Part 4 out of 8
With that the Hillman himself came tumbling
down from the chimney, and went off laughing
through the door.
But from then on the saucepan was as good as
HOFUS THE STONE-CUTTER
A JAPANESE LEGEND
FROM THE RIVERSIDE THIRD READER (ADAPTED)
Once upon a time in Japan, there was a poor
stone-cutter, named Hofus, who used to go every
day to the mountain-side to cut great blocks of
stone. He lived near the mountain in a little
stone hut, and worked hard and was happy.
One day he took a load of stone to the house
of a rich man. There he saw so many beautiful
things that when he went back to his mountain
he could think of nothing else. Then he began to
wish that he too might sleep in a bed as soft as
down, with curtains of silk, and tassels of gold.
And he sighed:--
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only were rich as he!''
To his surprise, the voice of the Mountain
``Have thou thy wish!''
When Hofus returned home that evening his
little hut was gone, and in its place stood a great
palace. It was filled with beautiful things, and
the best of all was a bed of down, with curtains
of silk and tassels of gold.
Hofus decided to work no more. But he was
not used to being idle, and time passed slowly,--
the days seemed very long.
One day as he sat by the window he saw a
carriage dash past. It was drawn by snow-white
horses. In it sat a prince, while before and behind
were servants in suits of blue and white. One was
holding a golden umbrella over the prince.
When the stone-cutter saw this, he began to
feel unhappy, and he sighed:--
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only a prince might be!''
And again the same voice that he had heard on
the mountain answered:--
``Be thou a prince!''
Straightway Hofus was a prince. He had servants
dressed in crimson and gold, and he rode in
a carriage with a golden umbrella over his head.
For a short time he was happy, but one day,
as he walked in the garden, he saw that the
flowers were drooping, the grass was dry and
brown. And when he rode out he felt the hot sun
burn him in spite of his umbrella.
``The sun is mightier than I,'' thought he, and
then he sighed:--
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only the sun might be!''
And the voice answered:--
``Be thou the sun!''
Straightway the great sun he became. He
burned the grass and rice fields. he dried up the
streams. Rich and poor alike suffered from the
One day a cloud came and rested in front of
him, and hid the earth from his sight. He was
angry and cried:--
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only a cloud might be!''
And the voice answered:--
``Be thou a cloud!''
Straightway a cloud he became. He floated
before the face of the sun, and hid the earth
Then day after day the cloud dropped rain.
The rivers overflowed, and the rice-fields were
covered with water. Towns were swept away.
Only the great rocks on the mountain-side stood
unmoved midst the flood.
The cloud looked at them in wonder, then he
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only a rock might be!''
And the voice answered:--
``Be thou a rock!''
Straightway a rock he became. Proudly he
stood. The sun could not burn him and the rain
could not move him.
``Now, at last,'' he said, ``no one is mightier
But one day he was waked from his dreams by
a noise,--tap! tap! tap!--down at his feet. He
looked and there was a stone-cutter driving his
tool into the rock. Another blow and the great
rock shivered; a block of stone broke away.
``That man is mightier than I!'' cried Hofus,
and he sighed:--
``Ah me! Ah me!
If Hofus only the man might be!''
And the voice answered:--
``Be thou thyself!''
And straightway Hofus was himself again,--
a poor stone-cutter, working all day upon the
mountain-side, and going home at night to his
little hut. But he was content and happy, and
never again did he wish to be other than Hofus
BY JOSEPHINE PRESTON PEABODY
There was a certain maiden of Lydia, Arachne
by name, renowned throughout the country for
her skill as a weaver. She was as nimble with her
fingers as Calypso, that Nymph who kept Odysseus
for seven years in her enchanted island. She
was as untiring as Penelope, the hero's wife, who
wove day after day while she watched for his
return. Day in and day out, Arachne wove too.
The very Nymphs would gather about her loom,
Naiads from the water and Dryads from the trees.
``Maiden,'' they would say, shaking the leaves
or the foam from their hair, in wonder, ``Pallas
Athena must have taught you!''
But this did not please Arachne. She would not
acknowledge herself a debtor, even to that goddess
who protected all household arts, and by
whose grace alone one had any skill in them.
``I learned not of Athena,'' said she. ``If she
can weave better, let her come and try.''
The Nymphs shivered at this, and an aged
woman, who was looking on, turned to Arachne.
``Be more heedful of your words, my daughter,''
said she. ``The goddess may pardon you if you
ask forgiveness, but do not strive for honors with
Arachne broke her thread, and the shuttle
``Keep your counsel,'' she said. ``I fear not
Athena; no, nor any one else.''
As she frowned at the old woman, she was
amazed to see her change suddenly into one tall,
majestic, beautiful,--a maiden of gray eyes and
golden hair, crowned with a golden helmet. It
was Athena herself.
The bystanders shrank in fear and reverence;
only Arachne was unawed and held to her foolish
In silence the two began to weave, and the
Nymphs stole nearer, coaxed by the sound of the
shuttles, that seemed to be humming with delight
over the two webs,--back and forth like bees.
They gazed upon the loom where the goddess
stood plying her task, and they saw shapes and
images come to bloom out of the wondrous colors,
as sunset clouds grow to be living creatures when
we watch them. And they saw that the goddess,
still merciful, was spinning; as a warning for
Arachne, the pictures of her own triumph over
reckless gods and mortals.
In one corner of the web she made a story of
her conquest over the sea-god Poseidon. For the
first king of Athens had promised to dedicate
the city to that god who should bestow upon it the
most useful gift. Poseidon gave the horse. But
Athena gave the olive,--means of livelihood,--
symbol of peace and prosperity, and the city was
called after her name. Again she pictured a vain
woman of Troy, who had been turned into a
crane for disputing the palm of beauty with a
goddess. Other corners of the web held similar
images, and the whole shone like a rainbow.
Meanwhile Arachne, whose head was quite
turned with vanity, embroidered her web with
stories against the gods, making light of Zeus
himself and of Apollo, and portraying them as
birds and beasts. But she wove with marvelous
skill; the creatures seemed to breathe and speak,
yet it was all as fine as the gossamer that you find
on the grass before rain.
Athena herself was amazed. Not even her
wrath at the girl's insolence could wholly overcome
her wonder. For an instant she stood entranced;
then she tore the web across, and three
times she touched Arachne's forehead with her
``Live on, Arachne,'' she said. ``And since it is
your glory to weave, you and yours must weave
forever.'' So saying, she sprinkled upon the
maiden a certain magical potion.
Away went Arachne's beauty; then her very
human form shrank to that of a spider, and so
remained. As a spider she spent all her days
weaving and weaving; and you may see something
like her handiwork any day among the rafters.
THE METAL KING
A GERMAN FOLE-TALE
Once long ago there was a high mountain whose
rocks were veined with gold and silver and seamed
with iron. At times, from a huge rent in the
mountain-side, there shot out roaring, red flames,
and clouds of black smoke. And when the
village folk in the valley below saw this, they would
say: ``Look! the Metal King is at his forge.'' For
they knew that in the gloomy heart of the mountain,
the Metal King and his Spirits of the Mines
wrought in gold and iron.
When the storm raged over the valley, the
Metal King left his cavern and riding on the wings
of the wind, with thundering shouts, hurled his
red-hot bolts into the valley, now killing the
peasants and their cattle, now burning houses and
But when the weather was soft and mild, and
the breezes blew gently about the mouth of his
cavern, the Metal King returned to his forge in
the depths of the mountain, and there shaped
ploughshares and many other implements of iron.
