Part 3 out of 6
'Wait a little,' said the dream-boy. And now Little Lasse saw
that the kitchen door was open, and from within there was heard a
low, pleasant frizzling, like that which is heard when one whisks
yellow batter with a wooden ladle into a hot frying-pan.
'Perhaps we should sail back to Polynesia now?' said the happy
'No; they are frying pancakes in Europe just now,' said Little
Lasse; and he wanted to jump ashore, but he could not. The dream-
boy had tied him with a chain of flowers, so that he could not
move. And now all the little dreams came about him, thousands and
thousands of little children, and they made a ring around him and
sang a little song:
The world is very, very wide,
Little Lasse, Lasse,
And though you've sailed beyond the tide,
You can never tell how wide
It is on the other side,
Lasse, Little Lasse.
You have found it cold and hot,
Little Lasse, Lasse;
But in no land is God not,
Lasse, Little Lasse.
Many men live there as here,
But they all to God are dear,
Little Lasse, Lasse.
When His angel is your guide,
Little Lasse, Lasse,
Then no harm can e'er betide,
Even on the other side
Where the wild beasts wander.
But tell us now,
Whene'er you roam,
Do you not find the best is home
Of all the lands you've looked upon,
Lasse, Little Lasse?
When the dreams had sung their song they skipped away, and Nukku
Matti carried Lasse back to the boat. He lay there for a long
time quite still, and he still heard the frying-pan frizzling at
home of the fire, the frizzling was very plain, Little Lasse
heard it quite near him; and so he woke up and rubbed his eyes.
There he lay in the boat, where he had fallen asleep. The wind
had turned, and the boat had drifted out with one wind and
drifted in with another while Little Lasse slept, and what Lasse
thought was frizzling in a frying-pan was the low murmur of the
waves as they washed against the stones on the shore. But he was
not altogether wrong, for the clear blue sea is like a great pan
in which God's sun all day makes cakes for good children.
Little Lasse rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and looked around
him. Everything was the same as before; the crow in the birch
tree, the cat on the grass, and the pea-shell fleet on the shore.
Some of the ships had foundered, and some had drifted back to
land. Hercules had come back with its cargo from Asia, The Flea
had arrived from Polynesia, and the other parts of the world were
just where they were before.
Little Lasse did not know what to think. He had so often been in
that grotto in the 'Land of Nod' and did not know what tricks
dreams can play. But Little Lasse did not trouble his head with
such things; he gathered together his boats and walked up the
shore back to the house.
His brother and sister ran to meet him, and called out from the
distance, 'Where have you been so long, Lasse? Come home and get
some bread-and-butter.' The kitchen door stood open, and inside
was heard a strange frizzling.
The gardener was near the gate, watering the dill and parsley,
the carrots and parsnips.
'Well,' he said, 'where has Little Lasse been so long?'
Little Lasse straightened himself up stiff, and answered: 'I have
sailed round the world in a pea-shell boat.'
'Oh!' said the gardener.
He has forgotten Dreamland. But you have not forgotten it; you
know that it exists. You know the beautiful grotto and the bright
silver walls whose lustre never fades, the sparkling diamonds
which never grow dim, the music which never ceases its low, soft
murmur through the sweet evening twilight. The airy fairy fancies
of happy Dreamland never grow old; they, like the glorious stars
above us, are always young. Perhaps you have caught a glimpse of
their ethereal wings as they flew around your pillow. Perhaps you
have met the same dream-boy with the blue eyes and the fair hair,
the one who wore the red cap with the silver band and the white
coat with pearls on the collar. Perhaps he has taken you to see
all the countries of the world and the peoples, the cold waste
lands and the burning deserts, the many coloured men and the wild
creatures in the sea and in the woods, so that you may earn many
things, but come gladly home again. Yes, who knows? Perhaps you
also have sailed round the wide world once in a pea-shell boat.
From Z. Topelius.
Once upon a time there was a youth called Moti, who was very big
and strong, but the clumsiest creature you can imagine. So clumsy
was he that he was always putting his great feet into the bowls
of sweet milk or curds which his mother set out on the floor to
cool, always smashing, upsetting, breaking, until at last his
father said to him:
'Here, Moti, are fifty silver pieces which are the savings of
years; take them and go and make your living or your fortune if
Then Moti started off one early spring morning with his thick
staff over his shoulder, singing gaily to himself as he walked
In one way and another he got along very well until a hot evening
when he came to a certain city where he entered the travellers'
'serai' or inn to pass the night. Now a serai, you must know, is
generally just a large square enclosed by a high wall with an
open colonnade along the inside all round to accommodate both men
and beasts, and with perhaps a few rooms in towers at the corners
for those who are too rich or too proud to care about sleeping by
their own camels and horses. Moti, of course, was a country lad
and had lived with cattle all his life, and he wasn't rich and he
wasn't proud, so he just borrowed a bed from the innkeeper, set
it down beside an old buffalo who reminded him of home, and in
five minutes was fast asleep.
In the middle of the night he woke, feeling that he had been
disturbed, and putting his hand under his pillow found to his
horror that his bag of money had been stolen. He jumped up
quietly and began to prowl around to see whether anyone seemed to
be awake, but, though he managed to arouse a few men and beasts
by falling over them, he walked in the shadow of the archways
round the whole serai without coming across a likely thief. He
was just about to give it up when he overheard two men
whispering, and one laughed softly, and peering behind a pillar,
he saw two Afghan horsedealers counting out his bag of money!
Then Moti went back to bed!
In the morning Moti followed the two Afghans outside the city to
the horsemarket in which they horses were offered for sale.
Choosing the best-looking horse amongst them he went up to it and
'Is this horse for sale? may I try it?' and, the merchants
assenting, he scrambled up on its back, dug in his heels, and off
they flew. Now Moti had never been on a horse in his life, and
had so much ado to hold on with both hands as well as with both
legs that the animal went just where it liked, and very soon
broke into a break-neck gallop and made straight back to the
serai where it had spent the last few nights.
'This will do very well,' thought Moti as they whirled in at the
entrance. As soon as the horse had arrived at its table it
stopped of its own accord and Moti immediately rolled off; but he
jumped up at once, tied the beast up, and called for some
breakfast. Presently the Afghans appeared, out of breath and
furious, and claimed the horse.
'What do you mean?' cried Moti, with his mouth full of rice,
'it's my horse; I paid you fifty pieces of silver for it--quite a
bargain, I'm sure!'
'Nonsense! it is our horse,' answered one of the Afghans
beginning to untie the bridle.
'Leave off,' shouted Moti, seizing his staff; 'if you don't let
my horse alone I'll crack your skulls! you thieves! I know you!
Last night you took my money, so to-day I took your horse; that's
Now the Afghans began to look a little uncomfortable, but Moti
seemed so determined to keep the horse that they resolved to
appeal to the law, so they went off and laid a complaint before
the king that Moti had stolen one of their horses and would not
give it up nor pay for it.
Presently a soldier came to summon Moti to the king; and, when he
arrived and made his obeisance, the king began to question him as
to why he had galloped off with the horse in this fashion. But
Moti declared that he had got the animal in exchange for fifty
pieces of silver, whilst the horse merchants vowed that the money
they had on them was what they had received for the sale of other
horses; and in one way and another the dispute got so confusing
that the king (who really thought that Moti had stolen the horse)
said at last, 'Well, I tell you what I will do. I will lock
something into this box before me, and if he guesses what it is,
the horse is his, and if he doesn't then it is yours.'
To this Moti agreed, and the king arose and went out alone by a
little door at the back of the Court, and presently came back
clasping something closely wrapped up in a cloth under his robe,
slipped it into the little box, locked the box, and set it up
where all might see.
'Now,' said the king to Moti, 'guess!'
It happened that when the king had opened the door behind him,
Moti noticed that there was a garden outside: without waiting for
the king's return he began to think what could be got out of the
garden small enough to be shut in the box. 'Is it likely to be a
fruit or a flower? No, not a flower this time, for he clasped it
too tight. Then it must be a fruit or a stone. Yet not a stone,
because he wouldn't wrap a dirty stone in his nice clean cloth.
Then it is a fruit! And a fruit without much scent, or else he
would be afraid that I might smell it. Now what fruit without
much scent is in season just now? When I know that I shall have
guessed the riddle!'
As has been said before, Moti was a country lad, and was
accustomed to work in his father's garden. He knew all the common
fruits, so he thought he ought to be able to guess right; but so
as not to let it seem too easy, he gazed up at the ceiling with a
puzzled expression, and looked down at the floor with an air or
wisdom and his fingers pressed against his forehead, and then he
said, slowly, with his eyes on the king,--
'It is freshly plucked! It is round and it is red! It is a
Now the king knew nothing about fruits except that they were good
to eat; and, as for seasons, he asked for whatever fruit he
wanted whenever he wanted it, and saw that he got it; so to him
Moti's guess was like a miracle, and clear proof not only of his
wisdom but of his innocence, for it was a pomegranate that he had
put into the box. Of course when the king marvelled and praised
Moti's wisdom, everybody else did so too; and, whilst the Afghans
went off crestfallen, Moti took the horse and entered the king's
Very soon after this, Moti, who continued to live in the serai,
came back one wet and stormy evening to find that his precious
horse had strayed. Nothing remained of him but a broken halter
cord, and no one knew what had become of him. After inquiring of
everyone who was likely to know, Moti seized the cord and his big
staff and sallied out to look for him. Away and away he tramped
out of the city and into the neighbouring forest, tracking hoof-
marks in the mud. Presently it grew late, but still Moti wandered
on until suddenly in the gathering darkness he came right upon a
tiger who was contentedly eating his horse.
