out a knife and cut off anybody’s leg without stopping for a
moment.

For shamelessness this man could not be beaten.  It is related that in
the times when our quack wandered through the streets and towns, the
emperor’s son fell ill of a great and persistent melancholy.  The youth
was sad and weak, and even when he felt no pain his depression was
alarming.  The court doctors, who were important people, held a
consultation, and, as always happens in these cases, each one put
forward a different opinion from that of his companions.

"It appears to me," said one, putting on his spectacles, "saving the
estimable opinion of my fellow-professors, that his highness the
hereditary prince is suffering from his liver.  Broth of green beans
would be a good thing."

"Gently, wise companion," exclaimed another.  "I maintain that his
highness suffers from his spleen; and as what is good for the liver is
bad for the other organ, I do not believe that green beans would be any
good; roasted chick peas are wanted."

"Well, gentlemen, may I be hanged if the prince’s illness is not in his
feet.  Ask him if he has chilblains, and, in that case, we all know what
to do: wool, plenty of wool, and watercress, plenty of watercress."

The discussion took a threatening turn; each doctor, in support of what
he affirmed, cited three or four authorities and even brought books to
prove and demonstrate it.  The dispute waxed so hot that it ended by the
doctors throwing the books at each other’s heads. A book broke the
spectacles of one of the doctors, and a little more would have knocked
out one of his eyes; another fell like a mace on the bald head of the
oldest and crashed into his brain, his skull not being of the hardest.

At this moment the emperor entered the room where the three Hippocrates
were killing each other, and when informed of the cause of the dispute
became cold all over.

"It is a bad sign when you do not agree.  My son is in danger of dying."

And the poor father went away, saddened and disheartened, to his
apartments.

History says that not a bit of the doctors remained.  On seeing the
emperor so grief-stricken there was no lack of courtiers who had the
courage to speak to him of the advisibility of calling in the quack.

"Impossible," said the monarch.  "If those three shining lights of
medicine could not save him, how can I possibly expect that the quack
can cure him?"

However, the courtiers were so persistent that the emperor consented to
call in the quack, but on one condition: before taking up the cure of
the prince, he must heal five sick people who had been given up by the
doctors.

They looked for the five invalids and had them brought into the palace.
The quack, obeying the emperor’s orders, arrived shortly after.  The
latter said to him:

"Do you dare to undertake the prince’s cure?"

"Yes, sire."

"Well, in order to convince me of what you know, you will heal five men
who are seriously ill and whom I will show you.  If you do not cure them
I will have your head cut off, but if you make them well I will
thenceforward put his highness’ health in your charge."

"Can you not make it four instead of five, sire?"

"No, five; and if not, you know what to expect."

"Well, then, I will cure them.  Where are they?  I must speak to them
alone."

With the emperor’s permission he went to the room where the hopeless
cases were.  Even the most healthy of them had only two or three days to
live.

[Illustration: The Quack Doctor.]

On seeing them our quack almost fell in a faint.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I am going to cure you in the only possible way.
The great magician Faramalla has taught me a wonderful system of curing.
There is no invalid who cannot be healed by it.  Hear it:

"It is necessary for me to kill one of you and burn his heart.  Its
ashes serve to make such a pomade that on applying it to any diseased
part it heals as if by magic, without any need of medicine.  You," he
added, facing one of the hopeless ones, "are very ill, what does it
matter to you if you die now or within two days?  I shall kill you and
burn your heart to cinders in order to cure the rest."

"I say, good friend," cried the threatened man, "do you say I am very
ill?  Why, there is nothing the matter with me.  My family persists in
saying that I am consumptive, but, thank God, I am as sound as a bell."

"All right, all right," said the quack, "it makes very little difference
to me; but you leave on this condition, that you tell the emperor that
you are cured."

The consumptive, hardly noticing the half-opened door, dashed madly
homewards.

"How are you?" the emperor asked him.

"I am sound and well," exclaimed the consumptive, without ceasing to
run.

"This is marvellous," thought the emperor.

"He is a very learned man," said the courtiers.

The other invalids did the same as the first.  Provided that they were
not killed at once, they swore by all they held sacred that they had
never felt stronger and better in their lives.  And they darted out of
the palace like arrows from a bow, leaving the emperor and the doctors
amazed.

The monarch then thought of trusting him with the cure of his son, when
a loud burst of laughter interrupted the grave and ceremonious etiquette
of the court.  Who was the daring man who thus failed in due respect?

The emperor in person, full of ire, went out into the ante-room and
there met the disturber.  It was the imperial prince himself, who was
rolling on a sofa unable to restrain his outbursts of laughter.  The
emperor was delighted to see the sadness, which had so alarmed him,
dissipated so unexpectedly.  To what was this extraordinary event due?

The prince told him.  "On seeing those unhappy invalids run out so
quickly, I asked the quack the cause of their flight, and the latter
told me with a wealth of detail."

It had amused him so much that the black melancholy which was
undermining his existence was dissipated.

"You will remain with my son," said the emperor to the quack, "not as a
doctor but as a friend.  You are a witty man and wit deserves to be
rewarded."



                          *THE DRAWING SCHOOL*


Once there was a boy so fond of spoiling walls, doors, and windows with
grotesque drawings that there was no way of stopping him from practising
his silly cleverness wherever he was.  And I say silly, because from his
hand came forth some primitive dolls, with heads as round as a billiard
ball, eyes and nose forming a sort of cork, and arms and legs like thin
thread, terminating in hands and feet which required an inscription in
order not to be taken for scourges.

One afternoon he approached the very wall of the school, and there, with
the greatest coolness, commenced to draw with a piece of charcoal some
of his strange figures. Perico, for so the boy was called, traced the
figure of the head of a puppet, made the eyes and the mouth, and, oh,
how strange! the doll began to wink and open its mouth and put its
tongue out like anything.

Perico was not timid, and therefore the moving of the eyes and mouth did
not startle him, and so without paying attention continued with his
sketching the arms and the rest of the body.  But he had hardly finished
when the doll’s hand came out and gave him such a tremendous knock that
it made him lose his balance, and he would even have fallen to the
ground if another blow with the other hand and on the opposite cheek had
not kept him on his feet. And as if this was not enough, the legs sprang
out of the wall, and two vigorous kicks that Perico received in the pit
of the stomach quite convinced him that there was one too many, and he
was the one.  Thus convinced he was about to run away when the whole
doll came away from the stone, and at a bound leapt on his shoulders and
began to bite him in the back of the head.

Perico ran towards his house like a greyhound, feeling on his neck the
weight of that unexpected load, when the latter grew heavy, as if,
instead of a charcoal picture, he had to deal with a bronze statue.

The poor little boy sank to the ground, and on getting up saw at his
side, in the middle of the square, the doll in question, as tall as a
giant and changed into a motionless iron statue.

He tried to fly, but the statue caught him with its great hands by the
neck and, raising him up, placed him on its shoulders, and this being
done commenced to run in the direction of the country.  Its footsteps
produced a very disagreeable noise of ironmongery, something like a sack
of nails being shaken up.

It was night-time and our giant, with Perico on its shoulders, ran as
fast as anything to a neighbouring mountain, until he came to a dark
grotto into which he penetrated without any need of matches, because
intense lights shone from his eyes.

During all this Perico, needless to mention, was more afraid than
ashamed, and did not know, nor could even imagine how, it was going to
end.

At length, after some minutes’ walk in the grotto, the iron man
straightened himself, and turning the light of his eyes towards a
corner, lighted up by a glance the lamp which hung down from the rocky
ceiling, and this being done, took Perico down from his shoulders and
sat down.

"You do not know who I am," said the doll, opening his mouth with a
horrible smile; "but when you do know, it will make your hair stand on
end from fright."

"I am sure it won’t," said the lad, "because it is already doing so; and
as I cannot be any more afraid than I am now, on account of being so
much afraid the fear which I felt is passing away."

