And, lo and behold! when he woke, there was the green light shimmering through his room, and there he was in an instant on the beanstalk, climbing, climbing, climbing for all he was worth.
But this time he knew better than to ask for his breakfast; for the ogre's wife would be sure to recognise him. So he just hid in some bushes beside the great white house, till he saw her in the scullery, and then he slipped out and hid himself in the copper; for he knew she would be sure to look in the oven first thing.
And by and by he heard—
Thump! THUMP! THUMP!
And peeping through a crack in the copper-lid, he could see the ogre stalk in with three huge oxen strung at his belt. But this time, no sooner had the ogre got into the house than he began shouting:
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
For, see you, the copper-lid didn't fit tight like the oven door, and ogres have noses like a dog's for scent.
"Well, I declare, so do I!" exclaimed the ogre's wife. "It will be that horrid boy who stole the bag of gold and the hen. If so, he's hid in the oven!"
But when she opened the door, lo and behold! Jack wasn't there! Only some joints of meat roasting and sizzling away. Then she laughed and said, "You and me be fools for sure. Why, it's the boy you caught last night as I was getting ready for your breakfast. Yes, we be fools to take dead meat for live flesh! So eat your breakfast, there's a good ogre!"
But the ogre, though he enjoyed roast boy very much, wasn't satisfied, and every now and then he would burst out with "Fee-fi-fo-fum," and get up and search the cupboards, keeping Jack in a fever of fear lest he should think of the copper.
But he didn't. And when he had finished his breakfast he called out to his wife, "Bring me my magic harp! I want to be amused."
So she brought out a little harp and put it on the table. And the ogre leant back in his chair and said lazily:
And, lo and behold! the harp began to sing. If you want to know what it sang about? Why! It sang about everything! And it sang so beautifully that Jack forgot to be frightened, and the ogre forgot to think of "Fee-fi-fo-fum," and fell asleep and
did NOT SNORE.
Then Jack stole out of the copper like a mouse and crept hands and knees to the table, raised himself up ever so softly and laid hold of the magic harp; for he was determined to have it.
But, no sooner had he touched it, than it cried out quite loud, "Master! Master!" So the ogre woke, saw Jack making off, and rushed after him.
My goodness, it was a race! Jack was nimble, but the ogre's stride was twice as long. So, though Jack turned, and twisted, and doubled like a hare, yet at last, when he got to the beanstalk, the ogre was not a dozen yards behind him. There wasn't time to think, so Jack just flung himself on to the stalk and began to go down as fast as he could, while the harp kept calling, "Master! Master!" at the very top of its voice. He had only got down about a quarter of the way when there was the most awful lurch you can think of, and Jack nearly fell off the beanstalk. It was the ogre beginning to climb down, and his weight made the stalk sway like a tree in a storm. Then Jack knew it was life or death, and he climbed down faster and faster, and as he climbed he shouted, "Mother! Mother! Bring an axe! Bring an axe!"
Now his mother, as luck would have it, was in the backyard chopping wood, and she ran out thinking that this time the sky must have fallen. Just at that moment Jack touched ground, and he flung down the harp—which immediately began to sing of all sorts of beautiful things—and he seized the axe and gave a great chop at the beanstalk, which shook and swayed and bent like barley before a breeze.
"Have a care!" shouted the ogre, clinging on as hard as he could. But Jack did have a care, and he dealt that beanstalk such a shrewd blow that the whole of it, ogre and all, came toppling down, and, of course, the ogre broke his crown, so that he died on the spot.
After that every one was quite happy. For they had gold and to spare, and if the bed-ridden father was dull, Jack just brought out the harp and said, "Sing!" And, lo and behold! It sang about everything under the sun.
So Jack ceased wondering so much and became quite a useful person.
And the last bean still hasn't grown yet. It is still in the garden.
I wonder if it will ever grow?
And what little child will climb its beanstalk into the sky?
And what will that child find?
THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY
Long ago in Norroway there lived a lady who had three daughters. Now they were all pretty, and one night they fell a-talking of whom they meant to marry.
And the eldest said, "I will have no one lower than an Earl."
And the second said, "I will have none lower than a Lord."
But the third, the prettiest and the merriest, tossed her head and said, with a twinkle in her eye, "Why so proud? As for me I would be content with the Black Bull of Norroway."
At that the other sisters bade her be silent and not talk lightly of such a monster. For, see you, is it not written:
To wilder measures now they turn, The black black Bull of Norroway; Sudden the tapers cease to burn, The minstrels cease to play.
So, no doubt, the Black Bull of Norroway was held to be a horrid monster.
But the youngest daughter would have her laugh, so she said three times that she would be content with the Black Bull of Norroway.
Well! It so happened that the very next morning a coach-and-six came swinging along the road, and in it sate an Earl who had come to ask the hand of the eldest daughter in marriage. So there were great rejoicings over the wedding, and the bride and bridegroom drove away in the coach-and-six.
Then the next thing that happened was that a coach-and-four with a Lord in it came swinging along the road; and he wanted to marry the second daughter. So they were wed, and there were great rejoicings, and the bride and bridegroom drove away in the coach-and-four.
Now after this there was only the youngest, the prettiest and the merriest, of the sisters left, and she became the apple of her mother's eye. So you may imagine how the mother felt when one morning a terrible bellowing was heard at the door, and there was a great big Black Bull waiting for his bride.
She wept and she wailed, and at first the girl ran away and hid herself in the cellar for fear, but there the Bull stood waiting, and at last the girl came up and said:
"I promised I would be content with the Black Bull of Norroway, and I must keep my word. Farewell, mother, you will not see me again."
Then she mounted on the Black Bull's back, and it walked away with her quite quietly. And ever it chose the smoothest paths and the easiest roads, so that at last the girl grew less afraid. But she became very hungry and was nigh to faint when the Black Bull said to her, in quite a soft voice that wasn't a bellow at all:
"Eat out of my left ear, Drink out of my right, And set by what you leave To serve the morrow's night."
So she did as she was bid, and, lo and behold! the left ear was full of delicious things to eat, and the right was full of the most delicious drinks, and there was plenty left over for several days.
Thus they journeyed on, and they journeyed on, through many dreadful forests and many lonely wastes, and the Black Bull never paused for bite or sup, but ever the girl he carried ate out of his left ear and drank out of his right, and set by what she left to serve the morrow's night. And she slept soft and warm on his broad back.
Now at last they reached a noble castle where a large company of lords and ladies were assembled, and greatly the company wondered at the sight of these strange companions. And they invited the girl to supper, but the Black Bull they turned into the field, and left to spend the night after his kind.
But when the next morning came, there he was ready for his burden again. Now, though the girl was loth to leave her pleasant companions, she remembered her promise, and mounted on his back, so they journeyed on, and journeyed on, and journeyed on, through many tangled woods and over many high mountains. And ever the Black Bull chose the smoothest paths for her and set aside the briars and brambles, while she ate out of his left ear and drank out of his right.
So at last they came to a magnificent mansion where Dukes and Duchesses and Earls and Countesses were enjoying themselves. Now the company, though much surprised at the strange companions, asked the girl in to supper; and the Black Bull they would have turned into the park for the night, but that the girl, remembering how well he had cared for her, asked them to put him into the stable and give him a good feed.
So this was done, and the next morning he was waiting before the hall-door for his burden; and she, though somewhat loth at leaving the fine company, mounted him cheerfully enough, and they rode away, and they rode away, and they rode away, through thick briar brakes and up fearsome cliffs. But ever the Black Bull trod the brambles underfoot and chose the easiest paths, while she ate out of his left ear and drank out of his right, and wanted for nothing, though he had neither bite nor sup. So it came to pass that he grew tired and was limping with one foot when, just as the sun was setting, they came to a beautiful palace where Princes and Princesses were disporting themselves with ball on the green grass. Now, though the company greatly wondered at the strange companions, they asked the girl to join them, and ordered the grooms to lead away the Black Bull to a field.
But she, remembering all he had done for her, said, "Not so! He will stay with me!" Then seeing a large thorn in the foot with which he had been limping, she stooped down and pulled it out.
And, lo and behold! in an instant, to every one's surprise, there appeared, not a frightful monstrous bull, but one of the most beautiful Princes ever beheld, who fell at his deliverer's feet, thanking her for having broken his cruel enchantment.
A wicked witch-woman who wanted to marry him had, he said, spelled him until a beautiful maiden of her own free will should do him a favour.
"But," he said, "the danger is not all over. You have broken the enchantment by night; that by day has yet to be overcome."
So the next morning the Prince had to resume the form of a bull, and they set out together; and they rode, and they rode, and they rode, till they came to a dark and ugsome glen. And here he bade her dismount and sit on a great rock.
"Here you must stay," he said, "while I go yonder and fight the Old One. And mind! move neither hand nor foot whilst I am away, else I shall never find you again. If everything around you turns blue, I shall have beaten the Old One; but if everything turns red, he will have conquered me."
And with that, and a tremendous roaring bellow, he set off to find his foe.