'You thief!' shrieked Moti, and ran up and, just as the tiger, in
astonishment, dropped a bone--whack! came Moti's staff on his
head with such good will that the beast was half stunned and
could hardly breathe or see. Then Moti continued to shower upon
him blows and abuse until the poor tiger could hardly stand,
whereupon his tormentor tied the end of the broken halter round
his neck and dragged him back to the serai.
'If you had my horse,' he said, 'I will at least have you, that's
fair enough!' And he tied him up securely by the head and heels,
much as he used to tie the horse; then, the night being far gone,
he flung himself beside him and slept soundly.
You cannot imagine anything like the fright of the people in the
serai, when they woke up and found a tiger--very battered but
still a tiger--securely tethered amongst themselves and their
beasts! Men gathered in groups talking and exclaiming, and
finding fault with the innkeeper for allowing such a dangerous
beast into the serai, and all the while the innkeeper was just as
troubled as the rest, and none dared go near the place where the
tiger stood blinking miserably on everyone, and where Moti lay
stretched out snoring like thunder.
At last news reached the king that Moti had exchanged his horse
for a live tiger; and the monarch himself came down, half
disbelieving the tale, to see if it were really true. Someone at
last awaked Moti with the news that his royal master was come;
and he arose yawning, and was soon delightedly explaining and
showing off his new possession. The king, however, did not share
his pleasure at all, but called up a soldier to shoot the tiger,
much to the relief of all the inmates of the serai except Moti.
If the king, however, was before convinced that Moti was one of
the wisest of men, he was now still more convinced that he was
the bravest, and he increased his pay a hundredfold, so that our
hero thought that he was the luckiest of men.
A week or two after this incident the king sent for Moti, who on
arrival found his master in despair. A neighbouring monarch, he
explained, who had many more soldiers than he, had declared war
against him, and he was at his wits' end, for he had neither
money to buy him off nor soldiers enough to fight him--what was
he to do?
'If that is all, don't you trouble,' said Moti. 'Turn out your
men, and I'll go with them, and we'll soon bring this robber to
The king began to revive at these hopeful words, and took Moti
off to his stable where he bade him choose for himself any horse
he liked. There were plenty of fine horses in the stalls, but to
the king's astonishment Moti chose a poor little rat of a pony
that was used to carry grass and water for the rest of the
'But why do you choose that beast?' said the king.
'Well, you see, your majesty,' replied Moti, 'there are so many
chances that I may fall off, and if I choose one of your fine big
horses I shall have so far to fall that I shall probably break my
leg or my arm, if not my neck, but if I fall off this little
beast I can't hurt myself much.'
A very comical sight was Moti when he rode out to the war. The
only weapon he carried was his staff, and to help him to keep his
balance on horseback he had tied to each of his ankles a big
stone that nearly touched the ground as he sat astride the little
pony. The rest of the king's cavalry were not very numerous, but
they pranced along in armour on fine horses. Behind them came a
great rabble of men on foot armed with all sorts of weapons, and
last of all was the king with his attendants, very nervous and
ill at ease. So the army started.
They had not very far to go, but Moti's little pony, weighted
with a heavy man and two big rocks, soon began to lag behind the
cavalry, and would have lagged behind the infantry too, only they
were not very anxious to be too early in the fight, and hung back
so as to give Moti plenty of time. The young man jogged along
more and more slowly for some time, until at last, getting
impatient at the slowness of the pony, he gave him such a
tremendous thwack with his staff that the pony completely lost
his temper and bolted. First one stone became untied and rolled
away in a cloud of dust to one side of the road, whilst Moti
nearly rolled off too, but clasped his steed valiantly by its
ragged mane, and, dropping his staff, held on for dear life.
Then, fortunately the other rock broke away from his other leg
and rolled thunderously down a neighbouring ravine. Meanwhile the
advanced cavalry had barely time to draw to one side when Moti
came dashing by, yelling bloodthirsty threats to his pony:
'You wait till I get hold of you! I'll skin you alive! I'll wring
your neck! I'll break every bone in your body!' The cavalry
thought that this dreadful language was meant for the enemy, and
were filled with admiration of his courage. Many of their horses
too were quite upset by this whirlwind that galloped howling
through their midst, and in a few minutes, after a little
plunging and rearing and kicking, the whole troop were following
on Moti's heels.
Far in advance, Moti continued his wild career. Presently in his
course he came to a great field of castor-oil plants, ten or
twelve feet high, big and bushy, but quite green and soft. Hoping
to escape from the back of his fiery steed Moti grasped one in
passing, but its roots gave way, and he dashed on, with the whole
plant looking like a young tree flourishing in his grip.
The enemy were in battle array, advancing over the plain, their
king with them confident and cheerful, when suddenly from the
front came a desperate rider at a furious gallop.
'Sire!' he cried, 'save yourself! the enemy are coming!'
'What do you mean?' said the king.
'Oh, sire!' panted the messenger, 'fly at once, there is no time
to lose. Foremost of the enemy rides a mad giant at a furious
gallop. He flourishes a tree for a club and is wild with anger,
for as he goes he cries, "You wait till I get hold of you! I'll
skin you alive! I'll wring your neck! I'll break every bone in
your body!" Others ride behind, and you will do well to retire
before this whirlwind of destruction comes upon you.'
Just then out of a cloud of dust in the distance the king saw
Moti approaching at a hard gallop, looking indeed like a giant
compared with the little beast he rode, whirling his castor-oil
plant, which in the distance might have been an oak tree, and the
sound of his revilings and shoutings came down upon the breeze!
Behind him the dust cloud moved to the sound of the thunder of
hoofs, whilst here and there flashed the glitter of steel. The
sight and the sound struck terror into the king, and, turning his
horse, he fled at top speed, thinking that a regiment of yelling
giants was upon him; and all his force followed him as fast as
they might go. One fat officer alone could not keep up on foot
with that mad rush, and as Moti came galloping up he flung
himself on the ground in abject fear. This was too much for
Moti's excited pony, who shied so suddenly that Moti went flying
over his head like a sky rocket, and alighted right on the top of
his fat foe.
Quickly regaining his feet Moti began to swing his plant round
his head and to shout:
'Where are your men? Bring them up and I'll kill them. My
regiments! Come on, the whole lot of you! Where's your king?
Bring him to me. Here are all my fine fellows coming up and we'll
each pull up a tree by the roots and lay you all flat and your
houses and towns and everything else! Come on!'
But the poor fat officer could do nothing but squat on his knees
with his hands together, gasping. At last, when he got his
breath, Moti sent him off to bring his king, and to tell him that
if he was reasonable his life should be spared. Off the poor man
went, and by the time the troops of Moti's side had come up and
arranged themselves to look as formidable as possible, he
returned with his king. The latter was very humble and
apologetic, and promised never to make war any more, to pay a
large sum of money, and altogether do whatever his conqueror
So the armies on both sides went rejoicing home, and this was
really the making of the fortune of clumsy Moti, who lived long
and contrived always to be looked up to as a fountain of wisdom,
valour, and discretion by all except his relations, who could
never understand what he had done to be considered so much wiser
than anyone else.
A Pushto Story.
The Enchanted Deer
A young man was out walking one day in Erin, leading a stout
cart-horse by the bridle. He was thinking of his mother and how
poor they were since his father, who was a fisherman, had been
drowned at sea, and wondering what he should do to earn a living
for both of them. Suddenly a hand was laid on his shoulder, and a
voice said to him:
'Will you sell me your horse, son of the fisherman?' and looking
up he beheld a man standing in the road with a gun in his hand, a
falcon on his shoulder, and a dog by his side.
'What will you give me for my horse?' asked the youth. 'Will you
give me your gun, and your dog, and your falcon?'
'I will give them,' answered the man, and he took the horse, and
the youth took the gun and the dog and the falcon, and went home
with them. But when his mother heard what he had done she was
very angry, and beat him with a stick which she had in her hand.
'That will teach you to sell my property,' said she, when her arm
was quite tired, but Ian her son answered her nothing, and went
off to his bed, for he was very sore.
That night he rose softly, and left the house carrying the gun
with him. 'I will not stay here to be beaten,' thought he, and he
walked and he walked and he walked, till it was day again, and he
was hungry and looked about him to see if he could get anything
to eat. Not very far off was a farm-house, so he went there, and
knocked at the door, and the farmer and his wife begged him to
come in, and share their breakfast.
'Ah, you have a gun,' said the farmer as the young man placed it
in a corner. 'That is well, for a deer comes every evening to eat
my corn, and I cannot catch it. It is fortune that has sent you
'I will gladly remain and shoot the deer for you,' replied the
youth, and that night he hid himself and watched till the deer
came to the cornfield; then he lifted his gun to his shoulder and
was just going to pull the trigger, when, behold! instead of a
deer, a woman with long black hair was standing there. At this
sight his gun almost dropped from his hand in surprise, but as he
looked, there was the deer eating the corn again. And thrice this
happened, till the deer ran away over the moor, and the young man
On they went, on and on and one, till they reached a cottage
which was thatched with heather. With a bound the deer sprang on
the roof, and lay down where none could see her, but as she did
so she called out, 'Go in, fisher's son, and eat and drink while
you may.' So he entered and found food and wine on the table, but
no man, for the house belonged to some robbers, who were still
away at their wicked business.
After Ian, the fisher's son, had eaten all he wanted, he hid
himself behind a great cask, and very soon he heard a noise, as
of men coming through the heather, and the small twigs snapping
under their feet. From his dark corner he could see into the
room, and he counted four and twenty of them, all big, cross-
'Some one has been eating our dinner,' cried they, 'and there was
hardly enough for ourselves.'
'It is the man who is lying under the cask,' answered the leader.
'Go and kill him, and then come and eat your food and sleep, for
we must be off betimes in the morning.'
So four of them killed the fisher's son and left him, and then
went to bed.
By sunrise they were all out of the house, for they had far to
go. And when they had disappeared the deer came off the roof, to
where the dead man lay, and she shook her head over him, and wax
fell from her ear, and he jumped up as well as ever.
'Trust me and eat as you did before, and no harm shall happen to
you,' said she. So Ian ate and drank, and fell sound asleep under
the cask. In the evening the robbers arrived very tired, and
crosser than they had been yesterday, for their luck had turned
and they had brought back scarcely anything.
'Someone has eaten our dinner again,' cried they.
'It is the man under the barrel,' answered the captain. 'Let four
of you go and kill him, but first slay the other four who
pretended to kill him last night and didn't because he is still
Then Ian was killed a second time, and after the rest of the
robbers had eaten, they lay down and slept till morning.
No sooner were their faces touched with the sun's rays than they
were up and off. Then the deer entered and dropped the healing
wax on the dead man, and he was as well as ever. By this time he
did not mind what befell him, so sure was he that the deer would
take care of him, and in the evening that which had happened
before happened again--the four robbers were put to death and the
fisher's son also, but because there was no food left for them to
eat, they were nearly mad with rage, and began to quarrel. From
quarrelling they went on to fighting, and fought so hard that by
and bye they were all stretched dead on the floor.
Then the deer entered, and the fisher's son was restored to life,
and bidding him follow her, she ran on to a little white cottage
where dwelt an old woman and her son, who was thin and dark.
'Here I must leave you,' said the deer, 'but to-morrow meet me at
midday in the church that is yonder.' And jumping across the
stream, she vanished into a wood.
Next day he set out for the church, but the old woman of the
cottage had gone before him, and had stuck an enchanted stick
called 'the spike of hurt' in a crack of the door, so that he
would brush against it as he stepped across the threshold.
Suddenly he felt so sleepy that he could not stand up, and
throwing himself on the ground he sank into a deep slumber, not
knowing that the dark lad was watching him. Nothing could waken
him, not even the sound of sweetest music, nor the touch of a
lady who bent over him. A sad look came on her face, as she saw
it was no use, and at last she gave it up, and lifting his arm,
wrote her name across the side-- 'the daughter of the king of the
town under the waves.'
'I will come to-morrow,' she whispered, though he could not hear
her, and she went sorrowfully away.
Then he awoke, and the dark lad told him what had befallen him,
and he was very grieved. But the dark lad did not tell him of the
name that was written underneath his arm.
On the following morning the fisher's son again went to the
church, determined that he would not go to sleep, whatever
happened. But in his hurry to enter he touched with his hand the
spike of hurt, and sank down where he stood, wrapped in slumber.
A second time the air was filled with music, and the lady came
in, stepping softly, but though she laid his head on her knee,
and combed his hair with a golden comb, his eyes opened not. Then
she burst into tears, and placing a beautifully wrought box in
his pocket she went her way.
The next day the same thing befell the fisher's son, and this
time the lady wept more bitterly than before, for she said it was
the last chance, and she would never be allowed to come any more,
for home she must go.
As soon as the lady had departed the fisher's son awoke, and the
dark lad told him of her visit, and how he would never see her as
long as he lived. At this the fisher's son felt the cold creeping
up to his heart, yet he knew the fault had not been his that
sleep had overtaken him.
'I will search the whole world through till I find her,' cried
he, and the dark lad laughed as he heard him. But the fisher's
son took no heed, and off he went, following the sun day after
day, till his shoes were in holes and his feet were sore from the
journey. Nought did he see but the birds that made their nests in
the trees, not so much as a goat or a rabbit. On and on and on he
went, till suddenly he came upon a little house, with a woman
standing outside it.
'All hail, fisher's son!' said she. 'I know what you are seeking;
enter in and rest and eat, and to-morrow I will give you what
help I can, and send you on your way.'
Gladly did Ian the fisher's son accept her offer, and all that
day he rested, and the woman gave him ointment to put on his
feet, which healed his sores. At daybreak he got up, ready to be
gone, and the woman bade him farewell, saying:
'I have a sister who dwells on the road which you must travel. It
is a long road, and it would take you a year and a day to reach
it, but put on these old brown shoes with holes all over them,
and you will be there before you know it. Then shake them off,
and turn their toes to the known, and their heels to the unknown,
and they will come home of themselves.'
The fisher's son did as the woman told him, and everything
happened just as she had said. But at parting the second sister
said to him, as she gave him another pair of shoes:
'Go to my third sister, for she has a son who is keeper of the
birds of the air, and sends them to sleep when night comes. He is
very wise, and perhaps he can help you.'
Then the young man thanked her, and went to the third sister.
The third sister was very kind, but had no counsel to give him,
so he ate and drank and waited till her son came home, after he
had sent all the birds to sleep. He thought a long while after
his mother had told him the young man's story, and at last he
said that he was hungry, and the cow must be killed, as he wanted
some supper. So the cow was killed and the meat cooked, and a bag
made of its red skin.
'Now get into the bag,' bade the son, and the young man got in
and took his gun with him, but the dog and the falcon he left
outside. The keeper of the birds drew the string at the top of
the bag, and left it to finish his supper, when in flew an eagle
through the open door, and picked the bag up in her claws and
carried it through the air to an island. There was nothing to eat
on the island, and the fisher's son thought he would die of food,
when he remembered the box that the lady had put in his pocket.
He opened the lid, and three tiny little birds flew out, and
flapping their wings they asked,
'Good master, is there anything we can do for thee?'
'Bear me to the kingdom of the king under the waves,' he
answered, and one little bird flew on to his head, and the others
perched on each of his shoulders, and he shut his eyes, and in a
moment there he was in the country under the sea. Then the birds
flew away, and the young man looked about him, his heart beating
fast at the thought that here dwelt the lady whom he had sought
all the world over.
He walked on through the streets, and presently he reached the
house of a weaver who was standing at his door, resting from his
'You are a stranger here, that is plain,' said the weaver, 'but
come in, and I will give you food and drink.' And the young man
was glad, for he knew not where to go, and they sat and talked
till it grew late.
'Stay with me, I pray, for I love company and am lonely,'
observed the weaver at last, and he pointed to a bed in a corner,
where the fisher's son threw himself, and slept till dawn.
'There is to be a horse-race in the town to-day,' remarked the
weaver, 'and the winner is to have the king's daughter to wife.'
The young man trembled with excitement at the news, and his voice
shook as he answered:
'That will be a prize indeed, I should like to see the race.'
'Oh, that is quite easy--anyone can go,' replied the weaver. 'I
would take you myself, but I have promised to weave this cloth
for the king.'
'That is a pity,' returned the young man politely, but in his
heart he rejoiced, for he wished to be alone.
Leaving the house, he entered a grove of trees which stood
behind, and took the box from his pocket. He raised the lid, and
out flew the three little birds.
'Good master, what shall we do for thee?' asked they, and he
answered, 'Bring me the finest horse that ever was seen, and the
grandest dress, and glass shoes.'
'They are here, master,' said the birds, and so they were, and
never had the young man seen anything so splendid.
Mounting the horse he rode into the ground where the horses were
assembling for the great race, and took his place among them.
Many good beasts were there which had won many races, but the
horse of the fisher's son left them all behind, and he was first
at the winning post. The king's daughter waited for him in vain
to claim his prize, for he went back to the wood, and got off his
horse, and put on his old clothes, and bade the box place some
gold in his pockets. After that he went back to the weaver's
house, and told him that the gold had been given him by the man
who had won the race, and that the weaver might have it for his
kindness to him.
Now as nobody had appeared to demand the hand of the princess,
the king ordered another race to be run, and the fisher's son
rode into the field still more splendidly dressed than he was
before, and easily distanced everybody else. But again he left
the prize unclaimed, and so it happened on the third day, when it
seemed as if all the people in the kingdom were gathered to see
the race, for they were filled with curiosity to know who the
winner could be.
'If he will not come of his own free will, he must be brought,'
said the king, and the messengers who had seen the face of the
victor were sent to seek him in every street of the town. This
took many days, and when at last they found the young man in the
weaver's cottage, he was so dirty and ugly and had such a strange
appearance, that they declared he could not be the winner they
had been searching for, but a wicked robber who had murdered ever
so many people, but had always managed to escape.
'Yes, it must be the robber,' said the king, when the fisher's
son was led into his presence; 'build a gallows at once and hang
him in the sight of all my subjects, that they may behold him
suffer the punishment of his crimes.'
So the gallows was built upon a high platform, and the fisher's
son mounted the steps up to it, and turned at the top to make the
speech that was expected from every doomed man, innocent or
guilt. As he spoke he happened to raise his arm, and the king's
daughter, who was there at her father's side, saw the name which
she had written under it. With a shriek she sprang from her seat,
and the eyes of the spectators were turned towards her.