These he placed outside his cavern door, as gifts
to the poor peasants.
It happened, on a time, there lived in that
valley a lazy lad, who would neither till his fields
nor ply a trade. He was avaricious, but he longed
to win gold without mining, and wealth and fame
without labor. So it came to pass that he set
out one day to find the mountain treasure of the
Taking a lighted lantern in one hand, a hatchet
in the other, and a bundle of twigs under his
arm, he entered the dark cavern. The dampness
smote his cheek, bats flapped their wings in his
face. Shivering with fear and cold, he pressed
on through a long passage under an arched and
blackened roof. As he passed along he dropped
his twigs, one after another, so that they might
guide him aright when he returned.
He came at last to a place where the passage
branched off in two directions,--to the right and
to the left. Choosing the right-hand path, he
walked on and at length came to an iron door. He
struck it twice with his hammer. It flew open,
and a strong current of air rushing forth put out
``Come in! Come in!'' shouted a voice like the
rolling of thunder, and the cavern echoes gave
back the sounds.
Almost overcome by terror and shivering in
every limb, the lad entered. As he stepped forward
a dazzling light shone from the vaulted
roof upheld by massive columns, and across
the crystal side-walls flittered curious, shadowy
The Metal King, huge and fierce-eyed,
surrounded by the misshapen Spirits of the Mines,
sat upon a block of pure silver, with a pile of
shining gold lying before him.
``Come in, my friend!'' he shouted again, and
again the echoes rolled through the cavern.
``Come near, and sit beside me.''
The lad advanced, pale and trembling, and
took his seat upon the silver block.
``Bring out more treasure,'' cried the Metal
King, and at his command the Mountain Spirits
fluttered away like dreams, only to return in a
moment and pile high before the wondering lad
bars of red gold, mounds of silver coin, and stacks
of precious jewels.
And when the lad saw all that wealth he felt
his heart burst with longing to grasp it, but when
he tried to put out his hand, he found that he
could not move his arm, nor could he lift his feet,
nor turn his head.
``Thou seest these riches,'' said the Metal
King; ``they are but a handful compared with
those thou mayest gain if thou wilt work with us
in the mines. Hard is the service but rich the
reward! Only say the word, and for a year and
a day thou shalt be a Mountain Spirit.''
``Nay,'' stammered the lad, in great terror,
``nay, I came not to work. All I beg of thee is
one bar of gold and a handful of the jewels that
lie here. If they are mine I can dress better than
the village lads, and ride in my own coach!''
``Lazy, ungrateful wretch!'' cried the Metal
King, rising from his seat, while his figure seemed
to tower until his head touched the cavern roof,
``wouldst thou seize without pay the treasures
gained through the hard labor of my Mountain
Spirits! Hence! Get thee gone to thy place!
Seek not here for unearned riches! Cast away thy
discontented disposition and thou shalt turn
stones into gold. Dig well thy garden and thy
fields, sow them and tend them diligently, search
the mountain-sides; and thou shalt gain through
thine industry mines of gold and silver!''
Scarcely had the Metal King spoken when
there was heard a screeching as of ravens, a
crying as of night owls, and a mighty storm wind
came rushing against the lad; and catching him
up it drove him forth along the dark passage, and
down the mountain-side, so that in a minute he
found himself on the steps of his own house.
And from that time on a strange change came
over the lad. He no longer idled and dreamed of
sudden wealth, but morning, noon, and evening
he labored diligently, sowing his fields, cultivating
his garden, and mining on the mountain-side.
Years came and went; all he touched prospered,
and he grew to be the richest man in that country;
but never again did he see the Metal King
or the Spirits of the Mines.
THE CHOICE OF HERCULES
BY XENOPHON (ADAPTED)
Long, long ago, when the world was young, there
were many deeds waiting to be wrought by daring
heroes. It was then that the mighty Hercules,
who was yet a lad, felt an exceeding great and
strong desire to go out into the wide world to seek
One day, while wandering alone and thoughtful,
he came to a place where two paths met. And
sitting down he gravely considered which he
One path led over flowery meadows toward the
darkening distance; the other, passing over rough
stones and rugged, brown furrows, lost itself in
the glowing sunset.
And as Hercules gazed into the distance, he
saw two stately maidens coming toward him.
The first was tall and graceful, and wrapped
round in a snow-white mantle. Her countenance
was calm and beautiful. With gracious mien and
modest glance she drew near the lad.
The other maiden made haste to outrun the
first. She, too, was tall, but seemed taller than
she really was. She, too, was beautiful, but her
glance was bold. As she ran, a rosy garment like
a cloud floated about her form, and she kept
looking at her own round arms and shapely hands,
and ever and anon she seemed to gaze admiringly
at her shadow as it moved along the ground. And
this fair one did outstrip the first maiden, and
rushing forward held out her white hands to the
``I see thou art hesitating, O Hercules, by what
path to seek thy fortune. Follow me along this
flowery way, and I will make it a delightful and
easy road. Thou shalt taste to the full of every
kind of pleasure. No shadow of annoyance shall
ever touch thee, nor strain nor stress of war and
state disturb thy peace. Instead thou shalt tread
upon carpets soft as velvet, and sit at golden
tables, or recline upon silken couches. The fairest
of maidens shall attend thee, music and perfume
shall lull thy senses, and all that is delightful to
eat and drink shall be placed before thee. Never
shalt thou labor, but always live in joy and ease.
Oh, come! I give my followers liberty and delight!''
And as she spoke the maiden stretched forth
her arms, and the tones of her voice were sweet
``What, O maiden,'' asked Hercules, ``is thy
``My friends,'' said she, ``call me Happiness,
but mine enemies name me Vice.''
Even as she spoke, the white-robed maiden,
who had drawn near, glided forward, and addressed
the lad in gracious tones and with words
stately and winning:--
``O beloved youth, who wouldst wander forth
in search of Life, I too, would plead with thee!
I, Virtue, have watched and tended thee from a
child. I know the fond care thy parents have
bestowed to train thee for a hero's part. Direct now
thy steps along yon rugged path that leads to my
dwelling. Honorable and noble mayest thou become
through thy illustrious deeds.
``I will not seduce thee by promises of vain
delights; instead will I recount to thee the things
that really are. Lasting fame and true nobility
come not to mortals save through pain and labor.
If thou, O Hercules, seekest the gracious gifts of
Heaven, thou must remain constant in prayer;
if thou wouldst be beloved of thy friends, thou
must serve thy friends; if thou desirest to be
honored of the people thou must benefit the people;
if thou art anxious to reap the fruits of the
earth, thou must till the earth with labor; and if
thou wishest to be strong in body and accomplish
heroic deeds, thou must teach thy body to obey
thy mind. Yea, all this and more also must thou
``Seest thou not, O Hercules,'' cried Vice,
``over how difficult and tedious a road this Virtue
would drive thee? I, instead, will conduct thy
steps by a short and easy path to perfect Happiness.''
``Wretched being!'' answered Virtue, ``wouldst
thou deceive this lad! What lasting Happiness
hast thou to offer! Thou pamperest thy followers
with riches, thou deludest them with idleness;
thou surfeitest them with luxury; thou enfeeblest
them with softness. In youth they grow slothful
in body and weak in mind. They live without
labor and wax fat. They come to a wretched old
age, dissatisfied, and ashamed, and oppressed by
the memory of their ill deeds; and, having run
their course, they lay themselves down in
melancholy death and their name is remembered no
``But those fortunate youths who follow me
receive other counsel. I am the companion of
virtuous men. Always I am welcome in the
homes of artisans and in the cottages of tillers of
the soil. I am the guardian of industrious
households, and the rewarder of generous masters and
faithful servants. I am the promoter of the labors
of peace. No honorable deed is accomplished
``My friends have sweet repose and the
untroubled enjoyment of the fruits of their efforts.
