Part 4 out of 8
THE TALKING HARP.
So he climbed the Beanstalk once more, and blew the horn at
the Giant's gate. The Giantess soon opened the door; she was
very stupid, and did not know him again, but she stopped a minute
before she took him in. She feared another robbery; but Jack's
fresh face looked so innocent that she could not resist him, and so
she bade him come in, and again hid him away in the wardrobe.
By-and-by the Giant came home, and as soon as he had crossed
the threshold he roared out:
`Fe, fa, fi-fo-fum,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.'
`You stupid old Giant,' said his wife, `you only smell a nice
sheep, which I have grilled for your dinner.'
And the Giant sat down, and his wife brought up a whole sheep
for his dinner. When he had eaten it all up, he said:
`Now bring me my harp, and I will have a little music while
you take your walk.'
The Giantess obeyed, and returned with a beautiful harp. The
framework was all sparkling with diamonds and rubies, and the
strings were all of gold.
`This is one of the nicest things I took from the knight,' said
the Giant. `I am very fond of music, and my harp is a faithful
So he drew the harp towards him, and said:
And the harp played a very soft, sad air.
`Play something merrier!' said the Giant.
And the harp played a merry tune.
`Now play me a lullaby,' roared the Giant; and the harp played
a sweet lullaby, to the sound of which its master fell asleep.
Then Jack stole softly out of the wardrobe, and went into the
huge kitchen to see if the Giantess had gone out; he found no one
there, so he went to the door and opened it softly, for he thought he
could not do so with the harp in his hand.
Then he entered the Giant's room and seized the harp and ran
away with it; but as he jumped over the threshold the harp called
And the Giant woke up.
With a tremendous roar he sprang from his seat, and in two strides
had reached the door.
But Jack was very nimble. He fled like lightning with the harp,
talking to it as he went (for he saw it was a fairy), and telling it he
was the son of its old master, the knight.
Still the Giant came on so fast that he was quite close to poor
Jack, and had stretched out his great hand to catch him. But,
luckily, just at that moment he stepped upon a loose stone, stumbled,
and fell flat on the ground, where he lay at his full length.
This accident gave Jack time to get on the Beanstalk and hasten
down it; but just as he reached their own garden he beheld the
Giant descending after him.
`Mother I mother!' cried Jack, `make haste and give me the
His mother ran to him with a hatchet in her hand, and Jack
with one tremendous blow cut through all the Beanstalks except
`Now, mother, stand out of the way!' said he.
THE GIANT BREAKS HIS NECK.
Jack's mother shrank back, and it was well she did so, for just
as the Giant took hold of the last branch of the Beanstalk, Jack cut
the stem quite through and darted from the spot.
Down came the Giant with a terrible crash, and as he fell on his
head, he broke his neck, and lay dead at the feet of the woman he
had so much injured.
Before Jack and his mother had recovered from their alarm and
agitation, a beautiful lady stood before them.
`Jack,' said she, `you have acted like a brave knight's son, and
deserve to have your inheritance restored to you. Dig a grave and
bury the Giant, and then go and kill the Giantess.'
`But,' said Jack, `I could not kill anyone unless I were fighting
with him; and I could not draw my sword upon a woman. Moreover,
the Giantess was very kind to me.'
The Fairy smiled on Jack.
`I am very much pleased with your generous feeling,' she said.
`Nevertheless, return to the castle, and act as you will find needful.'
Jack asked the Fairy if she would show him the way to the castle,
as the Beanstalk was now down. She told him that she would
drive him there in her chariot, which was drawn by two peacocks.
Jack thanked her, and sat down in the chariot with her.
The Fairy drove him a long distance round, till they reached a
village which lay at the bottom of the hill. Here they found a
number of miserable-looking men assembled. The Fairy stopped
her carriage and addressed them:
`My friends,' said she, `the cruel giant who oppressed you and
ate up all your flocks and herds is dead, and this young gentleman
was the means of your being delivered from him, and is the son of
your kind old master, the knight.'
The men gave a loud cheer at these words, and pressed forward
to say that they would serve Jack as faithfully as they had served
his father. The Fairy bade them follow her to the castle, and they
marched thither in a body, and Jack blew the horn and demanded
The old Giantess saw them coming from the turret loop-hole.
She was very much frightened, for she guessed that something had
happened to her husband; and as she came downstairs very fast
she caught her foot in her dress, and fell from the top to the bottom
and broke her neck.
When the people outside found that the door was not opened to
them, they took crowbars and forced the portal. Nobody was to be
seen, but on leaving the hall they found the body of the Giantess at
the foot of the stairs.
Thus Jack took possession of the castle. The Fairy went and
brought his mother to him, with the hen and the harp. He had the
Giantess buried, and endeavoured as much as lay in his power to do
right to those whom the Giant had robbed.
Before her departure for fairyland, the Fairy explained to Jack
that she had sent the butcher to meet him with the beans, in order
to try what sort of lad he was.
If you had looked at the gigantic Beanstalk and only stupidly
wondered about it,' she said, `I should have left you where
misfortune had placed you, only restoring her cow to your mother.
But you showed an inquiring mind, and great courage and enterprise,
therefore you deserve to rise; and when you mounted the Beanstalk
you climbed the Ladder of Fortune.'
She then took her leave of Jack and his mother.
THE LITTLE GOOD MOUSE
ONCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen who loved each
other so much that they were never happy unless they were
together. Day after day they went out hunting or fishing; night
after night they went to balls or to the opera; they sang, and danced,
and ate sugar-plums, and were the gayest of the gay, and all their
subjects followed their example so that the kingdom was called the
Joyous Land. Now in the next kingdom everything was as different
as it could possibly be. The King was sulky and savage, and never
enjoyed himself at all. He looked so ugly and cross that all his
subjects feared him, and he hated the very sight of a cheerful face;
so if he ever caught anyone smiling he had his head cut off that
very minute. This kingdom was very appropriately called the Land
of Tears. Now when this wicked King heard of the happiness of
the Jolly King, he was so jealous that he collected a great army
and set out to fight him, and the news of his approach was soon
brought to the King and Queen. The Queen, when she heard of it,
was frightened out of her wits, and began to cry bitterly. `Sire,'
she said, `let us collect all our riches and run away as far as ever
we can, to the other side of the world.'
But the King answered:
`Fie, madam! I am far too brave for that. It is better to die
than to be a coward.'
Then he assembled all his armed men, and after bidding the
Queen a tender farewell, he mounted his splendid horse and rode
away. When he was lost to sight the Queen could do nothing but
weep, and wring her hands, and cry.
`Alas! If the King is killed, what will become of me and of my
little daughter?' and she was so sorrowful that she could neither eat
The King sent her a letter every day, but at last, one morning,
as she looked out of the palace window, she saw a messenger
approaching in hot haste.
`What news, courier? What news?' cried the Queen, and he
`The battle is lost and the King is dead, and in another moment
the enemy will be here.'
The poor Queen fell back insensible, and all her ladies carried
her to bed, and stood round her weeping and wailing. Then began
a tremendous noise and confusion, and they knew that the enemy
had arrived, and very soon they heard the King himself stamping
about the palace seeking the Queen. Then her ladies put the little
Princess into her arms, and covered her up, head and all, in the
bedclothes, and ran for their lives, and the poor Queen lay there
shaking, and hoping she would not be found. But very soon the
wicked King clattered into the room, and in a fury because the
Queen would not answer when he called to her, he tore back her
silken coverings and tweaked off her lace cap, and when all her
lovely hair came tumbling down over her shoulders, he wound it
three times round his hand and threw her over his shoulder, where
he carried her like a sack of flour.
The poor Queen held her little daughter safe in her arms and
shrieked for mercy, but the wicked King only mocked her, and
begged her to go on shrieking, as it amused him, and so mounted
his great black horse, and rode back to his own country. When he
got there he declared that he would have the Queen and the little
Princess hanged on the nearest tree; but his courtiers said that
seemed a pity, for when the baby grew up she would be a very nice
wife for the King's only son.
The King was rather pleased with this idea, and shut the Queen
up in the highest room of a tall tower, which was very tiny, and
miserably furnished with a table and a very hard bed upon the floor.
Then he sent for a fairy who lived near his kingdom, and after
receiving her with more politeness than he generally showed, and
entertaining her at a sumptuous feast, he took her up to see the
Queen. The fairy was so touched by the sight of her misery that
when she kissed her hand she whispered:
`Courage, madam! I think I see a way to help you.'
The Queen, a little comforted by these words, received her
graciously, and begged her to take pity upon the poor little Princess, who
had met with such a sudden reverse of fortune. But the King got
very cross when he saw them whispering together, and cried harshly:
`Make an end of these fine speeches, madam. I brought you
here to tell me if the child will grow up pretty and fortunate.'
Then the Fairy answered that the Princess would be as pretty,
and clever, and well brought up as it was possible to be, and the
old King growled to the Queen that it was lucky for her that it was
so, as they would certainly have been hanged if it were otherwise.
Then he stamped off, taking the Fairy with him, and leaving the
poor Queen in tears.
`How can I wish my little daughter to grow up pretty if she is
to be married to that horrid little dwarf, the King's son,' she said
to herself, `and yet, if she is ugly we shall both be killed. If I could
only hide her away somewhere, so that the cruel King could never
As the days went on, the Queen and the little Princess grew
thinner and thinner, for their hard-hearted gaoler gave them every
day only three boiled peas and a tiny morsel of black bread, so
they were always terribly hungry. At last, one evening, as the
Queen sat at her spinning-wheel--for the King was so avaricious
that she was made to work day and night--she saw a tiny, pretty
little mouse creep out of a hole, and said to it:
`Alas, little creature! what are you coming to look for here?
I only have three peas for my day's provision, so unless you wish
to fast you must go elsewhere.'
But the mouse ran hither and thither, and danced and capered
so prettily, that at last the Queen gave it her last pea, which she
was keeping for her supper, saying: `Here, little one, eat it up; I
have nothing better to offer you, but I give this willingly in return
for the amusement I have had from you.'
She had hardly spoken when she saw upon the table a delicious
little roast partridge, and two dishes of preserved fruit. `Truly,' said
she, `a kind action never goes unrewarded; `and she and the little
Princess ate their supper with great satisfaction, and then the
Queen gave what was left to the little mouse, who danced better
than ever afterwards. The next morning came the gaoler with
the Queen's allowance of three peas, which he brought in upon a
large dish to make them look smaller; but as soon as he set it
down the little mouse came and ate up all three, so that when the
Queen wanted her dinner there was nothing left for her. Then
she was quite provoked, and said:
`What a bad little beast that mouse must be! If it goes on like
this I shall be starved.' But when she glanced at the dish again
it was covered with all sorts of nice things to eat, and the Queen
made a very good dinner, and was gayer than usual over it. But
afterwards as she sat at her spinning-wheel she began to consider
what would happen if the little Princess did not grow up pretty
enough to please the King, and she said to herself:
`Oh! if I could only think of some way of escaping.'
As she spoke she saw the little mouse playing in a corner with
some long straws. The Queen took them and began to plait them,
`If only I had straws enough I would make a basket with them,
and let my baby down in it from the window to any kind passer-
by who would take care of her.'
By the time the straws were all plaited the little mouse had
dragged in more and more, until the Queen had plenty to make
her basket, and she worked at it day and night, while the little
mouse danced for her amusement; and at dinner and supper time
the Queen gave it the three peas and the bit of black bread, and
always found something good in the dish in their place. She
really could not imagine where all the nice things came from.
At last one day when the basket was finished, the Queen was looking
out of the window to see how long a cord she must make to
lower it to the bottom of the tower, when she noticed a little old
woman who was leaning upon her stick and looking up at her.
Presently she said:
`I know your trouble, madam. If you like I will help you.'
`Oh! my dear friend,' said the Queen. `If you really wish to
be of use to me you will come at the time that I will appoint, and
I will let down my poor little baby in a basket. If you will take
her, and bring her up for me, when I am rich I will reward you
`I don't care about the reward,' said the old woman, `but there
is one thing I should like. You must know that I am very
particular about what I eat, and if there is one thing that I fancy
above all others, it is a plump, tender little mouse. If there is
such a thing in your garret just throw it down to me, and in
return I will promise that your little daughter shall be well taken
The Queen when she heard this began to cry, but made no
answer, and the old woman after waiting a few minutes asked her
what was the matter.
`Why,' said the Queen, `there is only one mouse in this garret,
and that is such a dear, pretty little thing that I cannot bear to
think of its being killed.'
`What!' cried the old woman, in a rage. `Do you care more
for a miserable mouse than for your own baby? Good-bye, madam!
I leave you to enjoy its company, and for my own part I thank my
stars that I can get plenty of mice without troubling you to give
them to me.'
And she hobbled off grumbling and growling. As to the Queen,
she was so disappointed that, in spite of finding a better dinner
than usual, and seeing the little mouse dancing in its merriest
mood, she could do nothing but cry. That night when her baby
was fast asleep she packed it into the basket, and wrote on a slip
of paper, `This unhappy little girl is called Delicia!' This she
pinned to its robe, and then very sadly she was shutting the basket,
when in sprang the little mouse and sat on the baby's pillow.
`Ah! little one,' said the Queen, `it cost me dear to save your
life. How shall I know now whether my Delicia is being taken care
of or no? Anyone else would have let the greedy old woman have
you, and eat you up, but I could not bear to do it.' Whereupon
the Mouse answered:
`Believe me, madam, you will never repent of your kindness.'
The Queen was immensely astonished when the Mouse began
to speak, and still more so when she saw its little sharp nose turn
to a beautiful face, and its paws to hands and feet; then it suddenly
grew tall, and the Queen recognised the Fairy who had come with
the wicked King to visit her.
The Fairy smiled at her astonished look, and said:
`I wanted to see if you were faithful and capable of feeling a
real friendship for me, for you see we fairies are rich in everything
but friends, and those are hard to find.'
`It is not possible that YOU should want for friends, you charming
creature,' said the Queen, kissing her.
`Indeed it is so,' the Fairy said. `For those who are only
friendly with me for their own advantage, I do not count at all.
But when you cared for the poor little mouse you could not have
known there was anything to be gained by it, and to try you further
I took the form of the old woman whom you talked to from the
window, and then I was convinced that you really loved me.' Then,
turning to the little Princess, she kissed her rosy lips three times,
`Dear little one, I promise that you shall be richer than your
father, and shall live a hundred years, always pretty and happy,
without fear of old age and wrinkles.'
The Queen, quite delighted, thanked the Fairy gratefully, and
begged her to take charge of the little Delicia and bring her up as
her own daughter. This she agreed to do, and then they shut the
basket and lowered it carefully, baby and all, to the ground at the
foot of the tower. The Fairy then changed herself back into the
form of a mouse, and this delayed her a few seconds, after which
she ran nimbly down the straw rope, but only to find when she got
to the bottom that the baby had disappeared.
In the greatest terror she ran up again to the Queen, crying:
`All is lost! my enemy Cancaline has stolen the Princess away.
You must know that she is a cruel fairy who hates me, and as
she is older than I am and has more power, I can do nothing against
her. I know no way of rescuing Delicia from her clutches.'
When the Queen heard this terrible news she was heart-broken,
and begged the Fairy to do all she could to get the poor little Princess
back again. At this moment in came the gaoler, and when he
missed the little Princess he at once told the King, who came in a
great fury asking what the Queen had done with her. She answered
that a fairy, whose name she did not know, had come and carried
her off by force. Upon this the King stamped upon the ground, and
cried in a terrible voice:
`You shall be hung! I always told you you should.' And without
another word he dragged the unlucky Queen out into the nearest
wood, and climbed up into a tree to look for a branch to which he
could hang her. But when he was quite high up, the Fairy, who
had made herself invisible and followed them, gave him a sudden
push, which made him lose his footing and fall to the ground with
a crash and break four of his teeth, and while he was trying to
mend them the fairy carried the Queen off in her flying chariot to a
beautiful castle, where she was so kind to her that but for the loss of
Delicia the Queen would have been perfectly happy. But though
the good little mouse did her very utmost, they could not find out
where Cancaline had hidden the little Princess.
Thus fifteen years went by, and the Queen had somewhat
recovered from her grief, when the news reached her that the son of
the wicked King wished to marry the little maiden who kept the
turkeys, and that she had refused him; the wedding-dresses had been
made, nevertheless, and the festivities were to be so splendid that
all the people for leagues round were flocking in to be present at
them. The Queen felt quite curious about a little turkey-maiden
who did not wish to be a Queen, so the little mouse conveyed herself
to the poultry-yard to find out what she was like.
She found the turkey-maiden sitting upon a big stone, barefooted,
and miserably dressed in an old, coarse linen gown and cap; the
ground at her feet was all strewn with robes of gold and silver,
ribbons and laces, diamonds and pearls, over which the turkeys were
stalking to and fro, while the King's ugly, disagreeable son stood
opposite her, declaring angrily that if she would not marry him she
should be killed.
The Turkey-maiden answered proudly:
`I never will marry you I you are too ugly and too much like
your cruel father. Leave me in peace with my turkeys, which I like
far better than all your fine gifts.'
The little mouse watched her with the greatest admiration, for
she was as beautiful as the spring; and as soon as the wicked Prince
was gone, she took the form of an old peasant woman and said to
`Good day, my pretty one! you have a fine flock of turkeys
The young Turkey-maiden turned her gentle eyes upon the old
woman, and answered:
`Yet they wish me to leave them to become a miserable Queen!
what is your advice upon the matter?'
`My child,' said the Fairy, `a crown is a very pretty thing, but
you know neither the price nor the weight of it.'
`I know so well that I have refused to wear one,' said the little
maiden, `though I don't know who was my father, or who was my
mother, and I have not a friend in the world.'
`You have goodness and beauty, which are of more value than
ten kingdoms,' said the wise Fairy. `But tell me, child, how came
you here, and how is it you have neither father, nor mother, nor
`A Fairy called Cancaline is the cause of my being here,' answered
she, `for while I lived with her I got nothing but blows and harsh
words, until at last I could bear it no longer, and ran away from
her without knowing where I was going, and as I came through a
wood the wicked Prince met me, and offered to give me charge of
the poultry-yard. I accepted gladly, not knowing that I should
have to see him day by day. And now he wants to marry me, but
that I will never consent to.'
Upon hearing this the Fairy became convinced that the little
Turkey-maiden was none other than the Princess Delicia.
`What is your name, my little one?' said she.
`I am called Delicia, if it please you,' she answered.
Then the Fairy threw her arms round the Princess's neck, and
nearly smothered her with kisses, saying:
`Ah, Delicia! I am a very old friend of yours, and I am truly
glad to find you at last; but you might look nicer than you do in
that old gown, which is only fit for a kitchen-maid. Take this pretty
dress and let us see the difference it will make.'
So Delicia took off the ugly cap, and shook out all her fair shining
hair, and bathed her hands and face in clear water from the nearest
spring till her cheeks were like roses, and when she was adorned
with the diamonds and the splendid robe the Fairy had given her,
she looked the most beautiful Princess in the world, and the Fairy
with great delight cried:
`Now you look as you ought to look, Delicia: what do you
think about it yourself?'
And Delicia answered:
`I feel as if I were the daughter of some great king.'
`And would you be glad if you were?' said the Fairy.
`Indeed I should,' answered she.
`Ah, well,' said the Fairy, `to-morrow I may have some pleasant
news for you.'
So she hurried back to her castle, where the Queen sat busy with
her embroidery, and cried:
`Well, madam! will you wager your thimble and your golden
needle that I am bringing you the best news you could possibly hear?'
`Alas!' sighed the Queen, `since the death of the Jolly King
and the loss of my Delicia, all the news in the world is not worth a
pin to me.
`There, there, don't be melancholy,' said the Fairy. `I assure
you the Princess is quite well, and I have never seen her equal for
beauty. She might be a Queen to-morrow if she chose; `and then
she told all that had happened, and the Queen first rejoiced over the
thought of Delicia's beauty, and then wept at the idea of her being
`I will not hear of her being made to marry the wicked King's
son,' she said. `Let us go at once and bring her here.'
In the meantime the wicked Prince, who was very angry with
Delicia, had sat himself down under a tree, and cried and howled
with rage and spite until the King heard him, and cried out from
`What is the matter with you, that you are making all this
The Prince replied:
`It is all because our Turkey-maiden will not love me!'
`Won't love you? eh!' said the King. `We'll very soon see
about that!' So he called his guards and told them to go and
fetch Delicia. `See if I don't make her change her mind pretty
soon!' said the wicked King with a chuckle.
Then the guards began to search the poultry-yard, and could
find nobody there but Delicia, who, with her splendid dress and
her crown of diamonds, looked such a lovely Princess that they
hardly dared to speak to her. But she said to them very politely:
`Pray tell me what you are looking for here?'
`Madam,' they answered, `we are sent for an insignificant little
person called Delicia.'
`Alas!' said she, `that is my name. What can you want with me?'
So the guards tied her hands and feet with thick ropes, for fear
she might run away, and brought her to the King, who was waiting
with his son.
When he saw her he was very much astonished at her beauty,
which would have made anyone less hard-hearted sorry for her.
But the wicked King only laughed and mocked at her, and
cried: `Well, little fright, little toad! why don't you love my
son, who is far too handsome and too good for you? Make haste
and begin to love him this instant, or you shall be tarred and
Then the poor little Princess, shaking with terror, went down
on her knees, crying:
`Oh, don't tar and feather me, please! It would be so
uncomfortable. Let me have two or three days to make up my mind,
and then you shall do as you like with me.'
The wicked Prince would have liked very much to see her
tarred and feathered, but the King ordered that she should be shut
up in a dark dungeon. It was just at this moment that the Queen
and the Fairy arrived in the flying chariot, and the Queen was
dreadfully distressed at the turn affairs had taken, and said
miserably that she was destined to be unfortunate all her days.
But the Fairy bade her take courage.
`I'll pay them out yet,' said she, nodding her head with an air
of great determination.
That very same night, as soon as the wicked King had gone to
bed, the Fairy changed herself into the little mouse, and creeping
up on to his pillow nibbled his ear, so that he squealed out quite
loudly and turned over on his other side; but that was no good, for
the little mouse only set to work and gnawed away at the second
ear until it hurt more than the first one.
Then the King cried `Murder!' and `Thieves!' and all his
guards ran to see what was the matter, but they could find nothing
and nobody, for the little mouse had run off to the Prince's room
and was serving him in exactly the same way. All night long she
ran from one to the other, until at last, driven quite frantic by
terror and want of sleep, the King rushed out of the palace crying:
`Help! help! I am pursued by rats.'
The Prince when he heard this got up also, and ran after the
King, and they had not gone far when they both fell into the river
and were never heard of again.
Then the good Fairy ran to tell the Queen, and they went
together to the black dungeon where Delicia was imprisoned. The
Fairy touched each door with her wand, and it sprang open
instantly, but they had to go through forty before they came to the
Princess, who was sitting on the floor looking very dejected. But
when the Queen rushed in, and kissed her twenty times in a
minute, and laughed, and cried, and told Delicia all her history,
the Princess was wild with delight. Then the Fairy showed her all
the wonderful dresses and jewels she had brought for her, and said:
`Don't let us waste time; we must go and harangue the people.'
So she walked first, looking very serious and dignified, and
wearing a dress the train of which was at least ten ells long.
Behind her came the Queen wearing a blue velvet robe embroidered
with gold, and a diamond crown that was brighter than the sun
itself. Last of all walked Delicia, who was so beautiful that it was
nothing short of marvellous.
They proceeded through the streets, returning the salutations of
all they met, great or small, and all the people turned and followed
them, wondering who these noble ladies could be.
When the audience hall was quite full, the Fairy said to the
subjects of the Wicked King that if they would accept Delicia, who
was the daughter of the Jolly King, as their Queen, she would
undertake to find a suitable husband for her, and would promise
that during their reign there should be nothing but rejoicing and
merry-making, and all dismal things should be entirely banished.
Upon this the people cried with one accord, `We will, we will! we
have been gloomy and miserable too long already.' And they all
took hands and danced round the Queen, and Delicia, and the good
Fairy, singing: `Yes, yes; we will, we will!'
Then there were feasts and fireworks in every street in the
town, and early the next morning the Fairy, who had been all over
the world in the night, brought back with her, in her flying chariot,
the most handsome and good-tempered Prince she could find
anywhere. He was so charming that Delicia loved him from the
moment their eyes met, and as for him, of course he could not help
thinking himself the luckiest Prince in the world. The Queen felt
that she had really come to the end of her misfortunes at last, and
they all lived happily ever after.
 La bonne vetite Souris' par Madame d'Aulnoy.
GRACIOSA AND PERCINET
ONCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had one
charming daughter. She was so graceful and pretty and
clever that she was called Graciosa, and the Queen was so fond of
her that she could think of nothing else.
Everyday she gave the Princess a lovely new frock of gold brocade,
or satin, or velvet, and when she was hungry she had bowls full of
sugar-plums, and at least twenty pots of jam. Everybody said she
was the happiest Princess in the world. Now there lived at this
same court a very rich old duchess whose name was Grumbly.
She was more frightful than tongue can tell; her hair was red as
fire, and she had but one eye, and that not a pretty one! Her face
was as broad as a full moon, and her mouth was so large that
everybody who met her would have been afraid they were going to be
eaten up, only she had no teeth. As she was as cross as she was
ugly, she could not bear to hear everyone saying how pretty and
how charming Graciosa was; so she presently went away from the
court to her own castle, which was not far off. But if anybody who
went to see her happened to mention the charming Princess, she
would cry angrily:
`It's not true that she is lovely. I have more beauty in my little
finger than she has in her whole body.'
Soon after this, to the great grief of the Princess, the Queen was
taken ill and died, and the King became so melancholy that for a
whole year he shut himself up in his palace. At last his physicians,
fearing that he would fall ill, ordered that he should go out and
amuse himself; so a hunting party was arranged, but as it was very
hot weather the King soon got tired, and said he would dismount
and rest at a castle which they were passing.
This happened to be the Duchess Grumbly's castle, and when
she heard that the King was coming she went out to meet him, and
said that the cellar was the coolest place in the whole castle if he
would condescend to come down into it. So down they went
together, and the King seeing about two hundred great casks ranged
side by side, asked if it was only for herself that she had this
immense store of wine.
`Yes, sire,' answered she, `it is for myself alone, but I shall be
most happy to let you taste some of it. Which do you like, canary,
St. Julien, champagne, hermitage sack, raisin, or cider?'
`Well,' said the King, `since you are so kind as to ask me, I
prefer champagne to anything else.'
Then Duchess Grumbly took up a little hammer and tapped
upon the cask twice, and out came at least a thousand crowns.
`What's the meaning of this?' said she smiling.
Then she tapped the next cask, and out came a bushel of gold pieces.
`I don't understand this at all,' said the Duchess, smiling more
Then she went on to the third cask, tap, tap, and out came such
a stream of diamonds and pearls that the ground was covered with them.
`Ah!' she cried, `this is altogether beyond my comprehension,
sire. Someone must have stolen my good wine and put all this
rubbish in its place.'
`Rubbish, do you call it, Madam Grumbly?' cried the King.
`Rubbish! why there is enough there to buy ten kingdoms.'
`Well,' said she, `you must know that all those casks are full
of gold and jewels, and if you like to marry me it shall all be
Now the King loved money more than anything else in the world,
so he cried joyfully:
`Marry you? why with all my heart! to-morrow if you like.'
`But I make one condition,' said the Duchess; `I must have
entire control of your daughter to do as I please with her.'
`Oh certainly, you shall have your own way; let us shake hands
upon the bargain,' said the King.
So they shook hands and went up out of the cellar of treasure together,
and the Duchess locked the door and gave the key to the King.
When he got back to his own palace Graciosa ran out to meet
him, and asked if he had had good sport.
`I have caught a dove,' answered he.
`Oh! do give it to me,' said the Princess, `and I will keep it and
take care of it.'
`I can hardly do that,' said he, `for, to speak more plainly, I
mean that I met the Duchess Grumbly, and have promised to
`And you call her a dove?' cried the Princess. `_I_ should have
called her a screech owl.'
`Hold your tongue,' said the King, very crossly. `I intend you
to behave prettily to her. So now go and make yourself fit to be
seen, as I am going to take you to visit her.'
So the Princess went very sorrowfully to her own room, and her
nurse, seeing her tears, asked what was vexing her.
`Alas! who would not be vexed?' answered she, `for the King
intends to marry again, and has chosen for his new bride my
enemy, the hideous Duchess Grumbly.'
`Oh, well!' answered the nurse, `you must remember that you
are a Princess, and are expected to set a good example in making
the best of whatever happens. You must promise me not to let the
Duchess see how much you dislike her.'
At first the Princess would not promise, but the nurse showed
her so many good reasons for it that in the end she agreed to be
amiable to her step-mother.
Then the nurse dressed her in a robe of pale green and gold
brocade, and combed out her long fair hair till it floated round her
like a golden mantle, and put on her head a crown of roses and
jasmine with emerald leaves.
When she was ready nobody could have been prettier, but she
still could not help looking sad.
Meanwhile the Duchess Grumbly was also occupied in attiring
herself. She had one of her shoe heels made an inch or so higher
than the other, that she might not limp so much, and put in a
cunningly made glass eye in the place of the one she had lost. She
dyed her red hair black, and painted her face. Then she put on a
gorgeous robe of lilac satin lined with blue, and a yellow petticoat
trimmed with violet ribbons, and because she had heard that queens
always rode into their new dominions, she ordered a horse to be
made ready for her to ride.
While Graciosa was waiting until the King should be ready to
set out, she went down all alone through the garden into a little
wood, where she sat down upon a mossy bank and began to think.
And her thoughts were so doleful that very soon she began to cry,
and she cried, and cried, and forgot all about going back to the
palace, until she suddenly saw a handsome page standing before
her. He was dressed in green, and the cap which he held in his
hand was adorned with white plumes. When Graciosa looked at
him he went down on one knee, and said to her:
`Princess, the King awaits you.'
The Princess was surprised, and, if the truth must be told, very
much delighted at the appearance of this charming page, whom she
could not remember to have seen before. Thinking he might belong
to the household of the Duchess, she said:
`How long have you been one of the King's pages?'
`I am not in the service of the King, madam,' answered he, `but
`In mine?' said the Princess with great surprise. `Then how
is it that I have never seen you before?'
`Ah, Princess!' said he, `I have never before dared to present
myself to you, but now the King's marriage threatens you with so
many dangers that I have resolved to tell you at once how much I
love you already, and I trust that in time I may win your regard. I
am Prince Percinet, of whose riches you may have heard, and whose
fairy gift will, I hope, be of use to you in all your difficulties, if you
will permit me to accompany you under this disguise.'
`Ah, Percinet!' cried the Princess, `is it really you? I have
so often heard of you and wished to see you. If you will indeed be
my friend, I shall not be afraid of that wicked old Duchess any
So they went back to the palace together, and there Graciosa
found a beautiful horse which Percinet had brought for her to ride.
As it was very spirited he led it by the bridle, and this arrangement
enabled him to turn and look at the Princess often, which he did not
fail to do. Indeed, she was so pretty that it was a real pleasure to
look at her. When the horse which the Duchess was to ride appeared
beside Graciosa's, it looked no better than an old cart horse, and as
to their trappings, there was simply no comparison between them,
as the Princess's saddle and bridle were one glittering mass of
diamonds. The King had so many other things to think of that
he did not notice this, but all his courtiers were entirely taken up
with admiring the Princess and her charming Page in green, who
was more handsome and distinguished-looking than all the rest of
the court put together.
When they met the Duchess Grumbly she was seated in an
open carriage trying in vain to look dignified. The King and the
Princess saluted her, and her horse was brought forward for her to
mount. But when she saw Graciosa's she cried angrily:
`If that child is to have a better horse than mine, I will go back
to my own castle this very minute. What is the good of being a
Queen if one is to be slighted like this?'
Upon this the King commanded Graciosa to dismount and to beg
the Duchess to honour her by mounting her horse. The Princess
obeyed in silence, and the Duchess, without looking at her or thanking
her, scrambled up upon the beautiful horse, where she sat looking
like a bundle of clothes, and eight officers had to hold her up for fear
she should fall off.
Even then she was not satisfied, and was still grumbling and
muttering, so they asked her what was the matter.
`I wish that Page in green to come and lead the horse, as he did
when Graciosa rode it,' said she very sharply.
And the King ordered the Page to come and lead the Queen's
horse. Percinet and the Princess looked at one another, but said
never a word, and then he did as the King commanded, and the
procession started in great pomp. The Duchess was greatly elated,
and as she sat there in state would not have wished to change places
even with Graciosa. But at the moment when it was least expected
the beautiful horse began to plunge and rear and kick, and
finally to run away at such a pace that it was impossible to stop
At first the Duchess clung to the saddle, but she was very soon
thrown off and fell in a heap among the stones and thorns, and there
they found her, shaken to a jelly, and collected what was left of her
as if she had been a broken glass. Her bonnet was here and her
shoes there, her face was scratched, and her fine clothes were covered
with mud. Never was a bride seen in such a dismal plight. They
carried her back to the palace and put her to bed, but as soon as
she recovered enough to be able to speak, she began to scold and
rage, and declared that the whole affair was Graciosa's fault, that
she had contrived it on purpose to try and get rid of her, and that
if the King would not have her punished, she would go back to her
castle and enjoy her riches by herself.
At this the King was terribly frightened, for he did not at all
want to lose all those barrels of gold and jewels. So he hastened
to appease the Duchess, and told her she might punish Graciosa in
any way she pleased.
Thereupon she sent for Graciosa, who turned pale and trembled
at the summons, for she guessed that it promised nothing agreeable
for her. She looked all about for Percinet, but he was nowhere to
be seen; so she had no choice but to go to the Duchess Grumbly's
room. She had hardly got inside the door when she was seized by
four waiting women, who looked so tall and strong and cruel that
the Princess shuddered at the sight of them, and still more when she
saw them arming themselves with great bundles of rods, and heard
the Duchess call out to them from her bed to beat the Princess
without mercy. Poor Graciosa wished miserably that Percinet
could only know what was happening and come to rescue her. But
no sooner did they begin to beat her than she found, to her great
relief, that the rods had changed to bundles of peacock's feathers,
and though the Duchess's women went on till they were so tired
that they could no longer raise their arms from their sides, yet she
was not hurt in the least. However, the Duchess thought she must
be black and blue after such a beating; so Graciosa, when she was
released, pretended to feel very bad, and went away into her own
room, where she told her nurse all that had happened, and then the
nurse left her, and when the Princess turned round there stood
Percinet beside her. She thanked him gratefully for helping her so
cleverly, and they laughed and were very merry over the way they
had taken in the Duchess and her waiting-maids; but Percinet
advised her still to pretend to be ill for a few days, and after
promising to come to her aid whenever she needed him, he disappeared
as suddenly as he had come.
The Duchess was so delighted at the idea that Graciosa was
really ill, that she herself recovered twice as fast as she would have
done otherwise, and the wedding was held with great magnificence.
Now as the King knew that, above all other things, the Queen loved
to be told that she was beautiful, he ordered that her portrait should
be painted, and that a tournament should be held, at which all the
bravest knights of his court should maintain against all comers that
Grumbly was the most beautiful princess in the world.
Numbers of knights came from far and wide to accept the
challenge, and the hideous Queen sat in great state in a balcony
hung with cloth of gold to watch the contests, and Graciosa had to
stand up behind her, where her loveliness was so conspicuous that
the combatants could not keep their eyes off her. But the Queen
was so vain that she thought all their admiring glances were for
herself, especially as, in spite of the badness of their cause, the King's
knights were so brave that they were the victors in every combat.
However, when nearly all the strangers had been defeated, a
young unknown knight presented himself. He carried a portrait,
enclosed in a bow encrusted with diamonds, and he declared himself
willing to maintain against them all that the Queen was the
ugliest creature in the world, and that the Princess whose portrait
he carried was the most beautiful.
So one by one the knights came out against him, and one by
one he vanquished them all, and then he opened the box, and said
that, to console them, he would show them the portrait of his Queen
of Beauty, and when he did so everyone recognised the Princess
Graciosa. The unknown knight then saluted her gracefully and
retired, without telling his name to anybody. But Graciosa had no
difficulty in guessing that it was Percinet.
