Part 3 out of 6
Far away over the sea of the West there reigned a king who had two
sons; and the name of the one was Oireal, and the name of the other was
Iarlaid. When the boys were still children, their father and mother
died, and a great council was held, and a man was chosen from among
them who would rule the kingdom till the boys were old enough to rule
The years passed on, and by-and-by another council was held, and it was
agreed that the king's sons were now of an age to take the power which
rightly belonged to them. So the youths were bidden to appear before
the council, and Oireal the elder was smaller and weaker than his
'I like not to leave the deer on the hill and the fish in the rivers,
and sit in judgment on my people,' said Oireal, when he had listened to
the words of the chief of the council. And the chief waxed angry, and
'Not one clod of earth shall ever be yours if this day you do not take
on yourself the vows that were taken by the king your father.'
Then spake Iarlaid, the younger, and he said: 'Let one half be yours,
and the other give to me; then you will have fewer people to rule over.'
'Yes, I will do that,' answered Oireal.
After this, one half of the men of the land of Lochlann did homage to
Oireal, and the other half to Iarlaid. And they governed their
kingdoms as they would, and in a few years they became grown men with
beards on their chins; and Iarlaid married the daughter of the king of
Greece, and Oireal the daughter of the king of Orkney. The next year
sons were born to Oireal and Iarlaid; and the son of Oireal was big and
strong, but the son of Iarlaid was little and weak, and each had six
foster brothers who went everywhere with the princes.
One day Manus, son of Oireal, and his cousin, the son of Iarlaid,
called to their foster brothers, and bade them come and play a game at
shinny in the great field near the school where they were taught all
that princes and nobles should know. Long they played, and swiftly did
the ball pass from one to another, when Manus drove the ball at his
cousin, the son of Iarlaid. The boy, who was not used to be roughly
handled, even in jest, cried out that he was sorely hurt, and went home
with his foster brothers and told his tale to his mother. The wife of
Iarlaid grew white and angry as she listened, and thrusting her son
aside, sought the council hall where Iarlaid was sitting.
'Manus has driven a ball at my son, and fain would have slain him,'
said she. 'Let an end be put to him and his ill deeds.'
But Iarlaid answered:
'Nay, I will not slay the son of my brother.'
'And he shall not slay my son,' said the queen. And calling to her
chamberlain she ordered him to lead the prince to the four brown
boundaries of the world, and to leave him there with a wise man, who
would care for him, and let no harm befall him. And the wise man set
the boy on the top of a hill where the sun always shone, and he could
see every man, but no man could see him.
Then she summoned Manus to the castle, and for a whole year she kept
him fast, and his own mother could not get speech of him. But in the
end, when the wife of Oireal fell sick, Manus fled from the tower which
was his prison, and stole back to his on home.
For a few years he stayed there in peace, and then the wife of Iarlaid
his uncle sent for him.
'It is time that you were married,' she said, when she saw that Manus
had grown tall and strong like unto Iarlaid. 'Tall and strong you are,
and comely of face. I know a bride that will suit you well, and that
is the daughter of the mighty earl of Finghaidh, that does homage for
his lands to me. I myself will go with a great following to his house,
and you shall go with me.'
Thus it was done; and though the earl's wife was eager to keep her
daughter with her yet a while, she was fain to yield, as the wife of
Iarlaid vowed that not a rood of land should the earl have, unless he
did her bidding. But if he would give his daughter to Manus, she would
bestow on him the third part of her own kingdom, with much treasure
beside. This she did, not from love to Manus, but because she wished
to destroy him. So they were married, and rode back with the wife of
Iarlaid to her own palace. And that night, while he was sleeping,
there came a wise man, who was his father's friend, and awoke him
saying: 'Danger lies very close to you, Manus, son of Oireal. You hold
yourself favoured because you have as a bride the daughter of a mighty
earl; but do you know what bride the wife of Iarlaid sought for her own
son? It was no worldly wife she found for him, but the swift March
wind, and never can you prevail against her.'
'Is it thus?' answered Manu. And at the first streak of dawn he went
to the chamber where the queen lay in the midst of her maidens.
'I have come,' he said, 'for the third part of the kingdom, and for the
treasure which you promised me.' But the wife of Iarlaid laughed as
she heard him.
'Not a clod shall you have here,' spake she. 'You must go to the Old
Bergen for that. Mayhap under its stones and rough mountains you may
find a treasure!'
'Then give me your son's six foster brothers as well as my own,'
answered he. And the queen gave them to him, and they set out for Old
A year passed by, and found them still in that wild land, hunting the
reindeer, and digging pits for the mountain sheep to fall into. For a
time Manus and his companions lived merrily, but at length Manus grew
weary of the strange country, and they all took ship for the land of
Lochlann. The wind was fierce and cold, and long was the voyage; but,
one spring day, they sailed into the harbour that lay beneath the
castle of Iarlaid. The queen looked from her window and beheld him
mounting the hill, with the twelve foster brothers behind him. Then
she said to her husband: 'Manus has returned with his twelve foster
brothers. Would that I could put an end to him and his murdering and
'That were a great pity,' answered Iarlaid. 'And it is not I that will
'If you will not do it I will,' said she. And she called the twelve
foster brothers and made them vow fealty to herself. So Manus was left
with no man, and sorrowful was he when he returned alone to Old Bergen.
It was late when his foot touched the shore, and took the path towards
the forest. On his way there met him a man in a red tunic.
'Is it you, Manus, come back again?' asked he.
'It is I,' answered Manus; 'alone have I returned from the land of
The man eyed him silently for a moment, and then he said:
'I dreamed that you were girt with a sword and became king of
Lochlann.' But Manus answered:
'I have no sword and my bow is broken.'
'I will give you a new sword if you will make me a promise,' said the
man once more.
'To be sure I will make it, if ever I am king,' answered Manus. 'But
speak, and tell me what promise I am to make.'
'I was your grandfather's armourer,' replied the man, 'and I wish to be
your armourer also.'
'That I will promise readily,' said Manus; and followed the man into
his house, which was at a little distance. But the house was not like
other houses, for the walls of every room were hung so thick with arms
that you could not see the boards.
'Choose what you will,' said the man; and Manus unhooked a sword and
tried it across his knee, and it broke, and so did the next, and the
'Leave off breaking the swords,' cried the man, 'and look at this old
sword and helmet and tunic that I wore in the wars of your grandfather.
Perhaps you may find them of stouter steel.' And Manus bent the sword
thrice across his knee but he could not break it. So he girded it to
his side, and put on the old helmet. As he fastened the strap his eye
fell on a cloth flapping outside the window.
'What cloth is that?' asked he.
'It is a cloth that was woven by the Little People of the forest,' said
the man; 'and when you are hungry it will give you food and drink, and
if you meet a foe, he will not hurt you, but will stoop and kiss the
back of your hand in token of submission. Take it, and use it well.'
Manus gladly wrapped the shawl round his arm, and was leaving the
house, when he heard the rattling of a chain blown by the wind.
'What chain is that?' asked he.
'The creature who has that chain round his neck, need not fear a
hundred enemies,' answered the armourer. And Manus wound it round him
and passed on into the forest.
Suddenly there sprang out from the bushes two lions, and a lion cub
with them. The fierce beasts bounded towards him, roaring loudly, and
would fain have eaten him, but quickly Manus stooped and spread the
cloth upon the ground. At that the lions stopped, and bowing their
great heads, kissed the back of his wrist and went their ways. But the
cub rolled itself up in the cloth; so Manus picked them both up, and
carried them with him to Old Bergen.
Another year went by, and then he took the lion cub and set forth to
the land of Lochlann. And the wife of Iarlaid came to meet him, and a
brown dog, small but full of courage, came with her. When the dog
beheld the lion cub he rushed towards him, thinking to eat him; but the
cub caught the dog by the neck, and shook him, and he was dead. And
the wife of Iarlaid mourned him sore, and her wrath was kindled, and
many times she tried to slay Manus and his cub, but she could not. And
at last they two went back to Old Bergen, and the twelve foster
brothers went also.
'Let them go,' said the wife of Iarlaid, when she heard of it. 'My
brother the Red Gruagach will take the head off Manus as well in Old
Bergen as elsewhere.'
Now these words were carried by a messenger to the wife of Oireal, and
she made haste and sent a ship to Old Bergen to bear away her son
before the Red Gruagach should take the head off him. And in the ship
was a pilot. But the wife of Iarlaid made a thick fog to cover the
face of the sea, and the rowers could not row, lest they should drive
the ship on to a rock. And when night came, the lion cub, whose eyes
were bright and keen, stole up to Manus, and Manus got on his back, and
the lion cub sprang ashore and bade Manus rest on the rock and wait for
him. So Manus slept, and by-and-by a voice sounded in his ears,
saying: 'Arise!' And he saw a ship in the water beneath him, and in the
ship sat the lion cup in the shape of the pilot.
Then they sailed away through the fog, and none saw them; and they
reached the land of Lochlann, and the lion cub with the chain round his
neck sprang from the ship and Manus followed after. And the lion cub
killed all the men that guarded the castle, and Iarlaid and his wife
also, so that, in the end, Manus son of Oireal was crowned king of
[Shortened from West Highland Tales.]
Pinkel the Thief
Long, long ago there lived a widow who had three sons. The two eldest
were grown up, and though they were known to be idle fellows, some of
the neighbours had given them work to do on account of the respect in
which their mother was held. But at the time this story begins they
had both been so careless and idle that their masters declared they
would keep them no longer.
So home they went to their mother and youngest brother, of whom they
thought little, because he made himself useful about the house, and
looked after the hens, and milked the cow. 'Pinkel,' they called him
in scorn, and by-and-by 'Pinkel' became his name throughout the village.