"Well, then, I am the magician Adefesio, and I am tired of your drawing
me so ugly and so similar to all the boys. The thing which puts me out
most is that you draw my eyes without pupils and my nose without
nostrils.  Moreover, the ears which you sketch look like jug handles,
and I am sick of my portrait going about the world so disfigured and so
badly done.  Could you not have learnt to draw a little before
commencing these pictures?  Well, the punishment that I reserve for you
is to draw your portrait every day."

"What a punishment!" exclaimed Perico.

"The fact is that I do not know how to draw either," answered the man of
iron, "and the worst of it all is that while I am drawing you, you will
grow like my sketch, so that in a twinkling you will be disfigured.
There, does not that seem a severe punishment to you?  Well, you will
see!"

And seizing Perico by one arm he pulled the lamp which hung down.  Then
a hole opened in the ceiling and the lamp went up, dragging the doll and
Perico through the air.

The light continued to rise through a sort of well which was lighted up,
and whose walls were lined with books full of badly-made drawings,
spoilt plans, pieces of forms with engravings made with penknives, and
table-covers destroyed through having been drawn on.  That was the
museum of the man of iron, and each time he saw it he was filled with
anger towards the young draughtsmen who spoilt everything.

Soon they found themselves in a spacious room decorated in Arabian style
and furnished most luxuriously.  In the background there was an easel of
great size, and on it a blackboard on which were drawn a lot of dolls of
the same sort that Perico drew.

"Dear me, how fine!" said the boy looking at the sketches; "it seems
that I did them."

"Well, now you will see the consequences," and snapping his fingers he
produced a metallic sound, and immediately a multitude of boys of
different ages came through a door.  But what funny boys!  All had round
heads, eyes like fishes, flat noses, and mouths like letter boxes, wide
open and showing teeth like saws.  Their arms were thin as wire, ending
in long fingers without joints.  Perico was not startled when they came
in.

"Well, that is how you will look in a little while," said the iron man.

"He always exaggerates!" exclaimed Perico aside, "but seeing is
believing."

The man of iron seized a piece of chalk, and going near to the board
began to draw Perico’s head; but the latter called the doll’s attention,
and when he looked the other way rubbed out what he had drawn.

The man could not have seen very well because he went on drawing very
tranquilly, and Perico continued rubbing out what the other drew; and
when he thought that he had finished he caught up the boy, brought him
to the light, and imagine his surprise on seeing him the same as before.
He went back, full of rage, to the blackboard; but Perico tripped him
up, and did it so well that he fell down.  Then he threw the board and
easel on him, and climbing on top, began to jump on the doll, and
calling to his companions, shouted:

"Come here so that he will not be able to run away!"

The boys drew near and, climbing on the blackboard, by their weight
prevented the iron doll from moving.

But things did not rest thus, because Perico was a very daring boy, and
taking up a rope, which was close at hand, hung the iron man by the neck
to the lamp, and pulling on the other end of the rope, hauled him up
with the help of his companions.

As he was made of iron he was not choked, but hanging up he could do
nothing except make grimaces like a jack-in-the-box, which was just what
he looked like hanging in the air.

"Let me down!" shouted the unhappy man, "and you may draw whatever you
like."

"That won’t do, my friend," answered Perico, laughing at the doll’s
movements.  "I should not be so stupid as to let you escape."

So that, as the song says:

    "Here, sirs, came to an end
    The life of Don Crispin."


"Do you think I have forgotten the punch you gave me?"

The other boys tied the rope to a sofa so as not to get tired, and led
by Perico began to explore the rooms of the cave.  They were all
beautiful save that the ornaments on the walls were of dolls as
grotesque as the master.

The way out of the grotto could not be seen anywhere. And the reason was
simple, as the means of exit was by the lamp to which the doll was
hanging; but the boys did not like the idea of going down one by one,
with a great risk of breaking their heads.

Perico, now uneasy, recommenced to run about the rooms, and troubled by
seeing on the walls what recalled his unfortunate adventure, pulled out
his handkerchief and rubbed out all the drawings, seeing, with
extraordinary surprise, that the boys recovered their original shapes.
On rubbing out the last drawing a formidable noise was heard: the iron
man vanished as if he were smoke, the palace disappeared, and they found
themselves at the entrance to the cave.  From there they marched to the
town, where their parents were anxiously waiting for them, and there
they related what had occurred.

All returned thanks to God and promised not to draw dolls again
anywhere.

Perico became a very honourable man, devoted himself to drawing, and
became a great artist, but he never forgot those dolls, which might have
cost him so dear.



                        *THE MAN WITH THE NOSE*


The King of Persia, Abe-lan-fui, was sitting one day with his august
feet in a basin of rose-water, an ingenious method which he employed in
order to cause happy ideas to occur to him when he was troubled.  Half
slumbering by reason of the sublime thoughts which crowded to his brain,
he nodded two or three times, rubbed his eyes, and reclining his head on
a cushion, fell asleep.  The court with silent respect contemplated the
gentle sleep of his majesty, when a loud sneeze filled the courtiers
with horror and suddenly awakened his majesty.

"Who was it?" asked the monarch.

"Sire!" exclaimed a youth, "it was I.  I could not help it."

"Shall I hang him?" asked the grand vizier.

"Not yet; wait.  You have just interrupted the sweetest dream of my
life.  I was just thinking how to marry Princess Chan-ta-lan to a prince
of her rank when your tempestuous sneeze caused it all to go out of my
head.  Your duty now is to guess my dream.  If you can remind me of it,
I forgive you; but if not, I will have your nose shortened so that you
will never sneeze again as long as you live."

"Sire!" answered the unhappy courtier, seizing his nose as if to bid it
a last farewell, "my nose and my person belong to your majesty, but no
doubt, if you grant me five minutes’ reflection, with the help of God I
will make you remember your dream."

When the brief respite granted by the king had expired, the courtier
daringly approached the steps of the throne and spoke as follows:

"Mighty monarch! here is the only dream worthy of your illustrious
talent.  You dreamed that twelve princes solicited the white hand of the
august Princess Chan-ta-lan; that eleven of them were graceful, but one
had a defect; the former were powerful, and the latter of meagre
fortune; however, your majesty chose the defective candidate as
hereditary prince."

"If you tell me why I chose him," interrupted the monarch, "the nose is
yours."

"You chose him, your majesty, for his surpassing genius, and for having
vanquished his rivals in tests to which your majesty submitted them."

"Excellent.  Now I remember it perfectly.  May God preserve your nose
for centuries and centuries, and my treasurer shall give you a thousand
pieces of gold as a reward for your extraordinary understanding."

The court greeted this act of the monarch with a murmur of approval,
and, at once, all those who a few minutes before fled from the young
courtier as from a plague approached and felicitated him.

"Well, then," exclaimed the monarch, "I wish to follow the inspirations
of the dream, whose description you have heard.  From now on, the
competition for aspirants to the hand of Chan-ta-lan is open.  Proclaim
it, grand vizier, to all my ambassadors, and let all courts know what my
decision is.  A necessary condition for the princes who aspire to be my
successor is to send their portraits without delay.

"And now," he added, addressing the minstrels of the palace, "I permit
you to sing my praises; and you," he said, facing his courtiers, "I
tolerate to applaud me for the great talent that God has given me."

"Bravo!  Bravo!" exclaimed the courtiers all together.

"You are half-hearted!" said the king.  "Applaud with more enthusiasm,
then I promise you not to get angry even when you shock my modesty."

"Hurrah!  Splendid!  Wonderful!" cried the people of the court,
applauding as if they were the claque of a theatre.  "What genius!  What
penetration!  What a pity if it should fail us!"

"Don’t be afraid, it will continue to be your pride and the rejoicing of
this land of fools and brutes."

"Oh, what a good lord!  What a delicate compliment!"

