Part 2 out of 6
must indeed believe him since he said so himself. So Jonas and
Lena used to say of him 'Look, there goes Walter, who shoots the
wolves.' And other boys and girls would say 'Look, there goes
brave Walter, who is brave enough to fight with four.'
There was no one so fully convinced of this as Walter himself,
and one day he prepared himself for a real wolf hunt. He took
with him his drum, which had holes in one end since the time he
had climbed up on it to reach a cluster of rowan berries, and his
tin sabre, which was a little broken, because he had with
incredible courage fought his way through a whole unfriendly army
of gooseberry bushes.
He did not forget to arm himself quite to the teeth with his pop-
gun, his bow, and his air-pistol. He had a burnt cork in his
pocket to blacken his moustache, and a red cock's feather to put
in his cap to make himself look fierce. He had besides in his
trouser pocket a clasp knife with a bone handle, to cut off the
ears of the wolves as soon as he had killed them, for he thought
it would be cruel to do that while they were still living.
It was such a good thing that Jonas was going with corn to the
mill, for Walter got a seat on the load, while Caro ran barking
beside them. As soon as they came to the wood Walter looked
cautiously around him to see perchance there was a wolf in the
bushes, and he did not omit to ask Jonas if wolves were afraid of
a drum. 'Of course they are' (that is understood) said Jonas.
Thereupon Walter began to beat his drum with all his might while
they were going through the wood.
When they came to the mill Walter immediately asked if there had
been any wolves in the neighbourhood lately.
'Alas! yes,' said the miller, 'last night the wolves have eaten
our fattest ram there by the kiln not far from here.'
'Ah!' said Walter, 'do you think that there were many?'
'We don't know,' answered the miller.
'Oh, it is all the same,' said Walter. 'I only asked so that I
should know if I should take Jonas with me.
'I could manage very well alone with three, but if there were
more, I might not have time to kill them all before they ran
'In Walter's place I should go quite alone, it is more manly,'
'No, it is better for you to come too,' said Walter. 'Perhaps
there are many.'
'No, I have not time,' said Jonas, 'and besides, there are sure
not to be more than three. Walter can manage them very well
'Yes,' said Walter, 'certainly I could; but, you see, Jonas, it
might happen that one of them might bite me in the back, and I
should have more trouble in killing them. If I only knew that
there were not more than two I should not mind, for them I should
take one in each hand and give them a good shaking, like Susanna
once shook me.'
'I certainly think that there will not be more than two,' said
Jonas, 'there are never more than two when they slay children and
rams; Walter can very well shake them without me.'
'But, you see, Jonas,' said Walter, 'if there are two, it might
still happen that one of them escapes and bites me in the leg,
for you see I am not so strong in the left hand as in the right.
You can very well come with me, and take a good stick in case
there are really two. Look, if there is only one, I shall take
him so with both my hands and thrown him living on to his back,
and he can kick as much as he likes, I shall hold him fast.'
'Now, when I really think over the thing,' said Jonas, 'I am
almost sure there will not be more than one. What would two do
with one ram? There will certainly not be more than one.'
'But you should come with me all the same, Jonas,' said Walter.
'You see I can very well manage one, but I am not quite
accustomed to wolves yet, and he might tear holes in my new
'Well, just listen,' said Jonas, 'I am beginning to think that
Walter is not so brave as people say. First of all Walter would
fight against four, and then against three, then two, and then
one, and now Walter wants help with one. Such a thing must never
be; what would people say? Perhaps they would think that Walter
is a coward?'
'That's a lie,' said Walter, 'I am not at all frightened, but it
is more amusing when there are two. I only want someone who will
see how I strike the wolf and how the dust flies out of his
'Well, then, Walter can take the miller's little Lisa with him.
She can sit on a stone and look on,' said Jonas.
'No, she would certainly be frightened,' said Walter, 'and how
would it do for a girl to go wolf-hunting? Come with me, Jonas,
and you shall have the skin, and I will be content with the ears
and the tail.'
'No, thank you,' said Jonas, 'Walter can keep the skin for
himself. Now I see quite well that he is frightened. Fie, shame
This touched Walter's pride very near. 'I shall show that I am
not frightened,' he said; and so he took his drum, sabre, cock's
feather, clasp-knife, pop-gun and air-pistol, and went off quite
alone to the wood to hunt wolves.
It was a beautiful evening, and the birds were singing in all the
branches. Walter went very slowly and cautiously. At every step
he looked all round him to see if perchance there was anything
lurking behind the stones. He quite thought something moved away
there in the ditch. Perhaps it was a wolf. 'It is better for me
to beat the drum a little before I go there,' thought Walter.
Br-r-r, so he began to beat his drum. Then something moved again.
Caw! caw! a crow flew up from the ditch. Walter immediately
regained courage. 'It was well I took my drum with me,' he
thought, and went straight on with courageous steps. Very soon he
came quite close to the kiln, where the wolves had killed the
ram. But the nearer he came the more dreadful he thought the kiln
looked. It was so gray and old. Who knew how many wolves there
might be hidden there? Perhaps the very ones which killed the ram
were still sitting there in a corner. Yes, it was not at all safe
here, and there were no other people to be seen in the
neighbourhood. It would be horrible to be eaten up here in the
daylight, thought Walter to himself; and the more he thought
about it the uglier and grayer the old kiln looked, and the more
horrible and dreadful it seemed to become the food of wolves.
'Shall I go back and say that I struck one wolf and it escaped?'
thought Walter. 'Fie!' said his conscience, 'Do you not remember
that a lie is one of the worst sins, both in the sight of God and
man? If you tell a lie to-day and say you struck a wolf, to-
morrow surely it will eat you up.'
'No, I will go to the kiln,' thought Walter, and so he went. But
he did not go quite near. He went only so near that he could see
the ram's blood which coloured the grass red, and some tufts of
wool which the wolves had torn from the back of the poor animal.
It looked so dreadful.
'I wonder what the ram thought when they ate him up,' thought
Walter to himself; and just then a cold shiver ran through him
from his collar right down to his boots.
'It is better for me to beat the drum,' he thought to himself
again, and so he began to beat it. But it sounded horrid, and an
echo came out from the kiln that seemed almost like the howl of a
wolf. The drumsticks stiffened in Walter's hands, and he thought
now they are coming. ...!
Yes, sure enough, just then a shaggy, reddish-brown wolf's head
looked out from under the kiln!
What did Walter do now? Yes, the brave Walter who alone could
manage four, threw his drum far away, took to his heels and ran,
and ran as fast as he could back to the mill.
But, alas! the wolf ran after him. Walter looked back; the wolf
was quicker than he and only a few steps behind him. Then Walter
ran faster. But fear got the better of him, he neither heard nor
saw anything more. He ran over sticks, stones and ditches; he
lost drum-sticks, sabre, bow, and air-pistol, and in his terrible
hurry he tripped over a tuft of grass. There he lay, and the wolf
jumped on to him. ...
It was a gruesome tale! Now you may well believe that it was all
over with Walter and all his adventures. That would have been a
pity. But do not be surprised if it was not quite so bad as that,
for the wolf was quite a friendly one. He certainly jumped on to
Walter, but he only shook his coat and rubbed his nose against
his face; and Walter shrieked. Yes, he shrieked terribly!
Happily Jonas heard his cry of distress, for Walter was quite
near the mill now, and he ran and helped him up.
'What has happened?' he asked. 'Why did Walter scream so
'A wolf! A wolf!' cried Walter, and that was all he could say.
'Where is the wolf?' said Jonas. 'I don't see any wolf.'
'Take care, he is here, he has bitten me to death,' groaned
Then Jonas began to laugh; yes, he laughed so that he nearly
burst his skin belt.
Well, well, was that the wolf? Was that the wolf which Walter was
to take by the neck and shake and throw down on its back, no
matter how much it struggled? Just look a little closer at him:
he is your old friend, your own good old Caro. I quite expect he
found a leg of the ram in the kiln. When Walter beat his drum,
Caro crept out, and when Walter ran away, Caro ran after him, as
he so often does when Walter wants to romp and play.
'Down, Caro! you ought to be rather ashamed to have put such a
great hero to flight!'
Walter got up feeling very foolish.
'Down, Caro!' he said, both relieved and annoyed.
'It was only a dog, then if it had been a wolf I certainly should
have killed him. ...'
'If Walter would listen to my advice, and boast a little less,
and do a little more,' said Jonas, consolingly. 'Walter is not a
coward, is he?'
'I! You shall see, Jonas, when we next meet a bear. You see I
like so much better to fight with bears.'
'Indeed!' laughed Jonas. 'Are you at it again?
'Dear Walter, remember that it is only cowards who boast; a
really brave man never talks of his bravery.'
From Z. Topelius.
The King of the Waterfalls
When the young king of Easaidh Ruadh came into his kingdom, the
first thing he thought of was how he could amuse himself best.
The sports that all his life had pleased him best suddenly seemed
to have grown dull, and he wanted to do something he had never
done before. At last his face brightened.
'I know!' he said. 'I will go and play a game with the Gruagach.'
Now the Gruagach was a kind of wicked fairy, with long curly
brown hair, and his house was not very far from the king's house.
But though the king was young and eager, he was also prudent, and
his father had told him on his deathbed to be very careful in his
dealings with the 'good people,' as the fairies were called.
Therefore before going to the Gruagach the king sought out a wise
man of the countryside.
'I am wanting to play a game with the curly-haired Gruagach,'
'Are you, indeed?' replied the wizard. 'If you will take my
counsel, you will play with someone else.'
'No; I will play with the Gruagach,' persisted the king.
'Well, if you must, you must, I suppose,' answered the wizard;
'but if you win that game, ask as a prize the ugly crop-headed
girl that stands behind the door.'
'I will,' said the king.
So before the sun rose he got up and went to the house of the
Gruagach, who was sitting outside.
'O king, what has brought you here to-day?' asked the Gruagach.
