Part 6 out of 6
'Alas! your majesty,' he said, when he had finished, 'the wound is
beyond the power of man to heal; but though I cannot cure it, I can at
least deaden the pain, and enable you to walk without so much
'Oh, if you can only do that,' cried the king, 'I shall be grateful to
you for life! Give your own orders; they shall be obeyed.'
'Then let your majesty bid the royal shoemaker make you a shoe of
goat-skin very loose and comfortable, while I prepare a varnish to
paint over it of which I alone have the secret!' So saying, the doctor
bowed himself out, leaving the king more cheerful and hopeful than he
had been for long.
The days passed very slowly with him during the making of the shoe and
the preparation of the varnish, but on the eighth morning the physician
appeared, bringing with him the shoe in a case. He drew it out to slip
on the king's foot, and over the goat-skin he had rubbed a polish so
white that the snow itself was not more dazzling.
'While you wear this shoe you will not feel the slightest pain,' said
the doctor. 'For the balsam with which I have rubbed it inside and out
has, besides its healing balm, the quality of strengthening the
material it touches, so that, even were your majesty to live a thousand
years, you would find the slipper just as fresh at the end of that time
as it is now.'
The king was so eager to put it on that he hardly gave the physician
time to finish. He snatched it from the case and thrust his foot into
it, nearly weeping for joy when he found he could walk and run as
easily as any beggar boy.
'What can I give you?' he cried, holding out both hands to the man who
had worked this wonder. 'Stay with me, and I will heap on you riches
greater than ever you dreamed of.' But the doctor said he would accept
nothing more than had been agreed on, and must return at once to his
own country, where many sick people were awaiting him. So king
Balancin had to content himself with ordering the physician to be
treated with royal honours, and desiring that an escort should attend
him on his journey home.
For two years everything went smoothly at court, and to king Balancin
and his daughter the sun no sooner rose than it seemed time for it to
set. Now, the king's birthday fell in the month of June, and as the
weather happened to be unusually fine, he told the princess to
celebrate it in any way that pleased her. Diamantina was very fond of
being on the river, and she was delighted at this chance of delighting
her tastes. She would have a merry-making such as never had been seen
before, and in the evening, when they were tired of sailing and rowing,
there should be music and dancing, plays and fireworks. At the very
end, before the people went home, every poor person should be given a
loaf of bread and every girl who was to be married within the year a
The great day appeared to Diamantina to be long in coming, but, like
other days, it came at last. Before the sun was fairly up in the
heavens the princess, too full of excitement to stay in the palace, was
walking about the streets so covered with precious stones that you had
to shade your eyes before you could look at her. By-and-by a trumpet
sounded, and she hurried home, only to appear again in a few moments
walking by the side of her father down to the river. Here a splendid
barge was waiting for them, and from it they watched all sorts of races
and feats of swimming and diving. When these were over the barge
proceeded up the river to the field where the dancing and concerts were
to take place, and after the prizes had been given away to the winners,
and the loaves and the dresses had been distributed by the princess,
they bade farewell to their guests, and turned to step into the barge
which was to carry them back to the palace.
Then a dreadful thing happened. As the king stepped on board the boat
one of the sandals of the white slipper, which had got loose, caught in
a nail that was sticking out, and caused the king to stumble. The pain
was great, and unconsciously he turned and shook his foot, so that the
sandals gave way, and in a moment the precious shoe was in the river.
It had all occurred so quickly that nobody had noticed the loss of the
slipper, not even the princess, whom the king's cries speedily brought
to his side.
'What is the matter, dear father?' asked she. But the king could not
tell her; and only managed to gasp out: 'My shoe! my shoe!' While the
sailors stood round staring, thinking that his majesty had suddenly
Seeing her father's eyes fixed on the stream, Diamantina looked hastily
in that direction. There, dancing on the current, was the point of
something white, which became more and more distant the longer they
watched it. The king could bear the sight no more, and, besides, now
that the healing ointment in the shoe had been removed the pain in his
foot was as bad as ever; he gave a sudden cry, staggered, and fell over
the bulwarks into the water.
