At last they reached a valley between two mountains.
The Magician stood still for a moment and looked about him.
"Ah!" he exclaimed. "This is the very place for which I have been searching. Gather some sticks. I will kindle a fire."
Soon the fire was burning merrily. The Magician took a curious powder from his girdle. He mumbled strange words as he sprinkled it upon the flames.
In an instant, the earth beneath their feet trembled, and they heard a rumbling sound like distant thunder.
Then the ground opened in front of them. There lay a large flat stone with a brass ring fastened to the top.
"A wonderful treasure lies hidden below," said the Magician. "Obey me, and it will soon be ours."
Then Aladdin grasped the ring in the way the Magician told him to do, and easily lifted the stone.
"Now," said the Magician, "go down the steps which you see before you. You will come to three great halls.
"Pass through the halls, but be careful to touch nothing, not even the walls, for if you do, you will certainly die. When you have passed through the halls, you will reach a garden of fruit trees. In a niche in the garden wall, you will see a lighted lamp. Put out the light, pour the oil from the bowl, and bring the lamp to me."
Then the Magician placed a magic ring upon Aladdin's finger, to guard him, and commanded him to go at once in search of the lamp.
Aladdin found everything exactly as the Magician had said. He went through the halls and the garden until he found the lighted lamp. When he had poured out the oil and had placed the lamp inside his coat, he began to look about him.
Upon the trees were fruits of every color of the rainbow. Some were clear as crystal, some were ruby red, and others sparkled with a green, blue, or purple light.
The leaves of the trees were silver and gold. Aladdin did not know that these fruits were precious stones—diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and amethysts, but they looked so beautiful that he filled his pockets with them as he passed back through the garden.
The Magician stood at the top of the steps as Aladdin began to climb upward.
"Give the lamp to me," he cried, holding out his hand.
"Wait until I reach the top of the steps," Aladdin answered.
"Hand the lamp to me at once!" screamed the Magician.
"Not until I am safely out," replied Aladdin.
Then in a rage the Magician rushed to the fire. He threw more of the curious powder upon the fire and muttered the same strange words as before.
Instantly the stone slipped back into its place. The earth closed over it, and Aladdin was left in darkness.
The Magician at once left Persia and went to Africa.
Poor Aladdin! He groped his way back through the halls to the beautiful garden of shining fruits, but he could find no way of escape. For two days, he cried and shouted for help. At last, as he clasped his hands in despair, he happened to rub the magic ring which the Magician had placed on his finger.
Instantly a Genie rose out of the earth and stood before him.
"What is thy will, my master?" asked the Genie. "I am the Slave of the Ring. I serve the one who wears it."
"Deliver me from this place!" cried Aladdin.
Scarcely had he spoken these words when the earth opened. Aladdin found himself at his mother's door. He showed his mother the lamp and the colored fruit, which he still carried in his pockets.
"I will tell you all that has happened," he said, "but first give me something to eat, for I am very hungry."
"Alas!" said the mother. "I have neither money nor food."
"Sell the old lamp that I brought back with me," said Aladdin.
"The lamp would bring a higher price if it were clean and bright," replied his mother, and she began to rub the lamp.
No sooner had she given the first rub than a great Genie appeared.
"What is thy will?" asked the Genie. "I am the Slave of the Lamp. I serve the one who holds the lamp."
Aladdin's mother was so terrified that she dropped the lamp. Aladdin managed to grasp it, and say, "Bring me something to eat."
The Slave of the Lamp disappeared. He returned, bringing a dainty breakfast served upon plates of pure gold.
Aladdin now knew what use to make of the magic ring and the wonderful lamp. His mother and he lived happily for years.
One day the Sultan ordered all of the people to stay at home and close their shutters, while his daughter, the Princess, passed by on her way to the bath.
Aladdin had heard how beautiful the Princess was, and he greatly desired to see her face. This seemed impossible, for the Princess never went out without a veil which covered her entirely.
He peeped through the shutters as she passed by. The Princess happened to raise her veil, and Aladdin saw her face.
The moment Aladdin's eyes rested upon the Princess, he loved her with all his heart.
"Mother," he cried, "I have seen the Princess, and I have made up my mind to marry her. Go at once to the Sultan and beg him to give his daughter to me."
Aladdin's mother laughed at the idea. The next day, however, she went to the palace, carrying the magic fruit as a gift. No one paid any attention to her.
She went every day for a week, before the Sultan noticed that she was there.
