The Crimson Fairy Book
Part 2 out of 6
two youths just like each other, and he would paint himself a mask
that was just like them. And the sword at his side clanked loudly.
After a long search twin brothers were found, so exactly resembling
each other that even their own mother could not tell the difference.
The youth painted a mask that was the precise copy of them, and
when he had put it on, no one would have known one boy from the
other. They set out at once for the Sultan's palace, and when they
reached it, they were taken straight into his presence. He made a
sign for them to come near; they all bowed low in greeting. He
asked them about their journey; they answered his questions all
together, and in the same words. If one sat down to supper, the
others sat down at the same instant. When one got up, the others
got up too, as if there had been only one body between them. The
Sultan could not detect any difference between them, and he told
his aunt that he would not be so cruel as to kill all three.
'Well, you will see a difference to-morrow,' replied the witch, 'for
one will have a cut on his sleeve. That is the youth you must kill.'
And one hour before midnight, when witches are invisible, she
glided into the room where all three lads were sleeping in the same
bed. She took out a pair of scissors and cut a small piece out of the
boy's coat-sleeve which was hanging on the wall, and then crept
silently from the room. But in the morning the youth saw the slit,
and he marked the sleeves of his two companions in the same way,
and all three went down to breakfast with the Sultan. The old
witch was standing in the window and pretended not to see them;
but all witches have eyes in the backs of their heads, and she knew
at once that not one sleeve but three were cut, and they were all as
alike as before. After breakfast, the Sultan, who was getting tired
of the whole affair and wanted to be alone to invent some other
plan, told them they might return home. So, bowing low with one
accord, they went.
The princess welcomed the boy back joyfully, but the poor youth
was not allowed to rest long in peace, for one day a fresh letter
arrived from the Sultan, saying that he had discovered that the
young man was a very dangerous person, and that he must be sent
to Turkey at once, and alone. The girl burst into tears when the
boy told her what was in the letter which her father had bade her to
carry to him. 'Do not weep, love of my heart,' said the boy, 'all will
be well. I will start at sunrise to-morrow.'
So next morning at sunrise the youth set forth, and in a few days he
reached the Sultan's palace. The old witch was waiting for him at
the gate, and whispered as he passed: 'This is the last time you will
ever enter it.' But the sword clanked, and the lad did not even look
at her. As he crossed the threshold fifteen armed Turks barred his
way, with the Sultan at their head. Instantly the sword darted forth
and cut off the heads of everyone but the Sultan, and then went
quietly back to its scabbard. The witch, who was looking on, saw
that as long as the youth had possession of the sword, all her
schemes would be in vain, and tried to steal the sword in the night,
but it only jumped out of its scabbard and sliced off her nose, which
was of iron. And in the morning, when the Sultan brought a great
army to capture the lad and deprive him of his sword, they were all
cut to pieces, while he remained without a scratch.
Meanwhile the princess was in despair because the days slipped by,
and the young man did not return, and she never rested until her
father let her lead some troops against the Sultan. She rode
proudly before them, dressed in uniform; but they had not left the
town more than a mile behind them, when they met the lad and his
little sword. When he told them what he had done they shouted for
joy, and carried him back in triumph to the palace; and the king
declared that as the youth had shown himself worthy to become his
son-in-law, he should marry the princess and succeed to the throne
at once, as he himself was getting old, and the cares of government
were too much for him. But the young man said he must first go
and see his mother, and the king sent him in state, with a troop of
soldiers as his bodyguard.
The old woman was quite frightened at seeing such an array draw
up before her little house, and still more surprised when a handsome
young man, whom she did not know, dismounted and kissed her
hand, saying: 'Now, dear mother, you shall hear my secret at last! I
dreamed that I should become King of Hungary, and my dream has
come true. When I was a child, and you begged me to tell you, I
had to keep silence, or the Magyar king would have killed me. And
if you had not beaten me nothing would have happened that has
happened, and I should not now be King of Hungary.'
[From the Folk Tales of the Magyars.]
The Prince And The Dragon
Once upon a time there lived an emperor who had three sons. They
were all fine young men, and fond of hunting, and scarcely a day
passed without one or other of them going out to look for game.
One morning the eldest of the three princes mounted his horse and
set out for a neighbouring forest, where wild animals of all sorts
were to be found. He had not long left the castle, when a hare
sprang out of a thicket and dashed across the road in front. The
young man gave chase at once, and pursued it over hill and dale, till
at last the hare took refuge in a mill which was standing by the side
of a river. The prince followed and entered the mill, but stopped in
terror by the door, for, instead of a hare, before him stood a
dragon, breathing fire and flame. At this fearful sight the prince
turned to fly, but a fiery tongue coiled round his waist, and drew
him into the dragon's mouth, and he was seen no more.
A week passed away, and when the prince never came back
everyone in the town began to grow uneasy. At last his next
brother told the emperor that he likewise would go out to hunt, and
that perhaps he would find some clue as to his brother's
disappearance. But hardly had the castle gates closed on the prince
than the hare sprang out of the bushes as before, and led the
huntsman up hill and down dale, till they reached the mill. Into this
the hare flew with the prince at his heels, when, lo! instead of the
hare, there stood a dragon breathing fire and flame; and out shot a
fiery tongue which coiled round the prince's waist, and lifted him
straight into the dragon's mouth, and he was seen no more.
Days went by, and the emperor waited and waited for the sons who
never came, and could not sleep at night for wondering where they
were and what had become of them. His youngest son wished to
go in search of his brothers, but for long the emperor refused to
listen to him, lest he should lose him also. But the prince prayed so
hard for leave to make the search, and promised so often that he
would be very cautious and careful, that at length the emperor gave
him permission, and ordered the best horse in the stables to be
saddled for him.
Full of hope the young prince started on his way, but no sooner was
he outside the city walls than a hare sprang out of the bushes and
ran before him, till they reached the mill. As before, the animal
dashed in through the open door, but this time he was not followed
by the prince. Wiser than his brothers, the young man turned away,
saying to himself: 'There are as good hares in the forest as any that
have come out of it, and when I have caught them, I can come back
and look for you.'
For many hours he rode up and down the mountain, but saw
nothing, and at last, tired of waiting, he went back to the mill. Here
he found an old woman sitting, whom he greeted pleasantly.
'Good morning to you, little mother,' he said; and the old woman
answered: 'Good morning, my son.'
'Tell me, little mother,' went on the prince, 'where shall I find my
'My son,' replied the old woman, 'that was no hare, but a dragon
who has led many men hither, and then has eaten them all.' At
these words the prince's heart grew heavy, and he cried, 'Then my
brothers must have come here, and have been eaten by the dragon!'
'You have guessed right,' answered the old woman; 'and I can give
you no better counsel than to go home at once, before the same fate
'Will you not come with me out of this dreadful place?' said the
'He took me prisoner, too,' answered she, 'and I cannot shake off
'Then listen to me,' cried the prince. 'When the dragon comes back,
ask him where he always goes when he leaves here, and what
makes him so strong; and when you have coaxed the secret from
him, tell me the next time I come.'
So the prince went home, and the old woman remained in the mill,
and as soon as the dragon returned she said to him:
'Where have you been all this time--you must have travelled far?'
'Yes, little mother, I have indeed travelled far.' answered he. Then
the old woman began to flatter him, and to praise his cleverness;
and when she thought she had got him into a good temper, she said:
'I have wondered so often where you get your strength from; I do
wish you would tell me. I would stoop and kiss the place out of
pure love!' The dragon laughed at this, and answered:
'In the hearthstone yonder lies the secret of my strength.'
Then the old woman jumped up and kissed the hearth; whereat the
dragon laughed the more, and said:
'You foolish creature! I was only jesting. It is not in the
hearthstone, but in that tall tree that lies the secret of my strength.'
Then the old woman jumped up again and put her arms round the
tree, and kissed it heartily. Loudly laughed the dragon when he saw
what she was doing.
'Old fool,' he cried, as soon as he could speak, 'did you really
believe that my strength came from that tree?'
'Where is it then?' asked the old woman, rather crossly, for she did
not like being made fun of.
'My strength,' replied the dragon, 'lies far away; so far that you
could never reach it. Far, far from here is a kingdom, and by its
capital city is a lake, and in the lake is a dragon, and inside the
dragon is a wild boar, and inside the wild boar is a pigeon, and
inside the pigeon a sparrow, and inside the sparrow is my strength.'
And when the old woman heard this, she thought it was no use
flattering him any longer, for never, never, could she take his
strength from him.
The following morning, when the dragon had left the mill, the
prince came back, and the old woman told him all that the creature
had said. He listened in silence, and then returned to the castle,
where he put on a suit of shepherd's clothes, and taking a staff in his
hand, he went forth to seek a place as tender of sheep.
For some time he wandered from village to village and from town
to town, till he came at length to a large city in a distant kingdom,
surrounded on three sides by a great lake, which happened to be the
very lake in which the dragon lived. As was his custom, he stopped
everybody whom he met in the streets that looked likely to want a
shepherd and begged them to engage him, but they all seemed to
have shepherds of their own, or else not to need any. The prince
was beginning to lose heart, when a man who had overheard his
question turned round and said that he had better go and ask the
emperor, as he was in search of some one to see after his flocks.
'Will you take care of my sheep?' said the emperor, when the young
man knelt before him.
'Most willingly, your Majesty,' answered the young man, and he
listened obediently while the emperor told him what he was to do.
'Outside the city walls,' went on the emperor, 'you will find a large
lake, and by its banks lie the richest meadows in my kingdom.
When you are leading out your flocks to pasture, they will all run
straight to these meadows, and none that have gone there have ever
been known to come back. Take heed, therefore, my son, not to
suffer your sheep to go where they will, but drive them to any spot
that you think best.'
With a low bow the prince thanked the emperor for his warning,
and promised to do his best to keep the sheep safe. Then he left the
palace and went to the market-place, where he bought two
greyhounds, a hawk, and a set of pipes; after that he took the sheep
out to pasture. The instant the animals caught sight of the lake
lying before them, they trotted off as fast as their legs would go to
the green meadows lying round it. The prince did not try to stop
them; he only placed his hawk on the branch of a tree, laid his pipes
on the grass, and bade the greyhounds sit still; then, rolling up his
sleeves and trousers, he waded into the water crying as he did so:
'Dragon! dragon! if you are not a coward, come out and fight with
me!' And a voice answered from the depths of the lake:
'I am waiting for you, O prince'; and the next minute the dragon
reared himself out of the water, huge and horrible to see. The
prince sprang upon him and they grappled with each other and
fought together till the sun was high, and it was noonday. Then the
'O prince, let me dip my burning head once into the lake, and I will
hurl you up to the top of the sky.' But the prince answered, 'Oh, ho!
my good dragon, do not crow too soon! If the emperor's daughter
were only here, and would kiss me on the forehead, I would throw
you up higher still!' And suddenly the dragon's hold loosened, and
he fell back into the lake.
