Part 1 out of 5
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TALES OF THE PUNJAB
FOLKLORE OF INDIA
FLORA ANNIE STEEL
To the Little Reader
The Rat's Wedding
The Faithful Prince
The Bear's Bad Bargain
Prince Lionheart and his Three Friends
Valiant Vicky, the Brave Weaver
The Son of Seven Mothers
The Sparrow and the Crow
The Tiger, the Brâhman, and the Jackal
The King of the Crocodiles
The Close Alliance
The Two Brothers
The Jackal and the Iguana
The Death and Burial of Poor Hen-Sparrow
Peasie and Beansir
The Jackal and the Partridge
The Snake-woman and King Ali Mardan
The Wonderful Ring
The Jackal and the Pea-hen
The Grain of Corn
The Farmer and the Money-lender
The Lord of Death
The Legend of Gwâshbrâri, the Glacier-Hearted Queen
The Barber's Clever Wife
The Jackal and the Crocodile
How Raja Rasâlu Was Born
How Raja Rasâlu Went Out Into the World
How Raja Rasâlu's Friends Forsook Him
How Raja Rasâlu Killed the Giants
How Raja Rasâlu Became a Jôgi
How Raja Rasâlu Journeyed to the City of King Sarkap
How Raja Rasâlu Swung the Seventy Fair Maidens, Daughters of the King
How Raja Rasâlu Played Chaupur with King Sarkap
The King Who Was Fried
The Mother and Daughter Who Worshipped the Sun
The Ruby Prince
Notes to the Tales
Many of the tales in this collection appeared either in the _Indian
Antiquary_, the _Calcutta Review_, or the _Legends of the
Punjab_. They were then in the form of literal translations, in
many cases uncouth or even unpresentable to ears polite, in all
scarcely intelligible to the untravelled English reader; for it must
be remembered that, with the exception of the Adventures of Raja
Rasâlu, all these stories are strictly folk-tales passing current
among a people who can neither read nor write, and whose diction is
full of colloquialisms, and, if we choose to call them so,
vulgarisms. It would be manifestly unfair, for instance, to compare
the literary standard of such tales with that of the _Arabian
Nights_, the _Tales of a Parrot_, or similar works. The
manner in which these stories were collected is in itself sufficient
to show how misleading it would be, if, with the intention of giving
the conventional Eastern flavour to the text, it were to be
manipulated into a flowery dignity; and as a description of the
procedure will serve the double purpose of credential and excuse, the
authors give it,--premising that all the stories but three have been
collected by Mrs. F. A. Steel during winter tours through the various
districts of which her husband has been Chief Magistrate.
A carpet is spread under a tree in the vicinity of the spot which the
Magistrate has chosen for his _darbâr_, but far enough away from
bureaucracy to let the village idlers approach it should they feel so
inclined. In a very few minutes, as a rule, some of them begin to
edge up to it, and as they are generally small boys, they commence
nudging each other, whispering, and sniggering. The fancied approach
of a _chuprâsî_, the 'corrupt lictor' of India, who attends at
every _darbâr_, will however cause a sudden stampede; but after a
time these become less and less frequent, the wild beasts, as it were,
becoming tamer. By and by a group of women stop to gaze, and then the
question 'What do you want?' invariably brings the answer 'To see your
honour' (_âp ke darshan âe_). Once the ice is broken, the only
difficulties are, first, to understand your visitors, and secondly, to
get them to go away. When the general conversation is fairly started,
inquiries are made by degrees as to how many witches there are in the
village, or what cures they know for fever and the evil eye,
_etc_. At first these are met by denials expressed in set terms,
but a little patient talk will generally lead to some remarks which
point the villagers' minds in the direction required, till at last,
after many persuasions, some child begins a story, others correct the
details, emulation conquers shyness, and finally the story-teller is
brought to the front with acclamations: for there is always a
story-teller _par excellence_ in every village--generally a boy.
Then comes the need for patience, since in all probability the first
story is one you have heard a hundred times, or else some pointless
and disconnected jumble. At the conclusion of either, however, the
teller must be profusely complimented, in the hopes of eliciting
something more valuable. But it is possible to waste many hours, and
in the end find yourself possessed of nothing save some feeble variant
of a well-known legend, or, what is worse, a compilation of oddments
which have lingered in a faulty memory from half a dozen distinct
stories. After a time, however, the attentive collector is rewarded
by finding that a coherent whole is growing up in his or her mind out
of the shreds and patches heard here and there, and it is delight
indeed when your own dim suspicion that this part of the puzzle fits
into that is confirmed by finding the two incidents preserved side by
side in the mouth of some perfectly unconscious witness. Some of the
tales in this volume have thus been a year or more on the stocks
before they had been heard sufficiently often to make their form
And this accounts for what may be called the greater literary sequence
of these tales over those to be found in many similar collections.
They have been selected carefully with the object of securing a good
story in what appears to be its best form; but they have not been
doctored in any way, not even in the language. That is neither a
transliteration--which would have needed a whole dictionary to be
intelligible--nor a version orientalised to suit English tastes. It
is an attempt to translate one colloquialism by another, and thus to
preserve the aroma of rough ready wit existing side by side with that
perfume of pure poesy which every now and again contrasts so strangely
with the other. Nothing would have been easier than to alter the
style; but to do so would, in the collector's opinion, have robbed the
stories of all human value.
That such has been the deliberate choice may be seen at a glance
through the only story which has a different origin. The Adventures
of Raja Rasâlu was translated from the rough manuscript of a village
accountant; and, being current in a more or less classical form, it
approaches more nearly to the conventional standards of an Indian
The work has been apportioned between the authors in this way. Mrs.
F. A. Steel is responsible for the text, and Major R. C. Temple for
It is therefore hoped that the form of the book may fulfil the double
intention with which it was written; namely, that the text should
interest children, and at the same time the notes should render it
valuable to those who study Folklore on its scientific side.
F. A. _Steel_
R. C. _Temple_
TO THE LITTLE READER
Would you like to know how these stories are told? Come with me, and
you shall see. There! take my hand and do not be afraid, for Prince
Hassan's carpet is beneath your feet. So now!--'Hey presto!
Abracadabra!' Here we are in a Punjabi village.
* * * * *
It is sunset. Over the limitless plain, vast and unbroken as the
heaven above, the hot cloudless sky cools slowly into shadow. The men
leave their labour amid the fields, which, like an oasis in the
desert, surround the mud-built village, and, plough on shoulder, drive
their bullocks homewards. The women set aside their spinning-wheels,
and prepare the simple evening meal. The little girls troop, basket
on head, from the outskirts of the village, where all day long they
have been at work, kneading, drying, and stacking the fuel-cakes so
necessary in that woodless country. The boys, half hidden in clouds
of dust, drive the herds of gaunt cattle and ponderous buffaloes to
the thorn-hedged yards. The day is over, the day which has been so
hard and toilful even for the children,--and with the night comes rest
and play. The village, so deserted before, is alive with voices; the
elders cluster round the courtyard doors, the little ones whoop
through the narrow alleys. But as the short-lived Indian twilight
dies into darkness, the voices one by one are hushed, and as the stars
come out the children disappear. But not to sleep: it is too hot,
for the sun which has beaten so fiercely all day on the mud walls, and
floors, and roofs, has left a legacy of warmth behind it, and not till
midnight will the cool breeze spring up, bringing with it refreshment
and repose. How then are the long dark hours to be passed? In all
the village not a lamp or candle is to be found; the only light--and
that too used but sparingly and of necessity--being the dim smoky
flame of an oil-fed wick. Yet, in spite of this, the hours, though
dark, are not dreary, for this, in an Indian village, is
_story-telling time_; not only from choice, but from obedience to
the well-known precept which forbids such idle amusement between
sunrise and sunset. Ask little Kaniyâ, yonder, why it is that he, the
best story-teller in the village, never opens his lips till after
sunset, and he will grin from ear to ear, and with a flash of dark
eyes and white teeth, answer that travellers lose their way when idle
boys and girls tell tales by daylight. And Naraini, the herd-girl,
will hang her head and cover her dusky face with her rag of a veil, if
you put the question to her; or little Râm Jas shake his bald shaven
poll in denial; but not one of the dark-skinned, bare-limbed village
children will yield to your request for a story.
No, no!--from sunrise to sunset, when even the little ones must
labour, not a word; but from sunset to sunrise, when no man can work,
the tongues chatter glibly enough, for that is story-telling time.
Then, after the scanty meal is over, the bairns drag their
wooden-legged, string-woven bedsteads into the open, and settle
themselves down like young birds in a nest, three or four to a bed,
while others coil up on mats upon the ground, and some, stealing in
for an hour from distant alleys, beg a place here or there.
The stars twinkle overhead, the mosquito sings through the hot air,
the village dogs bark at imaginary foes, and from one crowded nest
after another rises a childish voice telling some tale, old yet ever
new,--tales that were told in the sunrise of the world, and will be
told in its sunset. The little audience listens, dozes, dreams, and
still the wily Jackal meets his match, or Bopolûchî brave and bold
returns rich and victorious from the robber's den. Hark!--that is
Kaniyâ's voice, and there is an expectant stir amongst the drowsy
listeners as he begins the old old formula--
'Once upon a time---'
TALES OF THE PUNJAB
FOLKLORE OF INDIA
Once upon a time a soldier died, leaving a widow and one son. They
were dreadfully poor, and at last matters became so bad that they had
nothing left in the house to eat.
'Mother,' said the son, 'give me four shillings, and I will go seek my
fortune in the wide world.'
'Alas!' answered the mother, 'and where am I, who haven't a farthing
wherewith to buy bread, to find four shillings?'
'There is that old coat of my father's,' returned the lad; 'look in
the pocket--perchance there is something there.'
So she looked, and behold! there were six shillings hidden away at the
very bottom of the pocket!
'More than I bargained for,' quoth the lad, laughing.' See, mother,
these two shillings are for you; you can live on that till I return,
the rest will pay my way until I find my fortune.'
So he set off to find his fortune, and on the way he saw a tigress,
licking her paw, and moaning mournfully. He was just about to run
away from the terrible creature, when she called to him faintly,
saying, 'Good lad, if you will take out this thorn for me, I shall be
for ever grateful.'
