BOOTS WHO MADE THE PRINCESS SAY "THAT'S A STORY"
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
ONCE upon a time there was a King who had a daughter, and she was such
a dreadful storyteller that the like of her was not to be found far or
near. So the King gave out, that if anyone could tell such a string of
lies as would get her to say, "That's a story," he should have her to
wife, and half the kingdom besides. Well, many came, as you may fancy,
to try their luck, for everyone would have been very glad to have the
Princess, to say nothing of the kingdom; but they all cut a sorry
figure, for the Princess was so given to storytelling, that all their
lies went in at one ear and out of the other. Among the rest came
three brothers to try their luck, and the two elder went first, but
they fared no better than those that had gone before them. Last of
all, the third, Boots, set off and found the Princess in the farmyard.
"Good morning," he said, "and thank you for nothing." "Good morning,"
said she, "and the same to you." Then she went on-
"You haven't such a fine farmyard as ours, I'll be bound; for when two
shepherds stand, one at each end of it, and blow their ram's horns, the
one can't hear the other."
"Haven't we though!" answered Boots; "ours is far bigger; for when a
calf starts to cross a field, it is a full-grown cow when it reaches
the other end."
"I dare say," said the Princess. "Well, but you haven't such a big ox,
after all, as ours yonder; for when two men sit, one on each horn, they
can't touch each other with a tweny-foot rule."
"Stuff!" said Boots; "is that all? Why, we have an ox who is so big,
that when two men sit, one on each horn, and each blows his great
mountain-trumpet, they can't hear one another."
"I dare say," said the Princess; "but you haven't so much milk as we,
I'll be bound; for we milk our cows into great pails, and carry them
indoors, and empty them into great tubs, and so we make great, great
"Oh! you do, do you?" said Boots. "Well, we milk ours into great
tubs, and then we put them in carts and drive them indoors, and then we
turn them out into great brewing vats, and so we make cheeses as big as
a great house. We had, too, a dun mare to tread the cheese well
together when it was making; but once she tumbled down into the cheese,
and we lost her; and after we had eaten at this cheese seven years, we
came upon a great dun mare, alive and kicking. Well, once after that I
was going to drive this mare to the mill, and her backbone snapped in
two; but I wasn't put out, not I; for I took a spruce sapling, and put
it into her for a backbone, and she had no other backbone all the while
we had her. But the sapling grew up into such a tall tree, that I
climbed right up to the sky by it, and when I got there I saw a lady
sitting and spinning the foam of the sea into pigs'-bristle ropes; but
just then the spruce-fir broke short off, and I couldn't get down
again; so the lady let me down by one of the ropes, and down I slipped
straight into a fox's hole, and who should sit there but my mother and
your father cobbling shoes; and just as I stepped in, my mother gave
your father such a box on the ear that it made his whiskers curl."
"That's a story!" said the Princess, "my father never did any such
thing in all his born days!"
So Boots got the Princess to wife, and half the kingdom besides.