Part 4 out of 8
The czar invited Huntsman the Unlucky to dinner, and asked him numerous
questions about Murza the Invisible. At the second course the news
came that the enemy was flying in every direction, completely routed.
The terrified Tartars had left all their tents and baggage behind them.
The czar thanked the hunter for his assistance, and informed his
daughter that he had found a husband for her. Princess Milovzora
blushed upon receiving this intelligence, then turned pale, and began
to shed tears. The hunter whispered something to Murza, and the
princess's tears changed into precious stones as they fell. The
courtiers hastened to pick them up-they were pearls and diamonds. The
princess smiled at this, and overcome with pleasure gave her hand to
Huntsman the Unlucky-unlucky no longer. Then began the feast. But
here the story must end.
STORY OF LITTLE SIMPLETON
By John T. Naaké
ONCE there lived a peasant and his wife who had three daughters. The
two elder girls were cunning and selfish; the youngest was simple and
open-hearted, and on that account came to be called, first by her
sisters and afterward by her father and mother, "Little Simpleton."
Little Simpleton was pushed about, had to fetch everything that was
wanted, and was always kept at work; but she was ever ready to do what
she was told, and never uttered a word of complaint. She would water
the garden, prepare pine splinters, milk the cows, and feed the ducks;
she had to wait upon everybody-in a word, she was the drudge of the
One day, as the peasant was going with the hay to market, he asked his
daughters what they would like him to buy for them.
"Buy me some kumach (Red wool stuff from Bucharest) for a sarafan (A
long dress worn by the Russian peasant women) father," answered the
"And me some nankeen," said the second. The youngest daughter alone
did not ask for a present. The peasant was moved with compassion for
the girl; although a simpleton she was still his daughter.
Turning to her he asked "Well, Little Simpleton, what shall I buy for
Little Simpleton smiled and replied-
"Buy me, dearest father, a little silver plate and a little apple."
"What do you want them for?" asked her sisters.
"I will make the little apple roll round the plate, and will say some
words to it which an old woman taught me because I gave her a cake."
The peasant promised to buy his daughters what they asked of him, and
then started for market. He sold his hay, and bought the presents:
some nankeen for one of his daughters, for another some kumach, and for
Little Simpleton a little silver plate and a little apple. Then he
returned home and gave these things to his daughters.
The girls were delighted; the two elder ones made themselves sarafans,
and laughed at Little Simpleton, wondering what she would do with the
silver plate and the apple.
Little Simpleton did not eat the apple, but sat down in a corner and
"Roll, roll, little apple on the silver plate, and show me towns and
fields, forests and seas, lofty mountains and beautiful skies."
And the apple began to roll on the plate, and there appeared on it town
after town; ships sailing on the seas, and people in the fields;
mountains and beautiful skies; suns and stars. All these things looked
so beautiful, and were so wonderful, that it would be impossible to
tell of them in a story, or describe them with the pen.
At first the elder sisters looked at the little plate with delight;
soon, however, their hearts were filled with envy, and they began to
try to get it from their younger sister. But the girl would not part
with it on any account. Then the wicked girls said- "Dearest sister,
let us go into the forest to gather blackberries."
Little Simpleton got up, gave the plate and apple to her father, and
went with them into the forest. They walked about and gathered
blackberries. All at once they saw a spade lying upon the ground. The
wicked sisters killed Little Simpleton with it, and buried her under a
They returned home late, and told their father, "The Simpleton is lost;
she ran away from us in the forest; we searched, but could not find her
anywhere. The wolves must have eaten her."
The peasant regretted the loss of his daughter bitterly; for although
so simple she was still his child. The wicked sisters also shed tears.
Her father put the little silver plate and the little apple into a box,
and locked them up.
Next morning a shepherd was tending his sheep near the place, playing
on his pipe, and searching in the forest for one of his flock that was
missing. He observed the little grave under the birch tree; it was
covered by the most lovely flowers, and out of the middle of the grave
there grew a reed. The shepherd cut off the reed, and made a pipe of
it. As soon as the pipe was prepared, oh, wonderful! It began to play
of itself, and say-
"Play, oh pipe, play! and comfort my poor parents and sisters. I was
killed for the sake of my little silver plate and my little apple."
When the people heard of this they ran out of their huts, and all came
round the shepherd and began to ask him who was killed.
"Good people," answered the shepherd, "I don't know who it is. While
searching for one of my sheep in the forest, I came upon a grave
covered with flowers. Above them all stood a reed. I cut off the reed
and made this pipe of it. It plays of itself, and you have heard what
The father of Little Simpleton happened to be present. He took the
pipe into his own hand, and it began to play:
"Play, oh pipe, play! Comfort my poor father and mother. I was killed
for the sake of my little silver plate and my little apple." The
peasant asked the shepherd to take him to the place where he had cut
the reed. They all went into the forest, saw the grave, and were
astonished at the sight of the lovely flowers which grew there. They
opened the grave, and there discovered the body of a girl, which the
poor man recognized as that of his youngest daughter. There she lay,
murdered-but by whom no one could tell. The people asked one another
who it was that had killed the poor girl. Suddenly the pipe began to
"Oh, my dearest father; my sisters brought me to this forest, and here
killed me for the sake of my little plate and my little apple. You
will not bring me to life until you fetch some of the water from the
Then the wicked sisters confessed it all. They were seized and cast
into a dark prison, to await the pleasure of the czar. The peasant set
out for the capital. As soon as he arrived at the city, he went to the
palace, saw the czar, told his story, and begged permission to take
some water from the well. The czar said, "You may take some water of
life from my well, and as soon as you have restored your daughter to
life, bring her here with her little plate and the little apple; bring
your other two daughters also."
The peasant bowed to the ground, and returned home with a bottle full
of the water of life. He hastened to the grave in the forest, lifted
up the body of his daughter, and as soon as he had sprinkled it with
the water the girl came to life again, and threw herself into his arms.
All who were present were moved to tears.
Then the peasant started again for the capital, and arriving there went
at once to the czar's palace. The czar came out, and saw the peasant
with his three daughters, two of them with their arms bound, the third,
as beautiful as the spring flowers, stood near, the tears like diamonds
falling down her cheeks. The czar was very angry with the two wicked
sisters; then he asked the youngest for her little plate and apple.
The girl took the box from her father's hands, and said-
"Sire, what would you like to see? Your towns or your armies; the
ships at sea, or the beautiful stars in the sky?"
Then she made the little apple roll round the plate, and there appeared
on it many towns, one after the other, with bodies of soldiers near
them, with their standards and artillery. Then the soldiers made ready
for the fight, and the officers stood in their places. The firing
commenced, the smoke arose, and hid it all from view. The little apple
began again to roll on the plate, and there appeared the sea covered
with ships, their flags streaming in the wind. The guns began to fire,
the smoke arose, and again all disappeared from their sight. The apple
again began to roll on the plate, and there appeared on it the
beautiful sky with suns and stars.
The czar was astonished. The girl fell down on her knees before him,
"Oh, Sire, take my little plate and my little apple, and forgive my
The czar was moved by her tears and entreaties and forgave the wicked
sisters; the delighted girl sprang up and began to embrace and kiss
them. The czar smiled, took her by the hand and said, "I honor the
goodness of your heart, and admire your beauty. Would you like to
become my wife?"
"Sire," answered the beautiful girl, "I obey your royal command; but
allow me first to ask my parents' permission."
The delighted peasant at once gave his consent; they sent for the
mother, and she, too, gladly bestowed her blessing.
"One favor more," said the beautiful girl to the czar. "Permit my
parents and sisters to remain with me."
On hearing this the sisters fell down on their knees before her, and
"We are not worthy of so much favor!"
"Dearest sisters," said the beautiful girl, "all is forgotten and
forgiven. They who remember the past with malice deserve to lose their
She then tried to lift them up from the ground, but they, shedding
bitter tears, would not rise. Then the czar, looking at them with a
frown, bade them get up; he allowed them, however, to stay in the
A magnificent entertainment then began: the palace was splendidly
lighted up, and looked like the sun among the clouds. The czar and
czarina rode out in an open chariot and showed themselves to the
people, who cried joyfully-
"Long live czar and czarina! May they shine upon us like the glorious
sun for years and years to come!"
THE GOLDEN FISH
By L. M. Gask
UPON a certain island in the middle of the sea dwelt an old man and his
wife. They were so poor that they often went short of bread, for the
fish he caught were their only means of livelihood.
One day when the man had been fishing for many hours without success,
he hooked a small Gold Fish, whose eyes were bright as diamonds.
"Let me go, kind man," the little creature cried. "I should not make a
mouthful either for yourself or your wife, and my own mate waits for me
down in the waters."
The old man was so moved by his pleadings that he took him off the hook
and threw him back into the sea. Before he swam off to rejoin his
mate, the Gold Fish promised that in return for his kindness he would
come to the fisherman's help if ever he wanted him. Laughing merrily
at this, for he did not believe that a fish could help him except by
providing him with food, the old man went home and told his wife.
"What!" she cried, "you actually let him go when you had caught him?
It was just like your stupidity. We have not a scrap of bread in the
house, and now, I suppose, we must starve!"
Her reproaches continued for so long that though he scarcely believed
what the fish had said, the poor old man thought that at least it would
do no harm to put him to the test. He therefore hastened back to the
shore, and stood at the very edge of the waves.
"Golden Fish, Golden Fish!" he called. "Come to me, I pray, with your
tail in the water, and your head lifted up toward me!"
As the last word was uttered the Gold Fish popped up his head.
"You see I have kept my promise," he said. "What can I do for you, my
"There is not a scrap of bread in the house," quavered the old man,
"and my wife is very angry with me for letting you go.
"Don't trouble about that!" said the Gold Fish in an off-hand manner;
"you will find bread, and to spare, when you go home." And the old man
hurried away to see if his little friend had spoken truly.