They remember their deeds with an easy conscience
and contentment, and are beloved of their
friends and honored by their country. And when
they have run their course, and death overtakes
them, their names are celebrated in song and
praise, and they live in the hearts of their
``Come, then, O Hercules, thou son of noble
parents, come, follow thou me, and by thy
worthy and illustrious deeds secure for thyself
She ceased, and Hercules, withdrawing his
gaze from the face of Vice, arose from his place,
and followed Virtue along the rugged, brown path
THE SPEAKING STATUE
FROM GESTA ROMANORUM (ADAPTED)
There was once a great emperor who made a law
that whosoever worked on the birthday of his
eldest son should be put to death. He caused this
decree to be published throughout his empire,
and, sending for his chief magician, said to him:--
``I wish you to devise an instrument which will
tell me the name of each laborer who breaks my
``Sire,'' answered the magician, ``your will
shall be accomplished.'' And he straightway
constructed a wonderful, speaking statue, and placed
it in the public square of the capital city. By its
magic power this statue could discern all that
went on in the empire on the birthday of the
eldest prince, and it could tell the name of each
laborer who worked in secret on that day. Thus
things continued for some years, and many men
were put to death.
Now, there was in the capital city a carpenter
named Focus. He was a diligent workman,
laboring at his trade from early morning till late at
night. One year, when the prince's birthday came
round, he continued to work all that day.
The next morning he arose, dressed himself,
and, before any one was astir in the streets, went
to the magic statue and said:--
``O statue, statue! because you have
denounced so many of our citizens, causing them
to be put to death, I vow, if you accuse me, I will
break your head!''
Shortly after this the emperor dispatched
messengers to the statue to inquire if the law had
been broken the day before. When the statue
saw them, it exclaimed:--
``Friends, look up! What see ye written on
They looked up and beheld three sentences
that ran thus:--
``Times are altered!
``Men grow worse!
``He who speaks the truth will have his head broken!''
``Go,'' said the statue, ``declare to His Majesty
what ye have seen and read.''
The messenger accordingly departed and returned
in haste to the emperor, and related to
him all that had occurred.
The emperor ordered his guard to arm and to
march instantly to the public square, where the
statue was, and commanded that if any one had
attempted to injure it, he should be seized, bound
hand and foot, and dragged to the judgment hall.
The guard hastened to do the emperor's
bidding. They approached the statue and said:--
``Our emperor commands you to tell who it is
that threatened you.''
The statue answered: ``Seize Focus the
carpenter. Yesterday he defied the emperor's edict;
this morning he threatened to break my head.''
The soldiers immediately arrested Focus, and
dragged him to the judgment hall.
``Friend,'' said the emperor, ``what do I hear
of you? Why do you work on my son's birthday?''
``Your Majesty,'' answered Focus, ``it is
impossible for me to keep your law. I am obliged
to earn eight pennies every day, therefore was I
forced to work yesterday.''
``And why eight pennies?'' asked the emperor.
``Every day through the year,'' answered
Focus, ``I am bound to repay two pennies I borrowed
in my youth; two I lend; two I lose; and
two I spend.''
``How is this?'' said the emperor; ``explain
``Your Majesty,'' replied Focus, ``listen to me.
I am bound each day to repay two pennies to my
old father, for when I was a boy he expended upon
me daily the like sum. Now he is poor and needs
my assistance, and I return what I formerly
borrowed. Two other pennies I lend my son, who is
pursuing his studies, in order that, if by chance
I should fall into poverty, he may restore the
loan to me, just as I am now doing to his grandfather.
Again, I lose two pennies on my wife, who
is a scold and has an evil temper. On account of
her bad disposition I consider whatever I give
her entirely lost. Lastly, two other pennies I
spend on myself for meat and drink. I cannot
do all this without working every day. You now
know the truth, and, I pray you, give a righteous
``Friend, ``said the emperor, ``you have answered
well. Go and work diligently at your calling.''
That same day the emperor annulled the law
forbidding labor on his son's birthday. Not long
after this he died, and Focus the carpenter, on
account of his singular wisdom, was elected
emperor in his stead. He governed wisely, and after
his death there was deposited in the royal archives
a portrait of Focus wearing a crown adorned with
THE CHAMPION STONE-CUTTER
BY HUGH MILLER
David Fraser was a famous Scotch hewer. On
hearing that it had been remarked among a party
of Edinburgh masons that, though regarded as
the first of Glasgow stone-cutters, he would find
in the eastern capital at least his equals, he
attired himself most uncouthly in a long-tailed coat
of tartan, and, looking to the life the untamed,
untaught, conceited little Celt, he presented
himself on Monday morning, armed with a letter
of introduction from a Glasgow builder, before
the foreman of an Edinburgh squad of masons
engaged upon one of the finer buildings at that
time in the course of erection.
The letter specified neither his qualifications
nor his name. It had been written merely to
secure for him the necessary employment, and
the necessary employment it did secure.
The better workmen of the party were engaged,
on his arrival, in hewing columns, each of
which was deemed sufficient work for a week; and
David was asked somewhat incredulously, by the
foreman, if he could hew.
``Oh, yes, HE THOUGHT he could hew.''
``Could he hew columns such as these?''
``Oh, yes, HE THOUGHT he could hew columns such
A mass of stone, in which a possible column
lay hid, was accordingly placed before David, not
under cover of the shed, which was already
occupied by workmen, but, agreeably to David's
own request, directly in front of it, where he
might be seen by all, and where he straightway
commenced a most extraordinary course of antics.
Buttoning his long tartan coat fast around him,
he would first look along the stone from the one
end, anon from the other, and then examine it in
front and rear; or, quitting it altogether for the
time, he would take up his stand beside the other
workmen, and, after looking at them with great
attention, return and give it a few taps with the
mallet, in a style evidently imitative of theirs, but
monstrously a caricature.
The shed all that day resounded with roars of
laughter; and the only thoroughly grave man on
the ground was he who occasioned the mirth of
all the others.
Next morning David again buttoned his coat;
but he got on much better this day than the
former. He was less awkward and less idle,
though not less observant than before; and he
succeeded ere evening in tracing, in workmanlike
fashion, a few draughts along the future column.
He was evidently greatly improving!
On the morning of Wednesday he threw off his
coat; and it was seen that, though by no means in
a hurry, he was seriously at work. There were no
more jokes or laughter; and it was whispered in
the evening that the strange Highlander had made
astonishing progress during the day.
By the middle of Thursday he had made up for
his two days' trifling, and was abreast of the
other workmen. Before night he was far ahead of
them; and ere the evening of Friday, when they
had still a full day's work on each of their
columns, David's was completed in a style that defied
criticism; and, his tartan coat again buttoned
around him, he sat resting himself beside it.
The foreman went out and greeted him.
``Well,'' he said, ``you have beaten us all. You
certainly CAN hew!''
``Yes,'' said David, ``I THOUGHT I could hew
columns. Did the other men take much more than
a week to learn?''