In an instant the river was covered with bobbing heads all swimming
their fastest towards the king, who had been carried far down by the
swift current. At length one swimmer, stronger than the rest, seized
hold of his tunic, and drew him to the bank, where a thousand eager
hands were ready to haul him out. He was carried, unconscious, to the
side of his daughter, who had fainted with terror on seeing her father
disappear below the surface, and together they were place in a coach
and driven to the palace, where the best doctors in the city were
awaiting their arrival.
In a few hours the princess was as well as ever; but the pain, the
wetting, and the shock of the accident, all told severely on the king,
and for three days he lay in a high fever. Meanwhile, his daughter,
herself nearly mad with grief, gave orders that the white slipper
should be sought for far and wide; and so it was, but even the
cleverest divers could find no trace of it at the bottom of the river.
When it became clear that the slipper must have been carried out to sea
by the current, Diamantina turned her thoughts elsewhere, and sent
messengers in search of the doctor who had brought relief to her
father, begging him to make another slipper as fast as possible, to
supply the place of the one which was lost. But the messengers
returned with the sad news that the doctor had died some weeks before,
and, what was worse, his secret had died with him.
In his weakness this intelligence had such an effect on the king that
the physicians feared he would become as ill as before. He could
hardly be persuaded to touch food, and all night long he lay moaning,
partly with pain, and partly over his own folly in not having begged
the doctor to make him several dozens of white slippers, so that in
case of accidents he might always have one to put on. However,
by-and-by he saw that it was no use weeping and wailing, and commanded
that they should search for his lost treasure more diligently than ever.
What a sight the river banks presented in those days! It seemed as if
all the people in the country were gathered on them. But this second
search was no more fortunate than the first, and at last the king
issued a proclamation that whoever found the missing slipper should be
made heir to the crown, and should marry the princess.
Now many daughters would have rebelled at being disposed of in the
manner; and it must be admitted that Diamantina's heart sank when she
heard what the king had done. Still, she loved her father so much that
she desired his comfort more than anything else in the world, so she
said nothing, and only bowed her head.
Of course the result of the proclamation was that the river banks
became more crowded than before; for all the princess's suitors from
distant lands flocked to the spot, each hoping that he might be the
lucky finder. Many times a shining stone at the bottom of the stream
was taken for the slipper itself, and every evening saw a band of
dripping downcast men returning homewards. But one youth always
lingered longer than the rest, and night would still see him engaged in
the search, though his clothes stuck to his skin and his teeth
One day, when the king was lying on his bed racked with pain, he heard
the noise of a scuffle going on in his antechamber, and rang a golden
bell that stood by his side to summon one of his servants.
'Sire,' answered the attendant, when the king inquired what was the
matter, 'the noise you heard was caused by a young man from the town,
who has had the impudence to come here to ask if he may measure your
majesty's foot, so as to make you another slipper in place of the lost
'And what have you done to the youth?' said the king.
'The servants pushed him out of the palace, and, added a few blows to
teach him not to be insolent,' replied the man.
'Then they did very ill,' answered the king, with a frown. 'He came
here from kindness, and there was no reason to maltreat him.'
'Oh, my lord, he had the audacity to wish to touch your majesty's
sacred person--he, a good-for-nothing boy, a mere shoemaker's
apprentice, perhaps! And even if he could make shoes to perfection
they would be no use without the soothing balsam.'
The king remained silent for a few moments, then he said:
'Never mind. Go and fetch the youth and bring him to me. I would
gladly try any remedy that may relieve my pain.'
So, soon afterwards, the youth, who had not gone far from the palace,
was caught and ushered into the king's presence.
He was tall and handsome and, though he professed to make shoes, his
manners were good and modest, and he bowed low as he begged the king
not only to allow him to take the measure of his foot, but also to
suffer him to place a healing plaster over the wound.
Balancin was pleased with the young man's voice and appearance, and
thought that he looked as if he knew what he was doing. So he
stretched out his bad foot which the youth examined with great
attention, and then gently laid on the plaster.
Very shortly the ointment began to soothe the sharp pain, and the king,
whose confidence increased every moment, begged the young man to tell
him his name.
