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Title: Mother's Nursery Tales
Author: Pyle, Katharine
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.

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[Transcriber's Notes: Small-capped text within the stories is
surrounded by +plus signs+ to separate it from the ALL-CAPPED text.
Italic text is surrounded by _underscores_.]


Mother’s Nursery Tales



[Illustration]



    MOTHER’S
    NURSERY TALES

    _TOLD AND ILLUSTRATED_

    _BY_

    _KATHARINE PYLE_

    [Illustration]

    NEW YORK
    E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
    681 FIFTH AVENUE



    COPYRIGHT, 1918

    BY

    E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY

    _All Rights Reserved_


    _Printed in the United States of America_



[Illustration]



CONTENTS


                                           PAGE
    The Sleeping Beauty                       1
    Jack and the Bean Stalk                  13
    Beauty and the Beast                     31
    Jack-the-Giant-Killer                    47
    The Three Wishes                         71
    The Goose Girl                           75
    The Little Old Woman and Her Pig         92
    The White Cat                           100
    Brittle-Legs                            115
    “I Went Up One Pair of Stairs,” etc.    124
    The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean       128
    The Water-Sprite                        132
    Star Jewels                             139
    Sweet Porridge                          146
    Chicken-Diddle                          152
    A Pack of Ragamuffins                   157
    The Frog Prince                         165
    The Wolf and the Five Little Goats      174
    The Golden Goose                        183
    The Three Spinners                      199
    Goldilocks and the Three Bears          207
    The Three Little Pigs                   215
    The Golden Key                          229
    Mother Hulda                            232
    The Six Companions                      241
    The Golden Bird                         256
    The Nail                                281
    Little Red Riding-Hood                  284
    Aladdin, or the Magic Lamp              291
    The Cobbler and the Fairies             323
    Cinderella                              328
    Jack in Luck                            345
    Puss in Boots                           356
    The Town Musicians                      369



ILLUSTRATIONS


    COLOR PLATES                                          PAGE
    Goldilocks and the Three Bears               _Frontispiece_
    Beauty and the Beast                                    31
    Brittle-Legs                                           115
    The Water-Sprite                                       132
    The Three Spinners                                     199
    Mother Hulda                                           232
    Little Red Riding-Hood                                 284


    BLACK AND WHITE
    Contents (_Headband_)                                    v
    Introduction (_Headband_)                               ix
    The Sleeping Beauty                                     10
    Jack and the Beanstalk (_Half title_)                   13
    Beauty and the Beast (_Tailpiece_)                      46
    The Three Wishes (_Headband_)                           71
    The Goose Girl (_Half title_)                           75
    The Goose Girl (_Tailpiece_)                            91
    “The Pig would not go over the Stile”                   94
    The White Cat                                          105
    The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean (_Headband_)         128
    The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean (_Tailpiece_)        131
    Star Jewels (_Half title_)                             139
    Sweet Porridge (_Headband_)                            146
    “Come little Pot”                                      150
    A Pack of Ragamuffins (_Headband_)                     157
    The Frog Prince (_Headband_)                           165
    The Frog with the Ball                                 167
    The Wolf and the Five Little Goats (_Tailpiece_)       182
    The Golden Goose (_Headband_)                          183
    The Three Little Pigs (_Half title_)                   215
    The Three Little Pigs (_Tailpiece_)                    227
    The Golden Key (_Headband_)                            229
    Mother Hulda (_Tailpiece_)                             240
    The Six Companions (_Half title_)                      241
    The Golden Bird (_Headband_)                           256
    The Golden Bird (_Tailpiece_)                          280
    Aladdin, or the Magic Lamp (_Half title_)              291
    The Cobbler and the Fairies (_Headband_)               323
    Cinderella (_Headband_)                                328
    Cinderella and the Prince                              335
    Cinderella (_Tailpiece_)                               344
    Puss in Boots                                          363
    The Town Musicians (_Tailpiece_)                       376



[Illustration]



INTRODUCTION


These are not new fairy-tales, the ones in this book that has been
newly made for you and placed in your hands. They are old fairy-tales
gathered together, some from one country, and some from another. They
are old, old, old. As old as the hills or the human race,—as old as
truth itself. Long ago, even so long ago as when your grandmother’s
grandmother’s grandmother was a little rosy-cheeked girl, and your
grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather was a noisy shouting little
boy, these stories were old.

No one knows who first told them, nor where nor when. Perhaps none of
them was told by any one particular person. Perhaps they just grew upon
the Tree of Wisdom when the world was young, like shining fruit, and
our wise and simple first parents plucked them, and gave them to their
children to play with, and to taste. They could not harm the children,
these fruits from the tree of wisdom, for each one was a lovely globe
of truth, rich and wholesome to the taste. Magic fruit, for one could
eat and eat, and still the fruit was there as perfect as ever to be
handed down through generations, until at last it comes to you, as
beautiful as in those days of long ago.

Perhaps you did not know that fairy tales were ever truths, but they
are—the best and oldest of them. That does not mean they are facts like
the things you see around you or learn from history books. Facts and
truths are as different as the body and the spirit. Facts are like the
body that we can see and touch and measure; we cannot see or measure
the Spirit, but it is there.

We can think of these truths as of different shapes and colors, like
pears and apples, and plums and other fruits, each with a different
taste and color. But there is one great truth that flows through them
all, and you know very well what it is:—evil in the end must always
defeat itself, and in the end good always triumphs. The bad magician is
tripped up by his own tricks, and the true prince marries the princess
and inherits the kingdom. If any one of these stories had told it
otherwise, that story would have died and withered away.

So take this book and read, being very sure that only good will come to
you however often you read them over and over and over again.

                                               KATHARINE PYLE.



Mother’s Nursery Tales



THE SLEEPING BEAUTY


There were once a King and Queen who had no children, though they had
been married for many years. At last, however, a little daughter was
born to them, and this was a matter of great rejoicing through all the
kingdom.

When the time came for the little Princess to be christened, a grand
feast was prepared, and six powerful fairies were asked to stand as her
godmothers. Unfortunately the Queen forgot to invite the seventh fairy,
who was the most powerful of them all, and was also very wicked and
malicious.

On the day of the christening the six good fairies came early, in
chariots drawn by butterflies, or by doves or wrens or other birds.
They were made welcome by the King and Queen, and after some talk they
were led to the hall where the feast had been set out. Everything
there was very magnificent. There were delicious fruits and meats
and pastries and game and everything that could be thought of. The
dishes were all of gold, and for each fairy there was a goblet cut
from a single precious stone. One was a diamond, one a sapphire, one
a ruby, one an emerald, one an amethyst, and one a topaz. The fairies
were delighted with the beauty of everything. Even in their own fairy
palaces they had no such goblets as those the King had had made for
them.

They were just about to take their places at the table when a great
noise was heard outside on the terrace. The Queen looked from the
window and almost fainted at the sight she saw. The bad fairy had
arrived. She had come uninvited, and the Queen guessed that it was for
no good that she came. Her chariot was of black iron, and was drawn by
four dragons with flaming eyes and brass scales. The fairy sprang from
her chariot in haste, and came tapping into the hall with her staff in
her hand.

“How is this? How is this?” she cried to the Queen. “Here all my
sisters have been invited to come and bring their gifts to the
Princess, and I alone have been forgotten.”

The Queen did not know what to answer. She was frightened. However, she
tried to hide her fear, and made the seventh fairy as welcome as the
others. A place was set for her at the King’s right hand, and he and
the Queen tried to pretend they had expected her to come. But for her
there was no precious goblet, and when she saw the ones that had been
given to the six other fairies her face grew green with envy, and her
eyes flashed fire. She ate and drank, but she said never a word.

After the feast the little Princess was brought into the room, and she
smiled so sweetly and looked so innocent that only a wicked heart could
have planned evil against her.

The first fairy took the child in her arms and said, “My gift to the
Princess shall be that of contentment, for contentment is better than
gold.”

“Yet gold is good,” said the second fairy, “and I will give her the
gift of wealth.”

“Health shall be hers,” said the third, “for wealth is of little use
without it.”

“And I,” said the fourth, “will gift her with beauty to win all hearts.”

“And wit to charm all ears,” said the fifth. “That is my gift to her.”

The sixth fairy hesitated, and in that moment the wicked one stepped
forward. While the others had spoken she had been swelling with spite
like a toad. “And I say,” cried she, “that in her seventeenth year she
shall prick her finger with a spindle and fall dead.”

When the Queen heard this she shrieked aloud, and the King grew as pale
as death. But the sixth fairy stepped forward.

“Wait a bit,” said she. “I have not spoken yet. I cannot undo what our
sister has done, but I say that the Princess shall not really die. She
shall fall into a deep sleep that shall last a hundred years, and all
in the castle shall sleep with her. At the end of that time she shall
be awakened by a kiss.”

When the wicked fairy heard this she was filled with rage, but she had
already spoken; she could do no more. She rushed out of the castle and
jumped into her chariot, and the dragons carried her away, and where
she went no one either knew nor cared.

The other fairies also went away, and they were sad because of what was
to happen to the Princess.

But at once the King gave orders that every spinning-wheel and spindle
in the land should be destroyed, and when this was done he felt quite
happy again. For if all the spindles were gone the Princess could not
prick her finger with one; and if she did not prick her finger she
would not fall into the enchanted sleep.

So the King and Queen were at peace, and all went well in the castle
for seventeen years. All that the fairies had promised to the Princess
came true. She was so beautiful that she was the wonder of all who saw
her, and so witty and gentle-hearted that everyone loved her. Beside
this she had health, wealth, and contentment, and was smiling and
joyous from morn till night.

One day the King and Queen went away on a journey, and the Princess
took it into her head to mount to a high tower where she had never been
before, and to watch for their return from there.

She found the stairs that led to the tower, and then she mounted them,
up and up and up, until she was high above the roofs of the castle. At
last she reached the very top of the tower, and there was an iron door
with a rusty key in it.

The Princess turned the key and the door swung open. Beyond she saw a
room, and an old, old, wrinkled woman sat there at a wheel spinning.

The Princess had never seen a spinning-wheel before. It seemed a
curious thing to her. She went in and stood close to the old woman so
as to see it better.

“What is that you are doing?” she asked.

“I am spinning,” answered the old woman.

“And what is that little thing that flies around so fast?”

“That is a spindle.”

“It is a curious little thing,” said the Princess, and she reached out
her hand to touch it. Then the point of the spindle pricked her finger,
and at once the Princess sighed, and her eyes closed, and she sank back
on a couch in a deep sleep.

Immediately a silence fell also upon all in the castle. The King and
Queen had just returned from their journey; they had alighted from
their horses and had entered the castle, and just then sleep fell upon
them. The courtiers who followed them also fell asleep. The dogs and
horses in the courtyard slept, and the pigeons on the eaves. The boy
who turned the spit in the kitchen slept and the cook did not scold
him, for she too was asleep. The meat did not burn, for the fire was
sleeping. Even the flies in the castle and the bees among the flowers
hung motionless. All slept.

Then all about the castle sprang up an enchanted forest that shut it in
like a wall. The forest grew so dark and high that at last not even the
top-most tower of the castle could be seen.

But though the Princess slept she was not forgotten. Many brave princes
and heroes came and tried to cut their way through the forest to rescue
her, but the boughs and branches were as hard as iron, and moreover as
fast as they were cut away they grew again; also they were twisted so
closely together that no one could creep between them. Then as years
passed by, the brave heroes who had sought the Princess grew old and
had children of their own. These, too, grew to be men and married, and
at last the Princess was forgotten by all, or was remembered only as an
old tale.

At last a hundred years had slipped away, and then a young and handsome
Prince came by that way. He had been hunting, and he had ridden so fast
and eagerly that he had left his huntsmen far behind. Now he was hot
and weary, and seeing a hut he stopped and asked for a drink of water.

The man who lived in the hut was very old. He brought the water the
Prince asked for, and after the Prince had drank, he sat awhile and
looked about him. “What is that darkness, like a cloud, that I see over
yonder?” he asked.

“I cannot tell you for sure,” said the old man, “for it is a long
distance away and I have never gone to see. But my grandfather told me
once that it was an enchanted forest. He said there was a castle hidden
deep in the midst of it, and that in that castle lay a Princess asleep.
That Princess, so he said, was the most beautiful Princess in all the
world, but a spell had been laid on her, and she was to sleep a hundred
years. At the end of that time a Prince was to come and waken her with
a kiss.”

“And how long has she slept now?” asked the Prince, and his heart beat
in his breast like a bird.

[Illustration: THE SLEEPING BEAUTY]

“That I cannot say,” answered the old man, “but a long, long time. My
grandfather was an old man when he told me, and he could not remember
her.”

The Prince thanked the old man for what he had told him, and then he
rode away toward the enchanted forest, and he could not go fast enough,
he was in such haste.

When he was at a distance from the forest, it looked like a dark
cloud, but as he came nearer it began to grow rosy. All the boughs and
briers had begun to bud. By the time he was close to them they were in
full flower, and when he reached the edge of the forest the branches
divided, leaving an open path before him. Along this path the Prince
rode and before long he came to the palace. He entered the courtyard
and looked about him wondering. The dogs lay sleeping in the sunshine
and never wakened at his coming. The horses stood like statues. The
guards slept leaning on their arms.

The Prince dismounted and went on into the palace; on he went through
one room after another, and no one woke to stop nor stay him. At last
he came to the stairway that led to the tower and he went on up it,—up
and up, as the Princess had done before him. He reached the tower-room,
and then he stopped, and stood amazed. There on the couch lay a maiden
more beautiful than he had ever dreamed of. He could scarcely believe
there was such beauty in the world. He looked and looked and then he
stooped and kissed her.

At once—on the moment—all through the castle sounded the hum of waking
life. The King and Queen, down in the throne-room stirred and rubbed
their eyes. The guards started from sleep. The horses stamped, the dogs
sprang up barking. The meat in the kitchen began to burn, and the cook
boxed the boy’s ears. The courtiers smiled and bowed and simpered.

Up in the tower the Princess opened her eyes, and as soon as she saw
the Prince she loved him. He took her hand and raised her from the
couch. “Will you be my own dear bride?” said he. And the Princess
answered yes.

And so they were married with great rejoicings, and the six fairies
came to the wedding and brought with them gifts more beautiful than
ever were seen before. As for the seventh fairy, if she did not burst
with spite she may be living still. But the Prince and Princess lived
happily forever after.



[Illustration: Jack and the Bean-Stalk]



JACK AND THE BEAN-STALK


Jack and his mother lived all alone in a little hut with a garden in
front of it, and they had nothing else in the world but a cow named
Blackey.

One time Blackey went dry; not a drop of milk would she give. “See
there now!” said the mother. “If Blackey doesn’t give us milk we can’t
afford to keep her. You’ll have to take her off to market, Jack, and
sell her for what you can get.”

Jack was sorry that the little cow had to be sold, but he put a halter
around her neck and started off with her.

He had not gone far, when he met a little old man with a long gray
beard.

“Well, Jack,” said the little old man, “where are you taking Blackey
this fine morning?”

Jack was surprised that the stranger should know his name, and that of
the cow, too, but he answered politely, “Oh, I am taking her to market
to sell her.”

“There is no need for you to go as far as that,” said the little old
man, “for I will buy her from you for a price.”

“What price would you give me?” asked Jack, for he was a sharp lad.

“Oh, I will give you a handful of beans for her,” said the old man.

“No, no,” Jack shook his head. “That would be a fine bargain for you;
but it is not beans but good silver money that I want for my cow.”

“But wait till you see the beans,” said the old man; and he drew out a
handful of them from his pocket. When Jack saw them his eyes sparkled,
for they were such beans as he had never seen before. They were of all
colors, red and green and blue and purple and yellow, and they shone as
though they had been polished. But still Jack shook his head. It was
silver pieces his mother wanted, not beans.

“Then I will tell you something further about these beans,” said the
man. “This is such a bargain as you will never strike again; for these
are magic beans. If you plant them they will grow right up to the sky
in a single night, and you can climb up there and look about you if
you like.”

When Jack heard that he changed his mind, for he thought such beans as
that were worth more than a cow. He put Blackey’s halter in the old
man’s hand, and took the beans and tied them up in his handkerchief and
ran home with them.

His mother was surprised to see him back from market so soon.

“Well, and have you sold Blackey?” she asked.

Yes, Jack had sold her.

“And what price did you get for her?”

Oh, he got a good price.

“But how much? How much? Twenty-five dollars? Or twenty? Or even ten?”

Oh, Jack had done better than that. He had sold her to an old man down
there at the turn of the road for a whole handful of magic beans; and
then Jack hastened to untie his handkerchief and show the beans to his
mother.

But when the widow heard he had sold the cow for beans she was ready to
cry for anger. She did not care how pretty they were, and as to their
being magic beans she knew better than to believe that. She gave Jack
such a box on the ears that his head rang with it, and sent him up to
bed without his supper, and the beans she threw out of the window.

The next morning when Jack awoke he did not know what had happened. All
of the room was dim and shady and green, and there was no sky to be
seen from the window,—only greenness.

He slipped from bed and looked out, and then he saw that one of the
magic beans had taken root in the night and grown and grown until it
had grown right up to the sky. Jack leaned out of the window and looked
up and he could not see the top of the vine, but the bean-stalk was
stout enough to bear him, so he stepped out onto it and began to climb.

He climbed and he climbed until he was high above the roof-top and
high above the trees. He climbed till he could hardly see the garden
down below, and the birds wheeled about him and the wind swayed the
bean-stalk. He climbed so high that after awhile he came to the sky
country, and it was not blue and hollow as it looks to us down here
below. It was a land of flat green meadows and trees and streams, and
Jack saw a road before him that led straight across the meadows to a
great tall gray castle.

Jack set his feet in the road and began to walk toward the castle.

He had not gone far when he met a lovely lady, and she was a fairy,
though Jack did not know it.

“Where are you going, Jack?” she asked.

“I’m going to yonder castle to have a look at it,” said Jack.

“That is well,” said the lady, “only you must be careful how you poke
about there, for that castle belongs to a very fierce and rich and
terrible giant: and now I will tell you something: all the riches he
has used to belong to your father; the giant stole them from him, so if
you can fetch anything away with you it will be a right and fair thing.”

Jack thanked her for what she told him, and then he went on, setting
one foot before the other.

After awhile he came to the castle, and there was a woman sweeping the
steps, and she was the giant’s wife.

When she saw Jack she looked frightened. “What do you want here?” she
cried. “Be off with you before my husband comes home, for if he finds
you here it will be the worse for you I can tell you.”

“Yes, yes, I know”; said Jack, “but I’ve had no breakfast, and I’m like
to drop I’m so hungry. Just give me a bite to stay my stomach and I’ll
be off.” The giant’s wife did not want to do that at all, but Jack
begged and coaxed until at last she let him come into the house and got
out a bit of bread and cheese for him.

Jack had hardly set down to it when there was a great noise and
stamping outside.

“Oh, mercy!” cried the giant’s wife, and she turned quite pale.
“There’s my husband coming in, and if he sees you here he’ll swallow
you down in a trice, and give me a beating into the bargain.”

When Jack heard that he did not like it at all. “Can you not hide me
some place?” he asked.

“Here, creep into this copper pot,” cried the woman, taking off the
lid. She helped Jack into the pot and put the lid over him, and she had
no more than done it before the giant came stumping into the room.

    “Fee, fi, fo, fum!
     I smell the blood of an Englishman!”

he roared.

    “Be he alive or be he dead
     I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

“What nonsense!” said his wife. “If anyone had come here don’t you
suppose I would have seen him? A crow flew over the roof and dropped a
bone down the chimney, and that is what you smell.”

When she said that the giant believed her. He sat down at the table and
called for breakfast. The woman set before him three whole roasted oxen
and two loaves of bread each as big as a hogshead, and the giant ate
them up in a twinkling.

“Now, wife, bring me my moneybags from the treasure-room,” he said.

His wife went out through a great door studded with nails, and when
she came back she brought two bags with her and set them on the table
in front of the giant. The giant untied the strings and opened them,
and they were full of clinking golden money. The giant sat there and
counted and counted the money. After it was all counted he put it back
in the bags again, and then he stretched his legs out in front of him
and went to sleep and snored until the rafters shook.

The giant’s wife worked around for awhile and then she went into
another room. Jack waited until he was sure she had gone, and then he
pushed the lid of the pot aside and crept out. He crept over to the
table and seized hold of the moneybags and made off with them, and
neither the giant nor his wife knew anything about it until Jack was
safe down the bean-stalk and home again.

When Jack’s mother saw the moneybags she was filled with wonder and
joy. “Those were once your father’s,” said she, “but they were stolen
from him, and never did I think to see them again.”

After that Jack and his mother lived well, they had plenty to eat and
drink, and good clothes to wear, and everything they wanted. And they
were not stingy; they shared their good luck with their neighbors as
well.

After awhile the money was almost gone. “I’ll just climb up the
bean-stalk again,” said Jack to himself, “and see what else the giant
has in his castle.”

He climbed and he climbed and he climbed, and after awhile he came to
the giant’s country, and there in front of him lay the road to the
castle. Jack walked along briskly, setting one foot in front of the
other till he came to the castle door, and as he saw no one he opened
the door and stepped inside.

There was the giant’s wife scouring the pots and pans, and when she saw
Jack she almost dropped the skillet she was holding.

“You here again?”

“Yes, here I am again,” said Jack.

“Then I wish you were some place else,” said the giant’s wife; “when
you were here before our moneybags were stolen, and I can’t help
thinking you had something to do with it.”

“Oh, oh! How can you think that?” cried Jack.

“Well, be off with you, anyway”; and the giant’s wife spoke quite
glumly. “I want no more strange lads around here.”

Yes, Jack would be off in a moment, but wouldn’t she give him a bite of
breakfast first?

No, the giant’s wife wouldn’t, and that was flat.

But Jack was not to be turned off so easily; he talked and begged and
argued, and while he was still talking they heard the giant at the door.

The giant’s wife was terribly scared, “Oh, if he finds you here won’t I
get a beating!” she cried.

“Quick; into the pot again!”

Jack crawled into the copper pot and the giant’s wife put the lid over
him.

The next moment the giant stamped into the room.

    “Fee, fi, fo, fum,”

he bawled,

    “I smell the blood of an Englishman;
     Be he alive or be he dead,
     I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”

“Nonsense,” said his wife, “you’re always fancying things. Here, sit
down at the table and eat your breakfast. A crow flew over the roof and
dropped a bone in the fire, and that is what you smell.”

The giant sniffed about a bit, and then, still muttering to himself,
he sat down at the table and began to eat. After he had finished he
cried, “Now wife, bring me my little red hen from the treasure-room.”

His wife went into the treasure-room, and presently she came back with
a little red hen in her apron. She set it on the table before the
giant. The giant grinned till he showed all his teeth.

“My little red hen, my pretty red hen, lay,” said the giant.

As soon as he said that the hen laid an egg all of pure gold.

“My little red hen, my pretty red hen, lay!” said the giant. Then the
little red hen laid another egg.

“My little red hen, my pretty red hen, lay,” said the giant. Then the
hen laid a third egg.

“There!” said the giant, “that is enough for to-day. Now, wife, you can
take her back to the treasure-room again.”

His wife took up the hen and carried her off to the treasure-room,
but when she came back into the kitchen she forgot to shut the
treasure-room door behind her.

Then the giant stretched his legs out in front of him and went to
sleep and snored till the rafters shook.

His wife worked around in the kitchen, and after awhile, when she
wasn’t looking, Jack crept out of the pot. He crept over to the door of
the treasure-room and slipped through, and there was the little red hen
sitting comfortably on a golden nest.

Jack caught her up under his arm and she never made a sound. Then he
crept back through the kitchen and out through the door, and made off
down the road, and the giant’s wife never saw him at all.

But just as Jack reached the bean-stalk the hen began to cackle. This
woke the giant. “Wife, wife,” he roared, “someone is stealing my little
red hen,” and he ran out of the castle and looked all about him; but he
could see no one, for Jack was already half-way down the bean-stalk.

After that Jack and his mother never had any lack of anything, for
whenever he wanted money he had only to say, “My little red hen, my
pretty red hen, lay,” and the hen would lay a gold egg.

Still Jack was not satisfied. He wanted to see what else was in the
giant’s castle. So one day, without saying a word to his mother,
he climbed the bean-stalk and hurried along the road to the giant’s
castle. He did not want to meet the giant’s wife, for he thought maybe
she had guessed that it was he who had taken the giant’s hen, and the
moneybags, and so indeed she had, and what was more she had told the
giant all about it, too.

Jack crept up to the castle very carefully, and he saw no one. He
opened the castle door a crack and peeped in, and still he saw no one.
He pushed it open a little wider and then he ran in and across the
kitchen and hid himself in the great oven.

He had no more than done this before the giant’s wife came in. “Pfu!”
said she. “What a draft!” and she closed the outside door. Then she set
the giant’s breakfast on the table, still talking to herself. “The door
must have blown open,” said she. “I’m sure I closed it when I went out.”

Presently the giant came thumping and stumping into the house. The
moment he entered the room he began to bawl—

    “Fee, fi, fo, fum!
     I smell the blood of an Englishman;
     Be he alive or be he dead,
     I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”

“What? What?” cried his wife, “I found the door open just now. Do you
suppose that dratted boy is in the house again?”

“If he is, I’ll soon put an end to him,” said the giant.

The giant’s wife ran to the copper pot and lifted the lid, and looked
inside it, but no one was there. Then she and the giant began to hunt
about. They looked in the cupboards and behind the doors, and every
place, but they never thought of looking in the oven.

“He can’t be here after all,” said the wife, “or we would have found
him. It must be something else you smell.”

So the giant sat down and began to eat his breakfast, but as he ate he
mumbled and grumbled to himself.

After he had finished he said, “Wife, bring out my golden harp to sing
for me.”

His wife went into the treasure-room and came back carrying a golden
harp. She set it on the table before the giant and at once it began
to make music, and the music was so beautiful that it melted the heart
to hear it. The giant’s wife sat down to listen, too, and presently
the music put them both to sleep. Then Jack crept out of the oven and
seized the harp and made off with it.

At once the harp began to call, “Master! master! help! Someone is
running off with me!”

The giant started out of sleep and looked about him. When he found the
harp gone he gave a roar like an angry bull. He ran to the door and
there was Jack already more than half-way down the road. “Stop! stop!”
cried the giant, but Jack had no idea of stopping. He ran until he
reached the bean-stalk, and then he began climbing down it as fast as
he could, still carrying the harp.

The giant followed and when he came to the bean-stalk he looked down,
and there was Jack far, far below him. The giant was not used to
climbing. He did not know whether to follow or not. Then the harp cried
again, “Help, master, help!” The giant hesitated no longer. He caught
hold of the bean-stalk and began to climb down.

By this time Jack had reached the ground. “Quick! quick, mother!” he
cried. “Bring me an ax.”

His mother came running with an ax. She did not know what he wanted it
for, but she knew he was in a hurry.

Jack seized the ax and began to chop the bean-stalk. The giant above
felt the stalk tremble. “Wait! wait a bit!” he cried, “I want to talk
to you!”

But before he could say anything more the bean-stalk was chopped
through and fell with a mighty crash, and as the giant fell with it
that was the end of him.

But Jack and his mother lived in peace and plenty forever after.



[Illustration]



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


There was once a merchant who had three daughters. The two older ones
were handsome enough, but the third was a beauty, and no mistake; her
eyes were as blue as the sky, her hair was as black as ebony, and her
cheeks were like roses. The merchant loved his two older daughters
dearly, but this Beauty was the darling of his heart.

Things went along pleasantly for a long time, and the merchant was rich
and prosperous, but then things began to go wrong with him. One after
another of his ships was lost at sea, and a great part of his fortune
with them.

One day the merchant called his daughters to him and said, “My
children, I find it will be necessary for me to go on a long journey. I
am no longer a rich man, but I wish to bring home a gift to each one of
you, so tell me what you would like to have.”

Then the two older daughters began to think of all the things they
wanted, and each was afraid the other would get something finer than
she did.

At last the eldest spoke, “Dear father,” said she, “I wish you would
bring me a velvet robe embroidered with gold, and shoes to match, and a
fan to wave in my hand.”

“And I,” said the second, “would like a necklace of pearls, and pearls
for my hair, and a fine bracelet.”

The merchant was troubled that his daughters should ask for such costly
things, but he did not like to refuse them. “And you, Beauty,” said he,
turning to his youngest daughter, “what will you have?”

“Dear father,” said she, “you have given me so much that I have nothing
left to wish for; but if you bring me anything at all let it be a rose.”

When her older sisters heard this they were very angry. They thought
that Beauty had asked only for a rose so that she might shame them
before their father, and make him think she was more unselfish than
they were. But Beauty had had no such thought as that.

The merchant smiled at his youngest daughter and kissed her thrice,
but his older daughters he kissed only once. Then he mounted his horse
and rode away.

He journeyed on for several days, and at last he reached the city he
was bound for. Here he found he had lost even more of his fortune than
he had thought. He was now a poor man. Still he managed to buy the
gifts his two older daughters had asked for, and then with a sad heart
he set out for home.

He had not journeyed far, however, when he was overtaken by a storm and
lost himself in a deep forest. He rode this way and that, trying to
find the way out, and then suddenly he came to an open place, and there
he saw before him a magnificent castle.

The merchant was amazed. He had never heard of such a castle in that
forest. He rode up to the door and knocked, hoping to find shelter for
the night.

Scarcely had he knocked when the great door swung open before him. He
entered and looked about, no one was there; everything was silent.
Wondering he went on into one room after another. Everything was very
magnificent and well arranged, but nowhere was a soul to be seen. At
last he came to a room where a supper was set out. The plates were all
of gold, and the fruits and meats were of the rarest and most delicious
kinds.

The merchant was so hungry that he sat down at the table, and at once
the food was served to him by invisible hands, while soft music sounded
from a hidden room beyond.

He ate heartily and then arose and went in search of a place to sleep.
This he soon found. A bed had been made ready in a large chamber, and
here he undressed and lying down he slept until morning without being
disturbed.

When he awoke he found his own travel-stained clothes had been taken
away. In their place a handsome suit had been laid out, and other
necessary things, all of the richest kind. There was also a bag filled
with gold pieces. Wondering still more, the merchant arose and dressed
and went out into the gardens to look about him. Here everything was
more beautiful than any garden he had ever seen before. There were
winding paths and fountains, and fruit-trees and flowering plants.

Beside one of the fountains was a rose-bush covered with the roses. The
sight of these roses reminded the merchant of Beauty’s wish, and he
thought it would be no harm to break off one to carry to her. He chose
the largest and finest rose. Scarcely had he plucked it, however, when
the air was filled with a sound of thunder, the ground rocked under his
feet, and a terrible looking beast appeared before him.

“Miserable man!” cried the Beast, “what have you done? All the best in
the castle was offered to you. Why have you broken my rose-bush that is
dearer to me than anything in the world? Now for this you must surely
die.”

The merchant was terrified. “Oh, dear, good Beast do not kill me!” he
cried. “I meant no harm. Only let me go, and I will never trouble you
again.”

“No, no,” answered the Beast. “You shall not escape so easily. You have
broken my rose-bush and you must suffer for it.”

Still the merchant begged and entreated to be spared and at last the
Beast had pity on him. “If I spare your life,” said he, “what will you
give me in return for it?”

“Alas,” said the merchant, “what can I give you? I have lost all my
fortune and I am now a poor man. I have nothing left in the world but
my three daughters.”

“Give me one of your daughters for a wife and I will be satisfied,”
said the Beast.

The merchant was horrified at the thought of such a thing. He would
have refused, but he feared that if he did so the Beast would tear him
to pieces at once.

“You may have three months in which to think it over,” said the Beast.
“But you must promise me that at the end of that time you will return
here and either bring me one of your daughters or come prepared to die.”

The merchant was obliged to promise this; he could not help himself. As
soon as he had promised the Beast disappeared and the man was free to
go, and this he was not slow to do.

He rode on toward his home and his heart was heavy within him. He did
not see how he could possibly give one of his daughters to be the
bride of a hideous beast and yet he did not wish to die.

His daughters met him with joy, and the two older sisters were
delighted when they saw the beautiful gifts he had brought them. Only
Beauty noticed his sad and downcast looks.

“Dear father,” said she, “why are you troubled? Has something
unfortunate happened to you?”

At first her father would not tell her, but she urged and entreated
him to tell her until finally he could keep silence no longer. He told
his daughters all about the castle and his adventure there and of the
Beast, and of how unless one of them would consent to marry the Beast
he would have to lose his life.

When the older daughters heard this they were ready to faint. Not even
to save their father’s life could they consent to marry such a creature.

“Dear father,” said Beauty, “you shall not die. I will be the Beast’s
bride.”

“Yes, yes,” cried her sisters. “That is only right. If Beauty had not
asked for the rose this misfortune would not have happened.”

To this the merchant would not at first agree. Beauty was the dearest
to him of all his daughters. He had hoped that if any of them was to
marry the Beast it might be one of the older sisters. But they would
not hear of this and when, at the end of three months, the merchant set
out to return to the castle he took Beauty with him.

They rode along and rode along and after awhile they came to the
forest, and then it did not take the merchant long to find the castle.
He knocked at the door, and it opened as before, and he and Beauty went
in through one room after another, and everything was so magnificent
that she could not but admire it. At last they came to the supper-room,
and here a delicious feast was set out for them. They sat down and ate
while soft music sounded around them. Beauty began to think the master
of all this could not be such a terrible creature after all.

But scarcely had they finished their supper before the Beast appeared
before them, and when Beauty saw him she began to shake and tremble,
for he was even more dreadful looking than her father had said.

“Do not fear me, Beauty,” he said in a gentle voice. “I will do you no
harm. Your father has brought you here, and it is true that here you
must stay, but you need not marry me unless you are quite willing to.”

“I do not wish to marry you, Beast, and you must know that,” said
Beauty. “But I fear that if I do not you may harm my father.”

“No, Beauty, I will not harm him. He may go in peace, and perhaps after
you have been here awhile you may learn to like me enough to marry me.”

Beauty did not believe this, but the Beast spoke so gently that she no
longer feared him and when the time came for her father to go she bade
him good-by and did not grieve him by weeping.

After that Beauty lived there in the Beast’s castle and was well
content. Every day she went out into the gardens, and the Beast came
and played with her for awhile, and she grew very fond of him. Every
day before he left her he said, “Beauty, are you willing to marry me?”

But always Beauty answered, “No, dear Beast, I do not wish to marry
you.”

Then the Beast would sigh heavily and go away.

One day Beauty was sitting before a large mirror in her room, and she
was sad because she had not seen her father for so long.

“I wish,” said she, “that I could see what my dear father is doing at
this moment.”

As she said this she raised her eyes to the mirror. What was her
surprise to see in it the reflection of a room quite different from the
one she was in. It was a room in her own home that she saw reflected
there. She saw in it the images of her father and sisters. She could
see them smile and move, and she could tell exactly what they were
doing. She found she could watch them in the mirror for as long as she
pleased and whenever she pleased.

After this Beauty often came to sit before the mirror, and she had only
to wish it and she could see her home, and all that was going on there.

But one day when she sat down before the glass she saw that her
father was ill. He lay upon his bed so pale and weak that Beauty was
terrified. She jumped up and ran out into the garden calling for the
Beast.

