"Then what will you take to let me out, Hans Hecklemann?" said his luck.
"Look," said Hans; "yonder stands my old plough. Now, if you will give me to find a golden noble at the end of every furrow that I strike with it I will let you out. If not—why, then, into the soap you go."
"Done!" said Hans's luck.
"Done!" said Hans.
Then he opened the mouth of the sack, and—puff! went his luck, like wind out of a bag, and—pop! it slipped into his breeches pocket.
He never saw it again with his mortal eyes, but it stayed near to him, I can tell you. "Ha! ha! ha!" it laughed in his pocket, "you have made an ill bargain, Hans, I can tell you!"
"Never mind," said Hans, "I am contented."
Hans Hecklemann did not tarry long in trying the new luck of his old plough, as you may easily guess. Off he went like the wind and borrowed Fritz Friedleburg's old gray horse. Then he fastened the horse to the plough and struck the first furrow. When he had come to the end of it—pop! up shot a golden noble, as though some one had spun it up from the ground with his finger and thumb. Hans picked it up, and looked at it and looked at it as though he would swallow it with his eyes. Then he seized the handle of the plough and struck another furrow—pop! up went another golden noble, and Hans gathered it as he had done the other one. So he went on all of that day, striking furrows and gathering golden nobles until all of his pockets were as full as they could hold. When it was too dark to see to plough any more he took Fritz Friedleburg's horse back home again, and then he went home himself.
All of his neighbors thought that he was crazy, for it was nothing but plough, plough, plough, morning and noon and night, spring and summer and autumn. Frost and darkness alone kept him from his labor. His stable was full of fine horses, and he worked them until they dropped in the furrows that he was always ploughing.
"Yes; Hans is crazy," they all said; but when Hans heard them talk in this way he only winked to himself and went on with his ploughing, for he felt that he knew this from that.
But ill luck danced in his pocket with the golden nobles, and from the day that he closed his bargain with it he was an unhappy man. He had no comfort of living, for it was nothing but work, work, work. He was up and away at his ploughing at the first dawn of day, and he never came home till night had fallen; so, though he ploughed golden nobles, he did not turn up happiness in the furrows along with them. After he had eaten his supper he would sit silently behind the stove, warming his fingers and thinking of some quicker way of doing his ploughing. For it seemed to him that the gold-pieces came in very slowly, and he blamed himself that he had not asked his luck to let him turn up three at a time instead of only one at the end of each furrow; so he had no comfort in his gathering wealth. As day followed day he grew thin and haggard and worn, but seven boxes of bright new gold-pieces lay hidden in the cellar, of which nobody knew but himself. He told no one how rich he was growing, and all of his neighbors wondered why he did not starve to death.
So you see the ill luck in his breeches pocket had the best of the bargain, after all.
After Hans had gone the way of all men, his heirs found the chests full of gold in the cellar, and therewith they bought fat lands and became noblemen and gentlemen; but that made Hans's luck none the better.
From all this I gather:
That few folks can turn ill luck into good luck. That the best thing for one to do is to let well enough alone. That one cannot get happiness as one does cabbages—with money. That happiness is the only good luck, after all!
YE SONG OF YE RAJAH & YE FLY
Great and rich beyond comparing Was the Rajah Rhama Jaring, As he went to take an airing With his Court one summer day. All were gay with green and yellow; And a little darky fellow Bore a monstrous fun umbrella, For to shade him on the way.
Now a certain fly, unwitting Of this grandeur, came a-flitting To the Royal nose, and sitting Twirled his legs upon the same. Then the Rajah's eyes blazed fire At the insult, and the ire In his heart boiled high and higher. Slap! he struck, but missed his aim.
Then all trembled at this passion, For he spoke in furious fashion. "Saw ye how yon fly did dash on To our august nose!" he said. "Now let all within our nation Wage a war without cessation War of b-lood, ex-ter-mi-nation, Until every fly is dead!!!!"
Now the while this war was raging, That the rajah was a-waging, Things that should have been engaging His attention went to pot. So he came at last to begging, Though the flies continued plaguing. For it's not so easy pegging Out vexation thus, I wot.
From this you may see what all have to expect, Who, fighting small troubles, great duties neglect.
PRIDE IN DISTRESS
Mistress Polly Poppenjay Went to take a walk one day. On that morning she was dressed In her very Sunday best; Feathers, frills and ribbons gay,— Proud was Mistress Poppenjay.
Mistress Polly Poppenjay Spoke to no one on her way; Passed acquaintances aside; Held her head aloft with pride; Did not see a puddle lay In front of Mistress Poppenjay.
Mistress Polly Poppenjay Harked to naught the folk could say. Loud they cried, "Beware the puddle!" Plump! She stepped into the middle. And a pretty plight straightway Was poor Mistress Poppenjay.
Mistress Polly Poppenjay; From your pickle others may Learn to curb their pride a little;— Learn to exercise their wit, till They are sure no puddles may Lie in front, Miss Poppenjay.
PROFESSION & PRACTICE
Once, when Saint Swithin chanced to be A-wandering in Hungary, He, being hungered, cast around To see if something might be found To stay his stomach.
Near by stood A little house, beside a wood, Where dwelt a worthy man, but poor. Thither he went, knocked at the door. The good man came. Saint Swithin said, "I prithee give a crust of bread To ease my hunger."
"Brother," quoth The good man, "I am sadly loath To say" (here tears stood on his cheeks) "I've had no bread for weeks and weeks, Save what I've begged. Had I one bit, I'd gladly give thee half of it." "How," said the Saint, "can one so good Go lacking of his daily food, Go lacking means to aid the poor, Yet weep to turn them from his door? Here—take this purse. Mark what I say: Thou'lt find within it every day Two golden coins."
Years passed. Once more Saint Swithin knocked upon the door. The good man came. He'd grown fat And lusty, like a well-fed cat. Thereat the Saint was pleased. Quoth he, "Give me a crust for charity." "A crust, thou say'st? Hut, tut! How now? Wouldst come a-begging here? I trow, Thou lazy rascal, thou couldst find Enough of work hadst thou a mind! 'Tis thine own fault if thou art poor. Begone, sir!" Bang!—he shut the door.
Saint Swithin slowly scratched his head. "Well, I am—humph!—just so," he said. "How very different the fact is 'Twixt the profession and the practice!"
A TALE OF A TUB
You may bring to mind I've sung you a song, Of a man of Haarlem town. I'll sing of another,—'t will not take long—, Of equally great renown.
"I've read," said he, "there's a land afar, O'er the boundless rolling sea, Where fat little pigs ready roasted are: Now, that is the land for me.
Where tarts may be plucked from the wild tart tree, And puddings like pumpkins grow, Where candies, like pebbles, lie by the sea,— Now, thither I'll straightway go."
Now, what do you think I've heard it said Was his boat, his oar, his sail? A tub, a spoon, and a handkerchief red, For to breast both calm and gale.
So he sailed away, for a livelong day; And the sun was warm and mild, And the small waves laughed as they seemed to play, And the sea-gulls clamored wild.
So he sailed away, for a livelong day; Till the wind began to roar, And the waves rose high, and, to briefly say, He never was heard of more.
FARMER GRIGG'S BOGGART
Did you ever hear of a boggart? No! Then I will tell you. A boggart is a small imp that lives in a man's house, unseen by any one, doing a little good and much harm. This imp was called a boggart in the old times, now we call such by other names—ill-temper, meanness, uncharitableness, and the like. Even now, they say, you may find a boggart in some houses. There is no placing reliance on a boggart; sometimes he may seem to be of service to his master, but there is no telling when he may do him an ill turn.
Rap! tap! tap! came a knock at the door.
The wind was piping Jack Frost's, for the time was winter, and it blew from the north. The snow lay all over the ground, like soft feathers, and the hay-ricks looked as though each one wore a dunce-cap, like the dull boy in Dame Week's school over by the green. The icicles hung down by the thatch, and the little birds crouched shivering in the bare and leafless hedge-rows.
But inside the farm-house all was warm and pleasant; the great logs snapped and crackled and roared in the wide chimney-place, throwing red light up and down the walls, so that the dark night only looked in through the latticed windows. Farmer Griggs sat warming his knees at the blaze, smoking his pipe in great comfort, while his crock of ale, with three roasted crab-apples bobbing about within it, warmed in the hot ashes beside the blazing logs, simmering pleasantly in the ruddy heat.
Dame Griggs's spinning-wheel went humm-m-m! hum-m-m-m-m! like a whole hiveful of bees, the cat purred in the warmth, the dog basked in the blaze, and little red sparks danced about the dishes standing all along in a row on the dresser.
But, rap! tap! tap! came a knock at the door.
Then Farmer Griggs took his pipe from out his mouth. "Did'ee hear un, dame?" said he. "Zooks now, there be somebody outside the door."
"Well then, thou gert oaf, why don't 'ee let un in?" said Dame Griggs.
"Look'ee now," said Georgie Griggs to himself, "sure women be of quicker wits than men!" So he opened the door. Whoo! In rushed the wind, and the blaze of the logs made as though it would leap up the chimney for fear.
"Will you let me in out of the cold, Georgie Griggs?" piped a small voice. Farmer Griggs looked down and saw a little wight no taller than his knee standing in the snow on the door-step. His face was as brown as a berry, and he looked up at the farmer with great eyes as bright as those of a toad. The red light of the fire shone on him, and Georgie Griggs saw that his feet were bare and that he wore no coat.
"Who be 'ee, little man?" said Farmer Griggs.
"I'm a boggart, at your service."
"Na, na," said Farmer Griggs, "thee's at na sarvice o'mine. I'll give na room in my house to the likes o' thee"; and he made as though he would have shut the door in the face of the little urchin.
"But listen, Georgie Griggs," said the boggart; "I will do you a good service."
Then Farmer Griggs did listen. "What sarvice will'ee do me, then?" said he.
"I'll tend your fires," said the manikin, "I'll bake your bread, I'll wash your dishes, I'll scour your pans, I'll scrub your floors, I'll brew your beer, I'll roast your meat, I'll boil your water, I'll stuff your sausages, I'll skim your milk, I'll make your butter, I'll press your cheese, I'll pluck your geese, I'll spin your thread, I'll knit your stockings, I'll mend your clothes, I'll patch your shoes—I'll be everywhere and do all of the work in your house, so that you will not have to give so much as a groat for wages to cook, scullion, or serving wench!"
Then Farmer Griggs listened a little longer without shutting the door, and so did Dame Griggs. "What's thy name, boggart?" said he.
"Hardfist," said the boggart; and he came a little farther in at the door, for he saw that Farmer Griggs had a mind to let him in all of the way.
"I don't know," said Georgie Griggs, scratching his head doubtfully; "it's an ill thing, lettin' mischief intull the house! Thee's better outside, I doubt."
"Shut the door, Georgie!" called out Dame Griggs; "thou'rt lettin' th' cold air intull th' room."
Then Farmer Griggs shut the door, but the boggart was on the inside.
This is the way in which the boggart came into Farmer Griggs's house, and there he was to stay, for it is no such easy matter getting rid of the likes of him when we once let him in, I can tell you.
The boggart came straightway over to the warm fire, and the dog growled—"chur-r-r-r!"—and showed his teeth, and the cat spit anger and jumped up on the dresser, with her back arched and her tail on end. But the boggart cared never a whit for this, but laid himself comfortably down among the warm ashes.
Now imps, like this boggart, can only be seen as the frost is seen—when it is cold. So as he grew warmer and warmer, he grew thin, like a jelly-fish, and at last, when he had become thoroughly warmed through, Farmer Griggs and the dame could see him no more than though he was thin air. But he was in the house, and he stayed there, I can tell you. For a time everything went as smooth as cream; all of the work of the house was done as though by magic, for the boggart did all that he had promised; he made the fires, he baked the bread, he washed the dishes, he scoured the pans, he scrubbed the floors, he brewed the beer, he roasted the meat, he stuffed the sausages, he skimmed the milk, he made the butter, he pressed the cheese, he plucked the geese, he spun the thread, he knit the stockings, he mended the clothes, he patched the shoes—he was everywhere and did all of the work of the house. When Farmer Griggs saw these things done, and so deftly, he rubbed his hands and chuckled to himself. He sent cook and scullion and serving maid a-packing, there being nothing for them to do, for, as I said, all of these things were done as smooth as cream. But after a time, and when the boggart's place had become easy to him, like an old shoe, mischief began to play the pipes and he began to show his pranks. The first thing that he did was to scrape the farmer's butter, so that it was light of weight, and all of the people of the market town hooted at him for giving less than he sold. Then he skimmed the children's milk, so that they had nothing but poor watery stuff to pour over their pottage of a morning. He took the milk from the cat, so that it was like to starve; he even pilfered the bones and scrapings of the dishes from the poor house-dog, as though he was a very magpie. He blew out the rush-lights, so that they were all in the dark after sunset; he made the fires burn cold, and played a hundred and forty other impish tricks of the like kind. As for the poor little children, they were always crying and complaining that the boggart did this and the boggart did that; that he scraped the butter from their bread and pulled the coverlids off of them at night.
Still the boggart did his work well, and so Farmer Griggs put up with his evil ways as long as he could. At last the time came when he could bear it no longer. "Look'ee, now, Mally," said he to his dame, "it's all along o' thee that this trouble's coome intull th' house. I'd never let the boggart in with my own good-will!" So spoke Farmer Griggs, for even nowadays there are men here and there who will now and then lay their own bundle of faults on their wives' shoulders.
"I bade thee do naught but shut the door!" answered Dame Griggs.
"Ay; it's easy enough to shut the door after the trouble's come in!"
"Then turn it out again!"
"Turn un out! Odds bodkins, that's woman's wit! Dost'ee not see that there's no turnin' o' un out? Na, na; there's naught to do but to go out ourselves!"
Yes; there was nothing else to be done. Go they must, if they would be rid of the boggart. So one fine bright day in the blessed spring-time, they packed all of their belongings into a great wain, or cart, and set off to find a new home.
Oft they trudged, just as you see in the picture, the three little children seated high up in the wain, and the farmer and the dame plodding ahead.
Now, as they came to the bottom of Shooter's Hill, whom should they meet but their good neighbor and gossip, Jerry Jinks. "So, Georgie," said he, "you're leavin' th' ould house at last?"
"High, Jerry," quoth Georgie. "We were forced tull it, neighbor, for that black boggart torments us so that there was no rest night or day for it. The poor bairns' stomachs are empty, and the good dame's nigh dead for it. So off we go, like th' field-fares in the autumn—we're flittin', we're flittin'!"
Now on the wain was a tall, upright churn; as soon as Georgie had ended his speech, the lid of the churn began to clipper-clapper, and who should speak out of it but the boggart himself. "Ay, Jerry!" said he, "we're a flittin', we're a flittin', man! Good-day to ye, neighbor, good-day to ye! Come and see us soon time!"
"High!" cried Georgie Griggs, "art thou there, thou black imp? Dang un! We'll all go back tull th' old house, for sure it's better to bear trouble there than in a new place."
So back they went again—boggart and all.
By this you may see, my dear, if you warm an imp by your fire, he will soon turn the whole house topsy-turvy. Likewise, one cannot get rid of a boggart by going from here to there, for it is sure to be in the cart with the household things.
But how did Georgie Griggs get rid of his boggart? That I will tell you.
He went to Father Grimes, the wise man, who lived on in a little house on the moor. "Father Grimes," said he, "how shall I get rid of my boggart?"
Then Father Grimes told him to take this and that, and to do thus and so with them, and see what followed. So Farmer Griggs went to Hugh the tailor's, and told him to make a pretty red coat and a neat pair of blue breeches. Then he went to William the hatter's, and bade him to make a nice little velvet cap with a bell at the top of it. Then he went to Thomas the shoemaker's, and bade him to make a fine little pair of shoes. So they all did as he told them, and after these things were made he took them home with him. He laid them on a warm spot on the hearth where the boggart used to come to sleep at night. Then he and his dame hid in the closet to see what would follow.
Presently came the boggart, whisking here and dancing there, though neither the farmer nor the dame could see him any more than though he had been a puff of wind.
"Heigh-ho!" cried the boggart, "these be fine things for sure." So saying, he tried the hat upon his head, and it fitted exactly. Then he tried the coat on his shoulders, and it fitted like wax. Then he tried the breeches on his legs, and they fitted as though they grew there. Then he tried the shoes on his feet, and there never was such a fit. So he was clad in all his new clothes from top to toe, whereupon he began dancing until he made the ashes on the hearth spin around with him as though they had gone mad, and, as he danced, he sang:
"Cap for the head, alas poor head! Coat for the back, alas poor back! Breeks for the legs, alas poor legs! Shoen for the feet, alas poor feet! If these be mine, mine cannot be The house of honest man, Georgie!"
So he went singing and dancing, and skipping and leaping, out of the house and away. As for Georgie Griggs and his dame, they never heard a squeak from him afterwards.
Thus it was that Farmer Griggs got rid of his boggart. All I can say is, that if I could get rid of mine as easily (for I have one in my own house), I would make him a suit of clothes of the finest silks and satins, and would hang a bell of pure silver on the point of his cap. But, alackaday! there are no more wise men left to us, like good Father Grimes, to tell one an easy way to get rid of one's boggart.
YE STORY OF A BLUE CHINA PLATE.
There was a Cochin Chinaman, Whose name it was Ah-Lee And the same was just as fine a man As you could wish to see, For he was rich and strong, And his queue was extra long, And he lived on rice and fish and chiccory.
Which he had a lovely daughter, And her name was Mai-Ri-An, And the youthful Wang who sought her Hand was but a poor young man; So her haughty father said, "You shall never, never wed Such a pauper as this penniless young man!"
So the daughter and her lover, They eloped one summer day, Which Ah-Lee he did discover, And pursued without delay; But the Goddess Loo, I've heard, Changed each lover to a bird, And from the bad Ah-Lee they flew away.
Ah me! Ah-Lee; the chance is, That we all of us may know Of unpleasant circumstances We would like to stay, but oh! The inevitable things Will take unto them wings, And will fly where we may never hope to go. I would further like to state, That the tale which I relate, You can see on any plate That was made in Cochin China years ago.
There was an old woman, as I've heard say, Who owned but a single goose. And the dame lived over toward Truxton way, And the animal ran at loose. It cackled up and it cackled down, Disturbing the peace of all the town: Gentle and simple, knight and clown, From the dawn to the close of the day.
Another old woman, of not much note, Lived over toward Truxton way, Who owned a goat with a shaggy black coat, As I've heard the neighbours say. And it was the fear of one and all; Butting the great, butting the small,— No matter whom,—who happened to fall In the way of this evil goat.
Said the first old woman, "This ugly goat Should never thus run at loose." Said the second, "I wish they'd cut the throat Of that noisy cackling goose." And so it happened when e'er that they Would meet each other upon the way They'd bicker and hicker the livelong day In the key of a scolding note.
But all the neighbours, great and small, Complained of both with grievous tone. From which I gather that we all See other's faults and not our own.
A peacock sat on ye garden wall (See picture here to ye right), An ye folk came crowding-great and small For it chanced that none in ye town at all Had ever seen such a sight If you'd have been there perhaps you'd have heard Ye folk talk thus, as they looked at ye bird:
"O crickety!—Law!— O jimmeny me!— I never yet saw!— Who ever did see Such a beautiful sight in the world before, Since ye animals marched from ye old ark door? O! Look at ye spots In his tail! And ye lots Of green and of blue in his beautiful wings! I'd give a new shilling to know if he sings!"
Ye peacock says, "Surely, they'll greatly rejoice To hear but a touch of my delicate voice." (Sings.)
"O dear! O dear!— O stop it!—O do!— We never did hear Such a hullballoo! 'Tis worse than ye noise that ye carpenters make When they sharpen their saws!—Now, for charity's sake, Give over this squalling, And catermawalling!" Cried all ye good people who chanced to be near; Each thrusting a finger-tip into each ear.
You see ye poor dunce had attempted to shine In a way that was out of his natural line.
THE FORCE OF NEED
"Hey, Robin! ho, Robin! Singing on the tree, I will give you white bread, If you will come to me."
"Oh! the little breeze is singing To the nodding dairies white, And the tender grass is springing, And the sun is warm and bright; And my little mate is waiting In the budding hedge for me; So, on the whole, I'll not accept Your kindly courtesy."
"Hey, Robin! ho, Robin! Now the north winds blow Wherefore do you come here, In the ice and snow?"
"The wind is raw, the flowers are dead, The frost is on the thorn, So I'll gladly take a crust of bread, And come where it is warm."
Oh, Children! little Children! Have you ever chanced to see One beg for crust that sneered at crumb In bright prosperity?
THE BIRD IN THE LINDEN TREE
Once there was a prince, and his name was John. One day his father said to him, "See, John; I am growing old, and after a while the time will come when I must go the way of everybody else. Now I would like to see you married before I leave you."
"Very well," said the Prince, for he always answered the King in seemly fashion; "and who shall it be?"
"Why not the Princess of the White Mountain?" said the old King.
"Why not, indeed?" said the young Prince, "only she is too short."
"Why not the Princess of the Blue Mountain?" said the old King.
"Why not, indeed?" said the young Prince, "only she is too tall."
"Why not the Princess of the Red Mountain?" said the old King.
"Why not, indeed?" said the young Prince, "only she is too dark."
"Then whom will you have?" said the old King.
"That I do not know," said the young Prince, "only this: that her brow shall be as white as milk, and her cheeks shall be as red as blood, and her eyes shall be as blue as the skies, and her hair shall be like spun gold."
"Then go and find her!" said the old King, in a huff, for his temper was as short as chopped flax. "And don't come back again till you've found her!" he bawled after the Prince as he went out to the door.
So the Prince went out into the wide world to find such a maiden as he spoke of—whose brow was as white as milk, whose cheeks were as red as blood, whose eyes were as blue as the skies, and whose hair was like spun gold—and he would have to travel a long distance to find such a one nowadays, would he not?
So off he went, tramp! tramp! tramp! till his shoes were dusty and his clothes were gray. Nothing was in his wallet but a lump of brown bread and a cold sausage, for he had gone out into the world in haste, as many a one has done before and since his day.
So he went along, tramp! tramp! tramp! and by-and-by he came to a place where three roads met, and there sat an old woman.
"Hui! hui! but I am hungry!" said the old woman.
Now the Prince was a good-hearted fellow, so he said to the old woman, "It is little I have, but such as it is you are welcome to it." Thereupon he gave the old woman the lump of brown bread and the cold sausage that was in his wallet, and the old woman ate it up at a bite.
"Hui! hui! but I am cold!" said she.
"It is little that I have, but such as it is you are welcome to it," said the Prince, and he gave the old woman the dusty coat off his back. After that he had nothing more to give her.
"One does not give something for nothing," said the old woman, so she began fumbling about in her pocket until she found an old rusty key. And the best part of the key was, that whenever one looked through the ring of it, one saw everything just as it really was and not as it seemed to be.
Who would not give his dinner and the coat off his back for such a key?
After that the Prince stepped out again, right foot foremost, tramp! tramp! tramp! until evening had come, and he felt as hungry as one is like to do when one goes without one's dinner. At last he came to a dark forest, and to a gray castle that stood just in the middle of it. This castle belonged to a great, ugly troll, though the Prince knew nothing of that.
"Now I shall have something to eat," said he, and he opened the door of the castle and went in.
Only one person was within, and that was a maiden; but she was as black from head to foot as Fritz the charcoal burner. The Prince had never seen the like of her in all of his life before, so he drew the rusty key out of his pocket and took a peep at her through the ring of it, to see what manner of body she really was.
Then he saw that she was no longer black and ugly, but as beautiful as a ripe apple; for her forehead was as white as milk, her cheeks were as red as blood, her eyes were as blue as the skies, and her hair was like spun gold. Moreover, any one could see with half an eye that she was a real princess, for she wore a gold crown on her head, such as real princesses are never without.
"You are the one whom I seek," said the Prince.
"Yes, I am the one you seek," said she.
"And how can I free you from your enchantment?" said he.
"If you will abide here three nights, and will bear all that shall happen to you without a word, then I shall be free," said she.
"Oh yes, I will do that," said the Prince.
After that the black Princess set a good supper before him, and the Prince ate like three men.
By-and-by there was a huge noise, and the door opened and in came an ugly troll with a head as big as a bucket. He rolled his great saucer eyes around till he saw the Prince where he sat beside the fire.
"Black cats and spotted toads!" bellowed he, "what are you doing here?"
But to this the Prince answered never a word.
"We shall see whether or no there is sound in you!" roared the troll. Thereupon he caught the Prince by the hair and dragged him out into the middle of the room. Then he snatched up a great cudgel and began beating the Prince as though he were a sack of barley-flour; but the Prince said never a word. At last the troll had to give over beating him, for the morning had come and the troll was afraid the sun would catch him; and if that were to happen, he would swell up and burst with a great noise. "We shall see whether you will come again!" said he, and then he left the Prince lying on the floor more dead than alive; and if anybody was sore in all of the world, the Prince was that man.
After the troll had left the house, the black Princess came and wept over the Prince; and when her tears fell on him, pain and bruise left him, and he was as whole as ever. When he looked he saw that the black Princess's feet were as white as silver.
The next night the troll came again, and with him two others. "Black cats and spotted toads!" bellowed he, "are you here again?" Then he caught the Prince by the hair and dragged him out into the middle of the floor, and all three of the trolls fell upon the Prince and beat him with clubs, as though he had been a sack of barley-flour. But the Prince bore this too without a word. At last the morning came, and they had to give over beating him. "We shall see if you will come again," said the troll of the house.
After the trolls had gone, the black Princess came and wept over the Prince as she had done before, and when her tears fell on him he was made whole again. And now the hands of the black Princess were as white as silver.
The third night the troll of the house came, and brought with him six others. Then the same thing happened as before, and they beat the Prince with great cudgels as thick as my thumb. At last the morning came, and they went away bellowing and howling, for their enchantment had gone. As for the Prince, he lay upon the floor more dead than alive, for he could neither see nor hear anything that happened about him.
Then the Princess came for the third time and wept over him, and he was whole and sound again. As for the Princess, she stood before him, and now her brow was as white as milk, and her cheeks were as red as blood, and her eyes were as blue as the skies, and her hair was like spun gold. But the beautiful Princess had little or nothing upon her, so the Prince wrapped her in a ram's skin that was in the troll's house. Then he turned his toes the way he had come, and started away for home, taking her along with him.
So they went along and along till they had come so near to the King's house that they could see the high roofs and the weathercocks over the crest of the next hill. There the Prince bade the Princess to wait for him till he went home and brought her a dress of real silver and gold, such as was fitting for her to wear. Then he left her, and the Princess sat down beside the roadside to wait until he should come again.
Now as the Princess sat there, there came along the old goose-herd of the palace, and with her came her daughter; for they were driving the royal geese home again from where they had been eating grass. When they saw the beautiful Princess, clad in her ram's hide, they stared as though they would never shut their eyes again. Then they wanted to know all about her—who she was, and where she came from, and what she sat there for. So the Princess told them all that they wanted to know, and that she waited there for the Prince to come with a dress all of silver and gold, which would suit her better than the old ram's hide which she wore.
Then the old goose-woman thought that it would be a fine thing to have her daughter in the Princess's place, so that she might have the dress of real silver and gold, and marry the Prince. So the goose-herd's daughter held the Princess, and the old goose-herd stripped the ram's hide off from her.
No sooner had they done this than the Princess was changed into a beautiful golden bird, and flew away over hill and over valley. Then the goose-herd's daughter clad herself in the ram's hide, and sat down in the Princess's place.
"Yes, my pretty little bird," said the old goose-herd, "thou wilt make a fine Princess!" But, prut! she was no more like a Princess than I am, for she was squat, and round-shouldered, and had hair of the color of tow.
Then the old goose-herd drove her geese away, and the goose-girl waited for the coming of the Prince.
Sure enough, after a while the Prince came with a fine dress, all of real silver and gold; but when he saw the goose-girl he beat his head with his knuckles, for he thought that it was the Princess, and that she was enchanted again.
Why did he not look through the ring of his magic key?
Perhaps for this, perhaps for that—one cannot be always wise.
Then the Prince dressed the goose-girl in the fine dress of gold and silver, and took her home with him. Hui! how everybody stared and laughed when they saw what kind of a Princess it was that the Prince brought home with him! As for the poor old King, he rubbed his spectacles and looked and looked, for he thought that this was a strange sort of a wife for the Prince to make such a buzz about. However, he said nothing, for he thought to himself that perhaps she would grow prettier by-and-by.
So orders were given for a grand wedding on Thursday, and the old King asked all of the neighbors to come, and even those who lived at a distance, for this was to be a very grand wedding indeed.
But the old goose-herd told her daughter to mix a sleeping powder with the Prince's wine at supper, for, if the real Princess were to come at all, she would come that night. So the goose-girl did as she was told, and the Prince drank the sleeping powder with his wine, and knew nothing of it.
That night the golden bird came flying, and sat in the linden tree just outside of the Prince's chamber window. Then she clapped her wings and sang:
"I wept over you once, I wept over you twice, I wept over you three times. In the ram's skin I waited, And out of the ram's skin I flew. Why are you sleeping, Life of my life?"
But the Prince slept as sound as a dormouse, and when the dawn came and the cocks crew the golden bird was forced to fly away.
The next night the false Princess did as she had done before, and mixed a sleeping powder with the Prince's cup of wine.
That night the golden bird came again, and perched in the linden tree outside of the Prince's window, and sang:
"I wept over you once, I wept over you twice, I wept over you three times. In the ram's skin I waited, And out of the ram's skin I flew. Why are you sleeping, Life of my life?"
But once more the Prince slept through it all, and when morning had come the golden bird was forced to fly away.
Now it chanced that that night some of the folk of the King's household heard the bird singing, and they told the Prince all about it. So when the third night came, and the false Princess gave the Prince the cup of wine with the sleeping powder in it, he threw the wine over his shoulder, and never touched so much as a drop of it.
That night the bird came for the third time, and sang as it had done before.
But this time the Prince was not sleeping. He jumped out of his bed and ran to the window, and there he saw the bird, and its feathers shone like fire because they were of pure gold. Then he got his magic key and looked through the ring of it, and whom should he see but his own Princess sitting in the linden tree.
Then the Prince called to her, "What shall I do to set you free from this enchantment?"
"Throw your knife over me," said the Princess.
No sooner said than done. The Prince threw his knife over her, and there she stood in her own true shape. Then the Prince took her to the King, and when the King saw how pretty she was, he skipped and danced till his slippers flew about his ears.
The next morning the old King went to the false Princess, and said, "What should be done to one who would do thus and so?"
To this the false Princess answered, as bold as brass, "Such a one should be thrown into a pit full of toads and snakes."
"You have spoken for yourself," said the King; and he would have done just so to her had not the true Princess begged for her so that she was sent back again to tend the geese, for that was what she was fit for.
Then they had the grandest wedding that ever was seen in all of the world. Everybody was asked, and there was enough for all to eat as much as they chose, and to take a little something home to the children beside. If I had been there I would have brought you something.
What is the meaning of all this? Listen, I will tell you something. Once there was a man, and he winnowed a whole peck of chaff, and got only three good solid grains from it, and yet he was glad to have so much. Would you winnow a whole peck of chaff for only three good grains? No? Then you will never know all that is meant by this story.
He "I prithee, tell me wh're you live? Oh Maid, so sweet and rare!" She "I am ye miller's daughter, sir, And live just over th're" He "Of all ye Maids I ever saw, You are beyond compare." She "Oh; Thank you, sir! Oh; thank you, sir! Your words are very fair." He "So I w'ld ask you something, now; If I might only dare." She "Now, you may ask me wh't you please, For anything I care." He "Then will you marry me? For we. W'ld make a goodly pair." She "I thank you sir; your offer, it Is most extremely rare. But as I am already wed, You'r late, sir, for ye Fair."
At th's ye Bachelor walked away, And talked to himself of th' Lass so gay— "Her hair is very decidedly red; And her eyes have somewhat of a cast in her head; And her feet are large, and her hands are coarse; And, without I'm mistaken, her voice is hoarse. 'Tis a bargain of wh'ch I am very well rid; I am glad, on ye whole, I escaped as I did."
YE SAD STORY CONCERNING ON INNOCENT LITTLE LAMB AND FOUR WICKED WOLVES
A little lamb was gamboling, Upon a pleasant day, And four grey wolves came shambling, And stopped to see it play In the sun. Said the lamb, "Perhaps I may Charm these creatures with my play, And they'll let me go away, When I've done."
The wolves, they sat asmiling at The playful thing, to see How exceedingly beguiling that Its pretty play could be. See it hop! But its strength began to wane, Though it gamboled on in pain, Till it finally was fain, For to stop.
Oh! then there was a munching, Of that tender little thing, And a crunching and a scrunching, As you'ld munch a chicken wing. No avail Was its cunning, merry play For the only thing, they say, That was left of it that day, Was its tail. So with me; when I am done, And the critics have begun, All they'll leave me of my fun 'Ll be the tale.
THE APPLE OF CONTENTMENT
There was a woman once, and she had three daughters. The first daughter squinted with both eyes, yet the woman loved her as she loved salt, for she herself squinted with both eyes. The second daughter had one shoulder higher than the other, and eyebrows as black as soot in the chimney, yet the woman loved her as well as she loved the other, for she herself had black eyebrows and one shoulder higher than the other. The youngest daughter was as pretty as a ripe apple, and had hair as fine as silk and the color of pure gold, but the woman loved her not at all, for, as I have said, she herself was neither pretty, nor had she hair of the color of pure gold. Why all this was so, even Hans Pfifendrummel cannot tell, though he has read many books and one over.
The first sister and the second sister dressed in their Sunday clothes every day, and sat in the sun doing nothing, just as though they had been born ladies, both of them.
As for Christine—that was the name of the youngest girl—as for Christine, she dressed in nothing but rags, and had to drive the geese to the hills in the morning and home again in the evening, so that they might feed on the young grass all day and grow fat.
The first sister and the second sister had white bread (and butter beside) and as much fresh milk as they could drink; but Christine had to eat cheese-parings and bread-crusts, and had hardly enough of them to keep Goodman Hunger from whispering in her ear.
This was how the churn clacked in that house!
Well, one morning Christine started off to the hills with her flock of geese, and in her hands she carried her knitting, at which she worked to save time. So she went along the dusty road until, by-and-by, she came to a place where a bridge crossed the brook, and what should she see there but a little red cap, with a silver bell at the point of it, hanging from the alder branch. It was such a nice, pretty little red cap that Christine thought that she would take it home with her, for she had never seen the like of it in all of her life before.
So she put it in her pocket, and then off she went with her geese again. But she had hardly gone two-score of paces when she heard a voice calling her, "Christine! Christine!"
She looked, and who should she see but a queer little gray man, with a great head as big as a cabbage and little legs as thin as young radishes.
"What do you want?" said Christine, when the little man had come to where she was.
Oh, the little man only wanted his cap again, for without it he could not go back home into the hill—that was where he belonged.
But how did the cap come to be hanging from the bush? Yes, Christine would like to know that before she gave it back again.
Well, the little hill-man was fishing by the brook over yonder when a puff of wind blew his cap into the water, and he just hung it up to dry. That was all that there was about it; and now would Christine please give it to him?
Christine did not know how about that; perhaps she would and perhaps she would not. It was a nice, pretty little cap; what would the little underground man give her for it? that was the question.
Oh, the little man would give her five thalers for it, and gladly.
No; five thalers was not enough for such a pretty little cap—see, there was a silver bell hanging to it too.
Well, the little man did not want to be hard at a bargain; he would give her a hundred thalers for it.
No; Christine did not care for money. What else would he give for this nice, dear little cap?
"See, Christine," said the little man, "I will give you this for the cap"; and he showed her something in his hand that looked just like a bean, only it was as black as a lump of coal.
"Yes, good; but what is that?" said Christine.
"That," said the little man, "is a seed from the apple of contentment. Plant it, and from it will grow a tree, and from the tree an apple. Everybody in the world that sees the apple will long for it, but nobody in the world can pluck it but you. It will always be meat and drink to you when you are hungry, and warm clothes to your back when you are cold. Moreover, as soon as you pluck it from the tree, another as good will grow in its place. Now, will you give me my hat?"
Oh yes; Christine would give the little man his cap for such a seed as that, and gladly enough. So the little man gave Christine the seed, and Christine gave the little man his cap again. He put the cap on his head, and—puff!—away he was gone, as suddenly as the light of a candle when you blow it out.
So Christine took the seed home with her, and planted it before the window of her room. The next morning when she looked out of the window she beheld a beautiful tree, and on the tree hung an apple that shone in the sun as though it were pure gold. Then she went to the tree and plucked the apple as easily as though it were a gooseberry, and as soon as she had plucked it another as good grew in its place. Being hungry she ate it, and thought that she had never eaten anything as good, for it tasted like pancake with honey and milk.
By-and-by the oldest sister came out of the house and looked around, but when she saw the beautiful tree with the golden apple hanging from it you can guess how she stared.
Presently she began to long and long for the apple as she had never longed for anything in her life. "I will just pluck it," said she, "and no one will be the wiser for it." But that was easier said than done. She reached and reached, but she might as well have reached for the moon; she climbed and climbed, but she might as well have climbed for the sun—for either one would have been as easy to get as that which she wanted. At last she had to give up trying for it, and her temper was none the sweeter for that, you may be sure.
After a while came the second sister, and when she saw the golden apple she wanted it just as much as the first had done. But to want and to get are very different things, as she soon found, for she was no more able to get it than the other had been.
Last of all came the mother, and she also strove to pluck the apple. But it was no use. She had no more luck of her trying than her daughters; all that the three could do was to stand under the tree and look at the apple, and wish for it and wish for it.
They are not the only ones who have done the like, with the apple of contentment hanging just above them.
As for Christine, she had nothing to do but to pluck an apple whenever she wanted it. Was she hungry? there was the apple hanging in the tree for her. Was she thirsty? there was the apple. Cold? there was the apple. So you see, she was the happiest girl betwixt all the seven hills that stand at the ends of the earth; for nobody in the world can have more than contentment, and that was what the apple brought her.
One day a king came riding along the road, and all of his people with him. He looked up and saw the apple hanging in the tree, and a great desire came upon him to have a taste of it. So he called one of the servants to him, and told him to go and ask whether it could be bought for a potful of gold.
So the servant went to the house, and knocked on the door—rap! tap! tap!
"What do you want?" said the mother of the three sisters, coming to the door.
Oh, nothing much; only a king was out there in the road, and wanted to know if she would sell the apple yonder for a potful of gold.
Yes, the woman would do that. Just pay her the pot of gold and he might go and pluck it and welcome.
So the servant gave her the pot of gold, and then he tried to pluck the apple. First he reached for it, and then he climbed for it, and then he shook the limb.
But it was no use for him to try; he could no more get it—well—than I could if I had been in his place.
At last the servant had to go back to the King. The apple was there, he said, and the woman had sold it, but try and try as he would he could no more get it than he could get the little stars in the sky.
Then the King told the steward to go and get it for him; but the steward, though he was a tall man and a strong man, could no more pluck the apple than the servant.
So he had to go back to the King with an empty fist. No; he could not gather it, either.
Then the King himself went. He knew that he could pluck it—of course he could! Well, he tried and tried; but nothing came of his trying, and he had to ride away at last without, having had so much as a smell of the apple.
After the King came home, he talked and dreamed and thought of nothing but the apple; for the more he could not get it the more he wanted it—that is the way we are made in this world. At last he grew melancholy and sick for want of that which he could not get. Then he sent for one who was so wise that he had more in his head than ten men together. This wise man told him that the only one who could pluck the fruit of contentment for him was the one to whom the tree belonged. This was one of the daughters of the woman who had sold the apple to him for the pot of gold.
When the King heard this he was very glad; he had his horse saddled, and he and his court rode away, and so came at last to the cottage where Christine lived. There they found the mother and the elder sisters, for Christine was away on the hills with her geese.
The King took off his hat and made a fine bow.
The wise man at home had told him this and that; now to which one of her daughters did the apple-tree belong? so said the King.
"Oh, it is my oldest daughter who owns the tree," said the woman.
So, good! Then if the oldest daughter would pluck the apple for him he would take her home and marry her and make a queen of her. Only let her get it for him without delay.
Prut! that would never do. What! was the girl to climb the apple-tree before the King and all of the court? No! no! Let the King go home, and she would bring the apple to him all in good time; that was what the woman said.
Well, the King would do that, only let her make haste, for he wanted it very much indeed.
As soon as the King had gone, the woman and her daughters sent for the goose-girl to the hills. Then they told her that the King wanted the apple yonder, and that she must pluck it for her sister to take to him; if she did not do as they said they would throw her into the well. So Christine had to pluck the fruit; and as soon as she had done so the oldest sister wrapped it up in a napkin and set off with it to the King's house, as pleased as pleased could be. Rap! tap! tap! she knocked at the door. Had she brought the apple for the King?
Oh yes, she had brought it. Here it was, all wrapped up in a fine napkin.
After that they did not let her stand outside the door till her toes were cold, I can tell you. As soon as she had come to the King she opened her napkin. Believe me or not as you please, all the same, I tell you that there was nothing in the napkin but a hard round stone. When the King saw only a stone he was so angry that he stamped like a rabbit and told them to put the girl out of the house. So they did, and she went home with a flea in her ear, I can tell you.
Then the King sent his steward to the house where Christine and her sisters lived.
He told the woman that he had come to find whether she had any other daughters.
Yes; the woman had another daughter, and, to tell the truth, it was she who owned the tree. Just let the steward go home again and the girl would fetch the apple in a little while.
As soon as the steward had gone, they sent to the hills for Christine again. Look! she must pluck the apple for the second sister to take to the King; if she did not do that they would throw her into the well.
So Christine had to pluck it, and gave it to the second sister, who wrapped it up in a napkin and set off for the King's house. But she fared no better than the other, for, when she opened the napkin, there was nothing in it but a lump of mud. So they packed her home again with her apron to her eyes.
After a while the King's steward came to the house again. Had the woman no other daughter than these two?
Well, yes, there was one, but she was a poor ragged thing, of no account, and fit for nothing in the world but to tend the geese.
Where was she?
Oh, she was up on the hills now tending her flock.
But could the steward see her?
Yes, he might see her, but she was nothing but a poor simpleton.
That was all very good, but the steward would like to see her, for that was what the King had sent him there for.
So there was nothing to do but to send to the hills for Christine.
After a while she came, and the steward asked her if she could pluck the apple yonder for the King.
Yes; Christine could do that easily enough. So she reached and picked it as though it had been nothing but a gooseberry on the bush. Then the steward took off his hat and made her a low bow in spite of her ragged dress, for he saw that she was the one for whom they had been looking all this time.
So Christine slipped the golden apple into her pocket, and then she and the steward set off to the King's house together.
When they had come there everybody began to titter and laugh behind the palms of their hands to see what a poor ragged goose-girl the steward had brought home with him. But for that the steward cared not a rap.
"Have you brought the apple?" said the King, as soon as Christine had come before him.
Yes; here it was; and Christine thrust her hand into her pocket and brought it forth. Then the King took a great bite of it, and as soon as he had done so he looked at Christine and thought that he had never seen such a pretty girl. As for her rags, he minded them no more than one minds the spots on a cherry; that was because he had eaten of the apple of contentment.
And were they married? Of course they were! and a grand wedding it was, I can tell you. It is a pity that you were not there; but though you were not, Christine's mother and sisters were, and, what is more, they danced with the others, though I believe they would rather have danced upon pins and needles.
"Never mind," said they; "we still have the apple of contentment at home, though we cannot taste of it." But no; they had nothing of the kind. The next morning it stood before the young Queen Christine's window, just as it had at her old home, for it belonged to her and to no one else in all of the world. That was lucky for the King, for he needed a taste of it now and then as much as anybody else, and no one could pluck it for him but Christine.
Now, that is all of this story. What does it mean? Can you not see? Prut! rub your spectacles and look again!