Surely enough, he found that the pan was full of fine white loaves.
"I did not do so badly for you after all, good wife!" he said, as they
ate their supper; but his wife was anything but satisfied. The more
she had, the more she wanted, and she lay awake planning what they
should demand from the Gold Fish next.
"Wake up, you lazy man!" she cried to her husband, early next morning.
"Go down to the sea and tell your fish that I must have a new washtub."
The old man did as his wife bade him, and the moment he called the Gold
Fish reappeared. He seemed quite willing to grant the new request, and
on his return home the old man found a beautiful new washtub in the
small yard at the back of their cabin.
"Why didn't you ask for a new cabin too?" his wife said angrily. "If
you had had a grain of sense you would have done this without being
told. Go back at once, and say that we must have one.
The old man was rather ashamed to trouble his friend again so soon; but
the Gold Fish was as obliging as ever.
"Very well," he said, "a new cabin you shall have." And the old mart
found one so spick-and-span that he hardly dare cross the floor for
fear of soiling it. It would have pleased him greatly had his wife
been contented, but she, good woman, did nothing but grumble still.
"Tell your Gold Fish," she said next day, "that I want to be a duchess,
with many servants at my beck and call, and a splendid carriage to
Once more her wish was granted, but now her husband's plight was hard
indeed. She would not let him share her palace, but ordered him off to
the stables, where he was forced to keep company with her grooms. In a
few days, however, he grew reconciled to his lot, for here he could
live in peace, while he learned that she was leading those around her a
terrible life, it was not long before she sent for him again.
"Summon the Gold Fish," she commanded haughtily, "and tell him I wish
to be Queen of the Waters, and to rule over all the fish."
The poor old man felt sorry for the fish if they had to be under her
rule, for prosperity had quite spoiled her. However, he dared not
disobey, and once more summoned his powerful friend.
"Make your wife the Queen of the Waters?" exclaimed the Gold Fish.
"That is the last thing I should do. She is unfit to reign, for she
cannot rule herself or her desires. I shall make her once more a poor
old woman. Adieu! You will see me no more."
The old man returned sorrowfully with this unpleasant message, to find
the palace transformed into a humble cabin, and his wife in a skirt of
threadbare stuff in place of the rich brocade which she had worn of
late. She was sad and humble, and much more easy to live with than she
had been before. Her husband therefore had occasion many times to
think gratefully of the Gold Fish, and sometimes when drawing up his
net the glint of the sun upon the scales of his captives would give him
a moment's hope-which, alas! was as often disappointed-that once again
he was to see his benefactor.
THE WONDERFUL HAIR
By W. S. Karajich
THERE once lived a man who was very poor, and who had many children; so
many that he was unable to support them. As he could not endure the
idea of their perishing of hunger, he was often tempted to destroy
them; his wife alone prevented him. One night, as he lay asleep, there
appeared to him a lovely child in a vision. The child said-
"Oh, man! I see your soul is in danger, in the thought of killing your
helpless children. But I know you are poor, and am come here to help
you. You will find under your pillow in the morning a looking-glass, a
red handkerchief, and an embroidered scarf. Take these three things,
but show them to no one, and go to the forest. In that forest you will
find a rivulet. Walk by the side of this rivulet until you come to its
source; there you will see a girl, as bright as the sun, with long hair
streaming down her shoulders. Take care that she does you no harm.
Say not a word to her; for if you utter a single syllable, she will
change you into a fish or some other creature, and eat you. Should she
ask you to comb her hair, obey her. As you comb it, you will find one
hair as red as blood; pull it out, and run away with it. Be swift, for
she will follow you. Then throw on the ground, first the embroidered
scarf, then the red handkerchief, and last of all the looking-glass;
they will delay her pursuit of you. Sell the hair to some rich man;
but see that you do not allow yourself to be cheated, for it is of
boundless worth. Its produce will make you rich and thus you will be
able to feed your children."
Next morning, when the poor man awoke, he found under his pillow
exactly the things the child mad told him of in his dream. He went
immediately into the forest, and when he had discovered the rivulet he
walked by the side of it, on and on, until he reached its source.
There he saw a girl sitting on the bank, threading a needle with the
rays of the sun. She was embroidering a net made of the hair of
heroes, spread on a frame before her. He approached and bowed to her.
The girl got up and demanded-
"Where did you come from, strange knight?"
The man remained silent. Again she asked him-
"Who are you, and why do you come here?" And many other questions.
But he remained silent as a stone, indicating with his hands only that
he was dumb and in need of help. She told him to sit at her feet, and
when he had gladly done so, she inclined her head toward him, that he
might comb her hair. He began to arrange her hair as if to comb it,
but as soon as he had found the red one, he separated it from the rest,
plucked it out, leaped up, and ran from her with his utmost speed.
The girl sprang after him, and was soon at his heels. The man, turning
round as he ran, and seeing that his pursuer would soon overtake him,
threw the embroidered scarf on the ground, as he had been told. When
the girl saw it, she stopped and began to examine it; turning it over
on both sides, and admiring the embroidery. Meanwhile the man gained a
considerable distance in advance. The girl tied the scarf round her
bosom and recommenced the pursuit. When the man saw that she was again
about to overtake him, he threw down the red handkerchief. At the
sight of it, the girl again stopped, examined, and wondered at it; the
peasant, in the meantime, was again enabled to increase the distance
between them. When the girl perceived this, she became furious, and
throwing away both scarf and handkerchief began to run with increased
speed after him. She was just upon the point of catching the poor
peasant, when he threw the looking-glass at her feet. At the sight of
the looking-glass, the like of which she had never seen before, the
girl checked herself, picked it up, and looked in it. Seeing her own
face, she fancied there was another girl looking at her. While she was
thus occupied the man ran so far that she could not possibly overtake
him. When the girl saw that further pursuit was useless, she turned
back, and the peasant, joyful and unhurt, reached his home. Once
within doors he showed the hair to his wife and children, and told them
all that had happened to him; but his wife only laughed at the Story.
The peasant, however, took no heed of her ridicule, but went to a
neighboring town to sell the hair. He was soon surrounded by a crowd
of people, and some merchants began to bid for his prize. One merchant
offered him one gold piece, another two, for the single hair, and so
on, until the price rose to a hundred gold pieces. Meanwhile the king,
hearing of the wonderful red hair, ordered the peasant to be called in,
and offered him a thousand gold pieces for it. The man joyfully sold
it for that sum.
What wonderful kind of hair was this after all? The king split it
carefully open from end to end, and in it was found the story of many
marvelous secrets of nature, and of things that had happened since the
creation of the world.
Thus the peasant became rich, and henceforth lived happily with his
wife and children. The child he had seen in his dream, was an angel
sent down from heaven to succor him, and to reveal to mankind the
knowledge of many wonderful things which had hitherto remained
THE LANGUAGE OF ANIMALS
By W. S. Karajich
A CERTAIN man had a shepherd who had served him faithfully and honestly
for many years. One day, as the Shepherd was tending his sheep, he
heard a hissing noise in the forest, and wondered what it could he. He
went, therefore, into the wood in the direction of the sound, to learn
what it was. There he saw that the dry grass and leaves had caught
fire, and in the middle of a burning circle a Snake was hissing. The
Shepherd stopped to see what the Snake would do, for the fire was
burning all around it, and the flames approached it nearer and nearer
every moment. Then the Snake cried from amid the fire-
"Oh, Shepherd! for heaven's sake save me from this fire!"
The Shepherd stretched out his crook over the flames to the Snake, and
the Snake passed along it on to his hand, and from his hand it crawled
to his neck, where it twisted itself round.
When the Shepherd perceived this, he was greatly alarmed, and said to
"What have I done in an evil hour? Have I saved you to my own
The Snake answered him, "Fear not, but carry me to my father's house.
My father is the King of the snakes."
The Shepherd, however, began to beg the Snake to excuse him, saying
that he could not leave the sheep; but the Snake answered-
"Be not troubled about the sheep; no harm shall happen to them; only go
as fast as you can."
The Shepherd then walked through the forest with the Snake until he
came to a gate which was entirely made of snakes knotted together.
There the Snake on the Shepherd's neck gave a whistle, and all the
other snakes untwisted themselves. Then the Snake said to the
"When we come to my father's palace he will give you whatever you ask
for: silver, gold, and precious stones. Do you, however, take nothing
of these, but beg to know the language of the brutes and other
creatures. He will refuse you this for a long time, but at last he
will grant your request."
Meanwhile they came to the palace, to the father, who, shedding many
"For heaven's sake! my dearest daughter, where have you been?"
And she told him in due order how she had been surrounded by the forest
fire, and how the Shepherd had rescued her. Then the King of the
snakes turned to the Shepherd and said to him-
"What would you have me give you for the deliverance of my daughter?"
The Shepherd answered, "Only let me understand the language of animals;
I want nothing else."
Then the King said, "That is not good for you; for if I were to bestow
upon you the gift of the knowledge of the tongue of animals, and you
were to tell anyone of it, you would instantly die. Ask, therefore,
for something else; whatever you desire to possess, I will give to
To which the Shepherd replied-
"If you wish to give me anything, then grant me the knowledge of the
language of brute creatures; but if you do not care to give me that-
farewell, and God protect you! I want nothing else." And the Shepherd
turned to leave the place.
Then the King called him back, saying-
"Stay! come here to me, since you will have it at all hazards. Open
The Shepherd opened his mouth, and the King of the snakes breathed into
it, and said-
"Do you now breathe into my mouth."
The Shepherd breathed into his mouth, and the Snake King breathed again
into that of the Shepherd. After they had breathed each three times
into the other's mouth, the King said-
"Now you understand the language of animals, and of all created things.
Go in peace, and God be with you! but for the life of you, tell no one
of this; if you do, you will die on the instant!"