As soon as it was evening, the prince washed away all signs of the
fight, took his hawk upon his shoulder, and his pipes under his arm,
and with his greyhounds in front and his flock following after him
he set out for the city. As they all passed through the streets the
people stared in wonder, for never before had any flock returned
from the lake.
The next morning he rose early, and led his sheep down the road to
the lake. This time, however, the emperor sent two men on
horseback to ride behind him, with orders to watch the prince all
day long. The horsemen kept the prince and his sheep in sight,
without being seen themselves. As soon as they beheld the sheep
running towards the meadows, they turned aside up a steep hill,
which overhung the lake. When the shepherd reached the place he
laid, as before, his pipes on the grass and bade the greyhounds sit
beside them, while the hawk he perched on the branch of the tree.
Then he rolled up his trousers and his sleeves, and waded into the
'Dragon! dragon! if you are not a coward, come out and fight with
me!' And the dragon answered:
'I am waiting for you, O prince,' and the next minute he reared
himself out of the water, huge and horrible to see. Again they
clasped each other tight round the body and fought till it was noon,
and when the sun was at its hottest, the dragon gasped:
'O prince, let me dip my burning head once in the lake, and I will
hurl you up to the top of the sky.' But the prince answered:
'Oh, ho! my good dragon, do not crow too soon! If the emperor's
daughter were only here, and would kiss me on the forehead, I
would throw you up higher still!' And suddenly the dragon's hold
loosened, and he fell back into the lake.
As soon as it was evening the prince again collected his sheep, and
playing on his pipes he marched before them into the city. When he
passed through the gates all the people came out of their houses to
stare in wonder, for never before had any flock returned from the
Meanwhile the two horsemen had ridden quickly back, and told the
emperor all that they had seen and heard. The emperor listened
eagerly to their tale, then called his daughter to him and repeated it
'To-morrow,' he said, when he had finished, 'you shall go with the
shepherd to the lake, and then you shall kiss him on the forehead as
But when the princess heard these words, she burst into tears, and
'Will you really send me, your only child, to that dreadful place,
from which most likely I shall never come back?'
'Fear nothing, my little daughter, all will be well. Many shepherds
have gone to that lake and none have ever returned; but this one
has in these two days fought twice with the dragon and has escaped
without a wound. So I hope to-morrow he will kill the dragon
altogether, and deliver this land from the monster who has slain so
many of our bravest men.'
Scarcely had the sun begun to peep over the hills next morning,
when the princess stood by the shepherd's side, ready to go to the
lake. The shepherd was brimming over with joy, but the princess
only wept bitterly. 'Dry your tears, I implore you,' said he. 'If you
will just do what I ask you, and when the time comes, run and kiss
my forehead, you have nothing to fear.'
Merrily the shepherd blew on his pipes as he marched at the head of
his flock, only stopping every now and then to say to the weeping
girl at his side:
'Do not cry so, Heart of Gold; trust me and fear nothing.' And so
they reached the lake.
In an instant the sheep were scattered all over the meadows, and
the prince placed his hawk on the tree, and his pipes on the grass,
while he bade his greyhounds lie beside them. Then he rolled up his
trousers and his sleeves, and waded into the water, calling:
'Dragon! dragon! if you are not a coward, come forth, and let us
have one more fight together.' And the dragon answered: 'I am
waiting for you, O prince'; and the next minute he reared himself
out of the water, huge and horrible to see. Swiftly he drew near to
the bank, and the prince sprang to meet him, and they grasped each
other round the body and fought till it was noon. And when the sun
was at its hottest, the dragon cried:
'O prince, let me dip my burning head in the lake, and I will hurl
you to the top of the sky.' But the prince answered:
'Oh, ho! my good dragon, do not crow too soon! If the emperor's
daughter were only here, and she would kiss my forehead, I would
throw you higher still.'
Hardly had he spoken, when the princess, who had been listening,
ran up and kissed him on the forehead. Then the prince swung the
dragon straight up into the clouds, and when he touched the earth
again, he broke into a thousand pieces. Out of the pieces there
sprang a wild boar and galloped away, but the prince called his
hounds to give chase, and they caught the boar and tore it to bits.
Out of the pieces there sprang a hare, and in a moment the
greyhounds were after it, and they caught it and killed it; and out of
the hare there came a pigeon. Quickly the prince let loose his
hawk, which soared straight into the air, then swooped upon the
bird and brought it to his master. The prince cut open its body and
found the sparrow inside, as the old woman had said.
'Now,' cried the prince, holding the sparrow in his hand, 'now you
shall tell me where I can find my brothers.'
'Do not hurt me,' answered the sparrow, 'and I will tell you with all
my heart.' Behind your father's castle stands a mill, and in the mill
are three slender twigs. Cut off these twigs and strike their roots
with them, and the iron door of a cellar will open. In the cellar you
will find as many people, young and old, women and children, as
would fill a kingdom, and among them are your brothers.'
By this time twilight had fallen, so the prince washed himself in the
lake, took the hawk on his shoulder and the pipes under his arm,
and with his greyhounds before him and his flock behind him,
marched gaily into the town, the princess following them all, still
trembling with fright. And so they passed through the streets,
thronged with a wondering crowd, till they reached the castle.
Unknown to anyone, the emperor had stolen out on horseback, and
had hidden himself on the hill, where he could see all that happened.
When all was over, and the power of the dragon was broken for
ever, he rode quickly back to the castle, and was ready to receive
the prince with open arms, and to promise him his daughter to wife.
The wedding took place with great splendour, and for a whole
week the town was hung with coloured lamps, and tables were
spread in the hall of the castle for all who chose to come and eat.
And when the feast was over, the prince told the emperor and the
people who he really was, and at this everyone rejoiced still more,
and preparations were made for the prince and princess to return to
their own kingdom, for the prince was impatient to set free his
The first thing he did when he reached his native country was to
hasten to the mill, where he found the three twigs as the sparrow
had told him. The moment that he struck the root the iron door
flew open, and from the cellar a countless multitude of men and
women streamed forth. He bade them go one by one wheresoever
they would, while he himself waited by the door till his brothers
passed through. How delighted they were to meet again, and to
hear all that the prince had done to deliver them from their
enchantment. And they went home with him and served him all the
days of their lives, for they said that he only who had proved
himself brave and faithful was fit to be king.
[From Volksmarehen der Serben.]
Once upon a time the things in this story happened, and if they had
not happened then the story would never have been told. But that
was the time when wolves and lambs lay peacefully together in one
stall, and shepherds dined on grassy banks with kings and queens.
Once upon a time, then, my dear good children, there lived a man.
Now this man was really a hundred years old, if not fully twenty
years more. And his wife was very old too--how old I do not
know; but some said she was as old as the goddess Venus herself.
They had been very happy all these years, but they would have been
happier still if they had had any children; but old though they were
they had never made up their minds to do without them, and often
they would sit over the fire and talk of how they would have
brought up their children if only some had come to their house.
One day the old man seemed sadder and more thoughtful than was
common with him, and at last he said to his wife: 'Listen to me, old
'What do you want?' asked she.
'Get me some money out of the chest, for I am going a long
journey--all through the world--to see if I cannot find a child, for
my heart aches to think that after I am dead my house will fall into
the hands of a stranger. And this let me tell you: that if I never find
a child I shall not come home again.'
Then the old man took a bag and filled it with food and money, and
throwing it over his shoulders, bade his wife farewell.
For long he wandered, and wandered, and wandered, but no child
did he see; and one morning his wanderings led him to a forest
which was so thick with trees that no light could pass through the
branches. The old man stopped when he saw this dreadful place,
and at first was afraid to go in; but he remembered that, after all, as
the proverb says: 'It is the unexpected that happens,' and perhaps in
the midst of this black spot he might find the child he was seeking.
So summoning up all his courage he plunged boldly in.
How long he might have been walking there he never could have
told you, when at last he reached the mouth of a cave where the
darkness seemed a hundred times darker than the wood itself.
Again he paused, but he felt as if something was driving him to
enter, and with a beating heart he stepped in.
For some minutes the silence and darkness so appalled him that he
stood where he was, not daring to advance one step. Then he made
a great effort and went on a few paces, and suddenly, far before
him, he saw the glimmer of a light. This put new heart into him,
and he directed his steps straight towards the faint rays, till he could
see, sitting by it, an old hermit, with a long white beard.
The hermit either did not hear the approach of his visitor, or
pretended not to do so, for he took no notice, and continued to
read his book. After waiting patiently for a little while, the old man
fell on his knees, and said: 'Good morning, holy father!' But he
might as well have spoken to the rock. 'Good morning, holy father,'
he said again, a little louder than before, and this time the hermit
made a sign to him to come nearer. 'My son,' whispered he, in a
voice that echoed through the cavern, 'what brings you to this dark
and dismal place? Hundreds of years have passed since my eyes
have rested on the face of a man, and I did not think to look on one
'My misery has brought me here,' replied the old man; 'I have no
child, and all our lives my wife and I have longed for one. So I left
my home, and went out into the world, hoping that somewhere I
might find what I was seeking.'
Then the hermit picked up an apple from the ground, and gave it to
him, saying: 'Eat half of this apple, and give the rest to your wife,
and cease wandering through the world.'
The old man stooped and kissed the feet of the hermit for sheer joy,
and left the cave. He made his way through the forest as fast as the
darkness would let him, and at length arrived in flowery fields,
which dazzled him with their brightness. Suddenly he was seized
with a desperate thirst, and a burning in his throat. He looked for a
stream but none was to be seen, and his tongue grew more parched
every moment. At length his eyes fell on the apple, which all this
while he had been holding in his hand, and in his thirst he forgot
what the hermit had told him, and instead of eating merely his own
half, he ate up the old woman's also; after that he went to sleep.
When he woke up he saw something strange lying on a bank a little
way off, amidst long trails of pink roses. The old man got up,
rubbed his eyes, and went to see what it was, when, to his surprise
and joy, it proved to be a little girl about two years old, with a skin
as pink and white as the roses above her. He took her gently in his
arms, but she did not seem at all frightened, and only jumped and
crowed with delight; and the old man wrapped his cloak round her,
and set off for home as fast as his legs would carry him.
When they were close to the cottage where they lived he laid the
child in a pail that was standing near the door, and ran into the
house, crying: 'Come quickly, wife, quickly, for I have brought you
a daughter, with hair of gold and eyes like stars!'
At this wonderful news the old woman flew downstairs, almost
tumbling down ill her eagerness to see the treasure; but when her
husband led her to the pail it was perfectly empty! The old man was
nearly beside himself with horror, while his wife sat down and
sobbed with grief and disappointment. There was not a spot round
about which they did not search, thinking that somehow the child
might have got out of the pail and hidden itself for fun; but the little
girl was not there, and there was no sign of her.
'Where can she be?' moaned the old man, in despair. 'Oh, why did I
ever leave her, even for a moment? Have the fairies taken her, or
has some wild beast carried her off?' And they began their search all
over again; but neither fairies nor wild beasts did they meet with,
and with sore hearts they gave it up at last and turned sadly into the
And what had become of the baby? Well, finding herself left alone
in a strange place she began to cry with fright, and an eagle
hovering near, heard her, and went to see what the sound came
from. When he beheld the fat pink and white creature he thought of
his hungry little ones at home, and swooping down he caught her
up in his claws and was soon flying with her over the tops of the
trees. In a few minutes he reached the one in which he had built his
nest, and laying little Wildrose (for so the old man had called her)
among his downy young eaglets, he flew away. The eaglets
naturally were rather surprised at this strange animal, so suddenly
popped down in their midst, but instead of beginning to eat her, as
their father expected, they nestled up close to her and spread out
their tiny wings to shield her from the sun.
Now, in the depths of the forest where the eagle had built his nest,
there ran a stream whose waters were poisonous, and on the banks
of this stream dwelt a horrible lindworm with seven heads. The
lindworm had often watched the eagle flying about the top of the
tree, carrying food to his young ones and, accordingly, he watched
carefully for the moment when the eaglets began to try their wings
and to fly away from the nest. Of course, if the eagle himself was
there to protect them even the lindworm, big and strong as he was,
knew that he could do nothing; but when he was absent, any little
eaglets who ventured too near the ground would be sure to
disappear down the monster's throat. Their brothers, who had been
left behind as too young and weak to see the world, knew nothing
of all this, but supposed their turn would soon come to see the
world also. And in a few days their eyes, too, opened and their
wings flapped impatiently, and they longed to fly away above the
waving tree-tops to mountain and the bright sun beyond. But that
very midnight the lindworm, who was hungry and could not wait
for his supper, came out of the brook with a rushing noise, and
made straight for the tree. Two eyes of flame came creeping
nearer, nearer, and two fiery tongues were stretching themselves
out closer, closer, to the little birds who were trembling and
shuddering in the farthest corner of the nest. But just as the
tongues had almost reached them, the lindworm gave a fearful cry,
and turned and fell backwards. Then came the sound of battle from
the ground below, and the tree shook, though there was no wind,
and roars and snarls mixed together, till the eaglets felt more
frightened than ever, and thought their last hour had come. Only
Wildrose was undisturbed, and slept sweetly through it all.
In the morning the eagle returned and saw traces of a fight below
the tree, and here and there a handful of yellow mane lying about,
and here and there a hard scaly substance; when he saw that he
rejoiced greatly, and hastened to the nest.
'Who has slain the lindworm?' he asked of his children; there were
so many that he did not at first miss the two which the lindworm
had eaten. But the eaglets answered that they could not tell, only
that they had been in danger of their lives, and at the last moment
they had been delivered. Then the sunbeam had struggled through
the thick branches and caught Wildrose's golden hair as she lay
curled up in the corner, and the eagle wondered, as he looked,
whether the little girl had brought him luck, and it was her magic
which had killed his enemy.
'Children,' he said, 'I brought her here for your dinner, and you have
not touched her; what is the meaning of this?' But the eaglets did
not answer, and Wildrose opened her eyes, and seemed seven times
lovelier than before.
>From that day Wildrose lived like a little princess. The eagle flew
about the wood and collected the softest, greenest moss he could
find to make her a bed, and then he picked with his beak all the
brightest and prettiest flowers in the fields or on the mountains to
decorate it. So cleverly did he manage it that there was not a fairy
in the whole of the forest who would not have been pleased to sleep
there, rocked to and fro by the breeze on the treetops. And when
the little ones were able to fly from their nest he taught them where
to look for the fruits and berries which she loved.
So the time passed by, and with each year Wildrose grew taller and
more beautiful, and she lived happily in her nest and never wanted
to go out of it, only standing at the edge in the sunset, and looking
upon the beautiful world. For company she had all the birds in the
forest, who came and talked to her, and for playthings the strange
flowers which they brought her from far, and the butterflies which
danced with her. And so the days slipped away, and she was
fourteen years old.
One morning the emperor's son went out to hunt, and he had not
ridden far, before a deer started from under a grove of trees, and
ran before him. The prince instantly gave chase, and where the stag
led he followed, till at length he found himself in the depths of the
forest, where no man before had trod.
The trees were so thick and the wood so dark, that he paused for a
moment and listened, straining his ears to catch some sound to
break a silence which almost frightened him. But nothing came, not
even the baying of a hound or the note of a horn. He stood still,
and wondered if he should go on, when, on looking up, a stream of
light seemed to flow from the top of a tall tree. In its rays he could
see the nest with the young eaglets, who were watching him over
the side. The prince fitted an arrow into his bow and took his aim,
but, before he could let fly, another ray of light dazzled him; so
brilliant was it, that his bow dropped, and he covered his face with
his hands. When at last he ventured to peep, Wildrose, with her
golden hair flowing round her, was looking at him. This was the
first time she had seen a man.
'Tell me how I can reach you?' cried he; but Wildrose smiled and
shook her head, and sat down quietly.
The prince saw that it was no use, and turned and made his way out
of the forest. But he might as well have stayed there, for any good
he was to his father, so full was his heart of longing for Wildrose.
Twice he returned to the forest in the hopes of finding her, but this
time fortune failed him, and he went home as sad as ever.
At length the emperor, who could not think what had caused this
change, sent for his son and asked him what was the matter. Then
the prince confessed that the image of Wildrose filled his soul, and
that he would never be happy without her. At first the emperor felt
rather distressed. He doubted whether a girl from a tree top would
make a good empress; but he loved his son so much that he
promised to do all he could to find her. So the next morning
heralds were sent forth throughout the whole land to inquire if
anyone knew where a maiden could be found who lived in a forest
on the top of a tree, and to promise great riches and a place at court
to any person who should find her. But nobody knew. All the girls
in the kingdom had their homes on the ground, and laughed at the
notion of being brought up in a tree. 'A nice kind of empress she
would make,' they said, as the emperor had done, tossing their
heads with disdain; for, having read many books, they guessed what
she was wanted for.
The heralds were almost in despair, when an old woman stepped
out of the crowd and came and spoke to them. She was not only
very old, but she was very ugly, with a hump on her back and a bald
head, and when the heralds saw her they broke into rude laughter.
'I can show you the maiden who lives in the tree-top,' she said, but
they only laughed the more loudly.
'Get away, old witch!' they cried, 'you will bring us bad luck'; but
the old woman stood firm, and declared that she alone knew where
to find the maiden.
'Go with her,' said the eldest of the heralds at last. 'The emperor's
orders are clear, that whoever knew anything of the maiden was to
come at once to court. Put her in the coach and take her with us.'
So in this fashion the old woman was brought to court.
'You have declared that you can bring hither the maiden from the
wood?' said the emperor, who was seated on his throne.
'Yes, your Majesty, and I will keep my word,' said she.
'Then bring her at once,' said the emperor.
'Give me first a kettle and a tripod,' asked the old w omen, and the
emperor ordered them to be brought instantly. The old woman
picked them up, and tucking them under her arm went on her way,
keeping at a little distance behind the royal huntsmen, who in their
turn followed the prince.
Oh, what a noise that old woman made as she walked along! She
chattered to herself so fast and clattered her kettle so loudly that
you would have thought that a whole campful of gipsies must be
coming round the next corner. But when they reached the forest,
she bade them all wait outside, and entered the dark wood by
She stopped underneath the tree where the maiden dwelt and,
gathering some dry sticks, kindled a fire. Next, she placed the
tripod over it, and the kettle on top. But something was the matter
with the kettle. As fast as the old woman put it where it was to
stand, that kettle was sure to roll off, falling to the ground with a
It really seemed bewitched, and no one knows what might have
happened if Wildrose, who had been all the time peeping out of her
nest, had not lost patience at the old woman's stupidity, and cried
out: 'The tripod won't stand on that hill, you must move it!'
'But where am I to move it to, my child?' asked the old woman,
looking up to the nest, and at the same moment trying to steady the
kettle with one hand and the tripod with the other.
'Didn't I tell you that it was no good doing that,' said Wildrose,
more impatiently than before. 'Make a fire near a tree and hang the
kettle from one of the branches.'
The old woman took the kettle and hung it on a little twig, which
broke at once, and the kettle fell to the ground.
'If you would only show me how to do it, perhaps I should
understand,' said she.
Quick as thought, the maiden slid down the smooth trunk of the
tree, and stood beside the stupid old woman, to teach her how
things ought to be done. But in an instant the old woman had
caught up the girl and swung her over her shoulders, and was
running as fast as she could go to the edge of the forest, where she
had left the prince. When he saw them coming he rushed eagerly to
meet them, and he took the maiden in his arms and kissed her
tenderly before them all. Then a golden dress was put on her, and
pearls were twined in her hair, and she took her seat in the
emperor's carriage which was drawn by six of the whitest horses in
the world, and they carried her, without stopping to draw breath, to
the gates of the palace. And in three days the wedding was
celebrated, and the wedding feast was held, and everyone who saw
the bride declared that if anybody wanted a perfect wife they must
go to seek her on top of a tree.
[ Adapted from file Roumanian.]
Tiidu The Piper
Once upon a time there lived a poor man who had more children
than bread to feed them with. However, they were strong and
willing, and soon learned to make themselves of use to their father
and mother, and when they were old enough they went out to
service, and everyone was very glad to get them for servants, for
they worked hard and were always cheerful. Out of all the ten or
eleven, there was only one who gave his parents any trouble, and
this was a big lazy boy whose name was Tiidu. Neither scoldings
nor beatings nor kind words had any effect on him, and the older he
grew the idler he got. He spent his winters crouching close to a
warm stove, and his summers asleep under a shady tree; and if he
was not doing either of these things he was playing tunes on his
One day he was sitting under a bush playing so sweetly that you
might easily have mistaken the notes for those of a bird, when an
old man passed by. 'What trade do you wish to follow, my son?' he
asked in a friendly voice, stopping as he did so in front of the youth.
'If I were only a rich man, and had no need to work,' replied the
boy, 'I should not follow any. I could not bear to be anybody's
servant, as all my brothers and sisters are.'
The old man laughed as he heard this answer, and said: 'But I do
not exactly see where your riches are to come from if you do not
work for them. Sleeping cats catch no mice. He who wishes to
become rich must use either his hands or his head, and be ready to
toil night and day, or else--'
But here the youth broke in rudely:
'Be silent, old man! I have been told all that a hundred times over;
and it runs off me like water off a duck's back. No one will ever
make a worker out of me.'
'You have one gift,' replied the old man, taking no notice of this
speech, 'and if you would only go about and play the pipes, you
would easily earn, not only your daily bread, but a little money into
the bargain. Listen to me; get yourself a set of pipes, and learn to
play on them as well as you do on your flute, and wherever there
are men to hear you, I promise you will never lack money.'
'But where am I to get the pipes from?' asked the youth.
'Blow on your flute for a few days,' replied the old man, 'and you
will soon be able to buy your pipes. By-and-by I will come back
again and see if you have taken my advice, and whether you are
likely to grow rich.' And so saying he went his way.
Tiidu stayed where he was a little longer, thinking of all the old man
had told him, and the more he thought the surer he felt that the old
man was right. He determined to try whether his plan would really
bring luck; but as he did not like being laughed at he resolved not to
tell anyone a word about it. So next morning he left home--and
never came back! His parents did not take his loss much to heart,
but were rather glad that their useless son had for once shown a
little spirit, and they hoped that time and hardship might cure Tiidu
of his idle folly.
For some weeks Tiidu wandered from one village to another, and
proved for himself the truth of the old man's promise. The people
he met were all friendly and kind, and enjoyed his flute-playing,
giving him his food in return, and even a few pence. These pence
the youth hoarded carefully till he had collected enough to buy a
beautiful pair of pipes. Then he felt himself indeed on the high road
to riches. Nowhere could pipes be found as fine as his, or played in
so masterly a manner. Tiidu's pipes set everybody's legs dancing.
Wherever there was a marriage, a christening, or a feast of any
kind, Tiidu must be there, or the evening would be a failure. In a
few years he had become so noted a piper that people would travel
far and wide to hear him.
One day he was invited to a christening where many rich men from
the neighbouring town were present, and all agreed that never in all
their lives had they heard such playing as his. They crowded round
him, and praised him, and pressed him to come to their homes,
declaring that it was a shame not to give their friends the chance of
hearing such music. Of course all this delighted Tiidu, who
accepted gladly, and left their houses laden with money and
presents of every kind; one great lord clothed him in a magnificent
dress, a second hung a chain of pearls round his neck, while a third
handed him a set of new pipes encrusted in silver. As for the ladies,
the girls twisted silken scarves round his plumed hat, and their
mothers knitted him gloves of all colours, to keep out the cold.
Any other man in Tiidu's place would have been contented and
happy in this life; but his craving for riches gave him no rest, and
only goaded him day by day to fresh exertions, so that even his own
mother would not have known him for the lazy boy who was always lying
asleep in one place or the other.
Now Tiidu saw quite clearly that he could only hope to become rich
by means of his pipes, and set about thinking if there was nothing
he could do to make the money flow in faster. At length he
remembered having heard some stories of a kingdom in the Kungla
country, where musicians of all sorts were welcomed and highly
paid; but where it was, or how it was reached, he could not
recollect, however hard he thought. In despair, he wandered along
the coast, hoping to see some ship or sailing boat that would take
him where he wished to go, and at length he reached the town of
Narva, where several merchantmen were lying at anchor. To his
great joy, he found that one of them was sailing for Kungla in a few
days, and he hastily went on board, and asked for the captain. But
the cost of the passage was more than the prudent Tiidu cared to
pay, and though he played his best on his pipes, the captain refused
to lower his price, and Tiidu was just thinking of returning on shore
when his usual luck flew to his aid. A young sailor, who had heard
him play, came secretly to him, and offered to hide him on board, in
the absence of the captain. So the next night, as soon as it was
dark, Tiidu stepped softly on deck, and was hidden by his friend
down in the hold in a corner between two casks. Unseen by the
rest of the crew the sailor managed to bring him food and drink,
and when they were well out of sight of land he proceeded to carry
out a plan he had invented to deliver Tiidu from his cramped
quarters. At midnight, while he was keeping watch and everyone
else was sleeping, the man bade his friend Tiidu follow him on
deck, where he tied a rope round Tiidu's body, fastening the other
end carefully to one of the ship's ropes. 'Now,' he said, 'I will
throw you into the sea, and you must shout for help; and when you
see the sailors coming untie the rope from your waist, and tell them
that you have swum after the ship all the way from shore.'
At first Tiidu did not much like this scheme, for the sea ran high,
but he was a good swimmer, and the sailor assured him that there
was no danger. As soon as he was in the water, his friend hastened
to rouse his mates, declaring that he was sure that there was a man
in the sea, following the ship. They all came on deck, and what was
their surprise when they recognised the person who had bargained
about a passage the previous day with the captain.
'Are you a ghost, or a dying man?' they asked him trembling, as
they stooped over the side of the ship.
'I shall soon indeed be a dead man if you do not help me,' answered
Tiidu, 'for my strength is going fast.'
Then the captain seized a rope and flung it out to him, and Tiidu
held it between his teeth, while, unseen by the sailors; he loosed the
one tied round his waist.
'Where have you come from?' said the captain, when Tiidu was
brought up on board the ship.
'I have followed you from the harbour,' answered he, 'and have been
often in sore dread lest my strength should fail me. I hoped that by
swimming after the ship I might at last reach Kungla, as I had no
money to pay my passage.' The captain's heart melted at these
words, and he said kindly: 'You may be thankful that you were not
drowned. I will land you at Kungla free of payment, as you are so
anxious to get there. So he gave him dry clothes to wear, and a
berth to sleep in, and Tiidu and his friend secretly made merry over
their cunning trick.
For the rest of the voyage the ship's crew treated Tiidu as
something higher than themselves, seeing that in all their lives they
had never met with any man that could swim for as many hours as
he had done. This pleased Tiidu very much, though he knew that
he had really done nothing to deserve it, and in return he delighted
them by tunes on his pipes. When, after some days, they cast
anchor at Kungla, the story of his wonderful swim brought him
many friends, for everybody wished to hear him tell the tale himself.
This might have been all very well, had not Tiidu lived in dread that
some day he would be asked to give proof of his marvellous
swimming powers, and then everything would be found out.
Meanwhile he was dazzled with the splendour around him, and
more than ever he longed for part of the riches, about which the
owners seemed to care so little.
He wandered through the streets for many days, seeking some one
who wanted a servant; but though more than one person would
have been glad to engage him, they seemed to Tiidu not the sort of
people to help him to get rich quickly. At last, when he had almost
made up his mind that he must accept the next place offered him, he
happened to knock at the door of a rich merchant who was in need
of a scullion, and gladly agreed to do the cook's bidding, and it was
in this merchant's house that he first learned how great were the
riches of the land of Kungla. All the vessels which in other
countries are made of iron, copper, brass, or tin, in Kungla were
made of silver, or even of gold. The food was cooked in silver
saucepans, the bread baked in a silver oven, while the dishes and
their covers were all of gold. Even the very pigs' troughs were of
silver too. But the sight of these things only made Tiidu more
covetous than before. 'What is the use of all this wealth that I have
constantly before my eyes,' thought he, 'if none of it is mine? I shall
never grow rich by what I earn as a scullion, even though I am paid
as much in a month as I should get elsewhere in a year.'
By this time he had been in his place for two years, and had put by
quite a large sum of money. His passion of saving had increased to
such a pitch that it was only by his master's orders that he ever
bought any new clothes, 'For,' said the merchant, 'I will not have
dirty people in my house.' So with a heavy heart Tiidu spent some
of his next month's wages on a cheap coat.
One day the merchant held a great feast in honour of the christening
of his youngest child, and he gave each of his servants a handsome
garment for the occasion. The following Sunday, Tiidu, who liked
fine clothes when he did not have to pay for them, put on his new
coat, and went for a walk to some beautiful pleasure gardens, which
were always full of people on a sunny day. He sat down under a
shady tree, and watched the passers-by, but after a little he began to
feel rather lonely, for he knew nobody and nobody knew him.
Suddenly his eyes fell on the figure of an old man, which seemed
familiar to him, though he could not tell when or where he had seen
it. He watched the figure for some time, till at length the old man
left the crowded paths, and threw himself on the soft grass under a
lime tree, which stood at some distance from where Tiidu was
sitting. Then the young man walked slowly past, in order that he
might look at him more closely, and as he did so the old man
smiled, and held out his hand.
'What have you done with your pipes?' asked he; and then in a
moment Tiidu knew him. Taking his arm he drew him into a quiet
place and told him all that had happened since they had last met.
The old man shook his head as he listened, and when Tiidu had
finished his tale, he said: 'A fool you are, and a fool you will always
be! Was there ever such a piece of folly as to exchange your pipes
for a scullion's ladle? You could have made as much by the pipes in
a day as your wages would have come to in half a year. Go home
and fetch your pipes, and play them here, and you will soon see if I
have spoken the truth.'
Tiidu did not like this advice--he was afraid that the people would
laugh at him; and, besides, it was long since he had touched his
pipes--but the old man persisted, and at last Tiidu did as he was
'Sit down on the bank by me,' said the old man, when he came back,
'and begin to play, and in a little while the people will flock round
you.' Tiidu obeyed, at first without much heart; but somehow the
tone of the pipes was sweeter than he had remembered, and as he
played, the crowd ceased to walk and chatter, and stood still and
silent round him. When he had played for some time he took off his
hat and passed it round, and dollars, and small silver coins, and
even gold pieces, came tumbling in. Tiidu played a couple more
tunes by way of thanks, then turned to go home, hearing on all
sides murmurs of 'What a wonderful piper! Come back, we pray
you, next Sunday to give us another treat.'
'What did I tell you?' said the old man, as they passed through the
garden gate. 'Was it not pleasanter to play for a couple of hours on
the pipes than to be stirring sauces all day long? For the second
time I have shown you the path to follow; try to learn wisdom, and
take the bull by the horns, lest your luck should slip from you! I
can be your guide no longer, therefore listen to what I say, and
obey me. Go every Sunday afternoon to those gardens; and sit
under the lime tree and play to the people, and bring a felt hat with
a deep crown, and lay it on the ground at your feet, so that
everyone can throw some money into it. If you are invited to play
at a feast, accept willingly, but beware of asking a fixed price; say
you will take whatever they may feel inclined to give. You will get
far more money in the end. Perhaps, some day, our paths may
cross, and then I shall see how far you have followed my advice.
Till then, farewell'; and the old man went his way.
As before, his words came true, though Tiidu could not at once do
his bidding, as he had first to fulfil his appointed time of service.
Meanwhile he ordered some fine clothes, in which he played every
Sunday in the gardens, and when he counted his gains in the
evening they were always more than on the Sunday before. At
length he was free to do as he liked, and he had more invitations to
play than he could manage to accept, and at night, when the citizens
used to go and drink in the inn, the landlord always begged Tiidu to
come and play to them. Thus he grew so rich that very soon he had
his silver pipes covered with gold, so that they glistened in the light
of the sun or the fire. In all Kungla there was no prouder man than
In a few years he had saved such a large sum of money that he was
considered a rich man even in Kungla, where everybody was rich.
And then he had leisure to remember that he had once had a home,
and a family, and that he should like to see them both again, and
show them how well he could play. This time he would not need to
hide in the ship's hold, but could hire the best cabin if he wished to,
or even have a vessel all to himself. So he packed all his treasures
in large chests, and sent them on board the first ship that was sailing
to his native land, and followed them with a light heart. The wind
at starting was fair, but it soon freshened, and in the night rose to a
gale. For two days they ran before it, and hoped that by keeping
well out to sea they might be able to weather the storm, when,
suddenly, the ship struck on a rock, and began to fill. Orders were
given to lower the boats, and Tiidu with three sailors got into one
of them, but before they could push away from the ship a huge
wave overturned it, and all four were flung into the water. Luckily
for Tiidu an oar was floating near him, and with its help he was able
to keep on the surface of the water; and when the sun rose, and the
mist cleared away, he saw that he was not far from shore. By hard
swimming, for the sea still ran high, he managed to reach it, and
pulled himself out of the water, more dead than alive. Then he
flung himself down on the ground and fell fast asleep.
When he awoke he got up to explore the island, and see if there
were any men upon it; but though he found streams and fruit trees
in abundance, there was no trace either of man or beast. Then,
tired with his wanderings he sat down and began to think.
For perhaps the first time in his life his thoughts did not instantly
turn to money. It was not on his lost treasures that his mind dwelt,
but on his conduct to his parents: his laziness and disobedience as a
boy; his forgetfulness of them as a man. 'If wild animals were to
come and tear me to pieces,' he said to himself bitterly, 'it would be
only what I deserve! My gains are all at the bottom of the sea--well!
lightly won, lightly lost--but it is odd that I feel I should not
care for that if only my pipes were left me.' Then he rose and
walked a little further, till he saw a tree with great red apples
shining amidst the leaves, and he pulled some down, and ate them
greedily. After that he stretched himself out on the soft moss and
went to sleep.
In the morning he ran to the nearest stream to wash himself, but to
his horror, when he caught sight of his face, he saw his nose had
grown the colour of an apple, and reached nearly to his waist. He
started back thinking he was dreaming, and put up his hand; but,
alas! the dreadful thing was true. 'Oh, why does not some wild
beast devour me?' he cried to himself; 'never, never, can I go again
amongst my fellow-men! If only the sea had swallowed me up,
how much happier it had been for me!' And he hid his head in his
hands and wept. His grief was so violent, that it exhausted him,
and growing hungry he looked about for something to eat. Just
above him was a bough of ripe, brown nuts, end he picked them
and ate a handful. To his surprise, as he was eating them, he felt his
nose grow shorter and shorter, and after a while he ventured to feel
it with his hand, and even to look in the stream again! Yes, there
was no mistake, it was as short as before, or perhaps a little shorter.
In his joy at this discovery Tiidu did a very bold thing. He took one
of the apples out of his pocket, and cautiously bit a piece out of it.
In an instant his nose was as long as his chin, and in a deadly fear
lest it should stretch further, he hastily swallowed a nut, and
awaited the result with terror. Supposing that the shrinking of his
nose had only been an accident before! Supposing that that nut and
no other was able to cause its shrinking! In that case he had, by his
own folly, in not letting well alone, ruined his life completely. But,
no! he had guessed rightly, for in no more time than his nose had
taken to grow long did it take to return to its proper size. 'This
may make my fortune,' he said joyfully to himself; and he gathered
some of the apples, which he put into one pocket, and a good
supply of nuts which he put into the other. Next day he wove a
basket out of some rushes, so that if he ever left the island he might
be able to carry his treasures about.
That night he dreamed that his friend the old man appeared to him
and said: 'Because you did not mourn for your lost treasure, but
only for your pipes, I will give you a new set to replace them.' And,
behold! in the morning when he got up a set of pipes was lying in
the basket. With what joy did he seize them and begin one of his
favourite tunes; and as he played hope sprang up in his heart, and
he looked out to sea, to try to detect the sign of a sail. Yes! there
it was, making straight for the island; and Tiidu, holding his pipes in
his hand, dashed down to the shore.
The sailors knew the island to be uninhabited, and were much
surprised to see a man standing on the beach, waving his arms in
welcome to them. A boat was put off, and two sailors rowed to the
shore to discover how he came there, and if he wished to be taken
away. Tiidu told them the story of his shipwreck, and the captain
promised that he should come on board, and sail with them back to
Kungla; and thankful indeed was Tiidu to accept the offer, and to
show his gratitude by playing on his pipes whenever he was asked
to do so.
They had a quick voyage, and it was not long before Tiidu found
himself again in the streets of the capital of Kungla, playing as he
went along. The people had heard no music like his since he went
away, and they crowded round him, and in their joy gave him
whatever money they had in their pockets. His first care was to buy
himself some new clothes, which he sadly needed, taking care,
however, that they should be made after a foreign fashion. When
they were ready, he set out one day with a small basket of his
famous apples, and went up to the palace. He did not have to wait
long before one of the royal servants passed by and bought all the
apples, begging as he did so that the merchant should return and
bring some more. This Tiidu promised, and hastened away as if he
had a mad bull behind him, so afraid was he that the man should
begin to eat an apple at once.
It is needless to say that for some days he took no more apples back
to the palace, but kept well away on the other side of the town,
wearing other clothes, and disguised by a long black beard, so that
even his own mother would not have known him.
The morning after his visit to the castle the whole city was in an
uproar about the dreadful misfortune that had happened to the
Royal Family, for not only the king but his wife and children, had
eaten of the stranger's apples, and all, so said the rumour, were very
ill. The most famous doctors and the greatest magicians were
hastily summoned to the palace, but they shook their heads and
came away again; never had they met with such a disease in all the
course of their experience. By-and-bye a story went round the
town, started no one knew how, that the malady was in some way
connected with the nose; and men rubbed their own anxiously, to
be sure that nothing catching was in the air.
Matters had been in this state for more than a week when it reached
the ears of the king that a man was living in an inn on the other side
of the town who declared himself able to cure all manner of
diseases. Instantly the royal carriage was commanded to drive with
all speed and bring back this magician, offering him riches untold if
he could restore their noses to their former length. Tiidu had
expected this summons, and had sat up all night changing his
appearance, and so well had he succeeded that not a trace remained
either of the piper or of the apple seller. He stepped into the
carriage, and was driven post haste to the king, who was feverishly
counting every moment, for both his nose and the queen's were by
this time more than a yard long, and they did not know where they
Now Tiidu thought it would not look well to cure the royal family
by giving them the raw nuts; he felt that it might arouse suspicion.
So he had carefully pounded them into a powder, and divided the
powder up into small doses, which were to be put on the tongue
and swallowed at once. He gave one of these to the king and
another to the queen, and told them that before taking them they
were to get into bed in a dark room and not to move for some
hours, after which they might be sure that they would come out
The king's joy was so great at this news that he would gladly have
given Tiidu half of his kingdom; but the piper was no longer so
greedy of money as he once was, before he had been shipwrecked
on the island. If he could get enough to buy a small estate and live
comfortably on it for the rest of his life, that was all he now cared
for. However, the king ordered his treasure to pay him three times
as much as he asked, and with this Tiidu went down to the harbour
and engaged a small ship to carry him back to his native country.
The wind was fair, and in ten days the coast, which he had almost
forgotten, stood clear before him. In a few hours he was standing
in his old home, where his father, three sisters, and two brothers
gave him a hearty welcome. His mother and his other brothers had
died some years before.
When the meeting was over, he began to make inquiries about a
small estate that was for sale near the town, and after he had bought
it the next thing was to find a wife to share it with him. This did
not take long either; and people who were at the wedding feast
declared that the best part of the whole day was the hour when
Tiidu played to them on the pipes before they bade each other
farewell and returned to their homes.
[From Esthnische Mahrchen.]
Once upon a time there lived a king and a queen who had one son.
The king loved the boy very much, but the queen, who was a
wicked woman, hated the sight of him; and this was the more
unlucky for, when he was twelve years old, his father died, and he
was left alone in the world.
Now the queen was very angry because the people, who knew how
bad she was, seated her son on the throne instead of herself, and
she never rested till she had formed a plan to get him out of the
way. Fortunately, however, the young king was wise and prudent,
and knew her too well to trust her.
One day, when his mourning was over, he gave orders that
everything should be made ready for a grand hunt. The queen
pretended to be greatly delighted that he was going to amuse
himself once more, and declared that she would accompany him.
'No, mother, I cannot let you come,' he answered; 'the ground is
rough, and you are not strong.' But he might as well have spoken
to the winds: when the horn was sounded at daybreak the queen
was there with the rest.
All that day they rode, for game was plentiful, but towards evening
the mother and son found themselves alone in a part of the country
that was strange to them. They wandered on for some time,
without knowing where they were going, till they met with a man
whom they begged to give them shelter. 'Come with me,' said the
man gladly, for he was an ogre, and fed on human flesh; and the
king and his mother went with him, and he led them to his house.
When they got there they found to what a dreadful place they had
come, and, falling on their knees, they offered him great sums of
money, if he would only spare their lives. The ogre's heart was
moved at the sight of the queen's beauty, and he promised that he
would do her no harm; but he stabbed the boy at once, and binding
his body on a horse, turned him loose in the forest.
The ogre had happened to choose a horse which he had bought
only the day before, and he did not know it was a magician, or he
would not have been so foolish as to fix upon it on this occasion.
The horse no sooner had been driven off with the prince's body on
its back than it galloped straight to the home of the fairies, and
knocked at the door with its hoof. The fairies heard the knock, but
were afraid to open till they had peeped from an upper window to
see that it was no giant or ogre who could do them harm. 'Oh,
look, sister!' cried the first to reach the window, 'it is a horse that
has knocked, and on its back there is bound a dead boy, the most
beautiful boy in all the world!' Then the fairies ran to open the
door, and let in the horse and unbound the ropes which fastened the
young king on its back. And they gathered round to admire his
beauty, and whispered one to the other: 'We will make him alive
again, and will keep him for our brother.' And so they did, and for
many years they all lived together as brothers and sisters.
By-and-by the boy grew into a man, as boys will, and then the
oldest of the fairies said to her sisters: 'Now I will marry him, and
he shall be really your brother.' So the young king married the
fairy, and they lived happily together in the castle; but though he
loved his wife he still longed to see the world.
At length this longing grew so strong on him that he could bear it
no more; and, calling the fairies together, he said to them: 'Dear
wife and sisters, I must leave you for a time, and go out and see the
world. But I shall think of you often, and one day I shall come
back to you.'
The fairies wept and begged him to stay, but he would not listen,
and at last the eldest, who was his wife, said to him: 'If you really
will abandon us, take this lock of my hair with you; you will find it
useful in time of need.' So she cut off a long curl, and handed it to
The prince mounted his horse, and rode on all day without stopping
once. Towards evening he found himself in a desert, and, look
where he would, there was no such thing as a house or a man to be
seen. 'What am I to do now?' he thought. 'If I go to sleep here
wild beasts will come and eat me! Yet both I and my horse are
worn out, and can go no further.' Then suddenly he remembered
the fairy's gift, and taking out the curl he said to it: 'I want a castle
here, and servants, and dinner, and everything to make me
comfortable tonight; and besides that, I must have a stable and
fodder for my horse.' And in a moment the castle was before him
just as he had wished.
In this way he travelled through many countries, till at last he came
to a land that was ruled over by a great king. Leaving his horse
outside the walls, he clad himself in the dress of a poor man, and
went up to the palace. The queen, who was looking out of the
window, saw him approaching, and filled with pity sent a servant to
ask who he was and what he wanted. 'I am a stranger here,'
answered the young king, 'and very poor. I have come to beg for
some work.' 'We have everybody we want,' said the queen, when
the servant told her the young man's reply. 'We have a gate-keeper,
and a hall porter, and servants of all sorts in the palace; the only
person we have not got is a goose-boy. Tell him that he can he our
goose-boy if he likes.' The youth answered that he was quite
content to be goose-boy; and that was how he got his nickname of
Paperarello. And in order that no one should guess that he was any
better than a goose-boy should be, he rubbed his face and his rags
over with mud, and made himself altogether such a disgusting
object that every one crossed over to the other side of the road
when he was seen coming.
'Do go and wash yourself, Paperarello!' said the queen sometimes,
for he did his work so well that she took an interest in him. 'Oh, I
should not feel comfortable if I was clean, your Majesty,' answered
he, and went whistling after his geese.
It happened one day that, owing to some accident to the great flour
mills which supplied the city, there was no bread to be had, and the
king's army had to do without. When the king heard of it, he sent
for the cook, and told him that by the next morning he must have all
the bread that the oven, heated seven times over, could bake. 'But,
your Majesty, it is not possible,' cried the poor man in despair.
'The mills have only just begun working, and the flour will not be
ground till evening, and how can I heat the oven seven times in one
night?' 'That is your affair,' answered the King, who, when he took
anything into his head, would listen to nothing. 'If you succeed in
baking the bread you shall have my daughter to wife, but if you fail
your head will pay for it.'
Now Paperarello, who was passing through the hall where the king
was giving his orders, heard these words, and said: 'Your Majesty,
have no fears; I will bake your bread.' 'Very well,' answered the
king; 'but if you fail, you will pay for it with your head!' and signed
that both should leave his presence.
The cook was still trembling with the thought of what he had
escaped, but to his surprise Paperarello did not seem disturbed at
all, and when night came he went to sleep as usual. 'Paperarello,'
cried the other servants, when they saw him quietly taking off his
clothes, 'you cannot go to bed; you will need every moment of the
night for your work. Remember, the king is not to be played with!'
'I really must have some sleep first,' replied Paperarello, stretching
himself and yawning; and he flung himself on his bed, and was fast
asleep in a moment. In an hour's time, the servants came and shook
him by the shoulder. 'Paperarello, are you mad?' said they. 'Get up,
or you will lose your head.' 'Oh, do let me sleep a little more,
answered he. And this was all he would say, though the servants
returned to wake him many times in the night.
At last the dawn broke, and the servants rushed to his room, crying:
'Paperarello! Paperarello! get up, the king is coming. You have
baked no bread, and of a surety he will have your head.'
'Oh, don't scream so,' replied Paperarello, jumping out of bed as he
spoke; and taking the lock of hair in his hand, he went into the
kitchen. And, behold! there stood the bread piled high--four, five,
six ovens full, and the seventh still waiting to be taken out of the
oven. The servants stood and stared in surprise, and the king said:
'Well done, Paperarello, you have won my daughter.' And he
thought to himself: 'This fellow must really be a magician.'
But when the princess heard what was in store for her she wept
bitterly, and declared that never, never would she marry that dirty
Paperarello! However, the king paid no heed to her tears and
prayers, and before many days were over the wedding was
celebrated with great splendour, though the bridegroom had not
taken the trouble to wash himself, and was as dirty as before.
When night came he went as usual to sleep among his geese, and
the princess went to the king and said: 'Father, I entreat you to have
that horrible Paperarello put to death.' 'No, no!' replied her father,
'he is a great magician, and before I put him to death, I must first
find out the secret of his power, and then--we shall see.'
Soon after this a war broke out, and everybody about the palace
was very busy polishing up armour and sharpening swords, for the
king and his sons were to ride at the head of the army. Then
Paperarello left his geese, and came and told the king that he
wished to go to fight also. The king gave him leave, and told him
that he might go to the stable and take any horse he liked from the
stables. So Paperarello examined the horses carefully, but instead
of picking out one of the splendid well-groomed creatures, whose
skin shone like satin, he chose a poor lame thing, put a saddle on it,
and rode after the other men-at-arms who were attending the king.
In a short time he stopped, and said to them: 'My horse can go no
further; you must go on to the war without me, and I will stay here,
and make some little clay soldiers, and will play at a battle.' The
men laughed at him for being so childish, and rode on after their
Scarcely were they out of sight than Paperarello took out his curl,
and wished himself the best armour, the sharpest sword, and the
swiftest horse in the world, and the next minute was riding as fast
as he could to the field of battle. The fight had already begun, and
the enemy was getting the best of it, when Paperarello rode up, and
in a moment the fortunes of the day had changed. Right and left
this strange knight laid about him, and his sword pierced the
stoutest breast-plate, and the strongest shield. He was indeed 'a
host in himself,' and his foes fled before him thinking he was only
the first of a troop of such warriors, whom no one could withstand.
When the battle was over, the king sent for him to thank him for his
timely help, and to ask what reward he should give him. 'Nothing
but your little finger, your Majesty,' was his answer; and the king
cut off his little finger and gave it to Paperarello, who bowed and
hid it in his surcoat. Then he left the field, and when the soldiers
rode back they found him still sitting in the road making whole
rows of little clay dolls.
The next day the king went out to fight another battle, and again
Paperarello appeared, mounted on his lame horse. As on the day
before, he halted on the road, and sat down to make his clay
soldiers; then a second time he wished himself armour, sword, and a
horse, all sharper and better than those he had previously had, and
galloped after the rest. He was only just in time: the enemy had
almost beaten the king's army back, and men whispered to each
other that if the strange knight did not soon come to their aid, they
would be all dead men. Suddenly someone cried: 'Hold on a little
longer, I see him in the distance; and his armour shines brighter, and
his horse runs swifter, than yesterday.' Then they took fresh heart
and fought desperately on till the knight came up, and threw himself
into the thick of the battle. As before, the enemy gave way before
him, and in a few minutes the victory remained with the king.
The first thing that the victor did was to send for the knight to
thank him for his timely help, and to ask what gift he could bestow
on him in token of gratitude. 'Your Majesty's ear,' answered the
knight; and as the king could not go back from his word, he cut it
off and gave it to him. Paperarello bowed, fastened the ear inside
his surcoat and rode away. In the evening, when they all returned
from the battle, there he was, sitting in the road, making clay dolls.
On the third day the same thing happened, and this time he asked
for the king's nose as the reward of his aid. Now, to lose one's
nose, is worse even than losing one's ear or one's finger, and the
king hesitated as to whether he should comply. However, he had
always prided himself on being an honourable man, so he cut off his
nose, and handed it to Paperarello. Paperarello bowed, put the
nose in his surcoat, and rode away. In the evening, when the king
returned from the battle, he found Paperarello sitting in the road
making clay dolls. And Paperarello got up and said to him: 'Do you
know who I am? I am your dirty goose-boy, yet you have given me
your finger, and your ear, and your nose.'
That night, when the king sat at dinner, Paperarello came in, and
laying down the ear, and the nose, and the finger on the table,
turned and said to the nobles and courtiers who were waiting on the
king: 'I am the invincible knight, who rode three times to your help,
and I also am a king's son, and no goose-boy as you all think.' And
he went away and washed himself, and dressed himself in fine
clothes and entered the hall again, looking so handsome that the
proud princess fell in love with him on the spot. But Paperarello
took no notice of her, and said to the king: 'It was kind of you to
offer me your daughter in marriage, and for that I thank you; but I
have a wife at home whom I love better, and it is to her that I am
going. But as a token of farewell, I wish that your ear, and nose,
and finger may be restored to their proper places.' So saying, he
bade them all goodbye, and went back to his home and his fairy
bride, with whom he lived happily till the end of his life.
[From Sicilianisohen Mahrchen.]
The Gifts Of The Magician
Once upon a time there was an old man who lived in a little hut in
the middle of a forest. His wife was dead, and he had only one son,
whom he loved dearly. Near their hut was a group of birch trees, in
which some black-game had made their nests, and the youth had
often begged his father's permission to shoot the birds, but the old
man always strictly forbade him to do anything of the kind.
One day, however, when the father had gone to a little distance to
collect some sticks for the fire, the boy fetched his bow, and shot at
a bird that was just flying towards its nest. But he had not taken
proper aim, and the bird was only wounded, and fluttered along the
ground. The boy ran to catch it, but though he ran very fast, and
the bird seemed to flutter along very slowly, he never could quite
come up with it; it was always just a little in advance. But so
absorbed was he in the chase that he did not notice for some time
that he was now deep in the forest, in a place where he had never
been before. Then he felt it would be foolish to go any further, and
he turned to find his way home.
He thought it would be easy enough to follow the path along which
he had come, but somehow it was always branching off in
unexpected directions. He looked about for a house where he
might stop and ask his way, but there was not a sign of one
anywhere, and he was afraid to stand still, for it was cold, and there
were many stories of wolves being seen in that part of the forest.
Night fell, and he was beginning to start at every sound, when
suddenly a magician came running towards him, with a pack of
wolves snapping at his heels. Then all the boy's courage returned to
him. He took his bow, and aiming an arrow at the largest wolf,
shot him through the heart, and a few more arrows soon put the
rest to flight. The magician was full of gratitude to his deliverer,
and promised him a reward for his help if the youth would go back
with him to his house.
'Indeed there is nothing that would be more welcome to me than a
night's lodging,' answered the boy; 'I have been wandering all day in
the forest, and did not know how to get home again.
'Come with me, you must be hungry as well as tired,' said the
magician, and led the way to his house, where the guest flung
himself on a bed, and went fast asleep. But his host returned to the
forest to get some food, for the larder was empty.