'But right welcome you are, and more welcome will you be still if
you will play a game with me.'
'That is just what I want,' said the king, and they played; and
sometimes it seemed as if one would win, and sometimes the other,
but in the end it was the king who was the winner.
'And what is the prize that you will choose?' inquired the
'The ugly crop-headed girl that stands behind the door,' replied
'Why, there are twenty others in the house, and each fairer than
she!' exclaimed the Gruagach.
'Fairer they may be, but it is she whom I wish for my wife, and
none other,' and the Gruagach saw that the king's mind was set
upon her, so he entered his house, and bade all the maidens in it
come out one by one, and pass before the king.
One by one they came; tall and short, dark and fair, plump and
thin, and each said 'I am she whom you want. You will be foolish
indeed if you do not take me.'
But he took none of them, neither short nor tall, dark nor fair,
plump nor thin, till at the last the crop-headed girl came out.
'This is mine,' said the king, though she was so ugly that most
men would have turned from her. 'We will be married at once, and
I will carry you home.' And married they were, and they set forth
across a meadow to the king's house. As they went, the bride
stooped and picked a sprig of shamrock, which grew amongst the
grass, and when she stood upright again her ugliness had all
gone, and the most beautiful woman that ever was seen stood by
the king's side.
The next day, before the sun rose, the king sprang from his bed,
and told his wife he must have another game with the Gruagach.
'If my father loses that game, and you win it,' said she, 'accept
nothing for your prize but the shaggy young horse with the stick
'I will do that,' answered the king, and he went.
'Does your bride please you?' asked the Gruagach, who was
standing at his own door.
'Ah! does she not!' answered the king quickly. 'Otherwise I
should be hard indeed to please. But will you play a game to-
'I will,' replied the Gruagach, and they played, and sometimes it
seemed as if one would win, and sometimes the other, but in the
end the king was the winner.
'What is the prize that you will choose?' asked the Gruagach.
'The shaggy young horse with the stick saddle,' answered the
king, but he noticed that the Gruagach held his peace, and his
brow was dark as he led out the horse from the stable. Rough was
its mane and dull was its skin, but the king cared nothing for
that, and throwing his leg over the stick saddle, rode away like
On the third morning the king got up as usual before dawn, and as
soon as he had eaten food he prepared to go out, when his wife
stopped him. 'I would rather,' she said, 'that you did not go to
play with the Gruagach, for though twice you have won yet some
day he will win, and then he will put trouble upon you.'
'Oh! I must have one more game,' cried the king; 'just this one.'
And he went off to the house of the Gruagach.
Joy filled the heart of the Gruagach when he saw him coming, and
without waiting to talk they played their game. Somehow or other,
the king's strength and skill had departed from him, and soon the
Gruagach was the victor.
'Choose your prize,' said the king, when the game was ended, 'but
do not be too hard on me, or ask what I cannot give.'
'The prize I choose,' answered the Gruagach, 'is that the crop-
headed creature should take thy head and thy neck, if thou dost
not get for me the Sword of Light that hangs in the house of the
king of the oak windows.'
'I will get it,' replied the young man bravely; but as soon as he
was out of sight of the Gruagach he pretended no more, and his
face grew dark and his steps lagging.
'You have brought nothing with you to-night,' said the queen, who
was standing on the steps awaiting him. She was so beautiful that
the king was fain to smile when he looked at her, but then he
remembered what had happened, and his heart grew heavy again.
'What is it? What is the matter? Tell me thy sorrow that I may
bear it with thee, or, it may be, help thee!' Then the king told
her everything that had befallen him, and she stroked his hair
'That is nothing to grieve about,' she said when the tale was
finished. 'You have the best wife in Erin, and the best horse in
Erin. Only do as I bid you, and all will go well.' And the king
suffered himself to be comforted.
He was still sleeping when the queen rose and dressed herself, to
make everything ready for her husband's journey; and the first
place she went to was the stable, where she fed and watered the
shaggy brown horse and put the saddle on it. Most people thought
this saddle was of wood, and did not see the little sparkles of
gold and silver that were hidden in it. She strapped it lightly
on the horse's back, and then led it down before the house, where
the king waited.
'Good luck to you, and victories in all your battles,' she said,
as she kissed him before he mounted. 'I need not be telling you
anything. Take the advice of the horse, and see you obey it.'
So he waved his hand and set out on his journey, and the wind was
not swifter than the brown horse--no, not even the March wind
which raced it and could not catch it. But the horse never
stopped nor looked behind, till in the dark of the night he
reached the castle of the king of the oak windows.
'We are at the end of the journey,' said the horse, 'and you will
find the Sword of Light in the king's own chamber. If it comes to
you without scrape or sound, the token is a good one. At this
hour the king is eating his supper, and the room is empty, so
none will see you. The sword has a knob at the end, and take heed
that when you grasp it, you draw it softly out of its sheath. Now
go! I will be under the window.'
Stealthily the young man crept along the passage, pausing now and
then to make sure that no man was following him, and entered the
king's chamber. A strange white line of light told him where the
sword was, and crossing the room on tiptoe, he seized the knob,
and drew it slowly out of the sheath. The king could hardly
breathe with excitement lest it should make some noise, and bring
all the people in the castle running to see what was the matter.
But the sword slid swiftly and silently along the case till only
the point was left touching it. Then a low sound was heard, as of
the edge of a knife touching a silver plate, and the king was so
startled that he nearly dropped the knob.
'Quick! quick!' cried the horse, and the king scrambled hastily
through the small window, and leapt into the saddle.
'He has heard and he will follow,' said the horse; 'but we have a
good start,' And on they sped, on and on, leaving the winds
At length the horse slackened its pace. 'Look and see who is
behind you,' it said; and the young man looked.
'I see a swarm of brown horses racing madly after us,' he
'We are swifter than those,' said the horse, and flew on again.
'Look again, O king! Is anyone coming now?'
'A swarm of black horses, and one has a white face, and on that
horse a man is seated. He is the king of the oak windows.'
'That is my brother, and swifter still than I,' said the horse,
'and he will fly past me with a rush. Then you must have your
sword ready, and take off the head of the man who sits on him, as
he turns and looks at you. And there is no sword in the world
that will cut off his head, save only that one.'
'I will do it,' replied the king; and he listened with all his
might, till he judged that the white-faced horse was close to
him. Then he sat up very straight and made ready.
The next moment there was a rushing noise as of a mighty tempest,
and the young man caught a glimpse of a face turned towards him.
Almost blindly he struck, not knowing whether he had killed or
only wounded the rider. But the head rolled off, and was caught
in the brown horse's mouth.
'Jump on my brother, the black horse, and go home as fast as you
can, and I will follow as quickly as I may,' cried the brown
horse; and leaping forward the king alighted on the back of the
black horse, but so near the tail that he almost fell off again.
But he stretched out his arm and clutched wildly at the mane and
pulled himself into the saddle.
Before the sky was streaked with red he was at home again, and
the queen was sitting waiting till he arrived, for sleep was far
from her eyes. Glad was she to see him enter, but she said
little, only took her harp and sang softly the songs which he
loved, till he went to bed, soothed and happy.
It was broad day when he woke, and he sprang up saying:
'Now I must go to the Gruagach, to find out if the spells he laid
on me are loose.'
'Have a care,' answered the queen, 'for it is not with a smile as
on the other days that he will greet you. Furiously he will meet
you, and will ask you in his wrath if you have got the sword, and
you will reply that you have got it. Next he will want to know
how you got it, and to this you must say that but for the knob
you had not got it at all. Then he will raise his head to look at
the knob, and you must stab him in the mole which is on the right
side of his neck; but take heed, for if you miss the mole with
the point of the sword, then my death and your death are certain.
He is brother to the king of the oak windows, and sure will he be
that the king must be head, or the sword would not be in your
hands.' After that she kissed him, and bade him good speed.
'Didst thou get the sword?' asked the Gruagach, when they met in
the usual place.
'I got the sword.'
'And how didst thou get it?'
'If it had not had a knob on the top, then I had not got it,'
answered the king.
'Give me the sword to look at,' said the Gruagach, peering
forward; but like a flash the king had drawn it from under his
nose and pierced the mole, so that the Gruagach rolled over on
'Now I shall be at peace,' thought the king. But he was wrong,
for when he reached home he found his servants tied together back
to back with cloths bound round their mouths, so that they could
not speak. He hastened to set them free, and he asked who had
treated them in so evil a manner.
'No sooner had you gone than a great giant came, and dealt with
us as you see, and carried off your wife and your two horses,'
said the men.
'Then my eyes will not close nor will my head lay itself down
till I fetch my wife and horses home again,' answered he, and he
stopped and noted the tracks of the horses on the grass, and
followed after them till he arrived at the wood, when the
'I will sleep here,' he said to himself, 'but first I will make a
fire,' And he gathered together some twigs that were lying about,
and then took two dry sticks and rubbed them together till the
fire came, and he sat by it.
The twigs cracked and the flame blazed up, and a slim yellow dog
pushed through the bushes and laid his head on the king's knee,
and the king stroked his head.
'Wuf, wuf,' said the dog. 'Sore was the plight of thy wife and
thy horses when the giant drove them last night through the
'That is why I have come,' answered the king; and suddenly his
heart seemed to fail him and he felt that he could not go on.
'I cannot fight that giant,' he cried, looking at the dog with a
white face. 'I am afraid, let me turn homewards.'
'No, don't do that,' replied the dog. 'Eat and sleep, and I will
watch over you.' So the king ate and lay down, and slept till the
sun waked him.
'It is time for you to start on your way,' said the dog, 'and if
danger presses, call on me, and I will help you.'
'Farewell, then,' answered the king; 'I will not forget that
promise,' and on he went, and on, and on, till he reached a tall
cliff with many sticks lying about.
'It is almost night,' he thought; 'I will make a fire and rest,'
and thus he did, and when the flames blazed up, the hoary hawk of
the grey rock flew on to a bough above him.