The Shepherd returned home through the forest. As he walked he heard
and understood all that the birds said, and the grass and all the other
things that are upon the earth. When he came to his sheep and found
them all together and quite safe, he laid himself down to rest.
Scarcely had he lain down when there flew two ravens toward him, who
took their perch upon a tree, and began to talk together in their own
"What if that Shepherd only knew that underneath the place where the
black lamb lies there is a cellar full of silver and gold!'
When the Shepherd heard this, he went to his master, and told him of
it. The master took a cart with him, and they dug down to a door
leading to the cave, and removed the treasure to his house. But the
master was an honest man, and gave all the treasure to the Shepherd,
"My son, all this treasure is yours, for heaven has given it to you.
Buy yourself a house with it, marry, and live happily in it."
The Shepherd took the treasure, built himself a house, and, having
married, lived a happy life. Soon he became known as the richest man,
not only in his own village, but so rich that there was not his equal
in the whole neighborhood. He had his own shepherd, cow keeper,
hostler, and swineherd; plenty of goods and chattels, and great riches.
One day, just before Christmas, he said to his wife, "Get some wine,
and some brandy, and all things necessary; to-morrow we will go to the
farmyard and take the good things to the shepherds that they may also
The wife followed his directions and prepared all that he had told her.
When they arrived on the following day at the farmhouse, the master
said to the shepherds in the evening--
"Come here, all of you; eat, drink, and be merry. I will watch over
the flocks for you to-night." And he went, in very deed, and remained
with the flocks.
About midnight the wolves began to howl and the dogs to bark, and the
wolves said in their language-
"May we come in and do what mischief we like? Then you, too, shall
have your share."
And the dogs answered in their language, "Come in; and we will eat our
fill with you."
But among the dogs there was an old one, who had but two teeth in his
head, and he said to the wolves-
"That will not do. So long as I have my two teeth in my head you shall
do no harm to my master nor his."
The master heard it all, and understood what was said. On the
following morning he ordered all the dogs to be killed save only the
old one. The hinds said, "Heaven forbid, sir; that would be a great
pity!" But the master answered, "Do what I have told you."
Then he prepared to return home with his wife, and they both mounted
their horses. And as they rode on, the husband got a little ahead,
while the wife fell behind. At last the husband's horse neighed, and
called to the mare-
"Come on! make haste! Why do you lag behind!"
And the mare answered him, "Ah yes, it is all very easy for you: you
have only one to carry, the master; while I have to carry two, the
mistress and her baby."
The husband turned round and laughed, and his wife seeing this, urged
the mare forward, overtook her husband, and asked him what he had been
"Nothing; I do not know; just something that came into my mind,"
answered the husband.
But the wife was not satisfied with this answer, and she pressed him
again and again to tell her why he had laughed.
But he excused himself, and said-
"Let me alone, wife! What is the matter with you? I do not know
myself why I laughed."
But the more he denied her the more she insisted upon his telling her
what he had been laughing at. At last the husband said to her-
"Know then, that if I tell you the reason, I shall instantly die."
The woman, however, did not care for that, but urged him to tell her
Meanwhile they had reached home. The husband ordered a coffin to be
made immediately, and when it was ready he had it placed before the
house, and said to his wife-
"See now, I now lay me down in this coffin, and then tell you why I
laughed; but as soon as I have told you I shall die."
The husband lay down in the coffin, and looked around him for the last
time. And there came the old Dog from the farmyard, and sat down at
his head and whined. The husband seeing this, said to his wife-
"Bring a piece of bread and give it to this Dog."
The wife brought out a piece of bread, and threw it down to the Dog;
but the Dog would not even look at it. Then the House Cock ran up, and
began to pick at the bread; and the Dog said to it-
"You miserable greedy thing, you! You can eat, and yet you see that
the master is going to die!"
The Cock answered the Dog, "And let him die since he is such a fool. I
have a hundred wives, and I call them all together whenever I find a
grain of corn, and as soon as they have come round me, I swallow it
myself. And if any one of them got angry, I should be at her directly
with my beak. The master has only one wife, and he cannot even manage
When the husband heard this he quickly sprang out of the coffin, took
up a stick, and called his wife into the room.
"Come, wife," he said, "I will tell you what you so much want to hear."
Then as he beat her with the stick he cried, "This is it, wife! This
In this way he quieted his wife, and she never asked him again what he
had been laughing at.
THE EMPEROR TROJAN'S GOAT'S EARS
By W. S. Karajich
THERE once lived an emperor whose name was Trojan. This emperor had
goat's ears, and he used to call in barber after barber to shave him.
But whoever went in never came out again; for while the barber was
shaving him, the emperor would ask what he observed uncommon in him,
and when the barber would answer that he observed his goat's ears, the
Emperor would immediately cut him into pieces.
At last it came to the turn of a certain barber to go who feigned
illness, and sent his apprentice instead. When the apprentice appeared
before the emperor he was asked why his master did not come, and he
answered, "Because he is ill." Then the emperor sat down, and allowed
the youth to shave him.
As he shaved him the apprentice noticed the emperor's goat's ears, but
when Trojan asked him what he had observed, he answered, "I have
Then the emperor gave him twelve ducats, and said to him-
"From this time forth you shall always come and shave me.
When the apprentice came home, his master asked him how he got on at
the emperor's, and the youth answered--
"All well; and the emperor has told me that I am to shave him in
Then he showed the twelve ducats he had received; but as to the
emperor's goat's ears, of that he said nothing.
>From this time forth the apprentice went regularly to Trojan to shave
him, and for each shaving he received twelve ducats; but he told no one
that the emperor had goat's ears.
At last it began to worry and torment him that he dare tell no one his
secret; and he became sick and began to pine away. His master, who
could not fail to observe this, asked him what ailed him, and after
much pressing the apprentice confessed that he had something on his
heart which he dared not confide to anyone, and he added, "If I could
only tell it to somebody, I should feel better at once."
Then said the master-
"Tell it to me, and I will faithfully keep it from everybody else; or
if you fear to trust me with it, then go to the confessor and confide
it to him; but if you will not do even that, then go into the fields
outside the town, there dig a hole, thrust your head into it, and tell
the earth three times what you know, then throw the mold in again and
fill up the hole."
The apprentice chose the last course; went into the field outside the
city, dug a hole, into which he thrust his head, and called out three
"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears."
Then he filled up the hole again, and with his mind quite relieved went
When some time had passed by, there sprang an elder tree out of this
very hole, and three slender sterns grew up, beautiful and straight as
tapers. Some shepherds found this elder, cut off one of the stems, and
made a pipe of it. But as soon as they began to blow into the new
pipe, out burst the words:
"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"
The news of this strange occurrence spread immediately through the
whole city, and at last the Emperor Trojan himself heard the children
blowing on a pipe:
"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"
He sent instantly for the barber's apprentice, and shouted to him-
"Heh! what is this you have been telling the people about me."
The poor youth began at once to explain that he had indeed noticed the
emperor's ears, but had never told a soul of it. The emperor tore his
saber out of its sheath to hew the apprentice down, at which the youth
was so frightened that he told the whole story in its order: how he had
confessed himself to the earth; how an elder tree had sprang up on the
very spot; and how, when a pipe was made of one of its sterns, the tale
was sounded in every direction.
Then the emperor took the apprentice with him in a carriage to the
place, to convince himself of the truth of the story; and when they
arrived there they found there was only a single stem left. The
Emperor Trojan ordered a pipe to be made out of this stem, that he
might hear how it sounded. As soon as the pipe was ready, and one of
them blew into it, out poured the words:
"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"
Then the emperor was convinced that nothing on this earth could be
hidden, spared the barber apprentices life, and henceforth allowed any
barber, without exception, to come and shave him.
THE MAIDEN WHO WAS WISER THAN THE KING
By W. S. Karajich
THERE once lived a poor man in a miserable hovel, who had no one with
him save an only daughter. But she was very wise, and went about
everywhere seeking alms, and taught her father also to speak in a
becoming manner when he begged. It happened once that the poor man
came to the king and asked for a gift. The king demanded whence he
came, and who had taught him to speak so well. The man said whence he
came, and that it was his daughter who had taught him.
"And who taught your daughter?" asked the king.
The poor man answered: "God, and our great poverty.''
Then the king gave him thirty eggs, saying-
"Take these eggs to your daughter, and tell her to hatch chickens out
of them, and I will reward her handsomely; but if she cannot hatch
them, it will go ill with you."
The poor man went crying back to his hovel, and related to his daughter
what had passed. The maiden saw at once that the eggs had been boiled,
but she told her father to go to rest, and assured him that she would
see that all went well. The father followed her advice, and went to
sleep; the maiden took a pot, filled it with water and beans, and set
it on the fire. On the following morning, the beans being quite
boiled, she told her father to take a plow and oxen, and to plow along
the road where the king would pass.
"And," she added, "when you see the king, take the beans, sow them, and
cry, 'Hi! go on, oxen mine! Heaven be with me, and make my boiled
beans take root and grow!' And when the king asks you how it is
possible for boiled beans to grow, answer him, that it is quite as
possible as for boiled eggs to yield chickens."
The poor man hearkened to his daughter, went away, and began to plow.
When he saw the king coming he began to cry-
"Hi, go on, oxen mine! God help me, and make my boiled beans take root
The king, hearing these words, stopped on the road, and said to the
"Here, fellow! how is it possible for boiled beans to grow?"
And the poor man answered him-
"Heaven prosper you, king! just as possible as for boiled eggs to
The king guessed at once that it was the poor man's daughter who had
taught him this answer. He ordered his servants to seize him and bring
him into his presence. Then he gave him a bundle of flax, and said to
"Take this flax and make out of it ropes and sails and all that is
wanted on shipboard; if you do not, you shall lose your head."