'Not I!' answered the lad. 'Why, if I begin to pull it out, and it
pains you, you will kill me with a pat of your paw.'
[Illustration: Boy pulling thorn out of a tigress's paw]
'No, no!' cried the tigress, 'I will turn my face to this tree, and
when the pain comes I will pat _it_.'
To this the soldier's son agreed; so he pulled out the thorn, and when
the pain came the tigress gave the tree such a blow that the trunk
split all to pieces. Then she turned towards the soldier's son, and
said gratefully, 'Take this box as a reward, my son, but do not open
it until you have travelled nine miles'
So the soldier's son thanked the tigress, and set off with the box to
find his fortune. Now when he had gone five miles, he felt certain
that the box weighed more than it had at first, and every step he took
it seemed to grow heavier and heavier. He tried to struggle on--
though it was all he could do to carry the box--until he had gone
about eight miles and a quarter, when his patience gave way. 'I
believe that tigress was a witch, and is playing off her tricks upon
me,' he cried, 'but I will stand this nonsense no longer. Lie there,
you wretched old box!--heaven knows what is in you, and I don't care.'
So saying, he flung the box down on the ground: it burst open with
the shock, and out stepped a little old man. He was only one span
high, but his beard was a span and a quarter long, and trailed upon
The little mannikin immediately began to stamp about and scold the lad
roundly for letting the box down so violently.
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son, scarcely able to restrain a
smile at the ridiculous little figure, 'but you are weighty for your
size, old gentleman! And what may your name be?'
'Sir Buzz!' snapped the one-span mannikin, still stamping about in a
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son once more, 'if _you_ are
all the box contained, I am glad I didn't trouble to carry it
'That's not polite,' snarled the mannikin; 'perhaps if you had carried
it the full nine miles you might have found something better; but
that's neither here nor there. I'm good enough for you, at any rate,
and will serve you faithfully according to my mistress's orders.'
'Serve me!--then I wish to goodness you'd serve me with some dinner,
for I am mighty hungry! Here are four shillings to pay for it.'
No sooner had the soldier's son said this and given the money, than
with a _whiz! boom! bing!_ like a big bee, Sir Buzz flew through
the air to a confectioner's shop in the nearest town. There he stood,
the one-span mannikin, with the span and a quarter beard trailing on
the ground, just by the big preserving pan, and cried in ever so loud
a voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!'
The confectioner looked round the shop, and out of the door, and down
the street, but could see no one, for tiny Sir Buzz was quite hidden
by the preserving pan. Then the mannikin called out louder still,
'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!' And when the
confectioner looked in vain for his customer, Sir Buzz grew angry, and
ran and pinched him on the legs, and kicked him on the foot, saying,
'Impudent knave! do you mean to say you can't see _me?_ Why, I
was standing by the preserving pan all the time!'
The confectioner apologised humbly, and hurried away to bring out his
best sweets for his irritable little customer. Then Sir Buzz chose
about a hundredweight of them, and said, 'Quick, tie them up in
something and give them into my hand; I'll carry them home.'
'They will be a good weight, sir,' smiled the confectioner.
'What business is that of yours, I should like to know?' snapped Sir
Buzz. 'Just you do as you're told, and here is your money.' So
saying he jingled the four shillings in his pocket.
'As you please, sir,' replied the man cheerfully, as he tied up the
sweets into a huge bundle and placed it on the little mannikin's
outstretched hand, fully expecting him to sink under the weight; when
lo! with a _boom! bing!_ he whizzed off with the money still in
He alighted at a corn-chandler's shop, and, standing behind a basket
of flour, called out at the top of his voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler,
bring me flour!'
And when the corn-chandler looked round the shop, and out of the
window, and down the street, without seeing anybody, the one-span
mannikin, with his beard trailing on the ground, cried again louder
than before, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!'
Then on receiving no answer, he flew into a violent rage, and ran and
bit the unfortunate corn-chandler on the leg, pinched him, and kicked
him, saying, 'Impudent varlet! don't pretend you couldn't see
_me!_ Why, I was standing close beside you behind that basket!'
So the corn-chandler apologised humbly for his mistake, and asked Sir
Buzz how much flour he wanted.
'Two hundredweight,' replied the mannikin, 'two hundredweight, neither
more nor less. Tie it up in a bundle, and I'll take it with me.'
'Your honour has a cart or beast of burden with you, doubtless?' said
the chandler, 'for two hundredweight is a heavy load.'
'What's that to you?' shrieked Sir Buzz, stamping his foot, 'isn't it
enough if I pay for it?' And then he jingled the money in his pocket
So the corn-chandler tied up the flour in a bundle, and placed it in
the mannikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting it would crush him,
when, with a whiz! Sir Buzz flew off, with the shillings still in his
pocket. _Boom! bing! boom!_
The soldier's son was just wondering what had become of his one-span
servant, when, with a whir! the little fellow alighted beside him, and
wiping his face with his handkerchief, as if he were dreadfully hot
and tired, said thoughtfully, 'Now I do hope I've brought enough, but
you men have such terrible appetites!'
'More than enough, I should say,' laughed the lad, looking at the huge
Then Sir Buzz cooked the girdle-cakes, and the soldier's son ate three
of them and a handful of sweets; but the one-span mannikin gobbled up
all the rest, saying at each mouthful, 'You men have such terrible
appetites--such terrible appetites!'
After that, the soldier's son and his servant Sir Buzz travelled ever
so far, until they came to the King's city. Now the King had a
daughter called Princess Blossom, who was so lovely, and tender, and
slim, and fair, that she only weighed five flowers. Every morning she
was weighed in golden scales, and the scale always turned when the
fifth flower was put in, neither less nor more.
Now it so happened that the soldier's son by chance caught a glimpse
of the lovely, tender, slim, and fair Princess Blossom, and, of
course, he fell desperately in love with her. He would neither sleep
nor eat his dinner, and did nothing all day long but say to his
faithful mannikin, 'Oh, dearest Sir Buzz! oh, kind Sir Buzz!--carry me
to the Princess Blossom, that I may see and speak to her.'
'Carry you!' snapped the little fellow scornfully, 'that's a likely
story! Why, you're ten times as big as I am. You should carry
Nevertheless, when the soldier's son begged and prayed, growing pale
and pining away with thinking of the Princess Blossom, Sir Buzz, who
had a kind heart, was moved, and bade the lad sit on his hand. Then
with a tremendous _boom! bing! boom!_ they whizzed away and were
in the palace in a second. Being night-time, the Princess was asleep;
nevertheless the booming wakened her and she was quite frightened to
see a handsome young man kneeling beside her. She began of course to
scream, but stopped at once when the soldier's son with the greatest
politeness, and in the most elegant of language, begged her not to be
alarmed. And after that they talked together about everything
delightful, while Sir Buzz stood at the door and did sentry; but he
stood a brick up on end first, so that he might not seem to pry upon
the young people.
Now when the dawn was just breaking, the soldier's son and Princess
Blossom, wearied of talking, fell asleep; whereupon Sir Buzz, being a
faithful servant, said to himself, 'Now what is to be done? If my
master remains here asleep, some one will discover him, and he will be
killed as sure as my name is Buzz; but if I wake him, ten to one he
will refuse to go.'
[Illustration: Soldier's son kneeling beside Princess Blossom's bed
as they talk]
So without more ado he put his hand under the bed, and _bing!
boom!_ carried it into a large garden outside the town. There he
set it down in the shade of the biggest tree, and pulling up the next
biggest one by the roots, threw it over his shoulder, and marched up
and down keeping guard.
Before long the whole town was in a commotion, because the Princess
Blossom had been carried off, and all the world and his wife turned
out to look for her. By and by the one-eyed Chief Constable came to
the garden gate.
'What do you want here?' cried valiant Sir Buzz, making passes at him
with the tree.
The Chief Constable with his one eye could see nothing save the
branches, but he replied sturdily, 'I want the Princess Blossom!'
'I'll blossom you! Get out of _my_ garden, will you?' shrieked
the one-span mannikin, with his one and quarter span beard trailing on
the ground; and with that he belaboured the Constable's pony so hard
with the tree that it bolted away, nearly throwing its rider.
The poor man went straight to the King, saying, 'Your Majesty! I am
convinced your Majesty's daughter, the Princess Blossom, is in your
Majesty's garden, just outside the town, as there is a tree there
which fights terribly.'
Upon this the King summoned all his horses and men, and going to the
garden tried to get in; but Sir Buzz behind the tree routed them all,
for half were killed, and the rest ran away. The noise of the battle,
however, awoke the young couple, and as they were now convinced they
could no longer exist apart, they determined to fly together. So when
the fight was over, the soldier's son, the Princess Blossom, and Sir
Buzz set out to see the world.
Now the soldier's son was so enchanted with his good luck in winning
the Princess, that he said to Sir Buzz, 'My fortune is made already;
so I shan't want you any more, and you can go back to your mistress.'
'Pooh!' said Sir Buzz. 'Young people always think so; however, have
it your own way, only take this hair out of my beard, and if you
_should_ get into trouble, just burn it in the fire. I'll come
to your aid.'
So Sir Buzz boomed off, and the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom
lived and travelled together very happily, until at last they lost
their way in a forest, and wandered about for some time without any
food. When they were nearly starving, a Brâhman found them, and
hearing their story said, 'Alas! you poor children!--come home with
me, and I will give you something to eat.'
Now had he said 'I will eat you,' it would have been much nearer the
mark, for he was no Brâhman, but a dreadful vampire, who loved to
devour handsome young men and slender girls. But, knowing nothing of
all this, the couple went home with him quite cheerfully. He was most
polite, and when they arrived at his house, said, 'Please get ready
whatever you want to eat, for I have no cook. Here are my keys; open
all my cupboards save the one with the golden key. Meanwhile I will
go and gather firewood.'
Then the Princess Blossom began to prepare the food, while the
soldier's son opened all the cupboards. In them he saw lovely jewels,
and dresses, and cups and platters, such bags of gold and silver, that
his curiosity got the better of his discretion, and, regardless of the
Brâhman's warning, he said, 'I _will_ see what wonderful thing is
hidden in the cupboard with the golden key.' So he opened it, and lo!
it was full of human skulls, picked quite clean, and beautifully
polished. At this dreadful sight the soldier's son flew back to the
Princess Blossom, and said, 'We are lost! we are lost!--this is no
Brâhman, but a horrid vampire!'
At that moment they heard him at the door, and the Princess, who was
very brave and kept her wits about her, had barely time to thrust the
magic hair into the fire, before the vampire, with sharp teeth and
fierce eyes, appeared. But at the selfsame moment a _boom! boom!
binging_ noise was heard in the air, coming nearer and nearer.
Whereupon the vampire, who knew very well who his enemy was, changed
into a heavy rain pouring down in torrents, hoping thus to drown Sir
Buzz, but _he_ changed into the storm wind beating back the
rain. Then the vampire changed to a dove, but Sir Buzz, pursuing it
as a hawk, pressed it so hard that it had barely time to change into a
rose, and drop into King Indra's lap as he sat in his celestial court
listening to the singing of some dancing girls. Then Sir Buzz, quick
as thought, changed into an old musician, and standing beside the bard
who was thrumming the guitar, said, 'Brother, you are tired; let
And he played so wonderfully, and sang with such piercing sweetness,
that King Indra said, 'What shall I give you as a reward? Name what
you please, and it shall be yours.'
Then Sir Buzz said, 'I only ask the rose that is in your Majesty's
'I had rather you asked more, or less,' replied King Indra; 'it is but
a rose, yet it fell from heaven; nevertheless it is yours.'
So saying, he threw the rose towards the musician, and lo! the petals
fell in a shower on the ground. Sir Buzz went down on his knees and
instantly gathered them up; but one petal escaping, changed into a
mouse. Whereupon Sir Buzz, with the speed of lightning, turned into a
cat, which caught and gobbled up the mouse.
Now all this time the Princess Blossom and the soldier's son,
shivering and shaking, were awaiting the issue of the combat in the
vampire's hut; when suddenly, with a _bing! boom!_ Sir Buzz
arrived victorious, shook his head, and said, 'You two had better go
home, for you are not fit to take care of yourselves.'
Then he gathered together all the jewels and gold in one hand, placed
the Princess and the soldier's son in the other, and whizzed away
home, to where the poor mother--who all this time had been living on
the two shillings--was delighted to see them.
Then with a louder _boom! bing! boom!_ than usual, Sir Buzz,
without even waiting for thanks, whizzed out of sight, and was never
seen or heard of again.
But the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived happily ever
THE RAT'S WEDDING
Once upon a time a fat sleek Rat was caught in a shower of rain, and
being far from shelter he set to work and soon dug a nice hole in the
ground, in which he sat as dry as a bone while the raindrops splashed
outside, making little puddles on the road.
Now in the course of his digging he came upon a fine bit of root,
quite dry and fit for fuel, which he set aside carefully--for the Rat
is an economical creature--in order to take it home with him. So when
the shower was over, he set off with the dry root in his mouth. As he
went along, daintily picking his way through the puddles, he saw a
poor man vainly trying to light a fire, while a little circle of
children stood by, and cried piteously.
'Goodness gracious!' exclaimed the Rat, who was both soft-hearted and
curious, 'what a dreadful noise to make! What _is_ the matter?'
'The bairns are hungry,' answered the man; 'they are crying for their
breakfast, but the sticks are damp, the fire won't burn, and so I
can't bake the cakes.'
'If that is all your trouble, perhaps I can help you,' said the
good-natured Rat; 'you are welcome to this dry root, and I'll warrant
it will soon make a fine blaze.'
The poor man, with a thousand thanks, took the dry root, and in his
turn presented the Rat with a morsel of dough, as a reward for his
kindness and generosity.
'What a remarkably lucky fellow I am!' thought the Rat, as he trotted
off gaily with his prize, 'and clever too! Fancy making a bargain
like that--food enough to last me five days in return for a rotten
old stick! _Wah! wah! wah!_ what it is to have brains!'
Going along, hugging his good fortune in this way, he came presently
to a potter's yard, where the potter, leaving his wheel to spin round
by itself, was trying to pacify his three little children, who were
screaming and crying as if they would burst.
'My gracious!' cried the Rat, stopping his ears, 'what a noise!--do
tell me what it is all about.'
'I suppose they are hungry,' replied the potter ruefully; 'their
mother has gone to get flour in the bazaar, for there is none in the
house. In the meantime I can neither work nor rest because of them.'
'Is that all!' answered the officious Rat; 'then I can help you. Take
this dough, cook it quickly, and stop their mouths with food.'
The potter overwhelmed the Rat with thanks for his obliging kindness,
and choosing out a nice well-burnt pipkin, insisted on his accepting
it as a remembrance.
The Rat was delighted at the exchange, and though the pipkin was just
a trifle awkward for him to manage, he succeeded after infinite
trouble in balancing it on his head, and went away gingerly,
_tink-a-tink_, _tink-a-tink,_ down the road, with his tail
over his arm for fear he should trip on it. And all the time he kept
saying to himself, 'What a lucky fellow I am! and clever too! Such a
hand at a bargain!'
By and by he came to where some neatherds were herding their cattle.
One of them was milking a buffalo, and having no pail he used his
'Oh fie! oh fie!' cried the cleanly Rat, quite shocked at the sight.
'What a nasty dirty trick!--why don't you use a pail?'
'For the best of all reasons--we haven't got one!' growled the
neatherd, who did not see why the Rat should put his finger in the
'If that is all,' replied the dainty Rat, 'oblige me by using this
pipkin, for I cannot bear dirt!'
The neatherd, nothing loath, took the pipkin, and milked away until it
was brimming over; then turning to the Rat, who stood looking on,
said, 'Here, little fellow, you may have a drink, in payment.'
But if the Rat was good-natured he was also shrewd. 'No, no, my
friend,' said he, 'that will not do! As if I could drink the worth of
my pipkin at a draught! My dear sir, _I couldn't hold it!_
Besides, I never make a bad bargain, so I expect you at least to give
me the buffalo that gave the milk.'
'Nonsense!' cried the neatherd; 'a buffalo for a pipkin! Who ever
heard of such a price? And what on earth could _you_ do with a
buffalo when you got it? Why, the pipkin was about as much as you
At this the Rat drew himself up with dignity, for he did not like
allusions to his size.
'That is my affair, not yours,' he retorted; 'your business is to hand
over the buffalo.'
So just for the fun of the thing, and to amuse themselves at the Rat's
expense, the neatherds loosed the buffalo's halter and began to tie it
to the little animal's tail.
'No! no!' he called, in a great hurry; 'if the beast pulled, the skin
of my tail would come off, and then where should I be? Tie it round
my neck, if you please.'
So with much laughter the neatherds tied the halter round the Rat's
neck, and he, after a polite leave-taking, set off gaily towards home
with his prize; that is to say, he set off with the _rope_, for
no sooner did he come to the end of the tether than he was brought up
with a round turn; the buffalo, nose down grazing away, would not
budge until it had finished its tuft of grass, and then seeing another
in a different direction marched off towards it, while the Rat, to
avoid being dragged, had to trot humbly behind, willy-nilly.
He was too proud to confess the truth, of course, and, nodding his
head knowingly to the neatherds, said, 'Ta-ta, good people! I am
going home this way. It may be a little longer, but it's much
And when the neatherds roared with laughter he took no notice, but
trotted on, looking as dignified as possible.
'After all,' he reasoned to himself, 'when one keeps a buffalo one has
to look after its grazing. A beast must get a good bellyful of grass
if it is to give any milk, and I have plenty of time at my disposal.'
So all day long he trotted about after the buffalo, making believe;
but by evening he was dead tired, and felt truly thankful when the
great big beast, having eaten enough, lay down under a tree to chew
Just then a bridal party came by. The bridegroom and his friends had
evidently gone on to the next village, leaving the bride's palanquin
to follow; so the palanquin bearers, being lazy fellows and seeing a
nice shady tree, put down their burden, and began to cook some food.
'What detestable meanness!' grumbled one;' a grand wedding, and
nothing but plain rice pottage to eat! Not a scrap of meat in it,
neither sweet nor salt! It would serve the skinflints right if we
upset the bride into a ditch!'
'Dear me!' cried the Rat at once, seeing a way out of his difficulty,
'that _is_ a shame! I sympathise with your feelings so entirely
that if you will allow me I'll give you my buffalo. You can kill it,
and cook it.'
'_Your_ buffalo!' returned the discontented bearers, 'what
rubbish! Whoever heard of a rat owning a buffalo?'
'Not often, I admit,' replied the Rat with conscious pride; 'but look
for yourselves. Can you not see that I am leading the beast by a
'Oh, never mind the string!' cried a great big hungry bearer; 'master
or no master, I mean to have meat to my dinner!'
Whereupon they killed the buffalo, and, cooking its flesh, ate their
dinner with relish; then, offering the remains to the Rat, said
carelessly, 'Here, little Rat-skin, that is for you!'
'Now look here!' cried the Rat hotly; 'I'll have none of your pottage,
nor your sauce either. You don't suppose I am going to give my best
buffalo, that gave quarts and quarts of milk--the buffalo I have been
feeding all day--for a wee bit of rice? No!--I got a loaf for a bit
of stick; I got a pipkin for a little loaf; I got a buffalo for a
pipkin; and now I'll have the bride for my buffalo--the bride, and
By this time the servants, having satisfied their hunger, began to
reflect on what they had done, and becoming alarmed at the
consequences, arrived at the conclusion it would be wisest to make
their escape whilst they could. So, leaving the bride in her
palanquin, they took to their heels in various directions.
The Rat, being as it were left in possession, advanced to the
palanquin, and drawing aside the curtain, with the sweetest of voices
and best of bows begged the bride to descend. She hardly knew whether
to laugh or to cry, but as any company, even a Rat's, was better than
being quite alone in the wilderness, she did as she was bidden, and
followed the lead of her guide, who set off as fast as he could for
As he trotted along beside the lovely young bride, who, by her rich
dress and glittering jewels, seemed to be some king's daughter, he
kept saying to himself, 'How clever I am! What bargains I do make, to
When they arrived at his hole, the Rat stepped forward with the
greatest politeness, and said, 'Welcome, madam, to my humble abode!