The two young men thought it was much nicer to live at home and be idle
than to be obliged to do a quantity of disagreeable things they did not
like, and they would have stayed by the fire till the end of their
lives had not the widow lost patience with them and said that since
they would not look for work at home they must seek it elsewhere, for
she would not have them under her roof any longer. But she repented
bitterly of her words when Pinkel told her that he too was old enough
to go out into the world, and that when he had made a fortune he would
send for his mother to keep house for him.
The widow wept many tears at parting from her youngest son, but as she
saw that his heart was set upon going with his brothers, she did not
try to keep him. So the young men started off one morning in high
spirits, never doubting that work such as they might be willing to do
would be had for the asking, as soon as their little store of money was
But a very few days of wandering opened their eyes. Nobody seemed to
want them, or, if they did, the young men declared that they were not
able to undertake all that the farmers or millers or woodcutters
required of them. The youngest brother, who was wiser, would gladly
have done some of the work that the others refused, but he was small
and slight, and no one thought of offering him any. Therefore they
went from one place to another, living only on the fruit and nuts they
could find in the woods, and getting hungrier every day.
One night, after they had been walking for many hours and were very
tired, they came to a large lake with an island in the middle of it.
From the island streamed a strong light, by which they could see
everything almost as clearly as if the sun had been shining, and they
perceived that, lying half hidden in the rushes, was a boat.
'Let us take it and row over to the island, where there must be a
house,' said the eldest brother; 'and perhaps they will give us food
and shelter.' And they all got in and rowed across in the direction of
the light. As they drew near the island they saw that it came from a
golden lantern hanging over the door of a hut, while sweet tinkling
music proceeded from some bells attached to the golden horns of a goat
which was feeding near the cottage. The young men's hearts rejoiced as
they thought that at last they would be able to rest their weary limbs,
and they entered the hut, but were amazed to see an ugly old woman
inside, wrapped in a cloak of gold which lighted up the whole house.
They looked at each other uneasily as she came forward with her
daughter, as they knew by the cloak that this was a famous witch.
'What do you want?' asked she, at the same time signing to her daughter
to stir the large pot on the fire.
'We are tired and hungry, and would fain have shelter for the night,'
answered the eldest brother.
'You cannot get it here,' said the witch, 'but you will find both food
and shelter in the palace on the other side of the lake. Take your
boat and go; but leave this boy with me--I can find work for him,
though something tells me he is quick and cunning, and will do me ill.'
'What harm can a poor boy like me do a great Troll like you?' answered
Pinkel. 'Let me go, I pray you, with my brothers. I will promise
never to hurt you.' And at last the witch let him go, and he followed
his brothers to the boat.
The way was further than they thought, and it was morning before they
reached the palace.
Now, at last, their luck seemed to have turned, for while the two
eldest were given places in the king's stables, Pinkel was taken as
page to the little prince. He was a clever and amusing boy, who saw
everything that passed under his eyes, and the king noticed this, and
often employed him in his own service, which made his brothers very
Things went on this way for some time, and Pinkel every day rose in the
royal favour. At length the envy of his brothers became so great that
they could bear it no longer, and consulted together how best they
might ruin his credit with the king. They did not wish to kill
him--though, perhaps, they would not have been sorry if they had heard
he was dead--but merely wished to remind him that he was after all only
a child, not half so old and wise as they.
Their opportunity soon came. It happened to be the king's custom to
visit his stables once a week, so that he might see that his horses
were being properly cared for. The next time he entered the stables
the two brothers managed to be in the way, and when the king praised
the beautiful satin skins of the horses under their charge, and
remarked how different was their condition when his grooms had first
come across the lake, the young men at once began to speak of the
wonderful light which sprang from the lantern over the hut. The king,
who had a passion for collection all the rarest things he could find,
fell into the trap directly, and inquired where he could get this
'Send Pinkel for it, Sire,' said they. 'It belongs to an old witch,
who no doubt came by it in some evil way. But Pinkel has a smooth
tongue, and he can get the better of any woman, old or young.'
'Then bid him go this very night,' cried the king; 'and if he brings me
the lantern I will make him one of the chief men about my person.'
Pinkel was much pleased at the thought of his adventure, and without
more ado he borrowed a little boat which lay moored to the shore, and
rowed over to the island at once. It was late by the time he arrived,
and almost dark, but he knew by the savoury smell that reached him that
the witch was cooking her supper. So he climbed softly on to the roof,
and, peering, watched till the old woman's back was turned, when he
quickly drew a handful of salt from his pocket and threw it into the
pot. Scarcely had he done this when the witch called her daughter and
bade her lift the pot off the fire and put the stew into a dish, as it
had been cooking quite long enough and she was hungry. But no sooner
had she tasted it than she put her spoon down, and declared that her
daughter must have been meddling with it, for it was impossible to eat
anything that was all made of salt.
'Go down to the spring in the valley, and get some fresh water, that I
may prepare a fresh supper,' cried she, 'for I feel half- starved.'
'But, mother,' answered the girl, 'how can I find the well in this
darkness? For you know that the lantern's rays shed no light down
'Well, then, take the lantern with you,' answered the witch, 'for
supper I must have, and there is no water that is nearer.'
So the girl took her pail in one hand and the golden lantern in the
other, and hastened away to the well, followed by Pinkel, who took care
to keep out of the way of the rays. When at last she stooped to fill
her pail at the well Pinkel pushed her into it, and snatching up the
lantern hurried back to his boat and rowed off from the shore.
He was already a long distance from the island when the witch, who
wondered what had become of her daughter, went to the door to look for
her. Close around the hut was thick darkness, but what was that
bobbing light that streamed across the water? The witch's heart sank
as all at once it flashed upon her what had happened.
'Is that you, Pinkel?' cried she; and the youth answered:
'Yes, dear mother, it is I!'
'And are you not a knave for robbing me?' said she.
'Truly, dear mother, I am,' replied Pinkel, rowing faster than ever,
for he was half afraid that the witch might come after him. But she
had no power on the water, and turned angrily into the hut, muttering
to herself all the while:
'Take care! take care! A second time you will not escape so easily!'
The sun had not yet risen when Pinkel returned to the palace, and,
entering the king's chamber, he held up the lantern so that its rays
might fall upon the bed. In an instant the king awoke, and seeing the
golden lantern shedding its light upon him, he sprang up, and embraced
Pinkel with joy.
'O cunning one,' cried he, 'what treasure hast thou brought me!' And
calling for his attendants he ordered that rooms next his own should be
prepared for Pinkel, and that the youth might enter his presence at any
hour. And besides this, he was to have a seat on the council.
It may easily be guessed that all this made the brothers more envious
than they were before; and they cast about in their minds afresh how
best they might destroy him. At length they remembered the goat with
golden horns and the bells, and they rejoiced; 'For,' said they, 'THIS
time the old woman will be on the watch, and let him be as clever as he
likes, the bells on the horns are sure to warn her.' So when, as
before, the king came down to the stables and praised the cleverness of
their brother, the young men told him of that other marvel possessed by
the witch, the goat with the golden horns.
From this moment the king never closed his eyes at night for longing
after this wonderful creature. He understood something of the danger
that there might be in trying to steal it, now that the witch's
suspicions were aroused, and he spent hours in making plans for
outwitting her. But somehow he never could think of anything that
would do, and at last, as the brothers had foreseen, he sent for Pinkel.
'I hear,' he said, 'that the old witch on the island has a goat with
golden horns from which hang bells that tinkle the sweetest music.
That goat I must have! But, tell me, how am I to get it? I would give
the third part of my kingdom to anyone who would bring it to me.'
'I will fetch it myself,' answered Pinkel.
This time it was easier for Pinkel to approach the island unseen, as
there was no golden lantern to thrown its beams over the water. But,
on the other hand, the goat slept inside the hut, and would therefore
have to be taken from under the very eyes of the old woman. How was he
to do it? All the way across the lake he thought and thought, till at
length a plan came into his head which seemed as if it might do, though
he knew it would be very difficult to carry out.
The first thing he did when he reached the shore was to look about for
a piece of wood, and when he had found it he hid himself close to the
hut, till it grew quite dark and near the hour when the witch and her
daughter went to bed. Then he crept up and fixed the wood under the
door, which opened outwards, in such a manner that the more you tried
to shut it the more firmly it stuck. And this was what happened when
the girl went as usual to bolt the door and make all fast for the night.
'What are you doing?' asked the witch, as her daughter kept tugging at
'There is something the matter with the door; it won't shut,' answered
'Well, leave it alone; there is nobody to hurt us,' said the witch, who
was very sleepy; and the girl did as she was bid, and went to bed.
Very soon they both might have been heard snoring, and Pinkel knew that
his time was come. Slipping off his shoes he stole into the hut on
tiptoe, and taking from his pocket some food of which the goat was
particularly fond, he laid it under his nose. Then, while the animal
was eating it, he stuffed each golden bell with wool which he had also
brought with him, stopping every minute to listen, lest the witch
should awaken, and he should find himself changed into some dreadful
bird or beast. But the snoring still continued, and he went on with
his work as quickly as he could. When the last bell was done he drew
another handful of food out of his pocket, and held it out to the goat,
which instantly rose to its feet and followed Pinkel, who backed slowly
to the door, and directly he got outside he seized the goat in his arms
and ran down to the place where he had moored his boat.
As soon as he had reached the middle of the lake, Pinkel took the wool
out of the bells, which began to tinkle loudly. Their sound awoke the
witch, who cried out as before:
'Is that you, Pinkel?'
