Part 9 out of 10
quite at home at sea, for a captain. So they sailed about a long,
long time, landed on every shore they came to, and hunted and asked
after the Princesses, but they could neither hear nor see anything of
them. And now, a few days only were wanting to make up seven years
since they set sail, when one day a strong storm rose, and such foul
weather, they thought they should never come to land again, and all
had to work so hard, they couldn't get a wink of sleep so long as the
storm lasted. But when the third day was nearly over, the wind fell,
and all at once it got as still as still could be. Now, they were all
so weary with work and the rough weather, they fell fast asleep in
the twinkling of an eye; all but the youngest Prince, he could get no
rest, and couldn't go off to sleep at all.
So as he was pacing up and down the deck, the ship came to a little
island, and on the island ran a little dog, and bayed and barked at
the ship as if it wanted to come on board. So the Prince went to that
side of the deck, and tried to coax the dog, and whistled and
whistled to him, but the more he whistled and coaxed, the more the
dog barked and snarled. Well, he thought it a shame the dog should
run about there and starve, for he made up his mind that it must have
come thither from a ship that had been cast away in the storm; but
still he thought he should never be able to help it after all, for he
couldn't put out the boat by himself, and as for the others, they all
slept so sound, he wouldn't wake them for the sake of a dog. But then
the weather was so calm and still; and at last he said to himself:
'Come what may, you must go on shore and save that dog', and so he
began to try to launch the boat, and he found it far easier work than
he thought. So he rowed ashore, and went up to the dog; but every
time he tried to catch it, it jumped on one side, and so it went on
till he found himself inside a great grand castle, before he knew
where he was. Then the dog, all at once, was changed into a lovely
Princess; and there, on the bench, sat a man so big and ugly, the
Prince almost lost his wits for fear.
'YOU'VE NO NEED TO BE AFRAID', said the man--but the Prince, to tell
you the truth, got far more afraid when he heard his gruff voice--
'for I know well enough what you want. There are twelve Princes of
you, and you are looking for the twelve Princesses that are lost. I
know, too, very well whereabouts they are; they're with my lord and
master, and there they sit, each of them on her chair, and comb his
hair; for he has twelve heads. And now you have sailed seven years,
but you'll have to sail seven years more before you find them. As for
you, you might stay here and welcome, and have my daughter; but you
must first slay him, for he's a hard master to all of us, and we're
all weary of him, and when he's dead I shall be King in his stead;
but first try if you can brandish this sword'.
Then the King's son took hold of a rusty old sword which hung on the
wall, but he could scarce stir it.
'Now you must take a pull at this flask', said the Troll; and when he
had done that he could stir it, and when he had taken another he
could lift it, and when he had taken a third he could brandish the
sword as easily as if it had been his own.
'Now, when you get on board', said the Troll Prince, 'you must hide
the sword well in your berth, that Ritter Red mayn't set eyes on it;
he's not man enough to wield it, but he'll get spiteful against you,
and try to take your life. And when seven years are almost out all
but three days', he went on to say, 'everything will happen just as
now; foul weather will come on you, with a great storm, and when it
is over you'll all be sleepy. Then you must take the sword and row
ashore, and so you'll come to a castle where all sorts of guards will
stand--wolves, and bears, and lions; but you needn't be afraid of
them, for they'll all come and crouch at your feet. But when you come
inside the castle, you'll soon see the Troll; he sits in a splendid
chamber in grand attire and array; twelve heads he has of his own,
and the Princesses sit round them, each on her chair, and comb his
heads, and that's a work you may guess they don't much like. Then you
must make haste, and hew off one head after the other as quick as you
can; for if he wakes and sets his eyes on you, he'll swallow you
So the King's son went on board with the sword, and he bore in mind
what he had come to know. The others still lay fast asleep and
snored, and he hid the sword in his berth, so that neither Ritter Red
nor any of the rest got sight of it. And now it began to blow again,
so he woke up the others and said he thought they oughtn't to sleep
any longer now when there was such a good wind. And there was none of
them that marked he had been away. Well, after the seven years were
all gone but three days, all happened as the Troll had said. A great
storm and foul weather came on that lasted three days, and when it
had blown itself out, all the rest grew sleepy and went to rest; but
the youngest King's son rowed ashore, and the guards fell at his
feet, and so he came to the castle. So when he got inside the
chamber, there sat the King fast asleep as the Troll Prince had said,
and the twelve Princesses sat each on her chair and combed one of his
heads. The king's son beckoned to the Princesses to get out of the
way; they pointed to the Troll, and beckoned to him again to go his
way as quick as ever he could, but he kept on making signs to them to
get out of the way, and then they understood that he wanted to set
them free, and stole away softly one after the other, and as fast as
they went, he hewed off the Troll King's heads, till at last the
blood gushed out like a great brook. When the Troll was slain he
rowed on board and hid his sword. He thought now he had done enough,
and as he couldn't get rid of the body by himself, he thought it only
fair they should help him a little. So he woke them all up, and said
it was a shame they should be snoring there, when he had found the
Princesses, and set them free from the Troll. The others only laughed
at him, and said he had been just as sound asleep as they, and only
dreamt that he was man enough to do what he said; for if any one was
to set the Princesses free, it was far more likely it would be one of
them. But the youngest King's son told them all about it, and when
they followed him to the land and saw first of all the brook of
blood, and then the castle, and the Troll, and the twelve heads, and
the Princesses, they saw plain enough that he had spoken the truth,
and now the whole helped him to throw the body and the heads into the
sea. So all were glad and happy, but none more so than the
Princesses, who got rid of having to sit there and comb the Troll's
hair all day. Of all the silver and gold and precious things that
were there, they took as much as the ship could hold, and so they
went on board altogether Princes and Princesses alike.
But when they had gone a bit out on the sea, the Princesses said they
had forgotten in their joy their gold crowns; they lay behind in a
press, and they would be so glad to have them. So when none of the
others was willing to fetch them, the youngest King's son said:
'I have already dared so much, I can very well go back for the gold
crowns too, if you will only strike sail and wait till I come again.'
Yes, that they would do. But when he had gone back so far that they
couldn't see him any longer, Ritter Red, who would have been glad
enough to have been their chief, and to have the youngest Princess,
said, 'it was no use their lying there still waiting for him, for
they might know very well he would never come back; they all knew,
too, how the king had given him all power and authority to sail or
not as he chose; and now they must all say 'twas he that had saved
the Princesses, and if any one said anything else, he should lose his
The Princes didn't dare to do anything else than what Ritter Red
willed, and so they sailed away.
Meanwhile the youngest King's son rowed to land, went up to the
castle, found the press with gold crowns in it, and at last lugged it
down to the boat, and shoved off; but when he came where he ought to
have seen the ship, lo! it was gone. Well, as he couldn't catch a
glimpse of it anywhere, he could very soon tell how matters stood. To
row after them was no good, and so he was forced to turn about and
row back to land. He was rather afraid to stay alone in the castle
all night, but there was no other house to be got, so he plucked up a
heart, locked up all the doors and gates fast, and lay down in a room
where there was a bed ready made. But fearful and woeful he was, and
still more afraid he got when he had lain a while and something began
to creak and groan and quake in wall and roof, as if the whole castle
were being torn asunder. Then all at once down something plunged
close by the side of his bed, as if it were a whole cartload of hay.
Then all was still again; but after a while he heard a voice, which
bade him not to be afraid, and said:
Here am I the Big Bird Dan
Come to help you all I can.
'But the first thing you must do when you wake in the morning, will
be to go to the barn and fetch four barrels of rye for me. I must
fill my crop with them for breakfast, else I can't do anything'.
When he woke up, sure enough there he saw an awfully big bird, which
had a feather at the nape of his neck, as thick and long as a half-
grown spruce fir. So the King's son went down to the barn to fetch
four barrels of rye for the Big Bird Dan, and when he had crammed
them into his crop he told the King's son to hang the press with the
gold crowns on one side of his neck, and as much gold and silver as
would weigh it down on the other side, and after that to get on his
back and hold fast by the feather in the nape of his neck. So away
they went till the wind whistled after them, and so it wasn't long
before they outstripped the ship. The King's son wanted to go on
board for his sword, for he was afraid lest any one should get sight
of it, for the Troll had told him that mustn't be; but Bird Dan said
that mustn't be either.
'Ritter Red will never see it, never fear; but if you go on board,
he'll try to take your life, for he has set his heart on having the
youngest Princess; but make your mind quite easy about her, for she
lays a naked sword by her side in bed every night.'
So after a long, long time, they came to the island where the Troll
Prince was; and there the King's son was welcomed so heartily there
was no end to it. The Troll Prince didn't know how to be good enough
to him for having slain his Lord and Master, and so made him King of
the Trolls, and if the King's son had been willing he might easily
have got the Troll King's daughter, and half the kingdom. But he had
so set his heart on the youngest of the twelve Princesses, he could
take no rest, but was all for going after their ship time after time.
So the Troll King begged him to be quiet a little longer, and said
they had still nearly seven years to sail before they got home. As
for the Princess the Troll said the same thing as the Big Bird Dan.
'You needn't fret yourself about her, for she lays a naked sword by
her side every night in bed. And now if you don't believe what I
say', said the Troll, 'you can go on board when they sail by here,
and see for yourself, and fetch the sword too, for I may just as well
have it again.'
So when they sailed by another great storm arose, and when the king's
son went on board they all slept, and each Princess lay beside her
Prince; but the youngest lay alone with a naked sword beside her in
the bed, and on the floor by the bedside lay Ritter Red. Then the
king's son took the sword and rowed ashore again, and none of them
had seen that he had been on board. But still the King's son couldn't
rest, and he often and often wanted to be off, and so at last when it
got near the end of the seven years, and only three weeks were left,
the Troll King said:
'Now you may get ready to go since you won't stay with us; and you
shall have the loan of my iron boat, which sails of itself, if you
Boat, boat, go on!
