THE DIAMOND FAIRY BOOK.
HUTCHINSON & CO.
HAZELL, WATSON AND VINEY, LD.,
LONDON AND AYLESBURY.
Princess Crystal, or the Hidden Treasure by Isabel
The Story of the Invisible Kingdom by Richard Leander.
How Sampo Lappelill saw the Mountain King by Z. Topelius.
The Witch-Dancer's Doom, A Breton Legend.
The Three Valleys, From the German
The Spring-tide of Love by Mrs. Egerton Eastwick
Ringfalla Bridge by K. E. Sutter.
The Children's Fairy by Saint-Juirs
Wittysplinter by Clemens Brentano.
The Mid-day Rock by J. Jarry.
Lillekort by Xavier Marmier.
The Ten Little Fairies by Georges Mitchell.
The Magician and his Pupil by A. Godin.
The Strawberry Thief by Pauline Schanz.
The Adventures of Said by W. Hauff.
Little Blue Flower by Miss F. E. Hynam
"The Princess Who Despised all Men" by Charles Smith
The Necklace of Tears by Mrs. Egerton Eastwick.
The Prince and the Lions, From the Persian
Princess Crystal, or the Hidden Treasure.
THERE were the four Kings: the King of the
North, the region of perpetual snow; the King
of the South, where the sun shines all the year
round; the King of the East, from whence the cold
winds blow; and the King of the West, where the gentle
zephyrs breathe upon the flowers, and coax them to
open their petals while the rest of the world is still
And there was the great Dragon, who lived on top of
a high mountain in the centre of the universe. He could
see everything that happened everywhere by means of
his magic spectacles, which enabled him to look all ways
at once, and to see through solid substances; but he could
only see, not hear, for he was as deaf as a post.
Now the King of the North had a beautiful daughter
called Crystal. Her eyes were bright like the stars; her
hair was black like the sky at night; and her skin was as
white as the snow which covered the ground outside the
palace where she lived, which was built entirely of crystals
clear as the clearest glass.
And the King of the South had a son who had been
named Sunshine on account of his brightness and warmth
The King of the East had a son who, because he was
always up early and was very industrious, had been given
the name of Sunrise.
The King of the West also had a son, perhaps
the handsomest of the three, and always magnificently
dressed; but as it took him all day to make his toilette,
so that he was never seen before evening, he received
the name of Sunset.
All three Princes were in love with the Princess
Crystal, each hoping to win her for his bride. When
they had the chance they would go and peep at her as
she wandered up and down in her glass palace. But
she liked Prince Sunshine best, because he stayed longer
than the others, and was always such excellent company.
Prince Sunrise was too busy to be able to spare her
more than half an hour or so; and Prince Sunset never
came until she was getting too tired and sleepy to care
to see him.
It was of no use, however, for her to hope that Sunshine
would be her husband just because she happened
to prefer him to the others. Her father—the stern,
blusterous old King, with a beard made of icicles so
long that it reached to his waist and kept his heart
cold—declared that he had no patience for such nonsense
as likes and dislikes; and one day he announced,
far and wide, in a voice that was heard by the other
three Kings, and which made the earth shake so that
the great green Dragon immediately looked through
his spectacles to see what was happening:
"He who would win my daughter must first bring
me the casket containing the Hidden Treasure, which
is concealed no man knows where!"
Of course the Dragon was none the wiser for looking
through his spectacles, because the words—loud though
they were—could not be heard by his deaf ears.
But the other Kings listened diligently; as did the
young Princes. And poor Princess Crystal trembled in
her beautiful palace lest Sunrise, who was always up so
early, should find the treasure before Sunshine had a
chance: she was not much afraid of the indolent Sunset,
except that it might occur to him to look in some spot
forgotten by his rivals.
Very early indeed on the following morning did
Prince Sunrise set to work; he glided along the surface
of the earth, keeping close to the ground in his anxiety
not to miss a single square inch. He knew he was
not first in the field; for the Northern King's proclamation
had been made towards evening on the previous
day, and Prince Sunset had bestirred himself for once,
and had lingered about rather later than usual, being
desirous of finding the treasure and winning the charming
But the early morning was passing, and very soon
the cheery, indefatigable Sunshine had possession of the
entire land, and flooded Crystal's palace with a look
from his loving eyes which bade her not despair.
Then he talked to the trees and the green fields and
the flowers, begging them to give up the secret in return
for the warmth and gladness he shed so freely on
them. But they were silent, except that the trees
sighed their sorrow at not being able to help him, and
the long grasses rustled a whispered regret, and the
flowers bowed their heads in grief.
Not discouraged, however, Prince Sunshine went to
the brooks and rivers, and asked their assistance. But
they, too, were helpless. The brooks gurgled out great
tears of woe, which rushed down to the rivers, and so
overcame them—sorry as they were on account of their
own inability to help—that they nearly overflowed their
banks, and went tumbling into the sea, who, of course,
wanted to know what was the matter; but, when told,
all the sea could do was to thunder a loud and continuous
"No!" on all its beaches. So Prince Sunshine
had to pass on and seek help elsewhere.
He tried to make the great Dragon understand; but
it could not hear him. Other animals could, though,
and he went from one to another, as cheerful as ever,
in spite of all the "Noes" he had met with; until, at
last, he knew by the twittering of the birds that he
was going to be successful.
"We go everywhere and learn most things," said the
swallows, flying up and down in the air, full of excitement
and joy at being able to reward their beloved
Sunshine for all his kindness to them. "And we know
this much, at any rate: the Hidden Treasure can only
be found by him who looks at its hiding-place through
the Dragon's magic spectacles."
Prince Sunshine exclaimed that he would go at once
and borrow these wonderful spectacles; but a solemn-looking
old owl spoke up:
"Be not in such a hurry, most noble Prince! The
Dragon will slay any one—even so exalted a personage
as yourself—who attempts to remove those spectacles
while he is awake; and, as is well known, he never
allows himself to sleep, for fear of losing some important
"Then what is to be done?" asked the Prince, beginning
to grow impatient at last, for the afternoon
was now well advanced, and Prince Sunset would soon
be on the war-path again.
A majestic eagle came swooping down from the
"There is only one thing in all the world," said he,
"which can send the Dragon to sleep, and that is a
caress from the hand of the Princess Crystal."
Sunshine waited to hear no more. Smiling his thanks,
he hastened away to put his dear Crystal's love to the
test. She had never yet ventured outside the covered
gardens of her palace. Would she go with him now,
and approach the great Dragon, and soothe its savage
watchfulness into the necessary repose?
As he made the request, there stole into the Princess's
cheeks the first faint tinge of colour that had ever
been seen there.
"My robe is of snow," she faltered; "if I go outside
these crystal walls into your radiant presence it will
"You look as if you yourself would melt at my first
caress, you beautiful, living snowflake," replied the
Prince; "but have no fear: see, I have my own mantle
ready to enfold you. Come, Princess, and trust yourself
Then, for the first time in her life, Princess Crystal
stole out of her palace, and was immediately wrapped
in Prince Sunshine's warm mantle, which caused her
to glow all over; her face grew quite rosy, and she
looked more than usually lovely, so that the Prince
longed to kiss her; but she was not won yet, and she
might have been offended at his taking such a liberty.
Therefore, he had to be content to have her beside
him in his golden chariot with the fiery horses, which
flew through space so quickly that they soon stood on
the high mountain, where the Dragon sat watching
them through his spectacles, wondering what the Princess
was doing so far from home, and what her father would
think if he discovered her absence.
It was no use explaining matters to the Dragon,
even had they wished to do so; but of course nothing
was further from their intention.
Holding Prince Sunshine's hand to give her courage,
the Princess approached the huge beast and timidly
laid her fingers on his head.
"This is very nice and soothing," thought the Dragon,
licking his lips; "very kind of her to come, I'm sure;
but—dear me!—this won't do! I'm actually—going—to—sleep!"
He tried to rise, but the gentle hand prevented that.
A sensation of drowsiness stole through all his veins,
which would have been delightful but for his determination
never to sleep. As it was, he opened his
mouth to give a hiss that would surely have frightened
the poor Princess out of her wits; but he fell asleep
before he could so much as begin it; his mouth remained
wide open; but his eyes closed, and his great
head began to nod in a very funny manner.
Directly they were satisfied that he really slept,
Prince Sunshine helped himself to the Dragon's spectacles,
requesting the Princess not to remove her hand, lest
the slumber should not last long enough for their
Then he put on the spectacles, and Princess Crystal
exclaimed with fear and horror when—as though in
result of his doing so—she saw her beloved Prince
plunge his right hand into the Dragon's mouth.
Prince Sunshine had stood facing the huge beast
as he transferred the spectacles to his own nose, and,
naturally enough, the first thing he saw through them
was the interior of the Dragon's mouth, with the tongue
raised and shot forward in readiness for the hiss which
sleep had intercepted; and under the tongue was the
golden casket containing the Hidden Treasure!
The spectacles enabled the Prince to see through
the cover; so he learned the secret at once, and knew
why the King of the North was so anxious to possess
himself of it, the great treasure being a pair of spectacles
exactly like those hitherto always worn by the Dragon,
and by him alone—which would keep the King
informed of all that was going on in every corner of
his kingdom, so that he could always punish or reward
the right people and never make mistakes; also
he could learn a great deal of his neighbours' affairs,
which is pleasant even to a King.
The Princess was overjoyed when she knew the
casket was already found; she very nearly removed
her hand in her eagerness to inspect it; but, fortunately,
she remembered just in time, and kept quite still until
Prince Sunshine had drawn his chariot so close that
they could both get into it without moving out of
reach of the Dragon's head.
Then, placing the spectacles, not in their accustomed
place, but on the ground just beneath, and laying the
golden casket on the Princess's lap, the Prince said,
as he gathered up the reins:
"Now, my dearly beloved Crystal—really mine at
last—take away your hand, and let us fly, without an
instant's delay, to the Court of the King, your royal
It is well they had prepared for immediate departure.
Directly the Princess's hand was raised from the Dragon's
head his senses returned to him, and, finding his mouth
open ready for hissing, he hissed with all his angry
might, and looked about for his spectacles that he
might pursue and slay those who had robbed him; for,
of course, he missed the casket at once.
But he was a prisoner on that mountain and unable
to leave it, though he flapped his great wings in terrible
wrath when he saw the Prince and Princess, instead
of driving down the miles and miles of mountain side
as he had hoped, being carried by the fiery horses
right through the air, where he could not reach them.
They only laughed when they heard the hiss and
the noise made by the useless flapping of wings.
Prince Sunshine urged on his willing steeds, and they
arrived at the Court just as the King, Crystal's father,
was going to dinner; and he was so delighted at
having the treasure he had so long coveted, that he
ordered the marriage to take place at once.
Prince Sunset called just in time to be best man,
looking exceedingly gorgeous and handsome, though
very disappointed to have lost the Princess; and the
festivities were kept up all night, so that Prince Sunrise
was able to offer his good wishes when he came
early in the morning, flushed with the haste he had
made to assure Prince Sunshine that he bore him no
ill-will for having carried off the prize.
Princess Crystal never returned to her palace, except
to peep at it occasionally. She liked going everywhere
with her husband, who, she found, lived by no means
an idle life, but went about doing good—grumbled at
sometimes, of course, for some people will grumble
even at their best friend—but more generally loved
and blessed by all who knew him.
The Story of the Invisible Kingdom.
IN a little house half-way up the mountain-side, and
about a mile from the other houses of the village,
there lived with his old father a young man called
George. There was just enough land belonging to the
house to enable the father and son to live free from
Immediately behind the house the wood began, the
oak trees and beech trees in which were so old that
the grandchildren of the people who had planted them
had been dead for more than a hundred years, but in
front of the house there lay a broken old mill-stone—who
knows how it got there? Any one sitting on the
stone would have a wonderful view of the valley down
below, with the river flowing through it, and of the
mountains rising on the other side of the river. In the
evening, when he had finished his work in the fields,
George often sat here for hours at a time dreaming,
with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands;
and because he cared little for the villagers, but generally
went about silent and absorbed like one who is thinking
of all sorts of things, the people nicknamed him "George
the Dreamer." But he did not mind it at all.
The older he grew, the more silent he became, and
when at last his old father died, and he had buried
him under a great old oak tree, he became quite silent.
Then, when he sat on the broken mill-stone, as he did
more often than before, and looked down into the lovely
valley, and saw how the evening mists came into the
valley at one end and slowly climbed the mountains,
and how it then became darker and darker, until at
last the moon and the stars appeared in the sky in
their full glory, a wonderful feeling came into his heart.
The waves of the river began to sing, quite softly at
first, but gradually louder, until they could be heard
quite plainly; and they sang of the mountains, down
from which they had come, and of the sea, to which
they wished to go, and of the nixies who lived far
down at the bottom of the river. Then the forest began
to rustle, quite differently from an ordinary forest, and
it used to relate the most wonderful tales. The old
oak tree especially, which stood at his father's grave,
knew far more than all the other trees. The stars, high
up in the sky, wanted so much to tumble down into the
green forest and the blue water, that they twinkled and
sparkled as if they could not bear it any longer. But
the angels who stand behind the stars held them firmly
in their places, and said: "Stars, stars, don't be foolish!
You are much too old to do silly things—many thousand
years old, and more. Stay quietly in your places."
It was truly a wonderful valley! But it was only
George the Dreamer who heard and saw all that. The
people who lived in the valley had not a suspicion of
it, for they were quite ordinary people. Now and then
they hewed down a huge old tree, cut it up into firewood,
and made a high stack, and then they said: "Now
we shall be able to make our coffee again for some
time." In the river they washed their clothes; it was
very convenient. And even when the stars sparkled
most beautifully, they only said, "It will be very cold
to-night: let us hope our potatoes won't freeze." Once
George the Dreamer tried to bring them to see differently,
but they only laughed at him. They were just quite
Now, one day as he was sitting on the mill-stone and
thinking that he was quite alone in the world, he fell
asleep. Then he dreamt that he saw, hanging down
from the sky, a golden swing, which was fastened to
two stars by silver ropes. In the swing sat a charming
Princess, who was swinging so high that each time she
touched the sky, then the earth, and then the sky again.
Each time the swing came near the earth, the Princess
clapped her hands with joy and threw George the
Dreamer a rose. But suddenly the ropes broke, and
the swing, with the Princess, flew far into the sky, farther
and farther, until at last he could see it no longer.
Then he woke up, and when he looked round, he saw
a great bunch of roses lying beside him on the mill-stone.
The next day he went to sleep again, and dreamt
the same thing, and when he woke up the roses were
lying on the stone by his side.
This happened every day for a whole week. Then
George said to himself that some part of the dream
must be true, because he always dreamt exactly the
same thing. So he shut up his house, and set out to
seek the Princess.
After he had travelled for many days, he saw in the
distance a country where the clouds touched the earth.
He hastened towards it, but came, on his way, to a large
forest. Here he suddenly heard fearful groans and cries,
and on approaching the place from which they seemed
to come, he saw a venerable old man with a silver-grey
beard lying on the ground. Two horribly ugly, naked
fellows were kneeling on him, trying to strangle him.
Then George the Dreamer looked round to see whether
he could find some sort of weapon with which to run
the two fellows through the body; but he could find
nothing, so, in mortal terror, he tore down a huge tree-trunk.
He had scarcely seized it when it changed in
his hands into a mighty halberd. Then he rushed at
the two monsters, and ran them through the body, and
they let go the old man and ran away howling.
Then George lifted the old man up and comforted
him, and asked him why the two fellows had wanted
to choke him. The old man said that he was the King
of Dreams, and had come by mistake into the kingdom
of his greatest enemy, the King of Realities. The latter,
as soon as he noticed this, had sent two of his servants
to lie in wait for him and kill him.
"Have you then done the King of Realities any
harm?" asked George the Dreamer.
"God forbid!" the old man assured him. "He is
always very easily provoked, that is his character. And
me he hates like poison."
"But the fellows he sent to strangle you were quite
"Yes, indeed," said the King, "stark naked. That is
fashion in the land of Realities; all the people, even the
King, go about naked, and are not at all ashamed. They
are an abominable nation. But now, since you have
saved my life, I will prove my gratitude to you by
showing you my country. It is the most glorious country
in the whole world, and Dreams are my subjects."
Then the Dream-King went on in front and George
followed him. When they came to the place where the
clouds touched the earth, the King showed him a trap-door
that was so well hidden in the thicket that not
even a person who knew it was there would have been
able to find it. He lifted it up and led his companion
down five hundred steps into a brightly lighted grotto
that stretched for miles in undiminished splendour. It
was unspeakably beautiful. There were castles on islands
in the midst of large lakes, and the islands floated about
like ships. If you wished to go into one of them, all
you had to do was to stand on the bank and call out:—
Little castle, swim to me,
That I may get into thee.
Then it came to the shore by itself. Farther on were
other castles, on clouds, floating slowly in the air. But
if you said:—
Float down, little castle in the air,
Take me up to see thy beauties rare,
they slowly floated down. Besides these, there were
gardens with flowers which gave out a sweet smell by
day, and a bright light by night; beautifully tinted birds,
which told stories; and a host of other wonderful things.
George could do nothing but wonder and admire.
"Now I will show you my subjects, the Dreams,"
said the King. "I have three kinds—good Dreams
for good people, bad Dreams for bad people, and also
Dream-goblins. With the last I amuse myself now and
then, for a King must sometimes have a joke."
So he took George into one of the castles, which
was so queerly built that it looked irresistibly comical.
"Here the Dream-goblins live: they are a tiny, high-spirited,
roguish lot—never do any harm, but love to
tease." Then he called to one of the goblins: "Come
here, little man, and be serious a moment for once in
your life. Do you know," he continued, addressing
George, "what this rogue does if I, once in a way,
allow him to go down to the earth? He runs to the
next house, drags the first man he comes across, who
is sound asleep, out of bed, carries him to the church
tower, and throws him down, head over heels. Then
he rushes down the stairs so as to reach the bottom
first, catches the man, carries him home, and flings him
so roughly into bed that the bedstead creaks horribly.
Then the man wakes up, rubs the sleep out of his
eyes, and says: 'Dear me! I thought I was falling
from the church tower. What a good thing it was
only a dream.'"
"Is that the one?" cried George. "Look here, he
has been to me before; but if he comes again, and I
catch him, it will be the worse for him." He had
scarcely finished speaking when another goblin sprang
out from under the table. He looked like a little dog,
for he had a very ragged waistcoat on, and he let his
tongue hang out of his mouth.
"He is not much better," said the King. "He barks
like a dog, and is as strong as a giant. When people
in their dreams are frightened at something, he holds
their hands and feet so that they cannot move."
"I know him, too," interrupted George. "When you
want to run away, you feel as stiff and stark as a piece
of wood. If you want to move your arms or your
legs, you can't do it. But often it is not a dog, but a
bear, or a robber, or some other horrid thing."
"I will never allow them to come to you again,
George the Dreamer," the King assured him. "Now
come and see the bad Dreams. But don't be afraid,
they won't do you any harm—they are only for bad
Then they passed through a great iron door into a
vast space, inclosed by a high wall. Here the most
terrible shapes and most horrible monsters were crowded
together; some looked like men, others like animals,
others were half men and half animals. George was
terrified, and made his way back to the iron door. But the King spoke kindly to him, and persuaded him to
see more closely what wicked people have to dream.
Beckoning to a Dream that stood near—a hideous
giant, with a mill-wheel under each arm—he commanded
him to tell them what he was going to do that night.
Then the monster raised his shoulders, wriggled about
with joy, grinned until his mouth met his ears, and
said: "I am going to the rich man, who has let his
father starve. One day, when the old man was sitting
on the stone steps before his son's house, begging for
bread, the son came and said to the servants: 'Drive
away that fellow.' So I go to him at night and pass
him through my mill-wheels, until all his bones are
broken into tiny pieces. When he is properly soft and
quivering, I take him by the collar and shake him and
say, 'See how you tremble now, you fellow!' Then
he wakes up with his teeth chattering, and calls to his
wife to bring him another blanket, for he is freezing.
And when he has fallen asleep once more, I begin it
When George the Dreamer heard this, he rushed out
through the door, dragging the King after him, and
crying out that he would not stay a moment longer
with the bad Dreams. They were too horrible!
The King next led him into a lovely garden where
the paths were of silver, the beds of gold, and the flowers,
beautifully cut precious stones. Here the good Dreams
were walking up and down. The first he saw was a
pale young woman, with a Noah's Ark under one arm,
and a box of bricks under the other.
"Who is that?" asked the Dreamer.
"She goes every evening to a little sick boy, whose
mother is dead. He is quite alone all day, and no one
troubles about him, but towards evening she goes to
him, plays with him, and stays the whole night. She
goes early, because he goes to sleep early. The other
Dreams go much later. Let us proceed; if you want
to see everything, we must make haste."
Then they went farther into the garden, into the
midst of the good Dreams. There were men, women,
old men, and children, all with dear, good faces, and
most beautifully dressed. Many of them were carrying
all sorts of things: everything that the heart can possibly
wish for. Suddenly George stood still and cried out so
loudly that all the Dreams turned round to look.
"What is the matter?" said the King.
"There is my Princess—she who has so often appeared
to me, and who gave me the roses," George the Dreamer
answered, in an ecstasy.
"Certainly, certainly, it is she," said the King. "Have
I not sent you a very pretty Dream? It is almost the
prettiest I have."
Then George ran up to the Princess, who was sitting
swinging in her little golden swing. As soon as she
saw him coming she sprang down into his arms. But
he took her by the hand and led her to a golden bench,
on which they both sat down, telling one another how
sweet it was to meet again! And when they had
finished saying so, they began again. The King of
Dreams meanwhile walked up and down the broad path
which goes straight through the garden, with his hands
behind his back. Now and then he took out his watch,
to see how the time was getting on; for George the
Dreamer and the Princess never came to an end of
what they had to say to one another. At length he
went to them, and said:
"That's enough, children. You, Dreamer, are far from
your home, and I cannot keep you here over-night, for
I have no beds. You see, the Dreams never sleep, but
have to go up every night to men on the earth. And
you, Princess, must make yourself ready; dress yourself
all in pink, and then come to me, so that I may tell
you to whom you must appear to-night, and what you
When George the Dreamer heard this, he felt more
courageous than ever before in his life. Standing up,
he said firmly: "My lord the King, I will never more
leave my Princess. You must either keep me here below
or let her go up with me to the earth: I love her much
too much to live without her." Then a tear big as a
hazel-nut came into each of his eyes.
"But George, George," answered the King, "it is the
prettiest dream I have. Still, you saved my life; so
have your own way; take your Princess up with you.
But as soon as you have got on to the earth take
off her silver veil, and throw it down to me through
the trap-door. Then she will be of flesh and blood
like every other child of man; now she is only a
George the Dreamer thanked the King most heartily,
and then said: "Dear King, because you are so very
good I should like to ask for one thing more. I have
a Princess now—but no kingdom. A Princess without
a kingdom is impossible. Cannot you get me one, if
it is only a small one?"
Then the King answered: "I have no visible kingdoms
to give away, Dreamer, only invisible ones; one of the
latter you shall have, one of the biggest and best that
Then George asked what invisible kingdoms were
like. The King told him he would find that out, and
would be amazed at their beauty and magnificence.
"You see," he said, "it is often very unpleasant to
have anything to do with ordinary, visible kingdoms.
For example: suppose you are an ordinary King, and
early one morning your Minister comes to your bedside
and says: 'Your Majesty, I want a hundred pounds
for the kingdom.' Then you open your treasury and
find not even a farthing in it! What are you to do?
Or again, you wage war and lose, and the King who
has conquered you marries your Princess, and shuts you
up in a tower. Such things cannot happen in invisible
"But if we cannot see it, of what use would our
kingdom be to us?" asked George, still somewhat puzzled.
"You strange man," said the King, and pointing to
his forehead, he continued: "You and your Princess
see it well enough. You see the castles and gardens,
the meadows and forests which belong to your kingdom.
You live in it, walk in it, do what you like with it. It
is only other people who do not see it."
Then the Dreamer was highly delighted, for he was
beginning to be afraid lest the village people should
look enviously at him if he came home with his Princess
and was King. He took a very touching leave of the
King of Dreams, climbed the five hundred steps with
his Princess, took the silver veil off her head and threw
it down. Then he wanted to shut the trap-door, but
it was so heavy that he could not hold it. So he let
it fall, and the noise it made was as great as the noise
of many cannons shot off at the same time, and for a
moment he became unconscious. When he came to
himself again he was sitting in front of his cottage with
the Princess sitting on the mill-stone at his side, and
she was of flesh and blood like any other person. She
was holding his hand, stroking it, and saying: "You
dear, good, stupid man, you have not dared tell me
how much you love me for such a long time. Have
you been very much afraid of me?"
And the moon rose and illumined the river, the waves
beat against the banks, and the forest rustled, but they
still sat there and talked. Suddenly it seemed as if a
small black cloud was passing over the moon, and all
at once something like a large folded shawl fell at their
feet; then the moon stood out again in her full glory.
They lifted up the cloth and began to spread it out.
But they took a long time over this, for it was very
fine and folded many hundred times. When it was
quite spread out, it looked like a large map; in the
middle was a river, and on both sides were towns,
forests, and lakes. Then they noticed that it was a
kingdom, and knew that the good Dream-King must
have sent it down to them from the sky. And when
they looked at their little cottage it had become a
beautiful castle, with glass stairs, marble walls, velvet
carpets, and pointed blue-tiled towers. Then they took
hands and went into the castle, where their subjects
were already assembled. The servants bowed low, drums
and trumpets sounded, and little pages went before them
strewing flowers. They were King and Queen.
The next morning the news that George the Dreamer
had come back, and had brought a wife with him, ran
like wildfire through the village. "She is probably
very clever," the people said. "I saw her early this
morning, when I went into the forest," said a peasant;
"she was standing at the door with him. She is nothing
special, quite an ordinary person, small and delicate-looking,
and rather shabbily dressed. What did he see
in her? He has nothing, and she probably has nothing!"
So the stupid people chattered, for they could not see
that she was a Princess; and in their stupidity they
did not see that the house had changed into a great,
wonderful castle—for the kingdom that had come down
from the sky for George the Dreamer was an invisible
one. So he did not trouble about the stupid people,
but lived happily and contentedly in his kingdom with
his Princess, who presented him with six children, each
one more beautiful than the other, and they were all
six Princes and Princesses. But no one in the village
knew it, for they were quite ordinary people, and much
too silly to notice it.
How Sampo Lappelill saw the
FAR away in Lapland, at a place called AÔmÔo,
near the River Jana, there lived, in a little hut, a
Laplander and his wife, with their small son, Sampo.
Sampo Lappelill was now between seven and eight
years of age. He had black hair, brown eyes, a snub
nose, and a wide mouth, which last is considered a mark
of beauty in curious Lapland. Sampo was a strong child
for his age; he delighted to dance down the hills in his little snow-shoes, and to drive his own reindeer in his own
little sledge. The snow whirled about him as he passed
through the deep drifts, until nothing of him could be
seen except the tuft of his black forelock.
"I shall never feel comfortable while he is from home!"
said the mother. "He may meet HisŁ's reindeer with
the golden antlers."
Sampo overheard these words, and wondered what
reindeer it could be that had golden antlers. "It must
be a splendid animal!" said he; "how much I should
like to drive to RastekaÔs with it!" RastekaÔs is a high,
dreary mountain, and can be seen from AÔmÔo, from which
it is five or six miles distant.
"You audacious boy!" exclaimed the mother; "how
dare you talk so? RastekaÔs is the home of the trolls,
and HisŁ dwells there also."
"Who is HisŁ?" inquired Sampo.
"What ears that boy has!" thought the Lapp-wife.
"But I ought not to have spoken of such things in his
presence; the best thing I can do now is to frighten
him well." Then she said aloud: "Take care, Lappelill,
that you never go near RastekaÔs, for there lives HisŁ,
the Mountain King, who can eat a whole reindeer at one
mouthful, and who swallows little boys like flies."
Upon hearing these words, Sampo could not help
thinking what good fun it would be to have a peep at
such a wonderful being—from a safe distance, of course!
Three or four weeks had elapsed since Christmas,
and darkness brooded still over Lapland. There was no
morning, noon, or evening; it was always night. Sampo
was feeling dull. It was so long since he had seen the sun that he had nearly forgotten what it was like. Yet
he did not desire the return of summer, for the only thing
he remembered about that season was that it was a time
when the gnats stung very severely. His one wish was
that it might soon become light enough for him to use
One day, at noon (although it was dark), Sampo's father
said: "Come here! I have something to show you."
Sampo came out of the hut. His father pointed towards
"Do you know what that is?" asked he.
"A southern light," replied the boy.
"No," said his father, "it is the herald of the sun.
To-morrow, maybe, or the day after that, we shall see
the sun himself. Look, Sampo, how weirdly the red light
glows on the top of RastekaÔs!"
Sampo perceived that the snow upon the gloomy
summit, which had been so long shrouded in darkness,
was coloured red. Again the idea flashed into his mind
what a grand sight the terrible Mountain King would be—from
a distance. The boy brooded on this for the
remainder of the day, and throughout half the night, when
he should have been asleep.
He thought, and thought, until at length he crept
silently out of the reindeer skins which formed his bed,
and then through the door-hole. The cold was intense.
Far above him the stars were shining, the snow scrunched
beneath his feet. Sampo Lappelill was a brave boy, who
did not fear the cold. He was, moreover, well wrapped
up in fur. He stood gazing at the stars, considering what
to do next.
Then he heard a suggestive sound. His little reindeer
pawed the ground with its feet. "Why should I not take
a drive?" thought Sampo, and proceeded straightway to
put his thought into action. He harnessed the reindeer
to the sledge, and drove forth into the wilderness of
"I will drive only a little way towards RastekaÔs," said
Sampo to himself, and off he went, crossing the frozen
River Jana to the opposite shore, which—although the
child was unaware of this fact—belonged to the kingdom
As Sampo drove, he sang a bright little song. The
wolves were running round his sledge like grey dogs, but
he did not mind them. He knew well that no wolf could
keep pace with his dear, swift little reindeer. Up hill
and down dale he drove on, with the wind whistling in
his ears. The moon seemed to be racing with him, and
the rocks to be running backwards. It was thoroughly
Alas! at a sudden turning upon the downward slope
of a hill the sledge overturned, and Sampo was pitched
into a snow-drift. The reindeer did not observe this, and,
in the belief that its master was still sitting behind it,
it ran on. Sampo could not cry "Stop!" for his mouth
was stuffed with snow.
He lay there in the darkness, in the midst of the vast
snowy wilderness, in which was no human habitation for
At first, he naturally felt somewhat bewildered. He
scrambled unhurt out of the big snow-drift. Then, by the
wan moonlight, he saw that he was surrounded on all
sides by snow-drifts and huge mountains. One mountain
towered above the others, and this he knew must be
RastekaÔs, the home of the fierce Mountain King, who
swallowed little boys like flies!
Sampo Lappelill was frightened now, and heartily wished
himself safe at home. But how was he to get there?