'Yes, dear mother, it is I,' said Pinkel.
'Have you stolen my golden goat?' asked she.
'Yes, dear mother, I have,' answered Pinkel.
'Are you not a knave, Pinkel?'
'Yes, dear mother, I am,' he replied. And the old witch shouted in a
'Ah! beware how you come hither again, for next time you shall not
But Pinkel laughed and rowed on.
The king was so delighted with the goat that he always kept it by his
side, night and day; and, as he had promised, Pinkel was made ruler
over the third part of the kingdom. As may be supposed, the brothers
were more furious than ever, and grew quite thin with rage.
'How can we get rid of him?' said one to the other. And at length they
remembered the golden cloak.
'He will need to be clever if he is to steal that!' they cried, with a
chuckle. And when next the king came to see his horses they began to
speak of Pinkel and his marvellous cunning, and how he had contrived to
steal the lantern and the goat, which nobody else would have been able
'But as he was there, it is a pity he could not have brought away the
golden cloak,' added they.
'The golden cloak! what is that?' asked the king. And the young men
described its beauties in such glowing words that the king declared he
should never know a day's happiness till he had wrapped the cloak round
his own shoulders.
'And,' added he, 'the man who brings it to me shall wed my daughter,
and shall inherit my throne.'
'None can get it save Pinkel,' said they; for they did not imagine that
the witch, after two warnings, could allow their brother to escape a
third time. So Pinkel was sent for, and with a glad heart he set out.
He passed many hours inventing first one plan and then another, till he
had a scheme ready which he thought might prove successful.
Thrusting a large bag inside his coat, he pushed off from the shore,
taking care this time to reach the island in daylight. Having made his
boat fast to a tree, he walked up to the hut, hanging his head, and
putting on a face that was both sorrowful and ashamed.
'Is that you, Pinkel?' asked the witch when she saw him, her eyes
'Yes, dear mother, it is I,' answered Pinkel.
'So you have dared, after all you have done, to put yourself in my
power!' cried she. 'Well, you sha'n't escape me THIS time!' And she
took down a large knife and began to sharpen it.'
'Oh! dear mother, spare me!' shrieked Pinkel, falling on his knees, and
looking wildly about him.
'Spare you, indeed, you thief! Where are my lantern and my goat? No!
not! there is only one fate for robbers!' And she brandished the knife
in the air so that it glittered in the firelight.
'Then, if I must die,' said Pinkel, who, by this time, was getting
really rather frightened, 'let me at least choose the manner of my
death. I am very hungry, for I have had nothing to eat all day. Put
some poison, if you like, into the porridge, but at least let me have a
good meal before I die.'
'That is not a bad idea,' answered the woman; 'as long as you do die,
it is all one to me.' And ladling out a large bowl of porridge, she
stirred some poisonous herbs into it, and set about work that had to be
done. Then Pinkel hastily poured all the contents of the bowl into his
bag, and make a great noise with his spoon, as if he was scraping up
the last morsel.
'Poisoned or not, the porridge is excellent. I have eaten it, every
scrap; do give me some more,' said Pinkel, turning towards her.
'Well, you have a fine appetite, young man,' answered the witch;
'however, it is the last time you will ever eat it, so I will give you
another bowlful.' And rubbing in the poisonous herbs, she poured him
out half of what remained, and then went to the window to call her cat.
In an instant Pinkel again emptied the porridge into the bag, and the
next minute he rolled on the floor, twisting himself about as if in
agony, uttering loud groans the while. Suddenly he grew silent and lay
'Ah! I thought a second dose of that poison would be too much for you,'
said the witch looking at him. 'I warned you what would happen if you
came back. I wish that all thieves were as dead as you! But why does
not my lazy girl bring the wood I sent her for, it will soon be too
dark for her to find her way? I suppose I must go and search for her.
What a trouble girls are!' And she went to the door to watch if there
were any signs of her daughter. But nothing could be seen of her, and
heavy rain was falling.
'It is no night for my cloak,' she muttered; 'it would be covered with
mud by the time I got back.' So she took it off her shoulders and hung
it carefully up in a cupboard in the room. After that she put on her
clogs and started to seek her daughter. Directly the last sound of the
clogs had ceased, Pinkel jumped up and took down the cloak, and rowed
off as fast as he could.
He had not gone far when a puff of wind unfolded the cloak, and its
brightness shed gleams across the water. The witch, who was just
entering the forest, turned round at that moment and saw the golden
rays. She forgot all about her daughter, and ran down to the shore,
screaming with rage at being outwitted a third time.
'Is that you, Pinkel?' cried she.
'Yes, dear mother, it is I.'
'Have you taken my gold cloak?'
'Yes, dear mother, I have.'
'Are you not a great knave?'
'Yes, truly dear mother, I am.'
And so indeed he was!
But, all the same, he carried the cloak to the king's palace, and in
return he received the hand of the king's daughter in marriage. People
said that it was the bride who ought to have worn the cloak at her
wedding feast; but the king was so pleased with it that he would not
part from it; and to the end of his life was never seen without it.
After his death, Pinkel became king; and let up hope that he gave up
his bad and thievish ways, and ruled his subjects well. As for his
brothers, he did not punish them, but left them in the stables, where
they grumbled all day long.
[Thorpe's Yule-Tide Stories.]
The Adventures of a Jackal
In a country which is full of wild beasts of all sorts there once lived
a jackal and a hedgehog, and, unlike though they were, the two animals
made great friends, and were often seen in each other's company.
One afternoon they were walking along a road together, when the jackal,
who was the taller of the two, exclaimed:
'Oh! there is a barn full of corn; let us go and eat some.'
'Yes, do let us!' answered the hedgehog. So they went to the barn, and
ate till they could eat no more. Then the jackal put on his shoes,
which he had taken off so as to make no noise, and they returned to the
After they had gone some way they met a panther, who stopped, and
bowing politely, said:
'Excuse my speaking to you, but I cannot help admiring those shoes of
yours. Do you mind telling me who made them?'
'Yes, I think they are rather nice,' answered the jackal; 'I made them
'Could you make me a pair like them?' asked the panther eagerly.
'I would do my best, of course,' replied the jackal; 'but you must kill
me a cow, and when we have eaten the flesh I will take the skin and
make your shoes out of it.'
So the panther prowled about until he saw a fine cow grazing apart from
the rest of the herd. He killed it instantly, and then gave a cry to
the jackal and hedgehog to come to the place where he was. They soon
skinned the dead beasts, and spread its skin out to dry, after which
they had a grand feast before they curled themselves up for the night,
and slept soundly.
Next morning the jackal got up early and set to work upon the shoes,
while the panther sat by and looked on with delight. At last they were
finished, and the jackal arose and stretched himself.
'Now go and lay them in the sun out there,' said he; 'in a couple of
hours they will be ready to put on; but do not attempt to wear them
before, or you will feel them most uncomfortable. But I see the sun is
high in the heavens, and we must be continuing our journey.'
The panther, who always believed what everybody told him, did exactly
as he was bid, and in two hours' time began to fasten on the shoes.
They certainly set off his paws wonderfully, and he stretched out his
forepaws and looked at them with pride. But when he tried to walk--ah!
that was another story! They were so stiff and hard that he nearly
shrieked every step he took, and at last he sank down where he was, and
actually began to cry.
After some time some little partridges who were hopping about heard the
poor panther's groans, and went up to see what was the matter. He had
never tried to make his dinner off them, and they had always been quite
'You seem in pain,' said one of them, fluttering close to him, 'can we
'Oh, it is the jackal! He made me these shoes; they are so hard and
tight that they hurt my feet, and I cannot manage to kick them off.'
'Lie still, and we will soften them,' answered the kind little
partridge. And calling to his brothers, they all flew to the nearest
spring, and carried water in their beaks, which they poured over the
shoes. This they did till the hard leather grew soft, and the panther
was able to slip his feet out of them.
'Oh, thank you, thank you,' he cried, skipping round with joy. 'I feel
a different creature. Now I will go after the jackal and pay him my
debts.' And he bounded away into the forest.
But the jackal had been very cunning, and had trotted backwards and
forwards and in and out, so that it was very difficult to know which
track he had really followed. At length, however, the panther caught
sight of his enemy, at the same moment that the jackal had caught sight
of him. The panther gave a loud roar, and sprang forward, but the
jackal was too quick for him and plunged into a dense thicket, where
the panther could not follow.
Disgusted with his failure, but more angry than ever, the panther lay
down for a while to consider what he should do next, and as he was
thinking, an old man came by.
'Oh! father, tell me how I can repay the jackal for the way he has
served me!' And without more ado he told his story.
'If you take my advice,' answered the old man, 'you will kill a cow,
and invite all the jackals in the forest to the feast. Watch them
carefully while they are eating, and you will see that most of them
keep their eyes on their food. But if one of them glances at you, you
will know that is the traitor.'
The panther, whose manners were always good, thanked the old man, and
followed his counsel. The cow was killed, and the partridges flew
about with invitations to the jackals, who gathered in large numbers to
the feast. The wicked jackal came amongst them; but as the panther had
only seen him once he could not distinguish him from the rest.
However, they all took their places on wooden seats placed round the
dead cow, which was laid across the boughs of a fallen tree, and began
their dinner, each jackal fixing his eyes greedily on the piece of meat
before him. Only one of them seemed uneasy, and every now and then
glanced in the direction of his host. This the panther noticed, and
suddenly made a bound at the culprit and seized his tail; but again the
jackal was too quick for him, and catching up a knife he cut off his
tail and darted into the forest, followed by all the rest of the party.
