"Well, then, do it in the hangman's name!" cried Fred.
As they fell down the rogues said, "Ah! the birds are pulling off the leaves."
A little while after Catherine said again, "Oh! Fred, I must pour out the vinegar, it is so heavy."
"No, no!" said he, "it will discover us."
"Ah! but I must, Fred, it is very heavy," said Catherine.
"Well, then, do it in the hangman's name!" cried Fred.
So she poured out the vinegar, and as it dropped on them the thieves said, "Ah! the dew is beginning to fall."
Not many minutes after Catherine found the door was still quite as heavy, and said again to Fred, "Now I must throw down this door."
"No, Catherine," said he, "that would certainly discover us."
"Ah! Fred, but I must; it presses me so terribly."
"No, Catherine dear! do hold it fast," said Fred.
"There—it is gone!" said she.
"Then let it go in the hangman's name!" cried Fred, while it fell crashing through the branches. The rogues below thought the Evil One was descending the tree, and ran off, leaving everything behind them. And early in the morning Fred and his wife descended, and found all their gold under the tree.
As soon as they got home again, Fred said, "Now, Catherine, you must be very industrious and work hard."
"Yes, my dear husband," said she; "I will go into the fields to cut corn." When she was come into the field she said to herself, "Shall I eat before I cut, or sleep first before I cut?" She determined to eat, and soon became so sleepy over her meal that when she began to cut she knew not what she was doing, and cut off half her clothes—gown, petticoat and all. When, after a long sleep, Catherine awoke, she got up half-stripped, and said to herself, "Am I myself? or am I not? Ah! I am not myself." By and by night came on, and Catherine ran into the village, and, knocking at her husband's window, called, "Fred!"
"What is the matter?" cried he.
"I want to know if Catherine is indoors!" said she.
"Yes, yes!" answered Fred, "she is certainly within, fast asleep."
"Then I am at home," said she, and ran away.
Standing outside Catherine found some thieves, wanting to steal, and going up to them she said, "I will help you."
At this the thieves were very glad, not doubting but that she knew where to light on what they sought. But Catherine, stepping in front of the houses, called out, "Good people, what have you that we can steal?" At this the thieves said, "You will do for us with a vengeance!" and they wished they had never come near her; but in order to rid themselves of her they said, "Just before the village the parson has some roots lying in his field; go and fetch some."
Catherine went as she was bid, and began to grub for them, and soon made herself very dirty with the earth. Presently a man came by and saw her, and stood still, for he thought it was the Evil One who was grovelling so among the roots. Away he ran into the village to the parson, and told him the Evil One was in his field, rooting up the turnips. "Ah! heavens!" said the parson, "I have a lame foot, and I cannot go out to exorcize him."
"Then I will carry you a-pickaback," said the man, and took him up.
Just as they arrived in the field, Catherine got up and drew herself up to her full height.
"Oh! it is the Evil One!" cried the parson, and both he and the man hurried away; and, behold! the parson ran faster with his lame legs, through fear and terror, than the countryman could with his sound legs!
THE VALIANT LITTLE TAILOR
One fine day a Tailor was sitting on his bench by the window in very high spirits, sewing away most diligently, and presently up the street came a country woman, crying, "Good jams for sale! Good jams for sale!" This cry sounded nice in the Tailor's ears, and, poking his diminutive head out of the window, he called, "Here, my good woman, just bring your jams in here!" The woman mounted the three steps up to the Tailor's house with her large basket, and began to open all the pots together before him. He looked at them all, held them up to the light, smelt them, and at last said, "These jams seem to me to be very nice, so you may weigh me out two ounces, my good woman; I don't object even if you make it a quarter of a pound." The woman, who hoped to have met with a good customer, gave him all he wished, and went off grumbling, and in a very bad temper.
"Now!" exclaimed the Tailor, "Heaven will send me a blessing on this jam, and give me fresh strength and vigor;" and, taking the bread from the cupboard, he cut himself a slice the size of the whole loaf, and spread the jam upon it. "That will taste very nice," said he; "but, before I take a bite, I will just finish this waistcoat." So he put the bread on the table and stitched away, making larger and larger stitches every time for joy. Meanwhile the smell of the jam rose to the ceiling, where many flies were sitting, and enticed them down, so that soon a great swarm of them had pitched on the bread. "Holloa! who asked you?" exclaimed the Tailor, driving away the uninvited visitors; but the flies, not understanding his words, would not be driven off, and came back in greater numbers than before. This put the little man in a great passion, and, snatching up in his anger a bag of cloth, he brought it down with a merciless swoop upon them. When he raised it again he counted as many as seven lying dead before him with outstretched legs. "What a fellow you are!" said he to himself, astonished at his own bravery. "The whole town must hear of this." In great haste he cut himself out a band, hemmed it, and then put on it in large letters, "SEVEN AT ONE BLOW!" "Ah," said he, "not one city alone, the whole world shall hear it!" and his heart danced with joy, like a puppy-dog's tail.
The little Tailor bound the belt around his body, and made ready to travel forth into the wide world, feeling the workshop too small for his great deeds. Before he set out, however, he looked about his house to see if there were anything he could carry with him, but he found only an old cheese, which he pocketed, and observing a bird which was caught in the bushes before the door, he captured it, and put that in his pocket also. Soon after he set out boldly on his travels; and, as he was light and active, he felt no fatigue. His road led him up a hill, and when he arrived at the highest point of it he found a great Giant sitting there, who was gazing about him very composedly.
But the little Tailor went boldly up, and said, "Good day, friend; truly you sit there and see the whole world stretched below you. I also am on my way thither to seek my fortune. Are you willing to go with me?"
The Giant looked with scorn at the little Tailor, and said, "You rascal! you wretched creature!"
"Perhaps so," replied the Tailor; "but here may be seen what sort of a man I am;" and, unbuttoning his coat, he showed the Giant his belt. The Giant read, "SEVEN AT ONE BLOW"; and supposing they were men whom the Tailor had killed, he felt some respect for him. Still he meant to try him first; so taking up a pebble, he squeezed it so hard that water dropped out of it. "Do as well as that," said he to the other, "if you have the strength."
"If it be nothing harder than that," said the Tailor, "that's child's play." And, diving into his pocket, he pulled out the cheese and squeezed it till the whey ran out of it, and said, "Now, I fancy that I have done better than you."
The Giant wondered what to say, and could not believe it of the little man; so, catching up another pebble, he flung it so high that it almost went out of sight, saying, "There, you pigmy, do that if you can."
"Well done," said the Tailor; "but your pebble will fall down again to the ground. I will throw one up which will not come down;" and, dipping into his pocket, he took out the bird and threw it into the air. The bird, glad to be free, flew straight up, and then far away, and did not come back. "How does that little performance please you, friend?" asked the Tailor.
"You can throw well," replied the giant; "now truly we will see if you are able to carry something uncommon." So saying, he took him to a large oak tree, which lay upon the ground, and said, "If you are strong enough, now help me to carry this tree out of the forest."
"With pleasure," replied the Tailor; "you may hold the trunk upon your shoulder, and I will lift the boughs and branches, they are the heaviest, and carry them."
The Giant took the trunk upon his shoulder, but the Tailor sat down on one of the branches, and the Giant, who could not look round, was compelled to carry the whole tree and the Tailor also. He being behind, was very cheerful, and laughed at the trick, and presently began to sing the song, "There rode three tailors out at the gate," as if the carrying of trees were a trifle. The Giant, after he had staggered a very short distance with his heavy load, could go no further, and called out, "Do you hear? I must drop the tree." The Tailor, jumping down, quickly embraced the tree with both arms, as if he had been carrying it, and said to the Giant, "Are you such a big fellow, and yet cannot you carry a tree by yourself?"
Then they travelled on further, and as they came to a cherry-tree, the Giant seized the top of the tree where the ripest cherries hung, and, bending it down, gave it to the Tailor to hold, telling him to eat. But the Tailor was far too weak to hold the tree down, and when the Giant let go, the tree flew up in the air, and the Tailor was taken with it. He came down on the other side, however, unhurt, and the Giant said, "What does that mean? Are you not strong enough to hold that twig?" "My strength did not fail me," said the Tailor; "do you imagine that that was a hard task for one who has slain seven at one blow? I sprang over the tree simply because the hunters were shooting down here in the thicket. Jump after me if you can." The Giant made the attempt, but could not clear the tree, and stuck fast in the branches; so that in this affair, too, the Tailor had the advantage.
Then the Giant said, "Since you are such a brave fellow, come with me to my house, and stop a night with me." The Tailor agreed, and followed him; and when they came to the cave, there sat by the fire two other Giants, each with a roast sheep in his hand, of which he was eating. The Tailor sat down thinking. "Ah, this is very much more like the world than is my workshop." And soon the Giant pointed out a bed where he could lie down and go to sleep. The bed, however, was too large for him, so he crept out of it, and lay down in a corner. When midnight came, and the Giant fancied the Tailor would be in a sound sleep, he got up, and taking a heavy iron bar, beat the bed right through at one stroke, and believed he had thereby given the Tailor his death-blow. At the dawn of day the Giants went out into the forest, quite forgetting the Tailor, when presently up he came, quite cheerful, and showed himself before them. The Giants were frightened, and, dreading he might kill them all, they ran away in a great hurry.
The Tailor travelled on, always following his nose, and after he had journeyed some long distance, he came into the courtyard of a royal palace; and feeling very tired he laid himself down on the ground and went to sleep. Whilst he lay there the people came and viewed him on all sides, and read upon his belt, "Seven at one blow." "Ah," they said, "what does this great warrior here in time of peace? This must be some valiant hero." So they went and told the King, knowing that, should war break out, here was a valuable and useful man, whom one ought not to part with at any price. The King took advice, and sent one of his courtiers to the Tailor to beg for his fighting services, if he should be awake. The messenger stopped at the sleeper's side, and waited till he stretched out his limbs and unclosed his eyes, and then he mentioned to him his message. "Solely for that reason did I come here," was his answer; "I am quite willing to enter into the King's service." Then he was taken away with great honor, and a fine house was appointed him to dwell in.
The courtiers, however, became jealous of the Tailor, and wished him at the other end of the world. "What will happen?" said they to one another. "If we go to war with him, when he strikes out seven will fall at one stroke, and nothing will be left for us to do." In their anger they came to the determination to resign, and they went all together to the King, and asked his permission, saying, "We are not prepared to keep company with a man who kills seven at one blow." The King was sorry to lose all his devoted servants for the sake of one, and wished that he had never seen the Tailor, and would gladly have now been rid of him. He dared not, however dismiss him, because he feared the Tailor might kill him and all his subjects, and seat himself upon the throne. For a long time he deliberated, till finally he came to a decision; and, sending for the Tailor, he told him that, seeing he was so great a hero, he wished to beg a favor of him. "In a certain forest in my kingdom," said the King, "there are two Giants, who, by murder, rapine, fire, and robbery, have committed great damage, and no one approaches them without endangering his own life. If you overcome and slay both these Giants, I will give you my only daughter in marriage, and half of my kingdom for a dowry: a hundred knights shall accompany you, too, in order to render you assistance."
"Ah, that is something for a man like me," thought the Tailor to himself: "a lovely Princess and half a kingdom are not offered to one every day." "Oh, yes," he replied, "I will soon settle these two Giants, and a hundred horsemen are not needed for that purpose; he who kills seven at one blow has no fear of two."
Speaking thus, the little Tailor set out, followed by the hundred knights, to whom he said, immediately they came to the edge of the forest, "You must stay here; I prefer to meet these Giants alone."
Then he ran off into the forest, peering about him on all sides; and after a while he saw the two Giants sound asleep under a tree, snoring so loudly that the branches above them shook violently. The Tailor, bold as a lion, filled both his pockets with stones and climbed up the tree. When he got to the middle of it he crawled along a bough, so that he sat just above the sleepers, and then he let fall one stone after another upon the body of one of them. For some time the Giant did not move, until, at last awaking, he pushed his companion, and said, "Why are you hitting me?"
"You have been dreaming," he answered; "I did not touch you." So they laid themselves down again to sleep, and presently the Tailor threw a stone down upon the other. "What is that?" he cried. "Why are you knocking me about?"
"I did not touch you; you are dreaming," said the first. So they argued for a few minutes; but, both being very weary with the day's work, they soon went to sleep again. Then the Tailor began his fun again, and, picking out the largest stone, threw it with all his strength upon the chest of the first Giant. "This is too bad!" he exclaimed; and, jumping up like a madman, he fell upon his companion, who considered himself equally injured, and they set to in such good earnest, that they rooted up trees and beat one another about until they both fell dead upon the ground. Then the Tailor jumped down, saying, "What a piece of luck they did not pull up the tree on which I sat, or else I must have jumped on another like a squirrel, for I am not used to flying." Then he drew his sword, and, cutting a deep wound in the breast of both, he went to the horsemen and said, "The deed is done; I have given each his death-stroke; but it was a tough job, for in their defence they uprooted trees to protect themselves with; still, all that is of no use when such an one as I come, who slew seven at one stroke."
"And are you not wounded?" they asked.
"How can you ask me that? they have not injured a hair of my head," replied the little man. The knights could hardly believe him, till, riding into the forest, they found the Giants lying dead, and the uprooted trees around them.
Then the Tailor demanded the promised reward of the King; but he repented of his promise, and began to think of some new plan to shake off the hero. "Before you receive my daughter and the half of my kingdom," said he to him, "you must execute another brave deed. In the forest there lives a unicorn that commits great damage, you must first catch him."
"I fear a unicorn less than I did two Giants! Seven at one blow is my motto," said the Tailor. So he carried with him a rope and an axe and went off to the forest, ordering those, who were told to accompany him, to wait on the outskirts. He had not to hunt long, for soon the unicorn approached, and prepared to rush at him as if it would pierce him on the spot. "Steady! steady!" he exclaimed, "that is not done so easily"; and, waiting till the animal was close upon him, he sprang nimbly behind a tree. The unicorn, rushing with all its force against the tree, stuck its horn so fast in the trunk that it could not pull it out again, and so it remained prisoner.
"Now I have got him," said the Tailor; and coming from behind the tree, he first bound the rope around its neck, and then cutting the horn out of the tree with his axe, he arranged everything, and, leading the unicorn, brought it before the King.
The King, however, would not yet deliver over the promised reward, and made a third demand, that, before the marriage, the Tailor should capture a wild boar which did much damage, and he should have the huntsmen to help him. "With pleasure," was the reply; "it is a mere nothing." The huntsmen, however, he left behind, to their great joy, for this wild boar had already so often hunted them, that they saw no fun in now hunting it. As soon as the boar perceived the Tailor, it ran at him with gaping mouth and glistening teeth, and tried to throw him down on the ground; but our flying hero sprang into a little chapel which stood near, and out again at a window, on the other side, in a moment. The boar ran after him, but he, skipping around, closed the door behind it, and there the furious beast was caught, for it was much too unwieldy and heavy to jump out of the window.
The Tailor now ordered the huntsmen up, that they might see his prisoner with their own eyes; but our hero presented himself before the King, who was obliged at last, whether he would or no, to keep his word, and surrender his daughter and the half of his kingdom.
If he had known that it was no warrior, but only a Tailor, who stood before him, it would have grieved him still more.
So the wedding was celebrated with great magnificence, though with little rejoicing, and out of a Tailor there was made a King.
A short time afterwards the young Queen heard her husband talking in his sleep, saying, "Boy, make me a coat, and then stitch up these trowsers, or I will lay the yard-measure over your shoulders!" Then she understood of what condition her husband was, and complained in the morning to her father, and begged he would free her from her husband, who was nothing more than a tailor. The King comforted her by saying, "This night leave your chamber-door open: my servants shall stand outside, and when he is asleep they shall come in, bind him, and carry him away to a ship, which shall take him out into the wide world." The wife was pleased with the proposal; but the King's armor-bearer, who had overheard all, went to the young King and revealed the whole plot. "I will soon put an end to this affair," said the valiant little Tailor. In the evening at their usual time they went to bed, and when his wife thought he slept she got up, opened the door, and laid herself down again.
The Tailor, however, only pretended to be asleep, and began to call out in a loud voice, "Boy, make me a coat, and then stitch up these trowsers, or I will lay the yard-measure about your shoulders. Seven have I slain with one blow, two Giants have I killed, a unicorn have I led captive, and a wild boar have I caught, and shall I be afraid of those who stand outside my room?"
When the men heard these words spoken by the Tailor, a great fear came over them, and they ran away as if wild huntsmen were following them; neither afterwards dared any man venture to oppose him. Thus the Tailor became a King, and so he lived for the rest of his life.
LITTLE RED CAP
Many years ago there lived a dear little girl who was beloved by every one who knew her; but her grand-mother was so very fond of her that she never felt she could think and do enough to please this dear grand-daughter, and she presented the little girl with a red silk cap, which suited her so well, that she would never wear anything else, and so was called Little Red-Cap.
One day Red-Cap's mother said to her, "Come, Red-Cap, here is a nice piece of meat, and a bottle of wine: take these to your grandmother; she is weak and ailing, and they will do her good. Be there before she gets up; go quietly and carefully."
The grandmother lived far away in the wood, a long walk from the village, and as Little Red-Cap came among the trees she met a Wolf; but she did not know what a wicked animal it was, and so she was not at all frightened. "Good morning, Little Red-Cap," he said.
"Thank you, Mr. Wolf," said she.
"Where are you going so early, Little Red-Cap?"
"To my grandmother's," she answered.
"And what are you carrying in that basket?"
"Some wine and meat," she replied. "We baked the meat yesterday, so that grandmother, who is very weak, might have a nice strengthening meal."
"And where does your grandmother live?" asked the Wolf.
"Oh, quite twenty minutes walk further in the forest. The cottage stands under three great oak trees; and close by are some nut bushes, by which you will at once know it."
The Wolf was thinking to himself, "She is a nice tender thing, and will taste better than the old woman; I must act cleverly, that I may make a meal of both."
Presently he came up again to Little Red-Cap, and said, "Just look at the beautiful flowers which grow around you; why do you not look about you? I believe you don't hear how sweetly the birds are singing. You walk as if you were going to school; see how cheerful everything is about you in the forest."
And Little Red-Cap opened her eyes; and when she saw how the sunbeams glanced and danced through the trees, and what bright flowers were blooming in her path, she thought, "If I take my grandmother a fresh nosegay, she will be very much pleased; and it is so very early that I can, even then, get there in good time;" and running into the forest, she looked about for flowers. But when she had once begun she did not know how to leave off, and kept going deeper and deeper amongst the trees looking for some still more beautiful flower. The Wolf, however, ran straight to the house of the old grandmother, and knocked at the door.
"Who's there?" asked the old lady.
"Only Little Red-Cap, bringing you some meat and wine; please open the door," answered the Wolf. "Lift up the latch," cried the grandmother; "I am much too ill to get up myself."
So the Wolf lifted the latch, and the door flew open; and without a word, he jumped on to the bed, and gobbled up the poor old lady. Then he put on her clothes, and tied her night-cap over his head; got into the bed, and drew the blankets over him. All this time Red-Cap was gathering flowers; and when she had picked as many as she could carry, she thought of her grandmother, and hurried to the cottage. She wondered greatly to find the door open; and when she got into the room, she began to feel very ill, and exclaimed, "How sad I feel! I wish I had not come to-day." Then she said, "Good morning," but received no reply; so she went up to the bed, and drew back the curtains, and there lay her grandmother, as she imagined, with the cap drawn half over her eyes, and looking very fierce.
"Oh, grandmother, what great ears you have!" she said.
"All the better to hear you with," was the reply.
"And what great eyes you have!"
"All the better to see you with."
"And what great hands you have!"
"All the better to touch you with."
"But, grandmother, what very great teeth you have!"
"All the better to eat you with;" and hardly were the words spoken when the Wolf made a jump out of bed, and swallowed up poor Little Red-Cap also.
As soon as the Wolf had thus satisfied his hunger, he laid himself down again on the bed, and went to sleep and snored very loudly. A huntsman passing by overheard him, and said, "How loudly that old woman snores! I must see if anything is the matter."
So he went into the cottage; and when he came to the bed, he saw the Wolf sleeping in it. "What! are you here, you old rascal? I have been looking for you," exclaimed he; and taking up his gun, he shot the old Wolf through the head.
But it is also said that the story ends in a different manner; for that one day, when Red-Cap was taking some presents to her grandmother, a Wolf met her, and wanted to mislead her; but she went straight on, and told her grandmother that she had met a Wolf, who said good day, and who looked so hungrily out of his great eyes, as if he would have eaten her up had she not been on the high-road.
So her grandmother said, "We will shut the door, and then he cannot get in." Soon after, up came the Wolf, who tapped, and exclaimed, "I am Little Red-Cap, grandmother; I have some roast meat for you." But they kept quite quiet, and did not open the door; so the Wolf, after looking several times round the house, at last jumped on the roof, thinking to wait till Red-Cap went home in the evening, and then to creep after her and eat her in the darkness. The old woman, however, saw what the villain intended. There stood before the door a large stone trough, and she said to Little Red-Cap, "Take this bucket, dear: yesterday I boiled some meat in this water, now pour it into the stone trough." Then the Wolf sniffed the smell of the meat, and his mouth watered, and he wished very much to taste. At last he stretched his neck too far over, so that he lost his balance, and fell down from the roof, right into the great trough below, and there he was drowned.
THE GOLDEN GOOSE
There was once a man who had three sons. The youngest was called Dummerly, and was on all occasions scorned and ill-treated by the whole family. It happened that the eldest took it into his head one day to go into the forest to cut wood; and his mother gave him a delicious meat pie and a bottle of wine to take with him, that he might sustain himself at his work. As he went into the forest, a little old man bid him good day, and said, "Give me a little bit of meat from your plate, and a little wine out of your flask; I am very hungry and thirsty." But this clever young man said, "Give you my meat and wine! No, I thank you; there would not be enough left for me;" and he went on his way. He soon began to chop down a tree; but he had not worked long before he missed his stroke, and cut himself, and was obliged to go home and have the wound bound up. Now, it was the little old man who caused him this mischief.
Next the second son went out to work; and his mother gave him, too, a meat pie and a bottle of wine. And the same little old man encountered him also, and begged him for something to eat and drink. But he, too, thought himself extremely clever, and said, "Whatever you get, I shall be without; so go your way!" The little man made sure that he should have his reward; and the second stroke that he struck at a tree, hit him on the leg, so that he too was compelled to go home.
Then Dummerly said, "Father, I should like to go and cut fuel too." But his father replied, "Your brothers have both maimed themselves; you had better stop at home, for you know nothing of the job." But Dummerly was very urgent; and at last his father said, "Go your way; you will be wiser when you have suffered for your foolishness." And his mother gave him only some dry bread, and a bottle of sour ale; but when he went into the forest, he met the little old man, who said, "Give me some meat and drink, for I am very hungry and thirsty." Dummerly said, "I have nothing but dry bread and sour beer; if that will do for you, we will sit down and eat it together." So they sat down, and when the lad took out his bread, behold it was turned into a splendid meat pie, and his sour beer became delicious wine! They ate and drank heartily, and when they had finished, the little man said, "As you have a kind heart, and have been willing to share everything with me I will bring good to you. There stands an old tree; chop it down, and you will find something at the root." Then he took his leave and went his way.
Dummerly set to work, and cut down the tree; and when it fell, he discovered in a hollow under the roots a goose with plumage of pure gold. He took it up, and went on to an inn, where he proposed sleep for the night. The landlord had three daughters, and when they saw the goose, they were very curious to find out what this wonderful bird could be, and wished very much to pluck one of the feathers out of its tail. At last the eldest said, "I must and will have a feather." So she waited till his back was turned, and then caught hold of the goose by the wing; but to her great surprise, there she stuck, for neither hand nor finger could she pull away again. Presently in came the second sister, and thought to have a feather too; but the instant she touched her sister, there she too hung fast. At last came the third, and desired a feather; but the other two cried out, "Keep away! for heaven's sake, keep away!" However, she did not understand what they meant. "If they are there," thought she, "I may as well be there too," so she went up to them. But the moment she touched her sisters she stuck fast, and hung to the goose as they did. And so they abode with the goose all night.
The next morning Dummerly carried off the goose under his arm, and took no heed of the three girls, but went out with them sticking fast behind; and wherever he journeyed, the three were obliged to follow, whether they wished or not, as fast as their legs could carry them.
In the middle of a field the parson met them; and when he saw the procession, he said, "Are you not ashamed of yourselves, you bold girls, to run after the young man like that over the fields? Is that proper behavior?"
Then he took the youngest by the hand to lead her away; but the moment he touched her he, too, hung fast, and followed in the procession.
Presently up came the clerk; and when he saw his master, the parson, running after the three girls, he was greatly surprised, and said, "Hollo! hollo! your reverence! whither so fast! There is a christening to-day."
Then he ran up, and caught him by the gown, and instantly he was fast too.
As the five were thus trudging along, one after another, they met two laborers with their mattocks coming from work; and the parson called out to them to set him free. But hardly had they touched him, when they, too, joined the ranks, and so made seven, all running after Dummerly and his goose.
At last they came to a city, where reigned a King who had an only daughter. The princess was of so thoughtful and serious a turn of mind that no one could make her laugh; and the King had announced to all the world that whoever could make her laugh should have her for his wife. When the young man heard this, he went to her with the goose and all its followers; and as soon as she saw the seven all hanging together, and running about, treading on each other's heels, she could not help bursting into a long and loud laugh.
Then Dummerly claimed her for his bride; the wedding took place, and he was heir to the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.
There was once upon a time a young fellow who enlisted for a soldier, and became so brave and courageous that he was always in the front ranks when it rained blue beans. As long as the war lasted all went well, but when peace was concluded he received his discharge, and the captain told him he might go where he liked. His parents meanwhile had died, and as he had no longer any home to go to he paid a visit to his brothers, and asked them to give him shelter until war broke out again. His brothers, however, were hard-hearted, and said, "What could we do with you? We could make nothing of you; see to what you have brought yourself"; and so turned a deaf ear. The poor Soldier had nothing but his musket left; so he mounted this on his shoulder and set out on a tramp. By and by he came to a great heath with nothing on it but a circle of trees, under which he sat down, sorrowfully considering his fate. "I have no money," thought he; "I have learnt nothing but soldiering, and now, since peace is concluded, there is no need of me. I see well enough I shall have to starve." All at once he heard a rustling, and as he looked round he perceived a stranger standing before him, dressed in a gray coat, who looked very stately, but had an ugly cloven foot. "I know quite well what you need," said this being; "gold and other possessions you shall have, as much as you can spend; but first I must know whether you are a coward or not, that I may not spend my money foolishly."
"A soldier and a coward!" replied the other, "that cannot be; you may put me to any proof."
"Well, then," replied the stranger, "look behind you."
[Footnote 1: Small shot.]
The Soldier turned and saw a huge bear, which eyed him very ferociously. "Oho!" cried he, "I will tickle your nose for you, that you shall no longer be able to grumble"; and, raising his musket, he shot the bear in the forehead, so that he tumbled in a heap upon the ground, and did not stir afterward. Thereupon the stranger said, "I see quite well that you are not wanting in courage; but there is yet one condition which you must fulfil." "If it does not interfere with my future happiness," said the Soldier, who had remarked who it was that addressed him; "if it does not interfere with that, I shall not hesitate."
"That you must see about yourself!" said the stranger. "For the next seven years you must not wash yourself, nor comb your hair or beard, neither must you cut your nails nor say one paternoster. Then I will give you this coat and mantle, which you must wear during these seven years; and if you die within that time you are mine, but if you live you are rich, and free all your life long."
The Soldier reflected for awhile on his great necessities, and, remembering how often he had braved death, he at length consented, and ventured to accept the offer. Thereupon the Evil One pulled off the gray coat, handed it to the soldier, and said, "If you at any time search in the pockets of your coat when you have it on, you will always find your hand full of money." Then also he pulled off the skin of the bear, and said, "That shall be your cloak and your bed; you must sleep on it, and not dare to lie in any other bed, and on this account you shall be called 'Bearskin.'" Immediately the Evil One disappeared.
The Soldier now put on the coat, and dipped his hands into the pockets, to assure himself of the reality of the transaction. Then he hung the bearskin around himself, and went about the world chuckling at his good luck, and buying whatever suited his fancy which money could purchase. For the first year his appearance was not very remarkable, but in the second he began to look quite a monster. His hair covered almost all his face, his beard appeared like a piece of dirty cloth, his nails were claws, and his countenance was so covered with dirt that one might have grown cresses upon it if one had sown seed! Whoever looked at him ran away; but because he gave the poor in every place gold coin they prayed that he might not die during the seven years; and because he paid liberally everywhere, he found a night's lodging without difficulty. In the fourth year he came to an inn where the landlord would not take him in, and refused even to give him a place in his stables, lest the horses should be frightened and become restive. However, when Bearskin put his hand into his pocket and drew it out full of gold ducats the landlord yielded the point, and gave him a place in the outbuildings, but not till he had promised that he would not show himself, for fear the inn should gain a bad name.
While Bearskin sat by himself in the evening, wishing from his heart that the seven years were over, he heard in the corner a loud groan. Now the old Soldier had a compassionate heart, so he opened the door and saw an old man weeping violently and wringing his hands. Bearskin stepped nearer, but the old man jumped up and tried to escape; but when he recognized a human voice he let himself be persuaded, and by kind words and soothings on the part of the old Soldier he at length disclosed the cause of his distress. His property had dwindled away by degrees, and he and his daughters would have to starve, for he was so poor that he had not the money to pay the host, and would therefore be put into prison.
"If you have no care except that," replied Bearskin, "I have money enough"; and causing the landlord to be called, he paid him, and put a purse full of gold besides into the pocket of the old man. The latter, when he saw himself released from his troubles, knew not how to be sufficiently grateful, and said to the Soldier, "Come with me; my daughters are all wonders of beauty, so choose one of them for a wife. When they hear what you have done for me they will not refuse you. You appear certainly an uncommon man, but they will soon put you to rights."
This speech pleased Bearskin, and he went with the old man. As soon as the eldest daughter saw him, she was so terrified at his countenance that she shrieked out and ran away. The second one stopped and looked at him from head to foot; but at last she said, "How can I take a husband who has not a bit of a human countenance? The grizzly bear would have pleased me better who came to see us once, and gave himself out as a man, for he wore a hussar's hat, and had white gloves on besides."
But the youngest daughter said, "Dear father, this must be a good man who has assisted you out of your troubles; if you have promised him a bride for the service your word must be kept"
It was a pity the man's face was covered with dirt and hair, else one would have seen how glad at heart these words made him. Bearskin took a ring off his finger, broke it in two, and, giving the youngest daughter one half, he kept the other for himself. On her half he wrote his name, and on his own he wrote hers, and begged her to preserve it carefully. Thereupon he took leave, saying, "For three years longer I must wander about; if I come back again, then we will celebrate our wedding; but if I do not, you are free, for I shall be dead. But pray to God that he will preserve my life."
When he was gone the poor bride clothed herself in black, and whenever she thought of her bridegroom burst into tears. From her sisters she received nothing but scorn and mocking. "Pay great attention when he shakes your hand," said the eldest, "and you will see his beautiful claws!" "Take care!" said the second, "bears are fond of sweets, and if you please him he will eat you up, perhaps!" "You must mind and do his will," continued the eldest, "or he will begin growling!" And the second daughter said further, "But the wedding will certainly be merry, for bears dance well!" The bride kept silence, and would not be drawn from her purpose by all these taunts; and meanwhile Bearskin wandered about in the world, doing good where he could, and giving liberally to the poor, for which they prayed heartily for him. At length the last day of the seven years approached, and Bearskin went and sat down again on the heath beneath the circle of trees. In a very short time the wind whistled, and the Evil One presently stood before him and looked at him with a vexed face. He threw the Soldier his old coat and demanded his gray one back. "We have not got so far as that yet," replied Bearskin; "you must clean me first." Then the Evil One had, whether he liked it or no, to fetch water, wash the old Soldier, comb his hair out, and cut his nails. This done, he appeared again like a brave warrior, and indeed was much handsomer than before.
As soon as the Evil One had disappeared, Bearskin became quite light-hearted; and going into the nearest town he bought a fine velvet coat, and hired a carriage drawn by four white horses, in which he was driven to the house of his bride. Nobody knew him; the father took him for some celebrated general, and led him into the room where his daughters were. He was compelled to sit down between the two eldest, and they offered him wine, and heaped his plate with the choicest morsels; for they thought they had never seen any one so handsome before. But the bride sat opposite to him dressed in black, neither opening her eyes nor speaking a word. At length the Soldier asked the father if he would give him one of his daughters to wife, and immediately the two elder sisters arose, and ran to their chambers to dress themselves out in their most becoming clothes, for each thought she should be chosen. Meanwhile the stranger, as soon as he found himself alone with his bride, pulled out the half of the ring and threw it into a cup of wine, which he handed across the table. She took it, and as soon as she had drunk it and seen the half ring lying at the bottom her heart beat rapidly, and she produced the other half, which she wore round her neck on a riband. She held them together, and they joined each other exactly, and the stranger said, "I am your bridegroom, whom you first saw as Bearskin; but through God's mercy I have regained my human form, and am myself once more." With these words he embraced and kissed her; and at the same time the two eldest sisters entered in full costume. As soon as they saw that the very handsome man had fallen to the share of their youngest sister, and heard that he was the same as "Bearskin," they ran out of the house full of rage and jealousy.
The wife of a rich man fell sick: and when she felt that her end drew nigh, she called her only daughter to her bedside, and said, "Always be a good girl, and I will look down from heaven and watch over you." Soon afterwards she shut her eyes and died, and was buried in the garden; and the little girl went every day to her grave and wept, and was always good and kind to all about her. And the snow spread a beautiful white covering over the grave; but by the time the sun had melted it away again, her father had married another wife. This new wife had two daughters of her own: they were fair in face but foul at heart, and it was now a sorry time for the poor little girl. "What does the good-for-nothing thing want in the parlor?" said they; and they took away her fine clothes, and gave her an old frock to put on, and laughed at her and turned her into the kitchen.
Then she was forced to do hard work; to rise early, before daylight, to bring the water, to make the fire, to cook and to wash. She had no bed to lie down on, but was made to lie by the hearth among the ashes, and they called her Cinderella.
It happened once that her father was going to the fair, and asked his wife's daughters what he should bring to them. "Fine clothes," said the first. "Pearls and diamonds," said the second. "Now, child," said he to his own daughter, "what will you have?" "The first sprig, dear father, that rubs against your hat on your way home," said she. Then he bought for the two first the fine clothes and pearls and diamonds they had asked for: and on his way home, as he rode through a green copse, a sprig of hazel brushed against him, so he broke it off and when he got home he gave it to his daughter. Then she took it, and went to her mother's grave and planted it there, and cried so much that it was watered with her tears; and there it grew and became a fine tree, and soon a little bird came and built its nest upon the tree, and talked with her and watched over her, and brought her whatever she wished for.
Now it happened that the king of the land held a feast which was to last three days, and out of those who came to it his son was to choose a bride for himself; and Cinderella's two sisters were asked to come. So they called Cinderella, and said, "Now, comb our hair, brush our shoes, and tie our sashes for us, for we are going to dance at the king's feast." Then she did as she was told, but when all was done she could not help crying, for she thought to herself, she would have liked to go to the dance too, and at last she begged her mother very hard to let her go, "You! Cinderella?" said she; "you who have nothing to wear, no clothes at all, and who cannot even dance—you want to go to the ball?" And when she kept on begging, to get rid of her, she said at last, "I will throw this basinful of peas into the ash heap, and if you have picked them all out in two hours' time you shall go to the feast too." Then she threw the peas into the ashes; but the little maiden ran out at the back door into the garden, and cried out—
"Hither, thither, through the sky, turtle-doves and linnets, fly! Blackbird, thrush, and chaffinch gay, hither, thither, haste away! One and all, come, help me quick! haste ye, haste ye—pick, pick, pick!"
Then first came two white doves; and next two turtle-doves; and after them all the little birds under heaven came, and the little doves stooped their heads down and set to work, pick, pick, pick; and then the others began to pick, pick, pick, and picked out all the good grain and put it into a dish, and left the ashes. At the end of one hour the work was done, and all flew out again at the windows. Then she brought the dish to her mother. But the mother said, "No, no! indeed, you have no clothes and cannot dance; you shall not go." And when Cinderella begged very hard to go, she said, "If you can in one hour's time pick two of these dishes of pease out of the ashes, you shall go too." So she shook two dishes of peas into the ashes; but the little maiden went out into the garden at the back of the house, and called as before and all the birds came flying, and in half an hour's time all was done, and out they flew again. And then Cinderella took the dishes to her mother, rejoicing to think that she should now go to the ball. But her mother said, "It is all of no use, you cannot go; you have no clothes, and cannot dance; and you would only put us to shame;" and off she went with her two daughters to the feast.
Now when all were gone, and nobody left at home, Cinderella went sorrowfully and sat down under the hazel-tree, and cried out—
"Shake, shake, hazel-tree, gold and silver over me!"
Then her friend the bird flew out of the tree and brought a gold and silver dress for her, and slippers of spangled silk; and she put them on, and followed her sisters to the feast. But they did not know her, she looked so fine and beautiful in her rich clothes.
The king's son soon came up to her, and took her by the hand and danced with her and no one else; and he never left her hand, but when any one else came to ask her to dance, he said, "This lady is dancing with me." Thus they danced till a late hour of the night, and then she wanted to go home; and the king's son said, "I shall go and take care of you to your home," for he wanted to see where the beautiful maid lived. But she slipped away from him unawares, and ran off towards home, and the prince followed her; then she jumped up into the pigeon-house and shut the door. So he waited till her father came home, and told him that the unknown maiden who had been at the feast had hidden herself in the pigeon-house. But when they had broken open the door they found no one within; and as they came back into the house, Cinderella lay, as she always did, in her dirty frock by the ashes; for she had run as quickly as she could through the pigeon-house and on to the hazel-tree, and had there taken off her beautiful clothes, and laid them beneath the tree, that the bird might carry them away; and had seated herself amid the ashes again in her little old frock.
The next day, when the feast was again held, and her father, mother and sisters were gone, Cinderella went to the hazel-tree, and all happened as the evening before.
The king's son, who was waiting for her, took her by the hand and danced with her; and, when any one asked her to dance, he said as before, "This lady is dancing with me." When night came she wanted to go home; and the king's son went with her, but she sprang away from him all at once into the garden behind her father's house. In this garden stood a fine large pear-tree; and Cinderella jumped up into it without being seen. Then the king's son waited till her father came home, and said to him, "The unknown lady has slipped away, and I think she must have sprung into the pear-tree." The father ordered an axe to be brought, and they cut down the tree, but found no one upon it. And when they came back into the kitchen, there lay Cinderella in the ashes as usual; for she had slipped down on the other side of the tree, and carried her beautiful clothes back to the bird at the hazel-tree, and then put on her little old frock.
The third day, when her father and mother and sisters were gone, she went again into the garden, and said—
"Shake, shake, hazel-tree, gold and silver over me!"
Then her kind friend the bird brought a dress still finer than the former one, and slippers which were all of gold; and the king's son danced with her alone, and when any one else asked her to dance, he said, "This lady is my partner." Now when night came she wanted to go home; and the king's son would go with her, but she managed to slip away from him, though in such a hurry that she dropped her left golden slipper upon the stairs.
So the prince took the shoe, and went the next day to the king, his father, and said, "I will take for my wife the lady that this golden shoe fits."
Then both the sisters were overjoyed to hear this; for they had beautiful feet, and had no doubt that they could wear the golden slipper. The eldest went first into the room where the slipper was, and wanted to try it on, and the mother stood by. But her big toe could not go into it, and the shoe was altogether much too small for her. Then the mother said, "Never mind, cut it off. When you are queen you will not care about toes; you will not want to go on foot." So the silly girl cut her big toe off, and squeezed the shoe on, and went to the king's son. Then he took her for his bride, and rode away with her.
But on their way home they had to pass by the hazel-tree that Cinderella had planted, and there sat a little dove on the branch, singing—
"Back again! back again! look to the shoe! The shoe is too small, and not made for you! Prince! prince! look again for thy bride, For she's not the true one that sits by thy side."
Then the prince looked at her foot, and saw by the blood that streamed from it what a trick she had played him. So he brought the false bride back to her home, and said, "This is not the right bride; let the other sister try and put on the slipper." Then she went into the room and got her foot into the shoe, all but the heel, which was too large. But her mother squeezed it in till the blood came, and took her to the king's son; and he rode away with her. But when they came to the hazel-tree, the little dove sat there still, and sang as before. Then the king's son looked down, and saw that the blood streamed from the shoe. So he brought her back again also. "This is not the true bride," said he to the father; "have you no other daughters?"
Then Cinderella came and she took her clumsy shoe off, and put on the golden slipper, and it fitted as if it had been made for her. And when he drew near and looked at her face the prince knew her, and said, "This is the right bride."
Then he took Cinderella on his horse and rode away. And when they came to the hazel-tree the white dove sang—
"Prince! prince! take home thy bride, For she is the true one that sits by thy side!"
Once upon a time there lived an old King, who fell very sick, and thought he was lying upon his death-bed; so he said, "Let faithful John come to me." This faithful John was his affectionate servant, and was so called because he had been true to him all his lifetime. As soon as John came to the bedside, the King said, "My faithful John, I feel that my end approaches, and I have no other care than about my son, who is still so young that he cannot always guide himself aright. If you do not promise to instruct him in everything he ought to know, and to be his guardian, I cannot close my eyes in peace." Then John answered, "I will never leave him; I will always serve him truly, even if it costs me my life." So the old King was comforted, and said, "Now I can die in peace. After my death you must show him all the chambers, halls, and vaults in the castle, and all the treasures which are in them; but the last room in the long corridor you must not show him, for in it hangs the portrait of the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace; if he sees her picture, he will conceive a great love for her, and will fall down in a swoon, and on her account undergo great perils, therefore you must keep him away." The faithful John pressed his master's hand again in token of assent, and soon after the King laid his head upon the pillow and expired.
After the old King had been borne to his grave, the faithful John related to the young King all that his father had said upon his death-bed, and declared, "All this I will certainly fulfil; I will be as true to you as I was to him, if it costs me my life." When the time of mourning was passed, John said to the young King, "It is now time for you to see your inheritance; I will show you your paternal castle." So he led the King all over it, upstairs and downstairs, and showed him all the riches, and all the splendid chambers; only one room he did not open, containing the perilous portrait, which was so placed that one saw it directly the door was opened, and, moreover, it was so beautifully painted that one thought it breathed and moved; nothing in all the world could be more lifelike or more beautiful. The young King remarked, however, that the faithful John always passed by one door, so he asked, "Why do you not open that one?" "There is something in it," he replied, "which will frighten you."
But the King said, "I have seen all the rest of the castle, and I will know what is in there," and he went and tried to open the door by force. The faithful John pulled him back, and said, "I promised your father before he died that you should not see the contents of that room; it would bring great misfortunes both upon you and me."
"Oh, no," replied the young King, "if I do not go in it will be my certain ruin; I should have no peace night nor day until I had seen it with my own eyes. Now I will not stir from the place till you unlock the door."
Then the faithful John saw that it was of no use talking; so, with a heavy heart and many sighs, he picked the key out of the great bunch. When he had opened the door, he went in first, and thought he would cover up the picture, that the King should not see it; but it was of no use, for the King stepped upon tiptoes and looked over his shoulder; and as soon as he saw the portrait of the maiden, which was so beautiful and glittered with precious stones, he fell down on the ground insensible. The faithful John lifted him up and carried him to his bed, and thought with great concern, "Mercy on us! the misfortune has happened; what will come of it?" and he gave the young King wine until he came to himself. The first words he spoke were, "Who does that beautiful picture represent?" "That is the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace," was the reply.
"Then," said the King, "my love for her is so great that if all the leaves on the trees had tongues, they should not gainsay it; my life is set upon the search for her. You are my faithful John, you must accompany me."
The trusty servant deliberated for a long while how to set about this business, for it was very difficult to get into the presence of the King's daughter. At last he bethought himself of a way, and said to the King, "Everything which she has around her is of gold—chairs, tables, dishes, bowls, and all the household utensils. Among your treasures are five tons of gold; let one of the goldsmiths of your kingdom manufacture vessels and utensils of all kinds therefrom—all kinds of birds, and wild and wonderful beasts, such as will please her, then we will travel with these, and try our luck." Then the King summoned all his goldsmiths, who worked day and night until many very beautiful things were ready. When all had been placed on board a ship, the faithful John put on merchant's clothes, and the King likewise, so that they might travel quite unknown. Then they sailed over the wide sea, and sailed away until they came to the city where dwelt the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace.
The faithful John told the King to remain in the ship, and wait for him. "Perhaps," said he, "I shall bring the King's daughter with me; therefore take care that all is in order, and set out the golden vessels and adorn the whole ship." Thereupon John placed in a napkin some of the golden cups, stepped upon land, and went straight to the King's palace. When he came into the castle yard, a beautiful maid stood by the brook, who had two golden pails in her hand, drawing water; and when she had filled them and had turned round, she saw a strange man, and asked who he was. Then John answered, "I am a merchant"; and opening his napkin he showed her its contents. Then she exclaimed, "Oh, what beautiful golden things!" and, setting the pails down, she looked at the cups one after another, and said, "The King's daughter must see these; she is so pleased with anything made of gold that she will buy all these." And taking him by the hand, she led him in; for she was the lady's maid. When the King's daughter saw the golden cups, she was much pleased, and said, "They are so finely worked that I will purchase them all." But the faithful John replied, "I am only the servant of a rich merchant; what I have here is nothing in comparison to those which my master has in his ship, than which nothing more delicate or costly has ever been worked in gold." Then the King's daughter wished to have them all brought; but he said, "It would take many days, and so great is the quantity that your palace has not halls enough in it to place them around." Then her curiosity and desire were still more excited, and at last she said, "Take me to the ship; I will go myself and look at your master's treasure."
The faithful John conducted her to the ship with great joy, and the King, when he beheld her, saw that her beauty was still greater than the picture had represented, and thought nothing else but that his heart would jump out of his mouth. Presently she stepped on board, and the King conducted her below; but the faithful John remained on deck by the steersman, and told him to unmoor the ship and put on all the sail he could, that it might fly as a bird through the air. Meanwhile the King showed the Princess all the golden treasures—the dishes, cups, bowls, the birds, the wild and wonderful beasts. Many hours passed away while she looked at everything, and in her joy she did not remark that the ship sailed on and on. As soon as she had looked at the last, and thanked the merchant, she wished to depart. But when she came on deck, she perceived that they were upon the high sea, far from the shore, and were hastening on with all sail. "Ah," she exclaimed in affright, "I am betrayed; I am carried off and taken away in the power of a strange merchant. I would rather die!"
But the King, taking her by the hand, said, "I am not a merchant, but a king, thine equal in birth. It is true that I have carried thee off; but that is because of my overwhelming love for thee. Dost thou know that when I first saw the portrait of thy beauteous face I fell down in a swoon before it?" When the King's daughter heard these words, she was reassured, and her heart was inclined toward him, so that she willingly became his bride. While they thus went on their voyage on the high sea, it happened that the faithful John, as he sat on the deck of the ship, playing music, saw three crows in the air, who came flying toward them. He stopped playing, and listened to what they were saying to each other, for he understood them perfectly. The first one exclaimed, "There he is, carrying home the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace." "But he is not home yet," replied the second. "But he has her," said the third; "she is sitting by him in the ship." Then the first began again, and exclaimed, "What matters that? When they go on shore a fox-colored horse will spring toward them, on which he will mount; and as soon as he is on it, it will jump up with him into the air, so that he will never again see his bride." The second one asked, "Is there no escape?" "Oh, yes, if another mounts behind quickly, and takes out the firearms which are in the holster, and with them shoots the horse dead, then the young King will be saved. But who knows that? And if any one does know it, and tells him, such a one will be turned to stone from the toe to the knee." Then the second spoke again, "I know still more: if the horse should be killed, the young King will not then retain his bride; for when they come into the castle a beautiful bridal shirt will lie there upon a dish, and seem to be woven of gold and silver, but it is nothing but sulphur and pitch, and if he puts it on it will burn him to his marrow and bones." Then the third Crow asked, "Is there no escape?" "Oh, yes," answered the second, "if some one takes up the shirt with his glove on, and throws it into the fire, so that it is burnt, the young King will be saved. But what does that signify? Whoever knows it, and tells him, will be turned to stone from his knee to his heart." Then the third Crow spoke: "I know still more: even if the bridal shirt be consumed, still the young King will not retain his bride. For if, after the wedding, a dance is held, while the young Queen dances she will suddenly turn pale, and fall down as if dead; and if some one does not raise her up, and take three drops of blood from her right breast and throw them away, she will die. But whoever knows that, and tells it, will have his whole body turned to stone, from the crown of his head to the toes of his feet."
After the crows had thus talked with one another, they flew away, and the trusty John, who had perfectly understood all they had said, was from that time very quiet and sad; for if he concealed from his master what he had heard, misfortune would happen to him, and if he told him all he must give up his own life. But at last he thought, "I will save my master, even if I destroy myself."
As soon as they came on shore, it happened just as the Crow had foretold, and an immense fox-red horse sprang up. "Capital!" said the King, "this shall carry me to my castle," and he tried to mount; but the faithful John came straight up, and swinging himself quickly on, drew the firearms out of the holster and shot the horse dead. Then the other servants of the King, who were not on good terms with the faithful John, exclaimed, "How shameful to kill the beautiful creature, which might have borne the King to the castle!" But the King replied, "Be silent, and let him go; he is my very faithful John—who knows the good he may have done?" Now they went into the castle, and there stood a dish in the hall, and the splendid bridal shirt lay in it, and seemed nothing else than gold and silver. The young King went up to it and wished to take it up, but the faithful John pushed him away, and taking it up with his gloves on, bore it quickly to the fire and let it burn. The other servants thereupon began to murmur, saying, "See, now he is burning the King's bridal shirt!" But the young King replied, "Who knows what good he has done? Let him alone—he is my faithful John."
Soon after, the wedding was celebrated, and a grand ball was given, and the bride began to dance. So the faithful John paid great attention, and watched her countenance; all at once she grew pale, and fell as if dead to the ground. Then he sprang up hastily, raised her up and bore her to a chamber, where he laid her down, kneeled beside her, and drawing the three drops of blood out of her right breast, threw them away. As soon as she breathed again, she raised herself up; but the young King had witnessed everything, and not knowing why the faithful John had done this was very angry, and called out, "Throw him into prison!" The next morning the trusty John was brought up for trial, and led to the gallows; and as he stood upon them, and was about to be executed, he said, "Every one condemned to die may once before his death speak. Shall I also have that privilege?" "Yes," answered the King, "it shall be granted you." Then the faithful John replied, "I have been unrighteously judged, and have always been true to you"; and he narrated the conversation of the crows which he heard at sea; and how, in order to save his master, he was obliged to do all he had done. Then the King cried out, "Oh, my most trusty John, pardon, pardon; lead him away!" But the trusty John had fallen down at the last word and was turned into stone.
At this event both the King and the Queen were in great grief, and the King thought, "Ah, how wickedly have I rewarded his great fidelity!" and he had the stone statue raised up and placed in his sleeping-chamber, near his bed; and as often as he looked at it, he wept and said, "Ah, could I bring you back to life again, my faithful John!"
After some time had passed, the Queen bore twins, two little sons, who were her great joy. Once, when the Queen was in church, and the two children at home playing by their father's side, he looked up at the stone statue full of sorrow, and exclaimed with a sigh, "Ah, could I restore you to life, my faithful John!" At these words the statue began to speak, saying, "Yes, you can make me alive again, if you will bestow on me that which is dearest to you." The King replied, "All that I have in the world I will give up for you." The statue spake again: "If you, with your own hand, cut off the heads of both your children, and sprinkle me with their blood, I shall be brought to life again." The King was terrified when he heard that he must himself kill his two dear children; but he remembered his servant's great fidelity, and how the faithful John had died for him, and drawing his sword he cut off the heads of both his children with his own hand. And as soon as he had sprinkled the statue with blood, life came back to it, and the trusty John stood again alive and well before him, and said, "Your faith shall not go unrewarded"; and taking the heads of the two children he set them on again, and anointed their wounds with their blood, and thereupon they healed again in a moment, and the children sprang away and played as if nothing had happened.
Now the King was full of happiness, and as soon as he saw the Queen coming, he hid the faithful John and both the children in a great closet. As soon as she came in he said to her, "Have you prayed in the church?" "Yes," she answered; "but I thought continually of the faithful John, who has come to such misfortune through us." Then he replied, "My dear wife, we can restore his life again to him, but it will cost us both our little sons, whom we must sacrifice." The Queen became pale and was terrified at heart, but she said, "We are guilty of his life on account of his great fidelity." Then he was very glad that she thought as he did, and going up to the closet, he unlocked it, brought out the children and the faithful John, saying, "God be praised! he is saved, and we have still our little sons"; and then he told her all that happened. Afterward they lived happily together to the end of their days.
THE WATER OF LIFE
Once upon a time there was a King who was so ill that everybody despaired of his life, and his three sons were very sorry, and went out into the palace gardens to weep. There they met an old man, who asked the cause of their grief, and they told him their Father was so ill that he must die, for nothing could save him. The old Man said, "I know a means of saving him: if he drinks of the water of life it will restore him to health; but it is very difficult to find."
"I will soon find it," said the eldest Son, and, going to the sick King, he begged his permission to set out in search of the water of life, which alone could save him. "No; the danger is too great," said the King; "I prefer to die." Nevertheless, the Son begged and entreated so long that the King consented, and the Prince went away, thinking in his own heart, "If I bring this water I am the dearest to my Father, and I shall inherit his kingdom."
After he had ridden a long way he met a Dwarf on the road, who asked him, "Whither away so quickly?"
"You stupid dandyprat," replied the Prince proudly, "why should I tell you that?" and he rode off. But the little Man was angry and he wished an evil thing, so that, soon after, the Prince came into a narrow mountain-pass, and the farther he rode the narrower it grew, till at last it was so close that he could get no farther; but neither could he turn his horse round, nor dismount, and he sat there like one amazed. Meanwhile the sick King waited a long while for him, but he did not come; and the second Son asked leave to go too and seek the water, for he thought to himself, "If my Brother is dead the kingdom comes to me." At first the King refused to spare him, but he gave way, and the Prince set out on the same road as the elder one had taken, and met also the same Dwarf, who stopped him and asked him, "Whither ride you so hastily?" "Little dandyprat," replied the Prince, "what do you want to know for?" and he rode off without looking round. The Dwarf, however, enchanted him, and it happened to him as it had to his Brother: he came to a defile where he could move neither forward nor backward. Such is the fate of all haughty people.
Now, when the second Son did not return, the youngest begged leave to go and fetch the water, and the King was obliged at last to give his consent. When he met the Dwarf, and was asked whither he was going so hurriedly, he stopped and replied, "I seek the water of life, for my Father is sick unto death." "Do you know where to find it?" asked the Dwarf. "No," replied the Prince. "Since you have behaved yourself as you ought," said the Dwarf, "and not haughtily like your false Brothers, I will give you information and show you where you may obtain the water of life. It flows from a fountain in the court of an enchanted castle, into which you can never penetrate if I do not give you an iron rod and two loaves of bread. With the rod knock thrice at the iron door of the castle, and it will spring open. Within lie two lions with open jaws, but if you throw down to each a loaf of bread they will be quiet. Then hasten and fetch some of the water of life before it strikes twelve, for then the door will shut again, and you will be imprisoned."
The Prince thanked the Dwarf, and, taking the rod and bread, he set out on his journey, and as he arrived at the castle he found it as the Dwarf had said. At the third knock the door sprang open; and, when he had stilled the lions with the bread, he walked into a fine, large hall, where sat several enchanted Princes, from whose fingers he drew off the rings, and he also took away with him a sword and some bread which lay there. A little farther on he came to a room wherein stood a beautiful maiden, who was so pleased to see him that she kissed him and said he had freed her, and should have her whole kingdom, and if he came in another year their wedding should be celebrated. Then she told him where the fountain of water of life was placed, and he hastened away lest it should strike twelve ere he gained it. He came next into a room where a fine, clean covered bed stood, and, being tired, he lay down to rest himself a bit. But he went to sleep, and when he awoke it struck the quarter to twelve, and the sound made him hurry to the fountain, from which he took some water in a cup which stood near. This done, he hastened to the door, and was scarcely out before it struck twelve, and the door swung to so heavily that it carried away a piece of his heel.
But he was very glad, in spite of this, that he had procured the water, and he journeyed homeward, and passed again where the Dwarf stood. When the Dwarf saw the sword and bread which he had brought away he declared he had done well, for with the sword he could destroy whole armies—but the bread was worth nothing. Now, the Prince was not willing to return home to his Father without his Brothers, and so he said to the Dwarf, "Dear Dwarf, can you tell me where my Brothers are? They went out before me in search of the water of life, and did not return." "They are stuck fast between two mountains," replied the Dwarf; "because they were so haughty, I enchanted them there."
Then the Prince begged for their release, till at last the Dwarf brought them out; but he warned the youngest to beware of them, for they had evil in their hearts.
When his Brothers came he was very glad, and he related to them all that had happened to him; how he had found the water of life and brought away a cupful of it; and how he had rescued a beautiful Princess, who for a whole year was going to wait for him, and then he was to return to be married to her, and receive a rich kingdom. After this tale the three Brothers rode away together, and soon entered a province where there were war and famine raging, and the King thought he should perish, so great was his necessity. The youngest Prince went to this King and gave him the bread, with which he fed and satisfied his whole people; and then the Prince gave him the sword, wherewith he defeated and slew all his enemies, and regained peace and quiet. This effected, the Prince took back the bread and sword, and rode on farther with his Brothers, and by and by they came to two other provinces where also war and famine were destroying the people. To each King the Prince lent his bread and sword, and so saved three kingdoms. After, this they went on board a ship to pass over the sea which separated them from home, and during the voyage the two elder Brothers said to one another, "Our Brother has found the water of life and we have not; therefore our Father will give the kingdom which belongs to us to him, and our fortune will be taken away." Indulging these thoughts they became so envious that they consulted together how they should kill him, and one day, waiting till he was fast asleep, they poured the water out of his cup and took it for themselves, while they filled his up with bitter salt water. As soon as they arrived at home the youngest Brother took his cup to the sick King, that he might drink out of it and regain his health. But scarcely had he drunk a very little of the water when he became worse than before, for it was as bitter as wormwood. While the King lay in this state, the two elder Princes came, and accused their Brother of poisoning their Father; but they had brought the right water, and they handed it to the King. Scarcely had he drunk a little out of the cup when the King felt his sickness leave him, and soon he was as strong and healthy as in his young days. The two Brothers now went to the youngest Prince, mocking him, and saying, "You certainly found the water of life; but you had the trouble and we had the reward; you should have been more cautious and kept your eyes open, for we took your cup while you were asleep on the sea; and, moreover, in a year one of us intends to fetch your Princess. Beware, however, that you betray us not; the King will not believe you, and if you say a single word your life will be lost; but if you remain silent you are safe." The old King, nevertheless, was very angry with his youngest Son, who had conspired, as he believed, against his life. He caused his court to be assembled, and sentence was given to the effect that the Prince should be secretly shot; and once as he rode out hunting, unsuspicious of any evil, the Huntsman was sent with him to perform the deed. By and by, when they were alone in the wood, the Huntsman seemed so sad that the Prince asked him what ailed him. The Huntsman replied, "I cannot and yet must tell you." "Tell me boldly what it is," said the Prince, "I will forgive you." "Ah, it is no other than that I must shoot you, for so has the King ordered me," said the Huntsman, with a deep sigh.
The Prince was frightened, and said, "Let me live, dear Huntsman, let me live! I will give you my royal coat and you shall give me yours in exchange." To this the Huntsman readily assented, for he felt unable to shoot the Prince, and after they had exchanged their clothing the Huntsman returned home, and the Prince went deeper into the wood.
A short time afterward three wagons laden with gold and precious stones came to the King's palace for his youngest Son. They were sent by the three Kings in token of gratitude for the sword which had defeated their enemies, and the bread which had nourished their people. At this arrival the old King said to himself, "Perhaps, after all, my Son was guiltless," and he lamented to his courtiers that he had let his Son be killed. But the Huntsman cried out, "He lives yet! for I could not find it in my heart to fulfil your commands"; and he told the King how it had happened. The King felt as if a stone had been removed from his heart, and he caused it to be proclaimed everywhere throughout his dominions that his Son might return and would again be taken into favor.
Meanwhile the Princess had caused a road to be made up to her castle of pure shining gold, and she told her attendants that whoever should ride straight up this road would be the right person, and one whom they might admit into the castle; but, on the contrary, whoever should ride up not on the road, but by the side, they were ordered on no account to admit, for he was not the right person. When, therefore, the time came round which the Princess had mentioned to the youngest Prince, the eldest Brother thought he would hasten to her castle and announce himself as her deliverer, that he might gain her as a bride and the kingdom besides. So he rode away, and when he came in front of the castle and saw the fine golden road he thought it would be a shame to ride thereon, and so he turned to the left hand and rode up out of the road. But as he came up to the door the guards told him he was not the right person, and he must ride back again. Soon afterward the second Prince also set out, and he, likewise, when he came to the golden road and his horse set its forefeet upon it, thought it would be a pity to travel upon it, so he turned aside to the right hand and went up. When he came to the gate the guards refused him admittance, and told him he was not the person expected, and so he had to return homeward. The youngest Prince, who had all this time been wandering about in the forest, had also remembered that the year was up, and soon after his Brothers' departure he appeared before the castle and rode up straight on the golden road, for he was so deeply engaged in thinking of his beloved Princess that he did not observe it. As soon as he arrived at the door it was opened, and the Princess received him with joy, saving he was her deliverer and the lord of her dominions. Soon after their wedding was celebrated, and when it was over the Princess told her husband that his Father had forgiven him and desired to see him. Thereupon he rode to the old King's palace, and told him how his Brothers had betrayed him while he slept, and had sworn him to silence. When the King heard this he would have punished the false Brothers, but they had prudently taken themselves off in a ship, and they never returned home afterward.
There was once a poor peasant who sat in the evening by the hearth and poked the fire, and his wife sat and span. Then said he, "How sad it is that we have no children! With us all is so quiet, and in other houses it is noisy and lively."
"Yes," replied the wife, and sighed, "even if we had only one, and it were quite small, and only as big as a thumb, I should be quite satisfied, and we would still love it with all our hearts." Now it so happened that their wish was granted and a child was given them, but although it was perfect in all its limbs, it was no longer than a thumb. Then said they, "It is as we wished it to be, and it shall be our dear child;" and because of its size, they called it Thumbling. They did not let it want for food, but the child did not grow taller, but remained as it had been at the first, nevertheless it looked sensibly out of its eyes, and soon showed itself to be a wise and nimble creature, for everything it did turned out well.
One day the peasant was getting ready to go into the forest to cut wood, when he said as if to himself, "How I wish that there was any one who would bring the cart to me!" "Oh, father," cried Thumbling, "I will soon bring the cart; rely on that; it shall be in the forest at the appointed time." The man smiled and said, "How can that be done; you are far too small to lead the horse by the reins?" "That's of no consequence, father, if my mother will only harness it, I will sit in the horse's ear, and call out to him how he is to go." "Well," answered the man, "for once we will try it."
When the time came, the mother harnessed the horse, and placed Thumbling in its ear, and then the little creature cried, "Gee up, gee up!"
Then it went quite properly as if with its master, and the cart went the right way into the forest. It so happened that just as he was turning a corner, and the little one was crying, "Gee up," two strange men came towards him. "My word!" said one of them. "What is this? There is a cart coming, and a driver is calling to the horse, and still he is not to be seen!" "That can't be right," said the other, "we will follow the cart and see where it stops." The cart, however, drove right into the forest, and exactly to the place where the wood had been cut. When Thumbling saw his father, he cried to him, "See, father, here I am with the cart; now take me down." The father got hold of the horse with his left hand, and with the right took his little son out of the ear. Thumbling sat down quite merrily on a straw, but when the two strange men saw him, they did not know what to say for astonishment. Then one of them took the other aside and said, "Hark, the little fellow would make our fortune if we exhibited him in a large town, for money. We will buy him." They went to the peasant and said, "Sell us the little man. He shall be well treated with us." "No," replied the father, "he is the apple of my eye, and all the money in the world cannot buy him from me." Thumbling, however, when he heard of the bargain, had crept up the folds of his father's coat, placed himself on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear. "Father, do give me away; I will soon come back again." Then the father parted with him to the two men for a handsome bit of money. "Where do you want to sit?" they said to him. "Oh, just set me on the rim of your hat, and then I can walk backwards and forwards and look at the country, and still not fall down." They did as he wished, and when Thumbling had taken leave of his father, they went away with him. They walked until it was dusk, and then the little fellow said, "Do take me down; I want to come down." The man took his hat off, and put the little fellow on the ground by the wayside, and he leapt and crept about a little between the sods, and then he suddenly slipped into a mouse-hole which he had sought out. "Good-evening, gentlemen, just go home without me," he cried to them, and mocked them. They ran thither and stuck their sticks into the mouse-hole, but it was all lost labor. Thumbling crept still farther in, and as it soon became quite dark, they were forced to go home with their vexation and their empty purses.
When Thumbling saw that they were gone, he crept back out of the subterranean passage. "It is so dangerous to walk on the ground in the dark," said he; "how easily a neck or a leg is broken!" Fortunately, he knocked against an empty snail-shell. "Thank God!" said he. "In that I can pass the night in safety," and got into it. Not long afterwards, when he was just going to sleep, he heard two men go by, and one of them was saying, "How shall we contrive to get hold of the rich pastor's silver and gold?" "I could tell you that," cried Thumbling, interrupting them. "What was that?" said one of the thieves in a fright; "I heard some one speaking." They stood still listening, and Thumbling spoke again and said, "Take me with you, and I'll help you."
"But where are you?" "Just look on the ground, and observe from where my voice comes," he replied. There the thieves at length found him, and lifted him up. "You little imp, how will you help us?" they said. "A great deal," said he; "I will creep into the pastor's room through the iron bars, and will reach out to you whatever you want to have." "Come, then," they said, "and we will see what you can do." When they got to the pastor's house, Thumbling crept into the room, but instantly cried out with all his might, "Do you want to have everything that is here?" The thieves were alarmed, and said, "But do speak softly, so as not to waken any one!" Thumbling, however, behaved as if he had not understood this, and cried again, "What do you want? Do you want to have everything that is here?" The cook, who slept in the next room, heard this and sat up in bed, and listened. The thieves, however, had in their fright run some distance away, but at last they took courage, and thought, "The little rascal wants to mock us." They came back and whispered to him, "Come, be serious, and reach something out to us." Then Thumbling again cried as loudly as he could, "I really will give you everything, only put your hands in." The maid who was listening, heard this quite distinctly, and jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. The thieves took flight, and ran as if the Wild Huntsman were behind them, but as the maid could not see anything, she went to strike a light. When she came to the place with it, Thumbling, unperceived, hid himself in the granary, and the maid, after she had examined every corner and found nothing, lay down in her bed again, and believed that, after all, she had only been dreaming with open eyes and ears.
Thumbling had climbed up among the hay and found a beautiful place to sleep in: there he intended to rest until day, and then go home again to his parents. But he had other things to go through. Truly there is much affliction and misery in this world! When day dawned, the maid arose from her bed to feed the cows. Her first walk was into the barn, where she laid hold of an armful of hay, and precisely that very one in which poor Thumbling was lying asleep. He, however, was sleeping so soundly that he was aware of nothing, and did not awake until he was in the mouth of the cow, who had picked him up with the hay. "Ah, heavens!" cried he, "how have I got into the fulling mill?" but he soon discovered where he was. Then it was necessary to be careful not to let himself go between the teeth and be dismembered, but he was nevertheless forced to slip down into the stomach with the hay. "In this little room the windows are forgotten," said he, "and no sun shines in, neither will a candle be brought." His quarters were especially unpleasing to him, and the worst was, more and more hay was always coming in by the door, and the space grew less and less. Then, at length in his anguish, he cried as loud as he could, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder." The maid was just milking the cow, and when she heard some one speaking, and saw no one, and perceived that it was the same voice that she had heard in the night, she was so terrified that she slipped off her stool, and spilt the milk. She ran in the greatest haste to her master, and said, "Oh, heavens, pastor, the cow has been speaking!" "You are mad," replied the pastor; but he went himself to the byre to see what was there. Hardly, however, had he set his foot inside than Thumbling again cried, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder." Then the pastor himself was alarmed, and thought that an evil spirit had gone into the cow, and ordered her to be killed. She was killed, but the stomach, in which Thumbling was, was thrown on the midden. Thumbling had great difficulty in working his way out; however, he succeeded so far as to get some room, but, just as he was going to thrust his head out, a new misfortune occurred. A hungry wolf ran thither, and swallowed the whole stomach at one gulp. Thumbling did not lose courage. "Perhaps," thought he, "the wolf will listen to what I have got to say," and he called to him from out of his stomach, "Dear wolf, I know of a magnificent feast for you."
"Where is it to be had?" said the wolf.
"In such and such a house; you must creep into it through the kitchen-sink; you will find cakes, and bacon, and sausages, and as much of them as you can eat," and he described to him exactly his father's house. The wolf did not require to be told this twice, squeezed himself in at night through the sink, and ate to his heart's content in the larder. When he had eaten his fill, he wanted to go out again, but he had become so big that he could not go out by the same way. Thumbling had reckoned on this, and now began to make a violent noise in the wolfs body, and raged and screamed as loudly as he could. "Will you be quiet," said the wolf; "you will waken up the people!" "Eh, what," replied the little fellow, "you have eaten your fill, and I will make merry likewise," and began once more to scream with all his strength. At last his father and mother were aroused by it, and ran to the room and looked in through the opening in the door. When they saw that a wolf was inside, they ran away, and the husband fetched his axe, and the wife the scythe. "Stay behind," said the man, when they entered the room. "When I have given him a blow, if he is not killed by it, you must cut him down and hew his body to pieces." Then Thumbling heard his parents' voices, and cried, "Dear father, I am here; I am in the wolf's body." Said the father, full of joy, "Thank God, our dear child has found us again," and bade the woman take away her scythe, that Thumbling might not be hurt with it. After that he raised his arm, and struck the wolf such a blow on his head that he fell down dead, and then they got knives and scissors and cut his body open, and drew the little fellow forth. "Ah," said the father, "what sorrow we have gone through for your sake." "Yes, father, I have gone about the world a great deal. Thank heaven, I breathe fresh air again!" "Where have you been, then?" "Ah, father, I have been in a mouse's hole, in a cow's stomach, and then in a wolf's; now I will stay with you." "And we will not sell you again; no, not for all the riches in the world," said his parents, and they embraced and kissed their dear Thumbling.
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had no children; and this they lamented very much. But one day, as the queen was walking by the side of the river, a little fish lifted its head out of the water, and said, "Your wish shall be fulfilled, and you shall soon have a daughter."
What the little fish had foretold soon came to pass; and the queen had a little girl who was so very beautiful that the king could not cease looking on her for joy, and determined to hold a great feast. So he invited not only his relations, friends, and neighbors, but also all the fairies, that they might be kind and good to his little daughter. Now there were thirteen fairies in his kingdom, and he had only twelve golden dishes for them to eat out of, so that he was obliged to leave one of the fairies without an invitation. The rest came, and after the feast was over they gave all their best gifts to the little princess; one gave her virtue, another beauty, another riches, and so on till she had all that was excellent in the world. When eleven had done blessing her, the thirteenth, who had not been invited, and was very angry on that account, came in, and determined to take her revenge. So she cried out, "The king's daughter shall in her fifteenth year be wounded by a spindle, and fall down dead." Then the twelfth, who had not yet given her gift, came forward and said that the bad wish must be fulfilled, but that she could soften it, and that the king's daughter should not die, but fall asleep for a hundred years.