Pray step in, or if you will allow me, and as the passage is somewhat
dark, I will show you the way.'
[Illustration: The rat at the palanquin]
Whereupon he ran in first, but after a time, finding the bride did not
follow, he put his nose out again, saying testily, 'Well, madam, why
don't you follow? Don't you know it's rude to keep your husband
'My good sir,' laughed the handsome young bride, 'I can't squeeze into
that little hole!'
The Rat coughed; then after a moment's thought he replied, 'There is
some truth in your remark--you _are_ overgrown, and I suppose I
shall have to build you a thatch somewhere. For to-night you can rest
under that wild plum-tree.'
'But I am so hungry!' said the bride ruefully.
'Dear, dear! everybody seems hungry to-day!' returned the Rat
pettishly; 'however, that's easily settled--I'll fetch you some supper
in a trice.'
So he ran into his hole, returning immediately with an ear of millet
and a dry pea.
'There!' said he, triumphantly, 'isn't that a fine meal?'
'I can't eat that!' whimpered the bride; 'it isn't a mouthful; and I
want rice pottage, and cakes, and sweet eggs, and sugar-drops. I
shall die if I don't get them!'
'Oh dear me!' cried the Rat in a rage, 'what a nuisance a bride is, to
be sure! Why don't you eat the wild plums?'
'I can't live on wild plums!' retorted the weeping bride; 'nobody
could; besides, they are only half ripe, and I can't reach them.'
'Rubbish!' cried the Rat; 'ripe or unripe, they must do you for
to-night, and to-morrow you can gather a basketful, sell them in the
city, and buy sugar-drops and sweet eggs to your heart's content!'
So the next morning the Rat climbed up into the plum-tree, and nibbled
away at the stalks till the fruit fell down into the bride's veil.
Then, unripe as they were, she carried them into the city, calling out
through the streets--
'Green plums I sell! green plums I sell!
Princess am I, Rat's bride as well!'
As she passed by the palace, her mother the Queen heard her voice,
and, running out, recognised her daughter. Great were the rejoicings,
for every one thought the poor bride had been eaten by wild beasts.
In the midst of the feasting and merriment, the Rat, who had followed
the Princess at a distance, and had become alarmed at her long
absence, arrived at the door, against which he beat with a big knobby
stick, calling out fiercely, 'Give me my wife! give me my wife! She
is mine by fair bargain. I gave a stick and I got a loaf; I gave a
loaf and I got a pipkin; I gave a pipkin and I got a buffalo; I gave a
buffalo and I got a bride. Give me my wife! give me my wife!'
'La! son-in-law! what a fuss you do make!' said the wily old Queen,
through the door, 'and all about nothing! Who wants to run away with
your wife? On the contrary, we are proud to see you, and I only keep
you waiting at the door till we can spread the carpets, and receive
you in style.'
Hearing this, the Rat was mollified, and waited patiently outside
whilst the cunning old Queen prepared for his reception, which she did
by cutting a hole in the very middle of a stool, putting a red-hot
stone underneath, covering it over with a stew-pan-lid, and then
spreading a beautiful embroidered cloth over all.
Then she went to the door, and receiving the Rat with the greatest
respect, led him to the stool, praying him to be seated.
'Dear! dear! how clever I am! What bargains I do make, to be sure!'
said he to himself as he climbed on to the stool. 'Here I am,
son-in-law to a real live Queen! What will the neighbours say?'
At first he sat down on the edge of the stool, but even there it was
warm, and after a while he began to fidget, saying, 'Dear me,
mother-in-law! how hot your house is! Everything I touch seems
'You are out of the wind there, my son,' replied the cunning old
Queen; 'sit more in the middle of the stool, and then you will feel
the breeze and get cooler.'
But he didn't! for the stewpan-lid by this time had become so hot,
that the Rat fairly frizzled when he sat down on it; and it was not
until he had left all his tail, half his hair, and a large piece of
his skin behind him, that he managed to escape, howling with pain, and
vowing that never, never, never again would he make a bargain!
THE FAITHFUL PRINCE
Long ago there lived a King who had an only son, by name Prince
Bahrâmgor, who was as splendid as the noonday sun, and as beautiful as
the midnight moon. Now one day the Prince went a-hunting, and he
hunted to the north, but found no game; he hunted to the south, yet no
quarry arose; he hunted to the east, and still found nothing. Then he
turned towards the setting sun, when suddenly from a thicket flashed a
golden deer. Burnished gold were its hoofs and horns, rich gold its
body. Dazzled by the wonderful sight, the astonished Prince bade his
retainers form a circle round the beautiful strange creature, and so
gradually enclose and secure it.
'Remember,' said the Prince, 'I hold him towards whom the deer may run
to be responsible for its escape, or capture.'
Closer and closer drew the glittering circle of horsemen, while in the
centre stood the golden deer, until, with marvellous speed, it fled
straight towards the Prince, But he was swifter still, and caught it
by the golden horns. Then the creature found human voice, and cried,
'Let me go, oh! Prince Bahrâmgor and I will give you countless
But the Prince laughed, saying, 'Not so! I have gold and jewels
galore, but never a golden deer.'
'Let me go,' pleaded the deer, 'and I will give you more than
'And what may that be?' asked the Prince, still laughing.
'I will give you a ride on my back such as never mortal man rode
before,' replied the deer.
'Done!' cried the gay Prince, vaulting lightly to the deer's back; and
immediately, like a bird from a thicket, the strange glittering
creature rose through the air till it was lost to sight. For seven
days and seven nights it carried the Prince over all the world, so
that he could see everything like a picture passing below, and on the
evening of the seventh day it touched the earth once more, and
instantly vanished. Prince Bahrâmgor rubbed his eyes in bewilderment,
for he had never been in such a strange country before. Everything
seemed new and unfamiliar. He wandered about for some time looking
for the trace of a house or a footprint, when suddenly from the ground
at his feet popped a wee old man.
'How did you come here? and what are you looking for, my son?' quoth
So Prince Bahrâmgor told him how he had ridden thither on a golden
deer, which had disappeared, and how he was now quite lost and
bewildered in this strange country.
'Do not be alarmed, my son,' returned the wee old man; 'it is true you
are in Demonsland, but no one shall hurt you, for I am the demon
Jasdrûl whose life you saved when I was on the earth in the shape of a
Then the demon Jasdrûl took Prince Bahrâmgor to his house, and treated
him right royally, giving him a hundred keys, and saying, 'These are
the keys of my palaces and gardens. Amuse yourself by looking at
them, and mayhap somewhere you may find a treasure worth having.'
So every day Prince Bahrâmgor opened a new garden, and examined a new
palace, and in one he found rooms full of gold, and in another jewels,
and in a third rich stuffs, in fact everything the heart could desire,
until he came to the hundredth palace, and that he found was a mere
hovel, full of all poisonous things, herbs, stones, snakes, and
insects. But the garden in which it stood was by far the most
magnificent of all. It was seven miles this way, and seven miles
that, full of tall trees and bright flowers, lakes, streams,
fountains, and summer-houses. Gay butterflies flitted about, and
birds sang in it all day and all night. The Prince, enchanted,
wandered seven miles this way, and seven miles that, until he was so
tired that he lay down to rest in a marble summer-house, where he
found a golden bed, all spread with silken shawls. Now while he
slept, the Fairy Princess Shâhpasand, who was taking the air,
fairy-fashion, in the shape of a pigeon, happened to fly over the
garden, and catching sight of the beautiful, splendid, handsome young
Prince, she sank to earth in sheer astonishment at beholding such a
lovely sight, and, resuming her natural shape--as fairies always do
when they touch the ground--she stooped over the young man and gave
him a kiss.
He woke up in a hurry, and what was his astonishment on seeing the
most beautiful Princess in the world kneeling gracefully beside him!
'Dearest Prince!' cried the maiden, clasping her hands,'I have been
looking for you everywhere!'
Now the very same thing befell Prince Bahrâmgor that had happened to
the Princess Shâhpasand--that is to say, no sooner did he set eyes on
her than he fell desperately in love, and so, of course, they agreed
to get married without any delay. Nevertheless, the Prince thought it
best first to consult his host, the demon Jasdrûl, seeing how powerful
he was in Demonsland. To the young man's delight, the demon not only
gave his consent, but appeared greatly pleased, rubbing his hands and
saying, 'Now you will remain with me and be so happy that you will
never think of returning to your own country any more.'
So Prince Bahrâmgor and the Fairy Princess Shâhpasand were married,
and lived ever so happily, for ever so long a time.
At last the thought of the home he had left came back to the Prince,
and he began to think longingly of his father the King, his mother the
Queen, and of his favourite horse and hound. Then from thinking of
them he fell to speaking of them to the Princess, his wife, and then
from speaking he took to sighing and sighing and refusing his dinner,
until he became quite pale and thin. Now the demon Jasdrûl used to
sit every night in a little echoing room below the Prince and
Princess's chamber, and listen to what they said, so as to be sure
they were happy; and when he heard the Prince talking of his far-away
home on the earth, he sighed too, for he was a kindhearted demon, and
loved his handsome young Prince.
At last he asked Prince Bahrâmgor what was the cause of his growing so
pale and sighing so often--for so amiable was the young man that he
would rather have died of grief than have committed the rudeness of
telling his host he was longing to get away; but when he was asked he
said piteously, 'Oh, good demon! let me go home and see my father the
King, my mother the Queen, my horse and my hound, for I am very
weary. Let me and my Princess go, or assuredly I shall die!'
At first the demon refused, but at last he took pity on the Prince,
and said, 'Be it so; nevertheless you will soon repent and long to be
back in Demonsland; for the world has changed since you left it, and
you will have trouble. Take this hair with you, and when you need
help, burn it, then I will come immediately to your assistance.'
Then the demon Jasdrûl said a regretful goodbye, and, Hey presto!--
Prince Bahrâmgor found himself standing outside his native city, with
his beautiful bride beside him.