At once he appeared before her. “What is it?” asked the Beast
anxiously. “What has frightened you, Beauty?”

“Alas,” she cried, “my father is ill. Oh, dear, kind Beast let me go to
him I pray, and I will love you for ever after.”

The Beast looked very grave. “Very well, Beauty,” he said, “I will let
you go, for I can refuse you nothing. But promise me you will return at
the end of a week, for if you do not some great misfortune will happen
to me.”

Beauty was very willing to promise this. The Beast then gave her a ring
set with a large ruby. “When you go to bed to-night,” he said, “turn
the ruby in toward the palm of your hand and wish you were in your
father’s house, and in the morning you will find you are there. When
you are ready to return do the same thing, and you will find yourself
back in the castle again. And do not forget that by the end of a week,
to an hour, you must return or you will bring suffering upon me.”

Beauty did as the Beast told her. That night when she lay down she
turned the ruby of the ring in toward the palm of her hand and wished
she were in her father’s house, and what was her joy, when she awakened
the next morning, to find herself in her own bed at home. She arose and
ran to her father’s room, and the merchant was so delighted to see her
that from that hour he began to get better, and in a few days he was as
well as ever again.

Beauty’s sisters asked her a great many questions about the castle
where she lived, and when they heard how fine it was, and how happy she
was there, they were filled with envy. “Beauty always gets the best
of everything,” they said to each other. “She is younger than either
of us, and see how finely she lives; much better than we do.” They
then planned together as to how they could keep Beauty from going back
to the castle at the end of the week. “If we can only make her break
her promise to the Beast,” said they, “he might be so angry with her
that he would send her away and take one of us to live at his castle
instead.”

The day before Beauty was to return to the Beast they put a
sleeping-powder in the goblet that she drank from.

As soon as Beauty had swallowed this powder she became very sleepy.
Her eyelids weighed like lead, and presently she fell into a deep
slumber, and she did not awaken for two days and nights. At the end of
that time Beauty had a dream, and in her dream she walked in the castle
gardens. She came to the rose-bush beside the fountain, and there lay
the poor Beast stretched out on the ground, and he was almost dead. He
opened his eyes and looked at her sadly. “Ah, Beauty, Beauty,” he said,
“why did you break your promise to return at the end of a week? See
what suffering you have brought on me.”

Beauty awoke, sobbing bitterly. “Alas, alas!” she cried. “I must go at
once. I feel some harm has come to the Beast, and that it is my fault,
though how I do not know.” For she did not know she had been asleep for
two days and nights.

She turned the ruby ring with the ruby toward the palm of her hand, and
wished herself back in the castle and then lay down and went to sleep.

When she awoke she was in the castle again, and it was early morning.
She ran out into the garden, and straight to the rose-bush. There, as
in her dream, she saw the Beast stretched out on the ground, and he
seemed to be without life or breath. Beauty threw herself down on the
ground and took his head in her lap, and her tears ran down and fell
upon him, and it seemed to her she did not love even her father as
dearly as she loved the Beast. “Oh, Beast—dear, dear Beast,” she cried,
“can you not hear me? Are you quite, quite dead?”

Then the Beast opened his eyes and looked at her. “Ah, Beauty,” he
said, “I thought you had deserted me. Do you not yet love me enough to
marry me?”

“Oh, I do! I do love you enough, and gladly will I be your bride,”
cried Beauty.

No sooner had she said this than the rough furry hide of the Beast
fell apart, and a handsome young prince all dressed in white satin and
silver stood before her. Beauty looked at him wondering. “Yes, you
shall indeed be my own dear bride,” cried the Prince, “for you and you
alone have broken the enchantment that held me.”

Then the Prince, a Beast no longer, told Beauty that a wicked fairy
had changed him into the shape of a Beast, and not until a fair young
maiden would love him enough to be his bride would the enchantment be
broken. But Beauty had loved him for his kindness and goodness in spite
of his ugly form, and now never again could the wicked fairy have any
power over him.

And now all through the castle was heard a sound of life and of voices
and of running to and fro. For the same enchantment that had changed
the Prince to a Beast had made all his people invisible, and now, they
too were freed from the spell.

Then how happy Beauty was. If she had loved the Beast she loved the
handsome young Prince a thousand times better. A grand wedding feast
was prepared, and her father and sisters were sent for. Her father was
given the place of honor, but it was quite different with her sisters;
because of their hard hearts they were changed into two statues and
they stood one on either side of the doorway.

But Beauty was too gentle to bear them any ill-will. After she was
married she often used to go and stand beside the statues and talk to
them, and her tears fell upon them so that after awhile their hard
hearts grew soft and the stone melted back to flesh again. Then they
were all very happy together. The two sisters were married to two
noblemen of the court.

As for Beauty and the Prince, nothing could equal their love for each
other, and they lived together happy forever after, and no further harm
ever came to them.

[Illustration]



JACK-THE-GIANT-KILLER


There was once a stout Cornish lad named Jack who had trained himself
in every sort of sport. He could wrestle and throw and swim better than
any other lad in the country; indeed there were few, even among the
men, who could equal him in strength and skill.

At that time there lived, on an island just off the coast of Cornwall,
a giant named Cormoran. This giant was the pest of the whole land. He
was twenty feet high, and as broad as any three men. People were so
afraid of him that when he waded over from his island to the mainland
they all ran and hid in their houses, and then he carried off their
flocks and herds as he chose, and asked no leave of anyone. Seven sheep
he ate at a meal, and three oxen were not too much for him. There was
much complaining through the land because of the way he wasted it.

Now Jack was as bold as he was strong, and he made up his mind to free
the people from this scourge of a giant. He waited for a dark night
when there was no moon, and then he swam from the mainland over to the
island. The waves were high and the water cold, but Jack paid no heed
to that. He took with him a pick, a shovel, an ax, and a horn.

As soon as he landed on the island he set to work to dig a pit in front
of the giant’s cave—a pit both wide and deep. The giant was asleep, for
Jack could hear him snoring in his cave, and so he knew nothing of what
was being done by the brave lad.

Toward morning the pit was finished. Then Jack covered it over with
branches, and scattered earth and stones over it so that no one could
have told it was any different from the ground around it. After that he
took his horn and blew a blast both loud and long.

The sound awakened the giant from his sleep, and he sprang to his feet
and came stumbling out from his cave. He glared about him and presently
his eyes fell upon Jack.

“Miserable dwarf!” he cried. “Is it you who has dared to disturb my
sleep? Wait but a moment until I have my hands on you, and I will
punish you as you deserve!”

Jack laughed aloud. “I fear you not!” he cried. “And as for punishing
me, you will find that easier said than done.”

The giant gave a cry of rage and sprang toward Jack, but no sooner
did he step upon the branches that covered the pit than they gave way
beneath him, and he fell down into the pit and broke his neck. There he
lay without sound or motion, and seeing that he was dead Jack left him
where he lay and swam back to the mainland.

When the people learned that the giant was dead and would trouble them
no more they went wild with joy. Jack was hailed as a hero and a belt
was given him on which were letters of gold that read—

    “This is the gallant Cornishman
     Who killed the giant Cormoran.”

And now the lad was no longer called plain Jack, but
Jack-the-Giant-Killer.

Now many miles away in a deep forest there lived still another giant
named Blunderbore. This giant was full as strong and great as Cormoran
had ever been.

When Blunderbore heard how the Cornish lad had killed Cormoran, and
that now he was called “Jack-the-Giant-Killer” he was filled with rage.
He swore he would find Jack and destroy him even as Cormoran had been
destroyed.

But Jack was no whit afraid. He had made up his mind to altogether free
the land from giants; and he wished nothing better than to try his wits
with Blunderbore. So one day he took a stout oak in his hand and set
out in search of the giant.

He walked along and walked along, and after awhile he came to a forest,
and there a cool spring bubbled up in the shade of the trees.

Jack was hungry and thirsty, and tired too, so he sat him down by the
spring and ate the bread and cheese he carried, and drank of the fresh
water, and then he stretched himself out and went fast asleep.

He had not been long asleep when the giant Blunderbore came by that
way. Blunderbore was very much surprised to see a youth lying there
and sleeping quietly beside his fountain, for none ever before had
dared to venture here into this forest for fear of him.

He saw a glitter of golden letters upon a belt the lad wore, and
stooping he read the words—

    “This is the gallant Cornishman
     Who slew the giant Cormoran.”

At once the giant knew who Jack was, and he was filled with joy at
the thought that now he had the lad in his power. He did not wait for
Jack to waken, but swung him up on his shoulder, and made off with him
through the forest.

Now Blunderbore was so tall that his shoulders were up among the
branches as he strode along, and the boughs whipped Jack in the face
and woke him from his sleep. He was greatly amazed to find himself
journeying along among the leaves on the giant’s shoulder instead of
resting quietly beside the fountain. However, he was not afraid. “I can
do nothing at present,” thought he to himself, “but after awhile the
giant will put me down, and then my wits will soon teach me a way to
get the better of him.”

The giant strode along without stop or stay until at last he came to a
great gloomy castle and, this was where he lived. He carried Jack in
through the door into the castle and up a flight of stone steps to a
room that was directly over the outer doorway. Here he came to a halt
and threw Jack down upon a heap of straw in the corner.

“Lie there for awhile, my little giant-killer,” cried he. “I have a
brother who is not only bigger and stronger than I am, but has more
wits as well. I will go off and fetch him, and after he gets here then
we will decide what to do with you.”

So saying the giant left the room, and after locking the door behind
him he made off across the hills in search of his brother.

No sooner was Jack left alone than he began to examine the room. He
quickly noticed that the door of the castle was directly under his
window. In one corner of the room lay a great coil of rope. Jack took
up this rope and made a slip noose in one end of it. This noose he hung
from the window. The other end he passed over a great beam overhead.
Then he sat down and waited for the monster to return.

He did not have long to wait. Soon he heard the giant and his brother
talking and grumbling together as they came up the road to the castle.
He waited until they had reached the doorway and were directly under
the window. Then he dropped the slip noose over both their heads.
Quickly snatching up the other end of the rope he pulled with all his
might and drew the two giants up into the air, struggling and kicking.
He then leaned from the window and with his sword he cut off both their
heads.

It did not take him long after that to slide down the rope and get
the keys that hung from Blunderbore’s belt. With these in his hand he
reëntered the castle and went all through it, unlocking door after door.

He opened the giant’s treasure-chamber and found it full of gold and
silver and jewels and all sorts of precious stuffs that had been stolen
from the people of the land, for Blunderbore was a great robber.

In the dungeons under the castle were many merchants and noblemen and
fair ladies whom the giant had robbed and kept as prisoners.

When these people found that Jack had come to free them, and that he
had killed the giant, they were so glad and grateful that there was
nothing they would not have done for the lad. Some of them wept for joy.

Jack led them to the treasure-chamber and bade them take all they could
carry of the treasures that were there. They would gladly have left it
all for him, but the lad would have none of it.

“No, no,” he said. “I have no need of riches, and if I were loaded down
with gold and silver I could not travel about so lightly as I do.”

He bade the grateful people good-by and journeyed on his way, leaving
them to find their own way home, which, no doubt they all did in good
time.

By evening of the next day Jack was well away from Blunderbore’s
forest, and just as he was wondering where he should find food and
shelter for the night he came to a great house and saw a light shining
from the windows.

He knocked, and the door was opened to him by a giant with two heads.
This giant was quite as wicked as either Cormoran or Blunderbore, but
he was very sly and cunning. Instead of seizing Jack and throwing him
into a dungeon he made him welcome. He set a hot supper before him, and
talked with him pleasantly, and after awhile he showed the lad to a
room where he could sleep.

But smiling and pleasant though the giant was Jack did not trust him.
He felt sure the monster was planning some mischief, so instead of
going to bed after the giant left him, he stole to the door of the room
and listened. He heard the giant striding up and down, and presently he
heard him mutter to himself,

    “Though here with me you lodge to-night,
     You shall not see the morning light,
     Because I mean to kill you quite.”

“That you shall not,” thought Jack to himself. “And if you think I am
going to get into bed and lie there while you beat me with a cudgel you
are mistaken.”

He began to feel about the room, and presently he found a great billet
of wood. This he laid in the bed in his place, and drew the coverlet
over it, and then he hid in a corner of the room.

Not long afterward the giant opened the door. He crept over to the bed
very quietly and felt where the billet of wood was lying under the
covers. Then he took his club and beat it until, if Jack had been lying
there, he would certainly have been pounded to a jelly. After that the
monster went back to his own bed well satisfied, and slept and snored.

But what was his astonishment the next morning when Jack appeared brisk
and smiling and without so much as even a bruise upon him.

“Did—did you sleep well last night?” stammered the giant.

“Oh, well enough,” answered Jack, “but a rat must have run over the
bed, for I thought I felt him whisk his tail in my face once or twice.
I looked for him this morning, but I could not find him, so perhaps I
dreamed it.”

When the giant heard this he was frightened. He thought Jack must be
a wonderful hero to stand such blows as his and scarcely feel them.
However, he said no more, and the two sat down to breakfast together.
The giant ate and drank as much as ten men, but Jack had hidden a
leather bag under his doublet and he kept slipping the food into
this as fast as the giant set it before him. The monster wondered and
wondered that such a small man could eat so much.

After breakfast Jack said, “Now I will show you a trick, and if you
cannot do the same thing then you will have to own that I am the better
fellow of us two.”

To this the giant agreed. Jack then took a knife and ripped open the
leather bag that was hidden under his doublet.

“There!” he cried. “Can you do the like?”

The giant was amazed, for he never guessed that it was only a bag that
Jack had cut open. However, he was not to be outdone. Catching up a
knife he ripped himself open, and that was the end of him.

“The world is well rid of another monster,” said Jack, and leaving the
giant where he lay he set out in search of further adventures.

He had not gone far along the road when he met a young prince riding
along without any attendants to follow him. This Prince was the son of
the great King Arthur of Britain, and he had left his father’s court
and ridden out into the world in search of a lovely lady who had been
carried off by a magician. This magician held her prisoner by his
enchantments and it was to free her that the Prince had ridden forth
alone.

When Jack learned who the Prince was, and the adventure he was bent on,
he begged to be allowed to go along as an attendant.

“That is all very well,” said the Prince, “but if you travel with me
you will fare hard indeed. I have given away all my money, and I do not
know where to find food or even a place to sleep.”

“Do not let that trouble you,” said Jack. “Not far from here lives a
three-headed giant. He has a fine castle and a well-stocked larder.
Only leave the matter to me and I will arrange it so that you can spend
the night there and have a fine feast beside.”

At first the Prince was very unwilling to agree to this. The adventure
seemed to him a very dangerous one, but in the end Jack persuaded him
to agree to it, and mounting on the Prince’s horse he set out for the
castle, leaving the Prince to await him by the wayside.

Jack rode briskly along and it did not take him long to reach the
castle. He knocked boldly at the door.

“Who is there?” called the giant from within.

“It is your Cousin Jack, and I bring you news,” answered Jack.

The giant opened the door and looked out. “Well, Cousin Jack, and what
is the news you bring?”

Why, the news was that a Prince and his company intended to spend the
night in the giant’s castle, and were even then almost at the door.
If the giant were wise he would flee away and leave the castle to the
Prince. Then after the Prince and his company had gone the giant might
safely return again.

But no, the monster was not so easily to be scared out of his castle.
“I can drive back five hundred men,” cried he, “so why should I be
afraid?”

“Yes, but can you drive back two thousand?” asked Jack.

“Two thousand! Two thousand, did you say?” Why that was a different
matter, and if the Prince were coming with two thousand men at his
back, then it was indeed time for the giant to hide away. He then told
Jack where there was a secret chamber all made of iron. There he would
hide, and he begged the lad to lock him in, and not, for any cause to
unlock the door until the Prince had gone.

This Jack promised. He locked the giant in the secret chamber, and then
he rode back to fetch his master.

That night Jack and the Prince feasted right merrily on the good things
from the monster’s larder, and the next morning the Prince rode on his
way and Jack unlocked the chamber door and let the giant out.

“What a blockhead I am!” cried the monster as soon as he was free.
“Yonder in the corner lie the cap of darkness, the cloak of wisdom, and
the sword of sharpness. If I had only thought of putting on the cap no
one could have seen me, and I would not have had to hide in the secret
chamber.”

“That is true,” answered Jack. “But thanks to me you are safe at any
rate, and I think I should be rewarded.”

He then asked the giant to give him the cap, the cloak, and the sword,
and out of gratitude the giant agreed right gladly. “They will be of
more use to you than to me at any rate,” said the giant, “for when I
need them most is the time when I forget all about them.”

Jack took the cap, the cloak, and the sword and thanked the giant for
the gifts, and at once set out after the Prince, whom he found waiting
for him not far away.

They now journeyed on until they came to another castle where they
hoped to spend the night. Here they were made welcome, and bidden to
feast with the noble lady who was the mistress there. This lady was,
indeed, the very one of whom the Prince was in search, but he did not
know her, and she did not know him because of the spell of enchantment
that was upon her.

After the lady, the Prince, and Jack had feasted together the lady drew
out a precious handkerchief and passed it over her lips. “To-morrow,”
said she, “you shall tell me to whom I have given this handkerchief
in the night. If you cannot tell me this, you shall never leave this
castle alive.”

The Prince was greatly troubled when he heard these words, but Jack
bade him have no fear. He waited until the lady left them, and then
he put the cap of darkness on his head and followed her, and she could
not see him because of the cap. She did not know that anyone followed
her, and she went out from the castle and along a path to the edge of a
wood. There she was met by a tall dark man, and because of the cloak of
wisdom which he wore, Jack knew this man at once as a magician.

The lady gave him the handkerchief. “That is well,” said the magician.
“To-morrow I will change this bold Prince into another marble statue to
adorn my hall. As to his servant I will change him into a dog, a fox,
or a deer as the fancy strikes me.”

“That you shall not!” cried Jack, and drawing the sword of sharpness he
struck the magician’s head from his shoulders with one blow.

At once the lady was freed from the enchantment, and she looked about
her like one wakening from a dream. She did not know where she was nor
how she came there.

Jack led her back to the castle and no sooner did the Prince and she
meet than they knew each other. They were filled with joy, and the
Prince made ready to take her back with him to his father’s court. He
wished Jack to come with him, and promised that if he would he should
be made a great nobleman, but to this the giant-killer would not
consent. He still had work to do in his own country, and he would never
leave Wales until it was freed entirely from the pest of giants.

So the Prince and his lady bade Jack farewell, and rode away together,
while Jack set out in search of further adventures.

He had traveled a long distance, and night was falling when he heard
doleful cries sounding from a wood near by. A moment later a giant came
breaking out from the wood dragging a knight and a lady with him. He
had captured them and was taking them with him to his cave.

Without a moment’s pause, Jack put on his cap of darkness, and running
up close to the giant he cut him down with one single blow of his
sword. The lady and the knight were amazed. They had seen no one, and
yet the giant had suddenly fallen dead, cleft through with a sword.
They were still more amazed when Jack lifted the cap from his head and
appeared before them. He then explained to them who he was, and how he
had been able to kill the giant so strangely.

“This is a wonderful story,” said the knight, “and you have saved us
from worse than death.” He and his lady then begged Jack to come back
with them to their castle, and to this he agreed, for he was weary with
all his adventures.

When they reached the castle, a great feast was made ready, and Jack
was treated with the greatest honor. He sat at the knight’s right hand,
and all the best in the castle was none too good for him.

But while they were still in the midst of their feasting, a messenger
arrived in great haste. His face was pale, and his teeth chattered with
fear.

“What is it?” cried the knight. “What is the news you bring?”

“The giant! The great giant Thundel!” cried the messenger. “He has
heard that Jack-the-Giant-Killer is here, and he is coming to destroy
this castle and all who are in it.”

Even the knight turned pale at this news, but Jack bade him have no
fear. “I had intended to set out in search of this giant,” said he,
“but now he has saved me the trouble.” He then asked the knight to
send for a dozen stout workmen. This was done and Jack at once led the
workmen out to the bridge that crossed the moat, and bade them cut the
timbers almost through so that they would only bear the weight of one
man, or of two at most. This bridge was the only way of entrance, and
unless the giant crossed it he could not get to the castle.

While the workmen were still busy over their task, the giant appeared,
striding along toward the castle. At once Jack slipped on his cap of
darkness and hurried out to meet him.

The giant could not see Jack because of his cap of darkness, but his
sense of smell was very keen. He stopped short, and began to snuff
about him like a hound.

    “Fee, fi, fo, fum!
     I smell the blood of an Englishman;
     Be he alive or be he dead,
     I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”

cried the giant.

“That is all very well,” said Jack, “but first you will have to catch
him.” He then jumped about from one side of the giant to the other.
“Here! Here I am!” he cried. “Here to the right of you! No, to the
left. Quick, quick, if you would catch me.”

The giant turned first one way and then the other, clutching at the
empty air, for Jack was invisible and so was easily able to keep out of
his reach.

At last the lad tired of the game. He looked behind him and saw that
the workmen had finished their task and had retreated to the castle.
He then caught the cap of darkness from his head and ran across the
bridge. “Now, you miller-giant, who would grind my bones, catch me if
you can,” he cried.

The giant gave a bellow of rage and ran after Jack, who had already
reached the other side. The timbers held till the giant was in the
middle of the bridge; then, with a great crash, they gave way beneath
him, and down he fell into the moat and was drowned. So Jack saved the
lives of the knight and his lady for the second time, and freed the
land of still another giant.

But now came the most dangerous of all of Jack’s adventures.

Gargantua was the greatest and most powerful of all the giants, and he
was a magician as well. He lived on the top of a high mountain, and
from there he would come down to rob and steal and carry off prisoners.
These prisoners he changed into various sorts of wild animals, and he
kept them in the gardens that surrounded his palace. He had carried off
a duke’s only daughter in this way, and had changed her into a doe.

The duke had been in despair over the loss of his daughter for she was
his only child and he loved her dearly. He promised that anyone who
brought her back to him should have her for his bride, and because she
was very beautiful many princes and brave heroes had gone in search of
her, but of them all none had ever returned.

It was this dangerous giant that Jack determined to seek out and
destroy.

He girded the sword of sharpness at his side and took his cap of
darkness and his cloak of wisdom and set out.

He journeyed on and journeyed on, and after awhile he came to a high
and rocky mountain, and at the very top of it he could see a great
castle with gardens around it and high walls.

Jack climbed up and up over rock and brier, stump and stone, until he
came to the gate of the garden. There he stopped to put the cap of
darkness on his head; then he ventured in.

The gardens were very fine, as he saw at once, and many animals were
grazing on the grass, or resting in the shadows. One of them, a
beautiful doe, raised its head and looked toward him, then at once came
over to him and rested its head on his arm, and looked up at him with
its great dark eyes.

Jack was very much troubled at this. He feared there was some
enchantment about the place that made him visible in spite of his cap
of darkness. However, none of the other animals paid any attention to
him, so he hoped it was only the doe that could see him.

He went on through the gardens until he came to the door of the castle,
and there hanging beside it was a golden horn, and on the horn were
these words:

    “Whoever doth this trumpet blow
     Shall soon the giant overthrow,
     And break the black enchantment straight,
     So all shall be in happy state.”

Jack raised the horn to his lips and blew a blast so loud and clear
that the castle echoed with it.

At once a wonderful change came over the garden. The doe beside him
changed into a maiden more beautiful than any Jack had ever dreamed of.
The wild animals became princes and heroes and noble ladies.

As for the castle itself, it fell into ruins; a great chasm yawned
under it, and into this chasm it crumbled with a dreadful noise,
carrying the giant with it. Then the ground closed over the ruins and
not a single stone was left to mark the place where the castle had
stood.

So ended the last of Jack’s adventures, and so perished the last and
most wicked of all his giant foes. From then on the land was at peace.

Jack was married to the beautiful maiden who had followed him as a
doe, and as she was the duke’s daughter the poor lad became very rich
and powerful. He and the duke’s daughter loved each other dearly, and
so they lived in great happiness all their lives, honored by everyone
about them.



[Illustration]



THE THREE WISHES


Once upon a time a poor man took his ax and went out into the forest
to cut wood. He was a lazy fellow, so as soon as he was in the forest
he began to look about to see which tree would be the easiest to cut
down. At last he found one that was hollow inside, as he could tell by
knocking upon it with his ax. “It ought not to take long to cut this
down,” said he to himself. He raised his ax and struck the tree such a
blow that the splinters flew.

At once the bark opened and a little old fairy with a long beard came
running out of the tree.

“What do you mean by chopping into my house?” he cried; and his eyes
shone like red hot sparks, he was so angry.

“I did not know it was your house,” said the man.

“Well, it is my house, and I’ll thank you to let it alone,” cried the
fairy.

“Very well,” said the man. “I’d just as lieve cut down some other tree.
I’ll chop down the one over yonder.”

“That is well,” said the fairy. “I see that you are an obliging fellow,
after all. I have it in my mind to reward you for sparing my house, so
the next three wishes you and your wife make shall come true, whatever
they are; and that is your reward.”

Then the fairy went back into the tree again and pulled the bark
together behind him.

The man stood looking at the tree and scratching his head. “Now that is
a curious thing,” said he. Then he sat down and began to wonder what
he should wish for. He thought and he thought, but he could decide on
nothing. “I’ll just go home and talk it over with my wife,” said he; so
he shouldered his ax, and set off for home. As soon as he came in at
the door he began to bawl for his wife, and she came in a hurry, for
she did not know what had happened to him.

He told his story and his wife listened. “This is a fine thing to have
happen to us,” said she. “Now we must be very careful what we wish for.”

They sat down one on each side of the fire to talk it over. They
thought of ever so many things they would like to have—a bag of gold,
and a coach and four, and a fine house to live in, and fine clothes to
wear, but nothing seemed just the right thing to choose.

They talked so long that they grew hungry. “Well, here we sit,” said
the man, “and not a thing cooked for dinner. I wish we had one of those
fine black puddings you used to make.”

No sooner had he spoken than there was a great thumping and bumping in
the chimney and a great black pudding fell down on the hearth before
him.

“What is this?” cried the man staring.

“Oh, you oaf! you stupid!” shrieked his wife. “It’s the pudding you
wished for. There’s one of our wishes wasted. I wish the pudding were
stuck on the end of your nose! It would serve you right!”

The moment she said this the pudding flew up and stuck to the man’s
nose, and there it was and he couldn’t get it off; the man pulled and
tugged, and his wife pulled and tugged, but it was all of no use.

“Well, there’s no help for it,” said the husband; “we’ll have to wish
it off again.”

His wife begun to cry and bawl. “No, no,” she cried. “We only have one
wish left, and we can’t waste it that way. Let’s wish ourselves the
richest people in the world.”

But to this the man would not agree. He wanted the pudding off his
nose whatever it cost. So at last the wife was obliged to let him have
his own way. “I wish the pudding was off my nose again,” said the
man, and that was the third of their wishes. So all the good they had
of the fairy’s gift was a black pudding for dinner; but then it was
the best black pudding they had ever eaten. “And after all,” said the
man, “there’s nothing much better in the world to wish for than a full
stomach.”



[Illustration: The Goose Girl]



THE GOOSE GIRL


There was once a beautiful young Princess who had been promised in
marriage to the Prince of a far country.

When the time for the marriage came she made ready to journey to his
country, for it was there that the wedding was to be celebrated, and
not in her own land.

Her mother furnished her with all sorts of grand jewels and beautiful
clothes to carry with her, and furniture and linens, and she also made
her a present of a wonderful horse named Falada, that could talk.

Just before the Princess was ready to set out, her mother called her to
her, and made a little cut in her finger, and allowed three drops of
blood to fall upon a handkerchief.

“Here, my child, take this with you,” said the Queen; “put it in the
bosom of your dress, and guard it carefully. It is a charm, and as long
as you have it no evil of any kind can have power over you.”

The Princess thanked her mother, and put the handkerchief in the bosom
of her dress as she was told. Then she kissed the Queen tenderly, and
bade her farewell, and set out upon the journey with her waiting-maid
riding beside her.

Now this waiting-maid, who rode with the Princess, had a very bad
heart. She was both sly and deceitful. She pretended to the Queen that
she loved the Princess dearly, but all the while she hated and envied
her, and would have been glad enough to do her an ill turn.

She and the Princess journeyed on together for some time, and the sun
shone bright and hot and the road was dusty, so the Princess became
very thirsty. Presently they came to a stream, and there the Princess
drew rein, and said to the waiting-maid, “Light down, I pray of you,
and fill my little golden cup that I may drink, for I am thirsty.”

But the waiting-maid scowled and answered rudely, “Light down yourself,
and drink from the stream, if you are thirsty. I am tired of serving
you.”

The Princess was very much surprised at being answered in such a
manner. However, she was young and timid, and without more words she
slipped from her horse, and as she was afraid to ask for the cup, which
the waiting-maid carried, she stooped over and drank from the brook as
it rippled over its stones.

As she did so the drops of blood upon the handkerchief said to her:—

    “If thy mother knew thy fate
     Then her heart would surely break.”

The Princess made no answer, but having quenched her thirst she mounted
her horse again and rode forward, and presently forgot her maid’s
rudeness.

After awhile they reached another stream, and as the Princess was again
thirsty, she said to the waiting-maid, “Light down, I pray you, and
fill my cup with water, that I may drink.”

But the waiting-maid answered even more rudely than before, “No, I will
not; get down and get the water for yourself, for I will serve you no
more.”

The Princess slipped from her horse, sighing deeply, and as she bent
over the stream the three drops of blood said to her:

    “If thy mother knew thy fate,
     Then her heart would surely break.”

The Princess made no answer, but as she stooped still lower to drink
the handkerchief slipped from her bosom and floated away on the stream,
but the Princess did not notice this because her eyes were full of
tears. The waiting-maid noticed it, however, and her heart was filled
with joy, because now the Princess had nothing to protect her, and the
wicked servant could do with her as she chose.

When the Princess arose and was about to mount Falada the waiting-maid
said to her, “Wait a bit! I am tired of acting as your servant. Now, we
will try it the other way around. Give me your fine clothes, and you
can dress yourself in these common things I am wearing.”

The Princess was afraid to refuse; she gave the waiting-maid her
beautiful dress and her jewels, and dressed herself in the common
clothes.

Again she was about to mount Falada, but again the waiting-maid bade
her stay; “You shall ride my horse,” said she, “and I will ride
Falada.” As she said so it was done. The waiting-maid also made the
Princess swear that she would tell no living soul who she was. The
Princess dared not refuse for fear of her life. But Falada made no such
promise, and he had seen and heard all that had happened.

When they rode on again the waiting-maid was in front, dressed in the
fine clothes and mounted on Falada, and the Princess came behind on the
waiting-maid’s horse, and she was dressed in the common clothes, but
even so she was far more beautiful than the servant.

They reached the palace, and the Prince came out to meet his bride. He
lifted down the waiting-maid from Falada, for he thought she was the
Princess, and he led her up the grand stairway and into the room where
the King sat, but the Princess was left below in the courtyard, and no
one paid any attention to her.

The King was surprised when he saw the waiting-maid, for he supposed
her to be the Princess, and he had expected her to be much more
beautiful. However, he said nothing about it to anyone, but made her
welcome. Presently he happened to look out of the window, and there
he saw the true Princess down below. “Who is that standing in the
courtyard?” he asked, for he saw at once that she was very beautiful,
and he was curious about it.

“Oh, that is only my waiting-maid,” answered the false bride
carelessly. “I wish you would give her some work to do so that she may
not be spoiled by idleness.”

“I do not know what she can do except take care of the geese,” answered
the King. “Conrad, who is the goose-herd, is only a boy, and he would
be glad of help in caring for them.”

“Very well; then let her be a goose-herd,” answered the false bride.

So the Princess went out in the field to help tend the geese, and the
waiting-maid lived in the palace, and was treated to all that was
best there. But the Prince was not happy, for his bride was rude and
ill-tempered, and he could not love her.

One day the false bride said to the Prince, “I wish you would have
Falada’s head cut off. I am weary of him, and besides he stumbles when
I ride him.” But really she feared Falada might speak and tell all he
had seen.

The Prince was shocked. “Why should you kill a horse that is so
beautiful and gentle?” he asked.

“Because, as I tell you, I do not like him,” answered the waiting-maid.
“Besides the horse is mine, and I can do as I like with him. If you
refuse to have this done I shall know very well that it is because you
do not love me.”

The Prince dared refuse no longer. He sent for a man and had Falada’s
head cut off.

When the true Princess heard this she wept bitterly. She sent for the
man and offered him a piece of gold if he would bring Falada’s head and
nail it up over the gateway through which she passed every morning.

The man was anxious to have the gold. He took the money and nailed
Falada’s head up over the gateway where the Princess wished it put.

The next morning as the Princess and Conrad drove the geese out to
pasture she looked up at Falada and said:

    “Ah, Falada, that thou shouldst hang there!”

And Falada answered:

    “Ah, Princess, that thou shouldst pass here!
     If thy mother knew thy fate,
     Then her heart would surely break!”

The little goose-herd stared and wondered to hear this talk between
the goose-girl and the horse’s head, but he said nothing. He and the
Princess went on out to the meadows driving the geese before them,
and when they were far off in the meadows where no one could see, the
Princess sat down and unbound her golden hair, so that it fell all
about her in a shower, and began to comb it.

Conrad had never seen anything so beautiful in all his life before,
for her hair shone and glittered in the sunshine until it was enough
to dazzle one. He longed to have just one thread of it to keep, so he
crept up behind the Princess, meaning to steal one. But the Princess
knew what he was about. Just as he reached out his hand she sang:

    “Blow, wind, blow!
     Blow Conrad’s hat away.
     It is rolling! Do not stay
     Till I have combed my hair
     And tied it up again.”

At once the wind caught Conrad’s hat from his head and sent it flying
and rolling across the meadows, and Conrad was obliged to run after it
or he would have lost it.

By the time he came back again with the hat the Princess had combed her
hair and fastened it up under her cap so that not a thread of it could
be seen.

Conrad was very cross when he went home with the Princess that evening.
He would not speak a word to her.

The next morning when they started out with the geese they passed under
the gateway as usual, and the Princess looked up and said:

    “Ah, Falada, that thou shouldst hang there!”

And the head answered:

    “Ah, Princess, that thou shouldst pass here!
     If thy mother knew thy fate,
     Then her heart would surely break.”

Conrad listened and wondered, but said nothing.

When they reached the meadow the Princess let down her hair as before
and began to comb it. It looked so beautiful and glittering and bright
that Conrad felt he must have a hair of it. He crept up behind her and
then, just as he was about to seize it, the Princess sang:

    “Blow, wind, blow!
     Blow Conrad’s hat away.
     It is rolling! Do not stay
     Till I have combed my hair
     And tied it up again.”

At once the wind whirled Conrad’s hat away across the meadows, and he
had to run after it to catch it.

When he came back he was so sulky that he would not even look at the
Princess, but already she had her hair combed and fastened up under her
cap.

That evening the goose-herd went to the King and said, “I do not wish
that girl to go out to the meadows with me any more. I would rather
take care of the geese by myself.”

“Why?” asked the King. “What is the matter with her?”

“Oh, she vexes me, and she has strange ways that I cannot understand.”

“What ways?” asked the King.

Then Conrad told him how every day as he and the girl passed through
the gateway she would look up at the horse’s head and say:

    “Ah, Falada, that thou shouldst hang there!”