The ambassadors announced the wish of their lord in all the capitals of
the neighbouring kingdoms, and very soon letters and portraits of
princes in all imaginable attitudes began to arrive.  Some were twirling
their moustaches with a martial air; others scratched their chins as if
they were irritated; and others with one hand on the hilt of their
swords but wearing a magnanimous air, as if they would spare everybody’s
life.  So the King of Persia gathered a varied collection.  But amongst
them one excelled for his awful simplicity, that of the Prince of Tokay,
who appeared in full profile, showing such a deformed nose as had never
been seen, not only in that town, but if you searched for ten leagues
around you would not find another to approach it.  And saying it is
different from seeing it.  For that immense, colossal nose measured from
the base to the tip nearly a yard in the measure of that country, which
is equal to two in Castilian measure.  It was as thick as it was large,
which almost caused the other features of the countenance to disappear.
The painter, who undoubtedly was very clever, had expressed the air of
weariness which that badly balanced weight produced in the prince, and
which cried aloud for a counter weight at the back of his head.

The king laughed very much to see this phenomenon, and on seeing him
laugh the courtiers also dared to laugh at the prince; but the princess,
called to see the portrait of that aspirant to marriage, far from
laughing, commenced to cry disconsolately and nearly fainted.

"I do not wish to see the man with the nose!" she cried.  "What great
folly!  With this face he dares to ask for my hand!  Papa, declare war
against him, take him prisoner, and do him the favour of trimming his
nose, if only to oblige me!"

The court also laughed at the remarks of the princess; for to some
people there is nothing more amusing than to laugh at others.

The king did not dare to disregard the Prince of Tokay, and, moreover,
greatly wished to see closely that elephant’s trunk; so it was that he
authorised his ambassador to invite him to come to Persia to the place
arranged for the other aspirants.

All Teheran was burning with desire to know the princes, and especially
the big-nosed one: and so on the day of his arrival all the town crowded
to the gate by which he was to enter the capital.  The Prince of Tokay,
accompanied by his inseparable nose and a modest escort, entered the
city and proceeded directly to the palace.

"What beauty!" cried the people.  "With such a nose, well distributed,
there would be an end to all the pug-nosed people in the world."

The king, who came out to receive him, wished to embrace him as
etiquette required, but knocked against his nose and nearly tore out his
eye.  At last a courtier held carefully aside the nose and he was able
to accomplish the palatine ceremony.

"His nose is tremendous," said the king, putting wet cloths on his
injured eye; "but it does not seem to me so large as the one in the
portrait."

"I am of the same opinion," added the princess.  "It seems to me three
or four inches shorter than that the painter represented.  If an artist
here had done the same to me as he did to the Prince of Tokay I am sure
that I should order him to receive a sound thrashing!"

"Then, to blow his nose how many handkerchiefs are wanted!" said a
courtier.

"He blows his nose on a sheet," added another.

The following day all the princes were summoned to give proof of their
talents.  All went about very thoughtfully except he of Tokay, who
arrived with a most natural and quiet demeanour.

"My lord princes," said the sovereign, taking his seat on the throne,
"in order to decide who is the son-in-law who suits me best I have
arranged to put your knowledge to a test, now that your personal charms
are to be seen."

All the spectators looked at the big-nosed prince, who seemed as
tranquil as if he were not the object of general curiosity.

"Here are the questions that you have to answer. Which is the most
valuable thing in the world?  How many baskets full of earth could be
taken from the mountain which is to be seen from the palace?  And who is
the most treacherous companion that we all have?"

He granted them an hour in which to think out the answers, each being
shut up separately.  He formed a tribunal composed of the wisest men of
his kingdom, and afterwards compared the aspirants to his daughter’s
hand one with the other.

Some stated that these questions were too difficult for such rapid
answers; others said what they thought about them in such a stupid way
that the tribunal and the court could not refrain from laughter.

At length it came to the turn of the Prince of Tokay, who, bowing
respectfully, answered, "The most valuable thing in the world is life,
because it is God’s most wonderful work.  The mountain which is to be
seen from the palace has exactly two baskets full of earth, provided a
basket is made large enough to hold half the mountain. And the most
treacherous companion is time, which is our friend in youth, our
companion in middle age, and finally kills us treacherously in old age."

The king smiled, the tribunal approved, and the court applauded.  The
princess herself appeared enchanted.

"Without any doubt," said the monarch, "you are the the victor in this
contest of intelligence; now it remains for you to vanquish in strength
and skill."

A stand was erected in the public place for the king, the judges, and
the court, and shortly afterwards the princes, bearing their arms and
mounted on superb horses, rode into the lists.

Each one was given a lance and the struggle began. The first of the
princes fought with the second, the conqueror with the third, and so on.

The Prince of Muscovy, who was a robust man, won the greater part of the
contest, wounding his adversaries seriously by lance-thrusts, throwing
them from their horses, and making them declare themselves vanquished
under the threat of finishing them off like lambs.  When the last one
appeared, the feeble Prince of Tokay, a murmur of pity went round the
spectators.  He of Muscovy had nothing even to start on!  Moreover, as
that nose could not be covered by any known helmet, the prince kept it
outside with his visor raised.  This was a manifest disadvantage, for
the other was cased in armour from top to toe.

He of Muscovy approached the stand where the princess was and said to
her:

"Beautiful Chan-ta-lan, I know that you have a whim to have the Prince
of Tokay’s nose shortened, and I intend to pull it out by the roots and
offer it to you as a wedding gift."

And saying this, he attacked his adversary, who was quietly awaiting
him.  Their lances struck against their shields and broke into
splinters; the horses reared, but neither one nor the other moved from
the saddle.  The lances being broken, they seized their swords and
struck at each other furiously until the blades were broken also.  The
Prince of Tokay approached his adversary, and with only one
hand—incredible strength!—took him from the saddle and threw him rolling
on the ground.

Tremendous applause followed, and the Prince of Tokay was cheered on all
sides.  The latter alighted from his horse, and drawing near to his
enemy, who was not yet able to rise, made him admit his defeat.  The
princess looked at him in amazement and confusion, and the king said to
her: "So you have got to have the big-nosed one!  However, console
yourself, we will give him a case for it."

The prince approached the stand, and after receiving the king’s
congratulations, the princess said to him:

"I confess, Prince of Tokay, that you are not handsome, that you lack
something, or rather that you have something too much, but such proofs
have you given of your ingenuity and strength that I will be your wife
without feeling any repugnance."

"My beautiful princess," exclaimed the knight, "I am so grateful for
your kindness that I do not wish to embitter your happiness without
making you a present which I think will be very much to your taste.  My
adversary offered to give you my nose, the cause of your past antipathy,
and now that he has not succeeded in his project, may I be permitted to
present it to you myself."

So saying, to the great surprise of every one, he gave a sharp tug at
his nose, tearing it off at one stroke.  The crowd gave a shout,
believing that the man was going to die, when to the general
astonishment it was seen that under that cardboard nose he wore his own
natural nose, which was so delicate and well proportioned that he had no
need to envy even the best shaped of noses.  The Prince of Tokay was
none other than the courtier of the sneeze.

"I appealed to this expedient," he said, "because I wished you to know
and love me only for my qualities, and not for my face, for beauty
passes away quickly, and talent is a divine gift and much more lasting."

The princess nearly died of joy on seeing her sweetheart so clever, and
the rare event formed the conversation of all the city.

The wedding was celebrated with great pomp, and the new couple were very
happy, according to what the chronicles of Persia say.

In one of the princess’s rooms, under a pretty lantern, was the
cardboard nose of the false Prince of Tokay. Under it was the following
inscription: "Physical defects count as nothing when the heart is
generous and noble and the understanding clear."



                       *THE ISLAND OF BRILLIANTS*


The bark _Esperanza_ with all canvas spread was sailing the China Sea,
when a violent storm overtook her. The event was so rapid that it gave
no time to be foreseen, and the captain, who was an old sea-dog, as
sailors are called who have become inured to dangers, did not foresee
that the breeze of an instant ago would change so soon into a violent
hurricane.  The rudder was broken by the force of the waves, and the
ship was driven by the cyclone without means of defence—the crew and the
bark were lost.