Well, she sate as still as a mouse, moving neither hand nor foot, nor even her eyes, and waited, and waited, and waited. Then at last everything turned blue. But she was so overcome with joy to think that her lover was victorious that she forgot to keep still, and lifting one of her feet, crossed it over the other!
So she waited, and waited, and waited. Long she sate, and aye she wearied; and all the time he was seeking for her, but he never found her.
At last she rose and went she knew not whither, determined to seek for her lover through the whole wide world. So she journeyed on, and she journeyed on, and she journeyed on, until one day in a dark wood she came to a little hut where lived an old, old woman who gave her food and shelter, and bid her God-speed on her errand, giving her three nuts, a walnut, a filbert, and a hazel nut, with these words:
"When your heart is like to break, And once again is like to break, Crack a nut and in its shell That will be that suits you well."
After this she felt heartened up, and wandered on till her road was blocked by a great hill of glass; and though she tried all she could to climb it, she could not; for aye she slipped back, and slipped back, and slipped back; for it was like ice.
Then she sought a passage elsewhere, and round and about the foot of the hill she went sobbing and wailing, but ne'er a foothold could she find. At last she came to a smithy; and the smith promised if she would serve him faithfully for seven years and seven days, that he would make her iron shoon wherewith to climb the hill of glass. So for seven long years and seven short days she toiled, and span, and swept, and washed in the smith's house. And for wage he gave her a pair of iron shoon, and with them she clomb the glassy hill and went on her way.
Now she had not gone far before a company of fine lords and ladies rode past her talking of all the grand doings that were to be done at the young Duke of Norroway's wedding. Then she passed a number of people carrying all sorts of good things which they told her were for the Duke's wedding. And at last she came to a palace castle where the courtyards were full of cooks and bakers, some running this way, some running that, and all so busy that they did not know what to do first.
Then she heard the horns of hunters and cries of "Room! Room for the Duke of Norroway and his bride!"
And who should ride past but the beautiful Prince she had but half unspelled, and by his side was the witch-woman who was determined to marry him that very day.
Well! at the sight she felt that her heart was indeed like to break, and over again was like to break, so that the time had come for her to crack one of the nuts. So she broke the walnut, as it was the biggest, and out of it came a wonderful wee woman carding wool as fast as ever she could card.
Now when the witch-woman saw this wonderful thing she offered the girl her choice of anything in the castle for it.
"If you will put off your wedding with the Duke for a day, and let me watch in his room to-night," said the girl, "you shall have it."
Now, like all witch-women, the bride wanted everything her own way, and she was so sure she had her groom safe, that she consented; but before the Duke went to rest she gave him, with her own hands, a posset so made that any one who drank it would sleep till morning.
Thus, though the girl was allowed alone into the Duke's chamber, and though she spent the livelong night sighing and singing:
"Far have I sought for thee, Long have I wrought for thee, Near am I brought to thee, Dear Duke o' Norroway; Wilt thou say naught to me?"
the Duke never wakened, but slept on. So when day came the girl had to leave him without his ever knowing she had been there.
Then once again her heart was like to break, and over and over again like to break, and she cracked the filbert nut, because it was the next biggest. And out of it came a wonderful wee, wee woman spinning away as fast as ever she could spin. Now when the witch-bride saw this wonderful thing she once again put off her wedding so that she might possess it. And once again the girl spent the livelong night in the Duke's chamber sighing and singing:
"Far have I sought for thee, Long have I wrought for thee, Near am I brought to thee, Dear Duke o' Norroway; Wilt thou say naught to me?"
But the Duke, who had drunk the sleeping-draught from the hands of his witch-bride, never stirred, and when dawn came the girl had to leave him without his ever knowing she had been there.
Then, indeed, the girl's heart was like to break, and over and over and over again like to break, so she cracked the last nut—the hazel nut—and out of it came the most wonderful wee, wee, wee-est woman reeling away at yarn as fast as she could reel.
And this marvel so delighted the witch-bride that once again she consented to put off her wedding for a day, and allow the girl to watch in the Duke's chamber the night through, in order to possess it.
Now it so happened that when the Duke was dressing that morning he heard his pages talking amongst themselves of the strange sighing and singing they had heard in the night; and he said to his faithful old valet, "What do the pages mean?"
And the old valet, who hated the witch-bride, said:
"If the master will take no sleeping-draught to-night, mayhap he may also hear what for two nights has kept me awake."
At this the Duke marvelled greatly, and when the witch-bride brought him his evening posset, he made excuse it was not sweet enough, and while she went away to get honey to sweeten it withal, he poured away the posset and made believe he had swallowed it.
So that night when dark had come, and the girl stole in to his chamber with a heavy heart thinking it would be the very last time she would ever see him, the Duke was really broad awake. And when she sate down by his bedside and began to sing:
"Far have I sought for thee,"
he knew her voice at once, and clasped her in his arms.
Then he told her how he had been in the power of the witch-woman and had forgotten everything, but that now he remembered all and that the spell was broken for ever and aye.
So the wedding feast served for their marriage, since the witch-bride, seeing her power was gone, quickly fled the country and was never heard of again.
Once upon a time there lived a gentleman who owned fine lands and houses, and he very much wanted to have a son to be heir to them. So when his wife brought him a daughter, though she was bonny as bonny could be, he cared nought for her, and said:
"Let me never see her face."
So she grew up to be a beautiful maiden, though her father never set eyes on her till she was fifteen years old and was ready to be married.
Then her father said roughly, "She shall marry the first that comes for her." Now when this became known, who should come along and be first but a nasty, horrid old man! So she didn't know what to do, and went to the hen-wife and asked her advice. And the hen-wife said, "Say you will not take him unless they give you a coat of silver cloth." Well, they gave her a coat of silver cloth, but she wouldn't take him for all that, but went again to the hen-wife, who said, "Say you will not take him unless they give you a coat of beaten gold." Well, they gave her a coat of beaten gold, but still she would not take the old man, but went again to the hen-wife, who said, "Say you will not take him unless they give you a coat made of the feathers of all the birds of the air." So they sent out a man with a great heap of peas; and the man cried to all the birds of the air, "Each bird take a pea and put down a feather." So each bird took a pea and put down one of its feathers: and they took all the feathers and made a coat of them and gave it to her; but still she would not take the nasty, horrid old man, but asked the hen-wife once again what she was to do, and the hen-wife said, "Say they must first make you a coat of catskin." Then they made her a coat of catskin; and she put it on, and tied up her other coats into a bundle, and when it was night-time ran away with it into the woods.
Now she went along, and went along, and went along, till at the end of the wood she saw a fine castle. Then she hid her fine dresses by a crystal waterfall and went up to the castle gates and asked for work. The lady of the castle saw her, and told her, "I'm sorry I have no better place, but if you like you may be our scullion." So down she went into the kitchen, and they called her Catskin, because of her dress. But the cook was very cruel to her, and led her a sad life.
Well, soon after that it happened that the young lord of the castle came home, and there was to be a grand ball in honour of the occasion. And when they were speaking about it among the servants, "Dear me, Mrs. Cook," said Catskin, "how much I should like to go!"
"What! You dirty, impudent slut," said the cook, "you go among all the fine lords and ladies with your filthy catskin? A fine figure you'd cut!" and with that she took a basin of water and dashed it into Catskin's face. But Catskin only shook her ears and said nothing.
Now when the day of the ball arrived, Catskin slipped out of the house and went to the edge of the forest where she had hidden her dresses. Then she bathed herself in a crystal waterfall, and put on her coat of silver cloth, and hastened away to the ball. As soon as she entered all were overcome by her beauty and grace, while the young lord at once lost his heart to her. He asked her to be his partner for the first dance; and he would dance with none other the livelong night.
When it came to parting time, the young lord said, "Pray tell me, fair maid, where you live?"
But Catskin curtsied and said:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell, At the sign of the 'Basin of Water' I dwell."
Then she flew from the castle and donned her catskin robe again, and slipped into the scullery, unbeknown to the cook.
The young lord went the very next day and searched for the sign of the "Basin of Water"; but he could not find it. So he went to his mother, the lady of the castle, and declared he would wed none other but the lady of the silver dress, and would never rest till he had found her. So another ball was soon arranged in hopes that the beautiful maid would appear again.
So Catskin said to the cook, "Oh, how I should like to go!" Whereupon the cook screamed out in a rage, "What, you, you dirty, impudent slut! You would cut a fine figure among all the fine lords and ladies." And with that she up with a ladle and broke it across Catskin's back. But Catskin only shook her ears, and ran off to the forest, where, first of all, she bathed, and then she put on her coat of beaten gold, and off she went to the ball-room.
As soon as she entered all eyes were upon her; and the young lord at once recognised her as the lady of the "Basin of Water," claimed her hand for the first dance, and did not leave her till the last. When that came, he again asked her where she lived. But all that she would say was:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell, At the sign of the 'Broken Ladle' I dwell";
and with that she curtsied and flew from the ball, off with her golden robe, on with her catskin, and into the scullery without the cook's knowing.
Next day, when the young lord could not find where the sign of the "Basin of Water" was, he begged his mother to have another grand ball, so that he might meet the beautiful maid once more.
Then Catskin said to the cook, "Oh, how I wish I could go to the ball!" Whereupon the cook called out: "A fine figure you'd cut!" and broke the skimmer across her head. But Catskin only shook her ears, and went off to the forest, where she first bathed in the crystal spring, and then donned her coat of feathers, and so off to the ball-room.
When she entered every one was surprised at so beautiful a face and form dressed in so rich and rare a dress; but the young lord at once recognised his beautiful sweetheart, and would dance with none but her the whole evening. When the ball came to an end he pressed her to tell him where she lived, but all she would answer was:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell, At the sign of the 'Broken Skimmer' I dwell";
and with that she curtsied, and was off to the forest. But this time the young lord followed her, and watched her change her fine dress of feathers for her catskin dress, and then he knew her for his own scullery-maid.
Next day he went to his mother, and told her that he wished to marry the scullery-maid, Catskin.
"Never," said the lady of the castle—"never so long as I live."
Well, the young lord was so grieved that he took to his bed and was very ill indeed. The doctor tried to cure him, but he would not take any medicine unless from the hands of Catskin. At last the doctor went to the mother, and said that her son would die if she did not consent to his marriage with Catskin; so she had to give way. Then she summoned Catskin to her, and Catskin put on her coat of beaten gold before she went to see the lady; and she, of course, was overcome at once, and was only too glad to wed her son to so beautiful a maid.
So they were married, and after a time a little son was born to them, and grew up a fine little lad. Now one day, when he was about four years old, a beggar woman came to the door, and Lady Catskin gave some money to the little lord and told him to go and give it to the beggar woman. So he went and gave it, putting it into the hand of the woman's baby child; and the child leant forward and kissed the little lord.
Now the wicked old cook (who had never been sent away, because Catskin was too kind-hearted) was looking on, and she said, "See how beggars' brats take to one another!"
This insult hurt Catskin dreadfully: and she went to her husband, the young lord, and told him all about her father, and begged he would go and find out what had become of her parents. So they set out in the lord's grand coach, and travelled through the forest till they came to the house of Catskin's father. Then they put up at an inn near, and Catskin stopped there, while her husband went to see if her father would own she was his daughter.
Now her father had never had any other child, and his wife had died; so he was all alone in the world, and sate moping and miserable. When the young lord came in he hardly looked up, he was so miserable. Then Catskin's husband drew a chair close up to him, and asked him, "Pray, sir, had you not once a young daughter whom you would never see or own?"
And the miserable man said with tears, "It is true; I am a hardened sinner. But I would give all my worldly goods if I could but see her once before I die."
Then the young lord told him what had happened to Catskin, and took him to the inn, and afterwards brought his father-in-law to his own castle, where they lived happy ever afterwards.
THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
Once upon a time there was an old sow who had three little pigs, and as she had not enough for them to eat, she said they had better go out into the world and seek their fortunes.
Now the eldest pig went first, and as he trotted along the road he met a man carrying a bundle of straw. So he said very politely:
"If you please, sir, could you give me that straw to build me a house?"
And the man, seeing what good manners the little pig had, gave him the straw, and the little pig set to work and built a beautiful house with it.
Now, when it was finished, a wolf happened to pass that way; and he saw the house, and he smelt the pig inside.
So he knocked at the door and said:
"Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!"
But the little pig saw the wolf's big paws through the keyhole, so he answered back:
"No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!" Then the wolf showed his teeth and said:
"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in."
So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in. Then he ate up little piggy and went on his way.
Now, the next piggy, when he started, met a man carrying a bundle of furze, and, being very polite, he said to him:
"If you please, sir, could you give me that furze to build me a house?"
And the man, seeing what good manners the little pig had, gave him the furze, and the little pig set to work and built himself a beautiful house.
Now it so happened that when the house was finished the wolf passed that way; and he saw the house, and he smelt the pig inside.
So he knocked at the door and said:
"Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!"
But the little pig peeped through the keyhole and saw the wolf's great ears, so he answered back:
"No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!"
Then the wolf showed his teeth and said:
"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"
So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in. Then he ate up little piggy and went on his way.
Now the third little piggy, when he started, met a man carrying a load of bricks, and, being very polite, he said:
"If you please sir, could you give me those bricks to build me a house?"
And the man, seeing that he had been well brought up, gave him the bricks, and the little pig set to work and built himself a beautiful house.
And once again it happened that when it was finished the wolf chanced to come that way; and he saw the house, and he smelt the pig inside.
So he knocked at the door and said:
"Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!"
But the little pig peeped through the keyhole and saw the wolf's great eyes, so he answered:
"No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!"
"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!" says the wolf, showing his teeth.
Well! he huffed and he puffed. He puffed and he huffed. And he huffed, huffed, and he puffed, puffed; but he could not blow the house down. At last he was so out of breath that he couldn't huff and he couldn't puff any more. So he thought a bit. Then he said:
"Little pig! I know where there is ever such a nice field of turnips."
"Do you," says little piggy, "and where may that be?"
"I'll show you," says the wolf; "if you will be ready at six o'clock to-morrow morning, I will call round for you, and we can go together to Farmer Smith's field and get turnips for dinner."
"Thank you kindly," says the little piggy. "I will be ready at six o'clock sharp."
But, you see, the little pig was not one to be taken in with chaff, so he got up at five, trotted off to Farmer Smith's field, rooted up the turnips, and was home eating them for breakfast when the wolf clattered at the door and cried:
"Little pig! Little pig! Aren't you ready?"
"Ready?" says the little piggy. "Why! what a sluggard you are! I've been to the field and come back again, and I'm having a nice potful of turnips for breakfast."
Then the wolf grew red with rage; but he was determined to eat little piggy, so he said, as if he didn't care:
"I'm glad you like them; but I know of something better than turnips."
"Indeed," says little piggy, "and what may that be?"
"A nice apple tree down in Merry gardens with the juiciest, sweetest apples on it! So if you will be ready at five o'clock to-morrow morning I will come round for you and we can get the apples together."
"Thank you kindly," says little piggy. "I will sure and be ready at five o'clock sharp."
Now the next morning he bustled up ever so early, and it wasn't four o'clock when he started to get the apples; but, you see, the wolf had been taken in once and wasn't going to be taken in again, so he also started at four o'clock, and the little pig had but just got his basket half full of apples when he saw the wolf coming down the road licking his lips.
"Hullo!" says the wolf, "here already! You are an early bird! Are the apples nice?"
"Very nice," says little piggy; "I'll throw you down one to try."
And he threw it so far away, that when the wolf had gone to pick it up, the little pig was able to jump down with his basket and run home.
Well, the wolf was fair angry; but he went next day to the little piggy's house and called through the door, as mild as milk:
"Little pig! Little pig! You are so clever, I should like to give you a fairing; so if you will come with me to the fair this afternoon you shall have one."
"Thank you kindly," says little piggy. "What time shall we start?"
"At three o'clock sharp," says the wolf, "so be sure to be ready."
"I'll be ready before three," sniggered the little piggy. And he was! He started early in the morning and went to the fair, and rode in a swing, and enjoyed himself ever so much, and bought himself a butter-churn as a fairing, and trotted away towards home long before three o'clock. But just as he got to the top of the hill, what should he see but the wolf coming up it, all panting and red with rage!
Well, there was no place to hide in but the butter-churn; so he crept into it, and was just pulling down the cover when the churn started to roll down the hill—
Bumpety, bumpety, bump!
Of course piggy, inside, began to squeal, and when the wolf heard the noise, and saw the butter-churn rolling down on top of him—
Bumpety, bumpety, bump!
—he was so frightened that he turned tail and ran away.
But he was still determined to get the little pig for his dinner; so he went next day to the house and told the little pig how sorry he was not to have been able to keep his promise of going to the fair, because of an awful, dreadful, terrible Thing that had rushed at him, making a fearsome noise.
"Dear me!" says the little piggy, "that must have been me! I hid inside the butter-churn when I saw you coming, and it started to roll! I am sorry I frightened you!"
But this was too much. The wolf danced about with rage and swore he would come down the chimney and eat up the little pig for his supper. But while he was climbing on to the roof the little pig made up a blazing fire and put on a big pot full of water to boil. Then, just as the wolf was coming down the chimney, the little piggy off with the lid, and plump! in fell the wolf into the scalding water.
So the little piggy put on the cover again, boiled the wolf up, and ate him for supper.
NIX NAUGHT NOTHING
Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who didn't differ much from all the other kings and queens who have lived since Time began. But they had no children, and this made them very sad indeed. Now it so happened that the King had to go and fight battles in a far country, and he was away for many long months. And, lo and behold! while he was away the Queen at long last bore him a little son. As you may imagine, she was fair delighted, and thought how pleased the King would be when he came home and found that his dearest wish had been fulfilled. And all the courtiers were fine and pleased too, and set about at once to arrange a grand festival for the naming of the little Prince. But the Queen said, "No! The child shall have no name till his father gives it to him. Till then we will call him 'Nix! Naught! Nothing!' because his father knows nothing about him!"
So little Prince Nix Naught Nothing grew into a strong, hearty little lad; for his father did not come back for a long time, and did not even know that he had a son.
But at long last he turned his face homewards. Now, on the way, he came to a big rushing river which neither he nor his army could cross, for it was flood-time and the water was full of dangerous whirlpools, where nixies and water-wraiths lived, always ready to drown men.
So they were stopped, until a huge giant appeared, who could take the river, whirlpool and all, in his stride; and he said kindly, "I'll carry you all over, if you like." Now, though the giant smiled and was very polite, the King knew enough of the ways of giants to think it wiser to have a hard and fast bargain. So he said, quite curt, "What's your pay?"
"Pay?" echoed the giant, with a grin, "what do you take me for? Give me Nix Naught Nothing, and I'll do the job with a glad heart."
Now the King felt just a trifle ashamed at the giant's generosity; so he said, "Certainly, certainly. I'll give you nix naught nothing and my thanks into the bargain."
So the giant carried them safely over the stream and past the whirlpools, and the King hastened homewards. If he was glad to see his dear wife, the Queen, you may imagine how he felt when she showed him his young son, tall and strong for his age.
"And what's your name, young sir?" he asked of the child fast clasped in his arms.
"Nix Naught Nothing," answered the boy; "that's what they call me till my father gives me a name."
Well! the King nearly dropped the child, he was so horrified. "What have I done?" he cried. "I promised to give nix naught nothing to the giant who carried us over the whirlpools where the nixies and water-wraiths live."
At this the Queen wept and wailed; but being a clever woman she thought out a plan whereby to save her son. So she said to her husband the King, "If the giant comes to claim his promise, we will give him the hen-wife's youngest boy. She has so many she will not mind if we give her a crown piece, and the giant will never know the difference."
Now sure enough the very next morning the giant appeared to claim Nix Naught Nothing, and they dressed up the hen-wife's boy in the Prince's clothes and wept and wailed when the giant, fine and satisfied, carried his prize off on his back. But after a while he came to a big stone and sat down to ease his shoulders. And he fell a-dozing. Now, when he woke, he started up in a fluster, and called out:
"Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say What d'ye make the time o' day?"
And the hen-wife's little boy replied:
"Time that my mother the hen-wife takes The eggs for the wise Queen's breakfast cakes!"
Then the giant saw at once the trick that had been played on him, and he threw the hen-wife's boy on the ground, so that his head hit on the stone and he was killed.
Then the giant strode back to the palace in a tower of a temper, and demanded "Nix Naught Nothing." So this time they dressed up the gardener's boy, and wept and wailed when the giant, fine and satisfied, carried his prize off on his back. Then the same thing happened. The giant grew weary of his burden, and sate down on the big stone to rest. So he fell a-dozing, woke with a start, and called out:
"Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say What d'ye make the time o' day?"
And the gardener's boy replied:
"Time that my father the gardener took Greens for the wise Queen's dinner to cook!"
So the giant saw at once that a second trick had been played on him and became quite mad with rage. He flung the boy from him so that he was killed, and then strode back to the palace, where he cried with fury: "Give me what you promised to give, Nix Naught Nothing, or I will destroy you all, root and branch."
So then they saw they must give up the dear little Prince, and this time they really wept and wailed as the giant carried off the boy on his back. And this time, after the giant had had his rest at the big stone, and had woke up and called:
"Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say What d'ye make the time o' day?"
the little Prince replied:
"Time for the King my father to call, 'Let supper be served in the banqueting hall.'"
Then the giant laughed with glee and rubbed his hands saying, "I've got the right one at last." So he took Nix Naught Nothing to his own house under the whirlpools; for the giant was really a great Magician who could take any form he chose. And the reason he wanted a little prince so badly was that he had lost his wife, and had only one little daughter who needed a playmate sorely. So Nix Naught Nothing and the Magician's daughter grew up together, and every year made them fonder and fonder of each other, until she promised to marry him.
Now the Magician had no notion that his daughter should marry just an ordinary human prince, the like of whom he had eaten a thousand times, so he sought some way in which he could quietly get rid of Nix Naught Nothing. So he said one day, "I have work for you, Nix Naught Nothing! There is a stable hard by which is seven miles long, and seven miles broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years. By to-morrow evening you must have cleaned it, or I will have you for my supper."
Well, before dawn, Nix Naught Nothing set to work at his task; but, as fast as he cleared the muck, it just fell back again. So by breakfast-time he was in a terrible sweat; yet not one whit nearer the end of his job was he. Now the Magician's daughter, coming to bring him his breakfast, found him so distraught and distracted that he could scarce speak to her.
"We'll soon set that to rights," she said. So she just clapped her hands and called:
"Beasts and birds o' each degree, Clean me this stable for love o' me."
And, lo and behold! in a minute the beasts of the fields came trooping, and the sky was just dark with the wings of birds, and they carried away the muck, and the stable was clean as a new pin before the evening.
Now when the Magician saw this, he grew hot and angry, and he guessed it was his daughter's magic that had wrought the miracle. So he said: "Shame on the wit that helped you; but I have a harder job for you to-morrow. Yonder is a lake seven miles long, seven miles broad, and seven miles deep. Drain it by nightfall, so that not one drop remains, or, of a certainty, I eat you for supper."
So once again Nix Naught Nothing rose before dawn, and began his task; but though he baled out the water without ceasing, it ever ran back, so that though he sweated and laboured, by breakfast-time he was no nearer the end of his job.
But when the Magician's daughter came with his breakfast she only laughed and said, "I'll soon mend that!" Then she clapped her hands and called:
"Oh! all ye fish of river and sea, Drink me this water for love of me!"
And, lo and behold! the lake was thick with fishes. And they drank and drank, till not one drop remained.
Now when the Magician returned in the morning and saw this he was as angry as angry. And he knew it was his daughter's magic, so he said: "Double shame on the wit that helped you! Yet it betters you not, for I will give you a yet harder task than the last. If you do that, you may have my daughter. See you, yonder is a tree, seven miles high, and no branch to it till the top, and there on the fork is a nest with some eggs in it. Bring those eggs down without breaking one or, sure as fate, I'll eat you for my supper."
Then the Magician's daughter was very sad; for with all her magic she could think of no way of helping her lover to fetch the eggs and bring them down unbroken. So she sate with Nix Naught Nothing underneath the tree, and thought, and thought, and thought; until an idea came to her, and she clapped her hands and cried:
"Fingers of mine, for love of me, Help my true lover to climb the tree."
Then her fingers dropped off her hands one by one and ranged themselves like the steps of a ladder up the tree; but they were not quite enough of them to reach the top, so she cried again:
"Oh! toes of mine, for love o' me, Help my true lover to climb the tree."
Then her toes began to drop off one by one and range themselves like the rungs of a ladder; but when the toes of one foot had gone to their places the ladder was tall enough. So Nix Naught Nothing climbed up it, reached the nest, and got the seven eggs. Now, as he was coming down with the last, he was so overjoyed at having finished his task, that he turned to see if the Magician's daughter was overjoyed too: and lo! the seventh egg slipped from his hand and fell
"Quick! Quick!" cried the Magician's daughter, who, as you will observe, always had her wits about her. "There is nothing for it now but to fly at once. But first I must have my magic flask, or I shall be unable to help. It is in my room and the door is locked. Put your fingers, since I have none, in my pocket, take the key, unlock the door, get the flask, and follow me fast. I shall go slower than you, for I have no toes on one foot!"
So Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid, and soon caught up the Magician's daughter. But alas! they could not run very fast, so ere long the Magician, who had once again taken a giant's form in order to have a long stride, could be seen behind them. Nearer and nearer he came until he was just going to seize Nix Naught Nothing, when the Magician's daughter cried: "Put your fingers, since I have none, into my hair, take my comb and throw it down." So Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid, and, lo and behold! out of every one of the comb-prongs there sprang up a prickly briar, which grew so fast that the Magician found himself in the middle of a thorn hedge! You may guess how angry and scratched he was before he tore his way out. So Nix Naught Nothing and his sweetheart had time for a good start; but the Magician's daughter could not run fast because she had lost her toes on one foot! Therefore the Magician in giant form soon caught them up, and he was just about to grip Nix Naught Nothing when the Magician's daughter cried: "Put your fingers, since I have none, to my breast. Take out my veil-dagger and throw it down."
So he did as he was bid, and in a moment the dagger had grown to thousands and thousands of sharp razors, criss-cross on the ground, and the Magician giant was howling with pain as he trod among them. You may guess how he danced and stumbled and how long it took for him to pick his way through as if he were walking on eggs!
So Nix Naught Nothing and his sweetheart were nearly out of sight ere the giant could start again; yet it wasn't long before he was like to catch them up; for the Magician's daughter, you see, could not run fast because she had lost her toes on one foot! She did what she could, but it was no use. So just as the giant was reaching out a hand to lay hold of Nix Naught Nothing she cried breathlessly:
"There's nothing left but the magic flask. Take it out and sprinkle some of what it holds on the ground."
And Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid; but in his hurry he nearly emptied the flask altogether; and so the big, big wave of water which instantly welled up, swept him off his feet, and would have carried him away, had not the Magician's daughter's loosened veil caught him and held him fast. But the wave grew, and grew, and grew behind them, until it reached the giant's waist; then it grew and grew until it reached his shoulders; and it grew and grew until it swept over his head: a great big sea-wave full of little fishes and crabs and sea-snails and all sorts of strange creatures.
So that was the last of the Magician giant. But the poor little Magician's daughter was so weary that, after a time she couldn't move a step further, and she said to her lover, "Yonder are lights burning. Go and see if you can find a night's lodging: I will climb this tree by the pool where I shall be safe, and by the time you return I shall be rested."
Now, by chance, it happened that the lights they saw were the lights of the castle where Nix Naught Nothing's father and mother, the King and Queen, lived (though of course, he did not know this); so, as he walked towards the castle, he came upon the hen-wife's cottage and asked for a night's lodging.
"Who are you?" asked the hen-wife suspiciously.
"I am Nix Naught Nothing," replied the young man.
Now the hen-wife still grieved over her boy who had been killed, so she instantly resolved to be revenged.
"I cannot give you a night's lodging," she said, "but you shall have a drink of milk, for you look weary. Then you can go on to the castle and beg for a bed there."
So she gave him a cup of milk; but, being a witch-woman, she put a potion to it so that the very moment he saw his father and mother he should fall fast asleep, and none should be able to waken him so he would be no use to anybody, and would not recognize his father and mother.
Now the King and Queen had never ceased grieving for their lost son. They were always very kind to wandering young men, and when they heard that one was begging a night's lodging, they went down to the hall to see him. And lo, the moment Nix Naught Nothing caught sight of his father and mother, there he was on the floor fast asleep, and none could waken him! He did not recognize his father and mother nor they did not recognize him.
But Prince Nix Naught Nothing had grown into a very handsome young man, so they pitied him very much, and when none, do what they would, could waken him, the King said, "A maiden will likely take more trouble to waken him than others, seeing how handsome he is. Send forth a proclamation that if any maiden in my realm can waken this young man, she shall have him in marriage, and a handsome dowry to boot."
So the proclamation was sent forth, and all the pretty maidens of the realm came to try their luck, but they had no success.
Now the gardener whose boy had been killed by the giant had a daughter who was very ugly indeed—so ugly that she thought it no use to try her luck, and went about her work as usual. So she took her pitcher to the pool to fill it. Now the Magician's daughter was still hiding in the tree waiting for her lover to return. Thus it came to pass that the gardener's ugly daughter, bending down to fill her pitcher in the pool, saw a beautiful shadow in the water, and thought it was her own!
"If I am as pretty as that," she cried, "I'll draw water no longer!"
So she threw down her pitcher, and went straight to the castle to see if she hadn't a chance of the handsome stranger and the handsome dowry. But of course she hadn't; though at the sight of Nix Naught Nothing she fell so much in love with him, that, knowing the hen-wife to be a witch, she went straight to her, and offered all her savings for a charm by which she could awaken the sleeper.
Now when the hen-wife witch heard her tale, she thought it would be a rare revenge to marry the King and Queen's long-lost son to a gardener's ugly daughter; so she straightway took the girl's savings and gave her a charm by which she could unspell the Prince or spell him again at her pleasure.
So away went the gardener's daughter to the castle, and sure enough, no sooner had she sung her charm, than Nix Naught Nothing awoke.
"I am going to marry you, my charmer," she said coaxingly; but Nix Naught Nothing said he would prefer sleep. So she thought it wiser to put him to sleep again till the marriage feast was ready and she had got her fine clothes. So she spelled him asleep again.
Now the gardener had, of course, to draw the water himself, since his daughter would not work. And he took the pitcher to the pool; and he also saw the Magician's daughter's shadow in the water; but he did not think the face was his own, for, see you, he had a beard!
Then he looked up and saw the lady in the tree.
She, poor thing, was half dead with sorrow, and hunger, and fatigue, so, being a kind man, he took her to his house and gave her food. And he told her that that very day his daughter was to marry a handsome young stranger at the castle, and to get a handsome dowry to boot from the King and Queen, in memory of their son, Nix Naught Nothing, who had been carried off by a giant when he was a little boy.
Then the Magician's daughter felt sure that something had happened to her lover; so she went to the castle, and there she found him fast asleep in a chair.
But she could not waken him, for, see you, her magic had gone from her with the magic flask which Nix Naught Nothing had emptied.
So, though she put her fingerless hands on his and wept and sang:
"I cleaned the stable for love o' thee, I laved the lake and I clomb the tree, Wilt thou not waken for love o' me?"
he never stirred nor woke.
Now one of the old servants there, seeing how she wept, took pity on her and said, "She that is to marry the young man will be back ere long, and unspell him for the wedding. Hide yourself and listen to her charm."
So the Magician's daughter hid herself, and, by and by, in comes the gardener's daughter in her fine wedding-dress, and begins to sing her charm. But the Magician's daughter didn't wait for her to finish it; for the moment Nix Naught Nothing opened his eyes, she rushed out of her hiding-place, and put her fingerless hands in his.
Then Nix Naught Nothing remembered everything. He remembered the castle, he remembered his father and mother, he remembered the Magician's daughter and all that she had done for him.
Then he drew out the magic flask and said, "Surely, surely there must be enough magic in it to mend your hands." And there was. There were just fourteen drops left, ten for the fingers and four for the toes; but there was not one for the little toe, so it could not be brought back. Of course, after that there was great rejoicing, and Prince Nix Naught Nothing and the Magician's daughter were married and lived happy ever after, even though she only had four toes on one foot. As for the hen-wife witch, she was burnt, and so the gardener's daughter got back her earnings; but she was not happy, because her shadow in the water was ugly again.
MR. AND MRS. VINEGAR
Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar, a worthy couple, lived in a glass pickle-jar. The house, though small, was snug, and so light that each speck of dust on the furniture showed like a mole-hill; so while Mr. Vinegar tilled his garden with a pickle-fork and grew vegetables for pickling, Mrs. Vinegar, who was a sharp, bustling, tidy woman, swept, brushed, and dusted, brushed and dusted and swept to keep the house clean as a new pin. Now one day she lost her temper with a cobweb and swept so hard after it that bang! bang! the broom-handle went right through the glass, and crash! crash! clitter! clatter! there was the pickle-jar house about her ears all in splinters and bits.
She picked her way over these as best she might, and rushed into the garden.
"Oh, Vinegar, Vinegar!" she cried. "We are clean ruined and done for! Quit these vegetables! they won't be wanted! What is the use of pickles if you haven't a pickle-jar to put them in, and—I've broken ours—into little bits!" And with that she fell to crying bitterly.
But Mr. Vinegar was of different mettle; though a small man, he was a cheerful one, always looking at the best side of things, so he said, "Accidents will happen, lovey! But there are as good pickle-bottles in the shop as ever came out of it. All we need is money to buy another. So let us go out into the world and seek our fortunes."
"But what about the furniture?" sobbed Mrs. Vinegar.
"I will take the door of the house with me, lovey," quoth Mr. Vinegar stoutly. "Then no one will be able to open it, will they?"
Mrs. Vinegar did not quite see how this fact would mend matters, but, being a good wife, she held her peace. So off they trudged into the world to seek fortune, Mr. Vinegar bearing the door on his back like a snail carries its house.
Well, they walked all day long, but not a brass farthing did they make, and when night fell they found themselves in a dark, thick forest. Now Mrs. Vinegar, for all she was a smart, strong woman, was tired to death, and filled with fear of wild beasts, so she began once more to cry bitterly; but Mr. Vinegar was cheerful as ever.
"Don't alarm yourself, lovey," he said. "I will climb into a tree, fix the door firmly in a fork, and you can sleep there as safe and comfortable as in your own bed."
So he climbed the tree, fixed the door, and Mrs. Vinegar lay down on it, and being dead tired was soon fast asleep. But her weight tilted the door sideways, so, after a time, Mr. Vinegar, being afraid she might slip off, sate down on the other side to balance her and keep watch.
Now in the very middle of the night, just as he was beginning to nod, what should happen but that a band of robbers should meet beneath that very tree in order to divide their spoils. Mr. Vinegar could hear every word said quite distinctly, and began to tremble like an aspen as he listened to the terrible deeds the thieves had done to gain their ends.
"Don't shake so!" murmured Mrs. Vinegar, half asleep. "You'll have me off the bed."
"I'm not shaking, lovey," whispered back Mr. Vinegar in a quaking voice. "It is only the wind in the trees."
But for all his cheerfulness he was not really very brave inside, so he went on trembling and shaking, and shaking and trembling, till, just as the robbers were beginning to parcel out the money, he actually shook the door right out of the tree-fork, and down it came—with Mrs. Vinegar still asleep upon it—right on top of the robbers' heads!
As you may imagine, they thought the sky had fallen, and made off as fast as their legs would carry them, leaving their booty behind them. But Mr. Vinegar, who had saved himself from the fall by clinging to a branch, was far too frightened to go down in the dark to see what had happened. So up in the tree he sate like a big bird until dawn came.
Then Mrs. Vinegar woke, rubbed her eyes, yawned, and said, "Where am I?"
"On the ground, lovey," answered Mr. Vinegar, scrambling down.
And when they lifted up the door, what do you think they found?
One robber squashed flat as a pancake, and forty golden guineas all scattered about!
My goodness! How Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar jumped for joy!
"Now, Vinegar!" said his wife when they had gathered up all the gold pieces, "I will tell you what we must do. You must go to the next market-town and buy a cow; for, see you, money makes the mare to go, truly; but it also goes itself. Now a cow won't run away, but will give us milk and butter, which we can sell. So we shall live in comfort for the rest of our days."
"What a head you have, lovey!" said Mr. Vinegar admiringly, and started off on his errand.
"Mind you make a good bargain," bawled his wife after him.
"I always do," bawled back Mr. Vinegar. "I made a good bargain when I married such a clever wife, and I made a better one when I shook her down from the tree. I am the happiest man alive!"
So he trudged on, laughing and jingling the forty gold pieces in his pocket.
Now the first thing he saw in the market was an old red cow.
"I am in luck to-day," he thought; "that is the very beast for me. I shall be the happiest of men if I get that cow." So he went up to the owner, jingling the gold in his pocket.
"What will you take for your cow?" he asked.
And the owner of the cow, seeing he was a simpleton, said, "What you've got in your pocket."
"Done!" said Mr. Vinegar, handed over the forty guineas, and led off the cow, marching her up and down the market, much against her will, to show off his bargain.
Now, as he drove it about, proud as Punch, he noticed a man who was playing the bagpipes. He was followed about by a crowd of children who danced to the music, and a perfect shower of pennies fell into his cap every time he held it out.
"Ho, ho!" thought Mr. Vinegar. "That is an easier way of earning a livelihood than by driving about a beast of a cow! Then the feeding, and the milking, and the churning! Ah, I should be the happiest man alive if I had those bagpipes!"
So he went up to the musician and said, "What will you take for your bagpipes?"
"Well," replied the musician, seeing he was a simpleton, "it is a beautiful instrument, and I make so much money by it, that I cannot take anything less than that red cow."
"Done!" cried Mr. Vinegar in a hurry, lest the man should repent of his offer.
So the musician walked off with the red cow, and Mr. Vinegar tried to play the bagpipes. But, alas and alack! though he blew till he almost burst, not a sound could he make at first, and when he did at last, it was such a terrific squeal and screech that all the children ran away frightened, and the people stopped their ears.
But he went on and on, trying to play a tune, and never earning anything, save hootings and peltings, until his fingers were almost frozen with the cold, when of course the noise he made on the bagpipes was worse than ever.
Then he noticed a man who had on a pair of warm gloves, and he said to himself, "Music is impossible when one's fingers are frozen. I believe I should be the happiest man alive if I had those gloves."
So he went up to the owner and said, "You seem, sir, to have a very good pair of gloves." And the man replied, "Truly, sir, my hands are as warm as toast this bitter November day."
That quite decided Mr. Vinegar, and he asked at once what the owner would take for them; and the owner, seeing he was a simpleton, said, "As your hands seem frozen, sir, I will, as a favour, let you have them for your bagpipes."
"Done!" cried Mr. Vinegar, delighted, and made the exchange.
Then he set off to find his wife, quite pleased with himself. "Warm hands, warm heart!" he thought. "I'm the happiest man alive!"
But as he trudged he grew very, very tired, and at last began to limp. Then he saw a man coming along the road with a stout stick.
"I should be the happiest man alive if I had that stick," he thought. "What is the use of warm hands if your feet ache!" So he said to the man with the stick, "What will you take for your stick?" and the man, seeing he was a simpleton, replied:
"Well, I don't want to part with my stick, but as you are so pressing I'll oblige you, as a friend, for those warm gloves you are wearing."
"Done for you!" cried Mr. Vinegar delightedly; and trudged off with the stick, chuckling to himself over his good bargain.
But as he went along a magpie fluttered out of the hedge and sate on a branch in front of him, and chuckled and laughed as magpies do. "What are you laughing at?" asked Mr. Vinegar.
"At you, forsooth!" chuckled the magpie, fluttering just a little further. "At you, Mr. Vinegar, you foolish man—you simpleton—you blockhead! You bought a cow for forty guineas when she wasn't worth ten, you exchanged her for bagpipes you couldn't play—you changed the bagpipes for a pair of gloves, and the pair of gloves for a miserable stick. Ho, ho! Ha, ha! So you've nothing to show for your forty guineas save a stick you might have cut in any hedge. Ah, you fool! you simpleton! you blockhead!"
And the magpie chuckled, and chuckled, and chuckled in such guffaws, fluttering from branch to branch as Mr. Vinegar trudged along, that at last he flew into a violent rage and flung his stick at the bird. And the stick stuck in a tree out of his reach; so he had to go back to his wife without anything at all.
But he was glad the stick had stuck in a tree, for Mrs. Vinegar's hands were quite hard enough.
When it was all over Mr. Vinegar said cheerfully, "You are too violent, lovey. You broke the pickle-jar, and now you've nearly broken every bone in my body. I think we had better turn over a new leaf and begin afresh. I shall take service as a gardener, and you can go as a housemaid, until we have enough money to buy a new pickle-jar. There are as good ones in the shop as ever came out of it."
And that is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar.
THE TRUE HISTORY OF SIR THOMAS THUMB
At the court of great King Arthur, who lived, as all know, when knights were bold, and ladies were fair indeed, one of the most renowned of men was the wizard Merlin. Never before or since was there such another. All that was to be known of wizardry he knew, and his advice was ever good and kindly.
Now once when he was travelling in the guise of a beggar, he chanced upon an honest ploughman and his wife who, giving him a hearty welcome, supplied him, cheerfully, with a big wooden bowl of fresh milk and some coarse brown bread on a wooden platter. Still, though both they and the little cottage where they dwelt were neat and tidy, Merlin noticed that neither the husband nor the wife seemed happy; and when he asked the cause they said it was because they had no children.
"Had I but a son, no matter if he were no bigger than my goodman's thumb," said the poor woman, "we should be quite content."
Now this idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb so tickled Wizard Merlin's fancy that he promised straight away that such a son should come in due time to bring the good couple content. This done, he went off at once to pay a visit to the Queen of the Fairies, since he felt that the little people would best be able to carry out his promise. And, sure enough, the droll fancy of a mannikin no bigger than his father's thumb tickled the Fairy Queen also, and she set about the task at once.
So behold the ploughman and his wife as happy as King and Queen over the tiniest of tiny babies; and all the happier because the Fairy Queen, anxious to see the little fellow, flew in at the window, bringing with her clothes fit for the wee mannikin to wear.
An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown; His jacket was woven of thistle-down. His shirt was a web by spiders spun; His breeches of softest feathers were done. His stockings of red-apple rind were tyne With an eyelash plucked from his mother's eyne. His shoes were made of a mouse's skin, Tanned with the soft furry hair within.
Dressed in this guise he looked the prettiest little fellow ever seen, and the Fairy Queen kissed him over and over again, and gave him the name of Tom Thumb.
Now as he grew older—though, mind you, he never grew bigger—he was so full of antics and tricks that he was for ever getting into trouble. Once his mother was making a batter pudding, and Tom, wanting to see how it was made, climbed up to the edge of the bowl. His mother was so busy beating the batter that she didn't notice him; and when his foot slipped, and he plumped head and ears into the bowl, she just went on beating until the batter was light enough. Then she put it into the pudding-cloth and set it on the fire to boil.
Now the batter had so filled poor Tom's mouth that he couldn't cry; but no sooner did he feel the hot water than he began to struggle and kick so much that the pudding bobbed up and down, and jumped about in such strange fashion that the ploughman's wife thought it was bewitched, and in a great fright flung it to the door.
Here a poor tinker passing by picked it up and put it in his wallet. But by this time Tom had got his mouth clear of the batter, and he began holloaing, and making such a to-do, that the tinker, even more frightened than Tom's mother had been, threw the pudding in the road, and ran away as fast as he could run. Luckily for Tom, this second fall broke the pudding string and he was able to creep out, all covered with half-cooked batter, and make his way home, where his mother, distressed to see her little dear in such a woeful state, put him into a teacup of water to clean him, and then tucked him up in bed.
Another time Tom's mother went to milk her red cow in the meadow and took Tom with her, for she was ever afraid lest he should fall into mischief when left alone. Now the wind was high, and fearful lest he should be blown away, she tied him to a thistle-head with one of her own long hairs, and then began to milk. But the red cow, nosing about for something to do while she was being milked, as all cows will, spied Tom's oak-leaf hat, and thinking it looked good, curled its tongue round the thistle-stalk and—
There was Tom dodging the cow's teeth, and roaring as loud as he could:
"Mother! Mother! Help! Help!"
"Lawks-a-mercy-me," cried his mother, "where's the child got to now? Where are you, you bad boy?"
"Here!" roared Tom, "in the red cow's mouth!"
