HotFreeBooks.com
Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The marquis gave his hand to the young princess as she alighted, and followed the king who went before; they entered a spacious hall, where they found a splendid collation which the Ogre had prepared for some friends he had that day expected to visit him; but who, hearing that the king with the princess and a great gentleman of the court were within, had not dared to enter. The king was so much charmed with the amiable qualities and noble fortune of the marquis of Carabas, and the young princess too had fallen so violently in love with him, that when the king had partaken of the collation, and drunk a few glasses of wine, he said to the marquis: "It will be you own fault, my lord marquis of Carabas, if you do not soon become my son-in-law." The marquis received the intelligence with a thousand respectful acknowledgments, accepted the honour conferred upon him, and married the princess that very day. The cat became a great lord, and never after ran after rats and mice but for his amusement.



CHAPTER XVI

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who grieved sorely that they had no children. When at last the queen gave birth to a daughter the king was so overjoyed that he gave a great christening feast, the like of which had never before been known. He asked all the fairies in the land—there were seven all told—to stand godmothers to the little princess, hoping that each might give her a gift, and so she should have all imaginable perfections.

After the christening, all the company returned to the palace, where a great feast had been spread for the fairy godmothers. Before each was set a magnificent plate, with a gold knife and a gold fork studded with diamonds and rubies. Just as they were seating themselves, however, there entered an old fairy who had not been invited because more than fifty years ago she had shut herself up in a tower and it was supposed that she was either dead or enchanted.

The king ordered a cover to be laid for her, but it could not be a massive gold one like the others, for only seven had been ordered made. The old fairy thought herself ill-used and muttered between her teeth. One of the young fairies, overhearing her, and fancying she might work some mischief to the little baby, went and hid herself behind the hangings in the hall, so as to be able to have the last word and undo any harm the old fairy might wish to work. The fairies now began to endow the princess. The youngest, for her gift, decreed that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next that she should have the mind of an angel; the third that she should be perfectly graceful; the fourth that she should dance admirably well; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; the sixth, that she should play charmingly upon every musical instrument. The turn of the old fairy had now come, and she declared, while her head shook with malice, that the princess should pierce her hand with a spindle and die of the wound. This dreadful fate threw all the company into tears of dismay, when the young fairy who had hidden herself came forward and said:

"Be of good cheer, king and queen; your daughter shall not so die. It is true I cannot entirely undo what my elder has done. The princess will pierce her hand with a spindle, but, instead of dying, she will only fall into a deep sleep. The sleep will last a hundred years, and at the end of that time a king's son will come to wake her."

The king, in hopes of preventing what the old fairy had foretold, immediately issued an edict by which he forbade all persons in his dominion from spinning or even having spindles in their houses under pain of instant death.

Now fifteen years after the princess was born she was with the king and queen at one of their castles, and as she was running about by herself she came to a little chamber at the top of a tower, and there sat an honest old woman spinning, for she had never heard of the king's edict.

"What are you doing?" asked the princess.

"I am spinning, my fair child," said the old woman, who did not know her.

"How pretty it is!" exclaimed the princess. "How do you do it? Give it to me that I may see if I can do it." She had no sooner taken up the spindle, than, being hasty and careless, she pierced her hand with the point of it, and fainted away. The old woman, in great alarm, called for help. People came running in from all sides; they threw water in the princess's face and did all they could to restore her, but nothing would bring her to. The king, who had heard the noise and confusion, came up also, and remembering what the fairy had said, he had the princess carried to the finest apartment and laid upon a richly embroidered bed. She lay there in all her loveliness, for the swoon had not made her pale; her lips were cherry-ripe and her cheeks ruddy and fair; her eyes were closed, but they could hear her breathing quietly; she could not be dead. The king looked sorrowfully upon her. He knew that she would not awake for a hundred years.

The good fairy who had saved her life and turned her death into sleep was in the kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues away, when this happened, but she learned of it from a dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots, and instantly set out for the castle, where she arrived in an hour, drawn by dragons in a fiery chariot. The king came forward to receive her and showed his grief. The good fairy was very wise and saw that the princess when she woke would find herself all alone in that great castle and everything about her would be strange. So this is what she did. She touched with her wand everybody that was in the castle, except the king and queen. She touched the governesses, maids of honour, women of the bedchamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen; she touched the horses in the stable with their grooms, the great mastiffs in the court-yard, and even little Pouste, the tiny lap-dog of the princess that was on the bed beside her. As soon as she had touched them they all fell asleep, not to wake again until the time arrived for their mistress to do so, when they would be ready to wait upon her. Even the spits before the fire, laden with partridges and pheasants, went to sleep, and the fire itself went to sleep also.

It was the work of a moment. The king and queen kissed their daughter farewell and left the castle, issuing a proclamation that no person whatsoever was to approach it. That was needless, for in a quarter of an hour there had grown up about it a wood so thick and filled with thorns that nothing could get at the castle, and the castle top itself could only be seen from a great distance.

A hundred years went by, and the kingdom was in the hands of another royal family. The son of the king was hunting one day when he discovered the towers of the castle above the tops of the trees, and asked what castle that was. All manner of answers were given to him. One said it was an enchanted castle, another that witches lived there, but most believed that it was occupied by a great ogre which carried thither all the children he could catch and ate them up one at a time, for nobody could get at him through the wood. The prince did not know what to believe, when finally an old peasant said:

"Prince, it is more than fifty years since I heard my father say that there was in that castle the most beautiful princess that ever was seen; that she was to sleep for a hundred years, and to be awakened at last by the king's son, who was to marry her."

The young prince at these words felt himself on fire. He had not a moment's doubt that he was destined to this great adventure, and full of ardour he determined at once to set out for the castle. Scarcely had he come to the wood when all the trees and thorns which had made such an impenetrable thicket opened on one side and the other to offer him a path. He walked toward the castle, which appeared now at the end of a long avenue, but when he turned to, look for his followers not one was to be seen; the woods had closed instantly upon him as he had passed through. He was entirely alone, and utter silence was about him. He entered a large forecourt and stood still with amazement and awe. On every side were stretched the bodies of men and animals apparently lifeless. But the faces of the men were rosy, and the goblets by them had a few drops of wine left. The men had plainly fallen asleep. His steps resounded as he passed over the marble pavement and up the marble staircase. He entered the guard-room; there the guards stood drawn up in line with carbines at their shoulders, but they were sound asleep. He passed through one apartment after another, where were ladies and gentlemen asleep in their chairs or standing. He entered a chamber covered with gold, and saw on a bed, the curtains of which were drawn, the most lovely sight he had ever looked upon—a princess, who appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen, and so fair that she seemed to belong to another world. He drew near, trembling and wondering, and knelt beside her. Her hand lay upon her breast, and he touched his lips to it. At that moment, the enchantment being ended, the princess awoke, and, looking drowsily and tenderly at the young man, said:

"Have you come, my prince? I have waited long for you." The prince was overjoyed at the words, and at the tender voice and look, and scarcely knew how to speak. But he managed to assure her of his love, and they soon forgot all else as they talked and talked. They talked for four hours, and had not then said half that was in their heads to say.

Meanwhile all the rest of the people in the castle had been wakened at the same moment as the princess, and they were now extremely hungry. The lady-in-waiting became very impatient, and at length announced to the princess that they all waited for her. Then the prince took the princess by the hand; she was dressed in great splendour, but he did not hint that she looked as he had seen pictures of his great-grandmother look; he thought her all the more charming for that. They passed into a hall of mirrors, where they supped, attended by the officers of the princess. The violins and haut-boys played old but excellent pieces of music, and after supper, to lose no time, the grand almoner married the royal lovers in the chapel of the castle.

When they left the castle the next day to return to the prince's home, they were followed by all the retinue of the princess. They marched down the long avenue, and the wood opened again to let them pass. Outside they met the prince's followers, who were overjoyed to see their master. He turned to show them the castle, but behold! there was no castle to be seen, and no wood; castle and wood had vanished, but the prince and princess went gayly away, and when the old king and queen died they reigned in their stead.



CHAPTER XVII

JACK AND THE BEAN-STALK

In the days of King Alfred, there lived a poor woman whose cottage was situated in a remote country village, a great many miles from London. She had been a widow some years, and had an only child named Jack, whom she indulged to a fault. The consequence of her blind partiality was, that Jack did not pay the least attention to any thing she said, but was indolent, careless, and extravagant. His follies were not owing to a bad disposition, but that his mother had never checked him. By degrees she disposed of all she possessed—scarcely any thing remained but a cow. The poor woman one day met Jack with tears in her eyes; her distress was great, and for the first time in her life she could not help reproaching him, saying, "Oh! you wicked child, by your ungrateful course of life you have at last brought me to beggary and ruin. Cruel, cruel boy! I have not money enough to purchase even a bit of bread for another day—nothing now remains to sell but my poor cow! I am sorry to part with her; it grieves me sadly, but we must not starve." For a few minutes, Jack felt a degree of remorse, but it was soon over, and he began teasing his mother to let him sell the cow at the next village, so much, that she at last consented. As he was going along, he met a butcher, who inquired why he was driving the cow from home? Jack replied, he was going to sell it. The butcher held some curious beans in his hat; they were of various colours, and attracted Jack's attention. This did not pass unnoticed by the butcher, who, knowing Jack's easy temper, thought now was the time to take an advantage of it; and determined not to let slip so good an opportunity, asked what was the price of the cow, offering at the same time all the beans in his hat for her. The silly boy could not conceal the pleasure he felt at what he supposed so great an offer, the bargain was struck instantly, and the cow exchanged for a few paltry beans. Jack made the best of his way home, calling aloud to his mother before he reached home, thinking to surprise her.

