The Grey Fairy Book
by Andrew Lang, Ed.
The Goblin Pony
The Story Of
of the Thief and
What Came of
The Story of
The Little Gray
Herr Lazarus and
The Story of the
Queen of the
Udea and Her
The White Wolf
the Magic Finger
The Dog and the
The Story of the
Three Sons of
The Story of the
The Jackal and
The Daughter 0f
Laughing Eye and
Weeping Eye, or
the Limping Fox
Long, Broad, and
The tales in the Grey Fairy Book are derived from many countries-
—Lithuania, various parts of Africa, Germany, France, Greece, and other
regions of the world. They have been translated and adapted by Mrs.
Dent, Mrs. Lang, Miss Eleanor Sellar, Miss Blackley, and Miss hang.
'The Three Sons of Hali' is from the last century 'Cabinet des Fees,' a
very large collection. The French author may have had some Oriental
original before him in parts; at all events he copied the Eastern
method of putting tale within tale, like the Eastern balls of carved
ivory. The stories, as usual, illustrate the method of popular fiction.
A certain number of incidents are shaken into many varying
combinations, like the fragments of coloured glass in the kaleidoscope.
Probably the possible combinations, like possible musical combinations,
are not unlimited in number, but children may be less sensitive in the
matter of fairies than Mr. John Stuart Mill was as regards music.
There was once upon a time a king who was so much beloved by his
subjects that he thought himself the happiest monarch in the whole
world, and he had everything his heart could desire. His palace was
filled with the rarest of curiosities, and his gardens with the
sweetest flowers, while in the marble stalls of his stables stood a row
of milk-white Arabs, with big brown eyes.
Strangers who had heard of the marvels which the king had collected,
and made long journeys to see them, were, however, surprised to find
the most splendid stall of all occupied by a donkey, with particularly
large and drooping ears. It was a very fine donkey; but still, as far
as they could tell, nothing so very remarkable as to account for the
care with which it was lodged; and they went away wondering, for they
could not know that every night, when it was asleep, bushels of gold
pieces tumbled out of its ears, which were picked up each morning by
After many years of prosperity a sudden blow fell upon the king in
the death of his wife, whom he loved dearly. But before she died, the
queen, who had always thought first of his happiness, gathered all her
strength, and said to him:
'Promise me one thing: you must marry again, I know, for the good of
your people, as well as of yourself. But do not set about it in a
hurry. Wait until you have found a woman more beautiful and better
formed than myself.'
'Oh, do not speak to me of marrying,' sobbed the king; 'rather let
me die with you!' But the queen only smiled faintly, and turned over on
her pillow and died.
For some months the king's grief was great; then gradually he began
to forget a little, and, besides, his counsellors were always urging
him to seek another wife. At first he refused to listen to them, but
by-and-by he allowed himself to be persuaded to think of it, only
stipulating that the bride should be more beautiful and attractive than
the late queen, according to the promise he had made her.
Overjoyed at having obtained what they wanted, the counsellors sent
envoys far and wide to get portraits of all the most famous beauties of
every country. The artists were very busy and did their best, but,
alas! nobody could even pretend that any of the ladies could compare
for a moment with the late queen.
At length, one day, when he had turned away discouraged from a fresh
collection of pictures, the king's eyes fell on his adopted daughter,
who had lived in the palace since she was a baby, and he saw that, if a
woman existed on the whole earth more lovely than the queen, this was
she! He at once made known what his wishes were, but the young girl,
who was not at all ambitious, and had not the faintest desire to marry
him, was filled with dismay, and begged for time to think about it.
That night, when everyone was asleep, she started in a little car drawn
by a big sheep, and went to consult her fairy godmother.
'I know what you have come to tell me,' said the fairy, when the
maiden stepped out of the car; 'and if you don't wish to marry him, I
will show you how to avoid it. Ask him to give you a dress that exactly
matches the sky. It will be impossible for him to get one, so you will
be quite safe.' The girl thanked the fairy and returned home again.
The next morning, when her father (as she had always called him)
came to see her, she told him that she could give him no answer until
he had presented her with a dress the colour of the sky. The king,
overjoyed at this answer, sent for all the choicest weavers and
dressmakers in the kingdom, and commanded them to make a robe the
colour of the sky without an instant's delay, or he would cut off their
heads at once. Dreadfully frightened at this threat, they all began to
dye and cut and sew, and in two days they brought back the dress, which
looked as if it had been cut straight out of the heavens! The poor girl
was thunderstruck, and did not know what to do; so in the night she
harnessed her sheep again, and went in search of her godmother.
'The king is cleverer than I thought,' said the fairy; 'but tell him
you must have a dress of moonbeams.'
And the next day, when the king summoned her into his presence, the
girl told him what she wanted.
'Madam, I can refuse you nothing,' said he; and he ordered the dress
to be ready in twenty-four hours, or every man should be hanged.
They set to work with all their might, and by dawn next day, the
dress of moonbeams was laid across her bed. The girl, though she could
not help admiring its beauty, began to cry, till the fairy, who heard
her, came to her help.
'Well, I could not have believed it of him!' said she; 'but ask for
a dress of sunshine, and I shall be surprised indeed if he manages
The goddaughter did not feel much faith in the fairy after her two
previous failures; but not knowing what else to do, she told her father
what she was bid.
The king made no difficulties about it, and even gave his finest
rubies and diamonds to ornament the dress, which was so dazzling, when
finished, that it could not be looked at save through smoked glasses!
When the princess saw it, she pretended that the sight hurt her
eyes, and retired to her room, where she found the fairy awaiting her,
very much ashamed of herself.
'There is only one thing to be done now,' cried she; 'you must
demand the skin of the ass he sets such store by. It is from that
donkey he obtains all his vast riches, and I am sure he will never give
it to you.'
The princess was not so certain; however, she went to the king, and
told him she could never marry him till he had given her the ass's
The king was both astonished and grieved at this new request, but
did not hesitate an instant. The ass was sacrificed, and the skin laid
at the feet of the princess.
The poor girl, seeing no escape from the fate she dreaded, wept
afresh, and tore her hair; when, suddenly, the fairy stood before her.
'Take heart,' she said, ' all will now go well! Wrap yourself in
this skin, and leave the palace and go as far as you can. I will look
after you. Your dresses and your jewels shall follow you underground,
and if you strike the earth whenever you need anything, you will have
it at once. But go quickly: you have no time to lose.'
So the princess clothed herself in the ass's skin, and slipped from
the palace without being seen by anyone.
Directly she was missed there was a great hue and cry, and every
corner, possible and impossible, was searched. Then the king sent out
parties along all the roads, but the fairy threw her invisible mantle
over the girl when they approached, and none of them could see her.
The princess walked on a long, long way, trying to find some one who
would take her in, and let her work for them; but though the cottagers,
whose houses she passed, gave her food from charity, the ass's skin was
so dirty they would not allow her to enter their houses. For her flight
had been so hurried she had had no time to clean it.
Tired and disheartened at her ill-fortune, she was wandering, one
day, past the gate of a farmyard, situated just outside the walls of a
large town, when she heard a voice calling to her. She turned and saw
the farmer's wife standing among her turkeys, and making signs to her
to come in.
'I want a girl to wash the dishes and feed the turkeys, and clean
out the pig-sty,' said the w omen, 'and, to judge by your dirty
clothes, you would not be too fine for the work.'
The girl accepted her offer with joy, and she was at once set to
work in a corner of the kitchen, where all the farm servants came and
made fun of her, and the ass's skin in which she was wrapped. But
by-and-by they got so used to the sight of it that it ceased to amuse
them, and she worked so hard and so well, that her mistress grew quite
fond of her. And she was so clever at keeping sheep and herding turkeys
that you would have thought she had done nothing else during her whole
One day she was sitting on the banks of a stream bewailing her
wretched lot, when she suddenly caught sight of herself in the water.
Her hair and part of her face was quite concealed by the ass's head,
which was drawn right over like a hood, and the filthy matted skin
covered her whole body. It was the first time she had seen herself as
other people saw her, and she was filled with shame at the spectacle.
Then she threw off her disguise and jumped into the water, plunging in
again and again, till she shone like ivory. When it was time to go back
to the farm, she was forced to put on the skin which disguised her, and
now seemed more dirty than ever; but, as she did so, she comforted
herself with the thought that to-morrow was a holiday, and that she
would be able for a few hours to forget that she was a farm girl, and
be a princess once more.
So, at break of day, she stamped on the ground, as the fairy had
told her, and instantly the dress like the sky lay across her tiny bed.
Her room was so small that there was no place for the train of her
dress to spread itself out, but she pinned it up carefully when she
combed her beautiful hair and piled it up on the top of her head, as
she had always worn it. When she had done, she was so pleased with
herself that she determined never to let a chance pass of putting on
her splendid clothes, even if she had to wear them in the fields, with
no one to admire her but the sheep and turkeys.
Now the farm was a royal farm, and, one holiday, when 'Donkey Skin'
(as they had nicknamed the princess) had locked the door of her room
and clothed herself in her dress of sunshine, the king's son rode
through the gate, and asked if he might come and rest himself a little
after hunting. Some food and milk were set before him in the garden,
and when he felt rested he got up, and began to explore the house,
which was famous throughout the whole kingdom for its age and beauty.
He opened one door after the other, admiring the old rooms, when he
came to a handle that would not turn. He stooped and peeped through the
keyhole to see what was inside, and was greatly astonished at beholding
a beautiful girl, clad in a dress so dazzling that he could hardly look
The dark gallery seemed darker than ever as he turned away, but he
went back to the kitchen and inquired who slept in the room at the end
of the passage. The scullery maid, they told him, whom everybody
laughed at, and called ' Donkey Skin;' and though he perceived there
was some strange mystery about this, he saw quite clearly there was
nothing to be gained by asking any more questions. So he rode back to
the palace, his head filled with the vision he had seen through the
All night long he tossed about, and awoke the next morning in a high
fever. The queen, who had no other child, and lived in a state of
perpetual anxiety about this one, at once gave him up for lost, and
indeed his sudden illness puzzled the greatest doctors, who tried the
usual remedies in vain. At last they told the queen that some secret
sorrow must be at the bottom of all this, and she threw herself on her
knees beside her son's bed, and implored him to confide his trouble to
her. If it was ambition to be king, his father would gladly resign the
cares of the crown, and suffer him to reign in his stead; or, if it was
love, everything should be sacrificed to get for him the wife he
desired, even if she were daughter of a king with whom the country was
at war at present!
'Madam,' replied the prince, whose weakness would hardly allow him
to speak, 'do not think me so unnatural as to wish to deprive my father
of his crown. As long as he lives I shall remain the most faithful of
his subjects! And as to the princesses you speak of, I have seen none
that I should care for as a wife, though I would always obey your
wishes, whatever it might cost me.'
'Ah! my son,' cried she, 'we will do anything in the world to save
your life ——and ours too, for if you die, we shall die also.'
'Well, then,' replied the prince, 'I will tell you the only thing
that will cure me —-a cake made by the hand of “Donkey Skin.” '
'Donkey Skin?' exclaimed the queen, who thought her son had gone
mad; 'and who or what is that?'
'Madam,' answered one of the attendants present, who had been with
the prince at the farm, “'Donkey Skin” is, next to the wolf, the most
disgusting creature on the face of the earth. She is a girl who wears a
black, greasy skin, and lives at your farmer's as hen-wife.'
'Never mind,' said the queen; 'my son seems to have eaten some of
her pastry. It is the whim of a sick man, no doubt; but send at once
and let her bake a cake.'
The attendant bowed and ordered a page to ride with the message.
Now it is by no means certain that 'Donkey Skin' had not caught a
glimpse of the prince, either when his eyes looked through the keyhole,
or else from her little window, which was over the road. But whether
she had actually seen him or only heard him spoken of, directly she
received the queen's command, she flung off the dirty skin, washed
herself from head to foot, and put on a skirt and bodice of shining
silver. Then, locking herself into her room, she took the richest
cream, the finest flour, and the freshest eggs on the farm, and set
about making her cake.
As she was stirring the mixture in the saucepan a ring that she
sometimes wore in secret slipped from her finger and fell into the
dough. Perhaps 'Donkey Skin' saw it, or perhaps she did not; but, any
way, she went on stirring, and soon the cake was ready to be put in the
oven. When it was nice and brown she took off her dress and put on her
dirty skin, and gave the cake to the page, asking at the same time for
news of the prince. But the page turned his head aside, and would not
even condescend to answer.
The page rode like the wind, and as soon as he arrived at the palace
he snatched up a silver tray and hastened to present the cake to the
prince. The sick man began to eat it so fast that the doctors thought
he would choke; and, indeed, he very nearly did, for the ring was in
one of the bits which he broke off, though he managed to extract it
from his mouth without anyone seeing him.
The moment the prince was left alone he drew the ring from under his
pillow and kissed it a thousand times. Then he set his mind to find how
he was to see the owner—-for even he did not dare to confess that he
had only beheld 'Donkey Skin' through a keyhole, lest they should laugh
at this sudden passion. All this worry brought back the fever, which
the arrival of the cake had diminished for the time; and the doctors,
not knowing what else to say, informed the queen that her son was
simply dying of love. The queen, stricken with horror, rushed into the
king's presence with the news, and together they hastened to their
'My boy, my dear boy!' cried the king, 'who is it you want to marry?
We will give her to you for a bride; even if she is the humblest of our
slaves. What is there in the whole world that we would not do for you?'
The prince, moved to tears at these words, drew the ring, which was
an emerald of the purest water, from under his pillow.
'Ah, dear father and mother, let this be a proof that she whom I
love is no peasant girl. The finger which that ring fits has never been
thickened by hard work. But be her condition what it may, I will marry
The king and queen examined the tiny ring very closely, and agreed,
with their son, that the wearer could be no mere farm girl. Then the
king went out and ordered heralds and trumpeters to go through the
town, summoning every maiden to the palace. And she whom the ring
fitted would some day be queen.
First came all the princesses, then all the duchesses' daughters,
and so on, in proper order. But not one of them could slip the ring
over the tip of her finger, to the great joy of the prince, whom
excitement was fast curing. At last, when the high-born damsels had
failed, the shopgirls and chambermaids took their turn; but with no
'Call in the scullions and shepherdesses,' commanded the prince; but
the sight of their fat, red fingers satisfied everybody.
'There is not a woman left, your Highness,' said the chamberlain;
but the prince waved him aside.
'Have you sent for “Donkey Skin,” who made me the cake?' asked he,
and the courtiers began to laugh, and replied that they would not have
dared to introduce so dirty a creature into the palace.
'Let some one go for her at once,' ordered the king. ' I commanded
the presence of every maiden, high or low, and I meant it.'
The princess had heard the trumpets and the proclamations, and knew
quite well that her ring was at the bottom of it all. She, too, had
fallen in love with the prince in the brief glimpse she had had of him,
and trembled with fear lest someone else's finger might be as small as
her own. When, therefore, the messenger from the palace rode up to the
gate, she was nearly beside herself with delight. Hoping all the time
for such a summons, she had dressed herself with great care, putting on
the garment of moonlight, whose skirt was scattered over with emeralds.
But when they began calling to her to come down, she hastily covered
herself with her donkey-skin and announced she was ready to present
herself before his Highness. She was taken straight into the hall,
where the prince was awaiting her, but at the sight of the donkey-skin
his heart sank. Had he been mistaken after all?
'Are you the girl,' he said, turning his eyes away as he spoke, 'are
you the girl who has a room in the furthest corner of the inner court
of the farmhouse?'
'Yes, my lord, I am,' answered she.
'Hold out your hand then,' continued the prince, feeling that he
must keep his word, whatever the cost, and, to the astonishment of
every one present, a little hand, white and delicate, came from beneath
the black and dirty skin. The ring slipped on with the utmost ease,
and, as it did so, the skin fell to the ground, disclosing a figure of
such beauty that the prince, weak as he was, fell on his knees before
her, while the king and queen joined their prayers to his. Indeed,
their welcome was so warm, and their caresses so bewildering, that the
princess hardly knew how to find words to reply, when the ceiling of
the hall opened, and the fairy godmother appeared, seated in a car made
entirely of white lilac. In a few words she explained the history of
the princess, and how she came to be there, and, without losing a
moment, preparations of the most magnificent kind were made for the
The kings of every country in the earth were invited, including, of
course, the princess's adopted father (who by this time had married a
widow), and not one refused.
But what a strange assembly it was! Each monarch travelled in the
way he thought most impressive; and some came borne in litters, others
had carriages of every shape and kind, while the rest were mounted on
elephants, tigers, and even upon eagles. So splendid a wedding had
never been seen before; and when it was over the king announced that it
was to be followed by a coronation, for he and the queen were tired of
reigning, and the young couple must take their place. The rejoicings
lasted for three whole months, then the new sovereigns settled down to
govern their kingdom, and made themselves so much beloved by their
subjects, that when they died, a hundred years later, each man mourned
them as his own father and mother.
[From le Cabinet de Fees.]
The Goblin Pony
'Don't stir from the fireplace to-night,' said old Peggy, 'for the
wind is blowing so violently that the house shakes; besides, this is
Hallow-e'en, when the witches are abroad, and the goblins, who are
their servants, are wandering about in all sorts of disguises, doing
harm to the children of men.'
'Why should I stay here?' said the eldest of the young people. 'No,
I must go and see what the daughter of old Jacob, the rope- maker, is
doing. She wouldn't close her blue eyes all night if I didn't visit her
father before the moon had gone down.'
'I must go and catch lobsters and crabs' said the second, 'and not
all the witches and goblins in the world shall hinder me.'
So they all determined to go on their business or pleasure, and
scorned the wise advice of old Peggy. Only the youngest child hesitated
a minute, when she said to him, 'You stay here, my little Richard, and
I will tell you beautiful stories.'
But he wanted to pick a bunch of wild thyme and some blackberries by
moonlight, and ran out after the others. When they got outside the
house they said: 'The old woman talks of wind and storm, but never was
the weather finer or the sky more clear; see how majestically the moon
stalks through the transparent clouds!'
Then all of a sudden they noticed a little black pony close beside
'Oh, ho!' they said, 'that is old Valentine's pony; it must have
escaped from its stable, and is going down to drink at the horse-pond.'
'My pretty little pony,' said the eldest, patting the creature with
his hand, 'you mustn't run too far; I'll take you to the pond myself.'
With these words he jumped on the pony's back and was quickly
followed by his second brother, then by the third, and so on, till at
last they were all astride the little beast, down to the small Richard,
who didn't like to be left behind.
On the way to the pond they met several of their companions, and
they invited them all to mount the pony, which they did, and the little
creature did not seem to mind the extra weight, but trotted merrily
The quicker it trotted the more the young people enjoyed the fun;
they dug their heels into the pony's sides and called out, 'Gallop,
little horse, you have never had such brave riders on your back
In the meantime the wind had risen again, and the waves began to
howl; but the pony did not seem to mind the noise, and instead of going
to the pond, cantered gaily towards the sea-shore.
Richard began to regret his thyme and blackberries, and the eldest
brother seized the pony by the mane and tried to make it turn round,
for he remembered the blue eyes of Jacob the rope- maker's daughter.
But he tugged and pulled in vain, for the pony galloped straight on
into the sea, till the waves met its forefeet. As soon as it felt the
water it neighed lustily and capered about with glee, advancing quickly
into the foaming billows. When the waves had covered the children's
legs they repented their careless behaviour, and cried out: 'The cursed
little black pony is bewitched. If we had only listened to old Peggy's
advice we shouldn't have been lost.'
The further the pony advanced, the higher rose the sea; at last the
waves covered the children's heads and they were all drowned.
Towards morning old Peggy went out, for she was anxious about the
fate of her grandchildren. She sought them high and low, but could not
find them anywhere. She asked all the neighbours if they had seen the
children, but no one knew anything about them, except that the eldest
had not been with the blue-eyed daughter of Jacob the rope-maker.
As she was going home, bowed with grief, she saw a little black pony
coming towards her, springing and curveting in every direction. When it
got quite near her it neighed loudly, and galloped past her so quickly
that in a moment it was out of her sight.
[From the French, Kletke.]
An Impossible Enchantment
There once lived a king who was much loved by his people, and he,
too, loved them warmly. He led a very happy life, but he had the
greatest dislike to the idea of marrying, nor had he ever felt the
slightest wish to fall in love. His subjects begged him to marry, and
at last he promised to try to do so. But as, so far, he had never cared
for any woman he had seen, he made up his mind to travel in hopes of
meeting some lady he could love.
So he arranged all the affairs of state in an orderly manner, and
set out, attended by only one equerry, who, though not very clever, had
most excellent good sense. These people indeed generally make the best
The king explored several countries, doing all he could to fall in
love, but in vain; and at the end of two years' journeys he turned his
face towards home, with as free a heart as when he set out.
As he was riding along through a forest he suddenly heard the most
awful miawing and shrieking of cats you can imagine. The noise drew
nearer, and nearer, and at last they saw a hundred huge Spanish cats
rush through the trees close to them. They were so closely packed
together that you could easily have covered them with a large cloak,
and all were following the same track. They were closely pursued by two
enormous apes, dressed in purple suits, with the prettiest and best
made boots you ever saw.
The apes were mounted on superb mastiffs, and spurred them on in hot
haste, blowing shrill blasts on little toy trumpets all the time.
The king and his equerry stood still to watch this strange hunt,
which was followed by twenty or more little dwarfs, some mounted on
wolves, and leading relays, and others with cats in leash. The dwarfs
were all dressed in purple silk liveries like the apes.
A moment later a beautiful young woman mounted on a tiger came in
sight. She passed close to the king, riding at full speed, without
taking any notice of him; but he was at once enchanted by her, and his
heart was gone in a moment.
To his great joy he saw that one of the dwarfs had fallen behind the
rest, and at once began to question him.
The dwarf told him that the lady he had just seen was the Princess
Mutinosa, the daughter of the king in whose country they were at that
moment. He added that the princess was very fond of hunting, and that
she was now in pursuit of rabbits.
The king then asked the way to the court, and having been told it,
hurried off, and reached the capital in a couple of hours.
As soon as he arrived, he presented himself to the king and queen,
and on mentioning his own name and that of his country, was received
with open arms. Not long after, the princess returned, and hearing that
the hunt had been very successful, the king complimented her on it, but
she would not answer a word.
Her silence rather surprised him, but he was still more astonished
when he found that she never spoke once all through supper-time.
Sometimes she seemed about to speak, but whenever this was the case her
father or mother at once took up the conversation. However, this
silence did not cool the king's affection, and when he retired to his
rooms at night he confided his feelings to his faithful equerry. But
the equerry was by no means delighted at his king's love affair, and
took no pains to hide his disappointment.
'But why are you vexed?' asked the king. 'Surely the princess is
beautiful enough to please anyone?'
'She is certainly very handsome,' replied the equerry, 'but to be
really happy in love something more than beauty is required. To tell
the truth, sire,' he added, 'her expression seems to me hard.'
'That is pride and dignity,' said the king, 'and nothing can be more
'Pride or hardness, as you will,' said the equerry; 'but to my mind
the choice of so many fierce creatures for her amusements seems to tell
of a fierce nature, and I also think there is something suspicious in
the care taken to prevent her speaking.'
The equerry's remarks were full of good sense; but as opposition is
only apt to increase love in the hearts of men, and especially of kings
who hate being contradicted, this king begged, the very next day, for
the hand of the Princess Mutinosa. It was granted him on two
The first was that the wedding should take place the very next day;
and the second, that he should not speak to the princess till she was
his wife; to all of which the king agreed, in spite of his equerry's
objections, so that the first word he heard his bride utter was the
'Yes' she spoke at their marriage.
Once married, however, she no longer placed any check on herself,
and her ladies-in-waiting came in for plenty of rude speeches—— even
the king did not escape scolding; but as he was a good- tempered man,
and very much in love, he bore it patiently. A few days after the
wedding the newly married pair set out for their kingdom without
leaving many regrets behind.
The good equerry's fears proved only too true, as the king found out
to his cost. The young queen made her self most disagreeable to all her
court, her spite and bad temper knew no bounds, and before the end of a
month she was known far and wide as a regular vixen.
One day, when riding out, she met a poor old woman walking along the
road, who made a curtsy and was going on, when the queen had her
stopped, and cried: 'You are a very impertinent person; don't you know
that I am the queen? And how dare you not make me a deeper curtsy?'
'Madam,' said the old woman, 'I have never learnt how to measure
curtsies; but I had no wish to fail in proper respect.'
'What!' screamed the queen; 'she dares to answer! Tie her to my
horse's tail and I'll just carry her at once to the best dancing-master in the town to learn how to curtsy.'
The old woman shrieked for mercy, but the queen would not listen,
and only mocked when she said she was protected by the fairies. At last
the poor old thing submitted to be tied up, but when the queen urged
her horse on he never stirred. In vain she spurred him, he seemed
turned to bronze. At the same moment the cord with which the old woman
was tied changed into wreaths of flowers, and she herself into a tall
and stately lady.
Looking disdainfully at the queen, she said, 'Bad woman, unworthy of
your crown; I wished to judge for myself whether all I heard of you was
true. I have now no doubt of it, and you shall see whether the fairies
are to be laughed at.'
So saying the fairy Placida (that was her name) blew a little gold
whistle, and a chariot appeared drawn by six splendid ostriches. In it
was seated the fairy queen, escorted by a dozen other fairies mounted
All having dismounted, Placida told her adventures, and the fairy
queen approved all she had done, and proposed turning Mutinosa into
bronze like her horse.
Placida, however, who was very kind and gentle, begged for a milder
sentence, and at last it was settled that Mutinosa should become her
slave for life unless she should have a child to take her place.
The king was told of his wife's fate and submitted to it, which, as
he could do nothing to help it, was the only course open to him.
The fairies then all dispersed, Placida taking her slave with her,
and on reaching her palace she said: 'You ought by rights to be
scullion, but as you have been delicately brought up the change might
be too great for you. I shall therefore only order you to sweep my
rooms carefully, and to wash and comb my little dog.'
Mutinosa felt there was no use in disobeying, so she did as she was
bid and said nothing.
After some time she gave birth to a most lovely little girl, and
when she was well again the fairy gave her a good lecture on her past
life, made her promise to behave better in future, and sent her back to
the king, her husband.
Placida now gave herself up entirely to the little princess who was
left in her charge. She anxiously thought over which of the fairies she
would invite to be godmothers, so as to secure the best gift, for her
At last she decided on two very kindly and cheerful fairies, and
asked them to the christening feast. Directly it was over the baby was
brought to them in a lovely crystal cradle hung with red silk curtains
embroidered with gold.
The little thing smiled so sweetly at the fairies that they decided
to do all they could for her. They began by naming her Graziella, and
then Placida said: 'You know, dear sisters, that the commonest form of
spite or punishment amongst us consists of changing beauty to ugliness,
cleverness to stupidity, and oftener still to change a person's form
altogether. Now, as we can only each bestow one gift, I think the best
plan will be for one of you to give her beauty, the other good
understanding, whilst I will undertake that she shall never be changed
into any other form.'
The two godmothers quite agreed, and as soon as the little princess
had received their gifts, they went home, and Placida gave herself up
to the child's education. She succeeded so well with it, and little
Graziella grew so lovely, that when she was still quite a child her
fame was spread abroad only too much, and one day Placida was surprised
by a visit from the Fairy Queen, who was attended by a very grave and
The queen began at once: 'I have been much surprised by your
behaviour to Mutinosa; she had insulted our whole race, and deserved
punishment. You might forgive your own wrongs if you chose, but not
those of others. You treated her very gently whilst she was with you,
and I come now to avenge our wrongs on her daughter. You have ensured
her being lovely and clever, and not subject to change of form, but I
shall place her in an enchanted prison, which she shall never leave
till she finds herself in the arms of a lover whom she herself loves.
It will be my care to prevent anything of the kind happening.'
The enchanted prison was a large high tower in the midst of the sea,
built of shells of all shapes and colours. The lower floor was like a
great bathroom, where the water was let in or off at will. The first
floor contained the princess's apartments, beautifully furnished. On
the second was a library, a large wardrobe-room filled with beautiful
clothes and every kind of linen, a music-room, a pantry with bins full
of the best wines, and a store-room with all manner of preserves,
bonbons, pastry and cakes, all of which remained as fresh as if just
out of the oven.
The top of the tower was laid out like a garden, with beds of the
loveliest flowers, fine fruit trees, and shady arbours and shrubs,
where many birds sang amongst the branches.
The fairies escorted Graziella and her governess, Bonnetta, to the
tower, and then mounted a dolphin which was waiting for them. At a
little distance from the tower the queen waved her wand and summoned
two thousand great fierce sharks, whom she ordered to keep close guard,
and not to let a soul enter the tower
The good governess took such pains with Graziella's education that
when she was nearly grown up she was not only most accomplished, but a
very sweet, good girl.
One day, as the princess was standing on a balcony, she saw the most
extraordinary figure rise out of the sea. She quickly called Bonnetta
to ask her what it could be. It looked like some kind of man, with a
bluish face and long sea-green hair. He was swimming towards the tower,
but the sharks took no notice of him.
'It must be a merman,' said Bonnetta.
'A man, do you say?' cried Graziella; 'let us hurry down to the door
and see him nearer.'
When they stood in the doorway the merman stopped to look at the
princess and made many signs of admiration. His voice was very hoarse
and husky, but when he found that he was not understood he took to
signs. He carried a little basket made of osiers and filled with rare
shells, which he presented to the princess.
She took it with signs of thanks; but as it was getting dusk she
retired, and the merman plunged back into the sea.
When they were alone, Graziella said to her governess: 'What a
dreadful-looking creature that was! Why do those odious sharks let him
come near the tower? I suppose all men are not like him?'
'No, indeed,' replied Bonnetta. 'I suppose the sharks look on him as
a sort of relation, and so did not attack him.'
A few days later the two ladies heard a strange sort of music, and
looking out of the window, there was the merman, his head crowned with
water plants, and blowing a great sea-shell with all his might.
They went down to the tower door, and Graziella politely accepted
some coral and other marine curiosities he had brought her. After this
he used to come every evening, and blow his shell, or dive and play
antics under tile princess's window. She contented herself with bowing
to him from the balcony, but she would not go down to the door in spite
of all his signs.
Some days later he came with a person of his own kind, but of
another sex. Her hair was dressed with great taste, and she had a
lovely voice. This new arrival induced the ladies to go down to the
door. They were surprised to find that, after trying various languages,
she at last spoke to them in their own, and paid Graziella a very
pretty compliment on her beauty.
The mermaid noticed that the lower floor was full of water. 'Why,'
cried she, ' that is just the place for us, for we can't live quite out
of water.' So saying, she and her brother swam in and took up a
position in the bathroom, the princess and her governess seating
themselves on the steps which ran round the room.
'No doubt, madam,' said the mermaid, 'you have given up living on
land so as to escape from crowds of lovers; but I fear that even here
you cannot avoid them, for my brother is already dying of love for you,
and I am sure that once you are seen in our city he will have many
She then went on to explain how grieved her brother was not to be
able to make himself understood, adding: 'I interpret for him, having
been taught several languages by a fairy.'
'Oh, then, you have fairies, too?' asked Graziella, with a sigh.
'Yes, we have,' replied the mermaid; 'but if I am not mistaken you
have suffered from the fairies on earth.'
The princess, on this, told her entire history to the mermaid, who
assured her how sorry she felt for her, but begged her not to lose
courage; adding, as she took her leave: Perhaps, some day, you may find
a way out of your difficulties.'
The princess was delighted with this visit and with the hopes the
mermaid held out. It was something to meet someone fresh to talk to.
'We will make acquaintance with several of these people,' she said
to her governess, 'and I dare say they are not all as hideous as the
first one we saw. Anyhow, we shan't be so dreadfully lonely.'
'Dear me,' said Bonnetta, ' how hopeful young people are to be sure!
As for me I feel afraid of these folk. But what do you think of the
lover you have captivated?'
'Oh, I could never love him,' cried the princess; 'I can't bear him.
But, perhaps, as his sister says they are related to the fairy Marina,
they may be of some use to us.'
The mermaid often returned, and each time she talked of her
brother's love, and each time Graziella talked of her longing to escape
from her prison, till at length the mermaid promised to bring the fairy
Marina to see her, in hopes she might suggest something.
Next day the fairy came with the mermaid, and the princess received
her with delight. After a little talk she begged Graziella to show her
the inside of the tower and let her see the garden on the top, for with
the help of crutches she could manage to move about, and being a fairy
could live out of water for a long time, provided she wetted her
forehead now and then.
Graziella gladly consented, and Bonnetta stayed below with the
When they were in the garden the fairy said: 'Let us lose no time,
but tell me how I can be of use to you.' Graziella then told all her
story and Marina replied: 'My dear princess, I can do nothing for you
as regards dry land, for my power does not reach beyond my own element.
I can only say that if you will honour my cousin by accepting his hand,
you could then come and live amongst us. I could teach you in a moment
to swim and dive with the best of us. I can harden your skin without
spoiling its colour. My cousin is one of the best matches in the sea,
and I will bestow so many gifts on him that you will be quite happy.'
The fairy talked so well and so long that the princess was rather
impressed, and promised to think the matter over.
Just as they were going to leave the garden they saw a ship sailing
nearer the tower than any other had done before. On the deck lay a
young man under a splendid awning, gazing at the tower through a
spy-glass; but before they could see anything clearly the ship moved
away, and the two ladies parted, the fairy promising to return shortly.
As soon as she was gone Graziella told her governess what she had
said. Bonnetta was not at all pleased at the turn matters were taking,
for she did not fancy being turned into a mermaid in her old age. She
thought the matter well over, and this was what she did. She was a very
clever artist, and next morning she began to paint a picture of a
handsome young man, with beautiful curly hair, a fine complexion, and
lovely blue eyes. When it was finished she showed it to Graziella,
hoping it would show her the difference there was between a fine young
man and her marine suitor.
The princess was much struck by the picture, and asked anxiously
whether there could be any man so good looking in the world. Bonnetta
assured her that there were plenty of them; indeed, many far handsomer.
'I can hardly believe that,' cried the princess; 'but, alas! If
there are, I don't suppose I shall ever see them or they me, so what is
the use? Oh, dear, how unhappy I am!'
She spent the rest of the day gazing at the picture, which certainly
had the effect of spoiling all the merman's hopes or prospects.
After some days, the fairy Marina came back to hear what was
decided; but Graziella hardly paid any attention to her, and showed
such dislike to the idea of the proposed marriage that the fairy went
off in a regular huff.
Without knowing it, the princess had made another conquest. On board
the ship which had sailed so near was the handsomest prince in the
world. He had heard of the enchanted tower, and determined to get as
near it as he could. He had strong glasses on board, and whilst looking
through them he saw the princess quite clearly, and fell desperately in
love with her at once. He wanted to steer straight for the tower and to
row off to it in a small boat, but his entire crew fell at his feet and
begged him not to run such a risk. The captain, too, urged him not to
attempt it. 'You will only lead us all to certain death,' he said.
'Pray anchor nearer land, and I will then seek a kind fairy I know, who
has always been most obliging to me, and who will, I am sure, try to
help your Highness.'
The prince rather unwillingly listened to reason. He landed at the
nearest point, and sent off the captain in all haste to beg the fairy's
advice and help. Meantime he had a tent pitched on the shore, and spent
all his time gazing at the tower and looking for the princess through
After a few days the captain came back, bringing the fairy with him.
The prince was delighted to see her, and paid her great attention. 'I
have heard about this matter,' she said; 'and, to lose no time, I am
going to send off a trusty pigeon to test the enchantment. If there is
any weak spot he is sure to find it out and get in. I shall bid him
bring a flower back as a sign of success; and if he does so I quite
hope to get you in too.'
'But,' asked the prince, 'could I not send a line by the pigeon to
tell the princess of my love?'
'Certainly,' replied the fairy, 'it would be a very good plan.'
So the prince wrote as follows:—-
'Lovely Princess,—-I adore you, and beg you to accept my heart,
and to believe there is nothing I will not do to end your
This note was tied round the pigeon's neck, and he flew off with it
at once. He flew fast till he got near the tower, when a fierce wind
blew so hard against him that he could not get on. But he was not to be
beaten, but flew carefully round the top of the tower till he came to
one spot which, by some mistake, had not been enchanted like the rest.
He quickly slipped into the arbour and waited for the princess.
Before long Graziella appeared alone, and the pigeon at once
fluttered to meet her, and seemed so tame that she stopped to caress
the pretty creature. As she did so she saw it had a pink ribbon round
its neck, and tied to the ribbon was a letter. She read it over several
times and then wrote this answer :—-
'You say you love me; but I cannot promise to love you without
seeing you. Send me your portrait by this faithful messenger. If I
return it to you, you must give up hope; but if I keep it you will know
that to help me will be to help yourself.—-GRAZIELA.
Before flying back the pigeon remembered about the flower, so,
seeing one in the princess's dress, he stole it and flew away.
The prince was wild with joy at the pigeon's return with the note.
After an hour's rest the trusty little bird was sent back again,
carrying a miniature of the prince, which by good luck he had with him.
On reaching the tower the pigeon found the princess in the garden.
She hastened to untie the ribbon, and on opening the miniature case
what was her surprise and delight to find it very like the picture her
governess had painted for her. She hastened to send the pigeon back,
and you can fancy the prince's joy when he found she had kept his
'Now,' said the fairy, 'let us lose no more time. I can only make
you happy by changing you into a bird, but I will take care to give you
back your proper shape at the right time.'
The prince was eager to start, so the fairy, touching him with her
wand, turned him into the loveliest humming-bird you ever saw, at the
same time letting him keep the power of speech. The pigeon was told to
show him the way.
Graziella was much surprised to see a perfectly strange bird, and
still more so when it flew to her saying, 'Good-morning, sweet
She was delighted with the pretty creature, and let him perch on her
finger, when he said, 'Kiss, kiss, little birdie,' which she gladly
did, petting and stroking him at the same time.
After a time the princess, who had been up very early, grew tired,
and as the sun was hot she went to lie down on a mossy bank in the
shade of the arbour. She held the pretty bird near her breast, and was
just falling asleep, when the fairy contrived to restore the prince to
his own shape, so that as Graziella opened her eyes she found herself
in the arms of a lover whom she loved in return!
At the same moment her enchantment came to an end. The tower began
to rock and to split. Bonnetta hurried up to the top so that she might
at least perish with her dear princess. Just as she reached the garden,
the kind fairy who had helped the prince arrived with the fairy
Placida, in a car of Venetian glass drawn by six eagles.
'Come away quickly,' they cried, 'the tower is about to sink!' The
prince, princess, and Bonnetta lost no time in stepping into the car,
which rose in the air just as, with a terrible crash, the tower sank
into the depths of the sea, for the fairy Marina and the mermen had
destroyed its foundations to avenge themselves on Graziella. Luckily
their wicked plans were defeated, and the good fairies took their way
to the kingdom of Graziella's parents.
They found that Queen Mutinosa had died some years ago, but her kind
husband lived on peaceably, ruling his country well and happily. He
received his daughter with great delight, and there were universal
rejoicings at the return of the lovely princess.
The wedding took place the very next day, and, for many days after,
balls, dinners, tournaments, concerts and all sorts of amusements went
on all day and all night.
All the fairies were carefully invited, and they came in great
state, and promised the young couple their protection and all sorts of
good gifts. Prince Blondel and Princess Graziella lived to a good old
age, beloved by every one, and loving each other more and more as time
The Story Of Dschemil and Dschemila
There was once a man whose name was Dschemil, and he had a cousin
who was called Dschemila. They had been betrothed by their parents when
they were children, and now Dschemil thought that the time had come for
them to be married, and he went two or three days' journey, to the
nearest big town, to buy furniture for the new house.
While he was away, Dschemila and her friends set off to the
neighbouring woods to pick up sticks, and as she gathered them she
found an iron mortar lying on the ground. She placed it on her bundle
of sticks, but the mortar would not stay still, and whenever she raised
the bundle to put it on her shoulders it slipped off sideways. At
length she saw the only way to carry the mortar was to tie it in the
very middle of her bundle, and had just unfastened her sticks, when she
heard her companions' voices.
'Dschemila, what are you doing? it is almost dark, and if you mean
to come with us you must be quick!'
But Dschemila only replied, 'You had better go back without me, for
I am not going to leave my mortar behind, if I stay here till
'Do as you like,' said the girls, and started on their walk home.
The night soon fell, and at the last ray of light the mortar
suddenly became an ogre, who threw Dschemila on his back, and carried
her off into a desert place, distant a whole month's journey from her
native town. Here he shut her into a castle, and told her not to fear,
as her life was safe. Then he went back to his wife, leaving Dschemila
weeping over the fate that she had brought upon herself.
Meanwhile the other girls had reached home, and Dschemila's mother
came out to look for her daughter.
'What have you done with her?' she asked anxiously.
'We had to leave her in the wood,' they replied, 'for she had picked
up an iron mortar, and could not manage to carry it.'
So the old woman set off at once for the forest, calling to her
daughter as she hurried along.
'Do go home,' cried the townspeople, as they heard her; 'we will go
and look for your daughter; you are only a woman, and it is a task that
needs strong men.'
But she answered, 'Yes, go; but I will go with you! Perhaps it will
be only her corpse that we shall find after all. She has most likely
been stung by asps, or eaten by wild beasts.'
The men, seeing her heart was bent on it, said no more, but told one
of the girls she must come with them, and show them the place where
they had left Dschemila. They found the bundle of wood lying where she
had dropped it, but the maiden was nowhere to be seen.
'Dschemila! Dschemila!' cried they; but nobody answered.
'If we make a fire, perhaps she will see it,' said one of the men.
And they lit a fire, and then went, one this way, and one that, through
the forest, to look for her, whispering to each other that if she had
been killed by a lion they would be sure to find some trace of it; or
if she had fallen asleep, the sound of their voices would wake her; or
if a snake had bitten her, they would at least come on her corpse.
All night they searched, and when morning broke and they knew no
more than before what had become of the maiden, they grew weary, and
said to the mother: 'It is no use. Let us go home, nothing has happened
to your daughter, except that she has run away with a man.'
'Yes, I will come,' answered she, 'but I must first look in the
river. Perhaps some one has thrown her in there.' But the maiden was
not in the river.
For four days the father and mother waited and watched for their
child to come back; then they gave up hope, and said to each other:
'What is to be done? What are we to say to the man to whom Dschemila is
betrothed? Let us kill a goat, and bury its head in the grave, and when
the man returns we must tell him Dschemila is dead.'
Very soon the bridegroom came back, bringing with him carpets and
soft cushions for the house of his bride. And as he entered the town
Dschemila's father met him, saying, 'Greeting to you. She is dead.'
At these words the young man broke into loud cries, and it was some
time before he could speak. Then he turned to one of the crowd who had
gathered round him, and asked: 'Where have they buried her?'
'Come to the churchyard with me,' answered he; and the young man
went with him, carrying with him some of the beautiful things he had
brought. These he laid on the grass and then began to weep afresh. All
day he stayed, and at nightfall he gathered up his stuffs and carried
them to his own house. But when the day dawned he took them in his arms
and returned to the grave, where he remained as long as it was light,
playing softly on his flute. And this he did daily for six months.
One morning, a man who was wandering through the desert, having lost
his way, came upon a lonely castle. The sun was very hot, and the man
was very tired, so he said to himself, 'I will rest a little in the
shadow of this castle.' He stretched himself out comfortably, and was
almost asleep, when he heard a voice calling to him softly:
'Are you a ghost,' it said, 'or a man?'
He looked up, and saw a girl leaning out of a window, and he
'I am a man, and a better one, too, than your father or your
'May all good luck be with you,' said she; 'but what has brought you
into this land of ogres and horrors?'
'Does an ogre really live in this castle?' asked he.
'Certainly he does,' replied the girl, 'and as night is not far off
he will be here soon. So, dear friend, depart quickly, lest he return
and snap you up for supper.'
'But I am so thirsty! ' said the man. 'Be kind, and give me some
drink, or else I shall die! Surely, even in this desert there must be
'Well, I have noticed that whenever the ogre brings back water he
always comes from that side; so if you follow the same direction
perhaps you may find some.'
The man jumped up at once and was about to start, when the maiden
spoke again: 'Tell me, where are you going?'
'Why do you want to know?'
'I have an errand for you; but tell me first whether you go east or
'I travel to Damascus.'
'Then do this for me. As you pass through our village, ask for a man
called Dschemil, and say to him: “Dschemila greets you, from the
castle, which lies far away, and is rocked by the wind. In my grave
lies only a goat. So take heart.” '
And the man promised, and went his way, till he came to a spring of
water. And he drank a great draught and then lay on the bank and slept
quietly. When he woke he said to himself, 'The maiden did a good deed
when she told me where to find water. A few hours more, and I should
have been dead. So I will do her bidding, and seek out her native town
and the man for whom the message was given.'
For a whole month he travelled, till at last he reached the town
where Dschemil dwelt, and as luck would have it, there was the young
man sitting before his door with his beard unshaven and his shaggy hair
hanging over his eyes.
'Welcome, stranger,' said Dschemil, as the man stopped. 'Where have
you come from?'
'I come from the west, and go towards the east,' he answered.
'Well, stop with us awhile, and rest and eat!' said Dschemil. And
the man entered; and food was set before him, and he sat down with the
father of the maiden and her brothers, and Dschemil. Only Dschemil
himself was absent, squatting on the threshold.
'Why do you not eat too?' asked the stranger. But one of the young
men whispered hastily: 'Leave him alone. Take no notice! It is only at
night that he ever eats.'
So the stranger went on silently with his food. Suddenly one of
Dschemil's brothers called out and said: 'Dschemil, bring us some
water! ' And the stranger remembered his message and said:
'Is there a man here named “Dschemil”? I lost my way in the desert,
and came to a castle, and a maiden looked out of the window and . . . '
'Be quiet,' they cried, fearing that Dschemil might hear. But
Dschemil had heard, and came forward and said:
'What did you see? Tell me truly, or I will cut off your head this
'My lord,' replied the stranger, 'as I was wandering, hot and tired,
through the desert, I saw near me a great castle, and I said aloud, “I
will rest a little in its shadow.” And a maiden looked out of a window
and said, “Are you a ghost or a man? “And I answered, “I am a man, and
a better one, too, than your father or your grandfather.” And I was
thirsty and asked for water, but she had none to give me, and I felt
like to die. Then she told me that the ogre, in whose castle she dwelt,
brought in water always from the same side, and that if I too went that
way most likely I should come to it. But before I started she begged me
to go to her native town, and if I met a man called Dschemil I was to
say to him, “Dschemila greets you, from the castle which lies far away,
and is rocked by the wind. In my grave lies only a goat. So take
Then Dschemil turned to his family and said: 'Is this true? and is
Dschemila not dead at all, but simply stolen from her home?'
'No, no,' replied they, 'his story is a pack of lies. Dschemila is
really dead. Everybody knows it.'
'That I shall see for myself,' said Dschemil, and, snatching up a
spade, hastened off to the grave where the goat's head lay buried.
And they answered, 'Then hear what really happened. When you were
away, she went with the other maidens to the forest to gather wood. And
there she found an iron mortar, which she wished to bring home; but she
could not carry it, neither would she leave it. So the maidens returned
without her, and as night was come, we all set out to look for her, but
found nothing. And we said, “The bridegroom will be here to-morrow, and
when he learns that she is lost, he will set out to seek her, and we
shall lose him too. Let us kill a goat, and bury it in her grave, and
tell him she is dead.” Now you know, so do as you will. Only, if you go
to seek her, take with you this man with whom she has spoken that he
may show you the way.' 'Yes; that is the best plan,' replied Dschemil;
'so give me food, and hand me my sword, and we will set out directly.'
But the stranger answered: 'I am not going to waste a whole month in
leading you to the castle! If it were only a day or two's journey I
would not mind; but a month—no!'
'Come with me then for three days,' said Dschemil, 'and put me in
the right road, and I will reward you richly.'
'Very well,' replied the stranger, 'so let it be.'
For three days they travelled from sunrise to sunset, then the
stranger said: 'Dschemil?'
'Yes,' replied he.
'Go straight on till you reach a spring, then go on a little
farther, and soon you will see the castle standing before you.'
'So I will,' said Dschemil.
'Farewell, then,' said the stranger, and turned back the way he had
It was six and twenty days before Dschemil caught sight of a green
spot rising out of the sandy desert, and knew that the spring was near
at last. He hastened his steps, and soon was kneeling by its side,
drinking thirstily of the bubbling water. Then he lay down on the cool
grass, and began to think. 'If the man was right, the castle must be
somewhere about. I had better sleep here to-night, and to-morrow I
shall be able to see where it is.' So he slept long and peacefully.
When he awoke the sun was high, and he jumped up and washed his face
and hands in the spring, before going on his journey. He had not walked
far, when the castle suddenly appeared before him, though a moment
before not a trace of it could be seen. 'How am I to get in?' he
thought. 'I dare not knock, lest the ogre should hear me. Perhaps it
would be best for me to climb up the wall, and wait to see what will
happen. So he did, and after sitting on the top for about an hour, a
window above him opened, and a voice said: 'Dschemil!' He looked up,
and at the sight of Dschemila, whom he had so long believed to be dead,
he began to weep.
'Dear cousin,' she whispered, 'what has brought you here?'
'My grief at losing you.'
'Oh! go away at once. If the ogre comes back he will kill you.'
'I swear by your head, queen of my heart, that I have not found you
only to lose you again! If I must die, well, I must!'
'Oh, what can I do for you?'
'Anything you like!'
'If I let you down a cord, can you make it fast under your arms, and
'Of course I can,' said he.
So Dschemila lowered the cord, and Dschemil tied it round him, and
climbed up to her window. Then they embraced each other tenderly, and
burst into tears of joy.
'But what shall I do when the ogre returns?' asked she.
'Trust to me,' he said.
Now there was a chest in the room, where Dschemila kept her clothes.
And she made Dschemil get into it, and lie at the bottom, and told him
to keep very still.
He was only hidden just in time, for the lid was hardly closed when
the ogre's heavy tread was heard on the stairs. He flung open the door,
bringing men's flesh for himself and lamb's flesh for the maiden. 'I
smell the smell of a man!' he thundered. 'What is he doing here?'
'How could any one have come to this desert place?' asked the girl,
and burst into tears.
'Do not cry,' said the ogre; 'perhaps a raven has dropped some
scraps from his claws.'
'Ah, yes, I was forgetting,' answered she. 'One did drop some bones
'Well, burn them to powder,' replied the ogre, 'so that I may
So the maiden took some bones and burned them, and gave them to the
ogre, saying, ' Here is the powder, swallow it.'
And when he had swallowed the powder the ogre stretched himself out
and went to sleep.
In a little while the man's flesh, which the maiden was cooking for
the ogre's supper, called out and said:
A man lies in the kist! '
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
The ogre moved sleepily, and asked, 'What did the meat say,
'Only that I must be sure to add salt.'
'Well, add salt.'
'Yes, I have done so,' said she.
The ogre was soon sound asleep again, when the man's flesh called
out a second time:
A man lies in the kist!'
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
'What did it say, Dschemila?' asked the ogre.
'Only that I must add pepper.'
'Well, add pepper.'
'Yes, I have done so,' said she.
The ogre had had a long day's hunting, and could not keep himself
awake. In a moment his eyes were tight shut, and then the man's flesh
called out for the third time:
A man lies in the kist,'
And the lamb's flesh answered:
'He is your brother,
And cousin of the other.'
'What did it say, Dschemila?' asked the ogre.
'Only that it was ready, and that I had better take it off the
'Then if it is ready, bring it to me, and I will eat it.'
So she brought it to him, and while he was eating she supped off the
lamb's flesh herself, and managed to put some aside for her cousin.
When the ogre had finished, and had washed his hands, he said to
Dschemila: 'Make my bed, for I am tired.'
So she made his bed, and put a nice soft pillow for his head, and
tucked him up.
'Father,' she said suddenly.
'Well, what is it?'
'Dear father, if you are really asleep, why are your eyes always
'Why do you ask that, Dschemila? Do you want to deal treacherously
'No, of course not, father. How could I, and what would be the use
'Well, why do you want to know?'
'Because last night I woke up and saw the whole place shining in a
red light, which frightened me.'
'That happens when I am fast asleep.'
'And what is the good of the pin you always keep here so carefully?'
'If I throw that pin in front of me, it turns into an iron
'And this darning needle?'
'That becomes a sea.'
'And this hatchet?'
'That becomes a thorn hedge, which no one can pass through. But why
do you ask all these questions? I am sure you have something in your
'Oh, I just wanted to know; and how could anyone find me out here?'
and she began to cry.
'Oh, don't cry, I was only in fun,' said the ogre.
He was soon asleep again, and a yellow light shone through the
'Come quick!' called Dschemil from the chest; 'we must fly now while
the ogre is asleep.'
'Not yet,' she said, 'there is a yellow light shining. I don't think
he is asleep.'
So they waited for an hour. Then Dschemil whispered again: 'Wake up!
There is no time to lose!'
'Let me see if he is asleep,' said she, and she peeped in, and saw a
red light shining. Then she stole back to her cousin, and asked, 'But
how are we to get out?'
'Get the rope, and I will let you down.'
So she fetched the rope, the hatchet, and the pin and the needles,
and said, 'Take them, and put them in the pocket of your cloak, and be
sure not to lose them.'
Dschemil put them carefully in his pocket, and tied the rope round
her, and let her down over the wall.
'Are you safe?' he asked.
'Then untie the rope, so that I may draw it up.'
And Dschemila did as she was told, and in a few minutes he stood
Now all this time the ogre was asleep, and had heard nothing. Then
his dog came to him and said, 'O, sleeper, are you having pleasant
dreams? Dschemila has forsaken you and run away.'
The ogre got out of bed, gave the dog a kick, then went back again,
and slept till morning.
When it grew light, he rose, and called, 'Dschemila! Dschemila!' but
he only heard the echo of his own voice! Then he dressed himself
quickly; buckled on his sword and whistled to his dog, and followed the
road which he knew the fugitives must have taken. 'Cousin,' said
Dschemila suddenly, and turning round as she spoke.
'What is it?' answered he.
'The ogre is coming after us. I saw him.'
'But where is he? I don't see him.'
'Over there. He only looks about as tall as a needle.'
Then they both began to run as fast as they could, while the ogre
and his dog kept drawing always nearer. A few more steps, and he would
have been by their side, when Dschemila threw the darning needle behind
her. In a moment it became an iron mountain between them and their
'We will break it down, my dog and I,' cried the ogre in a rage, and
they dashed at the mountain till they had forced a path through, and
came ever nearer and nearer.
'Cousin! ' said Dschemila suddenly.
'What is it?'
'The ogre is coming after us with his dog.'
'You go on in front then,' answered he; and they both ran on as fast
as they could, while the ogre and the dog drew always nearer and
'They are close upon us! ' cried the maiden, glancing behind, 'you
must throw the pin.'
So Dschemil took the pin from his cloak and threw it behind him, and
a dense thicket of thorns sprang up round them, which the ogre and his
dog could not pass through.
'I will get through it somehow, if I burrow underground,' cried he,
and very soon he and the dog were on the other side.
'Cousin,' said Dschemila, 'they are close to us now.'
'Go on in front, and fear nothing,' replied Dschemil.
So she ran on a little way, and then stopped.
'He is only a few yards away now,' she said, and Dschemil flung the
hatchet on the ground, and it turned into a lake.
'I will drink, and my dog shall drink, till it is dry,' shrieked the
ogre, and the dog drank so much that it burst and died. But the ogre
did not stop for that, and soon the whole lake was nearly dry. Then he
exclaimed, 'Dschemila, let your head become a donkey's head, and your
But when it was done, Dschemil looked at her in horror, and said, '
She is really a donkey, and not a woman at all! '
And he left her, and went home.
For two days poor Dschemila wandered about alone, weeping bitterly.
When her cousin drew near his native town, he began to think over his
conduct, and to feel ashamed of himself.
'Perhaps by this time she has changed back to her proper shape,' he
said to himself, 'I will go and see!'
So he made all the haste he could, and at last he saw her seated on
a rock, trying to keep off the wolves, who longed to have her for
dinner. He drove them off and said, 'Get up, dear cousin, you have had
a narrow escape.'
Dschemila stood up and answered, 'Bravo, my friend. You persuaded me
to fly with you, and then left me helplessly to my fate.'
'Shall I tell you the truth?' asked he.
'I thought you were a witch, and I was afraid of you.'
'Did you not see me before my transformation? and did you not watch
it happen under your very eyes, when the ogre bewitched me?'
'What shall I do?' said Dschemil. 'If I take you into the town,
everyone will laugh, and say, “Is that a new kind of toy you have got?
It has hands like a woman, feet like a woman, the body of a woman; but
its head is the head of an ass, and its hair is fur.” '
'Well, what do you mean to do with me?' asked Dschemila. 'Better
take me home to my mother by night, and tell no one anything about it.'
'So I will,' said he.
They waited where they were till it was nearly dark, then Dschemil
brought his cousin home.
'Is that Dschemil?' asked the mother when he knocked softly.
'Yes, it is.'
'And have you found her?'
'Yes, and I have brought her to you.'
'Oh, where is she? let me see her!' cried the mother.
'Here, behind me,' answered Dschemil.
But when the poor woman caught sight of her daughter, she shrieked,
and exclaimed, 'Are you making fun of me? When did I ever give birth to
'Hush!' said Dschemil, 'it is not necessary to let the whole world
know! And if you look at her body, you will see two scars on it.'
'Mother,' sobbed Dschemila, 'do you really not know your own
'Yes, of course I know her.'
'What are her two scars then?'
'On her thigh is a scar from the bite of a dog, and on her breast is
the mark of a burn, where she pulled a lamp over her when she was
'Then look at me, and see if I am not your daughter,' said
Dschemila, throwing off her clothes and showing her two scars.
And at the sight her mother embraced her, weeping.
'Dear daughter,' she cried, 'what evil fate has befallen you?'
'It was the ogre who carried me off first, and then bewitched me,'
'But what is to be done with you?' asked her mother.
'Hide me away, and tell no one anything about me. And you, dear
cousin, say nothing to the neighbours, and if they should put
questions, you can make answer that I have not yet been found.'
'So I will,' replied he.
Then he and her mother took her upstairs and hid her in a cupboard,
where she stayed for a whole month, only going out to walk when all the
world was asleep.
Meanwhile Dschemil had returned to his own home, where his father
and mother, his brothers and neighbours, greeted him joyfully.
'When did you come back?' said they, 'and have you found Dschemila?'
'No, I searched the whole world after her, and could hear nothing of
'Did you part company with the man who started with you?'
'Yes; after three days he got so weak and useless he could not go
on. It must be a month by now since he reached home again. I went on
and visited every castle, and looked in every house. But there were no
signs of her; and so I gave it up.'
And they answered him: 'We told you before that it was no good. An
ogre or an ogress must have snapped her up, and how can you expect to
'I loved her too much to be still,' he said.
But his friends did not understand, and soon they spoke to him again
'We will seek for a wife for you. There are plenty of girls prettier
'I dare say; but I don't want them.'
'But what will you do with all the cushions and carpets, and
beautiful things you bought for your house?'
'They can stay in the chests.'
'But the moths will eat them! For a few weeks, it is of no
consequence, but after a year or two they will be quite useless.'
'And if they have to lie there ten years I will have Dschemila, and
her only, for my wife. For a month, or even two months, I will rest
here quietly. Then I will go and seek her afresh.'
'Oh, you are quite mad! Is she the only maiden in the world? There
are plenty of others better worth having than she is.'
'If there are I have not seen them! And why do you make all this
fuss? Every man knows his own business best.
'Why, it is you who are making all the fuss yourself.'
But Dschemil turned and went into the house, for he did not want to
Three months later a Jew, who was travelling across the desert, came
to the castle, and laid himself down under the wall to rest.
In the evening the ogre saw him there and said to him, 'Jew, what
are you doing here? Have you anything to sell?'
'I have only some clothes,' answered the Jew, who was in mortal
terror of the ogre.
'Oh, don't be afraid of me,' said the ogre, laughing. 'I shall not
eat you. Indeed, I mean to go a bit of the way with you myself.'
'I am ready, gracious sir,' replied the Jew, rising to his feet.
'Well, go straight on till you reach a town, and in that town you
will find a maiden called Dschemila and a young man called Dschemil.
Take this mirror and this comb with you, and say to Dschemila, “Your
father, the ogre, greets you, and begs you to look at your face in this
mirror, and it will appear as it was before, and to comb your hair with
this comb, and it will be as formerly.” If you do not carry out my
orders, I will eat you the next time we meet.'
'Oh, I will obey you punctually,' cried the Jew.
After thirty days the Jew entered the gate of the town, and sat down
in the first street he came to, hungry, thirsty, and very tired.
Quite by chance, Dschemil happened to pass by, and seeing a man
sitting there, full in the glare of the sun, he stopped, and said, '
Get up at once, Jew; you will have a sunstroke if you sit in such a
'Ah, good sir,' replied the Jew, 'for a whole month I have been
travelling, and I am too tired to move.'
'Which way did you come?' asked Dschemil.
'From out there,' answered the Jew pointing behind him.
'And you have been travelling for a month, you say? Well, did you
see anything remarkable?'
'Yes, good sir; I saw a castle, and lay down to rest under its
shadow. And an ogre woke me, and told me to come to this town, where I
should find a young man called Dschemil, and a girl called Dschemila.'
'My name is Dschemil. What does the ogre want with me?'
'He gave me some presents for Dschemila. How can I see her?'
'Come with me, and you shall give them into her own hands.'
So the two went together to the house of Dschemil's uncle, and
Dschemil led the Jew into his aunt's room.
'Aunt!' he cried, 'this Jew who is with me has come from the ogre,
and has brought with him, as presents, a mirror and a comb which the
ogre has sent her.'
'But it may be only some wicked trick on the part of the ogre,' said
'Oh, I don't think so,' answered the young man, 'give her the
Then the maiden was called, and she came out of her hiding place,
and went up to the Jew, saying, 'Where have you come from, Jew?'
'From your father the ogre.'
'And what errand did he send you on?'
'He told me I was to give you this mirror and this comb, and to say
“Look in this mirror, and comb your hair with this comb, and both will
become as they were formerly.” '
And Dschemila took the mirror and looked into it, and combed her
hair with the comb, and she had no longer an ass's head, but the face
of a beautiful maiden.
Great was the joy of both mother and cousin at this wonderful sight,
and the news that Dschemila had returned soon spread, and the
neighbours came flocking in with greetings.
'When did you come back?'
'My cousin brought me.'
'Why, he told us he could not find you! '
'Oh, I did that on purpose,' answered Dschemil. 'I did not want
everyone to know.'
Then he turned to his father and his mother, his brothers and his
sisters-in-law, and said, 'We must set to work at once, for the wedding
will be to-day.'
A beautiful litter was prepared to carry the bride to her new home,
but she shrank back, saying, 'I am afraid, lest the ogre should carry
me off again.'
'How can the ogre get at you when we are all here?' they said.
'There are two thousand of us all told, and every man has his sword.'
'He will manage it somehow,' answered Dschemila, 'he is a powerful
'She is right,' said an old man. 'Take away the litter, and let her
go on foot if she is afraid.'
'But it is absurd!' exclaimed the rest; 'how can the ogre get hold
'I will not go,' said Dschemila again. 'You do not know that
monster; I do.'
And while they were disputing the bridegroom arrived.
'Let her alone. She shall stay in her father's house. After all, I
can live here, and the wedding feast shall be made ready.'
And so they were married at last, and died without having had a
[Marehen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis,]
Janni and the Draken
Once there was a man who shunned the world, and lived in the
wilderness. He owned nothing but a flock of sheep, whose milk and wool
he sold, and so procured himself bread to eat; he also carried wooden
spoons, and sold them. He had a wife and one little girl, and after a
long time his wife had another child. The evening it was born the man
went to the nearest village to fetch a nurse, and on the way he met a
monk who begged him for a night's lodging. This the man willingly
granted, and took him home with him. There being no one far nor near to
baptize the child, the man asked the monk to do him this service, and
the child was given the name of Janni.
In the course of time Janni's parents died, and he and his sister
were left alone in the world; soon affairs went badly with them, so
they determined to wander away to seek their fortune. In packing up,
the sister found a knife which the monk had left for his godson, and
this she gave to her brother.
Then they went on their way, taking with them the three sheep which
were all that remained of their flocks. After wandering for three days
they met a man with three dogs who proposed that they should exchange
animals, he taking the sheep, and they the dogs. The brother and sister
were quite pleased at this arrangement, and after the exchange was made
they separated, and went their different ways.
Janni and his sister in course of time came to a great castle, in
which dwelt forty Draken, who, when they heard that Janni had come,
fled forty fathoms underground.
So Janni found the castle deserted, and abode there with his sister,
and every day went out to hunt with the weapons the Draken had left in
One day, when he was away hunting, one of the Draken came up to get
provisions, not knowing that there was anyone in the castle. When he
saw Janni's sister he was terrified, but she told him not to be afraid,
and by-and-by they fell in love with each other, for every time that
Janni went to hunt the sister called the Drakos up. Thus they went on
making love to each other till at length, unknown to Janni, they got
married. Then, when it was too late, the sister repented, and was
afraid of Janni's wrath when he found it out.
One day the Drakos came to her, and said: 'You must pretend to be
ill, and when Janni asks what ails you, and what you want, you must
answer: “Cherries,” and when he inquires where these are to be found,
you must say: “There are some in a garden a day's journey from here.”
Then your brother will go there, and will never come back, for there
dwell three of my brothers who will look after him well.'
Then the sister did as the Drakos advised, and next day Janni set
out to fetch the cherries, taking his three dogs with him. When he came
to the garden where the cherries grew he jumped off his horse, drank
some water from the spring, which rose there, and fell directly into a
deep sleep. The Draken came round about to eat him, but the dogs flung
themselves on them and tore them in pieces, and scratched a grave in
the ground with their paws, and buried the Draken so that Janni might
not see their dead bodies. When Janni awoke, and saw his dogs all
covered with blood, he believed that they had caught, somewhere, a wild
beast, and was angry because they had left none of it for him. But he
plucked the cherries, and took them back to his sister.
When the Drakos heard that Janni had come back, he fled for fear
forty fathoms underground. And the sister ate the cherries and declared
herself well again.
The next day, when Janni was gone to hunt, the Drakos came out, and
advised the sister that she should pretend to be ill again, and when
her brother asked her what she would like, she should answer 'Quinces,'
and when he inquired where these were to be found, she should say: 'In
a garden distant about two days' journey.' Then would Janni certainly
be destroyed, for there dwelt six brothers of the Drakos, each of whom
had two heads.
The sister did as she was advised, and next day Janni again set off,
taking his three dogs with him. When he came to the garden he
dismounted, sat down to rest a little, and fell fast asleep. First
there came three Draken round about to eat him, and when these three
had been worried by the dogs, there came three others who were worried
in like manner. Then the dogs again dug a grave and buried the dead
Draken, that their master might not see them. When Janni awoke and
beheld the dogs all covered with blood, he thought, as before, that
they had killed a wild beast, and was again angry with them for leaving
him nothing. But he took the quinces and brought them back to his
sister, who, when she had eaten them, declared herself better. The
Drakos, when he heard that Janni had come back, fled for fear forty
fathoms deeper underground.
Next day, when Janni was hunting, the Drakos went to the sister and
advised that she should again pretend to be ill, and should beg for
some pears, which grew in a garden three days' journey from the castle.
From this quest Janni would certainly never return, for there dwelt
nine brothers of the Drakos, each of whom had three heads.
The sister did as she was told, and next day Janni, taking his three
dogs with him, went to get the pears. When he came to the garden he
laid himself down to rest, and soon fell asleep.
Then first came three Draken to eat him, and when the dogs had
worried these, six others came and fought the dogs a long time. The
noise of this combat awoke Janni, and he slew the Draken, and knew at
last why the dogs were covered with blood.
After that he freed all whom the Draken held prisoners, amongst
others, a king's daughter. Out of gratitude she would have taken him
for her husband; but he put her off, saying: 'For the kindness that I
have been able to do to you, you shall receive in this castle all the
blind and lame who pass this way.' The princess promised him to do so,
and on his departure gave him a ring.
So Janni plucked the pears and took them to his sister, who, when
she had eaten them, declared she felt better. When, however, the Drakos
heard that Janni had come back yet a third time safe and sound, he fled
for fright forty fathoms deeper underground; and, next day, when Janni
was away hunting, he crept out and said to the sister: 'Now are we
indeed both lost, unless you find out from him wherein his strength
lies, and then between us we will contrive to do away with him.'
When, therefore, Janni had come back from hunting, and sat at
evening with his sister by the fire, she begged him to tell her wherein
lay his strength, and he answered: 'It lies in my two fingers; if these
are bound together then all my strength disappears.'
'That I will not believe,' said the sister, 'unless I see it for
Then he let her tie his fingers together with a thread, and
immediately he became powerless. Then the sister called up the Drakos,
who, when he had come forth, tore out Janni's eyes, gave them to his
dogs to eat, and threw him into a dry well.
Now it happened that some travellers, going to draw water from this
well, heard Janni groaning at the bottom. They came near, and asked him
where he was, and he begged them to draw him up from the well, for he
was a poor unfortunate man.
The travellers let a rope down and drew him up to daylight. It was
not till then that he first became aware that he was blind, and he
begged the travellers to lead him to the country of the king whose
daughter he had freed, and they would be well repaid for their trouble.
When they had brought him there he sent to beg the princess to come
to him; but she did not recognise him till he had shown her the ring
she had given him.
Then she remembered him, and took him with her into the castle.
When she learnt what had befallen him she called together all the
sorceresses in the country in order that they should tell her where the
eyes were. At last she found one who declared that she knew where they
were, and that she could restore them. This sorceress then went
straight to the castle where dwelt the sister and the Drakos, and gave
something to the dogs to eat which caused the eyes to reappear. She
took them with her and put them back in Janni's head, so that he saw as
well as before.
Then he returned to the castle of the Drakos, whom he slew as well
as his sister; and, taking his dogs with him, went back to the princess
and they were immediately married.
The Partnership of the Thief and the Liar.
There was once upon a time a thief, who, being out of a job, was
wandering by himself up and down the seashore. As he walked he passed a
man who was standing still, looking at the waves.
'I wonder,' said the thief, addressing the stranger, 'if you have
ever seen a stone swimming?'
'Most certainly I have,' replied the other man, 'and, what is more,
I saw the same stone jump out of the water and fly through the air.'
'This is capital,' replied the thief. 'You and I must go into
partnership. We shall certainly make our fortunes. Let us start
together for the palace of the king of the neighbouring country. When
we get there, I will go into his presence alone, and will tell him the
most startling thing I can invent. Then you must follow and back up my
Having agreed to do this, they set out on their travels. After
several days' journeying, they reached the town where the king's palace
was, and here they parted for a few hours, while the thief sought an
interview with the king, and begged his majesty to give him a glass of
'That is impossible,' said the king, 'as this year there has been a
failure of all the crops, and of the hops and the vines; so we have
neither wine nor beer in the whole kingdom.'
'How extraordinary!' answered the thief. 'I have just come from a
country where the crops were so fine that I saw twelve barrels of beer
made out of one branch of hops.'
'I bet you three hundred florins that is not true,' answered the
'And I bet you three hundred florins it is true,' replied the thief.
Then each staked his three hundred florins, and the king said he
would decide the question by sending a servant into that country to see
if it was true.
So the servant set out on horseback, and on the way he met a man,
and he asked him whence he came. And the man told him that he came from
the self-same country to which the servant was at that moment bound.
'If that is the case,' said the servant, 'you can tell me how high
the hops grow in your country, and how many barrels of beer can be
brewed from one branch?'
'I can't tell you that,' answered the man, 'but I happened to be
present when the hops were being gathered in, and I saw that it took
three men with axes three days to cut down one branch.'
Then the servant thought that he might save himself a long journey;
so he gave the man ten florins, and told him he must repeat to the king
what he had just told him. And when they got back to the palace, they
came together into the king's presence.
And the king asked him: 'Well, is it true about the hops?'
'Yes, sire, it is,' answered the servant; 'and here is a man I have
brought with me from the country to confirm the tale.'
So the king paid the thief the three hundred florins; and the
partners once more set out together in search of adventures. As they
journeyed, the thief said to his comrade: 'I will now go to another
king, and will tell him something still more startling; and you must
follow and back up my lie, and we shall get some money out of him; just
see if we don't.'
When they reached the next kingdom, the thief presented himself to
the king, and requested him to give him a cauliflower. And the king
answered: 'Owing to a blight among the vegetables we have no
'That is strange,' answered the thief. 'I have just come from a
country where it grows so well that one head of cauliflower filled
'I don't believe it,' answered the king.
'I bet you six hundred florins it is true,' replied the thief.
'And I bet you six hundred florins it is not true,' answered the
king. And he sent for a servant, and ordered him to start at once for
the country whence the thief had come, to find out if his story of the
cauliflower was true. On his journey the servant met with a man.
Stopping his horse he asked him where he came from, and the man replied
that he came from the country to which the other was travelling.
'If that is the case,' said the servant, 'you can tell me to what
size cauliflower grows in your country? Is it so large that one head
fills twelve water-tubs?'
'I have not seen that,' answered the man. 'But I saw twelve waggons,
drawn by twelve horses, carrying one head of cauliflower to the
And the servant answered: 'Here are ten florins for you, my man, for
you have saved me a long journey. Come with me now, and tell the king
what you have just told me.'
'All right,' said the man, and they went together to the palace; and
when the king asked the servant if he had found out the truth about the
cauliflower, the servant replied: 'Sire, all that you heard was
perfectly true; here is a man from the country who will tell you so.'
So the king had to pay the thief the six hundred florins. And the
two partners set out once more on their travels, with their nine
hundred florins. When they reached the country of the neighbouring
king, the thief entered the royal presence, and began conversation by
asking if his majesty knew that in an adjacent kingdom there was a town
with a church steeple on which a bird had alighted, and that the
steeple was so high, and the bird's beak so long, that it had pecked
the stars till some of them fell out of the sky.
'I don't believe it,' said the king.
'Nevertheless I am prepared to bet twelve hundred florins that it is
true,' answered the thief.
'And I bet twelve hundred florins that it is a lie,' replied the
king. And he straightway sent a servant into the neighbouring country
to find out the truth.
As he rode, the servant met a man coming in the opposite direction.
So he hailed him and asked him where he came from. And the man replied
that he came out of the very town to which the man was bound. Then the
servant asked him if the story they had heard about the bird with the
long beak was true.
'I don't know about that,' answered the man, 'as I have never seen
the bird; but I once saw twelve men shoving all their might and main
with brooms to push a monster egg into a cellar.'
'That is capital,' answered the servant, presenting the man with ten
florins. 'Come and tell your tale to the king, and you will save me a
So, when the story was repeated to the king, there was nothing for
him to do but to pay the thief the twelve hundred florins.
Then the two partners set out again with their ill-gotten gains,
which they proceeded to divide into two equal shares; but the thief
kept back three of the florins that belonged to the liar's half of the
booty. Shortly afterwards they each married, and settled down in homes
of their own with their wives. One day the liar discovered that he had
been done out of three florins by his partner, so he went to his house
and demanded them from him.
'Come next Saturday, and I will give them to you,' answered the
thief. But as he had no intention of giving the liar the money, when
Saturday morning came he stretched himself out stiff and stark upon the
bed, and told his wife she was to say he was dead. So the wife rubbed
her eyes with an onion, and when the liar appeared at the door, she met
him in tears, and told him that as her husband was dead he could not be
paid the three florins.
But the liar, who knew his partner's tricks, instantly suspected the
truth, and said: 'As he has not paid me, I will pay him out with three
good lashes of my riding whip.'
At these words the thief sprang to his feet, and, appearing at the
door, promised his partner that if he would return the following
Saturday he would pay him. So the liar went away satisfied with this
But when Saturday morning came the thief got up early and hid
himself under a truss of hay in the hay-loft.
When the liar appeared to demand his three florins, the wife met him
with tears in her eyes, and told him that her husband was dead.
'Where have you buried him?' asked the liar.
'In the hay-loft,' answered the wife.
'Then I will go there, and take away some hay in payment of his
debt,' said the liar. And proceeding to the hay-loft, he began to toss
about the hay with a pitchfork, prodding it into the trusses of hay,
till, in terror of his life, the thief crept out and promised his
partner to pay him the three florins on the following Saturday.
When the day came he got up at sunrise, and going down into the
crypt of a neighbouring chapel, stretched himself out quite still and
stiff in an old stone coffin. But the liar, who was quite as clever as
his partner, very soon bethought him of the crypt, and set out for the
chapel, confident that he would shortly discover the hiding-place of
his friend. He had just entered the crypt, and his eyes were not yet
accustomed to the darkness, when he heard the sound of whispering at
the grated windows. Listening intently, he overheard the plotting of a
band of robbers, who had brought their treasure to the crypt, meaning
to hide it there, while they set out on fresh adventures. All the time
they were speaking they were removing the bars from the window, and in
another minute they would all have entered the crypt, and discovered
the liar. Quick as thought he wound his mantle round him and placed
himself, standing stiff and erect, in a niche in the wall, so that in
the dim light he looked just like an old stone statue. As soon as the
robbers entered the crypt, they set about the work of dividing their
treasure. Now, there were twelve robbers, but by mistake the chief of
the band divided the gold into thirteen heaps. When he saw his mistake
he said they had not time to count it all over again, but that the
thirteenth heap should belong to whoever among them could strike off
the head of the old stone statue in the niche with one stroke. With
these words he took up an axe, and approached the niche where the liar
was standing. But, just as he had waved the axe over his head ready to
strike, a voice was heard from the stone coffin saying, in sepulchral
tones: 'Clear out of this, or the dead will arise from their coffins,
and the statues will descend from the walls, and you will be driven out
more dead than alive.' And with a bound the thief jumped out of his
coffin and the liar from his niche, and the robbers were so terrified
that they ran helter-skelter out of the crypt, leaving all their gold
behind them, and vowing that they would never put foot inside the
haunted place again. So the partners divided the gold between them, and
carried it to their homes; and history tells us no more about them.
Fortunatus and His Purse
Once upon a time there lived in the city of Famagosta, in the island
of Cyprus, a rich man called Theodorus. He ought to have been the
happiest person in the whole world, as he had all he could wish for,
and a wife and little son whom he loved dearly; but unluckily, after a
short time he always grew tired of everything, and had to seek new
pleasures. When people are made like this the end is generally the
same, and before Fortunatus (for that was the boy's name) was ten years
old, his father had spent all his money and had not a farthing left.
But though Theodorus had been so foolish he was not quite without
sense, and set about getting work at once. His wife, too, instead of
reproaching him sent away the servants and sold their fine horses, and
did all the work of the house herself, even washing the clothes of her
husband and child.
Thus time passed till Fortunatus was sixteen. One day when they were
sitting at supper, the boy said to Theodorus, 'Father, why do you look
so sad. Tell me what is wrong, and perhaps I can help you.'
'Ah, my son, I have reason enough to be sad; but for me you would
now have been enjoying every kind of pleasure, instead of being buried
in this tiny house.'
'Oh, do not let that trouble you,' replied Fortunatus, 'it is time I
made some money for myself. To be sure I have never been taught any
trade. Still there must be something I can do. I will go and walk on
the seashore and think about it.'
Very soon—sooner than he expected—a chance came, and Fortunatus,
like a wise boy, seized on it at once. The post offered him was that of
page to the Earl of Flanders, and as the Earl's daughter was just going
to be married, splendid festivities were held in her honour, and at
some of the tilting matches Fortunatus was lucky enough to win the
prize. These prizes, together with presents from the lords and ladies
of the court, who liked him for his pleasant ways, made Fortunatus feel
quite a rich man.
But though his head was not turned by the notice taken of him, it
excited the envy of some of the other pages about the Court, and one of
them, called Robert, invented a plot to move Fortunatus out of his way.
So he told the young man that the Earl had taken a dislike to him and
meant to kill him; Fortunatus believed the story, and packing up his
fine clothes and money, slipped away before dawn.
He went to a great many big towns and lived well, and as he was
generous and not wiser than most youths of his age, he very soon found
himself penniless. Like his father, he then began to think of work, and
tramped half over Brittany in search of it. Nobody seemed to want him,
and he wandered about from one place to another, till he found himself
in a dense wood, without any paths, and not much light. Here he spent
two whole days, with nothing to eat and very little water to drink,
going first in one direction and then in another, but never being able
to find his way out. During the first night he slept soundly, and was
too tired to fear either man or beast, but when darkness came on for
the second time, and growls were heard in the distance, he grew
frightened and looked about for a high tree out of reach of his
enemies. Hardly had he settled himself comfortably in one of the forked
branches, when a lion walked up to a spring that burst from a rock
close to the tree, and crouching down drank greedily. This was bad
enough, but after all, lions do not climb trees, and as long as
Fortunatus stayed up on his perch, he was quite safe. But no sooner was
the lion out of sight, than his place was taken by a bear, and bears,
as Fortunatus knew very well, are tree-climbers. His heart beat fast,
and not without reason, for as the bear turned away he looked up and
Now in those days every young man carried a sword slung to his belt,
and it was a fashion that came in very handily for Fortunatus. He drew
his sword, and when the bear got within a yard of him he made a fierce
lunge forward. The bear, wild with pain, tried to spring, but the bough
he was standing on broke with his weight, and he fell heavily to the
ground. Then Fortunatus descended from his tree (first taking good care
to see no other wild animals were in sight) and killed him with a
single blow. He was just thinking he would light a fire and make a
hearty dinner off bear's flesh, which is not at all bad eating, when he
beheld a beautiful lady standing by his side leaning on a wheel, and
her eyes hidden by a bandage.
'I am Dame Fortune,' she said, 'and I have a gift for you. Shall it
be wisdom, strength, long life, riches, health, or beauty? Think well,
and tell me what you will have.'
But Fortunatus, who had proved the truth of the proverb that 'It's
ill thinking on an empty stomach,' answered quickly, 'Good lady, let me
have riches in such plenty that I may never again be as hungry as I am
And the lady held out a purse and told him he had only to put his
hand into it, and he and his children would always find ten pieces of
gold. But when they were dead it would be a magic purse no longer.
At this news Fortunatus was beside himself with joy, and could
hardly find words to thank the lady. But she told him that the best
thing he could do was to find his way out of the wood, and before
bidding him farewell pointed out which path he should take. He walked
along it as fast as his weakness would let him, until a welcome light
at a little distance showed him that a house was near. It turned out to
be an inn, but before entering Fortunatus thought he had better make
sure of the truth of what the lady had told him, and took out the purse
and looked inside. Sure enough there were the ten pieces of gold,
shining brightly. Then Fortunatus walked boldly up to the inn, and
ordered them to get ready a good supper at once, as he was very hungry,
and to bring him the best wine in the house. And he seemed to care so
little what he spent that everybody thought he was a great lord, and
vied with each other who should run quickest when he called.
After a night passed in a soft bed, Fortunatus felt so much better
that he asked the landlord if he could find him some men-servants, and
tell him where any good horses were to be got. The next thing was to
provide himself with smart clothes, and then to take a big house where
he could give great feasts to the nobles and beautiful ladies who lived
in palaces round about.
In this manner a whole year soon slipped away, and Fortunatus was so
busy amusing himself that he never once remembered his parents whom he
had left behind in Cyprus. But though he was thoughtless, he was not
bad-hearted. As soon as their existence crossed his mind, he set about
making preparations to visit them, and as he was not fond of being
alone he looked round for some one older and wiser than himself to
travel with him. It was not long before he had the good luck to come
across an old man who had left his wife and children in a far country
many years before, when he went out into the world to seek the fortune
which he never found. He agreed to accompany Fortunatus back to Cyprus,
but only on condition he should first be allowed to return for a few
weeks to his own home before venturing to set sail for an island so
strange and distant. Fortunatus agreed to his proposal, and as he was
always fond of anything new, said that he would go with him.
The journey was long, and they had to cross many large rivers, and
climb over high mountains, and find their way through thick woods,
before they reached at length the old man's castle. His wife and
children had almost given up hopes of seeing him again, and crowded
eagerly round him. Indeed, it did not take Fortunatus five minutes to
fall in love with the youngest daughter, the most beautiful creature in
the whole world, whose name was Cassandra.
'Give her to me for my wife,' he said to the old man, 'and let us
all go together to Famagosta.'
So a ship was bought big enough to hold Fortunatus, the old man and
his wife, and their ten children—five of them sons and five daughters.
And the day before they sailed the wedding was celebrated with
magnificent rejoicings, and everybody thought that Fortunatus must
certainly be a prince in disguise. But when they reached Cyprus, he
learned to his sorrow that both his father and mother were dead, and
for some time he shut himself up in his house and would see nobody,
full of shame at having forgotten them all these years. Then he begged
that the old man and his wife would remain with him, and take the place
of his parents.
For twelve years Fortunatus and Cassandra and their two little boys
lived happily in Famagosta. They had a beautiful house and everything
they could possibly want, and when Cassandra's sisters married the
purse provided them each with a fortune. But at last Fortunatus grew
tired of staying at home, and thought he should like to go out and see
the world again. Cassandra shed many tears at first when he told her of
his wishes, and he had a great deal of trouble to persuade her to give
her consent. But on his promising to return at the end of two years she
agreed to let him go. Before he went away he showed her three chests of
gold, which stood in a room with an iron door, and walls twelve feet
thick. 'If anything should happen to me,' he said, 'and I should never
come back, keep one of the chests for yourself, and give the others to
our two sons.' Then he embraced them all and took ship for Alexandria.
The wind was fair and in a few days they entered the harbour, where
Fortunatus was informed by a man whom he met on landing, that if he
wished to be well received in the town, he must begin by making a
handsome present to the Sultan. 'That is easily done,' said Fortunatus,
and went into a goldsmith's shop, where he bought a large gold cup,
which cost five thousand pounds. This gift so pleased the Sultan that
he ordered a hundred casks of spices to be given to Fortunatus;
Fortunatus put them on board his ship, and commanded the captain to
return to Cyprus and deliver them to his wife, Cassandra. He next
obtained an audience of the Sultan, and begged permission to travel
through the country, which the Sultan readily gave him, adding some
letters to the rulers of other lands which Fortunatus might wish to
Filled with delight at feeling himself free to roam through the
world once more, Fortunatus set out on his journey without losing a
day. From court to court he went, astonishing everyone by the
magnificence of his dress and the splendour of his presents. At length
he grew as tired of wandering as he had been of staying at home, and
returned to Alexandria, where he found the same ship that had brought
him from Cyprus lying in the harbour. Of course the first thing he did
was to pay his respects to the Sultan, who was eager to hear about his
When Fortunatus had told them all, the Sultan observed: 'Well, you
have seen many wonderful things, but I have something to show you more
wonderful still;' and he led him into a room where precious stones lay
heaped against the walls. Fortunatus' eyes were quite dazzled, but the
Sultan went on without pausing and opened a door at the farther end. As
far as Fortunatus could see, the cupboard was quite bare, except for a
little red cap, such as soldiers wear in Turkey.
'Look at this,' said the Sultan.
'But there is nothing very valuable about it,' answered Fortunatus.
'I've seen a dozen better caps than that, this very day.'
'Ah,' said the Sultan, 'you do not know what you are talking about.
Whoever puts this cap on his head and wishes himself in any place, will
find himself there in a moment.'
'But who made it?' asked Fortunatus.
'That I cannot tell you,' replied the Sultan.
'Is it very heavy to wear?' asked Fortunatus.
'No, quite light,' replied the Sultan, 'just feel it.'
Fortunatus took the cap and put it on his head, and then, without
thinking, wished himself back in the ship that was starting for
Famagosta. In a second he was standing at the prow, while the anchor
was being weighed, and while the Sultan was repenting of his folly in
allowing Fortunatus to try on the cap, the vessel was making fast for
When it arrived, Fortunatus found his wife and children well, but
the two old people were dead and buried. His sons had grown tall and
strong, but unlike their father had no wish to see the world, and found
their chief pleasure in hunting and tilting. In the main, Fortunatus
was content to stay quietly at home, and if a restless fit did seize
upon him, he was able to go away for a few hours without being missed,
thanks to the cap, which he never sent back to the Sultan.
By-and-by he grew old, and feeling that he had not many days to
live, he sent for his two sons, and showing them the purse and cap, he
said to them: 'Never part with these precious possessions. They are
worth more than all the gold and lands I leave behind me. But never
tell their secret, even to your wife or dearest friend. That purse has
served me well for forty years, and no one knows whence I got my
riches.' Then he died and was buried by his wife Cassandra, and he was
mourned in Famagosta for many years.
The Goat-faced Girl
There was once upon a time a peasant called Masaniello who had
twelve daughters. They were exactly like the steps of a staircase, for
there was just a year between each sister. It was all the poor man
could do to bring up such a large family, and in order to provide food
for them he used to dig in the fields all day long. In spite of his
hard work he only just succeeded in keeping the wolf from the door, and
the poor little girls often went hungry to bed.
One day, when Masaniello was working at the foot of a high mountain,
he came upon the mouth of a cave which was so dark and gloomy that even
the sun seemed afraid to enter it. Suddenly a huge green lizard
appeared from the inside and stood before Masaniello, who nearly went
out of his mind with terror, for the beast was as big as a crocodile
and quite as fierce looking.
But the lizard sat down beside him in the most friendly manner, and
said: 'Don't be afraid, my good man, I am not going to hurt you; on the
contrary, I am most anxious to help you.'
When the peasant heard these words he knelt before the lizard and
said: 'Dear lady, for I know not what to call you, I am in your power;
but I beg of you to be merciful, for I have twelve wretched little
daughters at home who are dependent on me.'
'That's the very reason why I have come to you,' replied the lizard.
'Bring me your youngest daughter to-morrow morning. I promise to bring
her up as if she were my own child, and to look upon her as the apple
of my eye.'
When Masaniello heard her words he was very unhappy, because he felt
sure, from the lizard's wanting one of his daughters, the youngest and
tenderest too, that the poor little girl would only serve as dessert
for the terrible creature's supper. At the same time he said to
himself, 'If I refuse her request, she will certainly eat me up on the
spot. If I give her what she asks she does indeed take part of myself,
but if I refuse she will take the whole of me. What am I to do, and how
in the world am I to get out of the difficulty?'
As he kept muttering to himself the lizard said, 'Make up your mind
to do as I tell you at once. I desire to have your youngest daughter,
and if you won't comply with my wish, I can only say it will be the
worse for you.'
Seeing that there was nothing else to be done, Masaniello set off
for his home, and arrived there looking so white and wretched that his
wife asked him at once: 'What has happened to you, my dear husband?
Have you quarrelled with anyone, or has the poor donkey fallen down?'
'Neither the one nor the other,' answered her husband,' but
something far worse than either. A terrible lizard has nearly
frightened me out of my senses, for she threatened that if I did not
give her our youngest daughter, she would make me repent it. My head is
going round like a mill-wheel, and I don't know what to do. I am indeed
between the Devil and the Deep Sea. You know how dearly I love
Renzolla, and yet, if I fail to bring her to the lizard to-morrow
morning, I must say farewell to life. Do advise me what to do.'
When his wife had heard all he had to say, she said to him: 'How do
you know, my dear husband, that the lizard is really our enemy? May she
not be a friend in disguise? And your meeting with her may be the
beginning of better things and the end of all our misery. Therefore go
and take the child to her, for my heart tells me that you will never
repent doing so.'
Masaniello was much comforted by her words, and next morning as soon
as it was light he took his little daughter by the hand and led her to
The lizard, who was awaiting the peasant's arrival, came forward to
meet him, and taking the girl by the hand, she gave the father a sack
full of gold, and said: 'Go and marry your other daughters, and give
them dowries with this gold, and be of good cheer, for Renzolla will
have both father and mother in me; it is a great piece of luck for her
that she has fallen into my hands.'
Masaniello, quite overcome with gratitude, thanked the lizard, and
returned home to his wife.
As soon as it was known how rich the peasant had become, suitors for
the hands of his daughters were not wanting, and very soon he married
them all off; and even then there was enough gold left to keep himself
and his wife in comfort and plenty all their days.
As soon as the lizard was left alone with Renzolla, she changed the
cave into a beautiful palace, and led the girl inside. Here she brought
her up like a little princess, and the child wanted for nothing. She
gave her sumptuous food to eat, beautiful clothes to wear, and a
thousand servants to wait on her.
Now, it happened, one day, that the king of the country was hunting
in a wood close to the palace, and was overtaken by the dark. Seeing a
light shining in the palace he sent one of his servants to ask if he
could get a night's lodging there.
When the page knocked at the door the lizard changed herself into a
beautiful woman, and opened it herself. When she heard the king's
request she sent him a message to say that she would be delighted to
see him, and give him all he wanted.
The king, on hearing this kind invitation, instantly betook himself
to the palace, where he was received in the most hospitable manner. A
hundred pages with torches came to meet him, a hundred more waited on
him at table, and another hundred waved big fans in the air to keep the
flies from him. Renzolla herself poured out the wine for him, and, so
gracefully did she do it, that his Majesty could not take his eyes off
When the meal was finished and the table cleared, the king retired
to sleep, and Renzolla drew the shoes from his feet, at the same time
drawing his heart from his breast. So desperately had he fallen in love
with her, that he called the fairy to him, and asked her for Renzolla's
hand in marriage. As the kind fairy had only the girl's welfare at
heart, she willingly gave her consent, and not her consent only, but a
wedding portion of seven thousand golden guineas.
The king, full of delight over his good fortune, prepared to take
his departure, accompanied by Renzolla, who never so much as thanked
the fairy for all she had done for her. When the fairy saw such a base
want of gratitude she determined to punish the girl, and, cursing her,
she turned her face into a goat's head. In a moment Renzolla's pretty
mouth stretched out into a snout, with a beard a yard long at the end
of it, her cheeks sank in, and her shining plaits of hair changed into
two sharp horns. When the king turned round and saw her he thought he
must have taken leave of his senses. He burst into tears, and cried
out: 'Where is the hair that bound me so tightly, where are the eyes
that pierced through my heart, and where are the lips I kissed? Am I to
be tied to a goat all my life? No, no! nothing will induce me to become
the laughing-stock of my subjects for the sake of a goat-faced girl!'
When they reached his own country he shut Renzolla up in a little
turret chamber of his palace, with a waiting-maid, and gave each of
them ten bundles of flax to spin, telling them that their task must be
finished by the end of the week.
The maid, obedient to the king's commands, set at once to work and
combed out the flax, wound it round the spindle, and sat spinning at
her wheel so diligently that her work was quite done by Saturday
evening. But Renzolla, who had been spoilt and petted in the fairy's
house, and was quite unaware of the change that had taken place in her
appearance, threw the flax out of the window and said: 'What is the
king thinking of that he should give me this work to do? If he wants
shirts he can buy them. It isn't even as if he had picked me out of the
gutter, for he ought to remember that I brought him seven thousand
golden guineas as my wedding portion, and that I am his wife and not
his slave. He must be mad to treat me like this.'
All the same, when Saturday evening came, and she saw that the
waiting-maid had finished her task, she took fright lest she should be
punished for her idleness. So she hurried off to the palace of the
fairy, and confided all her woes to her. The fairy embraced her
tenderly, and gave her a sack full of spun flax, in order that she
might show it to the king, and let him see what a good worker she was.
Renzolla took the sack without one word of thanks, and returned to the
palace, leaving the kind fairy very indignant over her want of
When the king saw the flax all spun, he gave Renzolla and the
waiting-maid each a little dog, and told them to look after the animals
and train them carefully.
The waiting-maid brought hers up with the greatest possible care,
and treated it almost as if it were her son. But Renzolla said: 'I
don't know what to think. Have I come among a lot of lunatics? Does the
king imagine that I am going to comb and feed a dog with my own hands?'
With these words she opened the window and threw the poor little beast
out, and he fell on the ground as dead as a stone.
When a few months had passed the king sent a message to say he would
like to see how the dogs were getting on. Renzolla, who felt very
uncomfortable in her mind at this request, hurried off once more to the
fairy. This time she found an old man at the door of the fairy's
palace, who said to her: 'Who are you, and what do you want?'
When Renzolla heard his question she answered angrily: 'Don't you
know me, old Goat-beard? And how dare you address me in such a way?'
'The pot can't call the kettle black,' answered the old man, 'for it
is not I, but you who have a goat's head. Just wait a moment, you
ungrateful wretch, and I will show you to what a pass your want of
gratitude has brought you.'
With these words he hurried away, and returned with a mirror, which
he held up before Renzolla. At the sight of her ugly, hairy face, the
girl nearly fainted with horror, and she broke into loud sobs at seeing
her countenance so changed.
Then the old man said: 'You must remember, Renzolla, that you are a
peasant's daughter, and that the fairy turned you into a queen; but you
were ungrateful, and never as much as thanked her for all she had done
for you. Therefore she has determined to punish you. But if you wish to
lose your long white beard, throw yourself at the fairy's feet and
implore her to forgive you. She has a tender heart, and will, perhaps,
take pity on you.'
Renzolla, who was really sorry for her conduct, took the old man's
advice, and the fairy not only gave her back her former face, but she
dressed her in a gold embroidered dress, presented her with a beautiful
carriage, and brought her back, accompanied by a host of servants, to
her husband. When the king saw her looking as beautiful as ever, he
fell in love with her once more, and bitterly repented having caused
her so much suffering.
So Renzolla lived happily ever afterwards, for she loved her
husband, honoured the fairy, and was grateful to the old man for having
told her the truth.
[From the Italian. Kletke.]
What Came of Picking Flowers
There was once a woman who had three daughters whom she loved very
much. One day the eldest was walking in a water-meadow, when she saw a
pink growing in the stream. She stooped to pick the flower, but her
hand had scarcely touched it, when she vanished altogether. The next
morning the second sister went out into the meadow, to see if she could
find any traces of the lost girl, and as a branch of lovely roses lay
trailing across her path, she bent down to move it away, and in so
doing, could not resist plucking one of the roses. In a moment she too
had disappeared. Wondering what could have become of her two sisters,
the youngest followed in their footsteps, and fell a victim to a branch
of delicious white jessamine. So the old woman was left without any
daughters at all.
She wept, and wept, and wept, all day and all night, and went on
weeping so long, that her son, who had been a little boy when his
sisters disappeared, grew up to be a tall youth. Then one night he
asked his mother to tell him what was the matter.
When he had heard the whole story, he said, 'Give me your blessing,
mother, and I will go and search the world till I find them.'
So he set forth, and after he had travelled several miles without
any adventures, he came upon three big boys fighting in the road. He
stopped and inquired what they were fighting about, and one of them
'My lord! our father left to us, when he died, a pair of boots, a
key, and a cap. Whoever puts on the boots and wishes himself in any
place, will find himself there. The key will open every door in the
world, and with the cap on your head no one can see you. Now our eldest
brother wants to have all three things for himself, and we wish to draw
lots for them.'
'Oh, that is easily settled,' said the youth. 'I will throw this
stone as far as I can, and the one who picks it up first, shall have
the three things.' So he took the stone and flung it, and while the
three brothers were running after it, he drew hastily on the boots, and
said, 'Boots, take me to the place where I shall find my eldest
The next moment the young man was standing on a steep mountain
before the gates of a strong castle guarded by bolts and bars and iron
chains. The key, which he had not forgotten to put in his pocket,
opened the doors one by one, and he walked through a number of halls
and corridors, till he met a beautiful and richly-dressed young lady
who started back in surprise at the sight of him, and exclaimed, 'Oh,
sir, how did you contrive *to* get in here?' The young man replied that
he was her brother, and told her by what means he had been able to pass
through the doors. In return, she told him how happy she was, except
for one thing, and that was, her husband lay under a spell, and could
never break it till there should be put to death a man who could not
They talked together for a long time, and then the lady said he had
better leave her as she expected her husband back at any moment, and he
might not like him to be there; but the young man assured her she need
not be afraid, as he had with him a cap which would make him invisible.
They were still deep in conversation when the door suddenly opened, and
a bird flew in, but he saw nothing unusual, for, at the first noise,
the youth had put on his cap. The lady jumped up and brought a large
golden basin, into which the bird flew, reappearing directly after as a
handsome man. Turning to his wife, he cried, 'I am sure someone is in
the room!' She got frightened, and declared that she was quite alone,
but her husband persisted, and in the end she had to confess the truth.
'But if he is really your brother, why did you hide him?' asked he.
'I believe you are telling me a lie, and if he comes back I shall kill
At this the youth took off his cap, and came forward. Then the
husband saw that he was indeed so like his wife that he doubted her
word no longer, and embraced his brother-in-law with delight. Drawing a
feather from his bird's skin, he said, 'If you are in danger and cry,
“Come and help me, King of the Birds,” everything will go well with
The young man thanked him and went away, and after he had left the
castle he told the boots that they must take him to the place where his
second sister was living. As before, he found himself at the gates of a
huge castle, and within was his second sister, very happy with her
husband, who loved her dearly, but longing for the moment when he
should be set free from the spell that kept him half his life a fish.
When he arrived and had been introduced by his wife to her brother, he
welcomed him warmly, and gave him a fish-scale, saying, 'If you are in
danger, call to me, “Come and help me, King of the Fishes,” and
everything will go well with you.'
The young man thanked him and took his leave, and when he was
outside the gates he told the boots to take him to the place where his
youngest sister lived. The boots carried him to a dark cavern, with
steps of iron leading up to it. Inside she sat, weeping and sobbing,
and as she had done nothing else the whole time she had been there, the
poor girl had grown very thin. When she saw a man standing before her,
she sprang to her feet and exclaimed, 'Oh, whoever you are, save me and
take me from this horrible place!' Then he told her who he was, and how
he had seen her sisters, whose happiness was spoilt by the spell under
which both their husbands lay, and she, in turn, related her story. She
had been carried off in the water-meadow by a horrible monster, who
wanted to make her marry him by force, and had kept her a prisoner all
these years because she would not submit to his will. Every day he came
to beg her to consent to his wishes, and to remind her that there was
no hope of her being set free, as he was the most constant man in the
world, and besides that he could never die. At these words the youth
remembered his two enchanted brothers-in-law, and he advised his sister
to promise to marry the old man, if he would tell her why he could
never die. Suddenly everything began to tremble, as if it was shaken by
a whirlwind, and the old man entered, and flinging himself at the feet
of the girl, he said: 'Are you still determined never to marry me? If
so you will have to sit there weeping till the end of the world, for I
shall always be faithful to my wish to marry you!' 'Well, I will marry
you,' she said, 'if you will tell me why it is that you can never die.'
Then the old man burst into peals of laughter. 'Ah, ah, ah! You are
thinking how you would be able to kill me? Well, to do that, you would
have to find an iron casket which lies at the bottom of the sea, and
has a white dove inside, and then you would have to find the egg which
the dove laid, and bring it here, and dash it against my head.' And he
laughed again in his certainty that no one had ever got down to the
bottom of the sea, and that if they did, they would never find the
casket, or be able to open it. When he could speak once more, he said,
'Now you will be obliged to marry me, as you know my secret.' But she
begged so hard that the wedding might be put off for three days, that
he consented, and went away rejoicing at his victory. When he had
disappeared, the brother took off the cap which had kept him invisible
all this time, and told his sister not to lose heart as he hoped in
three days she would be free. Then he drew on his boots, and wished
himself at the seashore, and there he was directly. Drawing out the
fish-scale, he cried, 'Come and help me, King of the Fishes!' and his
brother-in-law swam up, and asked what he could do. The young man
related the story, and when he had finished his listener summoned all
the fishes to his presence. The last to arrive was a little sardine,
who apologised for being so late, but said she had hurt herself by
knocking her head against an iron casket that lay in the bottom of the
sea. The king ordered several of the largest and strongest of his
subjects to take the little sardine as a guide, and bring him the iron
casket. They soon returned with the box placed across their backs and
laid it down before him. Then the youth produced the key and said 'Key,
open that box!' and the key opened it, and though they were all
crowding round, ready to catch it, the white dove within flew away.
It was useless to go after it, and for a moment the young man's
heart sank. The next minute, however, he remembered that he had still
his feather, and drew it out crying, 'Come to me, King of the Birds!'
and a rushing noise was heard, and the King of the Birds perched on his
shoulder, and asked what he could do to help him. His brother-in-law
told him the whole story, and when he had finished the King of the
Birds commanded all his subjects to hasten to his presence. In an
instant the air was dark with birds of all sizes, and at the very last
came the white dove, apologising for being so late by saying that an
old friend had arrived at his nest, and he had been obliged to give him
some dinner. The King of the Birds ordered some of them to show the
young man the white dove's nest, and when they reached it, there lay
the egg which was to break the spell and set them all free. When it was
safely in his pocket, he told the boots to carry him straight to the
cavern where his youngest sister sat awaiting him.
Now it was already far on into the third day, which the old man had
fixed for the wedding, and when the youth reached the cavern with his
cap on his head, he found the monster there, urging the girl to keep
her word and let the marriage take place at once. At a sign from her
brother she sat down and invited the old monster to lay his head on her
lap. He did so with delight, and her brother standing behind her back
passed her the egg unseen. She took it, and dashed it straight at the
horrible head, and the monster started, and with a groan that people
took for the rumblings of an earthquake, he turned over and died.
As the breath went out of his body the husbands of the two eldest
daughters resumed their proper shapes, and, sending for their
mother-in-law, whose sorrow was so unexpectedly turned into joy, they
had a great feast, and the youngest sister was rich to the end of her
days with the treasures she found in the cave, collected by the
[From the Portuguese.]
The Story of Bensurdatu
There was once a king and a queen who had three wonderfully
beautiful daughters, and their one thought, from morning till night,
was how they could make the girls happy.
One day the princesses said to the king, 'Dear father, we want so
much to have a picnic, and eat our dinner in the country.'
'Very well, dear children, let us have a picnic by all means,'
answered he, and gave orders that everything should be got ready.
When luncheon was prepared it was put into a cart, and the royal
family stepped into a carriage and drove right away into the country.
After a few miles they reached a house and garden belonging to the
king, and close by was their favourite place for lunch. The drive had
made them very hungry, and they ate with a hearty appetite, till almost
all the food had disappeared.
When they had quite done, they said to their parents: 'Now we should
like to wander about the garden a little, but when you want to go home,
just call to us.' And they ran off, laughing, down a green glade, which
led to the garden.
But no sooner had they stepped across the fence, than a dark cloud
came down and covered them, and prevented them seeing whither they were
Meanwhile the king and queen sat lazily among the heather, and an
hour or two slipped away. The sun was dropping towards the horizon, and
they began to think it was time to go home. So they called to their
daughters and called again, but no one answered them.
Frightened at the silence, they searched every corner of the garden,
the house, and the neighbouring wood, but no trace of the girls was to
be found anywhere. The earth seemed to have swallowed them up. The poor
parents were in despair. The queen wept all the way home, and for many
days after, and the king issued a proclamation that whoever should
bring back his lost daughters should have one of them to wife, and
should, after his death, reign in his stead.
Now two young generals were at that time living at the court, and
when they heard the king's declaration, they said one to the other:
'Let us go in search of them; perhaps we shall be the lucky persons.'
And they set out, each mounted on a strong horse, taking with them a
change of raiment and some money.
But though they inquired at every village they rode through, they
could hear nothing of the princesses, and by-and-by their money was all
spent, and they were forced to sell their horses, or give up the
search. Even this money only lasted a little while longer, and nothing
but their clothes lay between them and starvation. They sold the spare
garments that were bound on their saddles, and went in the coats they
stood up in to the inn, to beg for some food, as they were really
starving. When, however, they had to pay for what they had eaten and
drank, they said to the host: 'We have no money, and naught but the
clothes we stand up in. Take these, and give us instead some old rags,
and let us stay here and serve you.' And the innkeeper was content with
the bargain, and the generals remained, and were his servants.
All this time the king and queen remained in their palace hungering
for their children, but not a word was heard of either of them or of
the generals who had gone to seek for them.
Now there was living in the palace a faithful servant of the king's
called Bensurdatu, who had served him for many years, and when
Bensurdatu saw how grieved the king was, he lifted up his voice and
said to him: 'Your majesty, let me go and seek your daughters.'
'No, no, Bensurdatu,' replied the king. 'Three daughters have I
lost, and two generals, and shall I lose you also?'
But Bensurdatu said again: 'Let me now go, your majesty; trust me,
and I will bring you back your daughters.'
Then the king gave way, and Bensurdatu set forth, and rode on till
he came to the inn, where he dismounted and asked for food. It was
brought by the two generals, whom he knew at once in spite of their
miserable clothes, and, much astonished, asked them how in the world
they came there.
They told him all their adventures, and he sent for the innkeeper,
and said to him: 'Give them back their garments, and I will pay
everything that they owe you.'
And the innkeeper did as he was bid, and when the two generals were
dressed in their proper clothes, they declared they would join
Bensurdatu, and with him seek for the king's daughters.
The three companions rode on for many miles, and at length they came
to a wild place, without sign of a human being. It was getting dark,
and fearing to be lost on this desolate spot they pushed on their
horses, and at last saw a light in the window of a tiny hut.
'Who comes there?' asked a voice, as they knocked at the door.
'Oh! have pity on us, and give us a night's shelter,' replied
Bensurdatu; 'we are three tired travellers who have lost our way.'
Then the door was opened by a very old woman who stood back, and
beckoned them to enter. 'Whence do you come, and whither do you go?'
'Ah, good woman, we have a heavy task before us,' answered
Bensurdatu, 'we are bound to carry the king's daughters back to the
'Oh, unhappy creatures,' cried she, 'you know not what you are
doing! The king's daughters were covered by a thick cloud, and no one
knows where they may now be.'
'Oh, tell us, if you know, my good woman,' entreated Bensurdatu,
'for with them lies all our happiness.'
'Even if I were to tell you,' answered she, 'you could not rescue
them. To do that you would have to go to the very bottom of a deep
river, and though certainly you would find the king's daughters there,
yet the two eldest are guarded by two giants, and the youngest is
watched by a serpent with seven heads.'
The two generals, who stood by listening, were filled with terror at
her words, and wished to return immediately; but Bensurdatu stood firm,
and said: 'Now we have got so far we must carry the thing through. Tell
us where the river is, so that we may get there as soon as possible.'
And the old woman told them, and gave them some cheese, wine, and
bread, so that they should not set forth starving; and when they had
eaten and drunk they laid themselves down to sleep.
The sun had only just risen above the hills next morning before they
all woke, and, taking leave of the wise woman who had helped them, they
rode on till they came to the river.
'I am the eldest,' said one of the generals, 'and it is my right to
go down first.'
So the others fastened a cord round him, and gave him a little bell,
and let him down into the water. But scarcely had the river closed
above his head when such dreadful rushing sounds and peals of thunder
came crashing round about him that he lost all his courage, and rang
his bell, if perchance it might be heard amidst all this clamour. Great
was his relief when the rope began slowly to pull him upwards.
Then the other general plunged in; but he fared no better than the
first, and was soon on dry ground again.
'Well, you are a brave pair!' said Bensurdatu, as he tied the rope
round his own waist; 'let us see what will happen to me.' And when he
heard the thunder and clamour round about him he thought to himself,
'Oh, make as much noise as you like, it won't hurt me!' When his feet
touched the bottom he found himself in a large, brilliantly lighted
hall, and in the middle sat the eldest princess, and in front of her
lay a huge giant, fast asleep. Directly she saw Bensurdatu she nodded
to him, and asked with her eyes how he had come there.
For answer he drew his sword, and was about to cut off the giant's
head, when she stopped him quickly, and made signs to hide himself, as
the giant was just beginning to wake. 'I smell the flesh of a man!'
murmured he, stretching his great arms.
'Why, how in the world could any man get down here?' replied she;
'you had better go to sleep again.'
So he turned over and went to sleep. Then the princess signed to
Bensurdatu, who drew his sword and cut off the giant's head with such a
blow that it flew into the corner. And the heart of the princess leapt
within her, and she placed a golden crown on the head of Bensurdatu,
and called him her deliverer.
'Now show me where your sisters are,' he said, 'that I may free them
So the princess opened a door, and led him into another hall,
wherein sat her next sister, guarded by a giant who was fast asleep.
When the second princess saw them, she made a sign to them to hide
themselves, for the giant was showing symptoms of waking.
'I smell man's flesh!' murmured he, sleepily.
'Now, how could any man get down here?' asked she; 'go to sleep
again.' And as soon as he closed his eyes, Bensurdatu stole out from
his corner, and struck such a blow at his head that it flew far, far
away. The princess could not find words to thank Bensurdatu for what he
had done, and she too placed in his hand a golden crown.
'Now show me where your youngest sister is,' said he, 'that I may
free her also.'
'Ah! that I fear you will never be able to do,' sighed they, 'for
she is in the power of a serpent with seven heads.'
'Take me to him,' replied Bensurdatu. 'It will be a splendid fight.'
Then the princess opened a door, and Bensurdatu passed through, and
found himself in a hall that was even larger than the other two. And
there stood the youngest sister, chained fast to the wall, and before
her was stretched a serpent with seven heads, horrible to see. As
Bensurdatu came forward it twisted all its seven heads in his
direction, and then made a quick dart to snatch him within its grasp.
But Bensurdatu drew his sword and laid about him, till the seven heads
were rolling on the floor. Flinging down his sword he rushed to the
princess and broke her chains, and she wept for joy, and embraced him,
and took the golden crown from off her head, and placed it in his hand.
'Now we must go back to the upper world,' said Bensurdatu, and led
her to the bottom of the river. The other princesses were waiting
there, and he tied the rope round the eldest, and rung his bell. And
the generals above heard, and drew her gently up. They then unfastened
the cord and threw it back into the river, and in a few moments the
second princess stood beside her sister.
So now there were left only Bensurdatu and the youngest princess.
'Dear Bensurdatu,' said she, 'do me a kindness, and let them draw you
up before me. I dread the treachery of the generals.
'No, no,' replied Bensurdatu, 'I certainly will not leave you down
here. There is nothing to fear from my comrades.'
'If it is your wish I will go up then; but first I swear that if you
do not follow to marry me, I shall stay single for the rest of my
life.' Then he bound the rope round her, and the generals drew her up.
But instead of lowering the rope again into the river, envy at the
courage and success of Bensurdatu so filled the hearts of the two
generals, that they turned away and left him to perish. And, more than
that, they threatened the princesses, and forced them to promise to
tell their parents that it was the two generals who had set them free.
'And if they should ask you about Bensurdatu, you must say you have
never seen him,' they added; and the princesses, fearing for their
lives, promised everything, and they rode back to court together.
The king and queen were beside themselves with joy when they saw
their dear children once more. But when the generals had told their
story, and the dangers they had run, the king declared that they had
gained their reward, and that the two eldest princesses should become
And now we must see what poor Bensurdatu was doing.
He waited patiently a long, long time, but when the rope never came
back he knew he had been right, and that his comrades had betrayed him.
'Ah, now I shall never reach the world again,' murmured he; but being a
brave man, and knowing that moaning his fate would profit him nothing,
he rose and began to search through the three halls, where, perhaps, he
might find something to help him. In the last one stood a dish, covered
with food, which reminded him that he was hungry, and he sat down and
ate and drank.
Months passed away, when, one morning, as he was walking through the
halls, he noticed a purse hanging on the wall, which had never been
there before. He took it down to examine it, and nearly let it fall
with surprise when a voice came from the purse saying: 'What commands
'Oh, take me out of this horrible place, and up into the world
again; 'and in a moment he was standing by the river bank, with the
purse tightly grasped in his hand.
'Now let me have the most beautiful ship that ever was built, all
manned and ready for sea.' And there was the ship, with a flag floating
from its mast on which were the words, 'King with the three crowns.'
Then Bensurdatu climbed on board, and sailed away to the city where the
three princesses dwelt; and when he reached the harbour he blew
trumpets and beat drums, so that every one ran to the doors and
windows. And the king heard too, and saw the beautiful vessel, and said
to himself: 'That must indeed be a mighty monarch, for he has three
crowns while I have only one.' So he hastened to greet the stranger,
and invited him to his castle, for, thought he, 'this will be a fine
husband for my youngest daughter.' Now, the youngest princess had never
married, and had turned a deaf ear to all her wooers.
Such a long time had passed since Bensurdatu had left the palace,
that the king never guessed for a moment that the splendidly clad
stranger before him was the man whom he had so deeply mourned as dead.
'Noble lord,' said he, 'let us feast and make merry together, and then,
if it seem good to you, do me the honour to take my youngest daughter
And Bensurdatu was glad, and they all sat down to a great feast, and
there were great rejoicings. But only the youngest daughter was sad,
for her thoughts were with Bensurdatu. After they arose from the table
the king said to her, 'Dear child, this mighty lord does you the honour
to ask your hand in marriage.'
'Oh, father,' answered she, 'spare me, I pray you, for I desire to
Then Bensurdatu turned to her, and said: 'And if I were Bensurdatu,
would you give the same answer to me?'
And as she stood silently gazing at him, he added: 'Yes, I am
Bensurdatu; and this is my story.'
The king and queen had their hearts stirred within them at the tale
of his adventures, and when he had ended the king stretched out his
hand, and said: 'Dear Bensurdatu, my youngest daughter shall indeed be
your wife; and when I die my crown shall be yours. As for the men who
have betrayed you, they shall leave the country and you shall see them
And the wedding feast was ordered, and rejoicings were held for
three days over the marriage of Bensurdatu and the youngest princess.
[From the Sicilianische Märchen.]
The Magician's Horse
Once upon a time, there was a king who had three sons. Now it
happened that one day the three princes went out hunting in a large
forest at some distance from their father's palace, and the youngest
prince lost his way, so his brothers had to return home without him.
For four days the prince wandered through the glades of the forest,
sleeping on moss beneath the stars at night, and by day living on roots
and wild berries. At last, on the morning of the fifth day, he came to
a large open space in the middle of the forest, and here stood a
stately palace; but neither within nor without was there a trace of
human life. The prince entered the open door and wandered through the
deserted rooms without seeing a living soul. At last he came on a great
hall, and in the centre of the hall was a table spread with dainty
dishes and choice wines. The prince sat down, and satisfied his hunger
and thirst, and immediately afterwards the table disappeared from his
sight. This struck the prince as very strange; but though he continued
his search through all the rooms, upstairs and down, he could find no
one to speak to. At last, just as it was beginning to get dark, he
heard steps in the distance and he saw an old man coming towards him up
'What are you doing wandering about my castle?' asked the old man.
To whom the prince replied: 'I lost my way hunting in the forest. If
you will take me into your service, I should like to stay with you, and
will serve you faithfully.'
'Very well,' said the old man. 'You may enter my service. You will
have to keep the stove always lit, you will have to fetch the wood for
it from the forest, and you will have the charge of the black horse in
the stables. I will pay you a florin a day, and at meal times you will
always find the table in the hall spread with food and wine, and you
can eat and drink as much as you require.'
The prince was satisfied, and he entered the old man's service, and
promised to see that there was always wood on the stove, so that the
fire should never die out. Now, though he did not know it, his new
master was a magician, and the flame of the stove was a magic fire, and
if it had gone out the magician would have lost a great part of his
One day the prince forgot, and let the fire burn so low that it very
nearly burnt out. Just as the flame was flickering the old man stormed
into the room.
'What do you mean by letting the fire burn so low?' he growled. 'I
have only arrived in the nick of time.' And while the prince hastily
threw a log on the stove and blew on the ashes to kindle a glow, his
master gave him a severe box on the ear, and warned him that if ever it
happened again it would fare badly with him.
One day the prince was sitting disconsolate in the stables when, to
his surprise, the black horse spoke to him.
'Come into my stall,' it said, 'I have something to say to you.
Fetch my bridle and saddle from that cupboard and put them on me. Take
the bottle that is beside them; it contains an ointment which will make
your hair shine like pure gold; then put all the wood you can gather
together on to the stove, till it is piled quite high up.'
So the prince did what the horse told him; he saddled and bridled
the horse, he put the ointment on his hair till it shone like gold, and
he made such a big fire in the stove that the flames sprang up and set
fire to the roof, and in a few minutes the palace was burning like a
Then he hurried back to the stables, and the horse said to him:
'There is one thing more you must do. In the cupboard you will find a
looking-glass, a brush and a riding-whip. Bring them with you, mount on
my back, and ride as hard as you can, for now the house is burning
The prince did as the horse bade him. Scarcely had he got into the
saddle than the horse was off and away, galloping at such a pace that,
in a short time, the forest and all the country belonging to the
magician lay far behind them.
In the meantime the magician returned to his palace, which he found
in smouldering ruins. In vain he called for his servant. At last he
went to look for him in the stables, and when he discovered that the
black horse had disappeared too, he at once suspected that they had
gone together; so he mounted a roan horse that was in the next stall,
and set out in pursuit.
As the prince rode, the quick ears of his horse heard the sound of
'Look behind you,' he said, 'and see if the old man is following.'
And the prince turned in his saddle and saw a cloud like smoke or dust
in the distance.
'We must hurry,' said the horse.
After they had galloped for some time, the horse said again: 'Look
behind, and see if he is still at some distance.'
'He is quite close,' answered the prince.
'Then throw the looking-glass on the ground,' said the horse. So the
prince threw it; and when the magician came up, the roan horse stepped
on the mirror, and crash! his foot went through the glass, and he
stumbled and fell, cutting his feet so badly that there was nothing for
the old man to do but to go slowly back with him to the stables, and
put new shoes on his feet. Then they started once more in pursuit of
the prince, for the magician set great value on the horse, and was
determined not to lose it.
In the meanwhile the prince had gone a great distance; but the quick
ears of the black horse detected the sound of following feet from afar.
'Dismount,' he said to the prince; 'put your ear to the ground, and
tell me if you do not hear a sound.'
So the prince dismounted and listened. 'I seem to hear the earth
tremble,' he said; 'I think he cannot be very far off.'
'Mount me at once,' answered the horse, 'and I will gallop as fast
as I can.' And he set off so fast that the earth seemed to fly from
under his hoofs.
'Look back once more,' he said, after a short time, 'and see if he
is in sight.'
'I see a cloud and a flame,' answered the prince; 'but a long way
'We must make haste,' said the horse. And shortly after he said:
'Look back again; he can't be far off now.'
The prince turned in his saddle, and exclaimed: 'He is close behind
us, in a minute the flame from his horse's nostrils will reach us.'
'Then throw the brush on the ground,' said the horse.
And the prince threw it, and in an instant the brush was changed
into such a thick wood that even a bird could not have got through it,
and when the old man got up to it the roan horse came suddenly to a
stand-still, not able to advance a step into the thick tangle. So there
was nothing for the magician to do but to retrace his steps, to fetch
an axe, with which he cut himself a way through the wood. But it took
him some time, during which the prince and the black horse got on well
But once more they heard the sound of pursuing feet. 'Look back,'
said the black horse, 'and see if he is following.'
'Yes,' answered the prince, 'this time I hear him distinctly.
'Let us hurry on,' said the horse. And a little later he said: 'Look
back now, and see if he is in sight.'
'Yes,' said the prince, turning round, 'I see the flame; he is close
'Then you must throw down the whip,' answered the horse.' And in the
twinkling of an eye the whip was changed into a broad river. When the
old man got up to it he urged the roan horse into the water, but as the
water mounted higher and higher, the magic flame which gave the
magician all his power grew smaller and smaller, till, with a fizz, it
went out, and the old man and the roan horse sank in the river and
disappeared. When the prince looked round they were no longer to be
'Now,' said the horse, 'you may dismount; there is nothing more to
fear, for the magician is dead. Beside that brook you will find a
willow wand. Gather it, and strike the earth with it, and it will open
and you will see a door at your feet.'
When the prince had struck the earth with the wand a door appeared,
and opened into a large vaulted stone hall.
'Lead me into that hall,' said the horse, 'I will stay there; but
you must go through the fields till you reach a garden, in the midst of
which is a king's palace. When you get there you must ask to be taken
into the king's service. Good-bye, and don't forget me.'
So they parted; but first the horse made the prince promise not to
let anyone in the palace see his golden hair. So he bound a scarf round
it, like a turban, and the prince set out through the fields, till he
reached a beautiful garden, and beyond the garden he saw the walls and
towers of a stately palace. At the garden gate he met the gardener, who
asked him what he wanted.
'I want to take service with the king,' replied the prince.
'Well, you may stay and work under me in the garden,' said the man;
for as the prince was dressed like a poor man, he could not tell that
he was a king's son. 'I need someone to weed the ground and to sweep
the dead leaves from the paths. You shall have a florin a day, a horse
to help you to cart the leaves away, and food and drink.'
So the prince consented, and set about his work. But when his food
was given to him he only ate half of it; the rest he carried to the
vaulted hall beside the brook, and gave to the black horse. And this he
did every day, and the horse thanked him for his faithful friendship.
One evening, as they were together, after his work in the garden was
over, the horse said to him: 'To-morrow a large company of princes and
great lords are coming to your king's palace. They are coming from far
and near, as wooers for the three princesses. They will all stand in a
row in the courtyard of the palace, and the three princesses will come
out, and each will carry a diamond apple in her hand, which she will
throw into the air. At whosesoever feet the apple falls he will be the
bridegroom of that princess. You must be close by in the garden at your
work. The apple of the youngest princess, who is much the most
beautiful of the sisters, will roll past the wooers and stop in front
of you. Pick it up at once and put it in your pocket.'
The next day, when the wooers were all assembled in the courtyard of
the castle, everything happened just as the horse had said. The
princesses threw the apples into the air, and the diamond apple of the
youngest princess rolled past all the wooers, out on to the garden, and
stopped at the feet of the young gardener, who was busy sweeping the
leaves away. In a moment he had stooped down, picked up the apple and
put it in his pocket. As he stooped the scarf round his head slipped a
little to one side, and the princess caught sight of his golden hair,
and loved him from that moment.
But the king was very sad, for his youngest daughter was the one he
loved best. But there was no help for it; and the next day a threefold
wedding was celebrated at the palace, and after the wedding the
youngest princess returned with her husband to the small hut in the
garden where he lived.
Some time after this the people of a neighbouring country went to
war with the king, and he set out to battle, accompanied by the
husbands of his two eldest daughters mounted on stately steeds. But the
husband of the youngest daughter had nothing but the old broken-down
horse which helped him in his garden work; and the king, who was
ashamed of this son-in-law, refused to give him any other.
So as he was determined not to be left behind, he went into the
garden, mounted the sorry nag, and set out. But scarcely had he ridden
a few yards before the horse stumbled and fell. So he dismounted and
went down to the brook, to where the black horse lived in the vaulted
hall. And the horse said to him: 'Saddle and bridle me, and then go
into the next room and you will find a suit of armour and a sword. Put
them on, and we will ride forth together to battle.'
And the prince did as he was told; and when he had mounted the horse
his armour glittered in the sun, and he looked so brave and handsome,
that no one would have recognised him as the gardener who swept away
the dead leaves from the paths. The horse bore him away at a great
pace, and when they reached the battle-field they saw that the king was
losing the day, so many of his warriors had been slain. But when the
warrior on his black charger and in glittering armour appeared on the
scene, hewing right and left with his sword, the enemy were dismayed
and fled in all directions, leaving the king master of the field. Then
the king and his two sons-in-law, when they saw their deliverer,
shouted, and all that was left of the army joined in the cry: 'A god
has come to our rescue!' And they would have surrounded him, but his
black horse rose in the air and bore him out of their sight.
Soon after this, part of the country rose in rebellion against the
king, and once more he and his two sons-in-law had to fare forth to
battle. And the son-in-law who was disguised as a gardener wanted to
fight too. So he came to the king and said: 'Dear father, let me ride
with you to fight your enemies.'
'I don't want a blockhead like you to fight for me,' answered the
king. 'Besides, I haven't got a horse fit for you. But see, there is a
carter on the road carting hay; you may take his horse.'
So the prince took the carter's horse, but the poor beast was old
and tired, and after it had gone a few yards it stumbled and fell. So
the prince returned sadly to the garden and watched the king ride forth
at the head of the army accompanied by his two sons-in-law. When they
were out of sight the prince betook himself to the vaulted chamber by
the brook-side, and having taken counsel of the faithful black horse,
he put on the glittering suit of armour, and was borne on the back of
the horse through the air, to where the battle was being fought. And
once more he routed the king's enemies, hacking to right and left with
his sword. And again they all cried: 'A god has come to our rescue!'
But when they tried to detain him the black horse rose in the air and
bore him out of their sight.
When the king and his sons-in-law returned home they could talk of
nothing but the hero who had fought for them, and all wondered who he
Shortly afterwards the king of a neighbouring country declared war,
and once more the king and his sons-in-law and his subjects had to
prepare themselves for battle, and once more the prince begged to ride
with them, but the king said he had no horse to spare for him. 'But,'
he added, 'you may take the horse of the woodman who brings the wood
from the forest, it is good enough for you.'
So the prince took the woodman's horse, but it was so old and
useless that it could not carry him beyond the castle gates. So he
betook himself once more to the vaulted hall, where the black horse had
prepared a still more magnificent suit of armour for him than the one
he had worn on the previous occasions, and when he had put it on, and
mounted on the back of the horse, he bore him straight to the
battle-field, and once more he scattered the king's enemies, fighting
single-handed in their ranks, and they fled in all directions. But it
happened that one of the enemy struck with his sword and wounded the
prince in the leg. And the king took his own pocket-handkerchief, with
his name and crown embroidered on it, and bound it round the wounded
leg. And the king would fain have compelled him to mount in a litter
and be carried straight to the palace, and two of his knights were to
lead the black charger to the royal stables. But the prince put his
hand on the mane of his faithful horse, and managed to pull himself up
into the saddle, and the horse mounted into the air with him. Then they
all shouted and cried: 'The warrior who has fought for us is a god! He
must be a god.'
And throughout all the kingdom nothing else was spoken about, and
all the people said: 'Who can the hero be who has fought for us in so
many battles? He cannot be a man, he must be a god.'
And the king said: 'If only I could see him once more, and if it
turned out that after all he was a man and not a god, I would reward
him with half my kingdom.'
Now when the prince reached his home—the gardener's hut where he
lived with his wife—he was weary, and he lay down on his bed and
slept. And his wife noticed the handkerchief bound round his wounded
leg, and she wondered what it could be. Then she looked at it more
closely and saw in the corner that it was embroidered with her father's
name and the royal crown. So she ran straight to the palace and told
her father. And he and his two sons-in-law followed her back to her
house, and there the gardener lay asleep on his bed. And the scarf that
he always wore bound round his head had slipped off, and his golden
hair gleamed on the pillow. And they all recognised that this was the
hero who had fought and won so many battles for them.
Then there was great rejoicing throughout the land, and the king
rewarded his son-in-law with half of his kingdom, and he and his wife
reigned happily over it.
The Little Gray Man
A nun, a countryman, and a blacksmith were once wandering through
the world together. One day they lost their way in a thick, dark
forest, and were thankful when they saw, in the distance, the walls of
a house, where they hoped they might obtain refuge for the night. When
they got close to the house they found that it was an old deserted
castle, fast falling into ruins, but with some of the rooms in it still
habitable. As they were homeless they determined to take up their abode
in the castle, and they arranged that one of them should always stay at
home and keep house, while the other two went out into the world to
seek their fortunes.
The lot of remaining at home fell first to the nun, and when the
countryman and the blacksmith had gone out into the wood, she set to
work, tidied up the house, and prepared all the food for the day. As
her companions did not come home for their mid-day meal, she ate up her
own portion and put the rest in the oven to keep warm. Just as she was
sitting down to sew, the door opened and a little gray man came in,
and, standing before her, said: 'Oh! how cold I am!'
The nun was very sorry for him, and said at once: 'Sit down by the
fire and warm yourself.'
The little man did as he was told, and soon called out: 'Oh! how
hungry I am!'
The nun answered: 'There is food in the oven, help yourself.'
The little man did not need to be told twice, for he set to work and
ate up everything with the greatest possible despatch. When the nun saw
this she was very angry, and scolded the dwarf because he had left
nothing for her companions.
The little man resented her words, and flew into such a passion that
he seized the nun, beat her, and threw her first against one wall and
then against the other. When he had nearly killed her he left her lying
on the floor, and hastily walked out of the house.
In the evening the countryman and the blacksmith returned home, and
when they found, on demanding their dinner, that there was nothing left
for them, they reproached the nun bitterly, and refused to believe her
when she tried to tell them what had happened.
The next day the countryman asked to be left in charge of the house,
and promised that, if he remained at home, no one should go hungry to
bed. So the other two went out into the forest, and the countryman
having prepared the food for the day, ate up his own portion, and put
the rest in the oven. Just as he had finished clearing away, the door
opened and the little gray man walked in, and this time he had two
heads. He shook and trembled as before, and exclaimed: 'Oh! how cold I
The countryman, who was frightened out of his wits, begged him to
draw near the fire and warm himself.
Soon after the dwarf looked greedily round, and said: 'Oh! how
hungry I am!'
'There is food in the oven, so you can eat,' replied the countryman.
Then the little man fell to with both his heads, and soon finished
the last morsel.
When the countryman scolded him for this proceeding he treated him
exactly as he had done the nun, and left the poor fellow more dead than
Now when the blacksmith came home with the nun in the evening, and
found nothing for supper, he flew into a passion; and swore that he
would stay at home the following day, and that no one should go
supperless to bed.
When day dawned the countryman and the nun set out into the wood,
and the blacksmith prepared all the food for the day as the others had
done. Again the gray dwarf entered the house without knocking, and this
time he had three heads. When he complained of cold, the blacksmith
told him to sit near the fire; and when he said he was hungry, the
blacksmith put some food on a plate and gave it to him. The dwarf made
short work of what was provided for him, and then, looking greedily
round with his six eyes, he demanded more. When the blacksmith refused
to give him another morsel, he flew into a terrible rage, and proceeded
to treat him in the same way as he had treated his companions.
But the blacksmith was a match for him, for he seized a huge hammer
and struck off two of the dwarf's heads with it. The little man yelled
with pain and rage, and hastily fled from the house. The blacksmith ran
after him, and pursued him for a long way; but at last they came to an
iron door, and through it the little creature vanished. The door shut
behind him, and the blacksmith had to give up the pursuit and return
home. He found that the nun and the countryman had come back in the
meantime, and they were much delighted when he placed some food before
them, and showed them the two heads he had struck off with his hammer.
The three companions determined there and then to free themselves from
the power of the gray dwarf, and the very next day they set to work to
They had to walk a long way, and to search for many hours, before
they found the iron door through which the dwarf had disappeared; and
when they had found it they had the greatest difficulty in opening it.
When at last they succeeded in forcing the lock, they entered a large
hall, in which sat a young and lovely girl, working at a table. The
moment she saw the nun, the blacksmith, and the countryman, she fell at
their feet, thanking them with tears in her eyes for having set her
free. She told them that she was a king's daughter, who had been shut
up in the castle by a mighty magician. The day before, just about noon,
she had suddenly felt the magic power over her disappear, and ever
since that moment she had eagerly awaited the arrival of her
deliverers. She went on to say that there was yet another princess shut
up in the castle, who had also fallen under the might of the magician.
They wandered through many halls and rooms till at last they found
the second princess, who was quite as grateful as the first, and
thanked the three companions most warmly for having set her free.
Then the princesses told their rescuers that a great treasure lay
hidden in the cellars of the castle, but that it was carefully guarded
by a fierce and terrible dog.
Nothing daunted, they all went down below at once, and found the
fierce animal mounting guard over the treasure as the princesses had
said. But one blow from the blacksmith's hammer soon made an end of the
monster, and they found themselves in a vaulted chamber full of gold
and silver and precious stones. Beside the treasure stood a young and
handsome man, who advanced to meet, them, and thanked the nun, the
blacksmith, and the countryman, for having freed him from the magic
spell he was under. He told them that he was a king's son, who had been
banished to this castle by a wicked magician, and that he had been
changed into the three-headed dwarf. When he had lost two of his heads
the magic power over the two princesses had been removed, and when the
blacksmith had killed the horrible dog, then he too had been set free.
To show his gratitude he begged the three companions to divide the
treasure between them, which they did; but there was so much of it that
it took a very long time.
The princesses, too, were so grateful to their rescuers, that one
married the blacksmith, and the other the countryman.
Then the prince claimed the nun as his bride, and they all lived
happily together till they died.
[From the German. Kletke.]
Herr Lazarus and the Draken
Once upon a time there was a cobbler called Lazarus, who was very
fond of honey. One day, as he ate some while he sat at work, the flies
collected in such numbers that with one blow he killed forty. Then he
went and ordered a sword to be made for him, on which he had written
these words: 'With one blow I have slain forty.' When the sword was
ready he took it and went out into the world, and when he was two days'
journey from home he came to a spring, by which he laid himself down
Now in that country there dwelt Draken, one of whom came to the
spring to draw water; there he found Lazarus sleeping, and read what
was written on his sword. Then he went back to his people and told them
what he had seen, and they all advised him to make fellowship with this
powerful stranger. So the Draken returned to the spring, awoke Lazarus,
and said that if it was agreeable to him they should make fellowship
Lazarus answered that he was willing, and after a priest had blessed
the fellowship, they returned together to the other Draken, and Lazarus
dwelt among them. After some days they told him that it was their
custom to take it in turns to bring wood and water, and as he was now
of their company, he must take his turn. They went first for water and
wood, but at last it came to be Lazarus's turn to go for water. The
Draken had a great leathern bag, holding two hundred measures of water.
This Lazarus could only, with great difficulty, drag empty to the
spring, and because he could not carry it back full, he did not fill it
at all, but, instead, he dug up the ground all round the spring.
As Lazarus remained so long away, the Draken sent one of their
number to see what had become of him, and when this one came to the
spring, Lazarus said to him: 'We will no more plague ourselves by
carrying water every day. I will bring the entire spring home at once,
and so we shall be freed from this burden.'
But the Draken called out: 'On no account, Herr Lazarus, else we
shall all die of thirst; rather will we carry the water ourselves in
turns, and you alone shall be exempt.'
Next it comes to be Lazarus's turn to bring the wood. Now the
Draken, when they fetched the wood, always took an entire tree on their
shoulder, and so carried it home. Because Lazarus could not imitate
them in this, he went to the forest, tied all the trees together with a
thick rope, and remained in the forest till evening. Again the Draken
sent one of them after him to see what had become of him, and when this
one asked what he was about, Lazarus answered: 'I will bring the entire
forest home at once, so that after that we may have rest.'
But the Draken called out: 'By no means, Herr Lazarus, else we shall
all die of cold; rather will we go ourselves to bring wood, and let you
be free.' And then the Draken tore up one tree, threw it over his
shoulder, and so carried it home.
When they had lived together some time, the Draken became weary of
Lazarus, and agreed among themselves to kill him; each Draken, in the
night while Lazarus slept, should strike him a blow with a hatchet. But
Lazarus heard of this scheme, and when the evening came, he took a log
of wood, covered it with his cloak, laid it in the place where he
usually slept, and then hid himself. In the night the Draken came, and
each one hit the log a blow with his hatchet, till it flew in pieces.
Then they believed their object was gained, and they lay down again.
Thereupon Lazarus took the log, threw it away, and laid himself down
in its stead. Towards dawn, he began to groan, and when the Draken
heard that, they asked what ailed him, to which he made answer: 'The
gnats have stung me horribly.' This terrified the Draken, for they
believed that Lazarus took their blows for gnat-stings, and they
determined at any price to get rid of him. Next morning, therefore,
they asked him if he had not wife or child, and said that if he would
like to go and visit them they would give him a bag of gold to take
away with him. He agreed willingly to this, but asked further that one
of the Draken should go with him to carry the bag of gold. They
consented, and one was sent with him.
When they had come to within a short; distance of Lazarus's house,
he said to the Draken: 'Stop here, in the meantime, for I must go on in
front and tie up my children, lest they eat you.'
So he went and tied his children with strong ropes, and said to
them: 'As soon as the Draken comes in sight, call out as loud as you
can, “Drakenflesh! Drakenflesh!”'
So, when the Draken appeared, the children cried out: 'Drakenflesh!
Drakenflesh!' and this so terrified the Draken that he let the bag fall
On the road he met a fox, which asked him why he seemed so
frightened. He answered that he was afraid of the children of Herr
Lazarus, who had been within a hair-breadth of eating him up. But the
fox laughed, and said: 'What! you were afraid of the children of Herr
Lazarus? He had two fowls, one of which I ate yesterday, the other I
will go and fetch now—if you do not believe me, come and see for
yourself; but you must first tie yourself on to my tail.'
The Draken then tied himself on to the fox's tail, and went back
thus with it to Lazarus's house, in order to see what it would arrange.
There stood Lazarus with his gun raised ready to fire, who, when he saw
the fox coming along with the Draken, called out to the fox: 'Did I not
tell you to bring me all the Draken, and you bring me only one?'
When the Draken heard that he made off to the rightabout at once,
and ran so fast that the fox was dashed in pieces against the stones.
When Lazarus had got quit of the Draken he built himself, with their
gold, a, magnificent house, in which he spent the rest of his days in
The Story of the Queen of the Flowery Isles
There once lived a queen who ruled over the Flowery Isles, whose
husband, to her extreme grief, died a few years after their marriage.
On being left a widow she devoted herself almost entirely to the
education of the two charming princesses, her only children. The elder
of them was so lovely that as she grew up her mother greatly feared she
would excite the jealousy of the Queen of all the Isles, who prided
herself on being the most beautiful woman in the world, and insisted on
all rivals bowing before her charms.
In order the better to gratify her vanity she had urged the king,
her husband, to make war on all the surrounding islands, and as his
greatest wish was to please her, the only conditions he imposed on any
newly-conquered country was that each princess of every royal house
should attend his court as soon as she was fifteen years old, and do
homage to the transcendent beauty of his queen.
The queen of the Flowery Isles, well aware of this law, was fully
determined to present her daughter to the proud queen as soon as her
fifteenth birthday was past.
The queen herself had heard a rumour of the young princess's great
beauty, and awaited her visit with some anxiety, which soon developed
into jealousy, for when the interview took place it was impossible not
to be dazzled by such radiant charms, and she was obliged to admit that
she had never beheld anyone so exquisitely lovely.
Of course she thought in her own mind 'excepting myself!' for
nothing could have made her believe it possible that anyone could
But the outspoken admiration of the entire court soon undeceived
her, and made her so angry that she pretended illness and retired to
her own rooms, so as to avoid witnessing the princess's triumph. She
also sent word to the Queen of the Flowery Isles that she was sorry not
to be well enough to see her again, and advised her to return to her
own states with the princess, her daughter.
This message was entrusted to one of the great ladies of the court,
who was an old friend of the Queen of the Flowery Isles, and who
advised her not to wait to take a formal leave but to go home as fast
as she could.
The queen was not slow to take the hint, and lost no time in obeying
it. Being well aware of the magic powers of the incensed queen, she
warned her daughter that she was threatened by some great danger if she
left the palace for any reason whatever during the next six months.
The princess promised obedience, and no pains were spared to make
the time pass pleasantly for her.
The six months were nearly at an end, and on the very last day a
splendid fête was to take place in a lovely meadow quite near the
palace. The princess, who had been able to watch all the preparations
from her window, implored her mother to let her go as far as the
meadow; and the queen, thinking all risk must be over, consented, and
promised to take her there herself.
The whole court was delighted to see their much-loved princess at
liberty, and everyone set off in high glee to join in the fête.
The princess, overjoyed at being once more in the open air, was
walking a little in advance of her party when suddenly the earth opened
under her feet and closed again after swallowing her up!
The queen fainted away with terror, and the younger princess burst
into floods of tears and could hardly be dragged away from the fatal
spot, whilst the court was overwhelmed with horror at so great a
Orders were given to bore the earth to a great depth, but in vain;
not a trace of the vanished princess was to be found.
She sank right through the earth and found herself in a desert place
with nothing but rocks and trees and no sign of any human being. The
only living creature she saw was a very pretty little dog, who ran up
to her and at once began to caress her. She took him in her arms, and
after playing with him for a little put him down again, when he started
off in front of her, looking round from time to time as though begging
her to follow.
She let him lead her on, and presently reached a little hill, from
which she saw a valley full of lovely fruit trees, bearing flowers and
fruit together. The ground was also covered with fruit and flowers, and
in the middle of the valley rose a fountain surrounded by a velvety
The princess hastened to this charming spot, and sitting down on the
grass began to think over the misfortune which had befallen her, and
burst into tears as she reflected on her sad condition.
The fruit and clear fresh water would, she knew, prevent her from
dying of hunger or thirst, but how could she escape if any wild beast
appeared and tried to devour her?
At length, having thought over every possible evil which could
happen, the princess tried to distract her mind by playing with the
little dog. She spent the whole day near the fountain, but as night
drew on she wondered what she should do, when she noticed that the
little dog was pulling at her dress.
She paid no heed to him at first, but as he continued to pull her
dress and then run a few steps in one particular direction, she at last
decided to follow him; he stopped before a rock with a large opening in
the centre, which he evidently wished her to enter.
The princess did so and discovered a large and beautiful cave lit up
by the brilliancy of the stones with which it was lined, with a little
couch covered with soft moss in one corner. She lay down on it and the
dog at once nestled at her feet. Tired out with all she had gone
through she soon fell asleep.
Next morning she was awakened very early by the songs of many birds.
The little dog woke up too, and sprang round her in his most caressing
manner. She got up and went outside, the dog as before running on in
front and turning back constantly to take her dress and draw her on.
She let him have his way and he soon led her back to the beautiful
garden where she had spent part of the day before. Here she ate some
fruit, drank some water of the fountain, and felt as if she had made an
excellent meal. She walked about amongst the flowers, played with her
little dog, and at night returned to sleep in the cave.
In this way the princess passed several months, and as her first
terrors died away she gradually became more resigned to her fate. The
little dog, too, was a great comfort, and her constant companion.
One day she noticed that he seemed very sad and did not even caress
her as usual. Fearing he might be ill she carried him to a spot where
she had seen him eat some particular herbs, hoping they might do him
good, but he would not touch them. He spent all the night, too, sighing
and groaning as if in great pain.
At last the princess fell asleep, and when she awoke her first
thought was for her little pet, but not finding him at her feet as
usual, she ran out of the cave to look for him. As she stepped out of
the cave she caught sight of an old man, who hurried away so fast that
she had barely time to see him before he disappeared.
This was a fresh surprise and almost as great a shock as the loss of
her little dog, who had been so faithful to her ever since the first
day she had seen him. She wondered if he had strayed away or if the old
man had stolen him.
Tormented by all kinds of thoughts and fears she wandered on, when
suddenly she felt herself wrapped in a thick cloud and carried through
the air. She made no resistance and before very long found herself, to
her great surprise, in an avenue leading to the palace in which she had
been born. No sign of the cloud anywhere.
As the princess approached the palace she perceived that everyone
was dressed in black, and she was filled with fear as to the cause of
this mourning. She hastened on and was soon recognised and welcomed
with shouts of joy. Her sister hearing the cheers ran out and embraced
the wanderer, with tears of happiness, telling her that the shock of
her disappearance had been so terrible that their mother had only
survived it a few days. Since then the younger princess had worn the
crown, which she now resigned to her sister to whom it by right
But the elder wished to refuse it, and would only accept the crown
on condition that her sister should share in all the power.
The first acts of the new queen were to do honour to the memory of
her dear mother and to shower every mark of generous affection on her
sister. Then, being still very grieved at the loss of her little dog,
she had a careful search made for him in every country, and when
nothing could be heard of him she was so grieved that she offered half
her kingdom to whoever should restore him to her.
Many gentlemen of the court, tempted by the thought of such a
reward, set off in all directions in search of the dog; but all
returned empty-handed to the queen, who, in despair announced that
since life was unbearable without her little dog, she would give her
hand in marriage to the man who brought him back.
The prospect of such a prize quickly turned the court into a desert,
nearly every courtier starting on the quest. Whilst they were away the
queen was informed one day that a very ill-looking man wished to speak
with her. She desired him to be shown into a room where she was sitting
with her sister.
On entering her presence he said that he was prepared to give the
queen her little dog if she on her side was ready to keep her word.
The princess was the first to speak. She said that the queen had no
right to marry without the consent of the nation, and that on so
important an occasion the general council must be summoned. The queen
could not say anything against this statement; but she ordered an
apartment in the palace to be given to the man, and desired the council
to meet on the following day.
Next day, accordingly, the council assembled in great state, and by
the princess's advice it was decided to offer the man a large sum of
money for the dog, and should he refuse it, to banish him from the
kingdom without seeing the queen again. The man refused the price
offered and left the hall.
The princess informed the queen of what had passed, and the queen
approved of all, but added that as she was her own mistress she had
made up her mind to abdicate her throne, and to wander through the
world till she had found her little dog.
The princess was much alarmed by such a resolution, and implored the
queen to change her mind. Whilst they were discussing the subject, one
of the chamberlains appeared to inform the queen that the bay was
covered with ships. The two sisters ran to the balcony, and saw a large
fleet in full sail for the port.
In a little time they came to the conclusion that the ships must
come from a friendly nation, as every vessel was decked with gay flags,
streamers, and pennons, and the way was led by a small ship flying a
great white flag of peace.
The queen sent a special messenger to the harbour, and was soon
informed that the fleet belonged to the Prince of the Emerald Isles,
who begged leave to land in her kingdom, and to present his humble
respects to her. The queen at once sent some of the court dignitaries
to receive the prince and bid him welcome.
She awaited him seated on her throne, but rose on his appearance,
and went a few steps to meet him; then begged him to be seated, and for
about an hour kept him in close conversation.
The prince was then conducted to a splendid suite of apartments, and
the next day he asked for a private audience. He was admitted to the
queen's own sitting-room, where she was sitting alone with her sister.
After the first greetings the prince informed the queen that he had
some very strange things to tell her, which she only would know to be
'Madam,' said he, 'I am a neighbour of the Queen of all the Isles;
and a small isthmus connects part of my states with hers. One day, when
hunting a stag, I had the misfortune to meet her, and not recognising
her, I did not stop to salute her with all proper ceremony. You, Madam,
know better than anyone how revengeful she is, and that she is also a
mistress of magic. I learnt both facts to my cost. The ground opened
under my feet, and I soon found myself in a far distant region
transformed into a little dog, under which shape I had the honour to
meet your Majesty. After six months, the queen's vengeance not being
yet satisfied, she further changed me into a hideous old man, and in
this form I was so afraid of being unpleasant in your eyes, Madam, that
I hid myself in the depths of the woods, where I spent three months
more. At the end of that time I was so fortunate as to meet a
benevolent fairy who delivered me from the proud queen's power, and
told me all your adventures and where to find you. I now come to offer
you a heart which has been entirely yours, Madam, since first we met in
A few days later a herald was sent through the kingdom to proclaim
the joyful news of the marriage of the Queen of the Flowery Isles with
the young prince. They lived happily for many years, and ruled their
As for the bad queen, whose vanity and jealousy had caused so much
mischief, the Fairies took all her power away for a punishment.
['Cabinet des Fées.']
Udea and Her Seven Brothers
Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who had seven boys.
The children lived in the open air and grew big and strong, and the six
eldest spent part of every day hunting wild beasts. The youngest did
not care so much about sport, and he often stayed with his mother.
One morning, however, as the whole seven were going out for a long
expedition, they said to their aunt, 'Dear aunt, if a baby sister comes
into the world to-day, wave a white handkerchief, and we will return
immediately; but if it is only a boy, just brandish a sickle, and we
will go on with what we are doing.'
Now the baby when it arrived really proved to be a girl, but as the
aunt could not bear the boys, she thought it was a good opportunity to
get rid of them. So she waved the sickle. And when the seven brothers
saw the sign they said, 'Now we have nothing to go back for,' and
plunged deeper into the desert.
The little girl soon grew to be a big girl, and she was called by
all her friends (though she did not know it) 'Udea, who had driven her
seven brothers into strange lands.'
One day, when she had been quarrelling with her playmates, the
oldest among them said to her, 'It is a pity you were born, as ever
since, your brothers have been obliged to roam about the world.'
Udea did not answer, but went home to her mother and asked her,
'Have I really got brothers?'
'Yes,' replied her mother, 'seven of them. But they went away the
day you were born, and I have never heard of them since.'
Then the girl said, 'I will go and look for them till I find them.'
'My dear child,' answered her mother, 'it is fifteen years since
they left, and no man has seen them. How will you know which way to
'Oh, I will follow them, north and south, east and west, and though
I may travel far, yet some day I will find them.'
Then her mother said no more, but gave her a camel and some food,
and a negro and his wife to take care of her, and she fastened a cowrie
shell round the camel's neck for a charm, and bade her daughter go in
During the first day the party journeyed on without any adventures,
but the second morning the negro said to the girl, 'Get down, and let
the negress ride instead of you.'
'Mother,' cried Udea.
'What is it?' asked her mother.
'Barka wants me to dismount from my camel.'
'Leave her alone, Barka,' commanded the mother, and Barka did not
dare to persist.
But on the following day he said again to Udea, 'Get down, and let
the negress ride instead of you,' and though Udea called to her mother
she was too far away, and the mother never heard her. Then the negro
seized her roughly and threw her on the ground, and said to his wife,
'Climb up,' and the negress climbed up, while the girl walked by the
side. She had meant to ride all the way on her camel as her feet were
bare and the stones cut them till the blood came. But she had to walk
on till night, when they halted, and the next morning it was the same
thing again. Weary and bleeding the poor girl began to cry, and
implored the negro to let her ride, if only for a little. But he took
no notice, except to bid her walk a little faster.
By-and-by they passed a caravan, and the negro stopped and asked the
leader if they had come across seven young men, who were thought to be
hunting somewhere about. And the man answered, 'Go straight on, and by
midday you will reach the castle where they live.'
When he heard this, the black melted some pitch in the sun, and
smeared the girl with it, till she looked as much a negro as he did.
Next he bade his wife get down from the camel, and told Udea to mount,
which she was thankful to do. So they arrived at her brothers' castle.
Leaving the camel kneeling at the entrance for Udea to dismount, the
negro knocked loudly at the door, which was opened by the youngest
brother, all the others being away hunting. He did not of course
recognise Udea, but he knew the negro and his wife, and welcomed them
gladly, adding, 'But who does the other negress belong to?'
'Oh, that is your sister!' said they.
'My sister! but she is coal black!'
'That may be, but she is your sister for all that.'
The young man asked no more questions, but took them into the
castle, and he himself waited outside till his brothers came home.
As soon as they were alone, the negro whispered to Udea, 'If you
dare to tell your brothers that I made you walk, or that I smeared you
with pitch, I will kill you.'
'Oh, I will be sure to say nothing,' replied the girl, trembling,
and at that moment the six elder brothers appeared in sight.
'I have some good news for you,' said the youngest, hastening to
meet them; 'our sister is here!'
'Nonsense,' they answered. 'We have no sister; you know the child
that was born was a boy.'
'But that was not true,' replied he, 'and here she is with the negro
and his wife. Only—she too is black,' he added softly, but his
brothers did not hear him, and pushed past joyfully.
'How are you, good old Barka?' they said to the negro; 'and how
comes it that we never knew that we had a sister till now?' and they
greeted Udea warmly, while she shed tears of relief and gladness.
The next morning they all agreed that they would not go out hunting.
And the eldest brother took Udea on his knee, and she combed his hair
and talked to him of their home till the tears ran down his cheeks and
dropped on her bare arm. And where the tears fell a white mark was
made. Then the brother took a cloth and rubbed the place, and he saw
that she was not black at all.
'Tell me, who painted you over like this?' cried he.
'I am afraid to tell you,' sobbed the girl, 'the negro will kill
'Afraid! and with seven brothers!'
'Well, I will tell you then,' she answered. 'The negro forced me to
dismount from the camel and let his wife ride instead. And the stones
cut my feet till they bled and I had to bind them. And after that, when
we heard your castle was near by, he took pitch and smeared my body
Then the brother rushed in wrath from the room, and seizing his
sword, cut off first the negro's head and then his wife's. He next
brought in some warm water, and washed his sister all over, till her
skin was white and shining again.
'Ah, now we see that you are our sister!' they all said. 'What fools
the negro must have thought us, to believe for an instant that we could
have a sister who was black!' And all that day and the next they
remained in the castle.
But on the third morning they said to their sister: 'Dear sister,
you must lock yourself into this castle, with only the cat for company.
And be very careful never to eat anything which she does not eat too.
You must be sure to give her a bit of everything. In seven days we
shall be back again.'
'All right,' she answered, and locked herself into the castle with
On the eighth day the brothers came home. 'How are you?' they asked.
'You have not been anxious?'
'No, why should I be anxious? The gates were fast locked, and in the
castle are seven doors, and the seventh is of iron. What is there to
'No one will try to hurt us,' said the brothers, 'for they fear us
greatly. But for yourself, we implore you to do nothing without
consulting the cat, who has grown up in the house, and take care never
to neglect her advice.'
'All right,' replied Udea, 'and whatever I eat she shall have half.'
'Capital! and if ever you are in danger the cat will come and tell
us—only elves and pigeons, which fly round your window, know where to
'This is the first I have heard of the pigeons,' said Udea. 'Why did
you not speak of them before?'
We always leave them food and water for seven days,' replied the
'Ah,' sighed the girl, 'if I had only known, I would have given them
fresh food and fresh water; for after seven days anything becomes bad.
Would it not be better if I fed them every day?'
'Much better,' said they, 'and we shall feel any kindnesses you do
towards the cat or the pigeons exactly as if they were shown to
'Set your minds at ease,' answered the girl, 'I will treat them as
if they were my brothers.'
That night the brothers slept in the castle, but after breakfast
next morning they buckled on their weapons and mounted their horses,
and rode off to their hunting grounds, calling out to their sister,
'Mind you let nobody in till we come back.'
'Very well,' cried she, and kept the doors carefully locked for
seven days and on the eighth the brothers returned as before. Then,
after spending one evening with her, they departed as soon as they had
Directly they were out of sight Udea began to clean the house, and
among the dust she found a bean which she ate.
'What are you eating?' asked the cat.
'Nothing,' said she.
'Open your mouth, and let me see.' The girl did as she was told, and
then the cat said 'Why did you not give me half?'
'I forgot,' answered she, 'but there are plenty of beans about, you
can have as many as you like.'
'No, that won't do. I want half of that particular bean.'
'But how can I give it you? I tell you I have eaten it. I can roast
you a hundred others.'
'No, I want half of that one.'
'Oh! do as you like, only go away!' cried she.
So the cat ran straight to the kitchen fire, and spit on it and put
it out, and when Udea came to cook the supper she had nothing to light
it with. 'Why did you put the fire out?' asked she.
'Just to show you how nicely you would be able to cook the supper.
Didn't you tell me to do what I liked?'
The girl left the kitchen and climbed up on the roof of the castle
and looked out. Far, far away, so far that she could hardly see it, was
the glow of a fire. 'I will go and fetch a burning coal from there and
light my fire,' thought she, and opened the door of the castle. When
she reached the place where the fire was kindled, a hideous man-eater
was crouching over it.
'Peace be with you, grandfather,' said she.
'The same to you,' replied the man-eater. 'What brings you here,
'I came to ask for a lump of burning coal, to light my fire with.'
'Do you want a big lump or a little lump?'
'Why, what difference does it make?' said she.
'If you have a big lump you must give me a strip of your skin from
your ear to your thumb, and if you have a little lump, you must give me
a strip from your ear to your little finger.'
Udea, who thought that one sounded as bad as the other, said she
would take the big lump, and when the man-eater had cut the skin, she
went home again. And as she hastened on a raven beheld the blood on the
ground, and plastered it with earth, and stayed by her till she reached
the castle. And as she entered the door he flew past, and she shrieked
from fright, for up to that moment she had not seen him. In her terror
she called after him. 'May you get the same start as you have given
'Why should you wish me harm,' asked the raven pausing in his
flight, 'when I have done you a service?'
'What service have you done me?' said she.
'Oh, you shall soon see,' replied the raven, and with his bill he
scraped away all the earth he had smeared over the blood and then flew
In the night the man-eater got up, and followed the blood till he
came to Udea's castle. He entered through the gate which she had left
open, and went on till he reached the inside of the house. But here he
was stopped by the seven doors, six of wood and one of iron, and all
fast locked. And he called through them 'Oh Udea, what did you see your
'I saw him spread silk under him, and silk over him, and lay himself
down in a four-post bed.'
When he heard that, the man-eater broke in one door, and laughed and
And the second night he came back, and asked her again what she had
seen her grandfather doing, and she answered him as before, and he
broke in another door, and laughed and went away, and so each night
till he reached the seventh door. Then the maiden wrote a letter to her
brothers, and bound it round the neck of a pigeon, and said to it, 'Oh,
thou pigeon that served my father and my grandfather, carry this letter
to my brothers, and come back at once.' And the pigeon flew away.
It flew and it flew and it flew till it found the brothers. The
eldest unfastened the letter from the pigeon's neck, and read what his
sister had written: 'I am in a great strait, my brothers. If you do not
rescue me to-night, to-morrow I shall be no longer living, for the
man-eater has broken open six doors, and only the iron door is left. So
haste, haste, post haste.'
'Quick, quick! my brothers,' cried he.
'What is the matter?' asked they.
'If we cannot reach our sister to-night, to-morrow she will be the
prey of the man-eater.'
And without more words they sprang on their horses, and rode like
The gate of the castle was thrown down, and they entered the court
and called loudly to their sister. But the poor girl was so ill with
fear and anxiety that she could not even speak. Then the brothers
dismounted and passed through the six open doors, till they stood
before the iron one, which was still shut. 'Udea, open!' they cried,
'it is only your brothers!' And she arose and unlocked the door, and
throwing herself on the neck of the eldest burst into tears.
'Tell us what has happened,' he said, 'and how the man-eater traced
you here.' 'It is all the cat's fault,' replied Udea. 'She put out my
fire so that I could not cook. All about a bean! I ate one and forgot
to give her any of it.'
'But we told you so particularly,' said the eldest brother, 'never
to eat anything without sharing it with the cat.'
'Yes, but I tell you I forgot,' answered Udea.
'Does the man-eater come here every night?' asked the brothers.
'Every night,' said Udea, 'and he breaks one door in and then goes
Then all the brothers cried together, 'We will dig a great hole, and
fill it with burning wood, and spread a covering over the top; and when
the man-eater arrives we will push him into it.' So they all set to
work and prepared the great hole, and set fire to the wood, till it was
reduced to a mass of glowing charcoal. And when the man-eater came, and
called as usual, 'Udea, what did you see your grandfather doing?' she
answered, 'I saw him pull off the ass' skin and devour the ass, and he
fell in the fire, and the fire burned him up.'
Then the man-eater was filled with rage, and he flung himself upon
the iron door and burst it in. On the other side stood Udea's seven
brothers, who said, 'Come, rest yourself a little on this mat.' And the
man-eater sat down, and he fell right into the burning pit which was
under the mat, and they heaped on more wood, till nothing was left of
him, not even a bone. Only one of his finger-nails was blown away, and
fell into an upper chamber where Udea was standing, and stuck under one
of the nails of her own fingers. And she sank lifeless to the earth.
Meanwhile her brothers sat below waiting for her and wondering why
she did not come. 'What can have happened to her!' exclaimed the eldest
brother. 'Perhaps she has fallen into the fire, too.' So one of the
others ran upstairs and found his sister stretched on the floor. 'Udea!
Udea!' he cried, but she did not move or reply. Then he saw that she
was dead, and rushed down to his brothers in the courtyard and called
out, 'Come quickly, our sister is dead!' In a moment they were all
beside her and knew that it was true, and they made a bier and laid her
on it, and placed her across a camel, and said to the camel, 'Take her
to her mother, but be careful not to halt by the way, and let no man
capture you, and see you kneel down before no man, save him who shall
say “string” [Footnote: 'Riemen.'] to you. But to him who says
“string,” then kneel.'
So the camel started, and when it had accomplished half its journey
it met three men, who ran after it in order to catch it; but they could
not. Then they cried 'Stop!' but the camel only went the faster. The
three men panted behind till one said to the others, 'Wait a minute!
The string of my sandal is broken!' The camel caught the word 'string'
and knelt down at once, and the men came up and found a dead girl lying
on a bier, with a ring on her finger. And as one of the young men took
hold of her hand to pull off the ring, he knocked out the man-eater's
finger-nail, which had stuck there, and the maiden sat up and said,
'Let him live who gave me life, and slay him who slew me!' And when the
camel heard the maiden speak, it turned and carried her back to her
Now the brothers were still seated in the court bewailing their
sister, and their eyes were dim with weeping so that they could hardly
see. And when the camel stood before them they said, 'Perhaps it has
brought back our sister!' and rose to give it a beating. But the camel
knelt down and the girl dismounted, and they flung themselves on her
neck and wept more than ever for gladness.
'Tell me,' said the eldest, as soon as he could speak, 'how it all
came about, and what killed you.'
'I was waiting in the upper chamber,' said she, 'and a nail of the
man-eater's stuck under my nail, and I fell dead upon the ground. That
is all I know.'
'But who pulled out the nail?' asked he.
'A man took hold of my hand and tried to pull off my ring, and the
nail jumped out and I was alive again. And when the camel heard me say
“Let him live who gave me life, slay him who slew me!” it turned and
brought me back to the castle. That is my story.'
She was silent and the eldest brother spoke. 'Will you listen to
what I have to say, my brothers?'
And they replied, 'How should we not hear you? Are you not our
father as well as our brother?'
'Then this is my advice. Let us take our sister back to our father
and mother, that we may see them once more before they die.'
And the young men agreed, and they mounted their horses and placed
their sister in a litter on the camel. So they set out.
At the end of five days' journey they reached the old home where
their father and mother dwelt alone. And the heart of their father
rejoiced, and he said to them, 'Dear sons, why did you go away and
leave your mother and me to weep for you night and day?'
'Dear father,' answered the son, 'let us rest a little now, and then
I will tell you everything from the beginning.'
'All right,' replied the father, and waited patiently for three
And on the morning of the fourth day the eldest brother said, 'Dear
father, would you like to hear our adventures?'
'Certainly I should!'
'Well, it was our aunt who was the cause of our leaving home, for we
agreed that if the baby was a sister she should wave a white
handkerchief, and if it was a brother, she should brandish a sickle,
for then there would be nothing to come back for, and we might wander
far away. Now our aunt could not bear us, and hated us to live in the
same house with her, so she brandished the sickle, and we went away.
That is all our story.'
And that is all this story.
[Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis. Von Hans Stumme.]
The White Wolf
Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters; they were
all beautiful, but the youngest was the fairest of the three. Now it
happened that one day their father had to set out for a tour in a
distant part of his kingdom. Before he left, his youngest daughter made
him promise to bring her back a wreath of wild flowers. When the king
was ready to return to his palace, he bethought himself that he would
like to take home presents to each of his three daughters; so he went
into a jeweller's shop and bought a beautiful necklace for the eldest
princess; then he went to a rich merchant's and bought a dress
embroidered in gold and silver thread for the second princess, but in
none of the flower shops nor in the market could he find the wreath of
wild flowers that his youngest daughter had set her heart on. So he had
to set out on his homeward way without it. Now his journey led him
through a thick forest. While he was still about four miles distant
from his palace, he noticed a white wolf squatting on the roadside,
and, behold! on the head of the wolf, there was a wreath of wild
Then the king called to the coachman, and ordered him to get down
from his seat and fetch him the wreath from the wolf's head. But the
wolf heard the order and said: 'My lord and king, I will let you have
the wreath, but I must have something in return.'
'What do you want?' answered the king. 'I will gladly give you rich
treasure in exchange for it.'
'I do not want rich treasure,' replied the wolf. 'Only promise to
give me the first thing that meets you on your way to your castle. In
three days I shall come and fetch it.'
And the king thought to himself: 'I am still a good long way from
home, I am sure to meet a wild animal or a bird on the road, it will be
quite safe to promise.' So he consented, and carried the wreath away
with him. But all along the road he met no living creature till he
turned into the palace gates, where his youngest daughter was waiting
to welcome him home.
That evening the king was very sad, remembering his promise; and
when he told the queen what had happened, she too shed bitter tears.
And the youngest princess asked them why they both looked so sad, and
why they wept. Then her father told her what a price he would have to
pay for the wreath of wild flowers he had brought home to her, for in
three days a white wolf would come and claim her and carry her away,
and they would never see her again. But the queen thought and thought,
and at last she hit upon a plan.
There was in the palace a servant maid the same age and the same
height as the princess, and the queen dressed her up in a beautiful
dress belonging to her daughter, and determined to give her to the
white wolf, who would never know the difference.
On the third day the wolf strode into the palace yard and up the
great stairs, to the room where the king and queen were seated.
'I have come to claim your promise,' he said. 'Give me your youngest
Then they led the servant maid up to him, and he said to her: 'You
must mount on my back, and I will take you to my castle.' And with
these words he swung her on to his back and left the palace.
When they reached the place where he had met the king and given him
the wreath of wild flowers, he stopped, and told her to dismount that
they might rest a little.
So they sat down by the roadside.
'I wonder,' said the wolf, 'what your father would do if this forest
belonged to him?'
And the girl answered: 'My father is a poor man, so he would cut
down the trees, and saw them into planks, and he would sell the planks,
and we should never be poor again; but would always have enough to
Then the wolf knew that he had not got the real princess, and he
swung the servant-maid on to his back and carried her to the castle.
And he strode angrily into the king's chamber, and spoke.
'Give me the real princess at once. If you deceive me again I will
cause such a storm to burst over your palace that the walls will fall
in, and you will all be buried in the ruins.'
Then the king and the queen wept, but they saw there was no escape.
So they sent for their youngest daughter, and the king said to her:
'Dearest child, you must go with the white wolf, for I promised you to
him, and I must keep my word.'
So the princess got ready to leave her home; but first she went to
her room to fetch her wreath of wild flowers, which she took with her.
Then the white wolf swung her on his back and bore her away. But when
they came to the place where he had rested with the servant-maid, he
told her to dismount that they might rest for a little at the roadside.
Then he turned to her and said: 'I wonder what your father would do if
this forest belonged to him?'
And the princess answered: 'My father would cut down the trees and
turn it into a beautiful park and gardens, and he and his courtiers
would come and wander among the glades in the summer time.'
'This is the real princess,' said the wolf to himself. But aloud he
said: 'Mount once more on my back, and I will bear you to my castle.'
And when she was seated on his back he set out through the woods,
and he ran, and ran, and ran, till at last he stopped in front of a
stately courtyard, with massive gates.
'This is a beautiful castle,' said the princess, as the gates swung
back and she stepped inside. 'If only I were not so far away from my
father and my mother!'
But the wolf answered: 'At the end of a year we will pay a visit to
your father and mother.'
And at these words the white furry skin slipped from his back, and
the princess saw that he was not a wolf at all, but a beautiful youth,
tall and stately; and he gave her his hand, and led her up the castle
One day, at the end of half a year, he came into her room and said:
'My dear one, you must get ready for a wedding. Your eldest sister is
going to be married, and I will take you to your father's palace. When
the wedding is over, I shall come and fetch you home. I will whistle
outside the gate, and when you hear me, pay no heed to what your father
or mother say, leave your dancing and feasting, and come to me at once;
for if I have to leave without you, you will never find your way back
alone through the forests.'
When the princess was ready to start, she found that he had put on
his white fur skin, and was changed back into the wolf; and he swung
her on to his back, and set out with her to her father's palace, where
he left her, while he himself returned home alone. But, in the evening,
he went back to fetch her, and, standing outside the palace gate, he
gave a long, loud whistle. In the midst of her dancing the princess
heard the sound, and at once she went to him, and he swung her on his
back and bore her away to his castle.
Again, at the end of half a year, the prince came into her room, as
the white wolf, and said: 'Dear heart, you must prepare for the wedding
of your second sister. I will take you to your father's palace to-day,
and we will remain there together till to-morrow morning.'
So they went together to the wedding. In the evening, when the two
were alone together, he dropped his fur skin, and, ceasing to be a
wolf, became a prince again. Now they did not know that the princess's
mother was hidden in the room. When she saw the white skin lying on the
floor, she crept out of the room, and sent a servant to fetch the skin
and to burn it in the kitchen fire. The moment the flames touched the
skin there was a fearful clap of thunder heard, and the prince
disappeared out of the palace gate in a whirlwind, and returned to his
But the princess was heart-broken, and spent the night weeping
bitterly. Next morning she set out to find her way back to the castle,
but she wandered through the woods and forests, and she could find no
path or track to guide her. For fourteen days she roamed in the forest,
sleeping under the trees, and living upon wild berries and roots, and
at last she reached a little house. She opened the door and went in,
and found the wind seated in the room all by himself, and she spoke to
the wind and said: 'Wind, have you seen the white wolf?'
And the wind answered: 'All day and all night I have been blowing
round the world, and I have only just come home; but I have not seen
But he gave her a pair of shoes, in which, he told her, she would be
able to walk a hundred miles with every step. Then she walked through
the air till she reached a star, and she said: 'Tell me, star, have you
seen the white wolf?'
And the star answered: 'I have been shining all night, and I have
not seen him.'
But the star gave her a pair of shoes, and told her that if she put
them on she would be able to walk two hundred miles at a stride. So she
drew them on, and she walked to the moon, and she said: 'Dear moon,
have you not seen the white wolf?'
But the moon answered, 'All night long I have been sailing through
the heavens, and I have only just come home; but I did not see him.'
But he gave her a pair of shoes, in which she would be able to cover
four hundred miles with every stride. So she went to the sun, and said:
'Dear sun, have you seen the white wolf?'
And the sun answered, 'Yes, I have seen him, and he has chosen
another bride, for he thought you had left him, and would never return,
and he is preparing for the wedding. But I will help you. Here are a
pair of shoes. If you put these on you will be able to walk on glass or
ice, and to climb the steepest places. And here is a spinning-wheel,
with which you will be able to spin moss into silk. When you leave me
you will reach a glass mountain. Put on the shoes that I have given you
and with them you will be able to climb it quite easily. At the summit
you will find the palace of the white wolf.'
Then the princess set out, and before long she reached the glass
mountain, and at the summit she found the white wolf's palace, as the
sun had said.
But no one recognised her, as she had disguised herself as an old
woman, and had wound a shawl round her head. Great preparations were
going on in the palace for the wedding, which was to take place next
day. Then the princess, still disguised as an old woman, took out her
spinning-wheel, and began to spin moss into silk. And as she spun the
new bride passed by, and seeing the moss turn into silk, she said to
the old woman: 'Little mother, I wish you would give me that
And the princess answered, 'I will give it to you if you will allow
me to sleep to-night on the mat outside the prince's door.'
And the bride replied, 'Yes, you may sleep on the mat outside the
So the princess gave her the spinning-wheel. And that night, winding
the shawl all round her, so that no one could recognise her, she lay
down on the mat outside the white wolf's door. And when everyone in the
palace was asleep she began to tell the whole of her story. She told
how she had been one of three sisters, and that she had been the
youngest and the fairest of the three, and that her father had
betrothed her to a white wolf. And she told how she had gone first to
the wedding of one sister, and then with her husband to the wedding of
the other sister, and how her mother had ordered the servant to throw
the white fur skin into the kitchen fire. And then she told of her
wanderings through the forest; and of how she had sought the white wolf
weeping; and how the wind and star and moon and sun had befriended her,
and had helped her to reach his palace. And when the white wolf heard
all the story, he knew that it was his first wife, who had sought him,
and had found him, after such great dangers and difficulties.
But he said nothing, for he waited till the next day, when many
guests—kings and princes from far countries —were coming to his
wedding. Then, when all the guests were assembled in the banqueting
hall, he spoke to them and said: 'Hearken to me, ye kings and princes,
for I have something to tell you. I had lost the key of my treasure
casket, so I ordered a new one to be made; but I have since found the
old one. Now, which of these keys is the better?'
Then all the kings and royal guests answered: 'Certainly the old key
is better than the new one.'
'Then,' said the wolf, 'if that is so, my former bride is better
than my new one.'
And he sent for the new bride, and he gave her in marriage to one of
the princes who was present, and then he turned to his guests, and
said: 'And here is my former bride'—and the beautiful princess was led
into the room and seated beside him on his throne. 'I thought she had
forgotten me, and that she would never return. But she has sought me
everywhere, and now we are together once more we shall never part
Mohammed with the Magic Finger
Once upon a time, there lived a woman who had a son and a daughter.
One morning she said to them: 'I have heard of a town where there is no
such thing as death: let us go and dwell there.' So she broke up her
house, and went away with her son and daughter.
When she reached the city, the first thing she did was to look about
and see if there was any churchyard, and when she found none, she
exclaimed, 'This is a delightful spot. We will stay here for ever.'
By-and-by, her son grew to be a man, and he took for a wife a girl
who had been born in the town. But after a little while he grew
restless, and went away on his travels, leaving his mother, his wife,
and his sister behind him.
He had not been gone many weeks when one evening his mother said, 'I
am not well, my head aches dreadfully.'
'What did you say?' inquired her daughter-in-law.
'My head feels ready to split,' replied the old woman.
The daughter-in-law asked no more questions, but left the house, and
went in haste to some butchers in the next street.
'I have got a woman to sell; what will you give me for her?' said
The butchers answered that they must see the woman first, and they
all returned together.
Then the butchers took the woman and told her they must kill her.
'But why?' she asked.
'Because,' they said, 'it is always our custom that when persons are
ill and complain of their head they should be killed at once. It is a
much better way than leaving them to die a natural death.'
'Very well,' replied the woman. 'But leave, I pray you, my lungs and
my liver untouched, till my son comes back. Then give both to him.'
But the men took them out at once, and gave them to the
daughter-in-law, saying: 'Put away these things till your husband
returns.' And the daughter-in-law took them, and hid them in a secret
When the old woman's daughter, who had been in the woods, heard that
her mother had been killed while she was out, she was filled with
fright, and ran away as fast as she could. At last she reached a lonely
spot far from the town, where she thought she was safe, and sat down on
a stone, and wept bitterly. As she was sitting, sobbing, a man passed
'What is the matter, little girl? Answer me! I will be your friend.'
'Ah, sir, they have killed my mother; my brother is far away, and I
'Will you come with me?' asked the man.
'Thankfully,' said she, and he led her down, down, under the earth,
till they reached a great city. Then he married her, and in course of
time she had a son. And the baby was known throughout the city as
'Mohammed with the magic finger,' because, whenever he stuck out his
little finger, he was able to see anything that was happening for as
far as two days' distance.
By-and-by, as the boy was growing bigger, his uncle returned from
his long journey, and went straight to his wife.
'Where are my mother and sister?' he asked; but his wife answered:
'Have something to eat first, and then I will tell you.'
But he replied: 'How can I eat till I know what has become of them?'
Then she fetched, from the upper chamber, a box full of money, which
she laid before him, saying, 'That is the price of your mother. She
'What do you mean?' he gasped.
'Oh, your mother complained one day that her head was aching, so I
got in two butchers and they agreed to take her. However, I have got
her lungs and liver hidden, till you came back, in a safe place.'
'And my sister?'
'Well, while the people were chopping up your mother she ran away,
and I heard no more of her.'
'Give me my mother's liver and lungs,' said the young man. And she
gave them to him. Then he put them in his pocket, and went away,
saying: 'I can stay no longer in this horrible town. I go to seek my
Now, one day, the little boy stretched out his finger and said to
his mother, 'My uncle is coming!'
'Where is he?' she asked.
'He is still two days' journey off: looking for us; but he will soon
be here.' And in two days, as the boy had foretold, the uncle had found
the hole in the earth, and arrived at the gate of the city. All his
money was spent, and not knowing where his sister lived, he began to
beg of all the people he saw.
'Here comes my uncle,' called out the little boy. 'Where?' asked his
mother. 'Here at the house door;' and the woman ran out and embraced
him, and wept over him. When they could both speak, he said: 'My
sister, were you by when they killed my mother?'
'I was absent when they slew her,' replied she, 'and as I could do
nothing, I ran away. But you, my brother, how did you get here?'
'By chance,' he said, 'after I had wandered far; but I did not know
I should find you!' 'My little boy told me you were coming,' she
explained, 'when you were yet two days distant; he alone of all men has
that great gift.'
But she did not tell him that her husband could change himself into
a serpent, a dog, or a monster, whenever he pleased. He was a very rich
man, and possessed large herds of camels, goats, sheep, cattle, horses
and asses; all the best of their kind. And the next morning, the sister
said: 'Dear brother, go and watch our sheep, and when you are thirsty,
drink their milk!'
'Very well,' answered he, and he went.
Soon after, she said again, 'Dear brother, go and watch our goats.'
'But why? I like tending sheep better!'
'Oh, it is much nicer to be a goatherd,' she said; so he took the
When he was gone, she said to her husband, 'You must kill my
brother, for I cannot have him living here with me.'
'But, my dear, why should I? He has done me no harm.'
'I wish you to kill him,' she answered, 'or if not I will leave.'
'Oh, all right, then,' said he; 'to-morrow I will change myself into
a serpent, and hide myself in the date barrel; and when he comes to
fetch dates I will sting him in the hand.'
'That will do very well,' said she.
When the sun was up next day, she called to her brother, 'Go and
mind the goats.'
'Yes, of course,' he replied; but the little boy called out: 'Uncle,
I want to come with you.'
'Delighted,' said the uncle, and they started together.
After they had got out of sight of the house the boy said to him,
'Dear uncle, my father is going to kill you. He has changed himself
into a serpent, and has hidden himself in the date barrel. My mother
has told him to do it.'
'And what am I to do?' asked the uncle.
'I will tell you. When we bring the goats back to the house, and my
mother says to you, “I am sure you must be hungry: get a few dates out
of the cask,” just say to me, “I am not feeling very well, Mohammed,
you go and get them for me.”'
So, when they reached the house the sister came out to meet them,
saying, 'Dear brother, you must certainly be hungry: go and get a few
But he answered, 'I am not feeling very well. Mohammed, you go and
get them for me.'
'Of course I will,' replied the little boy, and ran at once to the
'No, no,' his mother called after him; 'come here directly! Let your
uncle fetch them himself!'
But the boy would not listen, and crying out to her 'I would rather
get them,' thrust his hand into the date cask.
Instead of the fruit, it struck against something cold and slimy,
and he whispered softly, 'Keep still; it is I, your son!'
Then he picked up his dates and went away to his uncle.
'Here they are, dear uncle; eat as many as you want.'
And his uncle ate them.
When he saw that the uncle did not mean to come near the cask, the
serpent crawled out and regained his proper shape.
'I am thankful I did not kill him,' he said to his wife; 'for, after
all, he is my brother-in-law, and it would have been a great sin!'
'Either you kill him or I leave you,' said she.
'Well, well!' sighed the man, 'to-morrow I will do it.'
The woman let that night go by without doing anything further, but
at daybreak she said to her brother, 'Get up, brother; it is time to
take the goats to pasture!'
'All right,' cried he.
'I will come with you, uncle,' called out the little boy.
'Yes, come along,' replied he.
But the mother ran up, saying, 'The child must not go out in this
cold or he will be ill;' to which he only answered, 'Nonsense! I am
going, so it is no use your talking! I am going! I am! I am!'
'Then go!' she said.
And so they started, driving the goats in front of them.
When they reached the pasture the boy said to his uncle: 'Dear
uncle, this night my father means to kill you. While we are away he
will creep into your room and hide in the straw. Directly we get home
my mother will say to you, “Take that straw and give it to the sheep,”
and, if you do, he will bite you.'
'Then what am I to do?' asked the man.
'Oh, do not be afraid, dear uncle! I will kill my father myself.'
'All right,' replied the uncle.
As they drove back the goats towards the house, the sister cried:
'Be quick, dear brother, go and get me some straw for the sheep.'
'Let me go,' said the boy.
'You are not big enough; your uncle will get it,' replied she.
'We will both get it,' answered the boy; 'come, uncle, let us go and
fetch that straw!'
'All right,' replied the uncle, and they went to the door of the
'It seems very dark,' said the boy; 'I must go and get a light;' and
when he came back with one, he set fire to the straw, and the serpent
Then the mother broke into sobs and tears. 'Oh, you wretched boy!
What have you done? Your father was in that straw, and you have killed
'Now, how was I to know that my father was lying in that straw,
instead of in the kitchen?' said the boy.
But his mother only wept the more, and sobbed out, 'From this day
you have no father. You must do without him as best you can!'
'Why did you marry a serpent?' asked the boy. 'I thought he was a
man! How did he learn those odd tricks?'
As the sun rose, she woke her brother, and said, 'Go and take the
goats to pasture!'
'I will come too,' said the little boy.
'Go then!' said his mother, and they went together.
On the way the boy began: 'Dear uncle, this night my mother means to
kill both of us, by poisoning us with the bones of the serpent, which
she will grind to powder and sprinkle in our food.'
'And what are we to do?' asked the uncle.
'I will kill her, dear uncle. I do not want either a father or a
mother like that!'
When they came home in the evening they saw the woman preparing
supper, and secretly scattering the powdered bones of the serpent on
one side of the dish. On the other, where she meant to eat herself,
there was no poison.
And the boy whispered to his uncle, 'Dear uncle, be sure you eat
from the same side of the dish as I do!'
'All right,' said the uncle.
So they all three sat down to the table, but before they helped
themselves the boy said, 'I am thirsty, mother; will you get me some
'Very well,' said she, 'but you had better begin your supper.'
And when she came back with the milk they were both eating busily.
'Sit down and have something too,' said the boy, and she sat down
and helped herself from the dish, but at the very first moment she sank
dead upon the ground.
'She has got what she meant for us,' observed the boy; 'and now we
will sell all the sheep and cattle.'
So the sheep and cattle were sold, and the uncle and nephew took the
money and went to see the world.
For ten days they travelled through the desert, and then they came
to a place where the road parted in two.
'Uncle!' said the boy.
'Well, what is it?' replied he.
'You see these two roads? You must take one, and I the other; for
the time has come when we must part.'
But the uncle cried, 'No, no, my boy, we will keep together always.'
'Alas! that cannot be,' said the boy; 'so tell me which way you will
'I will go to the west,' said the uncle.
'One word before I leave you,' continued the boy. 'Beware of any man
who has red hair and blue eyes. Take no service under him.'
'All right,' replied the uncle, and they parted.
For three days the man wandered on without any food, till he was
very hungry. Then, when he was almost fainting, a stranger met him and
said, 'Will you work for me?'
'By contract?' asked the man.
'Yes, by contract,' replied the stranger, 'and whichever of us
breaks it, shall have a strip of skin taken from his body.'
'All right,' replied the man; 'what shall I have to do?'
'Every day you must take the sheep out to pasture, and carry my old
mother on your shoulders, taking great care her feet shall never touch
the ground. And, besides that, you must catch, every evening, seven
singing birds for my seven sons.'
'That is easily done,' said the man.
Then they went back together, and the stranger said, 'Here are your
sheep; and now stoop down, and let my mother climb on your back.'
'Very good,' answered Mohammed's uncle.
The new shepherd did as he was told, and returned in the evening
with the old woman on his back, and the seven singing birds in his
pocket, which he gave to the seven boys, when they came to meet him. So
the days passed, each one exactly like the other.
At last, one night, he began to weep, and cried: 'Oh, what have I
done, that I should have to perform such hateful tasks?'
And his nephew Mohammed saw him from afar, and thought to himself,
'My uncle is in trouble—I must go and help him;' and the next morning
he went to his master and said: 'Dear master, I must go to my uncle,
and I wish to send him here instead of myself, while I serve under his
master. And that you may know it is he and no other man, I will give
him my staff, and put my mantle on him.'
'All right,' said the master.
Mohammed set out on his journey, and in two days he arrived at the
place where his uncle was standing with the old woman on his back
trying to catch the birds as they flew past. And Mohammed touched him
on the arm, and spoke: 'Dear uncle, did I not warn you never to take
service under any blue-eyed red-haired man!
'But what could I do?' asked the uncle. 'I was hungry, and he
passed, and we signed a contract.'
'Give the contract to me!' said the young man.
'Here it is,' replied the uncle, holding it out.
'Now,' continued Mohammed, 'let the old woman get down from your
'Oh no, I mustn't do that!' cried he.
But the nephew paid no attention, and went on talking: 'Do not worry
yourself about the future. I see my way out of it all. And, first, you
must take my stick and my mantle, and leave this place. After two days'
journey, straight before you, you will come to some tents which are
inhabited by shepherds. Go in there, and wait.'
'All right!' answered the uncle.
Then Mohammed with the Magic Finger picked up a stick and struck the
old woman with it, saying, 'Get down, and look after the sheep; I want
to go to sleep.'
'Oh, certainly!' replied she.
So Mohammed lay down comfortably under a tree and slept till
evening. Towards sunset he woke up and said to the old woman: 'Where
are the singing birds which you have got to catch?'
'You never told me anything about that,' replied she.
'Oh, didn't I?' he answered. 'Well, it is part of your business, and
if you don't do it, I shall just kill you.'
'Of course I will catch them!' cried she in a hurry, and ran about
the bushes after the birds, till thorns pierced her foot, and she
shrieked from pain and exclaimed, 'Oh dear, how unlucky I am! and how
abominably this man is treating me!' However, at last she managed to
catch the seven birds, and brought them to Mohammed, saying, 'Here they
'Then now we will go back to the house,' said he.
When they had gone some way he turned to her sharply:
'Be quick and drive the sheep home, for I do not know where their
fold is.' And she drove them before her. By-and-by the young man spoke:
'Look here, old hag; if you say anything to your son about my having
struck you, or about my not being the old shepherd, I'll kill you!'
'Oh, no, of course I won't say anything!'
When they got back, the son said to his mother: 'That is a good
shepherd I've got, isn't he?'
'Oh, a splendid shepherd!' answered she. 'Why, look how fat the
sheep are, and how much milk they give!'
'Yes, indeed!' replied the son, as he rose to get supper for his
mother and the shepherd.
In the time of Mohammed's uncle, the shepherd had had nothing to eat
but the scraps left by the old woman; but the new shepherd was not
going to be content with that.
'You will not touch the food till I have had as much as I want,'
'Very good!' replied she. And when he had had enough, he said:
'Now, eat!' But she wept, and cried: 'That was not written in your
contract. You were only to have what I left!'
'If you say a word more, I will kill you!' said he.
The next day he took the old woman on his back, and drove the sheep
in front of him till he was some distance from the house, when he let
her fall, and said: 'Quick! go and mind the sheep!'
Then he took a ram, and killed it. He lit a fire and broiled some of
its flesh, and called to the old woman:
'Come and eat with me!' and she came. But instead of letting her eat
quietly, he took a large lump of the meat and rammed it down her throat
with his crook, so that she died. And when he saw she was dead, he
said: 'That is what you have got for tormenting my uncle!' and left her
lying where she was, while he went after the singing birds. It took him
a long time to catch them; but at length he had the whole seven hidden
in the pockets of his tunic, and then he threw the old woman's body
into some bushes, and drove the sheep before him, back to their fold.
And when they drew near the house the seven boys came to meet him, and
he gave a bird to each.
'Why are you weeping?' asked the boys, as they took their birds.
'Because your grandmother is dead!' And they ran and told their
father. Then the man came up and said to Mohammed: 'What was the
matter? How did she die?'
And Mohammed answered: 'I was tending the sheep when she said to me,
“Kill me that ram; I am hungry!” So I killed it, and gave her the meat.
But she had no teeth, and it choked her.'
'But why did you kill the ram, instead of one of the sheep?' asked
'What was I to do?' said Mohammed. 'I had to obey orders!'
'Well, I must see to her burial!' said the man; and the next morning
Mohammed drove out the sheep as usual, thinking to himself, 'Thank
goodness I've got rid of the old woman! Now for the boys!'
All day long he looked after the sheep, and towards evening he began
to dig some little holes in the ground, out of which he took six
scorpions. These he put in his pockets, together with one bird which he
caught. After this he drove his flock home.
When he approached the house the boys came out to meet him as
before, saying: 'Give me my bird!' and he put a scorpion into the hand
of each, and it stung him, and he died. But to the youngest only he
gave a bird.
As soon as he saw the boys lying dead on the ground, Mohammed lifted
up his voice and cried loudly: 'Help, help! the children are dead!'
And the people came running fast, saying: 'What has happened? How
have they died?'
And Mohammed answered: 'It was your own fault! The boys had been
accustomed to birds, and in this bitter cold their fingers grew stiff,
and could hold nothing, so that the birds flew away, and their spirits
flew with them. Only the youngest, who managed to keep tight hold of
his bird, is still alive.'
And the father groaned, and said, 'I have borne enough! Bring no
more birds, lest I lose the youngest also!'
'All right,' said Mohammed.
As he was driving the sheep out to grass he said to his master: 'Out
there is a splendid pasture, and I will keep the sheep there for two
or, perhaps, three days, so do not be surprised at our absence.'
'Very good!' said the man; and Mohammed started. For two days he
drove them on and on, till he reached his uncle, and said to him, 'Dear
uncle, take these sheep and look after them. I have killed the old
woman and the boys, and the flock I have brought to you!'
Then Mohammed returned to his master; and on the way he took a stone
and beat his own head with it till it bled, and bound his hands tight,
and began to scream. The master came running and asked, 'What is the
And Mohammed answered: 'While the sheep were grazing, robbers came
and drove them away, and because I tried to prevent them, they struck
me on the head and bound my hands. See how bloody I am!'
'What shall we do?' said the master; 'are the animals far off?'
'So far that you are not likely ever to see them again,' replied
Mohammed. 'This is the fourth day since the robbers came down. How
should you be able to overtake them?'
'Then go and herd the cows!' said the man.
'All right!' replied Mohammed, and for two days he went. But on the
third day he drove the cows to his uncle, first cutting off their
tails. Only one cow he left behind him.
'Take these cows, dear uncle,' said he. 'I am going to teach that
man a lesson.'
'Well, I suppose you know your own business best,' said the uncle.
'And certainly he almost worried me to death.'
So Mohammed returned to his master, carrying the cows' tails tied up
in a bundle on his back. When he came to the sea-shore, he stuck all
the tails in the sand, and went and buried the one cow, whose tail he
had not cut off, up to her neck, leaving the tail projecting. After he
had got everything ready, he began to shriek and scream as before, till
his master and all the other servants came running to see what was the
'What in the world has happened?' they cried
'The sea has swallowed up the cows,' said Mohammed, 'and nothing
remains but their tails. But if you are quick and pull hard, perhaps
you may get them out again!'
The master ordered each man instantly to take hold of a tail, but at
the first pull they nearly tumbled backwards, and the tails were left
in their hands.
'Stop,' cried Mohammed, 'you are doing it all wrong. You have just
pulled off their tails, and the cows have sunk to the bottom of the
'See if you can do it any better,' said they; and Mohammed ran to
the cow which he had buried in the rough grass, and took hold of her
tail and dragged the animal out at once.
'There! that is the way to do it!' said he, 'I told you you knew
nothing about it!'
The men slunk away, much ashamed of themselves; but the master came
up to Mohammed. 'Get you gone!' he said, 'there is nothing more for you
to do! You have killed my mother, you have slain my children, you have
stolen my sheep, you have drowned my cows; I have now no work to give
'First give me the strip of your skin which belongs to me of right,
as you have broken your contract!'
'That a judge shall decide,' said the master; 'we will go before
'Yes, we will,' replied Mohammed. And they went before the judge.
'What is your case?' asked the judge of the master.
'My lord,' said the man, bowing low, 'my shepherd here has robbed me
of everything. He has killed my children and my old mother; he has
stolen my sheep, he has drowned my cows in the sea.'
The shepherd answered: 'He must pay me what he owes me, and then I
'Yes, that is the law,' said the judge.
'Very well,' returned the master, 'let him reckon up how long he has
been in my service.'
'That won't do,' replied Mohammed, 'I want my strip of skin, as we
agreed in the contract.'
Seeing there was no help for it, the master cut a bit of skin, and
gave it to Mohammed, who went off at once to his uncle.
'Now we are rich, dear uncle,' cried he; 'we will sell our cows and
sheep and go to a new country. This one is no longer the place for us.'
The sheep were soon sold, and the two comrades started on their
travels. That night they reached some Bedouin tents, where they had
supper with the Arabs. Before they lay down to sleep, Mohammed called
the owner of the tent aside. 'Your greyhound will eat my strip of
leather,' he said to the Arab.
'No; do not fear.'
'But supposing he does?'
'Well, then, I will give him to you in exchange,' replied the Arab.
Mohammed waited till everyone was fast asleep, then he rose softly,
and tearing the bit of skin in pieces, threw it down before the
greyhound, setting up wild shrieks as he did so.
'Oh, master, said I not well that your dog would eat my thong?'
'Be quiet, don't make such a noise, and you shall have the dog.'
So Mohammed put a leash round his neck, and led him away.
In the evening they arrived at the tents of some more Bedouin, and
asked for shelter. After supper Mohammed said to the owner of the tent,
'Your ram will kill my greyhound.'
'Oh, no, he won't.'
'And supposing he does?'
'Then you can take him in exchange.'
So in the night Mohammed killed the greyhound, and laid his body
across the horns of the ram. Then he set up shrieks and yells, till he
roused the Arab, who said: 'Take the ram and go away.'
Mohammed did not need to be told twice, and at sunset he reached
another Bedouin encampment. He was received kindly, as usual, and after
supper he said to his host: 'Your daughter will kill my ram.'
'Be silent, she will do nothing of the sort; my daughter does not
need to steal meat, she has some every day.'
'Very well, I will go to sleep; but if anything happens to my ram I
will call out.'
'If my daughter touches anything belonging to my guest I will kill
her,' said the Arab, and went to his bed.
When everybody was asleep, Mohammed got up, killed the ram, and took
out his liver, which he broiled on the fire. He placed a piece of it in
the girl's hands, and laid some more on her night-dress while she slept
and knew nothing about it. After this he began to cry out loudly.
'What is the matter? be silent at once!' called the Arab.
'How can I be silent, when my ram, which I loved like a child, has
been slain by your daughter?'
'But my daughter is asleep,' said the Arab.
'Well, go and see if she has not some of the flesh about her.'
'If she has, you may take her in exchange for the ram;' and as they
found the flesh exactly as Mohammed had foretold, the Arab gave his
daughter a good beating, and then told her to get out of sight, for she
was now the property of this stranger.
They wandered in the desert till, at nightfall, they came to a
Bedouin encampment, where they were hospitably bidden to enter. Before
lying down to sleep, Mohammed said to the owner of the tent: 'Your mare
will kill my wife.'
'And if she does?'
'Then you shall take the mare in exchange.'
When everyone was asleep, Mohammed said softly to his wife: 'Maiden,
I have got such a clever plan! I am going to bring in the mare and put
it at your feet, and I will cut you, just a few little flesh wounds, so
that you may be covered with blood, and everybody will suppose you to
be dead. But remember that you must not make a sound, or we shall both
This was done, and then Mohammed wept and wailed louder than ever.
The Arab hastened to the spot and cried, 'Oh, cease making that
terrible noise! Take the mare and go; but carry off the dead girl with
you. She can lie quite easily across the mare's back.'
Then Mohammed and his uncle picked up the girl, and, placing her on
the mare's back, led it away, being very careful to walk one on each
side, so that she might not slip down and hurt herself. After the Arab
tents could be seen no longer, the girl sat up on the saddle and looked
about her, and as they were all hungry they tied up the mare, and took
out some dates to eat. When they had finished, Mohammed said to his
uncle: 'Dear uncle, the maiden shall be your wife; I give her to you.
But the money we got from the sheep and cows we will divide between us.
You shall have two-thirds and I will have one. For you will have a
wife, but I never mean to marry. And now, go in peace, for never more
will you see me. The bond of bread and salt is at an end between us.'
So they wept, and fell on each other's necks, and asked forgiveness
for any wrongs in the past. Then they parted and went their ways.
[Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis. Von Haus Stumme.]
Once on a time there was a rich merchant, who had an only son called
Bobino. Now, as the boy was clever, and had a great desire for
knowledge, his father sent him to be under a master, from whom he
thought he would learn to speak all sorts of foreign languages. After
some years with this master, Bobino returned to his home.
One evening, as he and his father were walking in the garden, the
sparrows in the trees above their heads began such a twittering, that
they found it impossible to hear each other speak. This annoyed the
merchant very much, so, to soothe him, Bobino said: 'Would you like me
to explain to you what the sparrows are saying to each other?'
The merchant looked at his son in astonishment, and answered: 'What
can you mean? How can you explain what the sparrows say? Do you
consider yourself a soothsayer or a magician?'
'I am neither a soothsayer nor a magician,' answered Bobino; 'but my
master taught me the language of all the animals.'
'Alas! for my good money!' exclaimed the merchant. 'The master has
certainly mistaken my intention. Of course I meant you to learn the
languages that human beings talk, and not the language of animals.'
'Have patience,' answered the son. 'My master thought it best to
begin with the language of animals, and later to learn the languages of
On their way into the house the dog ran to meet them, barking
'What can be the matter with the beast?' said the merchant. 'Why
should he bark at me like that, when he knows me quite well?'
'Shall I explain to you what he is saying?' said Bobino.
'Leave me in peace, and don't trouble me with your nonsense,' said
the merchant quite crossly. 'How my money has been wasted!'
A little later, as they sat down to supper, some frogs in a
neighbouring pond set up such a croaking as had never been heard. The
noise so irritated the merchant that he quite lost his temper and
exclaimed: 'This only was wanting to add the last drop to my discomfort
'Shall I explain to you?' began Bobino.
'Will you hold your tongue with your explanations?' shouted the
merchant. 'Go to bed, and don't let me see your face again!'
So Bobino went to bed and slept soundly. But his father, who could
not get over his disappointment at the waste of his money, was so
angry, that he sent for two servants, and gave them orders, which they
were to carry out on the following day.
Next morning one of the servants awakened Bobino early, and made him
get into a carriage that was waiting for him. The servant placed
himself on the seat beside him, while the other servant rode alongside
the carriage as an escort. Bobino could not understand what they were
going to do with him, or where he was being taken; but he noticed that
the servant beside him looked very sad, and his eyes were all swollen
Curious to know the reason he said to him: 'Why are you so sad? and
where are you taking me?'
But the servant would say nothing. At last, moved by Bobino's
entreaties, he said: 'My poor boy, I am taking you to your death, and,
what is worse, I am doing so by the order of your father.'
'But why,' exclaimed Bobino, 'does he want me to die? What evil have
I done him, or what fault have I committed that he should wish to bring
about my death?'
'You have done him no evil,' answered the servant 'neither have you
committed any fault; but he is half mad with anger because, in all
these years of study, you have learnt nothing but the language of
animals. He expected something quite different from you, that is why he
is determined you shall die.'
'If that is the case, kill me at once,' said Bobino. 'What is the
use of waiting, if it must be done?'
'I have not the heart to do it,' answered the servant. 'I would
rather think of some way of saving your life, and at the same time of
protecting ourselves from your father's anger. By good luck the dog has
followed us. We will kill it, and cut out the heart and take it back to
your father. He will believe it is yours, and you, in the meantime,
will have made your escape.'
When they had reached the thickest part of the wood, Bobino got out
of the carriage, and having said good-bye to the servants set out on
On and on he walked, till at last, late in the evening, he came to a
house where some herdsmen lived. He knocked at the door and begged for
shelter for the night. The herdsmen, seeing how gentle a youth he
seemed, made him welcome, and bade him sit down and share their supper.
While they were eating it, the dog in the courtyard began to bark.
Bobino walked to the window, listened attentively for a minute, and
then turning to the herdsmen said: 'Send your wives and daughters at
once to bed, and arm yourselves as best you can, because at midnight a
band of robbers will attack this house.'
The herdsmen were quite taken aback, and thought that the youth must
have taken leave of his senses.
'How can you know,' they said, 'that a band of robbers mean to
attack us? Who told you so?'
'I know it from the dog's barking,' answered Bobino. 'I understand
his language, and if I had not been here, the poor beast would have
wasted his breath to no purpose. You had better follow my advice, if
you wish to save your lives and property.'
The herdsmen were more and more astonished, but they decided to do
as Bobino advised. They sent their wives and daughters upstairs, then,
having armed themselves, they took up their position behind a hedge,
waiting for midnight.
Just as the clock struck twelve they heard the sound of approaching
footsteps, and a band of robbers cautiously advanced towards the house.
But the herdsmen were on the look-out; they sprang on the robbers from
behind the hedge, and with blows from their cudgels soon put them to
You may believe how grateful they were to Bobino, to whose timely
warning they owed their safety. They begged him to stay and make his
home with them; but as he wanted to see more of the world, he thanked
them warmly for their hospitality, and set out once more on his
wanderings. All day he walked, and in the evening he came to a
peasant's house. While he was wondering whether he should knock and
demand shelter for the night, he heard a great croaking of frogs in a
ditch behind the house. Stepping to the back he saw a very strange
sight. Four frogs were throwing a small bottle about from one to the
other, making a great croaking as they did so. Bobino listened for a
few minutes, and then knocked at the door of the house. It was opened
by the peasant, who asked him to come in and have some supper.
When the meal was over, his host told him that they were in great
trouble, as his eldest daughter was so ill, that they feared she could
not recover. A great doctor, who had been passing that way some time
before, had promised to send her some medicine that would have cured
her, but the servant to whom he had entrusted the medicine had let it
drop on the way back, and now there seemed no hope for the girl.
Then Bobino told the father of the small bottle he had seen the
frogs play with, and that he knew that was the medicine which the
doctor had sent to the girl. The peasant asked him how he could be sure
of this, and Bobino explained to him that he understood the language of
animals, and had heard what the frogs said as they tossed the bottle
about. So the peasant fetched the bottle from the ditch, and gave the
medicine to his daughter. In the morning she was much better, and the
grateful father did not know how to thank Bobino enough. But Bobino
would accept nothing from him, and having said good-bye, set out once
more on his wanderings.
One day, soon after this, he came upon two men resting under a tree
in the heat of the day. Being tired he stretched himself on the ground
at no great distance from them, and soon they all three began to talk
to one another. In the course of conversation, Bobino asked the two men
where they were going; and they replied that they were on their way to
a neighbouring town, where, that day, a new ruler was to be chosen by
While they were still talking, some sparrows settled on the tree
under which they were lying. Bobino was silent, and appeared to be
listening attentively. At the end of a few minutes he said to his
companions, 'Do you know what those sparrows are saying? They are
saying that to-day one of us will be chosen ruler of that town.'
The men said nothing, but looked at each other. A few minutes later,
seeing that Bobino had fallen asleep, they stole away, and made with
all haste for the town, where the election of a new ruler was to take
A great crowd was assembled in the market-place, waiting for the
hour when an eagle should be let loose from a cage, for it had been
settled that on whose-soever house the eagle alighted, the owner of
that house should become ruler of the town. At last the hour arrived;
the eagle was set free, and all eyes were strained to see where it
would alight. But circling over the heads of the crowd, it flew
straight in the direction of a young man, who was at that moment
entering the town. This was none other than Bobino, who had awakened
soon after his companions had left him, and had followed in their
footsteps. All the people shouted and proclaimed that he was their
future ruler, and he was conducted by a great crowd to the Governor's
house, which was for the future to be his home. And here he lived
happily, and ruled wisely over the people.
The Dog and the Sparrow
There was once upon a time a sheep-dog whose master was so unkind
that he starved the poor beast, and ill-treated him in the cruellest
manner. At last the dog determined to stand this ill-usage no longer,
and, one day, he ran away from home. As he was trotting along the road
he met a sparrow, who stopped him and said: 'Brother, why do you look
The dog answered: 'I am sad because I am hungry, and have nothing to
'If that's all, dear brother,' said the sparrow, 'come to the town
with me, and I'll soon get food for you.'
So they went together to the town, and when they came to a butcher's
shop, the sparrow said to the dog: 'You stand still and I'll peck down
a piece of meat for you.'
First she looked all round to see that no one was watching her, and
then she set to work to peck at a piece of meat that lay on the edge of
a shelf, till at last it fell down. The dog seized it ravenously, and
ran with it to a dark corner where he gobbled it up in a very few
When he had finished it, the sparrow said: 'Now come with me to
another shop, and I will get you a second piece, so that your hunger
may be satisfied.' When the dog had finished the second piece of meat,
the sparrow asked him: 'Brother, have you had enough now?'
'Yes,' replied the dog, 'I've had quite enough meat, but I haven't
had any bread yet.'
The sparrow said: 'You shall have as much bread as you like, only
come with me.' Then she led him to a baker's shop, and pecked so long
at two rolls on a shelf that at last they fell down, and the dog ate
But still his hunger was not appeased; so the sparrow took him to
another baker's shop, and got some more rolls for him. Then she asked
him: 'Well, brother, are you satisfied?'
'Yes,' he replied; 'and now let us go for a little walk outside the
So the two went for a stroll into the country; but the day was very
hot, and after they had gone a short distance the dog said: 'I am very
tired, and would like to go to sleep.'
'Sleep, then,' said the sparrow, 'and I will keep watch meantime on
the branch of a tree.'
So the dog lay down in the middle of the road, and was soon fast
asleep. While he was sleeping a carter passed by, driving a waggon
drawn by three horses, and laden with two barrels of wine. The sparrow
noticed that the man was not going out of his way to avoid the dog, but
was driving right in the middle of the road where the poor animal lay;
so she called out: 'Carter, take care what you are about, or I shall
make you suffer for it.'
But the carter merely laughed at her words, and, cracking his whip,
he drove his waggon right over the dog, so that the heavy wheels killed
Then the sparrow called out: 'You have caused my brother's death,
and your cruelty will cost you your waggon and horses.'
'Waggon and horses, indeed,' said the carter; 'I'd like to know how
you could rob me of them!'
The sparrow said nothing, but crept under the cover of the waggon
and pecked so long at the bunghole of one of the barrels that at last
she got the cork away, and all the wine ran out without the carter's
But at last he turned round and saw that the bottom of the cart was
wet, and when he examined it, he found that one of the barrels was
quite empty. 'Oh! what an unlucky fellow I am!' he exclaimed.
'You'll have worse luck still,' said the sparrow, as she perched on
the head of one of the horses and pecked out its eyes.
When the carter saw what had happened, he seized an axe and tried to
hit the sparrow with it, but the little bird flew up into the air, and
the carter only hit the blind horse on the head, so that it fell down
dead. 'Oh! what an unlucky fellow I am!' he exclaimed again.
'You'll have worse luck yet,' said the sparrow; and when the carter
drove on with his two horses she crept under the covering again, and
pecked away at the cork of the second barrel till she got it away, and
all the wine poured out on to the road.
When the carter perceived this fresh disaster he called out once
more: 'Oh! what an unlucky fellow I am!'
But the sparrow answered: 'Your bad luck is not over yet,' and
flying on to the head of the second horse she pecked out its eyes.
The carter jumped out of the waggon and seized his axe, with which
he meant to kill the sparrow; but the little bird flew high into the
air, and the blow fell on the poor blind horse instead, and killed it
on the spot. Then the carter exclaimed: 'Oh! what an unlucky fellow I
'You've not got to the end of your bad luck yet,' sang the sparrow;
and, perching on the head of the third horse, she pecked out its eyes.
The carter, blind with rage, let his axe fly at the bird; but once
more she escaped the blow, which fell on the only remaining horse, and
killed it. And again the carter called out: 'Oh! what an unlucky fellow
'You'll have worse luck yet,' said the sparrow, 'for now I mean to
make your home desolate.'
The carter had to leave his waggon on the road, and he went home in
a towering passion. As soon as he saw his wife, he called out: 'Oh!
what bad luck I have had! all my wine is spilt, and my horses are all
'My dear husband,' replied his wife, 'your bad luck pursues you, for
a wicked little sparrow has assembled all the other birds in the world,
and they are in our barn eating everything up.'
The carter went out to the barn where he kept his corn and found it
was just as his wife had said. Thousands and thousands of birds were
eating up the grain, and in the middle of them sat the little sparrow.
When he saw his old enemy, the carter cried out: 'Oh! what an unlucky
fellow I am!'
'Not unlucky enough yet,' answered the sparrow; 'for, mark my words,
carter, your cruel conduct will cost you your life;' and with these
words she flew into the air.
The carter was much depressed by the loss of all his worldly goods,
and sat down at the fire plotting vengeance on the sparrow, while the
little bird sat on the window ledge and sang in mocking tones: 'Yes,
carter, your cruel conduct will cost you your life.'
Then the carter seized his axe and threw it at the sparrow, but he
only broke the window panes, and did not do the bird a bit of harm. She
hopped in through the broken window and, perching on the mantelpiece,
she called out; 'Yes, carter, it will cost you your life.'
The carter, quite beside himself with rage, flew at the sparrow
again with his axe, but the little creature always eluded his blows,
and he only succeeded in destroying all his furniture. At last,
however, he managed to catch the bird in his hands. Then his wife
called out: 'Shall I wring her neck?'
'Certainly not,' replied her husband, 'that would be far too easy a
death for her; she must die in a far crueller fashion than that. I will
eat her alive;' and he suited the action to his words. But the sparrow
fluttered and struggled inside him till she got up into the man's
mouth, and then she popped out her head and said: 'Yes, carter, it will
cost you your life.'
The carter handed his wife the axe, and said: 'Wife, kill the bird
in my mouth dead.'
The woman struck with all her might, but she missed the bird and hit
the carter right on the top of his head, so that he fell down dead. But
the sparrow escaped out of his mouth and flew away into the air.
[From the German, Kletke.]
The Story of the Three Sons of Hali
Till his eighteenth birthday the young Neangir lived happily in a
village about forty miles from Constantinople, believing that Mohammed
and Zinebi his wife, who had brought him up, were his real parents.
Neangir was quite content with his lot, though he was neither rich
nor great, and unlike most young men of his age had no desire to leave
his home. He was therefore completely taken by surprise when one day
Mohammed told him with many sighs that the time had now come for him to
go to Constantinople, and fix on a profession for himself. The choice
would be left to him, but he would probably prefer either to be a
soldier or one of the doctors learned in the law, who explain the Koran
to the ignorant people. 'You know the holy book nearly by heart,' ended
the old man, 'so that in a very short time you would be fitted to teach
others. But write to us and tell us how you pass your life, and we, on
our side, will promise never to forget you.'
So saying, Mohammed gave Neangir four piastres to start him in the
great city, and obtained leave for him to join a caravan which was
about to set off for Constantinople.
The journey took some days, as caravans go very slowly, but at last
the walls and towers of the capital appeared in the distance. When the
caravan halted the travellers went their different ways, and Neangir
was left, feeling very strange and rather lonely. He had plenty of
courage and made friends very easily; still, not only was it the first
time he had left the village where he had been brought up, but no one
had ever spoken to him of Constantinople, and he did not so much as
know the name of a single street or of a creature who lived in it.
Wondering what he was to do next, Neangir stood still for a moment
to look about him, when suddenly a pleasant-looking man came up, and
bowing politely, asked if the youth would do him the honour of staying
in his house till he had made some plans for himself. Neangir, not
seeing anything else he could do, accepted the stranger's offer and
followed him home.
They entered a large room, where a girl of about twelve years old
was laying three places at the table.
'Zelida,' said the stranger, 'was I not quite right when I told you
that I should bring back a friend to sup with us?'
'My father,' replied the girl, 'you are always right in what you
say, and what is better still, you never mislead others.' As she spoke,
an old slave placed on the table a dish called pillau, made of rice and
meat, which is a great favourite among people in the East, and setting
down glasses of sherbet before each person, left the room quietly.
During the meal the host talked a great deal upon all sorts of
subjects; but Neangir did nothing but look at Zelida, as far as he
could without being positively rude.
The girl blushed and grew uncomfortable, and at last turned to her
father. 'The stranger's eyes never wander from me,' she said in a low
and hesitating voice. 'If Hassan should hear of it, jealousy will make
'No, no,' replied the father, 'you are certainly not for this young
man. Did I not tell you before that I intend him for your sister
Argentine. I will at once take measures to fix his heart upon her,' and
he rose and opened a cupboard, from which be took some fruits and a jug
of wine, which he put on the table, together with a small silver and
'Taste this wine,' he said to the young man, pouring some into a
'Give me a little, too,' cried Zelida.
'Certainly not,' answered her father, 'you and Hassan both had as
much as was good for you the other day.'
'Then drink some yourself,' replied she, 'or this young man will
think we mean to poison him.'
'Well, if you wish, I will do so,' said the father; 'this elixir is
not dangerous at my age, as it is at yours.'
When Neangir had emptied his glass, his host opened the
mother-of-pearl box and held it out to him. Neangir was beside himself
with delight at the picture of a young maiden more beautiful than
anything he had ever dreamed of. He stood speechless before it, while
his breast swelled with a feeling quite new to him.
His two companions watched him with amusement, until at last Neangir
roused himself. 'Explain to me, I pray you,' he said, 'the meaning of
these mysteries. Why did you ask me here? Why did you force me to drink
this dangerous liquid which has set fire to my blood? Why have you
shown me this picture which has almost deprived me of reason?'
'I will answer some of your questions,' replied his host, 'but all,
I may not. The picture that you hold in your hand is that of Zelida's
sister. It has filled your heart with love for her; therefore, go and
seek her. When you find her, you will find yourself.'
'But where shall I find her?' cried Neangir, kissing the charming
miniature on which his eyes were fixed.
'I am unable to tell you more,' replied his host cautiously.
'But I can' interrupted Zelida eagerly. 'To-morrow you must go to
the Jewish bazaar, and buy a watch from the second shop on the right
hand. And at midnight—'
But what was to happen at midnight Neangir did not hear, for
Zelida's father hastily laid his hand over her mouth, crying: 'Oh, be
silent, child! Would you draw down on you by imprudence the fate of
your unhappy sisters?' Hardly had he uttered the words, when a thick
black vapour rose about him, proceeding from the precious bottle, which
his rapid movement had overturned. The old slave rushed in and shrieked
loudly, while Neangir, upset by this strange adventure, left the house.
He passed the rest of the night on the steps of a mosque, and with
the first streaks of dawn he took his picture out of the folds of his
turban. Then, remembering Zelida's words, he inquired the way to the
bazaar, and went straight to the shop she had described.
In answer to Neangir's request to be shown some watches, the
merchant produced several and pointed out the one which he considered
the best. The price was three gold pieces, which Neangir readily agreed
to give him; but the man made a difficulty about handing over the watch
unless he knew where his customer lived.
'That is more than I know myself,' replied Neangir. 'I only arrived
in the town yesterday and cannot find the way to the house where I went
'Well,' said the merchant, 'come with me, and I will take you to a
good Mussulman, where you will have everything you desire at a small
Neangir consented, and the two walked together through several
streets till they reached the house recommended by the Jewish merchant.
By his advice the young man paid in advance the last gold piece that
remained to him for his food and lodging.
As soon as Neangir had dined he shut himself up in his room, and
thrusting his hand into the folds of his turban, drew out his beloved
portrait. As he did so, he touched a sealed letter which had apparently
been hidden there without his knowledge, and seeing it was written by
his foster-mother, Zinebi, he tore it eagerly open. Judge of his
surprise when he read these words:
'My dearest Child,—This letter, which you will some day find in
your turban, is to inform you that you are not really our son. We
believe your father to have been a great lord in some distant land, and
inside this packet is a letter from him, threatening to be avenged on
us if you are not restored to him at once. We shall always love you,
but do not seek us or even write to us. It will be useless.'
In the same wrapper was a roll of paper with a few words as follows,
traced in a hand unknown to Neangir:
'Traitors, you are no doubt in league with those magicians who have
stolen the two daughters of the unfortunate Siroco, and have taken from
them the talisman given them by their father. You have kept my son from
me, but I have found out your hiding-place and swear by the Holy
Prophet to punish your crime. The stroke of my scimitar is swifter than
The unhappy Neangir on reading these two letters—of which he
understood absolutely nothing—felt sadder and more lonely than ever.
It soon dawned on him that he must be the son of the man who had
written to Mohammed and his wife, but he did not know where to look for
him, and indeed thought much more about the people who had brought him
up and whom he was never to see again.
To shake off these gloomy feelings, so as to be able to make some
plans for the future, Neangir left the house and walked briskly about
the city till darkness had fallen. He then retraced his steps and was
just crossing the threshold when he saw something at his feet sparkling
in the moonlight. He picked it up, and discovered it to be a gold watch
shining with precious stones. He gazed up and down the street to see if
there was anyone about to whom it might belong, but there was not a
creature visible. So he put it in his sash, by the side of a silver
watch which he had bought from the Jew that morning.
The possession of this piece of good fortune cheered Neangir up a
little, 'for,' thought he, 'I can sell these jewels for at least a
thousand sequins, and that will certainly last me till I have found my
father.' And consoled by this reflection he laid both watches beside
him and prepared to sleep.
In the middle of the night he awoke suddenly and heard a soft voice
speaking, which seemed to come from one of the watches.
'Aurora, my sister,' it whispered gently. 'Did they remember to wind
you up at midnight?'
'No, dear Argentine,' was the reply. 'And you?'
'They forgot me, too,' answered the first voice, 'and it is now one
o'clock, so that we shall not be able to leave our prison till
to-morrow—if we are not forgotten again—then.'
'We have nothing now to do here,' said Aurora. 'We must resign
ourselves to our fate—let us go.'
Filled with astonishment Neangir sat up in bed, and beheld by the
light of the moon the two watches slide to the ground and roll out of
the room past the cats' quarters. He rushed towards the door and on to
the staircase, but the watches slipped downstairs without his seeing
them, and into the street. He tried to unlock the door and follow them,
but the key refused to turn, so he gave up the chase and went back to
The next day all his sorrows returned with tenfold force. He felt
himself lonelier and poorer than ever, and in a fit of despair he
thrust his turban on his head, stuck his sword in his belt, and left
the house determined to seek an explanation from the merchant who had
sold him the silver watch.
When Neangir reached the bazaar he found the man he sought was
absent from his shop, and his place filled by another Jew.
'It is my brother you want,' said he; 'we keep the shop in turn, and
in turn go into the city to do our business.'
'Ah! what business?' cried Neangir in a fury. 'You are the brother
of a scoundrel who sold me yesterday a watch that ran away in the
night. But I will find it somehow, or else you shall pay for it, as you
are his brother!'
'What is that you say?' asked the Jew, around whom a crowd had
rapidly gathered. 'A watch that ran away. If it had been a cask of
wine, your story might be true, but a watch—! That is hardly
'The Cadi shall say whether it is possible or not,' replied Neangir,
who at that moment perceived the other Jew enter the bazaar. Darting
up, he seized him by the arm and dragged him to the Cadi's house; but
not before the man whom he had found in the shop contrived to whisper
to his brother, in a tone loud enough for Neangir to hear, 'Confess
nothing, or we shall both be lost.'
When the Cadi was informed of what had taken place he ordered the
crowd to be dispersed by blows, after the Turkish manner, and then
asked Neangir to state his complaint. After hearing the young man's
story, which seemed to him most extraordinary, he turned to question
the Jewish merchant, who instead of answering raised his eyes to heaven
and fell down in a dead faint.
The judge took no notice of the swooning man, but told Neangir that
his tale was so singular he really could not believe it, and that he
should have the merchant carried back to his own house. This so enraged
Neangir that he forgot the respect due to the Cadi, and exclaimed at
the top of his voice, 'Recover this fellow from his fainting fit, and
force him to confess the truth,' giving the Jew as he spoke a blow with
his sword which caused him to utter a piercing scream.
'You see for yourself,' said the Jew to the Cadi, 'that this young
man is out of his mind. I forgive him his blow, but do not, I pray you,
leave me in his power.'
At that moment the Bassa chanced to pass the Cadi's house, and
hearing a great noise, entered to inquire the cause. When the matter
was explained he looked attentively at Neangir, and asked him gently
how all these marvels could possibly have happened.
'My lord,' replied Neangir, 'I swear I have spoken the truth, and
perhaps you will believe me when I tell you that I myself have been the
victim of spells wrought by people of this kind, who should be rooted
out from the earth. For three years I was changed into a three-legged
pot, and only returned to man's shape when one day a turban was laid
upon my lid.'
At these words the Bassa rent his robe for joy, and embracing
Neangir, he cried, 'Oh, my son, my son, have I found you at last? Do
you not come from the house of Mohammed and Zinebi?'
'Yes, my lord,' replied Neangir, 'it was they who took care of me
during my misfortune, and taught me by their example to be less worthy
of belonging to you.'
'Blessed be the Prophet,' said the Bassa, 'who has restored one of
my sons to me, at the time I least expected it! You know,' he
continued, addressing the Cadi, 'that during the first years of my
marriage I had three sons by the beautiful Zambac. When he was three
years old a holy dervish gave the eldest a string of the finest coral,
saying “Keep this treasure carefully, and be faithful to the Prophet,
and you will be happy.” To the second, who now stands before you, he
presented a copper plate on which the name of Mahomet was engraved in
seven languages, telling him never to part from his turban, which was
the sign of a true believer, and he would taste the greatest of all
joys; while on the right arm of the third the dervish clasped a
bracelet with the prayer that his right hand should be pure and the
left spotless, so that he might never know sorrow.
'My eldest son neglected the counsel of the dervish and terrible
troubles fell on him, as also on the youngest. To preserve the second
from similar misfortunes I brought him up in a lonely place, under the
care of a faithful servant named Gouloucou, while I was fighting the
enemies of our Holy Faith. On my return from the wars I hastened to
embrace my son, but both he and Gouloucou had vanished, and it is only
a few months since that I learned that the boy was living with a man
called Mohammed, whom I suspected of having stolen him. Tell me, my
son, how it came about that you fell into his hands.'
'My lord,' replied Neangir, 'I can remember little of the early
years of my life, save that I dwelt in a castle by the seashore with an
old servant. I must have been about twelve years old when one day as we
were out walking we met a man whose face was like that of this Jew,
coming dancing towards us. Suddenly I felt myself growing faint. I
tried to raise my hands to my head, but they had become stiff and hard.
In a word, I had been changed into a copper pot, and my arms formed the
handle. What happened to my companion I know not, but I was conscious
that someone had picked me up, and was carrying me quickly away.
'After some days, or so it seemed to me, I was placed on the ground
near a thick hedge, and when I heard my captor snoring beside me I
resolved to make my escape. So I pushed my way among the thorns as well
as I could, and walked on steadily for about an hour.
'You cannot imagine, my lord, how awkward it is to walk with three
legs, especially when your knees are as stiff as mine were. At length
after much difficulty I reached a market-garden, and hid myself deep
down among the cabbages, where I passed a quiet night.
'The next morning, at sunrise, I felt some one stooping over me and
examining me closely. “What have you got there, Zinebi?” said the voice
of a man a little way off.
'“The most beautiful pot in the whole world,” answered the woman
beside me, “and who would have dreamed of finding it among my
'Mohammed lifted me from the ground and looked at me with
admiration. That pleased me, for everyone likes to be admired, even if
he is only a pot! And I was taken into the house and filled with water,
and put on the fire to boil.
'For three years I led a quiet and useful life, being scrubbed
bright every day by Zinebi, then a young and beautiful woman.
'One morning Zinebi set me on the fire, with a fine fillet of beef
inside me to cook for dinner. Being afraid that some of the steam would
escape through the lid, and that the taste of her stew would be spoilt,
she looked about for something to put over the cover, but could see
nothing handy but her husband's turban. She tied it firmly round the
lid, and then left the room. For the first time during three years I
began to feel the fire burning the soles of my feet, and moved away a
little—doing this with a great deal more ease than I had felt when
making my escape to Mohammed's garden. I was somehow aware, too, that I
was growing taller; in fact in a few minutes I was a man again.
'After the third hour of prayer Mohammed and Zinebi both returned,
and you can guess their surprise at finding a young man in the kitchen
instead of a copper pot! I told them my story, which at first they
refused to believe, but in the end I succeeded in persuading them that
I was speaking the truth. For two years more I lived with them, and was
treated like their own son, till the day when they sent me to this city
to seek my fortune. And now, my lords, here are the two letters which I
found in my turban. Perhaps they may be another proof in favour of my
Whilst Neangir was speaking, the blood from the Jew's wound had
gradually ceased to flow; and at this moment there appeared in the
doorway a lovely Jewess, about twenty-two years old, her hair and her
dress all disordered, as if she had been flying from some great danger.
In one hand she held two crutches of white wood, and was followed by
two men. The first man Neangir knew to be the brother of the Jew he had
struck with his sword, while in the second the young man thought he
recognised the person who was standing by when he was changed into a
pot. Both of these men had a wide linen band round their thighs and
held stout sticks.
The Jewess approached the wounded man and laid the two crutches near
him; then, fixing her eyes on him, she burst into tears.
'Unhappy Izouf,' she murmured, 'why do you suffer yourself to be led
into such dangerous adventures? Look at the consequences, not only to
yourself, but to your two brothers,' turning as she spoke to the men
who had come in with her, and who had sunk down on the mat at the feet
of the Jew.
The Bassa and his companions were struck both with the beauty of the
Jewess and also with her words, and begged her to give them an
'My lords,' she said, 'my name is Sumi, and I am the daughter of
Moizes, one of our most famous rabbis. I am the victim of my love for
Izaf,' pointing to the man who had entered last, 'and in spite of his
ingratitude, I cannot tear him from my heart. Cruel enemy of my life,'
she continued turning to Izaf, 'tell these gentlemen your story and
that of your brothers, and try to gain your pardon by repentance.'
'We all three were born at the same time,' said the Jew, obeying the
command of Sumi at a sign from the Cadi, 'and are the sons of the
famous Nathan Ben-Sadi, who gave us the names of Izif, Izouf, and Izaf.
From our earliest years we were taught the secrets of magic, and as we
were all born under the same stars we shared the same happiness and the
'Our mother died before I can remember, and when we were fifteen our
father was seized with a dangerous illness which no spells could cure.
Feeling death draw near, he called us to his bedside and took leave of
us in these words:
'“My sons, I have no riches to bequeath to you; my only wealth was
those secrets of magic which you know. Some stones you already have,
engraved with mystic signs, and long ago I taught you how to make
others. But you still lack the most precious of all talismans—the
three rings belonging to the daughters of Siroco. Try to get possession
of them, but take heed on beholding these young girls that you do not
fall under the power of their beauty. Their religion is different from
yours, and further, they are the betrothed brides of the sons of the
Bassa of the Sea. And to preserve you from a love which can bring you
nothing but sorrow, I counsel you in time of peril to seek out the
daughter of Moizes the Rabbi, who cherishes a hidden passion for Izaf,
and possesses the Book of Spells, which her father himself wrote with
the sacred ink that was used for the Talmud.” So saying, our father
fell back on his cushions and died, leaving us burning with desire for
the three rings of the daughters of Siroco.
'No sooner were our sad duties finished than we began to make
inquiries where these young ladies were to be found, and we learned
after much trouble that Siroco, their father, had fought in many wars,
and that his daughters, whose beauty was famous throughout all the
land, were named Aurora, Argentine, and Zelida.'
At the second of these names, both the Bassa and his son gave a
start of surprise, but they said nothing and Izaf went on with his
'The first thing to be done was to put on a disguise, and it was in
the dress of foreign merchants that we at length approached the young
ladies, taking care to carry with us a collection of fine stones which
we had hired for the occasion. But alas! it was to no purpose that
Nathan Ben-Sadi had warned us to close our hearts against their charms!
The peerless Aurora was clothed in a garment of golden hue, studded all
over with flashing jewels; the fair-haired Argentine wore a dress of
silver, and the young Zelida, loveliest of them all, the costume of a
'Among other curiosities that we had brought with us, was a flask
containing an elixir which had the quality of exciting love in the
breasts of any man or woman who drank of it. This had been given me by
the fair Sumi, who had used it herself and was full of wrath because I
refused to drink it likewise, and so return her passion. I showed this
liquid to the three maidens who were engaged in examining the precious
stones, and choosing those that pleased them best; and I was in the act
of pouring some in a crystal cup, when Zelida's eyes fell on a paper
wrapped round the flask containing these words. “Beware lest you drink
this water with any other man than him who will one day be your
husband.” “Ah, traitor!” she exclaimed, “what snare have you laid for
me?” and glancing where her finger pointed I recognised the writing of
'By this time my two brothers had already got possession of the
rings of Aurora and Argentine in exchange for some merchandise which
they coveted, and no sooner had the magic circles left their hands than
the two sisters vanished completely, and in their place nothing was to
be seen but a watch of gold and one of silver. At this instant the old
slave whom we had bribed to let us enter the house, rushed into the
room announcing the return of Zelida's father. My brothers, trembling
with fright, hid the watches in their turbans, and while the slave was
attending to Zelida, who had sunk fainting to the ground, we managed to
make our escape.
'Fearing to be traced by the enraged Siroco, we did not dare to go
back to the house where we lodged, but took refuge with Sumi.
'“Unhappy wretches!” cried she, “is it thus that you have followed
the counsels of your father? This very morning I consulted my magic
books, and saw you in the act of abandoning your hearts to the fatal
passion which will one day be your ruin. No, do not think I will tamely
bear this insult! It was I who wrote the letter which stopped Zelida in
the act of drinking the elixir of love! As for you,” she went on,
turning to my brothers, “you do not yet know what those two watches
will cost you! But you can learn it now, and the knowledge of the truth
will only serve to render your lives still more miserable.”
'As she spoke she held out the sacred book written by Moizes, and
pointed to the following lines:
'“If at midnight the watches are wound with the key of gold and the
key of silver, they will resume their proper shapes during the first
hour of the day. They will always remain under the care of a woman, and
will come back to her wherever they may be. And the woman appointed to
guard them is the daughter of Moizes.”
'My brothers were full of rage when they saw themselves outwitted,
but there was no help for it. The watches were delivered up to Sumi and
they went their way, while I remained behind curious to see what would
'As night wore on Sumi wound up both watches, and when midnight
struck Aurora and her sister made their appearance. They knew nothing
of what had occurred and supposed they had just awakened from sleep,
but when Sumi's story made them understand their terrible fate, they
both sobbed with despair and were only consoled when Sumi promised
never to forsake them. Then one o'clock sounded, and they became
'All night long I was a prey to vague fears, and I felt as if
something unseen was pushing me on—in what direction I did not know.
At dawn I rose and went out, meeting Izif in the street suffering from
the same dread as myself. We agreed that Constantinople was no place
for us any longer, and calling to Izouf to accompany us, we left the
city together, but soon determined to travel separately, so that we
might not be so easily recognised by the spies of Siroco.
'A few days later I found myself at the door of an old castle near
the sea, before which a tall slave was pacing to and fro. The gift of
one or two worthless jewels loosened his tongue, and he informed me
that he was in the service of the son of the Bassa of the Sea, at that
time making war in distant countries. The youth, he told me, had been
destined from his boyhood to marry the daughter of Siroco, whose
sisters were to be the brides of his brothers, and went on to speak of
the talisman that his charge possessed. But I could think of nothing
but the beautiful Zelida, and my passion, which I thought I had
conquered, awoke in full force.
'In order to remove this dangerous rival from my path, I resolved to
kidnap him, and to this end I began to act a madman, and to sing and
dance loudly, crying to the slave to fetch the boy and let him see my
tricks. He consented, and both were so diverted with my antics that
they laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks, and even tried to
imitate me. Then I declared I felt thirsty and begged the slave to
fetch me some water, and while he was absent I advised the youth to
take off his turban, so as to cool his head. He complied gladly, and in
the twinkling of an eye was changed into a pot. A cry from the slave
warned me that I had no time to lose if I would save my life, so I
snatched up the pot and fled with it like the wind.
'You have heard, my lords, what became of the pot, so I will only
say now that when I awoke it had disappeared; but I was partly consoled
for its loss by finding my two brothers fast asleep not far from me.
“How did you get here?” I inquired, “and what has happened to you since
'“Alas!” replied Izouf, “we were passing a wayside inn from which
came sounds of songs and laughter, and fools that we were—we entered
and sat down. Circassian girls of great beauty were dancing for the
amusement of several men, who not only received us politely, but placed
us near the two loveliest maidens. Our happiness was complete, and time
flew unknown to us, when one of the Circassians leaned forward and said
to her sister, 'Their brother danced, and they must dance too.' What
they meant by these words I know not, but perhaps you can tell us?”
'“I understand quite well,” I replied. “They were thinking of the
day that I stole the son of the Bassa, and had danced before him.”
'“Perhaps you are right,” continued Izouf, “for the two ladies took
our hands and danced with us till we were quite exhausted, and when at
last we sat down a second time to table we drank more wine than was
good for us. Indeed, our heads grew so confused, that when the men
jumped up and threatened to kill us, we could make no resistance and
suffered ourselves to be robbed of everything we had about us,
including the most precious possession of all, the two talismans of the
daughters of Siroco.”
'Not knowing what else to do, we all three returned to
Constantinople to ask the advice of Sumi, and found that she was
already aware of our misfortunes, having read about them in the book of
Moizes. The kind-hearted creature wept bitterly at our story, but,
being poor herself, could give us little help. At last I proposed that
every morning we should sell the silver watch into which Argentine was
changed, as it would return to Sumi every evening unless it was wound
up with the silver key— which was not at all likely. Sumi consented,
but only on the condition that we would never sell the watch without
ascertaining the house where it was to be found, so that she might also
take Aurora thither, and thus Argentine would not be alone if by any
chance she was wound up at the mystic hour. For some weeks now we have
lived by this means, and the two daughters of Siroco have never failed
to return to Sumi each night. Yesterday Izouf sold the silver watch to
this young man, and in the evening placed the gold watch on the steps
by order of Sumi, just before his customer entered the house; from
which both watches came back early this morning.'
'If I had only known!' cried Neangir. 'If I had had more presence of
mind, I should have seen the lovely Argentine, and if her portrait is
so fair, what must the original be!'
'It was not your fault,' replied the Cadi, 'you are no magician; and
who could guess that the watch must be wound at such an hour? But I
shall give orders that the merchant is to hand it over to you, and this
evening you will certainly not forget.'
'It is impossible to let you have it to-day,' answered Izouf, 'for
it is already sold.'
'If that is so,' said the Cadi, 'you must return the three gold
pieces which the young man paid.'
The Jew, delighted to get off so easily, put his hand in his pocket,
when Neangir stopped him.
'No, no,' he exclaimed, 'it is not money I want, but the adorable
Argentine; without her everything is valueless.'
'My dear Cadi,' said the Bassa, 'he is right. The treasure that my
son has lost is absolutely priceless.'
'My lord,' replied the Cadi, 'your wisdom is greater than mine. Give
judgment I pray you in the matter.'
So the Bassa desired them all to accompany him to his house, and
commanded his slaves not to lose sight of the three Jewish brothers.
When they arrived at the door of his dwelling, he noticed two women
sitting on a bench close by, thickly veiled and beautifully dressed.
Their wide satin trousers were embroidered in silver, and their muslin
robes were of the finest texture. In the hand of one was a bag of pink
silk tied with green ribbons, containing something that seemed to move.
At the approach of the Bassa both ladies rose, and came towards him.
Then the one who held the bag addressed him saying, 'Noble lord, buy, I
pray you, this bag, without asking to see what it contains.'
'How much do you want for it?' asked the Bassa.
'Three hundred sequins,' replied the unknown.
At these words the Bassa laughed contemptuously, and passed on
'You will not repent of your bargain,' went on the woman. 'Perhaps
if we come back to-morrow you will be glad to give us the four hundred
sequins we shall then ask. And the next day the price will be five
'Come away,' said her companion, taking hold of her sleeve. 'Do not
let us stay here any longer. It may cry, and then our secret will be
discovered.' And so saying, the two young women disappeared.
The Jews were left in the front hall under the care of the slaves,
and Neangir and Sumi followed the Bassa inside the house, which was
magnificently furnished. At one end of a large, brilliantly-lighted
room a lady of about thirty-five years old reclined on a couch, still
beautiful in spite of the sad expression of her face.
'Incomparable Zambac,' said the Bassa, going up to her, 'give me
your thanks, for here is the lost son for whom you have shed so many
tears,' but before his mother could clasp him in her arms Neangir had
flung himself at her feet.
'Let the whole house rejoice with me,' continued the Bassa, 'and let
my two sons Ibrahim and Hassan be told, that they may embrace their
'Alas! my lord!' said Zambac, 'do you forget that this is the hour
when Hassan weeps on his hand, and Ibrahim gathers up his coral beads?'
'Let the command of the Prophet be obeyed,' replied the Bassa; 'then
we will wait till the evening.'
'Forgive me, noble lord,' interrupted Sumi, 'but what is this
mystery? With the help of the Book of Spells perhaps I may be of some
use in the matter.'
'Sumi,' answered the Bassa, 'I owe you already the happiness of my
life; come with me then, and the sight of my unhappy sons will tell you
of our trouble better than any words of mine.'
The Bassa rose from his divan and drew aside the hangings leading to
a large hall, closely followed by Neangir and Sumi. There they saw two
young men, one about seventeen, and the other nineteen years of age.
The younger was seated before a table, his forehead resting on his
right hand, which he was watering with his tears. He raised his head
for a moment when his father entered, and Neangir and Sumi both saw
that this hand was of ebony.
The other young man was occupied busily in collecting coral beads
which were scattered all over the floor of the room, and as he picked
them up he placed them on the same table where his brother was sitting.
He had already gathered together ninety-eight beads, and thought they
were all there, when they suddenly rolled off the table and he had to
begin his work over again.
'Do you see,' whispered the Bassa, 'for three hours daily one
collects these coral beads, and for the same space of time the other
laments over his hand which has become black, and I am wholly ignorant
what is the cause of either misfortune.'
'Do not let us stay here,' said Sumi, 'our presence must add to
their grief. But permit me to fetch the Book of Spells, which I feel
sure will tell us not only the cause of their malady but also its
The Bassa readily agreed to Sumi's proposal, but Neangir objected
strongly. 'If Sumi leaves us,' he said to his father, 'I shall not see
my beloved Argentine when she returns to-night with the fair Aurora.
And life is an eternity till I behold her.'
'Be comforted,' replied Sumi. 'I will be back before sunset; and I
leave you my adored Izaf as a pledge.'
Scarcely had the Jewess left Neangir, when the old female slave
entered the hall where the three Jews still remained carefully guarded,
followed by a man whose splendid dress prevented Neangir from
recognising at first as the person in whose house he had dined two days
before. But the woman he knew at once to be the nurse of Zelida.
He started eagerly forward, but before he had time to speak the
slave turned to the soldier she was conducting. 'My lord,' she said,
'those are the men; I have tracked them from the house of the Cadi to
this palace. They are the same; I am not mistaken, strike and avenge
As he listened the face of the stranger grew scarlet with anger. He
drew his sword and in another moment would have rushed on the Jews,
when Neangir and the slaves of the Bassa seized hold of him.
'What are you doing?' cried Neangir. 'How dare you attack those whom
the Bassa has taken under his protection?'
'Ah, my son,' replied the soldier, 'the Bassa would withdraw his
protection if he knew that these wretches have robbed me of all I have
dearest in the world. He knows them as little as he knows you.'
'But he knows me very well,' replied Neangir, 'for he has recognised
me as his son. Come with me now into his presence.'
The stranger bowed and passed through the curtain held back by
Neangir, whose surprise was great at seeing his father spring forward
and clasp the soldier in his arms.
'What! is it you, my dear Siroco?' cried he. 'I believed you had
been slain in that awful battle when the followers of the Prophet were
put to flight. But why do your eyes kindle with the flames they shot
forth on that fearful day? Calm yourself and tell me what I can do to
help you. See, I have found my son, let that be a good omen for your
'I did not guess,' answered Siroco, 'that the son you have so long
mourned had come back to you. Some days since the Prophet appeared to
me in a dream, floating in a circle of light, and he said to me, “Go
to-morrow at sunset to the Galata Gate, and there you will find a young
man whom you must bring home with you. He is the second son of your old
friend the Bassa of the Sea, and that you may make no mistake, put your
fingers in his turban and you will feel the plaque on which my name is
engraved in seven different languages.”'
'I did as I was bid,' went on Siroco, 'and so charmed was I with his
face and manner that I caused him to fall in love with Argentine, whose
portrait I gave him. But at the moment when I was rejoicing in the
happiness before me, and looking forward to the pleasure of restoring
you your son, some drops of the elixir of love were spilt on the table,
and caused a thick vapour to arise, which hid everything. When it had
cleared away he was gone. This morning my old slave informed me that
she had discovered the traitors who had stolen my daughters from me,
and I hastened hither to avenge them. But I place myself in your hands,
and will follow your counsel.'
'Fate will favour us, I am sure,' said the Bassa, 'for this very
night I expect to secure both the silver and the gold watch. So send at
once and pray Zelida to join us.'
A rustling of silken stuffs drew their eyes to the door, and Ibrahim
and Hassan, whose daily penance had by this time been performed,
entered to embrace their brother. Neangir and Hassan, who had also
drunk of the elixir of love, could think of nothing but the beautiful
ladies who had captured their hearts, while the spirits of Ibrahim had
been cheered by the news that the daughter of Moizes hoped to find in
the Book of Spells some charm to deliver him from collecting the magic
It was some hours later that Sumi returned, bringing with her the
'See,' she said, beckoning to Hassan, 'your destiny is written
here.' And Hassan stooped and read these words in Hebrew. 'His right
hand has become black as ebony from touching the fat of an impure
animal, and will remain so till the last of its race is drowned in the
'Alas!' sighed the unfortunate youth. 'It now comes back to my
memory. One day the slave of Zambac was making a cake. She warned me
not to touch, as the cake was mixed with lard, but I did not heed her,
and in an instant my hand became the ebony that it now is.'
'Holy dervish!' exclaimed the Bassa, 'how true were your words! My
son has neglected the advice you gave him on presenting him the
bracelet, and he has been severely punished. But tell me, O wise Sumi,
where I can find the last of the accursed race who has brought this
doom on my son?'
'It is written here,' replied Sumi, turning over some leaves. 'The
little black pig is in the pink bag carried by the two Circassians.'
When he read this the Bassa sank on his cushions in despair.
'Ah,' he said, 'that is the bag that was offered me this morning for
three hundred sequins. Those must be the women who caused Izif and
Izouf to dance, and took from them the two talismans of the daughters
of Siroco. They only can break the spell that has been cast on us. Let
them be found and I will gladly give them the half of my possessions.
Idiot that I was to send them away!'
While the Bassa was bewailing his folly, Ibrahim in his turn had
opened the book, and blushed deeply as he read the words: 'The chaplet
of beads has been defiled by the game of “Odd and Even.” Its owner has
tried to cheat by concealing one of the numbers. Let the faithless
Moslem seek for ever the missing bead.'
'O heaven,' cried Ibrahim, 'that unhappy day rises up before me. I
had cut the thread of the chaplet, while playing with Aurora. Holding
the ninety-nine beads in my hand she guessed “Odd,” and in order that
she might lose I let one bead fall from my hand. Since then I have
sought it daily, but it never has been found.'
'Holy dervish!' cried the Bassa, 'how true were your words! From the
time that the sacred chaplet was no longer complete, my son has borne
the penalty. But may not the Book of Spells teach us how to deliver
'Listen,' said Sumi, 'this is what I find: “The coral bead lies in
the fifth fold of the dress of yellow brocade.”' 'Ah, what good
fortune!' exclaimed the Bassa; 'we shall shortly see the beautiful
Aurora, and Ibrahim shall at once search in the fifth fold of her
yellow brocade. For it is she no doubt of whom the book speaks.'
As the Jewess closed the Book of Moizes, Zelida appeared,
accompanied by a whole train of slaves and her old nurse. At her
entrance Hassan, beside himself with joy, flung himself on his knees
and kissed her hand.
'My lord,' he said to the Bassa, 'pardon me these transports. No
elixir of love was needed to inflame my heart! Let the marriage rite
make us speedily one.'
'My son, are you mad?' asked the Bassa. 'As long as the misfortunes
of your brothers last, shall you alone be happy? And whoever heard of a
bridegroom with a black hand? Wait yet a little longer, till the black
pig is drowned in the sea.'
'Yes! dear Hassan,' said Zelida, 'our happiness will be increased
tenfold when my sisters have regained their proper shapes. And here is
the elixir which I have brought with me, so that their joy may equal
ours.' And she held out the flask to the Bassa, who had it closed in
Zambac was filled with joy at the sight of Zelida, and embraced her
with delight. Then she led the way into the garden, and invited all her
friends to seat themselves under the thick overhanging branches of a
splendid jessamine tree. No sooner, however, were they comfortably
settled, than they were astonished to hear a man's voice, speaking
angrily on the other side of the wall.
'Ungrateful girls!' it said, 'is this the way you treat me? Let me
hide myself for ever! This cave is no longer dark enough or deep enough
A burst of laughter was the only answer, and the voice continued,
'What have I done to earn such contempt? Was this what you promised me
when I managed to get for you the talismans of beauty? Is this the
reward I have a right to expect when I have bestowed on you the little
black pig, who is certain to bring you good luck?'
At these words the curiosity of the listeners passed all bounds, and
the Bassa commanded his slaves instantly to tear down the wall. It was
done, but the man was nowhere to be seen, and there were only two girls
of extraordinary beauty, who seemed quite at their ease, and came
dancing gaily on to the terrace. With them was an old slave in whom the
Bassa recognised Gouloucou, the former guardian of Neangir.
Gouloucou shrank with fear when he saw the Bassa, as he expected
nothing less than death at his hands for allowing Neangir to be
snatched away. But the Bassa made him signs of forgiveness, and asked
him how he had escaped death when he had thrown himself from the cliff.
Gouloucou explained that he had been picked up by a dervish who had
cured his wounds, and had then given him as slave to the two young
ladies now before the company, and in their service he had remained
'But,' said the Bassa, 'where is the little black pig of which the
voice spoke just now?'
'My lord,' answered one of the ladies, 'when at your command the
wall was thrown down, the man whom you heard speaking was so frightened
at the noise that he caught up the pig and ran away.'
'Let him be pursued instantly,' cried the Bassa; but the ladies
'Do not be alarmed, my lord,' said one, 'he is sure to return. Only
give orders that the entrance to the cave shall be guarded, so that
when he is once in he shall not get out again.'
By this time night was falling and they all went back to the palace,
where coffee and fruits were served in a splendid gallery, near the
women's apartments. The Bassa then ordered the three Jews to be brought
before him, so that he might see whether these were the two damsels who
had forced them to dance at the inn, but to his great vexation it was
found that when their guards had gone to knock down the wall the Jews
At this news the Jewess Sumi turned pale, but glancing at the Book
of Spells her face brightened, and she said half aloud, 'There is no
cause for disquiet; they will capture the dervish,' while Hassan
lamented loudly that as soon as fortune appeared on one side she fled
on the other!
On hearing this reflection one of the Bassa's pages broke into a
laugh. 'This fortune comes to us dancing my lord,' said he, 'and the
other leaves us on crutches. Do not be afraid. She will not go very
The Bassa, shocked at his impertinent interference, desired him to
leave the room and not to come back till he was sent for.
'My lord shall be obeyed,' said the page, 'but when I return, it
shall be in such good company that you will welcome me gladly.' So
saying, he went out.
When they were alone, Neangir turned to the fair strangers and
implored their help. 'My brothers and myself,' he cried, 'are filled
with love for three peerless maidens, two of whom are under a cruel
spell. If their fate happened to be in your hands, would you not do all
in your power to restore them to happiness and liberty?'
But the young man's appeal only stirred the two ladies to anger.
'What,' exclaimed one, 'are the sorrows of lovers to us? Fate has
deprived us of our lovers, and if it depends on us the whole world
shall suffer as much as we do!'
This unexpected reply was heard with amazement by all present, and
the Bassa entreated the speaker to tell them her story. Having obtained
permission of her sister, she began:
The Story of the Fair Circassians
'We were born in Circassia of poor people, and my sister's name is
Tezila and mine Dely. Having nothing but our beauty to help us in life,
we were carefully trained in all the accomplishments that give
pleasure. We were both quick to learn, and from our childhood could
play all sorts of instruments, could sing, and above all could dance.
We were besides, lively and merry, as in spite of our misfortunes we
are to this day.
'We were easily pleased and quite content with our lives at home,
when one morning the officials who had been sent to find wives for the
Sultan saw us, and were struck with our beauty. We had always expected
something of the sort, and were resigned to our lot, when we chanced to
see two young men enter our house. The elder, who was about twenty
years of age, had black hair and very bright eyes. The other could not
have been more than fifteen, and was so fair that he might easily have
passed for a girl.
'They knocked at the door with a timid air and begged our parents to
give them shelter, as they had lost their way. After some hesitation
their request was granted, and they were invited into the room in which
we were. And if our parents' hearts were touched by their beauty, our
own were not any harder, so that our departure for the palace, which
had been arranged for the next day, suddenly became intolerable to us.
'Night came, and I awoke from my sleep to find the younger of the
two strangers sitting at my bedside and felt him take my hand.
'“Fear nothing, lovely Dely,” he whispered, “from one who never knew
love till he saw you. My name,” he went on, “is Prince Delicate, and I
am the son of the king of the Isle of Black Marble. My friend, who
travels with me, is one of the richest nobles of my country, and the
secrets which he knows are the envy of the Sultan himself. And we left
our native country because my father wished me to marry a lady of great
beauty, but with one eye a trifle smaller than the other.”
'My vanity was flattered at so speedy a conquest, and I was charmed
with the way the young man had declared his passion. I turned my eyes
slowly on him, and the look I gave him caused him almost to lose his
senses. He fell fainting forward, and I was unable to move till Tezila,
who had hastily put on a dress, ran to my assistance together with
Thelamis, the young noble of whom the Prince had spoken.
'As soon as we were all ourselves again we began to bewail our fate,
and the journey that we were to take that very day to Constantinople.
But we felt a little comforted when Thelamis assured us that he and the
prince would follow in our steps, and would somehow contrive to speak
to us. Then they kissed our hands, and left the house by a side-way.
'A few moments later our parents came to tell us that the escort had
arrived, and having taken farewell of them we mounted the camels, and
took our seats in a kind of box that was fixed to the side of the
animal. These boxes were large enough for us to sleep in comfortably,
and as there was a window in the upper part, we were able to see the
country through which we passed.
'For several days we journeyed on, feeling sad and anxious as to
what might become of us, when one day as I was looking out of the
window of our room, I heard my name called, and beheld a beautifully
dressed girl jumping out of the box on the other side of our camel. One
glance told me that it was the prince, and my heart bounded with joy.
It was, he said, Thelamis's idea to disguise him like this, and that he
himself had assumed the character of a slave-dealer who was taking this
peerless maiden as a present to the Sultan. Thelamis had also persuaded
the officer in charge of the caravan to let him hire the vacant box, so
it was easy for the prince to scramble out of his own window and
This ingenious trick enchanted us, but our agreeable conversation
was soon interrupted by the attendants, who perceived that the camel
was walking in a crooked manner and came to find out what was wrong.
Luckily they were slow in their movements, and the prince had just time
to get back to his own box and restore the balance, before the trick
'But neither the prince nor his friend had any intention of allowing
us to enter the Sultan's palace, though it was difficult to know how we
were to escape, and what was to become of us when once we had escaped.
At length, one day as we were drawing near Constantinople, we learned
from the prince that Thelamis had made acquaintance with a holy dervish
whom he had met on the road, and had informed him that we were his
sisters, who were being sold as slaves against his will. The good man
was interested in the story, and readily agreed to find us shelter if
we could manage to elude the watchfulness of our guards. The risk was
great, but it was our only chance.
'That night, when the whole caravan was fast asleep, we raised the
upper part of our boxes and by the help of Thelamis climbed silently
out. We next went back some distance along the way we had come, then,
striking into another road, reached at last the retreat prepared for us
by the dervish. Here we found food and rest, and I need not say what
happiness it was to be free once more.
'The dervish soon became a slave to our beauty, and the day after
our escape he proposed that we should allow him to conduct us to an inn
situated at a short distance, where we should find two Jews, owners of
precious talismans which did not really belong to them. “Try,” said the
dervish, “by some means to get possession of them.”
'The inn, though not on the direct road to Constantinople, was a
favourite one with merchants, owing to the excellence of the food, and
on our arrival we discovered at least six or eight other people who had
stopped for refreshment. They greeted us politely, and we sat down to
'In a short time the two men described by the dervish entered the
room, and at a sign from him my sister made room at her side for one,
while I did the same for the other.
'Now the dervish had happened to mention that “their brother had
danced.” At the moment we paid no attention to this remark, but it came
back to our minds now, and we determined that they should dance also.
To accomplish this we used all our arts and very soon bent them to our
wills, so that they could refuse us nothing. At the end of the day we
remained possessors of the talismans and had left them to their fate,
while the prince and Thelamis fell more in love with us than ever, and
declared that we were more lovely than any women in the world.
'The sun had set before we quitted the inn, and we had made no plans
as to where we should go next, so we readily consented to the prince's
proposal that we should embark without delay for the Isle of Black
Marble. What a place it was! Rocks blacker than jet towered above its
shores and shed thick darkness over the country. Our sailors had not
been there before and were nearly as frightened as ourselves, but
thanks to Thelamis, who undertook to be our pilot, we landed safely on
'When we had left the coast behind us, with its walls of jet, we
entered a lovely country where the fields were greener, the streams
clearer, and the sun brighter than anywhere else. The people crowded
round to welcome their prince, whom they loved dearly, but they told
him that the king was still full of rage at his son's refusal to marry
his cousin the Princess Okimpare, and also at his flight. Indeed, they
all begged him not to visit the capital, as his life would hardly be
safe. So, much as I should have enjoyed seeing the home of my beloved
prince, I implored him to listen to this wise advice and to let us all
go to Thelamis's palace in the middle of a vast forest.
'To my sister and myself, who had been brought up in a cottage, this
house of Thelamis's seemed like fairyland. It was built of pink marble,
so highly polished that the flowers and streams surrounding it were
reflected as in a mirror. One set of rooms was furnished especially for
me in yellow silk and silver, to suit my black hair. Fresh dresses were
provided for us every day, and we had slaves to wait on us. Ah, why
could not this happiness have lasted for ever!
'The peace of our lives was troubled by Thelamis's jealousy of my
sister, as he could not endure to see her on friendly terms with the
prince, though knowing full well that his heart was mine. Every day we
had scenes of tender reproaches and of explanations, but Tezila's tears
never failed to bring Thelamis to his knees, with prayers for
'We had been living in this way for some months when one day the
news came that the king had fallen dangerously ill. I begged the prince
to hurry at once to the Court, both to see his father and also to show
himself to the senators and nobles, but as his love for me was greater
than his desire of a crown, he hesitated as if foreseeing all that
afterwards happened. At last Tezila spoke to him so seriously in
Thelamis's presence, that he determined to go, but promised that he
would return before night.
'Night came but no prince, and Tezila, who had been the cause of his
departure, showed such signs of uneasiness that Thelamis's jealousy was
at once awakened. As for me, I cannot tell what I suffered. Not being
able to sleep I rose from my bed and wandered into the forest, along
the road which he had taken so many hours before. Suddenly I heard in
the distance the sound of a horse's hoofs, and in a few moments the
prince had flung himself down and was by my side. “Ah, how I adore
you!” he exclaimed; “Thelamis's love will never equal mine.” The words
were hardly out of his mouth when I heard a slight noise behind, and
before we could turn round both our heads were rolling in front of us,
while the voice of Thelamis cried:
'“Perjured wretches, answer me; and you, faithless Tezila, tell me
why you have betrayed me like this?”
'Then I understood what had happened, and that, in his rage, he had
mistaken me for my sister.
'“Alas,” replied my head in weak tones, “I am not Tezila, but Dely,
whose life you have destroyed, as well as that of your friend.” At this
Thelamis paused and seemed to reflect for an instant.
'“Be not frightened,” he said more quietly, “I can make you whole
again,” and laying a magic powder on our tongues he placed our heads on
our necks. In the twinkling of an eye our heads were joined to our
bodies without leaving so much as a scar; only that, blinded with rage
as he still was, Thelamis had placed my head on the prince's body, and
his on mine!
'I cannot describe to you how odd we both felt at this strange
transformation. We both instinctively put up our hands—he to feel his
hair, which was, of course, dressed like a woman's, and I to raise the
turban which pressed heavily on my forehead. But we did not know what
had happened to us, for the night was still dark.
'At this point Tezila appeared, followed by a troop of slaves
bearing flowers. It was only by the light of their torches that we
understood what had occurred. Indeed the first thought of both of us
was that we must have changed clothes.
'Now in spite of what we may say, we all prefer our own bodies to
those of anybody else, so notwithstanding our love for each other, at
first we could not help feeling a little cross with Thelamis. However,
so deep was the prince's passion for me, that very soon he began to
congratulate himself on the change. “ My happiness is perfect,” he
said; “my heart, beautiful Dely, has always been yours, and now I have
your head also.”
'But though the prince made the best of it, Thelamis was much
ashamed of his stupidity. “I have,” he said hesitatingly, “two other
pastilles which have the same magic properties as those I used before.
Let me cut off your heads again, and that will put matters straight.”
The proposal sounded tempting, but was a little risky, and after
consulting together we decided to let things remain as they were. “Do
not blame me then,” continued Thelamis, “if you will not accept my
offer. But take the two pastilles, and if it ever happens that you are
decapitated a second time, make use of them in the way I have shown
you, and each will get back his own head.” So saying he presented us
with the pastilles, and we all returned to the castle.
'However, the troubles caused by the unfortunate exchange were only
just beginning. My head, without thinking what it was doing, led the
prince's body to my apartments. But my women, only looking at the
dress, declared I had mistaken the corridor, and called some slaves to
conduct me to his highness's rooms. This was bad enough, but when—as
it was still night my servants began to undress me, I nearly fainted
from surprise and confusion, and no doubt the prince's head was
suffering in the same manner at the other end of the castle!
'By the next morning—you will easily guess that we slept but
little—we had grown partly accustomed to our strange situation, and
when we looked in the mirror, the prince had become brown-skinned and
black-haired, while my head was covered with his curly golden locks.
And after that first day, everyone in the palace had become so
accustomed to the change that they thought no more about it.
'Some weeks after this, we heard that the king of the Isle of Black
Marble was dead. The prince's head, which once was mine, was full of
ambitious desires, and he longed to ride straight to the capital and
proclaim himself king. But then came the question as to whether the
nobles would recognise the prince with a girl's body, and indeed, when
we came to think of it, which was prince and which was girl?
'At last, after much argument, my head carried the day and we set
out; but only to find that the king had declared the Princess Okimpare
his successor. The greater part of the senators and nobles openly
professed that they would much have preferred the rightful heir, but as
they could not recognise him either in the prince or me, they chose to
consider us as impostors and threw us into prison.
'A few days later Tezila and Thelamis, who had followed us to the
capital, came to tell us that the new queen had accused us of high
treason, and had herself been present at our trial—which was conducted
without us. They had been in mortal terror as to what would be our
sentence, but by a piece of extraordinary luck we had been condemned to
'I told my sister that I did not see exactly where the luck came in,
but Thelamis interrupted me rudely:
'“What!” he cried, “of course I shall make use of the pastilles,
and—” but here the officers arrived to lead us to the great square
where the execution was to take place—for Okimpare was determined
there should be no delay.
'The square was crowded with people of all ages and all ranks, and
in the middle a platform had been erected on which was the scaffold,
with the executioner, in a black mask, standing by. At a sign from him
I mounted first, and in a moment my head was rolling at his feet. With
a bound my sister and Thelamis were beside me, and like lightning
Thelamis seized the sabre from the headsman, and cut off the head of
the prince. And before the multitude had recovered from their
astonishment at these strange proceedings, our bodies were joined to
our right heads, and the pastilles placed on our tongues. Then Thelamis
led the prince to the edge of the platform and presented him to the
people, saying, “Behold your lawful king.”
'Shouts of joy rent the air at the sound of Thelamis's words, and
the noise reached Okimpare in the palace. Smitten with despair at the
news, she fell down unconscious on her balcony, and was lifted up by
the slaves and taken back to her own house.
'Meanwhile our happiness was all turned to sorrow. I had rushed up
to the prince to embrace him fondly, when he suddenly grew pale and
'“I die faithful to you,” he murmured, turning his eyes towards me,
“and I die a king!” and leaning his head on my shoulder he expired
quietly, for one of the arteries in his neck had been cut through.
'Not knowing what I did I staggered towards the sabre which was
lying near me, with the intention of following my beloved prince as
speedily as possible. And when Thelamis seized my hand (but only just
in time), in my madness I turned the sabre upon him, and he fell struck
through the heart at my feet.'
The whole company were listening to the story with breathless
attention, when it became plain that Dely could go no further, while
Tezila had flung herself on a heap of cushions and hidden her face.
Zambac ordered her women to give them all the attention possible, and
desired they should be carried into her own rooms.
When the two sisters were in this condition, Ibrahim, who was a very
prudent young man, suggested to his parents that, as the two
Circassians were both unconscious, it would be an excellent opportunity
to search them and see if the talismans belonging to the daughters of
Siroco were concealed about their persons. But the Bassa, shocked at
the notion of treating his guests in so inhospitable a manner, refused
to do anything of the kind, adding that the next day he hoped to
persuade them to give the talismans up of their own free will.
By this time it was nearly midnight and Neangir, who was standing
near the Jewess Sumi, drew out the portrait of Argentine, and heard
with delight that she was even more beautiful than her picture.
Everyone was waiting on tip-toe for the appearance of the two watches,
who were expected when the clock struck twelve to come in search of
Sumi, and that there might be no delay the Bassa ordered all the doors
to be flung wide open. It was done, and there entered not the
longed-for watches, but the page who had been sent away in disgrace.
Then the Bassa arose in wrath. 'Azemi,' he said, 'did I not order
you to stand no more in my presence?'
'My lord,' replied Azemi, modestly, 'I was hidden outside the door,
listening to the tale of the two Circassians. And as I know you are
fond of stories, give me also leave to tell you one. I promise you it
shall not be long.'
'Speak on,' replied the Bassa, 'but take heed what you say.'
'My lord,' began Azemi, 'this morning I was walking in the town when
I noticed a man going in the same direction followed by a slave. He
entered a baker's shop, where he bought some bread which he gave to the
slave to carry. I watched him and saw that he purchased many other
kinds of provisions at other places, and when the slave could carry no
more his master commanded him to return home and have supper ready at
'When left alone the man went up the street, and turning into a
jeweller's shop, brought out a watch that as far as I could see was
made of silver. He walked on a few steps, then stooped and picked up a
gold watch which lay at his feet. At this point I ran up and told him
that if he did not give me half its price I would report him to the
Cadi; he agreed, and conducting me to his house produced four hundred
sequins, which he said was my share, and having got what I wanted I
'As it was the hour for attending on my lord I returned home and
accompanied you to the Cadi, where I heard the story of the three Jews
and learned the importance of the two watches I had left at the
stranger's. I hastened to his house, but he had gone out, and I could
only find the slave, whom I told that I was the bearer of important
news for his master. Believing me to be one of his friends, he begged
me to wait, and showed me into a room where I saw the two watches lying
on the table. I put them in my pocket, leaving the four hundred sequins
in place of the gold watch and three gold pieces which I knew to be the
price of the other. As you know the watches never remain with the
person who buys them, this man may think himself very lucky to get back
his money. I have wound them both up, and at this instant Aurora and
Argentine are locked safely into my own room.'
Everybody was so delighted to hear this news that Azemi was nearly
stifled with their embraces, and Neangir could hardly be prevented from
running to break in the door, though he did not even know where the
But the page begged to have the honour of fetching the ladies
himself, and soon returned leading them by the hand.
For some minutes all was a happy confusion, and Ibrahim took
advantage of it to fall on his knees before Aurora, and search in the
fifth fold of her dress for the missing coral bead. The Book of Spells
had told the truth; there it was, and as the chaplet was now complete
the young man's days of seeking were over.
In the midst of the general rejoicing Hassan alone bore a gloomy
'Alas!' he said, 'everyone is happy but the miserable being you see
before you. I have lost the only consolation in my grief, which was to
feel that I had a brother in misfortune!'
'Be comforted,' replied the Bassa; 'sooner or later the dervish who
stole the pink bag is sure to be found.'
Supper was then served, and after they had all eaten of rare fruits
which seemed to them the most delicious in the whole world, the Bassa
ordered the flask containing the elixir of love to be brought and the
young people to drink of it. Then their eyes shone with a new fire, and
they swore to be true to each other till death.
This ceremony was scarcely over when the clock struck one, and in an
instant Aurora and Argentine had vanished, and in the place where they
stood lay two watches. Silence fell upon all the company—they had
forgotten the enchantment; then the voice of Azemi was heard asking if
he might be allowed to take charge of the watches till the next day,
pledging his head to end their enchantment. With the consent of Sumi,
this was granted, and the Bassa gave Azemi a purse containing a
thousand sequins, as a reward for the services he had already rendered
to them. After this everybody went to his own apartment.
Azemi had never possessed so much money before, and never closed his
eyes for joy the whole night long. Very early he got up and went into
the garden, thinking how he could break the enchantment of the
daughters of Siroco. Suddenly the soft tones of a woman fell on his
ear, and peeping through the bushes he saw Tezila, who was arranging
flowers in her sister's hair. The rustling of the leaves caused Dely to
start; she jumped up as if to fly, but Azemi implored her to remain and
begged her to tell him what happened to them after the death of their
lovers, and how they had come to find the dervish.
'The punishment decreed to us by the Queen Okimpare,' answered Dely,
'was that we were to dance and sing in the midst of our sorrow, at a
great fete which was to be held that very day for all her people. This
cruel command nearly turned our brains, and we swore a solemn oath to
make all lovers as wretched as we were ourselves. In this design we
succeeded so well that in a short time the ladies of the capital came
in a body to Okimpare, and prayed her to banish us from the kingdom,
before their lives were made miserable for ever. She consented, and
commanded us to be placed on board a ship, with our slave Gouloucou.
'On the shore we saw an old man who was busily engaged in drowning
some little black pigs, talking to them all the while, as if they could
'“Accursed race,” said he, “it is you who have caused all the
misfortunes of him to whom I gave the magic bracelet. Perish all of
'We drew near from curiosity, and recognised in him the dervish who
had sheltered us on our first escape from the caravan.
'When the old man discovered who we were he was beside himself with
pleasure, and offered us a refuge in the cave where he lived. We gladly
accepted his offer, and to the cave we all went, taking with us the
last little pig, which he gave us as a present.
'“The Bassa of the Sea,” he added, “will pay you anything you like
to ask for it.”
'Without asking why it was so precious I took the pig and placed it
in my work bag, where it has been ever since. Only yesterday we offered
it to the Bassa, who laughed at us, and this so enraged us against the
dervish that we cut off his beard when he was asleep, and now he dare
not show himself.'
'Ah,' exclaimed the page, 'it is not fitting that such beauty should
waste itself in making other people miserable. Forget the unhappy past
and think only of the future. And accept, I pray you, this watch, to
mark the brighter hours in store.' So saying he laid the watch upon her
knee. Then he turned to Tezila. 'And you fair maiden, permit me to
offer you this other watch. True it is only of silver, but it is all I
have left to give. And I feel quite sure that you must have somewhere a
silver seal, that will be exactly the thing to go with it.'
'Why, so you have,' cried Dely; 'fasten your silver seal to your
watch, and I will hang my gold one on to mine.'
The seals were produced, and, as Azemi had guessed, they were the
talismans which the two Circassians had taken from Izif and Izouf,
mounted in gold and silver. As quick as lightning the watches slid from
the hands of Tezila and her sister, and Aurora and Argentine stood
before them, each with her talisman on her finger.
At first they seemed rather confused themselves at the change which
had taken place, and the sunlight which they had not seen for so long,
but when gradually they understood that their enchantment had come to
an end, they could find no words to express their happiness.
The Circassians could with difficulty be comforted for the loss of
the talismans, but Aurora and Argentine entreated them to dry their
tears, as their father, Siroco, who was governor of Alexandria, would
not fail to reward them in any manner they wished. This promise was
soon confirmed by Siroco himself, who came into the garden with the
Bassa and his two sons, and was speedily joined by the ladies of the
family. Only Hassan was absent. It was the hour in which he was
condemned to bewail his ebony hand.
To the surprise of all a noise was at this moment heard in a corner
of the terrace, and Hassan himself appeared surrounded by slaves,
clapping his hands and shouting with joy. 'I was weeping as usual,'
cried he, 'when all at once the tears refused to come to my eyes, and
on looking down at my hand I saw that its blackness had vanished. And
now, lovely Zelida, nothing prevents me any longer from offering you
the hand, when the heart has been yours always.'
But though Hassan never thought of asking or caring what had caused
his cure, the others were by no means so indifferent. It was quite
clear that the little black pig must be dead—but how, and when? To
this the slaves answered that they had seen that morning a man pursued
by three others, and that he had taken refuge in the cavern which they
had been left to guard. Then, in obedience to orders, they had rolled a
stone over the entrance.
Piercing shrieks interrupted their story, and a man, whom the
Circassians saw to be the old dervish, rushed round the corner of the
terrace with the three Jews behind him. When the fugitive beheld so
many people collected together, he turned down another path, but the
slaves captured all four and brought them before their master.
What was the surprise of the Bassa when he beheld in the old dervish
the man who had given the chaplet, the copper plaque, and the bracelet
to his three sons. 'Fear nothing, holy father,' he said, 'you are safe
with me. But tell us, how came you here?'
'My lord,' explained the dervish, 'when my beard was cut off during
my sleep by the two Circassians, I was ashamed to appear before the
eyes of men, and fled, bearing with me the pink silk bag. In the night
these three men fell in with me, and we passed some time in
conversation, but at dawn, when it was light enough to see each other's
faces, one of them exclaimed that I was the dervish travelling with the
two Circassians who had stolen the talismans from the Jews. I jumped up
and tried to fly to my cave, but they were too quick for me, and just
as we reached your garden they snatched the bag which contained the
little black pig and flung it into the sea. By this act, which delivers
your son, I would pray you to forgive them for any wrongs they may have
done you—nay more, that you will recompense them for it.' The Bassa
granted the holy man's request, and seeing that the two Jews had fallen
victims to the charms of the Circassian ladies, gave his consent to
their union, which was fixed to take place at the same time as that of
Izaf with the wise Sumi. The Cadi was sent for, and the Jews exchanged
the hats of their race for the turbans of the followers of the Prophet.
Then, after so many misfortunes, the Bassa's three sons entreated their
father to delay their happiness no longer, and the six marriages were
performed by the Cadi at the hour of noon.
[Cabinet des Fees.]
The Jackal and the Spring
Once upon a time all the streams and rivers ran so dry that the
animals did not know how to get water. After a very long search, which
had been quite in vain, they found a tiny spring, which only wanted to
be dug deeper so as to yield plenty of water. So the beasts said to
each other, 'Let us dig a well, and then we shall not fear to die of
thirst;' and they all consented except the jackal, who hated work of
any kind, and generally got somebody to do it for him.
When they had finished their well, they held a council as to who
should be made the guardian of the well, so that the jackal might not
come near it, for, they said, 'he would not work, therefore he shall
After some talk it was decided that the rabbit should be left in
charge; then all the other beasts went back to their homes.
When they were out of sight the jackal arrived. 'Good morning! Good
morning, rabbit!' and the rabbit politely said, 'Good morning!' Then
the jackal unfastened the little bag that hung at his side, and pulled
out of it a piece of honeycomb which he began to eat, and turning to
the rabbit he remarked:
'As you see, rabbit, I am not thirsty in the least, and this is
nicer than any water.'
'Give me a bit,' asked the rabbit. So the jackal handed him a very
'Oh, how good it is!' cried the rabbit; 'give me a little more, dear
But the jackal answered, 'If you really want me to give you some
more, you must have your paws tied behind you, and lie on your back, so
that I can pour it into your mouth.'
The rabbit did as he was bid, and when he was tied tight and popped
on his back, the jackal ran to the spring and drank as much as he
wanted. When he had quite finished he returned to his den.
In the evening the animals all came back, and when they saw the
rabbit lying with his paws tied, they said to him: 'Rabbit, how did you
let yourself be taken in like this?'
'It was all the fault of the jackal,' replied the rabbit; 'he tied
me up like this, and told me he would give me something nice to eat. It
was all a trick just to get at our water.'
'Rabbit, you are no better than an idiot to have let the jackal
drink our water when he would not help to find it. Who shall be our
next watchman? We must have somebody a little sharper than you!' and
the little hare called out, 'I will be the watchman.'
The following morning the animals all went their various ways,
leaving the little hare to guard the spring. When they were out of
sight the jackal came back. 'Good morning! good morning, little hare,'
and the little hare politely said, 'Good morning.'
'Can you give me a pinch of snuff?' said the jackal.
'I am so sorry, but I have none,' answered the little hare.
The jackal then came and sat down by the little hare, and unfastened
his little bag, pulling out of it a piece of honeycomb. He licked his
lips and exclaimed, 'Oh, little hare, if you only knew how good it is!'
'What is it?' asked the little hare.
'It is something that moistens my throat so deliciously,' answered
the jackal, 'that after I have eaten it I don't feel thirsty any more,
while I am sure that all you other beasts are for ever wanting water.'
'Give me a bit, dear friend,' asked the little hare.
'Not so fast,' replied the jackal. 'If you really wish to enjoy what
you are eating, you must have your paws tied behind you, and lie on
your back, so that I can pour it into your mouth.'
'You can tie them, only be quick,' said the little hare, and when he
was tied tight and popped on his back, the jackal went quietly down to
the well, and drank as much as he wanted. When he had quite finished he
returned to his den.
In the evening the animals all came back; and when they saw the
little hare with his paws tied, they said to him: 'Little hare, how did
you let yourself be taken in like this? Didn't you boast you were very
sharp? You undertook to guard our water; now show us how much is left
for us to drink!'
'It is all the fault of the jackal,' replied the little hare. 'He
told me he would give me something nice to eat if I would just let him
tie my hands behind my back.'
Then the animals said, 'Who can we trust to mount guard now?' And
the panther answered, 'Let it be the tortoise.'
The following morning the animals all went their various ways,
leaving the tortoise to guard the spring. When they were out of sight
the jackal came back. 'Good morning, tortoise; good morning.'
But the tortoise took no notice.
'Good morning, tortoise; good morning.' But still the tortoise
pretended not to hear.
Then the jackal said to himself, 'Well, to-day I have only got to
manage a bigger idiot than before. I shall just kick him on one side,
and then go and have a drink.' So he went up to the tortoise and said
to him in a soft voice, 'Tortoise! tortoise!' but the tortoise took no
notice. Then the jackal kicked him out of the way, and went to the well
and began to drink, but scarcely had he touched the water, than the
tortoise seized him by the leg. The jackal shrieked out: 'Oh, you will
break my leg!' but the tortoise only held on the tighter. The jackal
then took his bag and tried to make the tortoise smell the honeycomb he
had inside; but the tortoise turned away his head and smelt nothing. At
last the jackal said to the tortoise, 'I should like to give you my bag
and everything in it,' but the only answer the tortoise made was to
grasp the jackal's leg tighter still.
So matters stood when the other animals came back. The moment he saw
them, the jackal gave a violent tug, and managed to free his leg, and
then took to his heels as fast as he could. And the animals all said to
'Well done, tortoise, you have proved your courage; now we can drink
from our well in peace, as you have got the better of that thieving
[Contes Populaires des Bassoutos, recueillis et traduits par E.
Jacottet. Paris: Leroux, editeur.]
Once on a time there was a king who had an only daughter. He was so
proud and so fond of her, that he was in constant terror that something
would happen to her if she went outside the palace, and thus, owing to
his great love for her, he forced her to lead the life of a prisoner,
shut up within her own rooms.
The princess did not like this at all, and one day she complained
about it very bitterly to her nurse. Now, the nurse was a witch, though
the king did not know it. For some time she listened and tried to
soothe the princess; but when she saw that she would not be comforted,
she said to her: 'Your father loves you very dearly, as you know.
Whatever you were to ask from him he would give you. The one thing he
will not grant you is permission to leave the palace. Now, do as I tell
you. Go to your father and ask him to give you a wooden wheel-barrow,
and a bear's skin. When you have got them bring them to me, and I will
touch them with my magic wand. The wheel-barrow will then move of
itself, and will take you at full speed wherever you want to go, and
the bear's skin will make such a covering for you, that no one will
So the princess did as the witch advised her. The king, when he
heard her strange request, was greatly astonished, and asked her what
she meant to do with a wheel-barrow and a bear's skin. And the princess
answered, 'You never let me leave the house—at least you might grant
me this request' So the king granted it, and the princess went back to
her nurse, taking the barrow and the bear's skin with her.
As soon as the witch saw them, she touched them with her magic wand,
and in a moment the barrow began to move about in all directions. The
princess next put on the bear's skin, which so completely changed her
appearance, that no one could have known that she was a girl and not a
bear. In this strange attire she seated herself on the barrow, and in a
few minutes she found herself far away from the palace, and moving
rapidly through a great forest. Here she stopped the barrow with a sign
that the witch had shown her, and hid herself and it in a thick grove
of flowering shrubs.
Now it happened that the prince of that country was hunting with his
dogs in the forest. Suddenly he caught sight of the bear hiding among
the shrubs, and calling his dogs, hounded them on to attack it. But the
girl, seeing what peril she was in, cried, 'Call off your dogs, or they
will kill me. What harm have I ever done to you?' At these words,
coming from a bear, the prince was so startled that for a moment he
stood stock-still, then he said quite gently, 'Will you come with me? I
will take you to my home.'
'I will come gladly,' replied the bear; and seating herself on the
barrow it at once began to move in the direction of the prince's
palace. You may imagine the surprise of the prince's mother when she
saw her son return accompanied by a bear, who at once set about doing
the house-work better than any servant that the queen had ever seen.
Now it happened that there were great festivities going on in the
palace of a neighbouring prince, and at dinner, one day, the prince
said to his mother: 'This evening there is to be a great ball, to which
I must go.'
And his mother answered, 'Go and dance, and enjoy yourself.'
Suddenly a voice came from under the table, where the bear had
rolled itself, as was its wont: 'Let me come to the ball; I, too, would
like to dance.'
But the only answer the prince made was to give the bear a kick, and
to drive it out of the room.
In the evening the prince set off for the ball. As soon as he had
started, the bear came to the queen and implored to be allowed to go to
the ball, saying that she would hide herself so well that no one would
know she was there. The kind-hearted queen could not refuse her.
Then the bear ran to her barrow, threw off her bear's skin, and
touched it with the magic wand that the witch had given her. In a
moment the skin was changed into an exquisite ball dress woven out of
moon-beams, and the wheel-barrow was changed into a carriage drawn by
two prancing steeds. Stepping into the carriage the princess drove to
the grand entrance of the palace. When she entered the ball-room, in
her wondrous dress of moon-beams, she looked so lovely, so different
from all the other guests, that everyone wondered who she was, and no
one could tell where she had come from.
From the moment he saw her, the prince fell desperately in love with
her, and all the evening he would dance with no one else but the
When the ball was over, the princess drove away in her carriage at
full speed, for she wished to get home in time to change her ball dress
into the bear's skin, and the carriage into the wheel-barrow, before
anyone discovered who she was.
The prince, putting spurs into his horse, rode after her, for he was
determined not to let her out of his sight. But suddenly a thick mist
arose and hid her from him. When he reached his home he could talk to
his mother of nothing else but the beautiful stranger with whom he had
danced so often, and with whom he was so much in love. And the bear
beneath the table smiled to itself, and muttered: 'I am the beautiful
stranger; oh, how I have taken you in!'
The next evening there was a second ball, and, as you may believe,
the prince was determined not to miss it, for he thought he would once
more see the lovely girl, and dance with her and talk to her, and make
her talk to him, for at the first ball she had never opened her lips.
And, sure enough, as the music struck up the first dance, the
beautiful stranger entered the room, looking even more radiant than the
night before, for this time her dress was woven out of the rays of the
sun. All evening the prince danced with her, but she never spoke a
When the ball was over he tried once more to follow her carriage,
that he might know whence she came, but suddenly a great waterspout
fell from the sky, and the blinding sheets of rain hid her from his
When he reached his home he told his mother that he had again seen
the lovely girl, and that this time she had been even more beautiful
than the night before. And again the bear smiled beneath the table, and
muttered: 'I have taken him in a second time, and he has no idea that I
am the beautiful girl with whom he is so much in love.'
On the next evening, the prince returned to the palace for the third
ball. And the princess went too, and this time she had changed her
bear's skin into a dress woven out of the star-light, studded all over
with gems, and she looked so dazzling and so beautiful, that everyone
wondered at her, and said that no one so beautiful had ever been seen
before. And the prince danced with her, and, though he could not induce
her to speak, he succeeded in slipping a ring on her finger.
When the ball was over, he followed her carriage, and rode at such a
pace that for long he kept it in sight. Then suddenly a terrible wind
arose between him and the carriage, and he could not overtake it.
When he reached his home he said to his mother, 'I do not know what
is to become of me; I think I shall go mad, I am so much in love with
that girl, and I have no means of finding out who she is. I danced with
her and I gave her a ring, and yet I do not know her name, nor where I
am to find her.'
Then the bear laughed beneath the table and muttered to itself.
And the prince continued: 'I am tired to death. Order some soup to
be made for me, but I don't want that bear to meddle with it. Every
time I speak of my love the brute mutters and laughs, and seems to mock
at me. I hate the sight of the creature!'
When the soup was ready, the bear brought it to the prince; but
before handing it to him, she dropped into the plate the ring the
prince had given her the night before at the ball. The prince began to
eat his soup very slowly and languidly, for he was sad at heart, and
all his thoughts were busy, wondering how and where he could see the
lovely stranger again. Suddenly he noticed the ring at the bottom of
the plate. In a moment he recognised it, and was dumb with surprise.
Then he saw the bear standing beside him, looking at him with
gentle, beseeching eyes, and something in the eyes of the bear made him
say: 'Take off that skin, some mystery is hidden beneath it.'
And the bear's skin dropped off, and the beautiful girl stood before
him, in the dress woven out of the star-light, and he saw that she was
the stranger with whom he had fallen so deeply in love. And now she
appeared to him a thousand times more beautiful than ever, and he led
her to his mother. And the princess told them her story, and how she
had been kept shut up by her father in his palace, and how she had
wearied of her imprisonment. And the prince's mother loved her, and
rejoiced that her son should have so good and beautiful a wife.
So they were married, and lived happily for many years, and reigned
wisely over their kingdom.
Once there was a woman who had no children, and this made her very
unhappy. So she spoke one day to the Sunball, saying: 'Dear Sunball,
send me only a little girl now, and when she is twelve years old you
may take her back again.'
So soon after this the Sunball sent her a little girl, whom the
woman called Letiko, and watched over with great care till she was
twelve years old. Soon after that, while Letiko was away one day
gathering herbs, the Sunball came to her, and said: 'Letiko, when you
go home, tell your mother that she must bethink herself of what she
Then Letiko went straight home, and said to her mother: 'While I was
gathering herbs a fine tall gentleman came to me and charged me to tell
you that you should remember what you promised him.'
When the woman heard that she was sore afraid, and immediately shut
all the doors and windows of the house, stopped up all the chinks and
holes, and kept Letiko hidden away, that the Sunball should not come
and take her away. But she forgot to close up the keyhole, and through
it the Sunball sent a ray into the house, which took hold of the little
girl and carried her away to him.
One day, the Sunball having sent her to the straw shed to fetch
straw, the girl sat down on the piles of straw and bemoaned herself,
saying: 'As sighs this straw under my feet so sighs my heart after my
And this caused her to be so long away that the Sunball asked her,
when she came back: 'Eh, Letiko, where have you been so long?'
She answered: 'My slippers are too big, and I could not go faster.'
Then the Sunball made the slippers shorter.
Another time he sent her to fetch water, and when she came to the
spring, she sat down and lamented, saying: 'As flows the water even so
flows my heart with longing for my mother.'
Thus she again remained so long away that the Sunball asked her:
'Eh, Letiko, why have you remained so long away?'
And she answered: 'My petticoat is too long and hinders me in
Then the Sunball cut her petticoat to make it shorter.
Another time the Sunball sent her to bring him a pair of sandals,
and as the girl carried these in her hand she began to lament, saying:
'As creaks the leather so creaks my heart after my little mother.'
When she came home the Sunball asked her again: 'Eh, Letiko, why do
you come home so late?'
'My red hood is too wide, and falls over my eyes, therefore I could
not go fast.'
Then he made the hood narrower.
At last, however, the Sunball became aware how sad Letiko was. He
sent her a second time to bring straw, and, slipping in after her, he
heard how she lamented for her mother. Then he went home, called two
foxes to him, and said: 'Will you take Letiko home?'
'Yes, why not?'
'But what will you eat and drink if you should become hungry and
thirsty by the way?'
'We will eat her flesh and drink her blood.'
When the Sunball heard that, he said: 'You are not suited for this
Then he sent them away, and called two hares to him, and said: 'Will
you take Letiko home to her mother?'
'Yes, why not?'
'What will you eat and drink if you should become hungry and thirsty
by the way?'
'We will eat grass and drink from streamlets.'
'Then take her, and bring her home.'
Then the hares set out, taking Letiko with them, and because it was
a long way to her home they became hungry by the way. Then they said to
the little girl: 'Climb this tree, dear Letiko, and remain there till
we have finished eating.'
So Letiko climbed the tree, and the hares went grazing.
It was not very long, however, before a lamia came under the tree
and called out: 'Letiko, Letiko, come down and see what beautiful shoes
I have on.'
'Oh! my shoes are much finer than yours.'
'Come down. I am in a hurry, for my house is not yet swept.'
'Go home and sweep it then, and come back when you are ready.'
Then the lamia went away and swept her house, and when she was ready
she came back and called out: 'Letiko, Letiko, come down and see what a
beautiful apron I have.'
'Oh! my apron is much finer than yours.'
'If you will not come down I will cut down the tree and eat you.'
'Do so, and then eat me.'
Then the lamia hewed with all her strength at the tree, but could
not cut it down. And when she saw that, she called out: 'Letiko,
Letiko, come down, for I must feed my children.'
'Go home then and feed them, and come back when you are ready.'
When the lamia was gone away, Letiko called out: 'Little hares!
Then said one hare to the other: 'Listen, Letiko is calling;' and
they both ran back to her as fast as they could go. Then Letiko came
down from the tree, and they went on their way.
The lamia ran as fast as she could after them, to catch them up, and
when she came to a field where people were working she asked them:
'Have you seen anyone pass this way?'
They answered: 'We are planting beans.'
'Oh! I did not ask about that; but if anyone had passed this way.'
But the people only answered the louder: 'Are you deaf? It is beans,
beans, beans we are planting.'
When Letiko had nearly reached her home the dog knew her, and called
out, 'Bow wow! see here comes Letiko!'
And the mother said, 'Hush! thou beast of ill-omen! wilt thou make
me burst with misery?'
Next the cat on the roof saw her, and called out 'Miaouw! miaouw!
see here comes Letiko!'
And the mother said, 'Keep silence! thou beast of ill-omen! wilt
thou make me burst with misery?'
Then the cock spied, and called out: 'Cock-a-doodle-do! see here
And the mother said again: 'Be quiet! thou bird of ill-omen! wilt
thou make me burst with misery?'
The nearer Letiko and the two hares came to the house the nearer
also came the lamia, and when the hare was about to slip in by the
house door she caught it by its little tail and tore it out.
When the hare came in the mother stood up and said to it: 'Welcome,
dear little hare; because you have brought me back Letiko I will silver
your little tail.'
And she did so; and lived ever after with her daughter in happiness
The Daughter 0f Buk Ettemsuch
Once upon a time there lived a man who had seven daughters. For a
long time they dwelt quite happily at home together, then one morning
the father called them all before him and said:
'Your mother and I are going on a journey, and as we do not know how
long we may be away, you will find enough provisions in the house to
last you three years. But see you do not open the door to anyone till
we come home again.'
'Very well, dear father,' replied the girls.
For two years they never left the house or unlocked the door; but
one day, when they had washed their clothes, and were spreading them
out on the roof to dry, the girls looked down into the street where
people were walking to and fro, and across to the market, with its
stalls of fresh meat, vegetables, and other nice things.
'Come here,' cried one. 'It makes me quite hungry! Why should not we
have our share? Let one of us go to the market, and buy meat and
'Oh, we mustn't do that!' said the youngest. 'You know our father
forbade us to open the door till he came home again.'
Then the eldest sister sprang at her and struck her, the second spit
at her, the third abused her, the fourth pushed her, the fifth flung
her to the ground, and the sixth tore her clothes. Then they left her
lying on the floor, and went out with a basket.
In about an hour they came back with the basket full of meat and
vegetables, which they put in a pot, and set on the fire, quite
forgetting that the house door stood wide open. The youngest sister,
however, took no part in all this, and when dinner was ready and the
table laid, she stole softly out to the entrance hall, and hid herself
behind a great cask which stood in one corner.
Now, while the other sisters were enjoying their feast, a witch
passed by, and catching sight of the open door, she walked in. She went
up to the eldest girl, and said: 'Where shall I begin on you, you fat
'You must begin,' answered she, 'with the hand which struck my
So the witch gobbled her up, and when the last scrap had
disappeared, she came to the second and asked: 'Where shall I begin on
you, my fat bolster?'
And the second answered, 'You must begin on my mouth, which spat on
And so on to the rest; and very soon the whole six had disappeared.
And as the witch was eating the last mouthful of the last sister, the
youngest, who had been crouching, frozen with horror, behind the
barrel, ran out through the open door into the street. Without looking
behind her, she hastened on and on, as fast as her feet would carry
her, till she saw an ogre's castle standing in front of her. In a
corner near the door she spied a large pot, and she crept softly up to
it and pulled the cover over it, and went to sleep.
By-and-by the ogre came home. 'Fee, Fo, Fum,' cried he, 'I smell the
smell of a man. What ill fate has brought him here?' And he looked
through all the rooms, and found nobody. 'Where are you?' he called.
'Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm.'
But the girl was still silent.
'Come out, I tell you,' repeated the ogre. 'Your life is quite safe.
If you are an old man, you shall be my father. If you are a boy, you
shall be my son. If your years are as many as mine, you shall be my
brother. If you are an old woman, you shall be my mother. If you are a
young one, you shall be my daughter. If you are middle-aged, you shall
be my wife. So come out, and fear nothing.'
Then the maiden came out of her hiding-place, and stood before him.
'Fear nothing,' said the ogre again; and when he went away to hunt
he left her to look after the house. In the evening he returned,
bringing with him hares, partridges, and gazelles, for the girl's
supper; for himself he only cared for the flesh of men, which she
cooked for him. He also gave into her charge the keys of six rooms, but
the key of the seventh he kept himself.
And time passed on, and the girl and the ogre still lived together.
She called him 'Father,' and he called her 'Daughter,' and never
once did he speak roughly to her.
One day the maiden said to him, 'Father, give me the key of the
'No, my daughter,' replied the ogre. 'There is nothing there that is
any use to you.'
'But I want the key,' she repeated again.
However the ogre took no notice, and pretended not to hear. The girl
began to cry, and said to herself: 'To-night, when he thinks I am
asleep, I will watch and see where he hides it;' and after she and the
ogre had supped, she bade him good-night, and left the room. In a few
minutes she stole quietly back, and watched from behind a curtain. In a
little while she saw the ogre take the key from his pocket, and hide it
in a hole in the ground before he went to bed. And when all was still
she took out the key, and went back to the house.
The next morning the ogre awoke with the first ray of light, and the
first thing he did was to look for the key. It was gone, and he guessed
at once what had become of it.
But instead of getting into a great rage, as most ogres would have
done, he said to himself, 'If I wake the maiden up I shall only
frighten her. For to-day she shall keep the key, and when I return
to-night it will be time enough to take it from her.' So he went off to
The moment he was safe out of the way, the girl ran upstairs and
opened the door of the room, which was quite bare. The one window was
closed, and she threw back the lattice and looked out. Beneath lay a
garden which belonged to the prince, and in the garden was an ox, who
was drawing up water from the well all by himself —for there was
nobody to be seen anywhere. The ox raised his head at the noise the
girl made in opening the lattice, and said to her, 'Good morning, O
daughter of Buk Ettemsuch! Your father is feeding you up till you are
nice and fat, and then he will put you on a spit and cook you.'
These words so frightened the maiden that she burst into tears and
ran out of the room. All day she wept, and when the ogre came home at
night, no supper was ready for him.
'What are you crying for?' said he. 'Where is my supper, and is it
you who have opened the upper chamber?'
'Yes, I opened it,' answered she.
'And what did the ox say to you?'
'He said, “Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch. Your father is
feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will put you on a
spit and cook you.”'
'Well, to-morrow you can go to the window and say, “My father is
feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does not mean to eat me.
If I had one of your eyes I would use it for a mirror, and look at
myself before and behind; and your girths should be loosened, and you
should be blind—seven days and seven nights.”'
'All right,' replied the girl, and the next morning, when the ox
spoke to her, she answered him as she had been told, and he fell down
straight upon the ground, and lay there seven days and seven nights.
But the flowers in the garden withered, for there was no one to water
When the prince came into his garden he found nothing but yellow
stalks; in the midst of them the ox was lying. With a blow from his
sword he killed the animal, and, turning to his attendants, he said,
'Go and fetch another ox!' And they brought in a great beast, and he
drew the water out of the well, and the flowers revived, and the grass
grew green again. Then the prince called his attendants and went away.
The next morning the girl heard the noise of the waterwheel, and she
opened the lattice and looked out of the window.
'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the new ox. 'Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will
put you on a spit and cook you.'
And the maiden answered: 'My father is feeding me up till I am nice
and fat, but he does not mean to eat me. If I had one of your eyes I
would use it for a mirror, and look at myself before and behind; and
your girths should be loosened, and you should be blind—seven days and
Directly she uttered these words the ox fell to the ground and lay
there, seven days and seven nights. Then he arose and began to draw the
water from the well. He had only turned the wheel once or twice, when
the prince took it into his head to visit his garden and see how the
new ox was getting on. When he entered the ox was working busily; but
in spite of that the flowers and grass were dried up. And the prince
drew his sword, and rushed at the ox to slay him, as he had done the
other. But the ox fell on his knees and said:
'My lord, only spare my life, and let me tell you how it happened.'
'How what happened?' asked the prince.
'My lord, a girl looked out of that window and spoke a few words to
me, and I fell to the ground. For seven days and seven nights I lay
there, unable to move. But, O my lord, it is not given to us twice to
behold beauty such as hers.'
'It is a lie,' said the prince. 'An ogre dwells there. Is it likely
that he keeps a maiden in his upper chamber?'
'Why not?' replied the ox. 'But if you come here at dawn to-morrow,
and hide behind that tree, you will see for yourself.'
'So I will,' said the prince; 'and if I find that you have not
spoken truth, I will kill you.'
The prince left the garden, and the ox went on with his work. Next
morning the prince came early to the garden, and found the ox busy with
'Has the girl appeared yet?' he asked.
'Not yet; but she will not be long. Hide yourself in the branches of
that tree, and you will soon see her.'
The prince did as he was told, and scarcely was he seated when the
maiden threw open the lattice.
'Good morning, O daughter of Buk Ettemsuch!' said the ox. 'Your
father is feeding you up till you are nice and fat, and then he will
put you on a spit and cook you.'
'My father is feeding me up till I am nice and fat, but he does not
mean to eat me. If I had one of your eyes I would use it for a mirror,
and look at myself before and behind; and your girths should be
loosened, and you should be blind—seven days and seven nights.' And
hardly had she spoken when the ox fell on the ground, and the maiden
shut the lattice and went away. But the prince knew that what the ox
had said was true, and that she had not her equal in the whole world.
And he came down from the tree, his heart burning with love.
'Why has the ogre not eaten her?' thought he. 'This night I will
invite him to supper in my palace and question him about the maiden,
and find out if she is his wife.'
So the prince ordered a great ox to be slain and roasted whole, and
two huge tanks to be made, one filled with water and the other with
wine. And towards evening he called his attendants and went to the
ogre's house to wait in the courtyard till he came back from hunting.
The ogre was surprised to see so many people assembled in front of his
house; but he bowed politely and said, 'Good morning, dear neighbours!
To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? I have not offended you, I
'Oh, certainly not!' answered the prince.
'Then,' continued the ogre, 'What has brought you to my house to-day
for the first time?'
'We should like to have supper with you,' said the prince.
'Well, supper is ready, and you are welcome,' replied the ogre,
leading the way into the house, for he had had a good day, and there
was plenty of game in the bag over his shoulder.
A table was quickly prepared, and the prince had already taken his
place, when he suddenly exclaimed, 'After all, Buk Ettemsuch, suppose
you come to supper with me?'
'Where?' asked the ogre.
'In my house. I know it is all ready.'
'But it is so far off—why not stay here?'
'Oh, I will come another day; but this evening I must be your host.'
So the ogre accompanied the prince and his attendants back to the
palace. After a while the prince turned to the ogre and said:
'It is as a wooer that I appear before you. I seek a wife from an
'But I have no daughter,' replied the ogre.
'Oh, yes you have, I saw her at the window.'
'Well, you can marry her if you wish,' said he.
So the prince's heart was glad as he and his attendants rode back
with the ogre to his house. And as they parted, the prince said to his
guest, 'You will not forget the bargain we have made?'
'I am not a young man, and never break my promises,' said the ogre,
and went in and shut the door.
Upstairs he found the maiden, waiting till he returned to have her
supper, for she did not like eating by herself.
'I have had my supper,' said the ogre, 'for I have been spending the
evening with the prince.'
'Where did you meet him?' asked the girl.
'Oh, we are neighbours, and grew up together, and to-night I
promised that you should be his wife.'
'I don't want to be any man's wife,' answered she; but this was only
pretence, for her heart too was glad.
Next morning early came the prince, bringing with him bridal gifts,
and splendid wedding garments, to carry the maiden back to his palace.
But before he let her go the ogre called her to him, and said, 'Be
careful, girl, never to speak to the prince; and when he speaks to you,
you must be dumb, unless he swears “by the head of Buk Ettemsuch.” Then
you may speak.'
'Very well,' answered the girl.
They set out; and when they reached the palace, the prince led his
bride to the room he had prepared for her, and said 'Speak to me, my
wife,' but she was silent; and by-and-by he left her, thinking that
perhaps she was shy. The next day the same thing happened, and the
At last he said, 'Well, if you won't speak, I shall go and get
another wife who will.' And he did.
Now when the new wife was brought to the palace the daughter of Buk
Ettemsuch rose, and spoke to the ladies who had come to attend on the
second bride. 'Go and sit down. I will make ready the feast.' And the
ladies sat down as they were told, and waited.
The maiden sat down too, and called out, 'Come here, firewood,' and
the firewood came. 'Come here, fire,' and the fire came and kindled the
wood. 'Come here, pot.' 'Come here, oil;' and the pot and the oil came.
'Get into the pot, oil!' said she, and the oil did it. When the oil was
boiling, the maiden dipped all her fingers in it, and they became ten
fried fishes. 'Come here, oven,' she cried next, and the oven came.
'Fire, heat the oven.' And the fire heated it. When it was hot enough,
the maiden jumped in, just as she was, with her beautiful silver and
gold dress, and all her jewels. In a minute or two she had turned into
a snow-white loaf, that made your mouth water.
Said the loaf to the ladies, 'You can eat now; do not stand so far
off;' but they only stared at each other, speechless with surprise.
'What are you staring at?' asked the new bride.
'At all these wonders,' replied the ladies.
'Do you call these wonders?' said she scornfully; 'I can do that
too,' and she jumped straight into the oven, and was burnt up in a
Then they ran to the prince and said: 'Come quickly, your wife is
'Bury her, then!' returned he. 'But why did she do it? I am sure I
said nothing to make her throw herself into the oven.'
Accordingly the burnt woman was buried, but the prince would not go
to the funeral as all his thoughts were still with the wife who would
not speak to him. The next night he said to her, 'Dear wife, are you
afraid that something dreadful will happen if you speak to me? If you
still persist in being dumb, I shall be forced to get another wife.'
The poor girl longed to speak, but dread of the ogre kept her silent,
and the prince did as he had said, and brought a fresh bride into the
palace. And when she and her ladies were seated in state, the maiden
planted a sharp stake in the ground, and sat herself down comfortably
on it, and began to spin.
'What are you staring at so?' said the new bride to her ladies. 'Do
you think that is anything wonderful? Why, I can do as much myself!'
'I am sure you can't,' said they, much too surprised to be polite.
Then the maid sprang off the stake and left the room, and instantly
the new wife took her place. But the sharp stake ran through, and she
was dead in a moment. So they sent to the prince and said, 'Come
quickly, and bury your wife.'
'Bury her yourselves,' he answered. 'What did she do it for? It was
not by my orders that she impaled herself on the stake.'
So they buried her; and in the evening the prince came to the
daughter of Buk Ettemsuch, and said to her, 'Speak to me, or I shall
have to take another wife.' But she was afraid to speak to him.
The following day the prince hid himself in the room and watched.
And soon the maiden woke, and said to the pitcher and to the water-jug,
'Quick! go down to the spring and bring me some water; I am thirsty.'
And they went. But as they were filling themselves at the spring,
the water-jug knocked against the pitcher and broke off its spout. And
the pitcher burst into tears, and ran to the maiden, and said:
'Mistress, beat the water-jug, for he has broken my spout!'
'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch, I implore you not to beat me!'
'Ah,' she replied, 'if only my husband had sworn by that oath, I
could have spoken to him from the beginning, and he need never have
taken another wife. But now he will never say it, and he will have to
go on marrying fresh ones.'
And the prince, from his hiding-place, heard her words, and he
jumped up and ran to her and said, 'By the head of Buk Ettemsuch, speak
So she spoke to him, and they lived happily to the end of their
days, because the girl kept the promise she had made to the ogre.
[Märchen und Gedichte aus der Stadt Tripolis. Von Hans Stumme.]
Laughing Eye and Weeping Eye, or the Limping Fox
Once upon a time there lived a man whose right eye always smiled,
and whose left eye always cried; and this man had three sons, two of
them very clever, and the third very stupid. Now these three sons were
very curious about the peculiarity of their father's eyes, and as they
could not puzzle out the reason for themselves, they determined to ask
their father why he did not have eyes like other people.
So the eldest of the three went one day into his father's room and
put the question straight out; but, instead of answering, the man flew
into a fearful rage, and sprang at him with a knife. The young fellow
ran away in a terrible fright, and took refuge with his brothers, who
were awaiting anxiously the result of the interview.
'You had better go yourselves,' was all the reply they got, 'and see
if you will fare any better.'
Upon hearing this, the second son entered his father's room, only to
be treated in the same manner as his brother; and back he came telling
the youngest, the fool of the family, that it was his turn to try his
Then the youngest son marched boldly up to his father and said to
him, 'My brothers would not let me know what answer you had given to
their question. But now, do tell me why your right eye always laughs
and your left eye always weeps.'
As before, the father grew purple with fury, and rushed forwards
with his knife. But the simpleton did not stir a step; he knew that he
had really nothing to fear from his father.
'Ah, now I see who is my true son,' exclaimed the old man; 'the
others are mere cowards. And as you have shown me that you are brave, I
will satisfy your curiosity. My right eye laughs because I am glad to
have a son like you; my left eye weeps because a precious treasure has
been stolen from me. I had in my garden a vine that yielded a tun of
wine every hour—someone has managed to steal it, so I weep its loss.'
The simpleton returned to his brothers and told them of their
father's loss, and they all made up their minds to set out at once in
search of the vine. They travelled together till they came to some
cross roads, and there they parted, the two elder ones taking one road,
and the simpleton the other.
'Thank goodness we have got rid of that idiot,' exclaimed the two
elder. 'Now let us have some breakfast.' And they sat down by the
roadside and began to eat.
They had only half finished, when a lame fox came out of a wood and
begged them to give him something to eat. But they jumped up and chased
him off with their sticks, and the poor fox limped away on his three
pads. As he ran he reached the spot where the youngest son was getting
out the food he had brought with him, and the fox asked him for a crust
of bread. The simpleton had not very much for himself, but he gladly
gave half of his meal to the hungry fox.
'Where are you going, brother?' said the fox, when he had finished
his share of the bread; and the young man told him the story of his
father and the wonderful vine.
'Dear me, how lucky!' said the fox. 'I know what has become of it.
Follow me!' So they went on till they came to the gate of a large
'You will find here the vine that you are seeking, but it will not
be at all easy to get it. You must listen carefully to what I am going
to say. Before you reach the vine you will have to pass twelve
outposts, each consisting of two guards. If you see these guards
looking straight at you, go on without fear, for they are asleep. But
if their eyes are shut then beware, for they are wide awake. If you
once get to the vine, you will find two shovels, one of wood and the
other of iron. Be sure not to take the iron one; it will make a noise
and rouse the guards, and then you are lost.'
The young man got safely through the garden without any adventures
till he came to the vine which yielded a tun of wine an hour. But he
thought he should find it impossible to dig the hard earth with only a
wooden shovel, so picked up the iron one instead. The noise it made
soon awakened the guards. They seized the poor simpleton and carried
him to their master.
'Why do you try to steal my vine?' demanded he; 'and how did you
manage to get past the guards?'
'The vine is not yours; it belongs to my father, and if you will not
give it to me now, I will return and get it somehow.'
'You shall have the vine if you will bring me in exchange an apple
off the golden apple-tree that flowers every twenty-four hours, and
bears fruit of gold.' So saying, he gave orders that the simpleton
should be released, and this done, the youth hurried off to consult the
'Now you see,' observed the fox, 'this comes of not following my
advice. However, I will help you to get the golden apple. It grows in a
garden that you will easily recognise from my description. Near the
apple-tree are two poles, one of gold, the other of wood. Take the
wooden pole, and you will be able to reach the apple.'
Master Simpleton listened carefully to all that was told him, and
after crossing the garden, and escaping as before from the men who were
watching it, soon arrived at the apple-tree. But he was so dazzled by
the sight of the beautiful golden fruit, that he quite forgot all that
the fox had said. He seized the golden pole, and struck the branch a
sounding blow. The guards at once awoke, and conducted him to their
master. Then the simpleton had to tell his story.
'I will give you the golden apple,' said the owner of the garden,
'if you will bring me in exchange a horse which can go round the world
in four-and-twenty hours.' And the young man departed, and went to find
This time the fox was really angry, and no wonder.
'If you had listened to me, you would have been home with your
father by this time. However I am willing to help you once more. Go
into the forest, and you will find the horse with two halters round his
neck. One is of gold, the other of hemp. Lead him by the hempen halter,
or else the horse will begin to neigh, and will waken the guards. Then
all is over with you.'
So Master Simpleton searched till he found the horse, and was struck
dumb at its beauty.
'What!' he said to himself, 'put the hempen halter on an animal like
that? Not I, indeed!'
Then the horse neighed loudly; the guards seized our young friend
and conducted him before their master.
'I will give you the golden horse,' said he, 'if you will bring me
in exchange a golden maiden who has never yet seen either sun or moon.'
'But if I am to bring you the golden maiden you must lend me first
the golden steed with which to seek for her.'
'Ah,' replied the owner of the golden horse, 'but who will undertake
that you will ever come back?'
'I swear on the head of my father,' answered the young man, 'that I
will bring back either the maiden or the horse.' And he went away to
consult the fox.
Now, the fox who was always patient and charitable to other people's
faults, led him to the entrance of a deep grotto, where stood a maiden
all of gold, and beautiful as the day. He placed her on his horse and
prepared to mount.
'Are you not sorry,' said the fox, 'to give such a lovely maiden in
exchange for a horse? Yet you are bound to do it, for you have sworn by
the head of your father. But perhaps I could manage to take her place.'
So saying, the fox transformed himself into another golden maiden, so
like the first that hardly anyone could tell the difference between
The simpleton took her straight to the owner of the horse, who was
enchanted with her.
And the young man got back his father's vine and married the real
golden maiden into the bargain.
[Contes Populaires Slaves. Traduits par Louis Léger. Paris: Ernest
The Unlooked-for Prince
A long time ago there lived a king and queen who had no children,
although they both wished very much for a little son. They tried not to
let each other see how unhappy they were, and pretended to take
pleasure in hunting and hawking and all sorts of other sports; but at
length the king could bear it no longer, and declared that he must go
and visit the furthest corners of his kingdom, and that it would be
many months before he should return to his capital.
By that time he hoped he would have so many things to think about
that he would have forgotten to trouble about the little son who never
The country the king reigned over was very large, and full of high,
stony mountains and sandy deserts, so that it was not at all easy to go
from one place to another. One day the king had wandered out alone,
meaning to go only a little distance, but everything looked so alike he
could not make out the path by which he had come. He walked on and on
for hours, the sun beating hotly on his head, and his legs trembling
under him, and he might have died of thirst if he had not suddenly
stumbled on a little well, which looked as if it had been newly dug. On
the surface floated a silver cup with a golden handle, but as it bobbed
about whenever the king tried to seize it, he was too thirsty to wait
any longer and knelt down and drank his fill.
When he had finished he began to rise from his knees, but somehow
his beard seemed to have stuck fast in the water, and with all his
efforts he could not pull it out. After two or three jerks to his head,
which only hurt him without doing any good, he called out angrily, 'Let
go at once! Who is holding me?'
'It is I, the King Kostiei,' said a voice from the well, and looking
up through the water was a little man with green eyes and a big head.
'You have drunk from my spring, and I shall not let you go until you
promise to give me the most precious thing your palace contains, which
was not there when you left it.'
Now the only thing that the king much cared for in his palace was
the queen herself, and as she was weeping bitterly on a pile of
cushions in the great hall when he had ridden away, he knew that
Kostiei's words could not apply to her. So he cheerfully gave the
promise asked for by the ugly little man, and in the twinkling of an
eye, man, spring, and cup had disappeared, and the king was left
kneeling on the dry sand, wondering if it was all a dream. But as he
felt much stronger and better he made up his mind that this strange
adventure must really have happened, and he sprang on his horse and
rode off with a light heart to look for his companions.
In a few weeks they began to set out on their return home, which
they reached one hot day, eight months after they had all left. The
king was greatly beloved by his people, and crowds lined the roads,
shouting and waving their hats as the procession passed along. On the
steps of the palace stood the queen, with a splendid golden cushion in
her arms, and on the cushion the most beautiful boy that ever was seen,
wrapped about in a cloud of lace. In a moment Kostiei's words rushed
into the king's mind, and he began to weep bitterly, to the surprise of
everybody, who had expected him nearly to die of joy at the sight of
his son. But try as he would and work as hard as he might he could
never forget his promise, and every time he let the baby out of his
sight he thought that he had seen it for the last time.
However, years passed on and the prince grew first into a big boy,
and then into a fine young man. Kostiei made no sign, and gradually
even the anxious king thought less and less about him, and in the end
forgot him altogether.
There was no family in the whole kingdom happier than the king and
queen and prince, until one day when the youth met a little old man as
he was hunting in a lonely part of the woods. 'How are you my
unlooked-for Prince?' he said. 'You kept them waiting a good long
'And who are you?' asked the prince.
'You will know soon enough. When you go home give my compliments to
your father and tell him that I wish he would square accounts with me.
If he neglects to pay his debts he will bitterly repent it.'
So saying the old man disappeared, and the prince returned to the
palace and told his father what had happened.
The king turned pale and explained to his son the terrible story.
'Do not grieve over it, father,' answered the prince. 'It is nothing
so dreadful after all! I will find some way to force Kostiei to give up
his rights over me. But if I do not come back in a year's time, you
must give up all hopes of ever seeing me.'
Then the prince began to prepare for his journey. His father gave
him a complete suit of steel armour, a sword, and a horse, while his
mother hung round his neck a cross of gold. So, kissing him tenderly,
with many tears they let him go.
He rode steadily on for three days, and at sunset on the fourth day
he found himself on the seashore. On the sand before him lay twelve
white dresses, dazzling as the snow, yet as far as his eyes could reach
there was no one in sight to whom they could belong. Curious to see
what would happen, he took up one of the garments, and leaving his
horse loose, to wander about the adjoining fields, he hid himself among
some willows and waited. In a few minutes a flock of geese which had
been paddling about in the sea approached the shore, and put on the
dresses, struck the sand with their feet and were transformed in the
twinkling of an eye into eleven beautiful young girls, who flew away as
fast as they could. The twelfth and youngest remained in the water,
stretching out her long white neck and looking about her anxiously.
Suddenly, among the willows, she perceived the king's son, and called
out to him with a human voice:
'Oh Prince, give me back my dress, and I shall be for ever grateful
The prince hastened to lay the dress on the sand, and walked away.
When the maiden had thrown off the goose-skin and quickly put on her
proper clothes, she came towards him and he saw that none had ever seen
or told of such beauty as hers. She blushed and held out her hand,
saying to him in a soft voice:
'I thank you, noble Prince, for having granted my request. I am the
youngest daughter of Kostiei the immortal, who has twelve daughters and
rules over the kingdoms under the earth. Long time my father has waited
for you, and great is his anger. But trouble not yourself and fear
nothing, only do as I bid you. When you see the King Kostiei, fall
straightway upon your knees and heed neither his threats nor his cry,
but draw near to him boldly. That which will happen after, you will
know in time. Now let us go.'
At these words she struck the ground with her foot and a gulf
opened, down which they went right into the heart of the earth. In a
short time they reached Kostiei's palace, which gives light, with a
light brighter than the sun, to the dark kingdoms below. And the
prince, as he had been bidden, entered boldly into the hall.
Kostiei, with a shining crown upon his head, sat in the centre upon
a golden throne. His green eyes glittered like glass, his hands were as
the claws of a crab. When he caught sight of the prince he uttered
piercing yells, which shook the walls of the palace. The prince took no
notice, but continued his advance on his knees towards the throne. When
he had almost reached it, the king broke out into a laugh and said:
'It has been very lucky for you that you have been able to make me
laugh. Stay with us in our underground empire, only first you will have
to do three things. To-night it is late. Go to sleep; to-morrow I will
Early the following morning the prince received a message that
Kostiei was ready to see him. He got up and dressed, and hastened to
the presence chamber, where the little king was seated on his throne.
When the prince appeared, bowing low before him, Kostiei began:
'Now, Prince, this is what you have to do. By to-night you must
build me a marble palace, with windows of crystal and a roof of gold.
It is to stand in the middle of a great park, full of streams and
lakes. If you are able to build it you shall be my friend. If not, off
with your head.'
The prince listened in silence to this startling speech, and then
returning to his room set himself to think about the certain death that
awaited him. He was quite absorbed in these thoughts, when suddenly a
bee flew against the window and tapped, saying, 'Let me come in.' He
rose and opened the window, and there stood before him the youngest
'What are you dreaming about, Prince?'
'I was dreaming of your father, who has planned my death.'
'Fear nothing. You may sleep in peace, and to-morrow morning when
you awake you will find the palace all ready.'
What she said, she did. The next morning when the prince left his
room he saw before him a palace more beautiful than his fancy had ever
pictured. Kostiei for his part could hardly believe his eyes, and
pondered deeply how it had got there.
'Well, this time you have certainly won; but you are not going to be
let off so easily. To-morrow all my twelve daughters shall stand in a
row before you, and if you cannot tell me which of them is the
youngest, off goes your head.'
'What! Not recognise the youngest princess!' said the Prince to
himself, as he entered his room, 'a likely story!'
'It is such a difficult matter that you will never be able to do it
without my help,' replied the bee, who was buzzing about the ceiling.
'We are all so exactly alike, that even our father scarcely knows the
difference between us.'
'Then what must I do?'
'This. The youngest is she who will have a ladybird on her eyelid.
Be very careful. Now good-bye.'
Next morning King Kostiei again sent for the prince. The young
princesses were all drawn up in a row, dressed precisely in the same
manner, and with their eyes all cast down. As the prince looked at
them, he was amazed at their likeness. Twice he walked along the line,
without being able to detect the sign agreed upon. The third time his
heart beat fast at the sight of a tiny speck upon the eyelid of one of
'This one is the youngest,' he said.
'How in the world did you guess?' cried Kostiei in a fury. 'There is
some jugglery about it! But you are not going to escape me so easily.
In three hours you shall come here and give me another proof of your
cleverness. I shall set alight a handful of straw, and before it is
burnt up you will have turned it into a pair of boots. If not, off goes
So the prince returned sadly into his room, but the bee was there
'Why do you look so melancholy, my handsome Prince?'
'How can I help looking melancholy when your father has ordered me
to make him a pair of boots? Does he take me for a shoemaker?'
'What do you think of doing?'
'Not of making boots, at any rate! I am not afraid of death. One can
only die once after all.'
'No, Prince, you shall not die. I will try to save you. And we will
fly together or die together.'
As she spoke she spat upon the ground, and then drawing the prince
after her out of the room, she locked the door behind her and threw
away the key. Holding each other tight by the hand, they made their way
up into the sunlight, and found themselves by the side of the same sea,
while the prince's horse was still quietly feeding in the neighbouring
meadow. The moment he saw his master, the horse whinnied and galloped
towards him. Without losing an instant the prince sprang into the
saddle, swung the princess behind him, and away they went like an arrow
from a bow.
When the hour arrived which Kostiei had fixed for the prince's last
trial, and there were no signs of him, the king sent to his room to ask
why he delayed so long. The servants, finding the door locked, knocked
loudly and received for answer, 'In one moment.' It was the spittle,
which was imitating the voice of the prince.
The answer was taken back to Kostiei. He waited; still no prince. He
sent the servants back again, and the same voice replied,
'He is making fun of me!' shrieked Kostiei in a rage. 'Break in the
door, and bring him to me!'
The servants hurried to do his bidding. The door was broken open.
Nobody inside; but just the spittle in fits of laughter! Kostiei was
beside himself with rage, and commanded his guards to ride after the
fugitives. If the guards returned without the fugitives, their heads
should pay for it.
By this time the prince and princess had got a good start, and were
feeling quite happy, when suddenly they heard the sound of a gallop far
behind them. The prince sprang from the saddle, and laid his ear to the
'They are pursuing us,' he said.
'Then there is no time to be lost,' answered the princess; and as
she spoke she changed herself into a river, the prince into a bridge,
the horse into a crow, and divided the wide road beyond the bridge into
three little ones. When the soldiers came up to the bridge, they paused
uncertainly. How were they to know which of the three roads the
fugitives had taken? They gave it up in despair and returned in
trembling to Kostiei.
'Idiots!' he exclaimed, in a passion. 'They were the bridge and the
river, of course! Do you mean to say you never thought of that? Go back
at once!' and off they galloped like lightning.
But time had been lost, and the prince and princess were far on
'I hear a horse,' cried the princess.
The prince jumped down and laid his ear to the ground.
'Yes,' he said, 'they are not far off now.'
In an instant prince, princess, and horse had all disappeared, and
instead was a dense forest, crossed and recrossed by countless paths.
Kostiei's soldiers dashed hastily into the forest, believing they saw
before them the flying horse with its double burden. They seemed close
upon them, when suddenly horse, wood, everything disappeared, and they
found themselves at the place where they started. There was nothing for
it but to return to Kostiei, and tell him of this fresh disaster.
'A horse! a horse!' cried the king. 'I will go after them myself.
This time they shall not escape.' And he galloped off, foaming with
'I think I hear someone pursuing us,' said the princess
'Yes, so do I.'
'And this time it is Kostiei himself. But his power only reaches as
far as the first church, and he can go no farther. Give me your golden
cross.' So the prince unfastened the cross which was his mother's gift,
and the princess hastily changed herself into a church, the prince into
a priest, and the horse into a belfry.
It was hardly done when Kostiei came up.
'Greeting, monk. Have you seen some travellers on horseback pass
'Yes, the prince and Kostiei's daughter have just gone by. They have
entered the church, and told me to give you their greetings if I met
Then Kostiei knew that he had been hopelessly beaten, and the prince
and princess continued their journey without any more adventures.
[Contes Populaires Slaves. Traduits par Louis Léger. Paris: Leroux,
There lived, once upon a time, a man who was as rich as he could be;
but as no happiness in this world is ever quite complete, he had an
only son who was such a simpleton that he could barely add two and two
together. At last his father determined to put up with his stupidity no
longer, and giving him a purse full of gold, he sent him off to seek
his fortune in foreign lands, mindful of the adage:
How much a fool that's sent to roam
Excels a fool that stays at home.
Moscione, for this was the youth's name, mounted a horse, and set
out for Venice, hoping to find a ship there that would take him to
Cairo. After he had ridden for some time he saw a man standing at the
foot of a poplar tree, and said to him: 'What's your name, my friend;
where do you come from, and what can you do?'
The man replied, 'My name is Quick-as-Thought, I come from
Fleet-town, and I can run like lightning.'
'I should like to see you,' returned Moscione.
'Just wait a minute, then,' said Quick-as-Thought, 'and I will soon
show you that I am speaking the truth.'
The words were hardly out of his mouth when a young doe ran right
across the field they were standing in.
Quick-as-Thought let her run on a short distance, in order to give
her a start, and then pursued her so quickly and so lightly that you
could not have tracked his footsteps if the field had been strewn with
flour. In a very few springs he had overtaken the doe, and had so
impressed Moscione with his fleetness of foot that he begged
Quick-as-Thought to go with him, promising at the same time to reward
Quick-as-Thought agreed to his proposal, and they continued on their
journey together. They had hardly gone a mile when they met a young
man, and Moscione stopped and asked him: 'What's your name, my friend;
where do you come from, and what can you do?'
The man thus addressed answered promptly, 'I am called Hare's-ear, I
come from Curiosity Valley, and if I lay my ear on the ground, without
moving from the spot, I can hear everything that goes on in the world,
the plots and intrigues of court and cottage, and all the plans of mice
'If that's the case,' replied Moscione, 'just tell me what's going
on in my own home at present.'
The youth laid his ear to the ground and at once reported: 'An old
man is saying to his wife, “Heaven be praised that we have got rid of
Moscione, for perhaps, when he has been out in the world a little, he
may gain some common sense, and return home less of a fool than when he
'Enough, enough,' cried Moscione. 'You speak the truth, and I
believe you. Come with us, and your fortune's made.'
The young man consented; and after they had gone about ten miles,
they met a third man, to whom Moscione said: 'What's your name, my
brave fellow; where were you born, and what can you do?'
The man replied, 'I am called Hit-the-Point, I come from the city of
Perfect-aim, and I draw my bow so exactly that I can shoot a pea off a
'I should like to see you do it, if you've no objection,' said
The man at once placed a pea on a stone, and, drawing his bow, he
shot it in the middle with the greatest possible ease.
When Moscione saw that he had spoken the truth, he immediately asked
Hit-the-Point to join his party.
After they had all travelled together for some days, they came upon
a number of people who were digging a trench in the blazing sun.
Moscione felt so sorry for them, that he said: 'My dear friends, how
can you endure working so hard in heat that would cook an egg in a
But one of the workmen answered: 'We are as fresh as daisies, for we
have a young man among us who blows on our backs like the west wind.'
'Let me see him,' said Moscione.
The youth was called, and Moscione asked him: 'What's your name;
where do you come from, and what can you do?'
He answered: 'I am called Blow-Blast, I come from Wind-town, and
with my mouth I can make any winds you please. If you wish a west wind
I can raise it for you in a second, but if you prefer a north wind I
can blow these houses down before your eyes.'
'Seeing is believing,' returned the cautious Moscione.
Blow-Blast at once began to convince him of the truth of his
assertion. First he blew so softly that it seemed like the gentle
breeze at evening, and then he turned round and raised such a mighty
storm, that he blew down a whole row of oak trees.
When Moscione saw this he was delighted, and begged Blow-Blast to
join his company. And as they went on their way they met another man,
whom Moscione addressed as usual: 'What's your name: where do you come
from, and what can you do?'
'I am called Strong-Back; I come from Power-borough, and I possess
such strength that I can take a mountain on my back, and it seems a
feather to me.'
'If that's the case,' said Moscione, 'you are a clever fellow; but I
should like some proof of your strength.'
Then Strong-Back loaded himself with great boulders of rock and
trunks of trees, so that a hundred waggons could not have taken away
all that he carried on his back.
When Moscione saw this he prevailed on Strong-Back to join his
troop, and they all continued their journey till they came to a country
called Flower Vale. Here there reigned a king whose only daughter ran
as quickly as the wind, and so lightly that she could run over a field
of young oats without bending a single blade. The king had given out a
proclamation that anyone who could beat the princess in a race should
have her for a wife, but that all who failed in the competition should
lose their head.
As soon as Moscione heard of the Royal Proclamation, he hastened to
the king and challenged the princess to race with him. But on the
morning appointed for the trial he sent word to the king that he was
not feeling well, and that as he could not run himself he would supply
someone to take his place.
'It's just the same to me,' said Canetella, the princess; 'let
anyone come forward that likes, I am quite prepared to meet him.'
At the time appointed for the race the whole place was crowded with
people anxious to see the contest, and, punctual to the moment,
Quick-as-Thought, and Canetella dressed in a short skirt and very
lightly shod, appeared at the starting-point.
Then a silver trumpet sounded, and the two rivals started on their
race, looking for all the world like a greyhound chasing a hare.
But Quick-as-Thought, true to his name, outran the princess, and
when the goal was reached the people all clapped their hands and
shouted, 'Long live the stranger!'
Canetella was much depressed by her defeat; but, as the race had to
be run a second time, she determined she would not be beaten again.
Accordingly she went home and sent Quick-as-Thought a magic ring, which
prevented the person who wore it, not only from running, but even from
walking, and begged that he would wear it for her sake.
Early next morning the crowd assembled on the race-course, and
Canetella and Quick as-Thought began their trial afresh. The princess
ran as quickly as ever, but poor Quick-as-Thought was like an
overloaded donkey, and could not go a step.
Then Hit-the-Point, who had heard all about the princess's deception
from Hare's-ear, when he saw the danger his friend was in, seized his
bow and arrow and shot the stone out of the ring Quick-as-Thought was
wearing. In a moment the youth's legs became free again, and in five
bounds he had overtaken Canetella and won the race.
The king was much disgusted when he saw that he must acknowledge
Moscione as his future son-in-law, and summoned the wise men of his
court to ask if there was no way out of the difficulty. The council at
once decided that Canetella was far too dainty a morsel for the mouth
of such a travelling tinker, and advised the king to offer Moscione a
present of gold, which no doubt a beggar like him would prefer to all
the wives in the world.
The king was delighted at this suggestion, and calling Moscione
before him, he asked him what sum of money he would take instead of his
Moscione first consulted with his friends, and then answered: 'I
demand as much gold and precious stones as my followers can carry
The king thought he was being let off very easily, and produced
coffers of gold, sacks of silver, and chests of precious stones; but
the more Strong-Back was loaded with the treasure the straighter he
At last the treasury was quite exhausted, and the king had to send
his courtiers to his subjects to collect all the gold and silver they
possessed. But nothing was of any avail, and Strong-Back only asked for
When the king's counsellors saw the unexpected result of their
advice, they said it would be more than foolish to let some strolling
thieves take so much treasure out of the country, and urged the king to
send a troop of soldiers after them, to recover the gold and precious
So the king sent a body of armed men on foot and horse, to take back
the treasure Strong-Back was carrying away with him.
But Hare's-ear, who had heard what the counsellors had advised the
king, told his companions just as the dust of their pursuers was
visible on the horizon.
No sooner had Blow-Blast taken in their danger than he raised such a
mighty wind that all the king's army was blown down like so many
nine-pins, and as they were quite unable to get up again, Moscione and.
his companions proceeded on their way without further let or hindrance.
As soon as they reached his home, Moscione divided his spoil with
his companions, at which they were much delighted. He, himself, stayed
with his father, who was obliged at last to acknowledge that his son
was not quite such a fool as he looked.
[From the Italian, Kletke.]
The Street Musicians
A man once possessed a donkey which had served him faithfully for
many years, but at last the poor beast grew old and feeble, and every
day his work became more of a burden. As he was no longer of any use,
his master made up his mind to shoot him; but when the donkey learnt
the fate that was in store for him, he determined not to die, but to
run away to the nearest town and there to become a street musician.
When he had trotted along for some distance he came upon a greyhound
lying on the road, and panting for dear life. 'Well, brother,' said the
donkey, 'what's the matter with you? You look rather tired.'
'So I am,' replied the dog, 'but because I am getting old and am
growing weaker every day, and cannot go out hunting any longer, my
master wanted to poison me; and, as life is still sweet, I have taken
leave of him. But how I am to earn my own livelihood I haven't a
'Well,' said the donkey, 'I am on my way to the nearest big town,
where I mean to become a street musician. Why don't you take up music
as a profession and come along with me? I'll play the flute and you can
play the kettle-drum.'
The greyhound was quite pleased at the idea, and the two set off
together. When they had gone a short distance they met a cat with a
face as long as three rainy days. 'Now, what has happened to upset your
happiness, friend puss?' inquired the donkey.
'It's impossible to look cheerful when one feels depressed,'
answered the cat. 'I am well up in years now, and have lost most of my
teeth; consequently I prefer sitting in front of the fire to catching
mice, and so my old mistress wanted to drown me. I have no wish to die
yet, so I ran away from her; but good advice is expensive, and I don't
know where I am to go to, or what I am to do.'
'Come to the nearest big town with us,' said the donkey, 'and try
your fortune as a street musician. I know what sweet music you make at
night, so you are sure to be a success.'
The cat was delighted with the donkey's proposal, and they all
continued their journey together. In a short time they came to the
courtyard of an inn, where they found a cock crowing lustily. 'What in
the world is the matter with you?' asked the donkey. 'The noise you are
making is enough to break the drums of our ears.'
'I am only prophesying good weather,' said the cock; 'for to-morrow
is a feast day, and just because it is a holiday and a number of people
are expected at the inn, the landlady has given orders for my neck to
be wrung to-night, so that I may be made into soup for to-morrow's
'I'll tell you what, redcap,' said the donkey; 'you had much better
come with us to the nearest town. You have got a good voice, and could
join a street band we are getting up.' The cock was much pleased with
the idea, and the party proceeded on their way.
But the nearest big town was a long way off, and it took them more
than a day to reach it. In the evening they came to a wood, and they
made up their minds to go no further, but to spend the night there. The
donkey and the greyhound lay down under a big tree, and the cat and the
cock got up into the branches, the cock flying right up to the topmost
twig, where he thought he would be safe from all danger. Before he went
to sleep he looked round the four points of the compass, and saw a
little spark burning in the distance. He called out to his companions
that he was sure there must be a house not far off, for he could see a
When he heard this, the donkey said at, once: 'Then we must get up,
and go and look for the house, for this is very poor shelter.' And the
greyhound added: 'Yes; I feel I'd be all the better for a few bones and
a scrap or two of meat.'
So they set out for the spot where the light was to be seen shining
faintly in the distance, but the nearer they approached it the brighter
it grew, till at last they came to a brilliantly lighted house. The
donkey being the biggest of the party, went to the window and looked
'Well, greyhead, what do you see?' asked the cock.
'I see a well-covered table,' replied the donkey, 'with excellent
food and drink, and several robbers are sitting round it, enjoying
'I wish we were doing the same,' said the cock.
'So do I,' answered the donkey. 'Can't we think of some plan for
turning out the robbers, and taking possession of the house ourselves?'
So they consulted together what they were to do, and at last they
arranged that the donkey should stand at the window with his fore-feet
on the sill, that the greyhound should get on his back, the cat on the
dog's shoulder, and the cock on the cat's head. When they had grouped
themselves in this way, at a given signal, they all began their
different forms of music. The donkey brayed, the greyhound barked, the
cat miawed, and the cock crew. Then they all scrambled through the
window into the room, breaking the glass into a thousand pieces as they
The robbers were all startled by the dreadful noise, and thinking
that some evil spirits at the least were entering the house, they
rushed out into the wood, their hair standing on end with terror. The
four companions, delighted with the success of their trick, sat down at
the table, and ate and drank all the food and wine that the robbers had
left behind them.
When they had finished their meal they put out the lights, and each
animal chose a suitable sleeping-place. The donkey lay down in the
courtyard outside the house, the dog behind the door, the cat in front
of the fire, and the cock flew up on to a high shelf, and, as they were
all tired after their long day, they soon went to sleep.
Shortly after midnight, when the robbers saw that no light was
burning in the house and that all seemed quiet, the captain of the band
said: 'We were fools to let ourselves be so easily frightened away;'
and, turning to one of his men, he ordered him to go and see if all was
The man found everything in silence and darkness, and going into the
kitchen he thought he had better strike a light. He took a match, and
mistaking the fiery eyes of the cat for two glowing coals, he tried to
light his match with them. But the cat didn't see the joke, and sprang
at his face, spitting and scratching him in the most vigorous manner.
The man was terrified out of his life, and tried to run out by the back
door; but he stumbled over the greyhound, which bit him in the leg.
Yelling with pain he ran across the courtyard only to receive a kick
from the donkey's hind leg as he passed him. In the meantime the cock
had been roused from his slumbers, and feeling very cheerful he called
out, from the, shelf where he was perched, 'Kikeriki!'
Then the robber hastened back to his captain and said: 'Sir, there
is a dreadful witch in the house, who spat at me and scratched my face
with her long fingers; and before the door there stands a man with a
long knife, who cut my leg severely. In the courtyard outside lies a
black monster, who fell upon me with a huge wooden club; and that is
not all, for, sitting on the roof, is a judge, who called out: “Bring
the rascal to me.” So I fled for dear life.'
After this the robbers dared not venture into the house again, and
they abandoned it for ever. But the four street musicians were so
delighted with their lodgings that they determined to take up their
abode in the robbers' house, and, for all I know to the contrary, they
may be living there to this day.
[From the German, Kletke.]
The Twin Brothers
Once there was a fisherman who had plenty of money but no children.
One day an old woman came to his wife and said: 'What use is all your
prosperity to you when you have no children?'
'It is God's will,' answered the fisherman's wife.
'Nay, my child, it is not God's will, but the fault of your husband;
for if he would but catch the little gold-fish you would surely have
children. To-night, when he comes home, tell him he must go back and
catch the little fish. He must then cut it in six pieces—one of these
you must eat, and your husband the second, and soon after you will have
two children. The third piece you must give to the dog, and she will
have two puppies. The fourth piece give to the mare, and she will have
two foals. The fifth piece bury on the right of the house door, and the
sixth on the left, and two cypress trees will spring up there.'
When the fisherman came home at evening his wife told him all that
the old woman had advised, and he promised to bring home the little
gold-fish. Next morning, therefore, he went very early to the water,
and caught the little fish. Then they did as the old woman had ordered,
and in due time the fisherman's wife had two sons, so like each other
that no one could tell the difference. The dog had two puppies exactly
alike, the mare had two foals, and on each side of the front door there
sprang up two cypress trees precisely similar.
When the two boys were grown up, they were not content to remain at
home, though they had wealth in plenty; but they wished to go out into
the world, and make a name for themselves. Their father would not allow
them both to go at once, as they were the only children he had. He
said: 'First one shall travel, and when he is come back then the other
So the one took his horse and his dog, and went, saying to his
brother: 'So long as the cypress trees are green, that is a sign that I
am alive and well; but if one begins to wither, then make haste and
come to me.' So he went forth into the world.
One day he stopped at the house of an old woman, and as at evening
he sat before the door, he perceived in front of him a castle standing
on a hill. He asked the old woman to whom it belonged, and her answer
was: 'My son, it is the castle of the Fairest in the Land!'
'And I am come here to woo her!'
'That, my son, many have sought to do, and have lost their lives in
the attempt; for she has cut off their heads and stuck them on the post
you see standing there.'
'And the same will she do to me, or else I shall be victor, for
to-morrow I go there to court her.'
Then he took his zither and played upon it so beautifully that no
one in all that land had ever heard the like, and the princess herself
came to the window to listen.
The next morning the Fairest in the Land sent for the old woman and
asked her, 'Who is it that lives with you, and plays the zither so
'It is a stranger, princess, who arrived yesterday evening,'
answered the old woman.
And the princess then commanded that the stranger should be brought
When he appeared before the princess she questioned him about his
home and his family, and about this and that; and confessed at length
that his zither-playing gave her great pleasure, and that she would
take him for her husband. The stranger replied that it was with that
intent he had come.
The princess then said: 'You must now go to my father, and tell him
you desire to have me to wife, and when he has put the three problems
before you, then come back and tell me.'
The stranger then went straight to the king, and told him that he
wished to wed his daughter.
And the king answered: 'I shall be well pleased, provided you can do
what I impose upon you; if not you will lose your head. Now, listen;
out there on the ground, there lies a thick log, which measures more
than two fathoms; if you can cleave it in two with one stroke of your
sword, I will give you my daughter to wife. If you fail, then it will
cost you your head.'
Then the stranger withdrew, and returned to the house of the old
woman sore distressed, for he could believe nothing but that next day
he must atone to the king with his head. And so full was he of the idea
of how to set about cleaving the log that he forgot even his zither.
In the evening came the princess to the window to listen to his
playing, and behold all was still. Then she called to him: 'Why are you
so cast down this evening, that you do not play on your zither?'
And he told her his trouble.
But she laughed at it, and called to him: 'And you grieve over that?
Bring quickly your zither, and play something for my amusement, and
early to-morrow come to me.'
Then the stranger took his zither and played the whole evening for
the amusement of the princess.
Next morning she took a hair from her locks and gave it to him,
saying: 'Take this hair, and wind it round your sword, then you will be
able to cleave the log in two.'
Then the stranger went forth, and with one blow cleft the log in
But the king said: 'I will impose another task upon you, before you
can wed my daughter.'
'Speak on,' said the stranger.
'Listen, then,' answered the king; 'you must mount a horse and ride
three miles at full gallop, holding in each hand a goblet full of
water. If you spill no drop then I shall give you my daughter to wife,
but should you not succeed then I will take your life.'
Then the stranger returned to the house of the old woman, and again
he was so troubled as to forget his zither.
In the evening the princess came to the window as before to listen
to the music, but again all was still; and she called to him: 'What is
the matter that you do not play on your zither?'
Then he related all that the king had ordered him to do, and the
princess answered: 'Do not let yourself be disturbed, only play now,
and come to me to-morrow morning.'
Then next morning he went to her, and she gave him her ring, saying:
'Throw this ring into the water and it will immediately freeze, so that
you will not spill any.'
The stranger did as the princess bade him, and carried the water all
Then the king said: 'Now I will give you a third task, and this
shall be the last. I have a negro who will fight with you to-morrow,
and if you are the conqueror you shall wed my daughter.'
The stranger returned, full of joy, to the house of the old woman,
and that evening was so merry that the princess called to him;: 'You
seem very cheerful this evening; what has my father told you that makes
you so glad?'
He answered: 'Your father has told me that to-morrow I must fight
with his negro. He is only another man like myself, and I hope to
subdue him, and to gain the contest.'
But the princess answered: 'This is the hardest of all. I myself am
the black man, for I swallow a drink that changes me into a negro of
unconquerable strength. Go to-morrow morning to the market, buy twelve
buffalo hides and wrap them round your horse; fasten this cloth round
you, and when I am let loose upon you to-morrow show it to me, that I
may hold myself back and may not kill you. Then when you fight me you
must try to hit my horse between the eyes, for when you have killed it
you have conquered me.'
Next morning, therefore, he went to the market and bought the twelve
buffalo hides which he wrapped round his horse. Then he began to fight
with the black man, and when the combat had already lasted a long time,
and eleven hides were torn, then the stranger hit the negro's horse
between the eyes, so that it fell dead, and the black man was defeated.
Then said the king: 'Because you have solved the three problems I
take you for my son-in-law.'
But the stranger answered: 'I have some business to conclude first;
in fourteen days I will return and bring the bride home.'
So he arose and went into another country, where he came to a great
town, and alighted at the house of an old woman. When he had had supper
he begged of her some water to drink, but she answered: 'My son, I have
no water; a giant has taken possession of the spring, and only lets us
draw from it once a year, when we bring him a maiden. He eats her up,
and then he lets us draw water; just now it is the lot of the king's
daughter, and to-morrow she will be led forth.'
The next day accordingly the princess was led forth to the spring,
and bound there with a golden chain. After that all the people went
away and she was left alone.
When they had gone the stranger went to the maiden and asked her
what ailed her that she lamented so much, and she answered that the
reason was because the giant would come and eat her up. And the
stranger promised that he would set her free if she would take him for
her husband, and the princess joyfully consented.
When the giant appeared the stranger set his dog at him, and it took
him by the throat and throttled him till he died; so the princess was
Now when the king heard of it he gladly consented to the marriage,
and the wedding took place with great rejoicings. The young bridegroom
abode in the palace one hundred and one weeks. Then he began to find it
too dull, and he desired to go out hunting. The king would fain have
prevented it, but in this he could not succeed. Then he begged his
son-in-law at least to take sufficient escort with him, but this, too,
the young man evaded, and took only his horse and his dog.
He had ridden already a long way, when he saw in the distance a hut,
and rode straight towards it in order to get some water to drink. There
he found an old woman from whom he begged the water. She answered that
first he should allow her to beat his dog with her little wand, that it
might not bite her while she fetched the water. The hunter consented;
and as soon as she had touched the dog with her wand it immediately
turned to stone. Thereupon she touched the hunter and also his horse,
and both turned to stone. As soon as that had happened, the cypress
trees in front of his father's house began to wither. And when the
other brother saw this, he immediately set out in search of his twin.
He came first to the town where his brother had slain the giant, and
there fate led him to the same old woman where his brother had lodged.
When she saw him she took him for his twin brother, and said to him:
'Do not take it amiss of me, my son, that I did not come to wish you
joy on your marriage with the king's daughter.'
The stranger perceived what mistake she had made, but only said:
'That does not matter, old woman,' and rode on, without further speech,
to the king's palace, where the king and the princess both took him for
his twin brother, and called out: 'Why have you tarried so long away?
We thought something evil had befallen you.'
When night came and he slept with the princess, who still believed
him to be her husband, he laid his sword between them, and when morning
came he rose early and went out to hunt. Fate led him by the same way
which his brother had taken, and from a distance he saw him and knew
that he was turned to stone. Then he entered the hut and ordered the
old woman to disenchant his brother. But she answered: 'Let me first
touch your dog with my wand, and then I will free your brother.'
He ordered the dog, however, to take hold of her, and bite her up to
the knee, till she cried out: 'Tell your dog to let me go and I will
set your brother free!'
But he only answered: 'Tell me the magic words that I may disenchant
him myself;' and as she would not he ordered his dog to bite her up to
Then the old woman cried out: 'I have two wands, with the green one
I turn to stone, and with the red one I bring to life again.'
So the hunter took the red wand and disenchanted his brother, also
his brother's horse, and his dog, and ordered his own dog to eat the
old woman up altogether.
While the brothers went on their way back to the castle of the king,
the one brother related to the other how the cypress tree had all at
once dried up and withered, how he had immediately set out in search of
his twin, and how he had come to the castle of his father-in-law, and
had claimed the princess as his wife. But the other brother became
furious on hearing this, and smote him over the forehead till he died,
and returned alone to the house of his father-in-law.
When night came and he was in bed the princess asked him: 'What was
the matter with you last night, that you never spoke a word to me?'
Then he cried out: 'That was not me, but my brother, and I have
slain him, because he told me by the way that he had claimed you for
'Do you know the place where you slew him?' asked the princess, 'and
can you find the body?'
'I know the place exactly.'
'Then to-morrow we shall ride thither,' said the princess. Next
morning accordingly they set out together, and when they had come to
the place, the princess drew forth a small bottle that she had brought
with her, and sprinkled the body with some drops of the water so that
immediately he became alive again.
When he stood up, his brother said to him: 'Forgive me, dear
brother, that I slew you in my anger.' Then they embraced and went
together to the Fairest in the Land, whom the unmarried brother took to
Then the brothers brought their parents to live with them, and all
dwelt together in joy and happiness.
There was once upon a time a king who reigned over a country called
'Bello Puojo.' He was very rich and powerful, and had everything in the
world he could desire except a child. But at last, after he had been
married for many years, and was quite an old man, his wife Renzolla
presented him with a fine daughter, whom they called Cannetella.
She grew up into a beautiful girl, and was as tall and straight as a
young fir-tree. When she was eighteen years old her father called her
to him and said: 'You are of an age now, my daughter, to marry and
settle down; but as I love you more than anything else in the world,
and desire nothing but your happiness, I am determined to leave the
choice of a husband to yourself. Choose a man after your own heart, and
you are sure to satisfy me.' Cannetella thanked her father very much
for his kindness and consideration, but told him that she had not the
slightest wish to marry, and was quite determined to remain single.
The king, who felt himself growing old and feeble, and longed to see
an heir to the throne before he died, was very unhappy at her words,
and begged her earnestly not to disappoint him.
When Cannetella saw that the king had set his heart on her marriage,
she said: 'Very well, dear father, I will marry to please you, for I do
not wish to appear ungrateful for all your love and kindness; but you
must find me a husband handsomer, cleverer, and more charming than
anyone else in the world.'
The king was overjoyed by her words, and from early in the morning
till late at night he sat at the window and looked carefully at all the
passers-by, in the hopes of finding a son-in-law among them.
One day, seeing a very good-looking man crossing the street, the
king called his daughter and said: 'Come quickly, dear Cannetella, and
look at this man, for I think he might suit you as a husband.'
They called the young man into the palace, and set a sumptuous feast
before him, with every sort of delicacy you can imagine. In the middle
of the meal the youth let an almond fall out of his mouth, which,
however, he picked up again very quickly and hid under the table-cloth.
When the feast was over the stranger went away, and the king asked
Cannetella: 'Well, what did you think of the youth?'
'I think he was a clumsy wretch,' replied Cannetella. 'Fancy a man
of his age letting an almond fall out of his mouth!'
When the king heard her answer he returned to his watch at the
window, and shortly afterwards a very handsome young man passed by. The
king instantly called his daughter to come and see what she thought of
the new comer.
'Call him in,' said Cannetella, 'that we may see him close.'
Another splendid feast was prepared, and when the stranger had eaten
and drunk as much as he was able, and had taken his departure, the king
asked Cannetella how she liked him.
'Not at all,' replied his daughter; 'what could you do with a man
who requires at least two servants to help him on with his cloak,
because he is too awkward to put it on properly himself?'
'If that's all you have against him,' said the king, 'I see how the
land lies. You are determined not to have a husband at all; but marry
someone you shall, for I do not mean my name and house to die out.'
'Well, then, my dear parent,' said Cannetella, 'I must tell you at
once that you had better not count upon me, for I never mean to marry
unless I can find a man with a gold head and gold teeth.'
The king was very angry at finding his daughter so obstinate; but as
he always gave the girl her own way in everything, he issued a
proclamation to the effect that any man with a gold head and gold teeth
might come forward and claim the princess as his bride, and the kingdom
of Bello Puojo as a wedding gift.
Now the king had a deadly enemy called Scioravante, who was a very
powerful magician. No sooner had this man heard of the proclamation
than he summoned his attendant spirits and commanded them to gild his
head and teeth. The spirits said, at first, that the task was beyond
their powers, and suggested that a pair of golden horns attached to his
forehead would both be easier to make and more comfortable to wear; but
Scioravante would allow no compromise, and insisted on having a head
and teeth made of the finest gold. When it was fixed on his shoulders
he went for a stroll in front of the palace. And the king, seeing the
very man he was in search of, called his daughter, and said: 'Just look
out of the window, and you will find exactly what you want.'
Then, as Scioravante was hurrying past, the king shouted out to him:
'Just stop a minute, brother, and don't be in such desperate haste. If
you will step in here you shall have my daughter for a wife, and I will
send attendants with her, and as many horses and servants as you wish.'
'A thousand thanks,' returned Scioravante; 'I shall be delighted to
marry your daughter, but it is quite unnecessary to send anyone to
accompany her. Give me a horse and I will carry off the princess in
front of my saddle, and will bring her to my own kingdom, where there
is no lack of courtiers or servants, or, indeed, of anything your
daughter can desire.'
At first the king was very much against Cannetella's departing in
this fashion; but finally Scioravante got his way, and placing the
princess before him on his horse, he set out for his own country.
Towards evening he dismounted, and entering a stable he placed
Cannetella in the same stall as his horse, and said to her: 'Now listen
to what I have to say. I am going to my home now, and that is a seven
years' journey from here; you must wait for me in this stable, and
never move from the spot, or let yourself be seen by a living soul. If
you disobey my commands, it will be the worse for you.'
The princess answered meekly: 'Sir, I am your servant, and will do
exactly as you bid me; but I should like to know what I am to live on
till you come back?'
'You can take what the horses leave,' was Scioravante's reply.
When the magician had left her Cannetella felt very miserable, and
bitterly cursed the day she was born. She spent all her time weeping
and bemoaning the cruel fate that had driven her from a palace into a
stable, from soft down cushions to a bed of straw, and from the
dainties of her father's table to the food that the horses left.
She led this wretched life for a few months, and during that time
she never saw who fed and watered the horses, for it was all done by
One day, when she was more than usually unhappy, she perceived a
little crack in the wall, through which she could see a beautiful
garden, with all manner of delicious fruits and flowers growing in it.
The sight and smell of such delicacies were too much for poor
Cannetella, and she said to herself, 'I will slip quietly out, and pick
a few oranges and grapes, and I don't care what happens. Who is there
to tell my husband what I do? and even if he should hear of my
disobedience, he cannot make my life more miserable than it is
So she slipped out and refreshed her poor, starved body with the
fruit she plucked in the garden.
But a short time afterwards her husband returned unexpectedly, and
one of the horses instantly told him that Cannetella had gone into the
garden, in his absence, and had stolen some oranges and grapes.
Scioravante was furious when he heard this, and seizing a huge knife
from his pocket he threatened to kill his wife for her disobedience.
But Cannetella threw herself at his feet and implored him to spare her
life, saying that hunger drove even the wolf from the wood. At last she
succeeded in so far softening her husband's heart that he said, 'I will
forgive you this time, and spare your life; but if you disobey me
again, and I hear, on my return, that you have as much as moved out of
the stall, I will certainly kill you. So, beware; for I am going away
once more, and shall be absent for seven years.'
With these words he took his departure, and Cannetella burst into a
flood of tears, and, wringing her hands, she moaned: 'Why was I ever
born to such a hard fate? Oh! father, how miserable you have made your
poor daughter! But, why should I blame my father? for I have only
myself to thank for all my sufferings. I got the cursed head of gold,
and it has brought all this misery on me. I am indeed punished for not
doing as my father wished!'
When a year had gone by, it chanced, one day, that the king's cooper
passed the stables where Cannetella was kept prisoner. She recognised
the man, and called him to come in. At first he did not know the poor
princess, and could not make out who it was that called him by name.
But when he heard Cannetella's tale of woe, he hid her in a big empty
barrel he had with him, partly because he was sorry for the poor girl,
and, even more, because he wished to gain the king's favour. Then he
slung the barrel on a mule's back, and in this way the princess was
carried to her own home. They arrived at the palace about four o'clock
in the morning, and the cooper knocked loudly at the door. When the
servants came in haste and saw only the cooper standing at the gate,
they were very indignant, and scolded him soundly for coming at such an
hour and waking them all out of their sleep.
The king hearing the noise and the cause of it, sent for the cooper,
for he felt certain the man must have some important business, to have
come and disturbed the whole palace at such an early hour.
The cooper asked permission to unload his mule, and Cannetella crept
out of the barrel. At first the king refused to believe that it was
really his daughter, for she had changed so terribly in a few years,
and had grown so thin and pale, that it was pitiful to see her. At last
the princess showed her father a mole she had on her right arm, and
then he saw that the poor girl was indeed his long-lost Cannetella. He
kissed her a thousand times, and instantly had the choicest food and
drink set before her.
After she had satisfied her hunger, the king said to her: 'Who would
have thought, my dear daughter, to have found you in such a state?
What, may I ask, has brought you to this pass?'
Cannetella replied: 'That wicked man with the gold head and teeth
treated me worse than a dog, and many a time, since I left you, have I
longed to die. But I couldn't tell you all that I have suffered, for
you would never believe me. It is enough that I am once more with you,
and I shall never leave you again, for I would rather be a slave in
your house than queen in any other.'
In the meantime Scioravante had returned to the stables, and one of
the horses told him that Cannetella had been taken away by a cooper in
When the wicked magician heard this he was beside himself with rage,
and, hastening to the kingdom of Bello Puojo, he went straight to an
old woman who lived exactly opposite the royal palace, and said to her:
'If you will let me see the king's daughter, I will give you whatever
reward you like to ask for.'
The woman demanded a hundred ducats of gold, and Scioravante counted
them out of his purse and gave them to her without a murmur. Then the
old woman led him to the roof of the house, where he could see
Cannetella combing out her long hair in a room in the top story of the
The princess happened to look out of the window, and when she saw
her husband gazing at her, she got such a fright that she flew
downstairs to the king, and said: 'My lord and father, unless you shut
me up instantly in a room with seven iron doors, I am lost.'
'If that's all,' said the king, 'it shall be done at once.' And he
gave orders for the doors to be closed on the spot.
When Scioravante saw this he returned to the old woman, and said: 'I
will give you whatever you like if you will go into the palace, hide
under the princess's bed, and slip this little piece of paper beneath
her pillow, saying, as you do so: “May everyone in the palace, except
the princess, fall into a sound sleep.”'
The old woman demanded another hundred golden ducats, and then
proceeded to carry out the magician's wishes. No sooner had she slipped
the piece of paper under Cannetella's pillow, than all the people in
the palace fell fast asleep, and only the princess remained awake.
Then Scioravante hurried to the seven doors and opened them one
after the other. Cannetella screamed with terror when she saw her
husband, but no one came to her help, for all in the palace lay as if
they were dead. The magician seized her in the bed on which she lay,
and was going to carry her off with him, when the little piece of paper
which the old woman had placed under her pillow fell on the floor.
In an instant all the people in the palace woke up, and as
Cannetella was still screaming for help, they rushed to her rescue.
They seized Scioravante and put him to death; so he was caught in the
trap which he had laid for the princess—and, as is so often the case
in this world, the biter himself was bit.
[From the Italian, Kletke.]
There lived, once upon a time, in the land of Marigliano, a poor
woman called Masella, who had six pretty daughters, all as upright as
young fir-trees, and an only son called Antonio, who was so simple as
to be almost an idiot. Hardly a day passed without his mother saying to
him, 'What are you doing, you useless creature? If you weren't too
stupid to look after yourself, I would order you to leave the house and
never to let me see your face again.'
Every day the youth committed some fresh piece of folly, till at
last Masella, losing all patience, gave him a good beating, which so
startled Antonio that he took to his heels and never stopped running
till it was dark and the stars were shining in the heavens. He wandered
on for some time, not knowing where to go, and at last he came to a
cave, at the mouth of which sat an ogre, uglier than anything you can
He had a huge head and wrinkled brow—eyebrows that met, squinting
eyes, a flat broad nose, and a great gash of a mouth from which two
huge tusks stuck out. His skin was hairy, his arms enormous, his legs
like sword blades, and his feet as flat as ducks'. In short, he was the
most hideous and laughable object in the world.
But Antonio, who, with all his faults, was no coward, and was
moreover a very civil-spoken lad, took off his hat, and said:
'Good-day, sir; I hope you are pretty well. Could you kindly tell me
how far it is from here to the place where I wish to go?'
When the ogre heard this extraordinary question he burst out
laughing, and as he liked the youth's polite manners he said to him:
'Will you enter my service?'
'What wages do you give?' replied Antonio.
'If you serve me faithfully,' returned the ogre, 'I'll be bound
you'll get enough wages to satisfy you.'
So the bargain was struck, and Antonio agreed to become the ogre's
servant. He was very well treated, in every way, and he had little or
no work to do, with the result that in a few days he became as fat as a
quail, as round as a barrel, as red as a lobster, and as impudent as a
But, after two years, the lad got weary of this idle life, and
longed desperately to visit his home again. The ogre, who could see
into his heart and knew how unhappy he was, said to him one day: 'My
dear Antonio, I know how much you long to see your mother and sisters
again, and because I love you as the apple of my eye, I am willing to
allow you to go home for a visit. Therefore, take this donkey, so that
you may not have to go on foot; but see that you never say
“Bricklebrit” to him, for if you do you'll be sure to regret it.'
Antonio took the beast without as much as saying thank you, and
jumping on its back he rode away in great haste; but he hadn't gone two
hundred yards when he dismounted and called out 'Bricklebrit.'
No sooner had he pronounced the word than the donkey opened its
mouth and poured forth rubies, emeralds, diamonds and pearls, as big as
Antonio gazed in amazement at the sight of such wealth, and joyfully
filling a huge sack with the precious stones, he mounted the donkey
again and rode on till he came to an inn. Here he got down, and going
straight to the landlord, he said to him: 'My good man, I must ask you
to stable this donkey for me. Be sure you give the poor beast plenty of
oats and hay, but beware of saying the word “Bricklebrit” to him, for
if you do I can promise you will regret it. Take this heavy sack, too,
and put it carefully away for me.'
The landlord, who was no fool, on receiving this strange warning,
and seeing the precious stones sparkling through the canvas of the
sack, was most anxious to see what would happen if he used the
forbidden word. So he gave Antonio an excellent dinner, with a bottle
of fine old wine, and prepared a comfortable bed for him. As soon as he
saw the poor simpleton close his eyes and had heard his lusty snores,
he hurried to the stables and said to the donkey 'Bricklebrit,' and the
animal as usual poured out any number of precious stones.
When the landlord saw all these treasures he longed to get
possession of so valuable an animal, and determined to steal the donkey
from his foolish guest. As soon as it was light next morning Antonio
awoke, and having rubbed his eyes and stretched himself about a hundred
times he called the landlord and said to him: 'Come here, my friend,
and produce your bill, for short reckonings make long friends.'
When Antonio had paid his account he went to the stables and took
out his donkey, as he thought, and fastening a sack of gravel, which
the landlord had substituted for his precious stones, on the creature's
back, he set out for his home.
No sooner had he arrived there than he called out: 'Mother, come
quickly, and bring table-cloths and sheets with you, and spread them
out on the ground, and you will soon see what wonderful treasures I
have brought you.'
His mother hurried into the house, and opening the linen-chest where
she kept her daughters' wedding outfits, she took out table-cloths and
sheets made of the finest linen, and spread them flat and smooth on the
ground. Antonio placed the donkey on them, and called out
'Bricklebrit.' But this time he met with no success, for the donkey
took no more notice of the magic word than he would have done if a lyre
had been twanged in his ear. Two, three, and four times did Antonio
pronounce 'Bricklebrit,' but all in vain, and he might as well have
spoken to the wind.
Disgusted and furious with the poor creature, he seized a thick
stick and began to beat it so hard that he nearly broke every bone in
its body. The miserable donkey was so distracted at such treatment
that, far from pouring out precious stones, it only tore and dirtied
all the fine linen.
When poor Masella saw her table-cloths and sheets being destroyed,
and that instead of becoming rich she had only been made a fool of, she
seized another stick and belaboured Antonio so unmercifully with it,
that he fled before her, and never stopped till he reached the ogre's
When his master saw the lad returning in such a sorry plight, he
understood at once what had happened to him, and making no bones about
the matter, he told Antonio what a fool he had been to allow himself to
be so imposed upon by the landlord, and to let a worthless animal be
palmed off on him instead of his magic donkey.
Antonio listened humbly to the ogre's words, and vowed solemnly that
he would never act so foolishly again. And so a year passed, and once
more Antonio was overcome by a fit of home-sickness, and felt a great
longing to see his own people again.
Now the ogre, although he was so hideous to look upon, had a very
kind heart, and when he saw how restless and unhappy Antonio was, he at
once gave him leave to go home on a visit. At parting he gave him a
beautiful table-cloth, and said: 'Give this to your mother; but see
that you don't lose it as you lost the donkey, and till you are safely
in your own house beware of saying “Table-cloth, open,” and
“Table-cloth, shut.” If you do, the misfortune be on your own head, for
I have given you fair warning.'
Antonio set out on his journey, but hardly had he got out of sight
of the cave than he laid the table-cloth on the ground and said,
'Table-cloth, open.' In an instant the table-cloth unfolded itself and
disclosed a whole mass of precious stones and other treasures.
When Antonio perceived this he said, 'Table-cloth, shut,' and
continued his journey. He came to the same inn again, and calling the
landlord to him, he told him to put the table-cloth carefully away, and
whatever he did not to say 'Table-cloth, open,' or 'Table-cloth, shut,'
The landlord, who was a regular rogue, answered, 'Just leave it to
me, I will look after it as if it were my own.'
After he had given Antonio plenty to eat and drink, and had provided
him with a comfortable bed, he went straight to the table-cloth and
said, 'Table-cloth, open.' It opened at once, and displayed such costly
treasures that the landlord made up his mind on the spot to steal it.
When Antonio awoke next morning, the host handed him over a
table-cloth exactly like his own, and carrying it carefully over his
arm, the foolish youth went straight to his mother's house, and said:
'Now we shall be rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and need never go
about in rags again, or lack the best of food.'
With these words he spread the table-cloth on the ground and said,
But he might repeat the injunction as often as he pleased, it was
only waste of breath, for nothing happened. When Antonio saw this he
turned to his mother and said: 'That old scoundrel of a landlord has
done me once more; but he will live to repent it, for if I ever enter
his inn again, I will make him suffer for the loss of my donkey and the
other treasures he has robbed me of.'
Masella was in such a rage over her fresh disappointment that she
could not restrain her impatience, and, turning on Antonio, she abused
him soundly, and told him to get out of her sight at once, for she
would never acknowledge him as a son of hers again. The poor boy was
very depressed by her words, and slunk back to his master like a dog
with his tail between his legs. When the ogre saw him, he guessed at
once what had happened. He gave Antonio a good scolding, and said, 'I
don't know what prevents me smashing your head in, you useless
ne'er-do-well! You blurt everything out, and your long tongue never
ceases wagging for a moment. If you had remained silent in the inn this
misfortune would never have overtaken you, so you have only yourself to
blame for your present suffering.'
Antonio listened to his master's words in silence, looking for all
the world like a whipped dog. When he had been three more years in the
ogre's service he had another bad fit of home-sickness, and longed very
much to see his mother and sisters again.
So he asked for permission to go home on a visit, and it was at once
granted to him. Before he set out on his journey the ogre presented him
with a beautifully carved stick and said, 'Take this stick as a
remembrance of me; but beware of saying, “Rise up, Stick,” and “Lie
down, Stick,” for if you do, I can only say I wouldn't be in your shoes
Antonio took the stick and said, 'Don't be in the least alarmed, I'm
not such a fool as you think, and know better than most people what two
and two make.'
'I'm glad to hear it,' replied the ogre, 'but words are women, deeds
are men. You have heard what I said, and forewarned is forearmed.'
This time Antonio thanked his master warmly for all his kindness,
and started on his homeward journey in great spirits; but he had not
gone half a mile when he said 'Rise up, Stick.'
The words were hardly out of his mouth when the stick rose and began
to rain down blows on poor Antonio's back with such lightning-like
rapidity that he had hardly strength to call out, 'Lie down, Stick;'
but as soon as he uttered the words the stick lay down, and ceased
beating his back black and blue.
Although he had learnt a lesson at some cost to himself, Antonio was
full of joy, for he saw a way now of revenging himself on the wicked
landlord. Once more he arrived at the inn, and was received in the most
friendly and hospitable manner by his host. Antonio greeted him
cordially, and said: 'My friend, will you kindly take care of this
stick for me? But, whatever you do, don't say “Rise up, Stick.” If you
do, you will be sorry for it, and you needn't expect any sympathy from
The landlord, thinking he was coming in for a third piece of good
fortune, gave Antonio an excellent supper; and after he had seen him
comfortably to bed, he ran to the stick, and calling to his wife to
come and see the fun, he lost no time in pronouncing the words 'Rise
The moment he spoke the stick jumped up and beat the landlord so
unmercifully that he and his wife ran screaming to Antonio, and, waking
him up, pleaded for mercy.
When Antonio saw how successful his trick had been, he said: 'I
refuse to help you, unless you give me all that you have stolen from
me, otherwise you will be beaten to death.'
The landlord, who felt himself at death's door already, cried out:
'Take back your property, only release me from this terrible stick;'
and with these words he ordered the donkey, the table-cloth, and other
treasures to be restored to their rightful owner.
As soon as Antonio had recovered his belongings he said 'Stick, lie
down,' and it stopped beating the landlord at once.
Then he took his donkey and table-cloth and arrived safely at his
home with them. This time the magic words had the desired effect, and
the donkey and table-cloth provided the family with treasures untold.
Antonio very soon married off his sister, made his mother rich for
life, and they all lived happily for ever after.
[From the Italian, Kletke.]
A Fairy's Blunder
Once upon a time there lived a fairy whose name was Dindonette. She
was the best creature in the world, with the kindest heart; but she had
not much sense, and was always doing things, to benefit people, which
generally ended in causing pain and distress to everybody concerned. No
one knew this better than the inhabitants of an island far off in the
midst of the sea, which, according to the laws of fairyland, she had
taken under her special protection, thinking day and night of what she
could do to make the isle the pleasantest place in the whole world, as
it was the most beautiful.
Now what happened was this:
As the fairy went about, unseen, from house to house, she heard
everywhere children longing for the time when they would be 'grown-up,'
and able, they thought, to do as they liked; and old people talking
about the past, and sighing to be young again.
'Is there no way of satisfying these poor things?' she thought. And
then one night an idea occurred to her. 'Oh, yes, of course! It has
been tried before; but I will manage better than the rest, with their
old Fountain of Youth, which, after all, only made people young again.
I will enchant the spring that bubbles up in the middle of the orchard,
and the children that drink of it shall at once become grown men and
women, and the old people return to the days of their childhood.'
And without stopping to consult one single other fairy, who might
have given her good advice, off rushed Dindonette, to cast her spell
over the fountain.
It was the only spring of fresh water in the island, and at dawn was
crowded with people of all ages, come to drink at its source. Delighted
at her plan for making them all happy, the fairy hid herself behind a
thicket of roses, and peeped out whenever footsteps came that way. It
was not long before she had ample proof of the success of her
enchantments. Almost before her eyes the children put on the size and
strength of adults, while the old men and women instantly became
helpless, tiny babies. Indeed, so pleased was she with the result of
her work, that she could no longer remain hidden, and went about
telling everybody what she had done, and enjoying their gratitude and
But after the first outburst of delight at their wishes being
granted, people began to be a little frightened at the rapid effects of
the magic water. It was delicious to feel yourself at the height of
your power and beauty, but you would wish to keep so always! Now this
was exactly what the fairy had been in too much of a hurry to arrange,
and no sooner had the children become grown up, and the men and women
become babies, than they all rushed on to old age at an appalling rate!
The fairy only found out her mistake when it was too late to set it
When the inhabitants of the island saw what had befallen them, they
were filled with despair, and did everything they could think of to
escape from such a dreadful fate. They dug wells in their places, so
that they should no longer need to drink from the magic spring; but the
sandy soil yielded no water, and the rainy season was already past.
They stored up the dew that fell, and the juice of fruits and of herbs,
but all this was as a drop in the ocean of their wants. Some threw
themselves into the sea, trusting that the current might carry them to
other shores—they had no boats—and a few, still more impatient, put
themselves to death on the spot. The rest submitted blindly to their
Perhaps the worst part of the enchantment was, that the change from
one age to another was so rapid that the person had no time to prepare
himself for it. It would not have mattered so much if the man who stood
up in the assembly of the nation, to give his advice as to peace or
war, had looked like a baby, as long as he spoke with the knowledge and
sense of a full-grown man. But, alas! with the outward form of an
infant, he had taken on its helplessness and foolishness, and there was
no one who could train him to better things. The end of it all was,
that before a month had passed the population had died out, and the
fairy Dindonette, ashamed and grieved at the effects of her folly, had
left the island for ever.
Many centuries after, the fairy Selnozoura, who had fallen into bad
health, was ordered by her doctors to make the tour of the world twice
a week for change of air, and in one of these journeys she found
herself at Fountain Island. Selnozoura never made these trips alone,
but always took with her two children, of whom she was very
fond—Cornichon, a boy of fourteen, bought in his childhood at a
slave-market, and Toupette, a few months younger, who had been
entrusted to the care of the fairy by her guardian, the genius
Kristopo. Cornichon and Toupette were intended by Selnozoura to become
husband and wife, as soon as they were old enough. Meanwhile, they
travelled with her in a little vessel, whose speed through the air was
just a thousand nine hundred and fifty times greater than that of the
swiftest of our ships.
Struck with the beauty of the island, Selnozoura ran the vessel to
ground, and leaving it in the care of the dragon which lived in the
hold during the voyage, stepped on shore with her two companions.
Surprised at the sight of a large town whose streets and houses were
absolutely desolate, the fairy resolved to put her magic arts in
practice to find out the cause. While she was thus engaged, Cornichon
and Toupette wandered away by themselves, and by-and-by arrived at the
fountain, whose bubbling waters looked cool and delicious on such a hot
day. Scarcely had they each drunk a deep draught, when the fairy, who
by this time had discovered all she wished to know, hastened to the
'Oh, beware! beware!' she cried, the moment she saw them. 'If you
drink that deadly poison you will be ruined for ever!'
'Poison?' answered Toupette. 'It is the most refreshing water I have
ever tasted, and Cornichon will say so too!'
'Unhappy children, then I am too late! Why did you leave me? Listen,
and I will tell you what has befallen the wretched inhabitants of this
island, and what will befall you too. The power of fairies is great,'
she added, when she had finished her story, 'but they cannot destroy
the work of another fairy. Very shortly you will pass into the weakness
and silliness of extreme old age, and all I can do for you is to make
it as easy to you as possible, and to preserve you from the death that
others have suffered, from having no one to look after them. But the
charm is working already! Cornichon is taller and more manly than he
was an hour ago, and Toupette no longer looks like a little girl.'
It was true; but this fact did not seem to render the young people
as miserable as it did Selnozoura.
'Do not pity us,' said Cornichon. 'If we are fated to grow old so
soon, let us no longer delay our marriage. What matter if we anticipate
our decay, if we only anticipate our happiness too?'
The fairy felt that Cornichon had reason on his side, and seeing by
a glance at Toupette's face that there was no opposition to be feared
from her, she answered, 'Let it be so, then. But not in this dreadful
place. We will return at once to Bagota, and the festivities shall be
the most brilliant ever seen.'
They all returned to the vessel, and in a few hours the four
thousand five hundred miles that lay between the island and Bagota were
passed. Everyone was surprised to see the change which the short
absence had made in the young people, but as the fairy had promised
absolute silence about the adventure, they were none the wiser, and
busied themselves in preparing their dresses for the marriage, which
was fixed for the next night.
Early on the following morning the genius Kristopo arrived at the
Court, on one of the visits he was in the habit of paying his ward from
time to time. Like the rest, he was astonished at the sudden
improvement in the child. He had always been fond of her, and in a
moment he fell violently in love. Hastily demanding an audience of the
fairy, he laid his proposals before her, never doubting that she would
give her consent to so brilliant a match. But Selnozoura refused to
listen, and even hinted that in his own interest Kristopo had better
turn his thoughts elsewhere. The genius pretended to agree, but,
instead, he went straight to Toupette's room, and flew away with her
through the window, at the very instant that the bridegroom was
awaiting her below.
When the fairy discovered what had happened, she was furious, and
sent messenger after messenger to the genius in his palace at Ratibouf,
commanding him to restore Toupette without delay, and threatening to
make war in case of refusal.
Kristopo gave no direct answer to the fairy's envoys, but kept
Toupette closely guarded in a tower, where the poor girl used all her
powers of persuasion to induce him to put off their marriage. All
would, however, have been quite vain if, in the course of a few days,
sorrow, joined to the spell of the magic water, had not altered her
appearance so completely that Kristopo was quite alarmed, and declared
that she needed amusement and fresh air, and that, as his presence
seemed to distress her, she should be left her own mistress. But one
thing he declined to do, and that was to send her back to Bagota.
In the meantime both sides had been busily collecting armies, and
Kristopo had given the command of his to a famous general, while
Selnozoura had placed Cornichon at the head of her forces. But before
war was actually declared, Toupette's parents, who had been summoned by
the genius, arrived at Ratibouf. They had never seen their daughter
since they parted from her as a baby, but from time to time travellers
to Bagota had brought back accounts of her beauty. What was their
amazement, therefore, at finding, instead of a lovely girl, a
middle-aged woman, handsome indeed, but quite faded—looking, in fact,
older than themselves. Kristopo, hardly less astonished than they were
at the sudden change, thought that it was a joke on the part of one of
his courtiers, who had hidden Toupette away, and put this elderly lady
in her place. Bursting with rage, he sent instantly for all the
servants and guards of the town, and inquired who had the insolence to
play him such a trick, and what had become of their prisoner. They
replied that since Toupette had been in their charge she had never left
her rooms unveiled, and that during her walks in the surrounding
gardens, her food had been brought in and placed on her table; as she
preferred to eat alone no one had ever seen her face, or knew what she
The servants were clearly speaking the truth, and Kristopo was
obliged to believe them. 'But,' thought he, 'if they have not had a
hand in this, it must be the work of the fairy,' and in his anger he
ordered the army to be ready to march.
On her side, Selnozoura of course knew what the genius had to
expect, but was deeply offended when she heard of the base trick which
she was believed to have invented. Her first desire was to give battle
to Kristopo at once, but with great difficulty her ministers induced
her to pause, and to send an ambassador to Kristopo to try to arrange
So the Prince Zeprady departed for the court of Ratibouf, and on his
way he met Cornichon, who was encamped with his army just outside the
gates of Bagota. The prince showed him the fairy's written order that
for the present peace must still be kept, and Cornichon, filled with
longing to see Toupette once more, begged to be allowed to accompany
Zeprady on his mission to Ratibouf.
By this time the genius's passion for Toupette, which had caused all
these troubles, had died out, and he willingly accepted the terms of
peace offered by Zeprady, though he informed the prince that he still
believed the fairy to be guilty of the dreadful change in the girl. To
this the prince only replied that on that point he had a witness who
could prove, better than anyone else, if it was Toupette or not, and
desired that Cornichon should be sent for.
When Toupette was told that she was to see her old lover again, her
heart leapt with joy; but soon the recollection came to her of all that
had happened, and she remembered that Cornichon would be changed as
well as she. The moment of their meeting was not all happiness,
especially on the part of Toupette, who could not forget her lost
beauty, and the genius, who was present, was at last convinced that he
had not been deceived, and went out to sign the treaty of peace,
followed by his attendants.
'Ah, Toupette: my dear Toupette!' cried Cornichon, as soon as they
were left alone; 'now that we are once more united, let our past
troubles be forgotten.'
'Our past troubles!' answered she, 'and what do you call our lost
beauty and the dreadful future before us? You are looking fifty years
older than when I saw you last, and I know too well that fate has
treated me no better!'
'Ah, do not say that,' replied Cornichon, clasping her hand. 'You
are different, it is true; but every age has its graces, and surely no
woman of sixty was ever handsomer than you! If your eyes had been as
bright as of yore they would have matched badly with your faded skin.
The wrinkles which I notice on your forehead explain the increased
fulness of your cheeks, and your throat in withering is elegant in
decay. Thus the harmony shown by your features, even as they grow old,
is the best proof of their former beauty.'
'Oh, monster!' cried Toupette, bursting into tears, 'is that all the
comfort you can give me?'
'But, Toupette,' answered Cornichon, 'you used to declare that you
did not care for beauty, as long as you had my heart.'
'Yes, I know,' said she, 'but how can you go on caring for a person
who is as old and plain as I?'
'Toupette, Toupette,' replied Cornichon, 'you are only talking
nonsense. My heart is as much yours as ever it was, and nothing in the
world can make any difference.'
At this point of the conversation the Prince Zeprady entered the
room, with the news that the genius, full of regret for his behaviour,
had given Cornichon full permission to depart for Bagota as soon as he
liked, and to take Toupette with him; adding that, though he begged
they would excuse his taking leave of them before they went, he hoped,
before long, to visit them at Bagota.
Neither of the lovers slept that night—Cornichon from joy at
returning home, Toupette from dread of the blow to her vanity which
awaited her at Bagota. It was hopeless for Cornichon to try to console
her during the journey with the reasons he had given the day before.
She only grew worse and worse, and when they reached the palace went
straight to her old apartments, entreating the fairy to allow both
herself and Cornichon to remain concealed, and to see no one.
For some time after their arrival the fairy was taken up with the
preparations for the rejoicings which were to celebrate the peace, and
with the reception of the genius, who was determined to do all in his
power to regain Selnozoura's lost friendship. Cornichon and Toupette
were therefore left entirely to themselves, and though this was only
what they wanted, still, they began to feel a little neglected.
At length, one morning, they saw from the windows that the fairy and
the genius were approaching, in state, with all their courtiers in
attendance. Toupette instantly hid herself in the darkest corner of the
room, but Cornichon, forgetting that he was now no longer a boy of
fourteen, ran to meet them. In so doing he tripped and fell, bruising
one of his eyes severely. At the sight of her lover lying helpless on
the floor, Toupette hastened to his side; but her feeble legs gave way
under her, and she fell almost on top of him, knocking out three of her
loosened teeth against his forehead. The fairy, who entered the room at
this moment, burst into tears, and listened in silence to the genius,
who hinted that by-and-by everything would be put right.
'At the last assembly of the fairies,' he said, 'when the doings of
each fairy were examined and discussed, a proposal was made to lessen,
as far as possible, the mischief caused by Dindonette by enchanting the
fountain. And it was decided that, as she had meant nothing but
kindness, she should have the power of undoing one half of the spell.
Of course she might always have destroyed the fatal fountain, which
would have been best of all; but this she never thought of. Yet, in
spite of this, her heart is so good, that I am sure that the moment she
hears that she is wanted she will fly to help. Only, before she comes,
it is for you, Madam, to make up your mind which of the two shall
regain their former strength and beauty.'
At these words the fairy's soul sank. Both Cornichon and Toupette
were equally dear to her, and how could she favour one at the cost of
the other? As to the courtiers, none of the men were able to understand
why she hesitated a second to declare for Toupette; while the ladies
were equally strong on the side of Cornichon.
But, however undecided the fairy might be, it was quite different
with Cornichon and Toupette.
'Ah, my love,' exclaimed Cornichon, 'at length I shall be able to
give you the best proof of my devotion by showing you how I value the
beauties of your mind above those of your body! While the most charming
women of the court will fall victims to my youth and strength, I shall
think of nothing but how to lay them at your feet, and pay heart-felt
homage to your age and wrinkles.'
'Not so fast,' interrupted Toupette, 'I don't see why you should
have it all. Why do you heap such humiliations upon me? But I will
trust to the justice of the fairy, who will not treat me so.'
Then she entered her own rooms, and refused to leave them, in spite
of the prayers of Cornichon, who begged her to let him explain.
No one at the court thought or spoke of any other subject during the
few days before the arrival of Dindonette, whom everybody expected to
set things right in a moment. But, alas! she had no idea herself what
was best to be done, and always adopted the opinion of the person she
was talking to. At length a thought struck her, which seemed the only
way of satisfying both parties, and she asked the fairy to call
together all the court and the people to hear her decision.
'Happy is he,' she began, 'who can repair the evil he has caused,
but happier he who has never caused any.'
As nobody contradicted this remark, she continued:
'To me it is only allowed to undo one half of the mischief I have
wrought. I could restore you your youth,' she said to Cornichon, 'or
your beauty,' turning to Toupette. 'I will do both; and I will do
A murmur of curiosity arose from the crowd, while Cornichon and
Toupette trembled with astonishment.
'No,' went on Dindonette, 'never should I have the cruelty to leave
one of you to decay, while the other enjoys the glory of youth. And as
I cannot restore you both at once to what you were, one half of each of
your bodies shall become young again, while the other half goes on its
way to decay. I will leave it to you to choose which half it shall
be—if I shall draw a line round the waist, or a line straight down the
middle of the body.'
She looked about her proudly, expecting applause for her clever
idea. But Cornichon and Toupette were shaking with rage and
disappointment, and everyone else broke into shouts of laughter. In
pity for the unhappy lovers, Selnozoura came forward.
'Do you not think,' she said, 'that instead of what you propose, it
would be better to let them take it in turns to enjoy their former
youth and beauty for a fixed time? I am sure you could easily manage
'What an excellent notion!' cried Dindonette. 'Oh, yes, of course
that is best! Which of you shall I touch first?'
'Touch her,' replied Cornichon, who was always ready to give way to
Toupette. 'I know her heart too well to fear any change.'
So the fairy bent forward and touched her with her magic ring, and
in one instant the old woman was a girl again. The whole court wept
with joy at the sight, and Toupette ran up to Cornichon, who had fallen
down in his surprise, promising to pay him long visits, and tell him of
all her balls and water parties.
The two fairies went to their own apartments, where the genius
followed them to take his leave.
'Oh, dear!' suddenly cried Dindonette, breaking in to the farewell
speech of the genius. 'I quite forgot to fix the time when Cornichon
should in his turn grow young. How stupid of me! And now I fear it is
too late, for I ought to have declared it before I touched Toupette
with the ring. Oh, dear! oh, dear! why did nobody warn me?'
'You were so quick,' replied Selnozoura, who had long been aware of
the mischief the fairy had again done, 'and we can only wait now till
Cornichon shall have reached the utmost limits of his decay, when he
will drink of the water, and become a baby once more, so that Toupette
will have to spend her life as a nurse, a wife, and a caretaker.'
After the anxiety of mind and the weakness of body to which for so
long Toupette had been a prey, it seemed as if she could not amuse
herself enough, and it was seldom indeed that she found time to visit
poor Cornichon, though she did not cease to be fond of him, or to be
kind to him. Still, she was perfectly happy without him, and this the
poor man did not fail to see, almost blind and deaf from age though he
But it was left to Kristopo to undo at last the work of Dindonette,
and give Cornichon back the youth he had lost, and this the genius did
all the more gladly, as he discovered, quite by accident, that
Cornichon was in fact his son. It was on this plea that he attended the
great yearly meeting of the fairies, and prayed that, in consideration
of his services to so many of the members, this one boon might be
granted him. Such a request had never before been heard in fairyland,
and was objected to by some of the older fairies; but both Kristopo and
Selnozoura were held in such high honour that the murmurs of disgust
were set aside, and the latest victim to the enchanted fountain was
pronounced to be free of the spell. All that the genius asked in return
was that he might accompany the fairy back to Bagota, and be present
when his son assumed his proper shape.
They made up their minds they would just tell Toupette that they had
found a husband for her, and give her a pleasant surprise at her
wedding, which was fixed for the following night. She heard the news
with astonishment, and many pangs for the grief which Cornichon would
certainly feel at his place being taken by another; but she did not
dream of disobeying the fairy, and spent the whole day wondering who
the bridegroom could be.
At the appointed hour, a large crowd assembled at the fairy's
palace, which was decorated with the sweetest flowers, known only to
fairyland. Toupette had taken her place, but where was the bridegroom?
'Fetch Cornichon!' said the fairy to her chamberlain.
But Toupette interposed: 'Oh, Madam, spare him, I entreat you, this
bitter pain, and let him remain hidden and in peace.'
'It is necessary that he should be here,' answered the fairy, 'and
he will not regret it.'
And, as she spoke, Cornichon was led in, smiling with the
foolishness of extreme old age at the sight of the gay crowd.
'Bring him here,' commanded the fairy, waving her hand towards
Toupette, who started back from surprise and horror.
Selnozoura then took the hand of the poor old man, and the genius
came forward and touched him three times with his ring, when Cornichon
was transformed into a handsome young man.
'May you live long,' the genius said, 'to enjoy happiness with your
wife, and to love your father.'
And that was the end of the mischief wrought by the fairy
[Cabinet des Fées.]
Long, Broad, and Quickeye
(A Bohemian Story)
Once upon a time there lived a king who had an only son whom he
loved dearly. Now one day the king sent for his son and said to him:
'My dearest child, my hair is grey and I am old, and soon I shall
feel no more the warmth of the sun, or look upon the trees and flowers.
But before I die I should like to see you with a good wife; therefore
marry, my son, as speedily as possible.'
'My father,' replied the prince, 'now and always, I ask nothing
better than to do your bidding, but I know of no daughter-in-law that I
could give you.'
On hearing these words the old king drew from his pocket a key of
gold, and gave it to his son, saying:
'Go up the staircase, right up to the top of the tower. Look
carefully round you, and then come and tell me which you like best of
all that you see.'
So the young man went up. He had never before been in the tower, and
had no idea what it might contain.
The staircase wound round and round and round, till the prince was
almost giddy, and every now and then he caught sight of a large room
that opened out from the side. But he had been told to go to the top,
and to the top he went. Then he found himself in a hall, which had an
iron door at one end. This door he unlocked with his golden key, and he
passed through into a vast chamber which had a roof of blue sprinkled
with golden stars, and a carpet of green silk soft as turf. Twelve
windows framed in gold let in the light of the sun, and on every window
was painted the figure of a young girl, each more beautiful than the
last. While the prince gazed at them in surprise, not knowing which he
liked best, the girls began to lift their eyes and smile at him. He
waited, expecting them to speak, but no sound came.
Suddenly he noticed that one of the windows was covered by a curtain
of white silk.
He lifted it, and saw before him the image of a maiden beautiful as
the day and sad as the tomb, clothed in a white robe, having a girdle
of silver and a crown of pearls. The prince stood and gazed at her, as
if he had been turned into stone, but as he looked the sadness which,
was on her face seemed to pass into his heart, and he cried out:
'This one shall be my wife. This one and no other.'
As he said the words the young girl blushed and hung her head, and
all the other figures vanished.
The young prince went quickly back to his father, and told him all
he had seen and which wife he had chosen. The old man listened to him
full of sorrow, and then he spoke:
'You have done ill, my son, to search out that which was hidden, and
you are running to meet a great danger. This young girl has fallen into
the power of a wicked sorcerer, who lives in an iron castle. Many young
men have tried to deliver her, and none have ever come back. But what
is done is done! You have given your word, and it cannot be broken. Go,
dare your fate, and return to me safe and sound.'
So the prince embraced his father, mounted his horse, and set forth
to seek his bride. He rode on gaily for several hours, till he found
himself in a wood where he had never been before, and soon lost his way
among its winding paths and deep valleys. He tried in vain to see where
he was: the thick trees shut out the sun, and he could not tell which
was north and which was south, so that he might know what direction to
make for. He felt in despair, and had quite given up all hope of
getting out of this horrible place, when he heard a voice calling to
'Hey! hey! stop a minute!'
The prince turned round and saw behind him a very tall man, running
as fast as his legs would carry him.
'Wait for me,' he panted, 'and take me into your service. If you do,
you will never be sorry.'
'Who are you?' asked the prince, 'and what can you do?'
'Long is my name, and I can lengthen my body at will. Do you see
that nest up there on the top of that pine-tree? Well, I can get it for
you without taking the trouble of climbing the tree,' and Long
stretched himself up and up and up, till he was very soon as tall as
the pine itself. He put the nest in his pocket, and before you could
wink your eyelid he had made himself small again, and stood before the
'Yes; you know your business,' said he, 'but birds' nests are no use
to me. I am too old for them. Now if you were only able to get me out
of this wood, you would indeed be good for something.'
'Oh, there's no difficulty about that,' replied Long, and he
stretched himself up and up and up till he was three times as tall as
the tallest tree in the forest. Then he looked all round and said, 'We
must go in this direction in order to get out of the wood,' and
shortening himself again, he took the prince's horse by the bridle, and
led him along. Very soon they got clear of the forest, and saw before
them a wide plain ending in a pile of high rocks, covered here and
there with trees, and very much like the fortifications of a town.
As they left the wood behind, Long turned to the prince and said,
'My lord, here comes my comrade. You should take him into your service
too, as you will find him a great help.'
'Well, call him then, so that I can see what sort of a man he is.'
'He is a little too far off for that,' replied Long. 'He would
hardly hear my voice, and he couldn't be here for some time yet, as he
has so much to carry. I think I had better go and bring him myself,'
and this time he stretched himself to such a height that his head was
lost in the clouds. He made two or three strides, took his friend on
his back, and set him down before the prince. The new-comer was a very
fat man, and as round as a barrel.
'Who are you?' asked the prince, 'and what can you do?'
'Your worship, Broad is my name, and I can make myself as wide as I
'Let me see how you manage it.'
'Run, my lord, as fast as you can, and hide yourself in the wood,'
cried Broad, and he began to swell himself out.
The prince did not understand why he should run to the wood, but
when he saw Long flying towards it, he thought he had better follow his
example. He was only just in time, for Broad had so suddenly inflated
himself that he very nearly knocked over the prince and his horse too.
He covered all the space for acres round. You would have thought he was
At length Broad ceased to expand, drew a deep breath that made the
whole forest tremble, and shrank into his usual size.
'You have made me run away,' said the prince. 'But it is not every
day one meets with a man of your sort. I will take you into my
So the three companions continued their journey, and when they were
drawing near the rocks they met a man whose eyes were covered by a
'Your excellency,' said Long, 'this is our third comrade. You will
do well to take him into your service, and, I assure you, you will find
him worth his salt.'
'Who are you?' asked the prince. 'And why are your eyes bandaged?
You can never see your way!'
'It is just the contrary, my lord! It is because I see only too well
that I am forced to bandage my eyes. Even so I see as well as people
who have no bandage. When I take it off my eyes pierce through
everything. Everything I look at catches fire, or, if it cannot catch
fire, it falls into a thousand pieces. They call me Quickeye.'
And so saying he took off his bandage and turned towards the rock.
As he fixed his eyes upon it a crack was heard, and in a few moments it
was nothing but a heap of sand. In the sand something might be detected
glittering brightly. Quickeye picked it up and brought it to the
prince. It turned out to be a lump of pure gold.
'You are a wonderful creature,' said the prince, 'and I should be a
fool not to take you into my service. But since your eyes are so good,
tell me if I am very far from the Iron Castle, and what is happening
there just now.'
'If you were travelling alone,' replied Quickeye, 'it would take you
at least a year to get to it; but as we are with you, we shall arrive
there to-night. Just now they are preparing supper.'
'There is a princess in the castle. Do you see her?'
'A wizard keeps her in a high tower, guarded by iron bars.'
'Ah, help me to deliver her!' cried the prince.
And they promised they would.
Then they all set out through the grey rocks, by the breach made by
the eyes of Quickeye, and passed over great mountains and through deep
woods. And every time they met with any obstacle the three friends
contrived somehow to put it aside. As the sun was setting, the prince
beheld the towers of the Iron Castle, and before it sank beneath the
horizon he was crossing the iron bridge which led to the gates. He was
only just in time, for no sooner had the sun disappeared altogether,
than the bridge drew itself up and the gates shut themselves.
There was no turning back now!
The prince put up his horse in the stable, where everything looked
as if a guest was expected, and then the whole party marched straight
up to the castle. In the court, in the stables, and all over the great
halls, they saw a number of men richly dressed, but every one turned
into stone. They crossed an endless set of rooms, all opening into each
other, till they reached the dining-hall. It was brilliantly lighted;
the table was covered with wine and fruit, and was laid for four. They
waited a few minutes expecting someone to come, but as nobody did, they
sat down and began to eat and drink, for they were very hungry.
When they had done their supper they looked about for some place to
sleep. But suddenly the door burst open, and the wizard entered the
hall. He was old and hump-backed, with a bald head and a grey beard
that fell to his knees. He wore a black robe, and instead of a belt
three iron circlets clasped his waist. He led by the hand a lady of
wonderful beauty, dressed in white, with a girdle of silver and a crown
of pearls, but her face was pale and sad as death itself.
The prince knew her in an instant, and moved eagerly forward; but
the wizard gave him no time to speak, and said:
'I know why you are here. Very good; you may have her if for three
nights following you can prevent her making her escape. If you fail in
this, you and your servants will all be turned into stone, like those
who have come before you.' And offering the princess a chair, he left
The prince could not take his eyes from the princess, she was so
lovely! He began to talk to her, but she neither answered nor smiled,
and sat as if she were made of marble. He seated himself by her, and
determined not to close his eyes that night, for fear she should escape
him. And in order that she should be doubly guarded, Long stretched
himself like a strap all round the room, Broad took his stand by the
door and puffed himself out, so that not even a mouse could slip by,
and Quickeye leant against a pillar which stood in the middle of the
floor and supported the roof. But in half a second they were all sound
asleep, and they slept sound the whole night long.
In the morning, at the first peep of dawn, the prince awoke with a
start. But the princess was gone. He aroused his servants and implored
them to tell him what he must do.
'Calm yourself, my lord,' said Quickeye. 'I have found her already.
A hundred miles from here there is a forest. In the middle of the
forest, an old oak, and on the top of the oak, an acorn. This acorn is
the princess. If Long will take me on his shoulders, we shall soon
bring her back.' And sure enough, in less time than it takes to walk
round a cottage, they had returned from the forest, and Long presented
the acorn to the prince.
'Now, your excellency, throw it on the ground.'
The prince obeyed, and was enchanted to see the princess appear at
his side. But when the sun peeped for the first time over the
mountains, the door burst open as before, and the wizard entered with a
loud laugh. Suddenly he caught sight of the princess; his face
darkened, he uttered a low growl, and one of the iron circlets gave way
with a crash. He seized the young girl by the hand and bore her away
All that day the prince wandered about the castle, studying the
curious treasures it contained, but everything looked as if life had
suddenly come to a standstill. In one place he saw a prince who had
been turned into stone in the act of brandishing a sword round which
his two hands were clasped. In another, the same doom had fallen upon a
knight in the act of running away. In a third, a serving man was
standing eternally trying to convey a piece of beef to his mouth, and
all around them were others, still preserving for evermore the
attitudes they were in when the wizard had commanded 'From henceforth
be turned into marble.' In the castle, and round the castle all was
dismal and desolate. Trees there were, but without leaves; fields there
were, but no grass grew on them. There was one river, but it never
flowed and no fish lived in it. No flowers blossomed, and no birds
Three times during the day food appeared, as if by magic, for the
prince and his servants. And it was not until supper was ended that the
wizard appeared, as on the previous evening, and delivered the princess
into the care of the prince.
All four determined that this time they would keep awake at any
cost. But it was no use. Off they went as they had done before, and
when the prince awoke the next morning the room was again empty.
With a pang of shame, he rushed to find Quickeye. 'Awake! Awake!
Quickeye! Do you know what has become of the princess?'
Quickeye rubbed his eyes and answered: 'Yes, I see her. Two hundred
miles from here there is a mountain. In this mountain is a rock. In the
rock, a precious stone. This stone is the princess. Long shall take me
there, and we will be back before you can turn round.'
So Long took him on his shoulders and they set out. At every stride
they covered twenty miles, and as they drew near Quickeye fixed his
burning eyes on the mountain; in an instant it split into a thousand
pieces, and in one of these sparkled the precious stone. They picked it
up and brought it to the prince, who flung it hastily down, and as the
stone touched the floor the princess stood before him. When the wizard
came, his eyes shot forth flames of fury. Cric-crac was heard, and
another of his iron bands broke and fell. He seized the princess by the
hand and led her off, growling louder than ever.
All that day things went on exactly as they had done the day before.
After supper the wizard brought back the princess, and looking him
straight in the eyes he said, 'We shall see which of us two will gain
the prize after all!'
That night they struggled their very hardest to keep awake, and even
walked about instead of sitting down. But it was quite useless. One
after another they had to give in, and for the third time the princess
slipped through their fingers.
When morning came, it was as usual the prince who awoke the first,
and as usual, the princess being gone, he rushed to Quickeye.
'Get up, get up, Quickeye, and tell me where is the princess?'
Quickeye looked about for some time without answering. 'Oh, my lord,
she is far, very far. Three hundred miles away there lies a black sea.
In the middle of this sea there is a little shell, and in the middle of
the shell is fixed a gold ring. That gold ring is the princess. But do
not vex your soul; we will get her. Only to-day, Long must take Broad
with him. He will be wanted badly.'
So Long took Quickeye on one shoulder, and Broad on the other, and
they set out. At each stride they left thirty miles behind them. When
they reached the black sea, Quickeye showed them the spot where they
must seek the shell. But though Long stretched down his hand as far as
it would go, he could not find the shell, for it lay at the bottom of
'Wait a moment, comrades, it will be all right. I will help you,'
Then he swelled himself out so that you would have thought the world
could hardly have held him, and stooping down he drank. He drank so
much at every mouthful, that only a minute or so passed before the
water had sunk enough for Long to put his hand to the bottom. He soon
found the shell, and pulled the ring out. But time had been lost, and
Long had a double burden to carry. The dawn was breaking fast before
they got back to the castle, where the prince was waiting for them in
an agony of fear.
Soon the first rays of the sun were seen peeping over the tops of
the mountains. The door burst open, and finding the prince standing
alone the wizard broke into peals of wicked laughter. But as he laughed
a loud crash was heard, the window fell into a thousand pieces, a gold
ring glittered in the air, and the princess stood before the enchanter.
For Quickeye, who was watching from afar, had told Long of the terrible
danger now threatening the prince, and Long, summoning all his strength
for one gigantic effort, had thrown the ring right through the window.
The wizard shrieked and howled with rage, till the whole castle
trembled to its foundations. Then a crash was heard, the third band
split in two, and a crow flew out of the window.
Then the princess at length broke the enchanted silence, and
blushing like a rose, gave the prince her thanks for her unlooked-for
But it was not only the princess who was restored to life by the
flight of the wicked black crow. The marble figures became men once
more, and took up their occupations just as they had left them off. The
horses neighed in the stables, the flowers blossomed in the garden, the
birds flew in the air, the fish darted in the water. Everywhere you
looked, all was life, all was joy!
And the knights who had been turned into stone came in a body to
offer their homage to the prince who had set them free.
'Do not thank me,' he said, 'for I have done nothing. Without my
faithful servants, Long, Broad, and Quickeye, I should even have been
as one of you.'
With these words he bade them farewell, and departed with the
princess and his faithful companions for the kingdom of his father.
The old king, who had long since given up all hope, wept for joy at
the sight of his son, and insisted that the wedding should take place
as soon as possible.
All the knights who had been enchanted in the Iron Castle were
invited to the ceremony, and after it had taken place, Long, Broad, and
Quickeye took leave of the young couple, saying that they were going to
look for more work.
The prince offered them all their hearts could desire if they would
only remain with him, but they replied that an idle life would not
please them, and that they could never be happy unless they were busy,
so they went away to seek their fortunes, and for all I know are
[Contes populaires. Traduits par Louis Léger. Paris: Leroux,
There was once upon a time a woman who had an only daughter. When
the child was about seven years old she used to pass every day, on her
way to school, an orchard where there was a wild plum tree, with
delicious ripe plums hanging from the branches. Each morning the child
would pick one, and put it into her pocket to eat at school. For this
reason she was called Prunella. Now, the orchard belonged to a witch.
One day the witch noticed the child gathering a plum, as she passed
along the road. Prunella did it quite innocently, not knowing that she
was doing wrong in taking the fruit that hung close to the roadside.
But the witch was furious, and next day hid herself behind the hedge,
and when Prunella came past, and put out her hand to pluck the fruit,
she jumped out and seized her by the arm.
'Ah! you little thief!' she exclaimed. 'I have caught you at last.
Now you will have to pay for your misdeeds.'
The poor child, half dead with fright, implored the old woman to
forgive her, assuring her that she did not know she had done wrong, and
promising never to do it again. But the witch had no pity, and she
dragged Prunella into her house, where she kept her till the time
should come when she could have her revenge.
As the years passed Prunella grew up into a very beautiful girl. Now
her beauty and goodness, instead of softening the witch's heart,
aroused her hatred and jealousy.
One day she called Prunella to her, and said: 'Take this basket, go
to the well, and bring it back to me filled with water. If you don't I
will kill you.'
The girl took the basket, went and let it down into the well again
and again. But her work was lost labour. Each time, as she drew up the
basket, the water streamed out of it. At last, in despair, she gave it
up, and leaning against the well she began to cry bitterly, when
suddenly she heard a voice at her side saying 'Prunella, why are you
Turning round she beheld a handsome youth, who looked kindly at her,
as if he were sorry for her trouble.
'Who are you,' she asked, 'and how do you know my name?'
'I am the son of the witch,' he replied, 'and my name is Bensiabel.
I know that she is determined that you shall die, but I promise you
that she shall not carry out her wicked plan. Will you give me a kiss,
if I fill your basket?'
'No,' said Prunella, 'I will not give you a kiss, because you are
the son of a witch.'
'Very well,' replied the youth sadly. 'Give me your basket and I
will fill it for you.' And he dipped it into the well, and the water
stayed in it. Then the girl returned to the house, carrying the basket
filled with water. When the witch saw it, she became white with rage,
and exclaimed 'Bensiabel must have helped you.' And Prunella looked
down, and said nothing.
'Well, we shall see who will win in the end,' said the witch, in a
The following day she called the girl to her and said: 'Take this
sack of wheat. I am going out for a little; by the time I return I
shall expect you to have made it into bread. If you have not done it I
will kill you.' Having said this she left the room, closing and locking
the door behind her.
Poor Prunella did not know what to do. It was impossible for her to
grind the wheat, prepare the dough, and bake the bread, all in the
short time that the witch would be away. At first she set to work
bravely, but when she saw how hopeless her task was, she threw herself
on a chair, and began to weep bitterly. She was roused from her despair
by hearing Bensiabel's voice at her side saying: 'Prunella, Prunella,
do not weep like that. If you will give me a kiss I will make the
bread, and you will be saved.'
'I will not kiss the son of a witch,' replied Prunella.
But Bensiabel took the wheat from her, and ground it, and made the
dough, and when the witch returned the bread was ready baked in the
Turning to the girl, with fury in her voice, she said: 'Bensiabel
must have been here and helped you;' and Prunella looked down, and said
'We shall see who will win in the end,' said the witch, and her eyes
blazed with anger.
Next day she called the girl to her and said: 'Go to my sister, who
lives across the mountains. She will give you a casket, which you must
bring back to me.' This she said knowing that her sister, who was a
still more cruel and wicked witch than herself, would never allow the
girl to return, but would imprison her and starve her to death. But
Prunella did not suspect anything, and set out quite cheerfully. On the
way she met Bensiabel.
'Where are you going, Prunella?' he asked.
'I am going to the sister of my mistress, from whom I am to fetch a
'Oh poor, poor girl!' said Bensiabel. 'You are being sent straight
to your death. Give me a kiss, and I will save you.'
But again Prunella answered as before, 'I will not kiss the son of a
'Nevertheless, I will save your life,' said Bensiabel, 'for I love
you better than myself. Take this flagon of oil, this loaf of bread,
this piece of rope, and this broom. When you reach the witch's house,
oil the hinges of the door with the contents of the flagon, and throw
the loaf of bread to the great fierce mastiff, who will come to meet
you. When you have passed the dog, you will see in the courtyard a
miserable woman trying in vain to let down a bucket into the well with
her plaited hair. You must give her the rope. In the kitchen you will
find a still more miserable woman trying to clean the hearth with her
tongue; to her you must give the broom. You will see the casket on the
top of a cupboard, take it as quickly as you can, and leave the house
without a moment's delay. If you do all this exactly as I have told
you, you will not be killed.'
So Prunella, having listened carefully to his instructions, did just
what he had told her. She reached the house, oiled the hinges of the
door, threw the loaf to the dog, gave the poor woman at the well the
rope, and the woman in the kitchen the broom, caught up the casket from
the top of the cupboard, and fled with it out of the house. But the
witch heard her as she ran away, and rushing to the window called out
to the woman in the kitchen: 'Kill that thief, I tell you!'
But the woman replied: 'I will not kill her, for she has given me a
broom, whereas you forced me to clean the hearth with my tongue.'
Then the witch called out in fury to the woman at the well: 'Take
the girl, I tell you, and fling her into the water, and drown her!'
But the woman answered: 'No, I will not drown her, for she gave me
this rope, whereas you forced me to use my hair to let down the bucket
to draw water.'
Then the witch shouted to the dog to seize the girl and hold her
fast; but the dog answered: 'No, I will not seize her, for she gave me
a loaf of bread, whereas you let me starve with hunger.'
The witch was so angry that she nearly choked, as she called out:
'Door, bang upon her, and keep her a prisoner.'
But the door answered: 'I won't, for she has oiled my hinges, so
that they move quite easily, whereas you left them all rough and
And so Prunella escaped, and, with the casket under her arm, reached
the house of her mistress, who, as you may believe, was as angry as she
was surprised to see the girl standing before her, looking more
beautiful than ever. Her eyes flashed, as in furious tones she asked
her, 'Did you meet Bensiabel?'
But Prunella looked down, and said nothing.
'We shall see,' said the witch, 'who will win in the end. Listen,
there are three cocks in the hen-house; one is yellow, one black, and
the third is white. If one of them crows during the night you must tell
me which one it is. Woe to you if you make a mistake. I will gobble you
up in one mouthful.'
Now Bensiabel was in the room next to the one where Prunella slept.
At midnight she awoke hearing a cock crow.
'Which one was that?' shouted the witch.
Then, trembling, Prunella knocked on the wall and whispered:
'Bensiabel, Bensiabel, tell me, which cock crowed?'
'Will you give me a kiss if I tell you?' he whispered back through
But she answered 'No.'
Then he whispered back to her: 'Nevertheless, I will tell you. It
was the yellow cock that crowed.'
The witch, who had noticed the delay in Prunella's answer,
approached her door calling angrily: 'Answer at once, or I will kill
So Prunella answered: 'It was the yellow cock that crowed.'
And the witch stamped her foot and gnashed her teeth.
Soon after another cock crowed. 'Tell me now which one it is,'
called the witch. And, prompted by Bensiabel, Prunella answered: 'That
is the black cock.'
A few minutes after the crowing was heard again, and the voice of
the witch demanding 'Which one was that?'
And again Prunella implored Bensiabel to help her. But this time he
hesitated, for he hoped that Prunella might forget that he was a
witch's son, and promise to give him a kiss. And as he hesitated he
heard an agonised cry from the girl: 'Bensiabel, Bensiabel, save me!
The witch is coming, she is close to me, I hear the gnashing of her
With a bound Bensiabel opened his door and flung himself against the
witch. He pulled her back with such force that she stumbled, and
falling headlong, dropped down dead at the foot of the stairs.
Then, at last, Prunella was touched by Bensiabel's goodness and
kindness to her, and she became his wife, and they lived happily ever
End of The Grey Fairy Book.