'Sore was the plight of thy wife and thy horses when they passed
here with the giant,' said the hawk.
'Never shall I find them,' answered the king, 'and nothing shall
I get for all my trouble.'
'Oh, take heart,' replied the hawk; 'things are never so bad but
what they might be worse. Eat and sleep and I will watch thee,'
and the king did as he was bidden by the hawk, and by the morning
he felt brave again.
'Farewell,' said the bird, 'and if danger presses call to me, and
I will help you.'
On he walked, and on and on, till as dusk was falling he came to
a great river, and on the bank there were sticks lying about.
'I will make myself a fire,' he thought, and thus he did, and by
and bye a smooth brown head peered at him from the water, and a
long body followed it.
'Sore was the plight of thy wife and thy horses when they passed
the river last night,' said the otter.
'I have sought them and not found them,' answered the king, 'and
nought shall I get for my trouble.'
'Be not so downcast,' replied the otter; 'before noon to-morrow
thou shalt behold thy wife. But eat and sleep and I will watch
over thee.' So the king did as the otter bid him, and when the
sun rose he woke and saw the otter lying on the bank.
'Farewell,' cried the otter as he jumped into the water, 'and if
danger presses, call to me and I will help you.'
For many hours the king walked, and at length he reached a high
rock, which was rent into two by a great earthquake. Throwing
himself on the ground he looked over the side, and right at the
very bottom he saw his wife and his horses. His heart gave a
great bound, and all his fears left him, but he was forced to be
patient, for the sides of the rock were smooth, and not even a
goat could find foothold. So he got up again, and made his way
round through the wood, pushing by trees, scrambling over rocks,
wading through streams, till at last he was on flat ground again,
close to the mouth of the cavern.
His wife gave a shriek of joy when he came in, and then burst
into tears, for she was tired and very frightened. But her
husband did not understand why she wept, and he was tired and
bruised from his climb, and a little cross too.
'You give me but a sorry welcome,' grumbled he, 'when I have
half-killed myself to get to you.'
'Do not heed him,' said the horses to the weeping woman; 'put him
in front of us, where he will be safe, and give him food, for he
is weary.' And she did as the horses told her, and he ate and
rested, till by and bye a long shadow fell over them, and their
hearts beat with fear, for they knew that the giant was coming.
'I smell a stranger,' cried the giant, as he entered; but it was
dark inside the chasm, and he did not see the king, who was
crouching down between the feet of the horses.
'A stranger, my lord! no stranger ever comes here, not even the
sun!' and the king's wife laughed gaily as she went up to the
giant and stroked the huge hand which hung down by his side.
'Well, I perceive nothing, certainly,' answered he, 'but it is
very odd. However, it is time that the horses were fed;' and he
lifted down an armful of hay from a shelf of rock and held out a
handful to each animal, who moved forward to meet him, leaving
the king behind. As soon as the giant's hands were near their
mouths they each made a snap, and began to bit them, so that his
groans and shrieks might have been heard a mile off. Then they
wheeled round and kicked him till they could kick no more. At
length the giant crawled away, and lay quivering in a corner, and
the queen went up to him.
'Poor thing! poor thing!' she said, 'they seem to have gone mad;
it was awful to behold.'
'If I had had my soul in my body they would certainly have killed
me,' groaned the giant.
'It was lucky indeed,' answered the queen; 'but tell me, where is
thy soul, that I may take care of it?'
'Up there, in the Bonnach stone,' answered the giant, pointing to
a stone which was balanced loosely on an edge of rock. 'But now
leave me, that I may sleep, for I have far to go to-morrow.'
Soon snores were heard from the corner where the giant lay, and
then the queen lay down too, and the horses, and the king was
hidden between them, so that none could see him.
Before the dawn the giant rose and went out, and immediately the
queen ran up to the Bonnach stone, and tugged and pushed at it
till it was quite steady on its ledge, and could not fall over.
And so it was in the evening when the giant came home; and when
they saw his shadow, the king crept down in front of the horses.
'Why, what have you done to the Bonnach stone?' asked the giant.
'I feared lest it should fall over, and be broken, with your soul
in it,' said the queen, 'so I put it further back on the ledge.'
'It is not there that my soul is,' answered he, 'it is on the
threshold. But it is time the horses were fed;' and he fetched
the hay, and gave it to them, and they bit and kicked him as
before, till he lay half dead on the ground.
Next morning he rose and went out, and the queen ran to the
threshold of the cave, and washed the stones, and pulled up some
moss and little flowers that were hidden in the crannies, and by
and bye when dusk had fallen the giant came home.
'You have been cleaning the threshold,' said he.
'And was I not right to do it, seeing that your soul is in it?'
asked the queen.
'It is not there that my soul is,' answered the giant. 'Under the
threshold is a stone, and under the stone is a sheep, and in the
sheep's body is a duck, and in the duck is an egg, and in the egg
is my soul. But it is late, and I must feed the horses;' and he
brought them the hay, but they only bit and kicked him as before,
and if his soul had been within him, they would have killed him
It was still dark when the giant got up and went his way, and
then the king and the queen ran forward to take up the threshold,
while the horses looked on. But sure enough! just as the giant
had said, underneath the threshold was the flagstone, and they
pulled and tugged till the stone gave way. Then something jumped
out so suddenly, that it nearly knocked them down, and as it fled
past, they saw it was a sheep.
'If the slim yellow dog of the greenwood were only here, he would
soon have that sheep,' cried the king; and as he spoke, the slim
yellow dog appeared from the forest, with the sheep in his mouth.
With a blow from the king, the sheep fell dead, and they opened
its body, only to be blinded by a rush of wings as the duck flew
'If the hoary hawk of the rock were only here, he would soon have
that duck,' cried the king; and as he spoke the hoary hawk was
seen hovering above them, with the duck in his mouth. They cut
off the duck's head with a swing of the king's sword, and took
the egg out of its body, but in his triumph the king held it
carelessly, and it slipped from his hand, and rolled swiftly down
the hill right into the river.
'If the brown otter of the stream were only here, he would soon
have that egg,' cried the king; and the next minute there was the
brown otter, dripping with water, holding the egg in his mouth.
But beside the brown otter, a huge shadow came stealing along--
the shadow of the giant.
The king stood staring at it, as if he were turned into stone,
but the queen snatched the egg from the otter and crushed it
between her two hands. And after that the shadow suddenly shrank
and was still, and they knew that the giant was dead, because
they had found his soul.
Next day they mounted the two horses and rode home again,
visiting their friends the brown otter and the hoary hawk and the
slim yellow dog by the way.
From 'West Highland Tales.'
A French Puck
Among the mountain pastures and valleys that lie in the centre of
France there dwelt a mischievous kind of spirit, whose delight it
was to play tricks on everybody, and particularly on the
shepherds and the cowboys. They never knew when they were safe
from him, as he could change himself into a man, woman or child,
a stick, a goat, a ploughshare. Indeed, there was only one thing
whose shape he could not take, and that was a needle. At least,
he could transform himself into a needle, but try as he might he
never was able to imitate the hole, so every woman would have
found him out at once, and this he knew.
Now the hour oftenest chosen by this naughty sprite (whom we will
call Puck) for performing his pranks was about midnight, just
when the shepherds and cowherds, tired out with their long day's
work, were sound asleep. Then he would go into the cowsheds and
unfasten the chains that fixed each beast in its own stall, and
let them fall with a heavy clang to the ground. The noise was so
loud that it was certain to awaken the cowboys, however fatigued
they might be, and they dragged themselves wearily to the stable
to put back the chains. But no sooner had they returned to their
beds than the same thing happened again, and so on till the
morning. Or perhaps Puck would spend his night in plaiting
together the manes and tails of two of the horses, so that it
would take the grooms hours of labour to get them right in the
morning, while Puck, hidden among the hay in the loft, would peep
out to watch them, enjoying himself amazingly all the time.
One evening more than eighty years ago a man named William was
passing along the bank of a stream when he noticed a sheep who
was bleating loudly. William thought it must have strayed from
the flock, and that he had better take it home with him till he
could discover its owner. So he went up to where it was standing,
and as it seemed so tired that it could hardly walk, he hoisted
it on his shoulders and continued on his way. The sheep was
pretty heavy, but the good man was merciful and staggered along
as best he could under his load.
'It is not much further,' he thought to himself as he reached an
avenue of walnut trees, when suddenly a voice spoke out from over
his head, and made him jump.
'Where are you?' said the voice, and the sheep answered:
'Here on the shoulders of a donkey.'
In another moment the sheep was standing on the ground and
William was running towards home as fast as his legs would carry
him. But as he went, a laugh, which yet was something of a bleat,
rang in his ears, and though he tried not to hear, the words
reached him, 'Oh, dear! What fun I have had, to be sure!'
Puck was careful not always to play his tricks in the same place,
but visited one village after another, so that everyone trembled
lest he should be the next victim. After a bit he grew tired of
cowboys and shepherds, and wondered if there was no one else to
give him some sport. At length he was told of a young couple who
were going to the nearest town to buy all that they needed for
setting up house. Quite certain that they would forget something
which they could not do without, Puck waited patiently till they
were jogging along in their cart on their return journey, and
changed himself into a fly in order to overhear their
For a long time it was very dull--all about their wedding day
next month, and who were to be invited. This led the bride to her
wedding dress, and she gave a little scream.
'Just think! Oh! how could I be so stupid! I have forgotten to
buy the different coloured reels of cotton to match my clothes!'
'Dear, dear!' exclaimed the young man. 'That is unlucky; and
didn't you tell me that the dressmaker was coming in to-morrow?'
'Yes, I did,' and then suddenly she gave another little scream,
which had quite a different sound from the first. 'Look! Look!'
The bridegroom looked, and on one side of the road he saw a large
ball of thread of all colours--of all the colours, that is, of
the dresses that were tied on to the back of the cart.
'Well, that is a wonderful piece of good fortune,' cried he, as
he sprang out to get it. 'One would think a fairy had put it
there on purpose.'
'Perhaps she has,' laughed the girl, and as she spoke she seemed
to hear an echo of her laughter coming from the horse, but of
course that was nonsense.
The dressmaker was delighted with the thread that was given her.
It matched the stuffs so perfectly, and never tied itself in
knots, or broke perpetually, as most thread did. She finished her
work much quicker than she expected and the bride said she was to
be sure to come to the church and see her in her wedding dress.
There was a great crowd assembled to witness the ceremony, for
the young people were immense favourites in the neighbourhood,
and their parents were very rich. The doors were open, and the
bride could be seen from afar, walking under the chestnut avenue.
'What a beautiful girl!' exclaimed the men. 'What a lovely
dress!' whispered the women. But just as she entered the church
and took the hand of the bridegroom, who was waiting for her, a
loud noise was heard.
'Crick! crack! Crick! crack!' and the wedding garments fell to
the ground, to the great confusion of the wearer.
Not that the ceremony was put off for a little thing like that!
Cloaks in profusion were instantly offered to the young bride,
but she was so upset that she could hardly keep from tears. One
of the guests, more curious than the rest, stayed behind to
examine the dress, determined, if she could, to find out the
cause of the disaster.
'The thread must have been rotten,' she said to herself. 'I will
see if I can break it.' But search as she would she could find
The thread had vanished!
From 'Litterature Orale de l'Auvergne,' par Paul Sebillot.
The Three Crowns
There was once a king who had three daughters. The two eldest
were very proud and quarrelsome, but the youngest was as good as
they were bad. Well, three princes came to court them, and two of
them were exactly like the eldest ladies, and one was just as
lovable as the youngest. One day they were all walking down to a
lake that lay at the bottom of the lawn when they met a poor
beggar. The king wouldn't give him anything, and the eldest
princesses wouldn't give him anything, nor their sweethearts; but
the youngest daughter and her true love did give him something,
and kind words along with it, and that was better than all.
When they got to the edge of the lake what did they find but the
beautifullest boat you ever saw in your life; and says the
eldest, 'I'll take a sail in this fine boat'; and says the second
eldest, 'I'll take a sail in this fine boat'; and says the
youngest, 'I won't take a sail in that fine boat, for I am afraid
it's an enchanted one.' But the others persuaded her to go in,
and her father was just going in after her, when up sprung on the
deck a little man only seven inches high, and ordered him to
stand back. Well, all the men put their hands to their swords;
and if the same swords were only playthings, they weren't able to
draw them, for all strength that was left their arms. Seven
Inches loosened the silver chain that fastened the boat, and
pushed away, and after grinning at the four men, says he to them.
'Bid your daughters and your brides farewell for awhile. You,'
says he to the youngest, 'needn't fear, you'll recover your
princess all in good time, and you and she will be as happy as
the day is long. Bad people, if they were rolling stark naked in
gold, would not be rich. Good-bye.' Away they sailed, and the
ladies stretched out their hands, but weren't able to say a word.
Well, they weren't crossing the lake while a cat 'ud be lickin'
her ear, and the poor men couldn't stir hand or foot to follow
them. They saw Seven Inches handing the three princesses out of
the boat, and letting them down by a basket into a draw-well, but
king nor princes ever saw an opening before in the same place.
When the last lady was out of sight, the men found the strength
in their arms and legs again. Round the lake they ran, and never
drew rein till they came to the well and windlass; and there was
the silk rope rolled on the axle, and the nice white basket
hanging to it. 'Let me down,' says the youngest prince. 'I'll die
or recover them again.' 'No,' says the second daughter's
sweetheart, 'it is my turn first.' And says the other, 'I am the
eldest.' So they gave way to him, and in he got into the basket,
and down they let him. First they lost sight of him, and then,
after winding off a hundred perches of the silk rope, it
slackened, and they stopped turning. They waited two hours, and
then they went to dinner, because there was no pull made at the
Guards were set till next morning, and then down went the second
prince, and sure enough, the youngest of all got himself let down
on the third day. He went down perches and perches, while it was
as dark about him as if he was in a big pot with a cover on. At
last he saw a glimmer far down, and in a short time he felt the
ground. Out he came from the big lime-kiln, and, lo! and behold
you, there was a wood, and green fields, and a castle in a lawn,
and a bright sky over all. 'It's in Tir-na-n-Oge I am,' says he.
'Let's see what sort of people are in the castle.' On he walked,
across fields and lawn, and no one was there to keep him out or
let him into the castle; but the big hall-door was wide open. He
went from one fine room to another that was finer, and at last he
reached the handsomest of all, with a table in the middle. And
such a dinner as was laid upon it! The prince was hungry enough,
but he was too mannerly to eat without being invited. So he sat
by the fire, and he did not wait long till he heard steps, and in
came Seven Inches with the youngest sister by the hand. Well,
prince and princess flew into one another's arms, and says the
little man, says he, 'Why aren't you eating?' 'I think, sir,'
says the prince, 'it was only good manner to wait to be asked.'
'The other princes didn't think so,' says he. 'Each o' them fell
to without leave, and only gave me the rough words when I told
them they were making more free than welcome. Well, I don't think
they feel much hunger now. There they are, good marble instead of
flesh and blood,' says he, pointing to two statues, one in one
corner, and the other in the other corner of the room. The prince
was frightened, but he was afraid to say anything, and Seven
Inches made him sit down to dinner between himself and his bride;
and he'd be as happy as the day is long, only for the sight of
the stone men in the corner. Well, that day went by, and when the
next came, says Seven Inches to him, 'Now, you'll have to set out
that way,' pointing to the sun, 'and you'll find the second
princess in a giant's castle this evening, when you'll be tired
and hungry, and the eldest princess to-morrow evening; and you
may as well bring them here with you. You need not ask leave of
their masters; and perhaps if they ever get home, they'll look on
poor people as if they were flesh and blood like themselves.'
Away went the prince, and bedad! it's tired and hungry he was
when he reached the first castle, at sunset. Oh, wasn't the
second princess glad to see him! And what a good supper she gave
him. But she heard the giant at the gate, and she hid the prince
in a closet. Well, when he came in, he snuffed, an' he snuffed,
and says he, 'By the life, I smell fresh meat.' 'Oh,' says the
princess, 'it's only the calf I got killed to-day.' 'Ay, ay,'
says he, 'is supper ready?' 'It is,' says she; and before he rose
from the table he ate three-quarters of a calf, and a flask of
wine. 'I think,' says he, when all was done, 'I smell fresh meat
still.' 'It's sleepy you are,' says she; 'go to bed.' 'When will
you marry me?' says the giant. 'You're putting me off too long.'
'St. Tibb's Eve,' says she. 'I wish I knew how far off that is,'
says he; and he fell asleep, with his head in the dish.
Next day, he went out after breakfast, and she sent the prince to
the castle where the eldest sister was. The same thing happened
there; but when the giant was snoring, the princess wakened up
the prince, and they saddled two steeds in the stables and rode
into the field on them. But the horses' heels struck the stones
outside the gate, and up got the giant and strode after them. He
roared and he shouted, and the more he shouted, the faster ran
the horses, and just as the day was breaking he was only twenty
perches behind. But the prince didn't leave the castle of Seven
Inches without being provided with something good. He reined in
his steed, and flung a short, sharp knife over his shoulder, and
up sprung a thick wood between the giant and themselves. They
caught the wind that blew before them, and the wind that blew
behind them did not catch them. At last they were near the castle
where the other sister lived; and there she was, waiting for them
under a high hedge, and a fine steed under her.
But the giant was now in sight, roaring like a hundred lions, and
the other giant was out in a moment, and the chase kept on. For
every two springs the horses gave, the giants gave three, and at
last they were only seventy perches off. Then the prince stopped
again, and flung the second knife behind him. Down went all the
flat field, till there was a quarry between them a quarter of a
mile deep, and the bottom filled with black water; and before the
giants could get round it, the prince and princesses were inside
the kingdom of the great magician, where the high thorny hedge
opened of itself to everyone that he chose to let in. There was
joy enough between the three sisters, till the two eldest saw
their lovers turned into stone. But while they were shedding
tears for them, Seven Inches came in, and touched them with his
rod. So they were flesh, and blood, and life once more, and there
was great hugging and kissing, and all sat down to breakfast, and
Seven Inches sat at the head of the table.
When breakfast was over, he took them into another room, where
there was nothing but heaps of gold, and silver, and diamonds,
and silks, and satins; and on a table there was lying three sets
of crowns: a gold crown was in a silver crown, and that was lying
in a copper crown. He took up one set of crowns, and gave it to
the eldest princess; and another set, and gave it to the second
youngest princess; and another, and gave it to the youngest of
all; and says he, 'Now you may all go to the bottom of the pit,
and you have nothing to do but stir the basket, and the people
that are watching above will draw you up. But remember, ladies,
you are to keep your crows safe, and be married in them, all the
same day. If you be married separately, or if you be married
without your crowns, a curse will follow--mind what I say.'
So they took leave of him with great respect, and walked arm-in-
arm to the bottom of the draw-well. There was a sky and a sun
over them, and a great high wall, covered with ivy, rose before
them, and was so high they could not see to the top of it; and
there was an arch in this wall, and the bottom of the draw-well
was inside the arch. The youngest pair went last; and says the
princess to the prince, 'I'm sure the two princes don't mean any
good to you. Keep these crowns under your cloak, and if you are
obliged to stay last, don't get into the basket, but put a big
stone, or any heavy thing inside, and see what will happen.'
As soon as they were inside the dark cave, they put in the eldest
princess first, and stirred the basket, and up she went. Then the
basket was let down again, and up went the second princess, and
then up went the youngest; but first she put her arms round her
prince's neck, and kissed him, and cried a little. At last it
came to the turn of the youngest prince, and instead of going
into the basket he put in a big stone. He drew on one side and
listened, and after the basket was drawn up about twenty perches,
down came it and the stone like thunder, and the stone was broken
into little bits.
