Part 3 out of 8
he had a cellar full of beer and old wine, three hundred barrels of
each kind, which he would have him drink first.
"I don't mind your having my daughter if you can drink them up by this
time to-morrow," said the king.
"I suppose I must try," said Ashiepattle, "but perhaps you don't mind
my taking one of my crew with me?"
"Yes, you may do that," said the king, for he was quite sure there was
too much beer and wine even for all seven of them. Ashiepattle took
with him the one who was always sucking the bung and was always
thirsty; and the king then shut them down in the cellar.
There the thirsty one drank barrel after barrel, as long as there was
any left, but in the last barrel he left a couple of pints to each of
In the morning the cellar was opened and Ashiepattle went at once to
the king and said he had finished the beer and wine, and now he
supposed he could have the princess as the king had promised.
"Well, I must first go down to the cellar and see," said the king, for
he could not believe it; but when he got there he found nothing but
But Ashiepattle was both black and sooty and the king thought it
wouldn't do for him to have such a son in law. So he said that if
Ashiepattle could get water from the end of the world in ten minutes
for the princess's tea, he could have both her and half the kingdom;
for he thought that task would be quite impossible.
"I suppose I must try," said Ashiepattle, and sent for the one of his
crew who jumped about on one leg and had seven ton weights on the
other, and told him he must take off the weights and use his legs as
quickly as he could, for he must have water from the end of the world
for the princess's tea in ten minutes.
So he took off the weights, got a bucket, and set off, and the next
moment he was out of sight. But they waited and waited and still he
did not return. At last it wanted but three minutes to the time and
the king became as pleased as if he had won a big wager.
Then Ashiepattle called the one who could hear the grass grow and told
him to listen and find out what had become of their companion.
"He has fallen asleep at the well"," said he who could hear the grass
grow; "I can hear him snoring, and a troll is scratching his head."
Ashiepattle then called the one who could shoot to the end of the world
and told him to send a bullet into the troll; he did so and hit the
troll right in the eye. The troll gave such a yell that he woke the
man who had come to fetch the water for the tea, and when he returned
to the palace there was still one minute left out of the ten.
Ashiepattle went straight to the king and said: "Here is the water;"
and now he supposed he could have the princess, for surely the king
would not make any more fuss about it now. But the king thought that
Ashiepattle was just as black and sooty as ever, and did not like to
have him for a son-in-law; so he said he had three hundred fathoms of
wood with which he was going to dry corn in the bakehouse, and he
wouldn't mind Ashiepattle having his daughter if he would first sit in
the bakehouse and burn all the wood; he should then have the princess,
and that without fail.
"I suppose I must try," said Ashiepattle; "but perhaps you don't mind
my taking one of my crew with me?"
"Oh, no, you can take all six," said the king, for he thought it would
be warm enough for all of them.
Ashiepattle took with him the one who had fifteen winters and seven
summers in his body, and in the evening he went across to the
bakehouse: but the king had piled up so much wood on the fire that you
might almost have melted iron in the room. They could not get out of
it, for no sooner were they inside than the king fastened the bolt and
put a couple of padlocks on the door besides. Ashiepattle then said to
"You had better let out six or seven winters, so that we may get
something like summer weather here."
They were then just able to exist, but during the night it got cold
again and Ashiepattle then told the man to let out a couple of summers,
and so they slept far into the next day. But when they heard the king
outside Ashiepattle said:
"You must let out a couple more winters, but you must manage it so that
the last winter you let out strikes the king right in the face."
He did so, and when the king opened the door, expecting to find
Ashiepattle and his companion burned to cinders, he saw them huddling
together and shivering with cold till their teeth chattered. The same
instant Ashiepattle's companion with the fifteen winters in his body
let loose the last one right in the king's face, which swelled up into
a big chilblain.
"Can I have the princess now?" asked Ashiepattle
"Yes, take her and keep her and the kingdom into the bargain," said the
king, who dared not refuse any longer. And so the wedding took place
and they feasted and made merry and fired off guns and powder.
While the people were running about searching for wadding for their
guns, they took me instead, gave me some porridge in a bottle and some
milk in a basket, and fired me right across here, so that I could tell
you how it all happened.
THE SQUIRE'S BRIDE
By P. C. Asbjˆrnsen
ONCE UPON a time there was a rich squire who owned a large farm, and
had plenty of silver at the bottom of his chest and money in the bank
besides; but he felt there was something wanting, for he was a widower.
One day the daughter of a neighboring farmer was working for him in the
hayfield. The squire saw her and liked her very much, and as she was
the child of poor parents he thought if he only hinted that he wanted
her she would be ready to marry him at once.
So he told her he had been thinking of getting married again.
"Aye! one may think of many things," said the girl, laughing slyly.
In her opinion the old fellow ought to be thinking of something that
behooved him better than getting married.
"Well, you see, I thought that you should be my wife!"
"No, thank you all the same," said she, "that's not at all likely."
The squire was not accustomed to be gainsaid, and the more she refused
him the more determined he was to get her.
But as he made no progress in her favor he sent for her father and told
him that if he could arrange the matter with his daughter he would
forgive him the money he had lent him, and he would also give him the
piece of land which lay close to his meadow into the bargain.
"Yes, you may be sure I'll bring my daughter to her senses," said the
father. "She is only a child, and she doesn't know what's best for
her." But all his coaxing and talking did not help matters. She would
not have the squire, she said, if he sat buried in gold up to his ears.
The squire waited day after day, but at last he became so angry and
impatient that he told the father, if he expected him to stand by his
promise, he would have to put his foot down and settle the matter now,
for he would not wait any longer.
The man knew no other way out of it but to let the squire get
everything ready for the wedding; and when the parson and the wedding
guests had arrived the squire should send for the girl as if she were
wanted for some work on the farm. When she arrived she would have to
be married right away, so that she would have no time to think it over.
The squire thought this was well and good, and so he began brewing and
baking and getting ready for the wedding in grand style. When the
guests had arrived the squire called one of his farm lads and told him
to run down to his neighbor and ask him to send him what he had
"But if you are not back in a twinkling," he said, shaking his fist at
He did not say more, for the lad ran off as if he had been shot at.
"My master has sent me to ask for that you promised him," said the lad,
when he got to the neighbor, "but there is no time to be lost, for he
is terribly busy to-day."
"Yes, yes! Run down into the meadow and take her with you. There she
goes!" answered the neighbor.
The lad ran off and when he came to the meadow he found the daughter
there raking the hay.
"I am to fetch what your father has promised my master," said the lad.
"Ah, ha!" thought she. "Is that what they are up to?"
"Ah, indeed!" she said. "I suppose it's that little bay mare of ours.
You had better go and take her. She stands there tethered on the other
side of the pea field," said the girl.
The boy jumped on the back of the bay mare and rode home at full
"Have you got her with you?" asked the squire.
"She is down at the door," said the lad.
"Take her up to the room my mother had," said the squire.
"But master, how can that be managed?" said the lad.
"You must just do as I tell you," said the squire. "If you cannot
manage her alone you must get the men to help you," for he thought the
girl might turn obstreperous.
When the lad saw his master's face he knew it would be no use to
gainsay him. So he went and got all the farm tenants who were there to
help him. Some pulled at the head and the forelegs of the mare and
others pushed from behind, and at last they got her up the stairs and
into the room. There lay all the wedding finery ready.
"Now, that's done master!" said the lad; "but it was a terrible job.
It was the worst I have ever had here on the farm.
"Never mind, you shall not have done it for nothing," said his master.
"Now send the women up to dress her."
"But I say master-!" said the lad.
"None of your talk!" said the squire. "Tell them they must dress her
and mind and not forget either wreath or crown.
The lad ran into the kitchen.
"Look here, lasses," he said; "you must go upstairs and dress up the
bay mare as bride. I expect the master wants to give the guests a
The women dressed the bay mare in everything that was there, and then
the lad went and told his master that now she was ready dressed, with
wreath and crown and all.
"Very well, bring her down!" said the squire. "I will receive her
myself at the door," said he.
There was a terrible clatter on the stairs; for that bride, you know,
had no silken shoes on.
When the door was opened and the squire's bride entered the parlor you
can imagine there was a good deal of tittering and grinning.
And as for the squire you may he sure line had had enough of that
bride, and they say he never went courting again.
THE DOLL IN THE GRASS
By P. C. Asbjˆrnsen
ONCE upon a time there was a king who had twelve sons. When they were
grown up he told them they must go out into the world and find
themselves wives, who must all be able to spin and weave and make a
shirt in one day, else he would not have them for daughters-in-law. He
gave each of his sons a horse and a new suit of armor, and so they set
out in the world to look for wives.
When they had traveled a bit on the way they said they would not take
Ashiepattle with them, for he was good for nothing. Ashiepattle must
stop behind; there was no help for it. He did not know what he should
do or which way he should turn; he became so sad that he got off the
horse and sat down on the grass and began to cry.
When he had sat a while one of the tussocks among the grass began to
move, and out of it came a small white figure; as it came nearer
Ashiepattle saw that it was a beautiful little girl, but she was so
tiny, so very, very tiny.
She went up to him and asked him if he would come below and pay a visit
to the doll in the grass.
Yes, that he would; and so he did. When he came down below, the doll
in the grass was sitting in a chair dressed very finely and looking
still more beautiful. She asked Ashiepattle where he was going and
what was his errand.
He told her they were twelve brothers, and that the king had given them
each a horse and a suit of armor, and told them to go out in the world
and find themselves wives, but they must all be able to spin and weave
and make a shirt in a day.
"If you can do that and will become my wife, I will not travel any
farther," said Ashiepattle to the doll in the grass.
Yes, that she would, and she set to work at once to get the shirt spun,
woven, and made; but it was so tiny, so very, very tiny, no bigger
Ashiepattle then returned home, taking the shirt with him; but when he
brought it out he felt very shy because it was so small. But the king
said he could have her for all that, and you can imagine how happy and
joyful Ashiepattle became.
The road did not seem long to him as he set out to fetch his little
sweetheart. When he came to the doll in the grass he wanted her to sit
with him on his horse; but no, that she wouldn't; she said she would
sit and drive in a silver spoon, and she had two small while horses
which would draw her. So they set out, he on his horse and she in the
silver spoon; and the horses which drew her were two small white mice.
Ashiepattle always kept to one side of the road, for he was so afraid
he should ride over her; she was so very, very tiny.
When they had traveled a bit on the way they came to a large lake;
there Ashiepattle's horse took fright and shied over to the other side
of the road, and upset the spoon, so that the doll in the grass fell
into the water. Ashiepattle became very sad, for he did not know how
he should get her out again; but after a while a merman brought her up.
But now she had become just as big as any other grown-up being and was
much more beautiful than she was before. So he placed her in front of
him on the horse and rode home.
When Ashiepattle got there all his brothers had also returned, each
with a sweetheart; but they were so ugly and ill-favored and bad-
tempered that they had come to blows with their sweethearts on their
way home. On their heads they had hats which were painted with tar and
soot, and this had run from their hats down their faces, so that they
were still uglier and more ill-favored to behold.
When the brothers saw Ashiepattle's sweetheart they all became envious
of him, but the king was so pleased with Ashiepattle and his sweetheart
that he drove all the others away, and so Ashiepattle was married to
the doll in the grass; and afterward they lived happy and comfortable
for a long, long while; and if they are not dead, they must be still
THE BEAR AND THE FOX
By P. C. Asbjˆrnsen
Once upon a time there was a bear, who sat on a sunny hillside taking a
nap. Just then a fox came slinking by and saw him.
"Aha! have I caught you napping, grandfather? See if I don't play you
a trick this time!" said Reynard to himself.
He then found three wood mice and laid them on a stump of a tree just
under the bear's nose.
"Boo! Bruin! Peter the hunter is just behind that stump!" shouted the
fox right into the bear's ear, and then took to his heels and made off
into the wood.
The bear woke at once, and when he saw the three mice he became so
angry that he lifted his paw and was just going to strike them, for he
thought it was they who had shouted in his ear.
But just then he saw Reynard's tail between the bushes and he set off
at such a speed that the branches crackled under him, and Bruin was
soon so close upon Reynard that he caught him by the right hind leg
just as be was running into a hole under a pine tree.
Reynard was now in a fix; but he was not to be outwitted, and he cried:
"Slip pine root, grip fox foot," and so the bear let go his hold; but
the fox laughed far down in the hole and said:
"I sold you that time, also, grandfather!"
"Out of sight is not out of mind!" said the bear, who was in a fine
The other morning, when Bruin came trudging across the moor with a fat
pig, Master Reynard was lying on a stone by the moorside.
"Good-day, grandfather!" said the fox. "What nice thing have you got
"Pork," said the bear.
"I have got something tasty as well," said the fox.
"What's that?" said the bear.
"It's the biggest bees' nest I ever found," said Reynard.
"Ah, indeed," said the bear, grinning, and his mouth began to water, he
thought a little honey would be so nice. "Shall we change victuals?"
"No, I won't do that," said Reynard. But they made a wager about
naming three kinds of trees. If the fox could say them quicker than
the bear he was to have one bite at the pig; but if the bear could say
them quicker he was to have one suck at the bee's nest. The bear
thought he would be able to suck all the honey up at one gulp.
"Well said the fox, "that's all well and good but if I win you must
promise to tear off the bristles where I want to have a bite," he said.
"Well, I suppose I must, since you are too lazy yourself," said the
Then they began to name the trees.
"Spruce, fir, pine," growled the bear. His voice was very gruff. But
all these were only different names of one kind of tree.
"Ash, aspen, oak," screeched the fox, so that the forest resounded. He
had thus won the bet, and so he jumped down, took the heart out of the
pig at one bite, and tried to run off. But the bear was angry, because
he had taken the best bit of the whole pig, and seized hold of him by
his tail and held him fast.
"Just wait a bit," said the bear, who was furious.
"Never mind, grandfather; if you'll let me go you shall have a taste of
my honey," said the fox.
When the bear heard this he let go his hold and the fox jumped up on
the stone after the honey.
"Over this nest," said Reynard, "I'll put a leaf, and in the leaf there
is a hole, through which you can suck the honey." He then put the nest
right up under the bear's nose, pulled away the leaf, jumped on to the
stone, and began grinning and laughing; for there was neither honey nor
honeycomb in the nest. It was a wasp's nest as big as a man's head,
full of wasps, and out they swarmed and stung the bear in his eyes and
ears and on his mouth and snout. He had so much to do with scratching
them off him that he had no the to think of Reynard.
Ever since the bear has been afraid of wasps.
Once the fox and the bear made up their minds to have a field in
common. They found a small clearing far away in the forest, where they
sowed rye the first year.
"Now we must share and share alike," said Reynard; "if you will have
the roots I will have the tops," he said.
Yes, Bruin was quite willing; but when they had thrashed the crop the
fox got all the corn, while the bear got nothing but the roots and
Bruin didn't like this, but the fox said it was only as they had
"This year I am the gainer," said the fox; "another year it will be
your turn; you can then have the tops and I will be satisfied with the
Next spring the fox asked the bear if he didn't think turnips would be
the right thing for that year.
"Yes, that's better food than corn," said the bear; and the fox thought
When the autumn came the fox took the turnips, but the bear only got
The bear then became so angry that he parted company then and there
One day the bear was lying eating a horse which he had killed. Reynard
was about again and came slinking along, his mouth watering for a tasty
bit of the horseflesh.
He sneaked in and out and round about till he came up behind the bear,
when he made a spring to the other side of the carcass, snatching a
piece as he jumped across.
The bear was not slow either; he made a dash after Reynard and caught
the tip of his red tail in his paw. Since that time the fox has always
had a white tip to his tail.
"Wait a bit Reynard, and come here," said the bear, "and I'll teach you
how to catch horses."
Yes, Reynard was quite willing to learn that, but he didn't trust
himself too near the bear.
"When you see a horse lying asleep in a sunny place," said the bear,
"you must tie yourself fast with the hair of his tail to your brush,
and then fasten your teeth in his thigh," he said.
Before long the fox found a horse lying asleep on a sunny hillside; and
so he did as the bear had told him; he knotted and tied himself well to
the horse with the hair of the tail and then fastened his teeth into
Up jumped the horse and began to kick and gallop so that Reynard was
dashed against stock and stone, and was so bruised and battered that he
nearly lost his senses.
All at once a hare rushed by. "Where are you off to in such a hurry,
Reynard?" said the hare.
"I'm having a ride, Bunny!" said the fox.
The hare sat up on his hind legs and laughed till the sides of his
mouth split right up to his ears, at the thought of Reynard having such
a grand ride; but since then the fox has never thought of catching
That time it was Bruin who for once had the better of Reynard;
otherwise they say the bear is as simple-minded as the trolls.
THE LAD WHO WENT TO THE NORTH WIND
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
Once upon a time there was an old widow who had one son, and she was
poorly and weak, her son had to go up into the safe to fetch meal for
cooking; but when he got outside the safe, and was just going down the
steps, there came the North Wind, puffing and blowing, caught up the
meal, and so away with it through the air. Then the lad went back into
the safe for more; but when he came out again on the steps, if the
North Wind didn't come again and carry off the meal with a puff; and
more than that, he did so the third time. At this the lad got very
angry; and as he thought it hard that the North Wind should behave so,
he thought he'd just look him up and ask him to give up his meal.
So off he went, but the way was long, and he walked and walked; but at
last he came to the North Wind's house.
"Good day!" said the lad, and "thank you for coming to see us
"GOOD DAY!" answered the North Wind, for his voice was loud and gruff,
"AND THANKS FOR COMING TO SEE ME. WHAT DO YOU WANT?"
"Oh!" answered the lad, "I only wished to ask you to be so good as to
let me have back that meal you took from me on the safe steps, for we
haven't much to live on; and if you're to go on snapping up the morsel
we have there'll be nothing for it but to starve."
"I haven't got your meal," said the North Wind; "but if you are in such
need, I'll give you a cloth which will get you everything you want, if
you only say, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good
With this the lad was well content. But, as the way was so long he
couldn't get home in one day, he stopped at an inn on the way; and when
they were going to sit down to supper, he laid the cloth on a table
which stood in the corner and said:
"Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes."
He had scarce said so before the cloth did as it was bid; and all who
stood by thought it a fine thing, but most of all the landlady. So,
when all were fast asleep, at dead of night, she took the lad's cloth,
and put another in its stead, just like the one he had got from the
North Wind, but which couldn't so much as serve up a bit of dry bread.
So when the lad awoke, he took his cloth and went off with it, and that
day he got home to his mother.
"Now," said he, "I've been to the North Wind's house, and a good fellow
he is, for he gave me this cloth, and when I only say to it, 'Cloth,
spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes,' I get any sort
of food I please."
"All very true, I dare say," said his mother, "but seeing is believing,
and I shan't believe it till I see it."
So the lad made haste, drew out a table, laid the cloth on it, and
said- "Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes."
But never a bit of dry bread did the cloth serve
"Well," said the lad, "there's no help for it but to go to the North
Wind again;" and away he went.
So late in the afternoon he came to where the North Wind lived.
"Good evening!" said the lad.
"Good evening!" said the North Wind. "I want my rights for that meal
of ours which you took," said the lad; "for, as for that cloth I got,
it isn't worth a penny."
"I've got no meal," said the North Wind; "but yonder you have a ram
which coins nothing but golden ducats as soon as you say to it-
"'Ram, ram! Make money!'"
So the lad thought this a fine thing; but as it was too far to get home
that day, he stopped for the night at the same inn where he had slept
Before he called for anything, he tried the truth of what the North
Wind had said of the ram, and found it all right; but when the landlord
saw that, he thought it was a famous ram, and, when the lad had fallen
asleep, he took another which couldn't coin gold ducats, and changed
Next morning off went the lad; and when he got home to his mother, he
said-"After all, the North Wind is a jolly fellow; for now he has given
me a ram which can coin golden ducats if I only say, 'Ram, ram! Make
"All very true, I dare say," said his mother; "but I shan't believe any
such stuff until I see the ducats made."
"Ram, ram! Make money!" said the lad; but the ram made no money.
So the lad went back again to the North Wind, and blew him up, and said
the ram was worth nothing, and he must have his rights for the meal.
"Well," said the North Wind, "I've nothing else to give you but that
old stick in the corner yonder; but it's a stick of that kind that if
you say- 'Stick, stick! lay on!' it lays on till you say, 'Stick,
stick! now stop!'
So, as the way was long the lad turned in this night, too, to the
landlord; but as he could pretty well guess how things stood as to the
cloth and the ram, he lay down at once on the bench and began to snore,
as if he were asleep.
Now the landlord, who easily saw that the stick must be worth
something, hunted up one which was like it, and when he heard the lad
snore, was going to change the two, but just as the landlord was about
to take it, the lad bawled out- "Stick, stick! lay on!"
So the stick began to beat the landlord till he jumped over chairs, and
tables, and benches, and yelled and roared,- "Oh my! oh my! bid the
stick be still, else it will beat me to death, and you shall have back
your cloth and your ram,
When the lad thought the landlord had got enough, he said- "Stick,
stick! now stop!"
Then he took the cloth and put it into his pocket, and went home with
his stick in his hand, leading the ram by a cord round its horns; and
so he got his rights for the meal he had lost.
THE HUSBAND WHO WAS TO MIND THE HOUSE
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
ONCE upon a time there was a man, so surly and cross, he never thought
his wife did anything right in the house. So one evening in haymaking
time, he came home, scolding and swearing, and showing his teeth and
making a dust.
"Dear love, don't be so angry; there's a good man," said his goody;
"to-morrow let's change our work. I'll go out with the mowers and mow,
and you shall mind the house at home."
Yes, the husband thought that would do very well. He was quite
willing, he said.
So early next morning his goody took a scythe over her neck, and went
out into the hayfield with the mowers and began to mow; but the man was
to mind the house, and do the work at home.
First of all he wanted to churn the butter; but when he had churned a
while, he got thirsty, and went down to the cellar to tap a barrel of
ale. So, just when he had knocked in the bung, and was putting the tap
into the cask, he heard overhead the pig come into the kitchen. Then
off he ran up the cellar steps, with the tap in his hand, as fast as he
could, to look after the pig, lest it should upset the churn; but when
he got up, and saw that the pig had already knocked the churn over, and
stood there, routing and grunting amid the cream which was running all
over the floor, he got so wild with rage that he quite forgot his ale
barrel and ran at the pig as hard as he could. He caught it, too, just
as it ran out of doors, and gave it such a kick that piggy lay for dead
on the spot. Then all at once he remembered he had the tap in his
hand, but when he got down to the cellar, every drop of ale had run out
of the cask.
Then he went into the dairy and found enough cream left to fill the
churn again, and so he began to churn, for butter they must have for
dinner. When he had churned a bit, he remembered that their milking
cow was still shut up in the brye, and hadn't had a bit to eat or a
drop to drink all the morning, though the sun was high. Then all at
once he thought 'twas too far to take her down to the meadow, so he'd
just get her up on the housetop-for the house, you must know, was
thatched with sods, and a fine crop of grass was growing there.
Now their house lay close up against a steep down, and he thought if he
laid a plank across to the thatch at the back he'd easily get the cow
But still he couldn't leave the churn, for there was his little babe
crawling about the floor, and "if I leave it," he thought, "the child
is sure to upset it!" So he took the churn on his back, and went out
with it; but then he thought he'd better first water the cow before he
turned her out on the thatch; so he took up a bucket to draw water out
of the well; but, as he stooped down at the well's brink, all the cream
ran out of the churn over his shoulders, and so down into the well.
Now it was near dinner time, and he hadn't even got the butter yet; so
he thought he'd best boil the porridge, and filled the pot with water,
and hung it over the fire. When he had done that, he thought the cow
might perhaps fall off the thatch and break her legs or her neck. So
he got up on the house to tie her up. One end of the rope he made fast
to the cow's neck, and the other he slipped down the chimney and tied
round his own thigh; and he had to make haste, for the water now began
to boil in the pot, and he had still to grind the oatmeal.
So he began to grind away; but while he was hard at it, down fell the
cow off the housetop after all, and as she fell, she dragged the man up
the chimney by the rope. There he stuck fast; and as for the cow, she
hung halfway down the wall, swinging between heaven and earth, for she
could neither get down nor up.
And now the goody had waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her
husband to come and call them home to dinner; but never a call they
had. At last she thought she'd waited long enough, and went home. But
when she got there and saw the cow hanging in such an ugly place, she
ran up and cut the rope in two with her scythe. But as she did this,
down came her husband out of the chimney; and so when his old dame came
inside the kitchen, there she found him standing on his head in the
HOW ONE WENT OUT TO WOO
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
O NCE upon a time there was a lad who went out to woo him a wife.
Among other places he came to a farmhouse, where the household were
little better than beggars; but when the wooer came in they wanted to
make out that they were well to do, as you may guess. Now the husband
had got a new arm to his coat.
"Pray, take a seat," he said to the wooer; "but there's a shocking dust
in the house."
So he went about rubbing and wiping all the benches and tables with his
new arm, but he kept the other all the while behind his back.
The wife she had got one new shoe, and she went stamping and sliding
with it up against the stools and chairs saying, "How untidy it is
here! Everything is out of place!"
Then they called out to their daughter to come down and put things to
rights; but the daughter she had got a new cap; so she put her head in
at the door, and kept nodding and nodding, first to this side and then
"Well! For my part, She said, I can't be everywhere at once."
Aye! Aye! That was a well-to-do household the wooer had come to.
WHY THE BEAR IS STUMPY-TAILED
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
ONE day the Bear met the Fox, who came slinking along with a string of
fish he had stolen.
"Whence did you get these from?" asked the Bear.
"Oh! My Lord Bruin, I've been out fishing and caught them," said the
So the Bear had a mind to learn to fish too, and bade the Fox tell him
how he was to set about it.
"Oh! It's an easy craft for you", answered the Fox, "and soon learned.
You've only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail
down into it; and so you must go on holding it there as long as you
can. You're not to mind if your tail smarts a little; that's when the
fish bite. The longer you hold it there the more fish you'll get; and
then all at once out with it, with a cross pull sideways, and with a
strong pull too."
Yes; the Bear did as the Fox had said, and held his tail a long, long
the down in the hole, till it was fast frozen in. Then he pulled it
out with a cross pull, and it snapped short off. That's why Bruin goes
about with a stumpy tail this very day.
BOOTS WHO MADE THE PRINCESS SAY "THAT'S A STORY"
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
ONCE upon a time there was a King who had a daughter, and she was such
a dreadful storyteller that the like of her was not to be found far or
near. So the King gave out, that if anyone could tell such a string of
lies as would get her to say, "That's a story," he should have her to
wife, and half the kingdom besides. Well, many came, as you may fancy,
to try their luck, for everyone would have been very glad to have the
Princess, to say nothing of the kingdom; but they all cut a sorry
figure, for the Princess was so given to storytelling, that all their
lies went in at one ear and out of the other. Among the rest came
three brothers to try their luck, and the two elder went first, but
they fared no better than those that had gone before them. Last of
all, the third, Boots, set off and found the Princess in the farmyard.
"Good morning," he said, "and thank you for nothing." "Good morning,"
said she, "and the same to you." Then she went on-
"You haven't such a fine farmyard as ours, I'll be bound; for when two
shepherds stand, one at each end of it, and blow their ram's horns, the
one can't hear the other."
"Haven't we though!" answered Boots; "ours is far bigger; for when a
calf starts to cross a field, it is a full-grown cow when it reaches
the other end."
"I dare say," said the Princess. "Well, but you haven't such a big ox,
after all, as ours yonder; for when two men sit, one on each horn, they
can't touch each other with a tweny-foot rule."
"Stuff!" said Boots; "is that all? Why, we have an ox who is so big,
that when two men sit, one on each horn, and each blows his great
mountain-trumpet, they can't hear one another."
"I dare say," said the Princess; "but you haven't so much milk as we,
I'll be bound; for we milk our cows into great pails, and carry them
indoors, and empty them into great tubs, and so we make great, great
"Oh! you do, do you?" said Boots. "Well, we milk ours into great
tubs, and then we put them in carts and drive them indoors, and then we
turn them out into great brewing vats, and so we make cheeses as big as
a great house. We had, too, a dun mare to tread the cheese well
together when it was making; but once she tumbled down into the cheese,
and we lost her; and after we had eaten at this cheese seven years, we
came upon a great dun mare, alive and kicking. Well, once after that I
was going to drive this mare to the mill, and her backbone snapped in
two; but I wasn't put out, not I; for I took a spruce sapling, and put
it into her for a backbone, and she had no other backbone all the while
we had her. But the sapling grew up into such a tall tree, that I
climbed right up to the sky by it, and when I got there I saw a lady
sitting and spinning the foam of the sea into pigs'-bristle ropes; but
just then the spruce-fir broke short off, and I couldn't get down
again; so the lady let me down by one of the ropes, and down I slipped
straight into a fox's hole, and who should sit there but my mother and
your father cobbling shoes; and just as I stepped in, my mother gave
your father such a box on the ear that it made his whiskers curl."