All believed their last moment had come, since without doubt the boat
would go to pieces on the rocks which could be seen at a short distance,
when the captain gave a shout which calmed the anxiety of all hearts.

"The Island of Brilliants!" he exclaimed, and instantly all appeared in
order to contemplate it.

"Good," said a sailor.  "That may be the Island of Brilliants, but if
striking against it breaks my head, I don’t care whether it is against a
stone worth twopence or against a diamond worth ten millions."

"You are right," answered the captain, "but the storm has abated a
little, and it remains for us to launch the boats and approach the coast
in them."

This was done.  A few minutes afterwards all the sailors save one
embarked in the boats and went to the island, which was visible not far
off.

In the bark there remained an Aragonese passenger called Antonio, who
had set his heart on getting to Manila, and who said he would continue
on the ship even if he arrived alone at the capital of the Magallanico
archipelago.

"But," said they to him, "don’t be mad.  Don’t you see that you will
certainly perish?"

"That we shall see; for I am going to Manila even if I have to swim
there."

And there was no means of convincing him; therefore they left him to his
fate.  The boats separated from the ship and went off to the Island of
Brilliants.

The captain, meanwhile, said to his shipwrecked companions:

"The island is inhabited by ill-tempered dwarfs who kill those who cause
them inconvenience, and, on the other hand, to those who appear amiable
they grant whatever they are asked.  So, gentlemen, I recommend
moderation."

This they promised him, and in a little while the boats touched dry
land.

They disembarked, running the boats aground so that the surf should not
break them up, and penetrated into the island.

They had gone scarcely a mile when they saw some little white houses of
brick, white as snow, and of a singular shape.  They looked like jars
turned upside down.  All the houses had very small windows and a small
door.

"This must be," said the captain, "the dwarfs’ city. Be very careful
now, because this is a dangerous moment."

"But where are the brilliants?" asked a sailor.

"They are on that mountain which begins at the side of the town.  It is
quite inaccessible except by a narrow path whose entrance is carefully
and strongly defended by the dwarfs."

At this moment a kind of bugle sounded and an arrow appeared from each
little window.  They had given the alarm and the dwarfs hastened to the
defence.

The captain tied a handkerchief to the end of a stick, and with this
improvised flag made signals that his intentions were pacific.

Then a committee of dwarfs came out to talk matters over with them,
making themselves understood by signs, and at last agreed to let the
shipwrecked men enter the town, but blindfolded.

They submitted to this condition, and immediately were surrounded by a
good number of guards, who manacled them and presently imprisoned them
in some very small cells, so small that the new-comers were obliged to
cower down almost all day because they touched the roof with their
heads.

On the following day they were taken into the presence of the chief of
the dwarfs, who was the youngest of all, but who must have been the most
learned, because, after having asked them in several languages what
their nationality was, spoke to them in Spanish as follows:

"What brought you to this island?  Do you not know that he who comes to
it never returns?  Perhaps the desire for wealth has moved you?  If so,
you were much mistaken, because the riches which exist here are for us.
So that now you know what your fate must be—either to die or to be our
slaves."

And at this a crowd of dwarfs approached the surprised sailors, and
without giving them time to defend themselves, tied them up and led them
back again to their prisons.

All this while the bark _Esperanza_ was going along abandoned to the
mercy of the elements, and our Aragonese, fearing nothing, sat
tranquilly in the bows, saying to the ship:

"I must go to Manila; so now you know what to do."

The wind and the waves were driving the ship forward, until one morning,
the tempest now being over, Antonio found himself in a sort of natural
harbour where the ship ran on to the sand.

"Well, this must be Manila!" he exclaimed, and throwing himself over the
side into the water, he reached dry land in two strides, not without
having previously taken, as a measure of precaution, a revolver, a gun,
a cutlass, and a pouch full of cartridges.

"They won’t throw me out of Manila for want of arms!" he said, and going
on and on, our good Antonio with his gun on his shoulder commenced to
look for people to ask the way to the capital of the archipelago, now
lost to the Spaniards.

After several hours’ walk he met two dwarfs who, seated on the ground,
were playing marbles with some stones whose brilliance was dazzling.

[Illustration: He met two Dwarfs who were playing Marbles.]

The Aragonese approached the players and bade them good afternoon; the
dwarfs raised their heads and looked at him contemptuously and continued
to play.

"Look here, I said ’Good afternoon’ to you," shouted the Aragonese, "and
in my country when an insult is offered one knows what happens."

The dwarfs turned to look at him without having understood, and then
Antonio, with two superb punches, knocked the presumptuous dwarfs to the
ground.  One remained stunned and could not move himself; but the other
began to run away, uttering cries, and disappeared.

The Aragonese brought round the dwarf and detained him.

For several days they went about the mountain, and during this time
Antonio succeeded in learning a few phrases of the strange language
which the dwarf spoke, and the latter learned several others in Spanish,
with which they came to understand each other perfectly.  The two
friends related their respective histories to one another. That of the
dwarf was short; he was called Fu-fei, and he was a captain of the
Cuirassiers of the Guard; and as they had no real horses they rode some
made of cane so prettily that they attracted attention.  He narrated,
moreover, that some days before, some giants who had arrived then were
made prisoners, and were to be killed or made slaves. As soon as he gave
these details of the prisoners Antonio cried, "These are my people.  I
will not go to Manila until they are out of trouble."

"While you are here," said Fu-fei, "don’t run any risks; because my
companions never go up the mountains, as it makes them tired, and they
are under the care of the doctor who prevents them from tiring
themselves; but if you go down to the plain they will attack you, and
they are more than three thousand."

"I don’t care; I shall know how to defend myself."

"Then let me recommend you to do one thing.  When you begin to fight I
will signal to you which is the company of archers who use poisoned
arrows.  Shoot at them, and you can laugh at the rest."

And so it was.  At the moment when he went down the mountain, Antonio
found himself attacked by the outposts of the dwarfs’ army.  Fu-fei
pointed out the company of the terrible arrows, and the Aragonese
destroyed it by shots from his gun and blows with his cutlass.

"There is our king!" cried Fu-fei, pointing to a little dwarf who was
scarcely sixteen inches in height.

"Then I will talk things over with your king immediately."

And, gently taking hold of him by the neck so as not to hurt him, he put
the king in his pocket.  Arriving at an oak-tree which would be about
two yards high, and sitting down in the shade, he took the king out of
his pocket and said:

"Where are the prisoners?  Either give them back to me or this is the
moment when you lose your position, your crown, and your life."

The dwarf king answered in Spanish that he would give the prisoners up
and whatever they might wish in exchange for his liberty!  And so our
hero with his two dwarfs under his arm walked on to Dwarftown, as the
town was called.  Once inside he put the king on the ground in order to
recover all his dignity, and the monarch ordered the Spanish prisoners
to be set free.

When the latter recognised their liberator, they did not know what to do
to show their gratitude.

"Don’t you know how?" asked Antonio.  "Well, take me to Manila, for I am
in a hurry."

"But," answered the captain, "would you go away from this island without
carrying off any diamonds?"

"Where are they?" asked the Aragonese.

"There, on the top of that mountain," they said to him.

"Good gracious!  Just now I was in the midst of them and didn’t notice.
The truth is," he added, "that what I wanted was something to eat, and
for half a pound of roasted meat I would have given all the diamonds of
the earth."

Finally they all went to the mountain, gathered the diamonds in
handfuls, and when they could carry no more, they went back towards the
spot where the bark was ashore, and there after several months’ work
they succeeded in fixing a new rudder and some masts, which although
small were sufficient to make the boat go.  They put out to sea and at
last arrived at Manila, to the great satisfaction of the Aragonese, who
exclaimed:

"Did I not tell you that the ship would bring me to Manila?"