The poor man took the bundle in great fear, and went crying home to his
daughter, to whom he related all that had passed. But the maiden sent
him again to rest with the promise that all should go well. On the
following day she took a small piece of wood, awoke her father, and
said to him-
"Take this wood, and carry it to the king; let him cut a spinning
wheel, a spindle, and a loom out of it, and I will do all that he
demands of me."
The poor man again followed the directions of his daughter; he went to
the king and delivered the maiden's message. The king was astonished
at hearing this, and began to think what he should do next. At last he
took up a small cup, and said as he gave it to the father-
"Take this cup to your daughter, and let her empty the sea with it, so
that it shall become like a dry field."
The poor man obeyed with tears in his eyes, and took the cup to his
daughter with the king's message. But the maiden told him he need only
leave the matter till the morning, when she would see to it.
In the morning she called her father, and gave him a pound of tow to
take to the king, and bade him say:
"Let the king stop up all the springs and river mouths of the earth
with this tow, and then will I dry up the sea for him."
And the poor man went and told this to the king.
Now the king saw that this maiden was wiser that he was himself, and he
ordered her to be brought before him. And when the father and daughter
stood in his presence and bowed before him, he said to the daughter-
"Tell me, girl, what is it that man hears the farthest?"
And the maiden answered- "Great king! that which man hears the
farthest is the thunder, and a lie."
Upon this the king took hold of his beard, and turning to his
councilors, demanded of them:
"Tell me what my beard is worth?"
And when one valued it at so much, and another at so much more, the
maiden told them outright that they could not guess it. "The king's
beard," she said, "is of as much worth as three rainy days in summer
The king was astonished and exclaimed, "The maiden has made the best
Then he asked her if she would be his wife, nor would he desist from
pressing his suit, until she agreed to it. The maiden bent before him
"Glorious king! let it be as you will; but I beg of you to write on a
piece of paper with your own hand, that, should you ever be angry with
me, and should drive me forth from your palace, I shall be at liberty
to take whatever I love dearest away with me."
And the king agreed and wrote out the paper. After some time had
passed away, it came, in fact, to pass, that the king became one day so
angry with his wife, that he said to her-
"I will have you no longer for my wife; leave my palace, and go where
"Illustrious king!" answered the queen, "I will obey you. Permit me,
however, to stay here over the night, then in the morning I will go
The king granted her prayer; and the queen before supper mixed some
brandy and some sweet herbs in the king's wine, and pressed him to
partake of it, saying-
"Drink, O king, and be merry. To-morrow we part; and believe me, I
shall then be happier than when I married you."
The king drank too much, and when he was fast asleep, the queen had him
laid in a wagon ready prepared, and drove with him into a rocky cavern.
And when the king awoke in the cavern, and saw where he was, he cried
"Who has brought me here?"
"I have brought you here," answered the queen.
The king demanded of her:
"Why have you done this? Have I not told you that you are no longer my
Then said she, as she drew forth a sheet of paper-
"It is true what you say; but see what you yourself have laid down on
this sheet: that when I should leave you, I might take with me, from
your palace, that which I loved best."
When the king heard this, he kissed her, and went back with her to the
THE THREE SONS
By Lady Gregory
I'LL tell you a story, says the old man who was bringing fish from the
sea; and after that I'll be going on to Ballinrobe, to one that has a
shop there and that was reared by my grandmother. It is likely he'll
give me a tasty suit of clothes.
Working all my life I am, working with the flail in the barn, working
with the spade at the potato tilling and the potato digging, breaking
stones on the road. And four years ago the wife died, and it's
lonesome to be housekeeping alone.
There was a King long ago in Ireland, and he had three sons, and one of
them was something silly. There came a sickness on the King, and he
called his three sons, and he said to them that he had knowledge the
only thing would cure him was the apples from Burnett's orchard, and he
bade them to go look for them, for that orchard was in some far-away
place, and no one could tell where it was.
The three sons went then, and they caught their horses, and put on
their bridles, and they set out, and went on till they came to three
crossroads. There they stopped, and they settled among themselves that
each one of them would take one of the roads and go searching for the
apples, and they would meet at the same place at the end of a year and
The youngest son, that was a bit silly, took the crossest of the roads,
and he went on till he came to a cottage by the roadside. He went in,
and there was a withered old man in the house, and he said: "There is
a great welcome before the King of Ireland's son!" The son was
astonished at that because he thought no one could know him. He was
well received there, and in the course of the evening he asked the old
man did he know where was Burnett's garden. "I am a hundred years
old," said the man, "and I never heard of such a place. But I have a
brother," he said, "that is a hundred years older than I am, and it may
be he would know," he said.
So in the morning he gave a canoe to the King's son, and it went on of
itself without him turning or guiding it, till it brought him to the
old man's brother, and he got a welcome there and good treatment, and
in the course of the night he asked that old man did he know where was
"I do not," said he: "though I am two hundred years old I never heard
of it. But go on," he said, "to a brother I have that has a hundred
years more than myself."
So in the morning, he went into the canoe, and it went on of itself
till it came to where the third old man was, that was older again than
the other two, and the King's son asked did he know where was Burnett's
garden. "I do not," he said, "although I am three hundred years old;
but I will tell you how you will know it," he said. "Go on till you
come to shore, where you will see a Swan-Gander standing by the water,
and he is the one that can tell you and can bring you to it," he said.
"And ask him to bring you to that garden in the name of the Almighty
So the King's son went on in the canoe till he came where the Swan-
Gander was standing on the shore. "Can you tell me," says he, "where
can I get the apples that are in Burnett's orchard? And can you bring
me there?" he said.
"Indeed," said the Swan-Gander, "I am in no way obliged to your leader,
or to whoever it was sent you to me and gave you that teaching. And
those apples are well minded," he said, "by wolves; and the only time
they sleep is for three hours once in every seven years. And it
chances they are asleep for those three hours at this time; and so I
will bring you there," he said.
With that he stretched out his wings, and he bade the King's son to get
on his back. And it was long before he could start flying with the
weight that was on him; but at last he flew away, and he brought the
King's son to Burnett's garden, and there was a high wall around it,
but he flew over the wall, and put him down in the garden. The King's
son filled his bag with the apples, and when he had done that he went
looking around, and he came to a large cottage in the garden, and he
went in, and there was no one in the house but a beautiful young girl,
and she was asleep. So he went away; but he brought with him the gold
rings and the gold garters that he saw there in the window.
He got up again on the back of the Swan-Gander, but it was hard for it
to rise with the weight of the bag of apples. But it did rise at last,
and it brought him to where the old man was that was three hundred
years old. The King's son gave one of the apples to the old man, and
no sooner did he eat it than his age left him, and he was like a boy of
He went on then to the two other old men, and gave an apple to both of
them, and no sooner did they eat it than they were like young boys
Then the King's son went back to the crossroads, for it was the end of
the year and a day, and he was the first to come there, and he fell
asleep. The two brothers came and saw him there, and they stole the
bag of apples from under his head and put in the place of it a bag of
apples that were no use at all. Then they went on to their father's
house, and they gave him the apples they had stolen, and he was cured
on the moment; but they told him that what the youngest son was
bringing to him was poison apples, that would bring him to his death.
The King was very angry when he heard that, and he went to his butler
and said, "Go out to the wood where my son is, and shoot him, and bring
his heart here with you on the top of a gun and throw it to the dogs at
the door; for I will never have him, or anything belonging to him,
brought into the house," he said.
So the butler got the gun, and went out to the wood; and when he saw
the young man he was going to shoot him. "Why would you do that?"
said he. So the butler told him all the father ordered him; and the
young man said, "Do not shoot me, but save me. And this is what you
will do. Go into the wood until you meet with a woodcock, and shoot
it, and take the heart out of it, for that is most like the heart of a
man. Bring the woodcock's heart to my father's house," he said, "and
throw it to the dogs at the door."
So the butler did that, and spared him, and took the woodcock's heart
and threw it to the dogs at the door.
It was a good while after that, a beautiful young lady came to the
King's doorway in a coach and four, and stopped at the door. "Send out
my husband to me here," she said. So the eldest son came out to her.
"Was it you came to the garden for the apples?" says she. "It was,"
says he. "What things did you take notice of in the cottage where I
was?" says she.
So he began telling of this thing and that thing that never was in it
And when she heard that she gave him a clout that knocked his head as
solid as any stone in the wall.
Then the second son came out, and she asked him the same question, and
he told the same lies, and she gave him another clout that left his
head as solid as any stone in the wall.
When the King heard all that, he knew they had deceived him, and that
it was the youngest son who got the apples for his cure, and he began
to cry after him and to lament that he was not living to come back
again. "Would you like to know he is living yet?" says the butler.
"I would sooner hear it than any word ever I heard," says the King.
"Well he is living yet, and is in the wood," says the butler.
When the young lady heard that, she bade the butler bring her to where
he was, and they went together to the wood, and there they found him,
where he had been living on the fruits of trees through the most of the
year. When the young lady saw him, she said: "Was it you came to the
house where I was in the garden?" "It was," says he.
"What things did you take notice of in it?"
"Here they are," says he. And he put his hand in his pocket, and
brought out the gold rings and the golden garters, and the other signs
he had brought away.
So she knew that he was the right one, and she married him, and they
lived happy ever after, and there was great rejoicing in the King of
HOK LEE AND THE DWARFS
Retold by Andrew Lang
THERE once lived in a small town in China a man named Hok Lee. He was
a steady, industrious man, who not only worked hard at his trade, but
did all his own housework as well, for he had no wife to do it for him.
"What an excellent, industrious man is this Hok Lee!" said his
neighbors. "How hard he works! He never leaves his house to amuse
himself or to take a holiday as others do!"
But Hok Lee was by no means the virtuous person his neighbors thought
him. True, he worked hard enough by day, but at night, when all
respectable folk were fast asleep, he used to steal out and join a
dangerous band of robbers, who broke into rich people's houses and
carried off all they could lay hands on.