'In that boat there is an iron club, and that club you must lift a
little when you see the ship straight a-head of you, and then they'll
get such a rattling fair breeze, they'll forget to look at you; but
when you get alongside them, you must lift the club a little again,
and then they'll get such a foul wind and storm, they'll have
something else to do than to stare at you; and when you have run past
them, you must lift the club a third time, but you must always be
sure and lay it down carefully again, else there'll be such a storm
both you and they will be wrecked and lost. Now, when you have got to
land, you've no need to bother yourself at all about the boat; just
turn it about, and shove it off, and say:
Boat, boat, go back home!
When he set out they gave him so much gold and silver, and so many
other costly things, and clothes and linen which the Troll Princess
had sewn and woven for him all that long time, that he was far richer
than any of his brothers.
Well, he had no sooner seated himself in the boat, and said,
Boat, boat, go on!
than away went the boat, and when he saw the ship right ahead he
lifted up the club, and then they got such a fair breeze, they forgot
to look at him. When he was alongside the ship, he lifted the club
again, and then such a storm arose and such foul weather, that the
white foam flew about the ship, and the billows rolled over the deck,
and they had something else to do than to stare at him; and when he
had run past them he lifted the club the third time, and then the
storm and the wind rose so, they had still less time to look after
him, and to make him out. So he came to land long, long before the
ship; and when he had got all his goods out of the boat, he shoved it
off again, and turned it about and said:
Boat, boat, go back home!
And off went the boat.
Then he dressed himself up as a sailor--whether the Troll king had
told him that, or it was his own device, I'm sure I can't say--and
went up to a wretched hut where an old wife lived, whom he got to
believe that he was a poor sailor who had been on board a great ship
that was wrecked, and that he was the only soul that had got ashore.
After that he begged for house-room for himself and the goods he had
'Heaven mend me!' said the old wife, 'how can I lend any one house-
room? look at me and mine, why, I've no bed to sleep on myself, still
less one for any one else to lie on.'
Well, well, it was all the same, said the sailor; if he only got a
roof over his head, it didn't matter where he lay. So she couldn't
turn him out of the house, when he was so thankful for what there
was. That afternoon he fetched up his things, and the old wife, who
was very eager to hear a bit of news to run about and tell, began at
once to ask who he was, whence he came, whither he was bound, what it
was he had with him, what his business was, and if he hadn't heard
anything of the twelve Princesses who had been away the Lord knew how
many years. All this she asked and much more, which it would be waste
of time to tell. But he said he was so poorly and had such a bad
headache after the awful weather he had been out in, that he couldn't
answer any of her questions; she must just leave him alone and let
him rest a few days till he came to himself after the hard work he'd
had in the gale, and then she'd know all she wanted.
The very next day the old wife began to stir him up and ask again,
but the sailor's head was still so bad he hadn't got his wits
together, but somehow he let drop a word or two to show that he did
know something about the Princesses. Off ran the old wife with what
she had heard to all the gossips and chatterboxes round about, and
soon the one came running after the other to ask about the
Princesses, 'if he had seen them', 'if they would soon be there', 'if
they were on the way', and much more of the same sort. He still went
on groaning over his headache after the storm, so that he couldn't
tell them all about it, but so much he told them, unless they had
been lost in the great storm they'd make the land in about a
fortnight or before perhaps; but he couldn't say for sure whether
they were alive or no, for though he had seen them, it might very
well be that they had been cast away in the storm since. So what did
one of these old gossips do but run up to the Palace with this story,
and say that there was a sailor down in such and such an old wife's
hut, who had seen the Princesses, and that they were coming home in a
fortnight or in a week's time. When the King heard that he sent a
messenger down to the sailor to come up to him and tell the news
'I don't see how it's to be', said the sailor, 'for I haven't any
clothes fit to stand in before the King.'
But the King said he must come; for the King must and would talk with
him, whether he were richly or poorly clad, for there was no one else
who could bring him any tidings of the Princesses. So he went up at
last to the Palace and went in before the King, who asked him if it
were true that he had seen anything of the Princesses.
'Aye, aye', said the sailor, 'I've seen them sure enough, but I don't
know whether they're still alive, for when I last caught sight of
them, the weather was so foul we in our ship were cast away; but if
they're still alive they'll come safe home in a fortnight or perhaps
When the King heard that he was almost beside himself for joy; and
when the time came that the sailor had said they would come, the King
drove down to the strand to meet them in a great state; and there was
joy and gladness over the whole land, when the ship came sailing in
with the Princes and Princesses and Ritter Red. But no one was
gladder than the old King, who had got his daughters back again. The
eleven eldest Princesses too, were glad and merry, but the youngest
who was to have Ritter Red, who said that he had set them all free
and slain the Troll, she wept and was always sorrowful. The King took
this ill, and asked why she wasn't cheerful and merry like the
others; she hadn't anything to be sorry for now when she had got out
of the Troll's clutches, and was to have such a husband as Ritter
Red. But she daredn't say anything, for Ritter Red had said he would
take the life of any one who told the truth how things had gone.
But now one day, when they were hard at work sewing and stitching the
bridal array, in came a man in a great sailor's cloak with a pedlar's
pack on his back, and asked if the Princesses wouldn't buy something
fine of him for the wedding; he had so many wares and costly things,
both gold and silver. Yes, they might do so perhaps, so they looked
at his wares and they looked at him, for they thought they had seen
both him and many of his costly things before.
'He who has so many fine things', said the youngest Princess, 'must
surely have something still more precious, and which suits us better
even than these.'
'Maybe I have', said the Pedlar.
But now all the others cried 'Hush', and bade her bear in mind what
Ritter Red had said he would do.
Well, some time after the Princesses sat and looked out of the
window, and then the King's son came again with the great sea-cloak
thrown about him, and the press with the gold crowns at his back; and
when he got into the palace hall he unlocked the press before the
Princesses, and when each of them knew her own gold crown again, the
'I think it only right that he who set us free should get the meed
that is his due; and he is not Ritter Red, but this man who has
brought us our gold crowns. He it is that set us free.'
Then the King's son cast off the sailor's cloak, and stood there far
finer and grander than all the rest; and so the old King made them
put Ritter Red to death. And now there was real right down joy in the
palace; each took his own bride, and there just was a wedding! Why,
it was heard of and talked about over twelve kings' realms.
SORIA MORIA CASTLE
Once on a time there was a poor couple who had a son whose name was
Halvor. Ever since he was a little boy he would turn his hand to
nothing, but just sat there and groped about in the ashes. His father
and mother often put him out to learn this trade or that, but Halvor
could stay nowhere; for, when he had been there a day or two, he ran
away from his master, and never stopped till he was sitting again in
the ingle, poking about in the cinders.
Well, one day a skipper came, and asked Halvor if he hadn't a mind to
be with him, and go to sea, and see strange lands. Yes, Halvor would
like that very much; so he wasn't long in getting himself ready.
How long they sailed I'm sure I can't tell; but the end of it was,
they fell into a great storm, and when it was blown over, and it got
still again, they couldn't tell where they were; for they had been
driven away to a strange coast, which none of them knew anything
Well, as there was just no wind at all, they stayed lying wind-bound
there, and Halvor asked the skipper's leave to go on shore and look
about him; he would sooner go, he said, than lie there and sleep.
'Do you think now you're fit to show yourself before folk', said the
skipper, 'why, you've no clothes but those rags you stand in?'
But Halvor stuck to his own, and so at last he got leave, but he was
to be sure and come back as soon as ever it began to blow. So off he
went and found a lovely land; wherever he came there were fine large
flat corn-fields and rich meads, but he couldn't catch a glimpse of a
living soul. Well, it began to blow, but Halvor thought he hadn't
seen enough yet, and he wanted to walk a little farther just to see
if he couldn't meet any folk. So after a while he came to a broad
high road, so smooth and even, you might easily roll an egg along it.
Halvor followed this, and when evening drew on he saw a great castle
ever so far off, from which the sunbeams shone. So as he had now
walked the whole day and hadn't taken a bit to eat with him, he was
as hungry as a hunter, but still the nearer he came to the castle,
the more afraid he got. In the castle kitchen a great fire was
blazing, and Halvor went into it, but such a kitchen he had never
seen in all his born days. It was so grand and fine; there were
vessels of silver and vessels of gold, but still never a living soul.
So when Halvor had stood there a while and no one came out, he went
and opened a door, and there inside sat a Princess who span upon a
'Nay, nay, now!' she called out, 'dare Christian folk come hither?
But now you'd best be off about your business, if you don't want the
Troll to gobble you up; for here lives a Troll with three heads.'
'All one to me', said the lad, 'I'd be just as glad to hear he had
four heads beside; I'd like to see what kind of fellow he is. As for
going, I won't go at all. I've done no harm; but meat you must get
me, for I'm almost starved to death.'
When Halvor had eaten his fill, the Princess told him to try if he
could brandish the sword that hung against the wall; no, he couldn't
brandish it, he couldn't even lift it up.
'Oh!' said the Princess, 'now you must go and take a pull of that
flask that hangs by its side; that's what the Troll does every time
he goes out to use the sword.'
So Halvor took a pull, and in the twinkling of an eye he could
brandish the sword like nothing; and now he thought it high time the
Troll came; and lo! just then up came the Troll puffing and blowing.
Halvor jumped behind the door.
'HUTETU', said the Troll, as he put his head in at the door, 'what a
smell of Christian man's blood!'
'Aye', said Halvor, 'you'll soon know that to your cost', and with
that he hewed off all his heads.
Now the Princess was so glad that she was free, she both danced and
sang, but then all at once she called her sisters to mind, and so she
'Would my sisters were free too'
'Where are they?' asked Halvor.
Well, she told him all about it; one was taken away by a Troll to his
Castle which lay fifty miles off, and the other by another Troll to
his Castle which was fifty miles further still.