While he was absent the housekeeper went to the boy's room and
tried to wake him. She stamped on the floor, and shook him and
called to him, telling him that he was in great danger, and must take
flight at once. But nothing would rouse him, and if he did ever
open his eyes he shut them again directly.
Soon after, the magician came back from the forest, and told the
housekeeper to bring them something to eat. The meal was quickly
ready, and the magician called to the boy to come down and eat it,
but he could not be wakened, and they had to sit down to supper
without him. By-and-by the magician went out into the wood again
for some more hunting, and on his return he tried afresh to waken
the youth. But finding it quite impossible, he went back for the
third time to the forest.
While he was absent the boy woke up and dressed himself. Then he
came downstairs and began to talk to the housekeeper. The girl
had heard how he had saved her master's life, so she said nothing
more about his running away, but instead told him that if the
magician offered him the choice of a reward, he was to ask for the
horse which stood in the third stall of the stable.
By-and-by the old man came back and they all sat down to dinner.
When they had finished the magician said: 'Now, my son, tell me
what you will have as the reward of your courage?'
'Give me the horse that stands in the third stall of your stable,'
answered the youth. 'For I have a long way to go before I get
home, and my feet will not carry me so far.'
'Ah! my son,' replied the magician, 'it is the best horse in my stable
that you want! Will not anything else please you as well?'
But the youth declared that it was the horse, and the horse only,
that he desired, and in the end the old man gave way. And besides
the horse, the magician gave him a zither, a fiddle, and a flute,
saying: 'If you are in danger, touch the zither; and if no one comes
to your aid, then play on the fiddle; but if that brings no help, blow
on the flute.'
The youth thanked the magician, and fastening his treasures about
him mounted the horse and rode off. He had already gone some
miles when, to his great surprise, the horse spoke, and said: 'It is no
use your returning home just now, your father will only beat you.
Let us visit a few towns first, and something lucky will be sure to
happen to us.'
This advice pleased the boy, for he felt himself almost a man by this
time, and thought it was high time he saw the world. When they
entered the capital of the country everyone stopped to admire the
beauty of the horse. Even the king heard of it, and came to see the
splendid creature with his own eyes. Indeed, he wanted directly to
buy it, and told the youth he would give any price he liked. The
young man hesitated for a moment, but before he could speak, the
horse contrived to whisper to him:
'Do not sell me, but ask the king to take me to his stable, and feed
me there; then his other horses will become just as beautiful as I.'
The king was delighted when he was told what the horse had said,
and took the animal at once to the stables, and placed it in his own
particular stall. Sure enough, the horse had scarcely eaten a
mouthful of corn out of the manger, when the rest of the horses
seemed to have undergone a transformation. Some of them were
old favourites which the king had ridden in many wars, and they
bore the signs of age and of service. But now they arched their
heads, and pawed the ground with their slender legs as they had
been wont to do in days long gone by. The king's heart beat with
delight, but the old groom who had had the care of them stood
crossly by, and eyed the owner of this wonderful creature with hate
and envy. Not a day passed without his bringing some story against
the youth to his master, but the king understood all about the
matter and paid no attention. At last the groom declared that the
young man had boasted that he could find the king's war horse
which had strayed into the forest several years ago, and had not
been heard of since. Now the king had never ceased to mourn for
his horse, so this time he listened to the tale which the groom had
invented, and sent for the youth. 'Find me my horse in three days,'
said he, 'or it will be the worse for you.'
The youth was thunderstruck at this command, but he only bowed,
and went off at once to the stable.
'Do not worry yourself,' answered his own horse. 'Ask the king to
give you a hundred oxen, and to let them be killed and cut into
small pieces. Then we will start on our journey, and ride till we
reach a certain river. There a horse will come up to you, but take
no notice of him. Soon another will appear, and this also you must
leave alone, but when the third horse shows itself, throw my bridle
Everything happened just as the horse had said, and the third horse
was safely bridled. Then the other horse spoke again: 'The
magician's raven will try to eat us as we ride away, but throw it
some of the oxen's flesh, and then I will gallop like the wind, and
carry you safe out of the dragon's clutches.'
So the young man did as he was told, and brought the horse back to
The old stableman was very jealous, when he heard of it, and
wondered what he could do to injure the youth in the eyes of his
royal master. At last he hit upon a plan, and told the king that the
young man had boasted that he could bring home the king's wife,
who had vanished many months before, without leaving a trace
behind her. Then the king bade the young man come into his
presence, and desired him to fetch the queen home again, as he had
boasted he could do. And if he failed, his head would pay the
The poor youth's heart stood still as he listened. Find the queen?
But how was he to do that, when nobody in the palace had been
able to do so! Slowly he walked to the stable, and laying his head
on his horse's shoulder, he said: 'The king has ordered me to bring
his wife home again, and how can I do that when she disappeared
so long ago, and no one can tell me anything about her?'
'Cheer up!' answered the horse, 'we will manage to find her. You
have only got to ride me back to the same river that we went to
yesterday, and I will plunge into it and take my proper shape again.
For I am the king's wife, who was turned into a horse by the
magician from whom you saved me.'
Joyfully the young man sprang into the saddle and rode away to the
banks of the river. Then he threw himself off, and waited while the
horse plunged in. The moment it dipped its head into the water its
black skin vanished, and the most beautiful woman in the world was
floating on the water. She came smiling towards the youth, and
held out her hand, and he took it and led her back to the palace.
Great was the king's surprise and happiness when he beheld his lost
wife stand before him, and in gratitude to her rescuer he loaded him
You would have thought that after this the poor youth would have
been left in peace; but no, his enemy the stableman hated him as
much as ever, and laid a new plot for his undoing. This time he
presented himself before the king and told him that the youth was
so puffed up with what he had done that he had declared he would
seize the king's throne for himself.
At this news the king waxed so furious that he ordered a gallows to
be erected at once, and the young man to be hanged without a trial.
He was not even allowed to speak in his own defence, but on the
very steps of the gallows he sent a message to the king and begged,
as a last favour, that he might play a tune on his zither. Leave was
given him, and taking the instrument from under his cloak he
touched the strings. Scarcely had the first notes sounded than the
hangman and his helper began to dance, and the louder grew the
music the higher they capered, till at last they cried for mercy. But
the youth paid no heed, and the tunes rang out more merrily than
before, and by the time the sun set they both sank on the ground
exhausted, and declared that the hanging must be put off till
The story of the zither soon spread through the town, and on the
following morning the king and his whole court and a large crowd
of people were gathered at the foot of the gallows to see the youth
hanged. Once more he asked a favour--permission to play on his
fiddle, and this the king was graciously pleased to grant. But with
the first notes, the leg of every man in the crowd was lifted high,
and they danced to the sound of the music the whole day till
darkness fell, and there was no light to hang the musician by.
The third day came, and the youth asked leave to play on his flute.
'No, no,' said the king, 'you made me dance all day yesterday, and if
I do it again it will certainly be my death. You shall play no more
tunes. Quick! the rope round his neck.'
At these words the young man looked so sorrowful that the
courtiers said to the king: 'He is very young to die. Let him play a
tune if it will make him happy.' So, very unwillingly, the king gave
him leave; but first he had himself bound to a big fir tree, for fear
that he should be made to dance.
When he was made fast, the young man began to blow softly on his
flute, and bound though he was, the king's body moved to the
sound, up and down the fir tree till his clothes were in tatters, and
the skin nearly rubbed off his back. But the youth had no pity, and
went on blowing, till suddenly the old magician appeared and
asked: 'What danger are you in, my son, that you have sent for me?'
'They want to hang me,' answered the young man; 'the gallows are
all ready and the hangman is only waiting for me to stop playing.'
'Oh, I will put that right,' said the magician; and taking the gallows,
he tore it up and flung it into the air, and no one knows where it
came down. 'Who has ordered you to be hanged?' asked he.
The young man pointed to the king, who was still bound to the fir;
and without wasting words the magician took hold of the tree also,
and with a mighty heave both fir and man went spinning through
the air, and vanished in the clouds after the gallows.
Then the youth was declared to be free, and the people elected him
for their king; and the stable helper drowned himself from envy, for,
after all, if it had not been for him the young man would have
remained poor all the days of his life.
[From Finnische Mahrchen.]
The Strong Prince
Once upon a time there lived a king who was so fond of wine that
he could not go to sleep unless he knew he had a great flaskful tied
to his bed-post. All day long he drank till he was too stupid to
attend to his business, and everything in the kingdom went to rack
and ruin. But one day an accident happened to him, and he was
struck on the head by a falling bough, so that he fell from his horse
and lay dead upon the ground.
His wife and son mourned his loss bitterly, for, in spite of his faults,
he had always been kind to them. So they abandoned the crown
and forsook their country, not knowing or caring where they went.
At length they wandered into a forest, and being very tired, sat
down under a tree to eat some bread that they had brought with
them. When they had finished the queen said: 'My son, I am thirsty;
fetch me some water.'
The prince got up at once and went to a brook which he heard
gurgling near at hand. He stooped and filled his hat with the water,
which he brought to his mother; then he turned and followed the
stream up to its source in a rock, where it bubbled out clear and
fresh and cold. He knelt down to take a draught from the deep
pool below the rock, when he saw the reflection of a sword hanging
from the branch of a tree over his head. The young man drew back
with a start; but in a moment he climbed the tree, cutting the rope
which held the sword, and carried the weapon to his mother.
The queen was greatly surprised at the sight of anything so splendid
in such a lonely place, and took it in her hands to examine it closely.
It was of curious workmanship, wrought with gold, and on its
handle was written: 'The man who can buckle on this sword will
become stronger than other men.' The queen's heart swelled with
joy as she read these words, and she bade her son lose no time in
testing their truth. So he fastened it round his waist, and instantly a
glow of strength seemed to run through his veins. He took hold of
a thick oak tree and rooted it up as easily as if it had been a weed.
This discovery put new life into the queen and her son, and they
continued their walk through the forest. But night was drawing on,
and the darkness grew so thick that it seemed as if it could be cut
with a knife. They did not want to sleep in the wood, for they were
afraid of wolves and other wild beasts, so they groped their way
along, hand in hand, till the prince tripped over something which lay
across the path. He could not see what it was, but stooped down
and tried to lift it. The thing was very heavy, and he thought his
back would break under the strain. At last with a great heave he
moved it out of the road, and as it fell he knew it was a huge rock.
Behind the rock was a cave which it was quite clear was the home
of some robbers, though not one of the band was there.
Hastily putting out the fire which burned brightly at the back, and
bidding his mother come in and keep very still, the prince began to
pace up and down, listening for the return of the robbers. But he
was very sleepy, and in spite of all his efforts he felt he could not
keep awake much longer, when he heard the sound of the robbers
returning, shouting and singing as they marched along. Soon the
singing ceased, and straining his ears he heard them discussing
anxiously what had become of their cave, and why they could not
see the fire as usual. 'This must be the place,' said a voice, which
the prince took to be that of the captain. 'Yes, I feel the ditch
before the entrance. Someone forgot to pile up the fire before we
left and it has burnt itself out! But it is all right. Let every man
jump across, and as he does so cry out "Hop! I am here." I will go
last. Now begin.'
The man who stood nearest jumped across, but he had no time to
give the call which the captain had ordered, for with one swift,
silent stroke of the prince's sword, his head rolled into a corner.
Then the young man cried instead, 'Hop! I am here.'
The second man, hearing the signal, leapt the ditch in confidence,
and was met by the same fate, and in a few minutes eleven of the
robbers lay dead, and there remained only the captain.
Now the captain had wound round his neck the shawl of his lost
wife, and the stroke of the prince's sword fell harmless. Being very
cunning, however, he made no resistance, and rolled over as if he
were as dead as the other men. Still, the prince was no fool, and
wondered if indeed he was as dead as he seemed to be; but the
captain lay so stiff and stark, that at last he was taken in.
The prince next dragged the headless bodies into a chamber in the
cave, and locked the door. Then he and his mother ransacked the
place for some food, and when they had eaten it they lay down and
slept in peace.
With the dawn they were both awake again, and found that, instead
of the cave which they had come to the night before, they now were
in a splendid castle, full of beautiful rooms. The prince went round
all these and carefully locked them up, bidding his mother take care
of the keys while he was hunting.
Unfortunately, the queen, like all women, could not bear to think
that there was anything which she did not know. So the moment
that her son had turned his back, she opened the doors of all the
rooms, and peeped in, till she came to the one where the robbers
lay. But if the sight of the blood on the ground turned her faint, the
sight of the robber captain walking up and down was a greater
shock still. She quickly turned the key in the lock, and ran back to
the chamber she had slept in.
Soon after her son came in, bringing with him a large bear, which
he had killed for supper. As there was enough food to last them for
many days, the prince did not hunt the next morning, but, instead,
began to explore the castle. He found that a secret way led from it
into the forest; and following the path, he reached another castle
larger and more splendid than the one belonging to the robbers. He
knocked at the door with his fist, and said that he wanted to enter;
but the giant, to whom the castle belonged, only answered: 'I know
who you are. I have nothing to do with robbers.'
'I am no robber,' answered the prince. 'I am the son of a king, and I
have killed all the band. If you do not open to me at once I will
break in the door, and your head shall go to join the others.'
He waited a little, but the door remained shut as tightly as before.
Then he just put his shoulder to it, and immediately the wood began
to crack. When the giant found that it was no use keeping it shut,
he opened it, saying: 'I see you are a brave youth. Let there be
peace between us.'
And the prince was glad to make peace, for he had caught a
glimpse of the giant's beautiful daughter, and from that day he often
sought the giant's house.
Now the queen led a dull life all alone in the castle, and to amuse
herself she paid visits to the robber captain, who flattered her till at
last she agreed to marry him. But as she was much afraid of her
son, she told the robber that the next time the prince went to bathe
in the river, he was to steal the sword from its place above the bed,
for without it the young man would have no power to punish him
for his boldness.
The robber captain thought this good counsel, and the next
morning, when the young man went to bathe, he unhooked the
sword from its nail and buckled it round his waist. On his return to
the castle, the prince found the robber waiting for him on the steps,
waving the sword above his head, and knowing that some horrible
fate was in store, fell on his knees and begged for mercy. But he
might as well have tried to squeeze blood out of a stone. The
robber, indeed, granted him his life, but took out both his eyes,
which he thrust into the prince's hand, saying brutally:
'Here, you had better keep them! You may find them useful!'
Weeping, the blind youth felt his way to the giant's house, and told
him all the story.
The giant was full of pity for the poor young man, but inquired
anxiously what he had done with the eyes. The prince drew them
out of his pocket, and silently handed them to the giant, who
washed them well, and then put them back in the prince's head. For
three days he lay in utter darkness; then the light began to come
back, till soon he saw as well as ever.
But though he could not rejoice enough over the recovery of his
eyes, he bewailed bitterly the loss of his sword, and that it should
have fallen to the lot of his bitter enemy.
'Never mind, my friend,' said the giant, 'I will get it back for you.'
And he sent for the monkey who was his head servant.
'Tell the fox and the squirrel that they are to go with you, and fetch
me back the prince's sword,' ordered he.
The three servants set out at once, one seated on the back of the
others, the ape, who disliked walking, being generally on top.
Directly they came to the window of the robber captain's room, the
monkey sprang from the backs of the fox and the squirrel, and
climbed in. The room was empty, and the sword hanging from a
nail. He took it down, and buckling it round his waist, as he had
seen the prince do, swung himself down again, and mounting on the
backs of his two companions, hastened to his master. The giant
bade him give the sword to the prince, who girded himself with it,
and returned with all speed to the castle.
'Come out, you rascal! come out, you villain!' cried he, 'and answer
to me for the wrong you have done. I will show you who is the
master in this house!'
The noise he made brought the robber into the room. He glanced
up to where the sword usually hung, but it was gone; and
instinctively he looked at the prince's hand, where he saw it
gleaming brightly. In his turn he fell on his knees to beg for mercy,
but it was too late. As he had done to the prince, so the prince did
to him, and, blinded, he was thrust forth, and fell down a deep hole,
where he is to this day. His mother the prince sent back to her
father, and never would see her again. After this he returned to the
giant, and said to him:
'My friend, add one more kindness to those you have already
heaped on me. Give me your daughter as my wife.'
So they were married, and the wedding feast was so splendid that
there was not a kingdom in the world that did not hear of it. And
the prince never went back to his father's throne, but lived
peacefully with his wife in the forest, where, if they are not dead,
they are living still.
[From Ungarische Volksmarchen.]
The Treasure Seeker
Once, long ago, in a little town that lay in the midst of high hills and
wild forests, a party of shepherds sat one night in the kitchen of the
inn talking over old times, and telling of the strange things that had
befallen them in their youth.
Presently up spoke the silver-haired Father Martin.
'Comrades,' said he, 'you have had wonderful adventures; but I will
tell you something still more astonishing that happened to myself.
When I was a young lad I had no home and no one to care for me,
and I wandered from village to village all over the country with my
knapsack on my back; but as soon as I was old enough I took
service with a shepherd in the mountains, and helped him for three
years. One autumn evening as we drove the flock homeward ten
sheep were missing, and the master bade me go and seek them in
the forest. I took my dog with me, but he could find no trace of
them, though we searched among the bushes till night fell; and then,
as I did not know the country and could not find my way home in
the dark, I decided to sleep under a tree. At midnight my dog
became uneasy, and began to whine and creep close to me with his
tail between his legs; by this I knew that something was wrong,
and, looking about, I saw in the bright moonlight a figure standing
beside me. It seemed to be a man with shaggy hair, and a long
beard which hung down to his knees. He had a garland upon his
head, and a girdle of oak-leaves about his body, and carried an
uprooted fir-tree in his right hand. I shook like an aspen leaf at the
sight, and my spirit quaked for fear. The strange being beckoned
with his hand that I should follow him; but as I did not stir from the
spot he spoke in a hoarse, grating voice: "Take courage,
fainthearted shepherd. I am the Treasure Seeker of the mountain.
If you will come with me you shall dig up much gold."
'Though I was still deadly cold with terror I plucked up my courage
and said: "Get away from me, evil spirit; I do not desire your
'At this the spectre grinned in my face and cried mockingly:
'"Simpleton! Do you scorn your good fortune? Well, then, remain a
ragamuffin all your days."
'He turned as if to go away from me, then came back again and
said: "Bethink yourself, bethink yourself, rogue. I will fill your
knapsack--I will fill your pouch."
'"Away from me, monster," I answered, "I will have nothing to do
'When the apparition saw that I gave no heed to him he ceased to
urge me, saying only: "Some day you will rue this," and looked at
me sadly. Then he cried: "Listen to what I say, and lay it well to
heart, it may be of use to you when you come to your senses. A
vast treasure of gold and precious stones lies in safety deep under
the earth. At twilight and at high noon it is hidden, but at midnight
it may be dug up. For seven hundred years have I watched over it,
but now my time has come; it is common property, let him find it
who can. So I thought to give it into your hand, having a kindness
for you because you feed your flock upon my mountain."
'Thereupon the spectre told me exactly where the treasure lay, and
how to find it. It might be only yesterday so well do I remember
every word he spoke.
'"Go towards the little mountains," said he, "and ask there for the
Black King's Valley, and when you come to a tiny brook follow the
stream till you reach the stone bridge beside the saw-mill. Do not
cross the bridge, but keep to your right along the bank till a high
rock stands before you. A bow-shot from that you will discover a
little hollow like a grave. When you find this hollow dig it out; but
it will be hard work, for the earth has been pressed down into it
with care. Still, work away till you find solid rock on all sides of
you, and soon you will come to a square slab of stone; force it out
of the wall, and you will stand at the entrance of the treasure house.
Into this opening you must crawl, holding a lamp in your mouth.
Keep your hands free lest you knock your nose against a stone, for
the way is steep and the stones sharp. If it bruises your knees never
mind; you are on the road to fortune. Do not rest till you reach a
wide stairway, down which you will go till you come out into a
spacious hall, in which there are three doors; two of them stand
open, the third is fastened with locks and bolts of iron. Do not go
through the door to the right lest you disturb the bones of the lords
of the treasure. Neither must you go through the door to the left, it
leads to the snake's chamber, where adders and serpents lodge; but
open the fast-closed door by means of the well-known spring-root,
which you must on no account forget to take with you, or all your
trouble will be for naught, for no crowbar or mortal tools will help
you. If you want to procure the root ask a wood-seller; it is a
common thing for hunters to need, and it is not hard to find. If the
door bursts open suddenly with great crackings and groanings do
not be afraid, the noise is caused by the power of the magic root,
and you will not be hurt. Now trim your lamp that it may not fail
you, for you will be nearly blinded by the flash and glitter of the
gold and precious stones on the walls and pillars of the vault; but
beware how you stretch out a hand towards the jewels! In the midst
of the cavern stands a copper chest, in that you will find gold and
silver, enough and to spare, and you may help yourself to your
heart's content. If you take as much as you can carry you will have
sufficient to last your lifetime, and you may return three times; but
woe betide you if you venture to come a fourth time. You would
have your trouble for your pains, and would be punished for your
greediness by falling down the stone steps and breaking your leg.
Do not neglect each time to heap back the loose earth which
concealed the entrance of the king's treasure chamber."
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