Part 6 out of 8
pened to her in the wood, and at every word pieces of gold dropped
from her mouth, so that the room was soon covered with them.
`She's surely more money than wit to throw gold about like
that,' said her stepsister, but in her secret heart she was very jealous,
and determined that she too would go to the wood and look for
strawberries. But her mother refused to let her go, saying:
`My dear child, it is far too cold; you might freeze to death.'
The girl however left her no peace, so she was forced at last to
give in, but she insisted on her putting on a beautiful fur cloak, and
she gave her bread and butter and cakes to eat on the way.
The girl went straight to the little house in the wood, and as
before the three little men were looking out of the window. She
took no notice of them, and without as much as `By your leave,' or
`With your leave,' she flounced into the room, sat herself down at
the fire, and began to eat her bread and butter and cakes.
`Give us some,' cried the Dwarfs.
But she answered: `No, I won't, it's hardly enough for myself;
so catch me giving you any.'
When she had finished eating they said:
`There's a broom for you, go and clear up our back door.'
`I'll see myself further,' she answered rudely. `Do it yourselves;
I'm not your servant.'
When she saw that they did not mean to give her anything, she
left the house in no amiable frame of mind. Then the three little
men consulted what they should do to her, because she was so bad
and had such an evil, covetous heart, that she grudged everybody
their good fortune.
The first said: `She shall grow uglier every day.'
The second: `Every time she speaks a toad shall jump out of
And the third: `She shall die a most miserable death.'
The girl searched for strawberries, but she found none, and
returned home in a very bad temper. When she opened her mouth
to tell her mother what had befallen her in the wood, a toad jumped
out, so that everyone was quite disgusted with her.
Then the stepmother was more furious than ever, and did
nothing but plot mischief against the man's daughter, who was daily
growing more and more beautiful. At last, one day the wicked
woman took a large pot, put it on the fire and boiled some yarn in
it. When it was well scalded she hung it round the poor girl's
shoulder, and giving her an axe, she bade her break a hole in the
frozen river, and rinse the yarn in it. Her stepdaughter obeyed
as usual, and went and broke a hole in the ice. When she was in
the act of wringing out the yarn a magnificent carriage passed, and
the King sat inside. The carriage stood still, and the King asked her:
`My child, who are you, and what in the wide world are you
`I am only a poor girl,' she answered, `and am rinsing out my
yarn in the river.' Then the King was sorry for her, and when he
saw how beautiful she was he said:
`Will you come away with me?'
`Most gladly,' she replied, for she knew how willingly she would
leave her stepmother and sister, and how glad they would be to
be rid of her.
So she stepped into the carriage and drove away with the King,
and when they reached his palace the wedding was celebrated with
much splendour. So all turned out just as the three little Dwarfs
had said. After a year the Queen gave birth to a little son. When
her stepmother heard of her good fortune she came to the palace with
her daughter by way of paying a call, and took up her abode there.
Now one day, when the King was out and nobody else near, the
bad woman took the Queen by her head, and the daughter took her
by her heels, and they dragged her from her bed, and flung her out
of the window into the stream which flowed beneath it. Then the
stepmother laid her ugly daughter in the Queen's place, and covered
her up with the clothes, so that nothing of her was seen. When the
King came home and wished to speak to his wife the woman called out:
`Quietly, quietly I this will never do; your wife is very ill, you
must let her rest all to-day.' The King suspected no evil, and didn't
come again till next morning. When he spoke to his wife and she
answered him, instead of the usual piece of gold a toad jumped out
of her mouth. Then he asked what it meant, and the old woman
told him it was nothing but weakness, and that she would soon be
all right again.
But that same evening the scullion noticed a duck swimming
up the gutter, saying as it passed:
`What does the King, I pray you tell,
Is he awake or sleeps he well?'
and receiving no reply, it continued:
`And all my guests, are they asleep?'
and the Scullion answered:
`Yes, one and all they slumber deep.'
Then the Duck went on:
`And what about my baby dear?'
and he answered:
`Oh, it sleeps soundly, never fear.'
Then the Duck assumed the Queen's shape, went up to the child's
room, tucked him up comfortably in his cradle, and then swam back
down the gutter again, in the likeness of a Duck. This was repeated
for two nights, and on the third the Duck said to the Scullion:
`Go and tell the King to swing his sword three times over me
on the threshold.'
The Scullion did as the creature bade him, and the King came
with his sword and swung it three times over the bird, and lo and
behold! his wife stood before him once more, alive, and as blooming
The King rejoiced greatly, but he kept the Queen in hiding till
the Sunday on which the child was to be christened. After the
christening he said:
`What punishment does that person deserve who drags another
out of bed, and throws him or her, as the case may be, into the
Then the wicked old stepmother answered:
`No better fate than to be put into a barrel lined with sharp
nails, and to be rolled in it down the hill into the water.'
`You have pronounced your own doom,' said the King; and he
ordered a barrel to be made lined with sharp nails, and in it he put
the bad old woman and her daughter. Then it was fastened down
securely, and the barrel was rolled down the hill till it fell into the
THERE was once upon a time a couple of rich folks who had twelve
sons, and when the youngest was grown up he would not stay
at home any longer, but would go out into the world and seek his
fortune. His father and mother said that they thought he was very
well off at home, and that he was welcome to stay with them; but
ho could not rest, and said that he must and would go, so at last
they had to give him leave. When he had walked a long way, he
came to a King's palace. There he asked for a place and got it.
Now the daughter of the King of that country had been carried
off into the mountains by a Troll, and the King had no other children,
and for this cause both he and all his people were full of sorrow and
affliction, and the King had promised the Princess and half his
kingdom to anyone who could set her free; but there was no one
who could do it, though a great number had tried. So when the
youth had been there for the space of a year or so, he wanted to go
home again to pay his parents a visit; but when he got there his father
and mother were dead, and his brothers had divided everything
that their parents possessed between themselves, so that there was
nothing at all left for him.
`Shall I, then, receive nothing at all of my inheritance?' asked
`Who could know that you were still alive--you who have been
a wanderer so long?' answered the brothers. `However, there are
twelve mares upon the hills which we have not yet divided among
us, and if you would like to have them for your share, you may take
So the youth, well pleased with this, thanked them, and at once
set off to the hill where the twelve mares were at pasture. When
he got up there and found them, each mare had her foal, and by the
side of one of them was a big dapple-grey foal as well. which was so
sleek that it shone again.
`Well, my little foal, you are a fine fellow!' said the youth.
`Yes, but if you will kill all the other little foals so that I can
suck all the mares for a year, you shall see how big and handsome
I shall be then!' said the Foal.
So the youth did this--he killed all the twelve foals, and then
went back again.
Next year, when he came home again to look after his mares and
the foal, it was as fat as it could be, and its coat shone with brightness,
and it was so big that the lad had the greatest difficulty in
getting on its back, and each of the mares had another foal.
`Well, it's very evident that I have lost nothing by letting you
suck all my mares,' said the lad to the yearling; `but now you are
quite big enough, and must come away with me.'
`No,' said the Colt, `I must stay here another year; kill the
twelve little foals, and then I can suck all the mares this year also,
and you shall see how big and handsome I shall be by summer.'
So the youth did it again, and when he went up on the hill next
year to look after his colt and the mares, each of the mares had her
foal again; but the dappled colt was so big that when the lad wanted
to feel its neck to see how fat it was, he could not reach up to it, it
was so high? and it was so bright that the light glanced off its coat.
`Big and handsome you were last year, my colt, but this year
you are ever so much handsomer,' said the youth; `in all the King's
court no such horse is to be found. But now you shall come away
`No,' said the dappled Colt once more; `here I must stay for
another year. Just kill the twelve little foals again, so that I can
suck the mares this year also, and then come and look at me in the
So the youth did it--he killed all the little foals, and then went
But next year, when he returned to look after the dappled colt
and the mares, he was quite appalled. He had never imagined
that any horse could become so big and overgrown, for the dappled
horse had to lie down on all fours before the youth could get on his
back, and it was very hard to do that even when it was lying down,
and it was so plump that its coat shone and glistened just as if it
had been a looking-glass. This time the dappled horse was not
unwilling to go away with the youth, so he mounted it, and when he
came riding home to his brothers they all smote their hands
together and crossed themselves, for never in their lives had they
either seen or heard tell of such a horse as that.