This state of things went on for some time, and though a thief was
caught now and then and punished, no suspicion ever fell on Hok Lee, he
was such a very respectable, hard-working man.
Hok Lee had already amassed a good store of money as his share of the
proceeds of these robberies, when it happened one morning on going to
market that a neighbor said to him:
"Why, Hok Lee, what is the matter with your face? One side of it is
all swelled up."
True enough, Hok Lee's right cheek was twice the size of his left, and
it soon began to feel very uncomfortable.
"I will bind up my face," said Hok Lee. "Doubtless the warmth will
cure the swelling." But no such thing. Next day it was worse, and day
by day it grew bigger and bigger till it was nearly as large as his
head and became very painful.
Hok Lee was at his wits' end what to do. Not only was his check
unsightly and painful, but his neighbors began to jeer and make fun of
him, which hurt his feelings very much indeed.
One day, as luck would have it, a traveling doctor came to the town.
He sold not only all kinds of medicine, but also dealt in many strange
charms against witches and evil spirits.
Hok Lee determined to consult him and asked him into his house. After
the doctor had examined him carefully he spoke thus:
"This, Hok Lee, is no ordinary swelled face. I strongly suspect you
have been doing some wrong deed which has called down the anger of the
spirits on you. None of my drugs will avail to cure you, but if you
are willing to pay me handsomely I can tell you how you may be cured."
Then Hok Lee and the doctor began to bargain together, and it was a
long time before they could come to terms. However, the doctor got the
better of it in the end, for he was determined not to part with his
secret under a certain price, and Hok Lee had no mind to carry his huge
cheek about with him to the end of his days. So he was obliged to part
with the greater portion of his ill-gotten gains.
When the doctor had pocketed the money he told Hok Lee to go on the
first night of the full moon to a certain wood and there to watch by a
particular tree. After a time he would see the dwarfs and little
sprites who live underground come out to dance. When they saw him they
would be sure to make him dance too. "And mind you dance your very
best," added the doctor. "If you dance well and please them they will
grant you a petition and you can then beg to be cured; but if you dance
badly they will most likely do you some mischief out of spite." With
that he took leave and departed.
Happily the first night of the full moon was near, and at the proper
time Hok Lee set out for the wood. With a little trouble he found the
tree the doctor had described, and feeling nervous he climbed up into
He had hardly settled himself on a branch when he saw the little dwarfs
assembling in the moonlight. They came from all sides, till at length
there appeared to be hundreds of them. They seemed in high glee and
danced and skipped and capered about, while Hok Lee grew so eager
watching them that he crept farther and farther along his branch till
at length it gave a loud crack. All the dwarfs stood still, and Hok
Lee felt as if his heart stood still also.
Then one of the dwarfs called out: "Some one is up in that tree. Come
down at once, whoever you are, or we must come and fetch you."
In great terror Hok Lee proceeded to come down; but he was so nervous
that he tripped near the ground and came rolling down in the most
absurd manner. When he had picked himself up he came forward with a
low bow, and the dwarf who had first spoken and who appeared to be the
leader said: "Now, then, who art thou and what brings thee here?"
So Hok Lee told him the sad story of his swelled cheek, and how he had
been advised to come to the forest and beg the dwarfs to cure him.
"It is well," replied the dwarf. "We will see about that. First,
however, thou must dance before us. Should thy dancing please us,
perhaps we may be able to do something; but shouldst thou dance badly
we shall assuredly punish thee, so now take warning and dance away."
With that, he and all the other dwarfs sat down in a large ring,
leaving Hok Lee to dance alone in the middle. He felt half-frightened
to death, and besides was a good deal shaken by his fall from the tree
and did not feel at all inclined to dance. But the dwarfs were not to
be trifled with.
"Begin!" cried their leader, and "Begin!" shouted the rest in chorus.
So in despair Hok Lee began. First he hopped on one foot and then on
the other, but he was so stiff and so nervous that he made but a poor
attempt, and after a time sank down on the ground and vowed he could
dance no more.
The dwarfs were very angry. They crowded round Hok Lee and abused him.
"Thou to come here to be cured, indeed!" they cried. "Thou hast
brought one big cheek with thee, but thou shalt take away two." And
with that they ran off and disappeared, leaving Hok Lee to find his way
home as best he might.
He hobbled away, weary and depressed, and not a little anxious on
account of the dwarfs' threat.
Nor were his fears unfounded, for when he rose next morning his left
cheek was swelled up as big as his right, and he could hardly see out
of his eyes. Hok Lee felt in despair, and his neighbors jeered at him
more than ever. The doctor, too, had disappeared, so there was nothing
for it but to try the dwarfs once more.
He waited a month till the first night of the full moon came round
again, and then he trudged back to the forest and sat down under the
tree from which he had fallen. He had not long to wait. Ere long the
dwarfs came trooping out till all were assembled.
"I don't feel quite easy," said one. "I feel as if some horrid human
being were near us."
When Hok Lee heard this he came forward and bent down to the ground
before the dwarfs, who came crowding round and laughed heartily at his
comical appearance with his two big cheeks.
"'What dost thou want?" they asked; and Hok Lee proceeded to tell them
of his fresh misfortunes and begged so hard to be allowed one more
trial at dancing that the dwarfs consented, for there is nothing they
love so much as being amused.
Now, Hok Lee knew how much depended on his dancing well, so he plucked
up a good spirit and began, first quite slowly and faster by degrees,
and he danced so well and gracefully, and made such new and wonderful
steps, that the dwarfs were quite delighted with him.
They clapped their tiny hands and shouted:
"Well done, Hok Lee, well done. Go on-dance more, for we are pleased."
And Hok Lee danced on and on, till he really could dance no more and
was obliged to stop.
Then the leader of the dwarfs said: "We are well pleased, Hok Lee, and
as a recompense for thy dancing thy face shall he cured. Farewell."
With these words he and the other dwarfs vanished, and Hok Lee, putting
his hands to his face, found to his great joy that his cheeks were
reduced to their natural size. The way home seemed short and easy to
him, and he went to bed happy and resolved never to go out robbing
Next day the whole town was full of the news of Hok's sudden cure. His
neighbors questioned him, but could get nothing from him, except the
fact that he had discovered a wonderful cure for all kinds of diseases.
After a time a rich neighbor, who had been ill for some years, came and
offered to give Hok Lee a large sum of money if he would tell him how
he might get cured. Hok Lee consented on condition that he swore to
keep the secret. He did so, and Hok Lee told him of the dwarfs and
The neighbor went off, carefully obeyed Hok Lee's directions, and was
duly cured by the dwarfs. Then another and another came to Hok Lee to
beg his secret, and from each he extracted a vow of secrecy and a large
sum of money. This went on for some years, so that at length Hok Lee
became a very wealthy man and ended his days in peace and prosperity.
A DREADFUL BOAR
By Adele M. Fielde
A POOR Old Woman, who lived with her one little granddaughter in a
wood, was out gathering sticks for fuel and found a green stalk of
sugar-cane which she added to her bundle. She presently met an elf in
the form of a Wild Boar, that asked her for the cane. She declined
giving it to him, saying that at her age to stoop and to rise again was
to earn what she picked up, and she was going to take the cane home and
let her little granddaughter suck its sap.
The Boar, angry at her refusal, said that during the coming night he
would come and eat her granddaughter instead of the cane, and went off
into the wood.
When the Old Woman reached her cabin she sat down by the door and
wailed, for she knew that she had no means of defending herself against
the Boar. While she sat crying a vender of needles came along and
asked her what was the matter. She told him, but all that he could do
for her was to give her a box of needles. The Old Woman stuck the
needles thickly over the lower half of the door, on its outer side, and
then went on crying.
Just then a Man came along with a basket of crabs, heard her
lamentations, and stopped to inquire what was the matter. She told
him, but he said he knew no help for her, but he would do the best he
could for her by giving her half his crabs. The woman put the crabs in
her water jar, behind her door, and again sat down and cried.
A Farmer, who was coming along from the fields, leading his ox, also
asked the cause of her distress and heard her story. He said he was
sorry he could not think of any way of preventing the evil she
expected, but that he would leave his ox to stay all night with her, as
it might be a sort of company for her in her loneliness. She led the
ox into her cabin, tied it to the head of her bedstead, gave it some
straw, and then sat down to cry again.
A courier returning on horseback from a neighboring town was the next
to pass her door, and he dismounted to inquire what troubled her.
Having heard her tale, he said he would leave his horse to stay with
her, and make the ox more contented. So she tied the horse to the foot
of the bed, and, thinking how surely evil was coming upon her, she
burst out crying anew.
A boy just then came along with a snapping turtle that he had caught
and stopped to ask what had happened to her. On learning the cause of
her weeping he said it was no use to contend against sprites, but that
he would give her his snapping turtle as a proof of his sympathy. She
took the turtle, tied it in front of her bedstead, and continued to
Some men who were carrying millstones then came along, inquired into
her trouble, and expressed their compassion by giving her a millstone,
which they rolled into her back yard. While they were doing this a Man
went by carrying hoes and a pickaxe, and he stopped and asked her why
she was crying so hard. She told him her grief, and he said he would
gladly help her if he could, but he was only a well digger and could do
nothing for her except to dig a well. She pointed out a place in the
backyard, and he went to work and quickly dug a well.
On his departure the old woman cried again, until a Paper Seller came
and inquired what was the matter. When she told him he gave her a
large sheet of white paper, as a token of pity, and she laid it
smoothly over the mouth of the well.
Nightfall came. The old woman shut and barred her door, put her
granddaughter snugly on the wall side of the bed, and then lay down
beside her to await the foe.
At midnight the Boar came and threw himself against the door to break
it in. The needles wounded him sorely, so that when he had gained an
entrance he was heated and thirsty, and went to the water jar to drink.