"That's a story!" said the Princess, "my father never did any such
thing in all his born days!"
So Boots got the Princess to wife, and half the kingdom besides.
THE WITCH IN THE STONE BOAT
Retold by Andrew Lang
THERE was once a king and queen, and they had a son called Sigurd, who
was very strong and active and good-looking. When the king came to be
bowed down with the weight of years he spoke to his son, and said that
now it was time for him to look out for a fitting match for himself,
for he did not know how long he might last now, and he would like to
see him married before he died.
Sigurd was not averse to this and asked his father where he thought it
best to look for a wife. The king answered that in a certain country
there was a king who had a beautiful daughter, and he thought it would
be most desirable if Sigurd could get her. So the two parted, and
Sigurd prepared for the journey and went to where his father had
He came to the king and asked his daughters hand, which was readily
granted him, but only on the condition that he should remain there as
long as he could, for the king himself was not strong and not very able
to govern his kingdom. Sigurd accepted this condition, but added that
he would have to get leave to go home again to his own country when he
heard news of his father's death. After that Sigurd married the
princess and helped his father-in-law to govern the kingdom. He and
the princess loved each other dearly, and after a year a son came to
them, who was two years old when word came to Sigurd that his father
was dead. Sigurd now prepared to return home with his wife and child
and went on board ship to go by sea.
They had sailed for several days, when the breeze suddenly fell and
there came a dead calm at a time when they needed only one day's voyage
to reach home. Sigurd and his queen were one day on deck when most of
the others on the ship had fallen asleep. There they sat and talked
for a while, and had their little son along with them. After a time
Sigurd became so heavy with sleep that he could no longer keep awake,
so he went below and lay down, leaving the queen alone on the deck
playing with her son.
A good while after Sigurd had gone below the queen saw something black
on the sea which seemed to be coming nearer. As it approached she
could make out that it was a boat and could see the figure of some one
sitting in it and rowing it. At last the boat came alongside the ship,
and now the queen saw that it was a stone boat, out of which there came
on board the ship a fearfully ugly witch. The queen was more
frightened than words can describe, and could neither speak a word nor
move from the place so as to awaken the king or the sailors. The witch
came right up to the queen, took the child from her, and laid it on the
deck; then she took the queen and stripped her of all her fine clothes,
which she proceeded to put on herself and looked then like a human
being. Last of all she took the queen, put her into the boat and said:
"This spell I lay upon you, that you slacken not your course until you
come to my brother in the under world."
The queen sat stunned and motionless, but the boat at once shot away
from the ship with her, and before long she was out of sight.
When the boat could no longer be seen the child began to cry, and
though the witch tried to quiet it she could not manage it; so, with
the child on her arm, she went below to where the king was sleeping,
and awakened him, scolding him for leaving them alone on deck while he
and all the crew were asleep. It was great carelessness of him, she
said, to leave no one to watch the ship with her.
Sigurd was greatly surprised to hear his queen scold him so much, for
she had never said an angry word to him before; but he thought it was
quite excusable in this case, and tried to quiet the child along with
her but it was no use. Then he went and wakened the sailors and bade
them hoist the sails, for a breeze had sprung up and was blowing
straight toward the harbor.
They soon reached the land which Sigurd was to rule over, and found all
the people sorrowful for the old king's death, but they became glad
when they got Sigurd back to the court, and made him king over them.
The king's son, however, hardly ever stopped crying from the time he
had been taken from his mother on the deck of the ship, although he had
always been such a good child before, so that at last the king had to
get a nurse for him-one of the maids of the court. As soon as the
child got into her charge he stopped crying and behaved as well as
After the sea voyage it seemed to the king that the queen had altered
very much in many ways, and not for the better. He thought her much
more haughty and stubborn and difficult to deal with than she used to
be. Before long others began to notice this as well as the king. In
the court there were two young fellows, one of eighteen years old, the
other of nineteen, who were very fond of playing chess and often sat
long inside playing at it. Their room was next the queen's, and often
during the day they heard the queen talking.
One day they paid more attention than usual when they heard her talk,
and put their ears close to a crack in the wall between the rooms, and
heard the queen say quite plainly: 'When I yawn a little, then I am a
nice little maiden: when I yawn halfway, then I am half a troll; and
when I yawn fully then I am a troll altogether."
As she said this she yawned tremendously, and in a moment had put on
the appearance of a fearfully ugly troll. Then there came up through
the floor of the room a three-headed giant with a trough full of meat,
who saluted her as his sister and set down the trough before her. She
began to eat out of it and never stopped till she had finished it. The
young fellows saw all this going on, but did not hear the two of them
say anything to each other. They were astonished, though, at how
greedily the queen devoured the meat and how much she ate of it, and
were no longer surprised that she took so little when she sat at table
with the king. As soon as she had finished it the giant disappeared
with the trough by the same way as he had come, and the queen returned
to her human shape.
Now we must go back to the king's son after he had been put in charge
of the nurse. One evening. after she had lit a candle and was holding
the child, several planks sprang up in the floor of the room, and out
at the opening came a beautiful woman dressed in white, with an iron
belt round her waist, to which was fastened an iron chain that went
down into the ground. The woman came up to the nurse, took the child
from her, and pressed it to her breast; then she gave it back to the
nurse and returned by the same way as she had come, and the floor
closed over her again. Although the woman had not spoken a single word
to her, the nurse was very much frightened, but told no one about it.
Next evening the same thing happened again, just as before, but as the
woman was going away she said in a sad tone, "Two are gone and one only
is left," and then disappeared as before. The nurse was still more
frightened when she heard the woman say this, and thought that perhaps
some danger was hanging over the child, though she had no ill opinion
of the unknown woman, who, indeed, had behaved toward the child as if
it were her own. The most mysterious thing was the woman saying "and
only one is left"; but the nurse guessed that this must mean that only
one day was left, since she had come for two days already.
At last the nurse made up her mind to go to the king. She told him the
whole story and asked him to be present in person the next day about
the time when the woman usually came. The king promised to do so, and
came to the nurse's room a little before the time and sat down on a
chair with his drawn sword in his hand. Soon after the planks in the
floor sprang up as before, and the woman came up, dressed in white,
with the iron belt and chain. The king saw at once that it was his own
queen, and immediately hewed asunder the iron chain that was fastened
to the belt. This was followed by such noises and crashings down in
the earth that all the king's palace shook, so that no one expected
anything else than to see every bit of it shaken to pieces. At last
the noises and shaking stopped, and they began to come to themselves
The king and queen embraced each other, and she told him the whole
story-how the witch came to the ship when they were all asleep and sent
her off in the boat. After she had gone so far that she could not see
the ship, she sailed on through darkness until she landed beside a
three-headed giant. The giant wished her to marry him, but she
refused; whereupon he shut her up by herself and told her she would
never get free until she consented. After a time she began to plan how
to get her freedom, and at last told him that she would consent if he
would allow her to visit her son on earth three days on end. This he
agreed to, but put on her this iron belt and chain, the other end of
which he fastened around his, own waist, and the great noises that were
heard when the king cut the chain must have been caused by the giant's
falling down the underground passage when the chain gave way so
suddenly. The giant's dwelling, indeed, was right under the palace,
and the terrible shakings must have been caused by him in his death
The king now understood how the queen he had had for some time past had
been so ill-tempered. He at once had a sack drawn over her head and
made her be stoned to death, and after that torn in pieces by untamed
horses. The two young fellows also told now what they had heard and
seen in the queen's room, for before this they had been afraid to say
anything about it, on account of the Queen's power.
The real queen was now restored to all her dignity and was beloved by
all. The nurse was married to a nobleman and the king and queen gave
her splendid presents.
By Paul SÈbillot
As often happens in this world, there was once a young man who spent
all his time in traveling. One day, as he was walking along, he picked
up a snuffbox. He opened it, and the snuffbox said to him in the
Spanish language: "What do you want?" He was very much frightened,
but, luckily, instead of throwing the box away he only shut it tight
and put it in his pocket. Then he went on, away, away, away, and as he
went he said to himself, "if it says to me again, 'What do you want?' I
shall know better what to say this time." So he took out the snuffbox
and opened it, and again it asked: "What do you want?" "My hat full of
gold," answered the youth, and immediately it was full.
Our young man was enchanted. Henceforth he should never be in need of
anything. So on he traveled, away, away, away, through thick forests,
till at last he came to a beautiful castle. In the castle there lived
a king. The young man walked round and round the castle, not caring
who saw him, till the king noticed him and asked what he was doing
there. "I was just looking at your castle." "You would like to have
one like it, wouldn't you?" The young man did not reply, but when it
grew dark he took out his snuffbox and opened the lid." What do you
want?" "Build me a castle with laths of gold and tiles of diamond and
the furniture all of silver and gold." He had scarcely finished
speaking when there stood in front of him, exactly opposite the king's
palace, a castle built precisely as he had ordered. When the king
awoke he was struck dumb at the sight of the magnificent house shining
in the rays of the sun. The servants could not do their work for
stopping to stare at it. Then the king dressed himself and went to see
the young man. And he told him plainly that he was a very powerful
prince, and that he hoped that they might all live together in one
house or the other, and that the king would give him his daughter to
wife. So it all turned out just as the king wished. The young man
married the princess and they lived happily in the palace of gold.