And how the head would answer:

    “Ah, Princess that thou shouldst pass here!
     If thy mother knew thy fate,
     Then her heart would surely break.”

“I do not like such strange ways,” said Conrad.

The King looked thoughtful and stroked his beard. Then he told Conrad
not to say anything about this matter to anyone. “I myself,” said he,
“will watch by the gateway to-morrow morning, for I wish to hear for
myself exactly what passes between the girl and Falada.”

So the next morning very early the King hid himself in the shadow
beside the gateway, and presently the Princess and Conrad came along
driving the geese before them.

As they reached the gateway the Princess looked up and sighed:

    “Ah, Falada, that thou shouldst hang there!”

And the head answered:

    “Ah, Princess, that thou shouldst pass here!
     If thy mother knew thy fate,
     Then her heart would surely break.”

After they had spoken thus the King stepped out from the shadow and
called to the Princess. “What is the meaning of these words?” asked he.
“Who are you, and what is your story?”

The Princess began to weep. “Alas, I cannot answer,” said she, “for I
have sworn that I would not tell a single living soul.”

“Very well,” said the King, “if you have sworn, then you must keep your
oath; but to-night, after all the servants have left the bakehouse go
and tell your story to the great oven that is there.”

This the Princess promised she would do. So that night, when she came
home, she went into the bakehouse and looked about her. She saw no one,
and she thought she was alone there, but the King had hidden himself
inside the oven, though she did not know it.

Then the Princess began to tell her story to the oven. She told how
she had left home with her false-hearted waiting-maid. She told of how
she had lost the kerchief with the drops of blood upon it, and how the
waiting-maid had made her exchange clothing with her and dress herself
as a servant; and she told how she had been forced to swear that she
would not tell all this to a living soul. All, the whole story, she
told to the bake-oven, and the King sat inside of it and listened and
understood.

When she had made an end of speaking the King came out and took her by
the hand. “You have been very cruelly treated,” said he, “but now your
sorrows are over.”

He then led the Princess into the palace, and she was dressed in the
richest clothes that were there, and when this was done she was as
beautiful as the moon when the clouds drift over it.

The King sent for the Prince, and when he saw the Princess he was
filled with joy and love, and he knew at once that this must be his
true bride.

He and the King planned together as to how the false bride should be
punished. And this is what was done:

A grand feast and entertainment were arranged. The Prince sat upon a
high seat with the false bride upon one hand and the true bride upon
the other. But the false bride was so dazzled by all the splendor, and
by her own pride that she did not even see the Princess.

Everyone ate and drank to his heart’s content, and then the King
began asking riddles. After the riddles he said he would tell the
guests a story, and the story he told was that of the Princess and the
waiting-maid, and still the false bride was too dazzled by her own
splendor to understand the story.

When he had finished the story the King asked, “What should be the
punishment of such a false servant as that?”

Then the false bride cried boldly, “She should be taken to a high cliff
and thrown over into the sea.”

“So shall it be,” cried the King sternly, “for you yourself are that
false servant, and here sits the true bride whom you have wronged.”

Then the waiting-maid understood what she had done, and she was filled
with terror. But the Princess had pity on her, and begged for mercy
for her. So the waiting-maid was not thrown into the sea, but her fine
clothes were stripped from her, and she was driven out to beg her way
through the world.

Then the Prince and Princess were married and lived happily ever after,
and Falada’s head was taken down and placed upon his body and he came
to life again and lived for many years in the castle stable, and the
Princess loved him dearly.

[Illustration]



THE LITTLE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG


One time a little old woman was sweeping her room, and she found in the
corner a bright silver shilling. “There!” said the old woman, “Now I
can buy that little pig I have been wanting for such a long time.”

She finished her sweeping in a hurry and put on her bonnet and her
shawl and started off to market to buy her pig, and she carried a tin
pail with her so she could gather blackberries along the way.

The bushes were fairly loaded down with berries, so it did not take her
long to fill her pail, and after that she got to market in no time.

At first she could not find just the pig she wanted. Some were too
little and some were too big; some were too fat and some were too thin.
But at last she found just exactly the right pig; it was round and
pink and it had one black ear, and the curliest tail there was in the
market. She paid just exactly a shilling for it, and then she tied a
rope around its hind leg and started home with it, driving it before
her, and carrying the pail of blackberries on her arm.

At first all went well. The little pig trotted quietly along, and the
sun shone, and the birds sang, and the little white clouds floated
across the sky. But presently they came to a stile, and the pig did not
want to go over it. Now, there was no way to go round, and no way to
get home except over this stile.

“Go on, piggy,” said the old woman, shaking the rope. But piggy
wouldn’t go on. The old woman tried to drive him, and he wouldn’t go,
and then she tried to lead him, and then she coaxed him and talked to
him, but he just _wouldn’t_ go over the stile.

At last the old woman quite lost patience with him. She saw a dog
trotting along the road, and she called to him. “Here! here, good dog;
come and bite piggy, for I can’t make pig go over the stile, and at
this rate I won’t get home till midnight with my pail of fine ripe
blackberries.”

The dog stopped and looked at her and looked at the pig, but he would
not bite it.

[Illustration: THE PIG WOULD NOT GO OVER THE STILE]

Close by a stick lay in the road, and the woman called to it (and she
was quite cross by this time). “Stick, stick, beat dog; dog won’t bite
pig, pig won’t go over the stile, and at this rate I shan’t get home
till midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the stick wouldn’t. It lay there quietly in the road just as though
she hadn’t spoken to it.

Over in the field a fire was burning, and the old woman called to it,
“Fire, fire, burn stick; stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig,
pig won’t go over the stile, and at this rate I won’t get home till
midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the fire wouldn’t.

Then the old woman called to a brook near by, “Water, water, quench
fire; fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig,
pig won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home till midnight with
my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the brook wouldn’t.

She saw an ox over in the field. “Ox, ox,” she cried, “drink water;
water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog,
dog won’t bite pig, pig won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home
till midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the ox wouldn’t.

She saw a butcher riding along the road, and she called to him
“Butcher, butcher, kill ox; ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench
fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig,
pig won’t go over the stile, and I won’t get home till midnight with my
pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the butcher wouldn’t.

There was a piece of rope twisted about the fence. “Rope, rope,” she
cried, “hang butcher; butcher won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water,
water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog,
dog won’t bite pig, pig won’t go over the stile, and I shan’t get home
till midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

But the rope wouldn’t.

Then she called to a rat that lived in a hole under the stile, “Rat,
rat, gnaw rope; rope won’t hang butcher, butcher won’t kill ox, ox
won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire won’t burn stick,
stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig, pig won’t go over the
stile, and I shan’t get home till midnight with my pail of fine ripe
blackberries.”

But the rat wouldn’t.

A cat was sitting on a gate-post. “Puss, puss, catch rat,” called the
old woman. “Rat won’t gnaw rope, rope won’t hang butcher, butcher
won’t kill ox, ox won’t drink water, water won’t quench fire, fire
won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig, and I
shan’t get home till midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

“No,” answered puss, “I am very comfortable sitting here. Why should I
disturb myself just to please you. But if you will get the red cow to
give you a saucerful of milk for me then I will catch the rat.”

So the little old woman tied the pig to the stile, and then she climbed
over the fence into the field where the red cow was standing.

“Please, good cow, give me a saucerful of milk for puss,” she said, “so
that puss will catch the rat that won’t gnaw the rope that won’t hang
the butcher who won’t kill the ox that won’t drink the water that won’t
quench the fire that won’t burn the stick that won’t beat the dog that
won’t bite the pig that won’t go over the stile so that I can get home
before midnight with my pail of fine ripe blackberries.”

Said the cow, “If you will go over yonder to where the haymakers are
working and fetch me a wisp of hay to eat, then I will give you the
milk.”

So the little old woman went over to the haymakers and said, “Please,
good kind haymakers, give me a wisp of hay to give to the cow so that
she may give me some milk to give to the cat.”

The haymakers were very hot and thirsty and they said, “Very well; if
you will go down to the stream and fetch us a pailful of water we will
give you the hay.”

So the little old woman emptied out her blackberries on the ground very
carefully and then she hurried down to the stream and brought back to
the haymakers a pailful of fresh cool water.

The haymakers drank deep of it and then they gave the little old woman
all the hay she wanted. She put the blackberries back in the pail and
hurried back to the cow with the hay.

The cow gladly gave her a saucerful of milk in return for the hay.

The old woman took the milk to the cat, and while puss was drinking it
the old woman untied the rope that fastened the pig to the stile.

Puss finished the milk and licked up the last drop of it, and then she
bounded down beside the stile and began to catch the rat.

The rat squeaked with terror and began to gnaw the rope.

The rope began to hang the butcher, the butcher began to kill the ox,
the ox began to drink the water, the water began to quench the fire,
the fire began to burn the stick, the stick began to beat the dog, the
dog began to bite the pig, and the pig squealed at the top of its lungs
and scrambled over the stile and ran for home so fast that the little
old woman could hardly keep up with it.

They got home in less than no time; it wasn’t even midday, and the
little old woman had her blackberries for dinner, and what was left
over she gave to the pig.



THE WHITE CAT


There was once a king who had three sons, and he loved them all so
tenderly that each one was dearer to him than the others. He loved them
all so well that he could not make up his mind to which one to leave
his kingdom. He thought and thought, and then he called his wise old
councilor to him and asked his advice.

“Your Majesty,” said the Councilor, “you love all three of the princes
equally, and so my advice is to leave the kingdom to the one who loves
you best.”

“But I do not know which one loves me best,” said the King.

“Then set them three tasks. The one who performs the tasks the best,
and who takes the most trouble to please you,—he must be the one who
bears you the most love.”

This advice pleased the King, and he sent for his three sons, and told
them what he had decided to do. “I have,” said he, “a great wish for a
little dog to amuse me. I will give you a year in which to find me the
smallest and prettiest little dog in the world. Whichever of you will
bring me such a dog shall receive a third of my kingdom.”

As soon as the princes heard this they were eager to set out in search
of such a dog. The two older brothers were sure one of them would find
it, for they did not think much of their younger brother. Each one
rode away to a great city, and went to the best dog dealers there. The
eldest son bought a little white dog no larger than a small kitten,
and very pretty and playful. The second son bought a red dog so small
it could curl up in the palm of his hand. Each was content with his
choice, and rode home without searching further.

The King was delighted with the dogs they brought, and his sons wished
him to decide at once as to which of them deserved the kingdom, but
this the King would not do. “No, no,” said he, “we must wait until your
brother comes. He can hardly find another dog as pretty as these, but
still it is only right to wait until he returns, or until the year is
up.”

Meanwhile the youngest prince had ridden on and on, much farther
than either of his other brothers. Everywhere he asked for dogs, and
hundreds of them were brought to him, big and little, fat and thin,
black and white, and gray and red and yellow. But not one of them was
what the Prince wanted.

At last one day he came to a deep forest. A storm had risen; the Prince
was wet to the skin with rain, and covered with mud. He saw a light
before him shining through the trees, and he rode toward it. He hoped
he might find there some shelter for the night.

What was his surprise, as he drew near the light, to see it came from a
magnificent palace that had been built here in the deep forest far away
from any city. The Prince knocked at the door and at once it opened
before him. He went in and looked about him, but he saw no one, though
invisible hands closed the door behind him. An unseen hand took his and
he was led through several rooms to a handsome chamber that seemed to
have been made ready for him. His wet and muddy clothes were removed
and he was dressed in a suit of white and silver; but with all this he
still saw no one.

He was then led to a banquet hall where a fine feast was laid out.

Suddenly, while the Prince stood looking about him there was a sound
of trumpets; the doors opposite to him swung open, and a strange
procession marched into the room. First, walking upright came a small
and very pretty white cat. She was dressed all in black, and wore a
long black veil, and an ebony crown. She was followed by other cats.
Some of these were dressed as ladies-in-waiting, some as courtiers, and
some as trumpeters.

The White Cat came up to the Prince and bade him welcome. “I saw you as
you rode through the forest,” she said, “and this feast was made ready
for you. Come, Prince, let us take our places at the table and eat.”

The cat then seated herself at the head of the table and motioned the
Prince to sit beside her.

Unseen hands at once served them with the most rare and delicious
dishes. The cat ate daintily, and the Prince noticed that she touched
nothing but some oddly cooked birds, and some cream.

He himself was hungry and ate of everything, and while he ate the White
Cat talked to him with so much sense and wit that he was delighted with
her.

After supper the White Cat left him and he was led by invisible hands
to a magnificent chamber, where he spent the night.

The next morning when he awoke he found a hunting-suit of green laid
out for him, and high riding-boots and a plumed hat. Unseen hands
dressed him, and food was served to him in a breakfast-room hung about
with curtains of satin embroidered with gold.

After he had eaten, the Prince went in search of the White Cat. He
found her in the courtyard. She and her attendants and several cats
dressed as huntsmen were about to set out on a hunt. She invited the
Prince to go with them, and he gladly accepted.

[Illustration: THE PRINCE GOES HUNTING WITH THE WHITE CAT]

A troop of monkeys all saddled and bridled were led up to the palace
steps. The Prince looked on in wonder while the White Cat sprang
upon the back of the largest and finest monkey. The other cats also
mounted, but as the Prince was too large to ride a monkey a large
wooden horse on wheels was brought for him to ride. This seemed so
absurd to the Prince that he was about to refuse, but the White Cat
motioned him to it so politely that he was ashamed to say no. He sprang
to the back of the wooden steed, and at once he felt it move and stir
under him as though it were alive. The cat-huntsmen sounded their
horns, and away the hunting-party went. The White Cat and the Prince
rode first, and the Prince found the wooden horse rolled along so
smoothly and swiftly that nothing could have been pleasanter.

The day was spent in hunting through the forest, and in the evening
there was another grand feast at the palace, this time with music and
dancing. The dancers were six large black cats dressed in spangled
clothes, and their leaps and bounds and twirlings were wonderful. The
Prince had never been so well amused in his life before.

Day after day slipped by, and still the Prince stayed at the White
Cat’s palace, and he was so happy there that he quite forgot his father
and the kingdom he had hoped to win. The year had passed, all but three
days, when suddenly the Prince remembered his errand. He was filled
with dismay, for now it was too late for him to seek for a little dog,
and he feared he had lost all chance of winning the kingdom.

But the White Cat saw his trouble. “Do not be dismayed, Prince,” she
said. “I know the errand that brought you here, and I am ready to help
you.” She then handed him an acorn. “Here,” she said, “take this and
you will find in it the thing you seek.”

The Prince thought the cat was mocking him, but she bade him put the
acorn to his ear and listen. When he did this he could hear from within
the acorn a sound of barking as thin and small as the squeaking of a
mouse.

“Do not open it until you reach home,” said the White Cat. “Then, when
your father sees what is inside of it he will know that you are the one
who deserves the kingdom.”

The Prince thanked the cat, and mounted his own horse, which had been
brought from the stables, and rode on home. Just before he reached his
father’s palace he bought an ugly dog from a beggar, and took it with
him.

When he entered the palace he went at once to the room where his
father sat upon his throne with his two elder sons by him.

When the two princes saw their younger brother enter the court with the
ugly dog at his heels they laughed aloud with scorn. They felt very
sure that now the kingdom would belong to them.

The King was very much offended. He spoke to the young Prince harshly.
“Why do you bring such an ugly cur to my court?” he asked. “Have you no
more respect for my wishes than to present me with such a dog as that?”

The Prince, however, answered gently, “Dear father, have patience for a
moment and I may offer you something that will please you better.”

He then drew out the acorn and opened it. Inside it was a tiny satin
cushion, and upon this cushion lay a dog so small and so exquisite that
the King was filled with wonder. He could scarcely believe his eyes.

“Truly you deserve to have the kingdom at once,” cried he, “but I have
promised that there shall be three trials before I give the kingdom to
any one of you.”

The King then told the princes that he wished them to bring him a
piece of muslin so fine and delicate that it could be drawn through the
eye of a needle. Whichever one succeeded best should receive at least a
part of the kingdom.

The three princes at once set out on this new errand. The elder
brothers sought out the dealers in great cities as before, but the
youngest Prince rode straight to the castle of the White Cat.

The cat received him kindly. “I know what is required of you,” she
said. “Do not trouble yourself in the matter. Stay here with me, and
when the proper time arrives you shall have what is needed.”

So the Prince stayed there in the White Cat’s palace for a year, all
but three days, and the time passed even more pleasantly than before.
At the end of that time the White Cat gave a walnut to the Prince.
“Take this,” she said, “and do not open it until you are at home again.
Within it you will find what you desire.”

The Prince took the walnut and rode away. When he reached the court
his brothers were already there. Each had brought with him a piece of
muslin so fine that it would pass through the eye of a darning-needle,
but they could not draw it through the eye of a cambric needle.

Then the third Prince took out the walnut and cracked it. Within
it he expected to see a piece of muslin, but instead he found
only a hazel-nut. He cracked the hazel-nut and inside of it was a
cherry-stone. He cracked the cherry-stone and inside of it was a grain
of wheat. The Prince began to fear the White Cat had deceived him, and
that he must lose the kingdom. As for his brothers, they laughed aloud
and mocked at him.

“What trick is this that you are playing on us?” they asked. “If you
have the muslin show it to us, and if not then confess to our father
that you have failed.”

Without answering, the Prince cracked the grain of wheat, and inside it
was a millet-seed. His heart sank. However, he cracked the millet seed,
and there was the piece of muslin the cat had promised to him. He shook
it out and there were ells and ells of it and all as fine as gossamer.
Never had such a piece of cloth been seen before. The King looked and
wondered and admired. The muslin was so fine it could be drawn not
only through the eye of a darning-needle, but through the eye of a
cambric needle as well.

“This is a wonderful piece of cloth,” said the King to the young
Prince. “You have indeed again deserved the kingdom, but there is one
more task to be performed before I can give it to anyone. I wish you to
bring to me the most beautiful princess in the world. Whichever of you
can do this shall receive at least a half of the kingdom.”

When the elder brothers heard this they were in haste to set out. The
youngest brother had already brought to their father the smallest and
prettiest dog in the world, and the finest piece of muslin, but with
good luck one of them might still bring to him the most beautiful
princess. They journeyed away to far kingdoms where there were
princesses who were famed for their beauty; but the youngest prince
rode no place at all but to the palace of the White Cat.

The cat welcomed him even more kindly than before. “I know what you
have come to seek,” said she. “This matter is not so easy as the others
were. But do not be downhearted. I will help you when the proper time
comes.”

Again the days passed pleasantly in the White Cat’s castle, and the
Prince was well content to stay there. He was so happy that a whole
year, all but a day, slipped by before he thought about it. Then one
morning he awoke, and remembered that the next day he must be back at
the King’s palace with the most beautiful princess in the world, if
he were to win the kingdom. “Alas, alas!” he cried. “The kingdom is
certainly lost to me. I have no time left to seek for a princess, and
moreover it is a three days’ journey back to the palace. Before I reach
there the kingdom will certainly have been divided between my brothers.”

“Have I not promised to help you?” asked the cat. “Why do you trouble
yourself? If you do exactly as I tell you the kingdom will be yours;
and not that kingdom only, but others beside.”

The cat then told the Prince to draw his sword and cut off her head,
but the Prince refused to do such an act. He was filled with horror at
the bare thought of it.

The White Cat began to weep bitterly. “What have I not done for you?”
she cried; “and you will not do even this one thing for me.”

She wept and lamented so bitterly that at last the Prince could refuse
no longer. He drew his sword to cut off the cat’s head, but at the same
time he closed his eyes that he might not see the cruel deed.

When he opened his eyes again what was his wonder to see no cat, but a
beautiful princess who stood before him smiling. Never had he seen such
beauty before.

“Prince,” said the Princess, “you have saved me from a cruel fate. I
was taken by the fairies when I was a baby and lived with them as a
daughter until I grew up. Then I made them angry because I would not
marry a very rich and ugly dwarf who was a friend of theirs. They then
changed me and all my companions into cats, and we were obliged to live
in these shapes until some young and kind-hearted prince would cut off
my head. This you have done, and now we are all restored to our proper
shapes again. This shows me that the fairies have forgiven me and will
give me back the two kingdoms that were mine by rights.”

The Princess, a cat no longer, then ordered the wooden horse to be
brought to the door. She and the Prince mounted upon it, and away
they went, so fast that the wind whistled past their ears. The three
day’s journey was made in less than a day, and when the Prince led the
Princess into court, everyone was obliged to own that now he had indeed
fairly won the kingdom. His two brothers had also brought home with
them beautiful princesses, but neither could compare in beauty with the
bride of the youngest Prince; for his bride she had promised to be.

As soon as a feast could be prepared, she and the young Prince were
married.

As the Princess had already two kingdoms of her own she begged the old
King to divide his kingdom between his two elder sons. This was done,
the older princes were married to the beauties they had brought home
with them, and they all lived in love and happiness forever after.


[Illustration]



BRITTLE-LEGS


There was once a man who was such a boaster that scarcely a word he
said was true. One day he was talking with some companions and he said,
“I have no need to work or worry over anything. I could be richer than
the King himself if I chose, for I have a daughter who can spin straw
into gold.”

A nobleman who was passing by overheard this, and he went to the King
and repeated to him what the man had said.

Now the King of that country was very fond of gold; he never could
have enough of it. He at once sent to the boaster’s house and had him
and his daughter brought to the palace. They were brought to where the
King sat, and the King said, “I hear that you have boasted that your
daughter can spin straw into gold. Is that true?”

The man was very much frightened when he heard this, but he was afraid
to deny what he had already said.

“Yes, your majesty, that is what I said,” he answered.

“Very well,” said the King. “We shall soon know whether you have spoken
the truth or not. I have had a large room made ready for your daughter.
It is filled with straw. I will have her taken to it, and if she spins
it into gold you shall be well rewarded, but if she fails you shall
both be punished severely.”

Both the father and daughter were terrified at these words. They did
not know what would become of them. The boaster was allowed to go home,
but the girl was taken to a large room filled with straw, and was left
there. She sat and cried and cried.

Presently the door opened and a crooked little brown dwarf came into
the room.

“Tut, tut, what a noise,” said he. “Why are you crying so bitterly.”

“I am crying because the King has put me here to spin this straw into
gold, and I do not know how to set about it.”

“That should not be such a hard matter. What will you give me if I do
it for you?”

“This necklace around my neck,” said the girl.

“Very well, give it to me.” The dwarf took the necklace and sat down to
the spinning wheel, and it did not take him long to spin all the straw
into gold—heaps and heaps of it. Then he hopped away, and no one saw
him come or go but the girl.

Early the next morning the King came to see how the girl was getting
on. When he saw the room full of glittering gold instead of straw he
was filled with joy and wonder. But for all that he was not satisfied.
He led the girl into a still larger room, and it, too, was full of
straw.

“You have done very well,” said he, “but I expect you to do still
better. Spin this straw into gold for me and the reward shall not be
lacking.” Then he went away, leaving the girl alone.

She sat and cried and cried.

Presently the door opened, and the same little dwarf came hopping into
the room.

“What will you give me,” said he, “if I spin this straw into gold for
you?”

“I will give you the gold ring from my finger,” answered the girl.

The dwarf sat down at the spinning wheel, and soon all the straw was
spun into gold. Then the dwarf took the ring from the girl’s finger and
went away.

The next day, when the King came and saw all the gold he was even more
delighted than before. He was now as rich as any emperor, but even yet
he was not content. He took the girl into a still larger room, and it,
like the others, was full of straw.

“If you will spin this, too, into gold, then you shall be my bride,”
said he.

The King had scarcely left her before the dwarf came hopping into the
room. “Well,” said he, “what will you give me this time if I spin the
straw into gold for you?”

“Alas, alas!” cried the girl, “I have nothing more to give.”

“Promise me that if the King marries you, you will give me your first
child, and I will help you,” said the dwarf.

At first the girl did not want to promise this, but then she thought
that after all it was very unlikely the King would marry her, and even
if he did she might never have a child. “Very well,” said she, “I
promise.”

The dwarf laughed aloud and snapped his fingers with joy. Then he
sat down at the spinning wheel and spun till the wheel whirred. You
could scarcely see it, it flew so fast. Soon all the straw was spun.
“There,” said he, “now you will not need me again. But do not forget
your promise, for at the right time I shall certainly come to claim the
child.” Then he hopped away, laughing as he went.

Not long afterward the King came into the room. He could wait no longer
to see whether the girl had finished her task. When he saw the heaps of
gold, more than ever before, he hardly knew what to do with himself, he
was so happy.

“Now I am satisfied,” said he. “You shall be my wife, as I promised,
and your father shall be brought to court and become a great nobleman.”

As the King said, so it was done. He and the girl were married, and her
father was sent for to come and live at the court.

And now the girl was very happy. She loved the King, and she had
forgotten all about the promise she had made to the dwarf.

At the end of a year a fine little child was born to the Queen. The
whole kingdom was filled with rejoicings. As to the King he was almost
beside himself with joy.

One day, as the Queen was sitting by the baby’s cradle, the door
opened, and the crooked little dwarf hopped into the room. When the
Queen saw him she turned as white as paper.

“Well,” said the dwarf, “and are you ready to keep the promise you made
when I spun the straw into gold for you?”

Then the Queen began to beg and entreat that the dwarf would leave the
baby with her, and not take it away. She offered him gold and jewels,
and even the golden crown from her head, if he would only leave her the
child. But no—no—the dwarf had gold and jewels, more than he cared for.
It was the young Prince he wanted.

At last he said, “Listen, I will give you one chance. If within three
days you can guess what my name is you shall keep the child, but if you
fail in this then you must give him to me, and no more words about it.”

To this the Queen agreed willingly, for she had no fear but what she
could guess the dwarf’s name.

As soon as he had gone she sent out to all the neighbors round to learn
what were the names of all the men they knew, and when the dwarf came
the next day she was ready for him.

“Was his name John?” “No, it was not.” “Was it Henry?” “No.” “Was it
James or Conrad or Phillip or Habbakuk?” “No, no, no; it was none of
them.” The Queen went over all the names she had learned, but not one
of them was the right one, and the dwarf went away rejoicing.

The next day he came again and the Queen had a fresh list of names
ready, for she had sent out messengers far and wide, and they had
brought back every name they could hear of. But the dwarf said no to
all of them. Not one of them was right. Then the Queen’s heart sank
within her, but she plucked up courage, and as soon as the dwarf had
gone, sent out other messengers, but these brought back not a single
name but those she knew already. The Queen was in despair. She sat at
the window and waited for the dwarf to come, and she held the baby in
her arms.

Then she heard the King’s forester talking to his sweetheart in the
courtyard below. He had heard nothing of how the Queen had sent far
and wide to gather names, for he had been off in the forest for three
days. The forester told his sweetheart how he had lost his way in the
forest the night before. Then he had come to a hollow, and it was full
of rocks, and a red fire was burning among them. Around this fire a
crooked little dwarf was dancing and as he danced he sang:

    “To-day I brew, to-night I bake,
     To-morrow I the young prince take,
     For none could guess, unless they were told
     That Brittle-Legs is the name I hold.”

When the Queen heard that, she laughed aloud. Then she arose and put
the baby down, and sent word to the forester that he should tell no one
else of what he had seen in the forest.

Not long afterward the dwarf came as usual.

“Well, and have you guessed my name?” he asked; “for if you have not I
must have the child.”

The Queen pretended to be in great trouble. “Is it—is it Short-Shanks?”
she asked.

“No,” cried the dwarf and his eyes shone like sparks.

“Is it Long-Arms?”

“No,” shouted the dwarf, and he hopped up and down with joy.

“Is it—is it by any chance Brittle-Legs?”

When the Queen said that the dwarf gave a scream of rage. His face grew
first as black as thunder, and then as red as fire.

“Someone has told you! Someone has told you!” he shrieked and he
stamped so hard that his foot sank down into the floor and he could not
pull it out, so he shook it off and hopped away, leaving one leg behind
him, and what became of him after that nobody ever knew. But the Queen
lived happy and untroubled forever after.



“I WENT UP ONE PAIR OF STAIRS,” ETC.


Now I will tell you a joke; whatever I say to you, you must answer
“Just like me.” Now we will begin.

I went up one pair of stairs.

_Just like me._

I went up two pair of stairs.

_Just like me._

I turned myself round about.

_Just like me._

I went up three pair of stairs.

_Just like me._

I made a cross on the wall.

_Just like me._

I went up four pair of stairs.

_Just like me._

I looked out of a window.

_Just like me._

And I found I was up as high as the highest tree-top.

_Just like me._

I saw something moving about in the highest tree-top.

_Just like me._

I stared and stared to see what it was.

_Just like me._

And then I saw it was a little monkey.

_Just like me._

Just like you! Ha, ha! You said the monkey was just like you; I think
you must be a little monkey yourself if it looked just like you.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I will tell you something else. I will say _one_ and then you must
say _two_; I will say _three_, and you must say _four_ and so on; but
each time we must say after the number “a dead horse.” Like this. I say
_one_ a dead horse, and you must say _two_ a dead horse.

Now begin.

One a dead horse.

_Two a dead horse._

Three a dead horse.

_Four a dead horse._

Five a dead horse.

_Six a dead horse._

Seven a dead horse.

_Eight a dead horse._

Eight a dead horse! Ate a dead horse! You said you ate a dead horse.
Oh! oh! Did it taste good? I hope you enjoyed it. For my part I
wouldn’t care to eat a dead horse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I will tell you what kind of a lock I am, and you must be the same
kind of a key. If I say I am a gray lock, you must say you are a gray
key. If I say I am a queer lock you must say you are a queer key. If I
say I am a rusty lock you must say you are a rusty key.

I am a gray lock.

_I’m a gray key._

I’m a red lock.

_I’m a red key._

I’m a dull lock.

_I’m a dull key._

I’m a monk lock.

_I’m a monk key._

You’re a monkey! You’re a monkey. That’s the second time you’ve said
it, so now I’m sure it must be so. Well, what other kinds of locks and
keys are we? Let us begin all over again.

I’m a don lock.

_I’m a don key._

Are you indeed? Are you really a dear little donkey? Who would have
thought it?



[Illustration]



THE STRAW, THE COAL, AND THE BEAN


A bean and a hot coal met each other on the highroad, and as they
were both rolling along in the same direction they soon struck up a
friendship.

Presently they were joined by a straw, and the three began talking
together. They were all going out in the world to seek their fortunes.

“It is just a bit of luck that I can travel about in this way,” said
the bean. “If I had not been a stout active fellow I would have been
boiled into soup by now. The mistress was about to throw me into the
pot with a lot of other beans, but I managed to slip through her
fingers and rolled out through the doorway and down the steps without
her even noticing I was gone.”

“That was a clever trick,” said the hot coal. “I, too, am a lively
chap. I and my brothers were set to heat a kettle, but I jumped out
of the fire, and I was so hot the cook did not dare to touch me. She
pushed me out of doors with her foot, and now I am free to go about the
world as I choose, and seek my fortune.”

The straw sighed. “I was never as active as that,” she said. “Always
wherever the wind blew me I went. The farmer had picked up a whole
armful of straws to make a bed for the cow; but the wind caught me up
and carried me off—and here I am.”

While they were talking in this way the comrades came to a brook, and
this stopped their journey, for they did not know how to get across.
The straw could easily have sailed over on the first puff of wind, but
that way would not do for the other two.

“Listen!” said the straw. “I am long enough to reach from one side of
the stream to the other. I will lay myself across it like a bridge,
and then you can both walk on over me without getting wet.”

To this plan the other two were glad to agree, so the straw laid
herself across the stream.

“You go first,” said the bean, for he was a cautious fellow, and wanted
to see whether the bridge was safe before he tried it.

The coal, however, was quick and fiery. He ran out on the straw, but
half-way over he grew dizzy and had to stop.

“Quick! quick!” cried the straw. “I am burning”; for the coal was still
very hot.

“Wait,” said the coal, balancing himself. “Just a minute!”

But the straw could not wait even for a minute. The coal had burned
through it, and down they both went into the water, the coal hissing as
it fell.

That seemed so comical to the bean that it began to laugh. It laughed
and laughed; it laughed so hard that at last it split its skin, and
that would have been the end of it if a tailor had not chanced to come
by just then.

“Help! help!” cried the bean.

The tailor looked all about him, and then he saw the bean lying on the
ground. He picked it up, and it did not take him long to see what was
the matter with it. “This slit can be easily mended,” said he, and he
whipped out his needle and thread and sewed up the bean in a trice.
Unluckily he had only black thread, and the stitches made a line of
black down the side of the bean. And ever since then, if you look, you
will see that every bean of that kind has a black line down one side of
it.

[Illustration]



THE WATER-SPRITE


A little brother and sister were playing one day on the edge of a well
that belonged to a water-sprite. The little girl held her brother’s
hand, and leaned far over to look down into it.

“It seems to me that down below there I can see green meadows and
flocks of sheep moving over them,” she said.

“It is only the reflection of the clouds,” said the little boy. “But be
careful. I fear you will fall in.”

Even as he spoke the little girl slipped and fell into the well, and as
she had hold of her brother’s hand she pulled him in after her.

The two children went down—down—down—through the waters, and when they
came to the bottom they found themselves in a country of green meadows
and trees and streams, and before them stood a shining castle with
domes and towers.

This castle belonged to the water-sprite who owned the well.

[Illustration]

The little brother and sister went up to the castle and knocked at the
door, and at once the water-sprite opened it to them.

“Come in, come in,” said she. “I saw you playing on the edge of the
well, and it was I who caused you to fall in. I am lonely here, so you
shall stay with me and be my servants, and whatever I bid you do that
you must do.”

The water-sprite would have been beautiful if only she had not been so
green. Her face was green and her hair was green, and her eyes were
green. Only her teeth were white.

The sprite led the children into the kitchen and there she gave the
little girl a bucket that had no bottom. “Go,” said she, “and fetch me
some water to boil the dumplings for supper. And you,” said she to the
boy, “must cut me some wood,” and she gave him an ax that had no edge.
It was as blunt as a hammer.

The little sister went out to the spring that the water-sprite showed
her, and tried to dip up water, but as fast as she dipped it up it ran
out again, for the bucket had no bottom.

The brother began to chop at a tree near by. He chopped and he chopped
and he chopped, but he could scarcely make a dent, the ax was so blunt.

When the children came back to the castle without either wood or water,
the sprite was very cross with them. “I can easily see that you are
both very stupid,” said she. “But sit down; sit down at the table. Even
if you are stupid I suppose you must eat.”

The children sat down at the table, and the water-sprite set before
them a dish of dumplings, but as the dumplings had not been cooked and
were only dough the children could not eat them. They slipped them into
their pockets, and then, when the sprite was not looking they gave the
dumplings to the water-cat that rubbed about their chairs.

After that the children went to bed and slept.

The next day it was the same thing over again. The water-sprite set
them tasks that they could not possibly do, and gave them only dough
to eat, so the children made up their minds to run away. They waited,
however, until afternoon, when the water-sprite went up to the top of
the well to look about her.

When they were about to set out, the water-cat said to them, “You do
well to run away. You would not be happy here. But do not think my
mistress will allow you to escape if she can help it. When she comes
home and finds you gone, she will at once set out in pursuit of you.
She can go very much faster than you, and she will certainly catch you
unless you take with you her comb, her brush, and her mirror. These are
magic things. Each time you find she is about to catch you, throw one
or other of these things over your shoulder. By this means, and by this
means only, can you hope to escape.”

The children thanked the little cat, and did as it advised them. They
took the water-sprite’s brush and comb and mirror, and carried them off
with them, and ran as fast as they could along the road that led to the
upper world.

Soon after they had left, the water-sprite came home. When she found
them gone she only stopped long enough to scold the cat, and then she
put on her shoes of swiftness and started after them.

Presently the children looked behind them and saw her coming. She came
so fast on her shoes of swiftness, that it seemed as though they could
not possibly escape her.

However, the children remembered what the water-cat had told them. They
threw the comb behind them, and at once it spread and grew into a wall
of spikes, tremendously stiff and high. It took the water-sprite a long
time to climb over this wall, and the children were well on their way
before they heard her behind them again.

Then the little girl threw the brush over her shoulder. At once the
brush became a great thick forest, through which the water-sprite could
hardly find her way.

But she got through it at last, and then it did not take her long to be
at their heels again.

“And now we have only one more thing left,” said the brother, and he
threw the mirror behind him.

At once the mirror became a hill of glass so steep and smooth that no
one could possibly climb it. The sprite tried to run up it, but no
sooner had she gone a step or so than she slipped back again. At last,
with a shriek of rage, she turned and fled back to her castle, and
that was the last of her.

But the children went on their way, and the road led them straight to
the upper world and the door of their home. After that they were always
careful to keep away from the edge of the water-sprite’s well.



[Illustration: Star Jewels]



STAR JEWELS


A little girl once lived all alone with her old grandmother upon the
borders of a forest. They were so poor that they were scarcely able to
buy food for their mouths, or clothes to cover them.

“Never mind, Granny,” the little girl would say. “Some day I will be
big enough to work, and then I will earn so much that I will be able to
buy everything that we need, and to give something to other poor folk
as well.”

One day the child went off into the forest to gather fagots. These she
hoped to sell for a few pennies in the town over beyond the hill. She
was to be gone all day, so she took with her into the forest a bit of
the black bread, which was all they had left to eat.

It was winter, and the air was bitterly cold. The child wrapped her
little shawl about her, and ran on as fast as she could. She was
hungry, but she intended to save her crust until after the fagots were
gathered.

Just as she reached the edge of the forest she met a boy, even smaller
than she herself, and he was crying bitterly.

The little girl had a tender heart. She stopped and asked the child why
he was weeping.

“I am weeping,” he answered, “because I am hungry.”

“Have you had nothing to eat to-day?” she asked.

“I have had nothing, and I am like to starve, for I know not where to
go for food.”

The little girl sighed. “You are, perhaps, hungrier than I,” she said,
and she took the crust from her pocket and gave it to the boy. Then she
again hurried on.

A little farther on, she met another child who was even more
miserable-looking than the first, for this child seemed almost frozen
with cold. Her clothing hung about her in rags, and her skin looked
blue through the rents.

“Ah,” cried she, “if I had but a warm little dress like yours! Help me,
I pray of you, or I will certainly die of cold.”

The good little girl was filled with pity. “It is not right,” thought
she, “that I should have both a dress and a shawl. I will give one of
them to this poor child.”

She took off her dress and gave it to the child, and then wrapped the
shawl closely about her shoulders. In spite of the shawl she felt very
cold. Still she was near the place where the fagots were to be found,
and as soon as she had gathered them she would run home again.

She hastened on, but when she reached the place where the fagots were
she saw an old woman already there, gathering up the fallen wood. The
old woman was so bent and poor and miserable-looking that the little
girl’s heart ached for her.

“Oh, oh!” groaned the old woman. “How my poor bones do ache. If I had
but a shawl to wrap about my shoulders I would not suffer so.”

The child thought of her own grandmother, and of how she sometimes
suffered, and she had pity on the old woman.

“Here,” said she, “take my shawl”; and slipping it from her shoulders
she gave it to the old woman.

And now she stood there in the forest with her arms and shoulders
bare, and with nothing on her but her little shift. The sharp wind blew
about her, but she was not cold. She had eaten nothing, but she was not
hungry. She was fed and warmed by her own kindness.

She gathered her fagots and started home again. It was growing dusk,
and the stars shown through the bare branches of the trees. Suddenly an
old man stood beside her. “Give me of your fagots,” said he, “for my
hearth is cold, and I am too old to gather wood for myself.”

The little girl sighed. If she gave him the fagots she would have to
stop to gather more. Still she would not refuse him. “Take them,” she
said, “in heaven’s name.”

No sooner had she said this than she saw it was not an old man who
stood before her, but a shining angel.

“You have fed the hungry,” said the angel, “you have clothed the
naked, and you have given help to those who asked it. You shall not go
unrewarded. See!”

At once a light shone around the child, and it seemed to her that all
the stars of heaven were falling through the bare branches of the
trees, but these stars were diamonds and rubies and other precious
stones. They lay thick upon the ground. “Gather them together,” said
the angel, “for they are yours.”

Wondering, the child gathered them together—all that she could carry in
the skirt of her little shift.

When she looked about her again the angel was gone, but the child
hastened home with her treasure. It was enough to make her and her old
grandmother rich. From then on they lacked for nothing. They were not
only able to have all they wished for, but to give to many who were
poor. So they were not only rich, but beloved by all who knew them.



[Illustration]



SWEET PORRIDGE


There was once a poor widow who had only one daughter, a child who was
so good and gentle that everyone who knew her, loved her.

One day the child went into the forest to gather firewood, and she
was very sad because there was nothing left in the house to eat, and
because she and her mother were so often obliged to go hungry.

She had already gathered a bundle of sticks, and was about to go home,
when she saw a poor old woman who had also come to the forest for wood.
The woman was so bent and stiff that it was pitiful to see her. The
child felt sorry for her and wished to help her.

“Good mother,” said she, “let me gather the wood for you; it must be
hard for you to stoop.”

She put down her own load, and gathered for the old woman as much as
she was able to carry. “I would take it home for you,” said the little
girl, “but my mother is waiting for me, and I must make haste, for I am
already late.”

“Child,” said the old woman, “you have a good heart, and you deserve to
be rewarded.” She then drew out from under her cloak a little iron pot.
“Take this,” she said. “It is a magic pot. Whenever you are hungry you
have only to say—

    “‘Boil little pot
      Till the porridge is hot,’

and it will begin to boil and fill up with sweet porridge. When you
have had enough say—

    “‘Cease little pot,
      The porridge is hot,’

and it will stop boiling.”

She made the child repeat the words after her several times, and she
then gave her the pot and hobbled away through the forest.

The child was filled with joy at the thought that now she and her
mother need never be hungry again. She ran home as fast as she could,
carrying the pot with both hands.

When she came in her mother asked her where the wood was.

“I have brought home something better than wood,” cried the child. “The
wood only warms us, but here is something that will feed us as well.”
She set the pot upon the table and said:

    “Boil little pot
     Till the porridge is hot.”

The pot at once began to bubble and boil, and soon it was full and
brimming over with sweet porridge. The widow caught up a spoon and
dipped some of the porridge out into a bowl, but the more she dipped
out the more there was in it. When all the bowls in the house were
full, the child said:

    “Cease little pot,
     The porridge is hot,”

and at once the pot stopped boiling.

The widow was overjoyed at the treasure the little girl had brought
home. “Come,” cried she, “let us sit down and eat.”

“Yes, dear mother,” said the child, “but first I will carry some of the
porridge to the neighbors who were so kind to us when we had nothing.”

She filled a large kettle with porridge and started out with it, but
no sooner had she gone than the widow began to wonder whether they had
kept enough for themselves. She did not feel satisfied, so she said to
the pot:

    “Boil little pot
     Till the porridge is hot.”

Immediately the pot began to bubble and boil. Soon it was full and
the porridge began to run over. The widow wished to stop it, but she
had forgotten what to say. “Enough!” she cried. “Stop! Stop!” but the
porridge still boiled up and over the edge of the pot. The widow caught
up the spoon and again began dipping out the porridge; she dipped as
fast as she could. Soon all the pots and pans in the house were full
and still the pot continued to boil out porridge. In despair the widow
seized the pot and threw it outside the door, but the porridge flowed
out from it in a stream, and ran down the road.

[Illustration]

The little girl was coming home when she met the stream of porridge,
and at once she guessed what had happened. She ran as fast as she could
and when she came to the place where the pot lay she cried:

    “Cease little pot,
     The porridge is hot.”

At once the pot stopped boiling, but already enough porridge had been
wasted to have fed the whole countryside.

After that the widow never again dared to tell the pot to boil. When
they wished for porridge it was the child who spoke to it. But from
then on she and her mother never lacked for anything, for the porridge
was so delicious that people came from far and near to buy from them.



CHICKEN-DIDDLE


One day Chicken-diddle had gone to sleep under a rose-bush, and a cow
reached over the fence and bit off the top of the rose-bush. The noise
wakened Chicken-diddle, and just as she woke a rose-leaf fell on her
tail.

“Squawk! Squawk!” cried Chicken-diddle, “the sky’s falling down”; and
away she ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She ran until she
came to the barnyard, and there was Hen-pen rustling in the dust of the
barnyard.

“Oh, Hen-pen, don’t rustle—run, run!” cried Chicken-diddle. “The sky’s
falling down.”

The hen stopped rustling. “How do you know that Chicken-diddle?” asked
Hen-pen.

“I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and part of it fell on
my tail. Oh, let us run, run, until we get some place.”

“Quawk! Quawk,” cried the hen, and she began to run, and Chicken-diddle
ran after her.

They ran till they came to the duck-pond, and there was Duck-luck just
going in for a swim.

“Oh, Duck-luck! Duck-luck! don’t try to swim,” cried Hen-pen. “The
sky’s falling down.”

“How do you know that, Hen-pen?” asked Duck-luck.

“Chicken-diddle told me.”

“How do you know that, Chicken-diddle?”

“Why shouldn’t I know it? I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my
ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run, run until we get
some place.”

“Yes, we had better run,” quacked Duck-luck, and away he waddled with
Hen-pen, and Chicken-diddle after him.

They ran and ran till they came to a green meadow, and there was
Goose-loose eating the green grass.

“Oh, Goose-loose, Goose-loose, don’t eat; run, run,” cried Duck-luck.

“Why should I run?” asked Goose-loose.

“Because the sky’s falling down.”

“How do you know that, Duck-luck?”

“Hen-pen told me.”

“How do you know that, Hen-pen?”

“Chicken-diddle told me.”

“How do you know that, Chicken-diddle?”

“Because I saw it with my eyes, and heard it with my ears, and part of
it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run, run some place.”

“Yes, we’d better run,” cried Goose-loose.

Away they all ran, Goose-loose at the head of them, and they ran and
ran until they came to the turkey-yard, and there was Turkey-lurkey
strutting and gobbling.

“Oh, Turkey-lurkey! don’t strut! Don’t strut!” cried Goose-loose.

“Why should I not strut?” asked Turkey-lurkey.

“Because the sky’s falling down.”

“How do you know it is?”

“Duck-luck told me!”

“How do you know, Duck-luck?”

“Hen-pen told me!”

“How do you know, Hen-pen?”

“Chicken-diddle told me!”

“How do you know, Chicken-diddle?”

“I couldn’t help knowing! I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my
ears, and a part of it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run, run until we
get some place.”

“Yes, we’d better run,” said Turkey-lurkey, so away they all ran, first
Turkey-lurkey, and then Goose-loose, and then Duck-luck, and then
Hen-pen, and then Chicken-diddle.

They ran and ran until they came to Fox-lox’s house, and there was
Fox-lox lying in the doorway and yawning until his tongue curled up in
his mouth. When he saw Turkey-lurkey and Goose-loose and Duck-luck and
Hen-pen and Chicken-diddle he stopped yawning, and pricked up his ears,
and he was very glad to see them.

“Well, well,” said he, “and what brings you all here?”

“Oh, Fox-lox, Fox-lox, don’t yawn,” cried Turkey-lurkey, “the sky’s
falling down.”

“How do you know that, Turkey-lurkey?” asked the fox.

“Goose-loose told me.”

“How do you know that, Goose-loose?”

“Duck-luck told me.”

“How do you know that, Duck-luck?”

“Hen-pen told me.”

“How do you know that, Hen-pen?”

“Chicken-diddle told me.”

“How do you know that, Chicken-diddle?”

“I couldn’t help knowing, for I saw it with my eyes, and I heard it
with my ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Oh, where shall we run?
We ought to go some place.”

“Well,” said the Fox, “you come right in here, and I’ll take such good
care of you that even if the sky falls down you won’t know anything
about it.”

So in ran Turkey-lurkey, and Fox-lox put him in the big room, and shut
the door. In ran Goose-loose, and he put him in the little room, and
shut the door. In ran Duck-luck, and he put him in the cellar, and shut
the door. In ran Hen-pen, and he put her in the attic, and shut the
door. In ran Chicken-diddle, and Fox-lox kept him right there in the
room with him. And what happened to them after that I don’t know, but
nobody ever saw them again; if the sky really fell, I never heard about
it. They were only a pack of silly fowls, anyway.



[Illustration]



A PACK OF RAGAMUFFINS


“My dear,” said the cock to the hen one day, “what do you say to our
taking a walk over to Mulberry Hill? The mulberries must be ripe by
now, and we can have a fine feast.”

“That would suit me exactly,” answered the hen. “I am very fond of ripe
fruit, and it is a long time since I have tasted any.” So the cock and
hen set off together.

The way was long, and the day was hot, and before the two had reached
the top of the hill they were both of them tired and out of breath. The
mulberries lay thick on the ground, and the cock and the hen ran about
hither and yon, pecking and eating—pecking and eating, until they could
eat no more, and the sun was near setting.

“Oh! oh!” groaned the hen, “how weary I am. How in the world are we to
get home again. My legs are so tired, I could not go another step if my
life depended on it.”

“My dear,” said the cock, “I too am weary, but I see here a number of
fallen twigs. If I could but weave them into a coach we might ride home
in comfort.”

“That is a clever thought,” sighed the hen. “Make it by all means.
There is nothing I like better than riding in a coach.”

The cock at once set to work, and by weaving sticks and grasses
together he made a little coach with body, wheels, and shafts all
complete.

The hen was delighted. She at once hopped into the coach, and seated
herself. “Now, my dear Cock-a-lorum,” she cried, “nothing more is
needed but for you to get between the shafts and step out briskly, and
we will be at home in less than no time.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the cock sharply. “I have no idea
of pulling the coach myself. My legs ache as well as yours, and if you
wait for me to pull you home you may sit there till doomsday.”

“But how then are we to get home?” asked the hen, beginning to weep.

“I do not know,” answered the cock. “But what I do know is that I am
not going to pull you.”

“But you must pull me,” wept the hen.

“But I won’t pull you,” stormed the cock.

So they scolded and disputed and there is no knowing how it would have
ended, but suddenly a duck appeared from behind some bushes.

When the duck saw the hen and the cock it ruffled up its feathers and
waddled toward them, quacking fiercely. “What is this! What is this!”
cried the duck. “Do you not know that this hill belongs to me? Be off
at once or I will give you a sound beating.”

It flew at the cock with outspread wings. The cock, however, was
a brave little fellow. Instead of running away he met the duck
valiantly, and seizing it he pulled out a beakful of feathers. The hen
shrieked, but the cock continued to punish the duck until it cried for
mercy.

“Very well,” said the cock, settling his feathers. “I will let you
go this time, but only if you will promise to draw our coach to the
nearest inn, where we can spend the night.”

The duck was afraid to refuse the cock’s demand. He put himself between
the shafts, the cock mounted the coach and cracked his whip, and away
they all went as fast as the duck could waddle. The coach rocked and
bumped over the stones, and suddenly the duck gave a jump that almost
upset it. “Ouch! ouch!” it cried. “Something stuck me.”

“I do well to stick you,” replied a small sharp voice. “I may teach you
to look where you are going, and not step on honest travelers who are
smaller than you.”

The voice was that of a needle, who, with a pin for a comrade, was
journeying along the same road.

The cock looked out from the coach. “I am sorry,” said he, “that my
duck should be so careless. Will you not get in and ride with us?”

This the pin and the needle were glad to do. The hen was somewhat
nervous at first, lest one of them might tread on her foot, but they
were so polite, and so careful not to crowd her, that she soon lost her
fear of them.

Just before nightfall the coach reached the door of an inn. Here the
duck stopped, and the cock called loudly for the landlord.

The man came running, but when he saw the strange guests that sat in
the coach he almost shut the door on them. “We want no ragamuffins
here,” he cried.

“Wait a bit,” cried the cock. “Just see this fine white egg that the
hen has laid. And every morning the duck lays an egg also. Both of
these shall be yours if you will take us in for the night.”

Well, the landlord was willing to agree to that bargain. He bade the
companions enter and make themselves comfortable. This they did,
eating and drinking to their hearts’ content. Then the cock and the
hen made themselves comfortable in the best bed, and the others tucked
themselves away as best they could.

As soon as they were all asleep the landlord said to his wife, “Listen!
This is a fine bargain that I have made. Roast duck is very good, and
so is chicken pie, and to-morrow our travelers shall furnish us with
both of them. As for the needle and pin you can put them away in your
work-basket, and they will always be useful.”

After saying this the landlord and his wife also went to sleep, for the
landlord intended to be up early in the morning before his guests had
wakened.

The cock, however, was not one to let anyone catch him sleeping. While
it was still dark the next morning, he awakened the hen. “Come,” said
he; “we’d best be up and away. This landlord of ours seems to me a sly
and greedy man; he might take a notion to have roast chicken for dinner
to-day, so we had better be gone before he is stirring.”

To this the hen agreed, but she and the cock were both hungry, so
before starting they shared the egg between them. The shells they threw
in among the ashes on the hearth. Then they took the needle and stuck
it in the back of the landlord’s chair; the pin they put in the towel
that hung behind the door, and this done they took to their wings and
away they flew.

The sound of their going awoke the duck. It opened its eyes and looked
after them. “Well, well! So they’re off. I think I’d better be moving
myself,” and so saying it waddled down to the river, and swam back to
the place whence it had come.

It was not long after this the landlord himself awoke. “I’ll just slip
down and see to the travelers before breakfast,” said he.

“Do,” answered his wife.

First, however, the landlord stopped to wash in the kitchen. He picked
up the towel to dry his face, and the pin that was in it scratched
him from ear to ear. He went to the hearth to light his pipe and the
egg-shells flew up in his face. He sat down in his chair for a moment,
but scarcely had he leaned back, when he jumped up with a cry. The
needle had run into him.

“It is all the fault of those ragamuffins,” cried the landlord in a
rage, and he caught up a knife and ran to find them. But search as he
might there was not a sign of them anywhere, for they were already
safely home again.

So all the landlord had for his trouble after all, was his pains.



[Illustration]



THE FROG PRINCE


There was once a king who had one only daughter, and her he loved as he
loved the apple of his eye.

One day the Princess sat beside a fountain in the gardens, and played
with a golden ball. She threw it up into the air and caught it again,
and the ball shone and glittered in the sunshine so that she laughed
aloud with pleasure. But presently as she caught at the ball she missed
it, and it rolled across the grass and fell into the fountain. There it
sank to the bottom. The Princess tried and tried to reach it, but she
could not. Then she began to weep, and her tears dripped down into the
fountain.

“Princess, Princess, why are you weeping?” asked a hoarse voice.

The Princess looked about her, and there was a great squat green frog
sitting on the edge of the fountain.

“I am weeping, Froggie, because I have dropped my ball into the water
and I cannot get it again,” answered the Princess.

“And what will you give me if I get it for you?”

“Anything in the world, dear Frog, except the ball itself.”

“I wish you to give me nothing, Princess,” said the frog. “But if I
bring back your ball to you will you let me be your little playmate?
Will you let me sit at your table, and eat from your plate, and drink
from your mug, and sleep in your little bed?”

“Yes, yes,” cried the Princess. She was very willing to promise, for
she did not believe the frog could ever leave the fountain, or come up
the palace steps.

“Very well, then that is a promise,” said the frog, and at once he
plunged into the fountain and brought back the ball to the Princess in
his arms.

The little girl took the ball and ran away with it without even
stopping to thank him.

[Illustration]

That evening the child sat at supper with her father, and she ate from
her golden plate, and drank from her golden mug, and she did not even
give a thought to the frog down in the fountain.

Presently there came a knocking at the door, but it was so soft that
no one heard it but the Princess. Then the knocking came again, and a
hoarse voice cried, “King’s daughter, King’s daughter, let me in. Have
you forgotten the promise you made me by the fountain?”

The Princess was frightened. She slipped down from her chair, and ran
to the door, and opened it and looked out. There on the top-most step
sat the great green frog.

When the Princess saw him she shut the door quickly, and came back to
the table, and she was very pale.

“Who was that at the door?” asked the King.

“It was no one,” answered the Princess.

“But there was surely someone there,” said the King.

“It was only a great green frog from the fountain,” said the Princess.
And then she told her father how she had dropped her ball into the
fountain, and how the frog had brought it back to her, and of what she
had promised him.

“What you have promised that you must perform,” said the King. “Open
the door, my daughter, and let him in.”

Very unwillingly the child went back to the door and opened it; the
frog hopped into the room. When she returned to the table, the frog
hopped along close at her heels.

She sat down and began to eat. “King’s daughter, King’s daughter, set
me upon the table that I too may eat from your golden plate,” said the
frog.

The Princess would have refused, but she dared not because of what her
father had said. She lifted the frog to the table, and there he ate
from her plate, but she herself could touch nothing.

“I am thirsty,” said the frog. “Tilt your golden mug that I may drink
from it.”

The Princess did as he bade her, but as she did so she could not help
weeping so that her tears ran down into the milk.

When supper was ended the Princess was about to hurry away to her room,
but the frog called to her, “King’s daughter, King’s daughter, take me
along. Have you forgotten that I was to sleep in your little white bed?”

“That you shall not,” cried the Princess in a passion. “Go back to the
stones of the fountain, where you belong.”

“What you have said that you must do,” said the King. “Take the frog
with you.”

The Princess shuddered, but she dared not refuse.

She took the frog with her up to her room, and put him down in the
darkest corner, where she would not see him. Then she undressed and
went to bed. But scarcely had her head touched the pillow when she
heard the frog calling her.

“King’s daughter, King’s daughter! Is this the way you keep your
promise? Lift me up to the bed, for the floor is cold and hard.”

The Princess sprang from the bed and seized the frog in her hands.
“Miserable frog,” she cried, “you shall not torment me in this way.” So
saying she threw the frog against the wall with all her force.

But no sooner did the frog touch the wall than it turned into a
handsome young prince, all dressed in green, with a golden crown upon
his head, and a chain of emeralds about his neck.

The Prince came to her, and took her by the hand.

“Dear Princess,” said he, “you have broken the enchantment that held
me. A cruel fairy was angry with my father, and so she changed me into
a frog, and put me there in the fountain. But now that the enchantment
is broken we can really be playmates, and when you are old enough you
shall be my wife.”

The Princess did not say no. She was delighted at the thought of having
such a handsome playmate. And as for marrying him later on, she was
quite willing for that, too.

So the Prince stayed there in the palace, and the King was very glad to
think he was to have him for a son-in-law, and when he and the Princess
were married, there was great rejoicing and feasting through all the
kingdom.

The Prince, however, was not willing to stay away from his own kingdom
any longer. He said he must return to see his old father.

One day a handsome golden coach drawn by eight white horses drove up
to the door. It had been sent by the Prince’s father to fetch him home
again. Upon the box rode the faithful servant who had cared for the
Prince when he was a child.

When the Prince had been carried away by the fairy this faithful
servant had grieved so bitterly he had feared his heart would break. To
keep this from happening he had put three great iron bands around his
body.

The Prince and the Princess entered the coach, and away went the
horses. They had not driven far, however, when a loud crack was heard.

“What is that?” cried the Princess. “Surely something has broken.”

“Yes, mistress,” answered the faithful servant,

    “It was a band that bound my heart.
     My joy hath broken it apart.”

They drove a little farther, and then there came another crack, even
louder than the first.

“Surely the coach is breaking down,” cried the Prince.

“Nay, master,” answered the faithful servant,

    “’Tis but my joy that rives apart
     The second band that held my heart.”

A little farther on there came a crack that was louder than any.

“Now surely something has broken,” cried the Prince and Princess
together.

    “’Tis the last band that held my heart,
     And joy has riven all apart,”

answered the servant.

After that they drove on quietly until they reached their own country.
There the Prince and Princess lived in happiness to the end of their
lives, and the faithful servant with them.



THE WOLF AND THE FIVE LITTLE GOATS


There was once a mother goat who had five little kids, and these kids
were so dear to her that nothing could have been dearer.

One day the mother goat was going to the forest to gather some wood for
her fire. “Now, my little kids,” said she, “you must be very careful
while I am away. Bar the door behind me, and open it to nobody until I
return. If the wicked wolf should get in he would certainly eat you.”

The little kids promised they would be careful, and then their mother
started out, and as soon as she had gone they barred the door behind
her.

Now it so happened the old wolf was on the watch that day. He saw
the mother goat trotting away toward the forest, and as soon as she
was out of sight, he crept down to the house and knocked at the
door—rap-tap-tap!

“Who is there?” called the little kids within.

“It is I, your mother, my dears,” answered the wolf in his great rough
voice. “Open the door and let me in.”

But the kids were very clever little kids. “No, no,” they cried. “You
are not our mother. Our mother has a soft, sweet voice, and your voice
is harsh and rough. You must be the wolf.”

When the wolf heard this he was very angry. He battered and battered at
the door, but they would not let him in. Then he turned and galloped
away as fast as he could until he came to a dairy. There he stuck his
head in at the window, and the woman had just finished churning her
butter.

“Woman, woman,” cried the wolf, “give me some butter. If you do not I
will come in and upset your churn.”

The woman was frightened. At once she gave him a great deal of
butter—all he could eat.

The wolf swallowed it down, and then he ran back to the goat’s house
and knocked at the door—rat-tat-rat!

“Who is there?” asked the little goats within.

“Your mother, my dears,” answered the wolf, and now his voice was very
soft and smooth because of the butter he had swallowed.

“It _is_ our mother,” cried the little kids, and they were about to
open the door, but the littlest kid of all, who was a very wise little
kid, stopped them.

“Wait a bit,” said he. “It sounds like our mother’s voice, but before
we open the door we had better be very, very sure it is not the wolf.”
Then he called through the door, “Put your paws up on the windowsill.”

The wolf suspected nothing. He put his paws up on the windowsill, and
as soon as the little kids saw them they knew at once that it was not
their mother. “No, no,” they cried, “you are not our mother. Our mother
has pretty white feet, and your feet are as black as soot. You must be
the wolf.”

When the wolf heard this he was angrier than ever. He turned and
galloped away again, and as he galloped he growled to himself and
gnashed his teeth.

Presently he came to a baker’s shop, and there he stuck his head in at
the window.

“Baker, baker, give me some dough,” he cried. “If you do not I will
upset your pans and spoil your baking.”

The baker was frightened. At once he gave the wolf all the dough he
wanted. The wolf seized it and ran away with it. He ran until he came
to the goat’s house. There he sat down and covered his black feet all
over with the white dough. Then he knocked at the door—rat-tat-tat!

“Who is there?” cried the little goats within.

“Your mother, my dears, come home again,” answered the wolf, in his
smooth buttery voice.

“Put your paws up on the windowsill.”

The wolf put his paws up on the windowsill, and they looked quite white
because of the dough. Then the little kids felt sure it was their
mother, and they gladly opened the door.

“Woof!” In bounded the wicked wolf.

The little goats cried out and away they ran, some in one direction,
and some in another. They hid themselves one behind the door, and
one in the dough-trough, and one in the wash-tub, and one under the
bed, and one (and he was the littlest one of all) hid in the tall
clock-case. The wolf stood there glaring about him, and not as much as
a tail of one of them could he see.

Then he began to hunt about for them, but he had to be in a hurry,
because he was afraid the mother goat would come home again.

He found the kid behind the door, and he was in such a hurry he
swallowed it whole without hurting it in the least. He found the one in
the wash-tub, and he swallowed it whole, too. He found the one in the
dough-trough, and it, too, he swallowed whole. He found the one under
the bed and he swallowed it whole. The only one he did not find was the
one in the clock-case, and he never thought of looking there. He hunted
around and hunted around, and he was afraid to stay any longer for fear
their mother would come home.

But now the old wolf felt very heavy and sleepy. He looked around for a
place to go in order to lie down and rest.

Not far away were some rocks and trees that made a pleasant shadow.
Here the wolf stretched himself out, and presently he was snoring so
loudly that the leaves of the trees shook overhead.

Soon after this the mother goat came home. As soon as she saw the door
of the house standing open, she knew at once that some misfortune had
happened. She went in and looked about her. The furniture was all upset
and scattered about the room. “Alas, alas! My dear little kids!” cried
the mother. “The wicked wolf has certainly been here and eaten them
all.”

“He didn’t eat me,” said a little voice in the clock-case.

The mother goat opened the door of the clock-case and the littlest kid
of all hopped out.

“But why were you in the clock-case? And what has happened?” asked the
mother.

Then the little kid told her all about how the wolf had come there with
his buttery voice and his whitened paws, and how they had let him in,
and how he had swallowed all four of the other little kids, so that he
alone was left.

After the mother goat had heard the story she went to the door and
looked about. Then she heard the old wolf snoring where he lay asleep
under the nut-trees in the shade of the rocks.

“That must be the old wolf snoring,” said the mother goat, “and he
cannot be far away. Do not make a noise, my little kid, but come with
me.”

The mother goat stole over to the heap of rocks, and the little kid
followed her on tiptoes. She peeped and peered, and there lay the old
wolf so fast asleep that nothing less than an earthquake would have
wakened him.

“Now, my little kid,” whispered the mother, “run straight home again
as fast as you can, and fetch me my shears and a needle and some stout
thread.”

This the little kid did, and he ran so softly over the grass that not
even a mouse could have heard him.

As soon as he returned the mother goat crept up to the old wolf, and
with the sharp shears she slit his hide up just as though it had been a
sack. Out popped one little kid, and out popped another little kid, and
another, and another, and there they all were, just as safe and sound
as though they had never been swallowed. And all this while the old
wolf never stirred nor stopped snoring.

“And now, my little kids,” whispered the mother, “do you each one of
you bring me a big round stone, but be very quick and quiet, for your
lives depend upon it.”

So the little kids ran away, and hunted around, and each fetched her
back a big round stone, and they were very quick and quiet about it,
just as their mother had bade them be.

The old goat put the stones inside the wolf, where the little kids had
been, and then she drew the hide together and sewed it up, using the
stout, strong thread. After that she and the little kids hid themselves
behind the rocks, and watched and waited.

Presently the old wolf yawned and opened his eyes. Then he got up
and shook himself, and when he did so the stones inside him rattled
together so that the goat and the little kids could hear them, where
they hid behind the rocks.

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear me!” groaned the wolf;

    “What rattles, what rattles against my poor bones?
     Not little goats, I fear, but only big stones.”

Now what with the stones inside of him and the hot sun overhead the
wolf grew very thirsty. Near by was a deep well, with water almost up
to the brink of it. The old wolf went to drink. He leaned over, and all
the stones rolled up to his head and upset him. Plump! he went down
into the water, and the stones carried him straight to the bottom. He
could not swim at all, and so he was drowned.

But all the little kids ran out from behind the rocks and began to
dance around the well.

    “The old wolf is dead, A-hey! A-hey!
     The old wolf is dead, A-hey!”

they sang, and the mother goat came and danced with them, they were all
so delighted.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



THE GOLDEN GOOSE


There was once an honest laborer who had three sons. The two eldest
were stout clever lads, but as to the youngest one, John, he was little
better than a simpleton.

One day their mother wanted some wood from the forest, and it was the
eldest lad who was to go and get it for her. It was a long way to the
forest, so the mother filled a wallet with food for him. There was a
loaf of fine white bread, and a bit of cheese, and a leathern bottle
of good red wine as well.

The lad set off and walked along and walked along and after awhile he
came to the place where he was going, and there under a tree sat an
old, old man. His clothes were gray, and his hair was gray, and his
face was gray, so he was gray all over.

“Good-day,” said the man.

“Good-day,” said the lad.

“I am hungry,” said the gray man. “Have you not a bite and sup that you
can share with me?”

“Food I have, and drink too,” said the lad, “but it is for myself, and
not for you. It would be a simple thing for me to carry it this far
just to give it to a beggar”; and he went on his way.

But it was bad luck the lad had that day. Scarcely had he begun
chopping wood when the head of the ax flew off, and cut his foot so
badly that he was obliged to go limping home, with not even so much as
a fagot to carry with him.

The next day it was the second son who said he would go to the forest
for wood.

“And see that you are more careful than your brother,” said his
mother. Then she gave him a loaf of bread, and a bit of cheese, and a
bottle of wine, and off he set.

Presently he came to the forest, and there, sitting in the same place
where he had sat before, was the old gray man.

“Good-day,” said the man.

“Good-day,” said the lad.

“I am hungry,” said the gray man. “Have you not a bite or a sup to
share with me?”

“Food I have and drink as well, but I am not such a simpleton as to
give it away when I need all for myself.”

The lad went on to the place where he was going, and took his ax and
began to chop, but scarcely had he begun when the ax slipped and cut
his leg so badly that the blood ran, and he could scarcely get home
again.

That was a bad business, for now both of the elder brothers were lame.

The next day the simpleton said he would go to the forest for wood.

“You, indeed!” cried his mother. “It is not enough that your two
brothers are hurt? Do you think you are smarter than they are? No, no;
do you stay quietly here at home. That is the best place for you.”

But the simpleton was determined to go, so his mother gave him an end
of dough that was left from the baking and a bottle of sour beer, for
that was good enough for him. With these in his wallet John started
off, and after awhile he came to the forest, and there was the gray man
sitting just as before.

“Good-day,” said the man.

“Good-day,” answered the simpleton.

“I am hungry,” said the gray man. “Have you not a bite or sup that you
can share with me?”

Oh yes, the simpleton had both food and drink in his wallet. It was
none of the best, but such as it was he was willing to share it.

He reached into his wallet and pulled out the piece of dough, but what
was his surprise to find that it was dough no longer, but a fine cake,
all made of the whitest flour. The old man snatched the cake from John
and ate it all up in a trice. There was not so much as a crumb of it
left.

“Poor pickings for me!” said John.

And now the old gray man was thirsty. “What have you in that bottle?”
he asked.

“Oh, that was only sour beer.”

The old man took the bottle and opened it. “Sour beer! Why it is wine,”
he cried, “and of the very best, too.”

And the simpleton could tell it was by the smell of it. But the smell
of it was all he got, for the old man raised the bottle to his lips,
and when he put it down there was not a drop left in it.

“And now I may go thirsty as well as hungry,” said John.

“Never mind that,” said the old man. “After this you may eat and drink
of the best whenever you will. Go on into the forest and take the first
turning to the right. There you will see a hollow oak tree. Cut it
down, and whatever you find inside of it you may keep; it belongs to
me, and it is I who give it to you.”

Then of a sudden the old man was gone, and where he went the simpleton
could have told no one.

The lad went on into the forest, as the gray man had told him, and took
the first turn to the left, and there sure enough was a hollow oak
tree. The lad could tell it was hollow from the sound it made when his
ax struck it.

John set to work, and chopped so hard the splinters flew.

After awhile he cut through it so that the tree fell, and there,
sitting in the hollow, was a goose, with eyes like diamonds, and every
feather of pure gold.

When John saw the goose he could not wonder enough. He took it up under
his arm and off he set for home, for there was no more chopping for him
that day.

But if the goose shone like gold it weighed like lead. The farther John
went the wearier he grew. After awhile he came to an inn, just outside
of the city where the King lived. There the simpleton sat him down to
rest. He pulled a feather from the golden goose, and gave it to the
landlord and bade him bring him food and drink, and with such payment
as that it was the very best that the landlord sat before him you may
be sure.

While the simpleton ate and drank the landlord’s wife and daughter
watched him from a window.

“Oh, if we only had a second feather,” sighed the daughter.

“Oh, if we only had!” sighed the mother.

Then the two agreed between them that when the simpleton had finished
eating and drinking, the daughter should creep up behind him and pluck
another feather from the bird.

Presently John could eat and drink no more. He rose up and tucked the
golden goose under his arm, and off he set.

The landlord’s daughter was watching, and she stole up behind him and
caught hold of a feather in the goose’s tail. No sooner had she touched
it, however, than her fingers stuck, and she could not let go. Off
marched John with the goose under his arm, and the girl tagging along
after him.

The mother saw her following John down the road, and first she called,
and then she shouted, and then she ran after her and caught hold of her
to bring her home. But no sooner had she laid hands on the girl than
she, too, stuck, and was obliged to follow John and the golden goose.

The landlord was looking from the window. “Wife, wife,” he cried,
“where are you going?” And he hurried after her and caught her by the
sleeve. Then he could not let go any more than the others.

The simpleton marched along with the three tagging at his heels, and he
never so much as turned his head to look over his shoulder at them.

The road ran past a church, and there was the clergyman just coming
out of the door. “Stop, stop!” he cried to the landlord. “Have you
forgotten you have a christening feast to cook to-day?” And he ran
after the landlord and caught hold of him, and then he too stuck.

The sexton saw his master following the landlord, and he ran and caught
hold of his coat, and he too had to follow. So it went. Everyone who
touched those who followed the golden goose could not let go, and were
obliged to tag along at John’s heels.

Now the King of that country had a daughter who was so sad and doleful
that she was never known to smile. For this reason a gloom hung over
the whole country, and the King had promised that any one who could
make the Princess laugh should have her as a wife and a half of the
kingdom as well.

It so chanced the simpleton’s way led him through the city and by the
time he came in front of the King’s palace the whole street was in an
uproar, and John had a long train of people tagging along after him.

The Princess heard the noise in the room where she sat sighing and
wiping her eyes, and as she was very curious she went to the window and
looked out to see what all the uproar was about.

When she saw the simpleton marching along with a goose under his arm
and a whole string of people after him, all crying and bawling and
calling for help, it seemed to her the funniest thing she had ever
seen. She began to laugh, and she laughed and laughed. She laughed
until the tears ran down her cheeks and she had to hold her sides for
laughing.

But it was no laughing matter for the King, as you may believe. Here
was a poor common lad, and a simpleton at that, who had made the
Princess laugh; so now, by all rights, he might claim her for a wife,
and the half of the kingdom, too.

The King frowned and bit his nails, and then he sent for John to be
brought before him, and the lad came in alone, for he had set the
people free at the gates.

“Listen, now,” said the King to John. “It is true I promised that
anyone who made the Princess laugh should have her for a wife, but
there is more to the matter than that. Before I hand over part of the
kingdom to anyone, I must know what sort of friends he has, and whether
they are good fellows. If you can bring here a man who can drink a
whole cellar full of wine at one sitting then you shall have the
Princess and part of the kingdom, just as promised; but if you cannot
you shall be sent home with a good drubbing to keep you quiet.”

When John heard that he made a wry face. He did not know where he could
find a man who could drink a whole cellar full of wine at one sitting.

He went out from the castle, and suddenly he remembered the old gray
man who had given him the golden goose. If the old man had helped him
once perhaps he might again.

He set out for the forest, and it was not long before he came to it.
There, sitting where the old gray man had sat before, was a man with
a sad and rueful face. He looked as though he had never smiled in all
his life. He was talking to himself, and when the simpleton drew near
he found the man was saying over and over, “How dry I am! How dry I am!
Not even the dust of a summer’s day is as dry as I.”

“If you are so thirsty, friend,” said John, “rise up and follow me. Do
you think you could drink a whole cellar full of wine at one sitting?”

Yes, the man could do that, and glad to get it, too. A whole cellar
full of wine would be none too much to satisfy such a thirst as his.

“Then, come along,” said John.

He took the man back to the castle and down into the cellar where all
the casks of wine were stored. When the man saw all that wine his eyes
sparkled with joy. He sat him down to drink, and one after another he
drained the casks until the very last one of them was empty. Then he
stretched himself and sighed. “Now I am content,” said he.

As for the King his eyes bulged with wonder that any one man could
drink so much at one sitting.

“Yes, that is all very well,” said he to the simpleton. “I see you have
a friend who can drink. Have you also a friend who can eat a whole
mountain of bread without stopping? If you have, you may claim the
Princess for your wife, but if you have not, then you shall be sent
home with a good drubbing.”

Well, that was not in the bargain, but perhaps the simpleton might be
able to find such a man.

He set off for the forest once more, and when he came near the place
where the thirsty man had sat he saw there another man, and he was
enough like the thirsty man to be his brother.

As John came near to where he sat he heard him talking to himself, and
what he was saying over-and-over was, “How hungry I am. Oh, how hungry
I am.”

“Friend,” said the simpleton, “are you hungry enough to eat a whole
mountain of bread? If you are I may satisfy you.”

Yes, a whole mountain of bread would be none too much for the hungry
man.

So John bade the stranger follow him and then he led the way back to
the castle.

There all the flour in the kingdom had been gathered together into one
great enormous mountain of dough. When John saw how big it was his
heart failed him.

“Can you eat that much?” he asked of the hungry man.

“Oh, yes, I can eat that much, and more, too, if need be,” said the man.

Then he sat down before the mountain of bread and began to eat. He ate
and he ate, and he ate, and when he finished not so much as a crumb of
bread was left.

As for the King he was a sad and sorry man. Not only was his daughter
and part of the kingdom promised to a simpleton, but he had not even a
cupful of flour left in the palace for his breakfast.

And still the King was not ready to keep the promises he had made.
There was one thing more required of the simpleton before he could have
the Princess and part of the kingdom for himself. Let him bring to the
King a ship that would sail both on land and water, and he should at
once marry the Princess, and no more words about it.

Well, John did not know about that, but he would do the best he could.
He took the road that led back to the forest, and when he reached the
place where the old man had sat, there was the old man sitting again
just as though he had never moved from that one spot.

“Well,” said the old man, “and has the golden goose made your fortune?”

“That,” answered John, “is as it may be. It may be I am to have the
half of a kingdom and a princess for a wife, and it may be that I am
only to get a good drubbing. Before I win the Princess I must find a
ship that will sail on land as well as on water, and if there is such a
thing as that in the world I have never heard of it.”

“Well, there might be harder things than that to find,” said the old
man. It might be he could help John out of that ditch, and what was
more he would, too, and all that because John had once been kind to
him. The old man then reached in under his coat and brought out the
prettiest little model of a ship that ever was seen. Its sails were of
silk, its hull of silver, and its masts of beaten gold.

The old man set the ship on the ground, and at once it began to grow.
It grew and grew and grew, until it was so large that it could have
carried a score of men if need be.

“Look,” said the old man. “This I give to you because you were kind to
me and willing to share the best you had. Moreover it was I who drank
the wine and ate the mountain of bread for you. Enter into the ship and
it will carry you over land and water, and back to the King’s castle.
And when he sees this ship he will no longer dare to refuse you the
Princess for your wife.”

And so it was. John stepped into the ship and sailed away until he
came to the King’s palace, and when the King saw the ship he was so
delighted with it that he was quite willing to give the Princess to the
simpleton for a bride.

The marriage was held with much feasting and rejoicing, and John’s
father and mother and his two brothers were invited to the feast. But
they no longer called him the simpleton; instead he was His Majesty,
the wise King John.

As for the old gray man he was never seen again, and as the golden
goose had disappeared also, perhaps he flew away on it.



[Illustration]



THE THREE SPINNERS


There was once a girl who was so idle and lazy that she would do
nothing but sit in the sunshine all day. She would not bake, she would
not brew, she would not spin, she would not sew. One morning her mother
lost patience with her entirely, and gave her a good beating. The girl
cried out until she could be heard even into the street.

Now it so chanced the queen of the country was driving by at that time,
and she heard the cries. She wished to find out what the trouble was,
so she stopped her coach and entered the house. She went through one
room after another, and presently she came to where the girl and her
mother were.

“What is all this noise?” she asked. “Why is your daughter crying out?”

The mother was ashamed to confess what a lazy girl she had for a
daughter, so she told the queen what was not true.

“Oh, your majesty,” cried she, “this girl is the worry of my life. She
will do nothing but spin all day, and I have spent all my money buying
flax for her. This morning she asked me for more, but I have no money
left to buy it. It was because of that she began to cry, as you heard.”

The Queen was very much surprised. “This girl of yours must be a very
fine spinner,” she said. “You must bring her to the palace, for there
is nothing I love better than spinning. Bring her to-morrow, and if she
is as wonderful a spinner as I suspect, she shall be to me as my own
daughter, and shall have my eldest son as a husband.”

When the girl heard she was to go to the palace and spin she was
terrified. She had never spun a thread in her life, and she feared that
when the Queen found this out she would be angry and would have her
punished. However, she dared say nothing.

The next day she and her mother went to the palace, and the Queen
received them kindly. The mother was sent home again, but the daughter
was taken to a tower where there were three great rooms all filled with
flax.

“See,” said the Queen. “Here is enough flax to satisfy you for awhile
at least. When you have spun this you shall marry my son, and after
that you shall have all the flax you want. Now you may begin, and
to-morrow I will come to see how much you have done.”

So saying the Queen went away, closing the door behind her.

No sooner was the girl alone than she burst into tears. Not if she
lived a hundred years could she spin all that flax. She sat and cried
and cried and cried.

The next morning the Queen came back to see how much she had done.
She was very much surprised to find the flax untouched, and the girl
sitting there with idle hands. “How is this?” she asked. “Why are you
not at your spinning?”

The girl began to make excuses. “I was so sad at being parted from my
mother that I could do nothing but sit and weep.”

“I see you have a tender heart,” said the Queen. “But to-morrow you
must begin to work. When I come again I shall expect to see a whole
roomful done.”

After she had gone the girl began to weep again. She did not know what
was to become of her.

Suddenly the door opened, and three ugly old women slipped into the
room. The first had a splayfoot. The second had a lip that hung down on
her chin. The third had a hideous broad thumb.

The girl looked at them with fear and wonder. “Who are you?” she asked.

The one with the splayfoot answered. “We are three spinners. We know
why you are weeping, and we have come to help you, but before we help
you, you must promise us one thing: that is that when you are married
to the Prince, we may come to your wedding feast, that you will let us
sit at your table, and that you will call us your aunts.”

“Yes, yes; I will, I will,” cried the girl. She was ready to promise
anything if they would only help her.

At once the splayfoot sat down at the wheel, and began to spin and
tread. She with the hanging lip moistened the thread, and the woman
with the broad thumb pressed and twisted it. They worked so fast that
the thread flowed on like a swift stream. Before the next evening they
had finished the whole roomful of flax.

When the Queen came again she was delighted to find so much done.
“To-morrow,” said she, “you shall begin in the second room.”

The next day the girl was taken into the second room, and it was larger
than the first and was also full of flax.

Scarcely had the Queen left her when the door was pushed open, and the
three old women came into the room.

“Remember your promise,” said they.

“I remember,” answered the girl.

The old women then took their places and began to spin. Before the next
evening they had finished all the flax that was in the room.

When the Queen came to look at what had been done, she was filled with
wonder. Not only had all the flax in the room been spun, but she had
never seen such smooth and even threads.

“To-morrow,” said she, “you shall spin the flax that is in the third
room, and the day after you shall be married to my son.”

The third day all happened just as it had before. The girl was taken
to the third room and it was even larger than the others. Scarcely had
she been left alone when the three old women opened the door and came
in.

“Remember your promise,” said they.

“I will remember,” answered the girl.

The old women took their places, and before night all the flax was
spun. Then they rose. “To-morrow will be your wedding day, and we will
be at the feast. If you keep your word to us, all will go well with
you, but if you forget it, misfortune will surely come upon you.” Then
they disappeared through the door as they had come, the eldest first.

When the Queen came that evening she was even more delighted than
before. Never had she seen such thread, so smooth it was and even.

The girl was led down from the tower and dressed in silks and velvets
and jewels, and when thus dressed she was so beautiful that the Prince
was filled with love and joy at the sight of her. The next day they
were married, and a grand feast was spread. To this feast all the
noblest in the land were invited.

The bride sat beside her husband, and he could look at no one else, she
was so beautiful.

Just as the feast was about to begin the door opened and the three old
women who had spun the flax came in.

The Prince looked at them wonderingly. Never had he seen such hideous,
ugly creatures before. “Who are these?” he asked of the girl.

“These,” said she, “are my three old aunts, and I have promised they
shall sit at the table with us, for they have been so kind to me that
no one could be kinder.”

The girl then rose, and went to meet the old women. “Welcome, my
aunts,” she said, and led them to the table. The Prince loved the girl
so dearly that all she did seemed right to him. He commanded that
places should be put for the old women, and they sat at the table with
him and his bride.

They were so hideous, however, that the Prince could not keep his eyes
off them. At length he said to the eldest, “Forgive me, good mother,
but why is your foot so broad?”

“From treading the thread, my son, from treading the thread,” she
answered.

The Prince wondered; he turned to the second old woman. “And you, good
mother,” he said, “why does your lip hang down?”

“From wetting the thread,” she answered. “From wetting the thread.”

The Prince was frightened. He spoke to the third old woman. “And you,
why is your thumb so broad, if I may ask it?”

“From pressing and twisting,” she answered. “From pressing and
twisting.”

The Prince turned pale. “If this is what comes of spinning,” said he,
“never shall my bride touch the flax again.”

And so it was. Never was the girl allowed even to look at a spinning
wheel again; and that did not trouble her, as you may guess.

As for the old women, they disappeared as soon as the feast was over,
and no one saw them again, but the bride lived happy forever after.



GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS


There was once a little girl whose hair was so bright and yellow that
it glittered in the sun like spun-gold. For this reason she was called
Goldilocks.

One day Goldilocks went out into the meadows to gather flowers. She
wandered on and on, and after a while she came to a forest, where she
had never been before. She went on into the forest, and it was very
cool and shady.

Presently she came to a little house, standing all alone in the forest,
and as she was tired and thirsty she knocked at the door. She hoped the
good people inside would give her a drink, and let her rest a little
while.

Now, though Goldilocks did not know it, this house belonged to three
bears. There was a GREAT BIG FATHER BEAR, +and a middling-sized mother
bear+, and a _dear little baby bear_, no bigger than Goldilocks
herself. But the three bears had gone out to take a walk in the forest
while their supper was cooling, so when Goldilocks knocked at the door
no one answered her.

She waited awhile and then she knocked again, and as still nobody
answered her she pushed the door open and stepped inside. There in a
row stood three chairs. One was a GREAT BIG CHAIR, and it belonged to
the father bear. And one was a +middling-sized chair+, and it belonged
to the mother bear, and one was a _dear little chair_, and it belonged
to the baby bear. And on the table stood three bowls of smoking hot
porridge. “And so,” thought Goldilocks, “the people must be coming back
soon to eat it.”

She thought she would sit down and rest until they came, so first she
sat down in the GREAT BIG CHAIR, but the cushion was too soft. It
seemed as though it would swallow her up. Then she sat down in the
+middle-sized chair+, and the cushion was too hard, and it was not
comfortable. Then she sat down in the _dear little chair_, and it was
just right, and fitted her as though it had been made for her. So there
she sat, and she rocked and she rocked, and she sat and she sat, until
with her rocking and her sitting she sat the bottom right out of it.

And still nobody had come, and there stood the bowls of porridge on
the table. “They can’t be very hungry people,” thought Goldilocks to
herself, “or they would come home to eat their suppers.” And she went
over to the table just to see whether the bowls were full.

The first bowl was a GREAT BIG BOWL with a GREAT BIG WOODEN SPOON
in it, and that was the father bear’s bowl. The second bowl was a
+middle-sized bowl+, with a +middle-sized wooden spoon+ in it, and
that was the mother bear’s bowl. And the third bowl was a _dear little
bowl_, with a _dear little silver spoon_ in it, and that was the baby
bear’s bowl.

The porridge that was in the bowls smelled so very good that Goldilocks
thought she would just taste it.

She took up the GREAT BIG SPOON, and tasted the porridge in the GREAT
BIG BOWL, but it was too hot. Then she took up the +middle-sized
spoon+ and tasted the porridge in the +middle-sized bowl+, and it was
too cold. Then she took up the _little silver spoon_ and tasted the
porridge in the _dear little bowl_, and it was just right, and it
tasted so good that she tasted and tasted, and tasted and tasted until
she tasted it all up.

After that she felt very sleepy, so she went upstairs and looked about
her, and there were three beds all in a row. The first bed was the
GREAT BIG BED that belonged to the father bear. And the second bed was
a +middling-sized bed+ that belonged to the mother bear, and the third
bed was a _dear little bed_ that belonged to the dear little baby bear.

Goldilocks lay down on the GREAT BIG BED to try it, but the pillow was
too high, and she wasn’t comfortable at all.

Then she lay down on the +middle-sized bed+, and the pillow was too
low, and that wasn’t comfortable either.

Then she lay down on the _little baby bear’s bed_ and it was exactly
right, and so very comfortable that she lay there and lay there until
she went fast asleep.

Now while Goldilocks was still asleep in the little bed the three
bears came home again, and as soon as they stepped inside the door and
looked about them they knew that somebody had been there.

“SOMEBODY’S BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR,” growled the father bear in his
great big voice, “AND LEFT THE CUSHION CROOKED.”

“+And somebody’s been sitting in my chair+,” said the mother bear,
“+and left it standing crooked+.”

“_And somebody’s been sitting in my chair_,” squeaked the baby bear, in
his shrill little voice, “_and they’ve sat and sat till they’ve sat the
bottom out_”; and he felt very sad about it.

Then the three bears went over to the table to get their porridge.

“WHAT’S THIS!” growled the father bear, in his great big voice,
“SOMEBODY’S BEEN TASTING MY PORRIDGE, AND LEFT THE SPOON ON THE TABLE.”

“+And somebody’s been taking my porridge+,” said the mother bear in her
middle-sized voice, “+and they’ve splashed it over the side+.”

“_And somebody’s been tasting my porridge_,” squealed the baby bear,
“_and they’ve tasted and tasted until they’ve tasted it all up_.” And
when he said so the baby bear looked as if he were about to cry.

“+If somebody’s been here they must be here still+,” said the mother
bear; so the three bears went upstairs to look.

First the father bear looked at his bed. “SOMEBODY’S BEEN LYING ON MY
BED AND PULLED THE COVERS DOWN,” he growled in his great big voice.

Then the mother bear looked at her bed. “+Somebody’s been lying on my
bed and pulled the pillow off+,” said she in her middle-sized voice.

Then the baby bear looked at his bed, and there lay little Goldilocks
with her cheeks as pink as roses, and her golden hair all spread over
the pillow.

“_Somebody’s been lying in my bed_,” squeaked the baby bear joyfully,
“_and here she is still!_”

Now when Goldilocks in her dreams heard the great big father bear’s
voice she dreamed it was the thunder rolling through the heavens.

And when she heard the mother bear’s middle-sized voice she dreamed it
was the wind blowing through the trees.

But when she heard the baby bear’s voice it was so shrill and sharp
that it woke her right up. She sat up in bed and there were the three
bears standing around and looking at her.

“Oh, my goodness me!” cried Goldilocks. She tumbled out of bed and ran
to the window. It was open, and out she jumped before the bears could
stop her. Then home she ran as fast as she could, and she never went
near the forest again. But the little baby bear cried and cried because
he had wanted the pretty little girl to play with.



[Illustration: The Three Little Pigs]



THE THREE LITTLE PIGS


A mother pig and her three little pigs lived together in a wood very
happily all through the long summertime, but towards autumn the mother
pig called her little ones to her and said, “My dear little pigs,
the time has come for you to go out into the world and seek your own
fortunes. You will each want to build a little house to live in, but do
not build them of straw or leaves; straws are brittle and leaves are
frail. Build your houses of bricks, for then you will always have a
safe place to live in; you can go in and lock the door, and nothing can
harm you.” She then bade the little pigs farewell, and away they ran
out into the world to make their fortunes.

The first little pig had not gone far when he met a man with a load of
straw. The straw looked so warm, and smelled so good that the little
pig quite forgot what his mother had told him.

“Please, Mr. Man,” said the little pig, “give me enough straw to build
a house to keep me warm through the long winter.”

The man did not say no. He gave the little pig all the straw he wanted,
and then he drove on.

The little pig built himself a house of straw, and it was so warm and
cosy that he was quite delighted with it. “How much better,” said he
“than a house of cold hard bricks.”

So he lay there snug and warm, and presently the old wolf knocked at
the door.

“Piggy-wig, piggy-wig, let me in!” he cried.

“I won’t, by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin,” answered the pig.

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

The little pig laughed aloud, for he felt very safe in his snug straw
house.

“Well, then huff, and then puff, and then blow my house in!” he cried.

Well, the old wolf _did_ huff and puff, and he _did_ blow the house in,
for it was only made of straw, and then he ate up the pig.

The second little pig when he left the forest ran along and ran along
and presently he met a man with a great load of leaves.

“Oh, kind Mr. Man, please give me some leaves to build me a little
house for the winter time,” cried the piggy.

The man was willing to do this. He gave the pig all the leaves he
wanted, and then he went on his way.

The pig built himself a house of leaves and it was even snugger and
warmer than the straw house had been. “How silly my mother was,” said
the pig, “to tell me to build a brick house. What could be warmer and
cosier and safer than this.” And he snuggled down among the leaves and
was very happy.

Presently along came the great wolf, and he stopped and knocked at the
door.

“Piggy-wig, piggy-wig, let me in!” he cried.

“I won’t, by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

The little pig laughed when he heard that, for the walls were thick,
and he felt secure.

“Well, then huff, and then puff, and then _blow_ my house in.”

So the wolf huffed, and he puffed, and he _did_ blow the house in, and
he ate up the little pig that was inside of it.

Now the third little pig was the smallest pig of all, but he was a very
wise little pig, and he meant to do exactly as his mother had told him
to do. After he left the forest he met a man driving a wagon-load of
straw, but he did not ask for any of it. He met the man with the load
of leaves, but he did not ask for any of it. He met a man with a load
of bricks, and _then_ he stopped and begged so prettily for enough
bricks to build himself a little house that the man could not refuse
him.

The pig took the bricks and built himself a little red house with them,
and it was not an easy task either. When it was done it was not so soft
as the little straw house, and it was not so warm as the little leaf
house, but it was a very _safe_ little house.

Presently the old wolf came along and knocked at the door—rat-tat-tat!

“Piggy-wig, piggy-wig, let me in,” he called.

“I won’t, by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

“Well, then huff, and then puff, and then blow my house in,” answered
the pig.

So the old wolf huffed and he puffed, and he _puffed and he huffed_,
and he +HUFFED AND HE PUFFED+ till he almost split his sides, and
he just _couldn’t_ blow the house in, and the little pig laughed to
himself as he sat safe and comfortable inside there.

The old wolf saw there was nothing to be done by blowing, so he sat
down and thought and thought. Then he said, “Piggy-wig, I know where
there is a field of fine turnips.”

“Where?” asked the little pig.

“Open the door and I will tell you.”

No, the little pig could hear quite well with the door closed.

“It is just up the road three fields away,” said the wolf, “and if you
would like to have some I will come for you at six o’clock to-morrow
morning, and we will go and dig them up together.”

“At six o’clock!” said the little pig. “Very well.”

Then the old wolf trotted off home, licking his lips, and he was well
content, for he thought he would have pig for breakfast the next day.

But the next morning the little pig was up and astir by five o’clock.
Off he trotted to the turnip field and gathered a whole bagful of
turnips and was home again before the old wolf thought of coming.

At six o’clock the old wolf knocked at the door.

“Are you ready to go for the turnips, Piggy?” he cried.

“Ready!” answered the pig. “Why I was up and off to the field an
hour ago and I have all the turnips I want, and I’m boiling them for
breakfast.”

“That’s what you did!” said the wolf. And then he thought a bit.
“Piggy, do you like fine ripe apples?” he asked.

Yes, the pig was very fond of apples.

“Then I can tell you where to find some.”

“Where is that?”

“Over beyond the hill in the squire’s orchard, and if you will play me
no tricks I will come for you at five o’clock to-morrow, and we will go
together, and gather some.”

Very well; the pig would be ready.

So the wolf trotted off home, and this time he was very sure that he
would have a nice fat little piggy for breakfast the next morning.

The little pig got up at four o’clock the next day, and off he started
for the orchard as fast as his four little feet would carry him. But
the way was long, and the tree was hard to climb, and while he was
still up among the branches gathering apples the old wolf came trotting
into the orchard. The little pig was very much frightened, but he kept
very still and hoped, up among the leaves, the wolf would not see him.

The wolf peered about, first up one tree and then up another, and
finally he spied the piggy up among the branches.

“Why did you not wait for me?”

“Oh, I knew you would be along presently.”

“How soon are you coming down?”

“When I have picked a few more apples.”

The old wolf sat down at the foot of the tree, and the pig sat up among
the branches crunching apples and smacking his lips.

“Are they good?” asked the wolf looking up; and his mouth watered.

Yes, they were very good.

“Could you not throw one down to me?”

Yes, the little pig could do that.

He picked the biggest, reddest apple he could, and then he threw it,
but he threw it far off, and in such a way that it went bounding and
rolling down the hill slope. The wolf bounded down the hill after it,
and while he was catching it, the little pig climbed down the tree and
ran safely home with his basketful of apples.

When the old wolf found the pig had tricked him again he was very
angry. He was more determined than ever that he would catch the little
pig. He trotted off to the little red house and knocked at the door.

“Did you get all the apples you wanted?” asked the wolf.

Yes, the little pig had all he wanted, and he was very much obliged to
the wolf for telling him about the orchard.

“Listen, Piggy, there’s to be a fine fair over in the town to-morrow,”
said the wolf. “Wouldn’t you like to go?”

Yes, the little pig would like very much to go.

“Very well,” said the wolf. “Then I will come for you at half-past
three to-morrow, and we will go together.”

“Very well,” said the little pig. But long before half-past three the
next day, piggy was off to the fair, and he took four bright silver
pieces with him, for he wanted to buy himself a butter-churn. It did
not take him long to buy the churn, and then he started home again,
carrying it on his back.

But the wolf had learned a thing or two about the little pig’s tricks.
He, too, started off to the fair long before half-past three, and so
it was that the little pig was scarcely half-way home, and had just
reached the top of a high hill, when he saw the wolf come trotting up
the hill directly toward him. The little pig was terrified. He looked
all around but he could not see any place to hide. He decided the
best thing he could do was to get inside the churn. So he put it down
and crept inside it. But the hill was very steep, and no sooner was
the piggy inside the churn than it began to roll down the hill slope
bumpety-bumpety-bump, over rocks and stones, leaping and bounding like
a live thing. The little pig did not know what was happening to him.
He began to squeal at the top of his voice.

The old wolf was half-way up the hill when he heard the noise. He
looked up, and there was a great round thing coming bounding over the
rocks straight at him, and squeaking and squeaking as it came. He gave
one look and his hair bristled with fear, and with a howl he turned
tail and ran home as fast as he could. He never stopped till he was
safe inside his house, and had shut and locked the door behind him.
There he crouched, trembling and wondering what would happen. But
nothing happened, and all was quiet, so after awhile the wolf ventured
out and ran over to the pig’s house.

“Piggy, Piggy! Are you in there?”

Yes, the little pig was sitting by the fire roasting apples.

“Then, listen while I tell you what happened to me on the way to the
fair.” Then the wolf put his nose close to the crack of the door, and
told the little pig all about the great round squealing thing that had
chased him down the hill.

The little pig laughed and laughed. “And I can tell you exactly what
the great squealing thing was; it was a churn I had bought at the fair,
and I was inside it.”

[Illustration]

When the old wolf heard this he was so furious that he determined to
have the little pig whether or no, even if he had to climb up on the
roof and down the chimney to get him. He stuck his sharp nails in
between the bricks of the house and climbed right up the side of it and
onto the roof. Then he climbed up on the chimney and slid down it into
the fire-place.

But the little pig had heard what he was doing, and was ready for him.
He had a great pot of boiling water on the fire, and when he heard the
wolf slipping and scrabbling down the chimney he took the lid off the
kettle, and plump! the old wolf fell right into the boiling water. Then
the little pig clapped the lid tight down over him, and that was the
end of the wolf.

But the little pig lived on in peace and plenty forever after, and if
any other wolf ever came along to bother him I never heard of it.



[Illustration]



THE GOLDEN KEY


It was winter, and a little lad had gone out into the forest to gather
wood to keep the fire going at home. As there was snow upon the ground
he took his little sledge with him, for he could carry home a larger
load on the sledge than on his back.

He gathered together a heap of fallen branches, and then piled them
neatly on the sledge, putting the larger pieces at the bottom. Before
he had finished the task his fingers were almost frozen, for he had no
mittens. “Before I start to drag my sled home,” said he to himself, “I
will build a fire and warm my hands a bit.”

He took a stick, and cleared away some of the snow, so as to have a
place to build the fire. When he had done this he saw a little golden
key lying there on the ground. The little lad picked it up, wondering.
“Wherever there is a key, there must be a lock,” he said.

He began to scrape away the earth, and presently he found a curious
looking chest made of iron inlaid with silver. There were words written
on the lid of the chest, but the little boy could not read them.

He lifted the chest out from the earth, and it seemed to him that
something was stirring inside of it. Then a little thin voice, as thin
as a thread, cried to him. “Let me out! Let me out, and I will make
your fortune.”

The little boy was very much surprised. The chest seemed too small for
any living being to be in it.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Open the chest and see. If you will only let me out you will never be
sorry.”

The little boy put the golden key in the lock and it fitted exactly.
He turned it round and the lock flew back. But as to what was in the
chest you will have to wait until he lifts the lid before you can see.



MOTHER HULDA


There was once a widow who had two daughters; the elder of the girls
was cross and ugly, but the mother loved her dearly because she was
exactly like herself, and also because she was her own daughter. The
younger girl was only her stepdaughter, and because of this, and also
because the girl was good and pretty the mother hated her, and did all
she could to make her miserable.

One day the good daughter sat by the well spinning, and as she spun
she wept because she was so unhappy. The tears blinded her eyes, and
presently she pricked her finger, and a drop of blood fell on the flax.
The girl was frightened, for she feared her stepmother would scold her
when she saw the flax, so she stooped over the edge of the well to try
to wash the blood off it. But the spindle slipped from her hand and
sank down and down through the water until it was lost to sight.

[Illustration]

That was worse than ever; the girl did not know what her stepmother
would do to her when she heard the spindle had been lost down the well.
Still she was obliged to confess.

The widow was indeed very angry.

“You good-for-nothing!” she cried. “You are the trouble of my life. Out
of my sight, and do not dare to return until you can bring the spindle
with you,” and she gave the girl a push so that she almost fell over.

The girl was so frightened and unhappy that she ran out of the door;
without stopping to think, she jumped into the well. Down, down she
sank, through the waters, just as the spindle had done, and when she
reached the bottom she found herself in a broad green meadow with a
road leading across it.

The girl followed the road, and presently she came to a baker’s oven
that stood beside the way, and it was full of bread. The girl was about
to pass by, but the loaves inside called to her, “Take us out! Take us
out! If we are left in the oven any longer we will burn.”

She was surprised to hear the bread speak to her, but she opened the
door and drew the loaves out, and set them neatly on end to cool. Then
she went on.

A little farther, she came to an apple-tree. It was so loaded down with
fruit that the branches bent with the weight of it.

“Shake me! Shake me!” cried the apple-tree. “My apples are ripe and my
boughs are like to break with the weight of them.”

The girl shook the apple-tree till the apples fell about her in a
shower. She piled the apples neatly about the tree and went on her way.

After awhile she came to a little house, and an ugly old woman
with long yellow teeth was looking out of the window. The girl was
frightened at the old woman’s looks, and was about to turn away, but
the woman called to her, “Do not be afraid. I will not hurt you. I need
a serving-maid. Come in, and if you serve me faithfully I will reward
you well.”

The girl did not feel afraid any longer. She opened the door and went
in.

The old woman took her upstairs and showed her a great feather bed. “I
am Mother Hulda,” said she. “It is I who send out the frost and snow
over the world. Every day you must give my bed a good beating. Then,
when the feathers fly, it snows upon the earth.”

The girl stayed with Mother Hulda many months. Every day she gave the
bed such a good beating that the feathers flew, and there was much snow
that year. Mother Hulda was very much pleased with her. She was kind to
her, and the girl had all she wanted to eat, and that of the best, and
a comfortable bed to sleep in; but all the same, by the time the winter
was over she began to feel sad and dull. She longed to see her home and
her mother and sister, too, even though they were unkind to her.

“Now I see it is time for you to go back to the earth again,” said
Mother Hulda. “You have served me well and faithfully, and you shall be
rewarded as I promised you.”

She then opened a closet door and brought out the girl’s spindle and
gave it to her. After that she took the girl by the hand and led her
out of the house and along a road to a great gate that stood open.

“There lies your way,” said Mother Hulda.

The girl passed out through the gate, and as she did so a shower
of gold fell all about her like rain, and stuck to her so that she
glittered from head to foot with gold; even her shoes and her clothes
were golden.

“That is my reward to you because you have been a good servant,” cried
Mother Hulda. Then the gate closed, and the girl ran along the road and
quickly came to the house of her stepmother.

As she entered the gate the cock crowed loudly, “Cock-a-doodle-doo! Our
golden girl’s come home again.”

She entered the house, and now her mother and sister were glad to see
her because she was covered with gold. They asked her where she had
been and who had given her all that treasure.

The girl told them. Then they were filled with envy.

“Here! Take your spindle,” cried the widow to her own daughter. “Throw
it in the well and jump down after it. If Mother Hulda has rewarded
your sister in this way what will she not do for you? No doubt you will
come home all covered with diamonds and rubies.”

The ugly girl took her spindle and threw it down the well, as her
mother bade her, and jumped in after it. Down, down she went, just
as her sister had done, and there was the green meadow with the road
leading across it.

The girl hurried along the road, for she was in haste to reach Mother
Hulda’s house and get a reward, and presently she came to the oven.

“Take us out! Take us out!” cried the loaves inside. “We will burn if
we are left in here any longer.”

“Why should I blacken my hands for you?” cried the girl. “Stay
where you are, and if you burn no one will be the worse for it but
yourselves.” And so saying she went on her way.

A little farther she came to the apple-tree, and its boughs were bent
with the weight of the fruit it bore.

“Shake me! Shake me!” cried the apple-tree. “My fruit is ripe, and my
boughs are like to break with the weight of it.”

“Not I!” cried the girl. “I will not shake you. Suppose one of the
apples should fall upon my head. Your boughs may break for all of me!”
And so she went on her way, munching an apple that she had picked up
from off the ground.

It was not long before she came to Mother Hulda’s house, and there was
Mother Hulda herself looking out of the window. The ugly girl was not
afraid of her and her long teeth, for the good sister had already told
her about them. She marched up to the door and opened it as bold as
bold.

“I have come to take service with you,” she said, “and to get the
reward.”

“Very well,” answered Mother Hulda. “If you serve me well and
faithfully the reward shall not be lacking.”

She then took the ugly girl upstairs and showed her the bed, and told
her how she was to shake and beat it. Then she left her there.

The ugly girl began to beat the bed, but she soon tired of it and came
downstairs and asked if supper were ready. Mother Hulda frowned, but
she said nothing, and she gave the girl a good supper of bread and meat.

The next day the ugly girl hardly beat the bed at all, and the next day
it was still worse. At the end of the week hardly a flake of snow had
floated out over the world.

“You will never do for me,” said Mother Hulda. “You will have to go.”

“Very well,” answered the girl. “I am willing, but give me my reward
first.”

“Yes, you shall have your reward,” said Mother Hulda, “and you deserve
it.”

She opened the closet and took out the spindle and gave it to her,
and led her along the road to the open gate. The girl was very much
pleased. “Now in a moment,” thought she, “I will be all covered with
gold the way my sister was, unless I am covered with diamonds and
rubies.”

“There lies your way,” cried Mother Hulda.

The girl ran through the gate, but instead of gold or precious stones,
a shower of soot fell over her so that she was black from head to foot.

“That is the reward of your services,” cried Mother Hulda to the girl,
and then she banged the gate and locked it so that the girl could not
come back.

So the lazy daughter ran home, crying, and as she entered the gate the
cock crowed loudly, “Cock-a-doodle-doo! Our sooty girl’s come home
again.”

And try as she might the ugly girl could never get the soot entirely
off her. But as to the good sister she was married to a great nobleman,
and lived happy ever after.

[Illustration]



[Illustration: The Six Companions]



THE SIX COMPANIONS


A certain man named John had been a faithful soldier, and had served
the King all through the war, and had been wounded, too; but when the
war came to an end and he was discharged he only received three pieces
of silver as payment.

“That is a mean way to treat a fellow,” said John. “But never mind! If
I can only get the right sort of friends to help me we will get all the
King’s treasure from him before we are done.”

So he shouldered his knapsack and off he set into the world to find the
right sort of friends to help him do this.

He walked along and walked along till he came to a wood, and there was
a man pulling up trees by the roots as though they were no more than
grasses.

“You are the very man for me,” said John. “Come along with me and we
will make our fortunes.”

The man was willing. “But wait,” said he, “until I tie these fagots
together and take them home to my mother.”

He laid six of the trees together and twisted the seventh around them
to hold them. Then he walked off with them on his shoulder as easily as
though they were nothing.

When he came back he and the soldier started out in search of their
fortunes.

They had not gone far when they came to a hunter who had raised his gun
to his shoulder and was taking careful aim. The soldier looked about
over the meadows, but could see nothing to shoot.

“What are you aiming at?” asked he.

“Two miles away there is a forest,” said the man. “In the forest is an
oak tree. On the top-most leaf of that oak tree there is a fly. I am
going to shoot out the left eye of that fly.”

“Come along with me,” said the soldier, “we three will certainly make
our fortunes together.”

Very well; the hunter was willing. So he shouldered the gun and off he
tramped alongside of the other.

Presently they came to seven mill-wheels, and the sails were turning
merrily, and yet there was not a breath of wind stirring. “That is a
curious thing!” said the soldier. “Now what is turning those sails I
should like to know.”

Two miles farther on they came to a man sitting on top of a hill. He
held a finger on one side of his nose and blew through the other.

“What are you doing?” asked the soldier.

“I am blowing to turn the wheels of seven windmills two miles away, so
that the miller can grind his corn,” answered the man.

“Come with us,” said the soldier. “We are going out into the world to
make our fortunes.”

Very well, the man was willing; the wind was springing up, anyway,
so the miller would not need him. So now there were four of them
journeying along together.

After awhile they came to a heap of rocks, and there in the shade of it
sat a man. He had unfastened one of his legs, and taken it off, and he
sat with the other stretched out before him.

“That is a good way to rest,” said the soldier.

“I am not doing this to rest,” said the man. “I am a runner. If I were
to put on this other leg and start off I would be out of sight in a
twinkling. I have arranged to take off one leg so that I can go more
slowly; though ordinary people find it hard to keep up with me even so.”

“Take up your leg and come with us,” said the soldier. “We are going to
make our fortunes, and it shall be share and share alike with us if you
will come along.”

To this the runner agreed. He took up his one leg and hopped along on
the other, and they found it hard work to keep up with him, he went so
fast.

They had gone but a mile or so when they met a man who wore a little
hat cocked down over one ear.

“Hello!” called the soldier. “Why do you wear your hat in that fashion
instead of straight on your head like other people?”

“Oh, every time I set it straight there comes such a heavy frost that
the flowers are blighted, and even the birds freeze in the trees.”

“That is a wonderful gift,” said the soldier. “Come along with us, and
we will make our fortunes together. And now there are six of us, and
that is enough. We will have no more in our company.”

So the six stout comrades journeyed on until they came to the town
where the King lived. This King had one daughter, and she could run so
fast that it was like a bird skimming along, and the King had said that
no one should marry her unless he could run faster than she could; if
such a one came along he should have her for a wife. But so far no one
had been able to outrun her.

The soldier with his five comrades marched up to the palace and knocked
at the door as bold as bold, and asked to see the King.

At first the gatekeeper did not wish to let the six in, for they were
worn and dusty, but the soldier looked at him so fiercely that he did
not dare to refuse.

The six comrades were brought into the great hall where the King sat
with his daughter beside him and all his nobles about him.

Well, and what did the soldier and his fellows want with the King.

Oh, the soldier wanted to try a race with the princess; but he was not
much of a runner himself, so he would let his servant run for him.

The King was willing for that, but he warned the soldier that if he
failed in the race he and his servant, too, would lose their lives.

The soldier was not afraid to risk that, so the race course was laid
out, and the Princess and the runner made ready. They were to run to a
fountain miles and miles and miles away, and each was to fill a pitcher
with water and bring it back to the palace. Whichever first returned
with the water would win the race.

The runner stooped down and buckled on his second leg, and then he was
ready, and he and the Princess set out. The Princess flew like a bird,
but the runner ran like the wind. He was out of sight in a twinkling,
and had filled his pitcher and started home again before the Princess
was half-way to the fountain.

The runner sat down to rest a bit. He was very sleepy and he thought he
would just take a little nap before going the rest of the way. In order
not to be too comfortable and sleep too long he picked up a horse’s
skull that lay in a field near by and put it under his head for a
pillow.

But the runner slept more soundly than he meant to do.

The Princess also reached the fountain and filled her pitcher and
started home again, and then, half-way home, she came across the runner
fast asleep with his pitcher of water beside him.

This was the chance for the Princess. Very quietly she poured the water
from the runner’s pitcher, and set it down beside him empty. Then she
hurried on toward the palace, leaving the runner still asleep.

And now all would have been lost except for the hunter. He had been
watching from the palace window and had seen everything that happened.
He made haste to load his gun, and took aim and shot the skull from
under the sleeper’s head. This awakened the runner. He sat up and
looked about him.

There was the Princess almost back at the palace, and his pitcher lay
empty beside him.

However, this was nothing to him. He picked up his pitcher and away he
went, swifter than the wind. He ran back to the fountain and filled the
pitcher, and got back with it to the castle door before the Princess
had come in at the outer gate.

And now by rights the Princess belonged to the soldier, but the King
could not make up his mind to have her married to a common man like
that. As for the Princess she was ready to cry her eyes out at the
thought of it. She and the King talked and talked together, and at last
they made up a plan between them.

The King had a room made that was all of iron and could be heated until
it was hotter than any oven. Then he called the comrades to him and
said, “Now you have fairly won the race, and I have ordered food and
drink to be set out for you, so that you may make merry over it.”

He then showed the companions into the iron room, and there a grand
feast had been made ready. The six sat down at table and began to eat
and drink, but the king went on out and locked the doors behind him.
Then he ordered a fire to be built under the room, and to be kept up
until the room was red hot.

The six companions sat around the table eating and drinking merrily
enough, until they began to feel too warm. Then they got up to leave
the room, but they found the door was locked and they were fastened in.
At once they guessed the trick that had been played upon them, but
they were not troubled over that in the least.

“This is something for you to see to,” said the soldier to the man with
the hat over one ear.

The man set his hat straight and at once a frost fell upon the room. It
grew so cold that the comrades had to turn up their coat collars and
walk about to keep warm.

The King waited until he thought the six would certainly be suffocated
by the heat, and then he ordered the door to be opened. What was his
surprise when all the men walked out just as well and hearty as ever,
except that they looked somewhat pinched with the cold.

But the King was as unwilling as ever to give his daughter to the
soldier. He called the soldier to him and said, “Listen, if you will
give up marrying the Princess I will make you rich for life.”

“Yes, but how much will you give me?” asked the soldier.

“I will give you all the gold you can carry.”

Well, the soldier hardly knew what to say to that. Ever since he had
been in the war his back had been weak; but if the King would give him
as much as his servant could carry he would give up the Princess and
welcome.

The King did not care who carried off the gold. He was quite willing to
give as much as the servant could carry.

“Very well,” said the soldier. “In a week’s time I will come back for
the gold, and do you gather it together and have it ready for me.”

The next thing the soldier did was to hire all the tailors he could
get, and have them make for him an enormous sack, and when it was
finished it was as big as a house.

When it was done he and the strong man went back to the palace
together, and the week was just up. The strong man carried the sack,
rolled up, on his shoulders.

Meanwhile the King had had a ton of gold brought up from his
treasure-house, and that, he was sure, was more than the strongest man
could carry.

When the soldier and his comrade came where the gold was the strong
man opened up the sack, and taking up the ton of gold with one hand he
threw it into the sack. “That will do for a beginning,” said he, “but
we will have to have more than that.”

The King was frightened. He ordered more gold and more to be brought up
from his treasure-house, and still there did not begin to be enough. “I
can easily carry twice as much, and more,” cried the strong man.

At last the King’s treasure-house was empty, and he sent out all over
the kingdom for more gold, and still there was not enough.

“Oh, well!” cried the strong man at last, “I see you have done your
best; we will have to be content with what we have.” Then he swung the
sack up over his shoulder and marched off with it, and the soldier and
the other comrades went along with him.

But the King was in a terrible state of mind. Here all his treasure had
been carried off by a common soldier and his followers. He would almost
rather have given up the Princess than that. He stamped and raged, and
then he called his horsemen together, and sent out two regiments after
the comrades to bring them back again and the treasure with them.

It did not take the horsemen long to catch up to the comrades for they
were traveling along quietly enough, and without any haste.

“Stop! stop!” cried the captain of the regiment. “I have come to take
you and the treasure back to the King. Will you come along quietly, or
will we have to drag you?”

“Wait a bit,” said the blower. “Before we talk further about it suppose
you take a dance in the air.” He put one finger to his nostril and blew
through the other and away went the captain and his regiment, whirling
and dancing through the air like dry leaves when the wind blows them.

After awhile he allowed them to settle down to earth again. “There!”
said he. “Have you had enough, or would you like another dance?”

No! the regiment had no wish for another whirl through the air. All
they wished for now was to get safely back to the palace again.

“Very well,” said the blower. “Then go back to the King and tell him if
he sends his whole army out after us I will treat it in the same way.”

But this the King dared not do. His treasure was gone and he could not
risk having his army blown away, into the bargain. The comrades went
on their way with no further hindrance, and after awhile they sat down
and divided the treasure among them and each one had enough to make him
rich and prosperous for life.



[Illustration]



THE GOLDEN BIRD


There was once a King who had in his gardens an apple-tree that bore
golden apples. Every day the King went out to count the apples, and no
one was allowed to touch them but himself.

One morning, when the King went out to count them as usual he found
that one of them was gone. He was very much vexed, and ordered that at
night a guard should be set around the garden, that no one might steal
the apples, but the very next morning still another one was missing.
So it happened day after day. Every gate to the garden was carefully
guarded, and yet every morning another apple was gone from the tree,
and they could not tell who had taken it.

Now the King had three sons, and one day the eldest came to his father
and said, “Father, to-night I will watch under the apple-tree, and you
may be sure that no one will be able to come near it without my seeing
him.”

The King was quite willing for his son to keep watch, so that night the
Prince took his place under the tree.

For some hours he sat there and watched, and scarcely winked an eyelid;
but in the middle of the night a light shone around him and he heard a
sound of music. Then, in spite of himself, he fell into a deep sleep,
and when he awoke in the morning another apple had been stolen.

That day the second son came to the King and asked that he might be
allowed to watch the apple-tree that night.

Again the King consented, and as soon as night came the second son went
out and sat under the apple-tree just as his brother had done. Then
just the same thing happened as had happened before. Toward midnight a
light shone around the tree, and there was a sound of music, and then,
do what he would, he could not stay awake. He slept, and while he
slept another apple was taken.

The third day it was the turn of the third son to ask to be allowed to
watch under the apple-tree. But the King refused. “Do you think that
you are cleverer than your brothers?” he asked. “Why should you succeed
when they have failed?” But the Prince begged and entreated until at
last the King gave him permission to watch under the tree.

Now the third Prince was a wise youth; he had heard what happened to
his brothers on the other two nights, so when evening came he stuffed
his ears with cotton, and then he went out and took his place under
the apple-tree. There he sat, and just before midnight a light shone
through the branches, and there was a sound of music. But the young
Prince had stuffed his ears with cotton so he could not hear the music,
and he did not go to sleep.

After the music came a sound of wings, though this, too, the Prince
could not hear, and a golden bird alighted on the apple-tree. The bird
was about to pick one of the apples when the Prince raised his crossbow
and shot a bolt at it.

The bird escaped, but one of its golden feathers fluttered down and
fell at the Prince’s feet. He picked it up, and the next morning he
took it to his father and told him what he had seen in the night.

As soon as the King saw the feather he was filled with the greatest
desire to have the bird. “Life is worth nothing to me without that
bird,” said he. “I would give my kingdom to possess it.”

When the eldest brother heard that, he at once made up his mind to set
out in search of the bird, for he thought it would be a fine thing to
gain the kingdom for himself. He went by himself, taking no one with
him, for he did not wish anyone else to have a hand in the search.

He journeyed on for some distance and then he came to a cross-road, and
there at the cross-roads he saw a little red fox sitting. The Prince
drew his bow to shoot, but the animal called to him, “Do not shoot me,
Prince, and I will give you a piece of good advice that is worth more
than my skin.”

“What can a beast tell me that is worth hearing?” asked the Prince.

“Listen!” said the fox. “I know where you are going, that it is in
search of the Golden Bird, but unless you do as I say you will never
find it. To-night you will reach a village. In this village there are
two inns that stand opposite to each other. One is a fine place. It
will be lighted up, and there will be music and dancing inside. But do
not enter there. The other inn is poor and miserable looking, but that
is where you must stay if you hope to find the Golden Bird.”

“That is foolish talk, and I would be even more foolish to heed it,”
cried the Prince, and again drawing his bow he shot a bolt at the fox.
The bolt missed the mark, and the fox ran away unharmed.

The King’s son rode on, and at nightfall he entered a village. There
on each side of the street stood an inn, and they were just such inns
as the fox had told him of. One was a fine place, well-lighted, and
with dancing and music going on inside. The other was dark and poor and
miserable-looking.

The Prince never gave another thought to the fox’s advice. He turned in
to the fine inn, and there he ate and drank and laughed with those who
were there before him, and forgot all about the Golden Bird, and his
father and the kingdom, too.

Time passed on, and still the eldest son did not return home, and no
one knew what had become of him. Then the second son wished to try his
luck at finding the Golden Bird. The King did not wish him to go, but
the Prince was so eager that at last the father gave his consent.

The Prince journeyed on until he came to the cross-roads, and there sat
the fox, just as it had before. The second son was about to shoot it,
but the little animal called to him to spare its life and it would give
him a piece of good advice.

The Prince was curious to hear what the fox had to say, but after he
had heard of the two inns, and that it was the poor mean-looking one he
must choose, he laughed aloud.

“A pretty piece of advice,” he cried, “and I would be a great simpleton
to follow it.” Then he shot a bolt at the fox, but he missed his aim,
and the little animal ran away unharmed.

Then it happened with the second Prince just as it had with his elder
brother. He came to the two inns just at nightfall, and it was at the
fine well-lighted inn that he stopped. There he spent the night in
feasting and merry-making, and by the next day he had forgotten all
about the Golden Bird, and his father, and the kingdom he had hoped to
gain.

Now when time passed and the second son did not return either, it was
the third Prince who wished to set out upon the search. But, “No, no,”
said his father, “that I cannot allow. I have lost two sons already,
and am I to lose my third son also?”

But the Prince had set his heart on going.

He begged and entreated until the King could no longer refuse him.

The Prince set out upon his journey, and it was not long before he
reached the cross-roads, and found the fox sitting there, just as his
brothers had before him. The Prince had his bow slung at his back, but
he did not draw it.

“Do not shoot me, Prince,” cried the fox, “and I will give you a piece
of good advice.”

“Why should I shoot you?” answered the Prince. “I have no quarrel with
you. And as for your advice, who knows but what it may be well worth
having?”

“Then listen,” said the fox; and he told the Prince about the two inns,
just as he had told the other brothers.

“That may or may not be good advice,” said the Prince, “but at least it
will do me no harm to follow it.”

So when he entered the village he did not go to the fine inn as his
brothers had done. Instead he turned in at the poor, mean-looking inn,
and there he spent the night quietly, and the next day he arose, and
went on his way.

Just outside the village he came across the fox sitting in a field and
waiting for him.

“Prince,” said the fox, “you did well indeed to follow my advice. Now
seat yourself upon my tail and I will carry you on your journey far
faster than you can walk.”

The Prince did as the fox bade him. He seated himself upon its tail and
then away they went, so fast that the wind whistled past the Prince’s
ears. Presently they came within sight of a great castle, and there the
fox stopped. “In that castle is the Golden Bird,” said the fox, “but
now you must go on alone. Follow this road, and it will lead you to
the gate of the castle. All around you will see soldiers lying asleep
on the ground, but do not fear them. They will not awake unless you
disobey what I am about to tell you.”

The fox then told the Prince in which room of the castle he would
find the Golden Bird. “It is in an ugly, mean-looking cage,” said he,
“and close by hangs a handsome golden cage that is empty. But do not
by any means put the bird in the golden cage. Bring it away in the
mean-looking cage, for unless you do this some great misfortune will
come upon you.”

The Prince was so happy to think he was soon to find the Golden Bird
that he scarcely listened to anything else the fox told him.

He sprang from the fox’s tail and hastened along the road to the
castle, and soon he came to the soldiers lying asleep upon the ground.
He went past them safely and they did not wake. He entered the
castle and it did not take him long to find the Golden Bird. There
it was in the very room the fox had told him of. It was in a mean,
common-looking cage, and beside it hung a handsome golden cage that
was empty.

“It is a foolish thing,” thought the Prince, “to put a golden bird in
a cage like that. It would be much better to put it in the cage that
suits it.” So thinking, he took the bird from the ugly cage and put it
in the handsome one. As soon as he did this the bird began to shriek.
This sound awakened the soldiers. They ran in and seized the Prince,
and carried him before the King of the country.

When the King heard how the Prince had tried to steal the Golden Bird
he was very angry. “You deserve to be put to death,” said he, “but I
will spare your life on one condition. If you will bring me the Golden
Horse that goes swifter than the wind, you shall be pardoned, and I
will give you the Golden Bird into the bargain.”

Well, there was no help for it; the Prince had to set out to find the
Golden Horse, but he was very sad, for he did not know where to look
for it, and unless he found it he would have to return and lose his
life.

He went along the road and he had not gone far when he saw the fox
sitting in a field and waiting for him.

“Why did you not follow my advice?” said the fox. “Now you are in a
pretty scrape. But mount upon my tail and I will see what I can do to
help you.”

The Prince seated himself upon the fox’s tail and away they went, over
bush and brake, over rock and brier, so fast the wind whistled by the
Prince’s ears.

Presently they came within sight of another castle, and there the fox
stopped. “Light down,” said he, “for I can carry you no farther. In
the stable of that castle is the Golden Horse you are in search of.
Go on boldly and open the stable door. No one will stop you, for the
stableman is asleep. Only when you find the Golden Horse do not take
the golden saddle that hangs beside the stall. Take the worn old saddle
that lies in the corner. Unless you do as I tell you misfortune will
surely come upon you.”

The Prince scarcely listened to the fox, he was in such a hurry to find
the Golden Horse. He hurried up the road to the stable and opened the
stable door, and no one stopped nor stayed him. There in the stall
stood the Golden Horse, and it shone so that the light from it filled
the whole place. Hanging beside the stall was a golden saddle set
with precious stones, and in the corner lay an old worn-out saddle of
leather. “This golden saddle is the saddle that belongs with the Golden
Horse,” thought the Prince. “It would be a shame to put the other upon
its back.”

So he took down the golden saddle and laid it on the horse. As soon
as he did so, the horse began to neigh and stamp. The sound awoke the
stableman, and he called the guard. The soldiers came running in haste
and seized the Prince and carried him before the King and told him the
youth had been trying to steal the Golden Horse.

“You deserve to die for this,” said the King, “but I will forgive you
on one condition. If you will bring me the Princess of the Golden
Castle for a wife then you shall not only receive my pardon, but the
Golden Horse into the bargain.”

Well, the Prince did not see how he was to find the Princess of the
Golden Castle, but he promised to do his best. He set out and he had
not gone far when he found the fox waiting for him.

“You do not deserve my help,” said the fox. “Why did you disobey me and
put the golden saddle upon the horse? But mount upon my tail. I suppose
I must do the best I can to pull you out of this scrape also.”

The Prince set himself upon the fox’s tail, and away they went again so
fast that the wind whistled through his hair.

On and on they went, and after a time they came to another castle, and
this castle was all of shining gold. “Now listen,” said the fox. “In
this castle lives the beautiful Princess we are in search of. Do you go
and hide yourself by the bathhouse down by the lake. Every night, when
all in the castle are asleep, the Princess comes down to the lake to
bathe. When she comes near the bathhouse you must seize her and kiss
her. Then she will willingly follow you wherever you lead. But whatever
you do do not allow her to go back to bid farewell to her parents. If
you do you may answer for it with your life.”

The Prince promised to do as the fox told him, and then he went away
and hid himself behind the bathhouse.

That night, as soon as all in the castle were asleep, the Princess
came down to the lake to bathe as usual. As soon as she came near the
bathhouse the Prince sprang out from behind it and caught her in his
arms and kissed her. Then the Princess loved him, and was quite willing
to leave her home and her father and mother and follow him.

“But before I follow you, let me go and say good-by to my parents,” she
said, “for they love me dearly, and their hearts will surely break if I
leave them without one word.”

It seemed to the Prince that it would be cruel to refuse what she
asked. Beside, what harm could it do for her to see her parents once
more?

“Very well,” said he. “Go, but return quickly, for we must be off
before the day breaks.”

The Princess hurried away to the room where the King, her father, lay
asleep, and she stooped and kissed him on the forehead. At once the
King awoke and asked her where she was going.

When he heard she was going out into the world to follow an unknown
youth, he sent out and had the Prince brought into the palace. There
the King said to him, “You have come here to steal the Princess from
me, and for this you deserve to die. But I will give you one chance for
your life. Outside my windows is a mountain so high and dark that not
a ray of sunlight ever comes into the castle. If in three days you can
level down this mountain, then I will grant you your life, and give you
my daughter for a bride.”

When the Prince heard this he was in despair, for he did not see how he
could possibly level down a mountain in three years, let alone three
days. However, he took a pick and shovel and set to work. For two days
he dug and shoveled, and at the end of that time he had scarcely dug
away enough to fill a ditch.

At the end of that time the fox came to him. “Now you see how little
you can do,” said he. “You do not deserve that I should help you again,
but I have a soft heart. Do you lie down and rest awhile, and I will do
the work for you.”

The Prince trusted the fox, and he was very tired. He flung himself
down upon the ground, and fell into a deep sleep.

When he awoke the next morning the mountain had disappeared. The place
where it had stood was as flat as the palm of the hand.

When the King looked from his windows and found the mountain gone
he was filled with joy and wonder. “You have indeed fairly won the
Princess,” said he to the Prince, “and I will not say you nay.”

So he gave his daughter to the stranger youth, and much treasure as
well. He also gave them each a horse trapped out in gold and precious
stones, and then the two set out together, riding side by side.

They had not gone far when they met the little red fox, and he was on
the watch for them.

“Now you have indeed won the best of all,” said he. “But it is you and
you alone who should have the Princess for a wife. But in order to keep
her for yourself you must do exactly as I say. First of all you must go
to the King who sent you to the golden castle. When he sees you have
brought the Princess to him, he will gladly give you the Golden Horse.
Mount upon the horse, and when you say farewell to the King and his
court, take the hand of each one in turn. Last of all you must take the
hand of the Princess. Grasp it firmly, and draw her up into the saddle
in front of you, and then ride away for your life. They may pursue you,
but none can overtake you, for the Golden Horse goes faster than the
wind.”

The Prince did exactly as the fox bade him. He took the Princess to the
palace of the King who had sent him to find her. When the King saw her
he gladly gave the Golden Horse to the Prince. The Prince said farewell
to all and then at the last he caught the Princess by the hand and drew
her up in front of him, and away they went faster than the wind, and
none pursed them, for they knew they could never catch them.

After awhile the Prince and Princess came to the fox seated by the road
waiting for them.

“That is well,” said the fox. “You have now the beautiful Princess and
the Golden Horse, but you must have the Golden Bird also.”

The fox then told the Prince what he must do. He must leave the
Princess there to wait for him, and ride on to the palace alone. “When
you reach the palace of the King,” said the fox, “he will gladly give
you the Golden Bird in exchange for the horse. Take the cage in your
hand and then spring upon the horse and ride away with it till you
come to where the Princess is. They will not try to overtake you, for
they know how fast the horse goes. Then you will have all three, the
Princess, the horse, and the bird.”

The Prince did exactly as the little animal bade him. He left the
Princess there with the fox, and rode on to the palace, and it was not
long before he was back again with the Golden Bird in his hand.

“Now you have all your heart desires,” said the fox, “and it is time I
had my reward for serving you.”

“That is true,” said the Prince. “Tell me how to reward you, and if I
can do it, I will.”

“Then take your bow,” said the fox, “and shoot me dead, and after that
cut off my head and paws.”

The Prince was filled with horror. “No, no,” he cried, “that I can
never do.”

“Very well,” said the fox. “If you will not do that, then you can do
nothing for me. I must leave you, but before I go there is one more
piece of advice that I will give you. Beware of two things. Buy no
human flesh and bones, and do not sit on the edge of a well.” Then the
fox left him and ran away into the forest near by.

But the Prince and Princess rode on together. “That was a curious piece
of advice,” said the Prince. “Why should I want to buy human flesh and
bones, and why should I not sit on the edge of a well if it pleases me?”

“Why indeed?” said the Princess.

The two journeyed on until they came to the village where the two inns
stood, and there the Prince stopped at the larger inn to water his
horse, and who should come out to fetch water for the horse but the
Prince’s second brother, and he was all in rags.

“Oh, my dear brother,” cried the Prince, “what has happened to you? Why
are you all in rags?”

“It is because I am in debt to the landlord,” answered the second
Prince. “I spent all my own money and more beside in feasting and
drinking, and now he keeps me as a servant and will not let me go.”

“And our eldest brother—is he here also?”

Yes, he was there also. He too was in debt to the landlord, and was
obliged to work about in the kitchen.

When the youngest brother heard this the tears ran down his cheeks. He
called the landlord to him and paid him all that the two brothers owed,
and bought them free. He also bought for each of them proper clothes
and fine horses to ride upon.

Then they all started home together. But the elder brothers were not
grateful to him. They envied and hated him because he had won the
Princess and the Golden Horse and the bird, and because he would have
their father’s kingdom, too. So they plotted together as to how they
could get rid of him.

They journeyed on for some hours until it was midday and the sun was
hot. Then they came to a place where there was a well with trees around
it.

“Let us sit here and rest awhile,” said the elder brothers, and the
youngest was willing.

They all lighted down from their horses, and then the two elder
brothers seized the younger one and threw him into the well.

After that they took the Princess, the horse, and the bird, and rode on
with them.

When at last they reached the palace of their father there was the
greatest rejoicing. Not only had the princes brought home with them the
Golden Bird, but they had brought the Golden Horse, and the beautiful
Princess as well, and now the kingdom was to be divided between them.
As for the youngest Prince no one knew what had become of him except
his brothers and the Princess.

But the Princess took no part in any of the rejoicings. She sat and
grieved and grieved. The horse would not eat and the bird would not
sing. The King was greatly distressed over all this. He could not guess
what ailed them all.

But though the brothers had thrown the youngest brother into a well,
that was not the last of him by any means. The well was a dry one, and
the Prince fell softly on the moss at the bottom of it, and was not
hurt at all except for a few bruises. But the sides of the well were so
steep that he could not climb out of it, and there in the well he might
have stayed had it not been for the faithful fox. The Prince had not
been long in the well when the fox looked down over the edge of it and
spoke to him.

“You little deserve that I should help you again,” said the fox. “If
you had heeded my warnings all this trouble would not have come upon
you. Nevertheless, I cannot leave you here to perish. Catch hold of my
tail, and I will pull you out.”

The fox then let its tail hang down in the well, the Prince caught hold
of it, and the fox managed to drag him out of the well and up into the
sunlight.

The Prince thanked the fox with tears in his eyes, and then he
journeyed on toward his father’s palace. On the way he met an old
beggar-man, and exchanged clothes with him. He put on the beggar’s
rags, and stained his hands and face so that he was as dark as a gypsy,
and when he came at last into the palace not even his father knew him.
No sooner did he enter the gate of the palace, however, than the bird
began to sing, the horse began to eat, and the Princess wiped away her
tears, and laughed aloud with joy.

The King was amazed. “How is this?” he asked the Princess. “How is it
that you have so suddenly ceased grieving and become cheerful?”

“I know not,” answered the Princess. “Only this morning I was so sad
that my heart was like lead, and now suddenly I feel quite happy, just
as though my own dear promised husband had come home again.”

The Princess then told the King the whole story, how it was the
youngest Prince who had won the bird and the horse, and her also for
his bride; how he had bought his brothers’ lives from the landlord at
the inn, and how they had afterward thrown him into a dry well and left
him there.

“It may be,” said the King, “that my son has in truth come home, and is
here in the palace, and that that is why you feel so happy.”

He then gave orders that everyone in the palace was to come before him.
This was done, and among all the rest came the young Prince disguised
as an old beggar-man.

But though he was disguised the Princess knew him at once. She ran to
him and threw her arms about his neck and kissed him. “You are my own
dear one,” she cried, “and to you and you only do I belong.”

Then there was great rejoicing all through the palace because the
Prince had come home again. But as for the elder brothers they were
sent out from before the King’s presence and punished as they deserved.

Now some time after this as the young Prince was hunting in the forest
he met the little red fox, and it looked very sad and thin and worn.

“Alas!” said he to the Prince, “now you are happy and have everything
your heart can wish, but I am hunted about the world, miserable and
forlorn.”

Then the Prince was filled with pity. “Whatever I can do for you I
will,” he said, “for everything I have I owe to you.”

Then again the fox begged and implored the Prince to shoot it and cut
off its head and its paws. At last the Prince consented.

No sooner had he done as the fox asked him, than instead of the little
animal a handsome young man stood before him. This young man was the
brother of the Princess Beautiful. He had been enchanted, and obliged
to wander about the world in the shape of a fox, but now the young
Prince had broken the enchantment.

The two princes embraced each other tenderly, and returned to the
palace together, and after that they all lived together in the greatest
happiness.

[Illustration]



THE NAIL


A merchant had been trading in a far city and had made much money,
which he was now bringing home with him. He rode in haste, for he knew
he would not feel easy until he had locked away the gold in his strong
room at home.

Toward the middle of the morning he stopped at an inn to give his horse
water. “Sir,” said the ostler who waited on him, “a nail is loose in
your horse’s shoe.”

“No matter,” answered the merchant. “I am in haste, and the shoe must
go as it is till I get home.”

A little later he stopped at another inn. “Sir,” said the ostler, “your
horse’s shoe is loose; shall I not take him to the blacksmith near by
and have the shoe fastened on?”

“No,” answered the merchant, “I have not time to wait. I must be home
before nightfall.”

The merchant rode still farther, but presently his horse began to
limp. It limped more and more, until at last, in the very midst of a
deep forest, it stumbled and fell, and could not get up again.

The merchant was in despair. Dusk was coming on, and there seemed
nothing for it but to spend the night in the forest. However, he
discovered a house near by, and the old woman who was in charge of it
promised him food and a lodging for the night.

When the merchant went up to bed he put his bag of gold under his
pillow. He meant to watch all night, but he was very tired, and
presently, in spite of himself his eyes closed and he fell into a deep
sleep.

Now this house belonged to a band of robbers, and the old woman was
their housekeeper. Soon after the merchant was asleep the robbers came
home. The housekeeper told them of the rich man who had come to the
house while they were away, and of how she had given him a bed for the
night.

The robbers went up to the merchant’s room and finding him asleep they
stole the bag of money from under his pillow, and made off with it.

In the morning, when the merchant awoke, he felt under his pillow for
the bag, but it was gone. He called aloud, but no one answered. He
searched the house from top to bottom, but could find nobody.

So the merchant lost both his gold and his horse. “And all,” said he,
“because I was in such haste that I would not stop for a nail to be
put in my horse’s shoe. It is a true saying—‘the more haste the less
speed.’”



LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD


There was once a little girl whose father and mother loved her so
dearly that they thought nothing too good for her. Her mother made for
her the prettiest of little dresses; her stockings were of fine yarn,
and there were bright buckles on her shoes. Her mother also made for
her a little cloak and hood of red cloth, and the little girl looked
so pretty in them that her mother called her Little Red Riding-Hood
instead of Mary, as she had been christened.

Little Red Riding-Hood had a grandmother who was so old that sometimes
she lay in bed all day and felt too weak to get up.

One day the mother called the little girl to her and said, “My child,
I have put a pat of butter and some fresh eggs and a wheatcake in this
basket. Take it and carry it to your grandmother. Run along quickly,
and do not loiter nor stop to talk to anyone along the way, for I want
you to get back before the afternoon is late.”

[Illustration]

“Yes, dear mother,” said the little girl, and she took the basket in
her hand and set out for her grandmother’s house.

At first she ran along briskly and stopped for nothing, but the fields
were full of pretty flowers. “I am sure,” thought Red Riding-Hood
“that my grandmother would be glad to have a bunch of daisies and
buttercups.” She began to pick one here and another there until she had
quite a handful.

Presently she heard feet padding along the path, and the old gray wolf
came trotting by.

“Good-day, Red Riding-Hood,” said the wolf.

“Good-day,” answered the child.

“And where are you going this fine bright day with your basket on your
arm?”

“Oh, I am going to my grandmother’s house. She is so old that sometimes
she lies in bed and cannot get up, and I am taking her some butter and
some fresh eggs and a wheaten cake.”

“And where does your grandmother live?”

“She lives over beyond the wood in a little white house with a thatched
roof and green blinds, and the path runs straight there.”

The wolf had now learned all he cared to know. He bade Red Riding-Hood
good-by and trotted on briskly.

As soon as he came into the wood where Red Riding-Hood could not see
him he began to gallop. On and on he galloped as fast as he could, for
he was anxious to get to the little white house with the thatched roof
and the green blinds before Red Riding-Hood did.

In the depths of the wood a woodcutter was busy at his work. He saw the
old wolf go hurrying by, and he wondered what he was after. “He’s up to
some mischief or other, and that is sure,” said the woodcutter. And he
shouldered his axe and followed on after the wolf to see what he was
going to do.

On went Mr. Wolf, and presently he came to the edge of the forest, and
there stood the little white house with the thatched roof and green
blinds, and the path led straight up to the door, so the wolf knew that
must be where the grandmother lived.

He stopped and looked all about him, for he did not want anyone to
watch him. He saw no one, however, for the woodchopper had hidden
behind some rocks. Then the wolf knocked at the door, rap-tap-tap!

Nobody answered, so he knocked again, rap-tap-tap! Still no one
answered, and there was no stir within the house, though the wolf
cocked his ear and listened carefully. The wolf pulled the latchstring,
the latch flew up, and he pushed the door open, and slipped inside. He
looked about, and there was nobody there, for the old grandmother had
been feeling stronger that day, so she had dressed and had gone out to
see a neighbor.

The old wolf hunted about until he found the grandmother’s bedgown;
then he pulled it on over his big hairy body. He tied on a big ruffled
cap and put the grandmother’s spectacles on his nose, and after that he
crawled into bed and drew the coverlet up under his chin.

The woodcutter, outside, wondered what the wolf was doing in the house,
but he did not hear a sound, so he sat down to watch and see what would
happen next, and as he was very tired he fell fast asleep.

It was not long before Little Red Riding-Hood came running along, and
she was in a great hurry, for she had spent a long time gathering
flowers. The woodcutter did not see her, however, for he was asleep.
The little girl ran up to the door and knocked upon it, rap-tap-tap!

Then the old wolf made his voice very faint and weak like the
grandmother’s. “Who is there?” he asked.

“It is I, grandmother; Little Red Riding-Hood,” answered the child.

“Pull the latchstring, and lift the latch,” said the wolf.

Red Riding-Hood lifted the latch and pushed the door open and went in.

There was not much light in the room, for the wolf had pulled the
curtains across the window.

“I am not able to get up, dear child,” said the wolf, still in the same
weak voice. “Put your basket on the table and come over here.”

Red Riding-Hood did as she was told. She put the basket on the table
and came over to the bedside, but as she came closer she thought her
grandmother looked very strange.

“Oh, grandmother, what great big eyes you have,” said she.

“The better to see you, my dear,” answered the wolf.

“But, oh grandmother, what long, long ears you have.”

“The better to hear you, my dear!”

“But, grandmother, what big sharp white teeth you have!”

“+The better to eat you!+” howled the wolf, and he sprang out of bed
and caught Red Riding-Hood by the cloak.

The little girl cried out, but at this moment the woodcutter burst open
the door and rushed in. The howl had awakened him from his sleep, and
just in time. He struck the wolf such a blow on the head that it fell
down dead.

Then he took Red Riding-Hood up in his arms and comforted her, for she
was crying bitterly. She was frightened and her pretty red cloak had
been torn. He wiped her eyes, and promised to walk home with her, but
first, he said, they must wait until the grandmother came home.

When she came at last, and heard the story and saw the wolf lying there
on the floor, she could not thank the woodcutter enough. And indeed,
if it had not been for him the little girl would certainly have been
eaten by the wolf.

But from then on Red Riding-Hood was careful to obey her mother, and
not to loiter on the way when she was sent on errands.



[Illustration: Aladdin or The Magic Lamp]



ALADDIN, OR THE MAGIC LAMP


In a far city in China there once lived a lad named Aladdin. Aladdin’s
mother was a widow, and the boy had never had a father’s care. He did
as he pleased, and played in the streets all day, and was so idle that
he was of no use to anyone.

One day, as Aladdin was playing with a band of companions, a tall man,
richly dressed, stopped to watch them. Suddenly he called to Aladdin,
“Come here, boy; I wish to speak to you.”

The lad came, wondering.

“Are you not the son of Mustapha the tailor?” asked the stranger.

Aladdin said that he was.

“I knew it,” cried the stranger. “I knew it from your likeness to your
dear father.” He then embraced the boy tenderly. “I, dear lad, am your
uncle,” said he. “I have spent many years in strange countries, and
have made a fortune. I came back here in search of you, for I heard
your father was dead, and I wish to take his place and be a father to
you.”

Aladdin was very much surprised. He had never known he had an uncle.
And indeed he had not. The stranger was a magician who had need of a
stout and active lad to help in a certain adventure. He had noticed
Aladdin playing in the streets and had found out the lad’s name and the
name of his father, so as to pass himself off as Aladdin’s uncle.

Aladdin was eager to believe the story the stranger told, for he
thought it would be a fine thing to have a rich uncle to help him along
in the world.

“Lead me to your mother’s house, Aladdin,” said the magician. “I wish
to talk with her, and to weep with her over the memory of my dear
brother.”

Aladdin took the stranger’s hand and led him away through one street
after another, each meaner and dirtier than the other. At last he
stopped before a miserable looking hovel.

“This is where I live,” said the boy.

“Here!” cried the magician. “Oh, what a miserable place for my
brother’s child to live. But I will soon change all this. You must move
into a handsome house, and you must have some better clothes than
those you have on. I will make your fortune for you.”

Aladdin was more delighted than ever when he heard this. He made haste
to open the door and lead the magician to his mother, and to repeat to
her the story he had been told.

The widow was even more surprised than her son over the magician’s
story, but she was quite as eager to believe it as he. It would indeed
be a fine thing if the stranger would lift them out of their poverty.
She begged him to sit down and share their evening meal, but this he
would not do. He said he had business with some merchants, and went
away, after promising to come back the next day.

On the morrow, as he had promised, the magician returned, and he took
Aladdin out with him, and bought him fine clothes, and sweetmeats to
eat, and he talked so much of all he meant to do for his dear nephew
that the boy’s head was quite turned.

The following morning he came again, and asked Aladdin whether he would
not like to take a walk in the country, as it was such a fine day.

Aladdin gladly agreed to this plan. It was pleasant to be with his new
uncle, and to hear him talk of all the grand things he intended to do.

The magician led the boy out of the city, talking pleasantly all the
while, and on and on into the country, so far that at last the lad
began to grow weary and to wonder when they would turn back.

In time they came to a lonely valley shut in by high hills, and here
the stranger stopped. “My dear nephew, I wish to show you something
here that is very curious,” said the false uncle. “But first gather
together a few dry sticks and build a little fire.”

This Aladdin did.

When the fire was burning brightly the magician drew from under his
robe a small box. He opened it, and taking from it a pinch of powder he
threw it into the fire, at the same time saying some magic words.

Immediately there was a loud noise like a clap of thunder, and the
ground opened before them, showing a great stone in which was a brass
ring.

Aladdin was so frightened by these happenings that he would have run
away, but the stranger caught him roughly by the arm.

“Stay where you are,” he cried. “I have brought you here to do a
special thing for me, and if you refuse you shall not escape alive. If,
however, you are obedient I will make you rich for life.”

“What do you wish of me?” asked Aladdin in a trembling voice.

“First lift this stone for me.”

Aladdin caught hold of the brass ring and tried to lift the stone, but
it was too heavy for him, and the magician was obliged to help him.
Together they dragged away the stone and showed an opening and a flight
of stairs leading down into the earth.

“Now,” said the pretended uncle, “you must go down these steps and they
will bring you into a palace divided into three halls. You will see in
these halls great chests filled with gold and silver, but for your life
do not touch them; do not even brush against the walls or touch them
either, for if you do you will surely perish. Go straight through the
halls and you will come to a garden; it is full of fruit-trees, and if
you should wish to gather some of the fruit you may safely do so; no
harm will come to you from so doing. At the farthest side of the garden
is a wall; in this wall is a niche; in this niche is a small bronze
lamp. Take it and empty out the oil and bring it to me.”

Aladdin had no wish to descend the stairs into the earth, but the
stranger frightened him, and he dared not refuse. He started down, but
the magician called him back. “Here! take this,” he said, and slipping
a ring from his finger he placed it on Aladdin’s hand. “It will protect
you from any dangers you may meet with.”

Aladdin now went on down the stairs, and at the foot of them he found
the palace halls the stranger had told him of. Everywhere he saw chests
of silver and gold, but he was careful to touch none of them. He walked
on very warily and out into the garden. He found the lamp without any
trouble, emptied out the oil, and thrust it into the sash that was
twisted about his waist.

All about him were fruit-trees loaded with the most beautiful fruits he
had ever seen. They were of all colors, and shone as though polished.
Aladdin picked some of them, but instead of being juicy and delicious
as he had expected, they were so hard he could neither bite nor
break them. They seemed indeed to be made of glass, only much harder
and brighter; they were so pretty the boy gathered a great quantity
of them; he filled his pockets and sleeves and shirt with the fruit
and then hurried back through the hall and up the steps. He saw his
pretended uncle stooping over and watching for him impatiently.

“Did you get the lamp?” cried the magician eagerly.

“Yes, I have it here.”

The magician’s eyes sparkled with triumph. He reached down his hand.
“Give it to me, quick, quick!” he cried.

“In a moment,” said Aladdin; “but my hands are full of fruit and it is
in my waistband. First help me out, and then I will give it to you.”

“No, no! Give it to me now,” cried the magician sharply. He did not,
indeed, intend to let Aladdin ever come out alive. He meant as soon as
he had the lamp to push the stone back into place and fasten the lad in.

Aladdin did not guess this, but for some reason he felt suddenly
afraid.

“I cannot give you the lamp,” he cried, “until you let me out.”

“Give it to me I tell you.”

“Not until you let me out.”

Suddenly the magician flew into a black rage. “Then stay where you
are,” he cried fiercely.

He threw another pinch of powder into the fire which was still burning,
and muttered a magic charm. At once the stone rose and dropped back
into its place, and Aladdin found himself shut in, in darkness.

Filled with terror, he beat upon the stone, and called to the magician
to let him out. But there was no answer. He put his shoulders under the
stone and tried to lift it, but it would not stir. Aladdin sat down
and wept bitter tears. He felt he was a prisoner forever. Suddenly he
remembered the garden. Perhaps he could find some way out through it.

He made his way slowly down the steps, feeling his way through the
darkness. As he did this he happened to rub the magician’s ring against
the wall.

At once a horrible genie appeared before him, as black as pitch, but
with eyes that shone like a red fire, and lightened up the darkness.

“What wouldst thou have?” asked this terrible being. “I and the other
slaves of the ring upon thy finger stand ready to serve thee.”

Aladdin was astonished beyond measure, but he made shift to say, “If
you are able, take me away from here and back to my mother’s house.”

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie.

At once Aladdin felt himself caught up and carried through the air
swifter than the wind, and almost before he could draw breath he was
back in his mother’s house, and the genie had disappeared.

His mother could hardly believe her eyes when Aladdin appeared so
suddenly before her.

“My dear son, where did you come from, and where is your uncle?” she
asked.

As soon as Aladdin could get his breath he told her the whole story.
His mother listened and wondered. “Without doubt,” said she, “this man
is not your uncle at all, but a magician who wished to use you for some
wicked purpose.”

To this Aladdin agreed, but he was so hungry that he begged his mother
to get him something to eat before they talked further.

His mother began to weep. “Alas!” said she, “I have not a morsel of
food in the house, and no money with which to buy any.”

Aladdin remembered the lamp which was still in his waist-band. He drew
it out. “Look!” said he. “This lamp must be worth something since the
magician was so anxious to have it. Take it to some shop, or to one of
the neighbors, and perhaps they will pay you enough for it for us to
buy some rice.”

This seemed to the mother a wise plan. “I will do as you say,” said
she, “but first I will brighten the lamp, for it is very black and
dirty.”

She took some sand and water to polish it, but scarcely had she begun
to rub it when a genie, even more terrible looking than the genie of
the ring, appeared before them.

“What dost thou wish?” he asked in a voice of thunder. “I and the other
slaves of the lamp stand ready to serve thee in all things.”

The widow was so terrified at the sight of the genie, and at the sound
of his voice, that she fell down on her face and lay there. But
Aladdin caught the lamp from her hand.

“If you would serve me bring us something to eat,” he cried.

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie. At once he disappeared, but
scarcely was he gone before he appeared again with a great silver tray
and a number of silver dishes and cups full of all sorts of delicious
things to eat and drink. The genie set it upon a table. “Hast thou any
further commands?” he asked in a voice of thunder.

“Not at present,” answered Aladdin.

At once the genie disappeared.

Aladdin called to his mother, and when she looked up and saw the genie
had gone she was able to raise herself from the floor, though she still
shook and trembled. She and her son sat down and ate and drank to their
hearts’ content, and there was enough food left over to serve them
another day. Aladdin then took the silver tray and the dishes out to a
merchant he knew and sold them for a good price; so in this way he had
money to spend.

After this Aladdin and his mother lived very comfortably. Whenever
they were hungry Aladdin had only to rub the lamp and command the genie
to bring them food, and it was served to them immediately. It was
always brought to them in silver dishes and upon a silver tray, and as
Aladdin could sell these for a good price he and his mother lacked for
nothing.

Aladdin now began to go about among the merchants of the city and talk
with them, and before long he learned to his surprise that the fruits
he had brought with him from the garden were not glass at all, but
jewels, and jewels so rare and magnificent that they were not to be
equaled anywhere.

Now the Sultan of that country had one daughter, the Princess Buddir al
Baddoor, and she was the most beautiful princess in the world.

No man was ever allowed to see her face. When she rode through the city
to the public baths the Sultan commanded that all the houses should be
closed and that the people should stay indoors and not look out, upon
pain of death.

Now Aladdin was very curious, as well as bold. One day when the
Princess was to pass through the city he hid himself near the door of
the baths without anyone knowing it.

The Princess came riding down the street with all her guards and
ladies-in-waiting about her, and just as she reached the door near
which Aladdin was hiding she dropped her veil, and he saw her face. At
once he was filled with a violent love for her. It seemed to him he
could not live unless he could have the Princess for a wife.

When he returned home his mother noticed that he was very thoughtful.
She did not know what had happened to him. At last she asked, “My son,
what ails you? Why are you so thoughtful and silent.”

“My mother,” answered Aladdin, “I have seen the Princess Buddir al
Baddoor, and unless I can marry her I no longer wish to live.”

When the widow heard these words she thought her son must be crazy.

“How can you think of such a thing?” she cried. “Have you forgotten
that your father was nothing but a tailor? How can a tailor’s son hope
to marry a princess?”

“Nevertheless that is what I intend to do,” said Aladdin. He then
urged and entreated his mother to go to the palace and ask the Sultan
to give the Princess to him. The widow was very loth to do this, but
she loved her son so tenderly that at last she consented.

“But have you forgotten,” said she, “that no one can come before the
Sultan without bringing him a present?”

“I have not forgotten,” said Aladdin, “and I mean to send the Sultan
such a gift as he has never seen before.”

He then fetched from the cupboard a porcelain dish, and he also brought
out the fruits he had brought from the garden. He arranged the fruits
in the dish in a pyramid according to their colors, and when he had
done this his mother was amazed at their beauty. They shone so brightly
that it dazzled the eyes to look at them. “Now I will tell you,” said
Aladdin, “that these fruits are jewels so rare and magnificent that not
the greatest ruler on earth has any that can equal them.”

The widow was amazed when she heard this. She could hardly believe it,
and it was with fear and trembling that she set out at length for the
Sultan’s palace. She carried the dish of jewels with her, covered over
with a fine napkin.

When she reached the palace she went into the audience chamber with the
rest of the crowd who had come to bring their cases before the Sultan.
She sat down near the wall and stayed there all day, but she found no
chance to speak to the Sultan or to offer her gift. And so it was day
after day. Every morning she came to the audience chamber with the
jewels, and every evening she returned home without having spoken to
him.

But it so chanced the Sultan noticed how she came day after day with
the covered dish in her hands, and he grew curious as to who she was
and what she wanted. At last he spoke to his Grand Vizier about her,
and commanded that she should be brought before him.

This was done, but the poor woman was so frightened by the honor done
her that she stood there trembling and unable to say a word.

The Sultan saw her terror and spoke to her gently. “My good woman,”
said he, “do not be afraid. Tell me why you have come here day after
day. Is there something you wish to ask of me?”

“There is indeed something that I wish to ask, and yet I dare not,”
said the widow.

The Sultan, however, encouraged her. “Speak,” said he. “Do not be
afraid. Tell me what you wish.”

“My son,” said the widow, “wishes to marry the Princess Buddir al
Baddoor, and I have come here to ask you to give her to him as a wife;
and my son also sends this small present, which he begs you to accept.”

When this widow, so poor and meanly dressed, said that her son wished
to marry the Princess the Sultan could hardly keep from laughing; but
when she uncovered the dish of jewels he was amazed. He took up one
after another and examined it with admiration. He turned to the Vizier,
who stood beside him: “Never in all my life before,” said he, “have I
seen such beautiful jewels. Truly a man who can send me such a gift as
this is worthy to have a princess for a wife. Do you not agree with me?”

When the Grand Vizier heard this he was troubled. He had indeed hoped
that his own son might marry the Princess. Now he said, “Your Majesty,
these jewels are indeed very wonderful; but we know nothing of the man
who sent them. He may be only some beggarly rogue who has stolen them.”

“That is true,” said the Sultan. He thought for a moment, still turning
the jewels with his fingers. Then he said to the woman, “I am indeed
very much pleased with the gift your son has sent me. Go back and
tell him I am inclined to give him the Princess for a wife, but first
he must send me forty basins of massy gold filled with the same sort
of jewels as these. If he can do this I will gladly have him for a
son-in-law.”

The widow returned home and told her son what the Sultan had said.
Aladdin was overjoyed when he heard the message. He now felt sure that
before long he would be married to the Princess. He took the lamp and
rubbed it, and at once the genie appeared.

“What dost thou wish?” asked the genie. “I and the other slaves of the
lamp are ready to serve thee in all things.”

“I wish,” said Aladdin, “for forty basins of massy gold, filled with
jewels such as I gathered in the garden. I also wish for forty black
slaves, magnificently dressed, to carry the basins, and forty white
slaves, also magnificently dressed and mounted on fine horses, to ride
before them and behind.”

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie.

At once he disappeared, but almost in a moment of time a long
procession of slaves appeared in the street where Aladdin lived and
gathered before his house. There were forty black slaves, magnificently
dressed, and each bearing on his head a golden basin filled with jewels
even more magnificent than those Aladdin had gathered for himself, and
there were also forty white slaves, mounted on horses, to ride before
them and behind.

When Aladdin saw these slaves and the jewels they bore his eyes
sparkled with joy. He at once commanded them to march to the palace and
present the jewels to the Sultan, and the widow herself hastened away,
so as to reach the palace at the same time that they did.

The slaves set out through the city; a great crowd followed them,
shouting and rejoicing, for never had such a sight been seen there
before.

The Sultan heard the sound of huzzahing and wondered what was the
reason for it. But when the slaves entered the palace bearing their
basins of jewels he himself was filled with wonder and admiration. He
turned to his Vizier. “Surely,” said he, “anyone who can send me such a
gift as this is worthy of the Princess Buddir al Baddoor;” and though
the Vizier could hardly hide his envy he was obliged to agree with his
master.

When Aladdin heard that the Sultan had consented to his marriage with
the Princess he could hardly contain his joy. He at once rubbed the
lamp, and when the genie appeared he commanded him to bring him the
most magnificent clothes, such as were suitable for a Sultan’s son
to wear, also a handsome horse for him to ride upon, and a troop of
horsemen, handsomely dressed to ride with him.

All this the genie did, and after Aladdin had bathed in a scented bath,
and had dressed himself in his magnificent garments he was so handsome
and noble-looking that his old friends would not have known him.

He rode away to the palace, and there the Sultan received him with
the greatest respect and honor. He would have married Aladdin to his
daughter at once, but this Aladdin did not wish.

“Your Majesty,” said he, “greatly as I long to see the Princess Buddir
al Baddoor I wish first to provide a palace for us to live in when we
are married. For this purpose I beg of your Majesty to give me a plot
of ground where I can build it.”

The Sultan was surprised and disappointed when he heard this. He
thought it would take years to build a palace, and he could not
understand how Aladdin could want to wait that long before marrying the
Princess. However, he gave him the ground he asked for.

Aladdin then returned home and rubbed the lamp. At once the genie
appeared before him, and asked him what were his commands.

“I command you,” said Aladdin, “to build me immediately a castle twice
as handsome as that of the Sultan. I wish it to be furnished throughout
in the most magnificent manner, and I also wish for a proper number of
servants and guards to take charge of it. There must also be gardens
around it with fountains and trees and flowers, and stables full of
handsome horses, and above all there must be a treasure-house filled
with gold and silver and precious stones.”

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie; and at once he disappeared.

The next morning, when the Sultan awoke and looked from the window,
he could hardly believe his eyes. He stared, and rubbed his eyes,
and looked again. There, upon the bare piece of ground he had given
to Aladdin, stood a great palace glittering with gold and silver and
precious stones. It was far more magnificent than his own, and it had
been built in one single night.

The Sultan at once sent for Aladdin, and when he came the Sultan made
the tailor’s son sit beside him, and talked with him as an equal. “My
dear Aladdin,” said he, “you are indeed a very wonderful man, and it
is only fitting that the most beautiful princess in the world should
be your wife, and you shall be as dear to me as though you were my own
son.”

That very day Aladdin and the Princess were married, and went to live
in the magic palace, and as they loved each other dearly nothing could
equal their happiness. Aladdin felt so secure in his good fortune that
he never even thought of the magician or wondered whether he might some
day come to claim the lamp.

The magician had indeed left China soon after his adventure with
Aladdin. He journeyed back and forth over the earth in many places, and
at last in his wanderings he came again to the city where he had met
Aladdin. There he heard much talk of how a poor lad had married the
daughter of the Sultan, and of the magnificent palace he had built.
The magician never thought that Aladdin might be that poor lad, for he
supposed he had perished in the hidden garden.

At last the magician became curious to see the palace that everyone was
talking about, and he hired a horse and rode out to where it stood. As
soon as he saw it he knew at once that it had been built by the genie
of the lamp. He hastened home and got out his magic books, and from
them learned that Aladdin was still alive, and that it was he who owned
the palace and had become the Sultan’s son-in-law.

When the magician learned this he was filled with rage and at once
began to plot and plan as to how he could get the lamp for himself, and
destroy Aladdin.

In order to carry out this purpose he bought a number of fine new lamps
and disguised himself in poor, mean clothing. He waited until one time
when Aladdin had gone hunting with the Sultan, and then he started out
through the city with his tray of lamps, calling, “New lamps for old!
New lamps for old!”

Many people heard his cry and came hurrying out of their houses with
old broken lamps, and offered them to the magician to exchange. He took
them willingly, and for all of these old lamps he gave in return fine
new ones. The people thought he must be crazy. A great crowd followed
him, shouting and laughing.

At last the magician arrived in front of Aladdin’s castle. The Princess
was sitting in an upper room with her attendants and yawning and
feeling quite dull, because Aladdin was away. When she heard the noise
and hubbub in the street she became curious. She sent one of her women
to find out what the noise was about. She hoped it might be something
amusing.

Presently the woman came back laughing. “Fancy!” cried she. “It is an
old man with a tray of the most beautiful new lamps, and he is trading
them for old ones.”

The Princess was much amused at this idea. “Where is that old blackened
lamp that I have seen your master have?” asked she. “Look about and see
if you can find it?”

Her woman began to search the palace, and at last they found the magic
lamp hidden away in a corner of the treasure-room. They brought it to
the Princess, and she at once caused the magician to be brought before
her. “Here, old man,” said she, laughing. “Here is an old lamp. Will
you give me a new one for it?”

When the magician saw the lamp he could hardly hide his joy. “Gladly,
madam,” he answered. “Choose whichever of the lamps you will, and it
shall be yours.”

The Princess chose one that pleased her well, and the magician took the
old lamp and hurried away with it.

No sooner had he reached home than he shut himself up alone in his room
and rubbed the lamp. At once the genie appeared.

“What do you wish?” cried he. “I and the other slaves of the lamp stand
ready to serve you.”

“I wish,” cried the magician in a terrible voice, “that the palace of
Aladdin and all that are in it shall be carried away to Africa.”

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie, and immediately disappeared.

That evening the Sultan and Aladdin came home from their hunt. They
rode along together, talking pleasantly, until they came within sight
of the Sultan’s palace. Suddenly the Sultan drew rein and stared with
blank surprise. The castle that Aladdin had built in a single night was
gone. Not a sign of it was left.

“Your palace!” cried the Sultan. “Where is your palace?”

Aladdin, too, stared thunderstruck. “I—I do not know!” he faltered.

“You do not know?” cried the Sultan. “And my daughter! Where is she?”

“I do not know,” answered Aladdin again.

The Sultan was filled with rage. “You do not know!” he thundered.
“Miserable wretch! was your castle only the work of enchantment? Have
you carried off my daughter by your magic? Now unless you bring her
back at once you shall surely die.”

Aladdin was in despair. He begged the Sultan to allow him forty days
in which to search for the Princess, and to this the Sultan at last
consented.

Aladdin at once set out on the search, but he did not know in which
direction to go. He wandered about from one place to another, without
learning anything about the fate of the Princess or his palace.

At last one day he found himself in a rocky spot beside the sea. In
descending the rocks he slipped and caught his hand on a sharp point,
and in so doing he rubbed the magician’s ring which he still wore, but
which he had forgotten.

At once the genie of the ring appeared before him. “Master,” said he,
“what wouldst thou have? I and the other slaves of the ring stand ready
to serve thee.”

Aladdin was overjoyed to find that the ring still kept its magic
powers. “I wish,” said he, “that you would bring back my palace and
the Princess, or else take me where they are.”

“I cannot bring them back,” answered the slave of the ring, “for they
have been carried away by the genie of the lamp, who is mightier than
I, but I can take you where they are.”

The slave of the ring then caught up Aladdin, and in less time than it
takes to tell he had carried him to Africa and had set him down in the
apartment in the palace where the Princess was.

When the Princess saw Aladdin thus suddenly appear before her she gave
a cry of joy and threw herself into his arms.

“The lamp!” cried Aladdin. “Where is the lamp?” for he wished to
protect himself against the power of the magician.

“Alas,” cried the Princess, “I do not know where it is. Already I
feared that all our misfortunes had come from my trading off that lamp
to a beggar.” She then told Aladdin the whole story of how one had come
offering new lamps for old, and of how her women had hunted up the old
blackened lamp, and she had given it away for a new one.

Aladdin at once guessed that the beggar must have been the magician in
disguise. “We will never be safe,” said he, “until we have that lamp in
our possession again. Does the magician ever come here?”

“Oh, yes,” said the Princess; “he comes here every day and wearies me
with his pretty speeches. He wishes me to marry him, but that I will
never do.”

“Now, listen,” said Aladdin. “The next time the magician comes greet
him pleasantly. Talk to him for awhile, and then offer him a glass of
sherbet. In this sherbet you must first put a powder that I will give
you. It is a sleeping-powder. After the magician drinks it he will fall
into a deep sleep. You must then at once call me. Together we will
search his clothing, for I feel sure he is afraid to leave the lamp
anywhere, and carries it always about him. If we can once get hold of
the lamp all of our troubles are at an end.”

The Princess promised to do exactly as Aladdin bade her, and then he
gave her the powder, and hid himself in a room near by.

Not long after this the magician came, as usual, to sit and talk with
the Princess. She met him with smiling looks, and was so pleasant and
friendly that the magician was delighted. He hoped the Princess was
beginning to love him and that before long she would consent to be his
wife.

Presently the Princess took up a glass of sherbet in which she had
already dissolved the powder. “I thought you might be thirsty,” said
she, “and I prepared this sherbet for you; will you not drink it?”

The magician thanked her, and taking the goblet he drank the sherbet at
one draught. Almost at once his head dropped back on the cushions and
he sank in a deep sleep.

The Princess did not delay a moment in calling Aladdin. He came in
haste, and together they searched the garments of the magician. It did
not take them long to find the lamp, which was hidden in his vest.

Aladdin rubbed it, and the genie of the lamp appeared before him.

“What dost thou wish?” he cried. “I and all the other slaves of the
lamp stand ready to obey thee.”

“First,” said Aladdin, “I wish this magician carried away to the
uttermost parts of the earth, and I wish him never to be allowed to
come within a hundred miles of the lamp again. Secondly, I wish my
palace to be returned to the place from which it was taken.”

“To hear is to obey,” answered the genie.

He disappeared with the magician, and as the magician never was seen
again he probably never escaped from the ends of the earth.

As for the palace it and all that was in it were returned to the place
where it first stood, and the Sultan was so delighted to see his
daughter again that he gladly forgave Aladdin. The tailor’s son was
raised to the greatest honors in the kingdom, and upon the Sultan’s
death he became Sultan, and lived happy forever after with his
beautiful wife, Buddir al Baddoor.



[Illustration]



THE COBBLER AND THE FAIRIES


There was once a cobbler who worked hard at his trade, and yet never
seemed to get on in the world.

One evening he took his last piece of leather and cut out a pair of
shoes and laid the pieces neatly on his bench, expecting to finish them
in the morning.

“There,” said he to his wife; “that is my last piece of leather, and I
will have no money to buy more until those shoes are made and sold.”

The next morning he went to his shop early to begin work. What was his
surprise to find that in the night the pieces had been made up into a
fine pair of shoes. He took them up and examined them, and there was
not a fault to be found with them. It was indeed much better work than
the cobbler could have done. Not even the king’s shoemaker could have
done better.

The cobbler set the shoes out where they could be seen, and he soon had
a customer for them. This customer was a very rich man. “This is a very
fine pair of shoes,” said the rich man after he had examined them. “I
will take them, and you may make me two more pairs.” He then paid the
cobbler well, and went away, carrying the shoes with him.

The cobbler was ready to dance with joy. He hurried out and bought more
leather, and by evening he had cut out two more pairs of shoes. He left
the pieces lying on the bench as before.

When he came to the shop the next morning, he found both pairs finished
and standing side by side on the bench, and they were just as well made
as the other pair had been. The rich man was delighted with them, and
he brought a friend to the shop with him, who also ordered two pairs of
shoes.

So it went on. Soon the cobbler had all the customers he could attend
to, and they paid high prices for his shoes, for they were better than
could be bought anywhere else.

But the cobbler puzzled and puzzled about who was helping him. No
matter how late he sat up, nor how early he rose in the morning, he
never saw anyone, and he never heard a sound.

At last he determined he would watch all night and find out who was
doing the work. So when his wife went off to bed he hid himself behind
some clothes that were hanging in the corner, and stayed there as still
as a mouse. No one would have known there was anybody in the room. The
moon shone in at the window and all the house was still.

Suddenly he saw two little brown fairy-men there in the room, but
where they came from he could not tell. It was cold winter weather,
but neither of them had on coats or shoes or trousers. They picked
up the pieces of leather and looked at them, and then they sat down
cross-legged and began to work. They fitted and sewed and hammered, so
fast that in a short time all the shoes were done. The two little men
set them in a row on the bench, and nodded to each other as though they
were well pleased, and then they went as they came, without a sound,
and the cobbler could not tell what had become of them.

The next day the cobbler told his wife all that he had seen the night
before. The two talked it over for a long time.

“We ought to do something to show our gratitude to the little men,”
said his wife. “How would it be if I made a little shirt and a suit for
each of them, and you can make them each a pair of shoes.”

To this the cobbler agreed. He went out and bought some fine cloth and
cambric, and buttons and also some soft thin leather.

Then his wife set to work and made two little shirts and two little
suits all complete, even to the pockets and buttonholes, and the
cobbler made two tiny pairs of shoes. When all was finished, they laid
the clothes out on the bench, and that night they left a light burning
and hid themselves in the corner behind the clothes, to see what would
happen. The clock ticked on, and suddenly they saw the two little
brown men there in the room, moving quietly about, though how they had
come there neither the cobbler nor his wife knew.

The little men went to the bench where the leather was generally laid
out, and there, instead of leather pieces were the two little suits of
clothes and the two little pairs of shoes. The brownies took up the
clothes piece by piece and examined them; they held them up and turned
them this way and that. Last of all they put the clothes on, and they
fitted exactly. Then they began to dance with glee, and to sing:

    “How fine we be, how fine we be!
     Now we never will work again!”

So singing they danced about over tables and chairs and benches and so
on out the door into the night, and they never were seen again.

But the cobbler prospered, and in time became a very rich man.



[Illustration]



CINDERELLA


There was once a girl named Ella who was so gentle and beautiful that
everyone who knew her loved her, except those who should have loved her
best, and those were her stepmother and her stepsisters.

Her own mother had died while she was quite young, and then her father
had married again. This new wife had two daughters of her own, and she
wished them to have everything and Ella to have nothing. The stepmother
dressed her own children in fine clothes, and they sat about and did
nothing all day, but Cinderella worked in the kitchen and had nothing
but rags to wear, and because she often sat close to the ashes to warm
herself her sisters called her Cinderella.

Now the King and Queen of that country had only one son, and they were
very anxious for him to marry, but he had never seen anyone whom he
wished to have for a bride. At last they determined to give a great
ball, and to ask to it all the fairest ladies in the land. They hoped
that among them all the Prince might see someone whom he would choose.
All the grand people of the city were invited, and Cinderella’s
stepmother and her stepsisters were asked with all the rest.

The stepsisters were very much excited over it. They were both so
handsome that they hoped one of them might be chosen by the Prince.
They had often watched from the windows to see him riding by, and he
was so gay and gallant that anyone might have been glad to marry him.

All sorts of fine things were bought for the sisters to wear, satins
and velvets and laces and jewels, feathers for their hair, and
glittering fans for them to carry, and the stepmother’s dress was no
less fine than theirs.

Cinderella sighed and sighed. “I wish I might go to the ball, too, and
see that handsome Prince and all the lovely ladies,” she said.

“You!” cried the sisters, laughing. “A pretty sight you would be at the
ball; you with your rags and your sooty hands.”

“Go scour your pots and pans,” cried the stepmother. “That is all you
are fit for, you cinder-wench.”

So Cinderella went back to her work, but as she scrubbed and rubbed the
tears ran down her cheeks so fast she could hardly see.

The night of the ball the sisters dressed themselves in all their
finery and came into the kitchen to show themselves to Cinderella; they
hoped to make her envious. They swept up and down the room and spread
their gowns and smiled and ogled while Cinderella admired them. After
they tired of her admiration they and the stepmother stepped into a
fine coach and rolled gayly away to the ball.

But Cinderella sat in a corner by the fire and wept and wept.

Suddenly, as she wept, a little old woman in a high-pointed hat and
buckled shoes appeared in the kitchen, and where she came from no one
could have told. Her eyes shone and twinkled like two stars, and she
carried a wand in her hand.

“Why are you so sad, my child,” she asked; “and why do you weep so
bitterly?”

Cinderella looked at her with wonder. “I am weeping,” she said,
“because my sisters have gone to the ball without me, and because I
wished to go too.”

“Then dry your tears,” said the little old woman, “I am your fairy
godmother, and if you are a good girl and do exactly as I say, there is
nothing you can wish for that you shall not have. Run to the garden and
fetch me a pumpkin; and let me see the mousetrap; if there are six fine
fat mice in it they will be of use.”

Cinderella got out the mousetrap as she was told, and there were
exactly six mice in it. She also hurried out to the garden and fetched
the biggest, roundest pumpkin she could find.

“That is well,” said the godmother. “And now the rattrap.”

Cinderella brought the trap and there was a rat in it.

“And now,” said the godmother, “we are ready to begin.”

She touched the pumpkin with her wand, and at once it turned into a
magnificent golden coach, lined throughout with pale yellow satin; she
touched the mice and they became six handsome sleek gray horses to draw
the coach. She touched the rat with her wand and he was turned into a
coachman in a livery of scarlet and gold lace. He mounted to the box
of the coach, and gathered up the reins, and sat there, whip in hand,
waiting.

“Footmen! Footmen!” cried the godmother impatiently. “Where shall we
get them!” Her sharp eyes glanced this way and that, and presently, in
the crack of the wall, she espied two lizards. “The very thing,” said
she. A touch of her wand and they were changed to footmen with powdered
wigs and cocked hats. They sprang up and took their places behind the
coach. “And now,” said the fairy, “all is ready, and no one has a finer
coach in which to go to the ball. Do you not agree with me?”

“But, Godmother, my rags! I could not go to the ball in rags, no matter
how fine my coach,” cried Cinderella.

“Wait a bit! I have not done yet.” The godmother touched Cinderella’s
rags with her wand, and at once they were changed to a gown of white
satin embroidered with pearls. There were diamonds in her hair, and her
clumsy shoes were changed to glass slippers that exactly fitted her
little feet.

Cinderella wondered, and her heart was filled with joy. The satin
gleamed about her like moonshine, and the diamonds shone as bright as
the tears she had shed.

“Now, my child, you can go to the ball,” said the godmother. “But
remember this: My fairy charm can only last till twelve o’clock. At the
last stroke of twelve these fine clothes will change into rags; the
coach will again become a pumpkin, the horses mice, and the coachman
and footman a rat and lizards as they were before; so by twelve you
must be home again.”

Cinderella promised to obey, and then she stepped into the coach and
rolled away to the ball.

[Illustration: CINDERELLA AT THE BALL]

When she reached the palace the music was sounding and the Prince
was about to choose a partner for the dance. All the ladies waited
anxiously, each hoping she would be the one to be chosen. Many beauties
were there, and it was hard to say which was the loveliest. But when
Cinderella entered the room no one had eyes for anyone but her. She was
far fairer than the fairest, as the crescent moon is lovelier than the
stars.

The Prince came to her and took her by the hand. “You shall be my
partner in the dance,” said he, “for never have I seen anyone as fair
as you.”

From then on the Prince would dance with no one but Cinderella, and
none could wonder nor blame him, for she was so beautiful that the
heart melted at sight of her.

The Prince begged her to tell him her name and whence she came, but she
would not, and when the castle clock struck the quarter before twelve
she managed to slip away from him, and run out to her coach. She sprang
into it, the rat coachman cracked his whip, and away they went, and the
Prince did not know what had become of her.

When the stepsisters came home, Cinderella was again sitting in the
corner beside the fire, dressed in her rags.

“Was it a beautiful ball?” she asked.

“Yes, it was a fine ball indeed,” said the sisters, and they began to
tell her about it.

“And whom did the Prince dance with?” asked Cinderella.

“Oh, he danced with a strange princess who came in just after the ball
began. The Prince had bowed to us and smiled, and he might have chosen
one of us as his partner, but after she came he had eyes for no one
else. She must be a very great princess indeed, but no one could find
out who she was, not even the Prince himself, though he begged and
entreated her to tell him. She slipped away before the ball was over,
and no one knew where she went. The Prince was like one distracted.
To-morrow night another ball is to be given, for the Prince hopes the
Princess may come again and that he may find out who she is.”

Cinderella sighed. “Oh, my dear sisters, let me go with you to-morrow,
I beg of you. One of your old dresses would do for me to wear.”

But the sisters laughed and jeered. “You the cinder-wench!” they
cried. “No, no, the kitchen is the place for you. We would die of shame
if any of those fine folk saw you.” Then they bade her unfasten their
dresses and help them to bed. They must get to sleep and be fresh and
handsome for the second ball.

The next night the stepsisters dressed again, and drove away to the
ball, and more than ever did Cinderella long to go with them.

Scarcely had they gone, however, when the fairy godmother appeared in
the kitchen.

“Well,” said she, “I suppose you would like to go to this ball, too.”

“Oh, dear Godmother, if I only could!” cried Cinderella.

The godmother bade Cinderella bring her the pumpkin, the mice, the
rat, and the lizards. Again she changed them into the grand coach,
the horses, driver, and footmen, all complete. She then touched
Cinderella’s rags with her wand, and they were changed into a dress
even more beautiful than the one she had worn the night before. She
stepped into the coach and rolled away to the ball.

The Prince had been watching for her impatiently, and the moment she
entered the room he hurried forward and took her by the hand.

“Why did you leave me so suddenly?” he asked her. “I sought you
everywhere and could not sleep all night for thinking of you.”

He then again led her to a place in the dance, and he would dance with
no one else.

As it drew on toward midnight Cinderella became very uneasy. She tried
to slip away without being seen, but the Prince followed her everywhere
she went. At last she made some excuse and sent him away for a moment.
Then she drew her cloak around her and sped down the stairs and out to
where her coach was waiting. She sprang into it and rolled away. But
half-way home she heard the castle clock begin to strike the hour. As
the last stroke sounded the coach melted away from around her, and a
yellow pumpkin lay at her feet; the horses changed into mice and ran
away, squealing; the coachman became a rat, and the lizards made haste
to hide in the crack of a wall. Cinderella, in her rags, had barely
time to run back to the kitchen and take her place beside the fire
before the door opened and her stepsisters swept into the room.

“This ball was even more beautiful than the other,” they cried. “And
the Princess was there again, and so lovely that it dazzled the eyes to
look at her. The Prince thought of no one but her.”

“Ah, if I could only see her!” sighed Cinderella.

“You the cinder-wench!” scoffed the sisters. “Why she would not even
allow you in her kitchen. But come! Unfasten our dresses. To-morrow
there is to be another ball, and we must get to bed and rest, so as to
look our best.”

So Cinderella helped her sisters to undress, and all the while she
did so they could talk of nothing but the unknown princess, of how
beautiful she was, and of how much the Prince had admired her.

The next night Cinderella helped to dress her sisters and make
them ready for the ball. They rolled away in their coach, and then
Cinderella waited impatiently for her godmother to come. It was not
long before the old fairy appeared.

“Well,” said she, “and do you wish to go to this ball also?”

“Oh, dear Godmother!” cried Cinderella. “I wish to go as I never
wished for anything in all my life before.”

“Very well, then you shall go,” said the godmother. “But do not forget,
you must leave before the clock strikes twelve, or your fine clothes
will turn to rags before them all, and your sisters will know you as
the cinder-wench.”

Cinderella promised, and the godmother then touched her with her wand,
and the rags were turned into a dress even more magnificent than
before. If before Cinderella had appeared like the crescent moon,
now she shone like the moon in its full glory. When she entered the
ballroom she appeared so beautiful that it dazzled the eyes to look at
her. The Prince followed her everywhere and begged and entreated her to
tell him who she was, but she would not. Again and again they danced
together, and Cinderella was so happy she quite forgot to notice how
fast the time was going.

Suddenly the castle clock began to strike. Cinderella gave a cry of
terror. She snatched her hand from the Prince and fled away so fast
that for a moment he lost sight of her. Such was her haste that as she
ran down the stairs she lost one of her little glass shoes, but she
dared not wait to pick it up.

Just as she reached the door the last stroke of twelve sounded.
Immediately her beautiful clothes fell into rags; her jewels melted
away, and the guard who was on watch saw no one but a little
kitchen-wench who ran past him, weeping bitterly, and wringing her
hands.

Cinderella ran all the way home, and she scarcely had time to take her
place beside the fire before her sisters swept into the room.

“What! crying?” they said. “Why are you not content? You have a warm
corner to sit in, and no need to bother your head about anything. But
you should have seen the ball to-night. It was more wonderful than
either of the others; and as for the Princess, she was so beautiful
that there never was anything like it. The Prince never looked at
anyone else. But she went away as before, and no one knows where she
went. However, the Prince picked up one of her slippers on the stairs,
and he may find her by that.”

The next day the Prince sent out a proclamation far and wide that he
had found a glass slipper and whoever could wear that slipper should
be his bride. He hoped in this way to find the lovely Princess who had
three times escaped him.

The slipper was sent around from one house to another, and every lady
was eager to try it on. All hoped to be able to wear it, but it fitted
none of them. Some feet were too long, and some too broad, some too
fat, and some too thin.

At last the messenger came to the house where Cinderella and her
stepsisters lived. The stepsisters could hardly wait to try the slipper
on. Each was sure she could wear it, and they began to quarrel as to
which should try it first. At last it was given to the eldest sister.
She sat down and tried to put her foot into it, but she could not. The
toes went in easily enough, but her heel would not go down into it.
Then the second sister tried it, but that was even worse, for she could
not even get her toes into it. The stepmother stood by, begging and
urging them to try again.

But the messenger shook his head. “No, no,” he said. “Neither of those
two is the right one. But is there no one else in the house who could
try it on?”

No, there was no one except the little kitchen-maid, and it was not
worth while for her to try it. If the sisters could not wear it she
certainly could not. Nevertheless, the messenger said he must see her.
His orders were that everyone in the city should try it on.

Very reluctantly the stepmother sent for Cinderella. She came at once,
and so modest and lovely were her looks that the messenger wondered
that she should be a kitchen-wench.

She sat down and took the slipper from the messenger, and put it on,
and it fitted exactly. Then she drew the other slipper out from beneath
her rags and put it upon her other foot, and at once the messenger knew
she must be the one the Prince had been seeking.

He kneeled before her and said, “You are my mistress, for you are the
one the Prince has chosen for his bride.”

The stepmother and the stepsisters were ready to burst with rage
and envy. They could not believe their eyes, and would have sent
Cinderella back to the kitchen with harsh words and blows; but this
the messenger would not allow.

Cinderella was taken away to the palace and dressed as a princess
should be, and when the Prince saw her again in all her beauty he was
filled with love and joy.

Soon after they were married, and though the stepsisters were invited
to the wedding they were ashamed to come because their faces were so
swollen with weeping. As for the stepmother she was quite ill with rage
and spite, but the Prince and Cinderella lived happy together forever
after.

[Illustration]



JACK IN LUCK


Jack had served his master well for seven long years without having
been paid a penny. At the end of that time Jack went to him and said,
“Master, I have been with you seven years, and now it is time for me to
go home to see my mother. But oughtn’t I to be paid something first?”

“Yes,” said his master, “you have served me well, and you shall be well
paid in return.”

He then brought out a lump of gold as big as Jack’s head and gave it to
the lad.

Jack thanked him and wrapped the gold up in a handkerchief and tied the
corners together, so he could carry it. Then he said good-by to his
master, and off he set, whistling merrily. But the way was long and the
sun was hot. The further Jack went the wearier he grew, and the gold
weighed as heavy as lead. He shifted it from hand to hand, but every
moment it became a heavier burden.

After awhile Jack met a man riding merrily along on a fine horse.

“That is a fine nag you are riding,” said Jack.

“Yes, it is,” answered the man.

“Well, you are a lucky fellow,” said Jack. “There you ride along as
light as a bird, and I have to trudge in the dust and carry a lump of
gold that weighs like lead.”

“Is that gold you have tied up there?” asked the man.

“Yes, it is.”

“I would like to see a lump of gold as big as that.”

Jack untied the handkerchief and showed the gold to the man. When the
man saw it his eyes glittered and his mouth worked.

“Listen,” said he to Jack, “I am a good-natured sort of a fellow. I am
almost home and you have still a long way to go. Give me the gold and
you shall have my horse in exchange, and then you can ride along as
proud as a king, and I will do the trudging.”

That seemed to Jack a fine bargain. He thanked the man and gave him
the gold, and then he mounted the horse. The man put a switch in his
hand and said, “If he does not go along fast enough just touch him with
this and he will go faster.” Then he tied up the gold in a great hurry,
and made off with it.

As for Jack he rode along holding his head high and glancing about him.
“How proud mother will be to see me come riding up to the door like a
nobleman,” thought he. “How much better to ride with my head in the air
than to trudge along in the dust.”

After awhile Jack thought he would like to go faster, and he gave the
horse a cut with the switch. But the nag was a lively one. When it
felt the switch it kicked up its heels, and away it went, jolting and
bumping. Jack held on as long as he could, and then he fell off into a
ditch full of stinging nettles. Luckily a man passing by stopped the
horse and brought it back to him. The man was leading a cow by a rope.

“That was a nasty fall you had,” said he.

“Yes,” answered Jack. “Now I see that a horse is a tricky animal. A man
gave him to me for a lump of gold I was carrying, and he seemed quiet
enough then.”

“A lump of gold?” asked the man.

“Yes, a lump of gold. How lucky you are to have a nice quiet animal
like the cow to give you good milk and butter and cheese, instead of a
horse that runs away and throws you off.”

“Yes, I am lucky,” said the man. Then he thought a bit. “Listen,” said
he. “I have had so much butter and cheese and cream that I am tired of
them. If you like you shall have my cow and I will take your horse, and
you will have the best of the bargain.”

“That I will,” cried Jack joyfully, “and I thank you kindly for
speaking of it.” He then gave the horse to the man, and the man gave
him the cow. Then the man sprang upon the horse and away he rode in
haste without once turning to look behind him.

Jack led the cow along by the rope, and his heart was light if his
heels were not. “Now I can live like a king,” said he. “When I am
thirsty all I have to do is to milk the cow and have a drink of fine
fresh milk; and when I have a piece of bread—it is easy enough to get
a piece of bread—I can always have some butter with it, or a tasty bit
of cheese.”

The sun was high in the sky by now, and it shone so hot that Jack’s
mouth grew as dry as a nutmeg grater. “Now is the time for a glass of
milk,” said he. He tied the cow to a post, and then he sat down and
tried to milk her; but he had never learned how to milk, and not a drop
could he get. Moreover he was so awkward about it that at last the cow
gave him a kick that sent him head over heels across the road. Jack got
up and rubbed his head. “That is a very dangerous animal,” said he, “or
else she does not like me.”

Just then a butcher came by, wheeling a fine little pig in a barrow,
and he stopped to speak with Jack. “What ails you,” said he, “that you
look so sad and down in the mouth?”

“Oh,” said Jack, “my cow has kicked me and will not give me a drop of
milk,” and he told the butcher the whole story, how he had exchanged
the gold for a horse, and the horse for a cow.

“You made a bad bargain,” said the butcher. “That cow is old and will
never give milk. There is nothing to do with her but to knock her on
the head and use her for beef.”

“How could I do that?” asked Jack. “And besides I do not like beef. If
she were only a fine little pig, now! There is nothing I love better
than a tender juicy bit of pork.”

“Well, there now!” said the butcher. “I am too kind-hearted for my own
good, but if you like I will take the cow and you shall have my pig in
exchange.”

Jack was delighted. He thanked the butcher and took the pig in exchange
for his cow, and off he set, wheeling the pig before him, and he was as
happy as a lark.

After awhile he met a young man who carried a fine fat white goose
under his arm. Jack had known the youth before, and they stopped to
talk. Jack told him all about his adventures, and what fine bargains he
had made.

“Yes, that is well,” said the youth. Then he showed Jack his goose, and
made him weigh it by the wings and feel how fat it was, and how soft
were its feathers.

“It is a fine fowl,” said Jack. “But after all it is not as fine a
creature as my fat pig, and it will not taste as good when it is eaten,
either.”

The youth looked the pig all over, and scratched his head. “I do not
know about that pig,” said he. “A man just over there beyond the hill
had his pig stolen two days ago. I misdoubt me but what this may be the
very one. I only hope you may not get taken up and put in prison for
having it.”

“In prison,” cried Jack in alarm. “But I cannot go to prison. My mother
is looking for me home, and it would break her heart if I did not come.”

“I will tell you,” said the youth; “I know the ways about here better
than you do. If you like I will take the pig and give you my goose in
exchange. I may suffer for it, but if anyone is taken to prison at
least it will not be you.”

Jack thanked him with tears in his eyes. He gave him the pig and took
the goose and went on his way rejoicing. “After all,” thought he, “I
would rather have a goose than a pig. Not only is it good to eat, but
it may lay me a fine big egg, and its feathers will do to make a soft
pillow for mother to lay her head on.”

So thinking he trudged along with the goose under his arm, and after
awhile he came to a village, and there was a knife-grinder turning his
wheel and sharpening knives and scissors for people.

He worked so quickly and sang so merrily as he worked that Jack stopped
to watch him.

“That is a fine trade of yours—that of a knife-grinder,” said Jack.

“Yes, it is,” answered the man. “People are glad to see me come, and
they save their knives and scissors for me to sharpen. I always can
earn a bit of money, and when I am tired of one place I take my wheel
and go on to the next. But that is a fine goose you have. Where did you
buy it?”

“I did not buy it, I got it in exchange for a pig.”

“And where did you get the pig?”

“Oh, I took it in exchange for a cow.”

“Where did you get the cow?”

“I got it in exchange for a horse.”

“Where did you get the horse?”

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

“Where did you get the gold?”

“My master gave it to me in payment for seven years’ service, but the
gold was too heavy, and the horse ran away, and the cow would give no
milk, and the pig had been stolen, but this is a very fine goose, so
you see I have been lucky in the end.”

“That you have,” said the knife-grinder. “But after all I would rather
own this grindstone of mine than the very finest, fattest goose. The
goose is eaten and that is the end of it, but this grindstone always
earns me a bit of money to jingle in my pocket.”

“Yes, that is true,” said Jack. “I wish I had a grindstone.”

The knife-grinder looked thoughtful. “It might be managed,” said he. “I
have another grindstone that is a bit damaged, but works all right. If
you like you can have it in exchange for your goose, and once you have
a grindstone the rest of the business is easy enough.”

“I am in luck indeed,” said Jack. “I have only to wish for a thing and
I get it. Here, take the goose, and give me the grindstone.”

The man gave Jack an old cracked grindstone. Then he picked up a heavy
stone that lay by the roadside. “Take this with you, too,” he said. “It
will be useful to you if you ever have a crooked nail to straighten.
Then you will only have to lay it on the grindstone and beat it with
this rock, and you can straighten it out in no time.”

“Yes, that will be a fine thing,” said Jack, and he took the grindstone
and the rock and thanked the man and went on his way.

But the road was rough and the sun was hot, and before long Jack was
so weary with the weight he carried that he could hardly drag one foot
after another, and the sweat poured down from his forehead.

After awhile he came to a place where a well of water bubbled up clear
and fresh and cool. Jack put his stones down on the edge of it and
stooped over to drink, but as he rose up again he happened to give the
stones a push, and plunk! they both fell into the well and sank to the
bottom.

“Now thanks be to heaven!” cried Jack. “If I had had to carry those
stones much farther my back would surely have broken. Oh, what a lucky
fellow I am! Everything I touch turns to luck.”

Then he started off with a light heart and light heels, and it did not
take him long to reach his mother’s house.



PUSS IN BOOTS


A miller died, leaving three sons to divide his fortune among them. The
eldest took the mill and the land around it; the second took the flocks
and herds, and then there was nothing left for the third son, Jack, but
three bits of silver money, and a little cat that lived in the mill.

“This is all very well,” said Jack, “and the cat is a fine little cat
and can feed on the mice it catches, but I do not see how I am to live
on three pieces of money.”

“Oh,” answered his brothers, “you will have to start out in the world
and do the best you can for yourself.”

Jack took the little cat and started out.

“Do not be uneasy, master,” said the little cat. “You have three silver
pieces. Take them and buy me a little pair of boots and a bag, and I
will make your fortune for you.”

Jack did not like to spend his money on a pair of boots for a cat, but
he knew he was a wise little animal, so he did as he said. He went to
a tailor, and for the three pieces of silver the tailor made him the
prettiest pair of little boots that ever were seen, and when Puss drew
them on they fitted exactly. The tailor also gave Jack an old bag that
lay in the corner, and for which he had no use.

Puss led Jack off into the country, and then he bade him sit down by
the roadside and wait for his return. The little cat ran off into a
wood near by, where there were a great many rabbit-holes, and there he
managed to catch two fine fat rabbits. He put the rabbits in the bag
and trotted away in his neat little boots until he came to the King’s
palace. There he asked to see the King, and a cat in boots was such a
strange sight that he was at once brought before his majesty.

The courtiers nudged each other and laughed when the cat came into
court, but Puss marched up to the King and bowed low before him.

“Your Majesty, my master, the Marquis of Carrabas, has sent you a
present of these two fine fat rabbits for your supper,” said he, and he
took out the rabbits and presented them to the King.

The King was very much pleased. He ordered a piece of money to be given
to Puss, and bade the little animal thank his master for the fine
present he had sent.

Puss ran back to where Jack was waiting, and gave him the piece of
money. “There,” he said. “That is enough to pay for a bed and a supper
at the inn.”

The next day Puss set off for the forest again, and this time it was
a pair of fine fat partridges that he caught and carried to the King.
“They are sent by my master, the Marquis of Carrabas,” said Puss.

Again the King sent his thanks to the Marquis, and gave Puss a piece
of money, which the little cat carried back to his master, and it was
enough to buy Jack food and lodging.

So it went on day after day. Every day Puss caught some fine game in
the forest and took it to the King with the compliments of the Marquis
of Carrabas, and every day the King thanked the cat and gave him a
piece of money. The King began to wonder who the Marquis of Carrabas
was and where he lived. He began to think the Marquis was a very
generous fellow.

One day the King went out for a pleasure ride with his daughter, and
many of his court rode with him.

Puss came in haste to his master. “Come quick!” he cried. “We have done
well enough so far, but the time has now come when I will make your
fortune.”

The cat then led Jack to a river, where he knew the King would pass
before long. He then bade Jack take off his clothes and hide them under
a rock, and then stand in the river up to his neck.

Jack did this, though the water was so cold it made him shudder, and he
did not know how Puss was to make his fortune in this way.

Puss waited until he saw his master well in the river, and then he ran
to the road along which the King was coming.

“Help! help!” he cried. “Oh, help! My master—the noble Marquis of
Carrabas! He will surely drown.”

“What is the matter?” asked the King, stopping his coach, and the
Princess and all the courtiers listened.

“Oh, your Majesty!” cried the cat. “My noble master! He was attacked
by robbers and they robbed him of everything and threw him in the
river, and unless he receives help he will surely drown.”

The King was very much concerned. He at once sent courtiers to draw
Jack out from the river and dress him in robes of velvet and satin and
gold lace.

Jack had never been so magnificently dressed before, and he looked a
fine fellow indeed when he was brought to the King. His majesty was so
pleased with Jack’s looks that he made him get into the coach and sit
beside him, and the Princess was even better pleased with him than her
father.

Meanwhile the little cat had hurried on far ahead of the coaches.

Presently Puss came to a field where the harvesters were harvesting
the grain. Puss marched up to them scowling fiercely and bristling out
his whiskers until he looked twice as big again. The harvesters were
frightened.

“Listen, men,” cried Puss. “The King will soon come by this way with my
master, the Marquis of Carrabas riding beside him. If he should ask
you to whom this grain belongs, answer that it belongs to the noble
Marquis of Carrabas. If you do not do this you shall be torn into
pieces, and the shreds thrown into the river.”

The harvesters were more frightened than ever. They promised to do
exactly as the cat bade them.

Then Puss ran on until he met a drover driving a great herd of cattle.
Him, too, he frightened so that he promised if the King asked him to
whom the herd belonged, he would say to the noble Marquis of Carrabas.

A little farther on the cat met a shepherd with his sheep, and he also
promised to say his flocks belonged to the Marquis of Carrabas.

So it went on; it seemed as though everything was to be claimed by the
Marquis of Carrabas.

Now all these things really belonged to an ogre who was very rich and
fierce and strong and terrible, and after awhile Puss came to the
castle where the ogre lived. The little cat was not afraid of ogres,
however. He made his way into the castle and ran along into one room
after another until he came to where the ogre was sitting.

When the ogre saw the little cat in his fine shiny, creaking boots he
was so amused that he laughed aloud. He had never seen such a sight
before.

[Illustration: THE OGRE CHANGES HIMSELF INTO A LION]

“And where did you come from, my fine little cat?” he asked.

“Oh, from over the hills and far away.”

“And what do you want here?”

“I only wanted to see you because everyone says you are the strongest
and most wonderful ogre in all the world.”

When the ogre heard that he was much pleased, for he was very vain.

“Well, and now you have seen me, what do you think of me?” he asked.

Oh, Puss thought he was a very wonderful ogre indeed. And was it true
that he had magic powers, too?

Yes, the ogre had magic powers.

“Can you change yourself into animals if you choose? A lion or an
elephant for instance?” asked Puss.

Oh, yes, that was easy enough.

“I should like to see you do that,” said the cat.

Well, the ogre was willing to oblige him. At once he turned himself
into a lion, for he really had that power, and he was a very terrible
looking lion indeed. He roared and lashed his tail and his mane
bristled.

Puss was so terrified that he sprang through the window and scrambled
up the roof, though he almost slipped and fell on account of the boots.
There he sat spitting and trembling.

Then the ogre turned himself back into his own shape, and he laughed
and laughed. “Come back, Puss,” he called, “I will not hurt you; but
now you see that everything they told you was true.”

Puss came scrambling back into the room, and he looked very meek and
timid.

“Yes, I see it was all true,” he said. “But, Mr. Ogre, could you turn
yourself into a small animal as well? That must be a great deal harder.
Could you turn yourself into a mouse?”

Yes, the ogre could do that, too, and at once he turned himself into a
mouse, and ran, scampering gayly about the room. But he did not scamper
long. “Ps-s-s-t!” with a bound Puss caught him and swallowed him down
in a moment before he could even squeak, and that was the end of the
ogre.

Meanwhile the King and the Princess and Jack were rolling along
together in the fine coach and talking pleasantly together. The King
was so pleased with Jack’s talk that he told the coachman to drive
slowly, so they could have the more time together.

Presently they came to the field of grain where the harvesters were at
work.

“That is a fine field of grain,” said the King; and he leaned from the
coach and called to the harvesters to know to whom the grain belonged.

“To the noble Marquis of Carrabas!” answered the harvesters.

The King turned to Jack. “My dear Marquis, why did you not tell me it
belonged to you?”

“I had forgotten,” answered Jack.

Soon after they came to the drover. The King admired the herd of cattle
and asked the drover to whom they belonged.

“To the noble Marquis of Carrabas,” answered the drover.

The King turned to Jack, and complimented him upon his herds. He began
to think the Marquis must be very rich.

Then they came to the shepherd, and it was the same thing; his flocks
belonged to the Marquis of Carrabas. In the forest the woodsmen said
the wood belonged to the Marquis. It seemed as though the Marquis were
richer than the King himself.

At last they came to the ogre’s grand castle, and the King asked Jack
to whom it belonged. Before Jack could answer the doors were thrown
open, and the little cat ran out into the road. “Welcome, welcome, your
majesty,” he cried. “Welcome to the castle of the Marquis of Carrabas.”

“So this is where you live,” said the King.

“Yes, this is where I live,” answered Jack.

The cat invited them to alight and led the way into a long dining-hall.
There the servants had prepared a magnificent feast, for now they, as
well as the castle and everything in it, belonged to Jack.

The King and the Princess took their places at the table, and Jack sat
between them. They ate and drank and feasted to their hearts’ content,
and the King had never tasted more delicious food, and it was all
served on golden plates far finer than those he ate from in his own
castle.

At the end of the feast the King turned to Jack and said, “My dear
Marquis, you must be a very rich man.”

“I am so rich,” answered Jack, “that I really do not know how much I
have.”

“It seems to me,” said the King, “that you ought to marry a princess,
for no everyday girl would do for you.”

Yes, Jack would like to marry a princess, but it would have to be the
right princess.

“Then how would my daughter do?” asked the King.

At that Jack was ready to jump out of his skin with joy, for the
Princess was so sweet and pretty that he loved her already. “Yes, she
would do better than anyone else in the world.” And the Princess did
not say nay.

So Jack went back with the King and the Princess to his own palace, and
then the Princess and Jack were married, and lived happily ever after.

The little cat lived in the palace with them, and always the softest
cushion, and the warmest corner by the fire were left for him.

As for Jack’s brothers, when they heard of the good fortune that had
come to Jack, and how he had won a princess for a wife, they wished
they had kept Puss and given him the mill and the flocks and herds.



THE TOWN MUSICIANS


A donkey had grown so old and feeble that he was of no more use to his
master.

One night he heard his master and mistress talking together. “I wonder
you still keep that donkey,” said the woman; “he is of no use to you,
and you only waste your money buying food for him.”

“That is true,” answered the man. “I would do well to get rid of him. I
might sell his hide to the tanner.”

When the donkey heard this he knew it was time for him to be going, if
he wished to keep his skin for his own use. He pushed the stable-door
open with his nose, and made off down the road without saying good-by
to anyone. “I may be too weak to work,” said he, “but my voice is still
strong. I will go to the big city and become a musician.”

He had not gone far when he saw an old hound lying beside the road and
whining. “Well, old Bellmouth,” said the donkey, “what ails you? You
seem to be in trouble.”

“Trouble indeed,” answered the hound. “I have grown so old and stiff
that I am no longer able to run with the pack, so my master had no
more use for me. He drove me away and threw stones after me. What is
to become of me now I do not know. If my master would not keep me I am
sure no one else will.”

“Do not trouble yourself over that,” said the donkey. “I am going to
the city to be a musician, and if you like you shall come along and
sing with me. I know you have a fine voice, and we two together may
make our fortunes.”

The hound was pleased with this idea. He got to his feet, and he and
the donkey went on together in company.

A little while after they came to where a cat sat in the grass by the
roadside, looking as sad and doleful as a rainy day in fall.

“What is the matter with you, Whiskers?” asked the donkey. “You look as
though all the cream were sour and all the rats were dead.”

“There is no cream for me nowadays,” said the cat, “and though there
are plenty of rats I am too old to catch them. I am no longer quick and
active, and I would rather sit by the fire and purr. For this reason
my mistress has driven me out of the house with a broom, and I have no
place to go. What would you advise me to do in such a case?”

“Come with us,” said the donkey. “Brother Bellmouth and I are going to
the city to be musicians, and if you choose to come along and join your
voice with ours we shall be glad to have you.”

The cat was delighted, and leaping out into the road it trotted along
beside the others.

Presently they came to a farmyard, and a cock had flown up on the gate
post. It stretched its neck and crowed, and crowed again.

“Enough! Enough!” cried the donkey. “Do you want to split our ears with
your crowing?”

“I must crow while I can,” said the cock, “for that is my business.
Every morning I crow to wake the men, and I also crow to tell what
weather we will have. But I heard the mistress say that company was
coming to-morrow and that she must make me into soup, so my crowing
days are almost over.”

“That is a bad business,” said the donkey. “You had better come with
us. We are going to the city to become musicians, and such a voice as
yours would be a great help.”

The cock did not wait to be asked twice. He flew down from the gatepost
and flapped along beside them, but this was tiresome, so the donkey
bade the cock fly up on to his back, and after that Master Red-head
rode along in comfort.

Presently it began to grow dark, and still the musicians had not come
within sight of the big city. Instead they came to a deep wood, and
after wandering about in it for some time they grew so weary that they
decided to go no farther that night. The donkey and the hound lay down
under a large tree, the cat climbed up to a crotch of the branches,
while the cock was not content to roost anywhere but at the top of the
tree.

He had not been sitting there long when he said, “Brothers, I see a
light not far off. There must be a house there.”

“That is good news,” said the donkey. “I for one have no liking for
sleeping on the bare ground. Perhaps if we go there and sing they may
give us a night’s lodging.”

This plan suited the others. The cat and the cock came down from the
tree, and the four musicians set out together in the direction of the
light.

It was not long before they came to a house and the light the cock had
seen shone through a lower window. The donkey, being the largest, was
chosen to look in through the window and tell the others what he saw.

The donkey looked so long and so silently that the others grew
impatient. “Well, Brother Greycoat, what do you see?” asked the hound.

“Brothers,” said the donkey in a low voice, “I can easily see that this
house belongs to a band of robbers. They have a quantity of treasure
piled up in one corner of the room, and they are sitting around the
table eating and drinking.”

“Oh, if we could only scare them away and take the treasure for
ourselves! Robbers are always cowards,” said the dog.

The four companions consulted together and laid out a plan for
frightening the robbers away. The donkey put his front feet up on the
windowsill, the dog mounted on his back, the cat mounted on the dog’s
back, and the cock flew up on to the cat. Then at a certain signal they
all began to sing together. The donkey brayed, the dog howled, the cat
miaued, and the cock crowed. The noise they made was terrible. The
robbers jumped up in a fright, and as soon as the animals saw they were
frightened they smashed the glass and sprang into the room.

The robbers fled out of the door pell-mell and into the woods without
stopping to look behind them.

“That was easily done,” said the donkey. The animals then sat down at
the table and ate and drank to their hearts’ content. After that they
put out the lights, and then they settled down for the night, each one
in the most comfortable place it could find. The donkey lay down on
a heap of straw outside, the dog curled up behind the door, the cat
settled down on the warm ashes, and the cock flew up and perched on the
rafters. Then they all went to sleep.

Out in the forest the robbers wandered about for awhile, and then they
all got together and talked things over.

“We were very foolish to be so easily frightened,” said the captain. “I
have been listening and watching, and everything is quiet around the
house and the lights are out. Let us go back there and see if anyone is
there.”

To this the others agreed. They crept back to the house, and the
captain sent one of the men inside to see what was doing.

The man went in and looked about, and saw the cat’s eyes shining in the
dark. He thought they were live coals, and as he needed a light he went
up and stuck a stick toward them, meaning to light it.

At once the cat sprang up with a yowl and scratched his face. The
man was terrified. He ran to the door and the dog sprang out and
bit him. He tumbled out into the courtyard and the donkey kicked
him. The noise wakened the cock and it stretched its neck and crowed
“Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

The robber ran back to his captain trembling. “Let us get away!”
he cried. “A horrible witch sits by the hearth, and she flew at me
screaming, and bit and scratched me. A man back of the door stuck a
knife in my leg. Outside a hideous black thing hit me with a club, and
on the roof sits a judge who cried, ‘Bring the rascal here!’”

The robbers waited to hear no more; they took to their heels and ran
away, and if they have not stopped they must be running still.

But the four comrades found it so comfortable in the robbers’ house
that they stayed there and enjoyed the robbers’ treasure, and never
went to the big city to become musicians after all.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page vi, “Alladin” changed to “Aladdin” to reflect usage in text
(Aladdin, or the Magic)





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