The dwarf Fu-fei had not wished to part with his friend and accompanied
him everywhere, exciting attention by his long beard and tiny stature.
The poor fellow was obliged to go about the streets singing, so that
people should avoid treading on him.

They all soon returned to Spain, where they sold their diamonds and
bought fine farms, founding an agricultural colony, in which they all
lived together like brothers.



                     *THE JUDGMENT OF THE FLOWERS*


"Is it true that the rose is the queen of the flowers?" asked Richard of
his papa.

And the latter said to him jokingly:

"Ask them themselves, they ought to be better informed."

Richard took what his father told him literally, and going down into the
garden, approached a plum-tree which gallantly waved to and fro in the
wind, and taking off his hat with great respect, asked it:

"Mr. Plum-tree, will you be good enough to tell me if the rose is the
queen of the flowers?"

But the plum-tree continued to move to and fro in the wind without
answering him.

And drawing near to an almond tree, whose white blossoms had just
opened, he repeated his question.

"Mr. Almond-tree, is it true that the rose is the queen of the flowers?"

The almond-tree remained silent, but its blossoms went red with envy.

"The almond-tree is also unprincipled," thought Richard.  "All these
trees have a discourteous tone.  Let us ask the plants."

A splendid double pink, which raised its splendid corolla with a
gallantry worthy of its nobility, as soon as he heard the question,
graciously bowed upon his stalk and answered:

"Quite so, the rose is our beloved queen, on account of being so
beautiful and because her delicate aroma has no rival.  But if you wish
to know more, come back to-night at twelve o’clock and notice what
happens in your garden."

"Thank you, kind pink.  I will not miss to-night."

Richard went to bed at the usual time, but he could not sleep.  At
half-past eleven he dressed himself again, and slipping secretly down
stairs arrived in the garden and awaited events.  On the last stroke of
midnight a bright light appeared from the sky and that ray of light
condensed on the earth, taking the figure of a beautiful woman crowned
with flowers, who carried in her hand a little golden wand which gave
off brilliant reflections.  The fairy extended her hand and immediately
an unusual movement was produced among the plants.  The pinks turned
into elegant gentlemen in bright costumes of ruby, pink, and green; the
hyacinths and jasmines into gallant little pages with fair hair; the
white lilies were pale ladies of singular beauty, dressed in white; the
dahlias wore long trains and at the neck a ruffle of delicate lace of
colours which recalled the flowers which had preceded; the violet
modestly tried to hide her beautiful countenance of velvety skin and her
eyes of gentle aspect among a group of poppies, who passed arm-in-arm,
attracting attention by their blood red costumes.  Finally from amongst
a group of mournful evergreens, who were chatting with some beautiful
pansies, appeared the queen of the fête, the rose.  Her presence
produced a murmur of admiration, never had she been so lovely.  Her face
held the freshness of the flower, and her pink dress with a long train
was of very fine silk which rustled as the sovereign walked.  An
olive-tree turned into a throne and dais, and the rose, without any
other ceremony than a general greeting, took her seat on the throne.
She raised her arm, imposing silence, and everybody became silent.

"Gentlemen," said the queen, "once again the good magician Spring has
re-animated our hearts.  We have not met since last year and there are
several grave matters to resolve, but the most important is the manner
of defending ourselves from the bees, wasps, and butterflies who
continually sip our honey, accelerating our end.  On this point I have
already begged Spring to have the accused appear before me, so that this
gathering is really an oral judgment."

At a signal from the magician the accused appeared in costumes of
etiquette, the butterfly wearing its finest clothes.

It appeared before the queen with its head modestly bent and its face
lighted up by a blush.

"What does your majesty wish?" it asked.

"To inquire the motive why you presume to take away our nectar," said
the rose.

"Ah, madam!" replied the butterfly, touched, "little harm I do you,
because I never take more than is necessary to feed myself, and I have
never abused your hospitality."

"That is well; we will take that into account as an extenuating
circumstance for you.  Let the wasp approach."

The wasp entered in a black dress-coat and a yellow necktie striped with
black.

"I," it said, "gather nectar from you because I have proposed to work
like the bee, although I have not yet succeeded in doing so since the
beginning of the world, but still not much time has passed and I hope to
learn."

"How can you hope to learn," interrupted the queen, "if all that you do
is to eat it all without having any to make honeycombs?  Your case is a
very bad one.  As you have not a good lawyer you are lost.  Fetch the
bee."

The latter appeared, her presence awakening a general murmur.  It wore
neither a dress-coat nor a frock-coat, nor even a lounge-coat; it was
wearing a blouse covered with stains of honey and wax.  All drew away
from the bee for fear of getting soiled.

"Now I know what I am coming to," it said without keeping quiet.  "It is
always the same song: that we do take away, that we do not take away the
nectar from the flowers.  Good, what about it?  We do not do so for
ourselves, but for our master.  All the sweet syrup of your corollas we
enclose in the hive, and from there every year it comes out so that Man,
our master, rejoices his palate with it and embalms his breath with your
aroma.  After dying in summer and losing your green leaves in autumn,
you still live in us, that we may make your remembrance lasting.  And
still you complain! You, it is true, give your blood, but it would be
worth nothing if we did not gather it in order to store it.  The work is
ours, and the work is worth as much as your nectar.  If you have to
condemn me, do so quickly, I beg of you, as I am losing a great deal of
work time, and we are somewhat behindhand with the work."

The rose called the pink and the violet, discussed the case with them,
and after some minutes’ reflection, spoke in this manner:

"The wasp is an unconscientious glutton who, under the pretext of making
honeycombs, which she never succeeds in doing, robs us.  Give her five
hundred hard lashes."

On hearing this a deadly nightshade seized the wasp and carried her away
to bestow the correction.

"The butterfly’s innocence and moderation favour her," said the queen,
"therefore I declare her absolved with all favourable pronouncements."

The butterfly bowed respectfully and kissed the sovereign’s hand.  Her
golden feelers glistened, she shook her wings, filling the ambient air
with diamond dust, and took to flight showering cascades of light.

"With regard to the bee," continued the rose, "not only do I find her
without any guilt, but wish that henceforth you do not close your petals
to her, but leave her at liberty to carry away the honey that she
requires.  As a reward for her laboriousness, and as a symbol of
perpetual friendship between us, I am going to give her a kiss."

The bee, much moved, advanced, and placing her blushing forehead within
reach of the queen’s lips, received a kiss of peace, which made tears of
gratitude gather in her eyes.

A delicious perfume invaded the garden, the fairy raised her wand, and
each flower returned to its post, recovering its original form.

The magician flew into space, wrapped in a moonbeam, and Richard
remained alone, pensive in the recollection of what he had seen.

"What a beautiful lesson!" he said.  "Even in the kingdom of flowers
work gains the most precious reward."



                         *THE THREE QUESTIONS*


In the history of Spain, King Pedro I. of Castile, son of Alfonso XI.
the _Just_, is known by the surname of the _Cruel_.

And his fame as a heartless man was such that his subjects, on whom he
satisfied his terrible thirst for blood and violence, held him in great
terror.

One day while hunting, of which sport he was very fond, King Pedro lost
his way in the wood, and came to rest himself—the night being well
advanced—in an hospitable convent, where without being known he was
offered food, bed, and shelter.

Hardly returning thanks, he passed into the refectory, and on entering
was recognised by a lay brother, who knew that the king suffered from a
certain illness called synovitis, the principal effect of which was that
the malady produced, when he was walking, a strange sound of bones
knocking together.

By this noise he was recognised by the lay brother.

Instantly informing the community, due homage was hastily rendered to
the monarch; but King Pedro was in a bad temper, and facing one of the
reverend fathers, said to him in a disconcerting tone:

"How fat you are, Father Prior!  Study makes no hollows in you, from
which I gather that you cannot be so wise as the people hereabout say."

The community was so taken aback, that no one dared to say a word to
that monster of a king.

"Well, if you wish to please me," he continued, "I summon you to come to
my palace within ten days, and to answer satisfactorily the following
questions: First, what is the distance between the earth and the sun?
Second, how much am I worth?  And third, what do I believe which is
false?  If you do not answer me to my taste I will have you beheaded at
once."

And saying this, he went away.

Needless to say the poor friar was frightened, for he knew only too well
that King Pedro was quite capable of doing what he threatened.

And he devoted himself to thinking day and night about the questions,
without hitting upon any answers.

At the time when King Pedro reigned the distance between the planets had
not been discovered, so there were many discussions between the brethren
over the questions of the king.  They were still disputing when the day
arrived on which the prior was summoned to the palace.  And even yet he
did not know what to answer. In his distress he invoked the Holy Virgin,
certain that She would not refuse to help him.

After which he was about to set out for Seville when one of the lay
brothers, a sharp and daring lad, said to him:

"Father Prior, your reverence and I are about the same height, and even
look somewhat alike.  Why not let me go in your place, father, and
answer the king?"

On seeing him so resolved he did not doubt for a moment that the lay
brother had been inspired by God to save him, and after hearing him,
allowed him to go to Seville.

At the moment in which he arrived at the palace and announced himself,
the king gave orders for him to be allowed to enter.

"Have you thought out the answers to the questions that I asked you?"
asked King Pedro.

"Yes, sire."

"Well, begin then.  What is the distance between the earth and the sun?"

"Eight hundred and forty-seven thousand leagues. Not one more, nor one
less.  And if your majesty does not believe me, have it measured."

As this was impossible, the king was obliged to say that he was
satisfied.

"Not bad," he said.  "Now the second: How much am I worth?"

"Twenty-nine pieces of silver."

"And why twenty-nine pieces?"

"Because your majesty is not worth so much as our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
and He was sold for thirty."

"And what do I think which is not true?" exclaimed King Pedro, somewhat
piqued.

"Well, your majesty thinks that I am the prior, and I am not."

The king was surprised at the ingenuity of the lay brother and pardoned
the substitution, and heaped both with favours.

This proves that the fiercest men are overcome and appeased by the
forces of ingenuity.



[Illustration: headpiece to The Captain’s Exploit]


                        *THE CAPTAIN’S EXPLOIT*


"What ruins are those which are to be seen on the top of that ridge?"
asked a genteel captain of the policeman of a village.

"The accursed ruins!" answered the first authority of the village with
extreme terror.  "Many years ago," he said, "there used to be a fine
castle there, inhabited by a feudal lord who was more avaricious than
anybody in the world before.  There stands his statue amidst the
rubbish, and terrible stories are told about it which frighten all the
neighbours.

"In the archives of the town several curious documents are kept, and if
your worship, Sir Captain, wishes to read them, I will lend them to you
with great pleasure."

The soldier smiled disdainfully on hearing the policeman, and begged him
to let him see those curious documents, because he had the idea of
visiting the ruins and removing for ever the superstitious fear that
they inspired.

That night he received a bundle of yellowed papers falling to pieces
through age and dampness, and shut up in his room he read them from
beginning to end.

The following morning when Captain Pero Gil—for such was his name—went
out into the square, the hollows of a night of insomnia and fever were
clearly seen in his face.  What had happened to him?

Among the papers which formed the bundle, one above all had attracted
his attention.  It ran more or less as follows:

"It is said by neighbour Nuno Perez that in the castle, at the foot of
the tower of Homage, there must be an immense treasure, but it is
guarded by one hundred dwarfs with long beards who strike anybody who
comes near.

"At twelve o’clock in the night a gap opens in the ground which gives
access to enormous riches piled up in the cellar; but exactly at one
o’clock the earth closes up until the following night.  If, instead of
one person, two or three go to the place, then the earth does not open
and the treasure remains hidden.

"That is the news which, on the evidence of an eyewitness, has reached
me, and which I certify.—Inigo Lopez, the constable."

The captain remained perplexed for a good while, and at last said to
himself resolutely: "To-morrow night I will go to the tower of Homage at
the foot of the castle."

Indeed, at twelve o’clock in the night he went out of the house where he
lodged and went towards the ruins, first making sure that his sword came
out of the sheath without difficulty, and that the pistols which he wore
in his belt were well loaded.

At eleven o’clock, or a little later, he arrived at the castle.  A
splendid moon was shining, which gave the landscape a melancholy
appearance.  The captain hid himself behind some stones close to the big
tower, and there waited, twisting his moustache, to see the marvel take
place.  The village clock struck twelve, and on the last stroke the
earth opened and a crowd of dwarfs, with beards down to the ground, came
out of the narrow gap. They were armed with thick sticks, and began to
dance round the entrance of the vault, singing:

    "Let us defend the treasure,
    Let us defend our gold
    Against every mortal
    Not knowing the signal."


The captain advanced quickly, and taking up his place at the side of the
circle of little men, saluted the dwarfs with great courtesy.

"Good evening, friends,"

"Daring man!" said the tiny men.  "Who are you? What have you come here
for?"

And armed with their thick sticks they rushed towards the intruder.  But
the latter, without being frightened, unsheathed his sword, and said to
them very calmly:

"Let us be serious, comrades, and leave off making bad-natured jokes,
because I will cut down any one who comes too near me.  Are you willing
to let me have the treasures?"

"Never!" they exclaimed.  "It is necessary for you to give us the
signal.  If you do not know it, we shall kill you."

"That is easier said than done," said Pero Gil, with great deliberation.
"You must grow a little before you can put a man like me in pickle.  If
your height had grown as much as your beard, it might have been
different."

"Let us kill him," shouted the dwarfs.  "He does not know the signal!"

And they threw themselves upon the captain.  But the latter drew out a
pistol, and with one shot the most daring of them fell to the ground,
which checked the rest.

"It seems that I came off best," said the captain, laughing.  "What I
have done to this fellow I will do to the remainder if you come near.
Therefore let me pass without hindrance."

"We would let ourselves be killed before permitting you to get to the
treasure, unless you gave us the signal."

"And what signal is that?"

"We cannot tell you."

"It seems to me that I shall not require it for grinding up your ribs."

"Away!  Away!" said the little men; and armed with their sticks they
rushed upon Pero Gil.  The latter fired off his second pistol, bowling
over another, but they threw themselves upon him, until his back looked
like a snake turning round amidst the crowd of those who were attacking
him.  At last he saw that he was surrounded and defenceless, and
therefore was obliged to jump over the wall at the risk of being dashed
to pieces, and so left the place, ashamed of his defeat.

"My goodness! what can the signal be?" he asked himself while on his way
to the village.

The following morning he returned to the ruins, armed with a lever, and
recognised the place where on the previous night he had seen the
opening.  There was nothing there!  However much he poked about he could
not find the least sign which showed the entrance to the mysterious
vault; and what was still stranger, he could not distinguish the
slightest trace of the past fight.

Then he resolved to try if cunning could succeed where strength had
failed.

The following night he hid himself in the ruins and watched the place
where the marvellous event took place. The dwarfs came out with their
accustomed dance and song:

    "Let us defend the treasure,
    Let us defend our gold
    Against every mortal
    Not knowing the signal."


The dance over, one of them said:

"The captain will not return, but if he does come back we will kill
him."

"It would be better to allow him to enter the vault and there let him
die of hunger."

"And if he seizes the bell?"

"Then we are lost."

"But he must first give the statue of the old master of the castle a
thrust with his sword."

Pero Gil did not wait to hear any more, and at one bound approached the
statue, which was situated in what used to be the armoury of the
fortress, and struck it a stout blow with his blade.

[Illustration: Pero Gil at one Bound approached the Statue.]

The statue fell down flat as if struck by lightning, and at once the
dwarfs surrounded the captain and forced him down a flight of steps.

Hardly had he entered than the gap closed up and the captain found
himself alone in a cave which was lighted by a lamp hanging from the
ceiling.  On the floor there were great heaps of gold and precious
stones, but this was not the thing that claimed the captain’s attention.
He was looking for the bell which he had heard the dwarfs speak about.

For half an hour his search was fruitless.  He turned over the yellow
piles of money and the sacks of gems, but the desired object was not to
be found.

Weary and perspiring he threw himself down on a pile of gold bars, and
there rested before again returning to his task.

The mysterious bell had to be found.

Persuaded that it was not to be come across in a visible spot, he began
to strike the walls, until at last one of them sounded hollow.  With his
sword he made a hole and from it drew out a leaden bell of a very rare
shape, which in a good sale might be worth as much as four farthings.

"And now what must I do?" thought the captain. He carefully examined the
object he had found, which bore the following inscription, "Do not ring
me unless you know how."  But the captain was not a man to hesitate, and
rang the bell.  Immediately the walls closed together, threatening to
crush him by their enormous mass.  Without being daunted he gave another
ring, and then a thousand points of steel came forth from the walls as
if they were going to pass through him.  Then he gave a third ring, and
immediately the vault returned to its original form.

At the fourth the dwarfs humbly presented themselves and said to him:

"What do you want of us?  Command us as your slaves."

"In the first place, to dance the saraband in order to amuse me, as a
compensation for the unpleasant time you have given me."

And the dwarfs danced like anything for a good while, until Pero Gil
told them to stop.

"Now you will take the sacks of money and carry them to my house."

The dwarfs obeyed without making the slightest observation, loading up
those precious things.

"Leave us the bell," they said, "since you take away the riches."

Pero Gil was going to leave it, when he suddenly had a presentiment and
thought better of it.

"This talisman shall never leave me."

Then the dwarfs carried the riches to his house, singing on the way:

    "Don’t let us guard the treasure now,
    For it is being taken away
    By this fortunate mortal
    Who knows the signal."


So Captain Pero Gil became master of immense riches, which he
distributed among his soldiers, naturally keeping for himself the
largest part.

And whenever he thought of that famous adventure, he rightly used to
say, "After all, the true talisman to get what we want is cunning and
bravery."



                        *THE TOPSY-TURVY WORLD*


I don’t know why, but it is a fact that Providence one day decreed that
everything should turn upside down.  The picture that the world
presented could not have been more extraordinary: the fishes flew
through the air like swarms of butterflies; in place of linnets and
nightingales, the sharks and whales sang.  The birds swam on the bosom
of the waters, like Pedro for his house; it was glorious to see the
dives they made.  A donkey in the porch of an Inn played on a clarinet
the "No me matas, no me matas," while another who was apparently in a
good position, came out of a restaurant picking his teeth with a Toledo
sword.

It is related that a boy who lived at that time, and whose name was, if
I remember right, Manolo, had, among other grave defects, that of
ill-treating animals; his parents and masters reprimanded him in vain,
and from time to time even gave him a flogging that would have set fire
to tinder: but it did not make the boy any better. Whenever he saw an
ass tied to a fence he untied it and rode it for a good while, hitting
it a whack to make it trot. When he met a dog the least that he did was
to fetch it a smack that made it go away at more than a walking pace
with its tail between its legs.  More than one cat he chased about after
having tied a sardine tin to its tail; in short, he was a little demon.

But now it must be remembered that all things were changed, and that on
waking up one morning he found, at the head of his bed, one of his dogs,
which, giving him a punch, said:

"Little friend, on getting up you have got to clean my boots;" and as
the boy hesitated, the dog hit him two punches which made him get up
more than quickly.  What was his surprise to notice that he could only
go on four feet!  He wished to speak, but a bark came from his lips; he
tried to bite the dog, and the latter rained blows upon him.

He rushed out of the house, and found other boys as mischievous as
himself punished in the same way.  In Oriente Place, Carlos and Pepe
were pulling a little carriage, and in it were riding the two goats that
usually drew the vehicle.  Several of those water-carriers who carry
their water-skins on the loins of a donkey which they almost kill by
blows, went about themselves bent down under the load, getting a blow
each time they sucked their thumbs.  Their former slaves went on two
feet behind them, saying: "Gee up, donkey, you are more stupid than a
post."

Manolo went on his way, on four feet of course, and even these seemed
few enough to run with, when on crossing a street he met a friend and
schoolmate, with whom he opened, by barks, the following dialogue:

"Bernardo, as I live!  Have you seen what has happened to us?"

"Yes, of course I see it!  For am I not changed into a poodle?"

"Here you see me in a fix; I don’t know where to hide myself so that the
old dogs won’t be able to take their revenge for the tricks I used to
play on them when I was a person."

At this moment a noise was heard, and on turning round they saw a
tramcar drawn by some of those drovers who are always complaining, and
on the platform was a mule coquettishly adorned with a cocked hat,
driving the car, which was full of all kinds of animals.

"My boy," said Manolo to Bernardo, "do you know that instead of a
tramcar that looks more like Noah’s Ark!"

He had hardly uttered these words when he felt himself seized and
secured, and his shirt was pulled out at the back, and to the tail of it
was tied a petrol can.  He turned his head, and then saw all the dogs
gathered together which formerly he used to hurt, and who now were
celebrating with great laughter the happy event of making Manolo run
with the can tied to his tail.  Two kicks well given rid him of all
doubt and made him start running as fast as he could.

On passing close to a tank he saw some fishes which, with a rod under
their fins, were angling for boys who were swimming about.  At last he
stopped half dead from fatigue, being taken up by an old, blind horse,
which sported eye-protectors, and which, in exchange for some crusts,
made him learn some exercises with which to amuse the appreciative
audience of bears, monkeys, dogs, cats, and other distinguished people.

The horse, seated on the ground, with a silk hat which resembled a
concertina, played on a little drum "The Paraguay Polka," while Manolo
danced to it.  So much dancing made him tired, and one day he gave the
old horse the slip, leaving him alone with the drum. Naturally the loss
was announced in the _Gazette_, and a reward was even offered to any one
who found him, but all was useless, because the latter hid himself in
order not to get caught.

One afternoon he saw many people—if we can call cats, dogs, mules, etc.,
people—gather together and enter a large building.

"Dear me!" said Manolo, "this is the bull-ring! All right, as a dog I
can go in and see the fight free."

And slipping between two animals who acted as porters, he went into the
ring and took a seat.

Divine Power!  What a spectacle!  A fat donkey, which acted as master of
ceremonies, had at his side in the box another as asinine as himself,
and it was the latter who told him when it was necessary to change the
programme.

A number of peacocks adorned with airy mantles filled the boxes, and
with opera-glasses and lorgnettes looked at each other, criticising and
ridiculing each other disparagingly.  How many animals there were in all
parts of the ring!  Round the arena barrier it was crowded with bears
carrying leather bottles filled with wine, which they delicately raised.
There was great confusion, until a band, or rather an orchestra, of
ostriches played a gay double step, the toreadors appearing immediately
after.  What a fight it was!  Twelve bulls from the most celebrated
breeding studs came out on two feet with the red cloth airily placed
between their horns.  Those which acted as spearmen rode on the boys who
clean up the ring, and carried very long spears.  The trumpet sounded,
and the first animal appeared in the arena; it was a German, who
attacked the spearmen, overthrowing two boys.  The master of ceremonies
made a sign that it was now time to use the darts.  The audience
protested, shouting: "Donkey, donkey! you don’t understand!"  The donkey
M.C. took off his hat, and the audience asked that the darts should be
stuck in the toreadors.  Cuernosgrandes, who was the first killer, tried
to fix his pair, as badly, more or less, as the old toreadors, when a
horrible shouting arose in the arena, and such formidable fighting took
place that two monkeys, who had been beautiful English girls, seated at
Manolo’s side, fainted, and the audience rushed to the doors of the
bull-ring: the German had jumped over the barrier.  Manolo felt two
kicks behind, and without even turning his head to see who gave them,
rushed into the street like a mad animal.