But the king's wife was jealous both of the young man and of her own
daughter. The princess had told her mother about the snuffbox, which
gave them everything they wanted, and the queen bribed a servant to
steal the snuffbox. They noticed carefully where it was put away every
night, and one evening, when the whole world was asleep, the woman
stole it and brought it to her old mistress. Oh, how happy the queen
was! She opened the lid and the snuffbox said to her: "What do you
want?" And she answered at once: "I want you to take me and my husband
and my servants and this beautiful house and set us down on the other
side of the Red Sea, but my daughter and her husband are to stay
When the young couple woke up they found themselves back in the old
castle, without their snuffbox. They hunted for it high and low, but
quite vainly. The young man felt that no time was to be lost, and he
mounted his horse and filled his pockets with as much gold as he could
carry. On he went, away, away, away, but he sought the snuffbox in
vain all up and down the neighboring countries, and very soon he came
to the end of all his money. But still he went on, as fast as the
strength of his horse would let him, begging his way.
Some one told him that he ought to consult the moon, for the moon
traveled far and might be able to tell him something. So he went away,
away, away, and ended, somehow or other, by reaching the land of the
moon. There he found a little old woman who said to him: "What are you
doing here? My son eats all living things he sees, and if you are wise
you will go away without coming any farther." But the young man told
her all his sad tale, and how he possessed a wonderful snuffbox, and
how it had been stolen from him, and how he had nothing left now that
he was parted from his wife and was in need of everything. And he said
that perhaps her son, who traveled so far, might have seen a palace
with laths of gold and tiles of diamond and furnished all in silver and
gold. As he spoke these last words the moon came in and said he
smelled mortal flesh and blood. But his mother told him that it was an
unhappy man who had lost everything and had come all this way to
consult him, and bade the young man not to be afraid, but to come
forward and show himself. So he went boldly up to the moon, and asked
if by any accident he had seen a palace with the laths of gold and the
tiles of diamond and all the furniture of silver and gold. Once this
house belonged to him, but now it was stolen. And the moon said no,
but that the sun traveled farther than he did, and that the young man
had better go and ask him.
So the young man departed and went away, away, away, as well as his
horse would take him, begging his living as he rode along, and somehow
or other at last he got to the land of the sun. There he found a
little old woman, who asked him: "What are you doing here? Go away.
Have you not heard that my son feeds upon Christians?" But he said no
and that he would not go, for he was so miserable that it was all one
to him whether he died or not; that he had lost everything, and
especially a splendid palace like none other in the whole world, for it
had laths of gold and tiles of diamond and all the furniture was of
silver and gold; and that he had sought it far and long, and in all the
earth there was no man more unhappy. So the old woman's heart melted
and she agreed to hide him.
When the sun arrived he declared that he smelled Christian flesh and he
meant to have it for his dinner. But his mother told him such a
pitiful story of the miserable wretch who had lost everything and had
come from far to ask his help that at last he promised to see him.
So the young man came out from his hiding-place and begged the sun to
tell him if in the course of his travels he had not seen somewhere a
palace that had not its like in the whole world, for its laths were of
gold and its tiles of diamond and all the furniture in silver and gold.
And the sun said no, but that perhaps the wind had seen it, for he
entered everywhere and saw things that no one else ever saw, and if
anyone knew where it was it was certainly the wind.
Then the poor young man again set forth as well as his horse could take
him, begging his living as he went, and somehow or other he ended by
reaching the home of the wind. He found there a little old woman
busily occupied in filling great barrels with water. She asked him
what had put it into his head to come there, for her son ate everything
he saw, and that he would shortly arrive quite mad, and that the young
man had better look out. But he answered that he was so unhappy that
he had ceased to mind anything, even being eaten, and then he told her
that he had been robbed of a palace that had not its equal in all the
world, and of all that was in it, and that he had even left his wife
and was wandering over the world until he found it. And that it was
the sun who had sent him to consult the wind. So she hid him under the
staircase, and soon they heard the south wind arrive, shaking the house
to its foundations. Thirsty as he was, he did not wait to drink, but
he told his mother that he smelled the blood of a Christian man, and
that she had better bring him out at once and make him ready to be
eaten. But she bade her son eat and drink what was before him, and
said that the poor young man was much to be pitied, and that the sun
had granted him his life in order that he might consult the Wind. Then
she brought out the young man, who explained how he was seeking for his
palace, and that no man had been able to tell him where it was, so he
had come to the Wind. And he added that he had been shamefully robbed,
and that the laths were of gold and the tiles of diamond, and all the
furniture in silver and gold, and he inquired if the Wind had not seen
such a palace during his wanderings.
And the Wind said yes, and that all that day he had been blowing
backward and forward over it without being able to move one single
tile. "Oh, do tell me where it is," cried the young man." "It is a
long way off," replied the Wind, "on the other side of the Red Sea."
But our traveler was not discouraged-he had already journeyed too far.
So he set forth at once, and somehow or other he managed to reach that
distant land. And he inquired if any one wanted a gardener. He was
told that the head gardener at the castle had just left, and perhaps he
might have a chance of getting the place. The young man lost no time,
but walked up to the castle and asked if they were in want of a
gardener; and how happy he was when they agreed to take him! Now he
passed most of his day in gossiping with the servants about the wealth
of their masters and the wonderful things in the house. He made
friends with one of the maids, who told him the history of the
snuffbox, and he coaxed her to let him see it. One evening she managed
to get hold of it, and the young man watched carefully where she hid it
away in a secret place in the bedchamber of her mistress.
The following night, when everyone was fast asleep, he crept in and
took the snuffbox. Think of his joy as he opened the lid! When it
asked him, as of yore, "What do you want?" he replied: "What do I
want? What do I want? Why, I want to go with my palace to the old
place, and for the king and the queen and all their servants to be
drowned in the Red Sea."
He had hardly finished speaking when he found himself back again with
his wife, while all the other inhabitants of the palace were lying at
the bottom of the Red Sea.
THE GOLDEN BLACKBIRD
By Paul SÈbillot
ONCE upon a time there was a great lord who had three sons. He fell
very ill, sent for doctors of every kind, even bonesetters, but they
none of them could find out what was the matter with him or even give
him any relief. At last there came a foreign doctor, who declared that
the golden blackbird alone could cure the sick man.
So the old lord dispatched his eldest son to look for the wonderful
bird, and promised him great riches if he managed to find it and bring
The young man began his journey and soon arrived at a place where four
roads met. He did not know which to choose, and tossed his cap in the
air, determining that the direction of its fall should decide him.
After traveling for two or three days he grew tired of walking without
knowing where or for how long, and .he stopped at an inn which was
filled with merrymakers and ordered something to eat and drink.
"My faith," said he, "it is sheer folly to waste more time hunting for
this bird. My father is old, and if he dies I shall inherit his
The old man, after waiting patiently for some time, sent his second son
to seek the golden blackbird. The youth took the same direction as his
brother, and when he came to the crossroads he too tossed up which road
he should take. The cap fell in the same place as before, and he
walked on till he came to the spot where his brother had halted. The
latter, who was leaning out of the window of the inn, called to him to
stay where he was and amuse himself.
"You are right," replied the youth. "Who knows if I should ever find
the golden blackbird, even if I sought the whole world through for it?
At the worst, if the old man dies we shall have his property."
He entered the inn and the two brothers made merry and feasted, till
very soon their money was all spent. They even owed something to their
landlord, who kept them as hostages till they could pay their debts.
The youngest son set forth in his turn, and he arrived at the place
where his brothers where still prisoners. They called to him to stop
and did all they could to prevent his going further.
"No," he replied, "my father trusted me, and I will go all over the
world till I find the golden blackbird."
"Bah," said his brothers, "you will never succeed any better than we
did. Let him die if he wants to. We will divide the property."
As he went his way he met a little hare, who stopped to looked at him
"Where are you going, my friend ?"
"I really don't quite know," answered he. "My father is ill, and he
cannot be cured unless I bring him back the golden blackbird. It is a
long time since I set out, but no one can tell me where to find it."
"Ah," said the hare, "you have a long way to go yet. You will have to
walk at least seven hundred miles before you get to it."
"And how am I to travel such a distance?"
"Mount on my back," said the little hare, "and I will conduct you."
The young man obeyed. At each bound the little hare went seven miles,
and it was not long before they reached a castle that was as large and
beautiful as a castle could be.
"The golden blackbird is in a little cabin near by," said the little
hare, "and you will easily find it. It lives in a little cage, with
another cage beside it made all of gold. But whatever you do, be sure
not to put it in the beautiful cage, or everybody in the castle will
know that you have stolen it."
The youth found the golden blackbird standing on a wooden perch, but as
stiff and rigid as if he was dead. And beside, was the beautiful cage,
the cage of gold.
"Perhaps he would revive if I were to put him in that lovely cage,"
thought the youth.
The moment the golden blackbird had touched the bars of the splendid
cage he awoke and began to whistle, so that all the servants of the
castle ran to see what was the matter, saying that he was a thief and
must be put in prison.
"No," he answered, "I am not a thief. If I have taken the golden
blackbird, it is only that it may cure my father, who is ill, and I
have traveled more than seven hundred miles in order to find it."
"Well," they replied, "we will let you go, and will even give you the
golden blackbird if you are able to bring us the porcelain maiden."
The youth departed, weeping, and met the little hare, who was munching
"What are you crying for, my friend?" asked the hare.
"It is because," he answered, "the castle people will not allow me to
carry off the golden blackbird without giving them the porcelain maiden
"You have not followed my advice," said the little hare. "And you have
put the golden blackbird into the fine cage."
"Don't despair. The porcelain maiden is a young girl, beautiful as
Venus, who dwells two hundred miles from here. Jump on my back and I
will take you there."
The little hare, who took seven miles in a stride, was there in no time
at all, and he stopped on the borders of a lake.
"The porcelain maiden," said the hare to the youth, "will come here to
bathe with her friends. Keep yourself out of sight behind the thicket,
while I just eat a mouthful of thyme to refresh me. When she is in the
lake be sure you hide her clothes, which are of dazzling whiteness, and
do not give them back to her unless she consents to follow you."
The little hare left him, and almost immediately the porcelain maiden
arrived with her friends. She undressed herself and got into the
water. Then the young man glided up noiselessly and laid hold of her
clothes, which he hid under a rock at some distance.
When the porcelain maiden was tired of playing in the water she came
out to dress herself, but though she hunted for her clothes high and
low she could find them nowhere. Her friends helped her in the search,
but, seeing at last that it was of no use, they left her alone on the
bank, weeping bitterly.
"Why do you cry?" said the young man, approaching her.
"Alas!" answered she, "while I was bathing some one stole my clothes,
and my friends have abandoned me."
"I will find your clothes if you will only come with me."
And the porcelain maiden agreed to follow him, and after having given
up her clothes the young man bought a small horse for her which went
like the wind. The little hare brought them both back to seek for the
golden blackbird, and when they drew near the castle where it lived the
little hare said to the young man:
"Now, do be a little sharper than you were before, and you will manage
to carry off both the golden blackbird and the porcelain maiden. Take
the golden cage in one hand and leave the bird in the old cage where he
is, and bring that away too."
The little hare then vanished. The youth did as he was bid, and the
castle servants never noticed that he was carrying off the golden
blackbird. When he reached the inn where his brothers were detained he
delivered them by paying their debt. They set out all together, but as
the two elder brothers were jealous of the success of the youngest,
they took the opportunity as they were passing by the shores of a lake
to throw themselves upon him, seize the golden blackbird, and fling him
in the water. Then they continued their journey, taking with them the
porcelain maiden, in the firm belief that their brother was drowned.
But happily he had snatched in falling at a tuft of rushes and called
loudly for help. The little hare came running to him and said: "Take
hold of my leg and pull yourself out of the water."
When he was safe on shore the little hare said to him:
"Now, this is what you have to do: dress yourself like a Breton seeking
a place as stableboy, and go and offer your services to your father.
Once there, you will easily be able to make him understand the truth."
The young man did as the little hare bade him, and he went to his
father's castle and inquired if they were not in want of a stableboy.
"Yes," replied his father, "very much indeed. But it is not an easy
place. There is a little horse in the stable which will not let anyone
go near it, and it has already kicked to death several people who have
tried to groom it."
"I will undertake to groom it," said the youth. "I never saw the horse
I was afraid of yet."
The little horse allowed itself to be rubbed down without a toss of its
head and without a kick.
"Good gracious!" exclaimed the master. "How is it that he lets you
touch him when no one else can go near him?"
"Perhaps he knows me," answered the stableboy.
Two or three days later the master said to him: "The porcelain maiden
is here; but though she is as lovely as the dawn, she is so wicked that
she scratches every one that approaches her. Try if she will accept
When the youth entered the room where she was the golden blackbird
broke forth into a joyful song, and the porcelain maiden sang too and
jumped for joy.
"Good gracious!" cried the master." The porcelain maiden and the
golden blackbird know you too?"
"Yes," replied the youth, "and the porcelain maiden can tell you the
whole truth if she only will."
Then she told all that had happened, and how she had consented to
follow the young man who had captured the golden blackbird.
"Yes," added the youth, "I delivered my brothers, who were kept
prisoners in an inn, and as a reward they threw me into a lake. So I
disguised myself and came here in order to prove the truth to you.
So the old lord embraced his son and promised that he should inherit
all his possessions, and he put to death the two elder ones, who had
deceived him and had tried to slay their own brother.
The young man married the porcelain maiden and had a splendid wedding
Retold by Andrew Lang
ONCE upon a time there was a handsome black Spanish hen who had a large
brood of chickens. They were all fine, plump little birds except the
youngest, who was quite unlike his brothers and sisters. Indeed, he
was such a strange, queer-looking creature that when he first clipped
his shell his mother could scarcely believe her eyes, he was so
different from the twelve other fluffy, downy, soft little chicks who
nestled under her wings. This one looked just as if he had been cut in
two. He had only one leg, and one wing, and one eye, and he had half a
head and half a beak. His mother shook her head sadly as she looked at
him and said:
"My youngest born is only a half-chick. He can never grow up a tall,
handsome cock like his brothers. They will go out into the world and
rule over poultry yards of their own; but this poor little fellow will
always have to stay at home with his mother." And she called him Medio
Pollito, which is Spanish for half-chick.
Now, though Medio Pollito was such an odd, helpless-looking little
thing, his mother soon found that he was not at all willing to remain
under her wing and protection. Indeed, in character he was as unlike
his brothers and sisters as he was in appearance. They were good,
obedient chickens, and when the old hen chicked after them they chirped
and ran back to her side. But Medio Pollito had a roving spirit in
spite of his one leg, and when his mother called to him to return to
the coop, he pretended that he could not hear, because he had only one
When she took the whole family out for a walk in the fields, Medio
Pollito would hop away by himself and hide among the corn. Many an
anxious minute his brothers and sisters had looking for him, while his
mother ran to and fro cackling in fear and dismay.
As he grew older he became more self-willed and disobedient, and his
manner to his mother was often very rude and his temper to the other
chickens very disagreeable.
One day he had been out for a longer expedition than usual in the
fields. On his return he strutted up to his mother with the peculiar
little hop and kick which was his way of walking, and cocking his one
eye at her in a very bold way, he said:
"Mother, I am tired of this life in a dull f farmyard, with nothing but
a dreary maize-field to look at. I'm off to Madrid to see the king."
"To Madrid, Medio Pollito!" exclaimed his mother. "Why, you silly
chick, it would be a long Journey for a grown-up cock, and a poor
little thing like you would be tired out before you had gone half the
distance. No, no, stay at home with your mother, and some day, when
you are bigger, we will go a little journey together."
But Medio Pollito had made up his mind, and he would not listen to his
mother's advice nor to the prayers and entreaties of his brothers and
"What is the use of our all crowding each other up in this poky little
place?" he said. "When I have a fine courtyard of my own at the
king's palace, I shall perhaps ask some of you to come and pay me a
And scarcely waiting to say good-by to his family, away he stumped down
the high road that led to Madrid.
"Be sure that you are kind and civil to every one you meet," called his
mother, running after him; but he was in such a hurry to be off that he
did not wait to answer her or even to look back.
A little later in the day, as he was taking a short cut through a
field, he passed a stream. Now, the stream was all choked up and
overgrown with weeds and water-plants, so that its waters could not
"Oh! Medio Pollito," it cried as the half-chick hopped along its
banks, "do come and help me by clearing away these weeds."
"Help you, indeed!" exclaimed Medio Pollito, tossing his head and
shaking the few feathers in his tail. "Do you think I have nothing to
do but to waste my time on such trifles? Help yourself and don't
trouble busy travelers. I am off to Madrid to see the king," and
hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, away stumped Medio Pollito.
A little later he came to a fire that had been left by some gypsies in
a wood. It was burning very low and would soon be out.
"Oh! Medio Pollito," cried the fire in a weak, wavering voice as the
half-chick approached, "in a few minutes I shall go quite out unless
you put some sticks and dry leaves upon me. Do help me or I shall
"Help you, indeed!" answered Medio Pollito. "I have other things to
do. Gather sticks for yourself and don't trouble me. I am off to
Madrid to see the king," and hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, away stumped
The next morning, as he was getting near Madrid, he passed a large
chestnut tree, in whose branches the wind was caught and entangled.
"Oh! Medio Pollito," called the wind, "do hop up here and help me to
get free of these branches. I cannot come away and it is so
"It is your own fault for going there," answered Medio Pollito. "I
can't waste all my morning stopping here to help you. Just shake
yourself off, and don't hinder me, for I am off to Madrid to see the
king," and hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, away stumped Medio Pollito in
great glee, for the towers and roofs of Madrid were now in sight. When
he entered the town he saw before him a great, splendid house, with
soldiers standing before the gates. This he knew must be the king's
palace, and he determined to hop up to the front gate and wait there
until the king came out. But as he was hopping past one of the back
windows the king's cook saw him.
"Here is the very thing I want," he exclaimed, "for the king has just
sent a message to say that he must have chicken broth for his dinner."
Opening the window he stretched out his arm, caught Medio Pollito, and
popped him into the broth pot that was standing near the fire. Oh!
how wet and clammy the water felt as it went over Medio Pollito's head,
making his feathers cling to him.
"Water! water!" he cried in his despair, "do have pity upon me and do
not wet me like this."
"Ah! Medio Pollito," replied the water, "you would not help me when I
was a little stream away on the fields. Now you must be punished."
Then the fire began to burn and scald Medio Pollito, and he danced and
hopped from one side of the pot to the other, trying to get away from
the heat and crying out in pain:
"Fire! fire! do not scorch me like this; you can't think how it
"Ah! Medio Pollito," answered the fire, "you would not help me when I
was dying away in the wood. You are being punished."
At last, just when the pain was so great that Medio Pollito thought he
must die, the cook lifted up the lid of the pot to see if the broth was
ready for the king's dinner.
