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Half-Hours with Great Story-Tellers
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"'Go and drown yourself in it,' said she.

"This was the last rudeness of which the princess was ever guilty, and one must allow that she had good cause to feel provoked with the lord chamberlain.

"Had it been the king himself, he would have fared no better. But both he and the queen were fast asleep. And the chamberlain went back to bed. So the princess and her old nurse were left with the prince. Somehow, the doctors never came. But the old nurse was a wise woman, and knew what to do.

"They tried everything for a long time without success. The princess vas nearly distracted between hope and fear, but she tried on and on, one thing after another, and everything over and over again.

"At last, when they had all but given it up, just as the sun rose, the prince opened his eyes."



CHAPTER XV.

LOOK AT THE RAIN!

The princess burst into a passion of tears, and fell on the floor. There she lay for an hour, and her tears never ceased. All the pent-up crying of her life was spent now. And a rain came on, such as had never been seen in that country. The sun shone all the time, and the great drops, which fell straight to the earth, shone likewise. The palace was in the heart of a rainbow. It was a rain of rubies, and sapphires, and emeralds, and topazes. The torrents poured from the mountains like molten gold, and if it had not been for its subterraneous outlet, the lake would have overflowed and inundated the country. It was full from shore to shore.

"But the princess did not heed the lake. She lay on the floor and wept. And this rain within doors was far more wonderful than the rain out of doors. For when it abated a little, and she proceeded to rise, she found, to her astonishment, that she could not. At length, after many efforts, she succeeded in getting upon her feet. But she tumbled down again directly. Hearing her fall, her old nurse uttered a yell of delight, and ran to her, screaming:—

"'My darling child! She's found her gravity!'

"'Oh! that's it, is it?' said the princess rubbing her shoulder and her knee alternately. 'I consider it very unpleasant. I feel as if I should be crushed to pieces.'

"'Hurrah!' cried the prince, from the bed. 'If you're all right, princess, so am I. How's the lake?'

"'Brimful! answered the nurse.

"'Then we're all jolly.'

"'That we are indeed!' answered the princess, sobbing.

"And there was rejoicing all over the country that rainy day. Even the babies forgot their past troubles, and danced and crowed amazingly. And the king told stories, and the queen listened to them. And he divided the money in his box, and she the honey in her pot, to all the children. And there was such jubilation as was never heard of before.

"Of course the prince and princess were betrothed at once. But the princess had to learn to walk, before they could be married with any propriety."

And this was not so easy, at her time of life, for she could walk no more than a baby. She was always falling down and hurting herself.

"'Is this the gravity you used to make so much of?' said she one day to the prince. 'For my part, I was a great deal more comfortable without it.

"' No, no; that's not it. This is it,' replied the prince, as he took her up, and carried her about like a baby, kissing her all the time. 'This is gravity.'

"'That's better,' said she. 'I don't mind that so much.'

"And she smiled the sweetest, loveliest smile in the prince's face. And she gave him one little kiss, in return for all his, and he thought them overpaid, for he was beside himself with delight. I fear she complained of her gravity more than once after this, notwithstanding.

"It was a long time before she got reconciled to walking. But the pain of learning it was quite counterbalanced by two things, either of which would have been sufficient consolation. The first was, that the prince himself was her teacher; and the second, hat she could tumble into the lake as often as she pleased. Still, she preferred to have the prince jump in with her, and the splash they made before was nothing to the splash they made now.

"The lake never sank again. In process of time it wore the roof of the cavern quite through, and was twice as deep as before.

"The only revenge the princess took upon her aunt was to tread pretty hard on her gouty toe the next time she saw her. But she was sorry for it the very next day, when she heard that the water had undermined her house, and that it had fallen in the night, burying her in its ruins; whence no one ever ventured to dig up her body. There she lies to this day.

"So the prince and princess lived and were happy, and had crowns of gold, clothes of cloth, shoes of leather, and children of boys and girls, not one of whom was ever known, on the most critical occasion, to lose the smallest atom of his or her due proportion of gravity."

GEORGE MACDONALD.



THE LEGEND OF THE LITTLE WEAVER.

You see, there was a Waiver lived, wanst upon a time, in Duleek here, hard by the gate, and a very honest, industherous man he was, by all accounts. He had a wife, and of coorse they had childhre, and small blame to them, and plenty of them, so that the poor little Waiver was obleeged to work his fingers to the bone a'most, to get them the bit and the sup; but he did'nt begridge that, for he was an industherous crayther, as I said before, and it was up airly and down late wid him, and the loom was never standin' still. Well, it was one mornin' that his wife called to him, and he sittin' very busy throwin' the shuttle, and, says she, "Come here," says she, "jewel, and ate the breakquest, now that it's ready." But he niver minded her, but went on workin': So in a minit or two more says she, callin' out to him again, 'Arrah! lave off slavin' yourself, my darlin', and ate your bit of breakquest while it is hot."

"Lave me alone," says he, and he dhruv the shuttle faster nor before.

Well, in a little time more, she goes over to him where he sot, and, says she, coaxin' him like, "Thady, dear," says she, "the stirabout will be stone cowld, if you don't give over that weary work and come and ate it at wanst."

"I'm busy with a patthern here that is brakin my heart." says the Waiver, "and intil I complate it, and masther it intirely, I won't quit."

"Oh, think of the illigant stirabout, that'll be spilte intirely."

"To the divil with the stirabout," says he.

"God forgive you," says she, "for cursing your good breakquest."

"Aye, and you too," says he,

"Troth, you're as cross as two sticks this blessed morning, Thady," says the poor wife, "and it's a heavy handful I have of you when you are craked in your temper; but stay there if you like, and let your stirabout grow cowld, and not one o' me'll ax you agin," and with that off she went, and the Waiver, sure enough. was mighty crabbed, and the more the wife spoke to him the worse he got, which, you know, is only nathral.

Well, he left the loom at last, and wint over to the stirabout, and what would you think but when he luked at it, it was as black as a crow; for you see it was the hoighth o' summer, and the flies lit upon it to that degree, that the stirabout was fairly covered with ihem.

"Why then bad luck to your impidence," says the Waiver, "would no place sarve you but that? and is it spiling my breakquest yez are, you dirty bastes?"

And with that, being altogether craked tempered at the time, he lifted his hand, and he made one great slam at the dish of stirabout, and killed no less than threescore and tin flies at the one blow. It was threescore and tin exactly, for he counted the carcasses one by one, and laid them out on a clane plate, for to view them.

Well, he felt a powerful spirit risin' in him, when he seen the slaughter he done at one blow, and with that he got as consaited as the very dickens, and not a stroke more work he'd do that day, but out he wint, and was fractious and impidint to everyone he met, and was squarin' up into their faces and sayin':

"Look at that fist! that's the fist that killed threescore and tin at one blow—whoo!"

With that all the neighbors thought he was cracked, and faith the poor wife herself thought the same, when he kem home in the evenin', after shpendin' every rap he had in dhrink, and swaggering about the place, and lookin' at his hand every minit.

"Indade an' your hand is very dirty, sure enough, Thady jewel," said the poor wife, and thrue for her, for he rowled into a ditch comin' home, "you'd betther wash it, darlin'." "How dare you say dirty to the greatest hand in Ireland," says he, going to bate her.

"Well, it's not dirty," says she.

"It's throwin' away my time I have been all my life," says he, "livin' with you at all, and stuck at a loom nothin' but a poor Waiver, whin it's Saint George or the Dhraggin I ought to be, which is two of the sivin champions of Christendom."

"Well, suppose they christened him twice as much," says the wife, "sure, what's that to us?"

"Don't put in your prate." says he, "you ignorant shtrap," says he, "you're vulgar, woman,—you're vulgar—mighty vulgar; but I'll have nothin' more to say to any dirty snakin' trade agin—divil a more waivin' I'll do."

"Oh, Thady dear, and what'll the childre do then!"

"Let them go and play marvels," said he.

"That would be but poor feedin' for them, Thady."

"They shan't want for feedin'," says he, "for it's a rich man I'll be soon, and a great man too."

"Usha, but I'm glad to hear it, darlin'—though I donna how it's to be, but I think you had betther go to bed, Thady."'

"Don't talk to me of any bed, but the bed of glory, woman," says he— lookin' mortial grand.

"Oh, God sind we'll all be in glory yet," says the wife, crassin' herself, "but go to sleep, Thady, for this present."

"I'll sleep with the brave yit," says he.

"Indeed, and a brave sleep will do you a power o' good, my darlin'," says she.

"And it's I that will be the knight!" says he.

"All night, if you plaze, Thady," says she.

"None o' your coaxin'," says he, "I'm detarmined on it, and I'll set off immediately, and be a knight arriant."

"A what?" says she.

"A knight arriant, woman."

"Lord be good to me, what's that?" says she.

"A knight arriant is a rale gintleman," says he, "goin' round the world for sport, with a swoord by his side, takin' whatever he plazes for himself, and that's a knight arriant," says he.

Well sure enough, he wint about among his neighbors the next day, and he got an owld kettle from one, and a saucepan from another, and he took them to the tailor, and he sewed him up a suit of tin clothes like any knight arriant, and he borrowed a pot lid, and that he was very partikler about, bekase it was his shield, and he wint to a friend o' his, a painther and glazier, and made him paint on his shield in big letters.

"I'M THE MAN OF ALL MIN THAT KILLED THREESCORE AND TIN AT A BLOW."

"When the people sees that," says the Waiver to himself, "the sorra one will dar' for to come near me."

And with that he found the wit to scour out the small iron pot for him for says he, "it will make an illigant helmet—and when it was done, he put it on his head, and the wife said, "Oh murther, Thady jewel, is it puttin' a great heavy iron pot on your head you are, by way iv a hat?"

"Sartainly," says he, "for a knight arriant should always have a weight on his brain."

"But, Thady dear," said the wife, "there's a hole in it, and it can't keep out the weather."

"It will be the cooler," says he, puttin' it on him,—"besides, if I don't like it, it is aisy to stop it up with a wisht o' straw, or the like o' that."

"The three legs of it looks mighty quare, stickin up," says she.

"Every helmet has a spike stickin' out o' the top of it," says the Waiver, "and if mine has three, it is only the grandther it is"

"Well," says the wife, getting bitther at last, "all I can say is, it isn't the first sheep's head was dhressed in it."

"Your sarvent ma'am," says he; and off he set.

Well, he was in want of a horse, and so he wint to a field hard by, where the miller's horse was grazin' that used to carry the ground corn around the counthry.

"This is the idintical horse for me," says the Waiver, "he is used to carryin' flour and male; and what am I but the flower o' shovelry in a coat of mail; so that the horse won't be put out of his way in the laste."

But as he was ridin' him out of the field, who should see him but the miller.

"Is it stalin' my horse, you are, honest man?" says the miller.

"No," says the Waiver, "I am only goin, to exercise him," says he, "in the cool o' the evenin', it will be good for his health."

"Thank you kindly," said the miller, "but lave him where he is, and you'll obleege me."

"I can't afford it," says the Waiver, running his horse at the ditch.

"Bad luck to your impidence," says the miller. "you've as much tin about you as a thravelin' tink but youv'e more brass. Come back here, you vagabone," says he.

But he was late;—away galloped the Waiver, and tuk the road to Dublin, for he thought the best thing he could do was to go to the King o' Dublin (for Dublin was a grate place then, and had a king iv its own), and he thought maybe the King o' Dublin would give him work. Well, he was four days goin' to Dublin, for the baste was not the best, and the roads worse, not all as one was now; but there was no turnpike then, glory be to God! whin he got to Dublin he wint shtraight to the palace, and whin he got into the coort yard, he let his horse go and graze about the place, for the grass was growin' out betune the stones: everythin' was flourishin' thin in Dublin, you see.

Well, the king was lookin' out in his dhrawin' room, for divarshun, whin the Waiver came in, but the Waiver purtended not to see him, and he wint over to a stone sait under the windy—for you see there was stone sates all round about the place for the accommodation of the people, for the king was a dacent obleegin' man,—well, as I said, the Waiver wint over and lay down on one of the sates, just undher the king's windy, and purtended to go asleep: but he tuk care to turn out the front of his shield that had the letthers an it—well, my dear, with that the king calls out to wan of the lords of his coort that was shtandin' behind him, howldin' up the skirt iv his coat, accordin' to raison, and says he:

"Look here," says he, "what do you think of a vagabone like that, comin' under my very to nose go to sleep? It's thrue I'm a very good king," says he, "and I 'commodate the people by having sates for them to sit down and enjoy the raycreation and contimplation of seein' me here lookin' out o' my drawing room windy for divarsion; but that is no raison they're to make a hotel iv the place, and come and sleep here. Who is it at all?" says the king.

"Not a one o' me knows, plaze your majesty."

"I think he must be a furriner," says the king, "bekase his dress is outlandish."

"And doesn't know manners, more betoken," says the lord.

"I'll go and circumspect him myself," says the king,—"folly me," says he to the lord, waivin' his hand at the same time in the most dignacious mannar.

Down he wint accordainly, followed by the lord, and whin he wint over to where the Waiver was lyin', sure the first thing he seen was his shield with the big letthers an it, and with that says he to the lord "by dad," says he, "this is the very man I want."

"For what, plaze your majesty?" says the lord.

"To kill that vagabone dhraggin'," says the king.

"Sure, do you think he could kill him," says the lord, "whin all the stoutest lords in the land wasn't aquil to it, but never kem back, and was ate up alive by the cruel desaiver."

"Sure, don't you see there," says the king pointin' at the shield, "that he killed threescore and tin at one blow, and the man that done that I think is a match for anything."

So with that he went over to the Waiver and shook him by the shoulder for to wake him, and the Waiver rubbed his eyes as if just wakened, and the king says to him: "God save you," says he.

"God save you kindly," says the Waiver, purtendin' he was quite unknowst who he was spakin to.

"Do you know who I am?" says the king, "that you make so free, good man."

"No indade," says the waiver, "you have the advantage of me."

"To be sure I have," says the king, mighty high; "sure, aint I the king o' Dublin," says he.

The Waiver dropped down on his two knees forninst the king, and says he, "I beg God's pardon and yours for the liberty I tuk, plaze your holiness I hope you'll excuse it."

"No offence," says the king, "get up, good man. And what brings you here," says he.

"I'm in want of work, plaze your rivirence," says the Waiver.

"Well, suppose I give you work?" says the king.

"I'll be proud to sarve you, my lord," says the Waiver.

"Very well," says the king, "you killed threescore and tin at one blow, I undershtan'," says the king.

"Yis," says the Waiver, "that was the last thrifle o' work I done, and I'm afeard my hand'll go out o' practice if I don't get some job to do, at wanst."

"You shall have a job to do immidiately," says the king. "It's not threescore and tin or any fine thing like that, it is only a blaguard dhraggin, that is disturbin' the counthry and ruinating my tinanthry wid aitin' their powlthry, and I'm lost for want of eggs," says the king.

"Troth, thin plaze your worship," says the waiver, "you look as yellow as if you'd swallowed twelve yolks this minit."

"Well, I want this dhraggin to be killed," says the king. "It will be no throuble in life to you; and I am only sorry that it isn't betther worth your while, for he isn't worth fearin' at all; only I must tell you that he lives in the county Galway, in the middle of a bog, and he has an advantage in that."

"Oh, I don't value it in the laste," says the Waiver, "for the last three-score and tin I killed was in a soft place."

"When will you undhertake the job, then?" says the king.

"Let me at him at wanst," says the Waiver.

"That is what I like," says the king, "you're the very man for my money," says he.

"Talkin' of money," says the waiver, "by the same token I'll want a thrifle o' change from you for my thravellin' charges."

"As much as you plaze," says the king, and with the word, he brought him into his closet, where there was an owld stockin' in an owld chest, burstin' wid golden guineas.

"Take as many as you plaze," says the king, and sure enough, my dear, the little waiver stuffed his tin clothes as full as they could howld with them.

"Now I'm ready for the road," says the waiver.

"Very well," says the king; "but you must have a fresh horse," says he.

"With all my heart," says the waiver, who thought he might as well exchange the miller's owld garron for a betther.

And maybe its wondthering you are, that the Waiver would think of goin' to fight the dhraggin afther what he heerd about him, whin he was purtendin' to be asleep; but he had no sitch notion, all he intended was to fob the goold; and ride back to Duleek with his gains and a good horse. But you see, 'cute as the Waiver was, the king was 'cuter still; for these high quolity, you see, is great desaivers; and so the horse the Waiver was put an was learned an purpose, and, sure, the minit he was mounted, away powdhered the horse, and the divil a toe he'd go but right down to Galway.

Well, for four days he was goin' ever more, antil at last the Waiver seen a crowd o' people runnin' as if owld Nick was at their heels, and they shoutin' a thousand murdhers, and cryin' "The dhraggin, the dhraggin!" and he couldn't stop the horse nor make him turn back, but away he pelted right forninst the terrible baste that was comin' up to him, and there was the most nefarious smell o' sulphur, savin' your presence, enough to knock you down; and, faith, the Waiver seen he had no time to lose, and so he threw himself off the horse, and made to a three that was growin' nigh hand, and away he clambered up into it as nimble as a cat; and not a minit had he to spare, for the dhraggin kem up in a powerful rage, and he devoured the horse, body and bones, in less than no time; and thin he began to sniffle and scent about for the Waiver, and at last he clapt his eye on him, where he was, up in the three, and says he:

"In troth you might as well come down out o' that," says he, "for I'll have you as sure as eggs is mate."

"Divil a foot I'll go down," says the Waiver.

"Sorra care I care," says the dhraggin, "for you're as good as ready money in my pocket this minit; for I'll lie undher this tree" says he, "and sooner or later you must fall to my share."

And sure enough he sot down, and began to pick his teeth with his tail, afther the heavy breakquest he made that mornin' (for he ate a whole village, let alone a horse) and he got dhrowsy at last, and fell asleep; but before he wint to sleep, he wound himself all round about the three, all as one as a lady windin' ribbon round her finger, so that the waiver could not escape.

Well, as soon as the Waiver knew he was dead asleep, by the snorin' of him—and every snore he get out of him was like a clap o' thunder—that minit the Waiver began to creep down the three as cautious as a fox, and he was very nigh hand the bottom, whin bad cess to it, a thievin' branch he was dipindin' an bruk, and down he fell right a top of the dhraggin: but if he did good luck was an his side, for where should he fall but with his two legs right acrass the draggin's neck, and my jew'l, he laid howlt o' the baste's ears, and there he kept his grip, for the dhraggin wakened and endayvored for to bite him, but, you see, by raison the Waiver was behind his ears, he could not come at him, and with that, he endayvored for to shake him off; but the divil a stir could he stir the waiver; and though he shuk all the scales in his body, he cud not turn the scale agin the Waiver.

"By the hokey, this is too bad, intirely," says the dhraggin; "but if you won't let go," says he, "by the powers o' wild fire, I'll give you a ride that'll astonish your sivin small sinses, my boy;" and with that, away he flew like mad, and where do you think did he fly? by dad, he flew straight for Dublin, divil a less. But the Waiver bein' an his neck was a great disthress to him, and he would rather have had him an inside passenger; but anyway he flew and he flew till he kem slap up agin the palace of the king, or bein' blind with the rage he never seen it, and he knocked his brains out; that is, the small trifle he had, and down he fell spacheless. An' you see, good luck would have it, that the king o' Dublin was lookin' out in his dhrawin room windy for divarshun, that day also, and whin he seen the Waiver ridin' an the fiery dhraggin (for he was blazin' like a tar barrel) he called out to his coortyers to come and see the show.

"By the powdhers of war here comes the knight arriant," says the king "riding the dhraggin that's all a fire, and if he gets into the palace yis must be ready with the fire ingines [Footnote: Showing the antiquity of these machines.] says he" for to put him out.

But whin they seen the dhraggin fall outside, they all run down stairs and scampered into the palace yard for to circumspect the curiosity; and by the tune they got down, the Waiver had got off the dhraggin's neck, and, running up to the king, says he,

"Plaze your holiness," says he, "I did not think myself worthy of killin' this facetious baste, so I brought him to yourself for to do him the honor of decripitation by your own royal five fingers. But I tamed him first, before I allowed him the liberty for to dar' to appear in your royal prisance, and you'll oblige me if you'll just make your mark upon the onruly baste's neck."

And with that the king, sure enough, drew out his swoord and took the head off the dirty brute, as clane as a new pin. Well, there was great rejoicin' in the coort that the dhraggin was killed, and says the king to the little Waiver, says he.

"You are a knight arriant as it is so it would be no use for to knight you over agin; but I will make you a lord," says he.

"Oh Lord!" says the Waiver, thunderstruck like at his own good luck.

"I will," says the king, "and as you're the first man I ever heerd tell of that rode a dhraggin, you shall be called Lord Mount Dhraggin," says he.

"And where's my estates? plaze your holiness," says the Waiver, who always had a sharp look out after the main chance.

"Oh, I didn't forget that," says the king, "It's my royal pleasure to provide well for you, and for that raison I make you a present of all the dhraggins in the world, and give you power over thim from this out," says he.

"Is that all?" says the Waiver.

"All?" says the king, "why you ongrateful little vagabone, was the like ever given to any man before?"

"I believe not indeed," says the Waiver: "many thanks to your Majesty."

"But that is not all I do for you," says the king; "I'll give you my daughter too in marriage," says he.

Now you see that was nothin' more than what he promised the Waiver in his first promise; for by all accounts the king's daughter was the greatest dhraggin ever was seen, and had the divil's own tongue, and a beard a yard long, which she purtinded was put an her by way of a penance, by Father Mulcahy, her confissor; but it was well known was in the family for ages, and no wondher it was so long, by raison of that same.

SAMUEL LOVER.

THE END.

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