When she saw the beans, and heard Jack's account, her patience quite forsook her. She kicked the beans away in a passion—they flew in all directions—some were scattered in the garden. Not having any thing to eat, they both went supperless to bed. Jack woke early in the morning, and seeing something uncommon from the window of his bedchamber, ran down stairs into the garden, where he soon discovered that some of the beans had taken root, and sprung up surprisingly: the stalks were of an immense thickness, and had so entwined, that they formed a ladder nearly like a chain in appearance. Looking upward, he could not discern the top, it appeared to be lost in the clouds: he tried it, found it firm, and not to be shaken. He quickly formed the resolution of endeavouring to climb up to the top, in order to seek his fortune, and ran to communicate his intention to his mother, not doubting but she would be equally pleased with himself. She declared he should not go; said it would break her heart if he did—entreated, and threatened—but all in vain. Jack set out, and after climbing for some hours, reached the top of the bean-stalk, fatigued and quite exhausted. Looking around, he found himself in a strange country; it appeared to be a desert, quite barren, not a tree, shrub, house, or living creature to be seen; here and there were scattered fragments of stone; and at unequal distances, small heaps of earth were loosely thrown together.

Jack seated himself pensively upon a block of stone, and thought of his mother—he reflected with sorrow upon his disobedience in climbing the bean-stalk against her will; and concluded that he must die with hunger. However he walked on, hoping to see a house where he might beg something to eat and drink; presently a handsome young woman appeared at a distance: as she approached, Jack could not help admiring how beautiful and lively she looked; she was dressed in the most elegant manner, and had a small white wand in her hand, on the top of which was a peacock of pure gold. While Jack was looking with great surprise at this charming female, she came up to him, and with a smile of the most bewitching sweetness, inquired how he came there. Jack related the circumstance of the bean-stalk. She asked him if he recollected his father; he replied he did not; and added, there must be some mystery relating to him, because if he asked his mother who his father was, she always burst into tears, and appeared violently agitated, nor did she recover herself for some days after; one thing, however, he could not avoid observing upon these occasions, which was that she always carefully avoided answering him, and even seemed afraid of speaking, as if there was some secret connected with his father's history which she must not disclose. The young woman replied, "I will reveal the whole story; your mother must not. But, before I begin, I require a solemn promise on your part to do what I command; I am a fairy, and if you do not perform exactly what I desire, you will be destroyed," Jack was frightened at her menaces, but promised to fulfil her injunctions exactly, and the fairy thus addressed him:

"Your father was a rich man, his disposition remarkably benevolent: he was very good to the poor, and constantly relieving them. He made it a rule never to let a day pass without doing good to some person. On one particular day in the week, he kept open house, and invited only those who were reduced and had lived well. He always presided himself, and did all in his power to render his guests comfortable; the rich and the great were not invited. The servants were all happy, and greatly attached to their master and mistress. Your father, though only a private gentleman, was as rich as a prince, and he deserved all he possessed, for he only lived to do good. Such a man was soon known and talked of. A giant lived a great many miles off: this man was altogether as wicked as your father was good; he was in his heart envious, covetous, and cruel; but he had the art of concealing those vices. He was poor, and wished to enrich himself at any rate. Hearing your father spoken of, he formed the design of becoming acquainted with him, hoping to ingratiate himself into your father's favour. He removed quickly into your neighbourhood, caused to be reported that he was a gentleman who had just lost all he possessed by an earth-quake, and found it difficult to escape with his life; his wife was with him. Your father gave credit to his story, and pitied him, gave him handsome apartments in his own house, and caused him and his wife to be treated like visitors of consequence, little imagining that the giant was meditating a horrid return for all his favours.

"Things went on in this way for some time, the giant becoming daily more impatient to put his plan into execution; at last a favourable opportunity presented itself. Your father's house was at some distance from the seashore, but with a glass the coast could be seen distinctly. The giant was one day using the telescope; the wind was very high; he saw a fleet of ships in distress off the rocks; he hastened to your father, mentioned the circumstance, and eagerly requested he would send all the servants he could spare to relieve the sufferers. Every one was instantly despatched, except the porter and your nurse; the giant then joined your father in the study, and appeared to be delighted—he really was so. Your father recommended a favourite book, and was handing it down: the giant took the opportunity, and stabbed him; he instantly fell down dead. The giant left the body, found the porter and nurse, and presently despatched them; being determined to have no living witnesses of his crimes. You were then only three months old; your mother had you in her arms in a remote part of the house, and was ignorant of what was going on; she went into the study, but how was she shocked, on discovering your father a corpse, and weltering in his blood! she was stupefied with horror and grief, and was motionless. The giant, who was seeking her, found her in that state, and hastened to serve her and you as he had done her husband, but she fell at his feet, and in a pathetic manner besought him to spare your life and hers.

"Remorse, for a moment, seemed to touch the barbarian's heart: he granted your lives; but first he made her take a most solemn oath, never to inform you who your father was, or to answer any questions concerning him: assuring her that if she did, he would certainly discover her, and put both of you to death in the most cruel manner. Your mother took you in her arms, and fled as quickly as possible; she was scarcely gone when the giant repented that he had suffered her to escape. He would have pursued her instantly; but he had to provide for his own safety; as it was necessary he should be gone before the servants returned. Having gained your father's confidence, he knew where to find all his treasure: he soon loaded himself and his wife, set the house on fire in several places, and when the servants returned, the house was burned quite down to the ground. Your poor mother, forlorn, abandoned, and forsaken, wandered with you a great many miles from this scene of desolation. Fear added to her haste. She settled in the cottage where you were brought up, and it was entirety owing to her fear of the giant that she never mentioned your father to you. I became your father's guardian at his birth; but fairies have laws to which they are subject as well as mortals. A short time before the giant went to your father's, I transgressed; my punishment was a suspension of power for a limited time—an unfortunate circumstance, as it totally prevented my succouring your father.

"The day on which you met the butcher, as you went to sell your mother's cow, my power was restored. It was I who secretly prompted you to take the beans in exchange for the cow. By my power, the bean-stalk grew to so great a height, and formed a ladder. I need not add that I inspired you with a strong desire to ascend the ladder. The giant lives in this country: you are the person appointed to punish him for all his wickedness. You will have dangers and difficulties to encounter, but you must persevere in avenging the death of your father, or you will not prosper in any of your undertakings, but will always be miserable. As to the giant's possessions, you may seize on all you can; for every thing he has is yours, though now you are unjustly deprived of it. One thing I desire—do not let your mother know you are acquainted with your father's history, till you see me again. Go along the direct road, you will soon see the house where your cruel enemy lives. While you do as I order you, I will protect and guard you; but, remember, if you dare disobey my commands, a most dreadful punishment awaits you."

When the fairy had concluded, she disappeared, leaving Jack to pursue his journey. He walked on till after sunset, when, to his great joy, he espied a large mansion. This agreeable sight revived his drooping spirits; he redoubled his speed, and soon reached it. A plain-looking woman was at the door—he accosted her, begging she would give him a morsel of bread and a night's lodging. She expressed the greatest surprise at seeing him; and said it was quite uncommon to see a human being near their house, for it was well known that her husband was a large and very powerful giant, and that he would never eat any thing but human flesh, if he could possibly get it; that he did not think any thing of walking fifty miles to procure it, usually being out the whole day for that purpose.