But, alas! as the good-natured demon had foretold, everything was
changed. His father and mother were both dead, a usurper sat on the
throne, and had put a price on Bahrâmgor's head should he ever return
from his mysterious journey. Luckily no one recognised the young
Prince (so much had he changed during his residence in Demonsland)
save his old huntsman, who, though overjoyed to see his master once
more, said it was as much as his life was worth to give the Prince
shelter; still, being a faithful servant, he agreed to let the young
couple live in the garret of his house.
'My old mother, who is blind,' he said, 'will never see you coming and
going; and as you used to be fond of sport, you can help me to hunt,
as I used to help you.'
So the splendid Prince Bahrâmgor and his lovely Princess hid in the
garret of the huntsman's house, and no one knew they were there. Now
one fine day, when the Prince had gone out to hunt, as servant to the
huntsman, Princess Shâhpasand took the opportunity of washing her
beautiful golden hair, which hung round her ivory neck and down to her
pretty ankles like a shower of sunshine, and when she had washed it
she combed it, and set the window ajar so that the breeze might blow
in and dry her hair.
Just at this moment the Chief Constable of the town happened to pass
by, and hearing the window open, looked up and saw the lovely
Shâhpasand, with her glittering golden hair. He was so overcome at
the sight that he fell right off his horse into the gutter. His
servants, thinking he had a fit, picked him up and carried him back to
his house, where he never ceased raving about a beautiful fairy with
golden hair in the huntsman's garret. This set everybody wondering
whether he had been bewitched, and the story meeting the King's ear,
he sent down some soldiers to make inquiries at the huntsman's house.
'No one lives here!' said the huntsman's cross old mother, 'no
beautiful lady, nor ugly one either, nor any person at all, save me
and my son. However, go to the garret and look for yourselves.'
Hearing these words of the old woman, Princess Shâhpasand bolted the
door, and, seizing a knife, cut a hole in the wooden roof. Then,
taking the form of a pigeon, she flew out, so that when the soldiers
burst open the door they found no one in the garret.
The poor Princess was greatly distressed at having to leave her
beautiful young Prince in this hurried way, and as she flew past the
blind old crone she whispered in her ear, 'I go to my father's house
in the Emerald Mountain.'
In the evening when Prince Bahrâmgor returned from hunting, great was
his grief at finding the garret empty! Nor could the blind old crone
tell him much of what had occurred; still, when he heard of the
mysterious voice which whispered, 'I go to my father's house in the
Emerald Mountain,' he was at first somewhat comforted. Afterwards,
when he reflected that he had not the remotest idea where the Emerald
Mountain was to be found, he fell into a very sad state, and casting
himself on the ground he sobbed and sighed; he refused his dinner, and
never ceased crying, 'Oh, my dearest Princess! my dearest Princess!'
At last he remembered the magic hair, and taking it from its
hiding-place threw it into the fire. It had scarcely begun to burn
when, Hey presto!--the demon Jasdrûl appeared, and asked him what he
'Show me the way to the Emerald Mountain,' cried the Prince.
Then the kind-hearted demon shook his head sorrowfully, saying, 'You
would never reach it alive, my son. Be guided by me,--forget all that
has passed, and begin a new life.'
'I have but one life,' answered the faithful Prince, 'and that is gone
if I lose my dearest Princess! As I must die, let me die seeking
Then the demon Jasdrûl was touched by the constancy of the splendid
young Prince, and promised to aid him as far as possible. So he
carried the young man back to Demonsland, and giving him a magic wand,
bade him travel over the country until he came to the demon Nanâk
'You will meet with many dangers by the way,' said his old friend,
'but keep the magic wand in your hand day and night, and nothing will
harm you. That is all I can do for you, but Nanâk Chand, who is my
elder brother, can help you farther on your way.'
So Prince Bahrâmgor travelled through Demonsland, and because he held
the magic wand in his hand day and night, no harm came to him. At
last he arrived at the demon Nanâk Chand's house, just as the demon
had awakened from sleep, which, according to the habit of demons, had
lasted for twelve years. Naturally he was desperately hungry, and on
catching sight of the Prince, thought what a dainty morsel he would be
for breakfast; nevertheless, though his mouth watered, the demon
restrained his appetite when he saw the wand, and asked the Prince
politely what he wanted. But when the demon Nanâk Chand had heard the
whole story, he shook his head, saying, 'You will never reach the
Emerald Mountain, my son. Be guided by me,--forget all that has
passed, and begin a new life.'
Then the splendid young Prince answered as before, 'I have but one
life, and that is gone if I lose my dearest Princess! If I must die,
let me die seeking her.'
This answer touched the demon Nanâk Chand, and he gave the faithful
Prince a box of powdered antimony, and bade him travel on through
Demonsland till he came to the house of the great demon Safed. 'For,'
said he, 'Safed is my eldest brother, and if anybody can do what you
want, he will. If you are in need, rub the powder on your eyes, and
whatever you wish near will be near, but whatever you wish far will be
So the constant Prince travelled on through all the dangers and
difficulties of Demonsland, till he reached the demon Safed's house,
to whom he told his story, showing the powder and the magic wand,
which had brought him so far in safety.
But the great demon Safed shook his head, saying, 'You will never
reach the Emerald Mountain alive, my son. Be guided by me,--forget
all that has passed, and begin a new life.'
Still the faithful Prince gave the same answer, 'I have but one life,
and that is gone if I lose my dearest Princess! If I must die, let me
die seeking her.'
Then the great demon nodded his head approvingly, and said, 'You are a
brave lad, and I must do my best for you. Take this _yech_-cap:
whenever you put it on you will become invisible. Journey to the
north, and after a while in the far distance you will see the Emerald
Mountain. Then put the powder on your eyes and wish the mountain
near, for it is an enchanted hill, and the farther you climb the
higher it grows. On the summit lies the Emerald City: enter it by
means of your invisible cap, and find the Princess--if you can.'
So the Prince journeyed joyfully to the north, until in the far far
distance he saw the glittering Emerald Mountain. Then he rubbed the
powder on his eyes, and behold! what he desired was near, and the
Emerald City lay before him, looking as if it had been cut out of a
single jewel. But the Prince thought of nothing save his dearest
Princess, and wandered up and down the gleaming city protected by his
invisible cap. Still he could not find her. The fact was, the
Princess Shâhpasand's father had locked her up inside seven prisons,
for fear she should fly away again, for he doated on her, and was in
terror lest she should escape back to earth and her handsome young
Prince, of whom she never ceased talking.
'If your husband comes to you, well and good,' said the old man, 'but
you shall never go back to him.'
So the poor Princess wept all day long inside her seven prisons, for
how could mortal man ever reach the Emerald Mountain?
Now the Prince, whilst roaming disconsolately about the city, noticed
a servant woman who every day at a certain hour entered a certain door
with a tray of sweet dishes on her head. Being curious, he took
advantage of his invisible cap, and when she opened the door he
slipped in behind her. Nothing was to be seen but a large door,
which, after shutting and locking the outer one, the servant opened.
Again Prince Bahrâmgor slipped in behind her, and again saw nothing
but a huge door. And so on he went through all the seven doors, till
he came to the seventh prison, and there sat the beautiful Princess
Shâhpasand, weeping salt tears. At the sight of her he could scarcely
refrain from flinging himself at her feet, but remembering that he was
invisible, he waited till the servant after putting down the tray
retired, locking all the seven prisons one by one. Then he sat down
by the Princess and began to eat out of the same dish with her.
She, poor thing, had not the appetite of a sparrow, and scarcely ate
anything, so when she saw the contents of the dish disappearing, she
thought she must be dreaming. But when the whole had vanished, she
became convinced some one was in the room with her, and cried out
faintly, 'Who eats in the same dish with me?'
Then Prince Bahrâmgor lifted the _yech_-cap from his forehead, so
that he was no longer quite invisible, but showed like a figure seen
in early dawn. At this the Princess wept bitterly, calling him by
name, thinking she had seen his ghost, but as he lifted the
_yech_-cap more and more, and, growing from a shadow to real
flesh and blood, clasped her in his arms, her tears changed to radiant
Great was the astonishment of the servant next day when she found the
handsome young Prince seated beside his dearest Princess. She ran to
tell the King, who, on hearing the whole story from his daughter's
lips, was very much pleased at the courage and constancy of Prince
Bahrâmgor, and ordered Princess Shâhpasand to be released at once;
'For,' he said, 'now her husband has found his way to her, my daughter
will not want to go to him.'
Then he appointed the Prince to be his heir, and the faithful Prince
Bahrâmgor and his beautiful bride lived happily ever afterwards in the
THE BEAR'S BAD BARGAIN
[Illustration: The woodman in front of his hut]
Once upon a time, a very old woodman lived with his very old wife in a
tiny hut close to the orchard of a rich man,--so close that the
boughs of a pear-tree hung right over the cottage yard. Now it was
agreed between the rich man and the woodman, that if any of the fruit
fell into the yard, the old couple were to be allowed to eat it; so
you may imagine with what hungry eyes they watched the pears ripening,
and prayed for a storm of wind, or a flock of flying foxes, or
anything which would cause the fruit to fall. But nothing came, and
the old wife, who was a grumbling, scolding old thing, declared they
would infallibly become beggars. So she took to giving her husband
nothing but dry bread to eat, and insisted on his working harder than
ever, till the poor old soul got quite thin; and all because the pears
would not fall down! At last, the woodman turned round and declared
he would not work any more unless his wife gave him _khichrî_ to
his dinner; so with a very bad grace the old woman took some rice and
pulse, some butter and spices, and began to cook a savoury
_khichrî_. What an appetising smell it had, to be sure! The
woodman was for gobbling it up as soon as ever it was ready. 'No,
no,' cried the greedy old wife, 'not till you have brought me in
another load of wood; and mind it is a good one. You must work for
So the old man set off to the forest and began to hack and to hew with
such a will that he soon had quite a large bundle, and with every
faggot he cut he seemed to smell the savoury _khichrî_ and think
of the feast that was coming.
Just then a bear came swinging by, with its great black nose tilted in
the air, and its little keen eyes peering about; for bears, though
good enough fellows on the whole, are just dreadfully inquisitive.
'Peace be with you, friend!' said the bear, 'and what may you be going
to do with that remarkably large bundle of wood?'
'It is for my wife,' returned the woodman. 'The fact is,' he added
confidentially, smacking his lips, 'she has made _such_ a
_khichrî_ for dinner! and if I bring in a good bundle of wood she
is pretty sure to give me a plentiful portion. Oh, my dear fellow,
you should just smell that _khichrî_!'
At this the bear's mouth began to water, for, like all bears, he was a
[Illustration: The woodman talking to the bear]
'Do you think your wife would give me some too, if I brought her a
bundle of wood?' he asked anxiously.
'Perhaps; if it was a very big load,' answered the woodman craftily.
'Would--would four hundredweight be enough?' asked the bear.
'I'm afraid not,' returned the woodman, shaking his head; 'you see
_khichrî>_ is an expensive dish to make,--there is rice in it,
and plenty of butter, and pulse, and---'
'Would--would eight hundredweight do?'
'Say half a ton, and it's a bargain!' quoth the woodman.
'Half a ton is a large quantity!' sighed the bear.
'There is saffron in the _khichrî_,' remarked the woodman
The bear licked his lips, and his little eyes twinkled with greed and
'Well, it's a bargain! Go home sharp and tell your wife to keep the
_khichrî_ hot; I'll be with you in a trice.'
Away went the woodman in great glee to tell his wife how the bear had
agreed to bring half a ton of wood in return for a share of the
Now the wife could not help allowing that her husband had made a good
bargain, but being by nature a grumbler, she was determined not to be
pleased, so she began to scold the old man for not having settled
exactly the share the bear was to have; 'For,' said she, 'he will
gobble up the potful before we have finished our first helping.'
On this the woodman became quite pale. 'In that case,' he said, 'we
had better begin now, and have a fair start.' So without more ado
they squatted down on the floor, with the brass pot full of
_khichrî_ between them, and began to eat as fast as they could.
'Remember to leave some for the bear, wife,' said the woodman,
speaking with his mouth crammed full.
'Certainly, certainly,' she replied, helping herself to another
'My dear,' cried the old woman in her turn, with her mouth so full
that she could hardly speak, 'remember the poor bear!'
'Certainly, certainly, my love!' returned the old man, taking another
So it went on, till there was not a single grain left in the pot.
'What's to be done now?' said the woodman; 'it is all your fault,
wife, for eating so much.'
'My fault!' retorted his wife scornfully, 'why, you ate twice as much
as I did!'
'No, I didn't!'
'Yes, you did!--men always eat more than women.'
'No, they don't!'
'Yes, they do!'
'Well, it's no use quarrelling about it now,' said the woodman,' the
_khichrî_'s gone, and the bear will be furious.'
'That wouldn't matter much if we could get the wood,' said the greedy
old woman. 'I'll tell you what we must do,--we must lock up
everything there is to eat in the house, leave the _khichrî_ pot
by the fire, and hide in the garret. When the bear comes he will
think we have gone out and left his dinner for him. Then he will
throw down his bundle and come in. Of course he will rampage a little
when he finds the pot is empty, but he can't do much mischief, and I
don't think he will take the trouble of carrying the wood away.'
So they made haste to lock up all the food and hide themselves in the
Meanwhile the bear had been toiling and moiling away at his bundle of
wood, which took him much longer to collect than he expected; however,
at last he arrived quite exhausted at the woodcutter's cottage.
Seeing the brass _khichrî_ pot by the fire, he threw down his
load and went in. And then--mercy! wasn't he angry when he found
nothing in it--not even a grain of rice, nor a tiny wee bit of pulse,
but only a smell that was so uncommonly nice that he actually cried
with rage and disappointment. He flew into the most dreadful temper,
but though he turned the house topsy-turvy, he could not find a morsel
of food. Finally, he declared he would take the wood away again, but,
as the crafty old woman had imagined, when he came to the task, he did
not care, even for the sake of revenge, to carry so heavy a burden.
'I won't go away empty-handed,' said he to himself, seizing the
_khichrî_ pot; 'if I can't get the taste I'll have the smell!'
Now, as he left the cottage, he caught sight of the beautiful golden
pears hanging over into the yard. His mouth began to water at once,
for he was desperately hungry, and the pears were the first of the
season; in a trice he was on the wall, up the tree, and, gathering the
biggest and ripest one he could find, was just putting it into his
mouth, when a thought struck him.
'If I take these pears home I shall be able to sell them for ever so
much to the other bears, and then with the money I shall be able to
buy some _khichrî_. Ha, ha! I shall have the best of the
bargain after all!'
So saying, he began to gather the ripe pears as fast as he could and
put them into the _khichrî_ pot, but whenever he came to an
unripe one he would shake his head and say, 'No one would buy that,
yet it is a pity to waste it' So he would pop it into his mouth and
eat it, making wry faces if it was very sour.
Now all this time the woodman's wife had been watching the bear
through a crevice, and holding her breath for fear of discovery; but,
at last, what with being asthmatic, and having a cold in her head, she
could hold it no longer, and just as the _khichrî_ pot was quite
full of golden ripe pears, out she came with the most tremendous
sneeze you ever heard--'_A-h-chc-u!_'
The bear, thinking some one had fired a gun at him, dropped the
_khichrî_ pot into the cottage yard, and fled into the forest as
fast as his legs would carry him.
So the woodman and his wife got the _khichrî_, the wood, and the
coveted pears, but the poor bear got nothing but a very bad
stomach-ache from eating unripe fruit.
PRINCE LIONHEART AND HIS THREE FRIENDS
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who would have been as
happy as the day was long had it not been for this one circumstance,
--they had no children.
At last an old _fakîr_, or devotee, coming to the palace, asked
to see the Queen, and giving her some barleycorns, told her to eat
them and cease weeping, for in nine months she would have a beautiful
little son. The Queen ate the barleycorns, and sure enough after nine
months she bore the most charming, lovely, splendid Prince that ever
was seen, who was called Lionheart, because he was so brave and so
Now when he grew up to man's estate, Prince Lionheart grew restless
also, and was for ever begging his father the King to allow him to
travel in the wide world and seek adventures. Then the King would
shake his head, saying _only_ sons were too precious to be turned
adrift; but at last, seeing the young Prince could think of nothing
else, he gave his consent, and Prince Lionheart set off on his
travels, taking no one with him but his three companions, the
Knifegrinder, the Blacksmith, and the Carpenter.
Now when these four valiant young men had gone a short distance, they
came upon a magnificent city, lying deserted and desolate in the
wilderness. Passing through it they saw tall houses, broad bazaars,
shops still full of goods, everything pointing to a large and wealthy
population; but neither in street nor house was a human being to be
seen. This astonished them very much, until the Knifegrinder,
clapping his hand to his forehead, said, 'I remember! This must be
the city I have heard about, where a demon lives who will let no one
dwell in peace. We had best be off!'
'Not a bit of it!' cried Prince Lionheart. 'At any rate not until
I've had my dinner, for I am just desperately hungry!'
So they went to the shops, and bought all they required, laying the
proper price for each thing on the counters just as if the shopkeepers
had been there. Then going to the palace, which stood in the middle
of the town, Prince Lionheart bade the Knifegrinder prepare the
dinner, while he and his other companions took a further look at the
No sooner had they set off, than the Knifegrinder, going to the
kitchen, began to cook the food. It sent up a savoury smell, and the
Knifegrinder was just thinking how nice it would taste, when he saw a
little figure beside him, clad in armour, with sword and lance, riding
on a gaily-caparisoned mouse.
'Give me my dinner!' cried the mannikin, angrily shaking his lance.
'_Your_ dinner! Come, that is a joke!' quoth the Knifegrinder,
'Give it me at once!' cried the little warrior in a louder voice, 'or
I'll hang you to the nearest _pîpal_ tree!'
'Wah! whipper-snapper!' replied the valiant Knifegrinder, 'come a
little nearer, and let me squash you between finger and thumb!'
At these words the mannikin suddenly shot up into a terribly tall
demon, whereupon the Knifegrinder's courage disappeared, and, falling
on his knees, he begged for mercy. But his piteous cries were of no
use, for in a trice he was hung to the topmost branch of the
'I'll teach 'em to cook in my kitchen!' growled the demon, as he
gobbled up all the cakes and savoury stew. When he had finished every
morsel he disappeared.
Now the Knifegrinder wriggled so desperately that the _pîpal_
branch broke, and he came crashing through the tree to the ground,
without much hurt beyond a great fright and a few bruises. However,
he was so dreadfully alarmed that he rushed into the sleeping-room,
and rolling himself up in his quilt, shook from head to foot as if he
had the ague.
By and by in came Prince Lionheart and his companions, all three as
hungry as hunters, crying, 'Well, jolly Knifegrinder! where's the
Whereupon he groaned out from under his quilt, 'Don't be angry, for
it's nobody's fault; only just as it was ready I got a fit of ague,
and as I lay shivering and shaking a dog came in and walked off with
He was afraid that if he told the truth his companions would think him
a coward for not fighting the demon.
'What a pity!' cried the Prince, 'but we must just cook some more.
Here! you Blacksmith! do you prepare the dinner, while the Carpenter
and I have another look at the city.'
Now, no sooner had the Blacksmith begun to sniff the savoury smell,
and think how nice the cakes and stew would taste, than the little
warrior appeared to him also. And he was quite as brave at first as
the Knifegrinder had been, and afterwards he too fell on his knees and
prayed for mercy. In fact everything happened to him as it had
happened to the Knifegrinder, and when he fell from the tree he too
fled into the sleeping-room, and rolling himself in his quilt began to
shiver and shake; so that when Prince Lionheart and the Carpenter came
back, hungry as hunters, there was no dinner.
Then the Carpenter stayed behind to cook, but he fared no better than
the two others, so that when hungry Prince Lionheart returned there
were three sick men, shivering and shaking under their quilts, and no
dinner. Whereupon the Prince set to work to cook his food himself.
No sooner had it begun to give off a savoury smell than the tiny
mouse-warrior appeared, very fierce and valiant.
'Upon my word, you are really a very pretty little fellow!' said the
Prince in a patronising way; 'and what may you want?'
'Give me my dinner!' shrieked the mannikin.
'It is not _your_ dinner, my dear sir, it is _my_ dinner!'
quoth the Prince; 'but to avoid disputes let's fight it out.'
Upon this the mouse-warrior began to stretch and grow till he became a
terribly tall demon. But instead of falling on his knees and begging
for mercy, the Prince only burst into a fit of laughter, and said, 'My
good sir! there is a medium in all things! Just now you were
ridiculously small, at present you are absurdly big; but, as you seem
to be able to alter your size without much trouble, suppose for once
in a way you show some spirit, and become just my size, neither less
nor more; then we can settle whose dinner it really is.'
The demon could not withstand the Prince's reasoning, so he shrank to
an ordinary size, and setting to work with a will, began to tilt at
the Prince in fine style. But valiant Lionheart never yielded an
inch, and finally, after a terrific battle, slew the demon with his
Then guessing at the truth he roused his three sick friends, saying
with a smile, 'O ye valiant ones! arise, for I have killed the ague!'
And they got up sheepishly, and fell to praising their leader for his
After this, Prince Lionheart sent messages to all the inhabitants of
the town who had been driven away by the wicked demon, telling them
they could return and dwell in safety, on condition of their taking
the Knifegrinder as their king, and giving him their richest and most
beautiful maiden as a bride.
This they did with great joy, but when the wedding was over, and
Prince Lionheart prepared to set out once more on his adventures, the
Knifegrinder threw himself before his master, begging to be allowed to
accompany him. Prince Lionheart, however, refused the request,
bidding him remain to govern his kingdom, and at the same time gave
him a barley plant, bidding him tend it very carefully; since so long
as it flourished he might be assured his master was alive and well.
If, on the contrary, it drooped, then he might know that misfortune
was at hand, and set off to help if he chose.
So the Knifegrinder king remained behind with his bride and his barley
plant, but Prince Lionheart, the Blacksmith, and the Carpenter set
forth on their travels.
By and by they came to another desolate city, lying deserted in the
wilderness, and as before they wandered through it, wondering at the
tall palaces, the empty streets, and the vacant shops where never a
human being was to be seen, until the Blacksmith, suddenly
recollecting, said, 'I remember now! This must be the city where the
dreadful ghost lives which kills every one. We had best be off!'
'After we have had our dinners!' quoth hungry Lionheart.
So having bought all they required from a vacant shop, putting the
proper price of everything on the counter, since there was no
shopkeeper, they repaired to the palace, where the Blacksmith was
installed as cook, whilst the others looked through the town.
No sooner had the dinner begun to give off an appetising smell than
the ghost appeared in the form of an old woman, awful and forbidding,
with black wrinkled skin, and feet turned backwards.
At this sight the valiant Blacksmith never stopped to parley, but fled
into another room and bolted the door. Whereupon the ghost ate up the
dinner in no time, and disappeared; so that when Prince Lionheart and
the Carpenter returned, as hungry as hunters, there was no dinner to
be found, and no Blacksmith.
Then the Prince bade the Carpenter do the cooking while he went abroad
to see the town. But the Carpenter fared no better, for the ghost
appeared to him also, so that he fled and locked himself up in another
'This is really too bad!' quoth Prince Lionheart, when he returned to
find no dinner, no Blacksmith, no Carpenter. So he began to cook the
food himself, and ho sooner had it given out a savoury smell than the
ghost arrived; this time, however, seeing so handsome a young man
before her she would not assume her own hag-like shape, but appeared
instead as a beautiful young woman.
However, the Prince was not in the least bit deceived, for he looked
down at her feet, and when he saw they were set on hind side before,
he knew at once what she was; so drawing his sharp strong sword, he
said, 'I must trouble you to take your own shape again, as I don't
like killing beautiful young women!'
At this the ghost shrieked with rage, and changed into her own
loathsome form once more; but at the same moment Prince Lionheart gave
one stroke of his sword, and the horrible, awful thing lay dead at his
Then the Blacksmith and the Carpenter crept out of their
hiding-places, and the Prince sent messages to all the townsfolk,
bidding them come back and dwell in peace, on condition of their
making the Blacksmith king, and giving him to wife the prettiest, the
richest, and the best-born maiden in the city.
To this they consented with one accord, and after the wedding was
over, Prince Lionheart and the Carpenter set forth once more on their
travels. The Blacksmith king was loath to let them go without him,
but his master gave him also a barley plant, saying, 'Water and tend
it carefully; for so long as it flourishes you may rest assured I am
well and happy; but if it droops, know that I am in trouble, and come
to help me.'
Prince Lionheart and the Carpenter had not journeyed far ere they came
to a big town, where they halted to rest; and as luck would have it
the Carpenter fell in love with the fairest maiden in the city, who
was as beautiful as the moon and all the stars. He began to sigh and
grumble over the good fortune of the Knifegrinder and the Blacksmith,
and wish that he too could find a kingdom and a lovely bride, until
his master took pity on him, and sending for the chief inhabitants,
told them who he was, and ordered them to make the Carpenter king, and
marry him to the maiden of his choice.
This order they obeyed, for Prince Lionheart's fame had been noised
abroad, and they feared his displeasure; so when the marriage was
over, and the Carpenter duly established as king, Prince Lionheart
went forth on his journey alone, after giving a barley plant, as he
had done before, by which his prosperity or misfortune might be known.
Having journeyed for a long time, he came at last to a river, and as
he sat resting on the bank, what was his astonishment to see a ruby of
enormous size floating down the stream! Then another, and another
drifted past him, each of huge size and glowing hue! Wonderstruck, he
determined to find out whence they came. So he travelled up stream
for two days and two nights, watching the rubies sweep by in the
current, until he came to a beautiful marble palace built close to the
water's edge. Gay gardens surrounded it, marble steps led down to the
river, where, on a magnificent tree which stretched its branches over
the stream, hung a golden basket. Now if Prince Lionheart had been
wonderstruck before, what was his astonishment when he saw that the
basket contained the head of the most lovely, the most beautiful, the
most perfect young Princess that ever was seen! The eyes were closed,
the golden hair fluttered in the breeze, and every minute from the
slender throat a drop of crimson blood fell into the water, and
changing into a ruby, drifted down the stream!
Prince Lionheart was overcome with pity at this heartrending sight;
tears rose to his eyes, and he determined to search through the palace
for some explanation of the beautiful mysterious head.
So he wandered through richly-decorated marble halls, through carved
galleries and spacious corridors, without seeing a living creature,
until he came to a sleeping-room hung with silver tissue, and there,
on a white satin bed, lay the headless body of a young and beautiful
girl! One glance convinced him that it belonged to the exquisite head
he had seen swinging in the golden basket by the river-side, and,
urged by the desire to see the two lovely portions united, he set off
swiftly to the tree, soon returning with the basket in his hand. He
placed the head gently on the severed throat, when, lo and behold!
they joined together in a trice and the beautiful maiden started up to
life once more. The Prince was overjoyed, and, falling on his knees,
begged the lovely girl to tell him who she was, and how she came to be
alone in the mysterious palace. She informed him that she was a
king's daughter, with whom a wicked Jinn had fallen in love, in
consequence of which passion he had carried her off by his magical
arts: and being desperately jealous, never left her without first
cutting off her head, and hanging it up in the golden basket until his
Prince Lionheart, hearing this cruel story, besought the beautiful
Princess to fly with him without delay, but she assured him they must
first kill the Jinn, or they would never succeed in making their
escape. So she promised to coax the Jinn into telling her the secret
of his life, and in the meantime bade the Prince cut off her head once
more, and replace it in the golden basket, so that her cruel gaoler
might not suspect anything.
The poor Prince could hardly bring himself to perform so dreadful a
task, but seeing it was absolutely necessary, he shut his eyes from
the heartrending sight, and with one blow of his sharp bright sword
cut off his dear Princess's head, and after returning the golden
basket to its place, hid himself in a closet hard by the
By and by the Jinn arrived, and, putting on the Princess's head once
more, cried angrily, 'Fee! fa! fum! This room smells of man's flesh!'
Then the Princess pretended to weep, saying, 'Do not be angry with me,
good Jinn, for how can I know aught? Am I not dead whilst you are
away? Eat me if you like, but do not be angry with me!'
Whereupon the Jinn, who loved her to distraction, swore he would
rather die himself than kill her.
'That would be worse for me!' answered the girl, 'for if you were to
die while you are away from here, it would be very awkward for me: I
should be neither dead nor alive.'
'Don't distress yourself!' returned the Jinn; 'I am not likely to be
killed, for my life lies in something very safe.'
'I hope so, I am sure!' replied the Princess,' but I believe you only
say that to comfort me. I shall never be content until you tell me
where it lies, then I can judge for myself if it is safe.'
At first the Jinn refused, but the Princess coaxed and wheedled so
prettily, and he began to get so very sleepy, that at last he replied,
'I shall never be killed except by a Prince called Lionheart; nor by
him unless he can find the solitary tree, where a dog and a horse keep
sentinel day and night. Even then he must pass these warders unhurt,
climb the tree, kill the starling which sits singing in a golden cage
on the topmost branch, tear open its crop, and destroy the bumble bee
it contains. So I am safe; for it would need a lion's heart, or great
wisdom, to reach the tree and overcome its guardians.'
'How are they to be overcome?' pleaded the Princess; 'tell me that,
and I shall be satisfied.'
The Jinn, who was more than half asleep, and quite tired of being
cross-questioned, answered drowsily, 'In front of the horse lies a
heap of bones, and in front of the dog a heap of grass. Whoever takes
a long stick and changes the heaps, so that the horse has grass, and
the dog bones, will have no difficulty in passing.'
The Prince, overhearing this, set off at once to find the solitary
tree, and ere long discovered it, with a savage horse and furious dog
keeping watch and ward over it. They, however, became quite mild and
meek when they received their proper food, and the Prince without any
difficulty climbed the tree, seized the starling, and began to twist
its neck. At this moment the Jinn, awakening from sleep, became aware
of what was passing, and flew through the air to do battle for his
life. The Prince, however, seeing him approach, hastily cut open the
bird's crop, seized the bumble bee, and just as the Jinn was alighting
on the tree, tore off the insect's wings. The Jinn instantly fell to
the ground with a crash, but, determined to kill his enemy, began to
climb. Then the Prince twisted off the bee's legs, and lo! the Jinn
became legless also; and when the bee's head was torn off, the Jinn's
life went out entirely.
So Prince Lionheart returned in triumph to the Princess, who was
overjoyed to hear of her tyrant's death. He would have started at
once with her to his father's kingdom, but she begged for a little
rest, so they stayed in the palace, examining all the riches it
Now one day the Princess went down to the river to bathe, and wash her
beautiful golden hair, and as she combed it, one or two long strands
came out in the comb, shining and glittering like burnished gold. She
was proud of her beautiful hair, and said to herself, 'I will not
throw these hairs into the river, to sink in the nasty dirty mud,' so
she made a green cup out of a _pîpal_ leaf, coiled the golden
hairs inside, and set it afloat on the stream.
It so happened that the river, farther down, flowed past a royal city,
and the King was sailing in his pleasure-boat, when he espied
something sparkling like sunlight on the water, and bidding his
boatmen row towards it, found the _pîpal_ leaf cup and the
glittering golden hairs.
He thought he had never before seen anything half so beautiful, and
determined not to rest day or night until he had found the owner.
Therefore he sent for the wisest women in his kingdom, in order to
find out where the owner of the glistening golden hair dwelt.
The first wise woman said, 'If she is on Earth I promise to find her.'
The second said, 'If she is in Heaven I will tear open the sky and
bring her to you.'
But the third laughed, saying, 'Pooh! if you tear open the sky I will
put a patch in it, so that none will be able to tell the new piece
from the old.'
The King, considering the last wise woman had proved herself to be the
cleverest, engaged her to seek for the beautiful owner of the
glistening golden hair.
Now as the hairs had been found in the river, the wise woman guessed
they must have floated down stream from some place higher up, so she
set off in a grand royal boat, and the boatmen rowed and rowed until
at last they came in sight of the Jinn's magical marble palace.
Then the cunning wise woman went alone to the steps of the palace, and
began to weep and to wail. It so happened that as Prince Lionheart
had that day gone out hunting, the Princess was all alone, and having
a tender heart, she no sooner heard the old woman weeping than she
came out to see what was the matter.
'Mother,' said she kindly, 'why do you weep?'
'My daughter,' cried the wise woman, 'I weep to think what will become
of you if the handsome Prince is slain by any mischance, and you are
left here in the wilderness alone.' For the witch knew by her arts
all about the Prince.
'Very true!' replied the Princess, wringing her hands; 'what a
dreadful thing it would be! I never thought of it before!'
All day long she wept over the idea, and at night, when the Prince
returned, she told him of her fears; but he laughed at them, saying
his life lay in safety, and it was very unlikely any mischance should
Then the Princess was comforted; only she begged him to tell her
wherein it lay, so that she might help to preserve it.
'It lies,' returned the Prince, 'in my sharp sword, which never
fails. If harm were to come to it I should die; nevertheless, by fair
means naught can prevail against it, so do not fret, sweetheart!'
'It would be wiser to leave it safe at home when you go hunting,'
pleaded the Princess, and though Prince Lionheart told her again there
was no cause to be alarmed, she made up her mind to have her own way,
and the very next morning, when the Prince went a-hunting, she hid his
strong sharp sword, and put another in the scabbard, so that he was
none the wiser.
Thus when the wise woman came once more and wept on the marble stairs,
the Princess called to her joyfully, 'Don't cry, mother!--the Prince's
life is safe to-day. It lies in his sword, and that is hidden away in
Then the wicked old hag waited until the Princess took her noonday
sleep, and when everything was quiet she stole to the cupboard, took
the sword, made a fierce fire, and placed the sharp shining blade in
the glowing embers. As it grew hotter and hotter, Prince Lionheart
felt a burning fever creep over his body, and knowing the magical
property of his sword, drew it out to see if aught had befallen it,
and lo! it was not his own sword but a changeling! He cried aloud, 'I
am undone! I am undone!' and galloped homewards. But the wise woman
blew up the fire so quickly that the sword became red-hot ere Prince
Lionheart could arrive, and just as he appeared on the other side of
the stream, a rivet came out of the sword hilt, which rolled off, and
so did the Prince's head.
Then the wise woman, going to the Princess, said, 'Daughter! see how
tangled your beautiful hair is after your sleep! Let me wash and
dress it against your husband's return.' So they went down the marble
steps to the river; but the wise woman said, 'Step into my boat,
sweetheart; the water is clearer on the farther side.'
And then, whilst the Princess's long golden hair was all over her eyes
like a veil, so that she could not see, the wicked old hag loosed the
boat, which went drifting down stream.
In vain the Princess wept and wailed; all she could do was to make a
great vow, saying, 'O you shameless old thing! You are taking me away
to some king's palace, I know; but no matter who he may be, I swear
not to look on his face for twelve years!'
At last they arrived at the royal city, greatly to the King's delight;
but when he found how solemn an oath the Princess had taken, he built
her a high tower, where she lived all alone. No one save the hewers
of wood and drawers of water were allowed even to enter the courtyard
surrounding it, so there she lived and wept over her lost Lionheart.
Now when the Prince's head had rolled off in that shocking manner, the
barley plant he had given to the Knifegrinder king suddenly snapped
right in two, so that the ear fell to the ground.
This greatly troubled the faithful Knifegrinder, who immediately
guessed some terrible disaster had overtaken his dear Prince. He
gathered an army without delay, and set off in aid, meeting on the way
with the Blacksmith and the Carpenter kings, who were both on the same
errand. When it became evident that the three barley plants had
fallen at the selfsame moment, the three friends feared the worst, and
were not surprised when, after long journeying, they found the
Prince's body, all burnt and blistered, lying by the river-side, and
his head close to it. Knowing the magical properties of the sword,
they looked for it at once, and when they found a changeling in its
place their hearts sank indeed! They lifted the body, and carried it
to the palace, intending to weep and wail over it, when, lo! they
found the real sword, all blistered and burnt, in a heap of ashes, the
rivet gone, the hilt lying beside it.
'That is soon mended!' cried the Blacksmith king; so he blew up the
fire, forged a rivet, and fastened the hilt to the blade. No sooner
had he done so than the Prince's head grew to his shoulders as firm as
'My turn now!' quoth the Knifegrindcr king; and he spun his wheel so
deftly that the blisters and stains disappeared like magic, and the
sword was soon as bright as ever. And as he spun his wheel, the burns
and scars disappeared likewise from Prince Lionheart's body, until at
last the Prince sat up alive, as handsome as before.
'Where is my Princess?' he cried, the very first thing, and then told
his friends of all that had passed.
'It is my turn now!' quoth the Carpenter king gleefully; 'give me your
sword, and I will fetch the Princess back in no time.'
So he set off with the bright strong sword in his hand to find the
lost Princess. Ere long he came to the royal city, and noticing a
tall new-built tower, inquired who dwelt within. When the townspeople
told him it was a strange Princess, who was kept in such close
imprisonment that no one but hewers of wood and drawers of water were
allowed even to enter the courtyard, he was certain it must be she
whom he sought. However, to make sure, he disguised himself as a
woodman, and going beneath the windows, cried, 'Wood! wood! Fifteen
gold pieces for this bundle of wood!'
The Princess, who was sitting on the roof, taking the air, bade her
servant ask what sort of wood it was to make it so expensive.
'It is only firewood,' answered the disguised Carpenter,' but it was
cut with this sharp bright sword!'
Hearing these words, the Princess, with a beating heart, peered
through the parapet, and recognised Prince Lionheart's sword. So she
bade her servant inquire if the woodman had anything else to sell, and
he replied that he had a wonderful flying palanquin, which he would
show to the Princess, if she wished it, when she walked in the garden
She agreed to the proposal, and the Carpenter spent all the day in
fashioning a marvellous palanquin. This he took with him to the tower
garden, saying, 'Seat yourself in it, my Princess, and try how well it
But the King's sister, who was there, said the Princess must not go
alone, so she got in also, and so did the wicked wise woman. Then the
Carpenter king jumped up outside, and immediately the palanquin began
to fly higher and higher, like a bird.
'I have had enough!--let us go down,' said the King's sister after a
Whereupon the Carpenter seized her by the waist, and threw her
overboard, just as they were sailing above the river, so that she was
drowned; but he waited until they were just above the high tower
before he threw down the wicked wise woman, so that she got finely
smashed on the stones.
Then the palanquin flew straight to the Jinn's magical marble palace,
where Prince Lionheart, who had been awaiting the Carpenter king's
arrival with the greatest impatience, was overjoyed to see his
Princess once more, and set off, escorted by his three companion
kings, to his father's dominions. But when the poor old King, who had
very much aged since his son's departure, saw the three armies coming,
he made sure they were an invading force, so he went out to meet them,
and said, 'Take all my riches, but leave my poor people in peace, for
I am old, and cannot fight. Had my dear brave son Lionheart been with
me, it would have been a different affair, but he left us years ago,
and no one has heard aught of him since.'
On this, the Prince flung himself on his father's neck, and told him
all that had occurred, and how these were his three old friends--the
Knifegrinder, the Blacksmith, and the Carpenter. This greatly
delighted the old man; but when he saw the golden-haired bride his son
had brought home, his joy knew no bounds.
So everybody was pleased, and lived happily ever after.
[Illustration: Lambikin surrounded by vicious animals]
Once upon a time there was a wee wee Lambikin, who frolicked about on
his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly.
Now one day he set off to visit his Granny, and was jumping with joy
to think of all the good things he should get from her, when whom
should he meet but a Jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and
said--'Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll _eat_ _you_!'
But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said--
'To Granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.'
The Jackal thought this reasonable, and let
By and by he met a Vulture, and the Vulture, looking hungrily at the
tender morsel before him, said--'Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll _eat_
But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said--
'To Granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.'
The Vulture thought this reasonable, and let
And by and by he met a Tiger, and then a Wolf, and a Dog, and an
Eagle, and all these, when they saw the tender little morsel, said--
'Lambikin! Lambikin! I'll _eat_ _you_!'
But to all of them Lambikin replied, with a little frisk--
'To Granny's house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.'
At last he reached his Granny's house, and said, all in a great hurry,
'Granny, dear, I've promised to get very fat; so, as people ought to
keep their promises, please put me into the corn-bin _at once!_
So his Granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn-bin,