'Stop! stop!' she cried, hardly knowing what she said. 'If that
man is hanged there is not a soul in the kingdom but shall die
also.' And running up to where the fisher's son was standing, she
took him by the hand, saying,
'Father, this is no robber or murderer, but the victor in the
three races, and he loosed the spells that were laid upon me.'
Then, without waiting for a reply, she conducted him into the
palace, and he bathed in a marble bath, and all the dirt that the
fairies had put upon him disappeared like magic, and when he had
dressed himself in the fine garments the princess had sent to
him, he looked a match for any king's daughter in Erin. He went
down into the great hall where she was awaiting him, and they had
much to tell each other but little time to tell it in, for the
king her father, and the princes who were visiting him, and all
the people of the kingdom were still in their places expecting
'How did you find me out?' she whispered as they went down the
'The birds in the box told me,' answered he, but he could say no
more, as they stepped out into the open space that was crowded
with people. There the princes stopped.
'O kings!' she said, turning towards them, 'if one of you were
killed to-day, the rest would fly; but this man put his trust in
me, and had his head cut off three times. Because he has done
this, I will marry him rather than one of you, who have come
hither to wed me, for many kings here sought to free me from the
spells, but none could do it save Ian the fisher's son.'
From 'Popular Tales of the West Highlands.'
A Fish Story
Perhaps you think that fishes were always fishes, and never lived
anywhere except in the water, but if you went to Australia and
talked to the black people in the sandy desert in the centre of
the country, you would learn something quite different. They
would tell you that long, long ago you would have met fishes on
the land, wandering from place to place, and hunting all sorts of
animals, and if you consider how fishes are made, you will
understand how difficult this must have been and how clever they
were to do it. Indeed, so clever were they that they might have
been hunting still if a terrible thing had not happened.
One day the whole fish tribe came back very tired from a hunting
expedition, and looked about for a nice, cool spot in which to
pitch their camp. It was very hot, and they thought that they
could not find a more comfortable place than under the branches
of a large tree which grew by the bank of a river. So they made
their fire to cook some food, right on the edge of a steep bank,
which had a deep pool of water lying beneath it at the bottom.
While the food was cooking they all stretched themselves lazily
out under the tree, and were just dropping off to sleep when a
big black cloud which they had never noticed spread over the sun,
and heavy drops of rain began to fall, so that the fire was
almost put out, and that, you know, is a very serious thing in
savage countries where they have no matches, for it is very hard
to light it again. To make matters worse, an icy wind began to
blow, and the poor fishes were chilled right through their
'This will never do,' said Thuggai, the oldest of the fish tribe.
'We shall die of cold unless we can light the fire again,' and he
bade his sons rub two sticks together in the hope of kindling a
flame, but though they rubbed till they were tired, not a spark
could they produce.
'Let me try,' cried Biernuga, the bony fish, but he had no better
luck, and no more had Kumbal, the bream, nor any of the rest.
'It is no use,' exclaimed Thuggai, at last. 'The wood is too wet.
We must just sit and wait till the sun comes out again and dries
it.' Then a very little fish indeed, not more than four inches
long and the youngest of the tribe, bowed himself before Thuggai,
saying, 'Ask my father, Guddhu the cod, to light the fire. He is
skilled in magic more than most fishes.' So Thuggai asked him,
and Guddhu stripped some pieces of bark off a tree, and placed
them on top of the smouldering ashes. Then he knelt by the side
of the fire and blew at it for a long while, till slowly the
feeble red glow became a little stronger and the edges of the
bark showed signs of curling up. When the rest of the tribe saw
this they pressed close, keeping their backs towards the piercing
wind, but Guddhu told them they must go to the other side, as he
wanted the wind to fan his fire. By and by the spark grew into a
flame, and a merry crackling was heard.
'More wood,' cried Guddhi, and they all ran and gathered wood and
heaped it on the flames, which leaped and roared and sputtered.
'We shall soon be warm now,' said the people one to another.
'Truly Guddhu is great'; and they crowded round again, closer and
closer. Suddenly, with a shriek, a blast of wind swept down from
the hills and blew the fire out towards them. They sprang back
hurriedly, quite forgetting where they stood, and all fell down
the bank, each tumbling over the other, till they rolled into the
pool that lay below. Oh, how cold it was in that dark water on
which the sun never shone! Then in an instant they felt warm
again, for the fire, driven by the strong wind, had followed them
right down to the bottom of the pool, where it burned as brightly
as ever. And the fishes gathered round it as they had done on the
top of the cliff, and found the flames as hot as before, and that
fire never went out, like those upon land, but kept burning for
ever. So now you know why, if you dive deep down below the cold
surface of the water on a frosty day, you will find it
comfortable and pleasant underneath, and be quite sorry that you
cannot stay there.
Australian Folk Tale.
The Wonderful Tune.
Maurice Connor was the king, and that's no small word, of all the
pipers in Munster. He could play jig and reel without end, and
Ollistrum's March, and the Eagle's Whistle, and the Hen's
Concert, and odd tunes of every sort and kind. But he knew one
far more surprising than the rest, which had in it the power to
set everything dead or alive dancing.
In what way he learned it is beyond my knowledge for he was
mighty cautious about telling how he came by so wonderful a tune.
At the very first note of that tune the shoes began shaking upon
the feet of all how heard it--old or young, it mattered not--just
as if the shoes had the ague; then the feet began going, going,
going from under them, and at last up and away with them, dancing
like mad, whisking here, there, and everywhere, like a straw in a
storm-- there was no halting while the music lasted.
Not a fair, nor a wedding, nor a feast in the seven parishes
round, was counted worth the speaking of without 'blind Maurice
and his pipes.' His mother, poor woman, used to lead him about
from one place to another just like a dog.
Down through Iveragh, Maurice Connor and his mother were taking
their rounds. Beyond all other places Iveragh is the place for
stormy coasts and steep mountains, as proper a spot it is as any
in Ireland to get yourself drowned, or your neck broken on the
land, should you prefer that. But, notwithstanding, in
Ballinskellig Bay there is a neat bit of ground, well fitted for
diversion, and down from it, towards the water, is a clean smooth
piece of strand, the dead image of a calm summer's sea on a
moonlight night, with just the curl of the small waves upon it.
Here is was that Maurice's music had brought from all parts a
great gathering of the young men and the young women; for 'twas
not every day the strand of Trafraska was stirred up by the voice
of a bagpipe. The dance began; and as pretty a dance it was as
ever was danced. 'Brave music,' said everybody, 'and well done,'
when Maurice stopped.
'More power to your elbow, Maurice, and a fair wind in the
bellows,' cried Paddy Dorman, a hump-backed dancing master, who
was there to keep order. ''Tis a pity,' said he, 'if we'd let the
piper run dry after such music; 'twould be a disgrace to Iveragh,
that didn't come on it since the week of the three Sundays.' So,
as well became him, for he was always a decent man, says he, 'Did
you drink, piper?'
'I will, sir,' said Maurice, answering the question on the safe
side, for you never yet knew piper or schoolmaster who refused
'What will you drink, Maurice?' says Paddy.
'I'm no ways particular,' says Maurice; 'I drink anything,
barring raw water; but if it's all the same to you, Mister
Dorman, may be you wouldn't lend me the loan of a glass of
'I've no glass, Maurice,' said Paddy; 'I've only the bottle.'
'Let that be no hindrance,' answered Maurice; 'my mouth just
holds a glass to the drop; often I've tried it sure.'
So Paddy Dorman trusted him with the bottle--more fool was he;
and, to his cost, he found that though Maurice's mouth might not
hold more than the glass at one time, yet, owing to the hole in
his throat, it took many a filling.
'That was no bad whisky neither,' says Maurice, handing back the
'By the holy frost, then!' says Paddy, ''tis but cold comfort
there's in that bottle now; and 'tis your word we must take for
the strength of the whisky, for you've left us no sample to judge
by'; and to be sure Maurice had not.
Now I need not tell any gentleman or lady that if he or she was
to drink an honest bottle of whisky at one pull, it is not at all
the same thing as drinking a bottle of water; and in the whole
course of my life I never knew more than five men who could do so
without being the worse. Of these Maurice Connor was not one,
though he had a stiff head enough of his own. Don't think I blame
him for it; but true is the word that says, 'When liquor's in
sense is out'; and puff, at a breath, out he blasted his
'Twas really then beyond all belief or telling the dancing.
Maurice himself could not keep quiet; staggering now on one leg,
now on the other, and rolling about like a ship in a cross sea,
trying to humour the tune. There was his mother, too, moving her
old bones as light as the youngest girl of them all; but her
dancing, no, nor the dancing of all the rest, is not worthy the
speaking about to the work that was going on down upon the
strand. Every inch of it covered with all manner of fish jumping
and plunging about to the music, and every moment more and more
would tumble in and out of the water, charmed by the wonderful
tune. Crabs of monstrous size spun round and round on one claw
with the nimbleness of a dancing master, and twirled and tossed
their other claws about like limbs that did not belong to them.
It was a sight surprising to behold. But perhaps you may have
heard of Father Florence Conry, as pleasant a man as one would
wish to drink with of a hot summer's day; and he had rhymed out
all about the dancing fishes so neatly that it would be a
thousand pities not to give you his verses; so here they are in
The big seals in motion,
Like waves of the ocean,
Or gouty feet prancing,
Came heading the gay fish,
Crabs, lobsters, and cray-fish,
Determined on dancing.
The sweet sounds they followed,
The gasping cod swallow'd--
'Twas wonderful, really;
And turbot and flounder,
'Mid fish that were rounder,
Just caper'd as gaily.
John-dories came tripping;
Dull hake, by their skipping,
To frisk it seem'd given;
Bright mackrel went springing,
Like small rainbows winging
Their flight up to heaven.
The whiting and haddock
Left salt water paddock
This dance to be put in;
Where skate with flat faces
Edged out some old plaices;
But soles kept their footing.
Sprats and herrings in powers
Of silvery showers
All number out-numbered;
And great ling so lengthy
Was there in such plenty
The shore was encumber'd.
The scallop and oyster
Their two shells did roister,
Like castanets flitting;
While limpets moved clearly,
And rocks very nearly
With laughter were splitting.
Never was such a hullabaloo in this world, before or since; 'twas
as if heaven and earth were coming together; and all out of
Maurice Connor's wonderful tune!
In the height of all these doings, what should there be dancing
among the outlandish set of fishes but a beautiful young woman--
as beautiful as the dawn of day! She had a cocked hat upon her
head; from under it her long green hair--just the colour of the
sea-- fell down behind, without hindrance to her dancing. Her
teeth were like rows of pearls; her lips for all the world looked
like red coral; and she had a shining gown pale green as the
hollow of the wave, with little rows of purple and red seaweeds
settled out upon it; for you never yet saw a lady, under the
water or over the water, who had not a good notion of dressing
Up she danced at last to Maurice, who was flinging his feet from
under him as fast as hops--for nothing in this world could keep
still while that tune of his was going on--and says she to him,
chanting it out with a voice as sweet as honey:
I'm a lady of honour
Who live in the sea;
Come down, Maurice Connor,
And be married to me.
Silver plates and gold dishes
You shall have, and shall be
The king of the fishes,
When you're married to me.
Drink was strong in Maurice's head, and out he chanted in return
for her great civility. It is not every lady, may be, that would
be after making such an offer to a blind piper; therefore 'twas
only right in him to give her as good as she gave herself, so
I'm obliged to you, madam:
Off a gold dish or plate,
If a king, and I had 'em,
I could dine in great state.
With your own father's daughter
I'd be sure to agree,
But to drink the salt water
Wouldn't do so with me!
The lady looked at him quite amazed, and swinging her head from
side to side like a great scholar, 'Well,' says she, 'Maurice, if
you're not a poet, where is poetry to be found?'
In this way they kept on at it, framing high compliments; one
answering the other, and their feet going with the music as fast
as their tongues. All the fish kept dancing, too; Maurice heard
the clatter and was afraid to stop playing lest it might be
displeasing to the fish, and not knowing what so many of them may
take it into their heads to do to him if they got vexed.
Well, the lady with the green hair kept on coaxing Maurice with
soft speeches, till at last she over persuaded him to promise to
marry her, and be king over the fishes, great and small. Maurice
was well fitted to be their king, if they wanted one that could
make them dance; and he surely would drink, barring the salt
water, with any fish of them all.
When Maurice's mother saw him with that unnatural thing in the
form of a green-haired lady as his guide, and he and she dancing
down together so lovingly to the water's edge, through the thick
of the fishes, she called out after him to stop and come back.
'Oh, then,' says she, 'as if I was not widow enough before, there
he is going away from me to be married to that scaly woman. And
who knows but 'tis grandmother I may be to a hake or a cod--Lord
help and pity me, but 'tis a mighty unnatural thing! And my be
'tis boiling and eating my own grandchild I'll be, with a bit of
salt butter, and I not knowing it! Oh, Maurice, Maurice, if
there's any love or nature left in you, come back to your own
ould mother, who reared you like a decent Christian!' Then the
poor woman began to cry and sob so finely that it would do anyone
good to hear her.
Maurice was not long getting to the rim of the water. There he
kept playing and dancing on as if nothing was the matter, and a
great thundering wave coming in towards him ready to swallow him
up alive; but as he could not see it, he did not fear it. His
mother it was who saw it plainly through the big tears that were
rolling down her cheeks; and though she saw it, and her heart was
aching as much as ever mother's heart ached for a son, she kept
dancing, dancing all the time for the bare life of her. Certain
it was she could not help it, for Maurice never stopped playing
that wonderful tune of his.
He only turned his ear to the sound of his mother's voice,
fearing it might put him out in his steps, and all the answer he
made back was, 'Whisht with you mother--sure I'm going to be king
over the fishes down in the sea, and for a token of luck, and a
sign that I'm alive and well, I'll send you in, every twelvemonth
on this day, a piece of burned wood to Trafraska.' Maurice had
not the power to say a word more, for the strange lady with the
green hair, seeing the wave just upon them, covered him up with
herself in a thing like a cloak with a big hood to it, and the
wave curling over twice as high as their heads, burst upon the
strand, with a rush and a roar that might be heard as far as Cape
That day twelvemonth the piece of burned wood came ashore in
Trafraska. It was a queer thing for Maurice to think of sending
all the way from the bottom of the sea. A gown or a pair of shoes
would have been something like a present for his poor mother; but
he had said it, and he kept his word. The bit of burned wood
regularly came ashore on the appointed day for as good, ay, and
better than a hundred years. The day is now forgotten, and may be
that is the reason why people say how Maurice Connor has stopped
sending the luck-token to his mother. Poor woman, she did not
live to get as much as one of them; for what through the loss of
Maurice, and the fear of eating her own grandchildren, she died
in three weeks after the dance. Some say it was the fatigue that
killed her, but whichever it was, Mrs. Connor was decently buried
with her own people.
Seafaring people have often heard, off the coast of Kerry, on a
still night, the sound of music coming up from the water; and
some, who have had good ears, could plainly distinguish Maurice
Connor's voice singing these words to his pipes--
Beautiful shore, with thy spreading strand,
Thy crystal water, and diamond sand;
Never would I have parted from thee,
But for the sake of my fair ladie.
From 'Fairy Tales and Traditions of the South of Ireland.'
The Rich Brother and the Poor Brother
There was once a rich old man who had two sons, and as his wife
was dead, the elder lived with him, and helped him to look after
his property. For a long time all went well; the young man got up
very early in the morning, and worked hard all day, and at the
end of every week his father counted up the money they had made,
and rubbed his hands with delight, as he saw how big the pile of
gold in the strong iron chest was becoming. 'It will soon be full
now, and I shall have to buy a larger one,' he said to himself,
and so busy was he with the thought of his money, that he did not
notice how bright his son's face had grown, nor how he sometimes
started when he was spoken to, as if his mind was far away.
One day, however, the old man went to the city on business, which
he had not done for three years at least. It was market day, and
he met with many people he knew, and it was getting quite late
when he turned into the inn yard, and bade an ostler saddle his
horse, and bring it round directly. While he was waiting in the
hall, the landlady came up for a gossip, and after a few remarks
about the weather and the vineyards she asked him how he liked
his new daughter-in-law, and whether he had been surprised at the
The old man stared as he listened to her. 'Daughter-in-law?
Marriage?' said he. 'I don't know what you are talking about!
I've got no daughter-in-law, and nobody has been married lately,
that I ever heard of.'
Now this was exactly what the landlady, who was very curious,
wanted to find out; but she put on a look of great alarm, and
'Oh, dear! I hope I have not made mischief. I had no idea--or, of
course, I would not have spoken--but'--and here she stopped and
fumbled with her apron, as if she was greatly embarrassed.
'As you have said so much you will have to say a little more,'
retorted the old man, a suspicion of what she meant darting
across him; and the woman, nothing loth, answered as before.
'Ah, it was not all for buying or selling that your handsome son
has been coming to town every week these many months past. And
not by the shortest way, either! No, it was over the river he
rode, and across the hill and past the cottage of Miguel the
vine-keeper, whose daughter, they say, is the prettiest girl in
the whole country side, though she is too white for my taste,'
and then the landlady paused again, and glanced up at the farmer,
to see how he was taking it. She did not learn much. He was
looking straight before him, his teeth set. But as she ceased to
talk, he said quietly, 'Go on.'
'There is not much more to tell,' replied the landlady, for she
suddenly remembered that she must prepare supper for the hungry
men who always stopped at the inn on market days, before starting
for home, 'but one fine morning they both went to the little
church on top of the hill, and were married. My cousin is servant
to the priest, and she found out about it and told me. But good-
day to you, sir; here is your horse, and I must hurry off to the
It was lucky that the horse was sure-footed and knew the road,
for his bridle hung loose on his neck, and his master took no
heed of the way he was going. When the farm-house was reached,
the man led the animal to the stable, and then went to look for
'I know everything--you have deceived me. Get out of my sight at
once--I have done with you,' he stammered, choking with passion
as he came up to the young man, who was cutting a stick in front
of the door, whistling gaily the while.
'You are no son of mine; I have only one now. Begone, or it will
be the worse for you,' and as he spoke he lifted up his whip.
The young man shrank back. He feared lest his father should fall
down in a fit, his face was so red and his eyes seemed bursting
from his head. But it was no use staying: perhaps next morning
the old man might listen to reason, though in his heart the son
felt that he would never take back his words. So he turned slowly
away, and walked heavily along a path which ended in a cave on
the side of his hill, and there he sat through the night,
thinking of what had happened.
Yes, he had been wrong, there was no doubt of that, and he did
not quite know how it had come about. He had meant to have told
his father all about it, and he was sure, quite sure, that if
once the old man had seen his wife, he would have forgiven her
poverty on account of her great beauty and goodness. But he had
put it off from day to day, hoping always for a better
opportunity, and now this was the end!
If the son had no sleep that night, no more had the father, and
as soon as the sun rose, he sent a messenger into the great city
with orders to bring back the younger brother. When he arrived
the farmer did not waste words, but informed him that he was now
his only heir, and would inherit all his lands and money, and
that he was to come and live at home, and to help manage the
Though very pleased at the thought of becoming such a rich man--
for the brothers had never cared much for each other--the younger
would rather have stayed where he was, for he soon got tired of
the country, and longed for a town life. However, this he kept to
himself, and made the best of things, working hard like his
brother before him.
In this way the years went on, but the crops were not so good as
they had been, and the old man gave orders that some fine houses
he was building in the city should be left unfinished, for it
would take all the savings to complete them. As to the elder son,
he would never even hear his name mentioned, and died at last
without ever seeing his face, leaving to the younger, as he had
promised, all his lands, as well as his money.
Meanwhile, the son whom he had disinherited had grown poorer and
poorer. He and his wife were always looking out for something to
do, and never spent a penny that they could help, but luck was
against them, and at the time of his father's death they had
hardly bread to eat or clothes to cover them. If there had been
only himself, he would have managed to get on somehow, but he
could not bear to watch his children becoming weaker day by day,
and swallowing his pride, at length he crossed the mountains to
his old home where his brother was living.
It was the first time for long that the two men had come face to
face, and they looked at each other in silence. Then tears rose
in the eyes of the elder, but winking them hastily away, he said:
'Brother, it is not needful that I should tell you how poor I am;
you can see that for yourself. I have not come to beg for money,
but only to ask if you will give me those unfinished houses of
yours in the city, and I will make them watertight, so that my
wife and children can live in them, and that will save our rent.
For as they are, they profit you nothing.'
And the younger brother listened and pitied him, and gave him the
houses that he asked for, and the elder went away happy.
For some years things went on as they were, and then the rich
brother began to feel lonely, and thought to himself that he was
getting older, and it was time for him to be married. The wife he
chose was very wealthy, but she was also very greedy, and however
much she had, she always wanted more. She was, besides, one of
those unfortunate people who invariably fancy that the
possessions of other people must be better than their own. Many a
time her poor husband regretted the day that he had first seen
her, and often her meanness and shabby ways put him to shame. But
he had not the courage to rule her, and she only got worse and
After she had been married a few months the bride wanted to go
into the city and buy herself some new dresses. She had never
been there before, and when she had finished her shopping, she
thought she would pay a visit to her unknown sister-in-law, and
rest for a bit. The house she was seeking was in a broad street,
and ought to have been very magnificent, but the carved stone
portico enclosed a mean little door of rough wood, while a row of
beautiful pillars led to nothing. The dwelling on each side were
in the same unfinished condition, and water trickled down the
walls. Most people would have considered it a wretched place, and
turned their backs on it as soon as they could, but this lady saw
that by spending some money the houses could be made as splendid
as they were originally intended to be, and she instantly
resolved to get them for herself.
Full of this idea she walked up the marble staircase, and entered
the little room where her sister-in-law sat, making clothes for
her children. The bride seemed full of interest in the houses,
and asked a great many questions about them, so that her new
relations liked her much better than they expected, and hoped
they might be good friends. However, as soon as she reached home,
she went straight to her husband, and told him that he must get
back those houses from his brother, as they would exactly suit
her, and she could easily make them into a palace as fine as the
king's. But her husband only told her that she might buy houses
in some other part of the town, for she could not have those, as
he had long since made a gift of them to his brother, who had
lived there for many years past.
At this answer the wife grew very angry. She began to cry, and
made such a noise that all the neighbours heard her and put their
heads out of the windows, to see what was the matter. 'It was
absurd,' she sobbed out, 'quite unjust. Indeed, if you came to
think of it, the gift was worth nothing, as when her husband made
it he was a bachelor, and since then he had been married, and she
had never given her consent to any such thing.' And so she
lamented all day and all night, till the poor man was nearly
worried to death; and at last he did what she wished, and
summoned his brother in a court of law to give up the houses
which, he said, had only been lent to him. But when the evidence
on both sides had been heard, the judge decided in favour of the
poor man, which made the rich lady more furious than ever, and
she determined not to rest until she had gained the day. If one
judge would not give her the houses another should, and so time
after time the case was tried over again, till at last it came
before the highest judge of all, in the city of Evora. Her
husband was heartily tired and ashamed of the whole affair, but
his weakness in not putting a stop to it in the beginning had got
him into this difficulty, and now he was forced to go on.
On the same day the two brothers set out on their journey to the
city, the rich one on horseback, with plenty of food in his
knapsack, the poor one on foot with nothing but a piece of bread
and four onions to eat on the way. The road was hilly and neither
could go very fast, and when night fell, they were both glad to
see some lights in a window a little distance in front of them.
The lights turned out to have been placed there by a farmer, who
had planned to have a particularly good supper as it was his
wife's birthday, and bade the rich man enter and sit down, while
he himself took the horse to the stable. The poor man asked
timidly if he might spend the night in a corner, adding that he
had brought his own supper with him. Another time permission
might have been refused him, for the farmer was no lover of
humble folk, but now he gave the elder brother leave to come in,
pointing out a wooden chair where he could sit.
Supper was soon served, and very glad the younger brother was to
eat it, for his long ride had made him very hungry. The farmer's
wife, however, would touch nothing, and at last declared that the
only supper she wanted was one of the onions the poor man was
cooking at the fire. Of course he gave it to her, though he would
gladly have eaten it himself, as three onions are not much at the
end of a long day's walk, and soon after they all went to sleep,
the poor man making himself as comfortable as he could in his
A few hours later the farmer was aroused by the cries and groans
of his wife.
'Oh, I feel so ill, I'm sure I'm going to die,' wept she. 'It was
that onion, I know it was. I wish I had never eaten it. It must
have been poisoned.'
'If the man has poisoned you he shall pay for it,' said her
husband, and seizing a thick stick he ran downstairs and began to
beat the poor man, who had been sound asleep, and had nothing to
defend himself with. Luckily, the noise aroused the younger
brother, who jumped up and snatched the stick from the farmer's
'We are both going to Evora to try a law-suit. Come too, and
accuse him there if he has attempted to rob you or murder you,
but don't kill him now, or you will get yourself into trouble.'
'Well, perhaps you are right,' answered the farmer, 'but the
sooner that fellow has his deserts, the better I shall be
pleased,' and without more words he went to the stables and
brought out a horse for himself and also the black Andalusian
mare ridden by the rich man, while the poor brother, fearing more
ill-treatment, started at once on foot.
Now all that night it had rained heavily, and did not seem likely
to stop, and in some places the road was so thick with mud that
it was almost impossible to get across it. In one spot it was so
very bad that a mule laden with baggage had got stuck in it, and
tug as he might, his master was quite unable to pull him out. The
muleteer in despair appealed to the two horseman, who were
carefully skirting the swamp at some distance off, but they paid
no heed to his cries, and he began to talk cheerfully to his
mule, hoping to keep up his spirits, declaring that if the poor
beast would only have a little patience help was sure to come.
And so it did, for very soon the poor brother reached the place,
bespattered with mud from head to foot, but ready to do all he
could to help with the mule and his master. First they set about
finding some stout logs of wood to lay down on the marsh so that
they could reach the mule, for by this time his frantic struggles
had broken his bridle, and he was deeper in than ever. Stepping
cautiously along the wood, the poor man contrived to lay hold of
the animal's tale, and with a desperate effort the mule managed
to regain his footing on dry ground, but at the cost of leaving
his tail in the poor man's hand. When he saw this the muleteer's
anger knew no bounds, and forgetting that without the help given
him he would have lost his mule altogether, he began to abuse the
poor man, declaring that he had ruined his beast, and the law
would make him pay for it. Then, jumping on the back of the mule,
which was so glad to be out of the choking mud that he did not
seem to mind the loss of his tail, the ungrateful wretch rode on,
and that evening reached the inn at Evora, where the rich man and
the farmer had already arrived for the night.
Meanwhile the poor brother walked wearily along, wondering what
other dreadful adventures were in store for him.
'I shall certainly be condemned for one or other of them,'
thought he sadly; 'and after all, if I have to die, I would
rather choose my own death than leave it to my enemies,' and as
soon as he entered Evora he looked about for a place suitable for
carrying out the plan he had made. At length he found what he
sought, but as it was too late and too dark for him to make sure
of success, he curled himself up under a doorway, and slept till
Although it was winter, the sun rose in a clear sky, and its rays
felt almost warm when the poor man got up and shook himself. He
intended it to be the day of his death, but in spite of that, and
of the fact that he was leaving his wife and children behind him,
he felt almost cheerful. He had struggled so long, and was so
very, very tired; but he would not have minded that if he could
have proved his innocence, and triumphed over his enemies.
However, they had all been too clever for him, and he had no
strength to fight any more. So he mounted the stone steps that
led to the battlements of the city, and stopped for a moment to
gaze about him.
It happened that an old sick man who lived near by had begged to
be carried out and to be laid at the foot of the wall so that the
beams of the rising sun might fall upon him, and he would be able
to talk with his friends as they passed by to their work. Little
did he guess that on top of the battlements, exactly over his
head, stood a man who was taking his last look at the same sun,
before going to his death that awaited him. But so it was; and as
the steeple opposite was touched by the golden light, the poor
man shut his eyes and sprang forward. The wall was high, and he
flew rapidly through the air, but it was not the ground he
touched, only the body of the sick man, who rolled over and died
without a groan. As for the other, he was quite unhurt, and was
slowly rising to his feet when his arms were suddenly seized and
'You have killed our father, do you see? do you see?' cried two
young men, 'and you will come with us this instant before the
judge, and answer for it.'
'Your father? but I don't know him. What do you mean?' asked the
poor man, who was quite bewildered with his sudden rush through
the air, and could not think why he should be accused of this
fresh crime. But he got no reply, and was only hurried through
the streets to the court-house, where his brother, the muleteer,
and the farmer had just arrived, all as angry as ever, all
talking at once, till the judge entered and ordered them to be
'I will hear you one by one,' he said, and motioned the younger
brother to begin.
He did not take long to state his case. The unfinished houses
were his, left him with the rest of the property by his father,
and his brother refused to give them up. In answer, the poor man
told, in a few words, how he had begged the houses from his
brother, and produced the deed of gift which made him their
The judge listened quietly and asked a few questions; then he
gave his verdict.
'The houses shall remain the property of the man to whom they
were given, and to whom they belong. And as you,' he added,
turning to the younger brother, 'brought this accusation knowing
full well it was wicked and unjust, I order you, besides losing
the houses, to pay a thousand pounds damages to your brother.'
The rich man heard the judge with rage in his heart, the poor man
with surprise and gratitude. But he was not safe yet, for now it
was the turn of the farmer. The judge could hardly conceal a
smile at the story, and inquired if the wife was dead before the
farmer left the house, and received for answer that he was in
such a hurry for justice to be done that he had not waited to
see. Then the poor man told his tale, and once more judgment was
given in his favour, while twelve hundred pounds was ordered to
be paid him. As for the muleteer, he was informed very plainly
that he had proved himself mean and ungrateful for the help that
had been given him, and as a punishment he must pay to the poor
man a fine of fifty pounds, and hand him over the mule till his
tail had grown again.
Lastly, there came the two sons of the sick man.
'This is the wretch who killed our father,' they said, 'and we
demand that he should die also.'
'How did you kill him?' asked the judge, turning to the accused,
and the poor man told how he had leaped from the wall, not
knowing that anyone was beneath.
'Well, this is my judgment,' replied the judge, when they had all
spoken: 'Let the accused sit under the wall, and let the sons of
the dead man jump from the top and fall on him and kill him, and
if they will not to this, then they are condemned to pay eight
hundred pounds for their false accusation.'
The young men looked at each other, and slowly shook their heads.
'We will pay the fine,' said they, and the judge nodded.
So the poor man rode the mule home, and brought back to his
family enough money to keep them in comfort to the end of their
Adapted from the Portuguese.
The One-Handed Girl
An old couple once lived in a hut under a grove of palm trees,
and they had one son and one daughter. They were all very happy
together for many years, and then the father became very ill, and
felt he was going to die. He called his children to the place
where he lay on the floor--for no one had any beds in that
country-- and said to his son, 'I have no herds of cattle to
leave you--only the few things there are in the house--for I am a
poor man, as you know. But choose: will you have my blessing or
'Your property, certainly,' answered the son, and his father
'And you?' asked the old man of the girl, who stood by her
'I will have blessing,' she answered, and her father gave her
That night he died, and his wife and son and daughter mourned for
him seven days, and gave him a burial according to the custom of
his people. But hardly was the time of mourning over, than the
mother was attacked by a disease which was common in that
'I am going away from you,' she said to her children, in a faint
voice; 'but first, my son, choose which you will have: blessing
'Property, certainly,' answered the son.
'And you, my daughter?'
'I will have blessing,' said the girl; and her mother gave her
much blessing, and that night she died.
When the days of mourning were ended, the brother bade his sister
put outside the hut all that belonged to his father and his
mother. So the girl put them out, and he took them away, save
only a small pot and a vessel in which she could clean her corn.
But she had no corn to clean.
She sat at home, sad and hungry, when a neighbour knocked at the
'My pot has cracked in the fire, lend me yours to cook my supper
in, and I will give you a handful of corn in return.'
And the girl was glad, and that night she was able to have supper
herself, and next day another woman borrowed her pot, and then
another and another, for never were known so many accidents as
befell the village pots at that time. She soon grew quite fat
with all the corn she earned with the help of her pot, and then
one evening she picked up a pumpkin seed in a corner, and planted
it near her well, and it sprang up, and gave her many pumpkins.
At last it happened that a youth from her village passed through
the place where the girl's brother was, and the two met and
'What news is there of my sister?' asked the young man, with whom
things had gone badly, for he was idle.
'She is fat and well-liking,' replied the youth, 'for the women
borrow her mortar to clean their corn, and borrow her pot to cook
it in, and for al this they give her more food than she can eat.'
And he went his way.
Now the brother was filled with envy at the words of the man, and
he set out at once, and before dawn he had reached the hut, and
saw the pot and the mortar were standing outside. He slung them
over his shoulders and departed, pleased with his own cleverness;
but when his sister awoke and sought for the pot to cook her corn
for breakfast, she could find it nowhere. At length she said to
'Well, some thief must have stolen them while I slept. I will go
and see if any of my pumpkins are ripe.' And indeed they were,
and so many that the tree was almost broken by the weight of
them. So she ate what she wanted and took the others to the
village, and gave them in exchange for corn, and the women said
that no pumpkins were as sweet as these, and that she was to
bring every day all that she had. In this way she earned more
than she needed for herself, and soon was able to get another
mortar and cooking pot in exchange for her corn. Then she thought
she was quite rich.
Unluckily someone else thought so too, and this was her brother's
wife, who had heard all about the pumpkin tree, and sent her
slave with a handful of grain to buy her a pumpkin. At first the
girl told him that so few were left that she could not spare any;
but when she found that he belonged to her brother, she changed
her mind, and went out to the tree and gathered the largest and
the ripest that was there.
'Take this one,' she said to the slave, 'and carry it back to
your mistress, but tell her to keep the corn, as the pumpkin is a
The brother's wife was overjoyed at the sight of the fruit, and
when she tasted it, she declared it was the nicest she had ever
eaten. Indeed, all night she thought of nothing else, and early
in the morning she called another slave (for she was a rich
woman) and bade him go and ask for another pumpkin. But the girl,
who had just been out to look at her tree, told him that they
were all eaten, so he went back empty-handed to his mistress.
In the evening her husband returned from hunting a long way off,
and found his wife in tears.
'What is the matter?' asked he.
'I sent a slave with some grain to your sister to buy some
pumpkins, but she would not sell me any, and told me there were
none, though I know she lets other people buy them.'
'Well, never mind now--go to sleep,' said he, 'and to-morrow I
will go and pull up the pumpkin tree, and that will punish her
for treating you so badly.'
So before sunrise he got up and set out for his sister's house,
and found her cleaning some corn.
'Why did you refuse to sell my wife a pumpkin yesterday when she
wanted one?' he asked.
'The old ones are finished, and the new ones are not yet come,'
answered the girl. 'When her slave arrived two days ago, there
were only four left; but I gave him one, and would take no corn
'I do not believe you; you have sold them all to other people. I
shall go and cut down the pumpkin,' cried her brother in a rage.
'If you cut down the pumpkin you shall cut off my hand with it,'
exclaimed the girl, running up to her tree and catching hold of
it. But her brother followed, and with one blow cut off the
pumpkin and her hand too.
Then he went into the house and took away everything he could
find, and sold the house to a friend of his who had long wished
to have it, and his sister had no home to go to.
Meanwhile she had bathed her arm carefully, and bound on it some
healing leaves that grew near by, and wrapped a cloth round the
leaves, and went to hide in the forest, that her brother might
not find her again.
For seven days she wandered about, eating only the fruit that
hung from the trees above her, and every night she climbed up and
tucked herself safely among the creepers which bound together the
big branches, so that neither lions nor tigers nor panthers might
get at her.
When she woke up on the seventh morning she saw from her perch
smoke coming up from a little town on the edge of the forest. The
sight of the huts made her feel more lonely and helpless than
before. She longed desperately for a draught of milk from a
gourd, for there were no streams in that part, and she was very
thirsty, but how was she to earn anything with only one hand? And
at this thought her courage failed, and she began to cry
It happened that the king's son had come out from the town very
early to shoot birds, and when the sun grew hot he left tired.
'I will lie here and rest under this tree,' he said to his
attendants. 'You can go and shoot instead, and I will just have
this slave to stay with me!' Away they went, and the young man
fell asleep, and slept long. Suddenly he was awakened by
something wet and salt falling on his face.
'What is that? Is it raining?' he said to his slave. 'Go and
'No, master, it is not raining,' answered the slave.
'Then climb up the tree and see what it is,' and the slave
climbed up, and came back and told his master that a beautiful
girl was sitting up there, and that it must have been her tears
which had fallen on the face of the king's son.
'Why was she crying?' inquired the prince.
'I cannot tell--I did not dare to ask her; but perhaps she would
tell you.' And the master, greatly wondering, climbed up the
'What is the matter with you?' said he gently, and, as she only
sobbed louder, he continued:
'Are you a woman, or a spirit of the woods?'
'I am a woman,' she answered slowly, wiping her eyes with a leaf
of the creeper that hung about her.
'Then why do you cry?' he persisted.
'I have many things to cry for,' she replied, 'more than you
could ever guess.'
'Come home with me,' said the prince; 'it is not very far. Come
home to my father and mother. I am a king's son.'
'Then why are you here?' she said, opening her eyes and staring
'Once every month I and my friends shoot birds in the forest,' he
answered, 'but I was tired and bade them leave me to rest. And
you--what are you doing up in this tree?'
At that she began to cry again, and told the king's son all that
had befallen her since the death of her mother.
'I cannot come down with you, for I do not like anyone to see
me,' she ended with a sob.
'Oh! I will manage all that,' said the king's son, and swinging
himself to a lower branch, he bade his slave go quickly into the
town, and bring back with him four strong men and a curtained
litter. When the man was gone, the girl climbed down, and hid
herself on the ground in some bushes. Very soon the slave
returned with the litter, which was placed on the ground close to
the bushes where the girl lay.
'Now go, all of you, and call my attendants, for I do not wish to
say here any longer,' he said to the men, and as soon as they
were out of sight he bade the girl get into the litter, and
fasten the curtains tightly. Then he got in on the other side,
and waited till his attendants came up.
'What is the matter, O son of a king?' asked they, breathless
'I think I am ill; I am cold,' he said, and signing to the
bearers, he drew the curtains, and was carried through the forest
right inside his own house.
'Tell my father and mother that I have a fever, and want some
gruel,' said he, 'and bid them send it quickly.'
So the slave hastened to the king's palace and gave his message,
which troubled both the king and the queen greatly. A pot of hot
gruel was instantly prepared, and carried over to the sick man,
and as soon as the council which was sitting was over, the king
and his ministers went to pay him a visit, bearing a message from
the queen that she would follow a little later.
Now the prince had pretended to be ill in order to soften his
parent's hearts, and the next day he declared he felt better,
and, getting into his litter, was carried to the palace in state,
drums being beaten all along the road.
He dismounted at the foot of the steps and walked up, a great
parasol being held over his head by a slave. Then he entered the
cool, dark room where his father and mother were sitting, and
said to them:
'I saw a girl yesterday in the forest whom I wish to marry, and,
unknown to my attendants, I brought her back to my house in a
litter. Give me your consent, I beg, for no other woman pleases
me as well, even though she has but one hand!'
Of course the king and queen would have preferred a daughter-in-
law with two hands, and one who could have brought riches with
her, but they could not bear to say 'No' to their son, so they
told him it should be as he chose, and that the wedding feast
should be prepared immediately.
The girl could scarcely believe her good fortune, and, in
gratitude for all the kindness shown her, was so useful and
pleasant to her husband's parents that they soon loved her.
By and bye a baby was born to her, and soon after that the prince
was sent on a journey by his father to visit some of the distant
towns of the kingdom, and to set right things that had gone
No sooner had he started than the girl's brother, who had wasted
all the riches his wife had brought him in recklessness and
folly, and was now very poor, chanced to come into the town, and
as he passed he heard a man say, 'Do you know that the king's son
has married a woman who has lost one of her hands?' On hearing
these words the brother stopped and asked, 'Where did he find
such a woman?'
'In the forest,' answered the man, and the cruel brother guessed
at once it must be his sister.
A great rage took possession of his soul as he thought of the
girl whom he had tried to ruin being after all so much better off
than himself, and he vowed that he would work her ill. Therefore
that very afternoon he made his way to the palace and asked to
see the king.
When he was admitted to his presence, he knelt down and touched
the ground with his forehead, and the king bade him stand up and
tell wherefore he had come.
'By the kindness of your heart have you been deceived, O king,'
said he. 'Your son has married a girl who has lost a hand. Do you
know why she had lost it? She was a witch, and has wedded three
husbands, and each husband she has put to death with her arts.
Then the people of the town cut off her hand, and turned her into
the forest. And what I say is true, for her town is my town
The king listened, and his face grew dark. Unluckily he had a
hasty temper, and did not stop to reason, and, instead of sending
to the town, and discovering people who knew his daughter-in-law
and could have told him how hard she had worked and how poor she
had been, he believed all the brother's lying words, and made the
queen believe them too. Together they took counsel what they
should do, and in the end they decided that they also would put
her out of the town. But this did not content the brother.
'Kill her,' he said. 'It is no more than she deserves for daring
to marry the king's son. Then she can do no more hurt to anyone.'
'We cannot kill her,' answered they; 'if we did, our son would
assuredly kill us. Let us do as the others did, and put her out
of the town. And with this the envious brother was forced to be
The poor girl loved her husband very much, but just then the baby
was more to her than all else in the world, and as long as she
had him with her, she did not very much mind anything. So, taking
her son on her arm, and hanging a little earthen pot for cooking
round her neck, she left her house with its great peacock fans
and slaves and seats of ivory, and plunged into the forest.
For a while she walked, not knowing whither she went, then by and
bye she grew tired, and sat under a tree to rest and to hush her
baby to sleep. Suddenly she raised her eyes, and saw a snake
wriggling from under the bushes towards her.
'I am a dead woman,' she said to herself, and stayed quite still,
for indeed she was too frightened to move. In another minute the
snake had reached her side, and to her surprise he spoke.
'Open your earthen pot, and let me go in. Save me from sun, and I
will save you from rain,' and she opened the pot, and when the
snake had slipped in, she put on the cover. Soon she beheld
another snake coming after the other one, and when it had reached
her it stopped and said, 'Did you see a small grey snake pass
this way just now?'
'Yes,' she answered, 'it was going very quickly.'
'Ah, I must hurry and catch it up,' replied the second snake, and
it hastened on.
When it was out of sight, a voice from the pot said:
'Uncover me,' and she lifted the lid, and the little grey snake
slid rapidly to the ground.
'I am safe now,' he said. 'But tell me, where are you going?'
'I cannot tell you, for I do not know,' she answered. 'I am just
wandering in the wood.'
'Follow me, and let us go home together,' said the snake, and the
girl followed his through the forest and along the green paths,
till they came to a great lake, where they stopped to rest.
'The sun is hot,' said the snake, 'and you have walked far. Take
your baby and bathe in that cool place where the boughs of the
tree stretch far over the water.'
'Yes, I will,' answered she, and they went in. The baby splashed
and crowed with delight, and then he gave a spring and fell right
in, down, down, down, and his mother could not find him, though
she searched all among the reeds.
Full of terror, she made her way back to the bank, and called to
the snake, 'My baby is gone!--he is drowned, and never shall I
see him again.'
'Go in once more,' said the snake, 'and feel everywhere, even
among the trees that have their roots in the water, lest perhaps
he may be held fast there.'
Swiftly she went back and felt everywhere with her whole hand,
even putting her fingers into the tiniest crannies, where a crab
could hardly have taken shelter.
'No, he is not here,' she cried. 'How am I to live without him?'
But the snake took no notice, and only answered, 'Put in your
other arm too.'
'What is the use of that?' she asked, 'when it has no hand to
feel with?' but all the same she did as she was bid, and in an
instant the wounded arm touched something round and soft, lying
between two stones in a clump of reeds.
'My baby, my baby!' she shouted, and lifted him up, merry and
laughing, and not a bit hurt or frightened.
'Have you found him this time?' asked the snake.
'Yes, oh, yes!' she answered, 'and, why--why--I have got my hand
back again!' and from sheer joy she burst into tears.
The snake let her weep for a little while, and then he said--
'Now we will journey on to my family, and we will all repay you
for the kindness you showed to me.'
'You have done more than enough in giving me back my hand,'
replied the girl; but the snake only smiled.
'Be quick, lest the sun should set,' he answered, and began to
wriggle along so fast that the girl could hardly follow him.
By and bye they arrived at the house in a tree where the snake
lived, when he was not travelling with his father and mother. And
he told them all his adventures, and how he had escaped from his
enemy. The father and mother snake could not do enough to show
their gratitude. They made their guest lie down on a hammock
woven of the strong creepers which hung from bough to bough, till
she was quite rested after her wanderings, while they watched the
baby and gave him milk to drink from the cocoa-nuts which they
persuaded their friends the monkeys to crack for them. They even
managed to carry small fruit tied up in their tails for the
baby's mother, who felt at last that she was safe and at peace.
Not that she forgot her husband, for she often thought of him and
longed to show him her son, and in the night she would sometimes
lie awake and wonder where he was.
In this manner many weeks passed by.
And what was the prince doing?
Well, he had fallen very ill when he was on the furthest border
of the kingdom, and he was nursed by some kind people who did not
know who he was, so that the king and queen heard nothing about
him. When he was better he made his way home again, and into his
father's palace, where he found a strange man standing behind the
throne with the peacock's feathers. This was his wife's brother,
whom the king had taken into high favour, though, of course, the
prince was quite ignorant of what had happened.
For a moment the king and queen stared at their son, as if he had
been unknown to them; he had grown so thin and weak during his
illness that his shoulders were bowed like those of an old man.
'Have you forgotten me so soon?' he asked.
At the sound of his voice they gave a cry and ran towards him,