There sat the poor child, alone in the darkness, amongst
the desolate, snow-covered rocks, with the big, black
shadow of RastekaÔs frowning down upon him. As he wept his tears froze immediately, and rolled down over
his jacket in little round lumps like peas; so Sampo
thought that he had better leave off crying, and run about
in order to keep himself warm.
"Rather than freeze to death here," he said to himself,
"I would go straight to the Mountain King. If he has
a mind to swallow me, he must do so, I suppose; but
I shall advise him to eat instead some of the wolves in
this neighbourhood. They are much fatter than I, and
their fur would not be so difficult to swallow."
Sampo began to ascend the mountain. Before he had
gone far, he heard the trotting of some creature behind
him, and a moment after a large wolf overtook him.
Although inwardly trembling, Sampo would not betray
his fear. He shouted:
"Keep out of my way! I am the bearer of a message
to the King, and you hinder me at your peril!"
"Dear me!" said the wolf (on RastekaÔs all the animals
can speak). "And, pray, what little shrimp are you,
wriggling through the snow?"
"My name is Sampo Lappelill," replied the boy. "Who
"I," answered the wolf, "am first gentleman-usher to
the Mountain King. I have just been all over the
kingdom to call together his subjects for the great sun
festival. As you are going my way, you may, if
you please, get upon my back, and so ride up the
Sampo instantly accepted the invitation. He climbed
upon the shaggy back of the wolf, and they went off
at a gallop.
"What do you mean by the sun festival?" inquired
"Don't you know that?" said the wolf. "We celebrate
the sun's feast the day he first appears on the horizon
after the long night of winter. All trolls, goblins, and
animals in the north then assemble on RastekaÔs, and on
that day they are not permitted to hurt each other.
Lucky it was for you, my boy, that you came here to-day.
On any other day, I should have devoured you long
"Is the King bound by the same law?" asked Sampo
"Of course he is," answered the wolf. "From one hour
before sunrise until one hour after sunset he will not
dare to harm you. If, however, you are on the mountain
when the time expires, you will be in great danger. For
the King will then seize whoever comes first, and a
thousand bears and a hundred thousand wolves will also
be ready to rush upon you. There will soon be an end
of Sampo Lappelill!"
"But perhaps, sir," said Sampo timidly, "you would
be so kind as to help me back again before the danger
The wolf laughed. "Don't count on any such thing,
my dear Sampo; on the contrary, I mean to seize you
first myself. You are such a very nice, plump little boy!
I see that you have been fattened on reindeer milk and
cheese. You will be splendid for breakfast to-morrow
Sampo began to think that his best course might be
to jump off the wolf's back at once. But it was too late. They had now arrived at the top of RastekaÔs. Many
curious and marvellous things were there to be seen.
There sat the terrible Mountain King on his throne of
cloudy rocks, gazing out over the snow-fields. He wore
on his head a cap of white snow-clouds; his eyes were
like a full moon; his nose resembled a mountain-ridge.
His mouth was an abyss; his beard was like tufts of
immense icicles; his arms were as thick and strong as
fir trees; his coat was like an enormous snow-mountain.
Sampo Lappelill had a good view of the King and his
subjects, for a bow of dazzling northern lights shone
in the sky and illuminated the scene.
All around the King stood millions of goblins, trolls,
and brownies; tiny, grey creatures, who had come from
remotest parts of the world to worship the sun. This
they did from fear, not from love; for trolls and goblins
hate the sun, and always hope that he will never
return when they see him disappear at the end of
Farther off stood all the animals of Lapland, thousands
and thousands of them of all sizes; from the bear, the
wolf, and the glutton, to the little mountain-rat, and
the brisk, tiny reindeer-flea. No gnats appeared, however;
they had all been frozen.
Sampo was greatly astonished at what he saw. Unobserved,
he slipped from the wolf's back, and hid behind
a ponderous stone, to watch the proceedings.
The Mountain King shook his head, and the snow
whirled about him. The northern lights shone around
his head like a crown of glory, sending long, red streamers
across the deep blue sky; they whizzed and sparkled,
expanded and drew together, fading sometimes, then again
darting out like lightning over the snow-clad mountains.
This performance amused the King. He clapped with
his icy hands until the sound echoed like thunder, causing
the trolls to scream with joy, and the animals to howl
with fear. At this the King was still more delighted,
and he shouted across the desert:
"This is to my mind! Eternal darkness! Eternal
night! May they never end!"
"May they never end!" repeated all the trolls at the
top of their voices. Then arose a dispute amongst the
animals. All the beasts of prey agreed with the trolls,
but the reindeer and other gentle creatures felt that they
should like to have summer back again, although they
disliked the gnats that would certainly return with it.
One creature alone was ready to welcome summer quite
unreservedly. This was the reindeer-flea. She piped out
as loudly as she could:
"If you please, your Majesty, have we not come here
to worship the sun, and to watch for his coming?"
"Nonsense!" growled a polar bear. "Our meeting
here springs from a stupid old custom. The sooner it
ends the better! In my opinion, the sun has set for
ever; he is dead!"
At these words the animals shuddered, but the trolls
and goblins were much pleased with them, and reiterated
them gaily, shaking with laughter to such an extent that
their tiny caps fell off their heads. Then the King roared,
in a voice of thunder:
"Yea! Dead is the sun! Now must the whole world
worship me, the King of Eternal Night and Eternal
Sampo, sitting behind the stone, was so greatly enraged
by this speech that he came forth from his hiding-place,
"That, O King, is a lie as big as yourself! The sun
is not dead, for only yesterday I saw his forerunner.
He will be here very shortly, bringing sweet summer
with him, and thawing the icicles in your funny, frozen
The King's brow grew black as a thunder-cloud.
Forgetful of the law, he lifted his tremendous arm to strike
Sampo; but at that moment the northern light faded.
A red streak shot suddenly across the sky, shining with
such brilliancy into the King's face that it entirely dazzled
him. His arm fell useless at his side. Then the golden
sun rose in slow stateliness on the horizon, and that flood
of glorious light caused even those who had rejoiced in
his supposed death to welcome his re-appearance.
But the goblins were considerably astonished. From
under their red caps they stared at the sun with their
little grey eyes, and grew so excited that they stood on
their heads in the snow. The beard of the Mountain King
began to melt and drip, until it was flowing down
his jacket like a running stream.
By-and-by, Sampo heard a reindeer say to her little
"Come, my child, we must be going, or we shall be
eaten by the wolves."
"Such will be my fate also if I linger longer," thought
Sampo. So he sprang upon the back of a beautiful
reindeer with golden antlers, which started off with him
at once, darting down the rocks with lightning speed.
"What is that rustling sound that I hear behind us?"
asked the boy presently.
"It is made by the thousand bears; they are pursuing
us in order to eat us up," replied the reindeer. "You
need not fear, however, for I am the King's own enchanted
reindeer, and no bear has ever been able as yet to nibble
They went on in silence for a time, then Sampo put
"What," asked he, "is that strange panting I hear
"That," returned the reindeer, "is made by the hundred
thousand wolves; they are at full gallop behind us, and
wish to tear us in pieces. But fear nothing from them!
No wolf has ever beaten me in a race yet!"
Again Sampo spoke:
"Is it not thundering over there amongst the rocky
"No," answered the now trembling reindeer; "that noise
is made by the King, who is chasing us. Now, indeed,
all hope has fled, for no one can escape him!"
"Can we do nothing?" asked Sampo.
"There is no safety to be found here," said the reindeer,
"but there is just one chance for us. We must try to
reach the priest's house over yonder by Lake Enare.
Once there, we shall be safe, for the King has no power
"Oh, make haste! make haste! dear reindeer!" cried
Sampo, "and you shall feed on golden oats, and out of
a silver manger."
On sped the reindeer. As they entered the priest's
house, the Mountain King crossed the courtyard, and
knocked at the door with such violence that it is a wonder
he did not knock the house down.
"Who is there?" called the priest from within.
"It is I!" answered a thundering voice; "it is the
mighty Mountain King! Open the door! You have
there a child, whom I claim as my prey."
"Wait a moment!" cried the priest. "Permit me to
robe myself, in order that I may give your Majesty a
"All right!" roared the King; "but be quick about
it, or I may break down your walls!" A moment later
he raised his enormous foot for a kick, yelling: "Are you
not ready yet?"
Then the priest opened the door, and said solemnly,
"Begone, King of Night and Winter! Sampo Lappelill
is under my protection, and he shall never be yours!"
Upon this, the King flew into such a violent passion
that he exploded in a great storm of snow and wind.
The flakes fell and fell, until the snow reached the roof
of the priest's house, so that every one inside it expected
to be buried alive. But as soon as the sun rose, the
snow began to melt, and all was well. The Mountain
King had completely vanished, and no one knows exactly
what became of him, although some think that he is
still reigning on RastekaÔs.
Sampo thanked the priest heartily for his kindness,
and begged, as an additional favour, the loan of a sledge.
To this sledge the boy harnessed the golden-antlered
reindeer, and drove home to his parents, who were
exceedingly glad to see him.
How Sampo became a great man, who fed his reindeer
with golden oats out of a silver manger, is too lengthy
a story to tell now.
The Witch-Dancer's Doom.
LONG, long ago, in the days of good King Arthur,
Count Morriss dwelt in the old ch‚teau of La
Roche Morice, near Landerneau, in Brittany.
With him lived his beautiful niece, Katel. Although
charming in face and figure, this maiden had a somewhat
uncanny reputation. For it was said—and with
reason—that she was a witch.
The Count had often urged Katel to marry, but in
vain. The lady had no mind to lose her freedom.
Dancing was the one passion of her life. "When," said
she, "I can find a knight who shall be able to dance
continuously with me for twelve hours, with no break,
to him I promise to give my hand!"
This scornful challenge was proclaimed by heralds in
every neighbouring town and hamlet. In response came
many wooers to attempt the impossible task. Those
whom Katel favoured she made her partners at the
rustic fÍtes and open-air dances which were then in
vogue. In the soft-swarded meadows, by sunlight or
starlight, the dancers would meet, and, to the dreamy
music of the pipes, eager couples would whirl until the
hills around began to blush in the light of the early
dawn. The wildest, giddiest, yet most graceful of the
throng was Katel, who danced madly on until one by
one her partners sank fainting upon the ground, and
death released them from the heartless sorceress who had
lured them into her toils.
Thus perished many suitors, until the cruel maiden
became an object of general hatred and horror. When
her doings came to the ears of the Count, he sternly
forbade her to attend any more of the dances. In
order to enforce her obedience, he shut her up in a
tower, where, said he, she was to remain until she should
choose a husband from among such suitors as still persisted
in offering her marriage.
Now, Katel had a wizened little page, no bigger than
a leveret, and as black as a raven's wing. This creature
she summoned to her one morning before dawn, and,
with her finger at her lips, she said to him: "Be swift
and silent! My uncle still slumbers. Get thee gone by
the ladder, and his thee to the castle of SalaŁn, who is
waiting for a message from her he loves. The guards
will allow thee to pass; take horse, ride like the wind,
and tell SalaŁn that Katel calls him to deliver her
from this tower before the day dawns."
The infatuated young knight obeyed the summons
immediately. In an hour's time he was assisting the
lady to mount his horse, after having got her in safety
down the rope-ladder. As, from the window of the
donjon, the dwarf watched them ride away, he chuckled
"Ha! ha! And so they are off to the great ball
held to-day in the Martyrs' Meadow! Ah, my dear
SalaŁn! before another sun shall rise your death-knell
will be tolled!"
When Katel and her gallant cavalier arrived at the
Martyrs' Meadow, they excited general surprise and
admiration. Some, however, shook their heads forebodingly,
as they heard that SalaŁn, now Katel's
affianced lover, was to be her partner, for they knew
that the brave young knight must needs fall a victim
to her spell.
The ball began. Some of the most skilful pipers in
the land had been engaged for the occasion, and they
played gavottes, rondes, courantes, and many other
dances, without intermission. But Katel waited until
night came and the torches were lit. Then she took
SalaŁn's hand and they began to dance together.
"Round again! Once more! Ha! ha!" laughed the
witch-maiden, as they spun along. "What! are you
tired already? Do you give in so soon as this?"
"Never—while I am with you!" was the fervent
reply. The fatal spell had begun to work.
Thus on they whirled, yet more swiftly than before,
so that the other dancers stood aside to watch them.
After a time, however, Katel observed that her partner
was gradually becoming weaker, and that he would soon
be unable to keep pace with her.
"Courage!" exclaimed she, in a bantering tone.
"We cannot stop yet; it wants but a very short time
to midnight, and then I shall be yours!"
SalaŁn, although almost exhausted, strained every
nerve and muscle in a frantic, final effort to continue the
dance. Round the field they flew, at lightning speed;
but it was for the last time. The knight's knees shook—his
breath came more quickly—then with difficulty
he gasped out the words:
"Oh, Katel! have mercy! I can do no more! Katel,
my love, have I not won you yet?"
But as he sank lifeless upon the grass Katel turned
coldly away. His fate was nothing to her. At that
moment the clock in a neighbouring tower struck
twelve. All the lights flickered and expired; darkness
reigned supreme. And through the darkness, shrilling
high above every other sound, rang the mocking laugh
of the impish dwarf.
"What!" exclaimed Katel derisively, glancing angrily
at the worn-out pipers, who had at last paused in their
wild music, "exhausted already by such slight exertions?
I wish the Evil One would send me some musicians
and dancers worthy of me! Of what use are these
miserable, puny creatures?"
As she uttered the words, stamping her foot in her
fury, a weird, red light gleamed in the sky; there was
a terrible peal of thunder, and a strange stir in the trees.
Then suddenly, in the centre of the field, appeared two
phantom forms, at the sight of whom the panic-stricken
by-standers would fain have fled. To their horror,
however, they found flight impossible; they were rooted
to the spot!
One of the phantoms was attired in a red garment,
covered with a black cloak. Beneath his arm he held
a large double pipe, coiled around which were five
hissing, writhing serpents. The other stranger, who was
exceedingly tall, was dressed in a tightly fitting black
suit, and heavy, red mantle, while upon his head waved
an imposing tuft of vultures' plumes.
The ghostly piper began at once to play an unearthly
dance-tune, so wild and maddening that it made all the
hearers tremble. His tall, grim companion seized Katel
by the waist, and the couple whirled round to the mad
measure, which grew ever faster and more furious. In
an instant the torches were relit. A few others joined
in the dance; not for long, however. Katel and her
phantom were soon the only dancers. Shriller still
shrieked the pipes, faster yet grew the music, more and
more swiftly spun the feet. Ere long the witch-maiden
felt that her strength was deserting her; the torches
swam before her eyes, and, in the last extremity of
terror, she struggled to release herself from the iron grip
which held her so relentlessly.
"What! so soon tired?" cried the spectre, jeering at
her. "Do you give in so soon as this? Come! round
once more! Ha! ha!"
Thus was Katel treated as she had treated others.
She had no breath left wherewith to answer; her last
hour had come. She made one more wild, despairing
bound, then fell to the ground in the throes of death.
At the same moment, the phantoms vanished. There
was a vivid lightning-blaze, a terrific crash of thunder;
then fell black darkness hiding everything. A tempestuous
wind arose, and rain fell in torrents.
When the storm had cleared, and the morning sun
shone out, those who found courage to visit the spot
beheld the forms of Katel and her lover SalaŁn lying
dead upon the shrivelled turf.
Ever since that time, the spot has been shunned by
all, and still, by their firesides on the winter nights, the
peasants tell the tale of Katel, the witch-dancer, and her
The Three Valleys.
IN olden days there lived a Count, who had many
castles and estates, and a most beautiful daughter,
but no one would associate with him, for it was
rumoured he was in league with the Evil One; indeed,
from time to time one or other of his servants most
The last who disappeared was the shepherd. One
evening he did not return to the castle. Search was
made for him throughout the village, but in vain; no
trace of him could be found. After this no one would
enter the Count's service as shepherd; but at last, a
bold, handsome youth presented himself; he had
travelled far as a soldier, and cared nothing for evil
spirits. The Count immediately engaged him, and said
he could take the sheep to feed wherever he liked, only
he must never go into the three valleys to the east of
the castle. For a time all went well; the young man
drove the sheep into the rich meadows around the castle
as his master had ordered, and led a very comfortable
life. But he was always thinking of the three valleys,
and being a brave youth who did not fear evil spirits,
he one day took the cross-bow and bolts he had used
when soldiering, put a new string to his bow, and said,
as he struck his rusty spear against the ground:
"I will see who will venture to harm me in the three
valleys; it will fare badly with him, I think."
Going towards the east, he soon arrived with his
sheep in the first valley, where he found beautiful
meadows in which he could safely leave his flock. He
looked carefully around, but, except the butterflies
fluttering to and fro, and the humming of the bees, there
was neither sound nor movement. Then he sat down
beneath an oak and began to play on his pipe; suddenly,
in the wood near, arose a crashing and cracking as if
some mighty animal were breaking through the bushes,
and, before our shepherd could fix a bolt in his cross-bow,
a powerful giant stood before him and cried:
"What are you doing here with your grass-eaters, destroying
my meadows, you insolent fellow? You shall
answer for this."
He did not wait for an answer, but threw his spear
with fearful force at the shepherd, who saved himself
by springing behind the oak, into which the spear sank
so deep that the point stuck out on the other side.
Then, fixing a bolt into his cross-bow, the shepherd
took aim, and struck the giant so skilfully in the centre
of the forehead that he fell with a deep groan to the
earth. Before he had time to rise, the shepherd bounded
forward and ran his spear through his adversary's neck,
nailing him to the ground, and his spirit soon fled.
The shepherd took the giant's sword and armour, and
was about to return home, when in an opening of the
forest he saw a stately castle. The doors were wide
open; he entered. In the spacious hall stood a stone
table on which was a cup covered with a silver plate
bearing these words:—
Who drinks of this cup
Shall overcome the Evil One.
The young man had no confidence in the words or
the drink, and left the cup untouched. He laid the
dead giant's armour in the hall; then, taking the key
of the door with him, he returned home with his flock,
and went to rest without mentioning his adventure to
any one. The next day he tended his sheep on the
mountain slopes surrounding the castle, but the second
day he could not rest; so, girding on the sword he had
taken from the dead giant, he started with his flock for
the second valley, in hopes of fresh adventure. Here
also were beautiful pastures, if possible richer and more
luxuriant than in the first valley; the flowers breathed
forth their fragrance, the birds sang sweetly, and through
the meadows meandered a stream clear as crystal, by
whose bank the shepherd lay down to rest. He was
just thinking that all adventure and danger were past
when an enormous block of rock fell on the ground
near him, and a voice rough and wild, like that of a
bear, said: "What are you doing here with your grass-eaters,
you insolent fellow?" And from behind a wall
of rock stepped a mighty giant, brandishing a ponderous
stone club. He aimed a blow at the shepherd, who
ducked behind the rock which the giant had thrown as
his first greeting, and the club descending on the stone,
it broke in pieces from the force of the blow.
Quick as lightning the youth drew his sword, and
with one stroke cut through the sinews in the bend of
the giant's knee, who fell to the earth with a loud roar.
He struck out wildly with his fists, but a well-directed
thrust through the heart soon quieted him. The shepherd
left him lying there, and turned towards the wall
of rock; here he found a massive door concealed
amongst the thicket. Through this he passed, and
entered a hall-like cavern, in which, at a stone manger,
stood a snow-white horse ready saddled, and over the
manger was engraved this saying:—
Who springs on this white horse
Shall overcome the Evil One.
Now, the shepherd thought: "I am strong enough to
take care of myself, and I do not want to overcome
the Evil One, he has always left me in peace; but I
will remember that here stands a fine horse on which I
can ride forth into the wide world." He threw fresh
oats into the manger, shut the door, and returned home.
The next few days he remained very quiet, lest his
movements might have been observed; then, as no one
questioned him, he one fine morning drove his sheep
into the third valley. Beautiful meadows glittered in
the sunshine; from a hill of rock a waterfall plashed
down, forming a small sea in which sported innumerable
fish. The shepherd looked carefully around, searched
under every bush, but found nothing. No sound was
heard save the continued plash, plash, of the cool water.
The day was very sultry, and the shepherd was just
preparing for a bathe in the fresh, clear water, when
from out a ravine near the sea appeared a horrible
human head, with one eye, as large as a plate, in the
centre of the forehead, and a voice loud as the roll of
thunder shouted: "What do you want here, you insolent
The head rose higher and higher, until a giant as
high as a tower stood before the shepherd, who with a
sure aim sent his lance into the eye of his adversary.
The monster, thus blinded, groped wildly about with
his hands, in hopes to strangle his enemy, but he only
seized an oak, which he tore up by the roots and threw
it high into the air. Now the victory was easy, for
though the giant could no longer be hurt by cuts and
thrusts, which slipped off from his body as from a
mossy stone, the shepherd soon found other means.
He mocked and insulted the blind giant, and by the
sound of his voice drew him ever nearer and nearer to
the sea, at the side where the cliff overhung the water.
At last he sprang for a moment on the edge of the
precipice, and gave a loud, mocking cry, then silently
concealed himself behind a tree. The giant, deceived
by the shout, pursued him eagerly, lost his footing, and
fell heavily into the sea.
Then the shepherd went down into the ravine from
which the monster had appeared. Here lay a meadow
full of beautiful flowers, in the midst of which rose a
spacious mansion, built of the trunks of trees. The
shepherd entered the hall and saw a mighty spear, on
whose shaft these words were cut:—
Who throws this lance
Shall overcome the Evil One.
He seized the spear, but his arms were too weak to
raise it, and he wearily laid the mighty weapon back
in the corner; at the same time he thought, since he
had conquered three giants, he could surely overcome
the Evil One without this lance. As the day drew to
a close he gathered his sheep together and returned to
the castle. Arrived there, he was immediately summoned
before the Count, who asked him angrily where he had
been. The shepherd then truthfully related all that
had happened in the three valleys, and how he had
that day slain the giant as tall as a tower.
"Woe to you and to me," replied the Count, with
pale lips. "I heard the giants' cries of rage, and hoped
you were paying for your disobedience with your life.
But it has happened otherwise, and now I and my
daughter must suffer because you, you insolent fellow,
disobeyed my commands and entered the giants' territories;
for it has been made known to me that to-morrow
the mighty lord of the giants, the Prince of
the Infernal Regions, will appear, and demand my
daughter or me as a sacrifice; but before that you,
you miserable fellow, shall suffer all the agonies of
torture, as a punishment for bringing me into this
"Seize him!" he cried to the servants who were
standing in the entrance-hall. His command was
at once obeyed, when the Count's daughter, who
had listened with glowing cheeks to the shepherd's
story, threw herself on her knees and implored for
"Dearest father," she cried, "should you not rather
endeavour to make use of this brave youth for our
deliverance than put him to the torture? He has
overcome three giants; surely he will be able to
vanquish the Prince of the Infernal Regions."
The Count remained for a few moments in deep
thought, and then acknowledged that his daughter's
suggestion was both good and clever. He asked the
shepherd if he were willing to expiate his crime by a
combat with the Evil One, and the young man, with a
grateful look at his deliverer, at once agreed. With
the first dawn of morning he rose from his couch, for
he now recalled the words about overcoming the Evil
One, and hastened to the first valley, where in the
castle stood the cup with the inscription:—
Who drinks of this cup
Shall overcome the Evil One.
He seized the cup and emptied it at one draught,
and—wonderful—the magic draught flowed through his
veins like fire, and he felt courage and strength enough
to combat a whole army. With sparkling eyes he
hastened to the second valley, mounted the white horse,
who greeted him with a joyful neigh, and then galloped
as if in flight to the third valley, in which stood the
mighty lance. Yesterday he could scarcely move it;
to-day, with one hand, he swung it high over his head,
as if it had been a small arrow.
By sunrise he was again at the Count's castle,
waiting eagerly for what would happen, but the day
passed and no one appeared. The sun had sunk to
rest, and the moon had just risen in all her splendour,
when in the north of the heavens was seen what appeared
to be a dark storm-cloud. With the speed of lightning
it approached the castle, and a voice, as of a bassoon,
sounded from out the cloud: "Where are my propitiatory
sacrifices?" At the same time a gigantic eagle, with
greenish-grey wings, like the storm-cloud, hovered high
over the castle, ready to swoop down on his prey.
Then the young man set spurs into his white horse,
and shaking his lance high above his head, cried with
a loud voice: "There are no sacrifices here for you,
you robber! Begone instantly, or you shall feel my
arrows!" On hearing these words, the eagle swooped down with a wild cry, before the shepherd could take
his cross-bow, and the young man would certainly
have perished had it not been for his presence of mind
and the strength and activity of his steed. A touch
with the spur, and it flew swift as the wind under a
very old and thickly leaved linden tree, whose branches
hung down almost to the ground, so that the eagle
could only break in through the side.
This the bird at once attempted, and it caused his
death, for his outspread wings became entangled in the
branches, and the brave rider, with one powerful blow
of his sword, severed the head from the body. But,
oh, horror! instead of blood there came forth from
the headless body of the eagle a huge serpent, who,
with wide-open jaws, approached the shepherd and
tried to enfold him in the rings of its flexible body.
By a skilful movement, it encircled the horse and
rider, and crushed them until the young man thought
he should be forced into the body of his steed; but
the horse pressed himself so close against the tree that
the head of the serpent came round on the other side
of the trunk, and thus it was hindered from harming
the shepherd with its poisonous bite or breath. One
stroke of the shepherd's sharp dagger, and the body of
the serpent fell in two pieces to the ground; the horse
immediately trampled on the head. But the hinder
part of the serpent swelled and swelled, the cut became
a frightful mouth, which spurted out smoke and flames,
while from the rings of the serpent's body grew forth
claws and wings, and at last a horrible monster in the
form of a dragon threw itself on the shepherd, whose
strength had already begun to fail through the dreadful
pressing of the serpent. But in his greatest need a
saving thought occurred to him—he turned his horse
round: it broke through the branches of the linden
tree into the open field, and sped with its rider to the
nearest stream, in whose waters they both cooled themselves.
The dragon snorted after them, spitting forth
fire and smoke. But as the head of the serpent, from
whose body the dragon had grown, had been destroyed,
there was no deadly poison in its breath, and the rider
was safe from the flames through bathing in the stream.
So he rode boldly towards the approaching dragon with
lance in rest, and tried to approach it from the side;
but all his blows glanced off from its scaly body as
from a coat of mail. Suddenly it occurred to him to
thrust his lance down the monster's throat. He turned
his horse and spurred him straight towards the dragon,
and thrusting his lance through the smoke and flame,
stuck it right into the creature's throat. He was obliged
to leave his lance, for his horse, singed by the fiery
breath of the dragon, bounded far to one side; but the
monster did not attempt to follow them, the lance had
stuck deep into its body. It struck wildly with its
tail on the ground, until the earth burst, then it shivered
and fell over, first on its side, then on its back, a
stream of fire poured forth from its wide-open jaws,
and with the flames its life passed away.
Thus was the combat ended and the Evil One
subdued. Joyfully the shepherd rode back to the Count
and his daughter, and told them all that had happened.
The Count, embracing him, said: "You are our deliverer,
to you I owe my life and all that I possess: take the
half of whatever is mine, or choose from it whatever
The shepherd gazed earnestly into the eyes of the
Count's lovely daughter, and replied:
"I know of nothing, Sir Count, in the whole world
which is dearer to me than your daughter. Give her
to me for my wife, if she be willing."
The Count smiled. "Are you willing, my child?"
"I love him more than words can express," said the
maiden, and sank on the breast of the shepherd.
The next day the marriage was celebrated with
great splendour, and when Heaven had blessed their
union with children, and these were grown up, the hero
of this story, a shepherd no longer, used to say to his
sons when telling them of his adventures: "There are
three things by which one can subdue giants and evil
spirits, and become great: courage, perseverance, and
presence of mind."
The Spring-tide of Love.
THE mists of the early twilight were falling, and
Elsa, the little girl who lived at the woodman's
cottage, was still far from home. She
had wandered out in the spring sunshine in search of
the bluebells and wild anemones with which the wood
abounded, for the child loved the company of the birds
and flowers better than the rough play of the boys
who were called her brothers.
The woodman and his wife said she was strange and
dreamy, full of curious fancies which they found it
hard to understand; but, then, they were not Elsa's
real parents, which might account for their difficulty.
They were kind to her, however, in their fashion, and
Elsa always tried to remember to obey them; but
sometimes she forgot. She had forgotten to-day—for
although the good wife had told her to remain near
the cottage, the eagerness of her search for the flowers
she loved had led her farther into the wood than she
had ever been before.
The sunlight disappeared, and the darkness seemed
to come quite suddenly under the thick branches of
the trees; the birds had chanted their last evening
song and gone to their nests—only a solitary thrush
sang loudly just overhead; Elsa thought it was warning
her to hurry homewards. She turned quickly,
taking as she thought the direction of the cottage; but
as she was barely seven years old, and felt a little
frightened, it is not surprising that she only plunged
deeper into the wood.
Now she found herself in the midst of a great
silence; the beautiful tracery of young green leaves
through which she had hitherto caught glimpses of
the sky had disappeared, and over her head stretched
only bare brown branches, between which she saw the
shining stars, clear as on a frosty winter's night. The
stars looked friendly, and she was glad to see them,
but it was growing dreadfully cold. The plucked
flowers withered and fell from her poor little numbed
hands, and she shivered in her thin cotton frock.
Ah! what would she not have given for a sight of
the open door and the fire in the woodman's cottage,
and a basin of warm bread and milk, even though it
was given with a scolding from the woodman's wife!
She struggled on, with her poor little tired feet, for
it seemed to her that the wood was growing thinner—perhaps
there might be a house hereabouts.
But, oh! how terribly cold. Now there was frost
upon the ground at her feet, frost upon dead leaves
and blades of grass, frost upon the bare tree branches.
The moon had risen, and she could see that all the
world around her was white and chill and dead.
Surely she had wandered back into the cruel bitter
winter, frost-bound and hard.
It was strange that she had strength to go on, but
she looked up at the stars, and thought that they were
guiding her. At length she came to the border of
the wood, and there stretched before her a wide, open
space, with only a few trees scattered here and there,
and through an opening of the trees the cold moon
shone down upon a white, silent house.
The house looked as dead and winter-bound as
everything else; but still it was a house, and Elsa
said to herself that surely some one must live in it.
So she thanked the friendly stars for leading her aright,
and with what remaining strength she had, dragged
her poor little numbed feet up the broad path or road
between the trees. At the end of the road an iron
gate hung open upon its hinges, and Elsa found herself
in what once had been a garden. Now the lawns
and flower-beds were all alike one blinding sheet of
ice and frozen snow.
But, oh, joy! there was the great white house, and
from one window shone a light, surely the light of a
fire. All the rest was dark. Up a flight of stone steps
the child dragged her weary feet, across a terrace that
had surely once been gay with flowers, until she stood
before a huge door, brown and black, except where
the frost gleamed, closed and barred with iron bars.
The great knocker hung high above her reach; but
with her poor little hands she beat against the woodwork.
Surely, if some one did not let her in soon, she
must fall down there and sleep and die upon the step.
But at the sound of her faint knocking there came
from within the deep baying of a hound, and Elsa
was terrified anew, but could not run away; then in a
few moments a heavy bar seemed to be withdrawn
and the great door opened slowly.
A tall man stood within—a man in the dress of a
hunter, pale-faced in the moonlight, but strong and
powerful, and wearing a long, dark beard that reached
almost to his waist. His was a figure to fill any child
with fear, but Elsa saw only the scene behind him. A
great blazing wood fire upon an open hearth, with
rugs in front of it upon which were stretched two large
hounds; a third, shaking himself slowly, had followed
his master to the door. Elsa stretched out her little
hands to the blazing warmth, with the cry of a perishing
"Take me in—oh! take me in!" she pleaded.
"Please let me come in!"
She ran forward. Then with a strange hoarse sound,
that she did not understand, the man stooped and
lifted her in his arms, and carried her forward and
laid her gently down upon the rugs in the grateful
warmth, and the hounds sniffed round her and seemed
well pleased, and ready to welcome her—and—for a
little while she remembered no more.
When Elsa came to herself (she thought she must
have been asleep, but the waking was a little strange
and difficult) she found that she was propped up among
soft cushions still upon the rugs; the dogs now lay
at a respectful distance, each with his forepaws
stretched out and his nose held between them, while
with gleaming eyes he watched with keenest interest
all that going was on.
The rough-looking man with the long, dark beard
and the pale face knelt beside her, holding a basin of
warm, steaming broth. Then Elsa sat up and tried to
drink, but she was so weak with fatigue and cold that
her new friend was obliged to feed her with a spoon,
which he did rather awkwardly. After she had swallowed
the broth, the warm blood flowed once more
freely through her veins, and she sank into a deep,
sweet sleep, her little head falling serenely against the
stranger's breast and her hair spreading out in golden
waves over the arm that held her.
When Elsa once more opened her eyes, the cold
grey light of morning fell through the uncurtained
windows into the hall. She found herself lying on a
couch covered with rugs of warm fur, at the side of
the hearth, where logs of pine wood, newly kindled,
leapt and blazed, filling the air with sweet, pungent
For a while she was bewildered, wondering how she
came to be there, instead of in her little room at the
woodman's cottage. Then she saw her friend of the
night before kneeling in front of the fire, evidently
preparing food, while the dogs, grouped around, sat
on their haunches with ears erect, keen and observant,
watching his movements. Then Elsa remembered; and
she clapped her hands with a merry laugh, the laugh
of a happy, waking child. The man kneeling by the
fire started at the sound, and then turned his grave
face towards her with a wistful expression strange to
"I want to get up," said Elsa promptly. "If you
please, I can wash and dress myself; I've been taught
"Wait a few minutes, little lady, then you shall have
all you want."
The voice sounded strangely, and the man seemed
listening to its tones as though surprised to hear himself
speak. But the rough, halting accents seemed less
out of keeping with the old house than Elsa's laugh.
The dogs came and licked her hands, and she played
with them until the man rose from his place before
the fire, and lifting her up bade her come with him.
He led her to a small room off the hall, which was
indeed curious in its arrangements. A toilet-table
stood there with most costly fittings; brushes with
silver and ivory handles were lying upon the faded
silk; a little pair of satin shoes had been thrown carelessly
upon the floor; a cloak of crimson satin was
flung over a chair. All these things looked as though
a hand had cast them aside but yesterday—yet all
were faded and soiled, and the dust lay thick as though
that yesterday had been many years ago.
And among these relics of an unknown past the
child made her simple toilet. She had never seen such
magnificence, or felt, she thought, so sad. But when
she returned to the hall ten minutes later, the sadness
She looked a quaint little figure, indeed, clad in a
silken wrapper provided by her host, which trailed far
behind on the ground, greatly to her delight; her little
feet were cased in dainty slippers which, small as they
were, yet were many sizes too large. In spite of misfits,
however, she contrived to walk with a stately grandeur
quite amazing to behold, until the dogs jumped and
fawned upon her, when she forgot her finery in a game
of play and lost her slippers in the rug.
On the table, a breakfast was rudely spread: cold
meats for the master of the house, who fed his dogs
from his own plate, while for Elsa was provided a bowl
of goat's milk and some crisp cakes, which she thought
When the meal was over, Elsa pleaded to be allowed
to do for her new friend the household duties she had
been taught to fulfil by the woodman's wife; and soon,
with the wrapper deftly pinned about her waist, and
the silken sleeves tucked up from bare and dimpled
arms, she stood before a bowl of steaming water, washing
plates and dishes. Only the table was rather high,
and she was forced to stand upon a stool.
From that day a strange new life began for little
The rough-looking man who had given her shelter
seemed to be living quite alone with his dogs. Every
morning he went out with them and his gun, apparently
to hunt and shoot in the forest, for he usually
returned laden with game, which served to keep the
Of other kinds of provisions there seemed to be a
plentiful supply on the premises; the granaries were
well stocked with corn, which the master ground himself,
while some goats tethered in the outhouses gave
a sufficient quantity of milk for the daily needs of the
Of Elsa's return to the woodman's cottage there
seemed to be no question. She was terrified at the
thought of being again lost in the wood, and pleaded
hard to remain with her new friend, who, on his side,
was equally loth to part with her.
Soon, having learned many useful ways from the
woodman's wife, she became a clever little housekeeper,
and could make a good stew, while Ulric, as the master
of the house bade her call him, was out with his dogs
in the forest, though now only two of the hounds
accompanied him in his expeditions; one was always
left as Elsa's companion and guardian. Then, too, she
could milk and feed the goats, and keep the house-place
clean and tidy. But all the day was not given
to such work as this.
When Ulric had returned, and they had dined together,
he would bring the great carved wooden chair
with the huge back up to the fire, and Elsa would
fetch a stool to his side and busy herself with needle
and thread, while he told her strange stories; or sometimes
he would fetch a ponderous volume from a library
the house contained and read, either to himself or aloud
to her, such things as she could understand.
Now, if you wonder where Elsa found the needle
and thread which I have mentioned, I must tell you
that Ulric had given her a little work-basket neatly
fitted, but the silk lining of which was much faded, and
some of the needles were rusty. There was in it also a
golden thimble, which Elsa found a little too large.
And as for the clothes she worked at, one day he
brought her a quantity of beautiful garments, some of
silk and satin, and some of fine cloth, and in these,
having nothing of her own but her one poor little
cotton frock, the child managed to dress herself, till
she looked like a quaint little fairy princess. Her
stitches were awkward and badly done at first, but as
time went on, instinct helped her small knowledge, and
she grew handy with her needle.
When she was cooking and feeding the goats, she
wore a woollen petticoat and an apron, a costume more
suited to the occasion.
In the evenings Ulric taught her many things: to
read and to write, and even to speak in strange
languages, so that her education was by no means neglected. He let her wander over the great mansion
where she would, and showed her many of the rooms
himself. All bore signs of having been used quite
recently, and yet a long time ago. Dust was thick
everywhere, and soon Elsa grew to understand that
the dust must remain and accumulate; no hand was
to be allowed to touch anything in that strange, silent
house beyond the hall and the little room which Ulric
had arranged for her sleeping apartment. One part
of the mansion, however, she never penetrated. At
the end of a long passage hung a heavy velvet curtain,
and behind this was a door, always securely locked.
Only Ulric passed beyond it, at stated times, and when
he returned from these visits he was more than usually
sad for many hours.
The weeks slipped into months, and Elsa dwelt on
in this strange home. Every day at first she looked
eagerly for the breaking of the frost—for the promise
of the sunshine and flowers she had left behind her in
the wood. But the spring never came. The bitter
cold and the frost continued, and in time the child's
heart must have frozen too, but for the strong, warm
love which had sprung up within it for Ulric.
Old and thoughtful she grew, beyond her years, but
never unhappy. Ulric needed her, was glad of her
presence; she could minister to his wants and brighten
his sad life.
So Ulric's love grew more to her than the flowers
and sunshine of the outer world; to think of leaving
him now would break her heart, but she wondered
often over the mystery that shadowed his life and hers. And the months grew to years, and Elsa was twelve
Then one evening Ulric came in from one of his visits
to the closed chamber, more sad and thoughtful even
than usual, and taking Elsa's hand in his, bade her
sit beside him for a little while and put aside her
work. She came obediently, looking anxiously into
"Little Elsa," he said, "I have counted the time,
and it is now five years since you came to me. You
told me then you were seven years old, now you are
therefore twelve, and will soon be growing into a
maiden. The time has come——"
Instinctively the child clasped his hand closer.
"Not to part us, father?" (for so she had learned to
"That, my child, must rest with you."
"Then it is soon settled," said Elsa, trying to laugh,
"for I will never leave you."
Something like the light of hope shone in the
man's clouded eyes—eyes in which Elsa had never
seen a smile, although his lips had smiled at her
"Listen," he said; "before you speak rash words, I
must tell you all. Then you shall decide.
"It is a little more than eleven years since the curse
fell upon me. I was a hard man then, Elsa—hard
and cruel and strong—it was my boast that I never
forgave a debt, or pardoned an enemy.
"I had married a young and beautiful wife, and her
I loved passionately, but in my own hard and selfish
fashion. Often I refused to heed even her gentle
pleadings for the suffering, the sinful, and the poor.
And we had one child—a girl—then only a few months
"It was a New Year's Eve that I decided upon
giving a great entertainment to all the country round.
I did it for my own glorification. Among the rich I
was disliked, but tolerated on account of my position;
by the poor far and wide I was feared and hated.
"Every one invited came to my ball. My wife looked
exquisitely lovely, more lovely I thought than on our
bridal day—everything ministered to my pride and
"We had mustered here, here in this hall, to drink the
health of the dying year and welcome the incoming
of the new, when above the sounds of laughter and
good cheer was heard from without a pitiful, feeble
wail—the wail of a child in pain. That feeble cry
rang then above every other sound—it rings in my
"Before I could interfere, my wife, with her own
hands, had flung wide the great barred door, and I
saw a sight which I alone could explain.
"Upon the step was huddled a woman, with a child
in her arms. A man, gaunt and hunger-stricken, towered
behind her in the darkness; two other children clung
to her, shivering and weeping. We were in the midst
of the cruel, bitter winter; the earth was frost-bound,
hard and cold, even as now. That day I had given
orders that these people, poor and starving as they
were, should be turned from their home. The man I
had suspected of being a poacher, and he was doing no
work—a good-for-nothing—but she, my wife, had pleaded
for them that I would wait, at least, until the summer.
Now she bent down to that poor creature on the step,
who was striving to nurse and warm her babe in her
chill arms, and whispered something—I guessed it was
a promise of shelter.
"In my fierce pride and anger I laid my hand upon
her arm, and with a strong grip drew her back—then
without a word I closed the door and barred it. But
within there was no more laughter. A voice rose upon
the still night air—the sound of a bitter curse—a curse
that should rest upon me and mine, the chill of winter
and of death, of pitiless desolation and remorse, until
human love should win me back to human pity and
"One by one, with cold good-nights, my guests departed.
My wife stole away to her own apartments
without a word; upon her arm I saw the mark of my
"In the morning the curse had fallen. The woman
I had turned away had been found at my gates, dead,
her child still clasped to her breast.
"The servants fled and left me alone, taking with
them our child; my wife—that night—she, too—died—to
The man's head drooped upon his hands. For a
moment there was silence in the hall.
Elsa stood—her child's heart grieved at the terrible
story, her whole nature sorrowing, pitiful, shocked.
Presently Ulric recovered himself and continued:
"Now, Elsa, you know all. My child, if you will return
to the world and leave me to work out my fate, you
shall not go penniless. I have wealth. For your sake
I will venture once more among the haunts of men and
see you placed in a safe home, then—I will try to
forget. It is right that you should shrink."
"Father, dear father, I love you—you are sorry—I
will not leave you—do not send me away."
A look almost of rapture changed the worn and tear-stained
face of the man who had owned his sin—and
the child's arms closed once more around his neck,
and her golden head nestled to his breast. A few
minutes later he led her to the closed chamber. Together
they passed beyond it, and Elsa found herself
standing in a richly furnished room.
Near a window was a couch covered with dark velvet,
and upon the couch a figure lay stretched as if in quiet,
death-like sleep, or carved in marble. The figure was
that of a young and very fair woman. Her dress of
white satin had yellowed with time; her hands were
clasped upon her breast as though in prayer; her golden
hair lay unbound upon the pillow.
"It is fitting now," said Ulric, "that you should come
Softly Elsa advanced. She stood beside the couch,
gazing down upon the still, white face, so sweet in its
settled grief, but which in this long silence seemed to
have lost its first youth. Elsa bent lower, lower. What
new instinct filled her warm, young heart, and made
"Mother, awake!" she said. "Mother!" and kissed
the cold, quiet lips.
Was it a ray of sunlight that stole through the open
window and trembled upon the mouth, curving it into
a smile? Slowly the dark eyes opened and rested with
a look of ineffable love upon Elsa's face.
And so the curse and the shadows of eternal winter
passed away from the house of Ulric, and his young
bride came back from her long slumber. In due time
the garden, too, awoke to the touch of spring, and the
flowers bloomed, and the birds mated once more and sang in budding trees, and the sun shone. And Elsa's
love bound closely together the hearts of her father
and mother; for perhaps you have been clever enough
to find out that the woodman's wife was the nurse who
had carried away with her in her flight Ulric's little
daughter on the night of the New Year's ball.
ONCE upon a time there lived a King who had
two kingdoms to govern—his own always the
perfection of law and order, while the other
was given over to confusion and rebellion, which, strive
as he would, got ever worse instead of better.
It had been the worry of his life ever since he began
to reign—and as he had no son to help him, he was
obliged to find a ruler for it among his Ministers, but
not one of them, however clever, could manage to
control its unruly inhabitants.
Sometimes, at long intervals, he even went to live
there himself, on which occasions his troubles in regard
to it multiplied so exceedingly that he swore they
were half demons, as the name of their kingdom,
NokkŽland, proved, and for his part he wished they
could find an evil spirit like themselves to govern them
in his stead, as no mere mortal could. And then, as he
could think of nothing else, he called a council of his
most trusted chiefs, and conferred with them; but as
they had all given their best consideration to the subject
many times before, none of them could come to any
more brilliant conclusion than formerly.
Therefore King Kaftan said he would hunt on the
morrow to distract his mind, so a great party set forth
at daybreak, and scoured the woods far and near, but no
sport could they get; no fourfooted beast could they
find excepting rabbits, and they were everywhere.
Unwilling to return empty-handed, and hoping for
better luck on the morrow, the King gave the order
to camp in the wood. Some of the men were catching
rabbits for supper, whilst others were making fires to
cook them, when just as the last rim of the sinking sun
disappeared below the horizon, a beautiful hart as white
as snow with antlers and hoofs of gold, suddenly
appeared, and walked leisurely down the glade towards
Instantly, with one accord, King, courtiers, huntsmen,
and servants rushed off in hot pursuit, helter-skelter
over each other, on foot, on horseback, armed or
unarmed, just as they found themselves when it first
appeared. The King, who had not dismounted, was
ahead of the others, and urged his steed with whip
and spur; but poor Rolf was very weary, and do as
he would, his master could get no nearer to his
Night was rapidly closing in when the King found
himself far ahead of his attendants, and alone with a
spent horse in a part of the forest where he had never
been before, and miles from any human habitation.
More and more faltering grew Rolf's jaded pace, and
in proportion as it slackened, slower went the hart.
The King's pulses quivered with excitement. He leapt
from the saddle, drew his dagger, and prepared to follow
on foot; but, to his astonishment, the beast had turned
and was coming slowly towards him, the moonlight
turning his antlers to silver, and gleaming on his milk-white
Half instinctively, the King had raised his dagger,
when the hart stopped and spoke in courteous, but
"Stay thy hand and know that I also am a King in
my own country. I have much to say to thee, therefore
follow me and fear nothing."
So King Kaftan followed, wondering, until the hart
stopped before a great rock, overhung with a tangle
of eglantine and honeysuckle—and pushing aside the
fragrant curtain dexterously with his horns, disclosed
what appeared to be the mouth of a cave. Entering
this, closely followed by the King, they proceeded for
some way in almost total darkness. Gradually it grew
lighter and the path wider, when the King perceived, to
his amazement, that the illumination proceeded from
countless numbers of bats, ridden by small imps carrying
Presently they came to a spacious garden, where all
the trees were lighted by coloured lamps hanging among
the branches, and the air was filled with music and
Within the garden was a great pavilion of purple silk,
most gorgeously emblazoned with scarlet and gold, and
having a Royal banner floating from the roof.
Within was a table, covered with every variety of food
and wine, lavishly decorated with flowers and gold
plate, and laid for two. Here the hart entertained his
Royal guest to supper, and after he was completely
refreshed and rested, handed him an enamelled box,
which, on being opened, disclosed a clay pipe, blackened
with much use, a tinder, and a flint.
"Smoke, O King!" said the host; "unfortunately I
cannot join you; and now to explain why I have lured
you from your own people to my enchanted land.
"I know your difficulties in NokkŽland, because for
one reason we are very near neighbours, though
probably you are unaware of it. The people who
inhabit that kingdom are descended from a water fiend,
and the turbulent instincts inherited from him can never
be quelled until the power of the Neck, who rules the
river between your kingdom and theirs, is broken. Now,
the Neck is my enemy as well as yours, and if you
will ally yourself with me and follow my counsels, you
will have peace, honour, and happiness for the rest of
your life in all probability."
"I am ready," said the King, "only tell me what to
do; the Klavs are the plague of my life, but from what
you say success even then is by no means a certainty."
"Much depends on luck," said the hart, "and to
neither your Majesty nor myself is it given to do much.
You have three daughters, Solveig, Ulva, and little
Kirsten; one of them must go over Ringfalla Bridge
without stumbling and without speaking one word.
This done, your troubles and my own are at an
Now, Ringfalla Bridge it was that spanned the river
between King Kaftan's own territory and that of the
Klavs, and what between the Klavs themselves and the Neck who inhabited the river, it had a very evil
The King looked grave, and then he laughed rather
grimly. "There won't be much difficulty about that," he
said. "To cross it has been the desire of their hearts
ever since they were babies; it is only my strict orders
that keep them from it."
"She who undertakes it must go of her own free will,
and if she accomplishes it without stumbling and without
speaking, the kingdom is saved." Those were the last
words of the hart ere bidding the King good-night, and
they were ringing in his ears when he awoke in the
morning. But he was no longer lying on the silken
cushions on which he had rested the night before.
Pavilion, garden, and hart had vanished, the sun was
high in the heavens, he was lying on a heap of moss
and ferns in the wood, with Rolf standing over him
and thrusting his soft nozzle into his face.
The King was greatly perplexed as to whether all
the events of the preceding night had actually happened,
or if he had only dreamt them, and was rather inclined
to the latter belief. Mounting Rolf, and leaving that
good steed to find his own way back to the camp, he
pondered deeply over all the hart had told him, and
resolved at least to try what he had suggested.
When at last he came to the camp it was nearly
deserted, as most of the party had gone to hunt for the
King, but after much blowing of horns the company
was collected, and, abandoning all further idea of sport,
rode back to the capital.
There they found everything silent, except that the
bells were mournfully tolling, and the flag over the
palace hanging half-mast high. "What is this? Who
is dead?" asked the King, but no one seemed inclined
At last the captain of the guard, who could not run
away, was forced to salute and answer the King.
"Sire," he said, "your Majesty's daughter, the Princess
Solveig, was drowned yesterday in trying to cross
Greatly to the captain's surprise, however, the King
inquired no further on the subject, but went straight
up to the tower where the apartments of the three
Princesses were situated.
There he found the two youngest overwhelmed with
grief for their sister's loss, but overjoyed to see him and
give an account of the catastrophe.
On the previous day, after seeing the King start at
the head of a great cavalcade on his hunting expedition,
the three Princesses cast about in their minds how they
might amuse themselves, and finally agreed to go down
and picnic by the river. Now, although the river itself
was not absolutely forbidden, they were quite aware
that the King disapproved of their going there, but they
pacified their consciences by taking a strong escort,
their old nurse, and a very large variety of hampers
Poor old Nurse Gerda was as much averse to the expedition
as King Kaftan himself could have been, and told
gruesome tales of the evil water spirit and his doings;
but the Princesses only laughed, and enjoyed preparing
their own lunch, and eating it afterwards, extremely. Then they wandered along the banks, gathering
primroses and long grasses, all the while drawing near to
the forbidden bridge; but it looked so inviting with its
stone parapet and curious wooden pavement, and the
water flowed so peacefully beneath the arches, that they
there and then made up their minds to cross it, and
drew lots to decide which should venture first. The lot
fell to Solveig, the eldest, and she set out boldly with
six archers to guard her—three before and three behind,
walking abreast—a last precaution insisted upon by
Gerda, the nurse, who watched the proceeding in terror.
All went well till they had almost reached the middle,
then she tripped, and in falling touched the parapet,
which instantly gave way, and the Princess fell into the
river. As she touched the water a great pair of hairy
arms caught and drew her under, so that she was seen
no more. "And," continued Ulva, who up till now had
done most of the talking, "the wall closed up again, with
no sign of a break, directly she disappeared, and though
two of the guard jumped in after her, the Neck took no
notice of them, and they swam ashore in the end quite
"The bridge is enchanted," said the King gloomily;
and then he told them his adventure with the white
"Then," said Ulva, with great decision, "I will go:
it is very simple. Solveig talked to Ulf, the archer,
all the time, and was looking at the river when she
stumbled. Now, I know what is required of me: I will
look at my feet and say nothing, not a word. Do,
father, let me go." And she gave the King no peace till he consented; but she fared no better than her
Boldly and silently she marched in the very centre
of the fatal bridge, till suddenly she saw in front of her
an enormous serpent with fiery eyes and forked tongue,
with head up ready to spring. Poor Ulva's chief fear in life was a snake. She recoiled in terror, calling to
warn the archers, who had seen nothing. And then
the flooring gave way beneath her, and she too sank
into the flood, a great pair of hairy hands clutching
her as she fell.
Then there was great mourning throughout the land.
The people clothed themselves in black, and the King
reviled the hart and his own folly in acting on his advice,
and refused to be comforted.
Then little Kirsten, the youngest sister, and the fairest
maiden in the land, put her white arms about his neck
and told him to be of good cheer; "for I will ride
across," she said, "and if Freyja my mare stumble, it
will be her fault, not mine, and I will neither speak nor
scream, for they will tie a scarf over my lips so that I
cannot. So, father, let me go, for it is I who will save
But the King swore a great oath, and vowed she should
not, and for three days nothing could move him. Then,
the Princess prevailed, and the whole city came out to
see her ride over Ringfalla Bridge.
This time neither guards nor soldiers attempted to
cross—a dozen courtiers, richly apparelled and mounted,
accompanied the youngest Princess, who, dressed in
white and all her pet jewels, with diamond fireflies
glistening in the golden hair that floated to her little
shoes, and her small, red mouth bound fast with a silken
scarf, rode gaily upon Freyja till she had crossed the
middle of the bridge, when, once again, appeared a
wonder on the verge of the forest—a great white hart,
with horns and hoofs of burnished gold. And straightway all the courtiers were tearing after it helter-skelter
in hot haste, entirely forgetful of the poor little Princess
and everything else.
And Freyja that morning was very frisky; she minced
along sideways on her golden shoes, coquetting with
her own shadow, and making little playful snaps at her bridle. So she, too, stumbled at last on the treacherous
planks, throwing her mistress over the parapet into the
swiftly running stream; but this time no demon hands
were stretched out to receive their prey—only a flash
of white and gold ere the water closed over her head,
and then all was still.
Meantime the white hart was giving the truant
courtiers a lively time of it; he bounded, trotted,
and doubled, keeping all the time close to the
bridge, but eluding all their efforts to come near him.
When, however, the maiden fell, a marvellous thing
chanced—the beautiful beast vanished, and in his place
stood the handsomest knight that had ever been seen
in that or any other land. His armour was of gold,
curiously inlaid with silver; on his helmet was a crown
of emeralds, and his long purple mantle was lined with
ermine, so there could be no doubt about his being a
Then all the courtiers doffed their plumed caps, and
did obeisance to him; but the stranger, after acknowledging
their homage, called aloud for "Asaph," and
out of the wood, running as fast as he could, came a
beautiful little page, clothed in green, and carrying a
Then the strange knight crossed the bridge and
saluted King Kaftan, who was standing on the bank
looking at the river like one dazed.
"Be of good cheer, Sir King," he cried; "the Princess
Kirsten has broken the charm, and I am no longer the
white hart, but the rightful King of your troublesome
Klavs—me they obey and no other; and now, thanks for your courtesy." So saying, he took the harp from
his little foot-page, and, seating himself on the bank,
began to play.
Very softly at first, but so wondrous were the
magic notes that all the assembled people listened
silent and motionless, for never before had they
heard the like. First the sound was like the distant
echo of silver trumpets when they welcomed the
host back from battle; and then coming, as it were,
nearer, like the ripple of waves on a pebbly beach,
and all the fishes swam up to listen, while out of the
wood flocked bird and beast also. So wondrous was
And then little Kirsten came smiling out of the
water and sat upon the harper's knee, and one arm he
put about her to hold her fast, but still he kept on
playing. And now the music waxed fierce and terrible,
like the roll of thunder among the mountains, or the
crash of armies when they meet in battle. And the
waves grew black and angry and lashed themselves
into foam, for the Neck, the evil water spirit, was furious,
but he could not fight against his master, and so at the
last he also came forth, black and hideous, but subdued,
leading the two Princesses Solveig and Ulva, who
looked more beautiful than ever, and none the worse
for their sojourn below the river.
So there were great rejoicings in both kingdoms, for
the youngest Princess had broken the spell laid on Sir
Sigurd by the Neck, who caught him in the forest alone
without his harp, and condemned him to wander as a
white hart until a Royal Princess should of her own free will cross Ringfalla Bridge without stumbling and
This little Kirsten did, and she had her reward, for
she married Sigurd and reigned over the Klavs, who
were turbulent no more, because their King and Queen
had been born for the special purpose of ruling over
The Children's Fairy.
IT was a dull, heavy afternoon, and the long, dusty
road looked quite deserted, not a horse or even
a foot-passenger in sight. The birds were taking
their afternoon siesta, and the leaves were hanging down
languidly from the poor trees, which were dying with
thirst. There were three solitary-looking, tumble-down
cottages on one side of the road, and presently the door
of one of them opened, and a woman's voice called out:
"Come, Yvette, come, go out and play."
In answer to this summons a little girl of some three
or four years old soon appeared, and with great difficulty
on all fours began to descend the steep steps from the
house to the footpath. It was quite a piece of work,
that perilous descent, and it was accomplished slowly,
carefully, and very awkwardly by what looked like
nothing but a bundle of clothes.
The child had on a little bonnet made of two pieces
of figured muslin sewn together, and from which a few
tresses of fair hair which had escaped fell over her
forehead and down the back of her neck. Her little
frock had been lengthened many times, and, consequently,
the waist was now up under the arms, like one sees in
the Empire dresses. As to shoes and stockings—well,
it was not very cold, and so they were put away for a
When once she had reached the bottom of the steps,
the child stood upright and looked round for a minute
or two, evidently deep in thought, with her little finger
pressed against her face. Play! Yes, it was all very
well, but what should she play at?
At the very time when the poor little mite was turning
this question over in her mind, hundreds of other children,
accompanied by their mother or by their nurse, would
be all out in the gardens or parks, and they would have
with them all kinds of games and toys, from the favourite
spade and bucket to a real little steam-boat, which would
sail along on the ponds. They would have cannons,
skipping-ropes, reins (all covered with little bells), hoops,
battledores and shuttlecocks, bowls, marbles, balls, balloons,
dolls of every description, pistols, guns, swords,
and, in fact, everything that the heart of a child can
Then, too, those other children nearly always had little
playmates, so that it was easy enough to organise a
But, Yvette—on that deserted road, what could she
do? Her father, a poor road-mender, earned only just
enough to make a bare living for his wife and child,
and certainly not a halfpenny could be spared for toys.
Yvette sat down just near a great heap of stones,
which her father had to break into small pieces in
order to fill in the ruts. When she was comfortably
installed, she began to fumble in her pocket, and there
she certainly found all kinds of wonderful things: two
cherry-stones, a piece of string, a small carrot, a shoe-button,
a small penny knife, a little bit of blue braid
and some crumbs of bread. Now, these were all very
nice in their way, and were indeed very valuable articles,
but somehow they did not appeal to Yvette at all just
then. She put them all very carefully back one by
one in her pocket.
Then there was a profound silence. Yvette was not
happy. The little face puckered itself up into a significant
grimace—the little nose was all screwed up, and the
mouth was just opening—tears were surely on the
way! Just at that moment, fortunately, the Children's
Fairy was passing by.
Now you, perhaps, do not know about this Fairy,
for no one ever sees her, but it is the very one which
makes children smile in their dreams, and gives them
all kinds of pretty thoughts. There is no limit to the
power of this Fairy, for, with a stroke of her magic
wand, she can transform things just as she wishes. She
is very good and kind-hearted, and the proof is that she
bestows her favours more generally on the poor and
unfortunate than on others.
Well, this good Fairy saw that Yvette was just going
to cry. She stretched her golden wand out over the
heap of stones and then flew away again, laughing, for
she was just as light and as gay as a ray of sunshine.
Now, directly the Fairy had gone, it seemed to the
road-mender's little daughter that one of the big stones
near her had a face, and that it was dressed just like a
little baby. Oh, it was really just like a little baby!
Yvette stretched out her hand, took the stone up, and
immediately began to feel for it all the love which a
mother feels for her child.
"Ah!" she said to it, cuddling it up in her arms;
"do you want to be my little girl? You don't speak—oh!
but that is because you are too young—but I see
you would like to. Very well, then; I will be your
mother, and I shall love you and never whip you. You
must be good, though, and then I shall never scold
you. Oh! but if you are not good—you know, I've
got a birch rod. Now, come, I'm going to dress you
better: you look dreadful in that frock." Hereupon
Yvette rolled her child up in her pinafore, so that there
was nothing to be seen of the stone but what was
supposed to be the baby's head.
"Oh! how pretty she is, dear little thing. There,
now, she shall have something to eat. Ah! you are
crying—but you must not cry, my pretty one—there,
there." And the hard stone was rocked gently in the
soft little arms of its fond mother.
"Bye-bye, baby—bye-bye-bye." Yvette sang with all
her might, tapping her little daughter's back energetically,
but evidently all to no purpose, for the stone refused
to go to sleep. "Ah! naughty girl; you won't go to
sleep? Oh no, I won't tell you any more stories. I
have told you Tom Thumb, and that's quite enough for
to-night. Go to sleep—quick—quick, I say. Oh, dear,
dear, naughty child—I've got a knife—what! you are
crying again! If you only knew how ugly you are
when you cry! There! now I'm going to slap you—take
that, and that, and that, to make you quiet. Oh
dear, how dreadful it is to have such a child. I believe
I'll change you, and have a boy. Now, just say you
are sorry for being so naughty——What! you won't?