This account greatly terrified Jack, but still he hoped to elude the giant, and therefore he again entreated the woman to take him in for one night only, and hide him where she thought proper. The good woman at last suffered herself to be persuaded, for she was of a compassionate and generous disposition, and took him into the house. First, they entered a fine large hall, magnificently furnished; they then passed through several spacious rooms, all in the same style of grandeur; but they appeared to be quite forsaken and desolate. A long gallery was next; it was very dark—just light enough to show that, instead of a wall on one side, there was a grating of iron, which parted off a dismal dungeon, from whence issued the groans of those poor victims whom the cruel giant reserved in confinement for his own voracious appetite. Poor Jack was half dead with fear, and would have given the world to have been with his mother again, for he now began to fear that he should never see her more, and gave himself up for lost; he even mistrusted the good woman, and thought she had let him into the house for no other purpose than to lock him up among the unfortunate people in the dungeon. At the farther end of the gallery there was a spacious kitchen, and a very excellent fire was burning in the grate. The good woman bid Jack sit down, and gave him plenty to eat and drink. Jack, not seeing any thing here to make him uncomfortable, soon forgot his fear, and was just beginning to enjoy himself, when he was aroused by a loud knocking at the street-door, which made the whole house shake: the giant's wife ran to secure him in the oven, and then went to let her husband in. Jack heard him accost her in a voice like thunder, saying: "Wife, I smell fresh meat." "Oh! my dear," replied she, "it is nothing but the people in the dungeon." The giant appeared to believe her, and walked into the very kitchen where poor Jack was concealed, who shook, trembled, and was more terrified than he had yet been. At last, the monster seated himself quietly by the fire-side, whilst his wife prepared supper. By degrees Jack recovered himself sufficiently to look at the giant through a small crevice. He was quite astonished to see what an amazing quantity he devoured, and thought he never would have done eating and drinking. When supper was ended, the giant desired his wife to bring him his hen. A very beautiful hen was then brought, and placed on the table before him. Jack's curiosity was very great to see what would happen: he observed that every time the giant said "Lay!" the hen laid an egg of solid gold. The giant amused himself a long time with his hen; meanwhile his wife went to bed. At length the giant fell asleep by the fire-side, and snored like the roaring of a cannon.

At daybreak, Jack, finding the giant still asleep, and not likely to awaken soon, crept softly out of his hiding-place, seized the hen, and ran off with her. He met with some difficulty in finding his way out of the house, but at last he reached the road with safety. He easily found the way to the bean-stalk, and descended it better and quicker than he expected. His mother was overjoyed to see him; he found her crying bitterly, and lamenting his hard fate, for she concluded he had come to some shocking end through his rashness. Jack was impatient to show his hen, and inform his mother how valuable it was. "And now, mother," said Jack, "I have brought home that which will quickly make us rich; and I hope to make you some amends for the affliction I have caused you through my idleness, extravagance, and folly." The hen produced as many golden eggs as they desired: they sold them, and in a little time became possessed of as much riches as they wanted. For some months Jack and his mother lived very happily together; but he being very desirous of travelling, recollecting the fairy's commands, and fearing that if he delayed, she would put her threats into execution, longed to climb the bean-stalk, and pay the giant another visit, in order to carry away some more of his treasures; for, during the time that Jack was in the giant's mansion, whilst he lay concealed in the oven, he learned from the conversation that took place between the giant and his wife, that he possessed some wonderful curiosities. Jack thought of his journey again and again, but still he could not summon resolution enough to break it to his mother, being well assured that she would endeavour to prevent his going. However, one day he told her boldly that he must take a journey up the bean-stalk; she begged and prayed him not to think of it, and tried all in her power to dissuade him: she told him that the giant's wife would certainly know him again, and that the giant would desire nothing better than to get him into his power, that he might put him to a cruel death, in order to be revenged for the loss of his hen. Jack, finding that all his arguments were useless, pretended to give up the point, though resolved to go at all events. He had a dress prepared which would disguise him, and something to colour his skin. He thought it impossible for any one to recollect him in this dress.

In a few mornings after this, he arose very early, changed his complexion, and, unperceived by any one, climbed the bean-stalk a second time. He was greatly fatigued when he reached the top, and very hungry. Having rested some time on one of the stones, he pursued his journey to the giant's mansion. He reached it late in the evening: the woman was at the door as before. Jack addressed her, at the same time telling her a pitiful tale, and requesting that she would give him some victuals and drink, and also a night's lodging.

She told him (what he knew before very well) about her husband being a powerful and cruel giant; and also that she one night admitted a poor, hungry, friendless boy, who was half dead with travelling; that the little ungrateful fellow had stolen one of the giant's treasures; and, ever since that, her husband had been worse than before, used her very cruelly, and continually upbraided her with being the cause of his misfortune. Jack was at no loss to discover that he was attending to the account of a story in which he was the principal actor. He did his best to persuade the good woman to admit him, but found it a very hard task. At last she consented; and as she led the way, Jack observed that every thing was just as he had found it before. She took him into the kitchen, and after he had done eating and drinking, she hid him in an old lumber-closet. The giant returned at the usual time, and walked in so heavily, that the house was shaken to its foundation. He seated himself by the fire, and soon after exclaimed: "Wife! I smell fresh meat!" The wife replied, it was the crows, who had brought a piece of raw meat, and left it on the top of the house. Whilst supper was preparing, the giant was very ill-tempered and impatient, frequently lifting up his hand to strike his wife, for not being quick enough; she, however, was always so fortunate as to elude the blow. He was also continually up-braiding her with the loss of his wonderful hen. The giant at last having ended his voracious supper, and eaten till he was quite satisfied, said to his wife: "I must have something to amuse me; either my bags of money or my harp." After a great deal of ill-humour, and having teased his wife some he commanded her to bring down his bags of gold and silver. Jack, as before, peeped out of his hiding-place, and presently his wife brought two bags into the room: they were of a very large size; one was filled with new guineas, and the other with new shillings. They were both placed before the giant, who began reprimanding his poor wife most severely for staying so long; she replied, trembling with fear, that they were so heavy, that she could scarcely lift them; and concluded, at last, that she would never again bring them down stairs; adding, that she had nearly fainted, owing to their weight This so exasperated the giant, that he raised his hand to strike her; she, however, escaped, and went to bed, leaving him to count over his treasure, by way of amusement. The giant took his bags, and after turning them over and over, to see that they were in the same state as he left them, began to count their contents. First, the bag which contained the silver was emptied, and the contents placed upon the table. Jack viewed the glittering heaps with delight, and most heartily wished them in his own possession. The giant (little thinking he was so narrowly watched) reckoned the silver over several times; and then, having satisfied himself that all was safe, put it into the bag again, which he made very secure. The other bag was opened next, and the guineas placed upon the table. If Jack was pleased at the sight of the silver, how much more delighted he felt when he saw such a heap of glittering gold! He even had the boldness to think of gaming both bags; but suddenly recollecting himself, he began to fear that the giant would sham sleep, the better to entrap any one who might be concealed. When the giant had counted over the gold till he was tired, he put it up, if possible, more secure than he had put up the silver before; he then fell back on his chair by the fire-side, and fell asleep. He snored so loud, that Jack compared his noise to the roaring of the sea in a high wind, when the tide is coming in. At last, Jack concluded him to be asleep, and therefore secure, stole out of his hiding-place, and approached the giant, in order to carry off the two bags of money; but just as he laid his hand upon one of the bags, a little dog, whom he had not perceived before, started from under the giant's chair, and barked at Jack most furiously, who now gave himself up for lost. Fear riveted him to the spot. Instead of endeavouring to escape, he stood still, though expecting his enemy to awake every instant. Contrary, however, to his expectation, the giant continued in a sound sleep, and the dog grew weary of barking. Jack now began to recollect himself, and on looking round, saw a large piece of meat; this he threw to the dog, who instantly seized it, and took it into the lumber-closet, which Jack had just left. Finding himself delivered from a noisy and troublesome enemy, and seeing the giant did not awake, Jack boldly seized the bags, and throwing them over his shoulders, ran out of the kitchen. He reached the street door in safety, and found it quite daylight. In his way to the top of the bean-stalk, he found himself greatly incommoded with the weight of the money-bags; and really they were so heavy that he could scarcely carry them. Jack was overjoyed when he found himself near the bean-stalk; he soon reached the bottom, and immediately ran to seek his mother; to his great surprise, the cottage was deserted; he ran from one room to another, without being able to find any one; he then hastened into the village, hoping to see some of the neighbours, who could inform him where he could find his mother. An old woman at last directed him to a neighbouring house, where she was ill of a fever. He was greatly shocked on finding her apparently dying, and could scarcely bear his own reflections, on knowing himself to be the cause. On being informed of our hero's safe return, his mother, by degrees, revived, and gradually recovered. Jack presented her with his two valuable bags. They lived happily and comfortably; the cottage was rebuilt, and well furnished.