"Who is the poor woman who comes here every day?" he asked. "Bring her forward. I wish to speak to her."
Aladdin's mother knelt before the throne and told the Sultan of her son's love for the Princess. "He sends you this gift," she continued, presenting the magic fruit.
The Sultan was astonished at the gift. He exclaimed, "Here indeed is a gift worthy of my daughter! Shall I not give her to the one who sends it?"
Then the Sultan told Aladdin's mother to return in three months' time, and he would give the Princess to her son in marriage.
When the time had passed, Aladdin again sent his mother to the Sultan.
"I shall abide by my word," said the Sultan, "but he who marries my daughter must first send me forty golden basins filled to the brim with precious stones.
"These basins must be carried by forty black slaves led by forty white ones, all of them dressed in rich attire."
Aladdin's mother returned home.
"Your hopes are ended," she cried.
"Not so, mother," answered Aladdin.
Then he rubbed the Magician's lamp. When the Genie appeared, Aladdin told him to provide the forty golden basins filled with jewels, and the eighty slaves.
When the procession reached the palace, the slaves presented the jewels to the Sultan.
He was so delighted with the gift that he was willing to have Aladdin marry the Princess without delay.
"Go and tell your son that he may wed my daughter this very day," he said to Aladdin's mother.
Aladdin was delighted to hear the news. He ordered the Genie to bring a rich purple robe for him to wear; a beautiful white horse to ride upon; twenty slaves to attend him; six slaves to attend his mother; and ten thousand gold pieces to give to the people.
At last everything was ready. Aladdin, dressed in his royal robe, started for the palace. As he rode on the beautiful white horse, he scattered the gold coins among the people. They shouted with joy as they followed the procession.
At the palace the Sultan greeted Aladdin joyfully and ordered the wedding feast to be prepared at once.
But Aladdin said, "Not so, your Majesty. I will not marry the Princess until I have built her a palace."
Then he returned home and once more summoned the Slave of the Lamp.
"Build the finest palace in the world," ordered Aladdin. "Let the walls be of marble set with precious stones. In the center build a great hall whose walls shall be of silver and gold, lighted by great windows on each side. These windows are to be set with diamonds and rubies. Depart! Lose no time in obeying my commands!"
When Aladdin looked out of the window the next morning, there stood the most beautiful palace in the world.
Then Aladdin and his mother returned to the Sultan's palace, and the wedding took place amid great rejoicing.
Aladdin was gentle and kind to all. He became a great favorite at the court, and the people loved him well.
For a time, Aladdin and his bride lived happily.
But there was trouble coming. Far away in Africa, the Magician who had pretended to be Aladdin's uncle learned of his escape with the magic lamp.
The Magician traveled from Africa to Persia, disguised as a merchant.
He carried some copper lamps and went through the streets of the city crying, "New lamps for old!"
Now it happened that Aladdin had gone hunting, and the Princess sat alone near an open window.
She saw the merchant and sent a slave to find out what the man called. The slave came back laughing.
He told the Princess that the merchant offered to give new lamps for old ones.
The Princess laughed, too. Then she pointed to the old lamp that stood in a niche of the wall.
"There is an old lamp," she said. "Take it and see if the man really will exchange it for a new one."
When the Magician saw the lamp, he knew that it was the one for which he was searching.
He took the magic lamp eagerly and gave the slave all of the new lamps.
Then the Magician hurried out of the city. When he was alone, he rubbed the magic lamp, and the Genie stood before him.
"What is thy will, master?" said he.
"I command thee to carry the palace of Aladdin, with the Princess inside, to Africa," said the Magician.
Instantly the palace disappeared.
The Sultan looked out of his window the next morning. No palace was to be seen.
"This has been done by magic!" the Sultan exclaimed.
He sent his soldiers to bring Aladdin home in chains. They met him riding back from the hunt. They carried him to the Sultan.
When Aladdin was allowed to speak, he asked why he was made prisoner.
"Wretch!" exclaimed the Sultan. "Come and I will show you."
Then he led Aladdin to the window and showed him that where the palace had been there was only an empty space.
Aladdin begged the Sultan to spare his life and grant him forty days in which to find the Princess.
So Aladdin was set free. He searched everywhere, but he could find no trace of the Princess.
In despair, he wrung his hands. As he did so, he rubbed the magic ring.
Instantly the Slave of the Ring appeared.
"What is thy will, master?" asked the Genie.
"Bring back the Princess and the palace," said Aladdin.
"That is not within my power," said the Genie. "Only the Slave of the Lamp can bring back the palace."
"Then take me to the place where the palace now stands, and set me down under the window of the Princess."
Almost before Aladdin had finished these words, he found himself in Africa, beneath a window of his own palace.
"Princess! Princess!" called Aladdin.
The Princess opened the window.
With a cry of joy, Aladdin entered and embraced the Princess. "Tell me, dear," said he, "what has become of the old lamp that stood in the niche of the wall?"
"Alas!" replied the Princess. "A man came through the streets, crying, 'New lamps for old!' I gave him the lamp that stood in the niche, and the next I knew I was here."
"The man is a Magician. He wished only to secure the magic lamp," said Aladdin.
"The Magician is here," said the Princess. "He carries the magic lamp hidden in his robes during the day, and he places it under his pillow at night."
While the Magician was sleeping that night, Aladdin stole softly into the room and took the magic lamp from under the pillow. Then he rubbed the lamp and the Genie appeared.
"I command you to carry the Princess and the palace back to Persia," cried Aladdin.
The following morning, the Sultan looked out of the window. There, to his surprise, stood the palace of Aladdin, in the very place from which it had disappeared.
Aladdin and the Princess lived happily for many years. When the Sultan died, they ruled in his place. They were beloved by the people, and there was peace in all the land.
THE WHITING AND THE SNAIL
"Will you walk a little faster?" Said a whiting to a snail, "There's a porpoise close behind us, And he's treading on my tail. See how eagerly the lobsters And the turtles all advance! They are waiting on the shingle— Will you come and join the dance?
"You can really have no notion How delightful it will be, When they take us up and throw us With the lobsters out to sea! But the snail replied, "Too far, too far!" And gave a look askance— Said he thanked the whiting kindly, But he would not join the dance.
"What matters it how far we go?" His scaly friend replied, "There is another shore you know, Upon the other side. The further off from England The nearer is to France; Then turn not pale, beloved snail, But come and join the dance."
THE BONFIRE IN THE SEA
Long, long ago, in Australia, it is said, fishes could travel as easily on land as they could swim in water.
It happened, so the story goes, that the whole fish tribe had been playing tag along a sandy beach near the sea. At last they became tired of the game, Fin-fin, the leader of the fishes, said, "Let us coast down the great, black rock."
Now beyond the level shore where the fishes had been playing tag, there were cliffs and rocks. Some of the rocks rose straight out of the water, others sloped toward the sandy beach.
High above the rest towered the great, black rock. The fishes climbed to the top Then, one after another, they followed the leader, each gliding head foremost down the rock. It was fine sport!
Then the fishes formed a circle and danced, while Fin-fin slid down the rock alone,
Again and again he climbed to the top and slid down, as swiftly as an arrow glides from the bow. Finally he turned a somersault at the foot of the rock, and then called to the fishes to stop dancing.
"It is time to cook dinner," said Fin-fin.
"There is a good place for a camp under the trees on the tall cliff yonder."
The fishes climbed to the top of the cliff overhanging the sea. They gathered wood and heaped it high at the edge of the cliff.
When all was ready for the bonfire, Fin-fin rubbed two sticks briskly together. Soon a spark fell upon the wood, and instantly the flames leaped upward. Then the fishes put some roots in front of the fire to roast.
While the roots were cooking, the fishes stretched themselves under the trees. They had almost fallen asleep, when suddenly great drops of rain came splashing down.
A dark cloud, which they had not noticed, had covered the sun.
The rain fell hard and fast and soon put out the fire.
Now, you know, this was very serious, for people in those days had no matches, and it was difficult to light a fire. Then, too, an icy wind began to blow, and the fishes were soon shivering in the cold.
"We shall freeze to death unless we can build a fire again," cried Fin-fin.
He tried to kindle a flame by rubbing two sticks together. He could not produce even one spark.
"It is of no use," said Fin-fin. "The wood is too wet. We shall have to wait for the sun to shine again."
A tiny fish came forward and bowed before Fin-fin, saying, "Ask my father, Flying-fish, to light the fire. He is skilled in magic, and he can do more than most fishes."
So Fin-fin asked Flying-fish to light the fire once more.
Flying-fish knelt before the smoldering ashes and fanned briskly with his fins.
A tiny thread of smoke curled upward, and a feeble red glow could be seen in the ashes.
When the tribe of fishes saw this, they crowded close around Flying-fish, keeping their backs toward the cold wind. He told them to go to the other side, because he wanted to fan the fire.
By and by the spark grew into a flame, and the bonfire burned brightly.
"Bring more wood," cried Flying-fish.
The fishes gathered wood and piled it upon the fire. The red flames roared, and sputtered, and crackled.
"We shall soon be warm now," said Fin-fin.
Then the fishes crowded around the fire, closer and closer. Suddenly a blast of wind swept across the cliff from the direction of the land, and blew the fire toward the fishes.
They sprang back, forgetting that they were on the edge of the cliff. And down, down, down, went the whole fish tribe to the bottom of the sea.
The water felt warm, for the strong wind had driven the fire down below, too.
There, indeed, was the bonfire at the bottom of the sea, burning as brightly as ever.
More wonderful still, the fire never went out, as fires do on land. The water at the bottom of the sea has been warm ever since that day.
That is why, on frosty days, the fishes disappear from the surface of the water. They dive to the bottom of the sea, where they can keep warm and comfortable, around the magic bonfire.
AT LEAST, SO SOME PEOPLE SAY.
Many years ago, there lived in England a boy whose name was Robinson Crusoe.
Though he had never been near the sea, Crusoe's dearest wish was to become a sailor and go on a ship to foreign lands.
This grieved his mother very much, and she begged the boy to remain at home. His father also warned him of danger, saying, "If you go abroad, you will be most miserable. I cannot give my consent."
It happened that Crusoe visited Hull, a large town by the sea, to say good-by to a companion who was about to sail for London. He could not resist the chance of going on a voyage, and without even sending a message to his father and mother, he went aboard the ship and sailed away.
Robinson Crusoe met with many strange adventures at sea. On his first voyage, the ship was wrecked in a fearful storm, and the crew was saved by sailors from another ship.
Next, Crusoe went on a voyage to Africa. On the way there the ship was captured by pirates. The captain of the pirates made a slave of the boy. The man took Crusoe to his home and made him dig in the garden and work in the house.
One day Crusoe hid some food in a small boat and managed to escape, with a boy. They sailed for many long days and nights, keeping close to shore. They did not dare to land, because of the lions and other wild animals.
After a time they saw a Portuguese vessel. The captain allowed them to go aboard. This ship was bound for South America. They finally landed in Brazil.
Robinson Crusoe lived on a plantation in Brazil for several years. He raised sugar and tobacco. For a time he was happy and made money.
But Robinson Crusoe was never contented anywhere for very long. When a merchant asked him to go on another voyage to the coast of Africa, he consented, and he had soon started on this new venture.
At first the weather was very hot. Then one day, without warning, a hurricane burst upon them. The wind raged for twelve days, and the ship was nearly torn to pieces. No one expected to escape.
After a time the wind abated somewhat. The captain ordered the course of the ship changed, but soon another storm followed, even worse than the first.
Early one morning, while the wind was still roaring and the ship was rolling from side to side, a sailor who was peering through the fog suddenly cried out, "Land! Land!"
At the same moment, the vessel struck on a sand bar, with a grating sound. The waves dashed over the deck of the ship.
With great difficulty, the boats were lowered at the side of the ship. All the sailors climbed into the boats, for they knew not at what moment the ship would break to pieces.
The men rowed bravely toward the shore, but suddenly a mountain-like wave rolled over them and upset the boats.
Crusoe was a very fine swimmer, but no one could swim in such a sea. It was only good fortune and his alertness that landed him safely ashore.
Wave after wave washed him further and further upon the beach. At last a wave left him beside a rock, to which he clung until the water flowed back to the sea. Then he jumped up and ran for his life.
Robinson Crusoe was the only person from the ship who was not drowned. He was thankful indeed for his escape.
After resting for a time, Crusoe looked about him. He was wet, cold, and hungry. It was growing very dark, and he was afraid of wild animals.
He found his knife still in his pocket, so he cut a stick with which to protect himself. Then he climbed into a tree and hid among the branches. He was soon sound asleep.
When Crusoe awoke in the morning, the storm was over, and the sea was calm. He found that the ship had been driven by the waves much nearer to the shore. By noon the water was low. The tide had ebbed so far out that he could walk almost to the ship.
He swam for a short distance. When lie reached the vessel, he could find no way to climb up, but at last he discovered a rope hanging over the side. By the help of the rope, he managed to pull himself to the deck.