And before the panther had recovered from his surprise he found
'What am I to do now?' he asked the old man, who soon came back to see
how things had turned out.
'It is very unfortunate, certainly,' answered he; 'but I think I know
where you can find him. There is a melon garden about two miles from
here, and as jackals are very fond of melons they are nearly sure to
have gone there to feed. If you see a tailless jackal you will know
that he is the one you want.' So the panther thanked him and went his
Now the jackal had guessed what advice the old man would give his
enemy, and so, while his friends were greedily eating the ripest melons
in the sunniest corner of the garden, he stole behind them and tied
their tails together. He had only just finished when his ears caught
the sound of breaking branches; and he cried: 'Quick! quick! here comes
the master of the garden!' And the jackals sprang up and ran away in
all directions, leaving their tails behind them. And how was the
panther to know which was his enemy?
'They none of them had any tails,' he said sadly to the old man, 'and I
am tired of hunting them. I shall leave them alone and go and catch
something for supper.'
Of course the hedgehog had not been able to take part in any of these
adventures; but as soon as all danger was over, the jackal went to look
for his friend, whom he was lucky enough to find at home.
'Ah, there you are,' he said gaily. 'I have lost my tail since I saw
you last. And other people have lost theirs too; but that is no
matter! I am hungry, so come with me to the shepherd who is sitting
over there, and we will ask him to sell us one of his sheep.'
'Yes, that is a good plan,' answered the hedgehog. And he walked as
fast as his little legs would go to keep up with the jackal. When they
reached the shepherd the jackal pulled out his purse from under his
foreleg, and made his bargain.
'Only wait till to-morrow,' said the shepherd, 'and I will give you the
biggest sheep you ever saw. But he always feeds at some distance from
the rest of the flock, and it would take me a long time to catch him.'
'Well, it is very tiresome, but I suppose I must wait,' replied the
jackal. And he and the hedgehog looked about for a nice dry cave in
which to make themselves comfortable for the night. But, after they
had gone, the shepherd killed one of his sheep, and stripped off his
skin, which he sewed tightly round a greyhound he had with him, and put
a cord round its neck. Then he lay down and went to sleep.
Very, very early, before the sun was properly up, the jackal and the
hedgehog were pulling at the shepherd's cloak.
'Wake up,' they said, 'and give us that sheep. We have had nothing to
eat all night, and are very hungry.'
The shepherd yawned and rubbed his eyes. 'He is tied up to that tree;
go and take him.' So they went to the tree and unfastened the cord,
and turned to go back to the cave where they had slept, dragging the
greyhound after them. When they reached the cave the jackal said to
'Before I kill him let me see whether he is fat or thin.' And he stood
a little way back, so that he might the better examine the animal.
After looking at him, with his head on one side, for a minute or two,
he nodded gravely.
'He is quite fat enough; he is a good sheep.'
But the hedgehog, who sometimes showed more cunning than anyone would
have guessed, answered:
'My friend, you are talking nonsense. The wool is indeed a sheep's
wool, but the paws of my uncle the greyhound peep out from underneath.'
'He is a sheep,' repeated the jackal, who did not like to think anyone
cleverer than himself.
'Hold the cord while I look at him,' answered the hedgehog.
Very unwillingly the jackal held the rope, while the hedgehog walked
slowly round the greyhound till he reached the jackal again. He knew
quite well by the paws and tail that it was a greyhound and not a
sheep, that the shepherd had sold them; and as he could not tell what
turn affairs might take, he resolved to get out of the way.
'Oh! yes, you are right,' he said to the jackal; 'but I never can eat
till I have first drunk. I will just go and quench my thirst from that
spring at the edge of the wood, and then I shall be ready for
'Don't be long, then,' called the jackal, as the hedgehog hurried off
at his best pace. And he lay down under a rock to wait for him.
More than an hour passed by and the hedgehog had had plenty of time to
go to the spring and back, and still there was no sign of him. And
this was very natural, as he had hidden himself in some long grass
under a tree!
At length the jackal guessed that for some reason his friend had run
away, and determined to wait for his breakfast no longer. So he went
up to the place where the greyhound had been tethered and untied the
rope. But just as he was about to spring on his back and give him a
deadly bite, the jackal heard a low growl, which never proceeded from
the throat of any sheep. Like a flash of lightning the jackal threw
down the cord and was flying across the plain; but though his legs were
long, the greyhound's legs were longer still, and he soon came up with
his prey. The jackal turned to fight, but he was no match for the
greyhound, and in a few minutes he was lying dead on the ground, while
the greyhound was trotting peacefully back to the shepherd.
[Nouveaux Contes Berberes, par Rene Basset.]
The Adventures of the Jackal's Eldest Son
Now, though the jackal was dead, he had left two sons behind him, every
whit as cunning and tricky as their father. The elder of the two was a
fine handsome creature, who had a pleasant manner and made many
friends. The animal he saw most of was a hyena; and one day, when they
were taking a walk together, they picked up a beautiful green cloak,
which had evidently been dropped by some one riding across the plain on
a camel. Of course each wanted to have it, and they almost quarrelled
over the matter; but at length it was settled that the hyena should
wear the cloak by day and the jackal by night. After a little while,
however, the jackal became discontented with this arrangement,
declaring that none of his friends, who were quite different from those
of the hyena, could see the splendour of the mantle, and that it was
only fair that he should sometimes be allowed to wear it by day. To
this the hyena would by no means consent, and they were on the eve of a
quarrel when the hyena proposed that they should ask the lion to judge
between them. The jackal agreed to this, and the hyena wrapped the
cloak about him, and they both trotted off to the lion's den.
The jackal, who was fond of talking, at once told the story; and when
it was finished the lion turned to the hyena and asked if it was true.
'Quite true, your majesty,' answered the hyena.
'Then lay the cloak on the ground at my feet,' said the lion, 'and I
will give my judgment.' So the mantle was spread upon the red earth,
the hyena and the jackal standing on each side of it.
There was silence for a few moments, and then the lion sat up, looking
very great and wise.
'My judgment is that the garment shall belong wholly to whoever first
rings the bell of the nearest mosque at dawn to-morrow. Now go; for
much business awaits me!'
All that night the hyena sat up, fearing lest the jackal should reach
the bell before him, for the mosque was close at hand. With the first
streak of dawn he bounded away to the bell, just as the jackal, who had
slept soundly all night, was rising to his feet.
'Good luck to you,' cried the jackal. And throwing the cloak over his
back he darted away across the plain, and was seen no more by his
friend the hyena.
After running several miles the jackal thought he was safe from
pursuit, and seeing a lion and another hyena talking together, he
strolled up to join them.
'Good morning,' he said; 'may I ask what is the matter? You seem very
serious about something.'
'Pray sit down,' answered the lion. 'We were wondering in which
direction we should go to find the best dinner. The hyena wishes to go
to the forest, and I to the mountains. What do you say?'
'Well, as I was sauntering over the plain, just now, I noticed a flock
of sheep grazing, and some of them had wandered into a little valley
quite out of sight of the shepherd. If you keep among the rocks you
will never be observed. But perhaps you will allow me to go with you
and show you the way?'
'You are really very kind,' answered the lion. And they crept steadily
along till at length they reached the mouth of the valley where a ram,
a sheep and a lamb were feeding on the rich grass, unconscious of their
'How shall we divide them?' asked the lion in a whisper to the hyena.
'Oh, it is easily done,' replied the hyena. 'The lamb for me, the
sheep for the jackal, and the ram for the lion.'
'So I am to have that lean creature, which is nothing but horns, am I?'
cried the lion in a rage. 'I will teach you to divide things in that
manner!' And he gave the hyena two great blows, which stretched him
dead in a moment. Then he turned to the jackal and said: 'How would
you divide them?'
'Quite differently from the hyena,' replied the jackal. 'You will
breakfast off the lamb, you will dine off the sheep, and you will sup
off the ram.'
'Dear me, how clever you are! Who taught you such wisdom?' exclaimed
the lion, looking at him admiringly.
'The fate of the hyena,' answered the jackal, laughing, and running off
at his best speed; for he saw two men armed with spears coming close
behind the lion!
The jackal continued to run till at last he could run no longer. He
flung himself under a tree panting for breath, when he heard a rustle
amongst the grass, and his father's old friend the hedgehog appeared
'Oh, is it you?' asked the little creature; 'how strange that we should
meet so far from home!'
'I have just had a narrow escape of my life,' gasped the jackal, 'and I
need some sleep. After that we must think of something to do to amuse
ourselves.' And he lay down again and slept soundly for a couple of
'Now I am ready,' said he; 'have you anything to propose?'
'In a valley beyond those trees,' answered the hedgehog, 'there is a
small farmhouse where the best butter in the world is made. I know
their ways, and in an hour's time the farmer's wife will be off to milk
the cows, which she keeps at some distance. We could easily get in at
the window of the shed where she keeps the butter, and I will watch,
lest some one should come unexpectedly, while you have a good meal.
Then you shall watch, and I will eat.'
'That sounds a good plan,' replied the jackal; and they set off
But when they reached the farmhouse the jackal said to the hedgehog:
'Go in and fetch the pots of butter and I will hide them in a safe
'Oh no,' cried the hedgehog, 'I really couldn't. They would find out
directly! And, besides, it is so different just eating a little now
'Do as I bid you at once,' said the jackal, looking at the hedgehog so
sternly that the little fellow dared say no more, and soon rolled the
jars to the window where the jackal lifted them out one by one.
When they were all in a row before him he gave a sudden start.
'Run for your life,' he whispered to his companion; 'I see the woman
coming over the hill!' And the hedgehog, his heart beating, set off as
fast as he could. The jackal remained where he was, shaking with
laughter, for the woman was not in sight at all, and he had only sent
the hedgehog away because he did not want him to know where the jars of
butter were buried. But every day he stole out to their hiding-place
and had a delicious feast.
At length, one morning, the hedgehog suddenly said:
'You never told me what you did with those jars?'
'Oh, I hid them safely till the farm people should have forgotten all
about them,' replied the jackal. 'But as they are still searching for
them we must wait a little longer, and then I'll bring them home, and
we will share them between us.'
So the hedgehog waited and waited; but every time he asked if there was
no chance of getting jars of butter the jackal put him off with some
excuse. After a while the hedgehog became suspicious, and said:
'I should like to know where you have hidden them. To-night, when it
is quite dark, you shall show me the place.'
'I really can't tell you,' answered the jackal. 'You talk so much that
you would be sure to confide the secret to somebody, and then we should
have had our trouble for nothing, besides running the risk of our necks
being broken by the farmer. I can see that he is getting disheartened,
and very soon he will give up the search. Have patience just a little
The hedgehop said no more, and pretended to be satisfied; but when some
days had gone by he woke the jackal, who was sleeping soundly after a
hunt which had lasted several hours.
'I have just had notice,' remarked the hedgehog, shaking him, 'that my
family wish to have a banquet to-morrow, and they have invited you to
it. Will you come?'
'Certainly,' answered the jackal, 'with pleasure. But as I have to go
out in the morning you can meet me on the road.'
'That will do very well,' replied the hedgehog. And the jackal went to
sleep again, for he was obliged to be up early.
Punctual to the moment the hedgehog arrived at the place appointed for
their meeting, and as the jackal was not there he sat down and waited
'Ah, there you are!' he cried, when the dusky yellow form at last
turned the corner. 'I had nearly given you up! Indeed, I almost wish
you had not come, for I hardly know where I shall hide you.'
'Why should you hide me anywhere?' asked the jackal. 'What is the
matter with you?'
'Well, so many of the guests have brought their dogs and mules with
them, that I fear it may hardly be safe for you to go amongst them.
No; don't run off that way,' he added quickly, 'because there is
another troop that are coming over the hill. Lie down here, and I will
throw these sacks over you; and keep still for your life, whatever
And what did happen was, that when the jackal was lying covered up,
under a little hill, the hedgehog set a great stone rolling, which
crushed him to death.
The Adventures of the Younger Son of the Jackal
Now that the father and elder brother were both dead, all that was left
of the jackal family was one son, who was no less cunning than the
others had been. He did not like staying in the same place any better
than they, and nobody ever knew in what part of the country he might be
One day, when we was wandering about he beheld a nice fat sheep, which
was cropping the grass and seemed quite contented with her lot.
'Good morning,' said the jackal, 'I am so glad to see you. I have been
looking for you everywhere.'
'For ME?' answered the sheep, in an astonished voice; 'but we have
never met before!'
'No; but I have heard of you. Oh! You don't know what fine things I
have heard! Ah, well, some people have all the luck!'
'You are very kind, I am sure,' answered the sheep, not knowing which
way to look. 'Is there any way in which I can help you?'
'There is something that I had set my heart on, though I hardly like to
propose it on so short an acquaintance; but from what people have told
me, I thought that you and I might keep house together comfortably, if
you would only agree to try. I have several fields belonging to me,
and if they are kept well watered they bear wonderful crops.'
'Perhaps I might come for a short time,' said the sheep, with a little
hesitation; 'and if we do not get on, we can part company.'
'Oh, thank you, thank you,' cried the jackal; 'do not let us lose a
moment.' And he held out his paw in such an inviting manner that the
sheep got up and trotted beside him till they reached home.
'Now,' said the jackal, 'you go to the well and fetch the water, and I
will pour it into the trenches that run between the patches of corn.'
And as he did so he sang lustily. The work was very hard, but the
sheep did not grumble, and by-and-by was rewarded at seeing the little
green heads poking themselves through earth. After that the hot sun
ripened them quickly, and soon harvest time was come. Then the grain
was cut and ground and ready for sale.
When everything was complete, the jackal said to the sheep:
'Now let us divide it, so that we can each do what we like with his
'You do it,' answered the sheep; 'here are the scales. You must weigh
So the jackal began to weigh it, and when he had finished, he counted
'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven parts for the jackal, and one
part for the sheep. If she likes it she can take it, if not, she can
The sheep looked at the two heaps in silence- -one so large, the other
so small; and then she answered:
'Wait for a minute, while I fetch some sacks to carry away my share.'
But it was not sacks that the sheep wanted; for as soon as the jackal
could no longer see her she set forth at her best pace to the home of
the greyhound, where she arrived panting with the haste she had made.
'Oh, good uncle, help me, I pray you!' she cried, as soon as she could
'Why, what is the matter?' asked the greyhound, looking up with
'I beg you to return with me, and frighten the jackal into paying me
what he owes me,' answered the sheep. 'For months we have lived
together, and I have twice every day drawn the water, while he only
poured it into the trenches. Together we have reaped our harvest; and
now, when the moment to divide our crop has come, he has taken seven
parts for himself, and only left one for me.'
She finished, and giving herself a twist, passed her woolly tail across
her eyes; while the greyhound watched her, but held his peace. Then he
'Bring me a sack.' And the sheep hastened away to fetch one. Very
soon she returned, and laid the sack down before him.
'Open it wide, that I may get in,' cried he; and when he was
comfortably rolled up inside he bade the sheep take him on her back,
and hasten to the place where she had left the jackal.
She found him waiting for her, and pretending to be asleep, though she
clearly saw him wink one of his eyes. However, she took no notice, but
throwing the sack roughly on the ground, she exclaimed:
At this the jackal got up, and going to the heap of grain which lay
close by, he divided it as before into eight portions--seven for
himself and one for the sheep.
'What are you doing that for?' asked she indignantly. 'You know quite
well that it was I who drew the water, and you who only poured it into
'You are mistaken,' answered the jackal. 'It was I who drew the water,
and you who poured it into the trenches. Anybody will tell you that!
If you like, I will ask those people who are digging there!'
'Very well,' replied the sheep. And the jackal called out:
'Ho! You diggers, tell me: Who was it you heard singing over the work?'
'Why, it was you, of course, jackal! You sang so loud that the whole
world might have heard you!'
'And who it is that sings--he who draws the water, or he who empties
'Why, certainly he who draws the water!'
'You hear?' said the jackal, turning to the sheep. 'Now come and carry
away your own portion, or else I shall take it for myself.'
'You have got the better of me,' answered the sheep; 'and I suppose I
must confess myself beaten! But as I bear no malice, go and eat some
of the dates that I have brought in that sack.' And the jackal, who
loved dates, ran instantly back, and tore open the mouth of the sack.
But just as he was about to plunge his nose in he saw two brown eyes
calmly looking at him. In an instant he had let fall the flap of the
sack and bounded back to where the sheep was standing.
'I was only in fun; and you have brought my uncle the greyhound. Take
away the sack, we will make the division over again.' And he began
rearranging the heaps.
'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, for my mother the sheep, and
one for the jackal,' counted he; casting timid glances all the while at
'Now you can take your share and go,' said the sheep. And the jackal
did not need twice telling! Whenever the sheep looked up, she still
saw him flying, flying across the plain; and, for all I know, he may be
flying across it still.
[Contes Berberes, par Rene Basset.]
The Three Treasures of the Giants
Long, long ago, there lived an old man and his wife who had three sons;
the eldest was called Martin, the second Michael, while the third was
One evening they were all seated round the table, eating their supper
of bread and milk.
'Martin,' said the old man suddenly, 'I feel that I cannot live much
longer. You, as the eldest, will inherit this hut; but, if you value
my blessing, be good to your mother and brothers.'
'Certainly, father; how can you suppose I should do them wrong?'
replied Martin indignantly, helping himself to all the best bits in the
dish as he spoke. The old man saw nothing, but Michael looked on in
surprise, and Jack was so astonished that he quite forgot to eat his
A little while after, the father fell ill, and sent for his sons, who
were out hunting, to bid him farewell. After giving good advice to the
two eldest, he turned to Jack.
'My boy,' he said, 'you have not got quite as much sense as other
people, but if Heaven has deprived you of some of your wits, it was
given you a kind heart. Always listen to what it says, and take heed
to the words of your mother and brothers, as well as you are able!' So
saying the old man sank back on his pillows and died.
The cries of grief uttered by Martin and Michael sounded through the
house, but Jack remained by the bedside of his father, still and
silent, as if he were dead also. At length he got up, and going into
the garden, hid himself in some trees, and wept like a child, while his
two brothers made ready for the funeral.
No sooner was the old man buried than Martin and Michael agreed that
they would go into the world together to seek their fortunes, while
Jack stayed at home with their mother. Jack would have liked nothing
better than to sit and dream by the fire, but the mother, who was very
old herself, declared that there was no work for him to do, and that he
must seek it with his brothers.
So, one fine morning, all three set out; Martin and Michael carried two
great bags full of food, but Jack carried nothing. This made his
brothers very angry, for the day was hot and the bags were heavy, and
about noon they sat down under a tree and began to eat. Jack was as
hungry as they were, but he knew that it was no use asking for
anything; and he threw himself under another tree, and wept bitterly.
'Another time perhaps you won't be so lazy, and will bring food for
yourself,' said Martin, but to his surprise Jack answered:
'You are a nice pair! You talk of seeking your fortunes so as not to
be a burden on our mother, and you begin by carrying off all the food
she has in the house!'
This reply was so unexpected that for some moments neither of the
brothers made any answer. Then they offered their brother some of
their food, and when he had finished eating they went their way once
Towards evening they reached a small hut, and knocking at the door,
asked if they might spend the night there. The man, who was a
wood-cutter, invited them him, and begged them to sit down to supper.
Martin thanked him, but being very proud, explained that it was only
shelter they wanted, as they had plenty of food with them; and he and
Michael at once opened their bags and began to eat, while Jack hid
himself in a corner. The wife, on seeing this, took pity on him, and
called him to come and share their supper, which he gladly did, and
very good he found it. At this, Martin regretted deeply that he had
been so foolish as to refuse, for his bits of bread and cheese seemed
very hard when he smelt the savoury soup his brother was enjoying.
'He shan't have such a chance again,' thought he; and the next morning
he insisted on plunging into a thick forest where they were likely to
For a long time they wandered hither and thither, for they had no path
to guide them; but at last they came upon a wide clearing, in the midst
of which stood a castle. Jack shouted with delight, but Martin, who
was in a bad temper, said sharply:
'We must have taken a wrong turning! Let us go back.'
'Idiot!' replied Michael, who was hungry too, and, like many people
when they are hungry, very cross also. 'We set out to travel through
the world, and what does it matter if we go to the right or to the
left?' And, without another word, took the path to the castle, closely
followed by Jack, and after a moment by Martin likewise.
The door of the castle stood open, and they entered a great hall, and
looked about them. Not a creature was to be seen, and suddenly
Martin--he did not know why--felt a little frightened. He would have
left the castle at once, but stopped when Jack boldly walked up to a
door in the wall and opened it. He could not for very shame be outdone
by his younger brother, and passed behind him into another splendid
hall, which was filled from floor to ceiling with great pieces of
The sight quite dazzled Martin and Michael, who emptied all the
provisions that remained out of their bags, and heaped them up instead
with handfuls of copper.
Scarcely had they done this when Jack threw open another door, and this
time it led to a hall filled with silver. In an instant his brothers
had turned their bags upside down, so that the copper money tumbled out
on to the floor, and were shovelling in handfuls of the silver instead.
They had hardly finished, when Jack opened yet a third door, and all
three fell back in amazement, for this room as a mass of gold, so
bright that their eyes grew sore as they looked at it. However, they
soon recovered from their surprise, and quickly emptied their bags of
silver, and filled them with gold instead. When they would hold no
more, Martin said:
'We had better hurry off now lest somebody else should come, and we
might not know what to do'; and, followed by Michael, he hastily left
the castle. Jack lingered behind for a few minutes to put pieces of
gold, silver, and copper into his pocket, and to eat the food that his
brothers had thrown down in the first room. Then he went after them,
and found them lying down to rest in the midst of a forest. It was
near sunset, and Martin began to feel hungry, so, when Jack arrived, he
bade him return to the castle and bring the bread and cheese that they
had left there.
'It is hardly worth doing that,' answered Jack; 'for I picked up the
pieces and ate them myself.'
At this reply both brothers were beside themselves with anger, and fell
upon the boy, beating him, and calling him names, till they were quite
'Go where you like,' cried Martin with a final kick; 'but never come
near us again.' And poor Jack ran weeping into the woods.
The next morning his brothers went home, and bought a beautiful house,
where they lived with their mother like great lords.
Jack remained for some hours in hiding, thankful to be safe from his
tormentors; but when no one came to trouble him, and his back did not
ache so much, he began to think what he had better do. At length he
made up his mind to go to the caste and take away as much money with
him as would enable him to live in comfort for the rest of his life.
This being decided, he sprang up, and set out along the path which led
to the castle. As before, the door stood open, and he went on till he
had reached the hall of gold, and there he took off his jacket and tied
the sleeves together so that it might make a kind of bag. He then
began to pour in the gold by handfuls, when, all at once, a noise like
thunder shook the castle. This was followed by a voice, hoarse as that
of a bull, which cried:
'I smell the smell of a man.' And two giants entered.
'So, little worm! it is you who steal our treasures!' exclaimed the
biggest. 'Well, we have got you now, and we will cook you for supper!'
But here the other giant drew him aside, and for a moment or two they
whispered together. At length the first giant spoke:
'To please my friend I will spare your life on condition that, for the
future, you shall guard our treasures. If you are hungry take this
little table and rap on it, saying, as you do so: "The dinner of an
emperor!" and you will get as much food as you want.'
With a light heart Jack promised all that was asked of him, and for
some days enjoyed himself mightily. He had everything he could wish
for, and did nothing from morning till night; but by-and-by he began to
get very tired of it all.
'Let the giants guard their treasures themselves,' he said to himself
at last; 'I am going away. But I will leave all the gold and silver
behind me, and will take nought but you, my good little table.'
So, tucking the table under his arm, he started off for the forest, but
he did not linger there long, and soon found himself in the fields on
the other side. There he saw an old man, who begged Jack to give him
something to eat.
'You could not have asked a better person,' answered Jack cheerfully.
And signing to him to sit down with him under a tree, he set the table
in front of them, and struck it three times, crying:
'The dinner of an emperor!' He had hardly uttered the words when fish
and meat of all kinds appeared on it!
'That is a clever trick of yours,' said the old man, when he had eaten
as much as he wanted. 'Give it to me in exchange for a treasure I have
which is still better. Do you see this cornet? Well, you have only to
tell it that you wish for an army, and you will have as many soldiers
as you require.'
Now, since he had been left to himself, Jack had grown ambitious, so,
after a moment's hesitation, he took the cornet and gave the table in
exchange. The old man bade him farewell, and set off down one path,
while Jack chose another, and for a long time he was quite pleased with
his new possession. Then, as he felt hungry, he wished for his table
back again, as no house was in sight, and he wanted some supper badly.
All at once he remembered his cornet, and a wicked thought entered his
'Two hundred hussars, forward!' cried he. And the neighing of horses
and the clanking of swords were heard close at hand. The officer who
rode at their head approached Jack, and politely inquired what he
wished them to do.
'A mile or two along that road,' answered Jack, 'you will find an old
man carrying a table. Take the table from him and bring it to me.'
The officer saluted and went back to his men, who started at a gallop
to do Jack's bidding.
In ten minutes they had returned, bearing the table with them.
'That is all, thank you,' said Jack; and the soldiers disappeared
inside the cornet.
Oh, what a good supper Jack had that night, quite forgetting that he
owed it to a mean trick. The next day he breakfasted early, and then
walked on towards the nearest town. On the way thither he met another
old man, who begged for something to eat.
'Certainly, you shall have something to eat,' replied Jack. And,
placing the table on the ground he cried:
'The dinner of an emperor!' when all sorts of food dishes appeared. At
first the old man ate quite greedily, and said nothing; but, after his
hunger was satisfied, he turned to Jack and said:
'That is a very clever trick of yours. Give the table to me and you
shall have something still better.'
'I don't believe that there is anything better,' answered Jack.
'Yes, there is. Here is my bag; it will give you as many castles as
you can possibly want.'
Jack thought for a moment; then he replied: 'Very well, I will exchange
with you.' And passing the table to the old man, he hung the bag over
Five minutes later he summoned five hundred lancers out of the cornet
and bade them go after the old man and fetch back the table.
Now that by his cunning he had obtained possession of the three magic
objects, he resolved to return to his native place. Smearing his face
with dirt, and tearing his clothes so as to look like a beggar, he
stopped the passers by and, on pretence of seeking money or food, he
questioned them about the village gossip. In this manner he learned
that his brothers had become great men, much respected in all the
country round. When he heard that, he lost no time in going to the
door of their fine house and imploring them to give him food and
shelter; but the only thing he got was hard words, and a command to beg
elsewhere. At length, however, at their mother's entreaty, he was told
that he might pass the night in the stable. Here he waited until
everybody in the house was sound asleep, when he drew his bag from
under his cloak, and desired that a castle might appear in that place;
and the cornet gave him soldiers to guard the castle, while the table
furnished him with a good supper. In the morning, he caused it all to
vanish, and when his brothers entered the stable they found him lying
on the straw.
Jack remained here for many days, doing nothing, and--as far as anybody
knew--eating nothing. This conduct puzzled his brothers greatly, and
they put such constant questions to him, that at length he told them
the secret of the table, and even gave a dinner to them, which far
outdid any they had ever seen or heard of. But though they had
solemnly promised to reveal nothing, somehow or other the tale leaked
out, and before long reached the ears of the king himself. That very
evening his chamberlain arrived at Jack's dwelling, with a request from
the king that he might borrow the table for three days.
'Very well,' answered Jack, 'you can take it back with you. But tell
his majesty that if he does not return it at the end of the three days
I will make war upon him.'
So the chamberlain carried away the table and took it straight to the
king, telling him at the same time of Jack's threat, at which they both
laughed till their sides ached.
Now the king was so delighted with the table, and the dinners it gave
him, that when the three days were over he could not make up his mind
to part with it. Instead, he sent for his carpenter, and bade him copy
it exactly, and when it was done he told his chamberlain to return it
to Jack with his best thanks. It happened to be dinner time, and Jack
invited the chamberlain, who knew nothing of the trick, to stay and
dine with him. The good man, who had eaten several excellent meals
provided by the table in the last three days, accepted the invitation
with pleasure, even though he was to dine in a stable, and sat down on
the straw beside Jack.
'The dinner of an emperor!' cried Jack. But not even a morsel of
cheese made its appearance.
'The dinner of an emperor!' shouted Jack in a voice of thunder. Then
the truth dawned on him; and, crushing the table between his hands, he
turned to the chamberlain, who, bewildered and half-frightened, was
wondering how to get away.
'Tell your false king that to-morrow I will destroy his castle as
easily as I have broken this table.'
The chamberlain hastened back to the palace, and gave the king Jack's
message, at which he laughed more than before, and called all his
courtiers to hear the story. But they were not quite so merry when
they woke next morning and beheld ten thousand horsemen, and as many
archers, surrounding the palace. The king saw it was useless to hold
out, and he took the white flag of truce in one hand, and the real
table in the other, and set out to look for Jack.
'I committed a crime,' said he; 'but I will do my best to make up for
it. Here is your table, which I own with shame that I tried to steal,
and you shall have besides, my daughter as your wife!'
There was no need to delay the marriage when the table was able to
furnish the most splendid banquet that ever was seen, and after
everyone had eaten and drunk as much as they wanted, Jack took his bag
and commanded a castle filled with all sorts of treasures to arise in
the park for himself and his bride.
At this proof of his power the king's heart died within him.
'Your magic is greater than mine,' he said; 'and you are young and
strong, while I am old and tired. Take, therefore, the sceptre from my
hand, and my crown from my head, and rule my people better than I have
So at last Jack's ambition was satisfied. He could not hope to be more
than king, and as long as he had his cornet to provide him with
soldiers he was secure against his enemies. He never forgave his
brothers for the way they had treated him, though he presented his
mother with a beautiful castle, and everything she could possibly wish
for. In the centre of his own palace was a treasure chamber, and in
this chamber the table, the cornet, and the bag were kept as the most
prized of all his possessions, and not a week passed without a visit
from king John to make sure they were safe. He reigned long and well,
and died a very old man, beloved by his people. But his good example
was not followed by his sons and his grandsons. They grew so proud
that they were ashamed to think that the founder of their race had once
been a poor boy; and as they and all the world could not fail to
remember it, as long as the table, the cornet, and the bag were shown
in the treasure chamber, one king, more foolish than the rest, thrust
them into a dark and damp cellar.
For some time the kingdom remained, though it became weaker and weaker
every year that passed. Then, one day, a rumour reached the king that
a large army was marching against him. Vaguely he recollected some
tales he had heard about a magic cornet which could provide as many
soldiers as would serve to conquer the earth, and which had been
removed by his grandfather to a cellar. Thither he hastened that he
might renew his power once more, and in that black and slimy spot he
found the treasures indeed. But the table fell to pieces as he touched
it, in the cornet there remained only a few fragments of leathern belts
which the rats had gnawed, and in the bag nothing but broken bits of
And the king bowed his head to the doom that awaited him, and in his
heart cursed the ruin wrought by the pride and foolishness of himself
and his forefathers.
[From Contes Populaires Slaves, par Louis Leger.]
The Rover of the Plain
A long way off, near the sea coast of the east of Africa, there dwelt,
once upon a time, a man and his wife. They had two children, a son and
a daughter, whom they loved very much, and, like parents in other
countries, they often talked of the fine marriages the young people
would make some day. Out there both boys and girls marry early, and
very soon, it seemed to the mother, a message was sent by a rich man on
the other side of the great hills offering a fat herd of oxen in
exchange for the girl. Everyone in the house and in the village
rejoiced, and the maiden was despatched to her new home. When all was
quiet again the father said to his son:
'Now that we own such a splendid troop of oxen you had better hasten
and get yourself a wife, lest some illness should overtake them.
Already we have seen in the villages round about one or two damsels
whose parents would gladly part with them for less than half the herd.
Therefore tell us which you like best, and we will buy her for you.'
But the son answered:
'Not so; the maidens I have seen do not please me. If, indeed, I must
marry, let me travel and find a wife for myself.'
'It shall be as you wish,' said the parents; 'but if by-and-by trouble
should come of it, it will be your fault and not ours.'
The youth, however, would not listen; and bidding his father and mother
farewell, set out on his search. Far, far away he wandered, over
mountains and across rivers, till he reached a village where the people
were quite different from those of his own race. He glanced about him
and noticed that the girls were fair to look upon, as they pounded
maize or stewed something that smelt very nice in earthen
pots--especially if you were hot and tired; and when one of the maidens
turned round and offered the stranger some dinner, he made up his mind
that he would wed her and nobody else.
So he sent a message to her parents asking their leave to take her for
his wife, and they came next day to bring their answer.
'We will give you our daughter,' said they, 'if you can pay a good
price for her. Never was there so hardworking a girl; and how we shall
do without her we cannot tell! Still-- no doubt your father and mother
will come themselves and bring the price?'
'No; I have the price with me,' replied the young man; laying down a
handful of gold pieces. 'Here it is--take it.'
The old couple's eyes glittered greedily; but custom forbade them to
touch the price before all was arranged.
'At least,' said they, after a moment's pause, 'we may expect them to
fetch your wife to her new home?'
'No; they are not used to travelling,' answered the bridegroom. 'Let
the ceremony be performed without delay, and we will set forth at once.
It is a long journey.'
Then the parents called in the girl, who was lying in the sun outside
the hut, and, in the presence of all the village, a goat was killed,
the sacred dance took place, and a blessing was said over the heads of
the young people. After that the bride was led aside by her father,
whose duty it was to bestow on her some parting advice as to her
conduct in her married life.
'Be good to your husband's parents,' added he, 'and always do the will
of your husband.' And the girl nodded her head obediently. Next it
was the mother's turn; and, as was the custom of the tribe, she spoke
to her daughter:
'Will you choose which of your sisters shall go with you to cut your
wood and carry your water?'
'I do not want any of them,' answered she; 'they are no use. They will
drop the wood and spill the water.'
'Then will you have any of the other children? There are enough to
spare,' asked the mother again. But the bride said quickly:
'I will have none of them! You must give me our buffalo, the Rover of
the Plain; he alone shall serve me.'
'What folly you talk!' cried the parents. 'Give you our buffalo, the
Rover of the Plain? Why, you know that our life depends on him. Here
he is well fed and lies on soft grass; but how can you tell what will
befall him in another country? The food may be bad, he will die of
hunger; and, if he dies we die also.'
'No, no,' said the bride; 'I can look after him as well as you. Get
him ready, for the sun is sinking and it is time we set forth.'
So she went away and put together a small pot filled with healing
herms, a horn that she used in tending sick people, a little knife, and
a calabash containing deer fat; and, hiding these about her, she took
leave of her father and mother and started across the mountains by the
side of her husband.
But the young man did not see the buffalo that followed them, which had
left his home to be the servant of his wife.
No one ever knew how the news spread to the kraal that the young man
was coming back, bringing a wife with him; but, somehow or other, when
the two entered the village, every man and woman was standing in the
road uttering shouts of welcome.
'Ah, you are not dead after all,' cried they; 'and have found a wife to
your liking, though you would have none of our girls. Well, well, you
have chosen your own path; and if ill comes of it beware lest you
Next day the husband took his wife to the fields and showed her which
were his, and which belonged to his mother. The girl listened
carefully to all he told her, and walked with him back to the hut; but
close to the door she stopped, and said:
'I have dropped my necklace of beads in the field, and I must go and
look for it.' But in truth she had done nothing of the sort, and it
was only an excuse to go and seek the buffalo.
The beast was crouching under a tree when she came up, and snorted with
pleasure at the sight of her.
'You can roam about this field, and this, and this,' she said, 'for
they belong to my husband; and that is his wood, where you may hide
yourself. But the other fields are his mother's, so beware lest you
'I will beware,' answered the buffalo; and, patting his head, the girl
Oh, how much better a servant he was than any of the little girls the
bride had refused to bring with her! If she wanted water, she had only
to cross the patch of maize behind the hut and seek out the place where
the buffalo lay hidden, and put down her pail beside him. Then she
would sit at her ease while he went to the lake and brought the bucket
back brimming over. If she wanted wood, he would break the branches
off the trees and lay them at her feet. And the villagers watched her
return laden, and said to each other:
'Surely the girls of her country are stronger than our girls, for none
of them could cut so quickly or carry so much!' But then, nobody knew
that she had a buffalo for a servant.
Only, all this time she never gave the poor buffalo anything to eat,
because she had just one dish, out of which she and her husband ate;
while in her old home there was a dish put aside expressly for the
Rover of the Plain. The buffalo bore it as long as he could; but, one
day, when his mistress bade him go to the lake and fetch water, his
knees almost gave way from hunger. He kept silence, however, till the
evening, when he said to his mistress:
'I am nearly starved; I have not touched food since I came here. I can
work no more.'
'Alas!' answered she, 'what can I do? I have only one dish in the
house. You will have to steal some beans from the fields. Take a few
here and a few there; but be sure not to take too many from one place,
or the owner may notice it.'
Now the buffalo had always lived an honest life, but if his mistress
did not feed him, he must get food for himself. So that night, when
all the village was asleep, he came out from the wood and ate a few
beans here and a few there, as his mistress had bidden him. And when
at last his hunger was satisfied, he crept back to his lair. But a
buffalo is not a fairy, and the next morning, when the women arrived to
work in the fields, they stood still with astonishment, and said to
'Just look at this; a savage beast has been destroying our crops, and
we can see the traces of his feet!' And they hurried to their homes to
tell their tale.
In the evening the girl crept out to the buffalo's hiding-place, and
said to him:
'They perceived what happened, of course; so to-night you had better
seek your supper further off.' And the buffalo nodded his head and
followed her counsel; but in the morning, when these women also went
out to work, the races of hoofs were plainly to be seen, and they
hastened to tell their husbands, and begged them to bring their guns,
and to watch for the robber.