"Look here!" he cried in horror, "this chicken is quite useless. It is
burned to a cinder. I can't send it up to the royal table." And
opening the window he threw Medio Pollito out in the street. But the
wind caught him up and whirled him through the air so quickly that
Medio Pollito could scarcely breathe, and his heart beat against his
side till he thought it would break.
"Oh, wind I" at last he gasped out, "if you hurry me along like this
you will kill me. Do let me rest a moment, or-"
But he was so breathless that he could not finish his sentence.
"Ah! Medio Pollito," replied the wind, "when I was caught in the
branches of the chestnut tree you would not help me. Now you are
punished." And he swirled Medio Pollito over the roofs of the houses
till they reached the highest church in the town, and there he left him
fastened to the top of the steeple.
And there stands Medio Pollito to this day. And if you go to Madrid
and walk through the streets till you come to the highest church, you
will see Medio Pollito perched on his one leg on the steeple, with his
one wing drooping at his side and gazing sadly out of his one eye over
THE THREE BROTHERS
By Hermann R. Kletke
THERE was once upon a time a witch who in the shape of a hawk used
every night to break the windows of a certain village church. In the
same village there lived three brothers, who were all determined to
kill the mischievous hawk. But in vain did the two eldest mount guard
in the church with their guns; as soon as the bird appeared high above
their heads sleep overpowered them, and they only awoke to hear the
windows crashing in.
Then the younger brother took his turn of guarding the windows, and to
prevent his being overcome by sleep he placed a lot of thorns under his
chin, so that if he felt drowsy and nodded his head they would prick
him and keep him awake.
The moon was already risen and it was as light as day, when suddenly he
heard a fearful noise, and at the same time a terrible desire to sleep
His eyelids closed and his head sank on his shoulders, but the thorns
ran into him and were so painful that he awoke at once. He saw the
hawk swooping down upon the church, and in a moment he had seized his
gun and shot at the bird. The hawk fell heavily under a big stone,
severely wounded in its right wing. The youth ran to look at it and
saw that a huge abyss had opened below the stone. He went at once to
fetch his brothers, and with their help dragged a lot of pine wood and
ropes to the spot. They fastened some of the burning pine wood to the
end of the rope and let it slowly down to the bottom of the abyss. At
first it was quite dark, and the flaming torch only lit up dirty gray
stone walls. But the youngest brother determined to explore the abyss,
and letting himself down by the rope he soon reached the bottom. Here
he found a lovely meadow full of green trees and exquisite flowers.
In the middle of the meadow stood a huge stone castle, with an iron
gate leading to it, which was wide open. Everything in the castle
seemed to be made of copper, and the only inhabitant he could discover
was a lovely girl, who was combing her golden hair; and he noticed that
whenever one of her hairs fell on the ground it rang out like pure
metal. The youth looked at her more closely, and saw that her skin was
smooth and fair, her blue eyes bright and sparkling, and her hair as
golden as the sun. He fell in love with her on the spot, and kneeling
at her feet he implored her to become his wife.
The lovely girl accepted his proposal gladly; but at the same time she
warned him that she could never come up to the world above till her
mother, the old witch, was dead. And she went on to tell him that the
only way in which the old creature could be killed was with the sword
that hung up in the castle; but the sword was so heavy that no one
could lift it.
Then the youth went into a room in the castle where everything was made
of silver, and here he found another beautiful girl, the sister of his
bride. She was combing her silver hair, and every hair that fell on
the ground rang out like pure metal. The second girl handed him the
sword, but though he tried with all his strength he could not lift it.
At last a third sister came to him and gave him a drop of something to
drink, which she said would give him the needful strength. He drank
one drop, but still he could not lift the sword; then he drank a second
and the sword began to move; but only after he had drunk a third drop
was he able to swing the sword over his head.
Then he hid himself in the castle and awaited the old witch's arrival.
At last as it was beginning to grow dark she appeared. She swooped
down upon a big apple tree, and after shaking some golden apples from
it she pounced down upon the earth. As soon as her feet touched the
ground she became transformed from a hawk into a woman. This was the
moment the youth was waiting for, and he swung his mighty sword in the
air with all his strength and the witch's head fell off, and her blood
spurted upon the walls.
Without fear of any further danger, he packed up all the treasures of
the castle into great chests and gave his brothers a signal to pull
them up out of the abyss. First the treasures were attached to the
rope and then the three lovely girls. And now everything was up above
and only he himself remained below. But as he was a little suspicious
of his brothers, he fastened a heavy stone on to the rope and let them
pull it up. At first they heaved with a will, but when the stone was
halfway up they let it drop suddenly, and it fell to the bottom broken
into a hundred pieces.
"So that's what would have happened to my bones had I trusted myself to
them," said the youth sadly; and he cried bitterly, not because of the
treasures, but because of the lovely girl with her swanlike neck and
For a long time he wandered sadly all through the beautiful underworld,
and one day he met a magician who asked him the cause of his tears.
The youth told him all that had befallen him, and the magician said:
"Do not grieve, young man! If you will guard the children who are
hidden in the golden apple tree I will bring you at once up to the
earth. Another magician who lives in this land always eats my children
up. It is in vain that I have hidden them under the earth and locked
them into the castle. Now I have hidden them in the apple tree; hide
yourself there, too, and at midnight you will see my enemy."
The youth climbed up the tree and picked some of the beautiful golden
apples, which he ate for his supper. At midnight the wind began to
rise and a rustling sound was heard at the foot of the tree. The youth
looked down and beheld a long thick serpent beginning to crawl up the
tree. It wound itself round the stem and gradually got higher and
higher. It stretched its huge head, in which the eyes glittered
fiercely, among the branches, searching for the nest in which the
little children lay. They trembled with terror when they saw the
hideous creature and hid themselves beneath the leaves.
Then the youth swung his mighty sword in the air, and with one blow cut
off the serpent's head. He cut up the rest of the body into little
bits and strewed them to the four winds.
The father of the rescued children was so delighted over the death of
his enemy that he told the youth to get on his back, and thus he
carried him up to the world above.
With what joy did he hurry now to his brothers' house! He burst into a
room where they were all assembled, but no one knew who he was. Only
his bride, who was serving as cook to her sisters, recognized her lover
His brothers, who had quite believed he was dead, yielded him up his
treasures at once and flew into the woods in terror. But the good
youth forgave them all they had done and divided his treasures with
them. Then he built himself a big castle with golden windows, and
there he lived happily with his golden-haired wife till the end of
THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
By Hermann R. Kletke
ONCE upon a time there was a glass mountain at the top of which stood a
castle made of pure gold, and in front of the castle there grew an
apple tree on which there were golden apples.
Anyone who picked an apple gained admittance into the golden castle,
and there in a silver room sat an enchanted princess of surpassing
fairness and beauty. She was as rich, too, as she was beautiful, for
the cellars of the castle were full of precious stones, and great
chests of the finest gold stood round the walls of all the rooms.
Many knights had come from afar to try their luck, but it was in vain
they attempted to climb the mountain. In spite of having their horses
shod with sharp nails, no one managed to get more than halfway up, and
then they all fell back right down to the bottom of the steep, slippery
hill. Sometimes they broke an arm, sometimes a leg, and many a brave
man had broken his neck even.
The beautiful princess sat at her window and watched the bold knights
trying to reach her on their splendid horses. The sight of her always
gave men fresh courage, and they flocked from the four quarters of the
globe to attempt the work of rescuing her. But all in vain, and for
seven years the princess had sat now and waited for some one to scale
the glass mountain.
A heap of corpses both of riders and horses lay round the mountain, and
many dying men lay groaning there unable to go any further with their
wounded limbs. The whole neighborhood had the appearance of a vast
churchyard. In three more days the seven years would be at an end,
when a knight in golden armor and mounted on a spirited steed was seen
making his way toward the fatal hill.
Sticking his spurs into his horse he made a rush at the mountain and
got up halfway, then he calmly turned his horse's head and came down
again without a slip or stumble. The following day he started in the
same way; the horse trod on the glass as if it had been level earth,
and sparks of fire flew from its hoofs. All the other knights gazed in
astonishment, for he had almost gained the summit, and in another
moment he would have reached the apple tree; but of a sudden a huge
eagle rose up and spread its mighty wings, hitting as it did so the
knight's horse in the eye. The beast shied, opened its wide nostrils,
and tossed its mane, then rearing high up in the air, its hind feet
slipped and it fell with its rider down the steep mountain side.
Nothing was left of either of them except their bones, which rattled in
the battered, golden armor like dry peas in a pod.
And now there was only one more day before the close of the seven
years. Then there arrived on the scene a mere school boy-a merry,
happy-hearted youth, but at the same time strong and well grown. He
saw how many knights had broken their necks in vain, but undaunted he
approached the steep mountain on foot and began the ascent.
For long he had heard his parents speak of the beautiful princess who
sat in the golden castle at the top of the glass mountain. He listened
to all he heard and determined that he too would try his luck. But
first he went to the forest and caught a lynx, and cutting off the
creature's sharp claws, he fastened them on to his own hands and feet.
Armed with these weapons he boldly started up the glass mountain. The
sun was nearly going down, and the youth had not got more than halfway
up. He could hardly draw breath he was so worn out, and his mouth was
parched by thirst. A huge black cloud passed over his head, but in
vain did he beg and beseech her to let a drop of water fall on him. He
opened his mouth, but the black cloud sailed past and not as much as a
drop of dew moistened his dry lips.
His feet were torn and bleeding, and he could only hold on now with his
hands. Evening closed in, and he strained his eyes to see if he could
behold the top of the mountain. Then he gazed beneath him, and what a
sight met his eyes! A yawning abyss, with certain and terrible death
at the bottom, reeking with half-decayed bodies of horses and riders!