'I have no parents; they died when I was six, sire,' replied the youth,
modestly. 'Everyone in the town calls me Gilguerillo[FN#1], because,
when I was little, I went singing through the world in spite of my
misfortunes. Luckily for me I was born to be happy.'
'And you really think you can cure me?' asked the king.
'Completely, my lord,' answered Gilguerillo.
'And how long do you think it will take?'
'It is not an easy task; but I will try to finish it in a fortnight,'
replied the youth.
A fortnight seemed to the king a long time to make one slipper. But he
'Do you need anything to help you?'
'Only a good horse, if your majesty will be kind enough to give me
one,' answered Gilguerillo. And the reply was so unexpected that the
courtiers could hardly restrain their smiles, while the king stared
'You shall have the horse,' he said at last, 'and I shall expect you
back in a fortnight. If you fulfil your promise you know your reward;
if not, I will have you flogged for your impudence.'
Gilguerillo bowed, and turned to leave the palace, followed by the
jeers and scoffs of everyone he met. But he paid no heed, for he had
got what he wanted.
He waited in front of the gates till a magnificent horse was led up to
him, and vaulting into the saddle with an ease which rather surprised
the attendant, rode quickly out of the town amidst the jests of the
assembled crowd, who had heard of his audacious proposal. And while he
is on his way let us pause for a moment and tell who he is.
Both father and mother had died before the boy was six years old; and
he had lived for many years with his uncle, whose life had been passed
in the study of chemistry. He could leave no money to his nephew, as
he had a son of his own; but he taught him all he knew, and at his dead
Gilguerillo entered an office, where he worked for many hours daily.
In his spare time, instead of playing with the other boys, he passed
hours poring over books, and because he was timid and liked to be alone
he was held by everyone to be a little mad. Therefore, when it became
known that he had promised to cure the king's foot, and had ridden
away--no one knew where--a roar of laughter and mockery rang through
the town, and jeers and scoffing words were sent after him.
But if they had only known what were Gilguerillo's thoughts they would
have thought him madder than ever.
The real truth was that, on the morning when the princess had walked
through the streets before making holiday on the river Gilguerillo had
seen her from his window, and had straightway fallen in love with her.
Of course he felt quite hopeless. It was absurd to imagine that the
apothecary's nephew could ever marry the king's daughter; so he did his
best to forget her, and study harder than before, till the royal
proclamation suddenly filled him with hope. When he was free he no
longer spent the precious moments poring over books, but, like the
rest, he might have been seen wandering along the banks of the river,
or diving into the stream after something that lay glistening in the
clear water, but which turned out to be a white pebble or a bit of
And at the end he understood that it was not by the river that he would
win the princess; and, turning to his books for comfort, he studied
harder than ever.
There is an old proverb which says: 'Everything comes to him who knows
how to wait.' It is not all men who know hot to wait, any more than it
is all men who can learn by experience; but Gilguerillo was one of the
few and instead of thinking his life wasted because he could not have
the thing he wanted most, he tried to busy himself in other directions.
So, one day, when he expected it least, his reward came to him.
He happened to be reading a book many hundreds of years old, which told
of remedies for all kinds of diseases. Most of them, he knew, were
merely invented by old women, who sought to prove themselves wiser than
other people; but at length he came to something which caused him to
sit up straight in his chair, and made his eyes brighten. This was the
description of a balsam-- which would cure every kind of sore or
wound--distilled from a plant only to be found in a country so distant
that it would take a man on foot two months to go and come back again.
When I say that the book declared that the balsam could heal every sort
of sore or wound, there were a few against which it was powerless, and
it gave certain signs by which these might be known. This was the
reason why Gilguerillo demanded to see the king's foot before he would
undertake to cure it; and to obtain admittance he gave out that he was
a shoemaker. However, the dreaded signs were absent, and his heart
bounded at the thought that the princess was within his reach.
Perhaps she was; but a great deal had to be accomplished yet, and he
had allowed himself a very short time in which to do it.
He spared his horse only so much as was needful, yet it took him six
days to reach the spot where the plant grew. A thick wood lay in front
of him, and, fastening the bridle tightly to a tree, he flung himself
on his hands and knees and began to hunt for the treasure. Many time
he fancied it was close to him, and many times it turned out to be
something else; but, at last, when light was fading, and he had almost
given up hope, he came upon a large bed of the plant, right under his
feet! Trembling with joy, he picked every scrap he could see, and
placed it in his wallet. Then, mounting his horse, he galloped quickly
back towards the city.
It was night when he entered the gates, and the fifteen days allotted
were not up till the next day. His eyes were heavy with sleep, and his
body ached with the long strain, but, without pausing to rest, he
kindled a fire on is hearth, and quickly filling a pot with water,
threw in the herbs and left them to boil. After that he lay down and
The sun was shining when he awoke, and he jumped up and ran to the pot.
The plant had disappeared and in its stead was a thick syrup, just as
the book had said there would be. He lifted the syrup out with a
spoon, and after spreading it in the sun till it was partly dry, poured
it into a small flask of crystal. He next washed himself thoroughly,
and dressed himself, in his best clothes, and putting the flask in his
pocket, set out for the palace, and begged to see the king without
Now Balancin, whose foot had been much less painful since Gilguerillo
had wrapped it in the plaster, was counting the days to the young man's
return; and when he was told Gilguerillo was there, ordered him to be
admitted at once. As he entered, the king raised himself eagerly on
his pillows, but his face fell when he saw no signs of a slipper.
'You have failed, then?' he said, throwing up his hands in despair.
'I hope not, your majesty; I think not,' answered the youth. And
drawing the flask from his pocket, he poured two or three drops on the
'Repeat this for three nights, and you will find yourself cured,' said
he. And before the king had time to thank him he had bowed himself out.
Of course the news soon spread through the city, and men and women
never tired of calling Gilguerillo an impostor, and prophesying that
the end of the three days would see him in prison, if not on the
scaffold. But Gilguerillo paid no heed to their hard words, and no
more did the king, who took care that no hand but his own should put on
the healing balsam.
On the fourth morning the king awoke and instantly stretched out his
wounded foot that he might prove the truth or falsehood of
Gilguerillo's remedy. The wound was certainly cured on that side, but
how about the other? Yes, that was cured also; and not even a scar was
left to show where it had been!
Was ever any king so happy as Balancin when he satisfied himself of
Lightly as a deer he jumped from his bed, and began to turn head over
heels and to perform all sorts of antics, so as to make sure that his
foot was in truth as well as it looked. And when he was quite tired he
sent for his daughter, and bade the courtiers bring the lucky young man
to his room.
'He is really young and handsome,' said the princess to herself,
heaving a sigh of relief that it was not some dreadful old man who had
healed her father; and while the king was announcing to his courtiers
the wonderful cure that had been made, Diamantina was thinking that if
Gilguerillo looked so well in his common dress, how much improved by
the splendid garments of a king' son. However, she held her peace, and
only watched with amusement when the courtiers, knowing there was no
help for it, did homage and obeisance to the chemist's boy.
Then they brought to Gilguerillo a magnificent tunic of green velvet
bordered with gold, and a cap with three white plumes stuck in it; and
at the sight of him so arrayed, the princess fell in love with him in a
moment. The wedding was fixed to take place in eight days, and at the
ball afterwards nobody danced so long or so lightly as king Balancin.
[From Capullos de Rosa, por D. Enrique Ceballos Quintana.]
The Magic Book
There was once an old couple named Peder and Kirsten who had an only
son called Hans. From the time he was a little boy he had been told
that on his sixteenth birthday he must go out into the world and serve
his apprenticeship. So, one fine summer morning, he started off to
seek his fortune with nothing but the clothes he wore on his back.
For many hours he trudged on merrily, now and then stopping to drink
from some clear spring or to pick some ripe fruit from a tree. The
little wild creatures peeped at him from beneath the bushes, and he
nodded and smiled, and wished them 'Good-morning.' After he had been
walking for some time he met an old white-bearded man who was coming
along the footpath. The boy would not step aside, and the man was
determined not to do so either, so they ran against one another with a
'It seems to me,' said the old fellow, 'that a boy should give way to
an old man.'
'The path is for me as well as for you,' answered young Hans saucily,
for he had never been taught politeness.
'Well, that's true enough,' answered the other mildly. 'And where are
'I am going into service,' said Hans.
'Then you can come and serve me,' replied the man.
Well, Hans could do that; but what would his wages be?
'Two pounds a year, and nothing to do but keep some rooms clean,' said
This seemed to Hans to be easy enough; so he agreed to enter the old
man's service, and they set out together. On their way they crossed a
deep valley and came to a mountain, where the man opened a trapdoor,
and bidding Hans follow him, he crept in and began to go down a long
flight of steps. When they got to the bottom Hans saw a large number
of rooms lit by many lamps and full of beautiful things. While he was
looking round the old man said to him:
'Now you know what you have to do. You must keep these rooms clean,
and strew sand on the floor every day. Here is a table where you will
always find food and drink, and there is your bed. You see there are a
great many suits of clothes hanging on the wall, and you may wear any
you please; but remember that you are never to open this locked door.
If you do ill will befall you. Farewell, for I am going away again and
cannot tell when I may return.
No sooner had the old man disappeared than Hans sat down to a good
meal, and after that went to bed and slept until the morning. At first
he could not remember what had happened to him, but by-and-by he jumped
up and went into all the rooms, which he examined carefully.
'How foolish to bid me to put sand on the floors,' he thought, 'when
there is nobody here by myself! I shall do nothing of the sort.' And
so he shut the doors quickly, and only cleaned and set in order his own
room. And after the first few days he felt that that was unnecessary
too, because no one came there to see if the rooms where clean or not.
At last he did no work at all, but just sat and wondered what was
behind the locked door, till he determined to go and look for himself.
The key turned easily in the lock. Hans entered, half frightened at
what he was doing, and the first thing he beheld was a heap of bones.
That was not very cheerful; and he was just going out again when his
eye fell on a shelf of books. Here was a good way of passing the time,
he thought, for he was fond of reading, and he took one of the books
from the shelf. It was all about magic, and told you how you could
change yourself into anything in the world you liked. Could anything
be more exciting or more useful? So he put it in his pocket, and ran
quickly away out of the mountain by a little door which had been left
When he got home his parents asked him what he had been doing and where
he had got the fine clothes he wore.
'Oh, I earned them myself,' answered he.
'You never earned them in this short time,' said his father. 'Be off
with you; I won't keep you here. I will have no thieves in my house!'
'Well I only came to help you,' replied the boy sulkily. 'Now I'll be
off, as you wish; but to-morrow morning when you rise you will see a
great dog at the door. Do not drive it away, but take it to the castle
and sell it to the duke, and they will give you ten dollars for it;
only you must bring the strap you lead it with, back to the house.'
Sure enough the next day the dog was standing at the door waiting to be
let in. The old man was rather afraid of getting into trouble, but his
wife urged him to sell the dog as the boy had bidden him, so he took it
up to the castle and sold it to the duke for ten dollars. But he did
not forget to take off the strap with which he had led the animal, and
to carry it home. When he got there old Kirsten met him at the door.
'Well, Peder, and have you sold the dog?' asked she.
'Yes, Kirsten; and I have brought back ten dollars, as the boy told
us,' answered Peder.
'Ay! but that's fine!' said his wife. 'Now you see what one gets by
doing as one is bid; if it had not been for me you would have driven
the dog away again, and we should have lost the money. After all, I
always know what is best.'
'Nonsense!' said her husband; 'women always think they know best. I
should have sold the dog just the same whatever you had told me. Put
the money away in a safe place, and don't talk so much.'
The next day Hans came again; but though everything had turned out as
he had foretold, he found that his father was still not quite satisfied.
'Be off with you!' said he, 'you'll get us into trouble.'
'I haven't helped you enough yet,' replied the boy. 'To-morrow there
will come a great fat cow, as big as the house. Take it to the king's
palace and you'll get as much as a thousand dollars for it. Only you
must unfasten the halter you lead it with and bring it back, and don't
return by the high road, but through the forest.'
The next day, when the couple rose, they saw an enormous head looking
in at their bedroom window, and behind it was a cow which was nearly as
big as their hut. Kirsten was wild with joy to think of the money the
cow would bring them.
'But how are you going to put the rope over her head?' asked she.
'Wait and you'll see, mother,' answered her husband. Then Peder took
the ladder that led up to the hayloft and set it against the cow's
neck, and he climbed up and slipped the rope over her head. When he
had made sure that the noose was fast they started for the palace, and
met the king himself walking in his grounds.
'I heard that the princess was going to be married,' said Peder, 'so
I've brought your majesty a cow which is bigger than any cow that was
ever seen. Will your majesty deign to buy it?'
The king had, in truth, never seen so large a beast, and he willingly
paid the thousand dollars, which was the price demanded; but Peder
remembered to take off the halter before he left. After he was gone
the king sent for the butcher and told him to kill the animal for the
wedding feast. The butcher got ready his pole-axe; but just as he was
going to strike, the cow changed itself into a dove and flew away, and
the butcher stood staring after it as if he were turned to stone.
However, as the dove could not be found, he was obliged to tell the
king what had happened, and the king in his turn despatched messengers
to capture the old man and bring him back. But Peder was safe in the
woods, and could not be found. When at last he felt the danger was
over, and he might go home, Kirsten nearly fainted with joy at the
sight of all the money he brought with him.
'Now that we are rich people we must build a bigger house,' cried she;
and was vexed to find that Peder only shook his head and said: 'No; if
they did that people would talk, and say they had got their wealth by
A few mornings later Hans came again.
'Be off before you get us into trouble,' said his father. 'So far the
money has come right enough, but I don't trust it.'
'Don't worry over that, father,' said Hans. 'To-morrow you will find a
horse outside by the gate. Ride it to market and you will get a
thousand dollars for it. Only don't forget to loosen the bridle when
you sell it.'
Well, in the morning there was the horse; Kirsten had never seen so
find an animal. 'Take care it doesn't hurt you, Peder,' said she.
'Nonsense, wife,' answered he crossly. 'When I was a lad I lived with
horses, and could ride anything for twenty miles round.' But that was
not quite the truth, for he had never mounted a horse in his life.
Still, the animal was quiet enough, so Peder got safely to market on
its back. There he met a man who offered nine hundred and ninety-nine
dollars for it, but Peder would take nothing less than a thousand. At
last there came an old, grey-bearded man who looked at the horse and
agreed to buy it; but the moment he touched it the horse began to kick
and plunge. 'I must take the bridle off,' said Peder. 'It is not to
be sold with the animal as is usually the case.'
'I'll give you a hundred dollars for the bridle,' said the old man,
taking out his purse.
'No, I can't sell it,' replied Hans's father.
'Five hundred dollars!'
At this splendid offer Peder's prudence gave way; it was a shame to let
so much money go. So he agreed to accept it. But he could hardly hold
the horse, it became so unmanageable. So he gave the animal in charge
to the old man, and went home with his two thousand dollars.
Kirsten, of course, was delighted at this new piece of good fortune,
and insisted that the new house should be built and land bought. This
time Peder consented, and soon they had quite a fine farm.
Meanwhile the old man rode off on his new purchase, and when he came to
a smithy he asked the smith to forge shoes for the horse. The smith
proposed that they should first have a drink together, and the horse
was tied up by the spring whilst they went indoors. The day was hot,
and both men were thirsty, and, besides, they had much to say; and so
the hours slipped by and found them still talking. Then the servant
girl came out to fetch a pail of water, and, being a kind- hearted
lass, she gave some to the horse to drink. What was her surprise when
the animal said to her: 'Take off my bridle and you will save my life.'
'I dare not,' said she; 'your master will be so angry.'
'He cannot hurt you,' answered the horse, 'and you will save my life.'
At that she took off the bridle; but nearly fainted with astonishment
when the horse turned into a dove and flew away just as the old man
came out of the house. Directly he saw what had happened he changed
himself into a hawk and flew after the dove. Over the woods and fields
they went, and at length they reached a king's palace surrounded by
beautiful gardens. The princess was walking with her attendants in the
rose garden when the dove turned itself into a gold ring and fell at
'Why, here is a ring!' she cried, 'where could it have come from?' And
picking it up she put it on her finger. As she did so the hill-man
lost his power over Hans--for of course you understand that it was he
who had been the dog, the cow, the horse and the dove.