'But now', she said, 'you must first help me to get this ugly carcass
out of the house.'
Yes, Halvor was so strong he swept everything away, and made it all
clean and tidy in no time. So they had a good and happy time of it,
and next morning he set off at peep of grey dawn; he could take no
rest by the way, but ran and walked the whole day. When he first saw
the Castle he got a little afraid; it was far grander than the first,
but here too there wasn't a living soul to be seen. So Halvor went
into the kitchen, and didn't stop there either, but went strait
further on into the house.
'Nay, nay', called out the Princess, 'dare Christian folk come
hither? I don't know I'm sure how long it is since I came here, but
in all that time I haven't seen a Christian man. 'Twere best you saw
how to get away as fast as you came; for here lives a Troll, who has
'I shan't go', said Halvor, 'if he has six heads besides.'
'He'll take you up and swallow you down alive', said the Princess.
But it was no good, Halvor wouldn't go; he wasn't at all afraid of
the Troll, but meat and drink he must have, for he was half starved
after his long journey. Well, he got as much of that as he wished,
but then the Princess wanted him to be off again.
'No', said Halvor, 'I won't go, I've done no harm, and I've nothing
to be afraid about.'
'He won't stay to ask that', said the Princess, 'for he'll take you
without law or leave; but as you won't go, just try if you can
brandish that sword yonder, which the Troll wields in war.'
He couldn't brandish it, and then the Princess said he must take a
pull at the flask which hung by its side, and when he had done that
he could brandish it.
Just then back came the Troll, and he was both stout and big, so that
he had to go sideways to get through the door. When the Troll got his
first head in he called out 'HUTETU, what a smell of Christian man's
But that very moment Halvor hewed off his first head, and so on, all
the rest as they popped in. The Princess was overjoyed, but just then
she came to think of her sisters, and wished out loud they were free.
Halvor thought that might easily be done, and wanted to be off at
once; but first he had to help the Princess to get the Troll's
carcass out of the way, and so he could only set out next morning.
It was a long way to the Castle, and he had to walk fast and run hard
to reach it in time; but about night-fall he saw the Castle, which
was far finer and grander than either of the others. This time he
wasn't the least afraid, but walked straight through the kitchen, and
into the Castle. There sat a Princess who was so pretty, there was no
end to her loveliness. She too like the others told him there hadn't
been Christian folk there ever since she came thither, and bade him
go away again, else the Troll would swallow him alive, and do you
know, she said, he has nine heads.
'Aye, aye', said Halvor, 'if he had nine other heads, and nine other
heads still, I won't go away', and so he stood fast before the stove.
The Princess kept on begging him so prettily to go away, lest the
Troll should gobble him up, but Halvor said:
'Let him come as soon as he likes.'
So she gave him the Troll's sword, and bade him take a pull at the
flask, that he might be able to brandish and wield it.
Just then back came the Troll puffing and blowing and tearing along.
He was far stouter and bigger than the other two, and he too had to
go on one side to get through the door. So when he got his first head
in, he said as the others had said:
'HUTETU what a smell of Christian man's blood!
That very moment Halvor hewed off the first head and then all the
rest; but the last was the toughest of them all, and it was the
hardest bit of work Halvor had to do, to get it hewn off, although he
knew very well he had strength enough to do it.
So all the Princesses came together to that Castle, which was called
_Soria Moria Castle_, and they were glad and happy as they had
never been in all their lives before, and they all were fond of
Halvor and Halvor of them, and he might choose the one he liked best
for his bride; but the youngest was fondest of him of all the three.
But there after a while, Halvor went about, and was so strange and
dull and silent. Then the Princesses asked him what he lacked, and if
he didn't like to live with them any longer? Yes, he did, for they
had enough and to spare, and he was well off in every way, but still
somehow or other he did so long to go home, for his father and mother
were alive, and them he had such a great wish to see.
Well, they thought that might be done easily enough.
'You shall go thither and come back hither, safe and unscathed, if
you will only follow our advice', said the Princesses.
Yes, he'd be sure to mind all they said. So they dressed him up till
he was as grand as a king's son, and then they set a ring on his
finger, and that was such a ring, he could wish himself thither and
hither with it; but they told him to be sure not to take it off, and
not to name their names, for there would be an end of all his
bravery, and then he'd never see them more.
'If I only stood at home I'd be glad', said Halvor; and it was done
as he had wished. Then stood Halvor at his father's cottage door
before he knew a word about it. Now it was about dusk at even, and
so, when they saw such a grand stately lord walk in, the old couple
got so afraid they began to bow and scrape. Then Halvor asked if he
couldn't stay there, and have a lodging there that night. No; that he
'We can't do it at all', they said, 'for we haven't this thing or
that thing which such a lord is used to have; 'twere best your
lordship went up to the farm, no long way off, for you can see the
chimneys, and there they have lots of everything.'
Halvor wouldn't hear of it--he wanted to stop; but the old couple
stuck to their own, that he had better go to the farmer's; there he
would get both meat and drink; as for them, they hadn't even a chair
to offer him to sit down on.
'No', said Halvor, 'I won't go up there till to-morrow early, but let
the just stay here to-night; worst come to the worst, I can sit in
Well, they couldn't say anything against that; so Halvor sat down by
the ingle, and began to poke about in the ashes, just as he used to
do when he lay at home in old days, and stretched his lazy bones.
Well, they chattered and talked about many things; and they told
Halvor about this thing and that; and so he asked them if they had
never had any children.
'Yes, yes, they had once a lad whose name was Halvor, but they didn't
know whither he had wandered; they couldn't even tell whether he were
dead or alive.'
'Couldn't it be me, now?' said Halvor.
'Let me see; I could tell him well enough', said the old wife, and
rose up. 'Our Halvor was so lazy and dull, he never did a thing; and
besides, he was so ragged, that one tatter took hold of the next
tatter on him. No; there never was the making of such a fine fellow
in him as you are, master.'
A little while after the old wife went to the hearth to poke up the
fire, and when the blaze fell on Halvor's face, just as when he was
at home of old poking about in the ashes, she knew him at once.
'Ah! but is it you after all, Halvor?' she cried; and then there was
such joy for the old couple, there was no end to it; and he was
forced to tell how he had fared, and the old dame was so fond and
proud of him, nothing would do but he must go up at once to the
farmer's, and show himself to the lassies, who had always looked down
on him. And off she went first, and Halvor followed after. So, when
she got up there, she told them all how her Halvor had come home
again, and now they should only just see how grand he was, for, said
she, 'he looks like nothing but a king's son'.
'All very fine', said the lassies, and tossed up their heads. 'We'll
be bound he's just the same beggarly ragged boy he always was.'
Just then in walked Halvor, and then the lassies were all so taken
aback, they forgot their sarks in the ingle, where they were sitting
darning their clothes, and ran out in their smocks. Well, when they
were got back again, they were so shamefaced they scarce dared look
at Halvor, towards whom they had always been proud and haughty.
'Aye, aye', said Halvor, 'you always thought yourselves so pretty and
neat, no one could come near you; but now you should just see the
eldest Princess I have set free; against her you look just like
milkmaids, and the midmost is prettier still; but the youngest, who
is my sweetheart, she's fairer than both sun and moon. Would to
Heaven she were only here', said Halvor, 'then you'd see what you
He had scarce uttered these words before there they stood, but then
he felt so sorry, for now what they had said came into his mind. Up
at the farm there was a great feast got ready for the Princesses, and
much was made of them, but they wouldn't stop there.
'No; we want to go down to your father and mother', they said to
Halvor; 'and so we'll go out now and look about us.'
So he went down with them, and they came to a great lake just outside
the farm. Close by the water was such a lovely green bank; here the
Princesses said they would sit and rest a while; they thought it so
sweet to sit down and look over the water.
So they sat down there, and when they had sat a while, the youngest
'I may as well comb your hair a little, Halvor.'
Yes, Halvor laid his head on her lap, and so she combed his bonny
locks, and it wasn't long before Halvor fell fast asleep. Then she
took the ring from his finger, and put another in its stead; and so
'Now hold me all together! and now would we were all in SORIA MORIA
So when Halvor woke up, he could very well tell that he had lost the
Princesses, and began to weep and wail; and he was so downcast, they
couldn't comfort him at all. In spite of all his father and mother
said, he wouldn't stop there, but took farewell of them, and said he
was safe not to see them again; for if he couldn't find the
Princesses again, he thought it not worth while to live.
Well, he had still three hundred dollars left, so he put them into
his pocket, and set out on his way. So, when he had walked a while,
he met a man with a tidy horse, and he wanted to buy it, and began to
chaffer with the man.
'Aye', said the man, 'to tell the truth, I never thought of selling
him; but if we could strike a bargain, perhaps----'
'What do you want for him', asked Halvor.
'I didn't give much for him, nor is he worth much; he's a brave horse
to ride, but he can't draw at all; still he's strong enough to carry
your knapsack and you too, turn and turn about', said the man.
At last they agreed on the price, and Halvor laid the knapsack on
him, and so he walked a bit, and rode a bit, turn and turn about. At
night he came to a green plain where stood a great tree, at the roots
of which he sat down. There he let the horse loose, but he didn't lie
down to sleep, but opened his knapsack and took a meal. At peep of
day off he set again, for he could take no rest. So he rode and
walked and walked and rode the whole day through the wide wood, where
there were so many green spots and glades that shone so bright and
lovely between the trees. He didn't know at all where he was or
whither he was going, but he gave himself no more time to rest than
when his horse cropped a bit of grass, and he took a snack out of his
knapsack when they came to one of those green glades. So he went on
walking and riding by turns, and as for the wood there seemed to be
no end to it.
But at dusk the next day he saw a light gleaming away through the
'Would there were folk hereaway', thought Halvor, 'that I might warm
myself a bit and get a morsel to keep body and soul together.'
When he got up to it, he saw the light came from a wretched little
hut, and through the window he saw an old old couple inside. They
were as grey-headed as a pair of doves, and the old wife had such a
nose! why, it was so long she used it for a poker to stir the fire as
she sat in the ingle.
'Good evening', said Halvor.
'Good evening', said the old wife.
'But what errand can you have in coming hither?' she went on, 'for no
Christian folk have been here these hundred years and more.'
Well, Halvor told her all about himself, and how he wanted to get to
SORIA MORIA CASTLE, and asked if she knew the way thither.
'No', said the old wife, 'that I don't, but see now, here comes the
Moon, I'll ask her, she'll know all about it, for doesn't she shine
So when the Moon stood clear and bright over the tree-tops, the old
wife went out.
'THOU MOON, THOU MOON', she screamed, 'canst thou tell me the way to
SORIA MORIA CASTLE?'
'No', said the Moon, 'that I can't, for the last time I shone there a
cloud stood before me.'
'Wait a bit still', said the old wife to Halvor, 'by and bye comes
the West Wind; he's sure to know it, for he puffs and blows round
'Nay, nay', said the old wife when she went out again, 'you don't
mean to say you've got a horse too; just turn the poor beastie loose
in our "toun", and don't let him stand there and starve to death at
Then she ran on:
'But won't you swop him away to me?--we've got an old pair of boots
here, with which you can take twenty miles at each stride; those you
shall have for your horse, and so you'll get all the sooner to SORIA
That Halvor was willing to do at once; and the old wife was so glad
at having the horse, she was ready to dance and skip for joy.
'For now', she said, 'I shall be able to ride to church. I too, think
As for Halvor, he had no rest, and wanted to be off at once, but the
old wife said there was no hurry.
'Lie down on the bench with you and sleep a bit, for we've no bed to
offer you, and I'll watch and wake you when the West Wind comes.'
So after a while up came the West Wind, roaring and howling along
till the walls creaked and groaned again.
Out ran the old wife.
'THOU WEST WIND, THOU WEST WIND! Canst thou tell me the way to SORIA
MORIA CASTLE? Here's one who wants to get thither.'
'Yes, I know it very well', said the West Wind, and now I'm just off
thither to dry clothes for the wedding that's to be; if he's swift of
foot he can go along with me.'
Out ran Halvor.
'You'll have to stretch your legs if you mean to keep up', said the
So off he set over field and hedge, and hill and fell, and Halvor had
hard work to keep up.
'Well', said the West Wind, 'now I've no time to stay with you any
longer, for I've got to go away yonder and tear down a strip of
spruce wood first before I go to the bleaching-ground to dry the
clothes; but if you go alongside the hill you'll come to a lot of
lassies standing washing clothes, and then you've not far to go to
SORIA MORIA CASTLE.'
In a little while Halvor came upon the lassies who stood washing, and
they asked if he had seen anything of the West Wind who was to come
and dry the clothes for the wedding. 'Aye, aye, that I have', said
Halvor, 'he's only gone to tear down a strip of spruce wood. It'll
not be long before he's here', and then he asked them the way to
SORIA MORIA CASTLE.
So they put him into the right way, and when he got to the Castle it
was full of folk and horses; so full it made one giddy to look at
them. But Halvor was so ragged and torn from having followed the West
Wind through bush and brier and bog, that he kept on one side, and
wouldn't show himself till the last day when the bridal feast was to
So when all, as was then right and fitting, were to drink the bride
and bridegroom's health and wish them luck, and when the cupbearer
was to drink to them all again, both knights and squires, last of all
he came in turn to Halvor. He drank their health, but let the ring
which the Princess had put upon his finger as he lay by the lake fall
into the glass, and bade the cupbearer go and greet the bride and
hand her the glass.
Then up rose the Princess from the board at once.
'Who is most worthy to have one of us', she said, 'he that has set us
free, or he that here sits by me as bridegroom?'
Well they all said there could be but one voice and will as to that,
and when Halvor heard that he wasn't long in throwing off his
beggar's rags, and arraying himself as bridegroom.
'Aye, aye, here is the right one after all', said the youngest
Princess as soon as she saw him, and so she tossed the other one out
of the window, and held her wedding with Halvor.
BRUIN AND REYNARD
The Bear and the Fox had once bought a firkin of butter together;
they were to have it at Yule and hid it till then under a thick
After that they went a little way off and lay down on a sunny bank to
sleep. So when they had lain a while the Fox got up, shook himself,
and bawled out 'yes'.
Then he ran off straight to the firkin and ate a good third part of
it. But when he came back, and the Bear asked him where he had been,
since he was so fat about the paunch, he said:
'Don't you believe then that I was bidden to barsel, to a christening
'So, so', said the Bear, 'and pray what was the bairn's name.'
'Just-begun', said the Fox.
So they lay down to sleep again. In a little while up jumped the Fox
again, bawled out 'yes', and ran off to the firkin.
This time too he ate a good lump. When he came back, and the Bear
asked him again where he had been, he said:
'Oh, wasn't I bidden to barsel again, don't you think.'
'And pray what was the bairn's name this time', asked the Bear.
'Half-eaten', said the Fox.
The Bear thought that a very queer name, but he hadn't wondered long
over it before he began to yawn and gape and fell asleep. Well, he
hadn't lain long before the Fox jumped up as he had done twice
before, bawled out 'yes' and ran off to the firkin, which this time
he cleared right out. When he got back he had been bidden to barsel
again, and when the Bear wanted to know the bairn's name, he
After that they lay down again, and slept a long time; but then they
were to go to the firkin to look at the butter, and when they found
it eaten up, the Bear threw the blame on the Fox, and the Fox on the
Bear; and each said the one had been at the firkin while the other
'Well, well', said Reynard, 'we'll soon find this out, which of us
has eaten the butter. We'll just lay down in the sunshine, and he
whose cheeks and chaps are greasiest when we wake, he is the thief.'
Yes, that trial Bruin was ready to stand; and as he knew in his heart
he had never so much as tasted the butter, he lay down without a care
to sleep in the sun.
Then Reynard stole off to the firkin for a morsel of butter, which
stuck there in a crack, and then he crept back to the Bear, and
greased his chaps and cheeks with it; and then he, too, lay down to
sleep as if nothing had happened.
So when they both woke, the sun had melted the butter, and the Bear's
whiskers were all greasy; and so it was Bruin after all, and no one
else, who had eaten the butter.
Once on a time there was a Goody who had a deaf husband. A good, easy
man he was, but that was just why she thought more of the lad next
door, whom they called 'Tom Totherhouse'. Now the lad that served the
deaf man saw very well that the two had something between them, and
one day he said to the Goody:
'Dare you wager ten dollars, mother, that I don't make you lay bare
your own shame?'
'Yes I dare', said she; and so they wagered ten dollars. So one day,
while the lad and the deaf man stood thrashing in the barn, the lad
saw that Tom Totherhouse came to see the Goody. He said nothing, but
a good while before dinnertime he turned toward the barn-door, and
bawled out 'Halloa!'
'What! are we to go home already?' said the man, who hadn't given any
heed to what the lad did.
'Yes, we must, since mother calls', said the lad.
So when they got into the passage, the lad began to hem and cough,
that the Goody might get Tom Totherhouse out of the way. But when
they came into the room, there stood a whole bowl of custards on the
'Nay, nay, mother', cried out the man; 'shall we have custards to-
'Yes, that you shall, dear', said the Goody; but she was as sour as
verjuice, and as cross as two sticks.
So when they had eaten and drank all the good cheer up, off they went
again to their work, and the Goody said to Tom:
'Deil take that lad's sharp nose, this was all his fault; but now you
must be off as fast as you can, and I'll come down to you in the mead
with a snack between meals.'
This the lad stood outside in the passage and listened to.
'Do you know, father', he said, 'I think we'd best go down into the
hollow and put our fence to rights, which is blown down, before the
neighbours' swine get in and root up our meadow.'
'Aye, aye, let's go and do it', said the man; for he did all he was
told, good, easy man.
So when the afternoon was half spent, down came the Goody sneaking
along into the mead, with something under her apron.
'Nay, nay, mother', said the man, 'it can't be you any longer; are we
to have a snack between meals too?'
'Yes, yes, that you shall', she said; but she was sourer and wilder
So they made merry, and crammed themselves with bannocks and butter,
and had a drop of brandy into the bargain.
'I'll go off to Tom Totherhouse with a snack--shan't I, mother?' said
the lad. 'He's had nothing between meals, I'll be bound.'
'Ah! do; there's a good fellow', said the Goody, who all at once got
as mild as milk.
As he went along the lad broke a bannock to bits, and dropped the
crumbs here and there as he walked. But when he got to Tom
Totherhouse he said:
'Now, just you take care, for our old cock has found out that you
come too often to see our Goody. He won't stand it any longer, and
has sworn to drive his axe into you as soon as ever he can set eyes
As for Tom, he was so frightened he scarce knew which way to turn,
and the lad went back again to his master.
'There's something wrong', he said, 'with Tom's plough, and he begs
you to be so good as to take your axe, and go and see if you can't
set it right.'
Yes, the man set off with his axe, but Tom Totherhouse had scarce
caught sight of him before he took to his heels as fast as he could.
The man turned and twisted the plough round and round, and looked at
it on every side, and when he couldn't see anything wrong with it he
went off home again; but on the way he picked up the bits of broken
bannock which the lad had let fall. His old dame stood in the meadow
and looked at him as he did this for a while, and wondered and
wondered what it could be her husband was gathering up.
'Oh, I know', said the lad, 'master's picking up stones, I'll be
bound; for he has marked how often this Tom Totherhouse runs over
here; and the old fellow won't stand it any longer; and now he has
sworn to stone mother to death.'
Off went the Goody as fast as her legs could carry her.
'What in the world is it that mother is running after now?' asked the
man, when he reached the spot where she had stood.
'Oh', said the lad, 'maybe the house at home is on fire!'