`If you will procure me the best shoes for my horse, and the
most magnificent saddle and bridle that can be found,' said the
youth, `you may have all my twelve mares just as they are standing
out on the hill, and their twelve foals into the bargain.' For
this year also each mare had her foal. The brothers were quite
willing to do this; so the lad got such shoes for his horse that the
sticks and stones flew high up into the air as he rode away over the
hills, and such a gold saddle and such a gold bridle that they could
be seen glittering and glancing from afar.
`And now we will go to the King's palace,' said Dapplegrim--
that was the horse's name, `but bear in mind that you must ask the
King for a good stable and excellent fodder for me.'
So the lad promised not to forget to do that. He rode to the
palace, and it will be easily understood that with such a horse as he
had he was not long on the way.
When he arrived there, the King was standing out on the steps,
and how he did stare at the man who came riding up!
`Nay,' said he, `never in my whole life have I seen such a man
and such a horse.'
And when the youth inquired if he could have a place in the
King's palace, the King was so delighted that he could have danced
on the steps where he was standing, and there and then the lad was
told that he should have a place.
`Yes; but I must have a good stable and most excellent fodder
for my horse,' said he.
So they told him that he should have sweet hay and oats, and as
much of them as the dappled horse chose to have, and all the other
riders had to take their horses out of the stable that Dapplegrim
might stand alone and really have plenty of room.
But this did not last long, for the other people in the King's
Court became envious of the lad, and there was no bad thing that
they would not have done to him if they had but dared. At last
they bethought themselves of telling the King that the youth had
said that, if he chose, he was quite able to rescue the Princess who
had been carried off into the mountain a long time ago by the
The King immediately summoned the lad into his presence, and
said that he had been informed that he had said that it was in his
power to rescue the Princess, so he was now to do it. If he
succeeded in this, he no doubt knew that the King had promised his
daughter and half the kingdom to anyone who set her free, which
promise should be faithfully and honourably kept, but if he failed
he should be put to death. The youth denied that he had said this,
but all to no purpose, for the King was deaf to all his words; so there
was nothing to be done but say that he would make the attempt.
He went down into the stable, and very sad and full of care
he was. Then Dapplegrim inquired why he was so troubled, and
the youth told him, and said that he did not know what to do, `for
as to setting the Princess free, that was downright impossible.'
`Oh, but it might be done,' said Dapplegrim. `I will help you;
but you must first have me well shod. You must ask for ten pounds
of iron and twelve pounds of steel for the shoeing, and one smith to
hammer and one to hold.'
So the youth did this, and no one said him nay. He got both
the iron and the steel, and the smiths, and thus was Dapplegrim
shod strongly and well, and when the youth went out of the King's
palace a cloud of dust rose up behind him. But when he came to
the mountain into which the Princess had been carried, the difficulty
was to ascend the precipitous wall of rock by which he was to get
on to the mountain beyond, for the rock stood right up on end, as
steep as a house side and as smooth as a sheet of glass. The first
time the youth rode at it he got a little way up the precipice, but
then both Dapplegrim's fore legs slipped, and down came horse and
rider with a sound like thunder among the mountains. The next
time that he rode at it he got a little farther up, but then one of
Dapplegrim's fore legs slipped, and down they went with the sound
of a landslip. But the third time Dapplegrim said: `Now we must
show what we can do,' and went at it once more till the stones
sprang up sky high, and thus they got up. Then the lad rode into
the mountain cleft at full gallop and caught up the Princess on his
saddle-bow, and then out again before the Troll even had time to
stand up, and thus the Princess was set free.
When the youth returned to the palace the King was both
happy and delighted to get his daughter back again, as may easily
be believed, but somehow or other the people about the Court had
so worked on him that he was angry with the lad too. `Thou shalt
have my thanks for setting my Princess free,' he said, when the
youth came into the palace with her, and was then about to go away.
She ought to be just as much my Princess as she is yours now,
for you are a man of your word,' said the youth.
`Yes, yes,' said the King. `Have her thou shalt, as I have said
it; but first of all thou must make the sun shine into my palace
For there was a large and high hill outside the windows which
overshadowed the palace so much that the sun could not shine in.
`That was no part of our bargain,' answered the youth. `But
as nothing that I can say will move you, I suppose I shall have to
try to do my best, for the Princess I will have.'
So he went down to Dapplegrim again and told him what the
King desired, and Dapplegrim thought that it might easily be
done; but first of all he must have new shoes, and ten pounds of
iron and twelve pounds of steel must go to the making of them,
and two smiths were also necessary, one to hammer and one to
hold, and then it would be very easy to make the sun shine into
the King's palace.
The lad asked for these things and obtained them instantly,
for the King thought that for very shame he could not refuse to
give them, and so Dapplegrim got new shoes, and they were good
ones. The youth seated himself on him, and once more they went
their way, and for each hop that Dapplegrim made, down went the
hill fifteen ells into the earth, and so they went on until there was
no hill left for the King to see.
When the youth came down again to the King's palace he
asked the King if the Princess should not at last be his, for now no
one could say that the sun was not shining into the palace. But
the other people in the palace had again stirred up the King, and
he answered that the youth should have her, and that he had never
intended that he should not; but first of all he must get her quite
as good a horse to ride to the wedding on as that which he had
himself. The youth said that the King had never told him he was to
do that, and it seemed to him that he had now really earned the
Princess; but the King stuck to what he had said, and if the youth
were unable to do it he was to lose his life, the King said. The
youth went down to the stable again, and very sad and sorrowful
he was, as anyone may well imagine. Then he told Dapplegrim
that the King had now required that he should get the Princess as
good a bridal horse as that which the bridegroom had, or he should
lose his life. `But that will be no easy thing to do,' said he, `for
your equal is not to be found in all the world,'
`Oh yes, there is one to match me,' said Dapplegrim. `But it
will not be easy to get him, for he is underground. However, we
will try. Now you must go up to the King and ask for new shoes
for me, and for them we must again have ten pounds of iron,
twelve pounds of steel, and two smiths, one to hammer and one
to hold, but be very particular to see that the hooks are very sharp.
And you must also ask for twelve barrels of rye, and twelve
slaughtered oxen must we have with us, and all the twelve ox-hides
with twelve hundred spikes set in each of them; all these things
must we have, likewise a barrel of tar with twelve tons of tar in it.
The youth went to the King and asked for all the things that
Dapplegrim had named, and once more, as the King thought that
it would be disgraceful to refuse them to him, he obtained them all.
So he mounted Dapplegrim and rode away from the Court, and
when he had ridden for a long, long time over hills and moors,
Dapplegrim asked: `Do you hear anything?'
`Yes; there is such a dreadful whistling up above in the air
that I think I am growing alarmed,' said the youth.
`That is all the wild birds in the forest flying about; they are
sent to stop us,' said Dapplegrim. `But just cut a hole in the corn
sacks, and then they will be so busy with the corn that they will
The youth did it. He cut holes in the corn sacks so that barley
and rye ran out on every side, and all the wild birds that were in
the forest came in such numbers that they darkened the sun. But
when they caught sight of the corn they could not refrain from it,
but flew down and began to scratch and pick at the corn and rye,
and at last they began to fight among themselves, and forgot all
about the youth and Dapplegrim, and did them no harm.
And now the youth rode onwards for a long, long time, over
hill and dale, over rocky places and morasses, and then Dapplegrim
began to listen again, and asked the youth if he heard anything now.
`Yes; now I hear such a dreadful crackling and crashing in the
forest on every side that I think I shall be really afraid,' said the
`That is all the wild beasts in the forest,' said Dapplegrim;
`they are sent out to stop us. But just throw out the twelve
carcasses of the oxen, and they will be so much occupied with them that
they will quite forget us.' So the youth threw out the carcasses of
the oxen, and then all the wild beasts in the forest, both bears and
wolves, and lions, and grim beasts of all kinds, came. But when
they caught sight of the carcasses of the oxen they began to fight
for them till the blood flowed, and they entirely forgot Dapplegrim
and the youth.
So the youth rode onwards again, and many and many were the new scenes
they saw, for travelling on Dapplegrim's back was not travelling slowly,
as may be imagined, and then Dapplegrim neighed.
`Do you hear anything? he said.
`Yes; I heard something like a foal neighing quite plainly
a long, long way off,' answered the youth.
`That's a full-grown colt,' said Dapplegrim, `if you hear it so
plainly when it is so far away from us.'
So they travelled onwards a long time, and saw one new scene
after another once more. Then Dapplegrim neighed again.
`Do you hear anything now?' said he.
`Yes; now I heard it quite distinctly, and it neighed like a full-
grown horse,' answered the youth.
