THE GOLDEN GOOSE
There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was considered very silly, and everybody used to mock him and make fun of him. The eldest son wanted to go and cut wood in the forest, and before he left home his mother prepared beautiful pancakes and a bottle of wine for him to take with him, so that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.
As he entered the forest he met a gray old man, who bade him "Good-morning," and said: "Give me a little piece of cake out of your basket and a drop of wine out of your bottle, for I am very hungry and thirsty."
But the clever son replied: "What, give you my cake and my wine! Why, if I did, I should have none for myself. Not I, indeed, so take yourself off!" and he left the man standing and went on.
The young man began cutting down a tree, but it was not long before he made a false stroke: the axe slipped and cut his arm so badly that he was obliged to go home and have it bound up. Now, this false stroke was caused by the little gray old man.
Next day the second son went into the forest to cut wood, and his mother gave him a cake and a bottle of wine. As he entered the wood the same little old man met him, and begged for a piece of cake and a drop of wine. But the second son answered rudely: "What I might give to you I shall want myself, so be off."
Then he left the little old man standing in the road, and walked on. His punishment soon came; he had scarcely given two strokes on a tree with his axe, when he hit his leg such a terrible blow that he was obliged to limp home in great pain.
Then the stupid son said to his father, "Let me go for once and cut wood in the forest."
But his father said: "No, your brothers have been hurt already, and it would be worse for you, who don't understand wood-cutting."
The boy, however, begged so hard to be allowed to go that his father said: "There, get along with you; you will buy your experience very dearly, I expect."
His mother, however, gave him a cake which had been made with water and baked in the ashes, and a bottle of sour beer.
When he reached the wood the very same little old man met him, and after greeting him kindly, said: "Give me a little of your cake and a drop from your bottle, for I am very hungry and thirsty."
"Oh," replied the simple youth, "I have only a cake, which has been baked in the ashes, and some sour beer; but you are welcome to a share of it. Let us sit down, and eat and drink together."
So they seated themselves, and, lo and behold, when the youth opened his basket, the cake had been turned into a beautiful cake, and the sour beer into wine. After they had eaten and drank enough, the little old man said: "Because you have been kind-hearted, and shared your dinner with me, I will make you in future lucky in all you undertake. There stands an old tree; cut it down, and you will find something good at the root."
Then the old man said "Farewell," and left him.
The youth set to work, and very soon succeeded in felling the tree, when he found sitting at the roots a goose, whose feathers were of pure gold. He took it up, and, instead of going home, carried it with him to an inn at a little distance, where he intended to pass the night.
The landlord had three daughters, who looked at the goose with envious eyes. They had never seen such a wonderful bird, and longed to have at least one of its feathers. "Ah," thought the eldest, "I shall soon have an opportunity to pluck one of them;" and so it happened, for not long after the young man left the room. She instantly went up to the bird and took hold of its wing, but as she did so, the finger and thumb remained and stuck fast. In a short time after the second sister came in with the full expectation of gaining a golden feather, but as she touched her sister to move her from the bird, her hand stuck fast to her sister's dress, and neither of them could free herself. At last, in came the third sister with the same intention. "Keep away, keep away!" screamed the other two; "in heaven's name keep away!"
But she could not imagine why she should keep away. If they were near the golden bird, why should not she be there? So she made a spring forward and touched her second sister, and immediately she also was made a prisoner, and in this position they were obliged to remain by the goose all night.
In the morning the young man came in, took the goose on his arm, and went away without troubling himself about the three girls, who were following close behind him. And as he walked quickly, they were obliged to run one behind the other, left or right of him, just as he was inclined to go.
In the middle of a field they were met by the parson of the parish, who looked with wonder at the procession as it came near him. "Shame on you!" he cried out. "What are you about, you bold-faced hussies, running after a young man in that way through the fields? Go home, all of you."
He placed his hand on the youngest to pull her back, but the moment he touched her he also became fixed, and was obliged to follow and run like the rest. In a few minutes the clerk met them, and when he saw the parson runing after the girls, he wondered greatly, and cried out, "Halloa, master parson, where are you running in such haste? Have you forgotten that there is a christening to-day?" And as the procession did not stop, he ran after it, and seized the parson's gown.
In a moment he found that his hand was fixed, and he also had to run like the rest. And now there were five trotting along, one behind the other. Presently two peasants came by with their sickles from the field. The parson called out to them, and begged them to come and release him and the clerk. Hardly had they touched the clerk when they also stuck fast as the others, and the simpleton with his golden goose travelled with the seven.
After awhile they came to a city in which reigned a king who had a daughter of such a melancholy disposition that no one could make her laugh; therefore he issued a decree that whoever would make the princess laugh should have her in marriage.
Now, when the simple youth heard this, he ran before her, and the whole seven trotted after him. The sight was so ridiculous that the moment the princess saw it she burst into a violent fit of laughter and they thought she would never leave off.
After this, the youth went to the king, and demanded his daughter in marriage, according to the king's decree; but his majesty did not quite like to have the young man for a son-in-law, so he said that, before he could consent to the marriage, the youth must bring him a man who could drink all the wine in the king's cellar.
The simpleton went into the forest, for he thought, "If anyone can help me, it is the little gray man." When he arrived at the spot where he had cut down the tree, there stood a man with a very miserable face.
The youth asked him why he looked so sorrowful.
"Oh," he exclaimed, "I suffer such dreadful thirst that nothing seems able to quench it; and cold water I cannot endure. I have emptied a cask of wine already, but it was just like a drop of water on a hot stone."
"I can help you," cried the young man; "come with me, and you shall have your fill, I promise you."
Upon this he led the man into the king's cellar, where he opened the casks one after another, and drank and drank till his back ached; and before the day closed he had quite emptied the king's cellar.
Again the young man asked for his bride, but the king was annoyed at the thought of giving his daughter to such a common fellow, and to get rid of him he made another condition. He said that no man should have his daughter who could not find someone able to eat up a whole mountain of bread.
Away went the simpleton to the forest as before, and there in the same place sat a man binding himself round tightly with a belt, and making the most horrible faces. As the youth approached, he cried, "I have eaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but it has not satisfied me a bit; I am as hungry as ever, and my stomach feels so empty that I am obliged to bind it round tightly, or I should die of hunger."
The simpleton could hardly contain himself for joy when he heard this. "Get up," he exclaimed, "and come with me, and I will give you plenty to eat, I'll warrant."
So he led him to the king's court, where his majesty had ordered all the flour in the kingdom to be made into bread, and piled up in a huge mountain. The hungry man placed himself before the bread, and began to eat, and before evening the whole pile had disappeared.
Then the simpleton went a third time to the king, and asked for his bride, but the king made several excuses, and at last said that if he could bring him a ship that would travel as well by land as by water, then he should, without any further conditions, marry his daughter.
The youth went at once straight to the forest, and saw the same old gray man to whom he had given his cake. "Ah," he said, as the youth approached, "it was I who sent the men to eat and drink, and I will also give you a ship that can travel by land or by sea, because when you thought I was poor you were kind-hearted, and gave me food and drink."
The youth took the ship, and when the king saw it he was quite surprised; but he could not any longer refuse to give him his daughter in marriage. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp, and after the king's death the simple wood-cutter inherited the whole kingdom, and lived happily with his wife.
THE TWELVE BROTHERS
There were once a king and queen who had twelve children—all boys. Now, one day the king told his wife that if a daughter should be born, all the sons must die—that their sister alone might inherit his kingdom and riches.
So the king had twelve coffins made, which were filled with shavings, and in each was the little pillow for the dead. He had them locked up in a private room, the key of which he gave to the queen, praying her not to speak of it to anyone. But the poor mother was so unhappy that she wept for a whole day, and looked so sad that her youngest son noticed it.
He had the Bible name of Benjamin, and was always with his mother.
"Dear mother," he said, "why are you so sorrowful?"
"My child, I may not tell you," she replied; but the boy allowed her no rest till she unlocked the door of the private room, and showed him the twelve coffins filled with shavings.
"Dearest Benjamin," she said, "these coffins are for you and your brothers; for if you should ever have a little sister, you will all die, and be buried in them."
She wept bitterly as she told him, but her son comforted her, and said, "Do not weep, dear mother. We will take care of ourselves, and go far away."
Then she took courage, and said, "Yes, go away with your eleven brothers, and remain in the forest; and let one climb a tree, from whence he will be able to see the tower of the castle; If I should have a son, a white flag shall be hoisted, and then you may return home; but if you see a red flag, you will know it is a girl, and then hasten away as fast as you can, and may Heaven protect you! Every night I will pray for you, that you may not suffer from the cold in winter or the heat in summer."
Then she blessed all her sons, and they went away into the forest, while each in turn mounted a high tree daily, to watch for the flag on the tower.
Eleven days passed, and it was Benjamin's turn to watch. He saw the flag hoisted, and it was red—the signal that they must die. The brothers were angry, and said, "Shall we suffer death on account of a maiden? When we find one we will kill her, to avenge ourselves."