``Come, come, DAVID FRASER,'' replied the
foreman, ``we all guess who you are. You have had
your week's joke out; and now, I suppose, we
must give you your week's wages, and let you go
``Yes,'' said David, ``work waits for me in
Glasgow; but I just thought it might be well to
know how you hewed on this east side of the
BILL BROWN'S TEST
BY CLEVELAND MOFFETT
All firemen have courage, but it cannot be known
until the test how many have this particular kind,
--Bill Brown's kind.
What happened was this: Engine 29, pumping
and pounding her prettiest, stood at the northwest
corner of Greenwich and Warren streets,
so close to the blazing drug-house that Driver
Marks thought it wasn't safe there for the three
horses, and led them away. That was fortunate,
but it left Brown alone, right against the cheek
of the fire, watching his boiler, stoking in coal,
keeping his steam-gauge at 75. As the fire gained,
chunks of red-hot sandstone began to smash down
on the engine. Brown ran his pressure up to 80,
and watched the door anxiously where the boys
had gone in.
Then the explosion came, and a blue flame,
wide as a house, curled its tongues halfway across
the street, enwrapping engine and man, setting
fire to the elevated railway station overhead, or
such wreck of it as the shock had left.
Bill Brown stood by his engine, with a wall
of fire before him and a sheet of fire above him.
He heard quick footsteps on the pavements,
and voices, that grew fainter and fainter, crying,
``Run for your lives!'' He heard the hose-wagon
horses somewhere back in the smoke go plunging
away, mad with fright and their burns. He was
alone with the fire, and the skin was hanging in
shreds on his hands, face, and neck. Only a
fireman knows how one blast of flame can shrivel
up a man, and the pain over the bared surfaces
was,--well, there is no pain worse than that
of fire scorching in upon the quick flesh seared
Here, I think, was a crisis to make a very
brave man quail. Bill Brown knew perfectly well
why every one was running; there was going to
be another explosion in a couple of minutes,
maybe sooner, out of this hell in front of him.
And the order had come for every man to save
himself, and every man had done it except the
lads inside. And the question was, Should he run
or should he stay and die? It was tolerably certain
that he would die if he stayed. On the other
hand, the boys of old 29 were in there. Devanny
and McArthur, and Gillon and Merron, his
friends, his chums. He'd seen them drag the
hose in through that door,--there it was now,
a long, throbbing snake of it,--and they hadn't
come out. Perhaps they were dead. Yes, but
perhaps they weren't. If they were alive, they
needed water now more than they ever needed
anything before. And they couldn't get water
if he quit his engine.
Bill Brown pondered this a long time, perhaps
four seconds; then he fell to stoking in coal, and
he screwed her up another notch, and he eased
her running parts with the oiler. Explosion or
not, pain or not, alone or not, he was going to
stay and make that engine hum. He had done
the greatest thing a man can do,--had offered
his life for his friends.
It is pleasant to know that this sacrifice was
averted. A quarter of a minute or so before the
second and terrible explosion, Devanny and his
men came staggering from the building. Then it
was that Merron fell, and McArthur checked his
fight to save him. Then it was, but not until
then, that Bill Brown left Engine 29 to her fate
(she was crushed by the falling walls), and ran
for his life with his comrades. He had waited for
them, he had stood the great test.
COLUMBUS AND THE EGG
BY JAMES BALDWIN (ADAPTED)
 From Thirty More Famous Stories Retold. Copyright, 1903, by
American Book Company.
One day Columbus was at a dinner which a
Spanish gentleman had given in his honor, and
several persons were present who were jealous of
the great admiral's success. They were proud,
conceited fellows, and they very soon began to
try to make Columbus uncomfortable.
``You have discovered strange lands beyond
the seas,'' they said, ``but what of that? We do
not see why there should be so much said about
it. Anybody can sail across the ocean; and
anybody can coast along the islands on the other
side, just as you have done. It is the simplest
thing in the world.''
Columbus made no answer; but after a while
he took an egg from a dish and said to the company:--
``Who among you, gentlemen, can make this
egg stand on end?''
One by one those at the table tried the
experiment. When the egg had gone entirely around
and none had succeeded, all said that it could
not be done.
Then Columbus took the egg and struck its
small end gently upon the table so as to break
the shell a little. After that there was no trouble
in making it stand upright.
``Gentlemen,'' said he, ``what is easier than to
do this which you said was impossible? It is the
simplest thing in the world. Anybody can do
it,--AFTER HE HAS BEEN SHOWN HOW!''
COLUMBUS AT LA RABIDA
BY WASHINGTON IRVING (ADAPTED)
About half a league from the little seaport of
Palos de Moguer, in Andalusia, there stood, and
continues to stand at the present day, an ancient
convent of Franciscan friars, dedicated to Santa
Maria de Rabida.
One day a stranger on foot, in humble guise,
but of a distinguished air, accompanied by a
small boy, stopped at the gate of the convent and
asked of the porter a little bread and water for
his child. While receiving this humble refreshment,
the prior of the convent, Juan Perez de
Marchena, happened to pass by, and was struck
with the appearance of the stranger. Observing
from his air and accent that he was a foreigner,
he entered into conversation with him and soon
learned the particulars of his story.
That stranger was Columbus.
Accompanied by his little son Diego, he was
on his way to the neighboring town of Huelva,
to seek a brother-in-law, who had married a
sister of his deceased wife.
The prior was a man of extensive information.
His attention had been turned in some measure
to geographical and nautical science. He was
greatly interested by the conversation of Columbus,
and struck with the grandeur of his views.
When he found, however, that the voyager was
on the point of abandoning Spain to seek the
patronage of the court of France, the good friar
took the alarm.
He detained Columbus as his guest, and sent
for a scientific friend to converse with him. That
friend was Garcia Fernandez, a physician of
Palos. He was equally struck with the appearance
and conversation of the stranger. Several
conferences took place at the convent, at which
veteran mariners and pilots of Palos were present.
Facts were related by some of these navigators
in support of the theory of Columbus. In a
word, his project was treated with a deference
in the quiet cloisters of La Rabida and among the
seafaring men of Palos which had been sought in
vain among sages and philosophers.
Among the navigators of Palos was one Martin
Alonzo Pinzon, the head of a family of wealth,
members of which were celebrated for their
adventurous expeditions. He was so convinced of the
feasibility of Columbus's plan that he offered to
engage in it with purse and person, and to bear the
expenses of Columbus in an application to court.
Fray Juan Perez, being now fully persuaded of
the importance of the proposed enterprise, advised
Columbus to repair to the court, and make
his propositions to the Spanish sovereigns,
offering to give him a letter of recommendation to his
friend, the Prior of the Convent of Prado and
confessor to the queen, and a man of great political
influence; through whose means he would,
without doubt, immediately obtain royal audience
and favor. Martin Alonzo Pinzon, also, generously
furnished him with money for the journey,
and the Friar took charge of his youthful son,
Diego, to maintain and educate him in the convent.
Thus aided and encouraged and elated with
fresh hopes, Columbus took leave of the little
junto at La Rabida, and set out, in the spring of
1486, for the Castilian court, which had just
assembled at Cordova, where the sovereigns were
fully occupied with their chivalrous enterprise for
the conquest of Granada. But alas! success was
not yet! for Columbus met with continued
disappointments and discouragements, while his
projects were opposed by many eminent prelates
and Spanish scientists, as being against religion
and unscientific. Yet in spite of this opposition,
by degrees the theory of Columbus began to
obtain proselytes. He appeared in the presence
of the king with modesty, yet self-possession,
inspired by a consciousness of the dignity and
importance of his errand; for he felt himself, as
he afterwards declared in his letters, animated as
if by a sacred fire from above, and considered
himself an instrument in the hand of Heaven to
accomplish its great designs. For nearly seven
years of apparently fruitless solicitation, Columbus
followed the royal court from place to place, at
times encouraged by the sovereigns, and at others
At last he looked round in search of some other
source of patronage, and feeling averse to subjecting
himself to further tantalizing delays and
disappointments of the court, determined to repair
to Paris. He departed, therefore, and went to the
Convent of La Rabida to seek his son Diego.