When he thrust in his snout the crabs attacked him, clung to his
bristles, and pinched his ears, till he rolled over and over to free
Then in a rage he approached the front of the bed; but the snapping
turtle nipped his tail and made him retreat under the feet of the
horse, who kicked him over to the ox, and the ox tossed him back to the
horse. Thus beset, he was glad to escape to the back yard to take a
rest and to consider the situation.
Seeing a clean paper spread on the ground, he went to lie upon it, and
fell into the well. The Old Woman, hearing the fall, rushed out and
rolled the millstone down on him and crushed him.
THE FIVE QUEER BROTHERS
By Adele M. Fielde
AN old woman had five grown-up sons that looked just alike. The eldest
could gulp up the ocean at a mouthful; the second was hard enough to
nick steel; the third had extensible legs; the fourth was unaffected by
fire; the fifth lived without breathing. They all concealed their
peculiar traits, and their neighbors did not know they were queer.
The eldest supported the family by fishing, going alone to the sea, and
bringing back loads of spoil. The neighbors often besought him to
teach their sons how to fish, and he at last let all their boys go with
him, one day, to learn his art. On reaching the shore he sucked the
sea into his mouth, and sent the boys to the dry bottom to collect the
fish. When he was tired of holding the water, he beckoned to the boys
to return, but they were playing among strange objects and paid no heed
to him. When he could contain the sea no longer, he had to let it flow
back into its former basin, and all the boys were drowned.
As he went homeward, he passed the doom of the parents, who inquired
how many fish their sons had caught and how long they would be in
coming back. He told them the facts, but they would not excuse him.
They dragged him before the magistrate to account for the loss of their
children. He defended himself by saying he had not invited the boys to
go with him, and had consented to their going only when the parents had
repeatedly urged him; that after the boys were on the ocean bed, he had
done his utmost to induce them to come ashore; that he had held the
water as long as he could, and had then put it in the sea basin solely
because nothing else would contain it.
Notwithstanding this defense the judges decided that since he took the
boys away and did not bring them back, he was guilty of murder and
sentenced him to be beheaded.
He entreated leave to pay, before his execution, one visit to his aged
mother, and this was granted.
He went alone and told his brothers of his doom, and the second brother
returned in his stead to the judge, thanked him for having given him
permission to perform a duty required by filial piety, and said he was
then ready to die.
He knelt with bowed head and the headsman brought the knife down across
the back of his neck, but the knife was nicked and the neck was left
A second knife and a third of finer steel were brought and tried by
headsmen who were accustomed to sever heads clean off at one stroke.
Having spoiled their best blades without so much as scratching his
neck, they took him back to prison and informed the judge that the
sentence could not be executed.
The judge accordingly decreed that he should be dropped into the sea
which covered his victims.
When the old woman's son heard this decision he said that he took leave
of his mother supposing that his head was to be cut off, and that if he
was to be drowned he must go to her and make known his fate and get her
Permission being given, he went and told his brothers what had
happened. The third brother took the place of the second and presented
himself before the judge as the criminal that was to be sunk in the
sea. He was carried far from shore and thrown overboard, but he
stretched his legs till his feet touched bottom, and he stood with his
head in the air. They hauled him aboard and took him farther from
land, but still his extensible legs supported him above the waters.
Then they sailed to mid-ocean and cast him into its greatest depths,
but his legs still lengthened so that he was not drowned. They brought
him back to the judge, reported what had been done, and said that some
other method of destroying him must be followed.
On hearing this the judge condemned him to death by being boiled in
oil. While the caldron was being heated he begged and obtained
permission to go and tell his mother of the way he had survived from
the attempt to drown him, and of the manner in which he was soon to be
His brothers having heard the latest judgment, the fourth one went to
bear the penalty of the law and was lowered into the kettle of boiling
oil. In this he disported himself as if in a tepid bath, and he even
asked his executioners to stir up the fire a little to increase the
warmth. Finding that he could not be fried, he was remanded to prison.
At this the populace, the bereaved parents, and the magistrate joined
in an effort to invent a sure method of putting him to death. Water,
fire, and sword all having failed, they finally fixed upon smothering
him in a vast cream cake.
The whole country round made contributions of flour for the pastry, of
sugar for the filling, and of bricks for a huge oven; and it was made
and baked on a plain outside the city walls.
Meanwhile the prisoner was allowed to go and bid his mother farewell,
and the fifth brother secretly became his substitute.
When the cake was done, a multitude of people with oxen, horses, and
ropes dragged it to the execution ground, and within it the culprit was
As he was able to exist without air he rested peacefully till the next
midnight, and then safely crawled forth, returned to his home, and
dwelt there happily for many years with his remarkable brothers.
THE ACCOMPLISHED AND LUCKY TEAKETTLE
By A. B. Mitford
A LONG time ago, at a temple called Morinji, there was an old
teakettle. One day, when the priest of the temple was about to hang it
over the hearth to boil the water for his tea, to his amazement the
kettle all of a sudden put forth the head and tail of a badger. What a
wonderful kettle, to come out all over fur!
The priest, thunderstruck, called in the novices or assistants of the
temple to see the sight; and while they were stupidly staring, one
suggesting one thing and another another, the kettle, jumping up into
the air, began flying about the room. More astonished than ever, the
priest and his pupils tried to pursue it; but no thief or cat was ever
half so sharp as the wonderful badger kettle. At last, however, they
managed to knock it down and secure it; and, holding it in with their
united efforts, they forced it into a box, intending to carry it off
and throw it away in some distant place, so that they might no more be
plagued with the goblin.
For this day their troubles were over, but as luck would have it, the
tinker who was in the habit of working for the temple called in, and
the priest suddenly bethought him that it was a pity to throw the
kettle away for nothing, and that he might as well get a trifle for it,
no matter how small. So he brought out the kettle, which had resumed
its former shape and had got rid of its head and tail, and showed it to
the tinker. When the tinker saw the kettle, he offered twenty copper
coins for it, and the priest was only too glad to close the bargain and
be rid of his troublesome piece of furniture. And the tinker trudged
off home with his pack and his new purchase.
That night, as he lay asleep, he heard a strange noise near his pillow;
so he peeped out from under the bedclothes and there he saw the kettle
that he had bought in the temple covered with fur and walking about on
four legs. The tinker started up in a fright to see what it could all
mean, when all of a sudden the kettle resumed its former shape. This
happened over and over again, until at last the tinker showed the
teakettle to a friend of his, who said, "This is certainly an
accomplished and lucky teakettle-you should take it about as a show,
with songs and accompaniments of musical instruments, and make it dance
and walk on the tight rope."
The tinker, thinking this good advice, made arrangements with a
showman, and set up an exhibition. The noise of the kettle's
performances soon spread abroad, until even the princes of the land
sent to order the tinker to come to them; and he grew rich beyond all
expectations. Even the princesses, too, and the great ladies of the
court, took great delight in the dancing kettle, so that no sooner had
it shown its tricks in one place than it was time for them to keep some
At last the tinker grew so rich that he took the kettle back to the
temple, where it was laid up as a precious treasure and worshiped as a
THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE PEACHLING
By A. B. Mitford
MANY hundred years ago there lived an honest old woodcutter and his
wife. One fine morning the old man went off to the hills with his bill
hook to gather a faggot of sticks, while his wife went down to the
river to wash the dirty clothes. When she came to the river, she saw a
peach floating down the stream; so she picked it up and carried it
homeward with her, thinking to give it to her husband to eat when he
should come in. The old man soon came down from the hills, and the
good wife set the peach before him, when, just as she was inviting him
to eat it, the fruit split in two and a little baby was born into the
world. So the old couple took the babe and brought it up as their own;
and because it had been born in a peach, they called it Momotaro, or
By degrees Little Peachling grew up to be strong and brave, and at last
one day he said to his old foster parents-
"I am going to the ogres' island, to carry off the riches they have
stored up there. Pray, then, make me some millet dumplings for my
So the old folks ground the millet and made the dumplings for him; and
Little Peachling, after taking an affectionate leave of them,
cheerfully set out on his travels.
As he was journeying on, he fell in with an Ape, who gibbered at him,
"Kia! kia! kia! where are you off to, Little Peachling?"
"I'm going to the ogres' island, to carry off their treasure," answered
"What are you carrying at your girdle?"
"I'm carrying the very best millet dumplings in all Japan.
"If you'll give me one, I will go with you," said the Ape.
So Little Peachhing gave one of his dumplings to the Ape, who received
it and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he heard a
"Ken! ken! ken! where are you off to, Master Peachling?"
Little Peachling answered as before; and the Pheasant, having begged
and obtained a millet dumpling, entered his service and followed him.
A little while after this they met a Dog, who cried-
Bow! wow! wow! whither away, Master Peachling?"
"I'm going off to the ogres' island, to carry off their treasure.
"If you will give me one of those nice millet dumplings of yours, I
will go with you," said the Dog.
"With all my heart," said Little Peachling. So he went on his way,
with the Ape, the Pheasant, and the Dog following after him.
When they got to the ogres' island, the Pheasant flew over the castle
gate and the Ape clambered over the castle wall, while Little
Peachling, leading the Dog, forced in the gate and got into the castle.
Then they did battle with the ogres and put them to flight, and took
their King prisoner. So all the ogres did homage to Little Peachling,
and brought out the treasures which they had laid up. There were caps
and coats that made their wearers invisible, jewels which governed the
ebb and the flow of the tide, coral, musk, emeralds, amber, and
tortoise shells, besides gold and silver. All these were laid before
Little Peachling by the conquered ogres.
So Little Peachling went home laden with riches, and maintained his
foster parents in peace and plenty for the remainder of their lives.
THE TWO LIZARDS
By Annie Ker
IN the old days there lived two lizards, Webubu and Nagari. Webubu was
plain of speech, and moreover was unable to cry aloud, but Nagari, by
stretching his long neck, could produce a sweet low sound, somewhat
after the manner of a whistle.