Then came the worst.  Some geese with Roman helmets on their heads,
riding upon sardine tins, were pretending to maintain order with their
sabres, and playing a number of foolish tricks upon the authorities.
They soon knocked down poor little Manolo, who was obliged to seek
refuge in a doorway, when a camel stopped him by laying a hand on him,
saying:

"Thank goodness, I have a little dog."

The wretched camel put on a lady’s veil, took Manolo in its arms as if
he were a wee baby, and taking up its place in a corner, began to sing
in a falsetto voice:

    "I was born in a wood of cocoanut trees
    One morning in the month of April."


"Gentlemen," it added, "alms for this poor mother who has a child to
support."  But Manolo, who did not wish to play the part of an infant in
arms, gave the camel a bite in the arm and ran away to the outskirts of
the town. In a cottage he found two doves, which, on seeing him so thin
and hollow-cheeked, offered him their assistance and gave him something
to eat.  A sympathetic swallow gently looked after him, and the lullaby
of its song made the poor boy sleep soundly.  A feeling of sweet
well-being pervaded his little body, he saw in his dreams a cloud of
rose and gold, and in it the white figure of an angel which, gently
moving its wings, arrived at his side and in a melodious voice said to
him:

"Manuel, your sufferings have ended; let what you have seen be a warning
to you, and try to be good to everybody, including animals."

The boy woke up, looked around him and found himself in his own bed, and
soon the servant came in to tell him that it was now time to go to
school.  Manolo, who had not got over his astonishment, dressed himself
quickly, noticing, full of surprise, that he went on two legs—as if he
had gone all his life on four.

He never ill-treated an animal again, for this was what he said:

"Besides it being cowardly to ill-treat defenceless beings, is it not
dangerous to expose oneself to the risk of the tables being turned and
finding oneself in the same disagreeable position?"



[Illustration: headpiece to Don Suero the Proud]


                         *DON SUERO THE PROUD*


Once there was, in very remote times, a knight named Don Suero de las
Navas, feudal lord of a number of Spanish villages, with a quantity of
titles sufficient to fill one of the biggest pages, so many and so long
were they.

Now, this knight was so proud that he thought it was a great dishonour
to learn how to read and write things which he considered not only
useless for a man of his accomplishments, but even shameful for a noble
so rich as he was, who could indulge in the luxury of a secretary. And
so it was indeed, that a poor man, who on account of his humble
condition was obliged to learn those trifling necessities, went, like a
vagabond, behind his master, pen and ink in satchel, ready to put into
good Castilian the thousand and one mistakes that Don Suero frequently
made.

On a certain occasion the king summoned the powerful Don Suero to go
with his soldiers to the war, and as it could not be otherwise, the poor
secretary, carrying a pen instead of a sword and a horn inkstand instead
of an arrow, was obliged to place himself at the side of his lord and to
march to the war.

At the beginning all went well.  The orders and the letters acquainting
the king with the results of the struggle were written by the hand of
the unfortunate secretary, who earned each month, if my particulars are
not wrong, the enormous sum of two silver threepenny pieces. Enough to
have a carriage and to build good castles—in the air!

But an arrow shot at hazard in the fury of the fight against the Moors
put Don Lesmes, for so the secretary was called, out of action, and Don
Suero was under the necessity of seeking a new dependant who knew how to
read and write—not an easy matter at that time.

He could not find one, to his great unhappiness; and if he had not had
that quantity of pride in his body, he would surely have felt his lack
of education, which might place him in an awkward situation, which
happened soon afterwards.

He was engaged in a campaign against the Moors, who occupied a great
part of Spain, when he received a packet from the king.  And here the
difficulty began.  What did he say in those pot-hooks written on an
enclosed parchment?  To advance?  To retreat?  It was difficult to
guess.  The messenger had confined himself to delivering the packet and,
putting spurs to his horse, disappeared in a cloud of dust.

Don Suero, perplexed, found himself with the parchment in his hand,
turning it round and round, without knowing what it said.  He made a man
of a neighbouring village come to him, a man who was an enemy of his
because of a certain thrashing which he had ordered him to be given some
days before, and said:

"I have been told that you know how to read and write, and as nobody
else here knows how to, you will read to me what this document from the
king says, and if you do not tell me the truth I will have you skinned
alive.  Moreover, I require from you absolute secrecy.  What is said
here only you and I must know."

The offended peasant promised him all, but with the idea of taking
complete vengeance.  And indeed hardly had he cast a glance at the
document than he exclaimed in accents of the greatest surprise:

"The king orders you to give up the command of the troops and to go
immediately to the court, where you have been accused of treason."

"I a traitor!  Ah, what scoundrels are those who have said that of me!
I will cut off their ears with my own hand."

No sooner said than done; he at once left the command of his troops and
started on his march to the court.

The journey was long and wearisome, and our Don Suero was obliged to
halt in an uninhabited place, to dismount from his horse and to sleep on
the blessed ground, neither more nor less than if he had been the
poorest of peasants.

So he passed the night, until dawn surprised him.  On collecting himself
he saw a large board close to a ditch situated at the side of the road.
What might that say? It ought to be something important when it was
written in such large letters.  He went as near as he could to see if
any sign, which was not in writing, might indicate something to him of
what the board said; but, alas! on going nearer he slipped and fell
headlong into the ditch.

The notice said, "Take care in approaching!"

It cost him no little work to get out of it, and still the shock left
him so weak that he could hardly move.

As well as he could, he approached the nearest village and got into bed.
The first person whom he met was the cunning peasant who had so badly
translated his majesty’s letter.  He was flying from Don Suero and had
come face to face with him where he least expected to.

On seeing his good-natured gesture, he knew that his deceit had not been
discovered, and, without trembling, he approached the noble knight.

"You can be useful to me," said the latter.  "I do not feel disposed to
go to the court.  Write to the king what has happened to me and tell him
that as soon as I am a little better I will come and confound those who
have calumniated me."

But the peasant wrote what he liked and sent off the letter.

In it he heaped insults on the king, with the object of causing the
latter to have the knight’s head cut off.

The effect that the insulting letter produced was so great that the king
rose in his anger and commanded Don Suero to be brought dead or alive,
and that if he resisted he was to be tied to the tail of a horse.

The knight was imprisoned, but as he was so proud he would not give the
king any explanations, and the latter commanded him to be tortured.

Not even the severest tortures could succeed in taming that will of
iron.  He was innocent, and would not ask grace of the king, who
condemned him without any further motive.  At length they were going to
sentence him to death for his insults to the king, when one of the
judges mentioned to the king the possibility of Don Suero having put his
seal at the foot of a document he had not signed.

"Because," he said, "it is stated he does not know how to read and
write."

"What!" angrily exclaimed the king.  "Did I pass five long years in
learning how to spell, and that silly Don Suero does not know how to do
it?  I do not believe it.  If you cannot prove to me that the letter in
which he calls me a weak and stupid king is unknown to him, I will have
him killed to-morrow."

The judge did not neglect to see.  He wrote out the sentence of death
and took it to the prison, saying to the knight:

"Sign this and you are free!"

"What is this?"

"A writing in which you say to the king that you are innocent of what
you are accused."

"If that is so, bring it and I will sign it."

And he put a cross and his seal at the foot of it.

The judge bore to the king that sentence that the prisoner had signed,
believing it to be his salvation, and then the king, convinced of his
innocence, commanded him to be set free and returned all his honours to
him.

After that the knight dedicated himself to learning reading and writing,
and made such progress that, after eight years of lessons, he already
knew which was the letter O, both capital and small, which indeed showed
a progress not too rapid.

And the peasant?  He was sought for, being a wicked man, and as soon as
he was caught he was put into prison, where he finished his life.

Ignorance is bad, but the wicked are worse than the ignorant.



                              Made At The
                              Temple Press
                               Letchworth
                             Great Britain





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fairy Taies from Spain" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home