When the worthy Friar Juan Perez de Marchena
beheld Columbus arrive once more at the gate of
his convent after nearly seven years of fruitless
effort at court, and saw by the humility of his
garb the poverty he had experienced, he was
greatly moved; but when he found that he was
about to carry his proposition to another country,
his patriotism took alarm.
The Friar had once been confessor to the
queen, and knew that she was always accessible
to persons of his sacred calling. He therefore
wrote a letter to her, and at the same time
entreated Columbus to remain at the convent
until an answer could be received. The latter
was easily persuaded, for he felt as if on leaving
Spain he was again abandoning his home.
The little council at La Rabida now cast round
their eyes for an ambassador to send on this
momentous mission. They chose one Sebastian
Rodriguez, a pilot of Lepe, one of the most
shrewd and important personages in this maritime
neighborhood. He so faithfully and successfully
conducted his embassy that he returned
shortly with an answer.
Isabella had always been favorably disposed
to the proposition of Columbus. She thanked
Juan Perez for his timely services and requested
him to repair immediately to the court, leaving
Columbus in confident hope until he should hear
further from her. This royal letter, brought back
by the pilot at the end of fourteen days, spread
great joy in the little junto at the convent.
No sooner did the warm-hearted friar receive
it than he saddled his mule, and departed,
privately, before midnight to the court. He
journeyed through the countries of the Moors,
and rode into the new city of Santa Fe where
Ferdinand and Isabella were engaged in besieging
the capital of Granada.
The sacred office of Juan Perez gained him a
ready admission into the presence of the queen.
He pleaded the cause of Columbus with enthusiasm.
He told of his honorable motives, of his
knowledge and experience, and his perfect
capacity to fulfill the undertaking. He showed the
solid principles upon which the enterprise was
founded, and the advantage that must attend its
success, and the glory it must shed upon the
Isabella, being warm and generous of nature
and sanguine of disposition, was moved by the
representations of Juan Perez, and requested that
Columbus might be again sent to her. Bethinking
herself of his poverty and his humble plight, she
ordered that money should be forwarded to him,
sufficient to bear his traveling expenses, and to
furnish him with decent raiment.
The worthy friar lost no time in communicating
the result of his mission. He transmitted
the money, and a letter, by the hand of an
inhabitant of Palos, to the physician, Garcia
Fernandez, who delivered them to Columbus
The latter immediately changed his threadbare
garb for one more suited to the sphere of a court,
and purchasing a mule, set out again, reanimated
by hopes, for the camp before Granada.
This time, after some delay, his mission was
attended with success. The generous spirit of
Isabella was enkindled, and it seemed as if the
subject, for the first time, broke upon her mind in
all its real grandeur. She declared her resolution
to undertake the enterprise, but paused for
a moment, remembering that King Ferdinand
looked coldly on the affair, and that the royal
treasury was absolutely drained by the war.
Her suspense was but momentary. With an
enthusiasm worthy of herself and of the cause,
she exclaimed: ``I undertake the enterprise for
my own crown of Castile, and will pledge my
jewels to raise the necessary funds.'' This was
the proudest moment in the life of Isabella. It
stamped her renown forever as the patroness of
the discovery of the New World.
BY A. DE LAMARTINE (ADAPTED)
When Columbus left the Canaries to pass with
his three small ships into the unknown seas, the
eruptions of Teneriffe illuminated the heavens
and were reflected in the sea. This cast terror
into the minds of his seamen. They thought that
it was the flaming sword of the angel who
expelled the first man from Eden, and who now was
trying to drive back in anger those presumptuous
ones who were seeking entrance to the forbidden
and unknown seas and lands. But the admiral
passed from ship to ship explaining to his men,
in a simple way, the action of volcanoes, so that
the sailors were no longer afraid.
But as the peak of Teneriffe sank below the
horizon, a great sadness fell upon the men. It
was their last beacon, the farthest sea-mark of
the Old World. They were seized with a nameless
terror and loneliness.
Then the admiral called them around him in
his own ship, and told them many stories of the
things they might hope to find in the wonderful
new world to which they were going,--of the
lands, the islands, the seas, the kingdoms, the
riches, the vegetation, the sunshine, the mines of
gold, the sands covered with pearls, the mountains
shining with precious stones, the plains
loaded with spices. These stories, tinged with the
brilliant colors of their leader's rich imagination,
filled the discouraged sailors with hope and good
But as they passed over the trackless ocean,
and saw day by day the great billows rolling
between them and the mysterious horizon, the
sailors were again filled with dread. They lacked
the courage to sail onward into the unknown
distance. The compass began to vacillate, and
no longer pointed toward the north; this confused
both Columbus and his pilots. The men
fell into a panic, but the resolute and patient
admiral encouraged them once more. So buoyed
up by his faith and hope, they continued to sail
onwards over the pathless waters.
The next day a heron and a tropical bird flew
about the masts of the ships, and these seemed to
the wondering sailors as two witnesses come to
confirm the reasoning of Columbus.
The weather was mild and serene, the sky clear,
the waves transparent, the dolphins played across
the bows, the airs were warm, and the perfumes,
which the waves brought from afar, seemed to exhale
from their foam. The brilliancy of the stars
and the deep beauty of the night breathed a feeling
of calm security that comforted and sustained
The sea also began to bring its messages.
Unknown vegetations floated upon its surface. Some
were rock-plants, that had been swept off the cliffs
by the waves; some were fresh-water plants; and
others, recently torn from their roots, were still full
of sap. One of them carried a live crab,--a little
sailor afloat on a tuft of grass. These plants and
living things could not have passed many days in
the water without fading and dying. And all
encouraged the sailors to believe that they were
At eve and morning the distant waning clouds,
like those that gather round the mountain-tops,
took the form of cliffs and hills skirting the
horizon. The cry of ``land'' was on the tip of every
tongue. But Columbus by his reckoning knew that
they must still be far from any land, but fearing to
discourage his men he kept his thoughts to himself,
for he found no trustworthy friend among his
companions whose heart was firm enough to bear
During the long passage Columbus conversed
with his own thoughts, and with the stars, and
with God whom he felt was his protector. He
occupied his days in making notes of what he
observed. The nights he passed on deck with his
pilots, studying the stars and watching the seas.
He withdrew into himself, and his thoughtful
gravity impressed his companions sometimes
with respect and sometimes with mistrust and awe.
Each morning the bows of the vessels plunged
through the fantastic horizon which the evening
mist had made the sailors mistake for a shore.
They kept rolling on through the boundless and
bottomless abyss. Gradually terror and discontent
once more took possession of the crews. They
began to imagine that the steadfast east wind
that drove them westward prevailed eternally
in this region, and that when the time came to
sail homeward, the same wind would prevent their
return. For surely their provisions and water
could not hold out long enough for them to beat
their way eastward over those wide waters!