They went still farther into the forest, and came upon a most pleasant little cottage, which was uninhabited. "We will make this our home," they said; "and Benjamin, as you are the youngest and weakest, you shall stay at home and keep house, while we go out and procure food."
So they wandered about the forest, shooting hares, wild rabbits, pigeons and other birds, which they brought to Benjamin to prepare for food. In this cottage they lived for ten years happily together, so that the time passed quickly.
Their little sister was growing a great girl. She had a sweet disposition, and was very beautiful to look upon. She wore rich clothes, and a golden star on her forehead.
One day, when she was about ten years old, she discovered in her mother's wardrobe twelve shirts. "Mother," she exclaimed, "whose shirts are these? They are much too small for my father."
The queen sighed as she replied, "Dear child, these shirts belong to your twelve brothers."
"Twelve brothers!" cried the little maiden. "Where are they? I have not even heard of them."
"Heaven knows where they are," was the reply; "but they are wandering about the world somewhere." Then the queen took her little daughter to the private room in the castle, and showed her the twelve coffins which had been prepared for her brothers, and related to her, with many tears, why they had left home.
"Dear mother," said the child, "do not weep. I will go and seek my brothers." So she took the twelve shirts with her, and wandered away into the forest.
She walked for a whole day, and in the evening came to a cottage, stepped in, and found a young boy, who stared with astonishment at seeing a beautiful little girl dressed in rich clothing and wearing a golden star on her forehead.
At last he said, "Who are you, and what do you want?"
"I am a king's daughter," she said, "and I seek my twelve brothers, and I intend to search for them till I find them;" and she showed him their shirts.
Then Benjamin knew that she was his sister, and said, "I am your youngest brother, Benjamin." Then she wept for joy. They kissed each other with deep affection, and were for a time very happy.
At last Benjamin said, "Dear sister, we have made a vow that the first young maiden we meet should die, because through a maiden we have lost our kingly rights."
"I would willingly die," she said, "if by so doing I could restore my brothers to their rightful possessions."
"No, you shall not die," he replied. "Hide yourself behind this tub until our eleven brothers come home; then I will make an agreement with them."
At night the brothers returned from hunting, and the supper was ready. While they sat at table, one of them said, "Well, Benjamin, have you any news?"
"Perhaps I have," he said, "although it seems strange that I, who stay at home, should know more than you, who have been out."
"Well, tell us your news," said one. So he said:
"I will tell you if you will make one promise."
"Yes, yes!" they all cried. "What is it?"
"Well, then, promise me that the first maiden you meet with in the forest shall not die."
"Yes, yes!" said they all; "she shall have mercy, but tell us."
"Then," said the youngest brother, "our sister is here;" and, rising, he lifted the tub, and the king's daughter came forth in her royal robes and with a golden star on her forehead, and looking so fair and delicate and beautiful that the brothers were full of joy, and kissed and embraced her with the fondest affection.
She stayed with Benjamin, and helped him in keeping the house clean and cooking the game which the others brought home. Everything was so nicely managed now and with so much order, the curtains and the quilts were beautifully white, and the dinners cooked so well that the brothers were always contented, and lived in great unity with their little sister.
There was a pretty garden around the house in which they lived, and one day, when they were all at home dining together, and enjoying themselves, the maiden went out into the garden to gather them some flowers.
She had tended twelve lilies with great care, and they were now in such splendid bloom that she determined to pluck them for her brothers, to please them.
But the moment she gathered the lilies, her twelve brothers were changed into twelve ravens, and flew away over the trees of the forest, while the charming house and garden vanished from her sight. Now was the poor little maiden left all alone in the wild wood, and knew not what to do; but on turning round she saw a curious old woman standing near, who said to her, "My child, what hast thou done? Why didst thou not leave those white flowers to grow on their stems? They were thy twelve brothers, and now they will always remain ravens."
"Is there no way to set them free?" asked the maiden, weeping.
"No way in the world," she replied, "but one, and that is far too difficult for thee to perform; yet it would break the spell and set them free. Hast thou firmness enough to remain dumb seven years, and not speak to anyone, or even laugh? for if ever you utter a single word, or fail only once in the seven years, all you have done before will be vain, and at this one word your brothers will die."
"Yes," said the maiden, "I can do this to set my brothers free."
Then the maiden climbed into a tree, and, seating herself in the branches, began to knit.
She remained here, living on the fruit that grew on the tree, and without laughing or uttering a word.
As she sat in her tree, the king, who was hunting, had a favourite hound, who very soon discovered her, ran to the tree on which the maiden sat, sprang up to it, and barked at her violently.
The king came nearer, and saw the beautiful king's daughter with the golden star on her forehead. He was so struck with her beauty that he begged her to come down, and asked her to be his bride. She did not speak a word, but merely nodded her head. Then the king himself climbed up into the tree, and bringing her down, seated her on his own horse and galloped away with her to his home.
The marriage was soon after celebrated with great pomp, but the bride neither spoke nor laughed.
When they had lived happily together for some years, the king's mother, a wicked woman, began to raise evil reports about the queen, and said to the king, "It is some beggar girl you have picked up. Who can tell what wicked tricks she practises. She can't help being dumb, but why does she never laugh? unless she has a guilty conscience." The king at first would listen to none of these suspicions, but she urged him so long, and accused the queen of such wicked conduct, that at last he condemned her to be burnt to death.
Now in the court-yard a great fire was kindled, and the king stood weeping at a window overlooking the court of the palace, for he still loved her dearly. He saw her brought forth and tied to the stake; the fire kindled, and the flames with their forked tongues were creeping towards her, when at the last moment the seven years were past, and suddenly a rustling noise of wings was heard in the air; twelve black ravens alighted on the earth and instantly assumed their own forms—they were the brothers of the queen.
They tore down the pile and extinguished the fire, set their sister free, and embraced her tenderly. The queen, who was now able to speak, told the king why she had been dumb and had never laughed.
The delight of the king was only equalled by his anger against the wicked witch, who was brought to justice and ordered to be thrown into a vat of oil full of poisonous snakes, where she died a dreadful death.
THE FAIR ONE WITH THE GOLDEN LOCKS
There was once a most beautiful and amiable princess who was called "The Fair One with Locks of Gold," for her hair shone brighter than gold, and flowed in curls down to her feet, her head was always encircled by a wreath of beautiful flowers, and pearls and diamonds.
A handsome, rich, young prince, whose territories joined to hers, was deeply in love with the reports he heard of her, and sent to demand her in marriage. The ambassador sent with proposals was most sumptuously attired, and surrounded by lackeys on beautiful horses, as well as charged with every kind of compliment, from the anxious prince, who hoped he would bring the princess back with him; but whether it was that she was not that day in a good humour, or that she did not like the speeches made by the ambassador, I don't know, but she returned thanks to his master for the honour he intended her, and said she had no inclination to marry. When the ambassador arrived at the king's chief city, where he was expected with great impatience, the people were extremely afflicted to see him return without the Fair One with the Locks of Gold; and the king wept like a child. There was a youth at court whose beauty outshone the sun, the gracefulness of whose person was not to be equalled, and for his gracefulness and wit, he was called Avenant: the king loved him, and indeed every body except the envious. Avenant being one day in company with some persons, inconsiderately said, "If the king had sent me to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, I dare say I could have prevailed on her to return with me." These enviers of Avenant's prosperity immediately ran open mouthed to the king, saying, "Sir sir, what does your majesty think Avenant says? He boasts that if you had sent him to the Fair One with the Golden Hair, he could have brought her with him; which shows he is so vain as to think himself handsomer than your majesty and that her love for him would have made her follow him wherever he went." This put the king into a violent rage. "What!" said he, "does this youngster make a jest at my misfortune, and pretend to set himself above me? Go and put him immediately in my great tower, and there let him starve to death." The king's guards went and seized Avenant who thought no more of what he had said, dragged him to prison, and used him in the most cruel manner.
One day when he was almost quite spent, he said to himself, fetching a deep sigh, "Wherein can I have offended the king? He has not a more faithful subject than myself; nor have I ever done any thing to displease him." The king happened at that time to pass by the tower; and stopped to hear him, notwithstanding the persuasions of those that were with him; "Hold your peace," replied the king, "and let me hear him out." Which having done, and being greatly moved by his sufferings, he opened the door of the tower, and called him by his name. Upon which Avenant came forth in a sad condition, and, throwing himself at the king's feet, "What have I done, sir," said he, "that your majesty should use me thus severely?" "Thou hast ridiculed me and my ambassador," replied the king; "and hast said, that if I had sent thee to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, thou couldst have brought her with thee." "It is true, sir," replied Avenant, "for I would have so thoroughly convinced her of your transcending qualities, that it should not have been in her power to have denied me; and this, surely, I said in the name of your majesty." The king found in reality he had done no injury; so, he took him away with him, repenting heartily of the wrong he had done him. After having given him an excellent supper, the king sent for him into his cabinet. "Avenant," said he, "I still love the Fair One with Locks of Gold; I have a mind to send thee to her, to try whether thou canst succeed," Avenant replied, he was ready to obey his majesty in all things, and would depart the very next morning. "Hold," said the king, "I will provide thee first with a most sumptuous equipage." "There is no necessity for that," answered Avenant; "I need only a good horse and your letters of credence." Upon this the king embraced him; being overjoyed to see him so soon ready.
It was upon a Monday morning that he took leave of the king and his friends. Being on his journey by break of day, and entering into a spacious meadow, a fine thought came into his head; he alighted immediately, and seated himself by the bank of a little stream that watered one side of the meadow, and wrote the sentiment down in his pocket book. After he had done writing, he looked about him every way, being charmed with the beauties of the place, and suddenly perceived a large gilded carp, which stirred a little, and that was all it could do, for having attempted to catch some little flies, it had leaped so far out of the water, as to throw itself upon the grass, where it was almost dead, not being able to recover its natural element. Avenant took pity on the poor creature, and though it was a fish-day, and he might have carried it away for his dinner, he took it up, and gently put it again into the river, where the carp, feeling the refreshing coolness of the water, began to rejoice, and sunk to the bottom; but soon rising up again, brisk and gay, to the side of the river; "Avenant," said the carp, "I thank you for the kindness you have done me; had it not been for you, I had died; but you have saved my life, and I will reward you." After this short compliment, the carp darted itself to the bottom of the water, leaving Avenant not a little surprised at its wit and great civility.
Another day, as he was pursuing his journey, he saw a crow in great distress: being pursued by a huge eagle, he took his bow, which he always carried abroad with him, and aiming at the eagle, let fly an arrow, which pierced him through the body, so that he fell down dead; which the crow seeing, came in an ecstasy of joy, and perched upon a tree. "Avenant," said the crow, "you have been extremely generous to succour me, who am but a poor wretched crow; but I am not ungrateful and will do you as good a turn." Avenant admired the wit of the crow, and continuing his journey, he entered into a wood so early one morning, that he could scarcely see his way, where he heard an owl crying out like an owl in despair. So looking about every where, he at length came to a place where certain fowlers had spread their nets in the night-time to catch little birds. "What pity 'tis," said he, "men are only made to torment one another, or else to persecute poor animals who never do them any harm!" So saying, he drew his knife, cut the cords, and set the owl at liberty; who, before he took wing, said, "Avenant, the fowlers are coming, I should have been taken, and must have died, without your assistance: I have a grateful heart, and will remember it."
These were the three most remarkable adventures that befell Avenant in his journey; and when he arrived at the end of it, he washed himself, combed and powdered his hair, and put on a suit of cloth of gold: which having done, he put a rich embroidered scarf about his neck, with a small basket, wherein was a little dog which he was very fond of. And Avenant was so amiable, and did every thing with so good a grace, that when he presented himself at the gate of the palace, all the guards paid him great respect, and every one strove who should first give notice to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, that Avenant, the neighbouring king's ambassador, demanded audience. The princess on hearing the name of Avenant, said, "It has a pleasing sound, and I dare say he is agreeable and pleases every body; and she said to her maids of honour, go fetch me my rich embroidered gown of blue satin, dress my hair, and bring my wreaths of fresh flowers: let me have my high shoes, and my fan, and let my audience chamber and throne be clean, and richly adorned; for I would have him every where with truth say, that I am really the Fair One with Locks of Gold." Thus all her women were employed to dress her as a queen should be. At length, she went to her great gallery of looking-glasses, to see if any thing was wanting; after which she ascended her throne of gold, ivory, and ebony, the fragrant smell of which was superior to the choicest balm. She also commanded her maids of honour to take their instruments, and play to their own singing so sweetly that none should be disgusted.
Avenant was conducted into the chamber of audience, were he stood so transported with admiration, that, as he afterwards said, he had scarcely power to open his lips. At length, however, he took courage, and made his speech wonderfully well; wherein he prayed the princess not to let him be so unfortunate as to return without her. "Gentle Avenant," said she, "all the reasons you have laid before me, are very good, and I assure you, I would rather favour you than any other; but you must know, about a month since, I went to take the air by the side of a river, with my maids of honour; as I was pulling off my glove, I pulled a ring from my finger, which by accident fell into the river. This ring I valued more than my whole kingdom; whence you may judge how much I am afflicted by the loss of it. And I have made a vow never to hearken to any proposals of marriage, unless the ambassador who makes them shall also bring my ring. This is the present which you have to make me; otherwise you may talk your heart out, for months and even years shall never change my resolution." When he returned to his lodgings, he went to bed supperless; and his little dog, who was called Cabriole, made a fasting night of it too, and went and lay down by his master; who did nothing all night but sigh and lament, saying, "How can I find a ring that fell into a great river a month ago? It would be folly to attempt it. The princess enjoined me this task, merely because she knew it was impossible," he continued, greatly afflicted; which Cabriole observing, said, "My dear master, pray do not despair of your good fortune; for you are too good to be unhappy. Therefore, when it is day, let us go to the river side." Avenant made no answer, but gave his dog two little cuffs with his hand, and being overwhelmed with grief, fell asleep.
But when Cabriole perceived it was broad day, he fell a barking so loud that he waked his master. "Rise, sir," said he, "put on your clothes, and let us go and try our fortune." Avenant took his little dog's advice; got up, and dressed himself, went down into the garden, and out of the garden he walked insensibly to the river side, with his hat over his eyes, and his arms across, thinking of nothing but taking his leave; when all on a sudden he heard a voice call, "Avenant, Avenant!" upon which he looked around him, but seeing nothing, he concluded it was an illusion, and was proceeding in his walk; but he presently heard himself called again. "Who calls me?" said he; Cabriole, who was very little and looked closely into the water, cried out, "Never believe me, if it is not a gilded carp." Immediately the carp appeared, and with an audible voice said, "Avenant, you saved my life in the poplar meadow, where I must have died without your assistance; and now I am come to requite your kindness. Here, my dear Avenant, here is the ring which the Fair One with Locks of Gold dropped into the river." Upon which he stooped and took it out of the carp's mouth; to whom he returned a thousand thanks. And now, instead of returning home, he went directly to the palace with little Cabriole, who skipped about, and wagged his tail for joy, that he had persuaded his master to walk by the side of the river. The princess being told that Avenant desired an audience: "Alas," said she, "the poor youth has come to take his leave of me! He has considered what I enjoined him as impossible, and is returning to his master." But Avenant being admitted, presented her the ring, saying, "Madam, behold I have executed your command; and now, I hope, you will receive my master for your royal consort." When she saw her ring, and that it was noways injured, she was so amazed that she could hardly believe her eyes. "Surely, courteous Avenant," said she, "you must be favoured by some fairy; for naturally this is impossible." "Madam," said he, "I am acquainted with no fairy; but I was willing to obey your command." "Well, then, seeing you have so good a will," continued she, "you must do me another piece of service, without which I will never marry. There is a certain prince who lives not far from hence, whose name is Galifron, and whom nothing would serve but that he must needs marry me. He declared his mind to me, with most terrible menaces, that if I denied him, he would enter my kingdom with fire and sword; but you shall judge whether I would accept his proposal: he is a giant, as high as a steeple; he devours men as an ape eats chestnuts; when he goes into the country, he carries cannons in his pocket, to use instead of pistols; and when he speaks aloud he deafens the ears of those that stand near him. I answered him, that I did not choose to marry, and desired him to excuse me. Nevertheless, he has not ceased to persecute me, and has put an infinite number of my subjects to the sword: therefore, before all other things you must fight him, and bring me his head."
Avenant was somewhat startled by this proposal; but, having considered it awhile, "Well, madam," said he, "I will fight this Galifron; I believe I shall be vanquished; but I will die like a man of courage." The princess was astonished at his intrepidity, and said a thousand things to dissuade him from it, but all in vain. At length he arrived at Galifron's castle, the roads all the way being strewed with the bones and carcasses of men which the giant had devoured, or cut in pieces. It was not long before Avenant saw the monster approach, and he immediately challenged him; but there was no occasion for this, for he lifted his iron mace, and had certainly beat out the gentle Avenant's brains at the first blow, had not a crow at that instant perched upon the giant's head, and with his bill pecked out both his eyes. The blood trickled down his face, whereat he grew desperate, and laid about him on every side; but Avenant took care to avoid his blows, and gave him many great wounds with his sword, which he pushed up to the very hilt; so that the giant fainted, and fell down with loss of blood. Avenant immediately cut off his head; and while he was in an ecstasy of joy, for his good success, the crow perched upon a tree, and said, "Avenant, I did not forget the kindnesses I received at your hands, when you killed the eagle that pursued me; I promised to make you amends, and now I have been as good as my word." "I acknowledge your kindness, Mr. Crow," replied Avenant; "I am still your debtor, and your servant." So saying, he mounted his courser, and rode away with the giant's horrid head. When he arrived at the city, every body crowded after him, crying out, "Long live the valiant Avenant, who has slain the cruel monster!" so that the princess, who heard the noise, and trembling for fear she should have heard of Avenant's death, durst not inquire what was the matter. But presently after, she saw Avenant enter with the giant's head; at the sight of which she trembled, though there was nothing to fear. "Madam," said he, "behold your enemy is dead; and now, I hope, you will no longer refuse the king my master." "Alas!" replied the Fair One with Locks of Gold, "I must still refuse him, unless you can find means to bring me some of the water of the gloomy cave. Not far from hence," continued she, "there is a very deep cave, about six leagues in compass; the entrance into which is guarded by two dragons. The dragons dart fire from their mouths and eyes; and when you have got into this cave, you will meet with a very deep hole, into which you must go down, and you will find it full of toads, adders and serpents. At the bottom of this hole there is a kind of cellar, through which runs the fountain of beauty and health. This is the water I must have; its virtues are wonderful; for the fair, by washing in it, preserve their beauty; and the deformed it renders beautiful; if they are young, it preserves them always youthful; and if old it makes them young again. Now judge you, Avenant, whether I will ever leave my kingdom without carrying some of this water along with me." "Madam," said he, "you are so beautiful, that this water will be of no use to you; but I am an unfortunate ambassador, whose death you seek. However, I will go in search of what you desire, though I am certain never to return."
At length he arrived at the top of a mountain, where he sat down to rest himself; giving his horse liberty to feed, and Cabriole to run after the flies. He knew that the gloomy cave was not far off, and looked about to see whether he could discover it; and at length he perceived a horrid rock as black as ink, whence issued a thick smoke; and immediately after he spied one of the dragons casting forth fire from his jaws and eyes; his skin all over yellow and green, with prodigious claws and a long tail rolled up in an hundred folds. Avenant, with a resolution to die in the attempt, drew his sword, and with the phial which the Fair One with Locks of Gold had given him to fill with the water of beauty, went towards the cave, saying to his little dog, "Cabriole, here is an end of me; I never shall be able to get this water, it is so well guarded by the dragons; therefore when I am dead, fill this phial with my blood, and carry it to my princess, that she may see what her severity has cost me: then go to the king my master and give him an account of my misfortunes." While he was saying this, he heard a voice call "Avenant, Avenant!" "Who calls me?" said he; and presently he espied an owl in the hole of an old hollow tree, who, calling him again, said, "You rescued me from the fowler's net, where I had been assuredly taken, had you not delivered me. I promised to make you amends, and now the time is come; give me your phial; I am acquainted with all the secret inlets into the gloomy cave, and will go and fetch you the water of beauty." Avenant most gladly gave the phial, and the owl, entering without any impediment into the cave, filled it, and in less than a quarter of an hour returned with it well stopped. Avenant was overjoyed at his good fortune, gave the owl a thousand thanks, and returned with a merry heart to the city. Being arrived at the palace, he presented the phial to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, who had then nothing further to say. She returned Avenant thanks, and gave orders for every thing that was requisite for her departure: after which she set forward with him. The Fair One with Locks of Gold thought Avenant very amiable, and said to him sometimes upon the road, "If you had been willing, I could have made you a king; and then we need not have left my kingdom." But Avenant replied, "I would not have been guilty of such a piece of treachery to my master for all the kingdoms of the earth; though I must acknowledge your beauties are more resplendent than the sun."
At length they arrived at the king's chief city, who understanding that the Fair One with Locks of Gold was arrived, he went forth to meet her, and made her the richest presents in the world. The nuptials were solemnized with such demonstrations of joy, that nothing else was discoursed of. But the Fair One with Locks of Gold, who loved Avenant in her heart, was never pleased but when she was in his company, and would be always speaking in his praise: "I had never come hither," said she to the king, "had it not been for Avenant, who, to serve me, has conquered impossibilities; you are infinitely obliged to him; he procured me the water of beauty and health; by which I shall never grow old, and shall always preserve my health and beauty." The enviers of Avenant's happiness, who heard the queen's words, said to the king, "Were your majesty inclined to be jealous, you have reason enough to be so, for the queen is desperately in love with Avenant." "Indeed," said the king, "I am sensible of the truth of what you tell me; let him be put in the great tower, with fetters upon his feet and hands." Avenant was immediately seized. However, his little dog Cabriole never forsook him, but cheered him the best he could, and brought him all the news of the court. When the Fair One with Locks of Gold was informed of his misfortunes, she threw herself at the king's feet, and all in tears besought him to release Avenant out of prison. But the more she besought him the more he was incensed, believing it was her affection that made her so zealous a suppliant in his behalf. Finding she could not prevail, she said no more to him, but grew very pensive and melancholy.
The king took it into his head that she did not think him handsome enough; so he resolved to wash his face with the water of beauty, in hopes that the queen would then conceive a greater affection for him than she had. This water stood in a phial upon a table in the queen's chamber, where she had put it, that it might not be out of her sight. But one of the chambermaids going to kill a spider with her besom, by accident threw down the phial, and broke it, so that the water was lost. She dried it up with all the speed she could, and not knowing what to do, she bethought herself that she had seen a phial of clear water in the king's cabinet very like that she had broken. Without any more ado, therefore, she went and fetched that phial, and set it upon the table in place of the other. This water which was in the king's cabinet, was a certain water which he made use of to poison the great lords and princes of his court when they were convicted of any great crime; to which purpose, instead of cutting off their heads, or hanging them, he caused their faces to be rubbed with this water, which cast them into so profound a sleep that they never waked again. Now the king one evening took this phial, and rubbed his face well with the water, after which he fell asleep and died. Cabriole was one of the first that came to a knowledge of this accident, and immediately ran to inform Avenant of it who bid him go to the Fair One with Locks of Gold, and remind her of the poor prisoner. Cabriole slipped unperceived through the crowd, for there was a great noise and hurry at court upon the king's death; and getting to the queen, "Madam," said he, "remember poor Avenant." She presently called to mind the afflictions he had suffered for her sake, and his fidelity. Without speaking a word, she went directly to the great tower, and took off the fetters from Avenant's feet and hands herself; after which, putting the crown upon his head, and the royal mantle about his shoulders, "Amiable Avenant," said she, "I will make you a sovereign prince, and take you for my consort." Avenant threw himself at her feet, and in terms the most passionate and respectful returned her thanks. Every body was overjoyed to have him for their king: the nuptials were the most splendid in the world; and the Fair One. with Locks of Gold lived a long time with her beloved Avenant, both happy and contented in the enjoyment of each other.
In the days of King Arthur, Merlin, the most learned enchanter of his time, was on a journey; and, being very weary, stopped one day at the cottage of an honest ploughman to ask for refreshment. The ploughman's wife, with great civility, immediately brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some brown bread on a wooden platter. Merlin could not help observing, that, although every thing within the cottage was particularly neat and clean, and in good order, the ploughman and his wife had the most sorrowful air imaginable. So he questioned them on the cause of their melancholy, and learned that they were very miserable because they had no children. The poor woman declared, with tears in her eyes, that she should be the happiest creature in the world if she had a son, although he were no bigger than his father's thumb. Merlin was much amused with the thoughts of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb, and, as soon as he returned home, he sent for the queen of the fairies (with whom he was very intimate), and related to her the desire of the ploughman and his wife to have a son the size of his father's thumb. The queen of the fairies liked the plan exceedingly, and declared their wish should speedily be granted. Accordingly the ploughman's wife had a son, who in a few minutes grew as tall as his father's thumb. The queen of the fairies came in at the window as the mother was sitting up in bed admiring the child. The queen kissed the infant, and giving it the name of Tom Thumb, immediately summoned several fairies from Fairy Land to clothe her little new favourite:
"An oak leaf hat he had for his crown, His shirt it was by spiders spun; With doublet wove of thistle's down, His trousers up with points were done. His stockings, of apple rind, they tie With eye-lash plucked from his mother's eye, His shoes were made of a mouse's skin, Nicely tanned, with the hair within."
Tom never was any bigger than his father's thumb, which was not a large thumb either; but, as he grew older, he became very cunning and sly, for which his mother did not sufficiently correct him, so that when he was able to play with the boys for cherry stones, and had lost all his own, he used to creep into the boys' bags, fill his pockets, and come out again to play. But one day as he was getting out of a bag of cherry stones, the boy to whom it belonged chanced to see him. "Ah ha, my little Tom Thumb!" said the boy, "have I caught you at your bad tricks at last? Now I will reward you for thieving." Then drawing the string tight round his neck, and shaking the bag heartily, the cherry stones bruised Tom's legs, thighs, and body sadly; which made him beg to be let out, and promise never to be guilty of such things any more. Shortly afterwards, Tom's mother was making a batter pudding, and, that he might see how she mixed it, he climbed on the edge of the bowl; but his foot happening to slip, he fell over head and ears into the batter, and his mother not observing him, stirred him into the pudding, and popped him into the pot to boil. The hot water made Tom kick and struggle; and his mother, seeing the pudding jump up and down in such a furious manner, thought it was bewitched; and a tinker coming by just at the time, she quickly gave him the pudding, who put it into his budget and walked on.
As soon as Tom could get the batter out of his mouth, he began to cry aloud; which so frightened the poor tinker, that he flung the pudding over the hedge, and ran away from it as fast as he could run. The pudding being broken to pieces by the fall, Tom was released, and walked home to his mother, who gave him a kiss and put him to bed. Tom Thumb's mother once took him with her when she went to milk the cow; and it being a very windy day, she tied him with a needleful of thread to a thistle, that he might not be blown away. The cow liking his oak leaf hat took him and the thistle up at one mouthful. While the cow chewed the thistle, Tom, terrified at her great teeth, which seemed ready to crush him to pieces, roared, "Mother, Mother!" as loud as he could bawl. "Where are you, Tommy, my dear Tommy?" said the mother. "Here, mother, here in the red cow's mouth." The mother began to cry and wring her hands; but the cow surprised at such odd noises in her throat, opened her mouth and let him drop out. His mother clapped him into her apron, and ran home with him. Tom's father made him a whip of a barley straw to drive the cattle with, and being one day in the field, he slipped into a deep furrow. A raven flying over, picked him up with a grain of corn, and flew with him to the top of a giant's castle, by the seaside, where he left him; and old Grumbo the giant, coming soon after to walk upon his terrace, swallowed Tom like a pill, clothes and all. Tom presently made the giant very uncomfortable, and he threw him up into the sea. A great fish then swallowed him. The fish was soon after caught, and sent as a present to King Arthur. When it was cut open, every body was delighted with little Tom Thumb. The king made him his dwarf; he was the favourite of the whole court; and, by his merry pranks, often amused the queen and the knights of the Round Table. The king, when he rode on horseback, frequently took Tom in his hand; and, if a shower of rain came on, he used to creep into the king's waist-coat pocket, and sleep till the rain was over. The king also, sometimes questioned Tom concerning his parents; and when Tom informed his majesty they were very poor people, the king led him into his treasury, and told him he should pay his friends a visit, and take with him as much money as he could carry. Tom procured a little purse, and putting a threepenny piece into it, with much labour and difficulty got it upon his back; and, after travelling two days and nights, arrived at his father's house.
His mother met him at the door, almost tired to death, having in forty-eight hours travelled almost half a mile with a huge silver threepence upon his back. His parents were glad to see him, especially when he had brought such an amazing sum of money with him. They placed him in a walnut shell by the fire side, and feasted him for three days upon a hazel nut, which made him sick, for a whole nut usually served him a month. Tom got well, but could not travel because it had rained; therefore his mother took him in her hand, and with one puff blew him into King Arthur's court; where Tom entertained the king, queen, and nobility at tilts and tournaments, at which he exerted himself so much that he brought on a fit of sickness, and his life was despaired of. At this juncture the queen of the fairies came in a chariot drawn by flying mice, placed Tom by her side, and drove through the air, without stopping till they arrived at her palace; when, after restoring him to health, and permitting him to enjoy all the gay diversions of Fairy Land, the queen commanded a fair wind, and, placing Tom before it, blew him straight to the court of King Arthur. But just as Tom should have alighted in the court-yard of the palace, the cook happened to pass along with the king's great bowl of firmity (King Arthur loved firmity), and poor Tom Thumb fell plump into the middle of it and splashed the hot firmity into the cook's eyes. Down went the bowl. "Oh dear; oh dear!" cried Tom; "Murder! murder!" bellowed the cook! and away ran the king's nice firmity into the kennel. The cook was a red-faced, cross fellow, and swore to the king, that Tom had done it out of mere mischief; so he was taken up, tried, and sentenced to be beheaded. Tom hearing this dreadful sentence, and seeing a miller stand by with his mouth wide open, he took a good spring, and jumped down the miller's throat, unperceived by all, even by the miller himself.
Tom being lost, the court broke up, and away went the miller to his mill. But Tom did not leave him long at rest, he began to roll and tumble about, so that the miller thought himself bewitched, and sent for a doctor. When the doctor came, Tom began to dance and sing; the doctor was as much frightened as the miller, and sent in great haste for five more doctors, and twenty learned men. While all these were debating upon the affair, the miller (for they were very tedious) happened to yawn, and Tom, taking the opportunity, made another jump, and alighted on his feet in the middle of the table. The miller, provoked to be thus tormented by such a little creature, fell into a great passion, caught hold of Tom, and threw him out of the window, into the river. A large salmon swimming by, snapped him up in a minute. The salmon was soon caught and sold in the market to the steward of a lord. The lord, thinking it an uncommon fine fish, made a present of it to the king, who ordered it to be dressed immediately. When the cook cut open the salmon, he found poor Tom, and ran with him directly to the king; but the king being busy with state affairs, desired that he might be brought another day. The cook resolving to keep him safely this time, as he had so lately given him the slip, clapped him into a mouse-trap, and left him to amuse himself by peeping through the wires for a whole week; when the king sent for him, he forgave him for throwing down the firmity, ordered him new clothes and knighted him.
"His shirt was made of butterflies' wings; His boots were made of chicken skins; His coat and breeches were made with pride; A tailor's needle hung by his side; A mouse for a horse he used to ride."
Thus dressed and mounted, he rode a hunting with the king and nobility, who all laughed heartily at Tom and his fine prancing steed. As they rode by a farm house one day, a cat jumped from behind the door, seized the mouse and little Tom, and began to devour the mouse. However, Tom boldly drew his sword and attacked the cat, who then let him fall. The king and his nobles seeing Tom falling, went to his assistance, and one of the lords caught him in his hat; but poor Tom was sadly scratched, and his clothes were torn by the claws of the cat. In this condition he was carried home, when a bed of down was made for him in a little ivory cabinet. The queen of the fairies came, and took him again to Fairy Land, where she kept him for some years; and then, dressing him in bright green, sent him flying once more through the air to the earth, in the days of King Thunstone. The people flocked far and near to look at him; and the king, before whom he was carried, asked him who he was, whence he came, and where he lived? Tom answered:
"My name is Tom Thumb, From the Fairies I come; When King Arthur shone, This court was my home. In me he delighted, By him I was knighted, Did you never hear of Sir Thomas Thumb?"
The king was so charmed with this address, that he ordered a little chair to be made, in order that Tom might sit on his table, and also a palace of gold a span high, with a door an inch wide, for little Tom to live in. He also gave him a coach drawn by six small mice. This made the queen angry, because she had not a new coach too. Therefore, resolving to ruin Tom, she complained to the king that he had behaved very insolently to her. The king sent for him in a rage. Tom, to escape his fury, crept into an empty snail-shell, and there lay till he was almost starved; when peeping out of the shell, he saw a fine butterfly settled on the ground. He now ventured out, and getting astride, the butterfly took wing, and mounted into the air with little Tom on his back. Away he flew from field to field, from tree to tree, till at last he flew to the king's court. The king, queen, and nobles, all strove to catch the butterfly, but could not. At length poor Tom, having neither bridle nor saddle, slipped from his seat, and fell into a white pot, where he was found almost drowned. The queen vowed he should be guillotined: but while the guillotine was getting ready, he was secured once more in a mouse-trap; when the cat seeing something stir, and supposing it to be the mouse, patted the trap about till she broke it, and set Tom at liberty. Soon afterwards a spider, taking him for a fly, made at him. Tom drew his sword and fought valiantly, but the spider's poisonous breath overcame him:
"He fell dead on the ground where late he had stood, And the spider sucked up the last drop of his blood."
King Thunstone and his whole court went into mourning for little Tom Thumb. They buried him under a rosebush, and raised a nice white marble monument over his grave, with the following epitaph:
"Here lies Tom Thumb, King Arthur's knight, Who died by spider's cruel bite. 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 sorrow soon gave birth. Wipe, wipe your eyes, and shake your head And cry, 'Alas! Tom Thumb is dead.'"
There was, some time ago, a gentleman who was very rich. He had fine town and country houses, his dishes and plates were all of gold or silver, his rooms were hung with damask, his chairs and sofas were covered with the richest silks, and his carriages were all gilt with gold in a grand style. But it happened that this gentleman had a blue beard, which made him so very frightful and ugly, that none of the ladies, in the parts where he lived, would venture to go into his company. Now there was a certain lady of rank, who lived very near him, and had two daughters, both of them of very great beauty. Blue Beard asked her to bestow one of them upon him for a wife, and left it to herself to choose which of the two it should be. But both the young ladies again and again said they would never marry Blue Beard; yet, to be as civil as they could, each of them said, the only reason why she would not have him was, because she was loath to hinder her sister from the match, which would be such a good one for her. Still the truth of the matter was, they could neither of them bear the thoughts of having a husband with a blue beard; and besides, they had heard of his having been married to several wives before, and nobody could tell what had ever become of any of them. As Blue Beard wished very much to gain their favour, he asked the lady and her daughters, and some ladies who were on a visit at their house, to go with him to one of his country seats, where they spent a whole week, during which they passed all their time in nothing but parties for hunting and fishing, music, dancing, and feasts. No one even thought of going to bed, and the nights were passed in merry-makings of all kinds. In short, the time rolled on in so much pleasure, that the youngest of the two sisters began to think that the beard which she had been so much afraid of, was not so very blue, and that the gentleman who owned it was vastly civil and pleasing. Soon after their return home, she told her mother that she had no longer any dislike to accept of Blue Beard for her husband; and in a very short time they were married.
About a month after the marriage had taken place, Blue Beard told his wife that he should be forced to leave her for a few weeks, as he had some affairs to attend to in the country. He desired her to be sure to indulge herself in every kind of pleasure, to invite as many of her friends as she liked, and to treat them with all sorts of dainties, that her time might pass pleasantly till he came back again. "Here," said he, "are the keys of the two large wardrobes. This is the key of the great box that contains the best plate, which we use for company, this belongs to my strong box, where I keep my money, and this belongs to the casket, in which are all my jewels. Here also is a master-key to all the rooms in the house; but this small key belongs to the closet at the end of the long gallery on the ground floor. I give you leave," said he, "to open, or to do what you like with all the rest except this closet. This, my dear, you must not enter, nor even put the key into the lock, for all the world. If you do not obey me in this one thing, you must expect the most dreadful punishments." She promised to obey his orders in the most faithful manner; and Blue Beard, after kissing her tenderly, stepped into his coach, and drove away.
When Blue Beard was gone, the friends of his wife did not wait to be asked, so eager were they to see all the riches and fine things she had gained by marriage; for they had none of them gone to the wedding, on account of their dislike to the blue beard of the bridegroom. As soon as ever they came to the house, they ran about from room to room, from closet to closet, and then from wardrobe to wardrobe, looking into each with wonder and delight, and said, that every fresh one they came to, was richer and finer than what they had seen the moment before. At last they came to the drawing-rooms, where their surprise was made still greater by the costly grandeur of the hangings, the sofas, the chairs, carpets, tables, sideboards, and looking-glasses; the frames of these last were silver-gilt, most richly adorned, and in the glasses they saw themselves from head to foot. In short, nothing could exceed the richness of what they saw; and they all did not fail to admire and envy the good fortune of their friend. But all this time the bride herself was far from thinking about the fine speeches they made to her, for she was eager to see what was in the closet her husband had told her not to open. So great, indeed, was her desire to do this, that, without once thinking how rude it would be to leave her guests, she slipped away down a private staircase that led to this forbidden closet, and in such a hurry, that she was two or three times in danger of falling down stairs and breaking her neck.
When she reached the door of the closet, she stopped for a few moments to think of the order her husband had given her, and how he had told her that he would not fail to keep his word and punish her very severely, if she did not obey him. But she was so very curious to know what was inside, that she made up her mind to venture in spite of every thing. She then, with a trembling hand, put the key into the lock, and the door straight flew open. As the window shutters were closed, she at first could see nothing; but in a short time she saw that the floor was covered with clotted blood, on which the bodies of several dead women were lying.
These were all the wives whom Blue Beard had married, and killed one after another. At this sight she was ready to sink with fear, and the key of the closet door, which she held in her hand, fell on the floor. When she had a little got the better of her fright, she took it up, locked the door, and made haste back to her own room, that she might have a little time to get into a humour to amuse her company; but this she could not do, so great was her fright at what she had seen. As she found that the key of the closet had got stained with blood in falling on the floor, she wiped it two or three times over to clean it; yet still the blood kept on it the same as before. She next washed it, but the blood did not move at all. She then scoured it with brickdust, and after with sand, but in spite of all she could do, the blood was still there; for the key was a fairy who was Blue Beard's friend; so that as fast as she got off the blood on one side, it came again on the other. Early in the same evening Blue Beard came home, saying, that before he had gone far on his journey he was met by a horseman, who was coming to tell him that his affair in the country was settled without his being present; upon which his wife said every thing she could think of, to make him believe she was in a transport of joy at his sudden return.
The next morning he asked her for the keys: she gave them to him; but as she could not help showing her fright, Blue Beard easily guessed what had been the matter. "How is it," said he, "that the key of the closet upon the ground floor is not here?" "Is it not?" said the wife, "then I must have left it on my dressing-table." "Be sure you give it me by and by," replied Blue Beard. After going a good many times backwards and forwards, as if she was looking for the key, she was at last forced to give it to Blue Beard. He looked hard at it, and then said: "How came this blood upon the key?" "I am sure I do not know," replied the poor lady, at the same time turning as white as a sheet. "You do not know?" said Blue Beard sternly, "but I know well enough. You have been in the closet on the ground floor! Very well, madam: since you are so mighty fond of this closet, you shall be sure to take your place among the ladies you saw there." His wife, who was almost dead with fear, now fell upon her knees, asked his pardon a thousand times for her fault, and begged him to forgive her, looking all the time so very mournful and lovely, that she would have melted any heart that was not harder than a rock. But Blue Beard only said, "No, no, madam; you shall die this very minute!" "Alas!" said the poor trembling creature, "if I must die, give me, as least, a little time to say my prayers." "I give you," replied the cruel Blue Beard, "half a quarter of an hour: not a moment longer." When Blue Beard had left her to herself, she called her sister; and after telling her, as well as she could for sobbing, that she had but half a quarter of an hour to live; "Prithee," said she, "sister Anne," (this was her sister's name), "run up to the top of the tower, and see if my brothers are not in sight, for they said they would visit me to-day, and if you see them, make a sign for them to gallop on as fast as ever they can." Her sister straight did as she was desired; and the poor trembling lady every minute cried out to her: "Anne! sister Anne! do you see any one coming?" Her sister said, "I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which looks green."
In the meanwhile, Blue Beard, with a great cimeter in his hand, bawled as loud as he could to his wife, "Come down at once, or I will fetch you." "One moment longer, I beseech you," replied she, and again called softly to her sister, "Sister Anne, do you see any one coming?" To which she answered, "I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass, which looks green." Blue Beard now again bawled out, "Come down, I say, this very moment, or I shall come to fetch you." "I am coming; indeed I will come in one minute," sobbed his wretched wife. Then she once more cried out, "Anne! sister Anne! do you see any one coming?" "I see," said her sister, "a cloud of dust a little to the left." "Do you think it is my brothers?" said the wife. "Alas! no, dear sister," replied she, "it is only a flock of sheep." "Will you come down, madam?" said Blue Beard, in the greatest rage. "Only one single moment more," said she. And then she called out for the last time, "Sister Anne! sister Anne! do you see no one coming?" "I see," replied her sister, "two men on horseback coming; but they are still a great way off." "Thank God," cried she, "they are my brothers; beckon them to make haste." Blue Beard now cried out so loud for her to come down, that his voice shook the whole house. The poor lady, with her hair loose, and all in tears, now came down, and fell on her knees, begging him to spare her life; but he stopped her, saying, "All this is of no use, for you shall die," and then, seizing her by the hair, raised his cimeter to strike off her head. The poor woman now begged a single moment to say one prayer. "No, no," said Blue Beard, "I will give you no more time. You have had too much already." And again he raised his arm. Just at this instant a loud knocking was heard at the gates, which made Blue Beard wait for a moment to see who it was. The gates now flew open, and two officers, dressed in their uniform, came in, and, with their swords in their hands, ran straight to Blue Beard, who, seeing they were his wife's brothers, tried to escape from their presence; but they pursued and seized him before he had gone twenty steps, and plunging their swords into his body he fell down dead at their feet.
The poor wife, who was almost as dead as her husband, was not able at first to rise and embrace her brothers; but she soon came to herself; and, as Blue Beard had no heirs, she found herself the owner of his great riches. She gave a part of his vast fortune as a marriage dowry to her sister Anne, who soon after became the wife of a young gentleman who had long loved her. Some of the money she laid out in buying captains' commissions for her two brothers, and the rest she gave to a worthy gentleman whom she married shortly after, and whose kind treatment soon made her forget Blue Beard's cruelty.
CINDERELLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER
There was once a very rich gentleman who lost his wife, and having loved her exceedingly, he was very sorry when she died. Finding himself quite unhappy for her loss, he resolved to marry a second time, thinking by this means he should be as happy as before. Unfortunately, however, the lady he chanced to fix upon was the proudest and most haughty woman ever known; she was always out of humour with every one; nobody could please her, and she returned the civilities of those about her with the most affronting disdain. She had two daughters by a former husband. These she brought up to be proud and idle. Indeed, in temper and behaviour they perfectly resembled their mother; they did not love their books, and would not learn to work; in short they were disliked by every body. The gentleman on his side too had a daughter, who in sweetness of temper and carriage was the exact likeness of her own mother, whose death he had so much lamented, and whose tender care of the little girl he was in hopes to see replaced by that of his new bride. But scarcely was the marriage ceremony over, before his wife began to show her real temper. She could not bear the pretty little girl, because her sweet obliging manners made those of her own daughters appear a thousand times the more odious and disagreeable. She therefore ordered her to live in the kitchen; and, if ever she brought any thing into the parlour, always scolded her till she was out of sight. She made her work with the servants in washing the dishes, and rubbing the tables and chairs; it was her place to clean madam's chamber, and that of the misses her daughters, which was all inlaid, had beds of the newest fashion, and looking-glasses so long and broad, that they saw themselves from head to foot in them; while the little creature herself was forced to sleep up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw bed, without curtains, or any thing to make her comfortable. The poor child bore this with the greatest patience, not daring to complain to her father, who, she feared, would only reprove her, for she saw that his wife governed him entirely. When she had done all her work she used to sit in the chimney-corner among the cinders; so that in the house she went by the name of Cinderbreech. The youngest of the two sisters, however, being rather more civil than the eldest, called her Cinderella. And Cinderella, dirty and ragged as she was, as often happens in such cases, was a thousand times prettier than her sisters, drest out in all their splendour. It happened that the king's son gave a ball, to which he invited all the persons of fashion in the country. Our two misses were of the number, for the king's son did not know how disagreeable they were, but supposed, as they were so much indulged, that they were extremely amiable. He did not invite Cinderella, for he had never seen or heard of her.
The two sisters began immediately to be very busy in preparing for the happy day. Nothing could exceed their joy. Every moment of their time was spent in fancying such gowns, shoes, and head-dresses as would set them off to the greatest advantage. All this was new vexation to poor Cinderella, for it was she who ironed and plaited her sisters' linen. They talked of nothing but how they should be dressed: "I," said the eldest, "will wear my scarlet velvet with French trimming." "And I," said the youngest, "shall wear the same petticoat I had made for the last ball. But then, to make amends for that, I shall put on my gold muslin train, and wear my diamonds in my hair; with these I must certainly look well." They sent several miles for the best hair dresser that was to be had, and all their ornaments were bought at the most fashionable shops. On the morning of the ball, they called up Cinderella to consult with her about their dress, for they knew she had a great deal of taste. Cinderella gave them the best advice she could, and even offered to assist in adjusting their head-dresses; which was exactly what they wanted, and they accordingly accepted her proposal. While Cinderella was busily engaged in dressing her sisters, they said to her, "Should you not like, Cinderella, to go to the ball?" "Ah!" replied Cinderella, "you are only laughing at me, it is not for such as I am to think of going to balls." "You are in the right," said they, "folks might laugh indeed, to see a Cinderbreech dancing in a ball room." Any other than Cinderella would have tried to make the haughty creatures look as ugly as she could; but the sweet tempered girl on the contrary, did every thing she could think of to make them look well. The sisters had scarcely eaten any thing for two days, so great was their joy as the happy day drew near. More than a dozen laces were broken in endeavouring to give them a fine slender shape, and they were always before the looking glass. At length the much wished for moment arrived; the proud misses stepped into a beautiful carriage, and, followed by servants in rich liveries, drove towards the palace. Cinderella followed them with her eyes as far as she could; and when they were out of sight, she sat down in a corner and began to cry. Her godmother, who saw her in tears, asked her what ailed her. "I wish——I w-i-s-h—" sobbed poor Cinderella, without being able to say another word. The godmother, who was a fairy, said to her, "You wish to go to the ball, Cinderella, is not this the truth?" "Alas! yes," replied the poor child, sobbing still more than before. "Well, well, be a good girl," said the godmother, "and you shall go." She then led Cinderella to her bedchamber, and said to her: "Run into the garden and bring me a pumpkin." Cinderella flew like lightning, and brought the finest she could lay hold of. Her godmother scooped out the inside, leaving nothing but the rind; she then struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin instantly became a fine coach gilded all over with gold. She then looked into her mouse-trap, where she found six mice all alive and brisk. She told Cinderella to lift up the door of the trap very gently; and as the mice passed out, she touched them one by one with her wand, and each immediately became a beautiful horse of a fine dapple gray mouse colour. "Here, my child," said the godmother, "is a coach and horses too, as handsome as your sisters', but what shall we do for a postillion?" "I will run," replied Cinderella, "and see if there be not a rat in the trap. If I find one, he will do very well for a postillion." "Well thought of, my child," said her godmother; "make what haste you can."
Cinderella brought the rat trap, which, to her great joy, contained three of the largest rats ever seen. The fairy chose the one which had the longest beard; and touching him with her wand, he was instantly turned into a handsome postillion, with the finest pair of whiskers imaginable. She next said to Cinderella: "Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering-pot; bring them hither." This was no sooner done, than with a stroke from the fairy's wand they were changed into six footmen, who all jumped up behind the coach in their laced liveries, and stood side by side as cleverly as if they had been used to nothing else the whole of their lives. The fairy then said to Cinderella: "Well, my dear, is not this such an equipage as you could wish for to take you to the ball? Are you not delighted with it?" "Y-e-s," replied Cinderella with hesitation, "but must I go thither in these filthy rags?" Her godmother touched her with the wand, and her rags instantly became the most magnificent apparel, ornamented with the most costly jewels in the whole world. To these she added a beautiful pair of glass slippers, and bade her set out for the palace. The fairy, however, before she took leave of Cinderella, strictly charged her on no account whatever to stay at the ball after the clock had struck twelve, telling her that, should she stay but a single moment after that time, her coach would again become a pumpkin, her horses mice, her footmen lizards, and her fine clothes be changed to filthy rags. Cinderella did not fail to promise all her godmother desired of her; and almost wild with joy drove away to the palace. As soon as she arrived, the king's son, who had been informed that a great princess, whom nobody knew, was come to the ball, presented himself at the door of her carriage, helped her out, and conducted her to the ball room. Cinderella no sooner appeared than every one was silent; both the dancing and the music stopped, and every body was employed in gazing at the uncommon beauty of this unknown stranger. Nothing was heard but whispers of "How handsome she is!" The king himself, old as he was, could not keep his eyes from her, and continually repeated to the queen, that it was a long time since he had seen so lovely a creature. The ladies endeavoured to find out how her clothes were made, that they might get some of the same pattern for themselves by the next day, should they be lucky enough to meet with such handsome materials, and such good work-people to make them.
The king's son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and soon after took her out to dance with him. She both moved and danced so gracefully, that every one admired her still more than before, and she was thought the most beautiful and accomplished lady they ever beheld. After some time a delicious collation was served up; but the young prince was so busily employed in looking at her, that he did not eat a morsel. Cinderella seated herself near her sisters, paid them a thousand attentions, and offered them a part of the oranges and sweetmeats with which the prince had presented her, while they on their part were quite astonished at these civilities from a lady whom they did not know. As they were conversing together, Cinderella heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters. She rose from her seat, curtesied to the company, and hastened away as fast as she could. As soon as she got home she flew to her godmother, and, after thanking her a thousand times, told her she would give the world to be able to go again to the ball the next day, for the king's son had entreated her to be there. While she was telling her godmother every thing that had happened to her at the ball, the two sisters knocked a loud rat-tat-tat at the door; which Cinderella opened. "How late you have stayed!" said she, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself, as if just awakened out of her sleep, though she had in truth felt no desire for sleep since they left her. "If you had been at the ball," said one of her sisters, "let me tell you, you would not have been sleepy. There came thither the handsomest, yes, the very handsomest princess ever beheld! She paid us a thousand attentions, and made us take a part of the oranges and sweetmeats the prince had given her." Cinderella could scarcely contain herself for joy: she asked her sisters the name of this princess, to which they replied, that nobody had been able to discover who she was; that the king's son was extremely grieved on that account, and had offered a large reward to any person who could find out where she came from. Cinderella smiled, and said: "How very beautiful she must be! How fortunate you are! Ah, could I but see her for a single moment! Dear Miss Charlotte, lend me only the yellow gown you wear every day, and let me go to see her." "Oh! yes, I warrant you; lend my clothes to a Cinderbreech! Do you really suppose me such a fool? No, no; pray, Miss Forward, mind your proper business, and leave dress and balls to your betters." Cinderella expected some such answer, and was by no means sorry, for she would have been sadly at a loss what to do if her sister had lent her the clothes that she asked of her.
The next day the two sisters again appeared at the ball, and so did Cinderella, but dressed much more magnificently than the night before. The king's son was continually by her side, and said the most obliging things imaginable to her. The charming young creature was far from being tired of all the agreeable things she met with. On the contrary, she was so delighted with them that she entirely forgot the charge her godmother had given her. Cinderella at last heard the striking of a clock, and counted one, two, three, on till she came to twelve, though she thought that it could be but eleven at most. She got up and flew as nimbly as a deer out of the ball-room. The prince tried to overtake her; but poor Cinderella's fright made her run the faster. However, in her great hurry, she dropped one of her glass slippers from her foot, which the prince stooped down and picked up, and took the greatest care of it possible. Cinderella got home tired and out of breath, in her old clothes, without either coach or footmen, and having nothing left of her magnificence but the fellow of the glass slipper which she had dropped. In the mean while, the prince had inquired of all his guards at the palace gates, if they had not seen a magnificent princess pass out, and which way she went? The guards replied, that no princess had passed the gates; and that they had not seen a creature but a little ragged girl, who looked more like a beggar than a princess. When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been as much amused as the night before, and if the beautiful princess had been there? They told her that she had; but that as soon as the clock struck twelve, she hurried away from the ball room, and in the great haste she had made, had dropped one of her glass slippers, which was the prettiest shape that could be; that the king's son had picked it up, and had done nothing but look at it all the rest of the evening; and that every body believed he was violently in love with the handsome lady to whom it belonged.
This was very true; for a few days after, the prince had it proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry the lady whose foot should exactly fit the slipper he had found. Accordingly the prince's messengers took the slipper, and carried it first to all the princesses, then to the duchesses, in short, to all the ladies of the court. But without success. They then brought it to the two sisters, who each tried all she could to squeeze her foot into the slipper, but saw at last that this was quite impossible. Cinderella who was looking at them all the while, and knew her slipper, could not help smiling, and ventured to say, "Pray, sir, let me try to get on the slipper." The gentleman made her sit down; and putting the slipper to her foot, it instantly slipped in, and he saw that it fitted her like wax. The two sisters were amazed to see that the slipper fitted Cinderella; but how much greater was their astonishment when she drew out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on! Just at this moment the fairy entered the room, and touching Cinderella's clothes with her wand, made her all at once appear more magnificently dressed than they had ever seen her before.
The two sisters immediately perceived that she was the beautiful princess they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, and asked her forgiveness for the ill treatment she had received from them. Cinderella helped them to rise, and, tenderly embracing them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to bestow on her their affection. Cinderella was then conducted, dressed as she was, to the young prince, who finding her more beautiful than ever, instantly desired her to accept of his hand. The marriage ceremony took place in a few days; and Cinderella, who was as amiable as she was handsome, gave her sisters magnificent apartments in the palace, and a short time after married them to two great lords of the court.
PUSS IN BOOTS
There was a miller who had three sons, and when he died he divided what he possessed among them in the following manner: He gave his mill to the eldest, his ass to the second, and his cat to the youngest. Each of the brothers accordingly took what belonged to him, without the help of an attorney, who would soon have brought their little fortune to nothing, in law expenses. The poor young fellow who had nothing but the cat, complained that he was hardly used: "My brothers," said he, "by joining their stocks together, may do well in the world, but for me, when I have eaten my cat, and made a fur cap of his skin, I may soon die of hunger!" The cat, who all this time sat listening just inside the door of a cupboard, now ventured to come out and addressed him as follows: "Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master. You have only to give me a bag, and get a pair of boots made for me, so that I may scamper through the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you are not so ill provided for as you imagine." Though the cat's master did not much depend upon these promises, yet, as he had often observed the cunning tricks puss used to catch the rats and mice, such as hanging upon his hind legs, and hiding in the meal to make believe that he was dead, he did not entirely despair of his being of some use to him in his unhappy condition.
When the cat had obtained what he asked for, he gayly began to equip himself: he drew on his boots; and putting the bag about his neck, he took hold of the strings with his fore paws, and bidding his master take courage, immediately sallied forth. The first attempt Puss made was to go into a warren in which there were a great number of rabbits. He put some bran and some parsley into his bag; and then stretching himself out at full length as if he was dead, he waited for some young rabbits, who as yet knew nothing of the cunning tricks of the world, to come and get into the bag, the better to feast upon the dainties he had put into it. Scarcely had he lain down before he succeeded as well as could be wished. A giddy young rabbit crept into the bag, and the cat immediately drew the strings, and killed him without mercy. Puss, proud of his prey, hastened directly to the palace, where he asked to speak to the king. On being shown into the apartment of his majesty, he made a low bow, and said, "I have brought you, sire, this rabbit from the warren of my lord the marquis of Carabas, who commanded me to present it to your majesty with the assurance of his respect." (This was the title the cat thought proper to bestow upon his master.) "Tell my lord marquis of Carabas," replied the king, "that I accept of his present with pleasure, and that I am greatly obliged to him." Soon after, the cat laid himself down in the same manner in a field of corn, and had as much good fortune as before; for two fine partridges got into his bag, which he immediately killed and carried to the palace: the king received them as he had done the rabbit, and ordered his servants to give the messenger something to drink. In this manner he continued to carry presents of game to the king from my lord marquis of Carabas, once at least in every week.
One day, the cat having heard that the king intended to take a ride that morning by the river's side with his daughter, who was the most beautiful princess in the world, he said to his master: "If you will but follow my advice, your fortune is made. Take off your clothes, and bathe yourself in the river, just in the place I shall show you, and leave the rest to me," The marquis of Carabas did exactly as he was desired, without being able to guess at what the cat intended. While he was bathing the king passed by, and puss directly called out as loud as he could bawl: "Help! help! My lord marquis of Carabas is in danger of being drowned!" The king hearing the cries, put his head out at the window of his carriage to see what was the matter: when, perceiving the very cat who had brought him so many presents, he ordered his attendants to go directly to the assistance of my lord marquis of Carabas. While they were employed in taking the marquis out of the river, the cat ran to the king's carriage, and told his majesty, that while his master was bathing, some thieves had run off with his clothes as they lay by the river's side; the cunning cat all the time having hid them under a large stone. The king hearing this, commanded the officers of his wardrobe to fetch one of the handsomest suits it contained, and present it to my lord marquis of Carabas, at the same time loading him with a thousand attentions. As the fine clothes they brought him made him look like a gentleman, and set off his person, which was very comely, to the greatest advantage, the king's daughter was mightily taken with his appearance, and the marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast upon her two or three respectful glances, then she became violently in love with him.
The king insisted on his getting into the carriage and taking a ride with them. The cat, enchanted to see how well his scheme was likely to succeed, ran before to a meadow that was reaping, and said to the reapers: "Good people, if you do not tell the king, who will soon pass this way, that the meadow you are reaping belongs to my lord marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as mince meat." The king did not fail to ask the reapers to whom the meadow belonged? "To my lord marquis of Carabas," said they all at once; for the threats of the cat had terribly frighted them. "You have here a very fine piece of land, my lord marquis," said the king. "Truly, sire," replied he, "it does not fail to bring me every year a plentiful harvest." The cat who still went on before, now came to a field where some other labourers were making sheaves of the corn they had reaped, to whom he said as before: "Good people, if you do not tell the king who will presently pass this way, that the corn you have reaped in this field belongs to my lord marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as mince meat." The king accordingly passed a moment after, and inquired to whom the corn he saw belonged? "To my lord marquis of Carabas," answered they very glibly; upon which the king again complimented the marquis upon his noble possessions. The cat still continued to go before, and gave the same charge to all the people he met with; so that the king was greatly astonished at the splendid fortune of my lord marquis of Carabas. Puss at length arrived at a stately castle, which belonged to an Ogre, the richest ever known; for all the lands the king had passed through and admired were his. The cat took care to learn every particular about the Ogre, and what he could do, and then asked to speak with him, saying, as he entered the room in which he was, that he could not pass so near his castle without doing himself the honour to inquire after his health. The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre could do, and desired him to be seated, "I have been informed," said the cat, "that you have the gift of changing yourself to all sorts of animals; into a lion or an elephant for example." "It is very true," replied the Ogre somewhat sternly; "and to convince you I will directly take the form of a lion." The cat was so much terrified at finding himself so near to a lion, that he sprang from him, and climbed to the roof of the house; but not without much difficulty, as his boots were not very fit to walk upon the tiles.
Some minutes after, the cat perceiving that the Ogre had quitted the form of a lion, ventured to come down from the tiles, and owned that he had been a good deal frightened, "I have been further informed," continued the cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that you have the power of taking the form of the smallest animals also; for example of changing yourself to a rat or a mouse: I confess I should think this impossible." "Impossible! you shall see;" and at the same instant he changed himself into a mouse, and began to frisk about the room. The cat no sooner cast his eyes upon the Ogre in this form, than he sprang upon him and devoured him in an instant. In the meantime the king, admiring as he came near it, the magnificent castle of the Ogre, ordered his attendants to drive up to the gates, as he wished to take a nearer view of it. The cat, hearing the noise of the carriage on the drawbridge, immediately came out, saying: "Your majesty is welcome to the castle of my lord marquis of Carabas." "And is this splendid castle yours also, my lord marquis of Carabas? I never saw anything more stately than the building, or more beautiful than the park and pleasure grounds around it; no doubt the castle is no less magnificent within than without: pray, my lord marquis, indulge me with a sight of it."