For three years Jack heard no more of the bean-stalk, but he could not forget it; though he feared making his mother unhappy. She would not mention the hated bean-stalk, lest it should remind him of taking another journey. Notwithstanding the comforts Jack enjoyed at home, his mind dwelt continually upon the bean-stalk; for the fairy's menaces, in case of his disobedience, were ever present to his mind, and prevented him from being happy; he could think of nothing else. It was in vain endeavouring to amuse himself; he became thoughtful, and would arise at the first dawn of day, and view the bean-stalk for hours together. His mother saw that something preyed heavily upon his mind, and endeavoured to discover the cause; but Jack knew too well what the consequence would be, should she succeed. He did his utmost, therefore, to conquer the great desire he had for another journey up the bean-stalk. Finding, however, that his inclination grew too powerful for him, he began to make secret preparations for his journey, and on the longest day, arose as soon as it was light, ascended the bean-stalk, and reached the top with some little trouble. He found the road, journey, etc., much as it was on the two former times; he arrived at the giant's mansion in the evening, and found his wife standing, as usual, at the door. Jack had disguised himself so completely, that she did not appear to have the least recollection of him; however, when he pleaded hunger and poverty, in order to gain admittance, he found it very difficult to persuade her. At last he prevailed, and was concealed in the copper. When the giant returned, he said, "I smell fresh meat!" But Jack felt quite composed, as he had said so before, and had been soon satisfied. However, the giant started up suddenly, and, notwithstanding all his wife could say, he searched all round the room. Whilst this was going forward, Jack was exceedingly terrified, and ready to die with fear, wishing himself at home a thousand times; but when the giant approached the copper, and put his hand upon the lid, Jack thought his death was certain. The giant ended his search there, without moving the lid, and seated himself quietly by the fire-side. This fright nearly overcame poor Jack; he was afraid of moving or even breathing, lest he should be discovered. The giant at last ate a hearty supper. When he had finished, he commanded his wife to fetch down his harp. Jack peeped under the copper-lid, and soon saw the most beautiful harp that could be imagined: it was placed by the giant on the table, who said, "Play!" and it instantly played of its own accord, without being touched. The music was uncommonly fine. Jack was delighted, and felt more anxious to get the harp into his possession, than either of the former treasures. The giant's soul was not attuned to harmony, and the music soon lulled him into a sound sleep. Now, therefore, was the time to carry off the harp, as the giant appeared to be in a more profound sleep than usual Jack soon determined, got out of the copper, and seized the harp, The harp was enchanted by a fairy: it called out loudly: "Master! master!" The giant awoke, stood up, and tried to pursue Jack; but he had drank so much, that he could hardly stand. Poor Jack ran as fast as he could. In a little time the giant recovered sufficiently to walk slowly, or rather, to reel after him. Had he been sober, he must have overtaken Jack instantly; but, as he then was, Jack contrived to be first at the top of the bean-stalk. The giant called after him in a voice like thunder, and sometimes was very near him. The moment Jack got down the bean-stalk he called out for a hatchet; one was brought him directly; just at that instant, the giant was beginning to descend; but Jack, with his hatchet, cut the bean-stalk close off at the root, which made the giant fall headlong into the garden: the fall killed him, thereby releasing the world from a barbarous enemy. Jack's mother was delighted when she saw the bean-stalk destroyed. At this instant the fairy appeared: she first addressed Jack's mother and explained every circumstance relating to the journeys up the bean-stalk. The fairy charged Jack to be dutiful to his mother, and to follow his father's good example, which was the only way to be happy. She then disappeared. Jack heartily begged his mother's pardon for all the sorrow and affliction he had caused her, promising most faithfully to be very dutiful and obedient to her for the future.



CHAPTER XVIII

JACK THE GIANT KILLER

In the reign of the famous King Arthur, there lived near the Land's End of England, in the county of Cornwall, a worthy farmer, who had an only son named Jack. Jack was a boy of a bold temper; he took pleasure in hearing or reading stories of wizards, conjurers, giants, and fairies, and used to listen eagerly while his father talked of the great deeds of the brave knights of King Arthur's Round Table. When Jack was sent to take care of the sheep and oxen in the fields, he used to amuse himself with planning battles, sieges, and the means to conquer or surprise a foe. He was above the common sports of children; but hardly any one could equal him at wrestling; or, if he met with a match for himself in strength, his skill and address always made him the victor. In those days there lived on St. Michael's Mount of Cornwall, which rises out of the sea at some distance from the main land, a huge giant. He was eighteen feet high, and three yards round; and his fierce and savage looks were the terror of all his neighbours. He dwelt in a gloomy cavern on the very top of the mountain, and used to wade over to the main land in search of his prey. When he came near, the people left their houses; and after he had glutted his appetite upon their cattle, he would throw half-a-dozen oxen upon his back, and tie three times as many sheep and hogs round his waist, and so march back to his own abode. The giant had done this for many years, and the coast of Cornwall was greatly hurt by his thefts, when Jack boldly resolved to destroy him. He therefore took a horn, a shovel, pickaxe, and a dark lantern, and early in a long winter's evening he swam to the mount. There he fell to work at once, and before morning he had dug a pit twenty-two feet deep, and almost as many broad. He covered it over with sticks and straw, and strewed some of the earth over them, to make it look just like solid ground. He then put his horn to his mouth, and blew such a loud and long tantivy, that the giant awoke and came towards Jack, roaring like thunder: "You saucy villain, you shall pay dearly for breaking my rest; I will broil you for my breakfast." He had scarcely spoken these words, when he came advancing one step farther; but then he tumbled headlong into the pit, and his fall shook the very mountain. "O ho, Mr. Giant!" said Jack, looking into the pit, "have you found your way so soon to the bottom? How is your appetite now? Will nothing serve you for breakfast this cold morning but broiling poor Jack?" The giant now tried to rise, but Jack struck him a blow on the crown of the head with his pickaxe, which killed him at once. Jack then made haste back to rejoice his friends with the news of the giant's death. When the justices of Cornwall heard of this valiant action, they sent for Jack, and declared that he should always be called Jack the Giant Killer; and they also gave him a sword and belt, upon which was written in letters of gold:

"This is the valiant Cornishman Who slew the Giant Cormoran."

The news of Jack's exploits soon spread over the western parts of England; and another giant, called Old Blunderbore, vowed to have revenge on Jack, if it should ever be his fortune to get him into his power. This giant kept an enchanted castle in the midst of a lonely wood. About four months after the death of Cormoran, as Jack was taking a journey into Wales, he passed through this wood; and as he was very weary, he sat down to rest by the side of a pleasant fountain, and there he fell into a deep sleep. The giant came to the fountain for water just at this time, and found Jack there; and as the lines on Jack's belt showed who he was, the giant lifted him up and laid him gently upon his shoulder to carry him to his castle: but as he passed through the thicket, the rustling of the leaves waked Jack; and he was sadly afraid when he found himself in the clutches of Blunderbore. Yet this was nothing to his fright soon after; for when they reached the castle, he beheld the floor covered all over with the skulls and bones of men and women. The giant took him into a large room where lay the hearts and limbs of persons who had been lately killed; and he told Jack, with a horrid grin, that men's hearts, eaten with pepper and vinegar, were his nicest food; and also, that he thought he should make a dainty meal on his heart. When he had said this, he locked Jack up in that room, while he went to fetch another giant who lived in the same wood, to enjoy a dinner off Jack's flesh with him. While he was away, Jack heard dreadful shrieks, groans, and cries, from many parts of the castle; and soon after he heard a mournful voice repeat these lines:

"Haste, valiant stranger, haste away, Lest you become the giant's prey. On his return he'll bring another, Still more savage than his brother: A horrid, cruel monster, who, Before he kills, will torture you. Oh valiant stranger, haste away, Or you'll become these giants' prey."

This warning was so shocking to poor Jack, that he was ready to go mad. He ran to the window, and saw the two giants coming along arm in arm. This window was right over the gates of the castle. "Now," thought Jack, "either my death or freedom is at hand." There were two strong cords in the room: Jack made a large noose with a slip-knot at the ends of both these, and as the giants were coming through the gates, he threw the ropes over their heads. He then made the other ends fast to a beam in the ceiling, and pulled with all his might till he had almost strangled them. When he saw that they were both quite black in the face, and had not the least strength left, he drew his sword, and slid down the ropes; he then killed the giants, and thus saved himself from the cruel death they meant to put him to. Jack next took a great bunch of keys from the pocket of Blunderbore, and went into the castle again. He made a strict search through all the rooms; and in them found three ladies tied up by the hair of their heads, and almost starved to death. They told him that their husbands had been killed by the giants, who had then condemned them to be starved to death, because they would not eat the flesh of their own dead husbands. "Ladies," said Jack, "I have put an end to the monster and his wicked brother; and I give you this castle and all the riches it contains, to make you some amends for the dreadful pains you have felt." He then very politely gave them the keys of the castle, and went further on his journey to Wales. As Jack had not taken any of the giant's riches for himself, and so had very little money of his own, he thought it best to travel as fast as he could. At length he lost his way, and when night came on he was in a lonely valley between two lofty mountains, where he walked about for some hours without seeing any dwelling place, so he thought himself very lucky at last, in finding a large and handsome house.

He went up to it boldly, and knocked loudly at the gate, when, to his great terror and surprise, there came forth a monstrous giant with two heads. He spoke to Jack very civilly, for he was a Welsh giant, and all the mischief he did was by private and secret malice, under the show of friendship and kindness. Jack told him that he was a traveller who had lost his way, on which the huge monster made him welcome, and led him into a room, where there was a good bed to pass the night in. Jack took off his clothes quickly; but though he was so weary he could not go to sleep. Soon after this he heard the giant walking backward and forward in the next room, and saying to himself:

"Though here you lodge with me this night, You shall not see the morning light; My club shall dash your brains out quite."

"Say you so?" thought Jack; "are these your tricks upon travellers? But I hope to prove as cunning as you." Then getting out of bed, he groped about the room, and at last found a large thick billet of wood; he laid it in his own place in the bed, and then hid himself in a dark corner of the room. In the middle of the night the giant came with his great club, and struck many heavy blows on the bed, in the very place where Jack had laid the billet, and then he went back to his own room, thinking he had broken all his bones. Early in the morning, Jack put a bold face upon the matter, and walked into the giant's room to thank him for his lodgings. The giant started when he saw him, and he began to stammer out, "Oh, dear me! Is it you? Pray, how did you sleep last night? Did you hear or see any thing in the dead of the night?" "Nothing worth speaking of," said Jack carelessly; "a rat, I believe, gave me three or four slaps with his tail, and disturbed me a little; but I soon went to sleep again." The giant wondered more and more at this; yet he did not answer a word, but went to bring two great bowls of hasty-pudding for their breakfast. Jack wished to make the giant believe that he could eat as much as himself. So he contrived to button a leathern bag inside his coat, and slipped the hasty-pudding into this bag, while he seemed to put it into his mouth. When breakfast was over, he said to the giant: "Now I will show you a fine trick; I can cure all wounds with a touch; I could cut off my head one minute, and the next, put it sound again on my shoulders: you shall see an example." He then took hold of the knife, ripped up the leathern bag, and all the hasty-pudding tumbled out upon the floor. "Ods splutter hur nails," cried the Welsh giant, who was ashamed to be outdone by such a little fellow as Jack, "hur can do that hurself." So he snatched up the knife, plunged it into his stomach, and in a moment dropped down dead.

As soon as Jack had thus tricked the Welsh monster, he went farther on his journey; and a few days after he met with King Arthur's only son, who had got his father's leave to travel into Wales, to deliver a beautiful lady from the power of a wicked magician, who held her in his enchantments. When Jack found that the young prince had no servants with him, he begged leave to attend him; and the prince at once agreed to this, and gave Jack many thanks for his kindness. The prince was a handsome, polite, and brave knight, and so good-natured that he gave money to every body he met. At length he gave his last penny to an old woman, and then turned to Jack, and said: "How shall we be able to get food for ourselves the rest of our journey?" "Leave that to me sir," said Jack; "I will provide for my prince." Night now came on, and the prince began to grow uneasy at thinking where they should lodge. "Sir," said Jack, "be of good heart; two miles farther there lives a large giant, whom I know well. He has three heads, and will fight five hundred men, and make them fly before him." "Alas!" replied the king's son, "we had better never have been born than meet with such a monster." "My lord, leave me to manage him, and wait here in quiet till I return." The prince now staid behind, while Jack rode on full speed. And when he came to the gates of the castle, he gave a loud knock. The giant, with a voice like thunder, roared out: "Who is there?" And Jack made answer, and said: "No one but your poor cousin Jack." "Well," said the giant, "what news, cousin Jack?" "Dear uncle," said Jack, "I have some heavy news." "Pooh!" said the giant, "what heavy news can come to me? I am a giant with three heads; and can fight five hundred men, and make them fly before me." "Alas!" said Jack, "Here is the king's son, coming with two thousand men, to kill you, and to destroy the castle and all that you have." "Oh, cousin Jack," said the giant, "This is heavy news indeed! But I have a large cellar under ground, where I will hide myself, and you shall lock, and bar me in, and keep the keys till the king's son is gone."

Now when Jack had made the giant fast in the vault, he went back and fetched the prince to the castle; they both made themselves merry with the wine and other dainties that were in the house. So that night they rested very pleasantly, while the poor giant lay trembling and shaking with fear in the cellar under ground. Early in the morning, Jack gave the king's son gold and silver out of the giant's treasure, and set him three miles forward on his journey. He then went to let his uncle out of the hole, who asked Jack what he should give him as a reward for saving his castle. "Why, good uncle," said Jack, "I desire nothing but the old coat and cap, with the old rusty sword and slippers, which are hanging at your bed's head," Then said the giant: "You shall have them; and pray keep them for my sake, for they are things of great use: the coat will keep you invisible, the cap will give you knowledge, the sword cut through anything, and the shoes are of vast swiftness; these may be useful to you in all times of danger, so take them with all my heart." Jack gave many thanks to the giant, and then set off to the prince. When he had come up with the king's son, they soon arrived at the dwelling of the beautiful lady, who was under the power of a wicked magician. She received the prince very politely, and made a noble feast for him; and when it was ended, she rose, and wiping her mouth with a fine handkerchief, said: "My lord, you must submit to the custom of my palace; to-morrow morning I command you to tell me on whom I bestow this handkerchief or lose your head." She then went out of the room. The young prince went to bed very mournful: but Jack put on his cap of knowledge, which told him that the lady was forced, by the power of enchantment, to meet the wicked magician every night in the middle of the forest. Jack now put on his coat of darkness, and his shoes of swiftness, and was there before her. When the lady came, she gave the handkerchief to the magician. Jack with his sword of sharpness, at one blow, cut off his head; the enchantment was then ended in a moment, and the lady was restored to her former virtue and goodness.

She was married to the prince on the next day, and soon after went back with her royal husband, and a great company, to the court of King Arthur, where they were received with loud and joyful welcomes; and the valiant hero Jack, for the many great exploits he had done for the good of his country, was made one of the Knights of the Round Table. As Jack had been so lucky in all his adventures, he resolved not to be idle for the future, but still to do what services he could for the honour of the king and the nation. He therefore humbly begged his majesty to furnish him with a horse and money, that he might travel in search of new and strange exploits. "For," said he to the king, "there are many giants yet living in the remote parts of Wales, to the great terror and distress of your majesty's subjects; therefore if it please you, sire, to favour me in my design, I will soon rid your kingdom of these giants and monsters in human shape." Now when the king heard this offer, and began to think of the cruel deeds of these blood-thirsty giants and savage monsters, he gave Jack every thing proper for such a journey. After this Jack took leave of the king, the prince, and all the knights, and set off; taking with him his cap of knowledge, his sword of sharpness, his shoes of swiftness, and his invisible coat, the better to perform the great exploits that might fall in his way. He went along over high hills and lofty mountains, and on the third day he came to a large wide forest, through which his road led. He had hardly entered the forest, when on a sudden he heard very dreadful shrieks and cries. He forced his way through the trees, and saw a monstrous giant dragging along by the hair of their heads a handsome knight and his beautiful lady. Their tears and cries melted the heart of honest Jack to pity and compassion; he alighted from his horse, and tying him to an oak tree he put on his invisible coat, under which he carried his sword of sharpness.

When he came up to the giant, he made several strokes at him, but could not reach his body, on account of the enormous height of the terrible creature, but he wounded his thighs in several places; and at length, putting both hands to his sword, and aiming with all his might, he cut off both the giant's legs just below the garter; and the trunk of his body tumbling to the ground, made not only the trees shake, but the earth itself tremble with the force of his fall. Then Jack, setting his foot upon his neck, exclaimed, "Thou barbarous and savage wretch, behold I come to execute upon thee the just reward for all thy crimes;" and instantly plunged his sword into the giant's body. The huge monster gave a hideous groan, and yielded up his life into the hands of the victorious Jack the Giant Killer, whilst the noble knight and the virtuous lady were both joyful spectators of his sudden death and their deliverance. The courteous knight and his fair lady, not only returned Jack hearty thanks for their deliverance, but also invited him to their house, to refresh himself after his dreadful encounter, as likewise to receive a reward for his good services. "No," said Jack, "I cannot be at ease till I find out the den that was the monster's habitation." The knight on hearing this grew very sorrowful, and replied, "Noble stranger, it is too much to run a second hazard; this monster lived in a den under yonder mountain, with a brother of his, more fierce and cruel than himself; therefore, if you should go thither, and perish in the attempt, it would be a heart-breaking thing to me and my lady; so let me persuade you to go with us, and desist from any farther pursuit." "Nay," answered Jack, "if there be another, even if there were twenty, I would shed the last drop of blood in my body before one of them should escape my fury. When I have finished this task, I will come and pay my respects to you." So when they had told him where to find them again, he got on his horse and went after the dead giant's brother.

Jack had not rode a mile and a half, before he came in sight of the mouth of the cavern; and nigh the entrance of it, he saw the other giant sitting on a huge block of fine timber, with a knotted iron club lying by his side, waiting for his brother. His eyes looked like flames of fire, his face was grim and ugly, and his cheeks seemed like two flitches of bacon; the bristles of his beard seemed to be thick rods of iron wire; and his long locks of hair hung down upon his broad shoulders like curling snakes. Jack got down from his horse, and turned him into a thicket; then he put on his coat of darkness, and drew a little nearer to behold this figure, and said softly: "Oh, monster! are you there? It will not be long before I shall take you fast by the beard." The giant all this while, could not see him, by reason of his invisible coat: so Jack came quite close to him, and struck a blow at his head with his sword of sharpness, but he missed his aim, and only cut off his nose, which made him roar like loud claps of thunder. And though he rolled his glaring eyes round on every side, he could not see who had given him the blow; yet he took up his iron club, and began to lay about him like one that was mad with pain and fury.

"Nay," said Jack, "if this be the case I will kill you at once." So saying, he slipped nimbly behind him, and jumping upon the block of timber, as the giant rose from it, he stabbed him in the back; when, after a few howls, he dropped down dead. Jack cut off his head, and sent it with the head of his brother, whom he had killed before in the forest, to King Arthur, by a wagon which he hired for that purpose, with an account of all his exploits. When Jack had thus killed these two monsters, he went into their cave in search of their treasure: he passed through many turnings and windings, which led him to a room paved with freestone; at the end of it was a boiling caldron, and on the right hand stood a large table where the giants used to dine. He then came to a window that was secured with iron bars, through which he saw a number of wretched captives, who cried out when they saw Jack, "Alas! alas! young man, you are come to be one among us in this horrid den." "I hope," said Jack, "you will not stay here long; but pray tell me what is the meaning of your being here at all?" "Alas!" said one poor old man, "I will tell you, sir. We are persons that have been taken by the giants who hold this cave, and are kept till they choose to have a feast, then one of us is to be killed, and cooked to please their taste. It is not long since they took three for the same purpose." "Well," said Jack, "I have given them such a dinner that it will be long enough before they have any more." The captives were amazed at his words. "You may believe me," said Jack; "for I have killed them both with the edge of the sword, and have sent their large heads to the court of King Arthur, as marks of my great success."

To show them that what he said was true, he unlocked the gate, and set them all free. Then he led them to the great room, placed them round the table, and set before them two quarters of beef, with bread and wine; upon which they feasted to their fill. When supper was over, they searched the giants' coffers, and Jack shared the store in them among the captives, who thanked him for their escape. The next morning they set off to their homes, and Jack to the knight's house, whom he had left with his lady not long before. It was just at the time of sunrise that Jack mounted his horse to proceed on his journey.

He arrived at the knight's house, where he was received with the greatest joy by the thankful knight and his lady, who, in honour of Jack's exploits, gave a grand feast, to which all the nobles and gentry were invited. When the company were assembled, the knight declared to them the great actions of Jack, and gave him, as a mark of respect, a fine ring, on which was engraved the picture of the giant dragging the knight and the lady by the hair, with this motto round it:

"Behold, in dire distress were we, Under a giant's fierce command; But gained our lives and liberty, From valiant Jack's victorious hand."

Among the guests then present were five aged gentlemen, who were fathers to some of those captives who had been freed by Jack from the dungeon of the giants. As soon as they heard that he was the person who had done such wonders, they pressed round him with tears of joy, to return him thanks for the happiness he had caused to them. After this the bowl went round, and every one drank to the health and long life of the gallant hero. Mirth increased, and the hall was filled with peals of laughter and joyful cries. But, on a sudden, a herald, pale and breathless with haste and terror, rushed into the midst of the company, and told them that Thundel, a savage giant with two heads, had heard of the death of his two kinsmen, and was come to take his revenge on Jack; and that he was now within a mile of the house; the people flying before him like chaff before the wind. At this news the very boldest of the guests trembled; but Jack drew his sword, and said: "Let him come, I have a rod for him also. Pray, ladies and gentlemen, do me the favour to walk into the garden, and you shall soon behold the giant's defeat and death." To this they all agreed, and heartily wished him success in his dangerous attempt. The knight's house stood in the middle of a moat, thirty feet deep and twenty wide, over which lay a drawbridge. Jack set men to work to cut the bridge on both sides, almost to the middle; and then dressed himself in his coat of darkness, and went against the giant with his sword of sharpness. As he came close to him, though the giant could not see him, for his invisible coat, yet he found some danger was near, which made him cry out:

"Fa, fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman; Let him be alive, or let him be dead, I'll grind his bones to make me bread."

"Say you so my friend?" said Jack, "you are a monstrous miller indeed." "Art thou," cried the giant, "the villain that killed my kinsmen? Then I will tear thee with my teeth, and grind thy bones to powder." "You must catch me first," said Jack; and throwing off his coat of darkness, and putting on his shoes of swiftness, he began to run; the giant following him like a walking castle, making the earth shake at every step.

Jack led him round and round the walls of the house, that the company might see the monster; and to finish the work Jack ran over the drawbridge, the giant going after him with his club. But when the giant came to the middle, where the bridge had been cut on both sides, the great weight of his body made it break, and he tumbled into the water, and rolled about like a large whale. Jack now stood by the side of the moat, and laughed and jeered at him, saying: "I think you told me, you would grind my bones to powder. When will you begin?" The giant foamed at both his horrid mouths with fury, and plunged from side to side of the moat; but he could not get out to have revenge on his little foe. At last Jack ordered a cart rope to be brought to him. He then drew it over his two heads, and by the help of a team of horses, dragged him to the edge of the moat, where he cut off the monster's heads; and before he either eat or drank, he sent them both to the court of King Arthur. He then went back to the table with the company, and the rest of the day was spent in mirth and good cheer. After staying with the knight for some time, Jack grew weary of such an idle life, and set out again in search of new adventures. He went over the hills and dales without meeting any, till he came to the foot of a very high mountain. Here he knocked at the door of a small and lonely house; and an old man, with a head as white as snow, let him in. "Good father" said Jack, "can you lodge a traveller who has lost his way?" "Yes," said the hermit, "I can, if you will accept such fare as my poor house affords." Jack entered, and the old man set before him some bread and fruit for his supper. When Jack had eaten as much as he chose, the hermit said, "My son, I know you are the famous conqueror of giants; now, on the top of this mountain is an enchanted castle, kept by a giant named Galligantus, who, by the help of a vile magician, gets many knights into his castle, where he changes them into the shape of beasts. Above all I lament the hard fate of a duke's daughter, whom they seized as she was walking in her father's garden, and brought hither through the air in a chariot drawn by two fiery dragons, and turned her into the shape of a deer. Many knights have tried to destroy the enchantment, and deliver her; yet none have been able to do it, by reason of two fiery griffins who guard the gate of the castle, and destroy all who come nigh. But as you, my son, have an invisible coat, you may pass by them without being seen; and on the gates of the castle, you will find engraved, by what means the enchantment may be broken."

Jack promised, that in the morning, at the risk of his life he would break the enchantment: and after a sound sleep he arose early, put on his invisible coat, and got ready for the attempt. When he had climbed to the top of the mountain, he saw the two fiery griffins; but he passed between them without the least fear of danger; for they could not see him because of his invisible coat. On the castle gate he found a golden trumpet, under which were written these lines:

"Whoever can this trumpet blow, Shall cause the giant's overthrow."

As soon as Jack had read this, he seized the trumpet, and blew a shrill blast which made the gates fly open and the very castle itself tremble. The giant and the conjurer now knew that their wicked course was at an end, and they stood biting their thumbs and shaking with fear. Jack, with his sword of sharpness, soon killed the giant. The magician was then carried away by a whirlwind and every knight and beautiful lady, who had been changed into birds and beasts, returned to their proper shapes. The castle vanished away like smoke and the head of the giant Galligantus was sent to King Arthur. The knights and ladies rested that night at the old man's hermitage, and next day they set out for the court. Jack then went up to the king, and gave his majesty an account of all his fierce battles. Jack's fame had spread through the whole country; and at the king's desire, the duke gave him his daughter in marriage, to the joy of all the kingdom. After this the king gave him a large estate; on which he and his lady lived the rest of their days, in joy and content.



CHAPTER XIX

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

Once upon a time there lived in a village a country girl, who was the sweetest little creature that ever was seen; her mother naturally loved her with excessive fondness, and her grandmother doted on her still more. The good woman had made for her a pretty little red-coloured hood, which so much became the little girl, that every one called her Little Red Riding Hood.

One day her mother having made some cheesecakes, said to her, "Go, my child, and see how your grandmother does, for I hear she is ill; carry her some of these cakes, and a little pot of butter." Little Red Riding Hood straight set out with a basket filled with the cakes and the pot of butter, for her grandmother's house, which was in a village a little way off the town that her mother lived in. As she was crossing a wood, which lay in her road, she met a large wolf, which had a great mind to eat her up, but dared not, for fear of some wood-cutters, who were at work near them in the forest. Yet he spoke to her, and asked her whither she was going. The little girl, who did not know the danger of talking to a wolf, replied: "I am going to see my grandmamma, and carry these cakes and a pot of butter." "Does she live far off?" said the wolf. "Oh yes!" answered Little Red Riding Hood; "beyond the mill you see yonder, at the first house in the village." "Well," said the wolf, "I will take this way, and you take that, and see which will be there the soonest."

The wolf set out full speed, running as fast as he could, and taking the nearest way, while the little girl took the longest; and as she went along began to gather nuts, run after butterflies, and make nose-gays of such flowers as she found within her reach. The wolf got to the dwelling of the grandmother first, and knocked at the door. "Who is there?" said some voice in the house. "It is your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood," said the wolf, speaking like the little girl as well as he could. "I have brought you some cheesecakes, and a little pot of butter, that mamma has sent you." The good old woman, who was ill in bed, called out, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." The wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door went open. The wolf then jumped upon the poor old grandmother, and ate her up in a moment, for it was three days since he had tasted any food. The wolf then shut the door, and laid himself down in the bed, and waited for Little Red Riding Hood, who very soon after reached the house. Tap! tap! "Who is there?" cried he. She was at first a little afraid at hearing the gruff voice of the wolf, but she thought that perhaps her grandmother had got a cold, so she answered: "It is your grandchild, Little Red Riding Hood. Mamma has sent you some cheesecakes, and a little pot of butter." The wolf cried out in a softer voice, "Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up." Little Red Riding Hood pulled the bobbin, and the door went open. When she came into the room, the wolf hid himself under the bedclothes, and said to her, trying all he could to speak in a feeble voice: "Put the basket on the stool, my dear, and take off your clothes, and come into bed." Little Red Riding Hood, who always used to do as she was told, straight undressed herself, and stepped into bed; but she thought it strange to see how her grandmother looked in her nightclothes, so she said to her: "Dear me, grandmamma, what great arms you have got!" "They are so much the better to hug you, my child," replied the wolf. "But grandmamma," said the little girl, "what great ears you have got!" "They are so much the better to hear you, my child," replied the wolf. "But then, grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!" said the little girl. "They are so much the better to see you, my child," replied the wolf. "And grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!" said the little girl, who now began to be rather afraid. "They are to eat you up," said the wolf; and saying these words, the wicked creature fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her up in a moment.



CHAPTER XX

THE THREE BEARS

In a far-off country there was once a little girl who was called Silver-hair, because her curly hair shone brightly. She was a sad romp, and so restless that she could not be kept quiet at home, but must needs run out and away, without leave.

One day she started off into a wood to gather wild flowers, and into the fields to chase butterflies. She ran here and she ran there, and went so far, at last, that she found herself in a lonely place, where she saw a snug little house, in which three bears lived; but they were not then at home.

The door was ajar, and Silver-hair pushed it open and found the place to be quite empty, so she made up her mind to go in boldly, and look all about the place, little thinking what sort of people lived there.

Now the three bears had gone out to walk a little before this. They were the Big Bear, and the Middle-sized Bear, and the Little Bear; but they had left their porridge on the table to cool. So when Silver-hair came into the kitchen, she saw the three bowls of porridge. She tasted the largest bowl, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too cold; then she tasted the middle-sized bowl, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and found it too hot; then she tasted the smallest bowl, which belonged to the Little Bear, and it was just right, and she ate it all.

She went into the parlour, and there were three chairs. She tried the biggest chair, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too high; then she tried the middle-sized chair, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and she found it too broad; then she tried the little chair, which belonged to the Little Bear, and found it just right, but she sat in it so hard that she broke it.

Now Silver-hair was by this time very tired, and she went upstairs to the chamber, and there she found three beds. She tried the largest bed, which belonged to the Big Bear, and found it too soft; then she tried the middle-sized bed, which belonged to the Middle-sized Bear, and she found it too hard; then she tried the smallest bed, which belonged to the Little Bear, and found it just right, so she lay down upon it, and fell fast asleep.

While Silver-hair was lying fast asleep, the three bears came home from their walk. They came into the kitchen, to get their porridge, but when the Big Bear went to his, he growled out:

"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TASTING MY PORRIDGE!"

and the Middle-sized Bear looked into his bowl, and said:

"Somebody Has Been Tasting My Porridge!"

and the Little Bear piped:

"Somebody has tasted my porridge and eaten it all up!"

Then they went into the parlour, and the Big Bear growled:

"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"

and the Middle-sized Bear said:

"Somebody Has Been Sitting In My Chair!"

and the Little Bear piped:

"Somebody has been sitting in my chair, and has broken it all to pieces!"

So they went upstairs into the chamber, and the Big Bear growled:

"SOMEBODY HAS BEEN TUMBLING MY BED!"

and the Middle-sized Bear said:

"Somebody Has Been Tumbling My Bed!"

and the little Bear piped:

"Somebody has been tumbling my bed, and here she is!"

At that, Silver-hair woke in a fright, and jumped out of the window and ran away as fast as her legs could carry her, and never went near the Three Bears' snug little house again.



CHAPTER XXI

THE PRINCESS ON THE PEA

There was once a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she was to be a real princess. So he travelled about, all through the world, to find a real one, but everywhere there was something in the way. There were princesses enough, but whether they were real princesses he could not quite make out: there was always something that did not seem quite right. So he came home again, and was quite sad: for he wished so much to have a real princess. One evening a terrible storm came on. It lightened and thundered, the rain streamed down; it was quite fearful! Then there was a knocking at the town gate, and the old king went out to open it.

It was a princess who stood outside the gate. But, mercy! how she looked, from the rain and the rough weather! The water ran down from her hair and her clothes; it ran in at the points of her shoes, and out at the heels; and yet she declared that she was a real princess.

"Yes, we will soon find that out," thought the old queen. But she said nothing, only went into the bedchamber, took all the bedding off, and put a pea on the flooring of the bedstead; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them upon the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds upon the mattresses. On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.

"Oh, miserably!" said the princess. "I scarcely closed my eyes all night long. Goodness knows what was in my bed. I lay upon something hard, so that I am black and blue all over. It is quite dreadful!"

Now they saw that she was a real princess, for through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds she had felt the pea. No one but a real princess could be so delicate.

So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a true princess; and the pea was put in the museum, and it is there now, unless somebody has carried it off.

Look you, this is a true story.



CHAPTER XXII

THE UGLY DUCKLING

It was so glorious out in the country; it was summer; the cornfields were yellow, the oats were green, the hay had been put up in stacks in the green meadows, and the stork went about on his long red legs, and chattered Egyptian, for this was the language he had learned from his good mother. All around the fields and meadows were great forests, and in the midst of these forests lay deep lakes. Yes, it was right glorious out in the country. In the midst of the sunshine there lay an old farm, with deep canals about it, and from the wall down to the water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could stand upright under the loftiest of them. It was just as wild there as in the deepest wood, and here sat a Duck upon her nest; she had to hatch her ducklings; but she was almost tired out before the little ones came and then she so seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked better to swim about in the canals than to run up to sit down under a burdock, and cackle with her.

At last one egg-shell after another burst open. "Piep! piep!" it cried, and in all the eggs there were little creatures that stuck out their heads.

"Quack! quack!" they said; and they all came quacking out as fast as they could, looking all round them under the green leaves; and the mother let them look as much as they chose, for green is good for the eye.

"How wide the world is!" said all the young ones, for they certainly had much more room now than when they were in the eggs.

"D'ye think this is all the world?" said the mother. "That stretches far across the other side of the garden, quite into the parson's field; but I have never been there yet. I hope you are all together," and she stood up. "No, I have not all. The largest egg still lies there. How long is that to last? I am really tired of it." And she sat down again.

"Well, how goes it?" asked an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.

"It lasts a long time with that one egg," said the Duck who sat there. "It will not burst. Now, only look at the others; are they not the prettiest little ducks one could possibly see? They are all like their father. The rogue, he never comes to see me."

"Let me see the egg which will not burst," said the old visitor. "You may be sure it is a turkey's egg. I was once cheated in that way, and had much anxiety and trouble with the young ones, for they are afraid of the water. Must I say it to you, I could not get them to venture in. I quacked and I clacked, but it was no use. Let me see the egg. Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie there, and teach the other children to swim."

"I think I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck. "I've sat so long now that I can sit a few days more."

"Just as you please," said the old Duck; and she went away.

At last the great egg burst. "Piep! piep!" said the little one, and crept forth. It was very large and very ugly. The Duck looked at it.

"It's a very large duckling," said she; "none of the others look like that. Can it really be a turkey chick? Well, we shall soon find out. It must go into the water, even if I have to thrust it in myself."

The next day it was bright, beautiful weather; the sun shone on all the green trees. The Mother-Duck went down to the canal with all her family. Splash! she jumped into the water. "Quack! quack!" she said, and one duckling after another plunged in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up in an instant, and swam capitally; their legs went of themselves, and they were all in the water. The ugly gray Duckling swam with them.

"No, it's not a turkey," said she; "look how well it can use its legs, and how straight it holds itself. It is my own child! On the whole it's quite pretty, if one looks at it rightly. Quack! quack! come with me, and I'll lead you out into the great world, and present you in the duck-yard; but keep close to me, so that no one may tread on you, and take care of the cats!"

And so they came into the duck-yard. There was a terrible riot going on in there, for two families were quarrelling about an eel's head, and the cat got it after all.

"See, that's how it goes in the world!" said the Mother-Duck; and she whetted her beak, for she too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your legs," she said. "See that you can bustle about, and bow your heads before the old Duck yonder. She's the grandest of all here; she's of Spanish blood—that's why she's so fat; and d'ye see? she has a red rag round her leg; that's something particularly fine, and the greatest distinction a duck can enjoy; it signifies that one does not want to lose her, and that she's to be known by the animals and by men too. Shake yourselves—don't turn in your toes; a well brought-up duck turns its toes quite out, just like father and mother—so! Now bend your necks and say 'Quack!'"

And they did so: but the other ducks round about looked at them, and said quite boldly:

"Look there! now we're to have these hanging on, as if there were not enough of us already! And—fie!—how that duckling yonder looks; we won't stand that!" And one duck flew up at it, and bit it in the neck.

"Let it alone," said the mother; "it does no harm to any one."

"Yes, but it's too large and peculiar," said the Duck who had bitten it; "and therefore it must be put down."

"Those are pretty children that the mother has there," said the old Duck with the rag round her leg. "They're all pretty but that one; that was rather unlucky. I wish she could bear it over again."

"That cannot be done, my lady," replied the Mother-Duck. "It is not pretty, but it has a really good disposition, and swims as well as any other; yes, I may even say it, swims better. I think it will grow up pretty, and become smaller in time; it has lain too long in the egg, and therefore is not properly shaped." And then she pinched it in the neck, and smoothed its feathers. "Moreover, it is a drake," she said, "and therefore it is not of so much consequence. I think he will be very strong. He makes his way already."

"The other ducklings are graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make yourself at home; and if you find an eel's head, you may bring it me."

And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling which had crept last out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and jeered, as much by the ducks as by the chickens.

"It is too big!" they all said. And the turkey-cock, who had been born with spurs, and therefore thought himself an emperor, blew himself up like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon it; then he gobbled and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know where it should stand or walk; it was quite melancholy because it looked ugly, and was the butt of the whole duck-yard.

So it went on the first day; and afterwards it became worse and worse. The poor Duckling was hunted about by every one; even its brothers and sisters were quite angry with it, and said, "If the cat would only catch you, you ugly creature!" And the mother said, "If you were only far away!" And the ducks bit it, and the chickens beat it, and the girl who had to feed the poultry kicked at it with her foot.

Then it ran and flew over the fence, and the little birds in the bushes flew up in fear.

"That is because I am so ugly!" thought the Duckling; and it shut its eyes, but flew on farther, and so it came out into the great moor, where the wild ducks lived. Here it lay the whole night long; and it was weary and downcast.

Towards morning the wild ducks flew up, and looked at their new companion.

"What sort of a one are you?" they asked; and the Duckling turned in every direction, and bowed as well as it could. "You are remarkably ugly!" said the Wild Ducks. "But that is nothing to us, so long as you do not marry into our family."

Poor thing! it certainly did not think of marrying, and only hoped to obtain leave to lie among the reeds and drink some of the swamp water.

Thus it lay two whole days; then came thither two wild geese, or, properly speaking, two wild ganders. It was not long since each had crept out of an egg, and that's why they were so saucy.

"Listen, comrade," said one of them. "You're so ugly that I like you. Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Near here, in another moor, there are a few sweet lovely wild geese, all unmarried, and all able to say 'Rap!' You've a chance of making your fortune, ugly as you are."

"Piff! paff!" resounded through the air; and the two ganders fell down dead in the swamp, and the water became blood red. "Piff! paff!" it sounded again, and the whole flock of wild geese rose up from the reeds. And then there was another report. A great hunt was going on. The sportsmen were lying in wait all round the moor, and some were even sitting up in the branches of the trees, which spread far over the reeds. The blue smoke rose up like clouds among the dark trees, and was wafted far away across the water; and the hunting dogs came—splash, splash!—into the swamp, and the rushes and the reeds bent down on every side. That was a fright for the poor Duckling! It turned its head, and put it under its wing; but at that moment a frightful great dog stood close by the Duckling. His tongue hung far out of his mouth, and his eyes gleamed horrible and ugly; he thrust out his nose close against the Duckling, showed his sharp teeth, and—splash, splash!—on he went, without seizing it.

"Oh, Heaven be thanked!" sighed the Duckling. "I am so ugly that even the dog does not like to bite me!"

And so it lay quite quiet, while the shots rattled through the reeds and gun after gun was fired. At last, late in the day, all was still; but the poor Duckling did not dare to rise up; it waited several hours before it looked round, and then hastened away out of the moor as fast as it could. It ran on over field and meadow; there was such a storm raging that it was difficult to get from one place to another.

Towards evening the Duck came to a little miserable peasant's hut. This hut was so dilapidated that it did not itself know on which side it should fall; and that's why it remained standing. The storm whistled round the Duckling in such a way that the poor creature was obliged to sit down, to stand against it; and the wind blew worse and worse. Then the Duckling noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way, and the door hung so slanting that the Duckling could slip through the crack into the room; and that is what it did.

Here lived a woman, with her Cat and her Hen. And the Cat, whom she called Sonnie, could arch his back and purr, he could even give out sparks; but to make him do it one had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The Hen had quite little, short legs, and therefore she was called Chickabiddy Short-shanks. She laid good eggs, and the woman loved her like her own child.

In the morning the strange Duckling was at once noticed, and the Cat began to purr and the Hen to cluck.

"What's this?" said the woman, and looked all round; but she could not see well, and therefore she thought the Duckling was a fat duck that had strayed. "This is a rare prize!" she said. "Now I shall have duck's eggs. I hope it is not a drake. We must try that."

And so the Duckling was admitted on trial for three weeks; but no eggs came. And the Cat was master of the House, and the Hen was the lady, and always said, "We and the world!" for she thought they were half the world, and by far the better half.

The Duckling thought one might have a different opinion, but the Hen would not allow it.

"Can you lay eggs?" she asked.

"No."

"Then will you hold your tongue!"

And the Cat said, "Can you curve your back, and purr, and give out sparks?"

"No."

"Then you will please have no opinion of your own when sensible folks are speaking."

And the Duckling sat in a corner and was melancholy; then the fresh air and the sunshine streamed in; and it was seized with such a strange longing to swim on the water, that it could not help telling the Hen of it.

"What are you thinking of?" cried the Hen. "You have nothing to do, that's why you have these fancies. Lay eggs, or purr, and they will pass over."

"But it is so charming to swim on the water!" said the Duckling, "so refreshing to let it close above one's head, and to dive down to the bottom."

"Yes, that must be a mighty pleasure, truly," quoth the Hen, "I fancy you must have gone crazy. Ask the Cat about it—he's the cleverest animal I know—ask him if he likes to swim on the water, or to dive down—I won't speak about myself. Ask our mistress, the old woman; no one in the world is cleverer than she. Do you think she has any desire to swim, and to let the water close above her head?"

"You don't understand me," said the Duckling.

"We don't understand you? Then pray who is to understand you? You surely don't pretend to be cleverer than the Cat and the woman—I won't say anything of myself. Don't be conceited, child, and thank your Maker for all the kindness you have received. Did you not get into a warm room, and have you not fallen into company from which you may learn something? But you are a chatterer, and it is not pleasant to associate with you. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell you disagreeable things, and by that one may always know one's true friends! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr, and give out sparks!"

"I think I will go out into the wide world," said the Duckling.

"Yes, do go," replied the Hen.

And so the Duckling went away. It swam on the water, and dived, but it was slighted by every creature because of its ugliness.

Now came the autumn. The leaves in the forest turned yellow and brown; the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, and on the fence stood the raven, crying, "Croak! croak!" for mere cold; yes, it was enough to make one feel cold to think of this. The poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening—the sun was just setting in his beauty—there came a whole flock of great, handsome birds out of the bushes. They were dazzlingly white, with long, flexible necks—they were swans. They uttered a very peculiar cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that cold region to warmer lands, to fair open lakes. They mounted so high, so high! and the ugly Duckling felt quite strangely as it watched them. It turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched out its neck towards them, and uttered such a strange loud cry as frightened itself. Oh! it could not forget those beautiful, happy birds; and so soon as it could see them no longer, it dived down to the very bottom, and when it came up again it was quite beside itself. It knew not the name of those birds, and knew not whither they were flying; but it loved them more than it had ever loved any one. It was not at all envious of them. How could it think of wishing to possess such loveliness as they had? It would have been glad if only the ducks would have endured its company—the poor, ugly creature!

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse