Part 4 out of 9
him three hundred dollars, and that he was obliged to do.
Now the poor brother had both the money and the mill
again. So it was not long before he had a farmhouse much
finer than that in which his brother lived, but the mill
ground him so much money that he covered it with plates
of gold; and the farmhouse lay close by the sea-shore, so
it shone and glittered far out to sea. Everyone who sailed
by there now had to be put in to visit the rich man in the
gold farmhouse, and everyone wanted to see the wonderful
mill, for the report of it spread far and wide, and there
was no one who had not heard tell of it.
After a long, long time came also a skipper who wished
to see the mill. He asked if it could make salt. "Yes, it
could make salt," said he who owned it, and when the
skipper heard that, he wished with all his might and main
to have the mill, let it cost what it might, for, he thought,
if he had it, he would get off having to sail far away over
the perilous sea for freights of salt. At first the man
would not hear of parting with it, but the skipper begged
and prayed, and at last the man sold it to him, and got
many, many thousand dollars for it. When the skipper
had got the mill on his back he did not stay there long,
for he was so afraid that the man would change his mind,
and he had no time to ask how he was to stop it grinding,
but got on board his ship as fast as he could.
When he had gone a little way out to sea he took the
mill on deck. "Grind salt, and grind both quickly and
well," said the skipper. So the mill began to grind salt,
till it spouted out like water, and when the skipper had
got the ship filled he wanted to stop the mill, but
whichsoever way he turned it, and how much soever he tried,
it went on grinding, and the heap of salt grew higher and
higher, until at last the ship sank. There lies the mill at
the bottom of the sea, and still, day by day, it grinds on;
and that is why the sea is salt.
 Asbjornsen and Moe.
THE MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS
THERE was a miller who left no more estate to the three
sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat. The
partition was soon made. Neither scrivener nor attorney
was sent for. They would soon have eaten up all the poor
patrimony. The eldest had the mill, the second the ass,
and the youngest nothing but the cat. The poor young
fellow was quite comfortless at having so poor a lot.
"My brothers," said he, "may get their living
handsomely enough by joining their stocks together; but for
my part, when I have eaten up my cat, and made me a
muff of his skin, I must die of hunger."
The Cat, who heard all this, but made as if he did not,
said to him with a grave and serious air:
"Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master. You
have nothing else to do but to give me a bag and get a
pair of boots made for me that I may scamper through
the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you
have not so bad a portion in me as you imagine."
The Cat's master did not build very much upon what
he said. He had often seen him play a great many cunning
tricks to catch rats and mice, as when he used to
hang by the heels, or hide himself in the meal, and make
as if he were dead; so that he did not altogether despair
of his affording him some help in his miserable condition.
When the Cat had what he asked for he booted himself
very gallantly, and putting his bag about his neck, he held
the strings of it in his two forepaws and went into a
warren where was great abundance of rabbits. He put
bran and sow-thistle into his bag, and stretching out at
length, as if he had been dead, he waited for some young
rabbits, not yet acquainted with the deceits of the world,
to come and rummage his bag for what he had put into it.
Scarce was he lain down but he had what he wanted.
A rash and foolish young rabbit jumped into his bag, and
Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing close the strings,
took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey, he
went with it to the palace and asked to speak with his
majesty. He was shown upstairs into the King's apartment,
and, making a low reverence, said to him:
"I have brought you, sir, a rabbit of the warren, which
my noble lord the Marquis of Carabas" (for that was the
title which puss was pleased to give his master) "has
commanded me to present to your majesty from him."
"Tell thy master," said the king, "that I thank him and
that he does me a great deal of pleasure."
Another time he went and hid himself among some
standing corn, holding still his bag open, and when a
brace of partridges ran into it he drew the strings and so
caught them both. He went and made a present of these
to the king, as he had done before of the rabbit which he
took in the warren. The king, in like manner, received
the partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some
money for drink.
The Cat continued for two or three months thus to
carry his Majesty, from time to time, game of his master's
taking. One day in particular, when he knew for certain
that he was to take the air along the river-side, with his
daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world, he said
to his master:
"If you will follow my advice your fortune is made.
You have nothing else to do but go and wash yourself in
the river, in that part I shall show you, and leave the rest
The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised him
to, without knowing why or wherefore. While he was
washing the King passed by, and the Cat began to cry out:
"Help! help! My Lord Marquis of Carabas is going to
At this noise the King put his head out of the coach-
window, and, finding it was the Cat who had so often
brought him such good game, he commanded his guards
to run immediately to the assistance of his Lordship the
Marquis of Carabas. While they were drawing the poor
Marquis out of the river, the Cat came up to the coach
and told the King that, while his master was washing,
there came by some rogues, who went off with his clothes,
though he had cried out: "Thieves! thieves!" several
times, as loud as he could.
This cunning Cat had hidden them under a great stone.
The King immediately commanded the officers of his
wardrobe to run and fetch one of his best suits for the
Lord Marquis of Carabas.
The King caressed him after a very extraordinary manner,
and as the fine clothes he had given him extremely
set off his good mien (for he was well made and very
handsome in his person), the King's daughter took a secret
inclination to him, and the Marquis of Carabas had no
sooner cast two or three respectful and somewhat tender
glances but she fell in love with him to distraction. The
King would needs have him come into the coach and take
part of the airing. The Cat, quite overjoyed to see his
project begin to succeed, marched on before, and, meeting
with some countrymen, who were mowing a meadow, he
said to them:
"Good people, you who are mowing, if you do not tell
the King that the meadow you mow belongs to my Lord
Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as
herbs for the pot."
The King did not fail asking of the mowers to whom the
meadow they were mowing belonged.
"To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they
altogether, for the Cat's threats had made them terribly
"You see, sir," said the Marquis, "this is a meadow
which never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year."
The Master Cat, who went still on before, met with
some reapers, and said to them:
"Good people, you who are reaping, if you do not tell
the King that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of
Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the
The King, who passed by a moment after, would needs
know to whom all that corn, which he then saw, did belong.
"To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," replied the reapers,
and the King was very well pleased with it, as well as the
Marquis, whom he congratulated thereupon. The Master
Cat, who went always before, said the same words to all
he met, and the King was astonished at the vast estates
of my Lord Marquis of Carabas.
Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the
master of which was an ogre, the richest had ever been
known; for all the lands which the King had then gone
over belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken
care to inform himself who this ogre was and what he
could do, asked to speak with him, saying he could not
pass so near his castle without having the honor of paying
his respects to him.
The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre could do,
and made him sit down.
"I have been assured," said the Cat, "that you have the
gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of
creatures you have a mind to; you can, for example, transform
yourself into a lion, or elephant, and the like."
"That is true," answered the ogre very briskly; "and
to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion."
Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near
him that he immediately got into the gutter, not without
abundance of trouble and danger, because of his boots,
which were of no use at all to him in walking upon the
tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the ogre
had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned
he had been very much frightened.
"I have been, moreover, informed," said the Cat, "but
I know not how to believe it, that you have also the
power to take on you the shape of the smallest animals;
for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse; but
I must own to you I take this to be impossible."
"Impossible!" cried the ogre; "you shall see that
And at the same time he changed himself into a mouse,
and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived
this but he fell upon him and ate him up.
Meanwhile the King, who saw, as he passed, this fine
castle of the ogre's, had a mind to go into it. Puss, who
heard the noise of his Majesty's coach running over the
draw-bridge, ran out, and said to the King:
"Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my Lord
Marquis of Carabas."
"What! my Lord Marquis," cried the King, "and does
this castle also belong to you? There can be nothing finer
than this court and all the stately buildings which surround
it; let us go into it, if you please."
The Marquis gave his hand to the Princess, and
followed the King, who went first. They passed into a
spacious hall, where they found a magnificent collation,
which the ogre had prepared for his friends, who were
that very day to visit him, but dared not to enter, knowing
the King was there. His Majesty was perfectly
charmed with the good qualities of my Lord Marquis of
Carabas, as was his daughter, who had fallen violently in
love with him, and, seeing the vast estate he possessed,
said to him, after having drunk five or six glasses:
"It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord Marquis,
if you are not my son-in-law."
The Marquis, making several low bows, accepted the
honor which his Majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith,
that very same day, married the Princess.
Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any
more but only for his diversion.
 Charles Perrault.
FELICIA AND THE POT OF PINKS
ONCE upon a time there was a poor laborer who, feeling
that he had not much longer to live, wished to divide his
possessions between his son and daughter, whom he loved
So he called them to him, and said: "Your mother
brought me as her dowry two stools and a straw bed; I
have, besides, a hen, a pot of pinks, and a silver ring,
which were given me by a noble lady who once lodged in
my poor cottage. When she went away she said to me:
"`Be careful of my gifts, good man; see that you do not
lose the ring or forget to water the pinks. As for your
daughter, I promise you that she shall be more beautiful
than anyone you ever saw in your life; call her Felicia, and
when she grows up give her the ring and the pot of pinks
to console her for her poverty.' Take them both, then,
my dear child," he added, "and your brother shall have
The two children seemed quite contented, and when
their father died they wept for him, and divided his
possessions as he had told them. Felicia believed that her
brother loved her, but when she sat down upon one of the
stools he said angrily:
"Keep your pot of pinks and your ring, but let my
things alone. I like order in my house."
Felicia, who was very gentle, said nothing, but stood
up crying quietly; while Bruno, for that was her brother's
name, sat comfortably by the fire. Presently, when sup-
per-time came, Bruno had a delicious egg, and he threw
the shell to Felicia, saying:
"There, that is all I can give you; if you don't like it,
go out and catch frogs; there are plenty of them in the
marsh close by." Felicia did not answer, but she cried
more bitterly than ever, and went away to her own little
room. She found it filled with the sweet scent of the
pinks, and, going up to them, she said sadly:
"Beautiful pinks, you are so sweet and so pretty, you
are the only comfort I have left. Be very sure that I will
take care of you, and water you well, and never allow
any cruel hand to tear you from your stems."
As she leaned over them she noticed that they were
very dry. So taking her pitcher, she ran off in the clear
moonlight to the fountain, which was at some distance.
When she reached it she sat down upon the brink to rest,
but she had hardly done so when she saw a stately lady
coming toward her, surrounded by numbers of attendants.
Six maids of honor carried her train, and she leaned
upon the arm of another.
When they came near the fountain a canopy was
spread for her, under which was placed a sofa of cloth-of-
gold, and presently a dainty supper was served, upon a
table covered with dishes of gold and crystal, while the
wind in the trees and the falling water of the fountain
murmured the softest music.
Felicia was hidden in the shade, too much astonished
by all she saw to venture to move; but in a few moments
the Queen said:
"I fancy I see a shepherdess near that tree; bid her
So Felicia came forward and saluted the Queen timidly,
but with so much grace that all were surprised.
"What are you doing here, my pretty child?" asked the
Queen. "Are you not afraid of robbers?"
"Ah! madam," said Felicia, "a poor shepherdess who
has nothing to lose does not fear robbers."
"You are not very rich, then?" said the Queen, smiling.
"I am so poor," answered Felicia, "that a pot of pinks
and a silver ring are my only possessions in the world."
"But you have a heart," said the Queen. "What should
you say if anybody wanted to steal that?"
"I do not know what it is like to lose one's heart,
madam," she replied; "but I have always heard that without
a heart one cannot live, and if it is broken one must
die; and in spite of my poverty I should be sorry not to
"You are quite right to take care of your heart, pretty
one," said the Queen. "But tell me, have you supped?"
"No, madam," answered Felicia; "my brother ate all
the supper there was."
Then the Queen ordered that a place should be made
for her at the table, and herself loaded Felicia's plate with
good things; but she was too much astonished to be
"I want to know what you were doing at the fountain
so late?" said the Queen presently.
"I came to fetch a pitcher of water for my pinks,
madam," she answered, stooping to pick up the pitcher which
stood beside her; but when she showed it to the Queen she
was amazed to see that it had turned to gold, all sparkling
with great diamonds, and the water, of which it was full,
was more fragrant than the sweetest roses. She was afraid
to take it until the Queen said:
"It is yours, Felicia; go and water your pinks with it,
and let it remind you that the Queen of the Woods is
The shepherdess threw herself at the Queen's feet, and
thanked her humbly for her gracious words.
"Ah! madam," she cried, "if I might beg you to stay
here a moment I would run and fetch my pot of pinks for
you--they could not fall into better hands."
"Go, Felicia," said the Queen, stroking her cheek
softly; "I will wait here until you come back."
So Felicia took up her pitcher and ran to her little
room, but while she had been away Bruno had gone in
and taken the pot of pinks, leaving a great cabbage in its
place. When she saw the unlucky cabbage Felicia was
much distressed, and did not know what to do; but at
last she ran back to the fountain, and, kneeling before the
"Madam, Bruno has stolen my pot of pinks, so I have
nothing but my silver ring; but I beg you to accept it as a
proof of my gratitude."
"But if I take your ring, my pretty shepherdess," said
the Queen, "you will have nothing left; and what will you
"Ah! madam," she answered simply, "if I have your
friendship I shall do very well."
So the Queen took the ring and put it on her finger, and
mounted her chariot, which was made of coral studded
with emeralds, and drawn by six milk-white horses. And
Felicia looked after her until the winding of the forest
path hid her from her sight, and then she went back to
the cottage, thinking over all the wonderful things that
The first thing she did when she reached her room was
to throw the cabbage out of the window.
But she was very much surprised to hear an odd little
voice cry out: "Oh! I am half killed!" and could not tell
where it came from, because cabbages do not generally
As soon as it was light, Felicia, who was very unhappy
about her pot of pinks, went out to look for it, and the
first thing she found was the unfortunate cabbage. She
gave it a push with her foot, saying: "What are you doing
here, and how dared you put yourself in the place of my
pot of pinks?"
"If I hadn't been carried," replied the cabbage, "you
may be very sure that I shouldn't have thought of going
It made her shiver with fright to hear the cabbage talk,
but he went on:
"If you will be good enough to plant me by my
comrades again, I can tell you where your pinks are at this
moment--hidden in Bruno's bed!"
Felicia was in despair when she heard this, not knowing
how she was to get them back. But she replanted the
cabbage very kindly in his old place, and, as she finished
doing it, she saw Bruno's hen, and said, catching hold of it:
"Come here, horrid little creature! you shall suffer for
all the unkind things my brother has done to me."
"Ah! shepherdess," said the hen, "don't kill me; I am
rather a gossip, and I can tell you some surprising things
that you will like to hear. Don't imagine that you are
the daughter of the poor laborer who brought you up;
your mother was a queen who had six girls already, and
the King threatened that unless she had a son who could
inherit his kingdom she should have her head cut off.
"So when the Queen had another little daughter she
was quite frightened, and agreed with her sister (who was
a fairy) to exchange her for the fairy's little son. Now the
Queen had been shut up in a great tower by the King's
orders, and when a great many days went by and still she
heard nothing from the Fairy she made her escape from
the window by means of a rope ladder, taking her little
baby with her. After wandering about until she was half
dead with cold and fatigue she reached this cottage. I
was the laborer's wife, and was a good nurse, and the
Queen gave you into my charge, and told me all her
misfortunes, and then died before she had time to say what
was to become of you.
"As I never in all my life could keep a secret, I could
not help telling this strange tale to my neighbors, and one
day a beautiful lady came here, and I told it to her also.
When I had finished she touched me with a wand she
held in her hand, and instantly I became a hen, and there
was an end of my talking! I was very sad, and my husband,
who was out when it happened, never knew what
had become of me. After seeking me everywhere he
believed that I must have been drowned, or eaten up by
wild beasts in the forest. That same lady came here once
more, and commanded that you should be called Felicia,
and left the ring and the pot of pinks to be given to you;
and while she was in the house twenty-five of the King's
guards came to search for you, doubtless meaning to kill
you; but she muttered a few words, and immediately they
all turned into cabbages. It was one of them whom you
threw out of your window yesterday.
"I don't know how it was that he could speak--I have
never heard either of them say a word before, nor have
I been able to do it myself until now."
The Princess was greatly astonished at the hen's story,
and said kindly: "I am truly sorry for you, my poor nurse,
and wish it was in my power to restore you to your real
form. But we must not despair; it seems to me, after
what you have told me, that something must be going
to happen soon. Just now, however, I must go and look
for my pinks, which I love better than anything in the
Bruno had gone out into the forest, never thinking that
Felicia would search in his room for the pinks, and she
was delighted by his unexpected absence, and thought to
get them back without further trouble. But as soon as
she entered the room she saw a terrible army of rats, who
were guarding the straw bed; and when she attempted to
approach it they sprang at her, biting and scratching
furiously. Quite terrified, she drew back, crying out:
"Oh! my dear pinks, how can you stay here in such bad
Then she suddenly bethought herself of the pitcher of
water, and, hoping that it might have some magic power,
she ran to fetch it, and sprinkled a few drops over the
fierce-looking swarm of rats. In a moment not a tail or a
whisker was to be seen. Each one had made for his hole as
fast as his legs could carry him, so that the Princess could
safely take her pot of pinks. She found them nearly dying
for want of water, and hastily poured all that was left in
the pitcher upon them. As she bent over them, enjoying
their delicious scent, a soft voice, that seemed to rustle
among the leaves, said:
"Lovely Felicia, the day has come at last when I may
have the happiness of telling you how even the flowers
love you and rejoice in your beauty.
The Princess, quite overcome by the strangeness of
hearing a cabbage, a hen, and a pink speak, and by the
terrible sight of an army of rats, suddenly became very
pale, and fainted away.
At this moment in came Bruno. Working hard in the
heat had not improved his temper, and when he saw that
Felicia had succeeded in finding her pinks he was so angry
that he dragged her out into the garden and shut the door
upon her. The fresh air soon made her open her pretty
eyes, and there before her stood the Queen of the Woods,
looking as charming as ever.
"You have a bad brother,"she said; "I saw
he turned you out. Shall I punish him for it?"
"Ah! no, madam," she said; "I am not angry with
"But supposing he was not your brother, after all,
what would you say then?" asked the Queen.
"Oh! but I think he must be," said Felicia.
"What!" said the Queen, "have you not heard that you
are a Princess?"
"I was told so a little while ago, madam, but how could
I believe it without a single proof?"
"Ah! dear child," said the Queen, "the way you speak
assures me that, in spite of your humble upbringing, you
are indeed a real princess, and I can save you from being
treated in such a way again."
She was interrupted at this moment by the arrival of
a very handsome young man. He wore a coat of green
velvet fastened with emerald clasps, and had a crown of
pinks on his head. He knelt upon one knee and kissed the
"Ah!" she cried, "my pink, my dear son, what a happiness
to see you restored to your natural shape by Felicia's
aid!" And she embraced him joyfully. Then, turning to
Felicia, she said:
"Charming Princess, I know all the hen told you, but
you cannot have heard that the zephyrs, to whom was
entrusted the task of carrying my son to the tower where
the Queen, your mother, so anxiously waited for him,
left him instead in a garden of flowers, while they flew
off to tell your mother. Whereupon a fairy with whom I
had quarrelled changed him into a pink, and I could do
nothing to prevent it.
"You can imagine how angry I was, and how I tried to
find some means of undoing the mischief she had done;
but there was no help for it. I could only bring Prince
Pink to the place where you were being brought up, hoping
that when you grew up he might love you, and by
your care be restored to his natural form. And you see
everything has come right, as I hoped it would. Your
giving me the silver ring was the sign that the power of
the charm was nearly over, and my enemy's last chance
was to frighten you with her army of rats. That she did
not succeed in doing; so now, my dear Felicia, if you will
be married to my son with this silver ring your future
happiness is certain. Do you think him handsome and
amiable enough to be willing to marry him?"
"Madam," replied Felicia, blushing, "you overwhelm
me with your kindness. I know that you are my mother's
sister, and that by your art you turned the soldiers who
were sent to kill me into cabbages, and my nurse into a
hen, and that you do me only too much honor in proposing
that I shall marry your son. How can I explain to you
the cause of my hesitation? I feel, for the first time in my
life, how happy it would make me to be beloved. Can
you indeed give me the Prince's heart?"
"It is yours already, lovely Princess!" he cried, taking
her hand in his; "but for the horrible enchantment which
kept me silent I should have told you long ago how dearly
I love you.
This made the Princess very happy, and the Queen,
who could not bear to see her dressed like a poor
shepherdess, touched her with her wand, saying:
"I wish you to be attired as befits your rank and
beauty." And immediately the Princess's cotton dress
became a magnificent robe of silver brocade embroidered
with carbuncles, and her soft dark hair was encircled by
a crown of diamonds, from which floated a clear white
veil. With her bright eyes, and the charming color in her
cheeks, she was altogether such a dazzling sight that the
Prince could hardly bear it.
"How pretty you are, Felicia!" he cried. "Don't keep
me in suspense, I entreat you; say that you will marry
"Ah!" said the Queen, smiling, "I think she will not
Just then Bruno, who was going back to his work, came
out of the cottage, and thought he must be dreaming
when he saw Felicia; but she called him very kindly, and
begged the Queen to take pity on him.
"What!" she said, "when he was so unkind to you?"
"Ah! madam," said the Princess, "I am so happy that
I should like everybody else to be happy too."
The Queen kissed her, and said: "Well, to please you,
let me see what I can do for this cross Bruno." And with
a wave of her wand she turned the poor little cottage into
a splendid palace, full of treasures; only the two stools and
the straw bed remained just as they were, to remind him
of his former poverty. Then the Queen touched Bruno
himself, and made him gentle and polite and grateful, and
he thanked her and the Princess a thousand times. Lastly,
the Queen restored the hen and the cabbages to their
natural forms, and left them all very contented. The
Prince and Princess were married as soon as possible with
great splendor, and lived happily ever after.
 Fortunee. Par Madame la Comtesse d'Aulnoy.
THE WHITE CAT
ONCE upon a time there was a king who had three sons,
who were all so clever and brave that he began to be
afraid that they would want to reign over the kingdom
before he was dead. Now the King, though he felt that
he was growing old, did not at all wish to give up the
government of his kingdom while he could still manage it
very well, so he thought the best way to live in peace
would be to divert the minds of his sons by promises
which he could always get out of when the time came for
So he sent for them all, and, after speaking to them
kindly, he added:
"You will quite agree with me, my dear children, that
my great age makes it impossible for me to look after my
affairs of state as carefully as I once did. I begin to fear
that this may affect the welfare of my subjects, therefore
I wish that one of you should succeed to my crown; but
in return for such a gift as this it is only right that you
should do something for me. Now, as I think of retiring
into the country, it seems to me that a pretty, lively,
faithful little dog would be very good company for me; so,
without any regard for your ages, I promise that the one
who brings me the most beautiful little dog shall succeed
me at once."
The three Princes were greatly surprised by their
father's sudden fancy for a little dog, but as it gave the
two younger ones a chance they would not otherwise have
had of being king, and as the eldest was too polite to
make any objection, they accepted the commission with
pleasure. They bade farewell to the King, who gave them
presents of silver and precious stones, and appointed to
meet them at the same hour, in the same place, after a
year had passed, to see the little dogs they had brought
Then they went together to a castle which was about
a league from the city, accompanied by all their particular
friends, to whom they gave a grand banquet, and the
three brothers promised to be friends always, to share
whatever good fortune befell them, and not to be parted
by any envy or jealousy; and so they set out, agreeing
to meet at the same castle at the appointed time, to
present themselves before the King together. Each one took
a different road, and the two eldest met with many
adventures; but it is about the youngest that you are
going to hear. He was young, and gay, and handsome,
and knew everything that a prince ought to know; and
as for his courage, there was simply no end to it.
Hardly a day passed without his buying several dogs--
big and little, greyhounds, mastiffs, spaniels, and lapdogs.
As soon as he had bought a pretty one he was sure to see
a still prettier, and then he had to get rid of all the others
and buy that one, as, being alone, he found it impossible
to take thirty or forty thousand dogs about with him. He
journeyed from day to day, not knowing where he was
going, until at last, just at nightfall, he reached a great,
gloomy forest. He did not know his way, and, to make
matters worse, it began to thunder, and the rain poured
down. He took the first path he could find, and after
walking for a long time he fancied he saw a faint light, and
began to hope that he was coming to some cottage where
he might find shelter for the night. At length, guided by
the light, he reached the door of the most splendid castle
he could have imagined. This door was of gold covered
with carbuncles, and it was the pure red light which shone
from them that had shown him the way through the
forest. The walls were of the finest porcelain in all the
most delicate colors, and the Prince saw that all the
stories he had ever read were pictured upon them; but as
he was terribly wet, and the rain still fell in torrents, he
could not stay to look about any more, but came back to
the golden door. There he saw a deer's foot hanging by a
chain of diamonds, and he began to wonder who could
live in this magnificent castle.
"They must feel very secure against robbers," he said
to himself. "What is to hinder anyone from cutting off
that chain and digging out those carbuncles, and making
himself rich for life?"
He pulled the deer's foot, and immediately a silver
bell sounded and the door flew open, but the Prince could
see nothing but numbers of hands in the air, each holding
a torch. He was so much surprised that he stood quite
still, until he felt himself pushed forward by other hands,
so that, though he was somewhat uneasy, he could not
help going on. With his hand on his sword, to be prepared
for whatever might happen, he entered a hall paved
with lapis-lazuli, while two lovely voices sang:
"The hands you see floating above
Will swiftly your bidding obey;
If your heart dreads not conquering Love,
In this place you may fearlessly stay."
The Prince could not believe that any danger threatened
him when he was welcomed in this way, so, guided
by the mysterious hands, he went toward a door of coral,
which opened of its own accord, and he found himself in
a vast hall of mother-of-pearl, out of which opened a
number of other rooms, glittering with thousands of
lights, and full of such beautiful pictures and precious
things that the Prince felt quite bewildered. After passing
through sixty rooms the hands that conducted him
stopped, and the Prince saw a most comfortable-looking
arm-chair drawn up close to the chimney-corner; at the
same moment the fire lighted itself, and the pretty, soft,
clever hands took off the Prince's wet, muddy clothes, and
presented him with fresh ones made of the richest stuffs,
all embroidered with gold and emeralds. He could not
help admiring everything he saw, and the deft way in
which the hands waited on him, though they sometimes
appeared so suddenly that they made him jump.
When he was quite ready--and I can assure you that
he looked very different from the wet and weary Prince
who had stood outside in the rain, and pulled the deer's
foot--the hands led him to a splendid room, upon the
walls of which were painted the histories of Puss in Boots
and a number of other famous cats. The table was laid
for supper with two golden plates, and golden spoons and
forks, and the sideboard was covered with dishes and
glasses of crystal set with precious stones. The Prince was
wondering who the second place could be for, when suddenly
in came about a dozen cats carrying guitars and
rolls of music, who took their places at one end of the
room, and under the direction of a cat who beat time with
a roll of paper began to mew in every imaginable key, and
to draw their claws across the strings of the guitars, making
the strangest kind of music that could be heard. The
Prince hastily stopped up his ears, but even then the
sight of these comical musicians sent him into fits of
"What funny thing shall I see next?" he said to himself,
and instantly the door opened, and in came a tiny figure
covered by a long black veil. It was conducted by two
cats wearing black mantles and carrying swords, and a
large party of cats followed, who brought in cages full of
rats and mice.
The Prince was so much astonished that he thought he
must be dreaming, but the little figure came up to him
and threw back its veil, and he saw that it was the loveliest
little white cat it is possible to imagine. She looked
very young and very sad, and in a sweet little voice that
went straight to his heart she said to the Prince:
"King's son, you are welcome; the Queen of the Cats is
glad to see you."
"Lady Cat," replied the Prince, "I thank you for
receiving me so kindly, but surely you are no ordinary
pussy-cat? Indeed, the way you speak and the magnificence
of your castle prove it plainly."
"King's son," said the White Cat, "I beg you to spare
me these compliments, for I am not used to them. But
now," she added, "let supper be served, and let the
musicians be silent, as the Prince does not understand what
they are saying."
So the mysterious hands began to bring in the supper,
and first they put on the table two dishes, one containing
stewed pigeons and the other a fricassee of fat mice. The
sight of the latter made the Prince feel as if he could not
enjoy his supper at all; but the White Cat, seeing this,
assured him that the dishes intended for him were prepared
in a separate kitchen, and he might be quite certain
that they contained neither rats nor mice; and the Prince
felt so sure that she would not deceive him that he had no
more hesitation in beginning. Presently he noticed that
on the little paw that was next him the White Cat wore a
bracelet containing a portrait, and he begged to be allowed
to look at it. To his great surprise he found it represented
an extremely handsome young man, who was so like himself
that it might have been his own portrait! The White
Cat sighed as he looked at it, and seemed sadder than
ever, and the Prince dared not ask any questions for fear
of displeasing her; so he began to talk about other things,
and found that she was interested in all the subjects he
cared for himself, and seemed to know quite well what
was going on in the world. After supper they went into
another room, which was fitted up as a theatre, and the
cats acted and danced for their amusement, and then the
White Cat said good-night to him, and the hands conducted
him into a room he had not seen before, hung with
tapestry worked with butterflies' wings of every color;
there were mirrors that reached from the ceiling to the
floor, and a little white bed with curtains of gauze tied up
with ribbons. The Prince went to bed in silence, as he did
not quite know how to begin a conversation with the
hands that waited on him, and in the morning he was
awakened by a noise and confusion outside of his window,
and the hands came and quickly dressed him in hunting
costume. When he looked out all the cats were assembled
in the courtyard, some leading greyhounds, some blowing
horns, for the White Cat was going out hunting. The
hands led a wooden horse up to the Prince, and seemed
to expect him to mount it, at which he was very indignant;
but it was no use for him to object, for he speedily
found himself upon its back, and it pranced gaily off with
The White Cat herself was riding a monkey, which
climbed even up to the eagles' nests when she had a fancy
for the young eaglets. Never was there a pleasanter hunting
party, and when they returned to the castle the Prince
and the White Cat supped together as before, but when
they had finished she offered him a crystal goblet, which
must have contained a magic draught, for, as soon as he
had swallowed its contents, he forgot everything, even the
little dog that he was seeking for the King, and only
thought how happy he was to be with the White Cat!
And so the days passed, in every kind of amusement, until
the year was nearly gone. The Prince had forgotten all
about meeting his brothers: he did not even know what
country he belonged to; but the White Cat knew when he
ought to go back, and one day she said to him:
"Do you know that you have only three days left to
look for the little dog for your father, and your brothers
have found lovely ones?"
Then the Prince suddenly recovered his memory, and
"What can have made me forget such an important
thing? My whole fortune depends upon it; and even if I
could in such a short time find a dog pretty enough to
gain me a kingdom, where should I find a horse who would
carry me all that way in three days?" And he began to
be very vexed. But the White Cat said to him: "King's
son, do not trouble yourself; I am your friend, and will
make everything easy for you. You can still stay here for
a day, as the good wooden horse can take you to your
country in twelve hours."
"I thank you, beautiful Cat," said the Prince; "but
what good will it do me to get back if I have not a dog to
take to my father?"
"See here," answered the White Cat, holding up an
acorn; "there is a prettier one in this than in the Dogstar!"
"Oh! White Cat dear," said the Prince, "how unkind
you are to laugh at me now!"
"Only listen," she said, holding the acorn to his ear.
And inside it he distinctly heard a tiny voice say:
The Prince was delighted, for a dog that can be shut up
in an acorn must be very small indeed. He wanted to
take it out and look at it, but the White Cat said it would
be better not to open the acorn till he was before the
King, in case the tiny dog should be cold on the journey.
He thanked her a thousand times, and said good-by quite
sadly when the time came for him to set out.
"The days have passed so quickly with you," he said,
"I only wish I could take you with me now."
But the White Cat shook her head and sighed deeply
After all the Prince was the first to arrive at the castle
where he had agreed to meet his brothers, but they came
soon after, and stared in amazement when they saw the
wooden horse in the courtyard jumping like a hunter.
The Prince met them joyfully, and they began to tell
him all their adventures; but he managed to hide from
them what he had been doing, and even led them to think
that a turnspit dog which he had with him was the one he
was bringing for the King. Fond as they all were of one
another, the two eldest could not help being glad to think
that their dogs certainly had a better chance. The next
morning they started in the same chariot. The elder
brothers carried in baskets two such tiny, fragile dogs
that they hardly dared to touch them. As for the turnspit,
he ran after the chariot, and got so covered with mud
that one could hardly see what he was like at all. When
they reached the palace everyone crowded round to welcome
them as they went into the King's great hall; and
when the two brothers presented their little dogs nobody
could decide which was the prettier. They were already
arranging between themselves to share the kingdom
equally, when the youngest stepped forward, drawing
from his pocket the acorn the White Cat had given him.
He opened it quickly, and there upon a white cushion
they saw a dog so small that it could easily have been put
through a ring. The Prince laid it upon the ground, and
it got up at once and began to dance. The King did not
know what to say, for it was impossible that anything
could be prettier than this little creature. Nevertheless, as
he was in no hurry to part with his crown, he told his sons
that, as they had been so successful the first time, he
would ask them to go once again, and seek by land and sea
for a piece of muslin so fine that it could be drawn through
the eye of a needle. The brothers were not very willing to
set out again, but the two eldest consented because it gave
them another chance, and they started as before. The
youngest again mounted the wooden horse, and rode back
at full speed to his beloved White Cat. Every door of the
castle stood wide open, and every window and turret was
illuminated, so it looked more wonderful than before.
The hands hastened to meet him, and led the wooden
horse off to the stable, while he hurried in to find the
White Cat. She was asleep in a little basket on a white
satin cushion, but she very soon started up when she
heard the Prince, and was overjoyed at seeing him once
"How could I hope that you would come back to me
King's son?" she said. And then he stroked and petted
her, and told her of his successful journey, and how he had
come back to ask her help, as he believed that it was
impossible to find what the King demanded. The White
Cat looked serious, and said she must think what was to
be done, but that, luckily, there were some cats in the
castle who could spin very well, and if anybody could
manage it they could, and she would set them the task
And then the hands appeared carrying torches, and
conducted the Prince and the White Cat to a long gallery
which overlooked the river, from the windows of which
they saw a magnificent display of fireworks of all sorts;
after which they had supper, which the Prince liked even
better than the fireworks, for it was very late, and he was
hungry after his long ride. And so the days passed quickly
as before; it was impossible to feel dull with the White
Cat, and she had quite a talent for inventing new amusements--
indeed, she was cleverer than a cat has any right
to be. But when the Prince asked her how it was that she
was so wise, she only said:
"King's son, do not ask me; guess what you please. I
may not tell you anything."
The Prince was so happy that he did not trouble himself
at all about the time, but presently the White Cat
told him that the year was gone, and that he need not be
at all anxious about the piece of muslin, as they had made
it very well.
"This time," she added, "I can give you a suitable
escort"; and on looking out into the courtyard the Prince
saw a superb chariot of burnished gold, enameled in flame
color with a thousand different devices. It was drawn by
twelve snow-white horses, harnessed four abreast; their
trappings were flame-colored velvet, embroidered with
diamonds. A hundred chariots followed, each drawn by
eight horses, and filled with officers in splendid uniforms,
and a thousand guards surrounded the procession. "Go!"
said the White Cat, "and when you appear before the
King in such state he surely will not refuse you the crown
which you deserve. Take this walnut, but do not open
it until you are before him, then you will find in it the
piece of stuff you asked me for."
"Lovely Blanchette," said the Prince, "how can I
thank you properly for all your kindness to me? Only tell
me that you wish it, and I will give up for ever all thought
of being king, and will stay here with you always."
"King's son," she replied, "it shows the goodness of
your heart that you should care so much for a little white
cat, who is good for nothing but to catch mice; but you
must not stay."
So the Prince kissed her little paw and set out. You can
imagine how fast he traveled when I tell you that they
reached the King's palace in just half the time it had
taken the wooden horse to get there. This time the
Prince was so late that he did not try to meet his brothers
at their castle, so they thought he could not be coming,
and were rather glad of it, and displayed their pieces of
muslin to the King proudly, feeling sure of success. And
indeed the stuff was very fine, and would go through the
eye of a very large needle; but the King, who was only too
glad to make a difficulty, sent for a particular needle,
which was kept among the Crown jewels, and had such a
small eye that everybody saw at once that it was impossible
that the muslin should pass through it. The Princes
were angry, and were beginning to complain that it was
a trick, when suddenly the trumpets sounded and the
youngest Prince came in. His father and brothers were
quite astonished at his magnificence, and after he had
greeted them he took the walnut from his pocket and
opened it, fully expecting to find the piece of muslin, but
instead there was only a hazel-nut. He cracked it, and
there lay a cherry-stone. Everybody was looking on, and
the King was chuckling to himself at the idea of finding
the piece of muslin in a nutshell.
However, the Prince cracked the cherry-stone, but
everyone laughed when he saw it contained only its own
kernel. He opened that and found a grain of wheat, and
in that was a millet seed. Then he himself began to
wonder, and muttered softly:
"White Cat, White Cat, are you making fun of me?"
In an instant he felt a cat's claw give his hand quite a
sharp scratch, and hoping that it was meant as an
encouragement he opened the millet seed, and drew out of
it a piece of muslin four hundred ells long, woven with the
loveliest colors and most wonderful patterns; and when
the needle was brought it went through the eye six times
with the greatest ease! The King turned pale, and the
other Princes stood silent and sorrowful, for nobody could
deny that this was the most marvelous piece of muslin
that was to be found in the world
Presently the King turned to his sons, and said, with a
"Nothing could console me more in my old age than to
realize your willingness to gratify my wishes. Go then
once more, and whoever at the end of a year can bring
back the loveliest princess shall be married to her, and
shall, without further delay, receive the crown, for my
successor must certainly be married." The Prince considered
that he had earned the kingdom fairly twice over
but still he was too well bred to argue about it, so he
just went back to his gorgeous chariot, and, surrounded
by his escort, returned to the White Cat faster than he
had come. This time she was expecting him, the path was
strewn with flowers, and a thousand braziers were burning
scented woods which perfumed the air. Seated in a gallery
from which she could see his arrival, the White Cat waited
for him. "Well, King's son," she said, "here you are once
more, without a crown." "Madam," said he, "thanks to
your generosity I have earned one twice over; but the
fact is that my father is so loth to part with it that it would
be no pleasure to me to take it."
"Never mind," she answered, "it's just as well to try
and deserve it. As you must take back a lovely princess
with you next time I will be on the look-out for one for
you. In the meantime let us enjoy ourselves; to-night I
have ordered a battle between my cats and the river rats
on purpose to amuse you." So this year slipped away
even more pleasantly than the preceding ones. Sometimes
the Prince could not help asking the White Cat how
it was she could talk.
"Perhaps you are a fairy," he said. "Or has some
enchanter changed you into a cat?"
But she only gave him answers that told him nothing.
Days go by so quickly when one is very happy that it is
certain the Prince would never have thought of its being
time to go back, when one evening as they sat together
the White Cat said to him that if he wanted to take a
lovely princess home with him the next day he must be
prepared to do what she told him.
"Take this sword," she said, "and cut off my head!"
"I!" cried the Prince, "I cut off your head! Blanchette
darling, how could I do it?"
"I entreat you to do as I tell you, King's son," she
The tears came into the Prince's eyes as he begged her
to ask him anything but that--to set him any task she
pleased as a proof of his devotion, but to spare him the
grief of killing his dear Pussy. But nothing he could say
altered her determination, and at last he drew his sword,
and desperately, with a trembling hand, cut off the little
white head. But imagine his astonishment and delight
when suddenly a lovely princess stood before him, and,
while he was still speechless with amazement, the door
opened and a goodly company of knights and ladies
entered, each carrying a cat's skin! They hastened with
every sign of joy to the Princess, kissing her hand and
congratulating her on being once more restored to her
natural shape. She received them graciously, but after a
few minutes begged that they would leave her alone with
the Prince, to whom she said:
"You see, Prince, that you were right in supposing me
to be no ordinary cat. My father reigned over six
kingdoms. The Queen, my mother, whom he loved dearly,
had a passion for traveling and exploring, and when I was
only a few weeks old she obtained his permission to visit
a certain mountain of which she had heard many marvelous
tales, and set out, taking with her a number of her
attendants. On the way they had to pass near an old
castle belonging to the fairies. Nobody had ever been
into it, but it was reported to be full of the most wonderful
things, and my mother remembered to have heard that
the fairies had in their garden such fruits as were to be
seen and tasted nowhere else. She began to wish to try
them for herself, and turned her steps in the direction of
the garden. On arriving at the door, which blazed with
gold and jewels, she ordered her servants to knock loudly,
but it was useless; it seemed as if all the inhabitants of the
castle must be asleep or dead. Now the more difficult it
became to obtain the fruit, the more the Queen was
determined that have it she would. So she ordered that they
should bring ladders, and get over the wall into the garden;
but though the wall did not look very high, and they tied
the ladders together to make them very long, it was quite
impossible to get to the top.
"The Queen was in despair, but as night was coming on
she ordered that they should encamp just where they
were, and went to bed herself, feeling quite ill, she was so
disappointed. In the middle of the night she was suddenly
awakened, and saw to her surprise a tiny, ugly old
woman seated by her bedside, who said to her:
"`I must say that we consider it somewhat troublesome
of your Majesty to insist upon tasting our fruit; but
to save you annoyance, my sisters and I will consent to
give you as much as you can carry away, on one condition
--that is, that you shall give us your little daughter to
bring up as our own.'
"`Ah! my dear madam,' cried the Queen, `is there nothing
else that you will take for the fruit? I will give you
my kingdoms willingly.'
"`No,' replied the old fairy, `we will have nothing but
your little daughter. She shall be as happy as the day is
long, and we will give her everything that is worth having
in fairy-land, but you must not see her again until she is
"`Though it is a hard condition,' said the Queen, `I
consent, for I shall certainly die if I do not taste the fruit,
and so I should lose my little daughter either way.'
"So the old fairy led her into the castle, and, though it
was still the middle of the night, the Queen could see
plainly that it was far more beautiful than she had been
told, which you can easily believe, Prince," said the
White Cat, "when I tell you that it was this castle that
we are now in. `Will you gather the fruit yourself,
Queen?' said the old fairy, `or shall I call it to come to
"`I beg you to let me see it come when it is called,'
cried the Queen; `that will be something quite new.' The
old fairy whistled twice, then she cried:
"`Apricots, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, pears,
melons, grapes, apples, oranges, lemons, gooseberries,
strawberries, raspberries, come!'
"And in an instant they came tumbling in one over
another, and yet they were neither dusty nor spoilt, and
the Queen found them quite as good as she had fancied
them. You see they grew upon fairy trees.
"The old fairy gave her golden baskets in which to take
the fruit away, and it was as much as four hundred mules
could carry. Then she reminded the Queen of her agreement,
and led her back to the camp, and next morning
she went back to her kingdom, but before she had gone
very far she began to repent of her bargain, and when the
King came out to meet her she looked so sad that he
guessed that something had happened, and asked what
was the matter. At first the Queen was afraid to tell him,
but when, as soon as they reached the palace, five frightful
little dwarfs were sent by the fairies to fetch me, she
was obliged to confess what she had promised. The
King was very angry, and had the Queen and myself shut
up in a great tower and safely guarded, and drove the
little dwarfs out of his kingdom; but the fairies sent a
great dragon who ate up all the people he met, and whose
breath burnt up everything as he passed through the
country; and at last, after trying in vain to rid himself of
this monster, the King, to save his subjects, was obliged
to consent that I should be given up to the fairies. This
time they came themselves to fetch me, in a chariot of
pearl drawn by sea-horses, followed by the dragon, who
was led with chains of diamonds. My cradle was placed
between the old fairies, who loaded me with caresses, and
away we whirled through the air to a tower which they
had built on purpose for me. There I grew up surrounded
with everything that was beautiful and rare, and learning
everything that is ever taught to a princess, but without
any companions but a parrot and a little dog, who could
both talk; and receiving every day a visit from one of the
old fairies, who came mounted upon the dragon. One
day, however, as I sat at my window I saw a handsome
young prince, who seemed to have been hunting in the
forest which surrounded my prison, and who was standing
and looking up at me. When he saw that I observed him
he saluted me with great deference. You can imagine
that I was delighted to have some one new to talk to, and
in spite of the height of my window our conversation was
prolonged till night fell, then my prince reluctantly bade
me farewell. But after that he came again many times
and at last I consented to marry him, but the question
was how was I to escape from my tower. The fairies
always supplied me with flax for my spinning, and by
great diligence I made enough cord for a ladder that would
reach to the foot of the tower; but, alas! just as my prince
was helping me to descend it, the crossest and ugliest of
the old fairies flew in. Before he had time to defend
himself my unhappy lover was swallowed up by the dragon.
As for me, the fairies, furious at having their plans
defeated, for they intended me to marry the king of the
dwarfs, and I utterly refused, changed me into a white
cat. When they brought me here I found all the lords
and ladies of my father's court awaiting me under the
same enchantment, while the people of lesser rank had
been made invisible, all but their hands.
"As they laid me under the enchantment the fairies
told me all my history, for until then I had quite believed
that I was their child, and warned me that my only
chance of regaining my natural form was to win the love
of a prince who resembled in every way my unfortunate
"And you have won it, lovely Princess," interrupted
"You are indeed wonderfully like him," resumed the
Princess--"in voice, in features, and everything; and if
you really love me all my troubles will be at an end."
"And mine too," cried the Prince, throwing himself at
her feet, "if you will consent to marry me."
"I love you already better than anyone in the world,"
she said; "but now it is time to go back to your father, and
we shall hear what he says about it."
So the Prince gave her his hand and led her out, and
they mounted the chariot together; it was even more
splendid than before, and so was the whole company.
Even the horses' shoes were of rubies with diamond nails,
and I suppose that is the first time such a thing was ever
As the Princess was as kind and clever as she was
beautiful, you may imagine what a delightful journey the
Prince found it, for everything the Princess said seemed
to him quite charming.
When they came near the castle where the brothers
were to meet, the Princess got into a chair carried by four
of the guards; it was hewn out of one splendid crystal, and
had silken curtains, which she drew round her that she
might not be seen.
The Prince saw his brothers walking upon the terrace,
each with a lovely princess, and they came to meet him,
asking if he had also found a wife. He said that he had
found something much rarer--a white cat! At which they
laughed very much, and asked him if he was afraid of
being eaten up by mice in the palace. And then they set
out together for the town. Each prince and princess rode
in a splendid carriage; the horses were decked with plumes
of feathers, and glittered with gold. After them came the
youngest prince, and last of all the crystal chair, at which
everybody looked with admiration and curiosity. When
the courtiers saw them coming they hastened to tell the
"Are the ladies beautiful?" he asked anxiously.
And when they answered that nobody had ever before
seen such lovely princesses he seemed quite annoyed.
However, he received them graciously, but found it
impossible to choose between them.
Then turning to his youngest son he said:
"Have you come back alone, after all?"
"Your Majesty," replied the Prince, "will find in that
crystal chair a little white cat, which has such soft paws,
and mews so prettily, that I am sure you will be charmed
The King smiled, and went to draw back the curtains
himself, but at a touch from the Princess the crystal
shivered into a thousand splinters, and there she stood in
all her beauty; her fair hair floated over her shoulders and
was crowned with flowers, and her softly falling robe was
of the purest white. She saluted the King gracefully,
while a murmur of admiration rose from all around.
"Sire," she said, "I am not come to deprive you of the
throne you fill so worthily. I have already six kingdoms,
permit me to bestow one upon you, and upon each of your
sons. I ask nothing but your friendship, and your consent
to my marriage with your youngest son; we shall still have
three kingdoms left for ourselves."
The King and all the courtiers could not conceal their
joy and astonishment, and the marriage of the three
Princes was celebrated at once. The festivities lasted
several months, and then each king and queen departed to
their own kingdom and lived happily ever after.
 La Chatte blanche. Par Madame la Comtesse d'Aulnoy.
THE WATER-LILY. THE GOLD-SPINNERS
ONCE upon a time, in a large forest, there lived an old
woman and three maidens. They were all three beautiful,
but the youngest was the fairest. Their hut was quite
hidden by trees, and none saw their beauty but the sun
by day, and the moon by night, and the eyes of the stars.
The old woman kept the girls hard at work, from morning
till night, spinning gold flax into yarn, and when one
distaff was empty another was given them, so they had
no rest. The thread had to be fine and even, and when
done was locked up in a secret chamber by the old woman,
who twice or thrice every summer went a journey.
Before she went she gave out work for each day of her
absence, and always returned in the night, so that the
girls never saw what she brought back with her, neither
would she tell them whence the gold flax came, nor what
it was to be used for.
Now, when the time came round for the old woman to
set out on one of these journeys, she gave each maiden
work for six days, with the usual warning: "Children,
don't let your eyes wander, and on no account speak to a
man, for, if you do, your thread will lose its brightness,
and misfortunes of all kinds will follow." They laughed
at this oft-repeated caution, saying to each other: "How
can our gold thread lose its brightness, and have we any
chance of speaking to a man?"
On the third day after the old woman's departure a
young prince, hunting in the forest, got separated from
his companions, and completely lost. Weary of seeking
his way, he flung himself down under a tree, leaving his
horse to browse at will, and fell asleep.
The sun had set when he awoke and began once more
to try and find his way out of the forest. At last he
perceived a narrow foot-path, which he eagerly followed and
found that it led him to a small hut. The maidens, who
were sitting at the door of their hut for coolness, saw him
approaching, and the two elder were much alarmed, for
they remembered the old woman's warning; but the
youngest said: "Never before have I seen anyone like
him; let me have one look." They entreated her to come
in, but, seeing that she would not, left her, and the Prince,
coming up, courteously greeted the maiden, and told her
he had lost his way in the forest and was both hungry and
weary. She set food before him, and was so delighted
with his conversation that she forgot the old woman's
caution, and lingered for hours. In the meantime the
Prince's companions sought him far and wide, but to no
purpose, so they sent two messengers to tell the sad news
to the King, who immediately ordered a regiment of
cavalry and one of infantry to go and look for him.
After three days' search, they found the hut. The
Prince was still sitting by the door and had been so happy
in the maiden's company that the time had seemed like
a single hour. Before leaving he promised to return and
fetch her to his father's court, where he would make her
his bride. When he had gone, she sat down to her wheel
to make up for lost time, but was dismayed to find that
her thread had lost all its brightness. Her heart beat fast
and she wept bitterly, for she remembered the old
woman's warning and knew not what misfortune might now
The old woman returned in the night and knew by the
tarnished thread what had happened in her absence. She
was furiously angry and told the maiden that she had
brought down misery both on herself and on the Prince.
The maiden could not rest for thinking of this. At last
she could bear it no longer, and resolved to seek help from
As a child she had learned to understand the speech of
birds, and this was now of great use to her, for, seeing a
raven pluming itself on a pine bough, she cried softly to
it: "Dear bird, cleverest of all birds, as well as swiftest
on wing, wilt thou help me?" "How can I help thee?"
asked the raven. She answered: "Fly away, until thou
comest to a splendid town, where stands a king's palace;
seek out the king's son and tell him that a great misfortune
has befallen me." Then she told the raven how her
thread had lost its brightness, how terribly angry the old
woman was, and how she feared some great disaster. The
raven promised faithfully to do her bidding, and, spreading
its wings, flew away. The maiden now went home and
worked hard all day at winding up the yarn her elder
sisters had spun, for the old woman would let her spin no
longer. Toward evening she heard the raven's "craa,
craa," from the pine tree and eagerly hastened thither to
hear the answer.
By great good fortune the raven had found a wind
wizard's son in the palace garden, who understood the
speech of birds, and to him he had entrusted the message.
When the Prince heard it, he was very sorrowful, and took
counsel with his friends how to free the maiden. Then he
said to the wind wizard's son: "Beg the raven to fly
quickly back to the maiden and tell her to be ready on the
ninth night, for then will I come and fetch her away."
The wind wizard's son did this, and the raven flew so
swiftly that it reached the hut that same evening. The
maiden thanked the bird heartily and went home, telling
no one what she had heard.
As the ninth night drew near she became very unhappy,
for she feared lest some terrible mischance should arise
and ruin all. On this night she crept quietly out of the
house and waited trembling at some little distance from
the hut. Presently she heard the muffled tramp of horses,
and soon the armed troop appeared, led by the Prince,
who had prudently marked all the trees beforehand, in
order to know the way. When he saw the maiden he
sprang from his horse, lifted her into the saddle, and then,
mounting behind, rode homeward. The moon shone so
brightly that they had no difficulty in seeing the marked
By and by the coming of dawn loosened the tongues of
all the birds, and, had the Prince only known what they
were saying, or the maiden been listening, they might
have been spared much sorrow, but they were thinking
only of each other, and when they came out of the forest
the sun was high in the heavens.
Next morning, when the youngest girl did not come to
her work, the old woman asked where she was. The
sisters pretended not to know, but the old woman easily
guessed what had happened, and, as she was in reality a
wicked witch, determined to punish the fugitives.
Accordingly, she collected nine different kinds of enchanters'
nightshade, added some salt, which she first bewitched,
and, doing all up in a cloth into the shape of a fluffy ball,
sent it after them on the wings of the wind, saying:
"Whirlwind!--mother of the wind!
Lend thy aid 'gainst her who sinned!
Carry with thee this magic ball.
Cast her from his arms for ever,
Bury her in the rippling river."
At midday the Prince and his men came to a deep
river, spanned by so narrow a bridge that only one rider
could cross at a time. The horse on which the Prince and
the maiden were riding had just reached the middle when
the magic ball flew by. The horse in its fright suddenly
reared, and before anyone could stop it flung the maiden
into the swift current below. The Prince tried to jump
in after her, but his men held him back, and in spite of his
struggles led him home, where for six weeks he shut himself
up in a secret chamber, and would neither eat nor
drink, so great was his grief. At last he became so ill his
life was despaired of, and in great alarm the King caused
all the wizards of his country to be summoned. But none
could cure him. At last the wind wizard's son said to the
King: "Send for the old wizard from Finland he knows
more than all the wizards of your kingdom put together."
A messenger was at once sent to Finland, and a week later
the old wizard himself arrived on the wings of the wind.
"Honored King," said the wizard, "the wind has blown
this illness upon your son, and a magic ball has snatched
away his beloved. This it is which makes him grieve so
constantly. Let the wind blow upon him that it may blow
away his sorrow." Then the King made his son go out
into the wind, and he gradually recovered and told his
father all. "Forget the maiden," said the King, "and take
another bride"; but the Prince said he could never love
A year afterward he came suddenly upon the bridge
where his beloved met her death. As he recalled the
misfortune he wept bitterly, and would have given all he
possessed to have her once more alive. In the midst of his
grief he thought he heard a voice singing, and looked
round, but could see no one. Then he heard the voice
again, and it said:
"Alas! bewitched and all forsaken,
'Tis I must lie for ever here!
My beloved no thought has taken
To free his bride, that was so dear."
He was greatly astonished, sprang from his horse, and
looked everywhere to see if no one were hidden under the
bridge; but no one was there. Then he noticed a yellow
water-lily floating on the surface of the water, half hidden
by its broad leaves; but flowers do not sing, and in great
surprise he waited, hoping to hear more. Then again the
"Alas! bewitched and all forsaken,
'Tis I must lie for ever here!
My beloved no thought has taken
To free his bride, that was so dear."
The Prince suddenly remembered the gold-spinners, and
said to himself: "If I ride thither, who knows but that
they could explain this to me?" He at once rode to the
hut, and found the two maidens at the fountain. He told
them what had befallen their sister the year before, and
how he had twice heard a strange song, but yet could see
no singer. They said that the yellow water-lily could be
none other than their sister, who was not dead, but
transformed by the magic ball. Before he went to bed, the
eldest made a cake of magic herbs, which she gave him to
eat. In the night he dreamed that he was living in the
forest and could understand all that the birds said to each
other. Next morning he told this to the maidens, and
they said that the charmed cake had caused it, and
advised him to listen well to the birds, and see what they
could tell him, and when he had recovered his bride they
begged him to return and deliver them from their
Having promised this, he joyfully returned home, and
as he was riding through the forest he could perfectly
understand all that the birds said. He heard a thrush say
to a magpie: "How stupid men are! they cannot understand
the simplest thing. It is now quite a year since the
maiden was transformed into a water-lily, and, though
she sings so sadly that anyone going over the bridge must
hear her, yet no one comes to her aid. Her former bridegroom
rode over it a few days ago and heard her singing,
but was no wiser than the rest."
"And he is to blame for all her misfortunes," added the
magpie. "If he heeds only the words of men she will remain
a flower for ever. She were soon delivered were the
matter only laid before the old wizard of Finland."
After hearing this, the Prince wondered how he could
get a message conveyed to Finland. He heard one swallow
say to another: "Come, let us fly to Finland; we can build
better nests there."
"Stop, kind friends!" cried the Prince. "Will you do
something for me?" The birds consented, and he said:
"Take a thousand greetings from me to the wizard of
Finland, and ask him how I may restore a maiden transformed
into a flower to her own form."
The swallows flew away, and the Prince rode on to the
bridge. There he waited, hoping to hear the song. But
he heard nothing but the rushing of the water and the
moaning of the wind, and, disappointed, rode home.
Shortly after, he was sitting in the garden, thinking
that the swallows must have forgotten his message, when
he saw an eagle flying above him. The bird gradually
descended until it perched on a tree close to the Prince
and said: "The wizard of Finland greets thee and bids me
say that thou mayest free the maiden thus: Go to the river
and smear thyself all over with mud; then say: `From a
man into a crab,' and thou wilt become a crab. Plunge
boldly into the water, swim as close as thou canst to the
water-lily's roots, and loosen them from the mud and
reeds. This done, fasten thy claws into the roots and
rise with them to the surface. Let the water flow all over
the flower, and drift with the current until thou comest to
a mountain ash tree on the left bank. There is near it a
large stone. Stop there and say: `From a crab into a man,
from a water-lily into a maiden,' and ye both will be
restored to your own forms."
Full of doubt and fear, the Prince let some time pass
before he was bold enough to attempt to rescue the
maiden. Then a crow said to him: "Why dost thou hesitate?
The old wizard has not told thee wrong, neither
have the birds deceived thee; hasten and dry the maiden's
"Nothing worse than death can befall me," thought the
Prince, "and death is better than endless sorrow." So he
mounted his horse and went to the bridge. Again he
heard the water-lily's lament, and, hesitating no longer,
smeared himself all over with mud, and, saying: "From a
man into a crab," plunged into the river. For one moment
the water hissed in his ears, and then all was silent. He
swam up to the plant and began to loosen its roots, but so
firmly were they fixed in the mud and reeds that this took
him a long time. He then grasped them and rose to the
surface, letting the water flow over the flower. The current
carried them down the stream, but nowhere could he
see the mountain ash. At last he saw it, and close by the
large stone. Here he stopped and said: "From a crab into
a man, from a water-lily into a maiden," and to his
delight found himself once more a prince, and the maiden
was by his side. She was ten times more beautiful than
before, and wore a magnificent pale yellow robe, sparkling
with jewels. She thanked him for having freed her
from the cruel witch's power, and willingly consented to
But when they came to the bridge where he had left his
horse it was nowhere to be seen, for, though the Prince
thought he had been a crab only a few hours, he had in
reality been under the water for more than ten days.
While they were wondering how they should reach his
father's court, they saw a splendid coach driven by six
gaily caparisoned horses coming along the bank. In this
they drove to the palace. The King and Queen were at
church, weeping for their son, whom they had long
mourned for dead. Great was their delight and astonishment
when the Prince entered, leading the beautiful
maiden by the hand. The wedding was at once celebrated
and there was feasting and merry-making throughout the
kingdom for six weeks.
Some time afterward the Prince and his bride were
sitting in the garden, when a crow said to them:
"Ungrateful creatures! Have you forgotten the two poor
maidens who helped you in your distress? Must they
spin gold flax for ever? Have no pity on the old witch.
The three maidens are princesses, whom she stole away
when they were children together, with all the silver
utensils, which she turned into gold flax. Poison were her
The Prince was ashamed of having forgotten his promise
and set out at once, and by great good fortune reached
the hut when the old woman was away. The maidens had
dreamed that he was coming, and were ready to go with
him, but first they made a cake in which they put poison,
and left it on a table where the old woman was likely to
see it when she returned. She DID see it, and thought it
looked so tempting that she greedily ate it up and at once
In the secret chamber were found fifty wagon-loads of
gold flax, and as much more was discovered buried. The
hut was razed to the ground, and the Prince and his bride
and her two sisters lived happily ever after.
THE TERRIBLE HEAD
ONCE upon a time there was a king whose only child
was a girl. Now the King had been very anxious to have
a son, or at least a grandson, to come after him, but he
was told by a prophet whom he consulted that his own
daughter's son should kill him. This news terrified him
so much that he determined never to let his daughter be
married, for he thought it was better to have no grandson
at all than to be killed by his grandson. He therefore
called his workmen together, and bade them dig a deep
round hole in the earth, and then he had a prison of brass
built in the hole, and then, when it was finished, he locked
up his daughter. No man ever saw her, and she never
saw even the fields and the sea, but only the sky and the
sun, for there was a wide open window in the roof of the
house of brass. So the Princess would sit looking up at
the sky, and watching the clouds float across, and wondering
whether she should ever get out of her prison. Now
one day it seemed to her that the sky opened above her,
and a great shower of shining gold fell through the window
in the roof, and lay glittering in her room. Not very
long after, the Princess had a baby, a little boy, but when
the King her father heard of it he was very angry and
afraid, for now the child was born that should be his
death. Yet, cowardly as he was, he had not quite the
heart to kill the Princess and her baby outright, but he
had them put in a huge brass-bound chest and thrust
out to sea, that they might either be drowned or starved,
or perhaps come to a country where they would be out of
So the Princess and the baby floated and drifted in the
chest on the sea all day and night, but the baby was not
afraid of the waves nor of the wind, for he did not know
that they could hurt him, and he slept quite soundly.
And the Princess sang a song over him, and this was her
"Child, my child, how sound you sleep!
Though your mother's care is deep,
You can lie with heart at rest
In the narrow brass-bound chest;
In the starless night and drear
You can sleep, and never hear
Billows breaking, and the cry
Of the night-wind wandering by;
In soft purple mantle sleeping
With your little face on mine,
Hearing not your mother weeping
And the breaking of the brine."
Well, the daylight came at last, and the great chest was
driven by the waves against the shore of an island. There
the brass-bound chest lay, with the Princess and her
baby in it, till a man of that country came past, and saw
it, and dragged it on to the beach, and when he had
broken it open, behold! there was a beautiful lady and a
little boy. So he took them home, and was very kind to
them, and brought up the boy till he was a young man.
Now when the boy had come to his full strength the King
of that country fell in love with his mother, and wanted
to marry her, but he knew that she would never part
from her boy. So he thought of a plan to get rid of the
boy, and this was his plan: A great Queen of a country not
far off was going to be married, and this king said that all
his subjects must bring him wedding presents to give her.
And he made a feast to which he invited them all, and
they all brought their presents; some brought gold cups,
and some brought necklaces of gold and amber, and some
brought beautiful horses; but the boy had nothing, though
he was the son of a princess, for his mother had nothing to
give him. Then the rest of the company began to laugh
at him, and the King said: "If you have nothing else to
give, at least you might go and fetch the Terrible Head."
The boy was proud, and spoke without thinking:
"Then I swear that I WILL bring the Terrible Head, if it
may be brought by a living man. But of what head you
speak I know not."
Then they told him that somewhere, a long way off,
there dwelt three dreadful sisters, monstrous ogrish
women, with golden wings and claws of brass, and with
serpents growing on their heads instead of hair. Now these
women were so awful to look on that whoever saw them
was turned at once into stone. And two of them could
not be put to death, but the youngest, whose face was
very beautiful, could be killed, and it was HER head that
the boy had promised to bring. You may imagine it was
no easy adventure.
When he heard all this he was perhaps sorry that he had
sworn to bring the Terrible Head, but he was determined
to keep his oath. So he went out from the feast, where
they all sat drinking and making merry, and he walked
alone beside the sea in the dusk of the evening, at the
place where the great chest, with himself and his mother
in it, had been cast ashore.
There he went and sat down on a rock, looking toward
the sea, and wondering how he should begin to fulfill his
vow. Then he felt some one touch him on the shoulder;
and he turned, and saw a young man like a king's son,
having with him a tall and beautiful lady, whose blue eyes
shone like stars. They were taller than mortal men, and
the young man had a staff in his hand with golden wings
on it, and two golden serpents twisted round it, and he
had wings on his cap and on his shoes. He spoke to the
boy, and asked him why he was so unhappy; and the boy
told him how he had sworn to bring the Terrible Head,
and knew not how to begin to set about the adventure.
Then the beautiful lady also spoke, and said that "it
was a foolish oath and a hasty, but it might be kept if a
brave man had sworn it." Then the boy answered that
he was not afraid, if only he knew the way.
Then the lady said that to kill the dreadful woman with
the golden wings and the brass claws, and to cut off her
head, he needed three things: first, a Cap of Darkness,
which would make him invisible when he wore it; next,
a Sword of Sharpness, which would cleave iron at one
blow; and last, the Shoes of Swiftness, with which he
might fly in the air.
The boy answered that he knew not where such things
were to be procured, and that, wanting them, he could
only try and fail. Then the young man, taking off his
own shoes, said: "First, you shall use these shoes till you
have taken the Terrible Head, and then you must give
them back to me. And with these shoes you will fly as
fleet as a bird, or a thought, over the land or over the
waves of the sea, wherever the shoes know the way. But
there are ways which they do not know, roads beyond the
borders of the world. And these roads have you to travel.
Now first you must go to the Three Gray Sisters, who live
far off in the north, and are so very cold that they have
only one eye and one tooth among the three. You must
creep up close to them, and as one of them passes the eye
to the other you must seize it, and refuse to give it up till
they have told you the way to the Three Fairies of the
Garden, and THEY will give you the Cap of Darkness and
the Sword of Sharpness, and show you how to wing beyond
this world to the land of the Terrible Head."
Then the beautiful lady said: "Go forth at once, and do
not return to say good-by to your mother, for these things
must be done quickly, and the Shoes of Swiftness themselves
will carry you to the land of the Three Gray Sisters
--for they know the measure of that way."
So the boy thanked her, and he fastened on the Shoes
of Swiftness, and turned to say good-by to the young man
and the lady. But, behold! they had vanished, he knew
not how or where! Then he leaped in the air to try the
Shoes of Swiftness, and they carried him more swiftly
than the wind, over the warm blue sea, over the happy
lands of the south, over the northern peoples who drank
mare's milk and lived in great wagons, wandering after
their flocks. Across the wide rivers, where the wild fowl
rose and fled before him, and over the plains and the cold
North Sea he went, over the fields of snow and the hills of
ice, to a place where the world ends, and all water is frozen,
and there are no men, nor beasts, nor any green grass.
There in a blue cave of the ice he found the Three Gray
Sisters, the oldest of living things. Their hair was as white
as the snow, and their flesh of an icy blue, and they
mumbled and nodded in a kind of dream, and their frozen
breath hung round them like a cloud. Now the opening
of the cave in the ice was narrow, and it was not easy to
pass in without touching one of the Gray Sisters. But,
floating on the Shoes of Swiftness, the boy just managed
to steal in, and waited till one of the sisters said to another,
who had their one eye:
"Sister, what do you see? do you see old times coming
"Then give ME the eye, for perhaps I can see farther
Then the first sister passed the eye to the second, but
as the second groped for it the boy caught it cleverly out
of her hand.
"Where is the eye, sister?" said the second gray woman.
"You have taken it yourself, sister," said the first gray woman.
"Have you lost the eye, sister? have you lost the eye?"
said the third gray woman; "shall we NEVER find it again,
and see old times coming back?"
Then the boy slipped from behind them out of the cold
cave into the air, and he laughed aloud.
When the gray women heard that laugh they began to
weep, for now they knew that a stranger had robbed
them, and that they could not help themselves, and their
tears froze as they fell from the hollows where no eyes
were, and rattled on the icy ground of the cave. Then they
began to implore the boy to give them their eye back
again, and he could not help being sorry for them, they
were so pitiful. But he said he would never give them the
eye till they told him the way to the Fairies of the Garden.
Then they wrung their hands miserably, for they
guessed why he had come, and how he was going to try
to win the Terrible Head. Now the Dreadful Women
were akin to the Three Gray Sisters, and it was hard for
them to tell the boy the way. But at last they told him
to keep always south, and with the land on his left and
the sea on his right, till he reached the Island of the Fairies
of the Garden. Then he gave them back the eye, and they
began to look out once more for the old times coming back
again. But the boy flew south between sea and land,
keeping the land always on his left hand, till he saw a
beautiful island crowned with flowering trees. There he
alighted, and there he found the Three Fairies of the
Garden. They were like three very beautiful young women,
dressed one in green, one in white, and one in red,
and they were dancing and singing round an apple tree
with apples of gold, and this was their song:
THE SONG OF THE WESTERN FAIRIES
Round and round the apples of gold,
Round and round dance we;
Thus do we dance from the days of old
About the enchanted tree;
Round, and round, and round we go,
While the spring is green, or the stream shall flow,
Or the wind shall stir the sea!
There is none may taste of the golden fruit
Till the golden new time come
Many a tree shall spring from shoot,
Many a blossom be withered at root,
Many a song be dumb;
Broken and still shall be many a lute
Or ever the new times come!
Round and round the tree of gold,
Round and round dance we,
So doth the great world spin from of old,
Summer and winter, and fire and cold,
Song that is sung, and tale that is told,
Even as we dance, that fold and unfold
Round the stem of the fairy tree!
These grave dancing fairies were very unlike the Grey
Women, and they were glad to see the boy, and treated
him kindly. Then they asked him why he had come; and
he told them how he was sent to find the Sword of Sharpness
and the Cap of Darkness. And the fairies gave him
these, and a wallet, and a shield, and belted the sword,
which had a diamond blade, round his waist, and the cap
they set on his head, and told him that now even they
could not see him though they were fairies. Then he