'Well, that is really strange,' said the princess. 'It fits me as
though it had been made for me!'
Just at that moment up came the king.
'Look at what I have found!' cried his daughter.
'Well, that is not worth much, my dear,' said he. 'Besides, you have
rings enough, I should think.'
'Never mind, I like it,' replied the princess.
But as soon as she was alone, to her amazement, the ring suddenly left
her finger and became a man. You can imagine how frightened she was,
as, indeed, anybody would have been; but in an instant the man became a
ring again, and then turned back to a man, and so it went on for some
time until she began to get used to these sudden changes.
'I am sorry I frightened you,' said Hans, when he thought he could
safely speak to the princess without making her scream. 'I took refuge
with you because the old hill-man, whom I have offended, was trying to
kill me, and here I am safe.'
'You had better stay here then,' said the princess. So Hans stayed,
and he and she became good friends; though, of course, he only became a
man when no one else was present.
This was all very well; but, one day, as they were talking together,
the king happened to enter the room, and although Hans quickly changed
himself into a ring again it was too late.
The king was terribly angry.
'So this is why you have refused to marry all the kings and princes who
have sought your hand?' he cried.
And, without waiting for her to speak, he commanded that his daughter
should be walled up in the summer-house and starved to death with her
That evening the poor princess, still wearing her ring, was put into
the summer-house with enough food to last for three days, and the door
was bricked up. But at the end of a week or two the king thought it
was time to give her a grand funeral, in spite of her bad behaviour,
and he had the summer-house opened. He could hardly believe his eyes
when he found that the princess was not there, nor Hans either.
Instead, there lay at his feet a large hole, big enough for two people
to pass through.
Now what had happened was this.
When the princess and Hans had given up hope, and cast themselves down
on the ground to die, they fell down this hole, and right through the
earth as well, and at last they tumbled into a castle built of pure
gold at the other side of the world, and there they lived happily. But
of this, of course, the king knew nothing.
'Will anyone go down and see where the passage leads to?' he asked,
turning to his guards and courtiers. 'I will reward splendidly the man
who is brave enough to explore it.'
For a long time nobody answered. The hole was dark and deep, and if it
had a bottom no one could see it. At length a soldier, who was a
careless sort of fellow, offered himself for the service, and
cautiously lowered himself into the darkness. But in a moment he, too,
fell down, down, down. Was he going to fall for ever, he wondered!
Oh, how thankful he was in the end to reach the castle, and to meet the
princess and Hans, looking quite well and not at all as if they had
been starved. They began to talk, and the soldier told them that the
king was very sorry for the way he had treated his daughter, and wished
day and night that he could have her back again.
Then they all took ship and sailed home, and when they came to the
princess's country, Hans disguised himself as the sovereign of a
neighbouring kingdom, and went up to the palace alone. He was given a
hearty welcome by the king, who prided himself on his hospitality, and
a banquet was commanded in his honour. That evening, whilst they sat
drinking their wine, Hans said to the king:
'I have heard the fame of your majesty's wisdom, and I have travelled
from far to ask your counsel. A man in my country has buried his
daughter alive because she loved a youth who was born a peasant. How
shall I punish this unnatural father, for it is left to me to give
The king, who was still truly grieved for his daughter's loss, answered
'Burn him alive, and strew his ashes all over the kingdom.'
Hans looked at him steadily for a moment, and then threw off his
'You are the man,' said he; 'and I am he who loved your daughter, and
became a gold ring on her finger. She is safe, and waiting not far
from here; but you have pronounced judgment on yourself.'
Then the king fell on his knees and begged for mercy; and as he had in
other respects been a good father, they forgave him. The wedding of
Hans and the princess was celebrated with great festivities which
lasted a month. As for the hill-man he intended to be present; but
whilst he was walking along a street which led to the palace a loose
stone fell on his head and killed him. So Hans and the princess lived
in peace and happiness all their days, and when the old king died they
reigned instead of him.
[From AEventyr fra Zylland samlede og optegnede af Tang Kristensen.
Translated from the Danish by Mrs. Skavgaard-Pedersen.]