Nagari longed for companions, so he stretched his neck and cried "U-u-
u-u-u." Then many women, hearing the sweet sound, flocked to where
Nagari sat, and listened to his music. This pleased Nagari, and he
continued to sound his long note. "U-u-u-u-u," he sang, and the women
sat so still, one might have thought them dead or weeping.
Webubu, on the contrary, had no one to cheer him in his loneliness.
"What can I do," he said, "to draw women to me as Nagari has done? I
have not a sweet voice as he has. What can I do?"
As he was speaking a thought grew up in his heart, and he began to act.
He cut a slim piece of hollow bamboo, and pierced small holes in it.
Thus was the first flute (duraio) born. Webubu then built himself a
platform high in a corkwood tree, which we call "troba" on the beach,
and seating himself there he began to play his flute.
The women sat patiently around Nagari, while he sounded his one note,
"U-u-u!" But on a sudden, upon the still air, broke the sweet voice of
Webubu's flute. High and sweet were the notes which Webubu sent forth
from his flute.
"M! m!" said the listening women.
"U-u-u-u," sang Nagari.
"Ah, ss-ss-ss!" cried the women. "Deafen us not with thy 'U,' when we
would hear this strange music!"
Nagari was much troubled at this saying, and marveled greatly. Then
one woman made bold to rise up, and saying, "I shall return," she went
to seek the sweet music. Now this woman lied, for she never returned.
After a time, another woman arose and said, "Stay here, my friends; I
Then she went in like manner to look for the music. And she also lied,
for she returned not. And so with each woman, until Nagari was left
sitting alone as he had been at the beginning.
Now Webubu was still playing his flute on the platform he had built in
the corkwood tree, when the women came in sight. He was alarmed for
the safety of his frail platform, when he saw these many people
advancing, and he cried, "Come not up into the tree. Remain below, I
beseech you, O women!"
But the women were consumed with eagerness to be close to the music
which had taken their hearts, and they climbed, all of them, until they
were upon the platform of Webubu.
Then straightway what he had feared came to pass, and Webubu, and his
flute, and the multitude of women fell crashing through the branches of
the corkwood tree to the ground beneath.
And from that hour until now, all corkwood trees lean toward the earth,
as I will show thee, if thou wilt go with me to the beach where they
DE KING AND DE PEAFOWL
By Mary Pamela Milne-Horne
ONE day once 'pon a time de King hab a party of ladies an' genelmen.
An' arter de party, de band was ter come an' play. But de fiddler was
took sick, so dey could not dance. So de King said, "I am gwine ter
sen' ober ter my frien's an' ask dem ter come an' sing." So he sen',
an' de genelman say he was very glad an' his family was Dog, Peafowl,
and Tiger. So he sen' Missis Duck fus, an' dey said, "Can you sing?
let me har you voice."
Dey put her in a rocking-chair 'pon de platform, an' de Duck say,
"Hahh! hahh!" an' den he say, "Dat will not do. Sen' for Dog." An'
dey took her an' put her in a coop, an' all de ducks come round an' ask
to have her let out, an' say, "Hahh! hahh! hahh!"
Den dey sen' for Dog an' tole him dat if he fin' a salt beef bone in de
road, he mus' not pick it up, 'cos it mek him rough in his troat. So
Dog did not pick it up, but pass it; but arter, when he go, his voice
did not suit either. Dey tole Dog to sing, an' he said, "How! how!
how!" An' de King say, "Don't wan' a man ter ask me how-he will not
do." Dey saw a Fowl coming. "Can you sing?" An' de Fowl say "Ka!
ka! ka!" an' dey said, "Dat will not do," an' dribe de Fowl 'way. De
Cock came in arter, an' de Cock said, "Coquericou," an' dey said, "De
King don' wan' ter know when de daylight, sah!" De King came in an'
said, "All dese people cannot sing; dey will not do."
Dey sen' Tiger, an' dey said, "You must not pick up a big salt beef
bone in de road." An' de Tiger did pick it up, an' Tiger could not
sing, an' said, "Grum! grum! grum!"
"Dat voice is wuss dan all, dat voice will not do."
Den dey sen' off for Peafowl, but Peafowl would not go. Dey went back
ter dinner, all de people went back ter dinner, an' when dey were at
dinner in a large house, de Peafowl came in an' sing-
Mi - kale an' iv'ry, Mi - kale an' iv'rv. Mi -
kale an' iv'ry, Mi - kale an' iv'ry, Why - ou, Why - ou
Why - ou Why - ou Why-ou Wife gwine ter die.
Den de genelmen jump up an' say, "Hullo! What dat?" De King say,
"Sing again, my pritty lil' bird," an' den de Peafowl sang, "Mikale an'
iv'ry, Mikale an' iv'ry, Mikale an' iv'ry, Whyou, Whyou, Whyou, Whyou,
Whyou wife gwine ter die." "What dat? What dat? What dat?" dey say,
an' de bird den settin' on de tree sing, "Mikale an' iv'ry," etc.
De King say, "Sing again, you pritty lil' bird. You dress shall be
tipped with blue, an' you shall hab a beautiful field of corn as a
present." An' de bird sang again better, when he har dat, "Mikale an'
iv'ry, Mikale an' iv'ry, Mikale an' iv'ry, Mikale an' iv'ry, whyou,
whyou, whyou, whyou, whyou wife gwine ter die." De King jump up an'
call de buggy, an' jump in an' tek de Peafowl in, an' all de horses was
richly decked, an' all de company very fine, dey dribe de Peafowl home,
an' dat why de Peafowl hav such a beautiful dress.
HANSEL AND GRETHEL
By William and Jacob Grimm
ONCE upon a time there dwelt near a large wood a poor woodcutter with
his wife and two children by his former marriage, a little boy called
Hansel and a girl named Grethel. He had little enough to break or
bite, and once, when there was a great famine in the land, he could not
procure even his daily bread; and as he lay thinking in his bed one
evening, rolling about for trouble, he sighed, and said to his wife,
"What will become of us? How can we feed our children when we have no
more than we can eat ourselves?"
"Know, then, my husband," answered she, "we will lead them away quite
early in the morning into the thickest part of the wood, and there make
them a fire, and give them each a little piece of bread; then we will
go to our work and leave them alone, so they will not find the way home
again and we shall be freed from them." "No, wife," replied he, "that
I can never do; how can you bring your heart to leave my children all
alone in the wood, for the wild beasts will soon come and tear them to
"Oh, you simpleton!" said she, "then we must all four die of hunger;
you had better plane the coffins for us." But she left him no peace
till he consented saying, "Ah, but I shall regret the poor children."
The two children, however, had not gone to sleep for very hunger, and
so they overheard what the stepmother said to their father. Grethel
wept bitterly, and said to Hansel, "What will become of us?" "Be
quiet, Grethel," said he; "do not cry, I will soon help you." And as
soon as their parents had fallen asleep, he got up, put on his coat,
and, unbarring the back door, slipped out. The moon shone brightly,
and the white pebbles which lay before the door seemed like silver
pieces, they glittered so brightly. Hansel stooped down, and put as
many into his pocket as it would hold, and then going back he said to
Grethel, "Be comforted, dear sister, and sleep in peace; God will not
forsake us;" and so saying he went to bed again.
The next morning, before the sun arose, the wife went and awoke the two
children. "Get up, you lazy things; we are going into the forest to
chop wood." Then she gave them each a piece of bread, saying, "There
is something for your dinner; do not eat it before the time, for you
will get nothing else." Grethel took the bread in her apron, for
Hansel's pocket was full of pebbles; and so they all set out upon their
way. When they had gone a little distance Hansel stood still, and
peeped back at the house; and this he repeated several times, till his
father said, "Hansel, what are you peeping at, and why do you lag
behind? Take care, and remember your legs."
"Ah! father," said Hansel, "I am looking at my white cat sitting upon
the roof of the house, and trying to say good-by." "You simpleton!"
said the wife, "that is not a cat; it is only the sun shining on the
white chimney." But in reality Hansel was not looking at a cat; but
every time he stopped he dropped a pebble out of his pocket upon the
When they came to the middle of the wood the father told the children
to collect wood, and he would make them a fire, so that they should not
be cold; so Hansel and Grethel gathered together quite a little
mountain of twigs. Then they set fire to them, and as the flame burned
up high the wife said, "Now, you children, lie down near the fire and
rest yourself, while we go into the forest and chop Wood; when we are
ready, I will come and call you."
Hansel and Grethel sat down by the fire, and when it was noon each ate
the piece of bread, and, because they could hear the blows of an ax,
they thought their father was near; but it was not an ax, but a branch
which he had bound to a withered tree, so as to be blown to and fro by
the wind. They waited so long that at last their eyes closed from
weariness, and they fell fast asleep. When they awoke it was quite
dark, and Grethel began to cry; "How shall we get out of the wood?"
But Hansel tried to comfort her by saying, "Wait a little while till
the moon rises, and then we will quickly find the way." The moon soon
shone forth, and Hansel, taking his sister's hand, followed the
pebbles, which glittered like new-coined silver pieces, and showed them
the path. All night long they walked on, and as day broke they came to
their father's house. They knocked at the door, and when the wife
opened it, and saw Hansel and Grethel, she exclaimed, "You wicked
children! why did you sleep so long in the wood? We thought you were
never coming home again." But their father was very glad, for it had
grieved his heart to leave them all alone.
Not long afterward there was again great scarcity in every corner of
the land; and one night the children overheard their mother saying to
their father, "Everything is again consumed; we have only half a loaf
left, and then the song is ended: the children must be sent away. We
will take them deeper into the wood, so that they may not find the way
out again; it is the only means of escape for us."
But her husband felt heavy at heart, and thought, "It were better to
share the last crust with the children." His wife, however, would
listen to nothing that he said and scolded and, reproached him without
end. He who says A must say B too; and he who consents the first time
must also the second.
The children, however, had heard the conversation as they lay awake,
and as soon as the old people went to sleep Hansel got up intending' to
pick up some pebbles as before; but the wife had locked the door, so
that he could not get out. Nevertheless he comforted Grethel, saying,
"Do not cry; sleep in quiet; the good God will not forsake us."
Early in the morning the stepmother came and pulled them out of bed,
and gave them each a slice of bread, which was still smaller than the
former piece. On the way Hansel broke his in his pocket, and, stopping
every now and then, dropped a crumb upon the path. "Hansel, why do you
stop and look about?" said the father. "Keep in the path." - "I am
looking at my little dove," answered Hansel, "nodding a good-by to me."
"Simpleton!" said the wife, "that is no dove, but only the sun shining
on the chimney."
So Hansel kept still dropping crumbs as he went along.
The mother led the children deep into the wood, where they had never
been before, and there making an immense fire, she said to them, "Sit
down here and rest, and when you feel tired you can sleep for a little
while. We are going into the forest to hew wood, and in the evening,
when we are ready, we will come and fetch you."
When noon came Grethel shared her bread with Hansel, who had strewn his
on the path. Then they went to sleep; but the evening arrived, and no
one came to visit the poor children, and in the dark night they awoke,
and Hansel comforted his sister by saying, "Only wait, Grethel, till
the moon comes out, then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have
dropped, and they will show us the way home." The moon shone and they
got up, but they could not see any crumbs, for the thousands of birds
which had been flying about in the woods and fields had picked them all
up. Hansel kept saying to Grethel, "We will soon find the way"; but
they did not, and they walked the whole night long and the next day,
but still they did not come out of the wood; and they got so hungry,
for they had nothing to eat but the berries which they found upon the
Soon they got so tired that they could not drag themselves along, so
they laid down under a tree and went to sleep.
It was now the third morning since they had left their father's house,
and they still walked on; but they only got deeper and deeper into the
wood, and Hansel saw that if help did not come very soon they would die
As soon as it was noon they saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting
upon a bough which sang so sweetly that they stood still and listened
to it. It soon left off, and spreading its wings, flew off; and they
followed it until it arrived at a cottage, upon the roof of which it
perched; and when they went close up to it they saw that the cottage
was made of bread and cakes, and the windowpanes were of clear sugar.
"We will go in there," said Hansel, "and have a glorious feast. I will
eat a piece of the roof, and you can eat the window. Will they not be
sweet?" So Hansel reached up and broke a piece off the roof, in order
to see how it tasted; while Grethel stepped up to the window and began
to bite it. Then a sweet voice called out in the room, "Tip-tap, tip-
tap, who raps at my door?" and the children answered, "The wind, the
wind, the child of heaven"; and they went on eating without
interruption. Hansel thought the roof tasted very nice, and so he tore
off a great piece; while Grethel broke a large round pane out of the
window, and sat down quite contentedly. Just then the door opened, and
a very old woman, walking upon crutches, came out. Hansel and Grethel
were so frightened that they let fall what they had in their hands; but
the old woman, nodding her head, said, "Ah, you dear children, what has
brought you here? Come in and stop with me, and no harm shall befall
you;" and so saying she took them both by the hand, and led them into
her cottage. A good meal of milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and
nuts, was spread on the table, and in the back room were two nice
little beds, covered with white, where Hansel and Grethel laid
themselves down, and thought themselves in heaven. The old woman had
behaved very kindly to them, but in reality she was a wicked witch who
waylaid children, and built the bread house in order to entice them in;
but as soon as they were in her power she killed them, cooked and ate
them, and made a great festival of the day. Witches have red eyes, and
cannot see very far; but they have a fine sense of smelling, like wild
beasts, so that they know when children approach them. When Hansel and
Grethel came near the witch's house she laughed wickedly, saying, "Here
come two who shall not escape me." And early in the morning, before
they awoke, she went up to them, and saw how lovingly they lay
sleeping, with their chubby red cheeks; and she mumbled to herself,
"That will be a good bite." Then she took up Hansel with her rough
hand, and shut him up in a little cage with a lattice door; and
although he screamed loudly, it was of no use. Grethel came next, and,
shaking her till she awoke, she said, "Get up, you lazy thing, and
fetch some water to cook something good for your brother, who must
remain in that stall and get fat; when he is fat enough I shall, eat
him." Grethel began to cry, but it was all useless, for the old witch
made her do as she wished. So a nice meal was cooked for Hansel, but
Grethel got nothing else but a crab's claw.
Every morning the old witch came to the cage and said, "Hansel, stretch
your finger that I may feel whether you are getting fat." But Hansel
used to stretch out a bone, and the old woman, having very bad sight,
thought it was his finger, and wondered very much that it did not get
fat. When four weeks had passed, and Hansel still kept quite lean, she
lost all her patience and would not wait any longer. "Grethel." she
called out in a passion, "get some water quickly; be Hansel fat or
lean, this morning I will kill and cook him." Oh, how the poor little
sister grieved, as she was forced to fetch the water, and how fast the
tears ran down her cheeks! "Dear good God, help us now!" she
exclaimed. "Had we only been eaten by the wild beasts in the wood then
we should have died together." But the old witch called out, "Leave
off that noise; it will not help you a bit."
So early in the morning Grethel was forced to go out and fill the
kettle, and make a fire. "First we will bake, however," said the old
woman; "I have already heated the oven and kneaded the dough"; and so
saying she pushed poor Grethel up to the oven, out of which the flames
were burning fiercely. "Creep in," said the witch, "and see if it is
hot enough, and then we will put in the bread"; but she intended when
Grethel got in to shut up the oven and let her bake, so that she might
eat her as well as Hansel. Grethel perceived what her thoughts were,
and said, "I do not know how to do it; how shall I get in?" "You
stupid goose," said she, "the opening is big enough. See, I could even
get in myself!" and she got up and put her head into the oven. Then
Grethel gave her a push, so that she fell right in, and then shutting
the iron door, she bolted it. Oh! how horribly she howled; but
Grethel ran away, and left the ungodly witch to burn to ashes.
Now she ran to Hansel, and, opening his door, called out, "Hansel, we
are saved; the old witch is dead!" So he sprang out, like a bird out
of his cage when the door is opened; and they were so glad that they
fell upon each other's neck, and kissed each other over and over again.
And now, as there was nothing to fear, they went into the witch's
house, where in every corner were caskets full of pearls and precious
stones. "These are better than pebbles," said Hansel, putting as many
into his pocket as it would hold; while Grethel thought, "I will take
some home, too," and filled her apron full. "We must be off now," said
Hansel, "and get out of this bewitched forest"; but when they had
walked for two hours they came to a large piece of water. "We cannot
get over," said Hansel. "I can see no bridge at all." "And there is
no boat either," said Grethel; "but there swims a white duck, I will
ask her to help us over;" and she sang,
"Little duck, good little duck,
Grethel and Hansel, here we stand,
There is neither stile nor bridge,
Take us on your back to land."
So the duck came to them, and Hansel sat himself on, and bade his
sister sit behind him. "No," answered Grethel, "that will be too much
for the duck, she shall take us over one at a time." This the good
little bird did, and when both were happily arrived on the other side,
and had gone a little way, they came to a well-known wood, which they
knew the better every step they went, and at last they perceived their
father's house. Then they began to run, and, bursting into the house,
they fell on their father's neck. He had not had one happy hour since
he had left the children in the forest; and his wife was dead. Grethel
shook her apron, and the pearls and precious stones rolled out upon the
floor, and Hansel threw down one handful after the other out of his
pocket. Then all their sorrows were ended, and they lived together in
My tale is done. There runs a mouse; whoever catches her may make a
great, great cap out of her fur.
By William and Jacob Grimm
ONCE upon a time there lived a poor peasant, who used to sit every
evening by the hearth, poking the fire, while his wife spun. One night
he said, "How sad it is that we have no children; everything is so
quiet here, while in other houses it is so noisy and merry."
"Ah!" sighed his wife, "if we had but only one, and were he no bigger
than my thumb, I should still be content, and love him with all my
heart." A little while after the wife fell ill; and after seven months
a child was born, who, although he was perfectly formed in all his
limbs, was not actually bigger than one's thumb. So they said to one
another that it had happened just as they wished; and they called the
child "Thumbling." Every day they gave him all the food he could eat;
still he did not grow a bit, but remained exactly the height he was
when first born; he looked about him, however, very knowingly, and
showed himself to be a bold and clever fellow, who prospered in
everything he undertook.
One morning the peasant was making ready to go into the forest to fell
wood, and said, "Now I wish I had some one who could follow me with the
"Oh! father," exclaimed Thumbling, "I will bring the cart; don't you
trouble yourself; it shall be there at the right time."
The father laughed at this speech, and said, "How shall that be? You
are much too small to lead the horse by the bridle."
"That matters not, father. If mother will harness the horse, I can sit
in his car, and tell him which way to take."
"Well, we will try for once," said the father; and so, when the hour
came, the mother harnessed the horse, and placed Thumbling in its ear,
and told him how to guide it. Then he set out quite like a man, and
the cart went on the right road to the forest; and just as it turned a
corner, and Thumbling called out "Steady, steady," two strange men met
it; and one said to the other, "My goodness, what is this? Here comes
a cart, and the driver keeps calling to the horse; but I can see no
one." "That cannot be all right," said the other: "let us follow and
see where the cart stops."
The cart went on safely deep into the forest, and straight to the place
where the wood was cut. As soon as Thumbling saw his father, he called
to him, "Here, father; here I am, you see, with the cart; just take me
down." The peasant caught the bridle of the horse with his left hand,
and with his right took his little son out of its ear; and he sat
himself down merrily on a straw. When the two strangers saw the little
fellow, they knew not what to say for astonishment; and one of them
took his companion aside, and said, "This little fellow might make our
fortune if we could exhibit him in the towns. Let us buy him." They