As to the Queen, she was so furiously angry that she could
hardly speak; but she soon recovered her voice, and overwhelmed
Graciosa with a torrent of reproaches.
`What!' she said, `do you dare to dispute with me for the prize
of beauty, and expect me to endure this insult to my knights? But
I will not bear it, proud Princess. I will have my revenge.'
`I assure you, Madam,' said the Princess, `that I had nothing to
do with it and am quite willing that you shall be declared Queen
`Ah! you are pleased to jest, popinjay!' said the Queen, `but
it will be my turn soon!'
The King was speedily told what had happened, and how the
Princess was in terror of the angry Queen, but he only said:
`The Queen must do as she pleases. Graciosa belongs to her!'
The wicked Queen waited impatiently until night fell, and then
she ordered her carriage to be brought. Graciosa, much against
her will, was forced into it, and away they drove, and never stopped
until they reached a great forest, a hundred leagues from the
palace. This forest was so gloomy, and so full of lions, tigers, bears
and wolves, that nobody dared pass through it even by daylight,
and here they set down the unhappy Princess in the middle of the
black night, and left her in spite of all her tears and entreaties. The
Princess stood quite still at first from sheer bewilderment, but when
the last sound of the retreating carriages died away in the distance
she began to run aimlessly hither and thither, sometimes knocking
herself against a tree, sometimes tripping over a stone, fearing
every minute that she would be eaten up by the lions. Presently
she was too tired to advance another step, so she threw herself
down upon the ground and cried miserably:
`Oh, Percinet! where are you? Have you forgotten me altogether?'
She had hardly spoken when all the forest was lighted up with
a sudden glow. Every tree seemed to be sending out a soft
radiance, which was clearer than moonlight and softer than
daylight, and at the end of a long avenue of trees opposite to her the
Princess saw a palace of clear crystal which blazed like the sun.
At that moment a slight sound behind her made her start round,
and there stood Percinet himself.
`Did I frighten you, my Princess?' said he. `I come to bid you
welcome to our fairy palace, in the name of the Queen, my mother,
who is prepared to love you as much as I do.' The Princess
joyfully mounted with him into a little sledge, drawn by two stags,
which bounded off and drew them swiftly to the wonderful palace,
where the Queen received her with the greatest kindness, and a
splendid banquet was served at once. Graciosa was so happy to
have found Percinet, and to have escaped from the gloomy forest
and all its terrors, that she was very hungry and very merry, and
they were a gay party. After supper they went into another lovely
room, where the crystal walls were covered with pictures, and the
Princess saw with great surprise that her own history was repre-
sented, even down to the moment when Percinet found her in the
`Your painters must indeed be diligent,' she said, pointing out
the last picture to the Prince.
`They are obliged to be, for I will not have anything forgotten
that happens to you,' he answered.
When the Princess grew sleepy, twenty-four charming maidens
put her to bed in the prettiest room she had ever seen, and then
sang to her so sweetly that Graciosa's dreams were all of mermaids,
and cool sea waves, and caverns, in which she wandered with
Percinet; but when she woke up again her first thought was that,
delightful as this fairy palace seemed to her, yet she could not stay
in it, but must go back to her father. When she had been dressed
by the four-and-twenty maidens in a charming robe which the
Queen had sent for her, and in which she looked prettier than ever,
Prince Percinet came to see her, and was bitterly disappointed when
she told him what she had been thinking. He begged her to
consider again how unhappy the wicked Queen would make her, and
how, if she would but marry him, all the fairy palace would be
hers, and his one thought would be to please her. But, in spite of
everything he could say, the Princess was quite determined to go
back, though he at last persuaded her to stay eight days, which were
so full of pleasure and amusement that they passed like a few
hours. On the last day, Graciosa, who had often felt anxious to
know what was going on in her father's palace, said to Percinet
that she was sure that he could find out for her, if he would, what
reason the Queen had given her father for her sudden disappearance.
Percinet at first offered to send his courier to find out, but
the Princess said:
`Oh! isn't there a quicker way of knowing than that?'
`Very well,' said Percinet, `you shall see for yourself.'
So up they went together to the top of a very high tower, which,
like the rest of the castle, was built entirely of rock-crystal.
There the Prince held Graciosa's hand in his, and made her put
the tip of her little finger into her mouth, and look towards the town,
and immediately she saw the wicked Queen go to the King, and
heard her say to him, `That miserable Princess is dead, and no
great loss either. I have ordered that she shall be buried at once.'
And then the Princess saw how she dressed up a log of wood
and had it buried, and how the old King cried, and all the people
murmured that the Queen had killed Graciosa with her cruelties,
and that she ought to have her head cut off. When the Princess
saw that the King was so sorry for her pretended death that he
could neither eat nor drink, she cried:
`Ah, Percinet! take me back quickly if you love me.'
And so, though he did not want to at all, he was obliged to
promise that he would let her go.
`You may not regret me, Princess,' he said sadly, `for I fear
that you do not love me well enough; but I foresee that you will
more than once regret that you left this fairy palace where we
have been so happy.'
But, in spite of all he could say, she bade farewell to the Queen,
his mother, and prepared to set out; so Percinet, very unwillingly,
brought the little sledge with the stags and she mounted beside him.
But they had hardly gone twenty yards when a tremendous noise
behind her made Graciosa look back, and she saw the palace of crystal
fly into a million splinters, like the spray of a fountain, and vanish.
`Oh, Percinet!' she cried, `what has happened? The palace is
`Yes,' he answered, `my palace is a thing of the past; you will
see it again, but not until after you have been buried.'
`Now you are angry with me,' said Graciosa in her most coaxing
voice, `though after all I am more to be pitied than you are.'
When they got near the palace the Prince made the sledge and
themselves invisible, so the Princess got in unobserved, and ran up
to the great hall where the King was sitting all by himself. At
first he was very much startled by Graciosa's sudden appearance,
but she told him how the Queen had left her out in the forest, and
how she had caused a log of wood to be buried. The King, who
did not know what to think, sent quickly and had it dug up, and
sure enough it was as the Princess had said. Then he caressed
Graciosa, and made her sit down to supper with him, and they were
as happy as possible. But someone had by this time told the wicked
Queen that Graciosa had come back, and was at supper with the
King, and in she flew in a terrible fury. The poor old King quite
trembled before her, and when she declared that Graciosa was not
the Princess at all, but a wicked impostor, and that if the King did
not give her up at once she would go back to her own castle and
never see him again, he had not a word to say, and really seemed
to believe that it was not Graciosa after all. So the Queen in great
triumph sent for her waiting women, who dragged the unhappy
Princess away and shut her up in a garret; they took away all her
jewels and her pretty dress, and gave her a rough cotton frock, wooden
shoes, and a little cloth cap. There was some straw in a corner,
which was all she had for a bed, and they gave her a very little bit
of black bread to eat. In this miserable plight Graciosa did indeed
regret the fairy palace, and she would have called Percinet to her
aid, only she felt sure he was still vexed with her for leaving him,
and thought that she could not expect him to come.
Meanwhile the Queen had sent for an old Fairy, as malicious as
herself, and said to her:
`You must find me some task for this fine Princess which she
cannot possibly do, for I mean to punish her, and if she does not do
what I order, she will not be able to say that I am unjust.' So the
old Fairy said she would think it over, and come again the next
day. When she returned she brought with her a skein of thread,
three times as big as herself; it was so fine that a breath of air would
break it, and so tangled that it was impossible to see the beginning
or the end of it.
The Queen sent for Graciosa, and said to her:
`Do you see this skein? Set your clumsy fingers to work upon
it, for I must have it disentangled by sunset, and if you break a
single thread it will be the worse for you.' So saying she left her,
locking the door behind her with three keys.
The Princess stood dismayed at the sight of the terrible skein.
If she did but turn it over to see where to begin, she broke a
thousand threads, and not one could she disentangle. At last she
threw it into the middle of the floor, crying:
`Oh, Percinet! this fatal skein will be the death of me if you
will not forgive me and help me once more.'
And immediately in came Percinet as easily as if he had all the
keys in his own possession.
`Here I am, Princess, as much as ever at your service,' said he,
`though really you are not very kind to me.'
Then he just stroked the skein with his wand, and all the broken
threads joined themselves together, and the whole skein wound
itself smoothly off in the most surprising manner, and the Prince,
turning to Graciosa, asked if there was nothing else that she wished
him to do for her, and if the time would never come when she would
wish for him for his own sake.
`Don't be vexed with me, Percinet,' she said. `I am unhappy
enough without that.'
`But why should you be unhappy, my Princess?' cried he. `Only
come with me and we shall be as happy as the day is long together.'
`But suppose you get tired of me?' said Graciosa.
The Prince was so grieved at this want of confidence that he left
her without another word.
The wicked Queen was in such a hurry to punish Graciosa that
she thought the sun would never set; and indeed it was before the
appointed time that she came with her four Fairies, and as she fitted
the three keys into the locks she said:
`I'll venture to say that the idle minx has not done anything at
all--she prefers to sit with her hands before her to keep them
But, as soon as she entered, Graciosa presented her with the
ball of thread in perfect order, so that she had no fault to find, and
could only pretend to discover that it was soiled, for which
imaginary fault she gave Graciosa a blow on each cheek, that made
her white and pink skin turn green and yellow. And then she
sent her back to be locked into the garret once more.
Then the Queen sent for the Fairy again and scolded her
furiously. `Don't make such a mistake again; find me something
that it will be quite impossible for her to do,' she said.
So the next day the Fairy appeared with a huge barrel full of the
feathers of all sorts of birds. There were nightingales, canaries,
goldfinches, linnets, tomtits, parrots, owls, sparrows, doves,
ostriches, bustards, peacocks, larks, partridges, and everything else
that you can think of. These feathers were all mixed up in such
confusion that the birds themselves could not have chosen out their
own. `Here,' said the Fairy, `is a little task which it will take all
your prisoner's skill and patience to accomplish. Tell her to pick
out and lay in a separate heap the feathers of each bird. She
would need to be a fairy to do it.'
The Queen was more than delighted at the thought of the
despair this task would cause the Princess. She sent for her, and
with the same threats as before locked her up with the three keys,
ordering that all the feathers should be sorted by sunset. Graciosa
set to work at once, but before she had taken out a dozen feathers
she found that it was perfectly impossible to know one from another.
`Ah! well,' she sighed, `the Queen wishes to kill me, and if I
must die I must. I cannot ask Percinet to help me again, for if
he really loved me he would not wait till I called him, he would
come without that.'
`I am here, my Graciosa,' cried Percinet, springing out of the
barrel where he had been hiding. `How can you still doubt that I
love you with all my heart?'
Then he gave three strokes of his wand upon the barrel, and all
the feathers flew out in a cloud and settled down in neat little
separate heaps all round the room.
`What should I do without you, Percinet?' said Graciosa
gratefully. But still she could not quite make up her mind to go
with him and leave her father's kingdom for ever; so she begged
him to give her more time to think of it, and he had to go away
disappointed once more.
When the wicked Queen came at sunset she was amazed and
infuriated to find the task done. However, she complained that
the heaps of feathers were badly arranged, and for that the
Princess was beaten and sent back to her garret. Then the
Queen sent for the Fairy once more, and scolded her until she was
fairly terrified, and promised to go home and think of another task
for Graciosa, worse than either of the others.
At the end of three days she came again, bringing with her a
`Tell your slave,' said he, `to carry this wherever you please,
but on no account to open it. She will not be able to help doing
so, and then you will be quite satisfied with the result.' So the
Queen came to Graciosa, and said:
`Carry this box to my castle, and place it upon the table in my
own room. But I forbid you on pain of death to look at what it
Graciosa set out, wearing her little cap and wooden shoes and
the old cotton frock, but even in this disguise she was so beautiful
that all the passers-by wondered who she could be. She had not
gone far before the heat of the sun and the weight of the box
tired her so much that she sat down to rest in the shade of a little
wood which lay on one side of a green meadow. She was carefully
holding the box upon her lap when she suddenly felt the greatest
desire to open it,
`What could possibly happen if I did?' she said to herself.
`I should not take anything out. I should only just see what was
And without farther hesitation she lifted the cover.
Instantly out came swarms of little men and women, no taller
than her finger, and scattered themselves all over the meadow,
singing and dancing, and playing the merriest games, so that at
first Graciosa was delighted and watched them with much amusement.
But presently, when she was rested and wished to go on
her way, she found that, do what she would, she could not get them
back into their box. If she chased them in the meadow they fled
into the wood, and if she pursued them into the wood they dodged
round trees and behind sprigs of moss, and with peals of elfin
laughter scampered back again into the meadow.
At last, weary and terrified, she sat down and cried.
`It is my own fault,' she said sadly. `Percinet, if you can still
care for such an imprudent Princess, do come and help me once more.'
Immediately Percinet stood before her.
`Ah, Princess!' he said, `but for the wicked Queen I fear you
would never think of me at all.'
`Indeed I should,' said Graciosa; `I am not so ungrateful as
you think. Only wait a little and I believe I shall love you quite
Percinet was pleased at this, and with one stroke of his wand
compelled all the wilful little people to come back to their places
in the box, and then rendering the Princess invisible he took her
with him in his chariot to the castle.
When the Princess presented herself at the door, and said that
the Queen had ordered her to place the box in her own room, the
governor laughed heartily at the idea.
`No, no, my little shepherdess,' said he, `that is not the place
for you. No wooden shoes have ever been over that floor yet.'
Then Graciosa begged him to give her a written message telling
the Queen that he had refused to admit her. This he did, and she
went back to Percinet, who was waiting for her, and they set out
together for the palace. You may imagine that they did not go
the shortest way, but the Princess did not find it too long, and
before they parted she had promised that if the Queen was still
cruel to her, and tried again to play her any spiteful trick, she
would leave her and come to Percinet for ever.
When the Queen saw her returning she fell upon the Fairy,
whom she had kept with her, and pulled her hair, and scratched
her face, and would really have killed her if a Fairy could be
killed. And when the Princess presented the letter and the box
she threw them both upon the fire without opening them, and
looked very much as if she would like to throw the Princess after
them. However, what she really did do was to have a great hole
as deep as a well dug in her garden, and the top of it covered with
a flat stone. Then she went and walked near it, and said to
Graciosa and all her ladies who were with her:
`I am told that a great treasure lies under that stone; let us see
if we can lift it.'
So they all began to push and pull at it, and Graciosa among
the others, which was just what the Queen wanted; for as soon as
the stone was lifted high enough, she gave the Princess a push
which sent her down to the bottom of the well, and then the stone
was let fall again, and there she was a prisoner. Graciosa felt
that now indeed she was hopelessly lost, surely not even Percinet
could find her in the heart of the earth.
`This is like being buried alive,' she said with a shudder. `Oh,
Percinet! if you only knew how I am suffering for my want of
trust in you! But how could I be sure that you would not be like
other men and tire of me from the moment you were sure I loved
As she spoke she suddenly saw a little door open, and the
sunshine blazed into the dismal well. Graciosa did not hesitate an
instant, but passed through into a charming garden. Flowers and
fruit grew on every side, fountains plashed, and birds sang in the
branches overhead, and when she reached a great avenue of trees
and looked up to see where it would lead her, she found herself
close to the palace of crystal. Yes! there was no mistaking it,
and the Queen and Percinet were coming to meet her.
`Ah, Princess!' said the Queen, `don't keep this poor Percinet
in suspense any longer. You little guess the anxiety he has
suffered while you were in the power of that miserable Queen.'
The Princess kissed her gratefully, and promised to do as she
wished in everything, and holding out her hand to Percinet, with a
smile, she said:
`Do you remember telling me that I should not see your palace
again until I had been buried? I wonder if you guessed then
that, when that happened, I should tell you that I love you with all
my heart, and will marry you whenever you like?'
Prince Percinet joyfully took the hand that was given him, and,
for fear the Princess should change her mind, the wedding was
held at once with the greatest splendour, and Graciosa and Percinet
lived happily ever after.
 Gracieuse et Percinet. Mdme. d'Aulnoy.
THE THREE PRINCESSES OF WHITELAND
THERE was once upon a time a fisherman, who lived hard by a
palace and fished for the King's table. One day he was out
fishing, but caught nothing at all. Let him do what he might with
rod and line, there was never even so much as a sprat on his hook;
but when the day was well nigh over, a head rose up out of the
water, and said: `If you will give me what your wife shows you
when you go home, you shall catch fish enough.'
So the man said `Yes' in a moment, and then he caught fish in
plenty; but when he got home at night, and his wife showed him a
baby which had just been born, and fell a-weeping and wailing
when he told her of the promise which he had given, he was very
All this was soon told to the King up at the palace, and when he
heard what sorrow the woman was in, and the reason of it, he said
that he himself would take the child and see if he could not save it.
The baby was a boy, and the King took him at once and brought
him up as his own son until the lad grew up. Then one day he
begged to have leave to go out with his father to fish; he had a
strong desire to do this, he said. The King was very unwilling to
permit it, but at last the lad got leave. He stayed with his father,
and all went prosperously and well with them the whole day, until
they came back to land in the evening. Then the lad found that
he had lost his pocket-handkerchief, and would go out in the boat
after it; but no sooner had he got into the boat than it began to
move off with him so quickly that the water foamed all round about,
and all that the lad did to keep the boat back with the oars was done
to no purpose, for it went on and on the whole night through, and
at last he came to a white strand that lay far, far away. There he
landed, and when he had walked on for some distance he met an
old man with a long white beard.
`What is the name of this country?' said the youth.
`Whiteland,' answered the man, and then he begged the youth
to tell him whence he came and what he was going to do, and the
youth did so.
`Well, then,' said the man, `if you walk on farther along the
seashore here, you will come to three princesses who are standing in
the earth so that their heads alone are out of it. Then the first of
them will call you--she is the eldest--and will beg you very prettily
to come to her and help her, and the second will do the same, but you
must not go near either of them. Hurry past, as if you neither
saw nor heard them; but you shall go to the third and do what
she bids you; it will bring you good fortune.'
When the youth came to the first princess, she called to him
and begged him to come to her very prettily, but he walked on as
if he did not even see her, and he passed by the second in the same
way, but he went up to the third.
`If thou wilt do what I tell thee, thou shalt choose among us
three,' said the Princess.
So the lad said that he was most willing, and she told him that
three Trolls had planted them all three there in the earth, but that
formerly they had dwelt in the castle which he could see at some
distance in the wood.
`Now,' she said, `thou shalt go into the castle, and let the Trolls
beat thee one night for each of us, and if thou canst but endure
that, thou wilt set us free.'
`Yes,' answered the lad, `I will certainly try to do so.'
`When thou goest in,' continued the Princess, `two lions will
stand by the doorway, but if thou only goest straight between them
they will do thee no harm; go straight forward into a small dark
chamber; there thou shalt lie down. Then the Troll will come and
beat thee, but thou shalt take the flask which is hanging on the
wall, and anoint thyself wheresoever he has wounded thee, after
which thou shalt be as well as before. Then lay hold of the sword
which is hanging by the side of the flask, and smite the Troll dead.'
So he did what the Princess had told him. He walked straight
in between the lions just as if he did not see them, and then into the
small chamber, and lay down on the bed.
The first night a Troll came with three heads and three rods,
and beat the lad most unmercifully; but he held out until the Troll
was done with him, and then he took the flask and rubbed himself.
Having done this, he grasped the sword and smote the Troll
In the morning when he went to the sea-shore the Princesses
were out of the earth as far as their waists.
The next night everything happened in the same way, but the
Troll who came then had six heads and six rods, and he beat him
much more severely than the first had done but when the lad
went out of doors next morning, the Princesses were out of the
earth as far as their knees.
On the third night a Troll came who had nine heads and nine
rods, and he struck the lad and flogged him so long, that at last he
swooned away; so the Troll took him up and flung him against the
wall, and this made the flask of ointment fall down, and it splashed
all over him, and he became as strong as ever again.
Then, without loss of time, he grasped the sword and struck the
Troll dead, and in the morning when he went out of the castle the
Princesses were standing there entirely out of the earth. So he
took the youngest for his Queen, and lived with her very happily
for a long time.
At last, however, he took a fancy to go home for a short time to
see his parents. His Queen did not like this, but when his longing
grew so great that he told her he must and would go, she said to
`One thing shalt thou promise me, and that is, to do what thy
father bids thee, but not what thy mother bids thee,' and this he
So she gave him a ring, which enabled him who wore it to obtain
He wished himself at home, and instantly found himself there;
but his parents were so amazed at the splendour of his apparel
that their wonder never ceased.
When he had been at home for some days his mother wanted
him to go up to the palace, to show the King what a great man he
The father said, `No; he must not do that, for if he does we shall
have no more delight in him this time; `but he spoke in vain, for
the mother begged and prayed until at last he went.
When he arrived there he was more splendid, both in raiment
and in all else, than the other King, who did not like it, and said:
`Well, you can see what kind of Queen mine is, but I can't see
yours. I do not believe you have such a pretty Queen as I have.'
`Would to heaven she were standing here, and then you would
be able to see!' said the young King, and in an instant she was
But she was very sorrowful, and said to him, `Why didst thou
not remember my words, and listen only to what thy father said?
Now must I go home again at once, and thou hast wasted both thy
Then she tied a ring in his hair, which had her name upon it, and
wished herself at home again.
And now the young King was deeply afflicted, and day out and
day in went about thinking of naught else but how to get back
again to his Queen. `I will try to see if there is any place where
I can learn how to find Whiteland,' he thought, and journeyed forth
out into the world.
When he had gone some distance he came to a mountain,
where he met a man who was Lord over all the beasts in the forest
--for they all came to him when he blew a horn which he had.
So the King asked where Whiteland was.
`I do not know that,' he answered, `but I will ask my beasts.'
Then he blew his horn and inquired whether any of them knew
where Whiteland lay, but there was not one who knew that.
So the man gave him a pair of snow shoes. `When you have
these on,' he said, `you will come to my brother, who lives hundreds
of miles from here; he is Lord over all the birds in the air--ask him.
When you have got there, just turn the shoes so that the toes
point this way, and then they will come home again of their own
When the King arrived there he turned the shoes as the Lord
of the beasts had bidden him, and they went back.
And now he once more asked after Whiteland, and the man
summoned all the birds together, and inquired if any of them knew
where Whiteland lay. No, none knew this. Long after the others
there came an old eagle. He had been absent ten whole years, but
he too knew no more than the rest.
`Well, well,' said the man, `then you shall have the loan of a
pair of snow shoes of mine. If you wear them you will get to my
brother, who lives hundreds of miles from here. He is Lord of
all the fish in the sea--you can ask him. But do not forget to turn
the shoes round.'
The King thanked him, put on the shoes, and when he had got
to him who was Lord of all the fish in the sea, he turned the snow
shoes round, and back they went just as the others had gone, and
he asked once more where Whiteland was.
The man called the fish together with his horn, but none of
them knew anything about it. At last came an old, old pike, which
he had great difficulty in bringing home to him.
When he asked the pike, it said, `Yes, Whiteland is well known
to me, for I have been cook there these ten years. To-morrow
morning I have to go back there, for now the Queen, whose King is
staying away, is to marry some one else.'
`If that be the case I will give you a piece of advice,' said the
man. `Not far from here on a moor stand three brothers, who have
stood there a hundred years fighting for a hat, a cloak, and a pair
of boots; if any one has these three things he can make himself
invisible, and if he desires to go to any place, he has but to wish and
he is there. You may tell them that you have a desire to try these
things, and then you will be able to decide which of the men is to
So the King thanked him and went, and did what he had said.
`What is this that you are standing fighting about for ever
and ever?' said he to the brothers; `let me make a trial of these
things, and then I will judge between you.'
They willingly consented to this, but when he had got the hat,
the cloak, and the boots, he said, `Next time we meet you shall have
my decision,' and hereupon he wished himself away.
While he was going quickly through the air he fell in with the
`And where may you be going?' said the North Wind.
`To Whiteland,' said the King, and then he related what had
happened to him.
`Well,' said the North Wind, `you can easily go a little quicker
than I can, for I have to puff and blow into every corner; but when
you get there, place yourself on the stairs by the side of the door,
and then I will come blustering in as if I wanted to blow down the
whole castle, and when the Prince who is to have your Queen
comes out to see what is astir, just take him by the throat and fling
him out, and then I will try to carry him away from court.'
As the North Wind had said, so did the King. He stood on the
stairs, and when the North Wind came howling and roaring, and
caught the roof and walls of the castle till they shook again, the
Prince went out to see what was the matter; but as soon as he came
the King took him by the neck and flung him out, and then the
North Wind laid hold of him and carried him off. And when he
was rid of him the King went into the castle. At first the Queen
did not know him, because he had grown so thin and pale from
having travelled so long and so sorrowfully; but when she saw her
ring she was heartily glad, and then the rightful wedding was held,
and held in such a way that it was talked about far and wide.
 From J. Moe.
THE VOICE OF DEATH
ONCE upon a time there lived a man whose one wish and prayer
was to get rich. Day and night he thought of nothing else,
and at last his prayers were granted, and he became very wealthy.
Now being so rich, and having so much to lose, he felt that it would
be a terrible thing to die and leave all his possessions behind; so he
made up his mind to set out in search of a land where there was no
death. He got ready for his journey, took leave of his wife, and
started. Whenever he came to a new country the first question
that he asked was whether people died in that land, and when he
heard that they did, he set out again on his quest. At last he
reached a country where he was told that the people did not even
know the meaning of the word death. Our traveller was delighted
when he heard this, and said:
`But surely there are great numbers of people in your land, if
no one ever dies?'
`No,' they replied, `there are not great numbers, for you see
from time to time a voice is heard calling first one and then another,
and whoever hears that voice gets up and goes away, and never
`And do they see the person who calls them,' he asked, `or do
they only hear his voice?'
`They both see and hear him,' was the answer.
Well, the man was amazed when he heard that the people were
stupid enough to follow the voice, though they knew that if they
went when it called them they would never return. And he went
back to his own home and got all his possessions together, and,
taking his wife and family, he set out resolved to go and live in that
country where the people did not die, but where instead they heard
a voice calling them, which they followed into a land from which
they never returned. For he had made up his own mind that when
he or any of his family heard that voice they would pay no heed to
it, however loudly it called.
After he had settled down in his new home, and had got everything
in order about him, he warned his wife and family that, unless
they wanted to die, they must on no account listen to a voice which
they might some day hear calling them.
For some years everything went well with them, and they lived
happily in their new home. But one day, while they were all sit-
ting together round the table, his wife suddenly started up,
exclaiming in a loud voice:
`I am coming! I am coming!'
And she began to look round the room for her fur coat, but her
husband jumped up, and taking firm hold of her by the hand, held
her fast, and reproached her, saying:
`Don't you remember what I told you? Stay where you are
unless you wish to die.'
`But don't you hear that voice calling me?' she answered. `I
am merely going to see why I am wanted. I shall come back
So she fought and struggled to get away from her husband, and
to go where the voice summoned. But he would not let her go,
and had all the doors of the house shut and bolted. When she saw
that he had done this, she said:
`Very well, dear husband, I shall do what you wish, and remain
where I am.'
So her husband believed that it was all right, and that she had
thought better of it, and had got over her mad impulse to obey the
voice. But a few minutes later she made a sudden dash for one of
the doors, opened it and darted out, followed by her husband. He
caught her by the fur coat, and begged and implored her not to go,
for if she did she would certainly never return. She said nothing,
but let her arms fall backwards, and suddenly bending herself
forward, she slipped out of the coat, leaving it in her husband's hands.
He, poor man, seemed turned to stone as he gazed after her hurrying
away from him, and calling at the top of her voice, as she
`I am coming! I am coming!'
When she was quite out of sight her husband recovered his wits
and went back into his house, murmuring:
`If she is so foolish as to wish to die, I can't help it. I warned
and implored her to pay no heed to that voice, however loudly it
Well, days and weeks and months and years passed, and
nothing happened to disturb the peace of the household. But one
day the man was at the barber's as usual, being shaved. The shop
was full of people, and his chin had just been covered with a lather
of soap, when, suddenly starting up from the chair, he called out in
a loud voice:
`I won't come, do you hear? I won't come!'
The barber and the other people in the shop listened to him
with amazement. But again looking towards the door, he exclaimed:
`I tell you, once and for all, I do not mean to come, so go
And a few minutes later he called out again:
`Go away, I tell you, or it will be the worse for you. You may
call as much as you like but you will never get me to come.'
And he got so angry that you might have thought that some
one was actually standing at the door, tormenting him. At last
he jumped up, and caught the razor out of the barber's hand,
`Give me that razor, and I'll teach him to let people alone for
And he rushed out of the house as if he were running after some
one, whom no one else saw. The barber, determined not to lose
his razor, pursued the man, and they both continued running at full
speed till they had got well out of the town, when all of a sudden
the man fell head foremost down a precipice, and never was seen
again. So he too, like the others, had been forced against his will
to follow the voice that called him.
The barber, who went home whistling and congratulating
himself on the escape he had made, described what had happened, and
it was noised abroad in the country that the people who had gone
away, and had never returned, had all fallen into that pit; for till
then they had never known what had happened to those who had
heard the voice and obeyed its call.
But when crowds of people went out from the town to examine
the ill-fated pit that had swallowed up such numbers, and yet never
seemed to be full, they could discover nothing. All that they could
see was a vast plain, that looked as if it had been there since the
beginning of the world. And from that time the people of the
country began to die like ordinary mortals all the world over.
 Roumanian Tales from the German of Mite Thremnitz.
THE SIX SILLIES
ONCE upon a time there was a young girl who reached the age of
thirty-seven without ever having had a lover, for she was so
foolish that no one wanted to marry her.
One day, however, a young man arrived to pay his addresses to
her, and her mother, beaming with joy, sent her daughter down to
the cellar to draw a jug of beer.
As the girl never came back the mother went down to see what
had become of her, and found her sitting on the stairs, her head in
her hands, while by her side the beer was running all over the floor,
as she had forgotten to close the tap. `What are you doing there?'
asked the mother.
`I was thinking what I shall call my first child after I am
married to that young man. All the names in the calendar are
The mother sat down on the staircase beside her daughter and
said, `I will think about it with you, my dear.'
The father who had stayed upstairs with the young man was
surprised that neither his wife nor his daughter came back, and in
his turn went down to look for them. He found them both sitting
on the stairs, while beside them the beer was running all over the
ground from the tap, which was wide open.
`What are you doing there? The beer is running all over the
`We were thinking what we should call the children that our
daughter will have when she marries that young man. All the
names in the calendar are taken already.'
`Well,' said the father, `I will think about it with you.'
As neither mother nor daughter nor father came upstairs again,
the lover grew impatient, and went down into the cellar to see
what they could all be doing. He found them all three sitting on
the stairs, while beside them the beer was running all over the
ground from the tap, which was wide open.
`What in the world are you all doing that you don't come
upstairs, and that you let the beer run all over the cellar?'
`Yes, I know, my boy,' said the father, `but if you marry our
daughter what shall you call your children? All the names in the
calendar are taken.'
When the young man heard this answer he replied:
`Well! good-bye, I am going away. When I shall have found
three people sillier than you I will come back and marry your
So he continued his journey, and after walking a long way he
reached an orchard. Then he saw some people knocking down
walnuts, and trying to throw them into a cart with a fork.
`What are you doing there?' he asked.
`We want to load the cart with our walnuts, but we can't
manage to do it.'
The lover advised them to get a basket and to put the walnuts
in it, so as to turn them into the cart.
`Well,' he said to himself, `I have already found someone more
foolish than those three.'
So he went on his way, and by-and-by he came to a wood.
There he saw a man who wanted to give his pig some acorns to
eat, and was trying with all his might to make him climb up the
`What are you doing, my good man?' asked he.
`I want to make my pig eat some acorns, and I can't get him
to go up the tree.'
`If you were to climb up and shake down the acorns the pig
would pick them up.'
`Oh, I never thought of that.'
`Here is the second idiot,' said the lover to himself.
Some way farther along the road he came upon a man who
had never worn any trousers, and who was trying to put on a pair.
So he had fastened them to a tree and was jumping with all his
might up in the air so that he should hit the two legs of the trousers
as he came down.
`It would be much better if you held them in your hands,' said
the young man, `and then put your legs one after the other in each
`Dear me to be sure! You are sharper than I am, for that
never occurred to me.'
And having found three people more foolish than his bride, or
her father or her mother, the lover went back to marry the young
And in course of time they had a great many children.
Story from Hainaut.
(M. Lemoine. La Tradition. No, 34,)
THERE was once upon a time a King who had become a widower.
His Queen had left one daughter behind her, and she was so
wise and so pretty that it was impossible for any one to be wiser or
prettier. For a long time the King went sorrowing for his wife, for
he had loved her exceedingly; but at last he grew tired of living
alone, and married a Queen who was a widow, and she also had
a daughter, who was just as ill-favoured and wicked as the other
was good and beautiful. The stepmother and her daughter were
envious of the King's daughter because she was so pretty, but so
long as the King was at home they dared do her no harm, because
his love for her was so great.
Then there came a time when he made war on another King and
went away to fight, and then the new Queen thought that she could
do what she liked; so she both hungered and beat the King's daughter
and chased her about into every corner. At last she thought that
everything was too good for her, and set her to work to look after
the cattle. So she went about with the cattle, and herded them in
the woods and in the fields. Of food she got little or none, and
grew pale and thin, and was nearly always weeping and sad. Among
the herd there was a great blue bull, which always kept itself very
smart and sleek, and often came to the King's daughter and let her
stroke him. So one day, when she was again sitting crying and
sorrowing, the Bull came up to her and asked why she was always
so full of care? She made no answer, but continued to weep.
`Well,' said the Bull, `I know what it is, though you will not tell
me; you are weeping because the Queen is unkind to you, and because
she wants to starve you to death. But you need be under no concern
about food, for in my left ear there lies a cloth, and if you will but
take it and spread it out, you can have as many dishes as you like.'
So she did this, and took the cloth and spread it out upon the
grass, and then it was covered with the daintiest dishes that any one
could desire, and there was wine, and mead, and cake. And now
she became brisk and well again, and grew so rosy, and plump, and
fair that the Queen and her scraggy daughter turned blue and white
with vexation at it. The Queen could not imagine how her step-
daughter could look so well on such bad food, so she ordered one of
her handmaidens to follow her into the wood and watch her, and
see how it was, for she thought that some of the servants must be
giving her food. So the maid followed her into the wood and
watched, and saw how the step-daughter took the cloth out of the
Blue Bull's ear, and spread it out, and how the cloth was then covered
with the most delicate dishes, which the step-daughter ate and
regaled herself with. So the waiting-maid went home and told the Queen.
And now the King came home, and he had conquered the other
King with whom he had been at war. So there was great gladness
in the palace, but no one was more glad than the King's daughter.
The Queen, however, pretended to be ill, and gave the doctor much
money to say that she would never be well again unless she had
some of the flesh of the Blue Bull to eat. Both the King's daughter
and the people in the palace asked the doctor if there were no other
means of saving her, and begged for the Bull's life, for they were all
fond of him, and they all declared that there was no such Bull in the
whole country; but it was all in vain, he was to be killed, and should
be killed, and nothing else would serve. When the King's daughter
heard it she was full of sorrow, and went down to the byre to the
Bull. He too was standing there hanging his head, and looking so
downcast that she fell a-weeping over him.
`What are you weeping for?' said the Bull.
So she told him that the King had come home again, and that
the Queen had pretended to be ill, and that she had made the doctor
say that she could never be well again unless some of the flesh of
the Blue Bull was given her to eat, and that now he was to be
`When once they have taken my life they will soon kill you
also,' said the Bull. `If you are of the same mind with me, we will
take our departure this very night.'
The King's daughter thought that it was bad to go and leave
her father, but that it was worse still to be in the same house with
the Queen, so she promised the Bull that she would come.
At night, when all the others had gone to bed, the King's daughter
stole softly down to the byre to the Bull, and he took her on his
back and got out of the courtyard as quickly as he could. So at
cock-crow next morning, when the people came to kill the Bull, he
was gone, and when the King got up and asked for his daughter she
was gone too. He sent forth messengers to all parts of the kingdom
to search for them, and published his loss in all the parish churches,