So there ran the husband behind and the Goody before; and as she ran
she screeched out:
'Ah! ah! don't stone me to death; don't stone me to death! and I'll
give you my word never to let Tom Totherhouse come near me again.'
'Now the ten dollars are mine', bawled out the lad; and so they were.
LITTLE ANNIE THE GOOSE-GIRL
Once on a time there was a King who had so many geese he was forced
to have a lassie to tend them and watch them; her name was Annie, and
so they called her 'Annie the Goose-girl'. Now you must know there
was a King's son from England who went out to woo; and as he came
along Ann sat herself down in his way.
'Sitting all alone there, you little Annie?' said the King's son.
'Yes', said little Annie, 'here I sit and put stitch to stitch and
patch on patch. I'm waiting to-day for the King's son from England.'
'Him you mustn't look to have', said the Prince.
'Nay, but if I'm to have him', said little Annie, 'have him I shall,
And now limners were sent out into all lands and realms to take the
likenesses of the fairest Princesses, and the Prince was to chose
between them. So he thought so much of one of them, that he set out
to seek her, and wanted to wed her, and he was glad and happy when he
got her for his sweetheart.
But now I must tell you this Prince had a stone with him which he
laid by his bedside, and that stone knew everything, and when the
Princess came little Annie told her, if so be she'd had a sweetheart
before, or didn't feel herself quite free from anything which she
didn't wish the Prince to know, she'd better not step on that stone
which lay by the bedside.
'If you do, it will tell him all about you', said little Annie.
So when the Princess heard that she was dreadfully downcast, and she
fell upon the thought to ask Annie if she would get into bed that
night in her stead and lie down by the Prince's side; and then when
he was sound asleep, Annie should get out and the Princess should get
in, and so when he woke up in the morning he would find the right
bride by his side.
So they did that, and when Annie the goose-girl came and stepped upon
the stone the Prince asked:
'Who is this that steps into my bed?'
'A maid pure and bright', said the stone, and so they lay down to
sleep; but when the night wore on the Princess came and lay down in
But next morning, when they were to get up, the Prince asked the
'Who is this that steps out of my bed?'
'One that has had three bairns', said the stone. When the Prince
heard that he wouldn't have her, you may know very well; and so he
packed her off home again, and took another sweetheart.
But as he went to see her, little Annie went and sat down in his way
'Sitting all alone there, little Annie, the goose-girl', said the
'Yes, here I sit, and put stitch to stitch, and patch on patch; for
I'm waiting to-day for the king's son from England', said Annie.
'Oh! you mustn't look to have him', said the king's son.
'Nay, but if I'm to have him, have him I shall, after all'; that was
what Annie thought.
Well, it was the same story over again with the Prince; only this
time, when his bride got up in the morning, the stone said she'd had
So the Prince wouldn't have her either, but sent her about her
business; but still he thought he'd try once more if he couldn't find
one who was pure and spotless; and he sought far and wide in many
lands, till at last he found one he thought he might trust. But when
he went to see her, little Annie the goose-girl had put herself in
his way again.
'Sitting all alone there, you little Annie, the goose-girl', said the
'Yes, here I sit, and put stitch to stitch, and patch on patch; for
I'm waiting to-day for the king's son from England', said Annie.
'Him you mustn't look to have', said the Prince.
'Nay, but if I'm to have him, have him I shall, after all', said
So when the Princess came, little Annie the goose-girl told her the
same as she had told the other two, if she'd had any sweetheart
before, or if there was anything else she didn't wish the Prince to
know, she mustn't tread on the stone that the Prince had put at his
bedside; for, said she:
'It tells him everything.'
The Princess got very red and downcast when she heard that, for she
was just as naughty as the others, and asked Annie if she would go in
her stead and lie down with the Prince that night; and when he was
sound asleep, she would come and take her place, and then he would
have the right bride by his side when it was light next morning.
Yes! they did that. And when little Annie the goose-girl came and
stepped upon the stone, the Prince asked:
'Who is this that steps into my bed.'
'A maid pure and bright', said the stone; and so they lay down to
Farther on in the night the Prince put a ring on Annie's finger, and
it fitted so tight she couldn't get it off again; for the Prince saw
well enough there was something wrong, and so he wished to have a
mark by which he might know the right woman again.
Well, when the Prince had gone off to sleep, the Princess came and
drove Annie away to the pigsty, and lay down in her place. Next
morning, when they were to get up, the Prince asked:
'Who is this that steps out of my bed?'
'One that's had nine bairns', said the stone.
When the Prince heard that he drove her away at once, for he was in
an awful rage; and then he asked the stone how it all was with these
Princesses who had stepped on it, for he couldn't understand it at
all, he said.
So the stone told him how they had cheated him, and sent little Annie
the goose-girl to him in their stead.
But as the Prince wished to have no mistake about it, he went down to
her where she sat tending her geese, for he wanted to see if she had
the ring too, and he thought, 'if she has it, 'twere best to take her
at once for my queen'.
So when he got down he saw in a moment that she had tied a bit of rag
round one of her fingers, and so he asked her why it was tied up.
'Oh! I've cut myself so badly', said little Annie the goose-girl.
So he must and would see the finger, but Annie wouldn't take the rag
off. Then he caught hold of the finger; but Annie, she tried to pull
it from him, and so between them the rag came off, and then he knew
So he took her up to the palace, and gave her much fine clothes and
attire, and after that they held their wedding feast; and so little
Annie the goose-girl came to have the king of England's son for her
husband after all, just because it was written that she should have
INTRODUCTION TO APPENDIX
The Negroes in the West Indies still retain the tales and traditions
which their fathers and grandfathers brought with them from Africa.
Some thirty years back these 'Ananzi Stories', as they are called,
were invariably told at the Negro wakes, which lasted for nine
successive nights. The reciters were always men. In those days when
the slaves were still half heathen, and when the awful _Obeah_
was universally believed in, such of the Negroes as attended church
or chapel kept their children away from these funeral gatherings. The
wakes are now, it is believed, almost entirely discontinued, and with
them have gone the stories. The Negroes are very shy of telling them,
and both the clergyman of the Church of England, and the Dissenting
Minister set their faces against them, and call them foolishness. The
translator, whose early childhood was passed in those islands,
remembers to have heard such stories from his nurse, who was an
African born; but beyond a stray fragment here and there, the rich
store which she possessed has altogether escaped his memory. The
following stories have been taken down from the mouth of a West
Indian nurse in his sister's house, who, born and bred in it, is
rather regarded as a member of the family than as a servant. They are
printed just as she told them, and both their genuineness and their
affinity with the stories of other races will be self-evident. Thus
we have the 'Wishing Tree' of the Hindoos, the _Kalpa Vriksha_
of Somadeva, and of the German Fairy Tales in the 'Pumpkin Tree',
which throws down as many pumpkins as the poor widow wishes. In one
story we have 'Boots' to the life, while the man whom he outwits is
own brother to the Norse Trolls. In another we find a 'speaking
beast', which reminds us at once of the Egyptian story of Anessou and
Satou, as well as of the 'Machandelboom', and 'the Milk-white Doo'.
We find here the woman who washes the dirty head rewarded, and the
man who refuses to wash it punished, in the very words used in 'The
Bushy Bride'. We find, too, in 'Nancy Fairy', the same story, both in
groundwork and incident, as we have in 'the Lassie and her
Godmother'; and most surprising of all, in the story of 'Ananzi and
Quanqua', we find the very trait about a trick played with the tail
of an ox, which is met with in a variation to 'Boots who ate a match
with the Troll'. Here is the variation: 'Whilst he was with the
Troll, the lad was to go out to watch the swine, so he drove them
home to his father's house, but first he cut their tails off, and
stuck them into the ground. Then he went home to the Troll, and
begged him to come and see how his swine were going down to Hell. But
when the Troll saw the swine's tails sticking out of the ground he
wanted to pull them back again, so he caught hold of them and gave a
great tug, and then down he fell with his heels up in the air, and
the tails in his fist.'
They are called 'Ananzi Stories', because so many of them turn on the
feats of Ananzi, whose character is a mixture of 'the Master-thief',
and of 'Boots'; but the most curious thing about him, is that he
illustrates the Beast Epic in a remarkable way. In all the West
Indian Islands, 'Ananzi' is the name of spiders in general, and of a
very beautiful spider with yellow stripes in particular. [Footnote:
Compare Crowther's _Yoruba Glossary_, where _Alansasa_ is given
as the Yoruban for _spider_. The change of _n_ into _l_ is not
uncommon, even supposing the West Indian word to be uncorrupt.] The
Negroes think that this spider is the 'Ananzi' of their stories, but that
his superior cunning enables him to take any shape he pleases. In fact,
he is the example which the African tribes from which these stories
came, have chosen to take as pointing out the superiority of wit over
brute strength. In this way they have matched the cleverness and
dexterity of the Spider, against the bone and muscle of the Lion,
invariably to the disadvantage of the latter.
After this introduction, we let the Tales speak for themselves, only
premising that the 'Jack-Spaniard' in the first story is a very
pretty fly of the wasp kind, and, like his European brother, very
small in the waist; that the 'Cush-cush', is a little red yam which
imparts a strong red dye to everything with which it is boiled; and
that the 'Doukana' is a forest tree which bears a fruit, though of
what kind it is hard to say.
WHY THE JACK-SPANIARD'S WAIST IS SMALL
Ananzi and Mosquito were talking together one day, and boasting of
their fathers' crops. Ananzi said his father had never had such a
crop in his life before; and Mosquito said, he was sure his father's
was bigger, for one yam they dug was as big as his leg. This tickled
Jack-Spaniard so much, that he laughed till he broke his waist in
two. That's why the Jack-Spaniard's waist is so small.
ANANZI AND THE LION
Once on a time Ananzi planned a scheme. He went to town and bought
ever so many firkins of fat, and ever so many sacks, and ever so many
balls of string, and a very big frying pan, then he went to the bay
and blew a shell, and called the Head-fish in the sea, 'Green Eel',
to him. Then he said to the fish, 'The King sends me to tell you that
you must bring all the fish on shore, for he wants to give them new
So 'Green Eel' said he would, and went to call them. Meanwhile Ananzi
lighted a fire, and took out some of the fat, and got his frying pan
ready, and as fast as the fish came out of the water he caught them
and put them into the frying pan, and so he did with all of them
until he got to the Head-fish, who was so slippery that he couldn't
hold him, and he got back again into the water.
When Ananzi had fried all, the fish, he put them into the sacks, and
took the sacks on his back and set off to the mountains. He had not
gone very far when he met Lion, and Lion said to him':
'Well, brother Ananzi, where have you been? I have not seen you a
Ananzi said, 'I have been travelling about.'
'But what have you got there?' said the Lion.
'Oh! I have got my mother's bones--she has been dead these forty-
eleven years, and they say I must not keep her here, so I am taking
her up into the middle of the mountains to bury her.'
Then they parted. After he had gone a little way, the Lion said, 'I
know that Ananzi is a great rogue; I daresay he has got something
there that he doesn't want me to see, and I will just follow him';
but he took care not to let Ananzi see him.
Now, when Ananzi got into the wood he set his sacks down, and took
one fish out and began to eat; then a fly came, and Ananzi said, 'I
cannot eat any more, for there is some one near'; so he tied the sack
up, and went on further into the mountains, where he set his sacks
down, and took out two fish, which he ate; and no fly came, he said,
'There's no one near'; so he took out more fish. But when he had
eaten about half-a-dozen, the Lion came up, and said:
'Well, brother Ananzi, a pretty tale you have told me.'
'Oh! brother Lion, I am so glad you have come; never mind what tale I
have told you, but come and sit down--it was only my fun.'
So Lion sat down and began to eat; but before Ananzi had eaten two
fish, Lion had emptied one of the sacks. Then said Ananzi to himself:
'Greedy fellow, eating up all my fish.'
'What do you say, sir?'
'I only said you do not eat half fast enough', for he was afraid the
Lion would eat him up.
Then they went on eating, but Ananzi wanted to revenge himself, and
he said to the Lion, 'Which of us do you think is the strongest?'
The Lion said, 'Why, I am, of course.'
Then Ananzi said, 'We will tie one another to the tree and we shall
see which is the stronger.'
Now they agreed that the Lion should tie Ananzi first, and he tied
him with some very fine string, and did not tie him tight. Ananzi
twisted himself about two or three times, and the string broke.
Then it was Ananzi's turn to tie the Lion, and he took some very
strong cord. The Lion said, 'You must not tie me tight, for I did not
tie you tight.' And Ananzi said, 'Oh! no, to be sure I will not.' But
he tied him as tight as ever he could, and then told him to try and
The Lion tried and tried in vain--he could not get loose. Then Ananzi
thought, now is my chance; so he got a big stick and beat him, and
then went away and left him, for he was afraid to loose him lest he
should kill him.
Now there was a woman called Miss Nancy, who was going out one
morning to get some 'callalou' (spinach) in the wood, and as she was
going, she heard some one say, 'Good morning, Miss Nancy!' She could
not tell who spoke to her, but she looked where the voice came from,
and saw the Lion tied to the tree.
'Good morning, Mr Lion, what are you doing there?'
He said, 'It is all that fellow Ananzi who has tied me to the tree,
but will you loose me?'
But she said, 'No, for I am afraid, if I do, you will kill me.' But
he gave, her his word he would not; still she could not trust him;
but he begged her again and again, and said:
'Well, if I do try to eat you, I hope all the trees will cry out
shame upon me.'
So at last she consented; but she had no sooner loosed him, than he
came up to her to eat her, for he had been so many days without food
that he was quite ravenous, but the trees immediately cried out
'shame', and so he could not eat her. Then she went away as fast as
she could, and the Lion found his way home.
When Lion got home he told his wife and children all that happened to
him, and how Miss Nancy had saved his life, so they said they would
have a great dinner, and ask Miss Nancy. Now when Ananzi heard of it,
he wanted to go to the dinner, so he went to Miss Nancy, and said she
must take him with her as her child, but she said 'No'. Then he said,
I can turn myself into quite a little child, and then you can take
me, and at last she said 'Yes'; and he told her, when she was asked
what pap her baby ate, she must be sure to tell them it did not eat
pap, but the same food as every one else; and so they went, and had a
very good dinner, and set off home again--but somehow one of the
lion's sons fancied that all was not right, and he told his father he
was sure it was Ananzi, and the Lion set out after him.
Now as they were going along, before the Lion got up to them, Ananzi
begged Miss Nancy to put him down, that he might run, which she did,
and he got away and ran along the wood, and the Lion ran after him.
When he found the Lion was overtaking him, he turned himself into an
old man with a bundle of wood on his head--and when the Lion got up
to him, he said, 'Good-morning, Mr Lion', and the Lion said 'Good-
morning, old gentleman.'
Then the old man said, 'What are you after now? 'and the Lion asked
if he had seen Ananzi pass that way, but the old man said 'No, that
fellow Ananzi is always meddling with some one; what mischief has he
been up to now?'
Then the Lion told him, but the old man said it was no use to follow
him any more, for he would never catch him, and so the Lion wished
him good day, and turned and went home again.
ANANZI AND QUANQUA
Quanqua was a very clever fellow, and he had a large house full of
all sorts of meat. But you must know he had a way of saying _Quan?
qua?_ (how? what?) when any one asked him anything and so they
called him 'Quanqua'. One day when he was out, he met Atoukama,
Ananzi's wife, who was going along driving an ox, but the ox would
not walk, so Atoukama asked Quanqua to help her; and they got on
pretty well, till they came to a river, when the ox would not cross
through the water. Then Atoukama called to Quanqua to drive the ox
across, but all she could get out of him was, 'QUAN? QUA? _Quan?
qua?_' At last she said, 'Oh! you stupid fellow, you're no good;
stop here and mind the ox while I go and get help to drive him
across.' So off she went to fetch Ananzi. As soon as Atoukama was
gone away, Quanqua killed the ox, and hid it all away, where Ananzi
should not see it; but first he cut off the tail, then he dug a hole
near the river side and stuck the tail partly in, leaving out the
tip. When he saw Ananzi coming, he caught hold of the tail,
pretending to tug at it as if he were pulling the ox out of the hole.
Ananzi seeing this, ran up as fast as he could, and tugging at the
tail with all his might, fell over into the river, but he still had
hold of the tail, and contrived to get across the water, when he
called out to Quanqua, 'You idle fellow, you couldn't take care of
the ox, so you shan't have a bit of the tail', and then on he went.
When he was gone quite out of sight, Quanqua took the ox home, and
made a very good dinner.
Next day he went to Ananzi's house, and said, Ananzi must give him
some of the tail, for he had got plenty of yams, but he had no meat.
Then they agreed to cook their pot together. Quanqua was to put in
white yams, and Ananzi the tail, and red yams. When they came to put
the yams in, Quanqua put in a great many white yams, but Ananzi only
put in one little red cush-cush yam. Quanqua asked him if that little
yam would be enough, he said, 'Oh! plenty', for I don't eat much.
When the pot boiled, they uncovered it, and sat down to eat their
shares, but they couldn't find any white yams at all; the little red
one had turned them all red. So Ananzi claimed them all, and Quanqua
was glad to take what Ananzi would give him.
Now, when they had done eating, they said they would try which could
bear heat best, so they heated two irons, and Ananzi was to try first
on Quanqua, but he made so many attempts, that the iron got cold
before he got near him; then it was Quanqua's turn, and he pulled the
iron out of the fire, and poked it right down Ananzi's throat.
THE EAR OF CORN AND THE TWELVE MEN
[This tale is imperfect at the beginning.]
Ananzi said to the King, that if he would give him an ear of corn, he
would bring him twelve strong men. The King gave him the ear of corn,
and he went away. At last he got to a house, where he asked for a
night's lodging which was given him; the next morning he got up very
early, and threw the ear of corn out of the door to the fowls, and
went back to bed. When he got up in the morning, he looked for his
ear of corn, and could not find it anywhere, so he told them he was
sure the fowls had eaten it, and he would not be satisfied unless
they gave him the best cock they had. So they were obliged to give
him the cock, and he went away with it, all day, until night, when he
came to another house, and asked again for a night's lodging, which
he got; but when they wanted to put the cock into the fowl-house, he
said no, the cock must sleep in the pen with the sheep, so they put
the cock with the sheep. At midnight he got up, killed the cock,
threw it back into the pen, and went back to bed. Next morning when
it was time for him to go away, his cock was dead, and he would not
take anything for it but one of the best sheep, so they gave it to
him, and he went off with it all that day, until night-fall, when he
got to a village, where he again asked for a night's lodging, which
was given to him, and when they wanted to put his sheep with the
other sheep, he said, no, the sheep must sleep with the cattle; so
they put the sheep with the cattle. In the middle of the night he got
up and killed the sheep, and went back to bed. Next morning he went
for his sheep, which was dead, so he told them they must give him the
best heifer for his sheep, and if they would not do so, he would go
back and tell the King, who would come and make war on them.
So to get rid of him, they were glad to give him the heifer, and let
him go; and away he went, and walked nearly all day with the heifer.
Towards evening he met a funeral, and asked whose it was? one of the
men said, it was his sister, so he asked the men if they would let
him have her; they said no, but after a while, he begged so hard,
saying he would give them the heifer, that they consented, and he
took the dead body and walked away, carrying it until it was dark,
when he came to a large town, where he went to a house and begged
hard for a night's lodging for himself and his sister, who was so
tired he was obliged to carry her, and they would be thankful if they
would let them rest there that night. So they let them in, and he
asked them to let them sit in the dark, as his sister could not bear
the light. So they took them into a room, and left them in the dark;
and when they were alone, he seated himself on a bench near the
table, and put his sister close by his side, with his arm round her
to keep her up. Presently they brought them in some supper; one plate
he set before his sister, and put her hand in it, and the other plate
for himself, but he ate out of both plates. When it was time to go to
bed, he asked if they would allow his sister to sleep in a room where
there were twelve strong men sleeping, for she had fits, and if she
had one in the night, they would be able to hold her, and would not
disturb the rest of the house. So they agreed to this, and he carried
her in his arms, because, he said she was so tired, she was asleep,
and laid her in a bed; he charged the men not to disturb her, and
went himself to sleep in the next room. In the middle of the night he
heard the men calling out, for they smelt a horrid smell, and tried
to wake the woman-first one man gave her a blow, and then another,
until all the men had struck her, but Ananzi took no notice of the
noise. In the morning when he went in for his sister and found her
dead, he declared they had killed her, and that he must have the
twelve men; to this the townsmen said no, not supposing that all the
men had killed her, but the men confessed that they had each given
her a blow-so he would not be satisfied with less than the twelve,
and he carried them off to the King, and delivered them up.
THE KING AND THE ANT'S TREE
There was a King who had a very beautiful daughter, and he said,
whoever would cut down an Ant's tree, which he had in his kingdom,
without brushing off the ants, should marry his daughter. Now a great
many came and tried, but no one could do it, for the ants fell out
upon them and stung them, and they were forced to brush them off.
There was always someone watching to see if they brushed the ants
Then Ananzi went, and the King's son was set to watch him. When they
showed him the tree, he said, 'Why, that's nothing, I know I can do
that.' So they gave him the axe, and he began to hew, but each blow
he gave the tree, he shook himself and brushed himself, saying all
the while, 'Did you see me do that? I suppose you think I'm brushing
myself, but I am not.' And so he went, on until he had cut down the
tree. But the boy thought he was only pretending to brush himself all
the time, and the King was obliged to give him his daughter.
THE LITTLE CHILD AND THE PUMPKIN TREE
There was once a poor widow who had six children. One day when she
was going out to look for something to eat, for she was very poor,
she met an old man sitting by the river side. He said to her 'Good
And she answered, 'Good morning, father.'
He said to her, 'Will you wash my head?'
She said she would, so she washed it, and when she was going away, he
gave her a 'stampee'[A small coin], and told her to go a certain
distance, and she would see a large tree full of pumpkins; she was
then to dig a hole at the root of the tree and bury the money, and
when she had done so, she was to call for as many pumpkins as she
liked, and she should have them.
So the woman went, and did as she was told, and she called for six
pumpkins, one for each child, and six came down, and she carried them
home; and now they always had pumpkins enough to eat, for whenever
they wanted any, the woman had only to go to the tree and call, and
they had as many as they liked. One morning when she got up, she
found a little baby before the door, so she took it up and carried it
in, and took care of it. Every day she went out, but in the morning
she boiled enough pumpkins to serve the children all day. One day
when she came back she found the food was all gone, so she scolded
her children, and beat them for eating it all up. They told her they
had not taken any--that it was the baby--but she would not believe
them, and said, 'How could a little baby get up and help itself'; but
the children still persisted it was the baby. So one day when she was
going out, she put some pumpkin in a calabash, and set a trap over
it. When she was gone the baby got up as usual to eat the food, and
got its head fastened in the trap, so that it could not get out, and
began knocking its head about and crying out, 'Oh! do loose me, for
that woman will kill me when she comes back.' When the woman came in,
she found the baby fastened in the trap, so she beat it well, and
turned it out of doors, and begged her children's pardon for having
Then after she turned the baby out, he changed into a great big man,
and went to the river, where he saw the old man sitting by the river
side, who asked him to wash his head, as he had asked the poor woman,
but the man said:
'No, he would not wash his dirty head', and so he wished the old man
Then the old man asked him if he would like to have a pumpkin, to
which he said 'yes', and the old man told him to go on till he saw a
large tree with plenty of pumpkins on it, and then he must ask for
one. So he went on till he got to the tree, and the pumpkins looked
so nice he could not be satisfied with one, so he called out, 'Ten
pumpkins come down', and the ten pumpkins fell and crushed him.
THE BROTHER AND HIS SISTERS
There were once upon a time three sisters and a brother. The sisters
were all proud, and one was very beautiful, and she did not like her
little brother, 'because', she said, 'he was dirty'. Now, this
beautiful sister was to be married, and the brother begged their
mother not to let her marry, as he was sure the man would kill her,
for he knew his house was full of bones. So the mother told her
daughter, but she would not believe it, and said, 'she wouldn't
listen to anything that such a dirty little scrub said', and so she
Now, it was agreed that one sister was to remain with their mother
and the other was to go with the bride, and so they set out on their
way. When they got to the beach, the husband picked up a beautiful
tortoise-shell comb, which he gave to his bride. Then they got into
his boat and rowed away over the sea, and when they reached their
home, they were so surprised to see their little brother, for the
comb had turned into their brother. They were not at all glad to see
him, and the husband thought to himself he would kill him without
telling his wife. When night came the boy told the husband that at
home his mother always put him to sleep in the blacksmith's shop, and
so the husband said he should sleep in the smithy.
In the middle of the night the man got up, intending to kill them
all, and went to his shop to get his irons ready, but the boy jumped
up as soon as he went in, and he said, 'Boy, what is the matter with
you?' So the boy said, when he was at home his mother always gave him
two bags of gold to put his head on. Then the man said, he should
have them, and went and fetched him two bags of gold, and told him to
go to sleep.
But the boy said, 'Now mind, when you hear me snore I'm not
asleep, but when I am not snoring, then I'm asleep.' Then the boy
went to sleep and began to snore, and as long as the man heard the
snoring, he blew his bellows; but as soon as the snoring stopped, the
man took his irons out of the fire, and the boy jumped up.
Then the man said, 'Why, what's the matter? why, can't you sleep?'
The boy said 'No; for at home my mother always gave me four bags of
money to lie upon.
Well, the man said he should have them, and brought him four bags of
money. Then the boy told him again the same thing about his snoring
and the man bade him go to sleep, and he began to snore, and the man
to blow his bellows until the snoring stopped. Then the man took out
his irons again, and the boy jumped up, and the man dropped the
irons, saying, 'Why, what's the matter now that you can't sleep?'
The boy said, 'At home my mother always gave me two bushels of corn.'
So the man said he should have the corn, and went and brought it, and
told him to go to sleep. Then the boy snored, and the man blew his
bellows till the snoring stopped, when he again took out his irons,
and the boy jumped up, and the man said, 'Why, what's it now?'
The boy said, 'At home my mother always goes to the river with a
sieve to bring me some water.'
So the man said 'Very well, I will go, but I have a cock here, and
before I go, I must speak to it.'
Then the man told the cock if he saw any one moving in the house, he
must crow; that the cock promised to do, and the man set off.
Now when the boy thought the man was gone far away, he got up, and
gave the cock some of the corn; then he woke up his sisters and
showed them all the bones the man had in the house, and they were
very frightened. Then he took the two bags of gold on his shoulders,
and told his sisters to follow him. He took them to the bay, and put
them into the boat with the bags of gold, and left them whilst he
went back for the four bags of money. When he was leaving the house
he emptied the bags of corn to the cock, who was so busy eating, he
forget to crow, until they had got quite away.
When the man returned home and could not find them in the house, he
went to the river, where he found his boat gone, and so he had no way
of going after them. When they landed at their own place, the boy
turned the boat over and stove it in, so that it was of no use any
more; and he took his sisters home, and told their mother all that
had happened, and his sisters loved him, and they lived very happily
together ever afterwards, and do so still if they are not dead.
THE GIRL AND THE FISH
There was once a girl who used to go to the river to fetch water, but
when she went she was never in a hurry to come back, but staid so
long, that they made up their minds to watch her. So one day they
followed her to the river, and found when she got there, she said
something (the reciter forgets the words), and a fish came up and
talked to her; and she did not like to leave it, for it was her
sweetheart. So next day they went to the river to see if the fish
would come up, for they remembered what the girl said and used the
same words. Then up came the fish immediately, and they caught it,
and took it home, and cooked it for dinner--and a part they set by,
and gave to the girl when she came in. Whilst she was eating, a voice
said, 'Do you know what you are eating? I am he you have so often
talked with. If you look in the pig's tub, you will see my heart.'
Then the voice told her to take the heart, and wrap it up in a
handkerchief, and carry it to the river. When she got to the river
she would see three stones in the water, she was to stand on the
middle stone, and dip the handkerchief three times into the water.
All this she did, and then she sank suddenly, and was carried down to
a beautiful place, where she found her lover changed from a fish into
his proper form, and there she lived happily with him for ever. And
this is the reason why there are mermaids in the water.
THE LION, THE GOAT, AND THE BABOON
A Lion had a Goat for his wife. One day Goat went out to market, and
while she was gone, Lion went out in the wood, where he met with
Baboon, who made friends with Lion, for fear he would eat him, and
asked him to go home with him; but the Lion thought it would be a
good chance, so he asked the Baboon to go home with him and see his
little ones. When they got home, the Baboon said to the Lion.
'Why, you have got plenty of little goats here.'
The Lion said, 'Yes, they are my children.'
So the Baboon said, 'If they are, they are little goats, and they are
very good meat.'
So the Lion said, 'Don't make a noise; their mother will come
presently, and we will see.'
So these little goats took no notice, but went out to meet their
mother, and told her what had passed.
Their mother said to them, 'Go back, take no notice, and I shall come
home presently, and shall do for him.'
So she went and bought some molasses, and took it home with her. The
Lion said, 'Are you come; what news?'
'Oh!' she said, 'good news, taste here.' He tasted, and said, 'It's
very good, it's honey.'
And she said, 'It's baboon's blood; they have been killing one to-
day, the blood is running in the street, and every one is carrying it
The Lion said, 'Hush, there's one in the house, and we shall have
At this the Baboon rushed off, and when they looked for him, he was
gone, and never came near them again, which saved the little goats'
ANANZI AND BABOON
Ananzi and Baboon were disputing one day which was fattest. Ananzi
said he was sure he was fat, but Baboon declared he was fatter. Then
Ananzi proposed that they should prove it; so they made a fire, and
agreed that they should hang up before it, and see which would drop
Then Baboon hung up Ananzi first, but no fat dropped.
Then Ananzi hung up Baboon, and very soon the fat began to drop,
which smelt so good that Ananzi cut a slice out of Baboon, and said,
'Oh! brother Baboon, you're fat for true.'
But Baboon didn't speak.
So Ananzi said, 'Well, speak or not speak, I'll eat you every bit to-
day', which he really did. But when he had eaten up all Baboon, the
bits joined themselves together in his stomach, and began to pull him
about so much that he had no rest, and was obliged to go to a doctor.
The doctor told him not to eat anything for some days, then he was to
get a ripe banana, and hold it to his mouth; when the Baboon, who
would be hungry, smelt the banana, he would be sure to run up to eat
it, and so he would run out of his mouth.
So Ananzi starved himself, and got the banana, and did as the doctor
told him; but when he put the banana to his mouth, he was so hungry
he couldn't help eating it. So he didn't get rid of the Baboon, which
went on pulling him about till he was obliged to go back to the
doctor, who told him he would soon cure him; and he took the banana,
and held it to Ananzi's mouth, and very soon the Baboon jumped up to
catch it, and ran out of his mouth; and Ananzi was very glad to get
rid of him. And Baboons to this very day like bananas.
THE MAN AND THE DOUKANA TREE
There was once a man and his wife, who were very poor, and they had a
great many children. The man was very lazy, and would do nothing to
help his family. The poor mother did all she could. In the wood close
by grew a Doukana Tree, which was full of fruit. Every day the man
went and ate some of the fruit, but never took any home, so he ate
and he ate, until there were only two Doukanas left on the Tree. One
he ate, and left the other. Next day, when he went for that one, he
was obliged to climb up the tree to reach it; but when he got up, the
Doukana fell down; when he got down the Doukana jumped up; and so it
went on until he was quite tired.
Then he asked all the animals that passed by to help him, but they
all made some excuse. They all had something to do. The horse had his
work to do, or he would have no grass to eat. The donkey brayed. Last
came a dog, and the man begged him hard to help him; so the dog said
he would. Then the man climbed up the tree, and the Doukana jumped to
the ground again, when the dog picked it up and ran off with it The
man was very vexed, and ran after the dog, but it ran all the faster,
so that the man could not overtake him. The dog, seeing the man after
him, ran to the sea shore, and scratching a hole in the ground,
buried himself all but his nose, which he left sticking out.
Soon after the man came up, and seeing the nose, cried out that he
had 'never seen ground have nose'; and catching hold of it he tugged
till he pulled out the dog, when he squeezed him with all his might
to make him give up the Doukana. And that's why dogs are so small in
their bodies to this very day.
There was once an old woman called 'Nancy Fairy'. She was a witch,
and used to steal all the little babies as soon as they were born,
and eat them. One day she stole a little baby, who was so beautiful
that she had not the heart to eat her; but she took her home and
brought her up. She called her 'daughter', named her 'Nancy Fairy',
after herself, and the girl called the old woman 'Granny'.
So the girl grew up, and the more she grew the more beautiful she
The old woman never let her daughter know of her doings; but one day
when she had brought a baby home, and had locked herself in a room,
her daughter peeped through a chink to see what she was about, and
the old woman saw her shadow, and thought her daughter had seen what
she was doing, and the daughter thought her granny had seen her, and
was very much afraid.
So the old woman asked her, 'Nancy Fairy, did you see what I was
She asked the girl several times, 'Nancy Fairy, did you see what I
was doing?' and the girl always said, 'No, Granny.'
So the old woman took her up to a hut in a wood, and left her there
as a punishment; and she took her food every day.
One day it happened that the king's servant, going that way, saw the
beautiful girl come out of the hut. Next day he went again and saw
the same beautiful girl again. So he went home and told the prince
that he could show him in the wood a girl more beautiful than he had
ever seen. The prince went and saw the girl, and then sent a band of
soldiers to fetch her home, and took her for his bride.
A year after she had a baby. Soldiers were set to keep guard at the
gate, and the room was full of nurses; but in the middle of the night
the old woman came in a whirlwind and put them all to sleep. She
stole the child, and on going away gave the mother a slap on the
mouth which made her dumb.
Next morning there was a great stir, and they said the mother had
eaten the child. There was a trial, but the mother was let off that
Next year she had another baby, and the same thing happened again.
The old woman came in the middle of the night in a whirlwind, and put
them all to sleep. She stole the child, and struck the mother on the
mouth, which made it bleed.
In the morning there was a stir; and the servant maid, who was
jealous, said the mother had eaten the child. All believed it, as her
mouth was covered with blood; and, besides, what would be expected of
a girl brought out of the wood? So she was tried again, and condemned
to be hanged.
Invitations were sent out to all the grand folk to come and see her
hanged; so many fine carriages came driving up. At last, just before
the time, there came a very grand carriage, all of gold, which
glistened in the sun. In it were the old woman and two children,
dressed in fine clothes, with the king's star on them. When the queen
saw this grand carriage she got her speech and sung,
'Do spare me till I see that grand carriage.'
The old woman came into the courtyard, and asked the people if they
saw any likeness to any one in the children. They said, 'they were
like the prince', and asked her how she came by them, and told her
she had stolen them. She said she had not stolen them; she had taken
them, for they were her own; the prince had taken away her daughter
without her leave, and so she had taken his children; but she was
willing to give them back, if they would allow that she was right.
So they consented, and the old woman made the prince and his queen a
present of the grand carriage, and so they lived happily. The old
woman was allowed to come and see the children whenever she liked.
But the servant girl, who said the queen had eaten her babies, was
'THE DANCING GANG'
A water carrier once went to the river to fetch water. She dipped in
her calabash, and brought out a cray-fish. The cray-fish began
beating his claws on the calabash, and played such a beautiful tune,
that the girl began dancing, and could not stop.
The driver of the gang wondered why she did not come, and sent
another to see after her. When she came, she too began to dance. So
the driver sent another, who also began to dance when she heard the
music and the cray-fish singing:
Vaitsi, Vaitsi, O sulli Van.
Stay for us, stay for us, how long will you stay for us?
Then the driver sent another and another, till he had sent the whole
At last he went himself, and when he found the whole gang dancing, he
too began to dance; and they all danced till night, when the cray-
fish went back into the water; and if they haven't done dancing, they
are dancing still.
FOOTNOTES TO INTRODUCTION
How strange is the terror of Natural Science, which seems to possess,
with a religious possession, so many good and pious people! How
rigidly do they bind themselves hand and foot with the mere letter of
the law, forgetting Him who came to teach us, that 'the letter
killeth, but the Spirit giveth life!' What are we to say of those
who, when the old crust which clogs and hampers human knowledge is
cracking and breaking all around them, when the shell is too narrow
an abode for the life within it, which is preparing to cast it off,
still cling to the crust and shell, looking, like the disciples by
the sepulchre, at the linen clothes lying, and know not that He has
risen in glory? These are they who obstinately refuse to believe in
the 'Testimony of the Rocks', who deny Geology the thousands, nay
millions, of years which she requires to make her deposits in
Nature's great saving-bank. These are they for whom the Nile, as he
brings down year by year his tribute to the sea from Central Africa,
lays down in vain layer after layer of alluvial deposit, which can be
measured to an inch for tens of thousands of years. These are they to
whom the comparatively younger growth of trees, the dragon tree of
Orotava, and the cedars of California, plead in vain when they show,
year after year, ring on ring of wood for thousands of years. 'No;
the world is only five or six thousands of years old, or thereabouts.
The Old Testament'--the dates in which have been confessedly tampered
with, and in some cases forged and fabricated by Hebrew scribes--
'says so. We believe in it--we will believe in nothing else, not even
in our senses. We will believe literally in the first chapter of
Genesis, in working days and nights of twenty-four hours, even before
the sun and moon were made, on the fourth day, "to divide the day
from the night", and to be "for signs and for seasons, and for days
and years". We will not hear of ages or periods, but "days", because
the "letter" says so'. This is what our Western Brahmins say; but if
they remembered that He who set sun and moon also planted the eye and
ear, that he gave sense, and speech, and mind; if they considered
that faith is a lively thing, elastic and expansive; that it embraces
a thousand or a million years as easily as a moment of time; that
bonds cannot fetter it, nor distance darken and dismay it; that it is
given to man to grow with his growth and strengthen with his
strength; that it rises at doubts and difficulties, and surmounts
them; they would cease to condemn all the world to wear their own
strait-waistcoat, cut and sewn by rabbis and doctors some thousand
years ago; a garment which the human intellect has altogether
outgrown, which it is ridiculous to wear, which careless and impious
men laugh at when it is seen in the streets; and might begin to see
that spirit is spirit, and flesh is flesh; that while one lives for
ever, the other is corruptible and passes away; that there are
developments in faith as in every thing else; that as man's intellect
and human knowledge have grown and expanded, so his faith must grow
and expand too; that it really matters nothing at all, as an act of
faith, whether the world is six thousand or six million years old;
that it must have had a beginning; that there must be one great first
cause, God. Surely there is no better way to bring His goodness into
question, to throw doubt on His revelation, and to make it the
laughing stock of the irreligious, than thus to clip the wings of
faith, to throw her into a dungeon, to keep her from the light of
day, to make her read through. Hebrew spectacles, and to force her to
be a laggard and dullard, instead of a bright and volatile spirit,
forward and foremost in the race of life.
But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be