Sir Buzz by Flora Annie Steel
Once upon a time a soldier died, leaving a widow and one son. They
were dreadfully poor, and at last matters became so bad that they had
nothing left in the house to eat.
'Mother,' said the son, 'give me four shillings, and I will go seek my
fortune in the wide world.'
'Alas!' answered the mother, 'and where am I, who haven't a farthing
wherewith to buy bread, to find four shillings?'
'There is that old coat of my father's,' returned the lad; 'look in
the pocket—perchance there is something there.'
So she looked, and behold! there were six shillings hidden away at the
very bottom of the pocket!
'More than I bargained for,' quoth the lad, laughing.' See, mother,
these two shillings are for you; you can live on that till I return,
the rest will pay my way until I find my fortune.'
So he set off to find his fortune, and on the way he saw a tigress,
licking her paw, and moaning mournfully. He was just about to run
away from the terrible creature, when she called to him faintly,
saying, 'Good lad, if you will take out this thorn for me, I shall be
for ever grateful.'
'Not I!' answered the lad. 'Why, if I begin to pull it out, and it
pains you, you will kill me with a pat of your paw.'
[Illustration: Boy pulling thorn out of a tigress's paw]
'No, no!' cried the tigress, 'I will turn my face to this tree, and
when the pain comes I will pat it.'
To this the soldier's son agreed; so he pulled out the thorn, and when
the pain came the tigress gave the tree such a blow that the trunk
split all to pieces. Then she turned towards the soldier's son, and
said gratefully, 'Take this box as a reward, my son, but do not open
it until you have travelled nine miles'
So the soldier's son thanked the tigress, and set off with the box to
find his fortune. Now when he had gone five miles, he felt certain
that the box weighed more than it had at first, and every step he took
it seemed to grow heavier and heavier. He tried to struggle on—
though it was all he could do to carry the box—until he had gone
about eight miles and a quarter, when his patience gave way. 'I
believe that tigress was a witch, and is playing off her tricks upon
me,' he cried, 'but I will stand this nonsense no longer. Lie there,
you wretched old box!—heaven knows what is in you, and I don't care.'
So saying, he flung the box down on the ground: it burst open with
the shock, and out stepped a little old man. He was only one span
high, but his beard was a span and a quarter long, and trailed upon
The little mannikin immediately began to stamp about and scold the lad
roundly for letting the box down so violently.
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son, scarcely able to restrain a
smile at the ridiculous little figure, 'but you are weighty for your
size, old gentleman! And what may your name be?'
'Sir Buzz!' snapped the one-span mannikin, still stamping about in a
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son once more, 'if you are
all the box contained, I am glad I didn't trouble to carry it
'That's not polite,' snarled the mannikin; 'perhaps if you had carried
it the full nine miles you might have found something better; but
that's neither here nor there. I'm good enough for you, at any rate,
and will serve you faithfully according to my mistress's orders.'
'Serve me!—then I wish to goodness you'd serve me with some dinner,
for I am mighty hungry! Here are four shillings to pay for it.'
No sooner had the soldier's son said this and given the money, than
with a whiz! boom! bing! like a big bee, Sir Buzz flew through
the air to a confectioner's shop in the nearest town. There he stood,
the one-span mannikin, with the span and a quarter beard trailing on
the ground, just by the big preserving pan, and cried in ever so loud
a voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!'
The confectioner looked round the shop, and out of the door, and down
the street, but could see no one, for tiny Sir Buzz was quite hidden
by the preserving pan. Then the mannikin called out louder still,
'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!' And when the
confectioner looked in vain for his customer, Sir Buzz grew angry, and
ran and pinched him on the legs, and kicked him on the foot, saying,
'Impudent knave! do you mean to say you can't see me? Why, I
was standing by the preserving pan all the time!'
The confectioner apologised humbly, and hurried away to bring out his
best sweets for his irritable little customer. Then Sir Buzz chose
about a hundredweight of them, and said, 'Quick, tie them up in
something and give them into my hand; I'll carry them home.'
'They will be a good weight, sir,' smiled the confectioner.
'What business is that of yours, I should like to know?' snapped Sir
Buzz. 'Just you do as you're told, and here is your money.' So
saying he jingled the four shillings in his pocket.
'As you please, sir,' replied the man cheerfully, as he tied up the
sweets into a huge bundle and placed it on the little mannikin's
outstretched hand, fully expecting him to sink under the weight; when
lo! with a boom! bing! he whizzed off with the money still in
He alighted at a corn-chandler's shop, and, standing behind a basket
of flour, called out at the top of his voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler,
bring me flour!'
And when the corn-chandler looked round the shop, and out of the
window, and down the street, without seeing anybody, the one-span
mannikin, with his beard trailing on the ground, cried again louder
than before, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!'
Then on receiving no answer, he flew into a violent rage, and ran and
bit the unfortunate corn-chandler on the leg, pinched him, and kicked
him, saying, 'Impudent varlet! don't pretend you couldn't see
me! Why, I was standing close beside you behind that basket!'
So the corn-chandler apologised humbly for his mistake, and asked Sir
Buzz how much flour he wanted.
'Two hundredweight,' replied the mannikin, 'two hundredweight, neither
more nor less. Tie it up in a bundle, and I'll take it with me.'
'Your honour has a cart or beast of burden with you, doubtless?' said
the chandler, 'for two hundredweight is a heavy load.'
'What's that to you?' shrieked Sir Buzz, stamping his foot, 'isn't it
enough if I pay for it?' And then he jingled the money in his pocket
So the corn-chandler tied up the flour in a bundle, and placed it in
the mannikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting it would crush him,
when, with a whiz! Sir Buzz flew off, with the shillings still in his
pocket. Boom! bing! boom!
The soldier's son was just wondering what had become of his one-span
servant, when, with a whir! the little fellow alighted beside him, and
wiping his face with his handkerchief, as if he were dreadfully hot
and tired, said thoughtfully, 'Now I do hope I've brought enough, but
you men have such terrible appetites!'
'More than enough, I should say,' laughed the lad, looking at the huge
Then Sir Buzz cooked the girdle-cakes, and the soldier's son ate three
of them and a handful of sweets; but the one-span mannikin gobbled up
all the rest, saying at each mouthful, 'You men have such terrible
appetites—such terrible appetites!'
After that, the soldier's son and his servant Sir Buzz travelled ever
so far, until they came to the King's city. Now the King had a
daughter called Princess Blossom, who was so lovely, and tender, and
slim, and fair, that she only weighed five flowers. Every morning she
was weighed in golden scales, and the scale always turned when the
fifth flower was put in, neither less nor more.
Now it so happened that the soldier's son by chance caught a glimpse
of the lovely, tender, slim, and fair Princess Blossom, and, of
course, he fell desperately in love with her. He would neither sleep
nor eat his dinner, and did nothing all day long but say to his
faithful mannikin, 'Oh, dearest Sir Buzz! oh, kind Sir Buzz!—carry me
to the Princess Blossom, that I may see and speak to her.'
'Carry you!' snapped the little fellow scornfully, 'that's a likely
story! Why, you're ten times as big as I am. You should carry
Nevertheless, when the soldier's son begged and prayed, growing pale
and pining away with thinking of the Princess Blossom, Sir Buzz, who
had a kind heart, was moved, and bade the lad sit on his hand. Then
with a tremendous boom! bing! boom! they whizzed away and were
in the palace in a second. Being night-time, the Princess was asleep;
nevertheless the booming wakened her and she was quite frightened to
see a handsome young man kneeling beside her. She began of course to
scream, but stopped at once when the soldier's son with the greatest
politeness, and in the most elegant of language, begged her not to be
alarmed. And after that they talked together about everything
delightful, while Sir Buzz stood at the door and did sentry; but he
stood a brick up on end first, so that he might not seem to pry upon
the young people.
Now when the dawn was just breaking, the soldier's son and Princess
Blossom, wearied of talking, fell asleep; whereupon Sir Buzz, being a
faithful servant, said to himself, 'Now what is to be done? If my
master remains here asleep, some one will discover him, and he will be
killed as sure as my name is Buzz; but if I wake him, ten to one he
will refuse to go.'
[Illustration: Soldier's son kneeling beside Princess Blossom's bed
as they talk]
So without more ado he put his hand under the bed, and bing!
boom! carried it into a large garden outside the town. There he
set it down in the shade of the biggest tree, and pulling up the next
biggest one by the roots, threw it over his shoulder, and marched up
and down keeping guard.
Before long the whole town was in a commotion, because the Princess
Blossom had been carried off, and all the world and his wife turned
out to look for her. By and by the one-eyed Chief Constable came to
the garden gate.
'What do you want here?' cried valiant Sir Buzz, making passes at him
with the tree.
The Chief Constable with his one eye could see nothing save the
branches, but he replied sturdily, 'I want the Princess Blossom!'
'I'll blossom you! Get out of my garden, will you?' shrieked
the one-span mannikin, with his one and quarter span beard trailing on
the ground; and with that he belaboured the Constable's pony so hard
with the tree that it bolted away, nearly throwing its rider.
The poor man went straight to the King, saying, 'Your Majesty! I am
convinced your Majesty's daughter, the Princess Blossom, is in your
Majesty's garden, just outside the town, as there is a tree there
which fights terribly.'
Upon this the King summoned all his horses and men, and going to the
garden tried to get in; but Sir Buzz behind the tree routed them all,
for half were killed, and the rest ran away. The noise of the battle,
however, awoke the young couple, and as they were now convinced they
could no longer exist apart, they determined to fly together. So when
the fight was over, the soldier's son, the Princess Blossom, and Sir
Buzz set out to see the world.
Now the soldier's son was so enchanted with his good luck in winning
the Princess, that he said to Sir Buzz, 'My fortune is made already;
so I shan't want you any more, and you can go back to your mistress.'
'Pooh!' said Sir Buzz. 'Young people always think so; however, have
it your own way, only take this hair out of my beard, and if you
should get into trouble, just burn it in the fire. I'll come
to your aid.'
So Sir Buzz boomed off, and the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom
lived and travelled together very happily, until at last they lost
their way in a forest, and wandered about for some time without any
food. When they were nearly starving, a Brâhman found them, and
hearing their story said, 'Alas! you poor children!—come home with
me, and I will give you something to eat.'
Now had he said 'I will eat you,' it would have been much nearer the
mark, for he was no Brâhman, but a dreadful vampire, who loved to
devour handsome young men and slender girls. But, knowing nothing of
all this, the couple went home with him quite cheerfully. He was most
polite, and when they arrived at his house, said, 'Please get ready
whatever you want to eat, for I have no cook. Here are my keys; open
all my cupboards save the one with the golden key. Meanwhile I will
go and gather firewood.'
Then the Princess Blossom began to prepare the food, while the
soldier's son opened all the cupboards. In them he saw lovely jewels,
and dresses, and cups and platters, such bags of gold and silver, that
his curiosity got the better of his discretion, and, regardless of the
Brâhman's warning, he said, 'I will see what wonderful thing is
hidden in the cupboard with the golden key.' So he opened it, and lo!
it was full of human skulls, picked quite clean, and beautifully
polished. At this dreadful sight the soldier's son flew back to the
Princess Blossom, and said, 'We are lost! we are lost!—this is no
Brâhman, but a horrid vampire!'
At that moment they heard him at the door, and the Princess, who was
very brave and kept her wits about her, had barely time to thrust the
magic hair into the fire, before the vampire, with sharp teeth and
fierce eyes, appeared. But at the selfsame moment a boom! boom!
binging noise was heard in the air, coming nearer and nearer.
Whereupon the vampire, who knew very well who his enemy was, changed
into a heavy rain pouring down in torrents, hoping thus to drown Sir
Buzz, but he changed into the storm wind beating back the
rain. Then the vampire changed to a dove, but Sir Buzz, pursuing it
as a hawk, pressed it so hard that it had barely time to change into a
rose, and drop into King Indra's lap as he sat in his celestial court
listening to the singing of some dancing girls. Then Sir Buzz, quick
as thought, changed into an old musician, and standing beside the bard
who was thrumming the guitar, said, 'Brother, you are tired; let
And he played so wonderfully, and sang with such piercing sweetness,
that King Indra said, 'What shall I give you as a reward? Name what
you please, and it shall be yours.'
Then Sir Buzz said, 'I only ask the rose that is in your Majesty's
'I had rather you asked more, or less,' replied King Indra; 'it is but
a rose, yet it fell from heaven; nevertheless it is yours.'
So saying, he threw the rose towards the musician, and lo! the petals
fell in a shower on the ground. Sir Buzz went down on his knees and
instantly gathered them up; but one petal escaping, changed into a
mouse. Whereupon Sir Buzz, with the speed of lightning, turned into a
cat, which caught and gobbled up the mouse.
Now all this time the Princess Blossom and the soldier's son,
shivering and shaking, were awaiting the issue of the combat in the
vampire's hut; when suddenly, with a bing! boom! Sir Buzz
arrived victorious, shook his head, and said, 'You two had better go
home, for you are not fit to take care of yourselves.'
Then he gathered together all the jewels and gold in one hand, placed
the Princess and the soldier's son in the other, and whizzed away
home, to where the poor mother—who all this time had been living on
the two shillings—was delighted to see them.
Then with a louder boom! bing! boom! than usual, Sir Buzz,
without even waiting for thanks, whizzed out of sight, and was never
seen or heard of again.
But the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived happily ever