It happened that the stranger girl's husband was the best marksman in
all the village, and he hid himself behind the trunk of a tree and
The buffalo, thinking that they would probably make a search for him in
the fields he had laid waste the evening before, returned to the bean
patch belonging to his mistress.
The young man saw him coming with amazement.
'Why, it is a buffalo!' cried he; 'I never have beheld one in this
country before!' And raising his gun, he aimed just behind the ear.
The buffalo gave a leap into the air, and then fell dead.
'It was a good shot,' said the young man. And he ran to the village to
tell them that the thief was punished.
When he entered his hut he found his wife, who had somehow heard the
news, twisting herself to and fro and shedding tears.
'Are you ill?' asked he. And she answered: 'Yes; I have pains all over
my body.' But she was not ill at all, only very unhappy at the death
of the buffalo which had served her so well. Her husband felt anxious,
and sent for the medicine man; but though she pretended to listen to
him, she threw all his medicine out of the door directly he had gone
With the first rays of light the whole village was awake, and the women
set forth armed with baskets and the men with knives in order to cut up
the buffalo. Only the girl remained in her hut; and after a while she
too went to join them, groaning and weeping as she walked along.
'What are you doing here?' asked her husband when he saw her. 'If you
are ill you are better at home.'
'Oh! I could not stay alone in the village,' said she. And her
mother-in-law left off her work to come and scold her, and to tell her
that she would kill herself if she did such foolish things. But the
girl would not listen and sat down and looked on.
When they had divided the buffalo's flesh, and each woman had the
family portion in her basket, the stranger wife got up and said:
'Let me have the head.'
'You could never carry anything so heavy,' answered the men, 'and now
you are ill besides.'
'You do not know how strong I am,' answered she. And at last they gave
She did not walk to the village with the others, but lingered behind,
and, instead of entering her hut, she slipped into the little shed
where the pots for cooking and storing maize were kept. Then she laid
down the buffalo's head and sat beside it. Her husband came to seek
her, and begged her to leave the shed and go to bed, as she must be
tired out; but the girl would not stir, neither would she attend to the
words of her mother-in-law.
'I wish you would leave me alone!' she answered crossly. 'It is
impossible to sleep if somebody is always coming in.' And she turned
her back on them, and would not even eat the food they had brought. So
they went away, and the young man soon stretched himself out on his
mat; but his wife's odd conduct made him anxious, and he lay wake all
When all was still the girl made a fire and boiled some water in a pot.
As soon as it was quite hot she shook in the medicine that she had
brought from home, and then, taking the buffalo's head, she made
incisions with her little knife behind the ear, and close to the temple
where the shot had struck him. Next she applied the horn to the spot
and blew with all her force till, at length, the blood began to move.
After that she spread some of the deer fat out of the calabash over the
wound, which she held in the steam of the hot water. Last of all, she
sang in a low voice a dirge over the Rover of the Plain.
As she chanted the final words the head moved, and the limbs came back.
The buffalo began to feel alive again and shook his horns, and stood
up and stretched himself. Unluckily it was just at this moment that
the husband said to himself:
'I wonder if she is crying still, and what is the matter with her!
Perhaps I had better go and see.' And he got up and, calling her by
name, went out to the shed.
'Go away! I don't want you!' she cried angrily. But it was too late.
The buffalo had fallen to the ground, dead, and with the wound in his
head as before.
The young man who, unlike most of his tribe, was afraid of his wife,
returned to his bed without having seen anything, but wondering very
much what she could be doing all this time. After waiting a few
minutes, she began her task over again, and at the end the buffalo
stood on his feet as before. But just as the girl was rejoicing that
her work was completed, in came the husband once more to see what his
wife was doing; and this time he sat himself down in the hut, and said
that he wished to watch whatever was going on. Then the girl took up
the pitcher and all her other things and left the shed, trying for the
third time to bring the buffalo back to life.
She was too late; the dawn was already breaking, and the head fell to
the ground, dead and corrupt as it was before.
The girl entered the hut, where her husband and his mother were getting
ready to go out.
'I want to go down to the lake, and bathe,' said she.
'But you could never walk so far,' answered they. 'You are so tired,
as it is, that you can hardly stand!'
However, in spite of their warnings, the girl left the hut in the
direction of the lake. Very soon she came back weeping, and sobbed out:
'I met some one in the village who lives in my country, and he told me
that my mother is very, very ill, and if I do not go to her at once she
will be dead before I arrive. I will return as soon as I can, and now
farewell.' And she set forth in the direction of the mountains. But
this story was not true; she knew nothing about her mother, only she
wanted an excuse to go home and tell her family that their prophecies
had come true, and that the buffalo was dead.
Balancing her basket on her head, she walked along, and directly she
had left the village behind her she broke out into the song of the
Rover of the Plain, and at last, at the end of the day, she came to the
group of huts where her parents lived. Her friends all ran to meet
her, and, weeping, she told them that the buffalo was dead.
This sad news spread like lightning through the country, and the people
flocked from far and near to bewail the loss of the beast who had been
'If you had only listened to us,' they cried, 'he would be alive now.
But you refused all the little girls we offered you, and would have
nothing but the buffalo. And remember what the medicine-man said: "If
the buffalo dies you die also!"'
So they bewailed their fate, one to the other, and for a while they did
not perceive that the girl's husband was sitting in their midst,
leaning his gun against a tree. Then one man, turning, beheld him, and
'Hail, murderer! hail! you have slain us all!'
The young man stared, not knowing what he meant, and answered,
'I shot a buffalo; is that why you call me a murderer?'
'A buffalo--yes; but the servant of your wife! It was he who carried
the wood and drew the water. Did you not know it?'
'No; I did not know it,' replied the husband in surprise. 'Why did no
one tell me? Of course I should not have shot him!'
'Well, he is dead,' answered they, 'and we must die too.'
At this the girl took a cup in which some poisonous herbs had been
crushed, and holding it in her hands, she wailed: 'O my father, Rover
of the Plain!' Then drinking a deep draught from it, fell back dead.
One by one her parents, her brothers and her sisters, drank also and
died, singing a dirge to the memory of the buffalo.
The girl's husband looked on with horror; and returned sadly home
across the mountains, and, entering his hut, threw himself on the
ground. At first he was too tired to speak; but at length he raised
his head and told all the story to his father and mother, who sat
watching him. When he had finished they shook their heads and said:
'Now you see that we spoke no idle words when we told you that ill
would come of your marriage! We offered you a good and hard- working
wife, and you would have none of her. And it is not only your wife you
have lost, but your fortune also. For who will give you back your
money if they are all dead?'
'It is true, O my father,' answered the young man. But in his heart he
thought more of the loss of his wife than of the money he had given for
[From L'Etude Ethnographique sur les Baronga, par Henri Junod.]
The White Doe
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who loved each other
dearly, and would have been perfectly happy if they had only had a
little son or daughter to play with. They never talked about it, and
always pretended that there was nothing in the world to wish for; but,
sometimes when they looked at other people's children, their faces grew
sad, and their courtiers and attendants knew the reason why.
One day the queen was sitting alone by the side of a waterfall which
sprung from some rocks in the large park adjoining the castle. She was
feeling more than usually miserable, and had sent away her ladies so
that no one might witness her grief. Suddenly she heard a rustling
movement in the pool below the waterfall, and, on glancing up, she saw
a large crab climbing on to a stone beside her.
'Great queen,' said the crab, 'I am here to tell you that the desire of
your heart will soon be granted. But first you must permit me to lead
you to the palace of the fairies, which, though hard by, has never been
seen by mortal eyes because of the thick clouds that surround it. When
there you will know more; that is, if you will trust yourself to me.'
The queen had never before heard an animal speak, and was struck dumb
with surprise. However, she was so enchanted at the words of the crab
that she smiled sweetly and held out her hand; it was taken, not by the
crab, which had stood there only a moment before, but by a little old
woman smartly dressed in white and crimson with green ribbons in her
grey hair. And, wonderful to say, not a drop of water fell from her
The old woman ran lightly down a path along which the queen had been a
hundred times before, but it seemed so different she could hardly
believe it was the same. Instead of having to push her way through
nettles and brambles, roses and jasmine hung about her head, while
under her feet the ground was sweet with violets. The orange trees
were so tall and thick that, even at mid-day, the sun was never too
hot, and at the end of the path was a glimmer of something so dazzling
that the queen had to shade her eyes, and peep at it only between her
'What can it be?' she asked, turning to her guide; who answered:
'Oh, that is the fairies' palace, and here are some of them coming to
As she spoke the gates swung back and six fairies approached, each
bearing in her hand a flower made of precious stones, but so like a
real one that it was only by touching you could tell the difference.
'Madam,' they said, 'we know not how to thank you for this mark of your
confidence, but have the happiness to tell you that in a short time you
will have a little daughter.'
The queen was so enchanted at this news that she nearly fainted with
joy; but when she was able to speak, she poured out all her gratitude
to the fairies for their promised gift.
'And now,' she said, 'I ought not to stay any longer, for my husband
will think that I have run away, or that some evil beast has devoured
In a little while it happened just as the fairies had foretold, and a
baby girl was born in the palace. Of course both the king and queen
were delighted, and the child was called Desiree, which means
'desired,' for she had been 'desired' for five years before her birth.
At first the queen could think of nothing but her new plaything, but
then she remembered the fairies who had sent it to her. Bidding her
ladies bring her the posy of jewelled flowers which had been given her
at the palace, she took each flower in her hand and called it by name,
and, in turn, each fairy appeared before her. But, as unluckily often
happens, the one to whom she owed the most, the crab-fairy, was
forgotten, and by this, as in the case of other babies you have read