I'll give you another chance. Now—one—two—three.
Oh, very well. I know what I shall do. I shall just
go and take you back. I shall say: 'If you please, I've
got a dreadful little girl, and I want to change her for
a nice little boy, named Eugene.' And then they'll say:
'Yes, ma'am; will you have him with light hair or
dark?' 'Oh,' I shall say, 'I don't mind, as long as
he is good.' 'He'll be very dear, though, ma'am,' they'll
say; 'good little boys are very rare, and they cost a
great deal.' 'How much?' I shall ask. 'Why, one
penny, ma'am.' And then I shall think about it——Now,
then, are you going to be good, and say you are
sorry? No? Oh! very well—it's too late now—I've
changed you. I have no little girl now, but a very
pretty little boy, named Zizi."
The stone immediately underwent a complete transformation.
Just now, when it was a little girl, it had
been very quiet and gentle, and had kept quite still on
Yvette's lap. Now that it was a boy there was no
more peace: it would jump about, and it would try to
get away, for boys are always so restless.
"Zizi, will you be still, and will you stay on my lap instead of tumbling about in the road? There, let me
lift you up! Oh, dear! how heavy boys are. There,
now, don't you stir, but just eat your bread and milk.
It will make you grow, and then when you are big
you'll have beautiful grey whiskers, like father. You
shall have a sword, too, and perhaps you shall be a
policeman. It's very nice to be a policeman, you know,
because they are never put in prison—they take other
people there if the people make a noise in the street.
Oh, Zizi, do keep still. If you don't, I'll call the wolf—you
know, the big wolf that runs off with little
children and takes them into the woods to eat them
up. Wolf, wolf, where are you?"
Just at that moment a dog appeared—a large, well-fed,
happy-looking dog, impudent too, and full of fun. He
belonged to a carrier who was always moving about
from place to place, and the dog, accustomed as he
was to these constant journeys, had got rather familiar,
like certain commercial travellers, who, no matter where
they are, always make themselves quite at home.
Now, the dog had got tired of following his master's
cart, and when he saw something in the distance which
was moving about, he bounded off to discover what it
was. This something was Yvette and her little boy.
"Look, look!" exclaimed the small mother, and there
was a tremor in her voice. "You see, he is coming—the
He was coming, there was no doubt about that, for
he was tearing along, and his tongue was hanging out
and his ears were pricked up.
The little stone boy was not at all frightened, but
Yvette began to regret having called the dreadful animal.
Oh! if she could only get away now; but, alas! she
did not dare to move or even to speak.
The impertinent dog came straight to them. Poor
Yvette, half frightened to death, threw away the precious
stone baby she had been fondling, and, picking herself
up, began to run, calling out: "Mother! Mother!"
The dog was quite near her, jumping up at her, and
then suddenly he turned to go and sniff at the little
stone boy. He probably thought it was a bone or a
piece of bread, but he was soon undeceived, and then
he rushed to the hedge to bark and wake up all the
As to Yvette, she was hurrying along as fast as her
little legs could carry her, for she was in despair, as she
thought the wolf was just behind her, and she imagined
that she still felt his hot breath on her little hand. She
stopped when she got to the steps of her home, for she
was out of breath and all trembling with terror, and
she felt sure that if she tried to scramble up the steps
the wolf would bite her legs. Suddenly the inspiration,
which the ostrich once had, came to her, and she rushed
into the corner which was formed by the front of the
house and the stone steps, and holding her face close
to the wall, so that she could not see the dreadful animal,
she was convinced that she too was out of his sight.
She stayed there some minutes in perfect anguish,
thinking: "Oh! if I move, he'll eat me up!" She was
quite surprised even that he did not find her, and that
his great teeth did not bite her, for she always thought
wolves were so quick to eat up little girls. Whatever
could he be doing? And then, not hearing any sound
of him, she thought she would risk one peep round.
Very slowly she turned her head, and then, as nothing
dreadful happened, she grew bolder and bolder.
The wolf was not in sight, and instead of the barking
which had terrified her, she now heard a lot of little
bells tinkling, and in the distance she saw a waggon
with four horses coming along.
The sound of the bells was so fascinating that Yvette
forgot her duty as a mother, and stood there watching
the waggon as it approached.
The horses were all grey, and they were coming so
fast. Suddenly the child uttered an awe-struck cry.
Her child, her little son, was under the heavy wheels!
Crunch! crunch! and it had gone by, the horrible waggon.
Yvette went on to the horse-road, and her little heart
was very full; for there, where poor Zizi had been lying,
there was only some yellowish crunched stone. Zizi
had been ground into powder by the huge wheels. The
poor child was in despair, and, with tears in her eyes,
she shook her little fists at the carrier, who was whipping
up his horses.
"Cruel, wicked man!" she cried, and then her eyes
happening to fall on the heap of stones which had
supplied her with a family, she saw another stone smiling
at her now. She ran quickly to it, picked it up and
kissed it affectionately, and then, happy in her new
treasure, she cried out defiantly to the carrier, whom
she could still see in the distance: "Ah! I don't care!
I've got another—there, then! and it's a girl this time.
I won't have any more dreadful boys to be afraid of
wolves, and to go and get themselves killed just to
make their poor mother unhappy."
Oh! kind, good Fairy, you who watch over the
children, and who give them their happiness and console
them in sorrow when they are playing at life—oh, good
Fairy, do not forget your big children.
Older men tell me that I am young, but the younger
ones do not think so; and I, myself, saw, only this
morning, a silver thread in my hairs. Oh, kind Fairy,
Fairy of the children, help me, too, to believe that the
moon is made of green cheese; for, after all, our happiness
here below consists in our faith and in our
ONCE upon a time there was a King of Roundabout
who had, among many other servants, a
page-boy who was called Wittysplinter, and
he preferred him above all the others, and showered upon
him honours and presents, because of his uncommon skill
and cleverness, and because everything the King gave
him to do he always accomplished successfully. Now,
because of the great favour which the King showed to
Wittysplinter, all the other page-boys and servants were
jealous of him; for, if his cleverness were rewarded
with money, they generally received nothing but scoldings
for their stupidity; if Wittysplinter received praise
from the King, they generally received a blowing-up;
when Wittysplinter got a new coat to his back, they
got instead the application of a stick to theirs; and if
Wittysplinter were permitted to kiss the King's hand, they were only allowed to touch it when they got a
smack from it.
On account of all these things, therefore, they got
very angry with Wittysplinter, and went about murmuring
and whispering the whole day long, and putting their
heads together and plotting how best they could deprive
Wittysplinter of the love of the King. One of them
scattered a lot of peas on the steps up to the throne, so
that Wittysplinter might stumble and break the glass
sceptre which he always had to present to the King;
another nailed pieces of melon skin to his shoes, so that
he might slide along and make a dreadful mess of the
King's gown when he was handing him the soup; a
third put all sorts of horrid flies in a straw, and blew
them into the King's wig when Wittysplinter was dressing
it; a fourth played some other nasty trick, and every one
sought to do something to deprive Wittysplinter of the
King's favour. Wittysplinter was so cautious, however,
and so clever and watchful, that everything they did was
in vain, and he brought all the commands of the King
to a successful issue.
Well, when they found that all these manœuvres were
quite useless, they determined to try something else. Now,
the King had an enemy, whom he could never get the
better of, and who was always doing him some mischief.
This was a giant who was called Sleepyhead, and who
lived in a large mountain, where he had a splendid palace
surrounded by a thick, gloomy wood; and with the
exception of his wife, Thickasmud, no human being lived
with him; but a lion who was called Hendread, and a bear
called Honeybeard, and a wolf called Lambsnapper, and a dog called Harescare, acted as his servants. He had
also in the stables a horse called Flyinglegs.
Now, there dwelt in the neighbourhood of Roundabout
a very beautiful Queen, Madam Flosk, who had a daughter,
Miss Flink, and the King of Roundabout, who wanted to
possess all the land adjoining his own, was very anxious
to marry Madam Flosk. But she was proud, and let him
know that many other Kings were also anxious to marry
her, and that she would accept in marriage that King only
who was most expeditious, and that he who was first by
her side when she went into church next Monday morning
at half-past ten should have her as his wife, and all her
possessions into the bargain.
Thereupon the King summoned all his household, and
put the question to them: "How am I to manage to be
first in the church on Monday morning next, and so gain
Queen Flosk for my wife?"
Then his servants answered him, and said: "You must
gain possession of the horse Flyinglegs, belonging to the
giant Sleepyhead; if you once get astride of it, no one can
possibly get there before you; and to get this horse for
you no one is more suited than Wittysplinter, who is so
successful in all he undertakes."
Thus spoke the wicked servants, in the hope that the
Giant Sleepyhead would kill Wittysplinter. The King,
accordingly, commanded Wittysplinter to bring the horse
Flyinglegs to him.
Wittysplinter got a hand-barrow, and placed a bees
hive on it, then a sack into which he thrust a cock, a hare,
and a lamb, and laid it on the barrow; he took with him,
also, a long piece of rope, and a large box full of snuff; slung round him a riding whip, fastened a pair of good
spurs to his boots, and quietly set off, pushing his barrow
in front of him.
Towards evening he had reached the summit of the
high mountain, and when he had traversed the wood he
saw before him the castle of the giant Sleepyhead. Night
drew on, and very soon he heard the giant Sleepyhead
and his wife, Thickasmud, and his lion, Hendread, and his
bear, Honeybeard, and his wolf, Lambsnapper, and his
dog, Harescare, all snoring loudly; only the horse, Flyinglegs,
was still awake, and stamping the floor of the stable
with its hoofs.
Then Wittysplinter took the long piece of rope very
quietly from the sack, and stretched it across in front of
the door of the castle from one tree to another, and placed
the box of snuff in the middle; next he took the beehive
and placed it in a tree by the side of the path, and then
went into the stable and undid the fastenings of Flyinglegs.
He placed the sack with the lamb, the hare, and the cock
on its back, and jumping up himself and using his spurs,
he rode out of the stable.
But the horse Flyinglegs could speak, and screamed out
"Thickasmud and Sleepyhead!
Honeybeard and Hendread!
Lambsnapper and Harescare!
I'm being stolen, so pray beware!"
and then it galloped off as hard as it could, because, with
Wittysplinter on its back, it couldn't help itself. Then
Thickasmud and Sleepyhead woke up and heard the cry
of the horse Flyinglegs. Quickly they awakened the bear Honeybeard, the lion Hendread, the wolf Lambsnapper,
and the dog Harescare, and all together they rushed pell-mell
out of the house, to try and catch Wittysplinter with
the horse Flyinglegs.
But in the darkness the giant Sleepyhead and his wife
Thickasmud stumbled over the rope which Wittysplinter
had tied in front of the castle door, and, splosh!—they fell
with their eyes and noses right into the box of snuff which
he had placed there. They rubbed their eyes and sneezed
one time after another, and Sleepyhead said: "Your good
health, Thickasmud." "I thank you," answered Thickasmud,
and then said: "Good health to you, Sleepyhead."
"I thank you," answered he; and so on, until they had
wept the snuff out of their eyes and sneezed it out of their
noses, and by the time this had happened Wittysplinter
was clear of the wood.
The bear Honeybeard was the first after him, but when
he came to the bees' hive the smell of the honey enticed
him, and he wanted to eat it; then the bees came buzzing
out, and stung him all over the face to such an extent
that he ran back half blind to the castle. Wittysplinter
had already got some distance out of the wood when he
heard the lion Hendread coming bounding after him, so
he quickly took the cock out of his sack, and when it flew
up into a tree and began to crow, the lion got so dreadfully
frightened that it ran back again.
Now Wittysplinter heard the wolf Lambsnapper behind
him. He quickly let loose the lamb out of his sack, and
the wolf galloped after it, and let him ride off in safety.
He was by this time quite near the town when he heard a bark behind him, and looking round, saw the dog Harescare
coming tearing after him. Quickly he let loose the
hare out of the sack, and the dog ran after it, and he
arrived safely in the town.
The King thanked Wittysplinter very much for the
horse, but the wicked servants of the Court were very
much annoyed that he had come off with a whole skin.
On the following Monday the King mounted upon his
horse Flyinglegs and rode off to Queen Flosk, and the
horse galloped so quickly that he was there long before
any of the other Kings, and had already danced several
of his wedding dances when they arrived. Just when
he was about to start off home with his Queen, his
servants said to him: "Your Majesty has indeed the
giant Sleepyhead's horse, but how much more splendid
it would be if you had his clothes as well, which are
said to surpass anything that man has ever seen. The
clever Wittysplinter would, no doubt, very soon bring
them to you if you commanded him to do so."
The King was at once possessed with a great desire
for Sleepyhead's clothes, and again gave the commission
to Wittysplinter. When the latter had started off upon
the road the wicked servants rejoiced, and thought that
this time he would surely not escape the clutches of the
On this occasion Wittysplinter took nothing with him
but a few good strong sacks. On arriving at the giant's
castle he climbed up into a tree, and lay hid until every
one was in bed. When everything had become quiet
he climbed down again. Just then he heard Madam
Thickasmud calling out: "Sleepyhead, my pillow is very low; fetch me a bundle of straw from outside." Thereupon
Wittysplinter quickly slipped into a bundle of
straw, and Sleepyhead carried him, along with the straw,
into his room, shoved him under the pillow, and then
lay down in bed again.
As soon as they had fallen asleep Wittysplinter packed
all Sleepyhead's and Thickasmud's clothes into his sack,
and very quietly and very carefully tied it to the tail
of the lion Hendread; then he tied the wolf Lambsnapper,
and the bear Honeybeard, and the dog Harescare, who
were lying about asleep, fast to the giant's bed, and
opened the door very wide. So far he had managed
everything just as he would have wished, but he wanted
to take away the giant's beautiful bed-cover as well.
So he gave the corner of it a slight tug, then another,
and another, and so on, until it fell on the floor. He
immediately wrapped himself up in it, and seated himself
on the sack containing the giant's clothes, which he had
tied to the lion's tail. Soon the cool night wind began
to blow through the open door and over Thickasmud's
legs, and waking up, she cried, "Sleepyhead, you've
pulled all the bed-clothes off me. I've nothing at all
over me." "Thickasmud, you've pulled all the clothes
off me," and thereupon they began to belabour each
other, so that Wittysplinter began to laugh loudly at
them. As soon as they heard this they called out
"Thieves, thieves! Up, Hendread! Up, Lambsnapper!
Up, Honeybeard and Harescare! Thieves, thieves!" At
this all the animals woke up, and the lion sprang forth
out of the door. Now Wittysplinter, wrapped up in the
bed-cover, was sitting on the bundle of clothes tied to the lion's tail; and as soon as the lion began to run,
he was driven along just as if he was in a carriage.
He began to cry out several times "kikriki-ki-kri-ki,'
just like a cock, and the lion got such a fright at this
that he ran in mad terror right up to the gates of the city. When quite near to the gates, Wittysplinter took
out his knife and cut the string, and the lion, who was
going at such a rate that he couldn't stop himself, ran
his head full bang against the gates and fell down
The other animals, who had been bound to the bedstead
of Sleepyhead and Thickasmud, could not get it
out of the door because it was too wide, and they dragged
it and pulled it about the room so much that both
Sleepyhead and Thickasmud fell out, and became so
angry that they beat the wolf, the bear, and the dog to
death, although the poor animals really couldn't help it.
When the watch in the city heard the noise of the
great blow which the lion had given to the gates, they
opened them, and Wittysplinter carried the clothes of
Sleepyhead and Thickasmud in triumph to the King, who
nearly jumped out of his skin with joy, for such clothes had
never before been seen. There was, among other things,
a hunting-coat, made of the skins of all the fourfooted
animals, and so beautifully sewn together that one could
see the whole story of Reynard the Fox depicted on
it. Also a bird-catcher's coat, made of feathers from all
the birds in the world, an eagle in front and an owl
behind; and in the pockets there were a musical box
and a peal of bells, which made music just like all kinds
of birds singing together. Further, there was a bathing-dress
and a fisher's-dress, made from the skins of all
the fish in the world, sewn together so that one saw a
whale-hunt and a great catch of herrings on it. Then
a garden-dress of Madam Thickasmud's, on which all
sorts of flowers and fruits, salads and vegetables, were embroidered. But what surpassed everything else was
the bed-cover; it was made entirely of the skins of bats,
and all the stars of heaven were represented on it by
means of diamonds.
The Royal family were quite dumb with astonishment
and wonder. Wittysplinter was kissed and embraced,
and his enemies nearly exploded with rage to see that
he had again escaped without hurt from the hands of
Even yet they did not despair, and put the idea into
the King's head that nothing was now wanting to his
dignity but that he should possess the castle of Sleepyhead
itself, and the King, who was a very child in these
matters and always wanted to have whatever took his
fancy, said immediately to Wittysplinter that he wanted
Sleepyhead's castle, and that as soon as he got it for him
he would be rewarded.
Wittysplinter did not take much time to think about
it, and for the third time ran off to the abode of Sleepyhead.
When he arrived there, the giant was not at
home, and he heard something in the room crying like
a calf. Then he looked through the window, and saw
Dame Thickasmud chopping wood, and at the same
time nursing a little giant on her arm, who was showing
his teeth and bleating like a calf.
Wittysplinter went in, and said: "Good-day, my
great and beautiful, broad and portly dame! How is
it that you have got to do so much work and have to
nurse your child at the same time? Have you no
maids or grooms? Where is your husband, then?"
"Ach," said Madam Thickasmud, "my husband has gone out to invite all his relations to a feast we are
going to hold. And I have to cook everything for myself
now, for my husband killed the bear, and the wolf, and
the dog, that used to help us; and the lion has run
"That is certainly very hard lines on you," said
Wittysplinter. "If I could do anything to help you,
I should be only too glad."
Then Thickasmud asked him to chop up four logs
of wood into small pieces for her; and Wittysplinter
took the axe and said to the giantess: "You might hold
the wood for me a moment, please," and the giantess
bent down and caught hold of the wood. Wittysplinter
raised the axe in the air, and swish! down it came,
and cut Thickasmud's head off and Mollakopp's at the
same time, and there they lay.
The next thing he proceeded to do was to dig a large,
deep hole right in front of the castle door, into which
he threw Thickasmud and Mollakopp, and then covered
over the opening with a thin layer of branches and
leaves. Then he proceeded to light up all the rooms of
the castle with candles and torches, and took a large
copper kettle, and beat upon it with soup ladles. Then
he got a tin funnel, and blew a blast on it just like
a trumpet, and between each performance he shouted,
"Hurrah! Long live His Majesty the King of Roundabout."
When Sleepyhead was returning home towards evening,
and saw all the lights in the windows and heard the
shouting, he was mad with rage, and ran with such
fury against the door that he fell through the hole covered
with branches and lay there a prisoner, shouting and
making a great noise. Wittysplinter immediately ran
down and threw large stones on him, until he had filled
up the hole.
And now Wittysplinter took the key of the castle
and ran with it to King Roundabout, who immediately
betook himself to the castle, along with his wife Flosk
and her daughter Flink and Wittysplinter, and inspected
all there was to be seen there. After they had spent
fourteen whole days in looking at an immense number of rooms, chambers, cellars, look-out towers, bakeries,
furnaces, kitchens, wood-stove houses, dining-rooms,
smoking-rooms, wash-houses, etc., the King asked Wittysplinter
what he would like as a reward for his faithful
services. And Wittysplinter replied that he would like
to marry the Princess Flink, if it were agreeable to her.
The Princess very readily consented, and they were
married and lived in the giant's castle, where they are
to be found to this day.
The Mid-day Rock.
ONCE upon a time there was a poor man, who
lived somewhere in the middle of the woods near
a place called G‚tines de Treigny. Everybody
called him Father Rameau. Not that he had any children—he
had not even ever been married; nor that he was
very old, for he was barely fifty; but he had always had
such a hard time of it that his hair had grown grey very
early, and his back had been bent and bowed long before
He was generally to be seen toiling along under a
big bundle of brooms, which he made with the greatest
skill from young birch branches, selling them on market
days to the housewives of Saint-Amand or Saint-Sauveur.
Father Rameau was not ambitious, far from it; if he
had been alone in the world, without relations depending
on him, he would have been quite content to live on
black bread every day of the week, with an occasional
glass of wine from the charitable folk of the neighbourhood.
But Father Rameau had a younger sister married to a
vine-dresser of Perreuse, and he was god-father to their daughter; she was just growing up into a woman, and
was so pretty and modest and intelligent, that every
one had a good word for her, and now she was engaged
to be married to a young man called George, a capital
worker, but without a penny in the world. The wedding
was to take place as soon as she was twenty; and they
had given each other engagement rings—common leaden
rings, bought from one of the pedlars who visit the hamlets
of the district.
Humble as he was where he himself only was concerned,
Father Rameau was proud indeed in matters
connected with his niece.
"A leaden ring," he murmured, "when so many other
girls, not half as good as my god-daughter, have a gold
one! How I wish Madeleine could choose the one she
liked best from the jeweller's shop in Saint-Sauveur!
Ah, it's not much use wishing. If I put by every penny
I could spare for years and years I could never afford it.
Madeleine's poor, George is poor, I am poor, and always
shall be. Well, we're honest, that's one comfort, and
we needn't be jealous, at any rate."
As the old broomseller was thinking all this, he met
George, who was driving a pair of oxen, their nostrils
steaming in the first rays of the morning sun. "Good-day,
lad," said he.
"Good-day, Father Rameau."
"Off to work already?"
"Yes, father. I'm just going over the master's fields
for the last time before seed sowing; we shall begin next
week. We're rather behind hand you know."
"So you are; October's nearly over."
"Can you guess what I was thinking of as I came
"What you were thinking of? You mean who," said
Father Rameau, rather crossly.
"Well, yes, you're right. Madeleine is never out of
my mind," answered George thoughtfully. "I was saying
to myself that, if there are plenty of weeds over there"
(and he pointed to the uncultivated moor with his goad),
"there is good soil as well, and that any one who had
time to clear even a corner of it might buy the girl he
was engaged to——"
"A gold ring!"
"How did you guess what I meant? You don't come
from ChÍneau, where all the wizards live," laughed George.
"No witchcraft in that, nephew. The other day I saw
how unhappy you were that you could only give Madeleine
a leaden ring, and I was just as sorry myself that I
couldn't buy her a better one ... and ever since I've
been trying to think of a way...."
"And have you found one, father?"
"You've found it for me, lad. I shall make a clearing
of a bit of the moor."
Even at the risk of offending his future uncle, the
young labourer could not help smiling.
"That's a task for stronger arms than yours, father,"
he said. "No one can beat you at cutting birch branches
and making them into brooms. But that doesn't need
so much muscle as digging up soil like this, pulling up
the great roots out of it, or smashing and carrying away
huge boulders of rock. Ah, if only I had not given my
word to stay with my master till I am married!"
"You may laugh at me, lad, but I won't bear malice,"
said the old man. "If the old are not so strong as
the young, they are more persevering. I shall clear a
bit of the moor, and with the money from my first harvest
we will go and buy the ring. Good-bye, lad."
"Good-bye, father; we shall see you doing wonders
before long, I know."
"I shall be working for Madeleine," he said, "and your
patron saint (George means cultivator of the soil) will
At twelve precisely, Father Rameau came back to the
moor with a heavy pick on his shoulder; he meant to set
to work without delay.
Bang went the first stroke of the pick, accompanied
with the significant grunt diggers, woodmen, and such folk
give over their work. But just as he was raising his arm
for another try, he stood suddenly stock-still, with eyes
staring wide in a white, terrified face.
From the midst of the boulders scattered about, which
were trembling like Celtic monuments, had arisen an
apparition, which the old man knew was supernatural
and divine, though its form was human.
Imagine a tiny little lady, ethereal rather than thin,
youthfully lovely and dainty, a kind of dream beauty,
attired in a silvery tunic embroidered with gorse blossoms.
On her head a wreath of heather; in her hand a wand
of the broom plant in blossom; all around the holly, ferns,
and junipers, all the wild plants and shrubs, were bowing
down as if in homage to a Sovereign. A ray of sunlight
was playing round her head like an aureole. She was
the Fairy of the Moor.
"You are a bold man," she said to the old workman,
"to dare thus to encroach on my domains." There was
a thrill of anger in her clear voice, and her blue eyes
"Lady Fairy," stammered the old man, "be merciful
to a wretched labourer who never meant to wrong you.
Your domains are so vast, I hoped there would be no
harm if I took the liberty of borrowing just a little corner
"What do you want it for?"
"To cultivate it," answered old Rameau, who was
beginning to feel less frightened.
"To cultivate it!" cried the fairy. "You mean to dig
it up, turn it over, and upset it all round! Do you
not see how lovely it is now, and are you so presumptuous
as to think you can do better for it than Nature has
done already?" Her voice grew softer as she went on:
"What could you find anywhere that is as beautiful
as this spot in spring-time, when, under a sky of the
tenderest blue, the little leaves are beginning to bud on
the branches, the tufts of narcissus are opening among
the marshes, and everywhere in the woods around the
blackbirds are beginning to whistle their first notes, the
doves keep up a gentle cooing, and the jays are chattering
"A couple of partridges calling to each other," answered
the old man, "a quail uttering its three sonorous
cries, or a lark soaring into the sky with its breathless
melody, make a pleasanter sound, to my way of
thinking. But these are birds that like to build their
nests among the corn. They are not found near your
"In summer," went on the fairy, "when the moors
are flooded with sunshine, and the heat brings out a
delicious odour of resin from my favourite shrubs, I love
to look on the purple of the heather, and the gold of gorse
"I prefer the pink clover with the drowsy bees humming
over it," answered the old man, "and the ripening harvest,
yellow like your beautiful hair, Lady Fairy."
Fairy as she was, the queen of the moors was not
displeased at the compliment. Father Rameau saw this
from her face, and said to himself his cause was half
"In autumn," she retorted, though, "even here, there
comes to me, out of the depths of the thickets near,
the baying of the pack when the hunt is out, and often
they traverse my domains to get from one part of the
forest to another. The poor, hunted stag, whose tongue
is hanging out of his mouth with weariness, makes for
this very heap of rocks sometimes; then I help him to
elude his cruel foes and to get away safely."
"Yes," said the old man, as if he liked this idea, "the
dogs get their noses pricked on the thorn-bushes and
lose trace of their prey. That is indeed a kind action.
I, too, like to put the pack on a wrong scent. The stags
are such dear things, with their soft brown eyes. Those
in this neighbourhood know me, and when I sit down
to make my brooms right in the middle of a copse,
as I do sometimes, they come quite close up to me. If
only there were wheat growing on your moor, you would
be able to protect the hares, too, for they would then take
refuge in the shelter of your park."
"But when you have pulled up my holly and junipers
and broom-bushes, how shall I be able to make fires for
the long winter evenings? I shall die, pierced by the cruel
breath of the keen north wind, and be buried under a
shroud of white snow."
"Oh, gracious fay, if you fear the cold, will there not
always be the place of honour kept for you by our
chimney-corner, in the little home I mean to build on
the moor? You will come and get warm whenever you
like by our fireside. My god-daughter, Madeleine, will
keep you company, and some day, perhaps, I shall entreat
you to be god-mother to her first baby."
Thus Father Rameau had his answer ready for all her
objections. These last words of his touched the fairy,
and the expression of her face became very soft and kind.
"I know Madeleine well," she said; "I know how fair
she is to see, in her snowy white caps. I know how her
goodness is spoken of far and wide; and I have even
heard that she is to marry that hard-working lad I saw
talking with you this morning. They will be a charming
pair, and their home will be a delightful place. And you,
dear old man, who have no ambition for yourself, but
only care for your dear ones, you will have your reward
for your cheerful faith in the future. Take up your pick
and have courage over your digging. I grant you this
corner of my domain. The rest I am sure you will
respect, for you are not greedy; will the others who come
after you spare it, too? Alas, when once the moor has
been cleared all over and cultivated, I shall have to
die! But we will only think of the happiness of your
young folk; and, silence! not a word of all this to
And with a finger on her lips, she vanished.
By the end of October Father Rameau had dug over,
cleared, and prepared two acres of ground. All by himself?
With his pickaxe and spade? Yes, quite by
himself, and with his pickaxe and spade. He had worked
as if by magic, for the fairy, always present and always
invisible, had endowed him with some of her magic power.
She helped him to split the hardest boulders, to haul
up the most tenacious roots, to collect in bundles the old
tree-stumps and weeds, and every kind of rubbish, and
set fire to it, and so make the very first dressing the
soil had ever had on it. Will you believe it? By seed-sowing
time the ground was ready, and was sown with
oats, which began to grow in no time, came well through
all the frosts, and by the following April was waving
abroad in a luxuriant mass of green. A lark built its
nest in it, and every morning nodded its little tufted head
at Father Rameau, who was watching over its nest, as
if out of gratitude for what he had done.
The harvest was splendid, and fetched a high price.
George could no longer smile at Father Rameau's old
arms, and had to confess he had found his master: Father
Rameau smiled slily when he said, "After all, nephew,
we shall have a gold ring for Madeleine." But when the
time came for getting it, Madeleine would not allow it.
"No, father," she said, "you have toiled and moiled this
year at your digging; buy a plough: any one will lend
you a plough-horse for a few days, and it won't be nearly
such hard work for you."
So when autumn came again, the old man cleared
another two acres, and next summer his harvest was
twice as big—and so were his profits.
Madeleine still refused the precious ring. "Buy a pair
of oxen," she said; "you will be independent then of
Next year the old man's field was bigger than ever;
and Madeleine advised him to use the profit of his harvest
for building a little house. Her modest, sensible advice
was acted upon every time, and, in fact, when the wedding-day
arrived, the gold ring had still not been bought
and at the marriage ceremony, in the church at Treigny,
it was over the old leaden rings of their betrothal that
the curť pronounced his blessing. "We have given our
hearts to each other," said the young wife; "what do
we want with gold rings after that? What do you think,
"I mean to spend the money on a christening robe,
then," said Father Rameau gaily. "Bless me, things'll
have to be just so then, if ever they are! If you only
knew what kind of a god-mother——"
But he stopped short just in time, remembering the
fairy's injunction about silence; and Madeleine, whom he
had made very inquisitive, could not get another word
out of him. She never found out what he meant till
her first baby was born, when on the day of the christening
there stepped into the cottage, surrounded by a circle
of bright light, the marvellous god-mother, the Fairy of
Many tried to follow Father Rameau's example and
cultivate a portion of the moor; but very few succeeded,
because the fairy could see into the very bottom of
their hearts, and would only help the true-hearted—rare
folk, alas! in this world. There is much left still to be
cleared. And she yet lives on, the little fairy of the
silvery tunic embroidered with gorse blossoms, with her
crown of heather bells, and her wand a verdant broom
branch. But if ever you want to see her, as old Father
Rameau did, you must arrive at the Mid-day Rock on
the first stroke of twelve, and have a conscience perfectly
clear; two conditions which seem easy enough, and which
are really very difficult of fulfilment.
THERE was once a man and his wife who were
very, very poor, and had a great many children.
Each year added one to the number. One day
the wife gave birth to a beautiful boy, who, on opening
his eyes, cried:
"Dearest mother, give me some of my brother's old
clothes, and food for two days, and I will go into the
world and seek my fortune, for I see you have enough
children here without me."
"Heaven forbid, my child!" exclaimed the mother.
"You are much too young to leave the house."
But the little one insisted; so at length his mother
gave him some clothes and some food, and he departed,
full of joy. Lillekort (for so he named himself) travelled
towards the east. Presently he met an old, one-eyed
woman, and took away her eye.
"Alas!" she cried, "I can no longer see. What will
become of me?"
"What will you give me for your eye?" asked
"A sword that will slay a whole army, no matter
"So be it."
Lillekort took the sword and continued his journey.
A little farther on he met another old, one-eyed woman,
took away her eye, and asked what she would give him
for returning it.
The old woman said she would give him a ship
that would sail over land and sea, over mountains and
valleys, and on his agreeing, she gave him a little ship
so small and light that he could carry it about in his
As soon as he was quite alone Lillekort stopped to
examine his little vessel. He drew it from his pocket
and put one foot in it. Immediately it grew larger.
He put in the second foot. It grew yet larger. He
sat down in it. It increased yet more. Then he said:
"Go over the waves of the ocean, over mountains
and through valleys, until you reach the palace of the
The ship immediately sped through space with the
rapidity of a bird, and stopped in front of a magnificent
palace. From one of the windows of this palace several
persons beheld, with astonishment and interest, this boy
who travelled in a manner so strange, and they hastened
out to obtain a nearer view of the wonder. But Lillekort
had already put his ship in his pocket. They asked
who he was and whence he came. To these different
questions he knew not how to reply; but in a firm
voice said he wished to enter the service of the King,
no matter in what capacity; if need be, as a servant
of the servants.
His humble request was granted. He was ordered to
fetch wood and water for the kitchen. Arriving at the
palace he saw with surprise that all the walls were hung
with black, both without and within.
"Wherefore," he asked the cook, "this appearance of
"Alas!" she replied, "the only daughter of our King
has been promised to three trolls, enormous ogres, and
Thursday next the first comes to claim her. A knight,
whose name is Rend, has undertaken to defend her.
But how should he succeed? In the meantime we are
all plunged in anguish and affliction."
Thursday evening Rend led the Princess to the sea-shore.
It was here he had to defend her. But he was
not very brave, so instead of waiting near her he climbed
a tree and hid among the branches. In vain the Princess
begged him to assist her.
"No, no," said he; "why two victims? One is sufficient."
At that moment Lillekort asked the cook's permission
to go to the sea-shore.
"Go," said she, "but be sure you return by the time
I prepare supper, and do not forget to bring me a good
load of wood."
Lillekort promised, and ran toward the beach. At
the same time the troll appeared, making a noise like
thunder. His body was of enormous dimensions and
he had five frightful heads.
"Madman!" he cried, on seeing the little kitchen-boy.
"Madman!" repeated Lillekort.
"Do you know how to fight?"
"If I do not know I will learn."
The troll then threw a bar of iron at Lillekort,
which, falling on the ground, raised a pile of sand and
"A beautiful tower of strength," cried Lillekort. "Now,
With these words he drew his sword, and with one
blow smote off the monster's five heads.
Finding herself delivered, the Princess began to dance
and sing gaily, then she said to the young boy: "Rest,
lay your head on my knees."
Whilst he thus rested she placed on him a suit of
All danger being over, Rend came down from the
tree, took the tongues and lungs of the monster, and
then told the Princess he would kill her unless she
promised to acknowledge him publicly as her deliverer.
She yielded to his threats, and he returned with her
in triumph to the palace. The King loaded him with
honours, and at supper seated him at his right hand.
Meanwhile, Lillekort entered the giant's ship, and brought
from thence a quantity of gold and silver trinkets.
"From whence all these riches?" asked the cook
anxiously, for she feared he had stolen them.
"Reassure yourself," he replied. "I went home for a
moment; these trinkets fell from an old piece of furniture,
so I brought them back for you."
"What beautiful things! A thousand thanks!"
The Thursday following, fresh grief, fresh anguish.
However, Rend said as he had vanquished the first
troll, he reckoned he could conquer the second. But
this time also he took refuge among the branches of a
tree, saying: "Why two victims? One is surely sufficient."
Lillekort again obtained the cook's permission to go out, he said to play with some children on the sea-shore;
so he hastened forth, after promising to return
by the time she prepared supper, and bring a good
load of wood.
As he reached the shore he saw the troll approaching.
He was twice as colossal as the first, and had ten
"Madman!" exclaimed the troll, on seeing Lillekort.
"Madman!" repeated the valiant boy, and on the
troll asking if he could fight, replied, as on the former
occasion, that he could learn.
The giant then threw a bar of iron at him, which,
falling on the ground, raised a column of dust thirty
"A beautiful tower of strength," said the boy. "Now,
see mine." And drawing his sword, he, with one blow,
smote off the monster's ten heads.
Again the Princess desired him to rest his head on
her knees, and this time she placed on him a suit of
Rend now came down from the tree, took the tongues
and lungs of the troll, and returned with the Princess
in triumph to the palace, after having declared he would
kill her if she did not acknowledge him publicly as her
deliverer. The King received him with enthusiasm, and
knew not how to show his gratitude.
Lillekort returned to the kitchen, carrying a quantity
of gold and silver he had taken from the troll's ship.
The third Thursday, the palace was again hung with
black, and the people were plunged in grief. But Rend
said he had already conquered two formidable monsters
and would overcome the third.
But, as on the preceding
Thursdays, he hid in the tree, and when the Princess
implored him to remain with her, said one victim was
Lillekort, who had again obtained the cook's permission
to go out, reached the shore at the same time as the
monster, who was much more terrible than either of the
two former. He had fifteen heads, and the bar of iron
he threw at his brave little adversary raised a column
of earth forty feet high. Lillekort, however, with
his magic sword, struck off the fifteen heads at one
"Rest," said the Princess; "rest your head on my
Whilst he thus rested, she put on him a suit of bronze
armour, and said:
"How can we make it known that it is you who
"Listen," replied Lillekort, "this is my idea. Rend
will go without scruple to claim the reward promised
to your deliverer: your hand and the half of your
father's kingdom. When the day for your marriage
arrives say you wish to be served at table by the
boy who carries wood and water to the kitchen. I will
let a few drops of wine fall on Rend's plate. He will
strike me. A second and a third time I will do the
same, and again he will strike me; then you shall say:
'For shame to strike him whom I love—he who saved
me—he whom I should wed!'"
Seeing the troll was dead, Rend came down from
the tree and led the Princess back to the palace, after
having made her swear a third time to proclaim him as
The King announced that his daughter's deliverer
should receive in the most splendid manner the reward
he had so well deserved. The cowardly knight was
betrothed to the Princess, and half the kingdom was
given him. The day of the Princess's marriage she
would be served by the boy who carried wood and
water to the kitchen.
"What!" exclaimed Rend, in disgust, "you wish that
dirty, hideous little varlet to come near you?"
"Yes, I wish it."
Lillekort was summoned, and, as he had said, he
once, twice, thrice let some drops of wine fall in Rend's
The first time he was struck the coarse garments he
wore fell off, and the valiant boy appeared in a suit of
bronze armour, the second time in silver armour, and
the third time in armour of glittering gold.
Then the Princess cried: "For shame to strike him
whom I love—he who saved me—he whom I should
Rend swore loudly that it was he who had saved
"Let us see the proofs of the victors," said the King.
The knight immediately showed the tongues and lungs
of the trolls.
Lillekort fetched the treasures he had taken from the
monsters' ships. At the sight of the gold, silver, and
diamonds, no one had the slightest doubt.
"The trolls alone have such treasures," said the King,
"and only he who kills them can obtain possession of
Rend, the coward and impostor, was thrown into a
ditch full of serpents, and the Princess's hand was given
to Lillekort, together with half of the kingdom.
The Ten Little Fairies.
VAINLY I try to recall from my recollections of
yesterday, still vividly remembered, and from
those of the long past, grown tenderly dim
in the mists of intervening time, from whom I learned
the powerfully moral story I am here going to repeat
to children great and small, to men and their companions:
I cannot determine from whom it was I learned it.
Did I first read it in some old book laden with the
dust of ages? Was it told to me by my mother, by
my nurse, one evening when I would not go to sleep—or
one night when, sleeping soundly, a fairy came and
sang it to me in my slumber? I cannot tell. I cannot
remember. I have forgotten all the details, of which
there only remains with me the subtle perfume—too fine
and evanescent for me to seize it in its passage through
my mind. But I retain—perfectly retain—the moral,
which is the daughter of all things healthy and strong.
The things which I am going to recount happened in
a charming country—one of those bright lands which we
see only in delightful dreams, where the men are all
good and the women all as amiable as they are beautiful.
In that happy country there lived a great nobleman
who, left a widower early in life, had an only daughter
whom he loved more than anything in the whole
Rosebelle was seventeen years old—a pure marvel of
grace and beauty; gay as a joyous heart, good as a
happy one. For ten leagues round she was known to
be the most beautiful and best. She was simple and
gentle, and her exquisite ingenuousness caused her
everywhere—in the mansion and the cottage—to be
Her father, fearful lest the least of the distresses of
our poor existence should overtake her, watched over
her with jealous care, so that no harm should come to
her; while she passed her days in calmly thinking of
the time before her, sure that it would not be other
When she was eighteen, her father consented to her
being betrothed to the son of a Prince—to Greatheart,
a handsome youth, who had been carefully reared, and
detested the false excitements and factitious pleasures
of cities loving enthusiastically the fresh charms of Nature—of the common mother who claims us all, the
Rosebelle loved her fiancť, married, and adored him.
With him she went to live in the admirable calm of
the country, in the midst of great trees that gave back
the plaint of winds, by a river with its ever-flowing song,
winding under willowy banks, and overshadowed by tall
She lived in a very old, old castle, where the sires of
her husband had been born—a great castle reached by
roads hewn out of the solid rock; a great castle, with
immense, cold halls, where echo answered echo mysteriously;
where the night-owl drearily replied to the
early thrush's song to the rising sun, and the other
awakened birds singing and chirping on the borders of
the deep woods, where the sun enters timidly—almost
with the hesitation of a trespasser.
When the time for parting came, her father had said
to her, through his tears:
"You are going from me—your happiness claims that
I should let you go: go, therefore, but take all care of
yourself for love of me, who have only you in the world
To his son-in-law he said:
"Watch over her, I intrust her to you. Surround her
with a thousand safeguards; screen her from the least
chance of harm or pain. Remember that even in stooping
to pluck a flower she may fall and wound herself, that
in gathering a fruit she may tear her hand. See that all
is done for her that can be done, keep her for me ever
Absorbed in her love for her husband, Rosebelle realised
the sweet dreams of her young girlhood. Then she
dreamed—languorously—Heaven knows what! The delightful
future which she had seen in the visions of the
past was still present with her, however.
Her husband, tender and good, wished that she should
do nothing but live and love. He had surrounded her
with numerous servants, all ready to obey the least of
her desires, the slightest of her fancies, to comprehend
the most trivial of her wants. She had nothing to do
but to let time glide slowly by her.
At length she wearied—languished mysteriously.
Her father, to whom she communicated this strange
experience, was astounded. He reminded her of all the
sources of happiness which ought to have existed in
her case. He took her in his arms and said all he
could think of in laudation of the husband who so greatly
loved her; gave her innumerable reasons why her happiness
ought to have been unparalleled; offered money—more
money—wishful to give all the felicities in the world.
She wished for nothing of all that; it only tired,
He besought her to be happy; she replied:
"I wish I could be so, for your sake and for that of
my husband, whom I love so dearly."
And she struggled against the strange evil which so
weighed upon her, against the deadly ennui that was
sapping her young life. But the mysterious ill which
tormented her soul grew and grew until it became overwhelming.
Greatheart speedily detected her distress, and sought to discover its cause, but ineffectually; and from alarm
he passed into despair.
Now, when he returned from the plain, the fields, or
the camp, when he embraced her he pressed against his
bosom a bosom cold and filled with sadness and tears—a
bosom so cold that it might have been thought to contain
a block of ice in place of a heart—and he redoubled
his tenderness towards her. Seeing how much he was
suffering on her account, she vowed for him a boundless
Courageous, energetic even, she tried to shake off the
languor which possessed her, endeavouring to intoxicate
her soul and drown her self-consciousness in the love
of her adored husband; but all her efforts were made
in vain; she became more and more oppressed with
weariness, and the crowd of servants about her, all eager
to realise her wishes, were utterly unable to mitigate her
condition by anything they could do.
At last she fell into a state of the deepest melancholy.
The rose-tints faded from her cheeks, her beauty paled
like that of a languishing flower; the light in her eyes
grew each day more dim. She was very ill.
The most learned doctors in the healing art were called
to her, brought, regardless of cost, from the most distant
countries, only to confess their complete inability; excusing
themselves by affirming that there was no remedy
for an indefinable ailment—an ailment impalpable, incomprehensible.
Then, one day, an old, white-haired shepherd, with a
long, snowy beard, who had learned to understand men
from having always lived alone with his sheep and
thinking, thinking, while he led them to their pasture—an
old philosopher—came to Greatheart, of whom he
was one of the vassals, and said to him:
"I know where there lives, close by here, an old
grand-dame, with one foot in the grave, she is so old
People call her a sorceress; but never mind that; she,
and she alone, can cure our lady, our mistress, whom
you love so well."
Knowing not what to do in his suffering, Greatheart
believed what the old shepherd told him.
He took Rosebelle far away from the castle along the
bank of the river, to a spot where the path ran between
high rocks, leading to a deep and profoundly dark cavity,
within which they found the old, old woman of whom
the shepherd had spoken, crouching by the side of a
scanty fire of pine-branches, warming herself in their
fitful light, in the midst of owls and ravens, cats and
rats with phosphorescent eyes, showing green in the
obscurity when lit by the intermittent sparkle of the
crackling branches on the hearth.
"Ho, there! sorceress!" cried the young Prince.
"Cure my wife, and I will give you the half of all I
The very old woman looked for a long time at Rosebelle
out of her little bright eyes, meeting those of the young
Princess, and holding her as if by a spell. For awhile
longer she remained silent, as if in contemplation; then,
suddenly, she rose to her feet, raised her long arms
towards the herbs suspended from the rocky roof of her
dwelling-place, spread out her fleshless fingers and cried:
"I see! I see! I understand it all! Yes, my lord,
I will cure your wife, your adored one; and presently in
your arms, on your heart, shall sleep a heart beating
with great joy for love of you!"
As they both sprang nearer to her, the better to
hear her wonderful words, the old woman retreated,
"Yes, I will cure her; but to aid me in the task, I
need the assistance of ten little fairies—ten friends who
have ever been dear to me, ever faithful to me, and who,
by an unfortunate chance, have not visited me to-day.
To-morrow I shall be sure to have them with me, my
tiny comrades; so come back to me to-morrow, my dear,
when I will detain them until you arrive, and will take
measures for enabling them to cure you."
The sun, next day, had hardly risen, hardly caressed
the earth with its earliest beam, when Rosebelle re-entered
the old sorceress's murky dwelling-place.
Over the still crackling fire of pine-branches she extended
her white hands by direction of the old woman,
who raised her arms and uttered some curious words,
accompanied by some strange gestures.
Then, from a small cavity in the rocky wall she
appeared to draw forth an invisible something, which
she carefully conveyed to the shelter of her bare bosom.
And when she had repeated these actions ten times, she
"I have them!—I have them all!—all warm in my
bosom—my faithful little fairies! Oh!—do not attempt
to see them, or they will at once fly away. They desire
to serve you—to cure you. Here they are!"
And laughing, dancing, and singing, the old, old woman
tapped with the crooked thumb of her right hand the
young Princess's ten extended fingers, while the quaint
song she sang was gaily given back by the echo of the
rocky vault above her. This was the song she sang,
holding the Princess's delicate fingers caressingly in her
"Ten good little fairies hie,
To these ten good fingers nigh:
Each of you reside in one
Until your kindly task is done,
Until by certain signs you're sure
That you have made a perfect cure.
Potent fairies, from this hour
Exercise your utmost pow'r;
Drive away the evil spell
Cast on one who'll love you well!"
Then, still laughing heartily, she pressed Rosebelle's
fingers tightly, and went on:
"They are all here, the wonderful little doctors! Guard
them preciously; do not weary them; keep them by you
and, to do all that, never give them a moment's rest so
long as the sun shines in the sky. Keep on moving
them—actively, rapidly—so long as you are awake. Now
go, and come back to me when you are quite cured,
returning me my trusty little fairies."
With her hands filled with this precious load, Rosebelle
hurried home, and told Greatheart of her dear hope of
a renewal of life.
Of an evening, thenceforth, for a long time, she would
even refrain from eating, so as to leave herself more time
to exercise her unresting fingers, in which the ten little
fairies were tenderly housed. As soon as the sun had
sunk beneath the earth she went to sleep, and as soon
as daylight returned, she at once rose and began once
again to move her fairy-laden fingers.
During many, many days she continued to move her
fingers in every way she could devise; but at length,
growing tired of this useless play, she went back to her
old friend the sorceress.
"Nobody ever taught you to use your fingers usefully?"
replied the old woman. "Go on moving them,
still moving them, but in some employment that interests
you. Don't let my fairies go to sleep—that is all they
desire in their imprisonment."
On returning home, Rosebelle drew her long-neglected
harp from its case and played on it. Then, to occupy
her fingers more usefully, she had needles brought to her
and employed them in dainty sewing.
But, growing weary of the dull monotony of these
labours, she sought more varied employment for her
fingers—gathered flowers in the garden and arranged
them in charming bouquets; plucked fruit from the
trees in the orchard; attended to the sick and ailing;
consoled the poor—exercising her fingers constantly by
slipping gold pieces into their grateful hands.
One by one, she sent away her crowd of obsequious
servants, who had now nothing left for them to do but
to go to sleep at their posts.
She would not allow anybody to do anything for her
which she could do for herself, but threw her whole
soul and being into the things God intended to be done
Every day, and all the while the sun shone in the
sky, she found active employment for her beautiful fingers.
And the roses came back to her cheeks and health to
all her being, and songs and laughter to her lips; and
she could, once again, give to her beloved one a heart
filled with ineffable tenderness.
Perfectly cured, she went to the sorceress and gave
her back her wonderful little fairy doctors.
"Ah, my child!" said the old dame, "they are very
proud of having saved you. Give them to me, for I
have every day great need of them—can never have too
much of them. Indeed, if I had enough of them to
serve all the idlers in the world, I should want as many
as there are stars in the heavens at night. But I will
keep those I have for the service of those who are
pining from ennui—and there are enough of them, goodness
The Magician and his Pupil.
THERE was once a poor shoemaker renowned far
and wide as a drunkard. He had a good wife
and many daughters, but only one son. As
soon as this son was old enough his mother dressed him
in his best clothes, combed his hair until it shone, and
then led him far, far away; for she wished to take him
to the capital, and there apprentice him to a master
who would teach him a really good trade.
When they had accomplished about half their journey
they met a man in black, who asked whither they were
going and the object of their journey. On being told,
he offered to take the boy as his apprentice, but as he
had not given the customary Christian greeting, and
would not mention the name of his trade, also because
the mother thought there was a wicked gleam in his
eyes, she declined to trust him with her son. As he
persisted in his offer they were rude, then he troubled
them no further.
Shortly after leaving the old man they came to a
wide stretch of land, solitary and barren as a desert,
over which they journeyed until hunger, thirst, and
fatigue compelled them to rest. Exhausted, they sank
on the sandy ground and wept bitterly. Suddenly, at
a short distance from them arose a large stone, on whose
surface stood a dish of smoking roast beef, a loaf of
white bread, and a jug of foaming ale.
Eagerly the weary travellers hastened forward. Alas!
the moment they moved, meat and drink vanished,
leaving the stone bare and barren; but as soon as they
stepped back, the food again made its appearance.
After this had happened several times the shoemaker's
son guessed what was at the bottom of it. Pointing
his stick of aspen wood—a wood, by the way, very
powerful against enchantment—he cautiously approached
the stone, and thrust his stick into that place on the
earth where the shadow of the stone rested.
Immediately the stone with everything on it disappeared,
and in the place where the shadow had lain
stood the stranger in black who had met them earlier
in the day. He bowed politely to the youth and requested
him to remove his stick.
"No, that I will not do! This time the stone has
met its match! You are a magician, or at least a necromancer.
You locked us in this desert and amused
yourself with our misery. Now you shall be treated
as you deserve. You shall stand here for a year and
six weeks, until you are as dry as the stick with which
I have nailed you to the earth."
"Loose me, I entreat you."
"Yes, on certain conditions! First, you must once
more become a stone, and on the stone must appear
everything we have already seen."
The magician immediately vanished, and in his stead
appeared the stone covered with a white cloth, and
bearing the hot roast beef, white bread, and foaming
ale, of which the travellers ate and drank to their hearts'
content. When they had finished the stone became
the man in black, who entreated piteously to be unnailed.
"I will unnail you directly," said the youth, "but
only on one condition. You must take me as apprentice
for three years, as you yourself formerly proposed, and
give me a pledge that you will really teach me all
The magician bowed himself to the earth, dug his
fingers into the sand, and drew forth a handful of
ducats, which he threw into the boy's cap.
"Thanks," replied the youth; "this money will be
very useful to my mother, but you must give me a
better pledge than that. I must have a piece of your
"Will nothing else serve?"
"Well, then," said the magician, "take your knife."
"I have no knife with me," replied the youth; "you
must lend me yours."
The magician obediently lent his knife, and bent his
right ear towards the youth.
"No, no, I want the left ear; you offer the right
far too willingly."
The magician then offered his left ear; and the
youth cut off a slant piece, laid it in his wallet, and
then drew his stick out of the ground. The magician
groaned, rubbed his mutilated ear, then, turning a
somersault, changed himself into a black cock, ordered
the youth to take his mother back, and return at midnight
and await his arrival at the cross-road where
they now stood, when he would take him home and
teach him for three years. The cock then flapped his
wings, changed into a magpie, and flew away.
When the youth had accompanied his mother to the
next village he kissed her hands and feet, shook the
gold into her apron, and begged her to call for him in
three years at the place where he had made his agreement
with the magician. He then hastened back and
reached the cross-road just at midnight.
Being very tired he leaned against the mile-stone to
await the arrival of his master. He waited long, then
as no one came, he drew the piece of the magician's
ear from his wallet and bit it hard. At this the mile-stone
staggered, cracked, and roared. The youth sprang
quickly aside, looked at the inscription, and cried: "Ho!
ho! Is that you, master?"
"Of course, it is! But why did you bite me?" asked
"Take human form instantly!" replied the youth.
"I have done so!" With this the man in black
stood on the cross-road. "Now we will go home," said
he. "I take you as my pupil, but remember, from this
moment you remain my pupil and servant, until, the
three years ended, your mother fetches you away."
Thus the youth became the magician's pupil. You
wish to know how he taught him his art? Well, so
be it. He stretched his hands and feet, turned him
into a paper bag, and then left him to return to his
proper shape as best he could. Or else, he thrust his
hand and arm up to the shoulder down the youth's
throat, turned him inside out, and left him to turn himself
The youth learnt so well, that at the end of the three
years his skill in magic surpassed even that of his
master. During this time many parents had come to
fetch their children, for the magician had quite a crowd
of pupils; but the cunning old man always contrived
that they went away without them. Three days before
the time appointed for the shoemaker's wife to fetch
her son, the youth met her on the road and told her
how to recognise him.
"Remember, dearest mother," said he, "when the
magician calls his horses together, a fly will buzz over
my ear; when the doves fly down, I shall not eat of
the peas; and when the maidens stand around you, a
brown mole will make its appearance above my eyebrow!
Be sure you remember this, or you will destroy
When the shoemaker's wife demanded her son of the
magician, he blew a brazen trumpet towards all four
corners of the world. Immediately a crowd of coal-black
horses rushed forward; they were not, however,
real horses, but enchanted scholars.
"Find your son—then you can take him with you!"
said the magician.
The mother went from horse to horse, trying hard
to recognise her son; she trembled at the mere thought
that she might make a mistake, and thus destroy both
herself and her beloved child. At length she noted a
fly buzzing over the ear of one of the horses, and cried
joyfully: "That is my son!"
"Right," said the magician; "now guess again." So
saying he blew a silver trumpet towards the corners of
the earth, and threw on the ground half a bushel of
peas. Then like some vast cloud down flew a flock
of doves, and began eagerly picking up the peas. The
shoemaker's wife looked at dove after dove, until she
found one that only appeared to eat. "That is my
son!" said she.
"Right again! Now comes the third and last trial.
Guess right, and your son goes with you; guess wrong,
and he remains with me for ever." The magician then
blew his trumpet, and immediately beautiful songs resounded
through the air. At the same time lovely
maidens approached and surrounded the shoemaker's
wife. They were all crowned with cornflowers, and wore
white robes with rose-coloured girdles.
The shoemaker's wife examined each carefully, and
saw a brown mole over the right eye of the most
beautiful. "This is my son!" she exclaimed.
Scarcely had she spoken than the maiden changed
into her son, threw himself into her arms, and thanked
her for his deliverance. The other maidens flew away,
and the mother and son returned home.
The student of magic had not been long at home
before he discovered that in his father's house Want
was a constant guest. The money given by the magician
had long since come to an end, for the shoemaker had
spent it all in drink.
"What have you learnt in foreign parts?" he asked
his son. "What help am I to expect from you."
"I have learned magic, and will give you help enough.
I can at your wish change myself into all possible
shapes, to-day into a falcon, to-morrow into a greyhound,
a nightingale, a sheep, or any other form. Lead me as
an animal to market, and there sell me, but be sure
always to bring back the rope with which you led me
thither, and never desire me to become a horse: the
money thus acquired would be useless to you, and you
would make me, and through me yourself, unhappy."
Thereupon the shoemaker demanded a falcon for sale;
his son at once disappeared, and a splendid falcon sat
on the father's shoulder. The shoemaker took the bird
to market, where he sold it to a hunter for a good price,
but on returning home, he found his son seated at the
table enjoying a good dinner.
When the money thus gained had been spent to the
last farthing, the shoemaker required a greyhound, which
he again sold to a hunter, and on his return home found
his son had arrived there before him.
Thus the father led his son to market again and
again, as an ox, a cow, a sheep, a goose, a turkey, and
in many other animal forms. One day he thought: "I
should very much like to know why my son does not
wish to become a horse! Surely he takes me for a fool,
and grudges me the best prize!" He was half drunk
when he thought this, and then and there desired his
son to become a horse. Hardly had he spoken than
his wish was gratified: a splendid horse stood before
the window; he dug his hoofs deep into the ground,
whilst his eyes shot forth lightning, and flames issued
from his nostrils.
The shoemaker mounted and rode into the town.
Here a merchant stopped him, admired the horse, and
offered to give the animal's weight in gold if his master
would only sell him. They went together to a pair of
scales: the merchant shook gold from a sack on one
of the wooden scales, whilst the shoemaker made his
horse mount on the other. As he was staring in amazement
at the heap of gold in the scales, one of the
chains broke, and the gold pieces rolled over the street.
The shoemaker threw himself on the ground to pick
them up, and forgot both the horse and bridle.
The merchant meanwhile mounted the horse, and
galloped out of the town, digging his spurs into the
poor animal's sides until the blood flowed, and beating
him cruelly with a steel riding-whip; for this merchant
was none other than the magician, who thus revenged
himself for the piece cut from his ear.
The poor horse was quite exhausted when the magician
arrived with him at his invisible dwelling; this house,
it is true, stood in an open field, yet no one could see
it. The horse was then led to the stable, whilst the
magician considered how he might best torture him.
But while the magician was considering, the horse,
who knew what a terrible fate awaited him, succeeded
in throwing the bridle over a nail, on which it remained
hanging, thus enabling him to draw his head out. He
fled across the field, and changing into a gold ring,
threw himself before the feet of a beauteous Princess just
returning from bathing.
The Princess stooped, picked up the gold circle,
slipped it on her finger, and then looked around in
wonder. In the meantime, the magician—changed into
a Grecian merchant—came up and courteously asked
the Princess to return the gold ring he had lost. Terrified
at the sight of his black beard and gleaming eyes, the
Princess screamed aloud, and pressed the ring to her
Alarmed by her cries, her attendants and playmates,
who were waiting near, hastened up and formed a circle
round their beloved Princess. But as soon as they
understood the cause of her distress, they threw themselves
on the importunate stranger, and began tickling
him in such a manner that he laughed, cried, giggled,
coughed, and at length danced over the ground like
a maniac, forgetting through sheer distress that he was
still a magician.
When, however, he did remember it, he changed himself
into a hedgehog, and stuck his bristles into the
maidens until their blood flowed, and they were glad
to leave him alone.
Meanwhile the Princess hastened home and showed
her father the ring, which pleased her so much that
she wore it on her heart-finger night and day. Once
when playing with it, the ring slipped from her hand,
fell to the ground and sprang in pieces, when, oh, wonder!
before her stood a handsome youth, the magician's pupil.
At first the Princess was very troubled, and did not
venture to raise her eyes, but when the scholar had told
her everything she was satisfied, conversed with him a
long while, and promised to ask her father to have the
magician driven away by the dogs should he ever come
to demand the ring. When in the course of the day
the magician came, the King, in spite of all his daughter's
entreaties, ordered the ring to be given up.
With tears in her eyes the Princess took the ring
(the scholar had resumed this form immediately after
relating his adventures) and threw it at the merchant's
feet. It shivered into little pearls.
Trembling with rage, the merchant threw himself on
the ground in the shape of a hen, picked up the pearls,
and when he saw no more, flew out of the window,
flapped his wings, cried, "Kikeriki! Scholar, are you
here?" and then soared into the air.
Having been told by the scholar what to do should
she be compelled to return the ring, the Princess had
let her handkerchief fall at the same moment she threw
the ring on the ground, and two of the largest pearls
had rolled beneath it. She now took out these pearls,
and they immediately called, in mocking imitation of
the hen's voice:
"Kikeriki! I am here!"
They then changed into a hawk and chased after the
hen. Seizing it with his sharp talons, he bit its left
wing with such force that all the feathers cracked, and
the hen fell like a stone into the water, where it was
The hawk then returned to the Princess, perched on
her shoulder, gazed fondly into her eyes, and then
became once more the young and handsome scholar.
The Princess had grown so fond of him that she chose
him as her husband, and from that moment he gave up
magic for ever. In his prosperity he did not forget his
relations—his mother lived with him and the Princess
in their magnificent palace, his sisters married wealthy
merchants, and even his father was content.
When the old King died the magician's pupil became
King over the land, and lived so happily with his wife
and children, and all his subjects, that no pen can write,
no song sing, and no story tell of half their happiness.
The Strawberry Thief.
THE mid-day sun was shining brightly as two
children ran merrily down the steep grassy slope
leading from the little village to the neighbouring
forest. Their loose, scanty clothing left head, neck, and
feet bare. But this did not trouble them, for the sun's
rays kissed their little round limbs, and the children liked
to feel their warm kisses.
They were brother and sister; each carried a small jar
to fill with strawberries, which their mother would sell
in the town on the morrow. They were very poor, almost
the poorest people in the village. Their mother, a widow,
had to work hard to procure bread for herself and children.
When strawberries or nuts were in season, or even the
early violets, the children went into the forest to seek
them, and by the fruit or flowers they gathered helped
to earn many a groschen. The happy children ran
joyously along as though they were the rulers of the
beautiful world that stretched so seductively before them. The forest berries were still scarce, and would fetch a
high price in the town; this is why they started so early
in the afternoon, whilst other people still rested in their
Deep in the forest was many a spot, well known to
the children, where large masses of strawberry plants
flourished and bloomed, covering the ground with a
luxurious carpet. White star-like blossoms in profusion
looked roguishly out from the ample foliage; the little
green and bright-red berries were there in crowds, but the
ripe, dark-red fruit was difficult to find.
Very slowly the work proceeded, and as the gathered
treasures in their small jars grew higher and higher the
sun sank lower and lower. Busy with their task, the
children forgot laughter and chattering; they tasted none
of the lovely berries, scarcely looked at the violets and
anemones; the sun's rays peeping through the branches
the cock-chafers and butterflies were alike unheeded.
"Lorchen," cried Fried, at length, throwing back his
sunburnt, heated face; "look, Lorchen, my jar is full!"
Lorchen looked up, her face flushed with toil; her poor
little jar was scarcely half-full. Oh, how she envied her
brother his full jar! Fried was a good boy—he loved his
little sister dearly. He made her sit down on the soft
grass, placed his jar beside her, and did not cease his
work until Lorchen's jar was likewise filled. Their day's
work was now ended. But it was so beautiful in the
forest. The birds sang so joyfully among the leaves,
everything exhaled the fragrance of the dewy evening
that crept slowly between the trembling branches.
At a little distance a small stretch of meadow shimmered
through the trees. The bright sunshine still rested on the
fresh, green grass, and thousands of daffodils, bluebells,
pinks, and forget-me-nots unfolded there their varied
beauties. It was a delightful play-place for the children.
They hastened thither, placed their jars carefully behind
a large tree-trunk, and soon forgot their hard afternoon's
work in a merry game. Greyer grew the shadows, closer
the dusk of evening veiled the lonely forest. Then the
brother and sister thought of returning—the rest had
strengthened their weary limbs, and their game in the
flowery meadow had made them cheerful and merry.
Now the dew that wetted their bare feet, and hunger
that began to make itself felt, urged them to return home.
They ran to the tree behind which they had placed their
jars, but oh, horror! the jars had vanished. At first the
children thought they had mistaken the place; they
searched farther, behind every trunk, behind every bush,
but no trace of the jars could they find.
They had vanished, together with the precious fruit.
What would their mother say when they returned home,
their task unfulfilled? With the price of the berries she
intended to buy meal to make bread. They had been
almost without bread for several days, and now they had
not even the jars in which to gather other berries.
Lorchen began to sob loudly; Fried's face grew crimson
with rage, and his eyes sparkled, he did not weep. The
darkness increased, the tree-trunks looked black and
spectral, the wind rustled in the branches. Who could
have stolen their berries? No one had come near the
meadow. Squirrels and lizards could not carry away
jars. The poor children stood helpless beside the old tree-trunk. They could not return to their mother empty-handed;
they feared she would reproach them for losing
sight of their jars.
The little maiden shivered in her thin frock, and wept
with fear, hunger, and fatigue. Fried took his little
sister's hand, and said: "Listen, Lorchen: you must run
home, it is night now in the forest. Tell mother our jars
have disappeared, eat your supper, and go to bed and
to sleep. I will remain here and search behind every
tree and everywhere, until I find the jars. I am neither
hungry nor tired, and am not afraid to pass the night
alone in the forest, in spite of all the stories our grand-mother
used to tell of wicked spirits in the forest,
hobgoblins who tease children, will-o'-the-wisps, and
mountain-demons who store their treasures beneath the
Lorchen shuddered and looked fearfully around—she
was a timid, weakly child. Wrapping her little arms in
her apron, she wept bitterly.
"Come home with me, Fried," she pleaded. "I am
afraid to go through the gloomy forest alone!"
Fried took her hand and went with her until they saw
the lights of the village. Then he stopped and said:
"Now run along alone; see, there is the light burning in
our mother's window. I shall turn back, I cannot go
He turned quickly into the forest. Lorchen waited a
moment, and cried, "Fried, Fried!" Then, receiving no
answer, she fled swiftly up the grassy slope she had
descended so merrily a few hours previously.
Their mother, who had grown uneasy at their prolonged
absence, was standing at the door when Lorchen returned,
weeping and breathless. Poor child, she had scarcely
strength enough left to tell that they had lost strawberries
and jars, and that Fried had remained behind.
The mother grew sad as she listened—she had scarcely
any bread left, and knew not whence to procure more;
but Fried remaining in the forest was worse than all,
for she, like all the villagers, firmly believed in hobgoblins.
Sadly she lay down to rest beside her little
Fried ran ever farther and farther into the forest,
through whose thick foliage the stars looked down timidly.
He said his evening prayer, and no longer feared the
rustling of the leaves, the cracking of the branches, or the
whisper of the night wind in the trees.
Soon the moon arose, and it was light enough for Fried
to seek his jars. In vain his search—the hours passed
and he found nothing. At length he saw a small mountain
overgrown with shrubs. Then the moon crept behind a
thick cloud, and all was dark. Tired out, Fried sank
down behind a tree and almost fell asleep. Suddenly he
saw a bright light moving about close to the mountain,
He sprang up and hastened towards it.
Coming closer, he heard a peculiar noise, as of groans
uttered by a man engaged in heavy toil. He crept softly
forward, and beheld, to his astonishment, a little dwarf,
who was trying to push some heavy object into a hole,
that apparently led into the mountain. The little man
wore a silver coat and a red cap with points, to which the
wonderful light, a large, sparkling precious stone, was
Fried soon stood close behind the dwarf, who in his
eagerness had not observed the boy's approach, and saw
with indignation that the object the little man was striving
so hard to push into the hole was his jar of strawberries.
In great wrath Fried seized a branch that lay near, and
gave the little man a mighty blow. Thereupon the dwarf
uttered a cry very like the squeak of a small mouse,
and tried to creep into the hole.
But Fried held him fast by his silver coat, and angrily
demanded where he had put his other jar of strawberries.
The dwarf replied he had no other jar, and strove to
free himself from the grasp of the little giant.
Fried again seized his branch, which so terrified the
dwarf that he cried: "The other jar is inside; I will fetch
it for you."
"I should wait a long time," said Fried, "if I once let
you escape; no, I will go with you and fetch my own
The dwarf stepped forward, the light in his cap shining
brighter than the brightest candle. Fried followed, his
jar in one hand, and the branch in the other. Thus they
journeyed far into the mountain. The dwarf crept along
like a lizard, but Fried, whose head almost touched the
roof, could scarcely get along.
At length strains of lovely music resounded through the
vaulted passages: a little farther on their journey was
stopped by a grey stone wall. Taking a silver hammer
from his doublet, the little dwarf gave three sounding
knocks on the wall; it sprang asunder, and as it opened
such a flood of light streamed forth that Fried was obliged
to close his eyes. Half-blinded, with hand shading his
face, he followed the dwarf, the stone door closed behind
them, and Fried was in the secret dwellings of the gnomes.
A murmur of soft voices, mingled with the sweet strains
of the music, sounded in his ears. When at length he
was able to remove his hand from his eyes, he saw a
wondrous sight. A beauteous, lofty hall, hewn out of the
rock, lay before him; on the walls sparkled thousands of
precious stones such as his guide had worn in his cap.
They served instead of candles, and shed forth a radiance
that almost blinded human eyes.
Between them hung wreaths and sprays of flowers such
as Fried had never before seen. All around crowds of
wonderful little dwarfs stood gazing at him full of
In the centre of the hall stood a throne of green transparent
stone, with cushions of soft mushrooms. On this
sat the gnome-King; around him was thrown a golden
mantle, and on his head was a crown cut from a flaming
carbuncle. Before the throne the dwarf, Fried's guide,
stood relating his adventure.
When the dwarf ceased speaking, the King rose,
approached the boy, who still stood by the door, surrounded
by the gnomes, and said: "You human child,
what has brought you to my secret dwelling?"
"My Lord Dwarf," replied Fried politely, "I desire
my strawberries which yonder dwarf has stolen. I pray
you order them to be restored to me, and then suffer
me to return to my mother."
The King thought for a few moments, then he said:
"Listen, to-day we hold a great feast, for which your
strawberries are necessary. I will, therefore, buy them.
I will also allow you to remain with us a short time,
then my servants shall lead you back to the entrance
of the mountain."
"Have you money to buy my strawberries?" asked the
"Foolish child, know you not that the gold, silver,
and copper come out of the earth? Come with me and
see my treasure-chambers."
So saying, the King led him from the hall through long
rooms, in which mountains of gold, silver, and copper
were piled; in other rooms lay like masses of precious
stones. Presently they came to a grotto, in the centre
of which stood a large vase. From out this vase poured
three sparkling streams, each of a different colour: they
flowed out of the grotto and discharged themselves into
the veins of the rocks.
Beside these streams knelt dwarfs, filling buckets with
the flowing gold, silver, and copper, which other dwarfs
carried away and stored in the King's treasure-chambers.
But the greatest quantity flowed into the crevices of
the mountain, from whence men dig it out with much
Fried would have liked to fill his pockets with the
precious metals, but did not dare ask the gnome-King's
permission. They soon returned to the hall where the
feast was prepared. On a long white marble table stood
rows of golden dishes filled with various dainties, prepared
from Fried's strawberries. In the background sat the
musicians, bees and grasshoppers, that the dwarfs had
caught in the forest. The dwarfs ate off little gold plates,
and Fried ate with them. But the pieces were so tiny,
they melted on his tongue before he could taste them.
After the feast came dancing. The gnome-men were
old and shrivelled, with faces like roots of trees; all
wore silver coats and red caps. The gnome-maidens were
tall and stately, and wore on their heads wreaths of flowers
that sparkled as though wet with dew. Fried danced
with them, but because his clothes were so poor, his
partner took a wreath of flowers from the wall and placed
it on his head. Very pretty it looked on his bright, brown
hair—but he could not see this, for the dwarfs have no
looking-glasses. The bees buzzed and hummed like flutes
and trombones, the grasshoppers chirped like fiddles.
The dancing ended, Fried approached the King, who
was resting on his green throne, and said: "My Lord
King, be so good as to pay for my berries, and have
me guided out of the mountain, for it is time I returned
to my mother."
The King nodded his carbuncle crown, and wrapping
his golden mantle around him, departed to fetch the
money. How Fried rejoiced at the thought of taking
that money home! Being very tired, he mounted the
throne, seated himself on the soft mushroom cushion
from which the gnome-King had just risen, and, ere
that monarch returned, Fried was sleeping sound as a
Day was dawning in the forest when he awoke. His
limbs were stiff, and his bare feet icy cold. He rubbed
his eyes and stretched himself. He still sat beneath
the tree from whence, on the previous evening, he had
seen the light moving. "Where am I?" he muttered;
then he remembered falling asleep on the gnome-King's
mushroom cushion. He also remembered the
money he had been promised, and felt in his pockets—they
were empty. Yes, he remembered it all. This
was the morning his mother should have gone to town,
and he had neither berries nor money. Tears flowed from
his eyes, and he reviled the dwarfs who had carried
him sleeping from the mountain, and cheated him out
of his money. Rising sorrowfully, he went to the mountain,
but though he searched long and carefully, no
opening could he find.
There was nothing for it but to return home, and
this he did with a heavy heart. No one was stirring
when he reached the village. Gently he knocked on
the shutter of the room where his mother slept. "Wake
up, mother," he cried. "It is I, your Fried."
Quickly the door of the little house opened.
"Thank Heaven you have returned," said his mother,
embracing him. "But has nothing happened to you all
night alone in the forest?"
"Nothing, mother," he replied; "I only had a foolish
dream about the gnomes who dwell in the mountain."
And whilst his mother lit the stove, Fried related
his dream. She shook her head on hearing it, for she
believed her boy had really seen and heard these wonderful
Then Lorchen came in, and her mother told her to
unfasten the shutters. The child obeyed, but on re-entering
the room, she cried aloud, and placed her hands
on her brother's head.
Something heavy and sparkling fell to the ground.
They picked it up. It was the wreath of many-coloured
flowers Fried's partner had given him at the dance. But
the flowers were not like those that grow in the fields
and meadows: they were cold, and sparkling, like those
that adorned the walls of the mountain hall, and which
the gnome-maidens wore in their hair.
It was now clear that Fried had really spent the night
with the dwarfs. They all thought the flowers were
only coloured glass; but as they sparkled so brilliantly,
and filled the cottage with indescribable splendour, the
mother determined to ask advice about them. She therefore
broke a tiny branch from the wreath and took it
to the town to a goldsmith, who told her, to her great
astonishment, that the branch was composed of the most
costly gems, rubies, diamonds, and sapphires. In exchange
for it, he gave her a sack of gold so heavy she could
scarcely carry it home.
Want was now at an end for ever, for the wreath
was a hundred times more valuable than the tiny branch.
Great excitement prevailed in the village when the
widow's good fortune was made known, and all the
villagers ran into the forest to search for the wonderful
hole. But their searching was vain—none ever found
the entrance to the mountain. From henceforth the widow
and her children lived very happily; they remained pious
and industrious in spite of their wealth, did good to
the poor, and were contented to the end of their lives.
The Adventures of Said.
IN the time of Haroun Al-Raschid, ruler of Bagdad,
there lived in Balsora a man Benezar by name.
His means enabled him to live quietly and comfortably,
without carrying on a business or trade; and
when a son was born to him he made no change in his
manner of living, "For," said he, "what will feed two will
feed three." Said, for so they called the boy, soon made
a name for himself among his playmates as a lusty
fighter, and was surpassed by none in riding or swimming.
When he was eighteen, his father sent him on a
pilgrimage to Mecca, and before he started gave him
much good advice, and provided him with money for
his journey. Lastly he said:
"There is something more I must tell you, my boy.
I am not the man to believe that fairies and enchanters,
whatever they may be, have any influence over the fate
of mankind; that sort of nonsense is only good for
whiling away the time; but your mother believed in
them as firmly as in the Koran. She even told me,
after making me swear never to reveal the secret except
to her child, that she herself was under the protection
of a fairy. I always laughed at her, but still I must
confess that some very strange events happened at your
birth. It rained and thundered all day, and the heavens
were black with clouds.
"When they told me that I had a little son, I hastened
to see and bless my first-born, but I found my wife's door
shut, and all her attendants standing outside. I knocked,
but with no result. While I was waiting there, the sky
cleared just over Balsora, although the lightning still
flashed and writhed round the blue expanse. As I was
gazing in astonishment at this spectacle, your mother's
door flew open and I went in alone. On entering the
room, I perceived a delicious odour of roses, carnations,
and hyacinths. Your mother Zemira showed me a
tiny silver whistle, that was hanging round your neck
by a gold chain as fine as silk. 'This is the fairy's gift
to our boy,' she said. 'Well,' I laughed, 'I think she
might have given him something better than that—a
purse of gold, for instance, or a horse.'
"But Zemira begged me not to anger the good fairy,
for fear she might turn her blessing to a curse; so, to
please her, the matter was never mentioned again till
she was dying. Then she gave me the whistle, telling
me never to part with you till you were twenty, when
the whistle was to be yours. But I see no objection
to your going away now. You have common sense, and can defend yourself as well as any man of four-and-twenty.
Go in peace, my son. Think ever of your
father in good fortune or in ill, and may Heaven defend
you from that last."
Said took an affectionate farewell of his father, and
placing the chain round his neck, sprang lightly into
his saddle, and went off to join the caravan for
Mecca. At last they were all assembled, and Said
rode gaily out of Balsora. Just at first the novelty of
his position and surroundings occupied his thoughts, but
as they drew near to the desert he began to consider
his father's words. He drew out the whistle and put it
to his lips, but wonder of wonders, no matter how hard
he blew, not a sound came out! This was disappointing,
and Said impatiently thrust the whistle back into his
girdle; still the marvellous had a strange attraction for
him, and he spent the whole day in building his airy
Said was a fine-looking fellow, with a distinguished
face, and a bearing which, young as he was, marked him
out as one born to command. Every one was attracted
to him, and especially was this the case with an elderly
man, who rode near him. They entered into conversation,
and it was not long before the mysterious power
of fairies was mentioned.
"Do you believe in fairies?" asked Said, at last.
"Well," replied the other, stroking his beard thoughtfully,
"I should not like to say that there are no such
beings, although I have never seen one." And then he
began to relate such wonderful stories, that Said felt
that his mother's words must have been true, and when
he went to sleep was transported to a veritable
The next day the travellers were dismayed to see a
band of robbers swooping down on them. All was
confusion in an instant, and they had scarcely had time
to place the women and children in the centre, when the
Arabs were upon them. Bravely as the men acquitted
themselves, all was in vain, for the robbers were more
than four hundred strong. At this dreadful moment
Said bethought him of his whistle; but, alas! it remained
dumb as before, and poor Said, dropping it hastily, fired
on a man, who seemed from his dress to be of some
"What have you done?" cried the old man, who
was fighting at his side. "There is no hope for us
And so, indeed, it seemed—for the robbers, maddened
by the death of the man, pressed so closely on the youth
that they broke down even his sturdy resistance. The
others were soon overcome or slain, and Said found
himself on horseback, bound and guarded by armed men.
These treated him with roughness, and the only drop of
comfort in his cup was that his old friend was riding
near. You may be sure his thoughts were not very
pleasant—slavery or death was all he had to look
After riding for some time, they saw in the far distance
trees and tents, and in a short time they were met by
bands of women and children, who had no sooner heard
the news than they began to throw sticks and clods of
earth at Said, shrieking, "That is the man who killed
the great Almansor, bravest of men; he must die, and
we will throw his body to the jackals."
They became so threatening that the bandits interfered
and, bearing off their prisoner, led him bound into one
of the tents. Here was seated an old man, evidently
the leader of the band. His head was bent.
"The weeping of the women has told me all—Almansor
is dead," said he.
"Almansor is dead," answered the robbers, "O Mighty
One of the Desert, but here is his murderer. Only
speak the word. Shall his doom be to be shot, or to be
hanged from the nearest tree?"
But the aged Selim questioned Said, and found that
his son had been slain in fair fight. "He has done,
then, no more than we ourselves should have done.
Loose his bonds. The innocent shall not die," cried
Selim, in his sternest tones, seeing his men's reluctance
and discontent. As for Said, the very fulness of his
heart closed his lips, and he could not find words in
which to thank his deliverer. From this time he lived
in Selim's tent, almost taking the place of that son
whose death he had caused.
But sedition was rife among the robbers. Their
beloved Prince had been murdered, and his murderer was
shielded by the father! Many were the execrations hurled
at Said, as he walked in the camp; indeed, several
attempts were made on his life. At length Selim perceived
that soon even his influence would not be sufficient
to guard the young man, and so he sent him away
with an escort, saying that his ransom had been paid.
But before they started he bound the robbers by a
dreadful oath that they would not kill Said.
It was indeed a terrible ride! Said saw that his guides
were performing their task with great reluctance, and soon
they began to whisper together. He nerved himself to
listen, and what he heard did not tend to reassure
"This is the very spot," said one. "I shall never
"And to think that his murderer still lives!"
"Ah! if his father had not made us take that
"Stay," cried the most forbidding-looking of all,
"we have not sworn to bring this fellow to the end
of his journey. We will leave him his life, but the
scorching sun and the sharp teeth of the jackal shall
perform our vengeance. Let us bind him and leave
Said, hearing this brutal suggestion, made a
desperate effort for his life. Spurring his horse, he rode off at
full speed; but the bandits soon recovered from their
amazement, and, giving chase, had him at their mercy.
Tears, prayers, even bribes were of no avail, and the
wretched Said was left to face death in its most painful
form. Higher and higher mounted the sun, and Said
tried to roll over to obtain some small relief. In doing
this the whistle attracted his notice, and he contrived to
get it between his lips; but for the third time it refused
its office, and Said, overcome by the heat and the
horror of his situation, fainted. After several hours
he awoke to see, not the dreaded beast of prey but a
This was a little man with small eyes and a long
beard, who informed Said, when the latter had somewhat
recovered, that he was Kalum Bek, a merchant,
and that he was on a business expedition when he found him lying half dead in the sand. Said thanked
the little man, and gratefully accepted a seat on his
camel. As they were journeying the merchant related
many stories in praise of the justice and acuteness of
the Father of the Faithful.
"My cousin Messour," he said, "is his Lord
Chamberlain, and he has often told me how the Caliph
is wont to sally forth at night, attended by himself alone,
to see how his people are cared for. And so, when we
go about the streets at night, we have to be polite to
every idiot we meet, for it is as likely to be the
Caliph as some dog of an Arab from the desert."
Hearing such accounts as these, Said thought himself
a lucky fellow to have the chance of seeing Bagdad and
the renowned Al-Raschid. When they arrived in the
city, Kalum invited Said to accompany him home. The
next day the youth had just dressed himself in his
most magnificent clothes, thinking of the sensation he
would cause, when the merchant entered, and, looking
at him scornfully, said: "That is all very fine, my
young sir, but it seems to me you are a great dreamer.
Have you the money to keep up that style?"
"It is true, sir," said Said, blushing, "that I have no
money; but perhaps you will be kind enough to lend me
sufficient to travel home with, for my father is sure to
"Your father, boy," laughed the merchant. "I really
think the sun must have affected your brain. You
don't suppose, do you, that I believe the fable you made
up for my benefit? I know all the rich men in Balsora,
but no Benezar. Besides, do you think the disappearance of a whole caravan would pass unnoticed? And then,
you bare-faced liar, that story about Selim! Why, that
man is noted for his cruelty; and do you mean to tell
me that he allowed the murderer of his son to go free—and
that, too, without ransom? Oh, you shameless
"Indeed, I have spoken the truth," cried Said. "I have
no proof of my words, and can only swear to you that
I have spoken no falsehood. If you will not help me
then I must appeal to the Caliph."
"Really!" scoffed the little man; "you will beg, then,
from no less exalted a person than our gracious ruler!
Just consider that the Caliph can only be approached
through my cousin Messour, and that with a word I
could——But I pity your youth. You are not too old
yet for reformation. You shall serve in my shop for a
year, and then, if you wish to leave me, I will pay you
your wages, and let you go whither you will. I give
you till mid-day to think over it. If you refuse, I will
seize your clothes and possessions to pay myself for your
passage, and throw you on the streets."
Said was indeed in difficulties; bad luck seemed to
press upon him at every turn. There was no escaping
from the room, for the windows were barred and the
door locked. After cudgelling his brains for some time,
he saw that he must submit to the indignity imposed upon
him by the villainous little man, and so the next day
he followed him to the shop in the bazaar. His duty
was to stand (his gallant attire a thing of the past) in
the doorway, a veil or a shawl in either hand, and cry
his wares to the passers-by.
Said soon saw why Kalum had been so anxious to
retain him as a servant. No one wished to do business
with the hateful old man, but when the salesman was
a handsome youth it was a different matter altogether.
One especially busy day all the porters were employed,
when an elderly lady entered and made some purchases.
After she had bought all she wanted she
demanded some one to carry her parcels home for her.
In vain did the merchant promise to send them in half
an hour—she would have them then or never; and her
eye falling on Said, she wanted to know why he should
not accompany her. After much remonstrance Kalum
had to give in, and Said found himself following in the
wake of the lady, who stopped at last before a magnificent
house. She knocked and they were admitted,
and after mounting a wide marble staircase, Said found
himself in a lofty hall, far grander than he had ever seen
before. Here he was relieved of his burden, and was
just going out at the door, when—
"Said," cried a sweet voice behind him. He turned
round quickly, and saw to his amazement a daintily
beautiful lady surrounded by attendants, instead of the
old lady he had followed.
"Said, my dear boy," she said, "it is a great
misfortune that you left Balsora before you were twenty;
but here in Bagdad there is some chance for you. Have
you still your little whistle?"
"Indeed I have," he cried gladly; "perhaps you are
the kindly fairy who befriended my mother?"
"Yes, and as long as you are good I will help you.
But, alas! I cannot even deliver you from that wretch,
Kalum Bek, for he is protected by your most powerful
"But can we do nothing? Can I not go to the
Caliph? He is a just man and will help me."
"Haroun is indeed just, but he is greatly influenced
by Messour, who, a model of uprightness himself, has
been already primed by Kalum with his version of your
story. But there are other ways of getting at the
Caliph, and it is written in the stars that you will
obtain his favour."
"I am to be pitied if I have to stay much longer
with that rascal of a shopkeeper. But there is one
favour I beg of you, most gracious of fairies. Jousts are
held every week, but only for the freeborn. Couldn't
you manage to give me equipments, and make my face
so that no one would know me?"
"That is a wish worthy of a brave man, and I will
grant it. Come here each week, and you will find everything
you want. And now, farewell. Be cautious and
virtuous. In six months your whistle will sound, and
Zulima will answer its appeal."
Said took leave of his protectress, and, taking note
of the position of the house, made his way back to the
shop. He arrived there in the very nick of time, for
Kalum was surrounded by a crowd of jeering neighbours,
and was literally dancing with rage. This was what had
happened. Two men had asked the merchant if he could
direct them to the shop of the handsome salesman.
"Well! well!" said the old man, smiling, "Heaven
has guided you to the right place this time. What do
you want, a shawl or a veil?"
This to the men seemed nothing short of insolence,
and they fell upon him tooth and nail, the neighbours
refusing to help the old skinflint. But Said, seeing his
master in such distress, strode to the rescue, and one of
the assailants soon found himself on the ground. Under
the influence of his flashing eyes the crowd soon melted
away, for violence on the wrong side was not to their
"Oh, you prince of shopmen, that is what I call interfering
to some purpose! Didn't he lie on the ground
as if he had never used his legs? I should have lost
my beard for ever if you had not come up. How shall
I reward you?"
Said had only acted upon the impulse of the moment;
indeed, he now felt rather sorry that he had deprived
the scoundrel of a well-deserved thrashing. He seized
the opportunity, however, and asked for an evening a
week in which to take a walk. This was granted him,
and the next Wednesday he set out for the fairy's house.
Here he found everything as Zulima had promised.
First the servants gave him a wash, which changed him
from a stripling to a black-bearded man, whose face
was bronzed by exposure to the sun. Then he was
led into a second room, where he saw a dress that would
not have been put to shame by the State robes of the
Caliph. He hastily donned this, and, magnificently
equipped, descended the stairs. As he reached the door,
a servant handed him a silk handkerchief with which to
wipe his face when he wished to rid himself of his disguise.
In the court were standing three horses; two
were ridden by squires, but the most magnificent was for his own use. When Said arrived on the plain set
apart for the jousts, all eyes turned on him, and curiosity
was rife as to who the unknown knight could be; that
he was distinguished and of high family none doubted.
When Said entered the lists he gave his name as
Almansor of Cairo, and said that he had come to Bagdad
because of the fame of the youths of that city. The
sides were chosen, and the opposing parties charged.
Said's horse was as swift as an eagle, and his prowess
with the sword was so great that even the bravest
shunned meeting him, and the Caliph's brother, who
had been on his side, challenged him to single combat.
The two fought, but were so equal that the contest had
to be postponed till the next meeting. On the following
day all Bagdad was ringing with the praises of the
gallant young knight; and little did the people guess
that he was then serving in a shop in the bazaar.
At the next tournament Said carried all before him,
and received from the Caliph a golden medallion hanging
from a gold chain. This aroused the envy of the other
youths. Was a stranger to come to Bagdad and rob
them of their honour? Said noticed the signs of discontent,
and observed that all viewed him askance,
except the brother and son of the Caliph. By a strange
chance the one most bitter against him was the man he
had knocked down before Kalum Bek's shop. Led by
this man, the others made a sudden attack on Said, who
must have fallen if the Royal combatants had not rushed
to his aid.
For more than four months he continued to fight in
the lists, but one night as he was going home he noticed
four men who were walking slowly before him. To his
astonishment, he found they were speaking in the dialect
used by Selim's band. He suspected that they were
after no good, and so he crept nearer to hear what they
"He will be in the street to the right of the bazaar
to-night, attended by the Grand Vizier," said one.
"That is good," answered the other; "there is no
fear of the Grand Vizier, but I am not so sure of the
Caliph—there might be some of his guard near."
"No, there won't," broke in a third; "he is always
alone at night."
"I think it would be best to throw a lasso over his
head," said the first.
"Very well, an hour after midnight;" and with these
words they separated.
"Well, I have discovered a pretty plot," thought Said,
and his first idea was to go at once to the Caliph; but
he remembered how Kalum had maligned him to
Messour, and stopped. No, the only way was for him
to defend the Caliph in person. Accordingly, when night
came on, he betook himself to the appointed street, and
waited to see what was going to happen. Soon the
men came and concealed themselves in different parts
of the street. All was quiet for half an hour, and at
the end of that time one of the robbers gave a sign,
for the Caliph was in sight. With one accord the band
rushed upon him, but Said rose from his hiding-place,
and laid about him with such hearty goodwill that they
were soon glad to take to their heels with all speed.
"My rescue," said the Caliph, "is no less wonderful
than the attack made upon me. How did you know
who I was? How did you get to know of the plot?"
Said then told how he had followed the men, and,
hearing their plans, determined to frustrate their villainous
"Receive my thanks," said the Caliph, "and accept
this ring. Present it to-morrow at the palace, and we
will see what can be done for you."
The Vizier, too, gave him a ring, together with a heavy
Mad with joy, Said hurried home, but here Kalum
was awaiting him, anxious lest he should have lost his
handsome servant. The little man raved at Said, but
the latter had seen that his purse was full of money,
and told him flatly that he would stay there no longer.
He strode out at the door, leaving Kalum staring after
him in open-mouthed astonishment. The next morning
the merchant set the police on his track, and they
brought him word that his quondam servant, dressed
in a most magnificent fashion, was just setting out with
"He has stolen money from me, the thief!" Kalum
shrieked, and ordered the constable to arrest Said. As
Kalum was known to be related to Messour, his commands
were promptly attended to, and poor Said found himself
condemned, unheard, as having stolen the purse
from his master. He was sentenced to life-long banishment
on a desert island, and all his protestations of
innocence were of no avail. The poor fellow was in
despair, and even the stony-hearted merchant put in a
plea for him. He was thrown into a filthy dungeon,
together with nineteen others. He comforted himself
with the thought that his life would be more endurable
on board ship, but here he was mistaken. The atmosphere
was foul, and the men fought like wild beasts
for the best places. Food and water were handed out
to them once a day, and at the same time the men
who had died were hauled out.
A fortnight was passed in this misery, but one day
they felt the ship was tossing more than usual, and their
discomfort was increased. At last the survivors burst
the hatches open, but to their despair they saw that
the ship had been deserted by all the crew. The storm
raged even more wildly, the ship rocked and settled
deeper into the water. At last it went to pieces, and
Said managed to cling to the mast. After he had floated
for about half an hour, he suddenly remembered his
whistle. It still hung round his neck, and holding on
well with one hand to the mast, he put it to his mouth,
and this time it did not fail him. At the sound of the
clear, sweet note, the storm ceased as if by magic, and
the sea became like glass, and, what was more wonderful
still, the mast by which Said was supported was changed
into a huge dolphin, to his no small terror. But he soon
found there was no need for him to be afraid, for the
fish bore him as swiftly as an arrow through the water.
After some time Said, remembering tales of enchanters,
drew out his whistle, and blowing a shrill blast, wished
for a meal. At once a table rose from the depths of
the sea, and Said enjoyed the much-needed refreshment.
The sun was just sinking, when he saw a large town
in the distance which reminded him of Bagdad. The
thought of Bagdad was not so very pleasant, but still
he trusted that the fairy, who had guarded him so far,
would not let him fall into the hands of Kalum Bek.
As he drew nearer he noticed a large house on the bank
of the river, the roof of which was crowded with men,
who were all gazing in astonishment at himself. No
sooner had Said set foot on the land, than the fish
vanished, and at the same time the servants appeared to lead him before their master. On the roof were
standing three men, who questioned him in a friendly
way. Said at once began to relate his story, from the
time when he left Balsora, and his listeners declared
that they believed him; still, they asked if he could
produce the golden chain and the rings of which he had
"Here they are," said Said. "I determined not to
part with them while I had life to defend them."
"By the beard of the Prophet, this is my ring, Grand
Vizier—our deliverer stands before us!"
Said was overcome by finding in whose presence
he was, and flung himself at the Caliph's feet. But
Haroun raised him, and overwhelmed him with praise
and thanks. Nothing would do but that Said must
return with them to the palace, where they would
conceive some plan to bring the merchant Kalum to
book. On the next day Kalum himself begged for
admittance to the presence of Haroun. A dispute had
arisen between himself and a man of Balsora, and he
asked for judgment.
"I will hear him," said the Caliph. "Said," turning
to the youth as the servant left the room, "this is no
other than your father. Do you hide behind that curtain,
and you, Grand Vizier, fetch the magistrate who condemned
In a short time Kalum entered, accompanied by
Benezar, and, after the Caliph had mounted his throne,
began his complaint.
"I was standing at my door a few days ago, when
this man Benezar came down the street, offering a purse
of gold for news of Said. I at once claimed the money,
and told him how his son, for so I found him to be,
had suffered the penalty for stealing a purse from
me. Then the madman demanded his money back,
and wanted to make me responsible for his rascal of
"Bring the magistrate who condemned the youth,"
commanded Haroun. He was produced as if by magic.
After much questioning, the justice confessed that
no witness had been brought forward except the
"Why," shouted the Grand Vizier, "that is my purse,
you scoundrel; and I gave it to the gallant youth who
"Then," thundered the Caliph, "you swore falsely,
Kalum Bek. What was done to Said?"
"I sent him to a desert island," stammered the magistrate.
"Oh, Said, my son, my son!" wept the unhappy
"Stand forth, Said," said the Caliph.
Confronted by this apparition, Kalum and the justice
flung themselves on their knees, crying, "Mercy! mercy!"
"Did you have mercy on the misfortunes of this
unhappy boy? You, my best of judges, shall retire to
a desert island, so that you may have an opportunity of
studying justice. But, Kalum Bek, what am I to say
to you? You shall pay Said for all the time he has
served you, and," as Kalum was beginning to congratulate
himself on coming so well out of the business, "for the
perjury you shall receive a hundred strokes on the soles
of your feet. Take the men away and carry out their
The wretched beings were led away, and the Caliph
took Said and his father into another apartment. Here
their conversation was interrupted by the yells of Kalum,
who was undergoing punishment in the court outside. The Caliph invited Benezar to bring his goods
and settle in Bagdad. He gladly consented, and
Said spent his life in the palace built for him by the
grateful Caliph—indeed, the proverb ran in Bagdad,
"May I be as good and fortunate as Said, the son of
Little Blue Flower.
A STORK swept high over the Bohemian forest.
It was a most important duty that had brought
him from his own marshes into this mountainous
region, where far and wide no croak of frog could be
heard. In his beak he carried two little children, a boy
and a girl, both intended for the knight who dwelt in
the gloomy fortress below. Smaller and smaller grew
the circles made by the stork in his flight. Lower and
lower he sank towards the earth, until at length he rested
on the highest chimney of the castle.
But before letting the children slip down the narrow
black hole he paused and looked carefully around. While
in the air, this old castle, with its round turrets glittering
in the rising sun, had appeared to him a most stately
edifice. But now, when quite close, the stork discovered
many things that did not please him. The walls were
sadly out of repair, there were holes in the roof, whilst
the courtyard was overgrown with weeds.
"I do not like this," said the stork, looking thoughtfully
down his long, red beak. "This place seems to
have a very bad landlord. A knight who cannot keep
his castle in proper repair certainly does not deserve two
children. I will take one away with me."
"Which should he have now, the boy or the girl?"
thought the stork. He looked once more thoughtfully
down his long beak, and on the two children smiling
happily in their dreams. "I think I will give him the
boy," he said at length. "He will push his way in this
wretched place better than the girl." With these words
he made a movement to throw the little boy down the
This, however, was not so easy as the stork had thought.
In their sleep the little ones had embraced each other, and
would not let go. "I have never had two such obstinate
little creatures in my beak before," exclaimed the stork
angrily. Then he began to shake them, at first gently,
then harder, and at last so roughly that the children half
awoke from their dreams, and looked at each other with
blinking eyes. After this the boy would not let go his
companion, and no wonder, for the little girl had shown
him a pair of blue eyes of such wondrous beauty, that
there were not many like them in the world. But the
stork, now thoroughly angry, gave the poor little fellow a
kick that sent him head first down the castle chimney.
"Now, what shall I do with the other little thing?"
said the stork thoughtfully, scratching the back of his
ear. "Ah! I have it," he cried—the little girl had kept
on blinking her eyes, and the stork had also seen their
beautiful blue—"I have it!" he repeated. "Such eyes
can only belong to Norway."
High overhead soared the stork. Powerfully his wings
clove the air as he sailed away towards the north.
In the midst of the blue Baltic Sea a little wooded
island lay sparkling like a green jewel. Here dwelt Bjorn,
a grim old sea-king of Norwegian blood. Every year he
and his men ploughed the sea with their swift ships,
and very rich was the spoil he brought home to his
strong castle that stood in the centre of the island,
defended by wall and moat.
To this castle the stork bore the little maiden on his
Bjorn and his men were sitting in the spacious hall,
quaffing from golden cups the sweet wine they had
brought back in their ships from the sunny land of
Greece. Very wild was their joy when the little maiden
came down the chimney, and throughout the whole
night their boisterous songs could be heard far across
the wide sea.
And the little, sparkling waves sang in reply a rushing
murmuring song, to celebrate the arrival of the young
child. "To our sea-king a little daughter has been
born," they sang. "A beauteous little maiden, with eyes
blue as the sea, locks fair as the sea foam, and lips rosy
as the morning red when it gilds the crests of the waves."
Even the stupid fishes rejoiced, but as they could not
sing they leapt into the air, high up out of the waves,
and their scales glittered in the moonlight like gold and
Many days and many nights Bjorn and his crew drank
of the pearly wine. Then he could rest at home no
longer, so ordered his ships and sailed away, leaving
the child, to whom he had given the name of Swanhild,
in charge of a faithful nurse.
On this voyage Bjorn encountered more storms and
enemies than he had ever done before. Often, whilst
on the tossing billows, he thought with longing of the
little one at home. Yet many long years passed ere he
could at length return home laden with rich spoil.
As he set foot on the little island he was greeted by
a beautiful maiden, with deep blue eyes, rosy lips, and
the fair hair of Norway. Full of joy, Bjorn clasped his
lovely child to his heart. Then he sat with his men in the
castle hall, feasting and quaffing the costly Grecian wine.
Swanhild had never before seen such noisy feasts.
Often, on moonlight nights, she would leave the castle
and wander alone on the sea-shore.
But one evening, as she thus wandered, clad in her
white garments, and with her fair head bent towards
the waves, she was seen by a wicked magician, who
had flown thither through the air on a black goat. He
came from the cliffs of Norway, where he had been sent
to seize the soul of a poor Laplander who had stolen his
neighbour's reindeer, and he was now travelling to Blocksberg
to take this soul to his master, a powerful evil spirit.
When the magician saw Swanhild he was much delighted.
He had never before beheld any one so lovely.
But alas! while he was lost in contemplation of her
beauty the soul of the little Laplander escaped, and flew
away. He let it go. Seeking a secluded spot, he at
once summoned a number of crabs and water-beetles,
which he placed in three shining mussel-shells. One
touch of his staff changed these shells filled with crabs and water-beetles into magnificent vessels full of well-armed
men. His black goat became a skald, and played
the harp. Then transforming himself into a handsome
young Viking, he ordered the sails to be hoisted, and
rounding a wooded promontory, sailed into the bay where
Bjorn's vessel lay.
Loudly the sentries on Bjorn's ship blew their horns.
Louder yet rang out the answering blast from the castle.
Wildly Bjorn and his men broke through the forest.
Furious was their war-cry, shrilly clanged their weapons.
The strange Viking stepped forward boldly, and extending
his hand to Bjorn in token of friendship, besought
hospitality for himself and his men.
Bjorn let himself be persuaded. He led the strangers
into his splendid halls, and drank and feasted with them
many days and many nights. Then the strange hero
ordered rich presents to be brought from his ships:
garments studded with gold, gold ornaments, and shining
swords. This completely deceived Bjorn and his followers,
and when the stranger asked for Swanhild in marriage,
the Viking readily gave his consent. That Swanhild
turned pale no one heeded. Nor did they heed that she
wept nightly in the solitude of her chamber.
The marriage day at length arrived. But when everything
was ready, and Swanhild, in glittering array, was
being led towards the stranger, she, with a quick movement,
turned her back on him and fled to her chamber.
Loudly raged the father, his eyes glowing with fury.
But wilder still rolled the eyes of the stranger. He broke
into a laugh, and cried, with mocking voice, "You shall
all pay for this."
One look from those fierce eyes, and his men became
a crowd of crabs and water-beetles. The skald threw
away his harp, and stood there a black goat with fiery
eyes. The stranger shook off his armour, and was a
horrible old man.
Bjorn grew pale with terror, his followers began to
tremble and shake. Another look from the magician:
they all shrank together, and a crawling mass of frogs
covered the floor. Bjorn was the largest of them all.
Then opening door and gate, the magician drove them
out into the marshy moat. Here they dived.
The magician then locked the door and threw the
key into the moat. At her chamber windows Swanhild
sat weeping. He looked up at her furiously, but she
was so good and pure, his glance had no power over
her. He shook his fist threateningly.
"Now sit there all alone," he cried, "since you will
not marry me. You cannot escape, and no one can
deliver you, for my goat keeps guard."
He flew away whistling. The black goat walked round
and round the moat, his eyes gleaming like living coals.
The frogs croaked in the evening light, and above, in
her chamber, Swanhild wept solitary and forsaken.
In the meantime, the boy left by the stork at the
gloomy castle in the Bohemian forest had become a
valiant knight, who knew well how to use his sword. Yet
so strange a knight as he had never before sat in Walnut-tree
Castle. This was the name of his ancestral home.
Since his father's death Wulf had lived quite alone
in the ruined castle, for none of the servants would stay
after the old knight died. But this did not trouble Wulf. He did not care to hunt the wild boar through
the thicket, or kill the frightened stag. His chief pleasure
was to stretch himself on the thick, soft moss, and gaze
through the green branches of the forest trees at the
blue heavens that smiled here and there in little flocks
through the thick foliage. He also loved to seek for
forest flowers—the blue were his favourites. Whence
this preference he knew not, but he dreamt he had once
looked into Swanhild's blue eyes. Or, when tired of
these things, he would stand at one of the castle
windows, gazing thoughtfully out into the blue distance.
"Far away yonder," so ran his thoughts at these times,
"where the blue heaven bends down to touch the earth,
should I not find happiness there? Were it not better
to journey abroad in search of happiness than to remain
alone in this solitary castle, through whose walls the
wind whistles, whilst owls and bats are now the only
occupants of its once stately halls?"
But though longing to go out into the world, Wulf
remained in the ruined castle, in obedience to an old
command of one of his ancestors.
In the middle of the castle court there grew in the
cleft of a rock a gigantic walnut tree. From it the castle had received its name. The nut from which
this tree had sprung had been planted in olden times by
one of Wulf's ancestors, who at the same time had
carved these words on the rock:—
Where flourishes this tree, there shall my house remain.
While it stands, forsake it not to search abroad for fame;
But should the ancient glory from these halls e'er disappear,
Life from this tree shall make it shine once more quite bright and clear.
Their splendour had long since disappeared, and how
the tree could restore it Wulf could not imagine; still,
he remained obedient to the command.
One evening a mighty storm arose. Black clouds
obscured the sky. The lightning flashed; the thunder
rolled. The storm raged through the forest. The
mouldering stones of the old castle slipped from their
places, and the wind whistled through the gaps, and
raged through the old rooms and passages. Then a flash
of lightning! a clap of thunder! The castle was in ruins!
Wulf escaped into the open air; before him lay the
walnut tree, shivered by the lightning.
He immediately saddled his horse. What need to
remain here longer? Hastily snatching a few ripe nuts
that lay among the shattered branches, he concealed them
in his doublet as a remembrance, and then rode away
through the gloomy forest.
Far and wide, Wulf wandered over the green earth
beneath the blue heavens, encountering many enemies.
But in spite of all he kept courageously on his way.
One day his path led through a thick forest of beech
trees. He looked around thoughtfully as his horse
scattered the fallen leaves at every step. Suddenly he
looked up. What was it that shimmered so blue through
the trees? Wulf urged his horse forward, but beneath
a giant beech at the edge of the forest he halted; the
endless sea lay before him.
"Here is blue heaven above and beneath, surely I shall
find happiness here?" thought Wulf, as he swung himself
to earth. Without a thought he left his horse, and
hastened to the shore. On the soft waves a small bark
was rocking. Wulf sprang in and loosed the chain.
Lightly the waves bore the boat out into the blue
For a long time Wulf lay contentedly in the bottom
of the boat. He felt as though he were a little child
folded into his mother's arms, safe from all want and
danger. And he thought the waves wished to tell him something, but he could not understand their language.
Yet he saw that they bore his bark ever more swiftly
forward, and he rejoiced at the increasing speed.
There was a grating sound under the keel: Wulf had
reached land at last. Before him lay a wooded island.
Above the tops of the trees rose the turrets of a stately
castle. He hastened forward and arrived at the castle
moat. An unearthly stillness reigned over all around.
Nothing moved save a swarm of frogs. These swam
round and round in the moat, or sat on the leaves of
the water-lilies, and croaked in what seemed to Wulf
most sorrowful tones. But the largest amongst them
behaved in a most extraordinary manner. He was for
ever trying to climb up the castle wall, but if after much
trouble he managed to get up a little way, he always
fell back again. Then he would seat himself on a water-lily,
look upwards, and wipe his eyes as though he were
Wulf also looked up.
"Happiness at last!" he exclaimed. "The blue eyes!"
But he got no further. A violent push from an angry
goat sent him flying into the middle of the moat.
Wulf felt himself sinking fast. His feet got entangled
among the twisted roots of the water-lilies. With great
difficulty he managed to keep his head above the water.
"And here I must die," said he in anguish.
Then from out his doublet sounded soft little voices:—
"The blessing of Urahn to you is near.
Do not despair, for help is present here."
And behold! all around him now began a wonderful
rustling and moving. He groped about with his hands,
and felt that tender little roots had forced their way
through his doublet and were taking root in the slime.
And all around him he saw little green walnut tree leaves
rising out of the water. Twigs followed the leaves, and
these again became branches. Wulf felt he was being
forced upwards; soon he was safely out of the water.
Looking up, he saw Swanhild's blue eyes. He stretched
out his arms towards her and she smiled.
Higher and higher Wulf was borne. Five strong
walnut trees grew beneath him, and bore him up on
their branches. Now he could reach up and touch
Swanhild's hands. Now he sat by her at the window,
and gazed into her blue eyes.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Swanhild," she replied.
"It is a very beautiful name," said Wulf. "But for
my sake you must now be called Little Blue Flower.
When I was quite a child I saw your eyes in my dreams.
They appeared to me like little blue flowers, and every
day I searched for these flowers in the forest, but they
were never sufficiently beautiful. Now you shall be my
Little Blue Flower." And then he gave her a kiss.
But now a fresh movement began in the moat below.
The stout frog was able to scramble up the crooked,
rough stems of the walnut tree, better than up the smooth
castle wall. Boldly he climbed, and the whole army of
frogs followed him. At length he reached the top.
Swanhild gently laid her hand on his head, and instead
of the frog old Bjorn sat on one of the branches of the
walnut tree, and embraced and kissed both his daughter
and Wulf. Then the other frogs came, and Swanhild laid her hand on them all. Soon all Bjorn's followers
were sitting in crowds on the branches, dangling their
legs for joy. Full of anger, the black goat ran round
and round the castle moat, rolling his great fiery eyes.
Just as the last frog was changed, a mighty rushing
noise was heard. The magician flew raging through
the air. With his magic staff he struck the poor goat
a fierce blow, and then rode back on him to Blocksberg.
Here it went very badly with him, because he came
without the soul of the little Laplander, and he was
Bjorn, with Wulf and all his men, joyfully entered the
castle through Swanhild's window. A few days later
Swanhild's marriage with Wulf was celebrated with great
splendour, and they lived together in peace and happiness
to the end of their days.
"The Princess Who Despised all Men."
THERE was once a King and Queen who, having
everything a King and Queen could reasonably
desire, might have been as happy as the day
was long—if they had only taken the right means for
making the best of their good fortune.
The King was a pattern of amiability, and, as to
wisdom, could have held his own in comparison with
any crowned potentate on earth; but of the Queen not
half as much could be said in praise. As a girl, her
beauty had been renowned, and had brought to her
Princes by the score as wooers; but to their suits she
had, as the phrase is, turned a deaf ear, regarding men
as creatures made wholly of ill qualities, and marriage
with them a debasement of herself in every sense; and
it was not until her father threatened to imprison her
for the rest of her life in a town built of steel and
adamant, that she could be induced to accept a husband.
The amiability of her spouse was often sorely tried
by her constant disparagement of men; but, being founded
upon exceptional goodness of character, he did not allow
it to be overcome, and schooled himself to bear with her
fantastic ideas, rewarding himself for his leniency by
sometimes laughing in his sleeve at the more preposterous
of her pretensions.
A great many years passed without their having any
family until, one day, the Queen had a baby girl, and
consoled herself by reflecting that that, at least, was
better than having a boy, "to grow up into a horrid
man," as she expressed herself.
It happened that, at the moment of the little Princess's
birth, the fairy Gaieia was passing the palace, and, as
she had no particularly pressing business on hand, slipped
in, and, after congratulating the Queen on the beauty
of her offspring, constituted herself the infant's god-mother—as
was the fairy custom at that period—at the
same time laughingly predicting that she would prove
to be "the joy of her parents."
It hardly needs to be recorded that, with her very
peculiar views as to what a woman's conduct in life
ought to be, the Queen did not permit her daughter to
receive instruction of any kind from anybody but herself;
the King, consequently, rarely saw his child, and knew
nothing of the character which had been made for her
by her mother, rather than allowed to come to her and
develop itself in the natural order of things.
In this way the Princess Disdainana—so her mother
had insisted on naming her—was brought up until she
had reached her seventeenth year. If the youthful beauty
of her mother had been renowned, that of the Princess
was celebrated far and near as being nothing less than
marvellous, and a hundred of the richest and handsomest
Kings and Princes in the world vied with each other
in their endeavours to obtain her hand; but to not one
of them would she deign to listen even for a moment,
regarding all men as a sort of natural excrescence, whose
only fitting place in the world was in companionship
with the horses and dogs, or, at most, as ugly and
repulsive creatures necessary for the performance of the
most unpleasant labours. It was on this account that
she had become universally known as "The Princess Who
Despised All Men."
This state of things became, at last, a cause of extreme
uneasiness to the King. By the time she had
arrived at a marriageable age, the fact that he, too,
was year by year growing older began to recur to
his mind with disquieting persistency; for, having no
son to succeed him, he saw that, if his daughter's disinclination
to marry were maintained, his dynasty was
in danger of coming to an end—and that is a prospect
which no King can be expected to contemplate with
One day, therefore, when the subject was worrying him
very much, he sent for his wife and daughter and explained
to them the extreme discomforts of the situation
which had been brought about by the obduracy of the
"My daughter, I am happy to say, knows her duty
to herself," replied the Queen proudly.
The King was about to retort, "But she does not
appear to know anything whatever about her duty to
her father;" but, as it was a rule of conduct with him
never to use that form of contradiction in any discussion
he had with his wife, he held his peace.
"Rather than become the wife of an ugly, coarse,
bearded man, I would die a hundred deaths!" cried
the Princess vehemently.
As the last syllable left her lips, a gay laugh rippled
through the air of the room.
"May I ask what you find to laugh at in what my
daughter has said?" demanded the Queen of her husband,
"Nothing whatever, my dear—and, consequently, I did
not laugh," replied the King mildly.
"What! Perhaps you will say that it was I who
uttered that insolent sound?" cried the Queen.
"Now I come to recall the fact, I don't think I ever
heard you laugh, my dear; but I am sure the voice that
laughed a moment ago was not in the least like yours,"
said the King.
"It was more like my daughter's, perhaps you will
say?" remarked the Queen sarcastically.
"Not in the least—I should imagine, for I never had
the advantage of hearing her laugh any more than yourself,"
replied the King.
Again the gay sound of a musical voice, laughing
lightly, rang through the room.
"Oh! This is too insulting!" cried the Queen. "Come
with me, my love—out of such an unendurable atmosphere
And, without deigning to listen to a word of remonstrance
from the King, she hurried the Princess back to
her own apartment—followed by another silvery peal
The King was equally puzzled and vexed by the abrupt
termination of what he had hoped would have been a
conference resulting in relief to himself from pressing
anxieties. Now—knowing his wife's absolute and unyielding
temper, and the complete control she exercised
over her daughter—he saw no way but one (that of
using his extreme parental authority) to bring the Princess
to obedience; but that measure he was too kind-hearted
to resolve upon applying.
In the utmost perplexity of mind he had paced his
study for several minutes, without noticing that he was
grasping in his right hand a scroll of parchment. On
becoming aware of this fact, he stopped suddenly and
gazed on the document with bewildered astonishment.
It was absolutely certain that he had never seen it before,
that it was not in his hand when the Queen and Princess
quitted his presence, and that nobody else had entered
While he was thinking of all this, the gay laugh,
which had been heard three times before, rang through
the study again, only more gaily than ever—for a moment
angering the King, though he was one of the most
placable of Sovereigns, and causing him to ferret in
every possible hiding-place in his study in search of the
daring jester. But not a trace of an intruder was discoverable.
When he had perfectly assured himself of this,
he unfolded the mysteriously conveyed parchment.
The opening words of the document caused him to
turn pale, and the sight of the signature at the end of
it sent a thrill of terror through his frame. It was
nothing less than a formal demand for the hand of the
Princess Disdainana, on the part of Kloxoxskin the
Ninety-ninth—one of the ugliest and most belligerent
monarchs in the world—the document being drawn in
the form of an ultimatum, calling upon the King to
give his daughter to the said Kloxoxskin in marriage, within two hours of the receipt of this demand, or,
failing compliance therewith, to surrender his throne to
the said Kloxoxskin, who would, at the time specified,
come, supported by his invincible army of one million
nine hundred and ninety-nine veteran warriors, to receive
the said King's answer.
In his moments of worst apprehension, the King had
never thought of anything so terrible as this. He called
his wife and daughter back to him, and made them
clearly understand the crisis that had come to him and
them; but though the Queen was inclined to save her
share of the throne by submission, the Princess declared
that no consideration would induce her to give herself
to any man—to such a human monster as Kloxoxskin
least of all.
From that resolution her father tried to move her,
but she was inflexible against all his arguments and
prayers; and when the two hours' grace was spent, the
King found himself in the presence of the redoubtable
Kloxoxskin the Ninety-ninth, a prisoner in his palace,
and wholly at the mercy of his all-powerful conqueror.
Realising the peril in which she stood, the Queen
did her best to persuade her daughter to submit to the
inevitable; but the Princess quickly silenced her by
giving her back the arguments that had all her life
been used in the cultivation of her detestation of all
But though she had no misgiving as to her moral
strength, the Princess could not but contemplate with
alarm the danger of a personal encounter with King
Kloxoxskin, so she determined to seek safety in flight and, as soon as dusk came, contrived to slip unperceived
from the palace into a dense forest which grew at no
great distance from the walls of her father's capital.
For a long time she pressed farther and farther into
the depths of the forest, growing every moment more
and more relieved from the apprehension that she might
Pausing at length to rest, she noticed that night had
thoroughly set in, and that it would be impossible for
her to go any farther in the darkness. At the same
moment a terrible sound fell upon her ears—the roaring
of wild beasts of some kind, coming rapidly nearer and
nearer. For an instant her heart stood still, but she
was not wanting in courage or resource, and, observing
that she was at the foot of a giant oak tree, she lost not
a moment in climbing to the shelter of its spreading
Choosing the securest position she could find, her
alarm of the moment subsided; but though she was
greatly fatigued, the memory of the peril from which
she was endeavouring to escape, coupled with anxiety
as to the trials which might be awaiting her all night,
prevented her from going to sleep; and, when morning
dawned, she prepared, tired and hungry, to descend to
the ground and continue her undefined journey.
But she found that climbing was a far easier matter
than descending from her place of refuge; for she now
observed that the tree sent out, on nearly all sides of
its gnarled trunk, the remains of huge jagged and lifeless
branches, to avoid which would require a skill which
she did not possess. She had no choice, however, but
to make an attempt to get down, and had nearly succeeded
in reaching the ground when, to her consternation,
the full skirt of her splendid dress caught upon an
enormous splinter, and held her hanging helpless some
feet in the air, all her efforts to free herself proving
Hours passed by. The sunlight pierced some of the
neighbouring tree-tops; but the return of day brought
her neither comfort nor the hope of release, and she
was giving way to the horrible idea that she would
have to endure all the torments of a lingering death,
when she heard the voice of a woodman, whistling on
his way to his work, and called to him.
The man came towards her out of the underwood.
"Assist me down," said the Princess, in her habitual
tone of disdain.
"Not I," replied the woodman. "I recognise you:
you are the Princess Who Despises All Men! Ho!
ho!—I'm a man, remember!"
That said, he went on his way, whistling cheerfully,
leaving the Princess to think, for a moment, that her
rooted antipathy to men was amply justified by the
brutal conduct of this coarse and ugly wretch.
But the distress of her position became every moment
more and more acute, and, seeing that it was hopeless
to anticipate the assistance of any chance passer, she
made one more effort to free herself, and by exerting
all her remaining strength, succeeded in tearing herself
from the offensive bough—at the cost of a great rent
in her beautiful dress and a fall, which left her for a
few minutes lying insensible on the ground at the foot
of the tree.
After returning to consciousness, and sitting for a
while to recover her presence of mind, she rose and
continued her blind way through the forest, always
hungry and many times faint with fatigue, all day
long, until once again she found the shades of evening
closing about her.
Just before night had actually come, she reached a
spot at which a party of charcoal-burners were seated
about a cheerful fire in front of their hut, eating their
supper of bread and potatoes, roasted in the embers at
their feet. The appetising scents of these well-cooked
roots provoked the starving Princess's hunger in an
almost unendurable degree.
"Give me one of your potatoes," she said, still unable
to modify the disdainful tone of her voice.
"Not we!" replied the head charcoal-burner. "I
recognise you: you are the Princess Who Despises All
Men! Ho! ho! We are men, remember!"
More than ever disgusted with men, the Princess
wandered all night through the forest, afraid to lie down,
lest she might fall asleep and become a prey to some
prowling wild beast.
As the dawn of another day was becoming visible,
she found herself on the border of a meadow, and saw
a young farmer drawing water from a well for some
horses which were waiting near him.
"Give me some of that water—I'm thirsty!" she
"Aha," said the young farmer, "I recognise you:
you are the Princess Who Despises All Men! If you
want water, dig a well for yourself, as I have had
"Loathsome creatures, one and all!" the Princess
said to herself, as she turned away from the spot. "My
good mother was right in teaching me to despise
She presently reached a more open part of the country,
though she was still near the forest through which she
had passed, and, towards noon, when she was almost
overcome by the sun's heat, she came upon a rising
ground, whence she beheld, afar off, a great stretch of
water, and, on what seemed its most distant reach, an
Then there suddenly came to her mind a story she
had heard of the existence of an island-kingdom peopled
by women who, like herself, held all men in disdain,
and would never permit one of them to set foot where
they were. And she was overtaken by a burning desire
to reach that island, which she fancied must be hidden
in the midst of the opalesque haze on which she was
So she hurried on and on, sustained wholly by the
intensity of her desire, till she came upon the sea-shore—for
the great water she had looked upon was the
Alongside his boat, and busy with his nets, she found
a fisherman, and at once accosted him.
"Is yonder mist-enveloped island the kingdom of
Diaphanosia?" she asked him.
"Yes," he answered.
"Then row me over to it in your boat," she said
"Not I," he replied. "I recognise you: you are the
Princess Who Despises All men, and I am a man, you
know. If you want a boat, make one for yourself, as
I had to do. Over there, in the forest, you will find
plenty of wood for your purpose, only you will have
to cut it down."
To get out of the sun's burning rays, and to give
herself time for reflection, the Princess retired into the
forest and sat down at the foot of a hollow tree, by
the side of which a rusty axe was lying, as if it had
been left there by some woodman and forgotten.
Strange! A merry laugh came out of the thicket
near to her; but though she searched with her eyes in
every direction she could discover nobody who could
have given it utterance.
Strange again! It flashed upon her mind that the
mere expression of disdain for men was wanting in force
if it were not emphasised by the demonstration of woman's
power to do absolutely without them.
Upon the strength of this reasoning, she at once
seized the axe, and after many days of hard work,
succeeded in felling the hollow tree and giving to it
something of the shape of a boat, in which, by the aid
of a roughly fashioned pair of oars, she rowed herself
across to the island-kingdom, where she hoped to find
the realisation of all her aspirations for a state of existence
in which men were wholly ignored.
Not once or twice, but over and over again, she
succeeded in reaching the border of the opalesque haze
in which the kingdom of Diaphanosia was perpetually
veiled; but she was as often beaten back by an irresistible
current which set towards the shore from which she
On one of these fruitless voyages her strength utterly
left her, and she sank down in the bottom of her boat
insensible, the oars dropping from her nerveless hands
and drifting away; so that, even if she had immediately
returned to consciousness, she would have found herself
helplessly at the mercy of the sea.
When she did recover from her state of insensibility,
it was to discover herself lying upon a mossy bank
on the skirt of the forest, a handsome and superbly
dressed young man tending her with delicately eager
She did not attempt to rise or to speak; she thought
she was sleeping and dreaming—the only thing strange
in her state of feeling being that the near presence of a
man provoked no sense of repugnance or resentment.
"Thank Heaven!" said the young gentleman, in a
tone of intense relief, as he saw her open her eyes.
"For awhile I have been terribly afraid that my efforts
to rescue you had been unavailing."
Still held by the idea that she was dreaming, the
Princess only continued to look into his face without
replying to his words.
"Rest here for a short time, and sleep if you can,
while I watch over you," he continued. "When you
have become strong enough to travel, my horse shall
carry you to my father's palace, which stands not very
far from this spot: once there, my mother will be
delighted to tend upon you as if you were her own
"Take me to your kind mother," she said, rising, the
soft tones of her own voice sounding in her ears as if
they came from the lips of some other person than
The handsome young Prince—for he was no less—blew
a golden whistle suspended to his neck by a
jewelled chain, and in a few moments a splendidly
caparisoned horse came to him from out the forest.
Upon the back of this noble steed the Prince
gallantly lifted his beautiful charge, and taking the
bridle on his hand, led him through the forest openings,
walking by the Princess's side and relating to her how,
while hunting, it had been his blest fortune to see her
helpless condition in her boat, and, by swimming out
to her, rescue her at the moment when her rude vessel
was on the point of sinking with her beneath the
She listened silently to all he said to her, filled with
an inexplicable sense of wonder at herself in finding
that ever the voice of a man could fall sympathetically
on her ears! "I must be dreaming!" she said to herself
again and again.
At last, on reaching an eminence, the Prince pointed
to a noble pile of buildings on the outskirts of a great
city, and said—something of sadness coming into the
tone of his voice:
"Yonder is my father's palace; we shall reach it in
a very little time—and then the happy privilege of these
delightful moments will cease to be mine, never to be
All things about her seemed, at the sound of those
words, to melt into a roseate mist, carrying with them
all sense of herself. Apart from her will, unconsciously,
she held out her hand to her preserver, who pressed it
to his lips with tender gratitude.
Clearly and with wonderful sweetness of intonation,
the gay laugh which had greeted her on so many
eventful moments of her life once more rang in the
"Ah! I recognise it now!" she cried—"the sweet
voice of my fairy god-mother! Oh, wise and kind Gaieia,
still be my guardian, as you have ever been, and make
me in the future all that I have failed to make myself
in the past!"
The laugh that answered her entreaty was as gay
and sweet as ever, but came from afar; for, in fact, the
good fairy had sped away, having a great deal still to
do for her froward godchild, and that without delay:
amongst other things to make King Kloxoxskin immediately
evacuate the palace and dominions of the Princess's
father, under the idea that he was escaping from a great
peril which would certainly have overwhelmed him if
he had persisted in forcing the Princess Disdainana to
More than that—a task much more difficult to accomplish—the
merry fairy had to overcome the prejudice of
the Queen, whose obstinacy had returned in full force
as soon as she was once again able to exercise it on
the side of her anti-matrimonial fancies. But, as everybody
knows, nothing can permanently withstand the
power and strategy of a good fairy; so it came about—really
as a matter of course—that, her daughter having
accepted for her husband the charming Prince who had
saved her life, the Queen consented to receive him as her
son-in-law; and it is a well-attested matter of history,
that nobody ever heard her utter a single word in
dissent from her husband's freely-expressed delight at
the saving of his dynasty from what had, for awhile,
seemed its inevitable extinction.
The Necklace of Tears.
ONCE, many years ago, there lived in Ombrelande
a most beautiful Princess. Now, Ombrelande
is a country which still exists, and in which many
strange things still happen, although it is not to be found
in any map of the world that I know of.
The Princess, at the time the story begins, was little
more than a child, and while her growing beauty was
everywhere spoken of, she was unfortunately still more
noted for her selfish and disagreeable nature. She cared
for nothing but her own amusement and pleasure, and
gave no thought to the pain she sometimes inflicted on
others in order to gratify her whims. It must be mentioned,
however, as an excuse for her heartlessness, that,
being an only child, she had been spoilt from her babyhood,
and always allowed to have her own way, while
those who thwarted her were punished.
One day the Princess Olga, that was her name, escaped
from her governess and attendants, and wandered into
the wood which joined the gardens of the palace. It
was her fancy to be alone; she would not even allow
her faithful dachshund to bear her company.
The air was soft with the coming of spring; the sun
was shining, the songs of the birds were full of gratitude
and joy; the most lovely flowers, in all imaginable hues,
turned the earth into a jewelled nest of verdure.
Olga threw herself down on a bank, bright with green
moss and soft as a downy pillow. The warmth and her
wanderings had already wearied her. She had neglected
her morning studies, and left her singing-master waiting
for her in despair in the music-room of the palace, that
she might wander into the wood, and already the pleasure
She threw herself down on the bank and wished she
was at home. There was one thing, however, of which
she never tired, and that was her own beauty; so now,
having nothing to do, and finding the world and the
morning exceedingly tiresome and tame and dull, she
unbound her long golden hair, and spread it all around
her like a carpet over the moss and the flowers, that
she might admire its softness and luxuriance, by way of
She held up the yellow meshes in her hands and drew
them through her fingers, laughing to see the golden
lights that played among the silky waves in the sunlight;
then she fell to admiring the small white hands which
held the treasure, holding them up against the light to
see their almost transparent delicacy, and the pretty rose-pink
lines where the fingers met. Certainly she made
a charming picture, there in the sunshine among the
flowers: the picture of a lovely innocent child, if she
had been less vain and self-conscious.
Presently she heard a slight rustle of boughs behind her,
and looking round she saw that she was no longer alone.
Not many paces away, gazing at her with admiring
wonder, stood a youth in the dress of a beggar, and
over his shoulder looked the face of a young girl, which
Olga was forced to acknowledge as lovely as her own.
Now, the forest was the private property of the King,
and the presence of these poor-looking people was certainly
"What are you doing here?" said Olga haughtily.
"Don't you know that you are trespassing? This wood
belongs to the King, and is forbidden to tramps and
"We are no beggars, lady," said the youth. He spoke
with great gentleness, but his voice was strong and sweet
as a deep-toned bell. "To us no land is forbidden—and
we own allegiance to no one."
"My father will have you put in prison," said Olga
angrily. "What is your name?"
"My name is Kasih."
"And that girl behind you—she is hiding—why does
she not come forward?"
"It is Kasukah—my sister," he said, looking round with
a smile; "she is shy, and frightened, perhaps."
"What outlandish names! You must be gypsies,"
said Olga rudely, "and perhaps thieves."
"Indeed, lady, you are mistaken; on the contrary, it
is in our power to bestow upon you many priceless gifts.
But we have travelled far to find you, and are weary;
only bid us welcome—let us go with you to the castle
"How dare you speak so to me?" interrupted Olga,
in a fury. "To the castle, indeed—what are you thinking
of? There is a poor-house somewhere, I have heard the
people say, maintained by my father's bounty out of
the taxes, you can go there. Go at once—or——"
She raised the little silver-handled dog-whip which hung
at her girdle. To do her justice, she was no coward.
Kasukah had quite disappeared; the boy stood alone
looking at Olga with sad, reproachful eyes. For a moment,
she thought what a pity he was so poor and shabby;
he had the face and bearing of a king. But she was
too proud to change her tone.
"Or what?" he said.
"I will drive you away," she said defiantly. Still
Kasih did not move, and the next moment she had struck
him smartly across the cheek with the whip.
He made no effort at self-defence or retaliation, only
it seemed to her that she herself felt the pain of the
wound. For a few instants she saw his sorrowful face
grown white and stern, and the red, glowing scar which
her whip had caused; then, like Kasukah, he seemed
to vanish, and disappeared among the trees, while where
he had stood a sunbeam crossed the grass.
Olga felt rather scared. She had been certainly very
audacious, and it was odd that the boy should have shown
no resentment. After all, she rather wished she had
asked both him and his sister to stay, they might have
However, it was too late now; she could not call them
back; so she thought she would return to the castle;
she was beginning to feel hungry. So she went leisurely
home, and, for the remainder of the day, proved a little
more tractable than usual. She did not forget Kasih
and his sister, and for a time wondered if they would
ever seek her again; but the months went by and she
saw them no more.
Now, as Olga grew older, of course the question arose
of finding for her a desirable husband. And one suitor
came and another, but none pleased her; and, indeed,
more than one highly eligible young Prince was frightened
away by her haughty manners and violent temper.
The truth was, that in secret she had not forgotten
the face of Kasih, and she sometimes told herself that
if she could find among her suitors one who was at all
like him, and was also rich and powerful enough to
give her all she desired in other ways, him she would
choose. Kasih was certainly very handsome, in spite of
his beggar's clothes; and, suitably dressed, he would have
been quite adorable. Also, it would be delightful to find
a husband with such a gentle, yielding disposition, who
never thought of resenting anything she said or did.
And one day a suitor came to the palace who really
made her heart beat a little faster than usual at first;
he was so like the lost Kasih. But unfortunately he was
only the younger son of a Royal Duke, and could offer
her nothing better than a small, insignificant Principality
and an income hardly sufficient to pay her dressmaker's
bills. So it was no use thinking about him, and he was
dismissed with the others. Olga's father began to think his daughter would never find all she required in a
husband, but would remain for ever in the ancestral
castle: as every year she grew more disagreeable, the
prospect did not afford him entire satisfaction.
At length, however, appeared a very powerful Prince,
who peremptorily demanded her hand. He was a big,
strong man, and carried on his wooing in such a masterful
manner that even Olga was a little afraid of him. At
the same time he loaded her with jewels and beautiful
presents of all kinds, brought from his own country. He
was said to possess fabulous wealth; and, partly because
she feared him, and partly because of her pride and
ambition, haughty Olga surrendered and promised to
become his wife. Having once gained her consent, Hazil
would brook no delay.
The date was immediately fixed, and the grandest
possible preparations made for the wedding. No expense
was spared, innumerable guests were invited, while those
less favoured among the people came from far and near
to see the bride's wedding clothes and to bring her
presents. Indeed, the King of Ombrelande was forced
to add a new suite of rooms to the castle to contain
the wedding gifts and display them to the best advantage.
Such a sight as the bridal train had never been seen
before, for it was spangled all over with diamonds so
closely that Olga when she moved looked like a living
jewel—and her veil was sprinkled with diamond dust,
which sparkled like myriads of tiny stars.
The evening before the wedding day Olga sat alone
in her chamber, thinking of the magnificence that awaited
her, also a little of Hazil, the bridegroom. She had
that day seen Hazil, in a passion, punish, with his own
hands, a servant for disobedience, and the sight had
displeased her. It had been an ugly and unpleasant
exhibition, but worse than all, the sight of the poor
man's wounds had recalled that livid mark across the
fair cheek of Kasih which she herself had wrought. The
boy's gentle face, which had become so stern when they
parted, the laughing eyes of Kasukah, quite haunted her
to-night. She thought she would like to make amends
for her rudeness; if she knew where they were, she would
ask brother and sister to her wedding. And just as
she was so thinking, a soft tap sounded at the door,
and before she could ask who was there (she thought it
must surely be the Queen, her mother, come to bid
her a last good-night, and felt rather displeased at the
interruption) the door opened, and a stranger entered
Olga saw a tall figure, draped from head to foot in
a soft darkness that shrouded her like a cloud, obscuring
even her face.
"Who are you?" said Olga, "and what do you want
in my private apartments? Who dared admit you without
"I asked admittance of no one, for none can refuse me
or bar my way," answered the stranger, in a voice like
the sighing of soft winds at night. "My name is
Kasuhama—I am the foster-sister of Kasukah and Kasih,
of whom you were just now thinking, and I come to
bring you a wedding gift."
She withdrew her veil slightly as she spoke, and Olga
saw a pale, serene face, sorrowful in expression, and
framed with snow-white hair, but yet bearing a likeness,
that was like a memory, to Kasih and Kasukah.
"I wish," said Olga petulantly, "that Kasih had brought
it to-morrow and been present at our feast. I would
have seen that he was properly attired for the occasion. Your sad face is hardly suitable for a wedding feast.
Shall I ever see him again?"
"As to that, I cannot answer," said Kasuhama gravely;
"but your wedding is no place either for him or Kasukah.
As for me—I go everywhere. I am older in appearance
than the others, you see, though, in reality, it is not so.
But that is because they have immortal souls and I have
none. The time will come when I must bid them farewell.
We but journey together for a time."
The air of the room seemed to have become strangely
chill and cold, and Olga shivered. "I am tired," she
said, "and I wish to rest. Will you state your business
and leave me?"
Experience had made her less abruptly rude than when
she dismissed Kasih in the wood; also this cold, pale,
soulless woman struck her with something like awe.
"Yes,—I will say farewell to you now. In the future
you will know me better and perhaps learn not to fear
me—but I will leave with you the present I came to
She held out a necklace of pearls more wonderful than
even Olga had ever seen. They were large and round,
lustrous and fair; but as Olga took them in her hands
it seemed to her that, in their mysterious depths, each
jewel held imprisoned a living soul.
"Wear them," said Kasuhama; "by them you will
Almost involuntarily Olga raised her hands and fastened
the necklace around her slender throat. The clasps just
met, and the pearls glistened like dewdrops on her bosom—or
were they tears?
But in the centre of the necklace was a vacant space.
"There is one lost!" she said.
"Not lost, but missing," answered Kasuhama softly.
"One day the place will be filled, and the necklace will
be complete." And with these words she waved her
hand to Olga, and, drawing her dusky veil around her,
quitted the room as quietly as she had entered.
The ceremonies of the following day passed off without
let or hindrance, and Olga, dazzled by her grandeur,
would have thought little of her visitor of the previous
night—would indeed have believed the incident a dream,
a trick of the imagination—but for the necklace. It
still encircled her throat, for her utmost efforts proved
unavailing to unfasten the clasps, and every one stared
and marvelled at the wonderful pearls which seemed
endowed with a curious fascination.
Only Prince Hazil was displeased; for he could not
bear his bride to wear jewels not his gift, and that
outshone by their lustre any he could produce; also,
he was jealous of the unknown giver. When the wedding
was over, and they were travelling away to the distant
castle where the first weeks of Olga's new life were to
be spent, he tried to take the jewels from their resting-place.
Olga smiled, for she knew that even his great
strength would be unavailing, and so it proved; and
although on reaching their destination Hazil sent for all
the Court jewellers, neither then nor at any other time
could the most experienced among them loosen Kasuhama's
magic gift from its place.
The months rolled by, and Olga reigned a Queen in her
husband's country, but her life was a sad one. Hazil was
often cruel, and it seemed as though he were bent upon
heaping upon her all the contumely and harshness she had
shown to others. Still her proud spirit refused to yield.
She met him with defiance in secret, and openly bore herself
with so much cold haughtiness that no one dared to
hint at her trouble, much less to offer her any sympathy.
But when alone in her chamber she saw again the
faces of Kasih and Kasukah; but more often that of
Kasuhama. For the necklace was still there to remind
her; the pearls still shone with mysterious, undimmed
lustre; indeed, they seemed to grow more numerous,
and to be woven into more delicate and intricate designs,
as time went on. Still, however, the place for the central
jewel remained unfilled. Often Olga herself tried with
passionate, almost agonising, effort to break their fatal
chain, for every day their weight grew heavier, until
she seemed to bear fetters of iron about her fair throat,
and when the pearls touched her they burned as though
the iron were molten.
Still, in public, they were universally admired, and
gratified vanity enabled her to bear the pain and inconvenience
without open complaint.
But one day was placed in her arms another treasure—a
beautiful living child, and she was so fair that they
called her Pearl, but the Queen hated the name. The
child, however, found a soft place in Hazil's rough nature;
indeed, he idolised her; but Olga rarely saw her little
daughter, and left her altogether to the care of the
nurses and attendants.
So little Pearl grew very fragile, and had a wistful
look in her blue eyes, as though waiting for something
that never came; for in her grand nurseries and among
all her beautiful playthings she found no mother-love to
perfect and nourish her life.
And all this time Olga had seen no more of Kasih or
Kasukah; had, indeed, almost forgotten what their faces
were like. But one night, at the close of a grand entertainment,
she was summoned in haste to the nursery. The
Court physician came to tell her that little Pearl was ill.
Olga was very weary. Never had the necklace seemed
so heavy a burden as that night, or the Court functions
so endless. She rose, however, and followed the physician
at once. Hazil, the King, was far away, visiting a distant
part of his great territory; he would be terribly angry if
anything went wrong with little Pearl during his absence.
She reached the room where the child lay on her lace-covered
pillows, very white and small, but with a happy
smile on her tiny face, a happy light in her blue eyes,
which looked satisfied at last. But Olga knew that
the smile was not for her, that the child did not recognise
her, would never know her any more.
Some one else stood beside the couch: a stranger with
bent head and loving, out-stretched arms, and little Pearl
prattled in baby language of playthings and flowers and
sunlight and green fields. Olga drew near and watched,
helpless and terrified, with a strange despair at her heart.
And soon the little voice grew weaker—but the happy
smile deepened as the blue eyes closed.
And there was a great silence in the nursery. The
stranger lifted the little form in his arms, and as he
raised his head Olga saw his face, and she knew that
it was Kasih come at last, for across his cheek still glowed
the red line of the wound which her hand had dealt
many years before. His eyes met hers with the same
stern sadness of reproach as when they had parted—then
she remembered no more.
When the Queen recovered from her swoon they told
her that her little daughter was dead; but she knew that
Kasih had taken her. She said no word and showed few signs of grief, but remained outwardly proud and
cold, though her heart was wrung with a pain and fear
she could not understand. She was full of wrath against
Kasih, who, she thought, had taken this way of avenging
the old insult she had offered him. Yet the sorrowful
look in his eyes haunted her.
The pearls about her neck pressed upon her with a
heavier weight, and in her sleep she saw them as in
a vision, and in their depths she discerned strange
pictures: faces she had known years ago and long since
forgotten, the faces of those whom her pride and harshness
had caused to suffer, who had appealed to her for love
and pity and were denied.
And then in her dream she understood that the pearls
were in truth the tears of those she had made sorrowful,
kept and guarded by Kasih in his treasure-house, but
given to her by Kasuhama to be her punishment.
Before many days had passed, the King Hazil returned,
and when he learned that his little daughter was dead,
he summoned the Queen to his presence. Olga went
haughtily, for she dared not altogether disobey. Then
Hazil loaded her with reproaches, and in his anger he
told her many, many hard things, and the words sank
deep into her heart. It seemed, presently, that she could
bear no more, and hardly knowing what she did, she
cast herself at his feet and prayed for mercy.
She asked him to remember that the child had been
hers also—that she had loved it. But Hazil, in his
bitterness, laughed in her face and told her she was a
monster, that it was for lack of her love that the child
had died, that she had never loved anything—not even herself. He turned away to nurse his own grief, and
Olga dragged herself up and went away to the silent
room, and knelt by the little couch where she had seen
Kasih take away her child.
And there at length the blessed tears fell, for she was
humbled at last, and sorry, and quite desolate and alone.
And it seemed to her that through her tears she once
more saw Kasih, and that he held towards her the little
Pearl, more beautiful than ever, and the child put its arms
about her neck, and she was comforted.
Well, from that day the life of the Queen was changed.
When next she looked at the pearl necklace she found
that a jewel, more beautiful than any of the others, had
been added to it; and she knew that the tear of her
humiliation had filled the vacant place.
And henceforth she often saw the face of Kasih: near
the bed of the dying, beside all who needed consolation,
kindness, and love, there she met him constantly. Near
him sometimes she caught a glimpse of bright Kasukah,
but for a while, more often of Kasuhama.
The face of the white-haired sister, however, had grown
very gentle and kind, and she whispered of a time when
Kasukah should take her place for ever—for Love and
Joy are eternal, but Sorrow has an end. And with every
act of unselfish kindness and love that the Queen Olga
performed the weight and burden of the necklace grew
less, until the day that it fell from her of its own accord,
and she was able to give it back to Kasuhama. And
Hazil, the King, seeing how greatly Olga was changed,
in time grew gentle towards her, and loved her; for
Kasuhama softened his heart.
The Prince and the Lions.
IN an Eastern city there once lived a young Prince
named Azgid. He was virtuous and accomplished,
but had one fault—he was a bit of a coward!
Prince Azgid's father had recently died, and he was
looking forward to his coronation. A few days before
the day fixed for the ceremony, the old Vizier called
upon the Prince and informed His Royal Highness that
before he could ascend the throne he must in accordance
with an ancient custom, fight a certain huge red lion
which was kept in a den within the precincts of the
The Prince, upon hearing this, was so frightened that
he made up his mind to run away. He rose in the night,
dressed himself hastily, mounted his horse, and left the
city. Thus he journeyed for three days.
In the course of the third day, as he rode through a
beautiful thickly-wooded country, he heard the sound of
exquisite music, and presently overtook a handsome
youth, who was leading a few sheep, and playing upon
The young man having courteously saluted the
stranger, Prince Azgid begged him to go on playing, for
never in his life before, said the Prince, had he listened
to such enchanting strains.
The player then told Azgid that he was the slave of
the wealthy shepherd named Oaxus, to whose abode,
which was close at hand, he offered to conduct the
The Prince gladly accepted this invitation, and in a
few moments was entering the house of Oaxus, who
accorded him a hearty welcome, and placed food and
drink before him. When Azgid had finished his meal,
he felt it incumbent upon him to make some sort of explanation
to his host.
"Doubtless," said he, "you wonder who I am, and
what is my errand in coming hither? I can tell you this
much—that I am a Prince whom trouble has driven from
home. Pardon me if I do not divulge my name; that
is a secret which must be securely locked within my own
breast. If convenient to you, I would gladly remain in
this delightsome spot. I have ample means, and can
remunerate you for your kindness."
Oaxus assured his guest that nothing would give him
greater pleasure than to entertain him for as long a
period as he cared to stay, and he begged him not to
think of offering any remuneration.
"And now, Isdril," added Oaxus, addressing his
slave, "show the Prince our fountains and waterfalls, our
rocks and vales, for I perceive that he is one who can
appreciate Nature's beauties."
The youth took up his flute and went out with the
After wandering awhile amidst romantic scenery, the
two young men sat down to rest upon a rock in a shady
valley. The slave put his flute to his lips, and began to
play. The prince loved music passionately, and the
idea had already occurred to him that, if he ever left this
fair retreat, he would like to purchase from Oaxus his
Suddenly Isdril broke the spell of the Prince's enjoyment
by rising to his feet, with the words: "It is time
for us to be going."
"Wherefore?" queried the Prince. "Why should we
quit this delicious spot so soon?"
"Because," replied the other, "the neighbourhood is
infested with lions. It is well, therefore, to retire early
within our abodes, and close the gates. Upon one
occasion I lagged behind, and see the consequence!"
He rolled up his sleeve and revealed a big scar upon
his arm. Azgid turned pale, and upon reaching the
house, informed his host that he had changed his mind
and found himself obliged to ride on farther. He
thanked Oaxus, bade farewell to him and to Isdril, and
Again he journeyed for three days, and came to a vast
desert, in the midst of which he beheld an Arab encampment.
Thankfully he rode up to the black tents, for both
he and his horse were worn out with hunger and
He was received by a dignified Sheik, to whom he
made the same speech that he had addressed to the
Sheik Hajaar, like the shepherd, answered to the
effect that he desired no other remuneration than the
pleasure of the Prince's society, and that he should be
delighted to keep his guest for ever, if so it might be.
He introduced Azgid to a large number of his friends,
and provided for his use a magnificent steed.
A week passed. Day by day the Prince accompanied
the Sheik in his antelope-hunting expeditions, which he
enjoyed exceedingly. He quite thought that he was
now happily settled for life, when one night, after he
had retired to rest, Sheik Hajaar approached his couch,
"My son, I have come to tell you how pleased my
people are with you, more especially with the spirit you
have shown in the chase. But our life is not wholly
taken up in such easy recreations; we frequently engage
in hard fighting with other tribes. All my men are
seasoned warriors, and before they can have perfect
confidence in you it is necessary that they should have
some proof of your prowess. Two leagues to the south
is a range of hills infested with lions. Go, then, early
in the morning, mounted upon your horse, and armed
with sword and spear. Slay one of these fierce beasts
and bring us his skin; so shall we know that we may rely upon you in the day of
When the Sheik had left him, Azgid rose, dressed
himself, slipped quietly out of his tent, and bade a sorrowful, affectionate farewell to the horse which the
Sheik had allowed him to use, now tethered with the
others. Then he mounted his own steed, and rode forth
into the night.
By the middle of the next day, he was rejoiced to find
that he was leaving the desert, and entering a fair region
of hill and dale, meadows and streams. Soon he came
to a splendid palace, built of porphyry, and standing in
the midst of a magnificent garden.
The owner of the palace, a rich Emir, was sitting in
the porch, with his golden-haired daughter, Perizide.
Here, again, the Prince was most kindly received.
The interior of the building proved to be even more
beautiful than the exterior. The rooms blazed with
gold and precious stones; walls and ceilings were covered
with valuable paintings; the windows were of the costliest
stained glass. The Emir set before his guest a collection
of delicate viands.
The Prince made his accustomed speech, avowing his
rank, but concealing his name. He added also his
customary request, that he might be allowed to remain
for a time in the house of his present entertainer.
The Emir replied politely that the prince was heartily
welcome to remain until the end of his life, if he chose to
do so. Then he begged his guest to excuse him for a
few minutes, as he was expecting some friends, and
wished to make preparations for their reception.
Thus Azgid was left alone with Perizide, with whom he
was already in love. She took him into the garden,
after exploring the beauties of which the pair returned
to the house.
The palace, now illuminated from top to bottom, was
full of company. The evening passed merrily. Observing
a lute which lay upon a couch, the music-loving
young Prince begged Perizide to play to him. In the
midst of his enjoyment, however, he was startled by a
strange, loud sound, and asked his fair companion what
it might be.
"Oh!" replied she, with a laugh, "that is only Boulak,
our black porter, indulging in a yawn."
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Azgid; "what uncommonly
good lungs he must have!"
After the other guests had left, and Perizide had
gone to bed, the Emir and the Prince chatted and smoked
together for some time. By-and-by, the former offered
to conduct the latter to his sleeping apartment. When
they came to the foot of the grand staircase, which was
of white marble, Azgid, looking up, was horrified to
behold an enormous black lion stretched upon the topmost
"What is that?" faltered he.
"That," returned his host, "is Boulak, our black
porter. He is a tame lion, and will not harm you, if you
are not afraid of him. He knows when any one fears
him and then becomes ferocious."
"I fear him greatly!" whispered the Prince.
As he could not be persuaded to mount the stairs,
he had to return to the saloon, and repose upon one of
After the Emir had left him, Azgid carefully locked
the door and fastened the windows. Then he lay down,
but not to sleep. For he could hear the lion walking
about, and once the beast actually came to the door, and
uttering a terrific roar, sprang against it with his forepaws.
The poor Prince made sure that the door would burst
open, and that he should be devoured. Nothing of the
kind happened, however. In a few moments Boulak
went upstairs, and came down no more that night.
Azgid lay thinking. Evidently he had flown in the
face of Providence when he had fled from the lion at
home. Since then, lions had met him at every turn.
He resolved to submit to what was so clearly his
destined duty—to return home and fulfil the condition
In the morning, therefore, he told the Emir the whole
truth. The kind old man had been acquainted with
Azgid's father, the King Almamoun. He highly
approved of the young man's resolution, and, with a
parting blessing, sped him on his way. But the Prince
had no opportunity of making his adieux to the fair
Then Azgid rode back to the Arab camp, and confessed
all to the good Sheik Hajaar. He also inquired
after the beautiful horse.
"He is well," replied the other, "and I should be
gratified if you could stay with us and use him again
But it would be wrong to hinder you from your pious,
undertaking. Return to your home, and do your duty
like a man."
Azgid next visited Oaxus, to whom, as to the others,
he revealed his name and parentage, confessed his fault,
and expressed his repentance.
"Go, my friend!" said the kindly shepherd, "and may
Heaven give you strength to persevere in your laudable
"Farewell!" answered Azgid; "greet Isdril from me,
and tell him that I hope some day to return and listen
to his sweet music in spite of the lions."
Without further interruption, the Prince rode straight
home, and announced to the old Vizier his intention to
fight the lion.
The old man wept tears of joy at his Prince's return,
and it was arranged that the combat should take place
in a week's time.
When the hour came, and the Prince entered the
arena, the lion gave a loud roar, and approached his
opponent slowly, with fierce looks. Azgid did not quail.
With steady gaze he advanced, spear in hand. Suddenly
the lion bounded forward, and, with another roar, sprang
clean over the Prince's head. Then he ran joyously up
to him, and began licking his hands with every demonstration
The Vizier called out to the Prince that he had
conquered, and bade him leave the arena. The lion
followed like a dog.
"As you now see, Prince Azgid," said the old Minister,
"the lion is a tame one, and would injure no one. You,
however, were ignorant of this fact, and have satisfactorily
proved your courage and valour by your readiness to
fight him. Now all will know that you are worthy to
ascend the throne of your heroic ancestors."
Two men—one old, the other very young—came forward
to congratulate the Prince. They were Oaxus and Isdril.
"Prince Azgid," said the old shepherd, "as a memento
of this happy day, allow me to make you a present."
So saying, he pushed forward his slave, Isdril.
"I heartily thank you, Oaxus!" said the Prince,
"and you, Isdril, are no longer a slave. From this
moment you are free; but you shall be my companion,
and delight me with your skill upon the flute."
Presently another little group presented itself. It
was composed of Sheik Hajaar, some of his Arabs, and
the horse which the Prince had learned to love.
"Azgid!" said the Sheik, "I congratulate you heartily,
and beg your acceptance of this steed."
The Prince thanked and embraced the Sheik, and
kissed the beautiful creature, who returned his caresses.
The Emir was the next person to appear upon the
scene. He was surrounded by a brilliant retinue, with
music and banners.
"I have come to congratulate you," said he to the
Prince. "I have brought you no present, but I and all
my belongings are yours."
"I am rejoiced to see you, noble Emir!" replied
Azgid. "And how is your lovely daughter? As soon
as I am crowned, I intend to set off at lightning speed
to visit her!"
"That will be needless," said the Emir; "come with
me." And he led the young man to a veiled lady, who
sat upon a white horse. It was Perizide!
Then, by order of the Vizier, the whole procession
wended its way towards the palace.
Many thoughts and emotions stirred within the breast
of the young Prince. "When I fled from duty," reflected
he, "everything went against me; now that I have
fulfilled it, fresh happiness meets me at every step."
The coronation—and also a wedding—took place on
the same day. Azgid and Perizide reigned long and
happily. By the King's command, his adventures were
recorded in the annals of the kingdom. And over the
door of his palace were inscribed, in golden letters, these
words: "Never run from the lion."
Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld.,
London and Aylesbury