With that his mother began to weep and wail, not knowing what else to do; and Tom, hearing her, roared louder than ever. Whereat the red cow, alarmed—and no wonder!—at the dreadful noise in her throat, opened her mouth, and Tom dropped out, luckily into his mother's apron; otherwise he would have been badly hurt falling so far.
Adventures like these were not Tom's fault. He could not help being so small, but he got into dreadful trouble once for which he was entirely to blame. This is what happened. He loved playing cherry-stones with the big boys, and when he had lost all his own he would creep unbeknownst into the other players' pockets or bags, and make off with cherry-stones enough and galore to carry on the game!
Now one day it so happened that one of the boys saw Master Tom on the point of coming out of a bag with a whole fistful of cherry-stones. So he just drew the string of the bag tight.
"Ha! ha! Mr. Thomas Thumb," says he jeeringly, "so you were going to pinch my cherry-stones, were you? Well! you shall have more of them than you like." And with that he gave the cherry-stone bag such a hearty shake that all Tom's body and legs were sadly bruised black and blue; nor was he let out till he had promised never to steal cherry-stones again.
So the years passed, and when Tom was a lad, still no bigger than a thumb, his father thought he might begin to make himself useful. So he made him a whip out of a barley straw, and set him to drive the cattle home. But Tom, in trying to climb a furrow's ridge—which to him, of course, was a steep hill—slipped down and lay half stunned, so that a raven, happening to fly over, thought he was a frog, and picked him up intending to eat him. Not relishing the morsel, however, the bird dropped him above the battlements of a big castle that stood close to the sea. Now the castle belonged to one Grumbo, an ill-tempered giant who happened to be taking the air on the roof of his tower. And when Tom dropped on his bald pate the giant put up his great hand to catch what he thought was an impudent fly, and finding something that smelt man's meat, he just swallowed the little fellow as he would have swallowed a pill!
He began, however, to repent very soon, for Tom kicked and struggled in the giant's inside as he had done in the red cow's throat until the giant felt quite squeamish, and finally got rid of Tom by being sick over the battlements into the sea.
And here, doubtless, would have been Tom Thumb's end by drowning, had not a big fish, thinking that he was a shrimp, rushed at him and gulped him down!
Now by good chance some fishermen were standing by with their nets, and when they drew them in, the fish that had swallowed Tom was one of the haul. Being a very fine fish it was sent to the Court kitchen, where, when the fish was opened, out popped Tom on the dresser, as spry as spry, to the astonishment of the cook and the scullions! Never had such a mite of a man been seen, while his quips and pranks kept the whole buttery in roars of laughter. What is more, he soon became the favourite of the whole Court, and when the King went out a-riding Tom sat in the Royal waistcoat pocket ready to amuse Royalty and the Knights of the Round Table.
After a while, however, Tom wearied to see his parents again; so the King gave him leave to go home and take with him as much money as he could carry. Tom therefore chose a threepenny bit, and putting it into a purse made of a water bubble, lifted it with difficulty on to his back, and trudged away to his father's house, which was some half a mile distant.
It took him two days and two nights to cover the ground, and he was fair outwearied by his heavy burden ere he reached home. However, his mother put him to rest in a walnut shell by the fire and gave him a whole hazel nut to eat; which, sad to say, disagreed with him dreadfully. However, he recovered in some measure, but had grown so thin and light that to save him the trouble of walking back to the Court, his mother tied him to a dandelion-clock, and as there was a high wind, away he went as if on wings. Unfortunately, however, just as he was flying low in order to alight, the Court cook, an ill-natured fellow, was coming across the palace yard with a bowl of hot furmenty for the King's supper. Now Tom was unskilled in the handling of dandelion horses, so what should happen but that he rode straight into the furmenty, spilt the half of it, and splashed the other half, scalding hot, into the cook's face.
He was in a fine rage, and going straight to King Arthur said that Tom, at his old antics, had done it on purpose.
Now the King's favourite dish was hot furmenty; so he also fell into a fine rage and ordered Tom to be tried for high treason. He was therefore imprisoned in a mouse-trap, where he remained for several days tormented by a cat, who, thinking him some new kind of mouse, spent its time in sparring at him through the bars. At the end of a week, however, King Arthur, having recovered the loss of the furmenty, sent for Tom and once more received him into favour. After this Tom's life was happy and successful. He became so renowned for his dexterity and wonderful activity, that he was knighted, by the King under the name of Sir Thomas Thumb, and as his clothes, what with the batter and the furmenty, to say nothing of the insides of giants and fishes, had become somewhat shabby, His Majesty ordered him a new suit of clothes fit for a mounted knight to wear. He also gave him a beautiful prancing grey mouse as a charger.
It was certainly very diverting to see Tom dressed up to the nines, and as proud as Punch.
Of butterflies' wings his shirt was made, His boots of chicken hide, And by a nimble fairy blade, All learned in the tailoring trade, His coat was well supplied. A needle dangled at his side, And thus attired in stately pride A dapper mouse he used to ride.
In truth the King and all the Knights of the Round Table were ready to expire with laughter at Tom on his fine curveting steed.
But one day, as the hunt was passing a farm-house, a big cat, lurking about, made one spring and carried both Tom and the mouse up a tree. Nothing daunted, Tom boldly drew his needle sword and attacked the enemy with such fierceness that she let her prey fall. Luckily one of the nobles caught the little fellow in his cap, otherwise he must have been killed by the fall. As it was he became very ill, and the doctor almost despaired of his life. However, his friend and guardian, the Queen of the Fairies, arrived in a chariot drawn by flying mice, and then and there carried Tom back with her to Fairyland, where, amongst folk of his own size, he, after a time, recovered. But time runs swiftly in Fairyland, and when Tom Thumb returned to Court he was surprised to find that his father and mother and nearly all his old friends were dead, and that King Thunstone reigned in King Arthur's place. So every one was astonished at his size, and carried him as a curiosity to the Audience Hall.
"Who art thou, mannikin?" asked King Thunstone. "Whence dost come? And where dost live?"
To which Tom replied with a bow:
"My name is well known. From the Fairies I come. When King Arthur shone, This Court was my home. By him I was knighted, In me he delighted —Your servant—Sir Thomas Thumb."
This address so pleased His Majesty that he ordered a little golden chair to be made, so that Tom might sit beside him at table. Also a little palace of gold, but a span high, with doors a bare inch wide, in which the little fellow might take his ease.
Now King Thunstone's Queen was a very jealous woman, and could not bear to see such honours showered on the little fellow; so she up and told the King all sorts of bad tales about his favourite; amongst others, that he had been saucy and rude to her.
Whereupon the King sent for Tom; but forewarned is forearmed, and knowing by bitter experience the danger of royal displeasure, Tom hid himself in an empty snail-shell, where he lay till he was nigh starved. Then seeing a fine large butterfly on a dandelion close by, he climbed up and managed to get astride it. No sooner had he gained his seat than the butterfly was off, hovering from tree to tree, from flower to flower.
At last the royal gardener saw it and gave chase, then the nobles joined in the hunt, even the King himself, and finally the Queen, who forgot her anger in the merriment. Hither and thither they ran, trying in vain to catch the pair, and almost expiring with laughter, until poor Tom, dizzy with so much fluttering, and doubling, and flittering, fell from his seat into a watering-pot, where he was nearly drowned.
So they all agreed he must be forgiven, because he had afforded them so much amusement.
Thus Tom was once more in favour; but he did not live long to enjoy his good luck, for a spider one day attacked him, and though he fought well, the creature's poisonous breath proved too much for him; he fell dead on the ground where he stood, and the spider soon sucked every drop of his blood.
Thus ended Sir Thomas Thumb; but the King and the Court were so sorry at the loss of their little favourite that they went into mourning for him. And they put a fine white marble monument over his grave whereon was carven the following epitaph:
Here lyes Tom Thumb, King Arthur's Knight, Who died by a spider's fell despite. He was well known in Arthur's Court, Where he afforded gallant sport. He rode at tilt and tournament, And on a mouse a-hunting went. Alive he filled the Court with mirth, His death to sadness must give birth. So wipe your eyes and shake your head, And say, "Alas, Tom Thumb is dead!"
One day Henny-penny was picking up corn in the rickyard when—whack!—an acorn hit her upon the head. "Goodness gracious me!" said Henny-penny, "the sky's a-going to fall; I must go and tell the King."
So she went along, and she went along, and she went along, till she met Cocky-locky. "Where are you going, Henny-penny?" says Cocky-locky. "Oh! I'm going to tell the King the sky's a-falling," says Henny-penny. "May I come with you?" says Cocky-locky. "Certainly," says Henny-penny. So Henny-penny and Cocky-locky went to tell the King the sky was falling.
They went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met Ducky-daddles. "Where are you going to, Henny-penny and Cocky-locky?" says Ducky-daddles. "Oh! we're going to tell the King the sky's a-falling," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. "May I come with you?" says Ducky-daddles. "Certainly," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles went to tell the King the sky was a-falling.
So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met Goosey-poosey. "Where are you going to, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles?" said Goosey-poosey. "Oh! we're going to tell the King the sky's a-falling," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky and Ducky-daddles. "May I come with you?" said Goosey-poosey. "Certainly," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey went to tell the King the sky was a-falling.
So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met Turkey-lurkey. "Where are you going, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?" says Turkey-lurkey. "Oh! we're going to tell the King the sky's a-falling," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey. "May I come with you, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?" said Turkey-lurkey. "Oh, certainly, Turkey-lurkey," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey all went to tell the King the sky was a-falling.
So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met Foxy-woxy, and Foxy-woxy said to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey, "Where are you going, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey?" And Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey said to Foxy-woxy, "We're going to tell the King the sky's a-falling." "Oh! but this is not the way to the King, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey," says Foxy-woxy; "I know the proper way; shall I show it you?" "Oh, certainly, Foxy-woxy," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, Turkey-lurkey, and Foxy-woxy all went to tell the King the sky was a-falling. So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they came to a narrow and dark hole. Now this was the door of Foxy-woxy's burrow. But Foxy-woxy said to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey, "This is the short cut to the King's palace: you'll soon get there if you follow me. I will go first and you come after, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey." "Why, of course, certainly, without doubt, why not?" said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey.
So Foxy-woxy went into his burrow, and he didn't go very far but turned round to wait for Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. Now Turkey-lurkey was the first to go through the dark hole into the burrow. He hadn't got far when—
Foxy-woxy snapped off Turkey-lurkey's head and threw his body over his left shoulder. Then Goosey-poosey went in, and—
Off went her head and Goosey-poosey was thrown beside Turkey-lurkey. Then Ducky-daddles waddled down, and—
Foxy-woxy had snapped off Ducky-daddles' head and Ducky-daddles was thrown alongside Turkey-lurkey and Goosey-poosey. Then Cocky-locky strutted down into the burrow, and he hadn't gone far when—
But Cocky-locky will always crow whether you want him to do so or not, and so he had just time for one "Cock-a-doo-dle d—" before he went to join Turkey-lurkey, Goosey-poosey, and Ducky-daddles over Foxy-woxy's shoulders.
Now when Henny-penny, who had just got into the dark burrow, heard Cocky-locky crow, she said to herself:
"My goodness! it must be dawn. Time for me to lay my egg."
So she turned round and bustled off to her nest; so she escaped, but she never told the King the sky was falling!
THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL
Once upon a time there reigned a King in Colchester, valiant, strong, wise, famous as a good ruler.
But in the midst of his glory his dear Queen died, leaving him with a daughter just touching woman's estate; and this maiden was renowned, far and wide, for beauty, kindness, grace. Now strange things happen, and the King of Colchester, hearing of a lady who had immense riches, had a mind to marry her, though she was old, ugly, hook-nosed, and ill-tempered; and though she was, furthermore, possessed of a daughter as ugly as herself. None could give the reason why, but only a few weeks after the death of his dear Queen, the King brought this loathly bride to Court, and married her with great pomp and festivities. Now the very first thing she did was to poison the King's mind against his own beautiful, kind, gracious daughter, of whom, naturally, the ugly Queen and her ugly daughter were dreadfully jealous.
Now when the young Princess found that even her father had turned against her, she grew weary of Court life, and longed to get away from it; so, one day, happening to meet the King alone in the garden, she went down on her knees, and begged and prayed him to give her some help, and let her go out into the world to seek her fortune. To this the King agreed, and told his consort to fit the girl out for her enterprise in proper fashion. But the jealous woman only gave her a canvas bag of brown bread and hard cheese, with a bottle of small-beer.
Though this was but a pitiful dowry for a King's daughter, the Princess was too proud to complain; so she took it, returned her thanks, and set off on her journey through woods and forests, by rivers and lakes, over mountain and valley.
At last she came to a cave at the mouth of which, on a stone, sate an old, old man with a white beard.
"Good morrow, fair damsel," he said; "whither away so fast?"
"Reverend father," replies she, "I go to seek my fortune."
"And what hast thou for dowry, fair damsel," said he, "in thy bag and bottle?"
"Bread and cheese and small-beer, father," says she, smiling. "Will it please you to partake of either?"
"With all my heart," says he, and when she pulled out her provisions he ate them nearly all. But once again she made no complaint, but bade him eat what he needed, and welcome.
Now when he had finished he gave her many thanks, and said:
"For your beauty, and your kindness, and your grace, take this wand. There is a thick thorny hedge before you which seems impassable. But strike it thrice with this wand, saying each time, 'Please, hedge, let me through,' and it will open a pathway for you. Then, when you come to a well, sit down on the brink of it; do not be surprised at anything you may see, but, whatever you are asked to do, that do!"
So saying the old man went into the cave, and she went on her way. After a while she came to a high, thick thorny hedge; but when she struck it three times with the wand, saying, "Please, hedge, let me through," it opened a wide pathway for her. So she came to the well, on the brink of which she sate down, and no sooner had she done so, than a golden head without any body came up through the water, singing as it came:
"Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."
"Certainly," she said, pulling out her silver comb. Then, placing the head on her lap, she began to comb the golden hair. When she had combed it, she lifted the golden head softly, and laid it on a primrose bank to dry. No sooner had she done this than another golden head appeared, singing as it came:
"Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."
"Certainly," says she, and after combing the golden hair, placed the golden head softly on the primrose bank, beside the first one.
Then came a third head out of the well, and it said the same thing:
"Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."
"With all my heart," says she graciously, and after taking the head on her lap, and combing its golden hair with her silver comb, there were the three golden heads in a row on the primrose bank. And she sate down to rest herself and looked at them, they were so quaint and pretty; and as she rested she cheerfully ate and drank the meagre portion of the brown bread, hard cheese, and small-beer which the old man had left to her; for, though she was a king's daughter, she was too proud to complain.
Then the first head spoke. "Brothers, what shall we weird for this damsel who has been so gracious unto us? I weird her to be so beautiful that she shall charm every one she meets."
"And I," said the second head, "weird her a voice that shall exceed the nightingale's in sweetness."
"And I," said the third head, "weird her to be so fortunate that she shall marry the greatest King that reigns."
"Thank you with all my heart," says she; "but don't you think I had better put you back in the well before I go on? Remember you are golden, and the passers-by might steal you."
To this they agreed; so she put them back. And when they had thanked her for her kind thought and said good-bye, she went on her journey.
Now she had not travelled far before she came to a forest where the King of the country was hunting with his nobles, and as the gay cavalcade passed down the glade she stood back to avoid them; but the King caught sight of her, and drew up his horse, fairly amazed at her beauty.
"Fair maid," he said, "who art thou, and whither goest thou through the forest thus alone?"
"I am the King of Colchester's daughter, and I go to seek my fortune," says she, and her voice was sweeter than the nightingale's.
Then the King jumped from his horse, being so struck by her that he felt it would be impossible to live without her, and falling on his knee begged and prayed her to marry him without delay.
And he begged and prayed so well that at last she consented. So, with all courtesy, he mounted her on his horse behind him, and commanding the hunt to follow, he returned to his palace, where the wedding festivities took place with all possible pomp and merriment. Then, ordering out the royal chariot, the happy pair started to pay the King of Colchester a bridal visit: and you may imagine the surprise and delight with which, after so short an absence, the people of Colchester saw their beloved, beautiful, kind, and gracious princess return in a chariot all gemmed with gold, as the bride of the most powerful King in the world. The bells rang out, flags flew, drums beat, the people huzzaed, and all was gladness, save for the ugly Queen and her ugly daughter, who were ready to burst with envy and malice; for, see you, the despised maiden was now above them both, and went before them at every Court ceremonial.
So, after the visit was ended, and the young King and his bride had gone back to their own country, there to live happily ever after, the ugly ill-natured princess said to her mother, the ugly Queen:
"I also will go into the world and seek my fortune. If that drab of a girl with her mincing ways got so much, what may I not get?"
So her mother agreed, and furnished her forth with silken dresses and furs, and gave her as provisions sugar, almonds, and sweetmeats of every variety, besides a large flagon of Malaga sack. Altogether a right royal dowry.
Armed with these she set forth, following the same road as her step-sister. Thus she soon came upon the old man with a white beard, who was seated on a stone by the mouth of a cave.
"Good morrow," says he. "Whither away so fast?"
"What's that to you, old man?" she replied rudely.
"And what hast thou for dowry in bag and bottle?" he asked quietly.
"Good things with which you shall not be troubled," she answered pertly.
"Wilt thou not spare an old man something?" he said.
Then she laughed. "Not a bite, not a sup, lest they should choke you: though that would be small matter to me," she replied, with a toss of her head.
"Then ill luck go with thee," remarked the old man as he rose and went into the cave.
So she went on her way, and after a time came to the thick thorny hedge, and seeing what she thought was a gap in it, she tried to pass through; but no sooner had she got well into the middle of the hedge than the thorns closed in around her so that she was all scratched and torn before she won her way. Thus, streaming with blood, she went on to the well, and seeing water, sate on the brink intending to cleanse herself. But just as she dipped her hands, up came a golden head singing as it came: