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The Red Fairy Book

Part 5 out of 8

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but there was no one who had seen anything of them.

In the meantime the Bull travelled through many lands with the
King's daughter on his back, and one day they came to a great
copper-wood, where the trees, and the branches, and the leaves, and
the flowers, and everything else was of copper.

But before they entered the wood the Bull said to the King's

`When we enter into this wood, you must take the greatest care
not to touch a leaf of it, or all will be over both with me and with
you, for a Troll with three heads, who is the owner of the wood,
lives here.'

So she said she would be on her guard, and not touch anything.
And she was very careful, and bent herself out of the way of the
branches, and put them aside with her hands; but it was so thickly
wooded that it was all but impossible to get forward, and do what
she might, she somehow or other tore off a leaf which got into her

`Oh! oh! What have you done now?' said the Bull. `It will
now cost us a battle for life or death; but do be careful to keep the

Very soon afterwards they came to the end of the wood, and the
Troll with three heads came rushing up to them.

`Who is that who is touching my wood?' said the Troll.

`The wood is just as much mine as yours!' said the Bull.

`We shall have a tussle for that!' shrieked the Troll.

`That may be,' said the Bull.

So they rushed on each other and fought, and as for the Bull
he butted and kicked with all the strength of his body, but the
Troll fought quite as well as he did, and the whole day went by
before the Bull put an end to him, and then he himself was so full
of wounds and so worn out that he was scarcely able to move. So
they had to wait a day, and the Bull told the King's daughter to
take the horn of ointment which hung at the Troll's belt, and rub
him with it; then he was himself again, and the next day they set
off once more. And now they journeyed on for many, many days,
and then after a long, long time they came to a silver wood. The
trees, and the boughs, and the leaves, and the flowers, and everything
else was of silver.

Before the Bull went into the wood, he said to the King's
daughter: `When we enter into this wood you must, for Heaven's
sake, be very careful not to touch anything at all, and not to pluck
off even so much as one leaf, or else all will be over both with you
and with me. A Troll with six heads lives here, who is the owner
of the wood, and I do not think I should be able to overcome him.'

`Yes,' said the King's daughter, `I will take good care not to
touch what you do not wish me to touch.'

But when they got into the wood it was so crowded, and the
trees so close together, that they could scarcely get forward. She
was as careful as she could be, and bent aside to get out of the way of
the branches, and thrust them away from before her with her hands;
but every instant a branch struck against her eyes, and in spite of
all her care, she happened to pull off one leaf.

`Oh! oh! What have you done now?' said the Bull. It will
now cost us a battle for life or death, for this Troll has six heads
and is twice as strong as the other, but do be careful to keep the

Just as he said this came the Troll. `Who is that who is
touching my wood?' he said.

`It is just as much mine as yours!'

`We shall have a tussle for that!' screamed the Troll.

`That may be,' said the Bull, and rushed at the Troll, and gored
out his eyes, and drove his horns right through him so that his
entrails gushed out, but the Troll fought just as well as he did, and
it was three whole days before the Bull got the life out of him. But
the Bull was then so weak and worn out that it was only with pain
and effort that he could move, and so covered with wounds that
the blood streamed from him. So he told the King's daughter to
take the horn of ointment that was hanging at the Troll's belt, and
anoint him with it. She did this, and then he came to himself
again, but they had to stay there and rest for a week before the
Bull was able to go any farther.

At last they set forth on their way again, but the Bull was still
weak, and at first could not go quickly. The King's daughter
wished to spare him, and said that she was so young and light of
foot that she would willingly walk, but he would not give her leave
to do that, and she was forced to seat herself on his back again.
So they travelled for a long time, and through many lands, and
the King's daughter did not at all know where he was taking her,
but after a long, long time they came to a gold wood. It was so
golden that the gold dripped off it, and the trees, and the branches,
and the flowers, and the leaves were all of pure gold. Here all
happened just as it had happened in the copper wood and silver
wood. The Bull told the King's daughter that on no account was
she to touch it, for there was a Troll with nine heads who was the
owner, and that he was much larger and stronger than both the
others put together, and that he did not believe that he could
overcome him. So she said that she would take great care not to
touch anything, and he should see that she did. But when they got
into the wood it was still thicker than the silver wood, and the farther
they got into it the worse it grew. The wood became thicker and
thicker, and closer and closer, and at last she thought there was
no way whatsoever by which they could get forward; she was so
terrified lest she should break anything off, that she sat and twisted,
and turned herself on this side and on that, to get out of the way of
the branches, and pushed them away from her with her hands, but
every moment they struck against her eyes, so that she could not
see what she was clutching at, and before she knew what she was
doing she had a golden apple in her hands. She was now in such
terror that she began to cry, and wanted to throw it away, but the
Bull said that she was to keep it, and take the greatest care of it,
and comforted her as well as he could, but he believed that it would
be a hard struggle, and he doubted whether it would go well with him.

Just then the Troll with nine heads came, and he was so frightful
that the King's daughter scarcely dared to look at him

`Who is this who is breaking my wood?' he screamed

`It is as much mine as yours!' said the Bull.

`We shall have a tussle for that!' screamed the Troll.

`That may be,' said the Bull; so they rushed at each other, and
fought, and it was such a dreadful sight that the King's daughter very
nearly swooned. The Bull gored the Troll's eyes out and ran his
horns right through him, but the Troll fought as well as he did, and
when the Bull had gored one head to death the other heads breathed
life into it again, so it was a whole week before the Bull was able
to kill him. But then he himself was so worn out and weak that he
could not move at all. His body was all one wound, and he could
not even so much as tell the King's daughter to take the horn of
ointment out of the Troll's belt and rub him with it. She did this
without being told; so he came to himself again, but he had to lie
there for three weeks and rest before he was in a state to move.

Then they journeyed onwards by degrees, for the Bull said that
they had still a little farther to go, and in this way they crossed
many high hills and thick woods. This lasted for a while, and
then they came upon the fells.

`Do you see anything?' asked the Bull.

`No, I see nothing but the sky above and the wild fell side,'
said the King's daughter.

Then they climbed up higher, and the fell grew more level, so
that they could see farther around them.

`Do you see anything now?' said the Bull.

`Yes, I see a small castle, far, far away,' said the Princess.

`It is not so very little after all,' said the Bull.

After a long, long time they came to a high hill, where there
was a precipitous wall of rock.

`Do you see nothing now?' said the Bull.

`Yes, now I see the castle quite near, and now it is much, much
larger,' said the King's daughter.

`Thither shall you go,' said the Bull; `immediately below the
castle there is a pig-sty, where you shall dwell. When you get
there, you will find a wooden gown which you are to put on, and
then go to the castle and say that you are called Kari Woodengown,
and that you are seeking a place. But now you must take out your
little knife and cut off my head with it, and then you must flay me
and roll up my hide and put it there under the rock, and beneath
the hide you must lay the copper leaf, and the silver leaf, and the
golden apple. Close beside the rock a stick is standing, and when
you want me for anything you have only to knock at the wall of
rock with that.'

At first she would not do it, but when the Bull said that this
was the only reward that he would have for what he had done for
her, she could do no otherwise. So though she thought it very
cruel, she slaved on and cut at the great animal with the knife till
she had cut off his head and hide, and then she folded up the hide
and laid it beneath the mountain wall, and put the copper leaf, and
the silver leaf, and the golden apple inside it.

When she had done that she went away to the pig-sty, but all the way
as she went she wept, and was very sorrowful. Then she put on the wooden
gown, and walked to the King's palace. When she got there she went into the
kitchen and begged for a place, saying that her name was Kari Woodengown.

The cook told her that she might have a place and leave to stay there at
once and wash up, for the girl who had done that before had just gone
away. `And as soon as you get tired of being here you will take yourself
off too,' said he.

`No,' said she, `that I shall certainly not.'

And then she washed up, and did it very tidily.

On Sunday some strangers were coming to the King's palace,
so Kari begged to have leave to carry up the water for the Prince's
bath, but the others laughed at her and said, `What do you want there?
Do you think the Prince will ever look at such a fright as you?'

She would not give it up, however, but went on begging until at
last she got leave. When she was going upstairs her wooden gown
made such a clatter that the Prince came out and said, `What sort
of a creature may you be?'

`I was to take this water to you,' said Kari.

`Do you suppose that I will have any water that you bring?'
said the Prince, and emptied it over her.

She had to bear that, but then she asked permission to go to
church. She got that, for the church was very near. But first she
went to the rock and knocked at it with the stick which was standing
there, as the Bull had told her to do. Instantly a man came
forth and asked what she wanted. The King's daughter said that
she had got leave to go to church and listen to the priest, but that
she had no clothes to go in. So he brought her a gown that was as
bright as the copper wood, and she got a horse and saddle too from
him. When she reached the church she was so pretty and so
splendidly dressed that every one wondered who she could be, and
hardly anyone listened to what the priest was saying, for they
were all looking far too much at her, and the Prince himself liked
her so well that he could not take his eyes off her for an instant.
As she was walking out of church the Prince followed her and
shut the church door after her, and thus he kept one of her
gloves in his hand. Then she went away and mounted her horse
again; the Prince again followed her, and asked her whence she

`Oh! I am from Bathland,' said Kari. And when the Prince
took out the glove and wanted to give it back to her, she said:

`Darkness behind me, but light on my way,
That the Prince may not see where I'm going to-day!'

The Prince had never seen the equal of that glove, and he went
far and wide, asking after the country which the proud lady, who
rode away without her glove, had said that she came from, but
there was no one who could tell him where it lay.

Next Sunday some one had to take up a towel to the Prince.

`Ah! may I have leave to go up with that?' said Kari.

`What would be the use of that?' said the others who were in
the kitchen; `you saw what happened last time.'

Kari would not give in, but went on begging for leave till she
got it, and then she ran up the stairs so that her wooden gown
clattered again. Out came the Prince, and when he saw that it
was Kari, he snatched the towel from her and flung it right in her

`Be off at once, you ugly Troll,' said he; `do you think that I
will have a towel that has been touched by your dirty fingers?'

After that the Prince went to church, and Kari also asked leave
to go. They all asked how she could want to go to church when
she had nothing to wear but that wooden gown, which was so
black and hideous. But Kari said she thought the priest was such
a good man at preaching that she got so much benefit from what
he said, and at last she got leave.

She went to the rock and knocked, whereupon out came the
man and gave her a gown which was much more magnificent than
the first. It was embroidered with silver all over it, and it shone
like the silver wood, and he gave her also a most beautiful horse,
with housings embroidered with silver, and a bridle of silver too.

When the King's daughter got to church all the people were
standing outside upon the hillside, and all of them wondered who
on earth she could be, and the Prince was on the alert in a moment,
and came and wanted to hold her horse while she alighted. But
she jumped off and said that there was no need for that, for the
horse was so well broken in that it stood still when she bade it
and came when she called it. So they all went into the church
together, but there was scarcely any one who listened to what the
priest was saying, for they were all looking far too much at her,
and the Prince fell much more deeply in love with her than he had
been before.

When the sermon was over and she went out of the church, and
was just going to mount her horse, the Prince again came and
asked her where she came from.

`I am from Towelland,' said the King's daughter, and as she
spoke she dropped her riding-whip, and while the Prince was
stooping to pick it up she said:

`Darkness behind me, but light on my way,
That the Prince may not see where I'm going to-day!'

And she was gone again, neither could the Prince see what had
become of her. He went far and wide to inquire for that country
from whence she had said that she came, but there was no one who
could tell him where it lay, so he was forced to have patience once

Next Sunday some one had to go to the Prince with a comb.
Kari begged for leave to go with it, but the others reminded her of
what had happened last time, and scolded her for wanting to let the
Prince see her when she was so black and so ugly in her wooden
gown, but she would not give up asking until they gave her leave
to go up to the Prince with the comb. When she went clattering
up the stairs again, out came the Prince and took the comb and
flung it at her, and ordered her to be off as fast as she could. After
that the Prince went to church, and Kari also begged for leave to
go. Again they all asked what she would do there, she who was so
black and ugly, and had no clothes that she could be seen in by
other people. The Prince or some one else might very easily catch
sight of her, they said, and then both she and they would suffer for
it; but Kari said that they had something else to do than to look
at her, and she never ceased begging until she got leave to go.

And now all happened just as it had happened twice already.
She went away to the rock and knocked at it with the stick, and
then the man came out and gave her a gown which was very much
more magnificent than either of the others. It was almost entirely
made of pure gold and diamonds, and she also got a noble horse
with housings embroidered with gold, and a golden bridle.

When the King's daughter came to the church the priest and people
were all standing on the hillside waiting for her, and the Prince ran
up and wanted to hold the horse, but she jumped off, saying:

`No, thank you, there is no need; my horse is so well broken in
that it will stand still when I bid it.'

So they all hastened into the church together and the priest got
into the pulpit, but no one listened to what he said, for they were
looking far too much at her and wondering whence she came; and
the Prince was far more in love than he had been on either of the
former occasions, and he was mindful of nothing but of looking at her.

When the sermon was over and the King's daughter was about
to leave the church, the Prince had caused a firkin of tar to be
emptied out in the porch in order that he might go to help her over
it; she, however, did not trouble herself in the least about the tar,
but set her foot down in the middle of it and jumped over it, and
thus one of her gold shoes was left sticking in it. When she had
seated herself on the horse the Prince came running out of the
church and asked her whence she came.

`From Combland,' said Kari. But when the Prince wanted to
reach her her gold shoe, she said:

`Darkness behind me, but light on my way,
That the Prince may not see where I'm going to-day!'

The Prince did not know what had become of her, so he travelled
for a long and wearisome time all over the world, asking where
Combland was; but when no one could tell him where that country
was, he caused it to be made known everywhere that he would
marry any woman who could put on the gold shoe. So fair maidens
and ugly maidens came thither from all regions, but there was none
who had a foot so small that she could put on the gold shoe. After
a long, long while came Kari Woodengown's wicked stepmother,
with her daughter too, and the shoe fitted her. But she was so
ugly and looked so loathsome that the Prince was very unwilling
to do what he had promised. Nevertheless all was got ready for
the wedding, and she was decked out as a bride, but as they were
riding to church a little bird sat upon a tree and sang:

`A slice off her heel
And a slice off her toes,
Kari Woodengown's shoe
Fills with blood as she goes!'

And when they looked to it the bird had spoken the truth, for blood
was trickling out of the shoe. So all the waiting-maids, and all the
womenkind in the castle had to come and try on the shoe, but
there was not one whom it would fit.

`But where is Kari Woodengown, then?' asked the Prince,
when all the others had tried on the shoe, for he understood the
song of birds and it came to his mind what the bird had said.

`Oh! that creature!' said the others; `it's not the least use for
her to come here, for she has feet like a horse!'

`That may be,' said the Prince, `but as all the others have tried
it, Kari may try it too.'

`Kari!' he called out through the door, and Kari came upstairs,
and her wooden gown clattered as if a whole regiment of dragoons
were coming up.

`Now, you are to try on the gold shoe and be a Princess,' said
the other servants, and they laughed at her and mocked her. Kari
took up the shoe, put her foot into it as easily as possible, and then
threw off her wooden gown, and there she stood in the golden gown
which flashed like rays of sunshine, and on her other foot she had
the fellow to the gold shoe. The Prince knew her in a moment,
and was so glad that he ran and took her in his arms and kissed
her, and when he heard that she was a King's daughter he was
gladder still, and then they had the wedding.[14]

[14] From P. C. Asbjornsen.


DRAKESTAIL was very little, that is why he was called Drakestail;
but tiny as he was he had brains, and he knew what he
was about, for having begun with nothing he ended by amassing a
hundred crowns. Now the King of the country, who was very
extravagant and never kept any money, having heard that Drakestail
had some, went one day in his own person to borrow his hoard, and,
my word, in those days Drakestail was not a little proud of having
lent money to the King. But after the first and second year, seeing
that they never even dreamed of paying the interest, he became
uneasy, so much so that at last he resolved to go and see His Majesty
himself, and get repaid. So one fine morning Drakestail, very spruce
and fresh, takes the road, singing: `Quack, quack, quack, when shall
I get my money back?'

He had not gone far when he met friend Fox, on his rounds
that way.

`Good-morning, neighbour,' says the friend, `where are you off
to so early?'

`I am going to the King for what he owes me.'

`Oh! take me with thee!'

Drakestail said to himself: `One can't have too many friends.'
. . . `I will,' says he, `but going on all-fours you will soon be tired.
Make yourself quite small, get into my throat--go into my gizzard
and I will carry you.'

`Happy thought!' says friend Fox.

He takes bag and baggage, and, presto! is gone like a letter into
the post.

And Drakestail is off again, all spruce and fresh, still singing:
`Quack, quack, quack, when shall I have my money back?'

He had not gone far when he met his lady-friend Ladder,
leaning on her wall.

`Good morning, my duckling,' says the lady friend, `whither
away so bold?'

`I am going to the King for what he owes me.'

`Oh! take me with thee!'

Drakestail said to himself: `One can't have too many friends.'
. . . `I will,' says he, `but with your wooden legs you will soon be
tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat--go into my
gizzard and I will carry you.'

`Happy thought!' says my friend Ladder, and nimble, bag and
baggage, goes to keep company with friend Fox.

And `Quack, quack, quack.' Drakestail is off again, singing and
spruce as before. A little farther he meets his sweetheart, my friend
River, wandering quietly in the sunshine.

`Thou, my cherub,' says she, `whither so lonesome, with arching
tail, on this muddy road?'

`I am going to the King, you know, for what he owes me.'

`Oh! take me with thee!'

Drakestail said to himself: `We can't be too many friends.' . . . `I
will,' says he, `but you who sleep while you walk will soon be tired.
Make yourself quite small, get into my throat--go into my gizzard
and I will carry you.'

`Ah! happy thought!' says my friend River.

She takes bag and baggage, and glou, glou, glou, she takes her
place between friend Fox and my friend Ladder.

And `Quack, quack, quack.' Drakestail is off again singing.

A little farther on he meets comrade Wasp's-nest, manoeuvring
his wasps.

`Well, good-morning, friend Drakestail,' said comrade Wasp's-
nest, `where are we bound for so spruce and fresh?'

`I am going to the King for what he owes me.'

`Oh! take me with thee!'

Drakestail said to himself, `One can't have too many friends.' . . .
`I will,' says he, `but with your battalion to drag along, you will soon
be tired. Make yourself quite small, go into my throat--get into my
gizzard and I will carry you.'

`By Jove I that's a good idea!' says comrade Wasp's-nest.

And left file! he takes the same road to join the others with all
his party. There was not much more room, but by closing up a bit
they managed. . . . And Drakestail is off again singing.

He arrived thus at the capital, and threaded his way straight up
the High Street, still running and singing `Quack, quack, quack,
when shall I get my money back?' to the great astonishment of the
good folks, till he came to the King's palace.

He strikes with the knocker: `Toc! toc!'

`Who is there?' asks the porter, putting his head out of the

` 'Tis I, Drakestail. I wish to speak to the King.'

`Speak to the King! . . . That's easily said. The King is
dining, and will not be disturbed.'

`Tell him that it is I, and I have come he well knows why.'

The porter shuts his wicket and goes up to say it to the King,
who was just sitting down to dinner with a napkin round his neck,
and all his ministers.

`Good, good!' said the King laughing. `I know what it is!
Make him come in, and put him with the turkeys and chickens.'

The porter descends.

`Have the goodness to enter.'

`Good!' says Drakestail to himself, `I shall now see how they
eat at court.'

`This way, this way,' says the porter. `One step further. . . .
There, there you are.'

`How? what? in the poultry yard?'

Fancy how vexed Drakestail was!

`Ah! so that's it,' says he. `Wait! I will compel you to receive
me. Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?'
But turkeys and chickens are creatures who don't like people that
are not as themselves. When they saw the new-comer and how he
was made, and when they heard him crying too, they began to look
black at him.

`What is it? what does he want?'

Finally they rushed at him all together, to overwhelm him with

`I am lost!' said Drakestail to himself, when by good luck he
remembers his comrade friend Fox, and he cries:

`Reynard, Reynard, come out of your earth,
Or Drakestail's life is of little worth.'

Then friend Fox, who was only waiting for these words, hastens
out, throws himself on the wicked fowls, and quick! quack! he tears
them to pieces; so much so that at the end of five minutes there
was not one left alive. And Drakestail, quite content, began to sing
again, `Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?'

When the King who was still at table heard this refrain, and the
poultry woman came to tell him what had been going on in the yard,
he was terribly annoyed.

He ordered them to throw this tail of a drake into the well, to
make an end of him.

And it was done as he commanded. Drakestail was in despair
of getting himself out of such a deep hole, when he remembered his
lady friend, the Ladder.

`Ladder, Ladder, come out of thy hold,
Or Drakestail's days will soon be told.'

My friend Ladder, who was only waiting for these words, hastens
out, leans her two arms on the edge of the well, then Drakestail
climbs nimbly on her back, and hop! he is in the yard, where he
begins to sing louder than ever.

When the King, who was still at table and laughing at the good
trick he had played his creditor, heard him again reclaiming his
money, he became livid with rage.

He commanded that the furnace should be heated, and this
tail of a drake thrown into it, because he must be a sorcerer.

The furnace was soon hot, but this time Drakestail was not so
afraid; he counted on his sweetheart, my friend River.

`River, River, outward flow,
Or to death Drakestail must go.'

My friend River hastens out, and errouf! throws herself into the
furnace, which she floods, with all the people who had lighted it;
after which she flowed growling into the hall of the palace to the
height of more than four feet.

And Drakestail, quite content, begins to swim, singing deafeningly,
`Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?'

The King was still at table, and thought himself quite sure of his
game; but when he heard Drakestail singing again, and when they
told him all that had passed, he became furious and got up from
table brandishing his fists.

`Bring him here, and I'll cut his throat! bring him here quick!'
cried he.

And quickly two footmen ran to fetch Drakestail.

`At last,' said the poor chap, going up the great stairs, `they
have decided to receive me.'

Imagine his terror when on entering he sees the King as red as
a turkey cock, and all his ministers attending him standing sword
in hand. He thought this time it was all up with him. Happily,
he remembered that there was still one remaining friend, and he
cried with dying accents:

`Wasp's-nest, Wasp's-nest, make a sally,
Or Drakestail nevermore may rally.'

Hereupon the scene changes.

`Bs, bs, bayonet them! `The brave Wasp's-nest rushes out
with all his wasps. They threw themselves on the infuriated King
and his ministers, and stung them so fiercely in the face that they
lost their heads, and not knowing where to hide themselves they all
jumped pell-mell from the window and broke their necks on the

Behold Drakestail much astonished, all alone in the big saloon
and master of the field. He could not get over it.

Nevertheless, he remembered shortly what he had come for to
the palace, and improving the occasion, he set to work to hunt for
his dear money. But in vain he rummaged in all the drawers; he
found nothing; all had been spent.

And ferreting thus from room to room he came at last to the one
with the throne in it, and feeling fatigued, he sat himself down on it
to think over his adventure. In the meanwhile the people had found
their King and his ministers with their feet in the air on the pavement,
and they had gone into the palace to know how it had occurred.
On entering the throne-room, when the crowd saw that there was
already someone on the royal seat, they broke out in cries of surprise
and joy:

`The King is dead, long live the King!
Heaven has sent us down this thing.'

Drakestail, who was no longer surprised at anything, received the
acclamations of the people as if he had never done anything else all
his life.

A few of them certainly murmured that a Drakestail would make
a fine King; those who knew him replied that a knowing Drakestail
was a more worthy King than a spendthrift like him who was lying
on the pavement. In short, they ran and took the crown off the
head of the deceased, and placed it on that of Drakestail, whom it
fitted like wax.

Thus he became King.

`And now,' said he after the ceremony,; ladies and gentlemen,
let's go to supper. I am so hungry!'[15]

[15] Contes of Ch. Marelles.


A VERY long time ago the town of Hamel in Germany was
invaded by bands of rats, the like of which had never been seen
before nor will ever be again.

They were great black creatures that ran boldly in broad
daylight through the streets, and swarmed so, all over the houses, that
people at last could not put their hand or foot down anywhere without
touching one. When dressing in the morning they found them
in their breeches and petticoats, in their pockets and in their boots;
and when they wanted a morsel to eat, the voracious horde had
swept away everything from cellar to garret. The night was even
worse. As soon as the lights were out, these untiring nibblers set
to work. And everywhere, in the ceilings, in the floors, in the
cupboards, at the doors, there was a chase and a rummage, and so furious
a noise of gimlets, pincers, and saws, that a deaf man could not have
rested for one hour together.

Neither cats nor dogs, nor poison nor traps, nor prayers nor
candles burnt to all the saints--nothing would do anything. The
more they killed the more came. And the inhabitants of Hamel
began to go to the dogs (not that THEY were of much use), when one
Friday there arrived in the town a man with a queer face, who
played the bagpipes and sang this refrain:

`Qui vivra verra:
Le voila,
Le preneur des rats.'

He was a great gawky fellow, dry and bronzed, with a crooked
nose, a long rat-tail moustache, two great yellow piercing and
mocking eyes, under a large felt hat set off by a scarlet cock's feather.
He was dressed in a green jacket with a leather belt and red breeches,
and on his feet were sandals fastened by thongs passed round his
legs in the gipsy fashion.

That is how he may be seen to this day, painted on a window of
the cathedral of Hamel.

He stopped on the great market-place before the town hall,
turned his back on the church and went on with his music, singing:

`Who lives shall see:
This is he,
The ratcatcher.'

The town council had just assembled to consider once more this
plague of Egypt, from which no one could save the town.

The stranger sent word to the counsellors that, if they would
make it worth his while, he would rid them of all their rats before
night, down to the very last.

`Then he is a sorcerer!' cried the citizens with one voice; `we
must beware of him.'

The Town Counsellor, who was considered clever, reassured

He said: `Sorcerer or no, if this bagpiper speaks the truth, it
was he who sent us this horrible vermin that he wants to rid us of
to-day for money. Well, we must learn to catch the devil in his
own snares. You leave it to me.'

`Leave it to the Town Counsellor,' said the citizens one to another.

And the stranger was brought before them.

`Before night,' said he, `I shall have despatched all the rats in
Hamel if you will but pay me a gros a head.'

`A gros a head!' cried the citizens, `but that will come to millions
of florins!'

The Town Counsellor simply shrugged his shoulders and said to
the stranger:

`A bargain! To work; the rats will be paid one gros a head as
you ask.'

The bagpiper announced that he would operate that very evening
when the moon rose. He added that the inhabitants should at that
hour leave the streets free, and content themselves with looking out
of their windows at what was passing, and that it would be a pleasant
spectacle. When the people of Hamel heard of the bargain, they
too exclaimed: `A gros a head! but this will cost us a deal of

`Leave it to the Town Counsellor,' said the town council with a
malicious air. And the good people of Hamel repeated with their
counsellors, `Leave it to the Town Counsellor.'

Towards nine at night the bagpiper re-appeared on the market
place. He turned, as at first, his back to the church, and the moment
the moon rose on the horizon, `Trarira, trari!' the bagpipes resounded.

It was first a slow, caressing sound, then more and more lively
and urgent, and so sonorous and piercing that it penetrated as far
as the farthest alleys and retreats of the town.

Soon from the bottom of the cellars, the top of the garrets, from
under all the furniture, from all the nooks and corners of the houses,
out come the rats, search for the door, fling themselves into the
street, and trip, trip, trip, begin to run in file towards the front of
the town hall, so squeezed together that they covered the pavement
like the waves of flooded torrent.

When the square was quite full the bagpiper faced about, and,
still playing briskly, turned towards the river that runs at the foot
of the walls of Hamel.

Arrived there he turned round; the rats were following.

`Hop! hop!' he cried, pointing with his finger to the middle of
the stream, where the water whirled and was drawn down as if
through a funnel. And hop! hop! without hesitating, the rats
took the leap, swam straight to the funnel, plunged in head foremost
and disappeared.

The plunging continued thus without ceasing till midnight.

At last, dragging himself with difficulty, came a big rat, white
with age, and stopped on the bank.

It was the king of the band.

`Are they all there, friend Blanchet?' asked the bagpiper.

`They are all there,' replied friend Blanchet.

`And how many were they?'

`Nine hundred and ninety thousand, nine hundred and ninety-

`Well reckoned?'

`Well reckoned.'

`Then go and join them, old sire, and au revoir.'

Then the old white rat sprang in his turn into the river, swam
to the whirlpool and disappeared.

When the bagpiper had thus concluded his business he went to
bed at his inn. And for the first time during three months the
people of Hamel slept quietly through the night.

The next morning, at nine o'clock, the bagpiper repaired to the
town hall, where the town council awaited him.

`All your rats took a jump into the river yesterday,' said he to
the counsellors, `and I guarantee that not one of them comes back.
They were nine hundred and ninety thousand, nine hundred and
ninety-nine, at one gros a head. Reckon!'

`Let us reckon the heads first. One gros a head is one head the
gros. Where are the heads?'

The ratcatcher did not expect this treacherous stroke. He
paled with anger and his eyes flashed fire.

`The heads!' cried he, `if you care about them, go and find
them in the river.'

`So,' replied the Town Counsellor, `you refuse to hold to the terms
of your agreement? We ourselves could refuse you all payment.
But you have been of use to us, and we will not let you go without
a recompense,' and he offered him fifty crowns.

`Keep your recompense for yourself,' replied the ratcatcher
proudly. `If you do not pay me I will be paid by your heirs.'

Thereupon he pulled his hat down over his eyes, went hastily
out of the hall, and left the town without speaking to a soul.

When the Hamel people heard how the affair had ended they
rubbed their hands, and with no more scruple than their Town
Counsellor, they laughed over the ratcatcher, who, they said, was
caught in his own trap. But what made them laugh above all
was his threat of getting himself paid by their heirs. Ha! they
wished that they only had such creditors for the rest of their lives.

Next day, which was a Sunday, they all went gaily to church,
thinking that after Mass they would at last be able to eat some good
thing that the rats had not tasted before them.

They never suspected the terrible surprise that awaited them on
their return home. No children anywhere, they had all disappeared!

`Our children! where are our poor children?' was the cry that
was soon heard in all the streets.

Then through the east door of the town came three little boys,
who cried and wept, and this is what they told:

While the parents were at church a wonderful music had
resounded. Soon all the little boys and all the little girls that had
been left at home had gone out, attracted by the magic sounds, and
had rushed to the great market-place. There they found the
ratcatcher playing his bagpipes at the same spot as the evening before.
Then the stranger had begun to walk quickly, and they had followed,
running, singing and dancing to the sound of the music, as far as
the foot of the mountain which one sees on entering Hamel. At
their approach the mountain had opened a little, and the bagpiper
had gone in with them, after which it had closed again. Only the
three little ones who told the adventure had remained outside, as
if by a miracle. One was bandy-legged and could not run fast
enough; the other, who had left the house in haste, one foot shod
the other bare, had hurt himself against a big stone and could not
walk without difficulty; the third had arrived in time, but in
harrying to go in with the others had struck so violently against the
wall of the mountain that he fell backwards at the moment it
closed upon his comrades.

At this story the parents redoubled their lamentations. They
ran with pikes and mattocks to the mountain, and searched till
evening to find the opening by which their children had disappeared,
without being able to find it. At last, the night falling, they
returned desolate to Hamel.

But the most unhappy of all was the Town Counsellor, for he
lost three little boys and two pretty little girls, and to crown all, the
people of Hamel overwhelmed him with reproaches, forgetting that
the evening before they had all agreed with him.

What had become of all these unfortunate children?

The parents always hoped they were not dead, and that the rat-
catcher, who certainly must have come out of the mountain, would
have taken them with him to his country. That is why for several
years they sent in search of them to different countries, but no one
ever came on the trace of the poor little ones.

It was not till much later that anything was to be heard of them.

About one hundred and fifty years after the event, when there
was no longer one left of the fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters
of that day, there arrived one evening in Hamel some merchants
of Bremen returning from the East, who asked to speak with the
citizens. They told that they, in crossing Hungary, had sojourned
in a mountainous country called Transylvania, where the inhabitants
only spoke German, while all around them nothing was spoken but
Hungarian. These people also declared that they came from
Germany, but they did not know how they chanced to be in this
strange country. `Now,' said the merchants of Bremen, `these
Germans cannot be other than the descendants of the lost children
of Hamel.'

The people of Hamel did not doubt it; and since that day they
regard it as certain that the Transylvanians of Hungary are their
country folk, whose ancestors, as children, were brought there by the
ratcatcher. There are more difficult things to believe than that.[16]

[16] Ch. Marelles,


YOU know the tale of poor Little Red Riding-hood, that the Wolf
deceived and devoured, with her cake, her little butter can,
and her Grandmother; well, the true story happened quite differently,
as we know now. And first of all the little girl was called and
is still called Little Golden-hood; secondly, it was not she, nor the
good grand-dame, but the wicked Wolf who was, in the end, caught
and devoured.

Only listen.

The story begins something like the tale.

There was once a little peasant girl, pretty and nice as a star in
its season. Her real name was Blanchette, but she was more often
called Little Golden-hood, on account of a wonderful little cloak with
a hood, gold- and fire-coloured, which she always had on. This
little hood was given her by her Grandmother, who was so old that
she did not know her age; it ought to bring her good luck, for it was
made of a ray of sunshine, she said. And as the good old woman
was considered something of a witch, everyone thought the little
hood rather bewitched too.

And so it was, as you will see.

One day the mother said to the child: `Let us see, my little
Golden-hood, if you know now how to find your way by yourself.
You shall take this good piece of cake to your Grandmother
for a Sunday treat to-morrow. You will ask her how she is, and
come back at once, without stopping to chatter on the way with
people you don't know. Do you quite understand?'

`I quite understand,' replied Blanchette gaily. And off she
went with the cake, quite proud of her errand.

But the Grandmother lived in another village, and there was a
big wood to cross before getting there. At a turn of the road under
the trees, suddenly `Who goes there?'

`Friend Wolf.'

He had seen the child start alone, and the villain was waiting
to devour her; when at the same moment he perceived some wood-
cutters who might observe him, and he changed his mind. Instead
of falling upon Blanchette he came frisking up to her like a good dog.

` 'Tis you! my nice Little Golden-hood,' said he. So the little
girl stops to talk with the Wolf, who, for all that, she did not know
in the least.

`You know me, then!' said she; `what is your name?'

`My name is friend Wolf. And where are you going thus, my
pretty one, with your little basket on your arm?'

`I am going to my Grandmother, to take her a good piece of
cake for her Sunday treat to-morrow.'

`And where does she live, your Grandmother?'

`She lives at the other side of the wood, in the first house in the
village, near the windmill, you know.'

`Ah! yes! I know now,' said the Wolf. `Well, that's just where
I'm going; I shall get there before you, no doubt, with your little
bits of legs, and I'll tell her you're coming to see her; then she'll
wait for you.'

Thereupon the Wolf cuts across the wood, and in five minutes
arrives at the Grandmother's house.

He knocks at the door: toc, toc.

No answer.

He knocks louder.


Then he stands up on end, puts his two fore-paws on the latch
and the door opens.

Not a soul in the house.

The old woman had risen early to sell herbs in the town, and
she had gone off in such haste that she had left her bed unmade,
with her great night-cap on the pillow.

`Good!' said the Wolf to himself, `I know what I'll do.'

He shuts the door, pulls on the Grandmother's night-cap down
to his eyes, then he lies down all his length in the bed and draws
the curtains.

In the meantime the good Blanchette went quietly on her way,
as little girls do, amusing herself here and there by picking Easter
daisies, watching the little birds making their nests, and running
after the butterflies which fluttered in the sunshine.

At last she arrives at the door.

Knock, knock.

`Who is there?' says the Wolf, softening his rough voice as
best he can.

`It's me, Granny, your little Golden-hood. I'm bringing you a
big piece of cake for your Sunday treat to-morrow.'

`Press your finger on the latch, then push and the door opens.'

`Why, you've got a cold, Granny,' said she, coming in.

`Ahem! a little, a little . . .' replies the Wolf, pretending to
cough. `Shut the door well, my little lamb. Put your basket on
the table, and then take off your frock and come and lie down by
me: you shall rest a little.'

The good child undresses, but observe this! She kept her little
hood upon her head. When she saw what a figure her Granny
cut in bed, the poor little thing was much surprised.

`Oh!' cries she, `how like you are to friend Wolf, Grandmother!'

`That's on account of my night-cap, child,' replies the Wolf.

`Oh! what hairy arms you've got, Grandmother!'

`All the better to hug you, my child.'

`Oh! what a big tongue you've got, Grandmother!'

`All the better for answering, child.'

`Oh! what a mouthful of great white teeth you have, Grandmother!'

`That's for crunching little children with! `And the Wolf opened
his jaws wide to swallow Blanchette.

But she put down her head crying:

`Mamma! Mamma!' and the Wolf only caught her little hood.

Thereupon, oh dear! oh dear! he draws back, crying and
shaking his jaw as if he had swallowed red-hot coals.

It was the little fire-coloured hood that had burnt his tongue
right down his throat.

The little hood, you see, was one of those magic caps that they
used to have in former times, in the stories, for making oneself
invisible or invulnerable.

So there was the Wolf with his throat burnt, jumping off the
bed and trying to find the door, howling and howling as if all the
dogs in the country were at his heels.

Just at this moment the Grandmother arrives, returning from
the town with her long sack empty on her shoulder.

`Ah, brigand!' she cries, `wait a bit!' Quickly she opens her
sack wide across the door, and the maddened Wolf springs in head

It is he now that is caught, swallowed like a letter in the post.

For the brave old dame shuts her sack, so; and she runs and
empties it in the well, where the vagabond, still howling, tumbles
in and is drowned.

`Ah, scoundrel! you thought you would crunch my little grandchild!
Well, to-morrow we will make her a muff of your skin, and
you yourself shall be crunched, for we will give your carcass to
the dogs.'

Thereupon the Grandmother hastened to dress poor Blanchette,
who was still trembling with fear in the bed.

`Well,' she said to her, `without my little hood where would
you be now, darling?' And, to restore heart and legs to the child,
she made her eat a good piece of her cake, and drink a good draught
of wine, after which she took her by the hand and led her back to
the house.

And then, who was it who scolded her when she knew all that
had happened?

It was the mother.

But Blanchette promised over and over again that she would
never more stop to listen to a Wolf, so that at last the mother
forgave her.

And Blanchette, the Little Golden-hood, kept her word. And in
fine weather she may still be seen in the fields with her pretty
little hood, the colour of the sun.

But to see her you must rise early.[17]

[17] Ch. Marelles


ONCE upon a time there was a King who was so morose and
disagreeable that he was feared by all his subjects, and with
good reason, as for the most trifling offences he would have their
heads cut off. This King Grumpy, as he was called, had one
son, who was as different from his father as he could possibly be.
No prince equalled him in cleverness and kindness of heart, but
unfortunately he was most terribly ugly. He had crooked legs and
squinting eyes, a large mouth all on one side, and a hunchback.
Never was there a beautiful soul in such a frightful little body, but
in spite of his appearance everybody loved him. The Queen, his
mother, called him Curlicue, because it was a name she rather
liked, and it seemed to suit him.

King Grumpy, who cared a great deal more for his own grandeur
than for his son's happiness, wished to betroth the Prince to the
daughter of a neighbouring King, whose great estates joined his
own, for he thought that this alliance would make him more powerful
than ever, and as for the Princess she would do very well for
Prince Curlicue, for she was as ugly as himself. Indeed, though she
was the most amiable creature in the world, there was no concealing
the fact that she was frightful, and so lame that she always went
about with a crutch, and people called her Princess Cabbage-Stalk.

The King, having asked for and received a portrait of this
Princess, had it placed in his great hall under a canopy, and sent
for Prince Curlicue, to whom he said that as this was the portrait
of his future bride, he hoped the Prince found it charming.

The Prince after one glance at it turned away with a disdainful
air, which greatly offended his father.

`Am I to understand that you are not pleased?' he said very

`No, sire,' replied the Prince. `How could I be pleased to
marry an ugly, lame Princess?'

`Certainly it is becoming in YOU to object to that,' said King
Grumpy, `since you are ugly enough to frighten anyone yourself.'

`That is the very reason,' said the Prince, `that I wish to
marry someone who is not ugly. I am quite tired enough of
seeing myself.'

`I tell you that you shall marry her,' cried King Grumpy

And the Prince, seeing that it was of no use to remonstrate,
bowed and retired.

As King Grumpy was not used to being contradicted in anything,
he was very much displeased with his son, and ordered that he
should be imprisoned in the tower that was kept on purpose for
rebellious Princes, but had not been used for about two hundred
years, because there had not been any. The Prince thought all the
rooms looked strangely old-fashioned, with their antique furniture,
but as there was a good library he was pleased, for he was very fond
of reading, and he soon got permission to have as many books as
he liked. But when he looked at them he found that they were
written in a forgotten language, and he could not understand a single
word, though he amused himself with trying.

King Grumpy was so convinced that Prince Curlicue would soon
get tired of being in prison, and so consent to marry the Princess
Cabbage-Stalk, that he sent ambassadors to her father proposing
that she should come and be married to his son, who would make
her perfectly happy.

The King was delighted to receive so good an offer for his
unlucky daughter, though, to tell the truth, he found it impossible to
admire the Prince's portrait which had been sent to him. However,
he had it placed in as favourable a light as possible, and sent
for the Princess, but the moment she caught sight of it she looked
the other way and began to cry. The King, who was very much
annoyed to see how greatly she disliked it, took a mirror, and holding
it up before the unhappy Princess, said:

`I see you do not think the Prince handsome, but look at yourself,
and see if you have any right to complain about that.'

`Sire,' she answered, `I do not wish to complain, only I beg of you
do not make me marry at all. I had rather be the unhappy Princess
Cabbage-Stalk all my life than inflict the sight of my ugliness on
anyone else.'

But the King would not listen to her, and sent her away with
the ambassadors.

In the meantime the Prince was kept safely locked up in his
tower, and, that he might be as dull as possible, King Grumpy
ordered that no one should speak to him, and that they should give
him next to nothing to eat. But all the Princess guards were so
fond of him that they did everything they dared, in spite of the
King, to make the time pass pleasantly.

One day, as the Prince was walking up and down the great
gallery, thinking how miserable it was to be so ugly, and to be
forced to marry an equally frightful Princess, he looked up suddenly
and noticed that the painted windows were particularly bright and
beautiful, and for the sake of doing something that would change
his sad thoughts he began to examine them attentively. He found
that the pictures seemed to be scenes from the life of a man who
appeared in every window, and the Prince, fancying that he saw in
this man some resemblance to himself, began to be deeply interested.
In the first window there was a picture of him in one of the turrets
of the tower, farther on he was seeking something in a chink in the
wall, in the next picture he was opening an old cabinet with a
golden key, and so it went on through numbers of scenes, and
presently the Prince noticed that another figure occupied the most
important place in each scene, and this time it was a tall handsome
young man: poor Prince Curlicue found it a pleasure to look at him,
he was so straight and strong. By this time it had grown dark,
and the Prince had to go back to his own room, and to amuse himself
he took up a quaint old book and began to look at the pictures.
But his surprise was great to find that they represented the same
scenes as the windows of the gallery, and what was more, that they
seemed to be alive. In looking at pictures of musicians he saw their
hands move and heard sweet sounds; there was a picture of a ball,
and the Prince could watch the little dancing people come and go.
He turned a page, and there was an excellent smell of a savoury
dinner, and one of the figures who sat at the feast looked at him
and said:

`We drink your health, Curlicue. Try to give us our Queen
again, for if you do you will be rewarded; if not, it will be the worse
for you.'

At these words the Prince, who had been growing more and more
astonished, was fairly terrified, and dropping the book with a crash
he sank back insensible. The noise he made brought his guards to
his aid, and as soon as he revived they asked him what was the
matter. He answered that he was so faint and giddy with hunger
that he had imagined he saw and heard all sorts of strange things.
Thereupon, in spite of the King's orders, the guards gave him an
excellent supper, and when he had eaten it he again opened his
book, but could see none of the wonderful pictures, which convinced
him that he must have been dreaming before.

However, when he went into he gallery next day and looked at
the painted windows again, he found that they moved, and the figures
came and went as if they had been alive, and after watching the one
who was like himself find the key in the crack of the turret wall
and open the old cabinet, he determined to go and examine the
place himself, and try to find out what the mystery was. So he
went up into the turret and began to search about and tap upon
the walls, and all at once he came upon a place that sounded hollow.
Taking a hammer he broke away a bit of the stone, and found behind
it a little golden key. The next thing to do was to find the cabinet,
and the Prince soon came to it, hidden away in a dark corner,
though indeed it was so old and battered-looking that he would
never have noticed it of his own accord. At first he could not see
any keyhole, but after a careful search he found one hidden in the
carving, and the golden key just fitted it; so the Prince gave it a
vigorous turn and the doors flew open.

Ugly and old as the cabinet was outside, nothing could have been
more rich and beautiful than what met the Prince's astonished eyes.
Every drawer was made of crystal, of amber, or of some precious
stone, and was quite full of every kind of treasure. Prince Curlicue
was delighted; he opened one after another, until at last he came to
one tiny drawer which contained only an emerald key.

`I believe that this must open that little golden door in the
middle,' said the Prince to himself. And he fitted in the little key
and turned it. The tiny door swung back, and a soft crimson light
gleamed over the whole cabinet. The Prince found that it proceeded
from an immense glowing carbuncle, made into a box, which lay
before him. He lost no time in opening it, but what was his horror
when he found that it contained a man's hand, which was holding
a portrait. His first thought was to put back the terrible box and
fly from the turret; but a voice in his ear said, `This hand belonged
to one whom you can help and restore. Look at this beautiful
portrait, the original of which was the cause of all my misfortunes,
and if you wish to help me, go without a moment's delay to the
great gallery, notice where the sun's rays fall most brightly, and if
you seek there you will find my treasure.'

The voice ceased, and though the Prince in his bewilderment
asked various questions, he received no answer. So he put back the
box and locked the cabinet up again, and, having replaced the key
in the crack in the wall, hastened down to the gallery.

When he entered it all the windows shook and clattered in the
strangest way, but the Prince did not heed them; he was looking
so carefully for the place where the sun shone most brightly, and it
seemed to him that it was upon the portrait of a most splendidly
handsome young man.

He went up and examined it, and found that it rested against the
ebony and gold panelling, just like any of the other pictures in the
gallery. He was puzzled, not knowing what to do next, until it
occurred to him to see if the windows would help him, and, looking
at the nearest, he saw a picture of himself lifting the picture from
the wall.

The Prince took the hint, and lifting aside the picture without
difficulty, found himself in a marble hall adorned with statues; from
this he passed on through numbers of splendid rooms, until at last
he reached one all hung with blue gauze. The walls were of
turquoises, and upon a low couch lay a lovely lady, who seemed to be
asleep. Her hair, black as ebony, was spread across the pillows,
making her face look ivory white, and the Prince noticed that she
was unquiet; and when he softly advanced, fearing to wake her, he
could hear her sigh, and murmur to herself:

`Ah! how dared you think to win my love by separating me
from my beloved Florimond, and in my presence cutting off that
dear hand that even you should have feared and honoured?'

And then the tears rolled slowly down the lovely lady's cheeks,
and Prince Curlicue began to comprehend that she was under an
enchantment, and that it was the hand of her lover that he had

At this moment a huge Eagle flew into the room, holding in its
talons a Golden Branch, upon which were growing what looked like
clusters of cherries, only every cherry was a single glowing ruby.

This he presented to the Prince, who guessed by this time that
he was in some way to break the enchantment that surrounded the
sleeping lady. Taking the branch he touched her lightly with it,

`Fair one, I know not by what enchantment thou art bound, but
in the name of thy beloved Florimond I conjure thee to come back
to the life which thou hast lost, but not forgotten.'

Instantly the lady opened her lustrous eyes, and saw the Eagle
hovering near.

`Ah! stay, dear love, stay,' she cried. But the Eagle, uttering a
dolorous cry, fluttered his broad wings and disappeared. Then the
lady turned to Prince Curlicue, and said:

`I know that it is to you I owe my deliverance from an enchantment
which has held me for two hundred years. If there is anything
that I can do for you in return, you have only to tell me, and
all my fairy power shall be used to make you happy.'

`Madam,' said Prince Curlicue, `I wish to be allowed to restore
your beloved Florimond to his natural form, since I cannot forget
the tears you shed for him.'

`That is very amiable of you, dear Prince,' said the Fairy, `but
it is reserved for another person to do that. I cannot explain more
at present. But is there nothing you wish for yourself?'

`Madam,' cried the Prince, flinging himself down at her feet,
`only look at my ugliness. I am called Curlicue, and am an
object of derision; I entreat you to make me less ridiculous.'

`Rise, Prince,' said the Fairy, touching him with the Golden
Branch. `Be as accomplished as you are handsome, and take the
name of Prince Peerless, since that is the only title which will
suit you now.'

Silent from joy, the Prince kissed her hand to express his thanks,
and when he rose and saw his new reflection in the mirrors which
surrounded him, he understood that Curlicue was indeed gone for

`How I wish,' said the Fairy, `that I dared to tell you what is
in store for you, and warn you of the traps which lie in your path,
but I must not. Fly from the tower, Prince, and remember that
the Fairy Douceline will be your friend always.'

When she had finished speaking, the Prince, to his great
astonishment, found himself no longer in the tower, but set down in a
thick forest at least a hundred leagues away from it. And there
we must leave him for the present, and see what was happening

When the guards found that the Prince did not ask for his supper
as usual, they went into his room, and not finding him there, were
very much alarmed, and searched the tower from turret to dungeon,
but without success. Knowing that the King would certainly have
their heads cut off for allowing the Prince to escape, they then
agreed to say that he was ill, and after making the smallest among
them look as much like Prince Curlicue as possible, they put him
into his bed and sent to inform the King.

King Grumpy was quite delighted to hear that his son was ill,
for he thought that he would all the sooner be brought to do as he
wished, and marry the Princess. So he sent back to the guards to
say that the Prince was to be treated as severely as before, which
was just what they had hoped he would say. In the meantime the
Princess Cabbage-Stalk had reached the palace, travelling in a litter.

King Grumpy went out to meet her, but when he saw her, with
a skin like a tortoise's, her thick eyebrows meeting above her large
nose, and her mouth from ear to ear, he could not help crying out:

`Well, I must say Curlicue is ugly enough, but I don't think
YOU need have thought twice before consenting to marry him.'

`Sire,' she replied, `I know too well what I am like to be hurt
by what you say, but I assure you that I have no wish to marry
your son I had rather be called Princess Cabbage-Stalk than Queen

This made King Grumpy very angry.

`Your father has sent you here to marry my son,' he said, `and
you may be sure that I am not going to offend him by altering his
arrangements.' So the poor Princess was sent away in disgrace to
her own apartments, and the ladies who attended upon her were
charged to bring her to a better mind.

At this juncture the guards, who were in great fear that they
would be found out, sent to tell the King that his son was dead,
which annoyed him very much. He at once made up his mind
that it was entirely the Princess's fault, and gave orders that she
should be imprisoned in the tower in Prince Curlicue's place. The
Princess Cabbage-Stalk was immensely astonished at this unjust
proceeding, and sent many messages of remonstrance to King
Grumpy, but he was in such a temper that no one dared to deliver
them, or to send the letters which the Princess wrote to her father.
However, as she did not know this, she lived in hope of soon going
back to her own country, and tried to amuse herself as well as
she could until the time should come. Every day she walked up
and down the long gallery, until she too was attracted and fascinated
by the ever-changing pictures in the windows, and recognised herself
in one of the figures. `They seem to have taken a great delight in
painting me since I came to this country,' she said to herself. `One
would think that I and my crutch were put in on purpose to make
that slim, charming young shepherdess in the next picture look
prettier by contrast. Ah! how nice it would be to be as pretty as
that.' And then she looked at herself in a mirror, and turned away
quickly with tears in her eyes from the doleful sight. All at once
she became aware that she was not alone, for behind her stood a
tiny old woman in a cap, who was as ugly again as herself and
quite as lame.

`Princess,' she said, `your regrets are so piteous that I have
come to offer you the choice of goodness or beauty. If you wish to
be pretty you shall have your way, but you will also be vain,
capricious, and frivolous. If you remain as you are now, you shall
be wise and amiable and modest.'

`Alas I madam,' cried the Princess, `is it impossible to be at once
wise and beautiful?'

`No, child,' answered the old woman, `only to you it is decreed
that you must choose between the two. See, I have brought with
me my white and yellow muff. Breathe upon the yellow side and
you will become like the pretty shepherdess you so much admire, and
you will have won the love of the handsome shepherd whose picture
I have already seen you studying with interest. Breathe upon the
white side and your looks will not alter, but you will grow better
and happier day by day. Now you may choose.'

`Ah well,' said the Princess, `I suppose one can't have
everything, and it's certainly better to be good than pretty.'

And so she breathed upon the white side of the muff and thanked
the old fairy, who immediately disappeared. The Princess Cabbage-
Stalk felt very forlorn when she was gone, and began to think that
it was quite time her father sent an army to rescue her.

`If I could but get up into the turret,' she thought, `to see if any
one is coming.' But to climb up there seemed impossible. Nevertheless
she presently hit upon a plan. The great clock was in the
turret, as she knew, though the weights hung down into the gallery.
Taking one of them off the rope, she tied herself on in its place, and
when the clock was wound, up she went triumphantly into the
turret. She looked out over the country the first thing, but seeing
nothing she sat down to rest a little, and accidentally leant back
against the wall which Curlicue, or rather Prince Peerless, had so
hastily mended. Out fell the broken stone, and with it the golden
key. The clatter it made upon the floor attracted the Princess
Cabbage-Stalk's attention.

She picked it up, and after a moment's consideration decided
that it must belong to the curious old cabinet in the corner, which
had no visible keyhole. And then it was not long before she had it
open, and was admiring the treasures it contained as much as Prince
Peerless had done before her, and at last she came to the carbuncle
box. No sooner had she opened it than with a shudder of horror
she tried to throw it down, but found that some mysterious power
compelled her to hold it against her will. And at this moment a
voice in her ear said softly:

`Take courage, Princess; upon this adventure your future happiness

`What am I to do?' said the Princess trembling.

`Take the box,' replied the voice, `and hide it under your pillow,
and when you see an Eagle, give it to him without losing a moment.'

Terrified as the Princess was, she did not hesitate to obey, and
hastened to put back all the other precious things precisely as she
had found them. By this time her guards were seeking her everywhere,
and they were amazed to find her up in the turret, for they
said she could only have got there by magic. For three days nothing
happened, but at last in the night the Princess heard something
flutter against her window, and drawing back her curtains she saw
in the moonlight that it was an Eagle.

Limping across at her utmost speed she threw the window open,
and the great Eagle sailed in beating with his wings for joy. The
Princess lost no time in offering it the carbuncle box, which it
grasped in its talons, and instantly disappeared, leaving in its place
the most beautiful Prince she had ever seen, who was splendidly
dressed, and wore a diamond crown.

`Princess,' said he, `for two hundred years has a wicked
enchanter kept me here. We both loved the same Fairy, but she pre-
ferred me. However, he was more powerful than I, and succeeded,
when for a moment I was off my guard, in changing me into an
Eagle, while my Queen was left in an enchanted sleep. I knew
that after two hundred years a Prince would recall her to the light
of day, and a Princess, in restoring to me the hand which my enemy
had cut off, would give me back my natural form. The Fairy who
watches over your destiny told me this, and it was she who guided
you to the cabinet in the turret, where she had placed my hand. It
is she also who permits me to show my gratitude to you by granting
whatever favour you may ask of me. Tell me, Princess, what is it
that you wish for most? Shall I make you as beautiful as you
deserve to be?'

`Ah, if you only would!' cried the Princess, and at the same
moment she heard a crick-cracking in all her bones. She grew tall
and straight and pretty, with eyes like shining stars, and a skin as
white as milk.

`Oh, wonderful! can this really be my poor little self?' she
exclaimed, looking down in amazement at her tiny worn-out crutch
as it lay upon the floor.

`Indeed, Princess,' replied Florimond, `it is yourself, but you
must have a new name, since the old one does not suit you now.
Be called Princess Sunbeam, for you are bright and charming
enough to deserve the name.'

And so saying he disappeared, and the Princess, without knowing
how she got there, found herself walking under shady trees by
a clear river. Of course, the first thing she did was to look at her
own reflection in the water, and she was extremely surprised to find
that she was exactly like the shepherdess she had so much admired,
and wore the same white dress and flowery wreath that she had seen
in the painted windows. To complete the resemblance, her flock
of sheep appeared, grazing round her, and she found a gay crook
adorned with flowers upon the bank of the river. Quite tired out by so
many new and wonderful experiences, the Princess sat down to rest
at the foot of a tree, and there she fell fast asleep. Now it happened
that it was in this very country that Prince Peerless had been set
down, and while the Princess Sunbeam was still sleeping peacefully,
he came strolling along in search of a shady pasture for his sheep.

The moment he caught sight of the Princess he recognised her
as the charming shepherdess whose picture he had seen so often
in the tower, and as she was far prettier than he had remembered
her, he was delighted that chance had led him that way.

He was still watching her admiringly when the Princess opened
her eyes, and as she also recognised him they were soon great
friends. The Princess asked Prince Peerless, as he knew the
country better than she did, to tell her of some peasant who would
give her a lodging, and he said he knew of an old woman whose cottage
would be the very place for her, it was so nice and so pretty. So
they went there together, and the Princess was charmed with the
old woman and everything belonging to her. Supper was soon
spread for her under a shady tree, and she invited the Prince to
share the cream and brown bread which the old woman provided.
This he was delighted to do, and having first fetched from his own
garden all the strawberries, cherries, nuts and flowers he could find.
they sat down together and were very merry. After this they met
every day as they guarded their flocks, and were so happy that Prince
Peerless begged the Princess to marry him, so that they might never
be parted again. Now though the Princess Sunbeam appeared to
be only a poor shepherdess, she never forgot that she was a real
Princess, and she was not at all sure that she ought to marry a
humble shepherd, though she knew she would like to do so very

So she resolved to consult an Enchanter of whom she had heard
a great deal since she had been a shepherdess, and without saying
a word to anybody she set out to find the castle in which he lived
with his sister, who was a powerful Fairy. The way was long,
and lay through a thick wood, where the Princess heard strange
voices calling to her from every side, but she was in such a hurry
that she stopped for nothing, and at last she came to the courtyard
of the Enchanter's castle.

The grass and briers were growing as high as if it were a
hundred years since anyone had set foot there, but the Princess got
through at last, though she gave herself a good many scratches by
the way, and then she went into a dark, gloomy hall, where there
was but one tiny hole in the wall through which the daylight could
enter. The hangings were all of bats' wings, and from the ceiling
hung twelve cats, who filled the hall with their ear piercing yells.
Upon the long table twelve mice were fastened by the tail, and just
in front of each one's nose, but quite beyond its reach, lay a tempting
morsel of fat bacon. So the cats could always see the mice, but could not
touch them, and the hungry mice were tormented by the sight and smell
of the delicious morsels which they could never seize.

The Princess was looking at the poor creatures in dismay, when
the Enchanter suddenly entered, wearing a long black robe and
with a crocodile upon his head. In his hand he carried a whip
made of twenty long snakes, all alive and writhing, and the Princess
was so terrified at the sight that she heartily wished she had never
come. Without saying a word she ran to the door, but it was
covered with a thick spider's web, and when she broke it she found
another, and another, and another. In fact, there was no end to
them; the Princess's arms ached with tearing them down, and yet
she was no nearer to getting out, and the wicked Enchanter behind
her laughed maliciously. At last he said:

`You might spend the rest of your life over that without doing
any good, but as you are young, and quite the prettiest creature I
have seen for a long time, I will marry you if you like, and I will
give you those cats and mice that you see there for your own.
They are princes and princesses who have happened to offend me.
They used to love one another as much as they now hate one
another. Aha! It's a pretty little revenge to keep them like that.'

`Oh! If you would only change me into a mouse too,' cried the Princess.

`Oh! so you won't marry me?' said he. `Little simpleton, you
should have everything heart can desire.'

`No, indeed; nothing should make me marry you; in fact, I
don't think I shall ever love anyone,' cried the Princess.

`In that case,' said the Enchanter, touching her, `you had
better become a particular kind of creature that is neither fish nor
fowl; you shall be light and airy, and as green as the grass you live
in. Off with you, Madam Grasshopper.' And the Princess, rejoicing
to find herself free once more, skipped out into the garden, the
prettiest little green Grasshopper in the world. But as soon as she
was safely out she began to be rather sorry for herself.

`Ah! Florimond,' she sighed, `is this the end of your gift?
Certainly beauty is short-lived, and this funny little face and a green
crape dress are a comical end to it. I had better have married my
amiable shepherd. It must be for my pride that I am condemned
to be a Grasshopper, and sing day and night in the grass by this
brook, when I feel far more inclined to cry.'

In the meantime Prince Peerless had discovered the Princess's
absence, and was lamenting over it by the river's brim, when he
suddenly became aware of the presence of a little old woman. She
was quaintly dressed in a ruff and farthingale, and a velvet hood
covered her snow-white hair.

`You seem sorrowful, my son,' she said. `What is the matter?'

`Alas! mother,' answered the Prince, `I have lost my sweet
shepherdess, but I am determined to find her again, though I should
have to traverse the whole world in search of her.'

`Go that way, my son,' said the old woman, pointing towards the
path that led to the castle. `I have an idea that you will soon
overtake her.'

The Prince thanked her heartily and set out. As he met with
no hindrance, he soon reached the enchanted wood which surrounded
the castle, and there he thought he saw the Princess Sunbeam
gliding before him among the trees. Prince Peerless hastened
after her at the top of his speed, but could not get any nearer;
then he called to her:

`Sunbeam, my darling--only wait for me a moment.'

But the phantom did but fly the faster, and the Prince spent
the whole day in this vain pursuit. When night came he saw
the castle before him all lighted up, and as he imagined that the
Princess must be in it, he made haste to get there too. He entered
without difficulty, and in the hall the terrible old Fairy met him.
She was so thin that the light shone through her, and her eyes
glowed like lamps; her skin was like a shark's, her arms were thin
as laths, and her fingers like spindles. Nevertheless she wore
rouge and patches, a mantle of silver brocade and a crown of
diamonds, and her dress was covered with jewels, and green and
pink ribbons.

`At last you have come to see me, Prince,' said she. `Don't
waste another thought upon that little shepherdess, who is
unworthy of your notice. I am the Queen of the Comets, and can
bring you to great honour if you will marry me.'

`Marry you, Madam,' cried the Prince, in horror. `No, I will
never consent to that.'

Thereupon the Fairy, in a rage, gave two strokes of her wand
and filled the gallery with horrible goblins, against whom the
Prince had to fight for his life. Though he had only his dagger, he
defended himself so well that he escaped without any harm, and
presently the old Fairy stopped the fray and asked the Prince if
he was still of the same mind. When he answered firmly that he
was, she called up the appearance of the Princess Sunbeam to the
other end of the gallery, and said:

`You see your beloved there? Take care what you are about,
for if you again refuse to marry me she shall be torn in pieces by
two tigers.'

The Prince was distracted, for he fancied he heard his dear
shepherdess weeping and begging him to save her. In despair he

`Oh, Fairy Douceline, have you abandoned me after so many
promises of friendship? Help, help us now!'

Immediately a soft voice said in his ear:

`Be firm, happen what may, and seek the Golden Branch.'

Thus encouraged, the Prince persevered in his refusal, and at
length the old Fairy in a fury cried:

`Get out of my sight, obstinate Prince. Become a Cricket!'

And instantly the handsome Prince Peerless became a poor little
black Cricket, whose only idea would have been to find himself a
cosy cranny behind some blazing hearth, if he had not luckily
remembered the Fairy Douceline's injunction to seek the Golden Branch.

So he hastened to depart from the fatal castle, and sought shelter
in a hollow tree, where he found a forlorn looking little Grasshopper
crouching in a corner, too miserable to sing.

Without in the least expecting an answer, the Prince asked it:

`And where may you be going, Gammer Grasshopper?'

`Where are you going yourself, Gaffer Cricket?' replied the Grasshopper.

`What! can you speak?' said he.

`Why should I not speak as well as you? Isn't a Grasshopper
as good as a Cricket?' said she.

`I can talk because I was a Prince,' said the Cricket.

`And for that very same reason I ought to be able to talk more
than you, for I was a Princess,' replied the Grasshopper.

`Then you have met with the same fate as I have,' said he. `But
where are you going now? Cannot we journey together?'

`I seemed to hear a voice in the air which said: ``Be firm,
happen what may, and seek the Golden Branch,'' ' answered the
Grasshopper, `and I thought the command must be for me, so I
started at once, though I don't know the way.'

At this moment their conversation was interrupted by two mice,
who, breathless from running, flung themselves headlong through
the hole into the tree, nearly crushing the Grasshopper and the
Cricket, though they got out of the way as fast as they could and
stood up in a dark corner.

`Ah, Madam,' said the fatter of the two, `I have such a pain in
my side from running so fast. How does your Highness find yourself?'

`I have pulled my tail off,' replied the younger Mouse, `but as I
should still be on the sorcerer's table unless I had, I do not regret
it. Are we pursued, think you? How lucky we were to escape!'

`I only trust that we may escape cats and traps, and reach the
Golden Branch soon,' said the fat Mouse.

`You know the way then?' said the other.

`Oh dear, yes! as well as the way to my own house, Madam.
This Golden Branch is indeed a marvel, a single leaf from it makes
one rich for ever. It breaks enchantments, and makes all who
approach it young and beautiful. We must set out for it at the
break of day.'

`May we have the honour of travelling with you--this respectable
Cricket and myself?' said the Grasshopper, stepping forward.
`We also are on a pilgrimage to the Golden Branch.'

The Mice courteously assented, and after many polite speeches
the whole party fell asleep. With the earliest dawn they were on
their way, and though the Mice were in constant fear of being
overtaken or trapped, they reached the Golden Branch in safety.

It grew in the midst of a wonderful garden, all the paths of which
were strewn with pearls as big as peas. The roses were crimson
diamonds, with emerald leaves. The pomegranates were garnets,
the marigolds topazes, the daffodils yellow diamonds, the violets
sapphires, the corn-flowers turquoises, the tulips amethysts, opals
and diamonds, so that the garden borders blazed like the sun. The
Golden Branch itself had become as tall as a forest tree, and sparkled
with ruby cherries to its topmost twig. No sooner had the Grasshopper
and the Cricket touched it than they were restored to their
natural forms, and their surprise and joy were great when they
recognised each other. At this moment Florimond and the Fairy
Douceline appeared in great splendour, and the Fairy, as she
descended from her chariot, said with a smile:

`So you two have found one another again, I see, but I have still
a surprise left for you. Don't hesitate, Princess, to tell your devoted
shepherd how dearly you love him, as he is the very Prince your
father sent you to marry. So come here both of you and let me
crown you, and we will have the wedding at once.'

The Prince and Princess thanked her with all their hearts, and
declared that to her they owed all their happiness, and then the two
Princesses, who had so lately been Mice, came and begged that the
Fairy would use her power to release their unhappy friends who
were still under the Enchanter's spell.

`Really,' said the Fairy Douceline, `on this happy occasion I
cannot find it in my heart to refuse you anything.' And she gave
three strokes of her wand upon the Golden Branch, and immediately
all the prisoners in the Enchanter's castle found themselves free,
and came with all speed to the wonderful garden, where one touch
of the Golden Branch restored each one to his natural form, and
they greeted one another with many rejoicings. To complete her
generous work the Fairy presented them with the wonderful cabinet
and all the treasures it contained, which were worth at least ten
kingdoms. But to Prince Peerless and the Princess Sunbeam she
gave the palace and garden of the Golden Branch, where, immensely
rich and greatly beloved by all their subjects, they lived happily
ever after.[18]

[18] Le Rameau d'Or. Par Madame d'Aulnoy,


THERE was once upon a time a man who lost his wife, and a
woman who lost her husband; and the man had a daughter
and so had the woman. The two girls were great friends and used
often to play together. One day the woman turned to the man's
daughter and said:

`Go and tell your father that I will marry him, and then you
shall wash in milk and drink wine, but my own daughter shall wash
in water and drink it too.'

The girl went straight home and told her father what the woman
had said.

`What am I to do?' he answered. `Marriage is either a success
or it is a failure.'

At last, being of an undecided character and not being able to
make up his mind, he took off his boot, and handing it to his
daughter, said:

`Take this boot which has a hole in the sole, hang it up on a nail
in the hayloft, and pour water into it. If it holds water I will
marry again, but if it doesn't I won't.' The girl did as she was bid,
but the water drew the hole together and the boot filled up to the
very top. So she went and told her father the result. He got up
and went to see for himself, and when he saw that it was true and
no mistake, he accepted his fate, proposed to the widow, and they
were married at once.

On the morning after the wedding, when the two girls awoke,
milk was standing for the man's daughter to wash in and wine for
her to drink; but for the woman's daughter, only water to wash in
and only water to drink. On the second morning, water to wash in
and water to drink was standing for the man's daughter as well.
And on the third morning, water to wash in and water to drink was
standing for the man's daughter, and milk to wash in and wine to
drink for the woman's daughter; and so it continued ever after. The
woman hated her stepdaughter from the bottom of her heart, and
did all she could to make her life miserable. She was as jealous as
she could possibly be, because the girl was so beautiful and charming,
while her own daughter was both ugly and repulsive.

One winter's day when there was a hard frost, and mountain
and valley were covered with snow, the woman made a dress of
paper, and calling the girl to her said:

`There, put on this dress and go out into the wood and fetch me
a basket of strawberries!'

`Now Heaven help us,' replied her stepdaughter; `strawberries
don't grow in winter; the earth is all frozen and the snow has
covered up everything; and why send me in a paper dress? it is so
cold outside that one's very breath freezes; the wind will whistle
through my dress, and the brambles tear it from my body.'

`How dare you contradict me!' said her stepmother; `be off with
you at once, and don't show your face again till you have filled the
basket with strawberries.'

Then she gave her a hard crust of bread, saying:

`That will be enough for you to-day,' and she thought to herself:
`The girl will certainly perish of hunger and cold outside, and I
shan't be bothered with her any more.'

The girl was so obedient that she put on the paper dress and set
out with her little basket. There was nothing but snow far and
near, and not a green blade of grass to be seen anywhere. When
she came to the wood she saw a little house, and out of it peeped
three little dwarfs. She wished them good-day, and knocked
modestly at the door. They called out to her to enter, so she stepped
in and sat down on a seat by the fire, wishing to warm herself and
eat her breakfast. The Dwarfs said at once: `Give us some of your

`Gladly,' she said, and breaking her crust in two, she gave them
the half.

Then they asked her what she was doing in the depths of winter
in her thin dress.

`Oh,' she answered, `I have been sent to get a basketful of
strawberries, and I daren't show my face again at home till I bring
them with me.'

When she had finished her bread they gave her a broom and
told her to sweep away the snow from the back door. As soon as
she left the room to do so, the three little men consulted what they
should give her as a reward for being so sweet and good, and for
sharing her last crust with them.

The first said: `Every day she shall grow prettier.'

The second: `Every time she opens her mouth a piece of gold
shall fall out.'

And the third: `A King shall come and marry her.'

The girl in the meantime was doing as the Dwarfs had bidden
her, and was sweeping the snow away from the back door, and what
do you think she found there?--heaps of fine ripe strawberries that
showed out dark red against the white snow. She joyfully picked
enough to fill her basket, thanked the little men for their kindness,
shook hands with them, and ran home to bring her stepmother what
she had asked for. When she walked in and said; Good evening,' a
piece of gold fell out of her mouth. Then she told what had hap-

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