And this had been the end of all the other brave men who like himself
had attempted the ascent.
It was almost pitch dark now, and only the stars lit up the glass
mountain. The poor boy still clung on as if glued to the glass by his
blood-stained hands. He made no struggle to get higher, for all his
strength had left him, and seeing no hope he calmly awaited death.
Then all of a sudden he fell into a deep sleep, and forgetful of his
dangerous position he slumbered sweetly. But all the same, although he
slept, he had stuck his sharp claws so firmly into the glass that he
was quite safe not to fall.
Now, the golden apple tree was guarded by the eagle which had
overthrown the golden knight and his horse. Every night it flew round
the glass mountain keeping a careful lookout, and no sooner had the
moon emerged from the clouds than the bird rose up from the apple tree,
and circling round in the air caught sight of the sleeping youth.
Greedy for carrion, and sure that this must be a fresh corpse, the bird
swooped down upon the boy. But he was awake now, and perceiving the
eagle, he determined by its help to save himself.
The eagle dug its sharp claws into the tender flesh of the youth, but
he bore the pain without a sound and seized the bird's two feet with
his hands. The creature in terror lifted him high up into the air and
began to circle round the tower of the castle. The youth held on
bravely. He saw the glittering palace, which by the pale rays of the
moon looked like a dim lamp; and he saw the high windows, and round one
of them a balcony in which the beautiful princess sat lost in sad
thoughts. Then the boy saw that he was close to the apple tree, and
drawing a small knife from his belt he cut off both the eagle's feet.
The bird rose up in the air in its agony and vanished into the clouds,
and the youth fell on to the broad branches of the apple tree.
Then he drew out the claws of the eagle's feet that had remained in his
flesh and put the peel of one of the golden apples on the wound, and in
one moment it was healed and well again. He pulled several of the
beautiful apples and put them in his pocket; then he entered the
castle. The door was guarded by a great dragon, but as soon as he
threw an apple at it the beast vanished.
At the same moment a gate opened, and the youth perceived a courtyard
full of flowers and beautiful trees, and on a balcony sat the lovely
enchanted princess with her retinue.
As soon as she saw the youth she ran toward him and greeted him as her
husband and master. She gave him all her treasures, and the youth
became a rich and mighty ruler. But he never returned to the earth,
for only the mighty eagle, who had been the guardian of the princess
and of the castle, could have carried on his wings the enormous
treasure down to the world. But as the eagle had lost its feet, it
died, and its body was found in a wood on the glass mountain.
One day when the youth was strolling about the palace garden with the
princess, his wife, he looked down over the edge of the glass mountain
and saw to his astonishment a great number of people gathered there.
He blew his silver whistle, and the swallow who acted as messenger in
the golden castle flew past.
"Fly down and ask what the matter is," he said to the little bird, who
sped off like lightning and soon returned saying:
"The blood of the eagle has restored all the people below to life. All
those who have perished on this mountain are awakening up to-day, as it
were from a sleep, and are mounting their horses, and the whole
population are gazing on this unheard-of wonder with joy and
HUNTSMAN THE UNLUCKY
By John T. NaakÈ
ONCE upon a time there lived a huntsman. He would go every day in
search of game, but it often happened that he killed nothing, and so
was obliged to return home with his bag empty. On that account he was
nicknamed "Huntsman the Unlucky." At last he was reduced by his ill
fortune to such extremities that he had not a piece of bread nor a
kopek left. The wretched man wandered about the forest, cold and
hungry; he had eaten nothing for three days, and was nearly dying of
starvation. He lay down on the grass determined to put an end to his
existence; happily better thoughts came into his mind; he crossed
himself, and threw away the gun. Suddenly he heard a rustling noise
near him. It seemed to issue from some thick grass close at hand. The
hunter got up and approached the spot. He then observed that the grass
partly hid a gloomy abyss, from the bottom of which there rose a stone,
and on it lay a small jar. As he looked and listened the hunter heard
a small voice crying-
"Dear, kind traveler, release me!"
The voice seemed to proceed from the little jar. The courageous
hunter, walking carefully from one stone to another, approached the
spot where the jar lay, took it up gently, and heard a voice crying
from within like the chirping of a grasshopper-
"Release me, and I will be of service to you."
"Who are you, my little friend?" asked Huntsman the Unlucky.
"I have no name, and cannot be seen by human eyes," answered a soft
voice. "If you want me, call 'Murza!' A wicked magician put me in
this jar, sealed it with the seal of King Solomon, and then threw me
into this fearful place, where I have lain for seventy years."
"Very good," said Huntsman the Unlucky; "I will give you your liberty,
and then we shall see how you will keep your word." He broke the seal
and opened the little jar-there was nothing in it!
"Halloa! where are you, my friend?" cried the hunter.
"By your side," a voice answered.
The hunter looked about him, but could see no one.
"Ready! I await your orders. I am your servant for the next three
days, and will do whatever you desire. You have only to say, 'Go
there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what.'"
"Very well," said the hunter. "'You will doubtless know best what is
wanted: Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what."
As soon as the hunter had uttered these words there appeared before him
a table covered with dishes, each filled with the most delicious
viands, as if they had come direct from a banquet of the czar. The
hunter sat down at the table, and ate and drank till he was satisfied.
He then rose, crossed himself, and, bowing on all sides, exclaimed-
"Thank you! thank you!"
Instantly the table, and everything else with it, disappeared, and the
hunter continued his journey.
After walking some distance he sat down by the roadside to rest. It so
happened that while the hunter was resting himself, there passed
through the forest a gypsy thief, leading a horse which he wanted to
"I wish I had the money to buy the horse with," thought the hunter;
"what a pity my pockets are empty! However, I will ask my invisible
"Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what."
In less than a minute the hunter heard the money chinking in his
pocket; gold poured into them, he knew not how nor whence.
"Thanks! you have kept your word," said the hunter.
He then began to bargain with the gypsy for the horse. Having agreed
upon the price, he paid the man in gold, who, staring at the hunter
with his mouth wide open, wondered where Huntsman the Unlucky had got
so much money from. Parting from the hunter, the gypsy thief ran with
all his speed to the farther end of the forest, and whistled. There
was no answer. "They are asleep," thought the gypsy, and entered a
cavern where some robbers, lying on the skins of animals, were resting
"Halloa, comrades! Are you asleep?" cried the gypsy. "Get up, quick!
or you will lose a fine bird. He is alone in the forest, and his
pockets are full of gold. Make haste!"
The robbers sprang up, mounted their horses, and galloped after the
The hunter heard the clatter, and seeing himself suddenly surrounded by
robbers, cried out- "Murza!"
"Ready!" answered a voice near him. "Go there, I know not where;
bring something, I know not what."
There was a rustling noise heard in the forest, and then something from
behind the trees fell upon the robbers. They were knocked from their
horses, and scattered on all sides; yet no hand was seen to touch them.
The robbers, thrown upon the ground, could not raise themselves, and
the hunter, thankful and rejoicing at his deliverance, rode on, and
soon found his way out of the dark forest, and came upon a town.
Near this town there were pitched tents full of soldiers. Huntsman the
Unlucky was told that an enormous army of Tartars had come, under the
command of their khan, who, angry at being refused the hand of the
beautiful Princess Milovzora, the daughter of the czar, had declared
war against him. The hunter had seen the Princess Milovzora when she
was out hunting in the forest. She used to ride a beautiful horse, and
carry a golden lance in her hand; a magnificent quiver of arrows hung
from her shoulder. When her veil was lifted up she appeared like the
spring sunlight, to give light to the eyes and warmth to the heart.
The hunter reflected for a little while, and then cried, "Murza!"
In an instant he found himself dressed in splendid attire; his jacket
was embroidered with gold, he wore a beautiful mantle on his shoulders,
and ostrich feathers hung gracefully down from the top of his helmet,
fastened by a brooch of a ruby surrounded by pearls. The hunter went
into the castle, presented himself before the czar, and offered to
drive away the forces of the enemy on condition that the czar gave him
the beautiful Princess Milovzora for his wife.
The czar was greatly surprised, but did not like to refuse such an
offer at once; he first asked the hunter his name, his birth and his
"I am called Huntsman the Unlucky, Master of Murza the Invisible."
The czar thought the young stranger was mad; the courtiers, however,
who had seen him before, assured the czar that the stranger exactly
resembled Huntsman the Unlucky, whom they knew; but how he had got that
splendid dress they could not tell.
Then the czar demanded:
"Do you hear what they say? If you are telling lies, you will lose
your head. Let us see, then, how you will overcome the enemy with the
forces of your invisible Murza?"
"Be of good hope, czar," answered the hunter; "as soon as I say the
word, everything will be completed."
"Good," said the czar. "If you have spoken the truth you shall have my
daughter for your wife; if not, your head will be the forfeit."
The hunter said to himself, "I shall either become a prince, or I am a
He then whispered, "Murza, go there, I know not where; do this, I know
A few minutes passed, and there was nothing to be heard or seen.
Huntsman the Unlucky turned pale; the czar, enraged, ordered him to be
seized and put in irons, when suddenly the firing of guns was heard in
the distance. The czar and his courtiers ran out on the steps leading
to the castle, and saw bodies of men approaching from both right and
left, their standards waving gracefully in the air; the soldiers were
splendidly equipped. The czar could hardly believe his eyes, for he
himself had no troops so fine as these.
"This is no delusion!" cried Huntsman the Unlucky. "These are the
forces of my invisible friend."
"Let them drive away the enemy then, if they can," said the czar.
The hunter waved his handkerchief. The army wheeled into position;
music burst forth in a martial strain, and then a great cloud of dust
arose. When the dust had cleared away, the army was gone.