Well, the poor prince had nothing for it but to walk back to the
castle; and through it and round it he walked, and the finest of
eating and drinking he got, and a bed of bog-down to sleep on,
and long walks he took through gardens and lawns, but not a sight
could he get, high or low, of Seven Inches. He, before a week,
got tired of it, he was so lonesome for his true love; and at the
end of a month he didn't know what to do with himself.
One morning he went into the treasure room, and took notice of a
beautiful snuff-box on the table that he didn't remember seeing
there before. He took it in his hands and opened it, and out
Seven Inches walked on the table. 'I think, prince,' says he,
'you're getting a little tired of my castle?' 'Ah!' says the
other, 'if I had my princess here, and could see you now and
then, I'd never know a dismal day.' 'Well, you're long enough
here now, and you're wanted there above. Keep your bride's crowns
safe, and whenever you want my help, open this snuff-box. Now
take a walk down the garden, and come back when you're tired.'
The prince was going down a gravel walk with a quickset hedge on
each side, and his eyes on the ground, and he was thinking of one
thing and another. At last he lifted his eyes, and there he was
outside of a smith's gate that he often passed before, about a
mile away from the palace of his betrothed princess. The clothes
he had on him were as ragged as you please, but he had his crowns
safe under his old cloak.
Then the smith came out, and says he, 'It's a shame for a strong,
big fellow like you to be lazy, and so much work to be done. Are
you any good with hammer and tongs? Come in and bear a hand, an
I'll give you diet and lodging, and a few pence when you earn
them.' 'Never say't twice,' says the prince. 'I want nothing but
to be busy.' So he took the hammer, and pounded away at the red-
hot bar that the smith was turning on the anvil to make into a
set of horse-shoes.
They hadn't been long at work when a tailor came in, and he sat
down and began to talk. 'You all heard how the two princess were
loth to be married till the youngest would be ready with her
crowns and her sweetheart. But after the windlass loosened
accidentally when they were pulling up her bridegroom that was to
be, there was no more sign of a well, or a rope, or a windlass,
than there is on the palm of your hand. So the princes that were
courting the eldest ladies wouldn't give peace or ease to their
lovers nor the king till they got consent to the marriage, and it
was to take place this morning. Myself went down out o'
curiousity, and to be sure I was delighted with the grand dresses
of the two brides, and the three crowns on their heads--gold,
silver, and copper, one inside the other. The youngest was
standing by mournful enough, and all was ready. The two
bridegrooms came in as proud and grand as you please, and up they
were walking to the altar rails, when the boards opened two yards
wide under their feet, and down they went among the dead men and
the coffins in the vaults. Oh, such shrieks as the ladies gave!
and such running and racing and peeping down as there was! but
the clerk soon opened the door of the vault, and up came the two
princes, their fine clothes covered an inch thick with cobwebs
So the king said they should put off the marriage. 'For,' says
he, 'I see there is no use in thinking of it till the youngest
gets her three crowns, and is married with the others. I'll give
my youngest daughter for a wife to whoever brings three crowns to
me like the others; and if he doesn't care to be married, some
other one will, and I'll make his fortune.'
'I wish,' says the smith, 'I could do it; but I was looking at
the crowns after the princesses got home, and I don't think
there's a black or a white smith on the face of the earth that
could imitate them.' 'Faint heart never won fair lady,' says the
prince. 'Go to the palace and ask for a quarter of a pound of
gold, a quarter of a pound of silver, and a quarter of a pound of
copper. Get one crown for a pattern, and my head for a pledge,
I'll give you out the very things that are wanted in the
morning.' 'Are you in earnest?' says the smith. 'Faith, I am so,'
says he. 'Go! you can't do worse than lose.'
To make a long story short, the smith got the quarter of a pound
of gold, and the quarter of a pound of silver, and the quarter of
a pound of copper, and gave them and the pattern crown to the
prince. He shut the forge door at nightfall, and the neighbours
all gathered in the yard, and they heard him hammering,
hammering, hammering, from that to daybreak; and every now and
then he'd throw out through the window bits of gold, silver, and
copper; and the idlers scrambled for them, and cursed one
another, and prayed for the good luck of the workman.
Well, just as the sun was thinking to rise, he opened the door,
and brought out the three crowns he got from his true love, and
such shouting and huzzaing as there was! The smith asked him to
go along with him to the palace, but he refused; so off set the
smith, and the whole townland with him; and wasn't the king
rejoiced when he saw the crowns! 'Well,' says he to the smith,
'you're a married man. What's to be done?' 'Faith, your majesty,
I didn't make them crowns at all. It was a big fellow that took
service with me yesterday.' 'Well, daughter, will you marry the
fellow that made these crowns?' 'Let me see them first, father,'
said she; but when she examined them she knew them right well,
and guessed it was her true love that sent them. 'I will marry
the man that these crowns came from,' says she.
'Well,' says the king to the elder of the two princes, 'go up to
the smith's forge, take my best coaches, and bring home the
bridegroom.' He did not like doing this, he was so proud, but he
could not refuse. When he came to the forge he saw the prince
standing at the door, and beckoned him over to the coach. 'Are
you the fellow,' says he, 'that made these crowns?' 'Yes,' says
the other. 'Then,' says he, 'maybe you'd give yourself a
brushing, and get into that coach; the king wants to see you. I
pity the princess.' The young prince got into the carriage, and
while they were on the way he opened the snuff-box, and out
walked Seven Inches, and stood on his thigh. 'Well,' says he,
'what trouble is on you now?' 'Master,' says the other, 'please
let me go back to my forge, and let this carriage be filled with
paving stones.' No sooner said than done. The prince was sitting
in his forge, and the horses wondered what was after happening to
When they came into the palace yard, the king himself opened the
carriage door, for respect to his new son-in-law. As soon as he
turned the handle, a shower of small stones fell on his powdered
wig and his silk coat, and down he fell under them. There was
great fright and some laughter, and the king, after he wiped the
blood from his forehead, looked very cross at the eldest prince.
'My lord,' says he, 'I'm very sorry for this accident, but I'm
not to blame. I saw the young smith get into the carriage, and we
never stopped a minute since.' 'It's uncivil you were to him.
Go,' says he to the other prince, 'and bring the young smith
here, and be polite.' 'Never fear,' says he.
But there's some people that couldn't be good-natured if they
tried, and not a bit civiller was the new messenger than the old,
and when the king opened the carriage door a second time, it's
shower of mud that came down on him. 'There's no use,' says he,
'going on this way. The fox never got a better messenger than
So he changed his clothes, and washed himself, and out he set to
the prince's forge and asked him to sit along with himself. The
prince begged to be allowed to sit in the other carriage, and
when they were half-way he opened his snuff-box. 'Master,' says
he, 'I'd wish to be dressed now according to my rank.' 'You shall
be that,' says Seven Inches. 'And now I'll bid you farewell.
Continue as good and kind as you always were; love your wife; and
that's all the advice I'll give you.' So Seven Inches vanished;
and when the carriage door was opened in the yard, out walks the
prince as fine as hands could make him, and the first thing he
did was to run over to his bride and embrace her.
Every one was full of joy but the two other princes. There was
not much delay about the marriages, and they were all celebrated
on the one day. Soon after, the two elder couples went to their
own courts, but the youngest pair stayed with the old king, and
they were as happy as the happiest married couple you ever heard
of in a story.
From 'West Highland Tales.'
The Story of a Very Bad Boy
Once upon a time there lived in a little village in the very
middle of France a widow and her only son, a boy about fifteen,
whose name was Antoine, though no one ever called him anything
but Toueno-Boueno. They were very poor indeed, and their hut
shook about their ears on windy nights, till they expected the
walls to fall in and crush them, but instead of going to work as
a boy of his age ought to do, Toueno-Boueno did nothing but
lounge along the street, his eyes fixed on the ground, seeing
nothing that went on round him.
'You are very, very stupid, my dear child,' his mother would
sometimes say to him, and then she would add with a laugh,
'Certainly you will never catch a wolf by the tail.'
One day the old woman bade Antoine go into the forest and collect
enough dry leaves to make beds for herself and him. Before he had
finished it began to rain heavily, so he hid himself in the
hollow trunk of a tree, where he was so dry and comfortable that
he soon fell fast asleep. By and by he was awakened by a noise
which sounded like a dog scratching at the door, and he suddenly
felt frightened, why he did not know. Very cautiously he raised
his head, and right above him he saw a big hairy animal, coming
down tail foremost.
'It is the wolf that they talk so much about,' he said to
himself, and he made himself as small as he could and shrunk into
The wolf came down the inside of the tree, slowly, slowly;
Antoine felt turned to stone, so terrified was he, and hardly
dared to breathe. Suddenly an idea entered his mind, which he
thought might save him still. He remembered to have heard from
his mother that a wolf could neither bend his back nor turn his
head, so as to look behind him, and quick as lightning he
stretched up his hand, and seizing the wolf's tail, pulled it
Then he left the tree and dragged the animal to his mother's
'Mother, you have often declared that I was too stupid to catch a
wolf by the tail. Now see,' he cried triumphantly.
'Well, well, wonders will never cease,' answered the good woman,
who took care to keep at a safe distance. 'But as you really have
got him, let us see if we can't put him to some use. Fetch the
skin of the ram which died last week out of the chest, and we
will sew the wolf up in it. He will make a splendid ram, and to-
morrow we will drive him to the fair and sell him.'
Very likely the wolf, who was cunning and clever, may have
understood what she said, but he thought it best to give no sign,
and suffered the skin to be sewn upon him.
'I can always get away if I choose,' thought he, 'it is better
not to be in a hurry;' so he remained quite still while the skin
was drawn over his head, which made him very hot and
uncomfortable, and resisted the temptation to snap off the
fingers or noses that were so close to his mouth.
The fair was at its height next day when Toueno-Boueno arrived
with his wolf in ram's clothing. All the farmers crowded round
him, each offering a higher price than the last. Never had they
beheld such a beautiful beast, said they, and at last, after much
bargaining, he was handed over to three brothers for a good sum
It happened that these three brothers owned large flocks of
sheep, though none so large and fine as the one they had just
'My flock is the nearest,' observed the eldest brother; 'we will
leave him in the fold for the night, and to-morrow we will decide
which pastures will be best for him.' And the wolf grinned as he
listened, and held up his head a little higher than before.
Early next morning the young farmer began to go his rounds, and
the sheep-fold was the first place he visited. To his horror, the
sheep were all stretched out dead before him, except one, which
the wolf had eaten, bones and all. Instantly the truth flashed
upon him. It was no ram that lay curled up in the corner
pretending to be asleep (for in reality he could bend back and
turn his head as much as he liked), but a wolf who was watching
him out of the corner of his eye, and might spring upon him at
any moment. So the farmer took no notice, and only thought that
here was a fine chance of revenging himself on his next brother
for a trick which he had played, and merely told him that the ram
would not eat the grass in that field, and it might be well to
drive him to the pasture by the river, where his own flock was
feeding. The second brother eagerly swallowed the bait, and that
evening the wolf was driven down to the field where the young man
kept the sheep which had been left him by his father. By the next
morning they also were all dead, but the second brother likewise
held his peace, and allowed the sheep which belonged to the
youngest to share the fate of the other two. Then they met and
confessed to each other their disasters, and resolved to take the
animal as fast as possible back to Toueno-Boueno, who should get
a sound thrashing.
Antoine was sitting on a plum tree belonging to a neighbour,
eating the ripe fruit, when he saw the three young farmers coming
towards him. Swinging himself down, he flew home to the hut,
crying breathlessly, 'Mother, mother, the farmers are close by
with the wolf. They have found out all about it, and will
certainly kill me, and perhaps you too. But if you do as I tell
you, I may be able to save us both. Lie down on the floor, and
pretend to be dead, and be sure not to speak, whatever happens.
Thus when the three brothers, each armed with a whip, entered the
hut a few seconds later, they found a woman extended on the
floor, and Toueno kneeling at her side, whistling loudly into her
'What are you doing now, you rascal?' asked the eldest.
'What am I doing? Oh, my poor friends, I am the most miserable
creature in the world! I have lost the best of mothers, and I
don't know what will become of me,' and he hid his face in his
hands and sobbed again.
'But what are you whistling like that for?'
'Well, it is the only chance. This whistle has been known to
bring the dead back to life, and I hoped--' here he buried his
face in his hands again, but peeping between his fingers he saw
that the brother had opened their six eyes as wide as saucers.
'Look!' he suddenly exclaimed with a cry, 'Look! I am sure I felt
her body move! And now her nostrils are twitching. Ah! the
whistle has not lost its power after all,' and stooping down,
Toueno whistled more loudly than before, so that the old woman's
feet and hands showed signs of life, and she soon was able to
life her head.
The farmers were so astonished at her restoration, that it was
some time before they could speak. At length the eldest turned to
the boy and said:
'Now listen to me. There is no manner of doubt that you are a
young villain. You sold us a ram knowing full well that it was a
wolf, and we came here to-day to pay you out for it. But if you
will give us that whistle, we will pardon what you have done, and
will leave you alone.'
'It is my only treasure, and I set great store by it,' answered
the boy, pretending to hesitate. 'But as you wish for it so much,
well, I suppose I can't refuse,' and he held out the whistle,
which the eldest brother put in his pocket.
Armed with the precious whistle, the three brothers returned home
full of joy, and as they went the youngest said to the others, 'I
have such a good idea! Our wives are all lazy and grumbling, and
make our lives a burden. Let us give them a lesson, and kill them
as soon as we get in. Of course we can restore them to life at
once, but they will have had a rare fright.'
'Ah, how clever you are,' answered the other two. 'Nobody else
would have thought of that.'
So gaily the three husbands knocked down their three wives, who
fell dead to the ground. Then one by one the men tried the
whistle, and blew so loudly that it seemed as if their lungs
would burst, but the women lay stark and stiff and never moved an
eyelid. The husbands grew pale and cold, for they had never
dreamed of this, nor meant any harm, and after a while they
understood that their efforts were of no use, and that once more
the boy had tricked them. With stern faces they rose to their
feet, and taking a large sack they retraced their steps to the
This time there was no escape. Toueno had been asleep, and only
opened his eyes as they entered. Without a word on either side
they thrust him into the sack, and tying up the mouth, the eldest
threw it over his shoulder. After that they all set out to the
river, where they intended to drown the boy.
But the river was a long way off, and the day was very hot, and
Antoine was heavy, heavier than a whole sheaf of corn. They
carried him in turns, but even so they grew very tired and
thirsty, and when a little tavern came in sight on the roadside,
they thankfully flung the sack down on a bench and entered to
refresh themselves. They never noticed that a beggar was sitting
in the shade at the end of the bench, but Toueno's sharp ears
caught the sound of someone eating, and as soon as the farmers
had gone into the inn he began to groan softly.
'What is the matter?' asked the beggar, drawing a little nearer.
'Why have they shut you up, poor boy?'
'Because they wanted to make me a bishop, and I would not
consent,' answered Toueno.
'Dear me,' exclaimed the beggar, 'yet it isn't such a bad thing
to be a bishop.'
'I don't say it is,' replied the young rascal, 'but I should
never like it. However, if you have any fancy for wearing a
mitre, you need only untie the sack, and take my place.'
'I should like nothing better,' said the man, as he stooped to
undo the big knot.
So it was the beggar and not Toueno-Boueno who was flung into the
The next morning the three wives were buried, and on returning
from the cemetery, their husbands met Toueno-Boueno driving a
magnificent flock of sheep. At the sight of him the three farmers
stood still with astonishment.
'What! you scoundrel!' they cried at last, 'we drowned you
yesterday, and to-day we find you again, as well as ever!'
'It does seem odd, doesn't it?' answered he. 'But perhaps you
don't know that beneath this world there lies another yet more
beautiful and far, far richer. Well, it was there that you sent
me when you flung me into the river, and though I felt a little
strange at first, yet I soon began to look about me, and to see
what was happening. There I noticed that close to the place where
I had fallen, a sheep fair was being held, and a bystander told
me that every day horses or cattle were sold somewhere in the
town. If I had only had the luck to be thrown into the river on
the side of the horse fair I might have made my fortune! As it
was, I had to content myself with buying these sheep, which you
can get for nothing.'
'And do you know exactly the spot in the river which lies over
the horse fair?'
'As if I did not know it, when I have seen it with my own eyes.'
'Then if you do not want us to avenge our dead flocks and our
murdered wives, you will have to throw us into the river just
over the place of the horse fair.'
'Very well; only you must get three sacks and come with me to
that rock which juts into the river. I will throw you in from
there, and you will fall nearly on to the horses' backs.'
So he threw them in, and as they were never seen again, no one
ever knew into which fair they had fallen.
From 'Litterature Orale de L'Auvergne,' par Paul Sebillot.
The Brown Bear of Norway
There was once a king in Ireland, and he had three daughters, and
very nice princesses they were. And one day, when they and their
father were walking on the lawn, the king began to joke with
them, and to ask them whom they would like to be married to.
'I'll have the king of Ulster for a husband,' says one; 'and I'll
have the king of Munster,' says another; 'and,' says the
youngest, 'I'll have no husband but the Brown Bear of Norway.'
For a nurse of hers used to be telling her of an enchanted prince
that she called by that name, and she fell in love with him, and
his name was the first name on her tongue, for the very night
before she was dreaming of him. Well, one laughed, and another
laughed, and they joked with the princess all the rest of the
evening. But that very night she woke up out of her sleep in a
great hall that was lighted up with a thousand lamps; the richest
carpets were on the floor, and the walls were covered with cloth
of gold and silver, and the place was full of grand company, and
the very beautiful prince she saw in her dreams was there, and it
wasn't a moment till he was on one knee before her, and telling
her how much he loved her, and asking her wouldn't she be his
queen. Well, she hadn't the heart to refuse him, and married they
were the same evening.
'Now, my darling,' says he, when they were left by themselves,
'you must know that I am under enchantment. A sorceress, that had
a beautiful daughter, wished me for her son-in-law; but the
mother got power over me, and when I refused to wed her daughter
she made me take the form of a bear by day, and I was to continue
so till a lady would marry me of her own free will, and endure
five years of great trials after.'
Well, when the princess woke in the morning, she missed her
husband from her side, and spent the day very sadly. But as soon
as the lamps were lighted in the grand hall, where she was
sitting on a sofa covered with silk, the folding doors flew open,
and he was sitting by her side the next minute. So they spent
another happy evening, but he warned her that whenever she began
to tire of him, or ceased to have faith in him, they would be
parted for ever, and he'd be obliged to marry the witch's
She got used to find him absent by day, and they spent a happy
twelvemonth together, and at last a beautiful little boy was
born; and happy as she was before, she was twice as happy now,
for she had her child to keep her company in the day when she
couldn't see her husband.
At last, one evening, when herself, and himself, and her child
were sitting with a window open because it was a sultry night, in
flew an eagle, took the infant's sash in his beak, and flew up in
the air with him. She screamed, and was going to throw herself
out the window after him, but the prince caught her, and looked
at her very seriously. She bethought of what he said soon after
their marriage, and she stopped the cries and complaints that
were on her tongue. She spent her days very lonely for another
twelvemonth, when a beautiful little girl was sent to her. Then
she thought to herself she'd have a sharp eye about her this
time; so she never would allow a window to be more than a few
But all her care was in vain. Another evening, when they were all
so happy, and the prince dandling the baby, a beautiful greyhound
stood before them, took the child out of the father's hand, and
was out of the door before you could wink. This time she shouted
and ran out of the room, but there were some of the servants in
the next room, and all declared that neither child nor dog passed
out. She felt, somehow, as if it was her husband's fault, but
still she kept command over herself, and didn't once reproach
When the third child was born she would hardly allow a window or
a door to be left open for a moment; but she wasn't the nearer to
keep the child to herself. They were sitting one evening by the
fire, when a lady appeared standing by them. The princess opened
her eyes in a great fright and stared at her, and while she was
doing so, the lady wrapped a shawl round the baby that was
sitting in its father's lap, and either sank through the ground
with it or went up through the wide chimney. This time the mother
kept her bed for a month.
'My dear,' said she to her husband, when she was beginning to
recover, 'I think I'd feel better if I was to see my father and
mother and sisters once more. If you give me leave to go home for
a few days I'd be glad.' 'Very well,' said he, 'I will do that,
and whenever you feel inclined to return, only mention your wish
when you lie down at night.' The next morning when she awoke she
found herself in her own old chamber in her father's palace. She
rang the bell, and in a short time she had her mother and father
and married sisters about her, and they laughed till they cried
for joy at finding her safe back again.
In time she told them all that had happened to her, and they
didn't know what to advise her to do. She was as fond of her
husband as ever, and said she was sure that he couldn't help
letting the children go; but still she was afraid beyond the
world to have another child torn from her. Well, the mother and
sisters consulted a wise woman that used to bring eggs to the
castle, for they had great faith in her wisdom. She said the only
plan was to secure the bear's skin that the prince was obliged to
put on every morning, and get it burned, and then he couldn't
help being a man night and day, and the enchantment would be at
So they all persuaded her to do that, and she promised she would;
and after eight days she felt so great a longing to see her
husband again that she made the wish the same night, and when she
woke three hours after, she was in her husband's palace, and he
himself was watching over her. There was great joy on both sides,
and they were happy for many days.
Now she began to think how she never minded her husband leaving
her in the morning, and how she never found him neglecting to
give her a sweet drink out of a gold cup just as she was going to
One night she contrived not to drink any of it, though she
pretended to do so; and she was wakeful enough in the morning,
and saw her husband passing out through a panel in the wainscot,
though she kept her eyelids nearly closed. The next night she got
a few drops of the sleepy posset that she saved the evening
before put into her husband's night drink, and that made him
sleep sound enough. She got up after midnight, passed through the
panel, and found a Beautiful brown bear's hide hanging in the
corner. Then she stole back, and went down to the parlour fire,
and put the hide into the middle of it till it was all fine
ashes. She then lay down by her husband, gave him a kiss on the
cheek, and fell asleep.
If she was to live a hundred years she'd never forget how she
wakened next morning, and found her husband looking down on her
with misery and anger in his face. 'Unhappy woman,' said he, 'you
have separated us for ever! Why hadn't you patience for five
years? I am now obliged, whether I like or no, to go a three
days' journey to the witch's castle, and marry her daughter. The
skin that was my guard you have burned it, and the egg-wife that
gave you the counsel was the witch herself. I won't reproach you:
your punishment will be severe without it. Farewell for ever!'
He kissed her for the last time, and was off the next minute,
walking as fast as he could. She shouted after him, and then
seeing there was no use, she dressed herself and pursued him. He
never stopped, nor stayed, nor looked back, and still she kept
him in sight; and when he was on the hill she was in the hollow,
and when he was in the hollow she was on the hill. Her life was
almost leaving her, when, just as the sun was setting, he turned
up a lane, and went into a little house. She crawled up after
him, and when she got inside there was a beautiful little boy on
his knees, and he kissing and hugging him. 'Here, my poor
darling,' says he, 'is your eldest child, and there,' says he,
pointing to a woman that was looking on with a smile on her face,
'is the eagle that carried him away.' She forgot all her sorrows
in a moment, hugging her child, and laughing and crying over him.
The woman washed their feet, and rubbed them with an ointment
that took all the soreness out of their bones, and made them as
fresh as a daisy. Next morning, just before sunrise, he was up,
and prepared to be off, 'Here,' said he to her, 'is a thing which
may be of use to you. It's a scissors, and whatever stuff you cut
with it will be turned into silk. The moment the sun rises, I'll
lose all memory of yourself and the children, but I'll get it at
sunset again. Farewell!' But he wasn't far gone till she was in
sight of him again, leaving her boy behind. It was the same to-
day as yesterday: their shadows went before them in the morning
and followed them in the evening. He never stopped, and she never
stopped, and as the sun was setting he turned up another lane,
and there they found their little daughter. It was all joy and
comfort again till morning, and then the third day's journey
But before he started he gave her a comb, and told her that
whenever she used it, pearls and diamonds would fall from her
hair. Still he had his memory from sunset to sunrise; but from
sunrise to sunset he travelled on under the charm, and never
threw his eye behind. This night they came to where the youngest
baby was, and the next morning, just before sunrise, the prince
spoke to her for the last time. 'Here, my poor wife,' said he,
'is a little hand-reel, with gold thread that has no end, and the
half of our marriage ring. If you ever get to my house, and put
your half-ring to mine, I shall recollect you. There is a wood
yonder, and the moment I enter it I shall forget everything that
ever happened between us, just as if I was born yesterday.
Farewell, dear wife and child, for ever!' Just then the sun rose,
and away he walked towards the wood. She saw it open before him
and close after him, and when she came up, she could no more get
in than she could break through a stone wall. She wrung her hands
and shed tears, but then she recollected herself, and cried out,
'Wood, I charge you by my three magic gifts, the scissors, the
comb, and the reel--to let me through'; and it opened, and she
went along a walk till she came in sight of a palace, and a lawn,
and a woodman's cottage on the edge of the wood where it came
nearest the palace.
She went into the lodge, and asked the woodman and his wife to
take her into their service. They were not willing at first; but
she told them she would ask no wages, and would give them
diamonds, and pearls, and silk stuffs, and gold thread whenever
they wished for them, and then they agreed to let her stay.
It wasn't long till she heard how a young prince, that was just
arrived, was living in the palace of the young mistress. He
seldom stirred abroad, and every one that saw him remarked how
silent and sorrowful he went about, like a person that was
searching for some lost thing.
The servants and conceited folk at the big house began to take
notice of the beautiful young woman at the lodge, and to annoy
her with their impudence. The head footman was the most
troublesome, and at last she invited him to come and take tea
with her. Oh, how rejoiced he was, and how he bragged of it in
the servants' hall! Well, the evening came, and the footman
walked into the lodge, and was shown to her sitting-room; for the
lodge-keeper and his wife stood in great awe of her, and gave her
two nice rooms for herself. Well, he sat down as stiff as a
ramrod, and was talking in a grand style about the great doings
at the castle, while she was getting the tea and toast ready.
'Oh,' says she to him, 'would you put your hand out at the window
and cut me off a sprig or two of honeysuckle?' He got up in great
glee, and put out his hand and head; and said she, 'By the virtue
of my magic gifts, let a pair of horns spring out of your head,
and sing to the lodge.' Just as she wished, so it was. They
sprung from the front of each ear, and met at the back. Oh, the
poor wretch! And how he bawled and roared! and the servants that
he used to be boasting to were soon flocking from the castle, and
grinning, and huzzaing, and beating tunes on tongs and shovels
and pans; and he cursing and swearing, and the eyes ready to
start out of his head, and he so black in the face, and kicking
out his legs behind him like mad.
At last she pitied him, and removed the charm, and the horns
dropped down on the ground, and he would have killed her on the
spot, only he was as weak as water, and his fellow-servants came
in and carried him up to the big house. Well, some way or other
the story came to the ears of the prince, and he strolled down
that way. She had only the dress of a countrywoman on her as she
sat sewing at the window, but that did not hide her beauty, and
he was greatly puzzled after he had a good look, just as a body
is puzzled to know whether something happened to him when he was
young or if he only dreamed it. Well, the witch's daughter heard
about it too, and she came to see the strange girl; and what did
she find her doing but cutting out the pattern of a gown from
brown paper; and as she cut away, the paper became the richest
silk she ever saw. The witch's daughter looked on with greedy
eyes, and, says she, 'What would you be satisfied to take for
that scissors?' 'I'll take nothing,' says she, 'but leave to
spend one night outside the prince's chamber.' Well, the proud
lady fired up, and was going to say something dreadful; but the
scissors kept on cutting, and the silk growing richer and richer
every inch. So she promised what the girl had asked her.
When night came on she was let into the palace and lay down till
the prince was in such a dead sleep that all she did couldn't
awake him. She sung this verse to him, sighing and sobbing, and
kept singing it the night long, and it was all in vain:
Four long years I was married to thee; Three sweet babes I bore
to thee; Brown Bear of Norway, turn to me.
At the first dawn the proud lady was in the chamber, and led her
away, and the footman of the horns put out his tongue at her as
she was quitting the palace.
So there was no luck so far; but the next day the prince passed
by again and looked at her, and saluted her kindly, as a prince
might a farmer's daughter, and passed one; and soon the witch's
daughter passed by, and found her combing her hair, and pearls
and diamonds dropping from it.
Well, another bargain was made, and the princess spent another
night of sorrow, and she left the castle at daybreak, and the
footman was at his post and enjoyed his revenge.
The third day the prince went by, and stopped to talk with the
strange woman. He asked her could he do anything to serve her,
and she said he might. She asked him did he ever wake at night.
He said that he often did, but that during the last two nights he
was listening to a sweet song in his dreams, and could not wake,
and that the voice was one that he must have known and loved in
some other world long ago. Says she, 'Did you drink any sleepy
posset either of these evenings before you went to bed?' 'I did,'
said he. 'The two evenings my wife gave me something to drink,
but I don't know whether it was a sleepy posset or not.' 'Well,
prince,' said she, 'as you say you would wish to oblige me, you
can do it by not tasting any drink to-night.' 'I will not,' says
he, and then he went on his walk.
Well, the great lady came soon after the prince, and found the
stranger using her hand-reel and winding threads of gold off it,
and the third bargain was made.
That evening the prince was lying on his bed at twilight, and his
mind much disturbed; and the door opened, and in his princess
walked, and down she sat by his bedside and sung:
Four long years I was married to thee; Three sweet babes I bore
to thee; Brown Bear of Norway, turn to me.
'Brown Bear of Norway !' said he. 'I don't understand you.'
'Don't you remember, prince, that I was your wedded wife for four
years?' 'I do not,' said he, 'but I'm sure I wish it was so.'
'Don't you remember our three babes that are still alive?' 'Show
me them. My mind is all a heap of confusion.' 'Look for the half
of our marriage ring, that hangs at your neck, and fit it to
this.' He did so, and the same moment the charm was broken. His
full memory came back on him, and he flung his arms round his
wife's neck, and both burst into tears.
Well, there was a great cry outside, and the castle walls were
heard splitting and cracking. Everyone in the castle was alarmed,
and made their way out. The prince and princess went with the
rest, and by the time all were safe on the lawn, down came the
building, and made the ground tremble for miles round. No one
ever saw the witch and her daughter afterwards. It was not long
till the prince and princess had their children with them, and
then they set out for their own palace. The kings of Ireland and
of Munster and Ulster, and their wives, soon came to visit them,
and may every one that deserves it be as happy as the Brown Bear
of Norway and his family.
From 'West Highland Tales.'
There was once a little boy whose name was Lars, and because he
was so little he was called Little Lasse; he was a brave little
man, for he sailed round the world in a pea-shell boat.
It was summer time, when the pea shells grew long and green in
the garden. Little Lasse crept into the pea bed where the pea
stalks rose high above his cap, and he picked seventeen large
shells, the longest and straightest he could find.
Little Lasse thought, perhaps, that no one saw him; but that was
foolish, for God sees everywhere.
Then the gardener came with his gun over his shoulder, and he
heard something rustling in the pea bed.
'I think that must be a sparrow,' he said. 'Ras! Ras!' but no
sparrows flew out, for Little Lasse had no wings, only two small
legs. 'Wait! I will load my gun and shoot the sparrows,' said the
Then Little Lasse was frightened, and crept out on to the path.
'Forgive me, dear gardener!' he said. 'I wanted to get some fine
'Well, I will this time,' said the gardener. 'But another time
Little Lasse must ask leave to go and look for boats in the pea
'I will,' answered Lasse; and he went off to the shore. Then he
opened the shells with a pin, split them carefully in two, and
broke small little bits of sticks for the rowers' seats. Then he
took the peas which were in the shells and put them in the boats
for cargo. Some of the shells got broken, some remained whole,
and when all were ready Lasse had twelve boats. But they should
not be boats, they should be large warships. He had three liners,
three frigates, three brigs and three schooners. The largest
liner was called Hercules, and the smallest schooner The Flea.
Little Lasse put all the twelve into the water, and they floated
as splendidly and as proudly as any great ships over the waves of
And now the ships must sail round the world. The great island
over there was Asia; that large stone Africa; the little island
America; the small stones were Polynesia; and the shore from
which the ships sailed out was Europe. The whole fleet set off
and sailed far away to other parts of the world. The ships of the
line steered a straight course to Asia, the frigates sailed to
Africa, the brigs to America, and the schooners to Polynesia. But
Little Lasse remained in Europe, and threw small stones out into
the great sea.
Now, there was on the shore of Europe a real boat, father's own,
a beautiful white-painted boat, and Little Lasse got into it.
Father and mother had forbidden this, but Little Lasse forgot. He
thought he should very much like to travel to some other part of
'I shall row out a little way--only a very little way,' he
thought. The pea-shell boats had travelled so far that they only
looked like little specks on the ocean. 'I shall seize Hercules
on the coast of Asia,' said Lasse, 'and then row home again to
He shook the rope that held the boat, and, strange to say, the
rope became loose. Ditsch, ratsch, a man is a man, and so Little
Lasse manned the boat.
Now he would row--and he could row, for he had rowed so often on
the step sat home, when the steps pretended to be a boat and
father's big stick an oar. But when Little Lasse wanted to row
there were no oars to be found in the boat. The oars were locked
up in the boat-house, and Little Lasse had not noticed that the
boat was empty. It is not so easy as one thinks to row to Asia
What could Little Lasse do now? The boat was already some
distance out on the sea, and the wind, which blew from land, was
driving it still further out. Lasse was frightened and began to
cry. But there was no one on the shore to hear him. Only a big
crow perched alone in the birch tree; and the gardener's black
cat sat under the birch tree, waiting to catch the crow. Neither
of them troubled themselves in the least about Little Lasse, who
was drifting out to sea.
Ah! how sorry Little Lasse was now that he had been disobedient
and got into the boat, when father and mother had so often
forbidden him to do so! Now it was too late, he could not get
back to land. Perhaps he would be lost out on the great sea. What
should he do?
When he had shouted until he was tired and no one heard him, he
put his two little hands together and said, 'Good God, do not be
angry with Little Lasse.' And then he went to sleep. For although
it was daylight, old Nukku Matti was sitting on the shores of the
'Land of Nod,' and was fishing for little children with his long
fishing rod. He heard the low words which Little Lasse said to
God, and he immediately drew the boat to himself and laid Little
Lasse to sleep on a bed of rose leaves.
Then Nukku Matti said to one of the Dreams, 'Play with Little
Lasse, so that he does not feel lonesome.'
It was a little dream-boy, so little, so little, that he was less
than Lasse himself; he had blue eyes and fair hair, a red cap
with a silver band, and white coat with pearls on the collar. He
came to Little Lasse and said, 'Would you like to sail round the
'Yes,' said Lasse in his sleep, 'I should like to.'
'Come, then,' said the dream-boy, 'and let us sail in your pea-
shell boats. You shall sail in Hercules and I shall sail in The
So they sailed away from the 'Land of Nod,' and in a little while
Hercules and The Flea were on the shores of Asia away at the
other end of the world, where the Ice Sea flows through Behring
Straits into the Pacific Ocean. A long way off in the winter mist
they could see the explorer Nordenskiold with his ship Vega
trying to find an opening between the ice. It was so cold, so
cold; the great icebergs glittered strangely, and the huge whales
now lived under the ice, for they could not make a hole through
with their awkward heads. All around on the dreary shore there
was snow and snow as far as the eye could see; little grey men in
shaggy skins moved about, and drove in small sledges through the
snow drifts, but the sledges were drawn by dogs.
'Shall we land here?' asked the dream-boy.
'No,' said Little Lasse. 'I am so afraid that the whales would
swallow us up, and the big dogs bite us. Let us sail instead to
another part of the world.'
'Very well,' said the dream-boy with the red cap and the silver
band; 'it is not far to America'--and at the same moment they
The sun was shining and it was very warm. Tall palm trees grew in
long rows on the shore and bore coconuts in their top branches.
Men red as copper galloped over the immense green prairies and
shot their arrows at the buffaloes, who turned against them with
their sharp horns. An enormous cobra which had crept up the stem
of a tall palm tree threw itself on to a little llama that was
grazing at the foot. Knaps! it was all over the little llama.
'Shall we land here?' asked the dream-boy.
'No,' said Little Lasse. 'I am so afraid that the buffaloes will
butt us, and the great serpent eat us up. Let us travel to
another part of the world.'
'Very well,' said the dream-boy with the white coat, 'it is only
a little way to Polynesia'--and then they were there.
It was very warm there, as warm as in a hot bath in Finland.
Costly spices grew on the shores: the pepper plant, the cinnamon
tree, ginger, saffron; the coffee plant and the tea plant. Brown
people with long ears and thick lips, and hideously painted
faces, hunted a yellow-spotted tiger among the high bamboos on
the shore, and the tiger turned on them and stuck its claws into
one of the brown men. Then all the others took to flight.
'Shall we land here?' asked the dream-boy.
'No,' said Little Lasse. 'Don't you see the tiger away there by
the pepper plant? Let us travel to another part of the world.'
'We can do so,' said the dream-boy with the blue eyes. 'We are
not far from Africa'--and as he said that they were there.
They anchored at the mouth of a great river where the shores were
as green as the greenest velvet. A little distance from the river
an immense desert stretched away. The air was yellow; the sun
shone so hot, so hot as if it would burn the earth to ashes, and
the people were as black as the blackest jet. They rode across
the desert on tall camels; the lions roared with thirst, and the
great crocodiles with their grey lizard heads and sharp white
teeth gaped up out of the river.
'Shall we land here?' asked the dream-boy.
'No,' said Little Lasse. 'The sun would burn us, and the lions
and the crocodiles would eat us up. Let us travel to another part
of the world.'
'We can travel back to Europe,' said the dream-boy with the fair
hair. And with that they were there.
They came to a shore where it was all so cool and familiar and
friendly. There stood the tall birch tree with its drooping
leaves; at the top sat the old crow, and at its foot crept the
gardener's black cat. Not far away was a house which Little Lasse
had seen before; near the house there was a garden, and in the
garden a pea bed with long pea shells. An old gardener with a
green coat walked about and wondered if the cucumbers were ripe.
Fylax was barking on the steps, and when he saw Little Lasse he
wagged his tail. Old Stina was milking the cows in the farmyard,
and there was a very familiar lady in a check woollen shawl on
her way to the bleaching green to see if the clothes were
bleached. There was, too, a well-known gentleman in a yellow
summer coat, with a long pipe in his mouth; he was going to see
if the reapers had cut the rye. A boy and a girl were running on
the shore and calling out, 'Little Lasse! Come home for bread-
'Shall we land here?' asked the dream-boy, and he blinked his
blue eyes roguishly.
'Come with me, and I shall ask mother to give you some bread-and-
butter and a glass of milk,' said Little Lasse.