Everything in the stern of the ship was safe and dry, and the food was not spoiled. Crusoe filled his pockets with biscuits and ate them as he went about his work. He had no time to spare.
Crusoe needed a boat, to carry to the shore many necessary things.
"It is of no use to wish for a boat," he thought, "I must set to work to make one."
First he took some spars of wood and a topmast or two, that were on the deck, and threw them overboard, tying each with a rope so that it would not drift away.
Then he climbed down the side of the ship, and fastened the spars together to make a raft. It was a long time before he was able to make the raft strong enough to hold the things that he wished to take ashore.
Crusoe loaded the raft with three seamen's chests. He had filled these chests with bread, rice, cheese, dried goat's flesh, and other articles of food. He also took all the clothing he could find.
Then Crusoe dragged a carpenter's tool chest to the side of the ship. He placed this on the raft. Nothing on the ship was of more use to him than the tools in this chest.
He secured guns, pistols, and shot, also two barrels of dry gunpowder.
The trouble now was to land his cargo safely.
Crusoe had only a broken oar, but he rigged up a sail, and the tide helped him. At last he reached the mouth of a little river. The strong tide carried him to land.
He was able to push the raft into a little bay. When the tide flowed out, the raft was left high and dry on the sand, and everything was taken safely ashore.
Then Crusoe thought he would look about the country. He climbed to the top of a high hill. He found that he was on an island, and that there was no sign of people, and nothing living in sight excepting great flocks of birds.
Day after day, Crusoe returned to the ship. He built more rafts and brought from the vessel everything that he considered useful.
He made a tent of sails to protect the things that could be spoiled by the sun or rain.
After several weeks, the weather changed, and a high wind began to blow.
One morning, when Crusoe awoke, he found that the ship had broken to pieces and was no longer to be seen. However, he had saved from the wreck everything that he needed.
Then Robinson Crusoe decided to find a better place for his tent. There was a little plain on the bide of a hill. At the further end was a rock with a hollow place like the entrance to a cave; but there was really not any cave or way into the rock at all. Here he placed his tent.
In a half circle, in front of the tent, Crusoe drove two rows of strong stakes sharpened at the top, about six inches apart. He laid pieces of rope between the stakes. The fence was about five arid a half feet high and so strong that no one could enter.
There was no door, so Crusoe climbed in and out by means of a ladder which he always drew up after him.
Before closing up the end of the fence, Crusoe carried within all the articles that he had saved from the wreck. He rigged a double tent inside the fence, to protect all from the sun and rain.
When this was finished, Crusoe began to dig out the rock. It was not very hard, and soon, behind his tent, he had a cave in which he placed his powder, in small parcels.
Robinson Crusoe was very comfortable. He had saved from the wreck two cats and a dog. He had ink, pens, and paper, so that he could write down all that happened.
"But what shall I do when the ink is gone?" thought Crusoe. "I must find some way of keeping track of the time."
He set up a wooden cross, upon which he cut with a knife the date of his landing. Each day he cut another notch in the wood.
Every seventh notch was twice as long as those for the days between, and the notch for every first day of the month was twice as long again. Thus Crusoe kept a calendar, or weekly, monthly, and yearly reckoning of time.
By and by, he found that there were many goats on the island, and many pigeons which he could obtain for food.
After a time, Crusoe decided that his cave was too small.
As he was sure that there were no wild beasts on the island, he began to make his cave larger, and he finally built a tunnel through the rock outside his fence.
Then he began to hang his belongings upon the sides of the cave, and to arrange them in order. He even built shelves on the walls, and made a door for the entrance. He also made a table and some chairs.
During all this time, Robinson Crusoe climbed the hill daily.
He looked over the lonely waters hoping—always hoping—to see the sail of a ship. At last he gave up all hope of ever leaving the island. Several years passed by. The clothing that Crusoe had saved from the ship was worn out. He made himself clothes from the skins of the goats on the island. He made also an umbrella of goat skins, to shield him from the hot rays of the sun.
Though the food which he had taken from the ship had long since been eaten, he raised plenty of barley from seed which he had found in a little bag on the ship. The goats and pigeons on the island supplied him with meat.
He had become very tired of never hearing a voice. There were many green parrots among the trees and he decided to catch one and teach it to talk. He found it difficult to obtain one, but finally he did catch a young parrot.
At first he could not teach it to say a word, but at last when he came back to his tent from a day on the island, the parrot called, "Robin, Robin Crusoe! Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been?"
One morning, as Crusoe started for his canoe, a strange thing happened. He was walking along, and what do you suppose he saw? The print of a man's foot in the sand! The sight made him cold all over. He looked around.
He listened, but there was not a sound, yet there in the sand was the print of a man's foot—the toes, the heel, and the sole.
He did not go to the boat. Instead he hastened back to his cave. He was so frightened that it was some time before he ventured out again.
About a year after this, Crusoe was surprised one morning to see a bonfire on the shore. He looked through his spyglass and saw a company of savages who had landed in canoes and had built a fire.
They had two prisoners whom they were about to kill. One of them saw a chance to escape, and he made a sudden dash for his life, running with great speed straight toward Robinson Crusoe.
Crusoe rescued this man. The man was very grateful.
Crusoe made him understand, after a time, that his name was to be Friday. It was on Friday that the man had been saved.
Crusoe taught him to say "Yes," and "No," and also to say "Master."
Friday became the faithful servant and companion of Robinson Crusoe.
Many more years passed.
One morning Friday came running toward Crusoe, shouting, "Master! Master! They come!"
Crusoe ran to the beach and looked toward the sea. There he saw a large sailing vessel making for the shore.
The sailing vessel proved to be an English ship.
Crusoe's stay on the desert island had come to an end. When he took leave of the island, he carried on board the sailing vessel his goat skin cap and umbrella, also the parrot.
So after twenty-eight long years Robinson Crusoe and his faithful servant, Friday, sailed away.
The voyage was long and hard, but at last they reached the coast of England.
THE WONDERFUL WORLD
Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World, With the wonderful water round you curled, And the wonderful grass upon your breast, World, you are beautifully dressed! The wonderful air is over me, And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree; It walks on the water, and whirls the mills, And talks to itself on the tops of the hills. You friendly Earth, how far do you go, With wheat fields that nod, and rivers that flow, And cities and gardens and oceans and isles, And people upon you for thousands of miles?
Ah! you are so great, and I am so small, I hardly can think of you, World, at all; And yet, when I said my prayers to-day, A whisper within me seemed to say: You are more than the Earth, Though you are such a dot; You can love and think, and the Earth cannot.
THE MAGIC GIRDLE
Once upon a time, a little cobbler sat at his bench mending a pair of shoes. He whistled a merry tune as he worked.
The day was very warm, and the wax which he had been using began to melt. In less time than it takes to tell it, a swarm, of flies lighted upon the melting wax.
"Ho, ho!" exclaimed the little cobbler. "Who invited you to a feast?"
He threw the shoe that he was mending, at the flies, and many fell dead from the blow. The cobbler counted the flies as they lay dead, and he said, "Not so bad! That blow should make me famous."
Then the cobbler took a girdle and painted this rhyme upon it:
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow.
"Now I shall travel around the world wearing this girdle, and it will make me famous," said the cobbler.
So the queer little man put on the girdle and started out to seek his fortune.
As he was entering a forest, he saw a bear walking along a narrow path. The cobbler was frightened. There was no way of escape. He waited to see what would happen.
The bear growled and ran toward him. The cobbler stood with his girdle in sight.
The bear read the words on the girdle:
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow.
"Is it possible that this little man can kill TEN BEARS at one blow?" thought the bear, "I will be careful not to offend him."
So the bear stood still and said, "Where are you going, my friend?"
"Around the world to seek my fortune," proudly replied the cobbler.
"Stay here for a time and dine with me. I know where there is some choice honey," said the bear, and he led the way to a hollow tree where the bees had stored their honey.
But a hunter had set a trap in the tree, and as the bear reached for the honey—snap! His paw was caught fast in the trap. And that was the end of Mr. Bear!
The cobbler quickly stripped off the skin of the animal, saying, "This will make a fine, warm blanket."
Then he walked away, carrying the skin over his arm and whistling a merry tune.
At last the cobbler reached the edge of the forest and began to climb a hill. Sitting on a rock overlooking the valley below was a giant.
The cobbler's heart beat fast with fear.
He walked bravely up to the giant, with his girdle in plain sight.
"Good-day, friend," said the cobbler.
"Here you sit at your ease. Do you not wish to travel with me to see the world?" the cobbler added.
When the giant saw the little stranger walking up to him so boldly, he was greatly surprised.
"How dare you enter the land of the giants!" he was about to exclaim.
At that moment, he saw the girdle and read the words:
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow.
"Is it possible that this little man can kill TEN GIANTS at one blow?" thought the giant. "I will be careful not to offend him."
So the giant said, "Good-day, my friend. I see that though you are a little man, you have great strength. Let us prove which of us is the stronger."
Then the giant led the cobbler to a great oak tree that had fallen to the ground.
"Help me carry this tree to yonder cave," he said.
"Certainly," said the cobbler. "You take the trunk on your shoulder, and I will carry the top and branches of the tree, which, of course, are the heaviest part."
The giant laid the trunk of the tree on his shoulder, but the cobbler sat at his ease among the branches, enjoying the ride.
So the giant, who could not see what was going on behind him, had to carry the whole tree, and the little man in the bargain. There the cobbler sat, in the best of spirits, whistling a merry tune as though carrying a tree was mere sport.
At last the giant could bear the weight no longer, and he shouted, "Hi, hi! I must let the tree fall."
Then the cobbler sprang nimbly down, seized the tree with both hands, as if he had carried it all the way, and called to the giant, "Think of a big fellow like you not being able to carry a tree!"
"Well," said the giant, "I will admit that you are the stronger. Come and spend the night in my cave."
The cobbler followed the giant into the cave. There, sitting around a fire, were a number of giants. They were laughing and talking in a noisy manner, and they scarcely noticed the little man.
The cobbler spread the bear's skin upon the floor near the fire. Then he lay down and pretended to sleep, but all the time he was watching to find a way of escape.
At about midnight, the giants went to bed, and they were soon sleeping soundly.
The cobbler seized a club which belonged to one of the giants, placed the bear's skin over his arm, and tiptoed out of the cave. He was soon far away from the giants.
After many days, the cobbler reached the courtyard of the king's palace. He was very tired, so he spread the bear's skin upon the grass and lay down upon it. He placed the giant's club by his side.
Soon he was fast asleep.
Presently one of the king's soldiers came near. He was surprised to find the little man sleeping there, with a giant's club by his side. Then he spied the girdle and read the words:
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow.
"Indeed!" thought the soldier. "This little man must have killed TEN BEARS at one blow, and TEN GIANTS besides."
Then the soldier hurried away and told every one he met about the queer little man. The news spread until it reached the king.
"Bring this mighty man to me," the king commanded.
When the king read the words upon the girdle, he said, "You are the very one I wish to have fight for me in time of war."
"I am ready to fight for you, O King!" said the cobbler.
The king at once appointed the cobbler commander of his army.
Not long after this, a war broke out. The king promised the hand of his daughter to the man who should conquer the enemy.
The little cobbler, riding upon a white horse, commanded the king's army.
What a queer leader he was! About his shoulders was thrown the bear's skin, held firmly by the wonderful girdle, and in one hand he carried the giant's club.
When the enemy advanced, and the leader saw the queer commander of the king's army, he smiled and said, "We have little to fear from such a commander."
Then he saw the curious girdle and read the words:
Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow.
"Is it possible that this little man can kill TEN COMMANDERS at one blow?" thought the leader.
He turned his horse quickly and gave orders for the army to retreat.
The cobbler followed the enemy and soon overtook the leader, whom he made prisoner.
When the king saw the cobbler returning with the leader, he was delighted. But all at once he remembered the reward that he had promised to the victor.
The princess refused to become the bride of one so small and so ugly as the cobbler.
"What shall I do?" asked the king. "A king should never break his promise."
Then the princess whispered to the king, "Try to take the little man's girdle from him. He will then lose his power."
So the king said to the cobbler, "You may have the hand of the princess if you will give your girdle to me."
This made the cobbler very unhappy, for he knew what good fortune the girdle had brought to him.
But he smiled and answered in a cheerful voice.
"I shall be honored, if your majesty will accept my girdle."
He handed the precious girdle to the king.
At that moment, something wonderful happened.
Instead of an ugly little man, there stood a tall, handsome youth.
The princess was very willing to become the bride of so handsome a youth. The king now gladly gave his consent to the marriage.
Next day a great wedding feast was spread in honor of the marriage.
After the king's death, the princess and her husband ruled the country.
The magic girdle was placed over the throne.
Ever afterwards, when the new king and queen appeared, the people would shout with great pride,
"Ha, ha! Ho, ho! Ten at one blow."