`Yes, and you will hear it again very soon,' said Dapplegrim;
`and then you will hear what a voice it has.' So they travelled on
through many more different kinds of country, and then Dapplegrim
neighed for the third time; but before he could ask the youth
if he heard anything, there was such a neighing on the other side
of the heath that the youth thought that hills and rocks would be
rent in pieces.
`Now he is here!' said Dapplegrim. `Be quick, and fling over
me the ox-hides that have the spikes in them, throw the twelve
tons of tar over the field, and climb up into that great spruce fir
tree. When he comes, fire will spurt out of both his nostrils, and
then the tar will catch fire. Now mark what I say--if the flame
ascends I conquer, and if it sinks I fail; but if you see that I am
winning, fling the bridle, which you must take off me, over his
head, and then he will become quite gentle.'
Just as the youth had flung all the hides with the spikes over
Dapplegrim, and the tar over the field, and had got safely up into
the spruce fir, a horse came with flame spouting from his nostrils,
and the tar caught fire in a moment; and Dapplegrim and the
horse began to fight until the stones leapt up to the sky. They
bit, and they fought with their fore legs and their hind legs, and
sometimes the youth looked at them. and sometimes he looked
at the tar, but at last the flames began to rise, for wheresoever
the strange horse bit or wheresoever he kicked he hit upon
the spikes in the hides, and at length he had to yield. When
the youth saw that, he was not long in getting down from the tree
and flinging the bridle over the horse's head, and then he became
so tame that he might have been led by a thin string.
This horse was dappled too, and so like Dapplegrim that no
one could distinguish the one from the other. The youth seated
himself on the dappled horse which he had captured, and rode
home again to the King's palace, and Dapplegrim ran loose by his
side. When he got there, the King was standing outside in the
`Can you tell me which is the horse I have caught, and which
is the one I had before?' said the youth. `If you can't, I think
your daughter is mine.'
The King went and looked at both the dappled horses; he
looked high and he looked low, he looked before and he looked
behind, but there was not a hair's difference between the two.
`No,' said the King; `that I cannot tell thee, and as thou hast
procured such a splendid bridal horse for my daughter thou shalt
have her; but first we must have one more trial, just to see if thou
art fated to have her. She shall hide herself twice, and then thou
shalt hide thyself twice. If thou canst find her each time that
she hides herself, and if she cannot find thee in thy hiding-places,
then it is fated, and thou shalt have the Princess.'
`That, too, was not in our bargain,' said the youth. `But we will
make this trial since it must be so.'
So the King's daughter was to hide herself first.
Then she changed herself into a duck, and lay swimming in a
lake that was just outside the palace. But the youth went down
into the stable and asked Dapplegrim what she had done with herself.
`Oh, all that you have to do is to take your gun, and go down to
the water and aim at the duck which is swimming about there,
and she will soon discover herself,' said Dapplegrim.
The youth snatched up his gun and ran to the lake. `I will
just have a shot at that duck,' said he, and began to aim at it.
`Oh, no, dear friend, don't shoot! It is I,' said the Princess.
So he had found her once.
The second time the Princess changed herself into a loaf, and
laid herself on the table among four other loaves; and she was so
like the other loaves that no one could see any difference between
But the youth again went down to the stable to Dapplegrim,
and told him that the Princess had hidden herself again, and that
he had not the least idea what had become of her.
`Oh, just take a very large bread-knife, sharpen it, and pretend
that you are going to cut straight through the third of the four
loaves which are lying on the kitchen table in the King's palace
--count them from right to left--and you will soon find her,' said
So the youth went up to the kitchen, and began to sharpen the
largest bread-knife that he could find; then he caught hold of the
third loaf on the left-hand side, and put the knife to it as if he
meant to cut it straight in two. `I will have a bit of this bread
for myself,' said he.
`No, dear friend, don't cut, it is I!' said the Princess again;
so he had found her the second time.
And now it was his turn to go and hide himself; but Dapplegrim
had given him such good instructions that it was not easy to find
him. First he turned himself into a horse-fly, and hid himself in
Dapplegrim's left nostril. The Princess went poking about and
searching everywhere, high and low, and wanted to go into
Dapplegrim's stall too, but he began to bite and kick about so
that she was afraid to go there, and could not find the youth.
`Well,' said she, `as I am unable to find you, you must show
yourself; `whereupon the youth immediately appeared standing there
on the stable floor.
Dapplegrim told him what he was to do the second time, and
he turned himself into a lump of earth, and stuck himself between
the hoof and the shoe on Dapplegrim's left fore foot. Once more
the King's daughter went and sought everywhere, inside and outside,
until at last she came into the stable, and wanted to go into
the stall beside Dapplegrim. So this time he allowed her to go
into it, and she peered about high and low, but she could not look
under his hoofs, for he stood much too firmly on his legs for that,
and she could not find the youth.
`Well, you will just have to show where you are yourself, for I
can't find you,' said the Princess, and in an instant the youth was
standing by her side on the floor of the stable.
`Now you are mine!' said he to the Princess.
`Now you can see that it is fated that she should be mine,' he
said to the King.
`Yes, fated it is,' said the King. `So what must be, must.'
Then everything was made ready for the wedding with great
splendour and promptitude, and the youth rode to church on
Dapplegrim, and the King's daughter on the other horse. So everyone
must see that they could not be long on their way thither.
 From J. Moe,
THE ENCHANTED CANARY
ONCE upon a time, in the reign of King Cambrinus, there lived at
Avesnes one of his lords, who was the finest man--by which I
mean the fattest--in the whole country of Flanders. He ate four
meals a day, slept twelve hours out of the twenty-four, and the only
thing he ever did was to shoot at small birds with his bow and
Still, with all his practice he shot very badly, he was so fat and
heavy, and as he grew daily fatter, he was at last obliged to give up
walking, and be dragged about in a wheel-chair, and the people
made fun of him, and gave him the name of my Lord Tubby.
Now, the only trouble that Lord Tubby had was about his son,
whom he loved very much, although they were not in the least
alike, for the young Prince was as thin as a cuckoo. And what
vexed him more than all was, that though the young ladies throughout
all his lands did their best to make the Prince fall in love with
them, he would have nothing to say to any of them, and told his
father he did not wish to marry.
Instead of chatting with them in the dusk, he wandered about
the woods, whispering to the moon. No wonder the young ladies
thought him very odd, but they liked him all the better for that;
and as he had received at his birth the name of Desire, they all
called him d'Amour Desire.
`What is the matter with you?' his father often said to him.
`You have everything you can possibly wish for: a good bed, good
food, and tuns full of beer. The only thing you want, in order to
become as fat as a pig, is a wife that can bring you broad, rich
lands. So marry, and you will be perfectly happy.'
`I ask nothing better than to marry,' replied Desire, `but I have
never seen a woman that pleases me. All the girls here are pink
and white, and I am tired to death of their eternal lilie and roses.
`My faith!' cried Tubby; `do you want to marry a negress,
and give me grandchildren as ugly as monkeys and as stupid as
`No, father, nothing of the sort. But there must be women
somewhere in the world who are neither pink nor white, and I tell
you, once for all, that I will never marry until I have found one
exactly to my taste.'
Some time afterwards, it happened that the Prior of the Abbey
of Saint Amand sent to the Lord of Avesnes a basket of oranges, with
a beautifully-written letter saying that these golden fruit, then
unknown in Flanders, came straight from a land where the sun always
That evening Tubby and his son ate the golden apples at supper,
and thought them delicious.
Next morning as the day dawned, Desire went down to the
stable and saddled his pretty white horse. Then he went, all dressed
for a journey, to the bedside of Tubby, and found him smoking his
`Father,' he said gravely, `I have come to bid you farewell.
Last night I dreamed that I was walking in a wood, where the
trees were covered with golden apples. I gathered one of them,
and when I opened it there came out a lovely princess with a
golden skin. That is the wife I want, and I am going to look for
The Lord of Avesnes was so much astonished that he let his pipe
fall to the ground; then he became so diverted at the notion of his
son marrying a yellow woman, and a woman shut up inside an
orange, that he burst into fits of laughter.
Desire waited to bid him good-bye until he was quiet again;
but as his father went on laughing and showed no signs of stopping,
the young man took his hand, kissed it tenderly, opened the door,
and in the twinkling of an eye was as at the bottom of the staircase.
He jumped lightly on his horse, and was a mile from home before
Tubby had ceased laughing.