Then the sailors began to murmur against the
admiral and his seeming fruitless obstinacy, and
they blamed themselves for obeying him, when it
might mean the sacrifice of the lives of one hundred
and twenty sailors.
But each time the murmurs threatened to break
out into mutiny, Providence seemed to send more
encouraging signs of land. And these for the time
being changed the complaints to hopes. At evening
little birds of the most delicate species, that
build their nests in the shrubs of the garden
and orchard, hovered warbling about the masts.
Their delicate wings and joyous notes bore no
signs of weariness or fright, as of birds swept far
away to sea by a storm. These signs again aroused
The green weeds on the surface of the ocean
looked like waving corn before the ears are ripe.
The vegetation beneath the water delighted the
eyes of the sailors tired of the endless expanse of
blue. But the seaweed soon became so thick that
they were afraid of entangling their rudders and
keels, and of remaining prisoners forever in the
forests of the ocean, as ships of the northern seas
are shut in by ice. Thus each joy soon turned to
fear,--so terrible to man is the unknown.
The wind ceased, the calms of the tropics
alarmed the sailors. An immense whale was seen
sleeping on the waters. They fancied there were
monsters in the deep which would devour their
ships. The roll of the waves drove them upon
currents which they could not stem for want of
wind. They imagined they were approaching
the cataracts of the ocean, and that they were
being hurried toward the abysses into which the
deluge had poured its world of waters.
Fierce and angry faces crowded round the mast.
The murmurs rose louder and louder. They talked
of compelling the pilots to put about and of throwing
the admiral into the sea. Columbus, to whom
their looks and threats revealed these plans,
defied them by his bold bearing or disconcerted
them by his coolness.
Again nature came to his assistance, by giving
him fresh breezes from the east, and a calm sea
under his bows. Before the close of the day came
the first cry of ``Land ho!'' from the lofty poop.
All the crews, repeating this cry of safety, life, and
triumph, fell on their knees on the decks,and struck
up the hymn, ``Glory be to God in heaven and
upon earth.'' When it was over, all climbed as
high as they could up the masts, yards, and rigging
to see with their own eyes the new land that
had been sighted.
But the sunrise destroyed this new hope all too
quickly. The imaginary land disappeared with
the morning mist, and once more the ships seemed
to be sailing over a never-ending wilderness of
Despair took possession of the crews. Again
the cry of ``Land ho!'' was heard. But the sailors
found as before that their hopes were but a passing
cloud. Nothing wearies the heart so much as
false hopes and bitter disappointments.
Loud reproaches against the admiral were
heard from every quarter. Bread and water were
beginning to fail. Despair changed to fury. The
men decided to turn the heads of the vessels toward
Europe, and to beat back against the winds
that had favored the admiral, whom they intended
to chain to the mast of his own vessel and to give
up to the vengeance of Spain should they ever
reach the port of their own country.
These complaints now became clamorous. The
admiral restrained them by the calmness of his
countenance. He called upon Heaven to decide
between himself and the sailors. He flinched not.
He offered his life as a pledge, if they would but
trust and wait for three days more. He swore
that, if, in the course of the third day, land was
not visible on the horizon, he would yield to
their wishes and steer for Europe.
The mutinous men reluctantly consented and
allowed him three days of grace.
. . . . . . . . . .
At sunrise on the second day rushes recently
torn up were seen floating near the vessels. A
plank hewn by an axe, a carved stick, a bough
of hawthorn in blossom, and lastly a bird's nest
built on a branch which the wind had broken, and
full of eggs on which the parent-bird was sitting,
were seen swimming past on the waters. The
sailors brought on board these living witnesses
of their approach to land. They were like a
message from the shore, confirming the promises of
The overjoyed and repentant mutineers fell on
their knees before the admiral whom they had
insulted but the day before, and craved pardon
for their mistrust.
As the day and night advanced many other
sights and sounds showed that land was very near.
Toward day delicious and unknown perfumes borne
on a soft land breeze reached the vessels, and there
was heard the roar of the waves upon the reefs.
The dawn, as it spread over the sky, gradually
raised the shores of an island from the waves.
Its distant extremities were lost in the morning
mist. As the sun rose it shone on the land ascending
from a low yellow beach to the summit of hills
whose dark-green covering contrasted strongly
with the clear blue of the heavens. The foam of
the waves broke on the yellow sand, and forests
of tall and unknown trees stretched away, one
above another, over successive terraces of the
island. Green valleys, and bright clefts in the
hollows afforded a half glimpse into these mysterious
wilds. And thus the land of golden promises, the
land of future greatness, first appeared to
Christopher Columbus, the Admiral of the Ocean, and
thus he gave a New World to the nations to come.
THE FIRST LANDING OF COLUMBUS
IN THE NEW WORLD
BY WASHINGTON IRVING (ADAPTED)
It was on Friday morning, the 12th of October,
that Columbus first beheld the New World. As the
day dawned he saw before him an island, several
leagues in extent, and covered with trees like a
continual orchard. Though apparently uncultivated
it was populous, for the inhabitants were
seen issuing from all parts of the woods and
running to the shore. They were perfectly naked,
and, as they stood gazing at the ships, appeared
by their attitudes and gestures to be lost in astonishment.
Columbus made signals for the ships to cast
anchor and the boats to be manned and armed.
He entered his own boat, richly attired in scarlet,
and holding the royal standard; while Martin
Alonzo Pinzon and his brother put off in company
in their boats, each with a banner of the enterprise
emblazoned with a green cross, having on
either side the letters ``F.'' and ``Y.,'' the initials
of the Castilian monarchs Fernando and Ysabel,
surmounted by crowns.
As he approached the shore, Columbus was
delighted with the purity and suavity of the
atmosphere, the crystal transparency of the sea,
and the extraordinary beauty of the vegetation.
He beheld also fruits of an unknown kind upon
the trees which overhung the shores.
On landing he threw himself on his knees, kissed
the earth, and returned thanks to God with tears
of joy. His example was followed by the rest.
``Almighty and Eternal God,'' prayed Columbus,
``who by the energy of Thy creative word
hast made the firmament, the earth and the sea;
blessed and glorified be thy name in all places!
May thy majesty and dominion be exalted for
ever and ever, as Thou hast permitted thy holy
name to be made known and spread by the most
humble of thy servants, in this hitherto unknown
portion of Thine empire.''
 This prayer is taken from Lamartine.
Columbus, then rising, drew his sword,
displayed the royal standard, and assembling around
him the two captains and the rest who had landed,
he took solemn possession in the name of the
Castilian sovereigns, giving the island the name
of San Salvador.
THE OLD WITCH
BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM (TRANSLATED)
There was once a little girl who was very willful
and who never obeyed when her elders spoke to
her; so how could she be happy?
One day she said to her parents: ``I have heard
so much of the old witch that I will go and see
her. People say she is a wonderful old woman,
and has many marvelous things in her house, and
I am very curious to see them.''
But her parents forbade her going, saying:
``The witch is a wicked old woman, who performs
many godless deeds; and if you go near her, you
are no longer a child of ours.''
The girl, however, would not turn back at her
parents' command, but went to the witch's house.
When she arrived there the old woman asked
``Why are you so pale?''
``Ah,'' she replied, trembling all over, ``I have
frightened myself so with what I have just seen.''
``And what did you see?'' inquired the old
``I saw a black man on your steps.''
``That was a collier,'' replied she.
``Then I saw a gray man.''
``That was a sportsman,'' said the old woman.
``After him I saw a blood-red man.''
``That was a butcher,'' replied the old woman.
``But, oh, I was most terrified,'' continued the
girl, ``when I peeped through your window, and
saw not you, but a creature with a fiery head.''
``Then you have seen the witch in her proper
dress,'' said the old woman. ``For you I have long
waited, and now you shall give me light.''
So saying the witch changed the little girl into
a block of wood, and then threw it on the fire;
and when it was fully alight, she sat down on the
hearth and warmed herself, saying:--
``How good I feel! The fire has not burned like
this for a long time!''
A JAPANESE FOLK-TALE:
BY MARY F. NIXON-ROULET (ADAPTED)
 From Japanese Folk-Stories and Fairy Tales. Copyright, 1908,
by American Book Company.
Once upon a time there was a brave soldier lad
who was seeking his fortune in the wide, wide
world. One day he lost his way in a pathless
forest, and wandered about until he came at length
to a small clearing in the midst of which stood a
ruined temple. The huge trees waved above its
walls, and the leaves in the thicket whispered
around them. No sun ever shone there, and no
human being lived there.
A storm was coming up, and the soldier lad took
refuge among the ruins.
``Here is all I want,'' said he. ``Here I shall have
shelter from the storm-god's wrath, and a comfortable
place to sleep in.''
So he wrapped himself in his cloak, and, lying
down, was soon fast asleep. But his slumbers did
not last long. At midnight he was wakened by fearful
shrieks, and springing to his feet, he looked out
at the temple door.
The storm was over. Moonlight shone on the
clearing. And there he saw what seemed to be a
troop of monstrous cats, who like huge phantoms
marched across the open space in front of the
temple. They broke into a wild dance, uttering
shrieks, howls, and wicked laughs. Then they all
``Whisper not to Shippeitaro
That the Phantom Cats are near;
Whisper not to Shippeitaro,
Lest he soon appear!''
The soldier lad crouched low behind the door,
for brave as he was he did not wish these fearful
creatures to see him. But soon, with a chorus
of wild yells, the Phantom Cats disappeared as
quickly as they had come, and all was quiet as
Then the soldier lad lay down and went to sleep
again, nor did he waken till the sun peered into
the temple and told him that it was morning. He
quickly found his way out of the forest and walked
on until he came to the cottage of a peasant.
As he approached he heard sounds of bitter
weeping. A beautiful young maiden met him at
the door, and her eyes were red with crying. She
greeted him kindly.
``May I have some food?'' said he.
``Enter and welcome,'' she replied. ``My parents
are just having breakfast. You may join
them, for no one passes our door hungry.''
Thanking her the lad entered, and her parents
greeted him courteously but sadly, and shared
their breakfast with him. He ate heartily, and,
when he was finished, rose to go.
``Thank you many times for this good meal,
kind friends,'' said he, ``and may happiness be
``Happiness can never again be ours!''
answered the old man, weeping.
``You are in trouble, then,'' said the lad. ``Tell
me about it; perhaps I can help you in some way.''
``Alas!'' replied the old man, ``There is within
yonder forest a ruined temple. It is the abode of
horrors too terrible for words. Each year a demon,
whom no one has ever seen, demands that the
people of this land give him a beautiful maiden
to devour. She is placed in a cage and carried to
the temple just at sunset. This year it is my daughter's
turn to be offered to the fiend!'' And the old
man buried his face in his hands and groaned.
The soldier lad paused to think for a moment,
then he said:--
``It is terrible, indeed! But do not despair. I
think I know a way to help you. Who is Shippeitaro?''
``Shippeitaro is a beautiful dog, owned by our
lord, the prince,'' answered the old man.
``That is just the thing!'' cried the lad. ``Only
keep your daughter closely at home. Do not let
her out of your sight. Trust me and she shall be
Then the soldier lad hurried away, and found
the castle of the prince. He begged that he might
borrow Shippeitaro just for one night.
``You may take him upon the condition that
you bring him back safely,'' said the prince.
``To-morrow he shall return in safety,''
answered the lad.
Taking Shippeitaro with him, he hurried to
the peasant's cottage, and, when evening was
come, he placed the dog in the cage which was to
have carried the maiden. The bearers then took
the cage to the ruined temple, and, placing it on
the ground, ran away as fast as their legs would
The lad, laughing softly to himself, hid inside
the temple as before, and so quiet was the spot
that he fell asleep. At midnight he was aroused
by the same wild shrieks he had heard the night
before. He rose and looked out at the temple door.
Through the darkness, into the moonlight, came
the troop of Phantom Cats. This time they were
led by a fierce, black Tomcat. As they came nearer
they chanted with unearthly screeches:--
``Whisper not to Shippeitaro
That the Phantom Cats are near;
Whisper not to Shippeitaro,
Lest he soon appear!''
With that the great Tomcat caught sight of the
cage and, uttering a fearful yowl, sprang upon it,
With one blow of his claws he tore open the lid,
when, instead of the dainty morsel he expected,
out jumped Shippeitaro!
The dog sprang upon the Tomcat, and caught
him by the throat; while the Phantom Cats stood
still in amazement. Drawing his sword the lad
hurried to Shippeitaro's side, and what with
Shippeitaro's teeth and the lad's hard blows, in
an instant the great Tomcat was torn and cut into
pieces. When the Phantom Cats saw this, they
uttered one wild shriek and fled away, never to
Then the soldier lad, leading Shippeitaro,
returned in triumph to the peasant's cottage. There
in terror the maiden awaited his arrival, but great
was the joy of herself and her parents when they
knew that the Tomcat was no more.
``Oh, sir,'' cried the maiden, ``I can never thank
you! I am the only child of my parents, and no
one would have been left to care for them if I
had been the monster's victim.''
``Do not thank me,'' answered the lad. ``Thank
the brave Shippeitaro. It was he who sprang upon
the great Tomcat and chased away the Phantom
HANSEL AND GRETHEL
BY THE BROTIIERS GRIMM (ADAPTED)
Hard-by a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter
with his two children and his wife who was
their stepmother. The boy was called Hansel
and the girl Grethel. The wood-cutter had little
to bite and to break, and once when a great
famine fell on the land he could no longer get
daily bread. Now when he thought over this by
night in his bed, and tossed about in his trouble,
he groaned, and said to his wife:--
``What is to become of us? How are we to feed
our poor children, when we no longer have anything
even for ourselves?''
``I'll tell you what, husband,'' answered the
woman; ``early to-morrow morning we will take
the children out into the woods where it is the
thickest; there we will light a fire for them, and
give each of them one piece of bread more, and
then we will go to our work and leave them alone.
They will not find the way home again, and we
shall be rid of them.''
``No, wife,'' said the man, ``I will not do that;
how can I bear to leave my children alone in the
woods?--the wild beasts would soon come and
tear them to pieces.''
``Oh, you fool!'' said she. ``Then we must all
four die of hunger; you may as well plane the
planks for our coffins.'' And she left him no peace
until he said he would do as she wished.
``But I feel very sorry for the poor children, all
the same,'' said the man.
The two children had also not been able to
sleep for hunger, and had heard what their father's
wife had said to their father.
Grethel wept bitter tears, and said to Hansel,
``Now all is over with us.''
``Be quiet, Grethel,'' said Hansel, ``do not be
troubled; I will soon find a way to help us.''
And when the old folks had fallen asleep, he
got up, put on his little coat, opened the door
below, and crept outside. The moon shone brightly,
and the white pebbles which lay in front of the
house shone like real silver pennies. Hansel stooped
and put as many of them in the little pocket of his
coat as he could make room for. Then he went
back, and said to Grethel, ``Be at ease, dear little
sister, and sleep in peace; God will not forsake us.''
And he lay down again in his bed.
When the day dawned, but before the sun had
risen, the woman came and awoke the two children,
``Get up, you lazy things! we are going into the
forest to fetch wood.'' She gave each a little piece
of bread, and said, ``There is something for your
dinner, but do not eat it up before then, for you
will get nothing else.''
Grethel took the bread under her apron, as
Hansel had the stones in his pocket. Then they
all set out together on the way to the forest,
and Hansel threw one after another of the white
pebble-stones out of his pocket on the road.
When they had reached the middle of the forest,
the father said, ``Now, children, pile up some wood
and I will light a fire that you may not be cold.''
Hansel and Grethel drew brushwood together
till it was as high as a little hill.
The brushwood was lighted, and when the
flames were burning very high the woman said:--
``Now, children, lie down by the fire and rest;
we will go into the forest and cut some wood.
When we have done, we will come back and fetch
Hansel and Grethel sat by the fire, and when
noon came, each ate a little piece of bread, and
as they heard the strokes of the wood-axe they
were sure their father was near. But it was not
the axe, it was a branch which he had tied to a
dry tree, and the wind was blowing it backward
and forward. As they had been sitting such a long
time they were tired, their eyes shut, and they fell
fast asleep. When at last they awoke, it was dark
Grethel began to cry, and said, ``How are we to
get out of the forest now?''
But Hansel comforted her, saying, ``Just wait
a little, until the moon has risen, and then we will
soon find the way.''
And when the full moon had risen, Hansel took
his little sister by the hand, and followed the
pebbles, which shone like bright silver pieces,
and showed them the way.
They walked the whole night long, and by
break of day came once more to their father's
They knocked at the door, and when the woman
opened it, and saw that it was Hansel and Grethel,
she said, ``You naughty children, why have you
slept so long in the forest? we thought you were
never coming back at all!''
The father, however, was glad, for it had cut
him to the heart to leave them behind alone.
Not long after, there was once more a great lack
of food in all parts, and the children heard the
woman saying at night to their father:--
``Everything is eaten again; we have one half-
loaf left, and after that there is an end. The
children must go; we will take them farther into the
wood, so that they will not find their way out again;
there is no other means of saving ourselves!''
The man's heart was heavy, and he thought,
``It would be better to share our last mouthful
with the children.''
The woman, however, would listen to nothing
he had to say, but scolded him. He who says A
must say B, too, and as he had given way the first
time, he had to do so a second time also.
The children were still awake and had heard
the talk. When the old folks were asleep, Hansel
again got up, and wanted to go and pick up
pebbles, but the woman had locked the door, and
he could not get out.
So he comforted his little sister, and said:--
``Do not cry, Grethel; go to sleep quietly, the
good God will help us.''
Early in the morning came the woman, and
took the children out of their beds. Their bit of
bread was given to them, but it was still smaller
than the time before. On the way into the forest
Hansel crumbled his in his pocket, and often
threw a morsel on the ground until little by little,
he had thrown all the crumbs on the path.
The woman led the children still deeper into
the forest, where they had never in their lives been
before. Then a great fire was again made, and she
``Just sit there, you children, and when you
are tired you may sleep a little; we are going into
the forest to cut wood, and in the evening when we
are done, we will come and fetch you away.''
When it was noon, Grethel shared her piece of
bread with Hansel, who had scattered his by the
way. Then they fell asleep, and evening came and
went, but no one came to the poor children.
They did not awake until it was dark night, and
Hansel comforted his little sister, and said:--
``Just wait, Grethel, until the moon rises, and
then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I
have scattered about; they will show us our way
When the moon came they set out, but they
found no crumbs, for the many thousands of birds
which fly about in the woods and fields had picked
them all up.
Hansel said to Grethel, ``We shall soon find the
But they did not find it. They walked the whole
night and all the next day, too, from morning
till evening, but they did not get out of the forest;
they were very hungry, for they had nothing to
eat but two or three berries which grew on the
ground. And as they were so tired that their legs
would carry them no longer, they lay down under
a tree and fell asleep.
It was now three mornings since they had left
their father's house. They began to walk again,
but they always got deeper into the forest, and
if help did not come soon, they must die of hunger
and weariness. When it was midday, they
saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting on a bough.
It sang so sweetly that they stood still and
listened to it. And when it had done, it spread its
wings and flew away before them, and they followed
it until they reached a little house, on the
roof of which it perched; and when they came quite
up to the little house, they saw it was built of
bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows
were of clear sugar.
``We will set to work on that,'' said Hansel,
``and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof,
and you, Grethel, can eat some of the window, it
will taste sweet.''
Hansel reached up, and broke off a little of the
roof to try how it tasted, and Grethel leaned
against the window and nibbled at the panes.
Then a soft voice cried from the room,--
``Nibble, nibble, gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?''
The children answered:--
``The wind, the wind,
The wind from heaven'';
and went on eating. Hansel, who thought the
roof tasted very nice, tore down a great piece of
it; and Grethel pushed out the whole of one round
window-pane, sat down, and went to eating it.
All at once the door opened, and a very, very
old woman, who leaned on crutches, came creeping
out. Hansel and Grethel were so scared that they
let fall what they had in their hands.
The old woman, however, nodded her head, and
said, ``Oh, you dear children, who has brought you
here? Do come in, and stay with me. No harm
shall happen to you.''
She took them both by the hand, and led them
into her little house. Then good food was set
before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples,
and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were
covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and
Grethel lay down in them, and thought they were
The old woman had only pretended to be so
kind; she was in reality a wicked witch, who
lay in wait for children, and had built the little
bread house in order to coax them there.
Early in the morning, before the children were
awake, she was already up, and when she saw
both of them sleeping and looking so pretty, with
their plump red cheeks, she muttered to herself,
``That will be a dainty mouthful!''
Then she seized Hansel, carried him into a little
stable, and shut him in behind a grated door. He
might scream as he liked,--it was of no use. Then
she went to Grethel, shook her till she awoke and
cried: ``Get up, lazy thing; fetch some water, and
cook something good for your brother; he is in the
stable outside, and is to be made fat. When he
is fat, I will eat him.''
Grethel began to weep, but it was all in vain; she
was forced to do what the wicked witch told her.
And now the best food was cooked for poor
Hansel, but Grethel got nothing but crab-shells.
Every morning the woman crept to the little
stable, and cried, ``Hansel, stretch out your finger
that I may feel if you will soon be fat.''
Hansel, however, stretched out a little bone to
her, and the old woman, who had dim eyes, could
not see it; she thought it was Hansel's finger, and
wondered why he grew no fatter. When four weeks
had gone by, and Hansel still was thin, she could
wait no longer.
``Come, Grethel,'' she cried to the girl, ``fly
round and bring some water. Let Hansel be fat
or lean, to-morrow I will kill him, and cook him.''
Ah, how sad was the poor little sister when she
had to fetch the water, and how her tears did flow
down over her cheeks!
``Dear God, do help us,'' she cried. ``If the
wild beasts in the forest had but eaten us, we
should at any rate have died together.''
``Just keep your noise to yourself,'' said the
old woman; ``all that won't help you at all.''
Early in the morning, Grethel had to go out and
hang up the kettle with the water, and light the fire.
``We will bake first,'' said the old woman. ``I
have already heated the oven, and got the dough