`A yellow wife! He must be mad! fit for a strait waistcoat!'
cried the good man, when he was able to speak. `Here! quick!
bring him back to me.'
The servants mounted their horses and rode after the Prince;
but as they did not know which road he had taken, they went all
ways except the right one, and instead of bringing him back they
returned themselves when it grew dark, with their horses worn out
and covered with dust.
When Desire thought they could no longer catch him, he pulled
his horse into a walk, like a prudent man who knows he has far to
go. He travelled in this way for many weeks, passing by villages,
towns, mountains, valleys, and plains, but always pushing south,
where every day the sun seemed hotter and more brilliant.
At last one day at sunset Desire felt the sun so warm, that he
thought he must now be near the place of his dream. He was at
that moment close to the corner of a wood where stood a little hut,
before the door of which his horse stopped of his own accord. An
old man with a white beard was sitting on the doorstep enjoying
the fresh air. The Prince got down from his horse and asked leave
`Come in, my young friend,' said the old man; `my house is not
large, but it is big enough to hold a stranger.'
The traveller entered, and his host put before him a simple meal.
When his hunger was satisfied the old man said to him:
`If I do not mistake, you come from far. May I ask where you
`I will tell you,' answered Desire, `though most likely you will
laugh at me. I dreamed that in the land of the sun there was a
wood full of orange trees, and that in one of the oranges I should
find a beautiful princess who is to be my wife. It is she I am
`Why should I laugh?' asked the old man. `Madness in youth
is true wisdom. Go, young man, follow your dream, and if you do
not find the happiness that you seek, at any rate you will have had
the happiness of seeking it.'
The next day the Prince arose early and took leave of his host.
`The wood that you saw in your dream is not far from here,'
said the old man. `It is in the depth of the forest, and this road
will lead you there. You will come to a vast park surrounded by
high walls. In the middle of the park is a castle, where dwells a
horrible witch who allows no living being to enter the doors.
Behind the castle is the orange grove. Follow the wall till you come
to a heavy iron gate. Don't try to press it open, but oil the hinges
with this,' and the old man gave him a small bottle.
`The gate will open of itself,' he continued, `and a huge dog
which guards the castle will come to you with his mouth wide open,
but just throw him this oat cake. Next, you will see a baking
woman leaning over her heated oven. Give her this brush.
Lastly, you will find a well on your left; do not forget to take the
cord of the bucket and spread it in the sun. When you have done this,
do not enter the castle, but go round it and enter the orange grove.
Then gather three oranges, and get back to the gate as fast as you can.
Once out of the gate, leave the forest by the opposite side.
`Now, attend to this: whatever happens, do not open your oranges
till you reach the bank of a river, or a fountain. Out of each orange
will come a princess, and you can choose which you like for your
wife. Your choice once made, be very careful never to leave your
bride for an instant, and remember that the danger which is most
to be feared is never the danger we are most afraid of.'
Desire thanked his host warmly, and took the road he pointed
out. In less than an hour he arrived at the wall, which was very
high indeed. He sprang to the ground, fastened his horse to a tree,
and soon found the iron gate. Then he took out his bottle and oiled
the hinges, when the gate opened of itself, and he saw an old castle
standing inside. The Prince entered boldly into the courtyard.
Suddenly he heard fierce howls, and a dog as tall as a donkey,
with eyes like billiard balls, came towards him, showing his teeth,
which were like the prongs of a fork. Desire flung him the oat
cake, which the great dog instantly snapped up, and the young
Prince passed quietly on.
A few yards further he saw a huge oven, with a wide,
red-hot gaping mouth. A woman as tall as a giant was leaning
over the oven. Desire gave her the brush, which she took in
Then he went on to the well, drew up the cord, which was half
rotten, and stretched it out in the sun.
Lastly he went round the castle, and plunged into the orange
grove. There he gathered the three most beautiful oranges he could
find, and turned to go back to the gate.
But just at this moment the sun was darkened, the earth trembled,
and Desire heard a voice crying:
`Baker, baker, take him by his feet, and throw him into the oven!'
`No,' replied the baker; `a long time has passed since I first
began to scour this oven with my own flesh. YOU never cared to
give me a brush; but he has given me one, and he shall go in peace.'
`Rope, O rope!' cried the voice again, `twine yourself round
his neck and strangle him.'
`No,' replied the rope; `you have left me for many years past
to fall to pieces with the damp. He has stretched me out in the
sun. Let him go in peace.'
`Dog, my good dog,' cried the voice, more and more angry,
`jump at his throat and eat him up.'
`No,' replied the dog; `though I have served you long, you never
gave me any bread. He has given me as much as I want. Let
him go in peace.'
`Iron gate, iron gate,' cried the voice, growling like thunder,
`fall on him and grind him to powder.'
`No,' replied the gate; `it is a hundred years since you left me
to rust, and he has oiled me. Let him go in peace.'
Once outside, the young adventurer put his oranges into a bag
that hung from his saddle, mounted his horse, and rode quickly out
of the forest.
Now, as he was longing to see the princesses, he was very anxious
to come to a river or a fountain, but, though he rode for hours, a
river or fountain was nowhere to be seen. Still his heart was light,
for he felt that he had got through the most difficult part of his task,
and the rest was easy.
About mid-day he reached a sandy plain, scorching in the sun.
Here he was seized with dreadful thirst; he took his gourd and
raised it to his lips.
But the gourd was empty; in the excitement of his joy he had
forgotten to fill it. He rode on, struggling with his sufferings, but
at last he could bear it no longer.
He let himself slide to the earth, and lay down beside his horse,
his throat burning, his chest heaving, and his head going round.
Already he felt that death was near him, when his eyes fell on the
bag where the oranges peeped out.
Poor Desire, who had braved so many dangers to win the lady
of his dreams, would have given at this moment all the princesses
in the world, were they pink or golden, for a single drop of water.
`Ah!' he said to himself. `If only these oranges were real fruit--
fruit as refreshing as what I ate in Flanders! And, after all, who
This idea put some life into him. He had the strength to lift
himself up and put his hand into his bag. He drew out an orange
and opened it with his knife.
Out of it flew the prettiest little female canary that ever was
`Give me something to drink, I am dying of thirst,' said the
`Wait a minute,' replied Desire, so much astonished that he
forgot his own sufferings; and to satisfy the bird he took a second
orange, and opened it without thinking what he was doing. Out
of it flew another canary, and she too began to cry:
`I am dying of thirst; give me something to drink.'
Then Tubby's son saw his folly, and while the two canaries
flew away he sank on the ground, where, exhausted by his last
effort, he lay unconscious.
When he came to himself, he had a pleasant feeling of freshness
all about him. It was night, the sky was sparkling with stars, and
the earth was covered with a heavy dew.
The traveller having recovered, mounted his horse, and at the
first streak of dawn he saw a stream dancing in front of him, and
stooped down and drank his fill.
He hardly had courage to open his last orange. Then he
remembered that the night before he had disobeyed the orders of the
old man. Perhaps his terrible thirst was a trick of the cunning
witch, and suppose, even though he opened the orange on the
banks of the stream, that he did not find in it the princess that he
He took his knife and cut it open. Alas! out of it flew a little
canary, just like the others, who cried:
`I am thirsty; give me something to drink.'
Great was the disappointment of Desire. However, he was
determined not to let this bird fly away; so he took up some water
in the palm of his hand and held it to its beak.
Scarcely had the canary drunk when she became a beautiful
girl, tall and straight as a poplar tree, with black eyes and a golden
skin. Desire had never seen anyone half so lovely, and he stood
gazing at her in delight.
On her side she seemed quite bewildered, but she looked about
her with happy eyes, and was not at all afraid of her deliverer.
He asked her name. She answered that she was called the
Princess Zizi; she was about sixteen years old, and for ten years of
that time the witch had kept her shut up in an orange, in the
shape of a canary.
`Well, then, my charming Zizi,' said the young Prince, who
was longing to marry her, `let us ride away quickly so as to
escape from the wicked witch.'
But Zizi wished to know where he meant to take her.
`To my father's castle,' he said.
He mounted his horse and took her in front of him, and, holding
her carefully in his arms, they began their journey.
Everything the Princess saw was new to her, and in passing
through mountains, valleys, and towns, she asked a thousand
questions. Desire was charmed to answer them. It is so delightful
to teach those one loves!
Once she inquired what the girls in his country were like.
`They are pink and white,' he replied, `and their eyes are blue.'
`Do you like blue eyes?' said the Princess; but Desire thought
it was a good opportunity to find out what was in her heart, so he
did not answer.
`And no doubt,' went on the Princess, `one of them is your
Still he was silent, and Zizi drew herself up proudly.
`No,' he said at last. `None of the girls of my own country
are beautiful in my eyes, and that is why I came to look for a wife
in the land of the sun. Was I wrong, my lovely Zizi?'
This time it was Zizi's turn to be silent.
Talking in this way they drew near to the castle. When they
were about four stone-throws from the gates they dismounted in
the forest, by the edge of a fountain.
`My dear Zizi,' said Tubby's son, `we cannot present ourselves
before my father like two common people who have come back
from a walk. We must enter the castle with more ceremony.
Wait for me here, and in an hour I will return with carriages and
horses fit for a princess.'
`Don't be long,' replied Zizi, and she watched him go with
When she was left by herself the poor girl began to feel afraid.
She was alone for the first time in her life, and in the middle of a
Suddenly she heard a noise among the trees. Fearing lest it
should be a wolf, she hid herself in the hollow trunk of a willow
tree which hung over the fountain. It was big enough to hold
her altogether, but she peeped out, and her pretty head was
reflected in the clear water.
Then there appeared, not a wolf, but a creature quite as wicked
and quite as ugly. Let us see who this creature was.
Not far from the fountain there lived a family of bricklayers.
Now, fifteen years before this time, the father in walking through
the forest found a little girl, who had been deserted by the gypsies.
He carried her home to his wife, and the good woman was sorry
for her, and brought her up with her own sons. As she grew
older, the little gypsy became much more remarkable for strength
and cunning than for sense or beauty. She had a low forehead,
a flat nose, thick lips, coarse hair, and a skin not golden like that
of Zizi, but the colour of clay.
As she was always being teased about her complexion, she got
as noisy and cross as a titmouse. So they used to call her Titty.
Titty was often sent by the bricklayer to fetch water from the
fountain, and as she was very proud and lazy the gypsy disliked
this very much.
It was she who had frightened Zizi by appearing with her
pitcher on her shoulder. Just as she was stooping to fill it, she
saw reflected in the water the lovely image of the Princess.
`What a pretty face!' she exclaimed, `Why, it must be
mine! How in the world can they call me ugly? I am certainly
much too pretty to be their water carrier!'
So saying, she broke her pitcher and went home.
`Where is your pitcher?' asked the bricklayer.
`Well, what do you expect? The pitcher may go many times
to the well. . . .'
`But at last it is broken. Well, here is a bucket that will not
The gypsy returned to the fountain, and addressing once more
the image of Zizi, she said:
`No; I don't mean to be a beast of burden any longer.' And
she flung the bucket so high in the air that it stuck in the branches
of an oak.
`I met a wolf,' she told the bricklayer, `and I broke the bucket
across his nose.'
The bricklayer asked her no more questions, but took down a
broom and gave her such a beating that her pride was humbled
Then he handed to her an old copper milk-can, and said:
`If you don't bring it back full, your bones shall suffer for it.'
Titty went off rubbing her sides; but this time she did not dare
to disobey, and in a very bad temper stooped down over the well.
It was not at all easy to fill the milk-can, which was large and
round. It would not go down into the well, and the gypsy had to
try again and again.
At last her arms grew so tired that when she did manage to get
the can properly under the water she had no strength to pull it up,
and it rolled to the bottom.
On seeing the can disappear, she made such a miserable face
that Zizi, who had been watching her all this time, burst into fits of
Titty turned round and perceived the mistake she had made;
and she felt so angry that she made up her mind to be revenged at
`What are you doing there, you lovely creature?' she said to
`I am waiting for my lover,' Zizi replied; and then, with a
simplicity quite natural in a girl who so lately had been a canary,
she told all her story.
The gypsy had often seen the young Prince pass by, with his
gun on his shoulder, when he was going after crows. She was too
ugly and ragged for him ever to have noticed her, but Titty on her
side had admired him, though she thought he might well have been
a little fatter.
`Dear, dear!' she said to herself. `So he likes yellow women!
Why, I am yellow too, and if I could only think of a way----'
It was not long before she did think of it.
`What!' cried the sly Titty, `they are coming with great pomp
to fetch you, and you are not afraid to show yourself to so many
fine lords and ladies with your hair down like that? Get down at
once, my poor child, and let me dress your hair for you!'
The innocent Zizi came down at once, and stood by Titty. The
gypsy began to comb her long brown locks, when suddenly she drew
a pin from her stays, and, just as the titmouse digs its beak into
the heads of linnets and larks, Titty dug the pin into the head of
No sooner did Zizi feel the prick of the pin than she became a
bird again, and, spreading her wings, she flew away.
`That was neatly done,' said the gypsy. `The Prince will be
clever if he finds his bride.' And, arranging her dress, she seated
herself on the grass to await Desire.
Meanwhile the Prince was coming as fast as his horse could
carry him. He was so impatient that he was always full fifty
yards in front of the lords and ladies sent by Tubby to bring back
At the sight of the hideous gypsy he was struck dumb with
surprise and horror.
`Ah me!' said Titty, `so you don't know your poor Zizi?
While you were away the wicked witch came, and turned me into
this. But if you only have the courage to marry me I shall get
back my beauty.' And she began to cry bitterly.
Now the good-natured Desire was as soft-hearted as he was brave.
`Poor girl,' he thought to himself. `It is not her fault, after all,
that she has grown so ugly, it is mine. Oh! why did I not follow
the old man's advice? Why did I leave her alone? And besides, it
depends on me to break the spell, and I love her too much to let
her remain like this.'
So he presented the gypsy to the lords and ladies of the Court,
explaining to them the terrible misfortune which had befallen his
They all pretended to believe it, and the ladies at once put on
the false princess the rich dresses they had brought for Zizi.
She was then perched on the top of a magnificent ambling
palfrey, and they set forth to the castle.
But unluckily the rich dress and jewels only made Titty look
uglier still, and Desire could not help feeling hot and uncomfortable
when he made his entry with her into the city.
Bells were pealing, chimes ringing, and the people filling the
streets and standing at their doors to watch the procession go by,
and they could hardly believe their eyes as they saw what a strange
bride their Prince had chosen.
In order to do her more honour, Tubby came to meet her at the
foot of the great marble staircase. At the sight of the hideous
creature he almost fell backwards.
`What!' he cried. `Is this the wonderful beauty?'
`Yes, father, it is she,' replied Desire with a sheepish look. `But
she has been bewitched by a wicked sorceress, and will not regain
her beauty until she is my wife.'
`Does she say so? Well, if you believe that, you may drink cold
water and think it bacon,' the unhappy Tubby answered crossly.
But all the same, as he adored his son, he gave the gypsy his
hand and led her to the great hall, where the bridal feast was
The feast was excellent, but Desire hardly touched anything.
However, to make up, the other guests ate greedily, and, as for
Tubby, nothing ever took away his appetite.
When the moment arrived to serve the roast goose, there was a
pause, and Tubby took the opportunity to lay down his knife and
fork for a little. But as the goose gave no sign of appearing, he
sent his head carver to find out what was the matter in the kitchen.
Now this was what had happened.
While the goose was turning on the spit, a beautiful little
canary hopped on to the sill of the open window.
`Good-morning, my fine cook,' she said in a silvery voice to the
man who was watching the roast.
`Good-morning, lovely golden bird,' replied the chief of the
scullions, who had been well brought up.
`I pray that Heaven may send you to sleep,' said the golden bird,
`and that the goose may burn, so that there may be none left for
And instantly the chief of the scullions fell fast asleep, and the
goose was burnt to a cinder.
When he awoke he was horrified, and gave orders to pluck
another goose, to stuff it with chestnuts, and put it on the spit.
While it was browning at the fire, Tubby inquired for his goose
a second time. The Master Cook himself mounted to the hall to
make his excuses, and to beg his lord to have a little patience.
Tubby showed his patience by abusing his son.
`As if it wasn't enough,' he grumbled between his teeth, `that the
boy should pick up a hag without a penny, but the goose must go and
burn now. It isn't a wife he has brought me, it is Famine herself.'
While the Master Cook was upstairs, the golden bird came again
to perch on the window-sill, and called in his clear voice to the head
scullion, who was watching the spit:
`Good-morning, my fine Scullion!'
`Good-morning, lovely Golden Bird,' replied the Scullion, whom
the Master Cook had forgotten in his excitement to warn.
`I pray Heaven,' went on the Canary, `that it will send you to
sleep, and that the goose may burn, so that there may be none left
And the Scullion fell fast asleep, and when the Master Cook came
back he found the goose as black as the chimney.
In a fury he woke the Scullion, who in order to save himself
from blame told the whole story.
`That accursed bird,' said the Cook; `it will end by getting me
sent away. Come, some of you, and hide yourselves, and if it comes
again, catch it and wring its neck.'
He spitted a third goose, lit a huge fire, and seated himself
The bird appeared a third time, and said: `Good-morning, my
`Good-morning, lovely Golden Bird,' replied the Cook, as if
nothing had happened, and at the moment that the Canary was beginning,
`I pray Heaven that it may send,' a scullion who was hidden
outside rushed out and shut the shutters. The bird flew into the
kitchen. Then all the cooks and scullions sprang after it, knocking
at it with their aprons. At length one of them caught it just at the
very moment that Tubby entered the kitchen, waving his sceptre.
He had come to see for himself why the goose had never made its
The Scullion stopped at once, just as he was about to wring the
`Will some one be kind enough to tell me the meaning of all this?'
cried the Lord of Avesnes.
`Your Excellency, it is the bird,' replied the Scullion, and he
placed it in his hand.
`Nonsense! What a lovely bird!' said Tubby, and in stroking its
head he touched a pin that was sticking between its feathers. He
pulled it out, and lo! the Canary at once became a beautiful girl
with a golden skin who jumped lightly to the ground.
`Gracious! what a pretty girl!' said Tubby.
`Father! it is she! it is Zizi!' exclaimed Desire, who entered
at this moment.
And he took her in his arms, crying: `My darling Zizi, how happy
I am to see you once more!'
`Well, and the other one?' asked Tubby.
The other one was stealing quietly to the door.
`Stop her! called Tubby. `We will judge her cause at once.'
And he seated himself solemnly on the oven, and condemned
Titty to be burned alive. After which the lords and cooks formed
themselves in lines, and Tubby betrothed Desire to Zizi.
The marriage took place a few days later. All the boys in the
country side were there, armed with wooden swords, and decorated
with epaulets made of gilt paper.
Zizi obtained Titty's pardon, and she was sent back to the brick-
fields, followed and hooted at by all the boys. And this is why to-
day the country boys always throw stones at a titmouse.
On the evening of the wedding-day all the larders, cellars,
cupboards and tables of the people, whether rich or poor, were loaded
as if by enchantment with bread, wine, beer, cakes and tarts, roast
larks, and even geese, so that Tubby could not complain any more
that his son had married Famine.
Since that time there has always been plenty to eat in that
country, and since that time, too, you see in the midst of the fair-
haired blue-eyed women of Flanders a few beautiful girls, whose
eyes are black and whose skins are the colour of gold. They are
the descendants of Zizi.
 Charles Deulin, Contes du Roi Gambrinus.
THE TWELVE BROTHERS
THERE were once upon a time a King and a Queen who lived
happily together, and they had twelve children, all of whom
were boys. One day the King said to his wife:
`If our thirteenth child is a girl, all her twelve brothers must
die, so that she may be very rich and the kingdom hers alone.'
Then he ordered twelve coffins to be made, and filled them with
shavings, and placed a little pillow in each. These he put away in
an empty room, and, giving the key to his wife, he bade her tell no
one of it.
The Queen grieved over the sad fate of her sons and refused to
be comforted, so much so that the youngest boy, who was always
with her, and whom she had christened Benjamin, said to her one
`Dear mother, why are you so sad?'
`My child,' she answered, `I may not tell you the reason.'
But he left her no peace, till she went and unlocked the room
and showed him the twelve coffins filled with shavings, and with
the little pillow laid in each.
Then she said: `My dearest Benjamin, your father has had
these coffins made for you and your eleven brothers, because if I
bring a girl into the world you are all to be killed and buried in
She wept bitterly as she spoke, but her son comforted her and
`Don't cry, dear mother; we'll manage to escape somehow, and
will fly for our lives.'
`Yes,' replied his mother, `that is what you must do--go with
your eleven brothers out into the wood, and let one of you always
sit on the highest tree you can find, keeping watch on the tower of
the castle. If I give birth to a little son I will wave a white
flag, and then you may safely return; but if I give birth to a little
daughter I will wave a red flag, which will warn you to fly away as
quickly as you can, and may the kind Heaven have pity on you.
Every night I will get up and pray for you, in winter that you may
always have a fire to warm yourselves by, and in summer that you
may not languish in the heat.'
Then she blessed her sons and they set out into the wood.
They found a very high oak tree, and there they sat, turn about,
keeping their eyes always fixed on the castle tower. On the
twelfth day, when the turn came to Benjamin, he noticed a flag
waving in the air, but alas! it was not white, but blood red, the
sign which told them they must all die. When the brothers heard
this they were very angry, and said:
`Shall we forsooth suffer death for the sake of a wretched girl?
Let us swear vengeance, and vow that wherever and whenever we
shall meet one of her sex, she shall die at our hands.'
Then they went their way deeper into the wood, and in the
middle of it, where it was thickest and darkest, they came upon a
little enchanted house which stood empty.
`Here,' they said, `let us take up our abode, and you, Benjamin,
you are the youngest and weakest, you shall stay at home and keep
house for us; we others will go out and fetch food.' So they went
forth into the wood, and shot hares and roe-deer, birds and wood-
pigeons, and any other game they came across. They always
brought their spoils home to Benjamin, who soon learnt to make
them into dainty dishes. So they lived for ten years in this little
house, and the time slipped merrily away.
In the meantime their little sister at home was growing up quickly.
She was kind-hearted and of a fair countenance, and she had a gold
star right in the middle of her forehead. One day a big washing was
going on at the palace, and the girl looking down from her window
saw twelve men's shirts hanging up to dry, and asked her mother:
`Who in the world do these shirts belong to? Surely they are
far too small for my father?'
And the Queen answered sadly: `Dear child, they belong to your
`But where are my twelve brothers?' said the girl. `I have
never even heard of them.'
`Heaven alone knows in what part of the wide world they are
wandering,' replied her mother.
Then she took the girl and opened the locked-up room; she
showed her the twelve coffins filled with shavings, and with the
little pillow laid in each.
`These coffins,' she said, `were intended for your brothers, but
they stole secretly away before you were born.'
Then she to tell her all that had happened, and when
she had finished her daughter said:
`Do not cry, dearest mother; I will go and seek my brothers till
I find them.'
So she took the twelve shirts and went on straight into the
middle of the big wood. She walked all day long, and came in the
evening to the little enchanted house. She stepped in and found a
youth who, marvelling at her beauty, at the royal robes she wore,
and at the golden star on her forehead, asked her where she came
from and whither she was going.
`I am a Princess,' she answered, `and am seeking for my twelve
brothers. I mean to wander as far as the blue sky stretches over
the earth till I find them.'
Then she showed him the twelve shirts which she had taken
with her, and Benjamin saw that it must be his sister, and
`I am Benjamin, your youngest brother.'
So they wept for joy, and kissed and hugged each other again
and again. After a time Benjamin said:
`Dear sister, there is still a little difficulty, for we had all agreed
that any girl we met should die at our hands, because it was for the
sake of a girl that we had to leave our kingdom.'
`But,' she replied, `I will gladly die if by that means I can restore
my twelve brothers to their own.'
`No,' he answered, `there is no need for that; only go and hide
under that tub till our eleven brothers come in, and I'll soon make
matters right with them.'
She did as she was bid, and soon the others came home from
the chase and sat down to supper.
`Well, Benjamin, what's the news?' they asked.
But he replied, `I like that; have you nothing to tell me?'
`No,' they answered.
Then he said: `Well, now, you've been out in the wood all the
day and I've stayed quietly at home, and all the same I know more
than you do.'
`Then tell us,' they cried.
But he answered: `Only on condition that you promise faithfully
that the first girl we meet shall not be killed.'
`She shall be spared,' they promised, `only tell us the news.'
Then Benjamin said: `Our sister is here!' and he lifted up the
tub and the Princess stepped forward, with her royal robes and with
the golden star on her forehead, looking so lovely and sweet and
charming that they all fell in love with her on the spot.
They arranged that she should stay at home with Benjamin and
help him in the house work, while the rest of the brothers went out
into the wood and shot hares and roe-deer, birds and wood-pigeons.
And Benjamin and his sister cooked their meals for them. She
gathered herbs to cook the vegetables in, fetched the wood, and
watched the pots on the fire, and always when her eleven brothers
returned she had their supper ready for them. Besides this, she
kept the house in order, tidied all the rooms, and made herself so
generally useful that her brothers were delighted, and they all lived
One day the two at home prepared a fine feast, and when they were
all assembled they sat down and ate and drank and made merry.
Now there was a little garden round the enchanted house, in
which grew twelve tall lilies. The girl, wishing to please her
brothers, plucked the twelve flowers, meaning to present one to
each of them as they sat at supper. But hardly had she plucked
the flowers when her brothers were turned into twelve ravens, who
flew croaking over the wood, and the house and garden vanished also.
So the poor girl found herself left all alone in the wood, and as
she looked round her she noticed an old woman standing close
beside her, who said:
`My child, what have you done? Why didn't you leave the
flowers alone? They were your twelve brothers. Now they are
changed for ever into ravens.'
The girl asked, sobbing: `Is there no means of setting them
`No,' said the old woman, `there is only one way in the whole
world, and that is so difficult that you won't free them by it, for
you would have to be dumb and not laugh for seven years, and if
you spoke a single word, though but an hour were wanting to the
time, your silence would all have been in vain, and that one word
would slay your brothers.'
Then the girl said to herself: `If that is all I am quite sure I
can free my brothers.' So she searched for a high tree, and when
she had found one she climbed up it and spun all day long, never
laughing or speaking one word.
Now it happened one day that a King who was hunting in the
wood had a large greyhound, who ran sniffing to the tree on which
the girl sat, and jumped round it, yelping and barking furiously.
The King's attention was attracted, and when he looked up and beheld
the beautiful Princess with the golden star on her forehead, he
was so enchanted by her beauty that he asked her on the spot to
be his wife. She gave no answer, but nodded slightly with her
head. Then he climbed up the tree himself, lifted her down, put
her on his horse and bore her home to his palace.
The marriage was celebrated with much pomp and ceremony,
but the bride neither spoke nor laughed.
When they had lived a few years happily together, the King's
mother, who was a wicked old woman, began to slander the young
Queen, and said to the King:
`She is only a low-born beggar maid that you have married;
who knows what mischief she is up to? If she is deaf and can't
speak, she might at least laugh; depend upon it, those who don't
laugh have a bad conscience.' At first the King paid no heed to
her words, but the old woman harped so long on the subject, and
accused the young Queen of so many bad things, that at last he let
himself be talked over, and condemned his beautiful wife to death.
So a great fire was lit in the courtyard of the palace, where she
was to be burnt, and the King watched the proceedings from an
upper window, crying bitterly the while, for he still loved his wife
dearly. But just as she had been bound to the stake, and the
flames were licking her garments with their red tongues, the very
last moment of the seven years had come. Then a sudden rushing
sound was heard in the air, and twelve ravens were seen flying
overhead. They swooped downwards, and as soon as they touched
the ground they turned into her twelve brothers, and she knew that
she had freed them.
They quenched the flames and put out the fire, and, unbinding
their dear sister from the stake. they kissed and hugged her again
and again. And now that she was able to open her mouth and
speak, she told the King why she had been dumb and not able to
The King rejoiced greatly when he heard she was innocent, and
they all lived happily ever afterwards.
ONCE upon a time there lived a man and his wife who were very
unhappy because they had no children. These good people
had a little window at the back of their house, which looked into
the most lovely garden, full of all manner of beautiful flowers and
vegetables; but the garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no
one dared to enter it, for it belonged to a witch of great power, who
was feared by the whole world. One day the woman stood at the
window overlooking the garden, and saw there a bed full of the
finest rampion: the leaves looked so fresh and green that she longed
to eat them. The desire grew day by day, and just because she
knew she couldn't possibly get any, she pined away and became
quite pale and wretched. Then her husband grew alarmed and
`What ails you, dear wife?'
`Oh,' she answered, `if I don't get some rampion to eat out of
the garden behind the house, I know I shall die.'
The man, who loved her dearly, thought to himself, `Come! rather
than let your wife die you shall fetch her some rampion, no matter
the cost.' So at dusk he climbed over the wall into the witch's
garden, and, hastily gathering a handful of rampion leaves, he
returned with them to his wife. She made them into a salad, which
tasted so good that her longing for the forbidden food was greater
than ever. If she were to know any peace of mind, there was
nothing for it but that her husband should climb over the garden
wall again, and fetch her some more. So at dusk over he got,
but when he reached the other side he drew back in terror, for
there, standing before him, was the old witch.
`How dare you,' she said, with a wrathful glance, `climb into
my garden and steal my rampion like a common thief? You shall
suffer for your foolhardiness.'
`Oh!' he implored, `pardon my presumption; necessity alone
drove me to the deed. My wife saw your rampion from her window,
and conceived such a desire for it that she would certainly have
died if her wish had not been gratified.' Then the Witch's anger
was a little appeased, and she said:
`If it's as you say, you may take as much rampion away with
you as you like, but on one condition only--that you give me the
child your wife will shortly bring into the world. All shall go well
with it, and I will look after it like a mother.'
The man in his terror agreed to everything she asked, and as soon
as the child was born the Witch appeared, and having given it the
name of Rapunzel, which is the same as rampion, she carried it off
Rapunzel was the most beautiful child under the sun. When
she was twelve years old the Witch shut her up in a tower, in the
middle of a great wood, and the tower had neither stairs nor doors,
only high up at the very top a small window. When the old Witch
wanted to get in she stood underneath and called out:
Let down your golden hair,'
for Rapunzel had wonderful long hair, and it was as fine as spun
gold. Whenever she heard the Witch's voice she unloosed her
plaits, and let her hair fall down out of the window about twenty
yards below, and the old Witch climbed up by it.
After they had lived like this for a few years, it happened one
day that a Prince was riding through the wood and passed by the
tower. As he drew near it he heard someone singing so sweetly
that he stood still spell-bound, and listened. It was Rapunzel in
her loneliness trying to while away the time by letting her sweet voice
ring out into the wood. The Prince longed to see the owner of the
voice, but he sought in vain for a door in the tower. He rode home,
but he was so haunted by the song he had heard that he returned
every day to the wood and listened. One day, when he was standing
thus behind a tree, he saw the old Witch approach and heard
her call out:
Let down your golden hair.'
Then Rapunzel let down her plaits, and the Witch climbed up by them.
`So that's the staircase, is it?' said the Prince. `Then I too will
climb it and try my luck.'
So on the following day, at dusk, he went to the foot of the tower
Let down your golden hair,'
and as soon as she had let it down the Prince climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man came in, for she had
never seen one before; but the Prince spoke to her so kindly, and told her
at once that his heart had been so touched by her singing, that he felt
he should know no peace of mind till he had seen her. Very soon Rapunzel
forgot her fear, and when he asked her to marry him she consented at once.
`For,' she thought, `he is young and handsome, and I'll certainly be happier
with him than with the old Witch.' So she put her hand in his and said:
`Yes, I will gladly go with you, only how am I to get down out of the tower?
Every time you come to see me you must bring a skein of silk with you,
and I will make a ladder of them, and when it is finished I will climb down
by it, and you will take me away on your horse.'
They arranged that till the ladder was ready, he was to come to her
every evening, because the old woman was with her during the day.
The old Witch, of course, knew nothing of what was going on,
till one day Rapunzel, not thinking of what she was about,
turned to the Witch and said:
`How is it, good mother, that you are so much harder to pull
up than the young Prince? He is always with me in a moment.'
`Oh! you wicked child,' cried the Witch. `What is this I hear? I
thought I had hidden you safely from the whole world, and in spite
of it you have managed to deceive me.'
In her wrath she seized Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wound it
round and round her left hand, and then grasping a pair of scissors
in her right, snip snap, off it came, and the beautiful plaits lay on
the ground. And, worse than this, she was so hard-hearted that
she took Rapunzel to a lonely desert place, and there left her to
live in loneliness and misery.
But on the evening of the day in which she had driven poor
Rapunzel away, the Witch fastened the plaits on to a hook in the
window, and when the Prince came and called out:
Let down your golden hair,'
she let them down, and the Prince climbed up as usual, but instead
of his beloved Rapunzel he found the old Witch, who fixed her evil,
glittering eyes on him, and cried mockingly:
`Ah, ah! you thought to find your lady love, but the pretty bird
has flown and its song is dumb; the cat caught it, and will scratch
out your eyes too. Rapunzel is lost to you for ever--you will never
see her more.'
The Prince was beside himself with grief, and in his despair he
jumped right down from the tower, and, though he escaped with his
life, the thorns among which he fell pierced his eyes out. Then he
wandered, blind and miserable, through the wood, eating nothing
but roots and berries, and weeping and lamenting the loss of his
lovely bride. So he wandered about for some years, as wretched
and unhappy as he could well be, and at last he came to the desert
place where Rapunzel was living. Of a sudden he heard a voice
which seemed strangely familiar to him. He walked eagerly in
the direction of the sound, and when he was quite close, Rapunzel
recognised him and fell on his neck and wept. But two of her
tears touched his eyes, and in a moment they became quite clear
again, and he saw as well as he had ever done. Then he led her to
his kingdom, where they were received and welcomed with great
joy, and they lived happily ever after.
THE NETTLE SPINNER
ONCE upon a time there lived at Quesnoy, in Flanders, a great lord
whose name was Burchard, but whom the country people called
Burchard the Wolf. Now Burchard had such a wicked, cruel heart,
that it was whispered how he used to harness his peasants to the
plough, and force them by blows from his whip to till his land with
His wife, on the other hand, was always tender and pitiful to the
poor and miserable.
Every time that she heard of another misdeed of her husband's
she secretly went to repair the evil, which caused her name to be
blessed throughout the whole country-side. This Countess was
adored as much as the Count was hated.
One day when he was out hunting the Count passed through a
forest, and at the door of a lonely cottage he saw a beautiful girl
`What is your name?' he asked her.
`Renelde, my lord.'
`You must get tired of staying in such a lonely place?'
`I am accustomed to it, my lord, and I never get tired of it.'
`That may be so; but come to the castle, and I will make you
lady's maid to the Countess.'
`I cannot do that, my lord. I have to look after my grandmother,
who is very helpless.'
`Come to the castle, I tell you. I shall expect you this evening,'
and he went on his way.
But Renelde, who was betrothed to a young wood-cutter called
Guilbert, had no intention of obeying the Count, and she had,
besides, to take care of her grandmother.
Three days later the Count again passed by.
`Why didn't you come?' he asked the pretty spinner.
`I told you, my lord, that I have to look after my grandmother.'
`Come to-morrow, and I will make you lady-in-waiting to the
Countess,' and he went on his way.
This offer produced no more effect than the other, and Renelde
did not go to the castle.
`If you will only come,' said the Count to her when next he
rode by, `I will send away the Countess, and will marry you.'
But two years before, when Renelde's mother was dying of a
long illness, the Countess had not forgotten them, but had given
help when they sorely needed it. So even if the Count had really
wished to marry Renelde, she would always have refused.
Some weeks passed before Burchard appeared again.
Renelde hoped she had got rid of him, when one day he stopped
at the door, his duck-gun under his arm and his game-bag on his
shoulder. This time Renelde was spinning not hemp, but flax.
`What are you spinning?' he asked in a rough voice.
`My wedding shift, my lord.'
`You are going to be married, then?'
`Yes, my lord, by your leave.'
For at that time no peasant could marry without the leave of
`I will give you leave on one condition. Do you see those tall
nettles that grow on the tombs in the churchyard? Go and gather
them, and spin them into two fine shifts. One shall be your bridal
shift, and the other shall be my shroud. For you shall be married
the day that I am laid in my grave.' And the Count turned away
with a mocking laugh.
Renelde trembled. Never in all Locquignol had such a thing
been heard of as the spinning of nettles.
And besides, the Count seemed made of iron and was very
proud of his strength, often boasting that he should live to be a
Every evening, when his work was done, Guilbert came to visit
his future bride. This evening he came as usual, and Renelde told
him what Burchard had said.
`Would you like me to watch for the Wolf, and split his skull
with a blow from my axe?'
`No,' replied Renelde, `there must be no blood on my bridal
bouquet. And then we must not hurt the Count. Remember how
good the Countess was to my mother.'
An old, old woman now spoke: she was the mother of Renelde's
grandmother, and was more than ninety years old. All day long
she sat in her chair nodding her head and never saying a word.
`My children,' she said, `all the years that I have lived in the
world, I have never heard of a shift spun from nettles. But what
God commands, man can do. Why should not Renelde try it?'
Renelde did try, and to her great surprise the nettles when
crushed and prepared gave a good thread, soft and light and firm.
Very soon she had spun the first shift, which was for her own
wedding. She wove and cut it out at once, hoping that the Count
would not force her to begin the other. Just as she had finished
sewing it, Burchard the Wolf passed by.
`Well,' said he, `how are the shifts getting on?'
`Here, my lord, is my wedding garment,' answered Renelde,
showing him the shift, which was the finest and whitest ever seen.
The Count grew pale, but he replied roughly, `Very good.
Now begin the other.'
The spinner set to work. As the Count returned to the castle, a
cold shiver passed over him, and he felt, as the saying is, that some
one was walking over his grave. He tried to eat his supper, but
could not; he went to bed shaking with fever. But he did not sleep,
and in the morning could not manage to rise.
This sudden illness, which every instant became worse, made
him very uneasy. No doubt Renelde's spinning-wheel knew all
about it. Was it not necessary that his body, as well as his shroud,
should be ready for the burial?
The first thing Burchard did was to send to Renelde and to stop
Renelde obeyed, and that evening Guilbert asked her:
`Has the Count given his consent to our marriage?'
`No,' said Renelde.
`Continue your work, sweetheart. It is the only way of gaining
it. You know he told you so himself.'
The following morning, as soon as she had put the house in order,
the girl sat down to spin. Two hours after there arrived some
soldiers, and when they saw her spinning they seized her, tied her
arms and legs, and carried her to the bank of the river, which was
swollen by the late rains.
When they reached the bank they flung her in, and watched her
sink, after which they left her. But Renelde rose to the surface,
and though she could not swim she struggled to land.
Directly she got home she sat down and began to spin.
Again came the two soldiers to the cottage and seized the girl,
carried her to the river bank, tied a stone to her neck and flung her
into the water.
The moment their backs were turned the stone untied itself.
Renelde waded the ford, returned to the hut, and sat down to spin.
This time the Count resolved to go to Locquignol himself; but,
as he was very weak and unable to walk, he had himself borne in
a litter. And still the spinner spun.
When he saw her he fired a shot at her, as he would have fired
at a wild beast. The bullet rebounded without harming the spinner,
who still spun on.
Burchard fell into such a violent rage that it nearly killed him.
He broke the wheel into a thousand pieces, and then fell fainting on
the ground. He was carried back to the castle, unconscious.
The next day the wheel was mended, and the spinner sat down
to spin. Feeling that while she was spinning he was dying, the
Count ordered that her hands should be tied, and that they should
not lose sight of her for one instant.
But the guards fell asleep, the bonds loosed themselves, and the
spinner spun on.
Burchard had every nettle rooted up for three leagues round.
Scarcely had they been torn from the soil when they sowed themselves
afresh, and grew as you were looking at them.
They sprung up even in the well-trodden floor of the cottage, and
as fast as they were uprooted the distaff gathered to itself a supply
of nettles, crushed, prepared, and ready for spinning.
And every day Burchard grew worse, and watched his end
Moved by pity for her husband, the Countess at last found out
the cause of his illness, and entreated him to allow himself to be
cured. But the Count in his pride refused more than ever to give
his consent to the marriage.
So the lady resolved to go without his knowledge to pray for
mercy from the spinner, and in the name of Renelde's dead mother
she besought her to spin no more. Renelde gave her promise, but
in the evening Guilbert arrived at the cottage. Seeing that the cloth
was no farther advanced than it was the evening before, he inquired
the reason. Renelde confessed that the Countess had prayed her not
to let her husband die.
`Will he consent to our marriage?'
`Let him die then.'
`But what will the Countess say?'
`The Countess will understand that it is not your fault; the Count
alone is guilty of his own death.'
`Let us wait a little. Perhaps his heart may be softened.'
So they waited for one month, for two, for six, for a year. The
spinner spun no more. The Count had ceased to persecute her, but
he still refused his consent to the marriage. Guilbert became
The poor girl loved him with her whole soul, and she was more
unhappy than she had been before, when Burchard was only tormenting
`Let us have done with it,' said Guilbert.
`Wait a little still,' pleaded Renelde.
But the young man grew weary. He came more rarely to
Locquignol, and very soon he did not come at all. Renelde felt as
if her heart would break, but she held firm.
One day she met the Count. She clasped her hands as if in
prayer, and cried: