The Crimson Fairy Book
Part 4 out of 6
'But where is the Princess Lineik?' asked the prince when she had
ended her tale.
'Here,' answered the queen, bringing forward the girl, whom she
had hitherto kept in the background.
The prince looked at her and was rather disappointed. The maiden
was pretty enough, but not much out of the common.
'Oh, you must not wonder at her pale face and heavy eyes,' said the
queen hastily, for she saw what was passing in his mind. 'She has
never got over the loss of both father and mother.'
'That shows a good heart,' thought the prince; 'and when she is
happy her beauty will soon come back.' And without any further
delay he begged the queen to consent to their betrothal, for the
marriage must take place in his own country.
The queen was enchanted. She had hardly expected to succeed so
soon, and she at once set about her preparations. Indeed she
wished to travel with the young couple, to make sure that nothing
should go wrong; but here the prince was firm, that he would take
no one with him but Laufer, whom he thought was Lineik.
They soon took leave of the queen, and set sail in a splendid ship;
but in a short time a dense fog came on, and in the dark the captain
steered out of his course, and they found themselves in a bay which
was quite strange to all the crew. The prince ordered a boat to be
lowered, and went on shore to look about him, and it was not long
before he noticed the two beautiful trees, quite different from any
that grew in Greece. Calling one of the sailors, he bade him cut
them down, and carry them on board the ship. This was done, and
as the sky was now clear they put out to sea, and arrived in Greece
without any more adventures.
The news that the prince had brought home a bride had gone before
them, and they were greeted with flowery arches and crowns of
coloured lights. The king and queen met them on the steps of the
palace, and conducted the girl to the women's house, where she
would have to remain until her marriage. The prince then went to
his own rooms and ordered that the trees should be brought in to
The next morning the prince bade his attendants bring his future
bride to his own apartments, and when she came he gave her silk
which she was to weave into three robes--one red, one green, and
one blue--and these must all be ready before the wedding. The blue
one was to be done first and the green last, and this was to be the
most splendid of all, 'for I will wear it at our marriage,' said he.
Left alone, Laufer sat and stared at the heap of shining silk before
her. She did not know how to weave, and burst into tears as she
thought that everything would be discovered, for Lineik's skill in
weaving was as famous as her beauty. As she sat with her face
hidden and her body shaken by sobs, Sigurd in his tree heard her
and was moved to pity. 'Lineik, my sister,' he called, softly, 'Laufer
is weeping; help her, I pray you.'
'Have you forgotten the wrongs her mother did to us' answered
Lineik, 'and that it is owing to her that we are banished from home?'
But she was not really unforgiving, and very soon she slid quietly
out of her hiding-place, and taking the silk from Laufer's hands
began to weave it. So quick and clever was she that the blue dress
was not only woven but embroidered, and Lineik was safe back in
her tree before the prince returned.
'It is the most beautiful work I have ever seen,' said he, taking up a
bit. 'And I am sure that the red one will be still better, because the
stuff is richer,' and with a low bow he left the room.
Laufer had hoped secretly that when the prince had seen the blue
dress finished he would have let her off the other two; but when she
found she was expected to fulfil the whole task, her heart sank and
she began to cry loudly. Again Sigurd heard her, and begged
Lineik to come to her help, and Lineik, feeling sorry for her
distress, wove and embroidered the second dress as she had done
the first, mixing gold thread and precious stones till you could
hardly see the red of the stuff. When it was done she glided into
her tree just as the prince came in.
'You are as quick as you are clever,' said he, admiringly. 'This
looks as if it had been embroidered by the fairies! But as the green
robe must outshine the other two I will give you three days in
which to finish it. After it is ready we will be married at once.'
Now, as he spoke, there rose up in Laufer's mind all the unkind
things that she and her mother had done to Lineik. Could she hope
that they would be forgotten, and that Lineik would come to her
rescue for the third time? And perhaps Lineik, who had not
forgotten the past either, might have left her alone, to get on as best
she could, had not Sigurd, her brother, implored her to help just
once more. So Lineik again slid out of her tree, and, to Laufer's
great relief, set herself to work. When the shining green silk was
ready she caught the sun's rays and the moon's beams on the point
of her needle and wove them into a pattern such as no man had ever
seen. But it took a long time, and on the third morning, just as she
was putting the last stitches into the last flower the prince came in.
Lineik jumped up quickly, and tried to get past him back to her
tree; but the folds of the silk were wrapped round her, and she
would have fallen had not the prince caught her.
'I have thought for some time that all was not quite straight here,'
said he. 'Tell me who you are, and where you come from?'
Lineik then told her name and her story. When she had ended the
prince turned angrily to Laufer, and declared that, as a punishment
for her wicked lies, she deserved to die a shameful death.
But Laufer fell at his feet and begged for mercy. It was her
mother's fault, she said: 'It was she, and not I, who passed me off as
the Princess Lineik. The only lie I have ever told you was about the
robes, and I do not deserve death for that.'
She was still on her knees when Prince Sigurd entered the room.
He prayed the Prince of Greece to forgive Laufer, which he did, on
condition that Lineik would consent to marry him. 'Not till my
stepmother is dead,' answered she, 'for she has brought misery to all
that came near her.' Then Laufer told them that Blauvor was not the
wife of a king, but an ogress who had stolen her from a
neighbouring palace and had brought her up as her daughter. And
besides being an ogress she was also a witch, and by her black arts
had sunk the ship in which the father of Sigurd and Lineik had set
sail. It was she who had caused the disappearance of the courtiers,
for which no one could account, by eating them during the night,
and she hoped to get rid of all the people in the country, and then to
fill the land with ogres and ogresses like herself.
So Prince Sigurd and the Prince of Greece collected an army
swiftly, and marched upon the town where Blauvor had her palace.
They came so suddenly that no one knew of it, and if they had,
Blauvor had eaten most of the strong men; and others, fearful of
something they could not tell what, had secretly left the place.
Therefore she was easily captured, and the next day was beheaded
in the market-place. Afterwards the two princes marched back to
Lineik had no longer any reason for putting off her wedding, and
married the Prince of Greece at the same time that Sigurd married
the princess. And Laufer remained with Lineik as her friend and
sister, till they found a husband for her in a great nobleman; and all
three couples lived happily until they died.
[From Islandische Muhrchen Poestion Wien.]
The Six Hungry Beasts
Once upon a time there lived a man who dwelt with his wife in a
little hut, far away from any neighbours. But they did not mind
being alone, and would have been quite happy, if it had not been for
a marten, who came every night to their poultry yard, and carried
off one of their fowls. The man laid all sorts of traps to catch the
thief, but instead of capturing the foe, it happened that one day he
got caught himself, and falling down, struck his head against a
stone, and was killed.
Not long after the marten came by on the look out for his supper.
Seeing the dead man lying there, he said to himself: 'That is a prize,
this time I have done well'; and dragging the body with great
difficulty to the sledge which was waiting for him, drove off with
his booty. He had not driven far when he met a squirrel, who
bowed and said: 'Good-morning, godfather! what have you got
The marten laughed and answered: 'Did you ever hear anything so
strange? The old man that you see here set traps about his
hen-house, thinking to catch me but he fell into his own trap, and
broke his own neck. He is very heavy; I wish you would help me to
draw the sledge.' The squirrel did as he was asked, and the sledge
moved slowly along.
By-and-by a hare came running across a field, but stopped to see
what wonderful thing was coming. 'What have you got there?' she
asked, and the marten told his story and begged the hare to help
The hare pulled her hardest, and after a while they were joined by a
fox, and then by a wolf, and at length a bear was added to the
company, and he was of more use than all the other five beasts put
together. Besides, when the whole six had supped off the man he
was not so heavy to draw.
The worst of it was that they soon began to get hungry again, and
the wolf, who was the hungriest of all, said to the rest:
'What shall we eat now, my friends, as there is no more man?'
'I suppose we shall have to eat the smallest of us,' replied the bear,
and the marten turned round to seize the squirrel who was much
smaller than any of the rest. But the squirrel ran up a tree like
lightning, and the marten remembering, just in time, that he was the
next in size, slipped quick as thought into a hole in the rocks.
'What shall we eat now?' asked the wolf again, when he had
recovered from his surprise.
'We must eat the smallest of us,' repeated the bear, stretching out a
paw towards the hare; but the hare was not a hare for nothing, and
before the paw had touched her, she had darted deep into the
Now that the squirrel, the marten, and the hare had all gone, the fox
was the smallest of the three who were left, and the wolf and the
bear explained that they were very sorry, but they would have to
eat him. Michael, the fox, did not run away as the others had done,
but smiled in a friendly manner, and remarked: 'Things taste so stale
in a valley; one's appetite is so much better up on a mountain.' The
wolf and the bear agreed, and they turned out of the hollow where
they had been walking, and chose a path that led up the mountain
side. The fox trotted cheerfully by his two big companions, but on
the way he managed to whisper to the wolf: 'Tell me, Peter, when I
am eaten, what will you have for your next dinner?'
This simple question seemed to put out the wolf very much. What
would they have for their next dinner, and, what was more
important still, who would there be to eat it? They had made a rule
always to dine off the smallest of the party, and when the fox was
gone, why of course, he was smaller than the bear.
These thoughts flashed quickly through his head, and he said
'Dear brothers, would it not be better for us to live together as
comrades, and everyone to hunt for the common dinner? Is not my
plan a good one?'
'It is the best thing I have ever heard,' answered the fox; and as they
were two to one the bear had to be content, though in his heart he
would much have preferred a good dinner at once to any friendship.
For a few days all went well; there was plenty of game in the forest,
and even the wolf had as much to eat as he could wish. One
morning the fox as usual was going his rounds when he noticed a
tall, slender tree, with a magpie's nest in one of the top branches.
Now the fox was particularly fond of young magpies, and he set
about making a plan by which he could have one for dinner. At last
he hit upon something which he thought would do, and accordingly
he sat down near the tree and began to stare hard at it.
'What are you looking at, Michael?' asked the magpie, who was
watching him from a bough.
'I'm looking at this tree. It has just struck me what a good tree it
would be to cut my new snow-shoes out of.' But at this answer the
magpie screeched loudly, and exclaimed: 'Oh, not this tree, dear
brother, I implore you! I have built my nest on it, and my young
ones are not yet old enough to fly.'
'It will not be easy to find another tree that would make such good
snow-shoes,' answered the fox, cocking his head on one side, and
gazing at the tree thoughtfully; 'but I do not like to be ill-natured,
so if you will give me one of your young ones I will seek my
Not knowing what to do the poor magpie had to agree, and flying
back, with a heavy heart, he threw one of his young ones out of the
nest. The fox seized it in his mouth and ran off in triumph, while
the magpie, though deeply grieved for the loss of his little one,
found some comfort in the thought that only a bird of extraordinary
wisdom would have dreamed of saving the rest by the sacrifice of
the one. But what do you think happened? Why, a few days later,
Michael the fox might have been seen sitting under the very same
tree, and a dreadful pang shot through the heart of the magpie as he
peeped at him from a hole in the nest.
'What are you looking at?' he asked in a trembling voice.
'At this tree. I was just thinking what good snowshoes it would
make,' answered the fox in an absent voice, as if he was not
thinking of what he was saying.
'Oh, my brother, my dear little brother, don't do that,' cried the
magpie, hopping about in his anguish. 'You know you promised
only a few days ago that you would get your snow-shoes
'So I did; but though I have searched through the whole forest,
there is not a single tree that is as good as this. I am very sorry to
put you out, but really it is not my fault. The only thing I can do
for you is to offer to give up my snow-shoes altogether if you will
throw me down one of your young ones in exchange.'
And the poor magpie, in spite of his wisdom, was obliged to throw
another of his little ones out of the nest; and this time he was not
able to console himself with the thought that he had been much
cleverer than other people.
He sat on the edge of his nest, his head drooping and his feathers all
ruffled, looking the picture of misery. Indeed he was so different
from the gay, jaunty magpie whom every creature in the forest
knew, that a crow who was flying past, stopped to inquire what
was the matter. 'Where are the two young ones who are not in the
nest?' asked he.
'I had to give them to the fox,' replied the magpie in a quivering
voice; 'he has been here twice in the last week, and wanted to cut
down my tree for the purpose of making snow-shoes out of it, and
the only way I could buy him off was by giving him two of my
Oh, you fool,' cried the crow, 'the fox was only trying to frighten
you. He could not have cut down the tree, for he has neither axe
nor knife. Dear me, to think that you have sacrificed your young
ones for nothing! Dear, dear! how could you be so very foolish!'
And the crow flew away, leaving the magpie overcome with shame
The next morning the fox came to his usual place in front of the
tree, for he was hungry, and a nice young magpie would have suited
him very well for dinner. But this time there was no cowering,
timid magpie to do his bidding, but a bird with his head erect and a
'My good fox,' said the magpie putting his head on one side and
looking very wise--'my good fox, if you take my advice, you will go
home as fast as you can. There is no use your talking about making
snow-shoes out of this tree, when you have neither knife nor axe to
cut it down with!'
'Who has been teaching you wisdom?' asked the fox, forgetting his
manners in his surprise at this new turn of affairs.
'The crow, who paid me a visit yesterday,' answered the magpie.
'The crow was it?' said the fox, 'well, the crow had better not meet
me for the future, or it may be the worse for him.'
As Michael, the cunning beast, had no desire to continue the
conversation, he left the forest; but when he came to the high road
he laid himself at full length on the ground, stretching himself out,
just as if he was dead. Very soon he noticed, out of the corner of
his eye, that the crow was flying towards him, and he kept stiller
and stifer than ever, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. The
crow, who wanted her supper very badly, hopped quickly towards
him, and was stooping forward to peck at his tongue when the fox
gave a snap, and caught him by the wing. The crow knew that it
was of no use struggling, so he said:
'Ah, brother, if you are really going to eat me, do it, I beg of you, in
good style. Throw me first over this precipice, so that my feathers
may be strewn here and there, and that all who see them may know
that your cunning is greater than mine.' This idea pleased the fox,
for he had not yet forgiven the crow for depriving him of the young
magpies, so he carried the crow to the edge of the precipice and
threw him over, intending to go round by a path he knew and pick
him up at the bottom. But no sooner had the fox let the crow go
than he soared up into the air, and hovering just out of teach of his
enemy's jaws, he cried with a laugh: 'Ah, fox! you know well how
to catch, but you cannot keep.'
With his tail between his legs, the fox slunk into the forest. He did
not know where to look for a dinner, as he guessed that the crow
would have flown back before him, and put every one on their
guard. The notion of going to bed supperless was very unpleasant
to him, and he was wondering what in the world he should do,
when he chanced to meet with his old friend the bear.
This poor animal had just lost his wife, and was going to get some
one to mourn over her, for he felt her loss greatly. He had hardly
left his comfortable cave when he had come across the wolf, who
inquired where he was going. 'I am going to find a mourner,'
answered the bear, and told his story.
'Oh, let me mourn for you,' cried the wolf.
'Do you understand how to howl?' said the bear.
'Oh, certainly, godfather, certainly,' replied the wolf; but the bear
said he should like to have a specimen of his howling, to make sure
that he knew his business. So the wolf broke forth in his song of
lament: 'Hu, hu, hu, hum, hoh,' he shouted, and he made such a
noise that the bear put up his paws to his ears, and begged him to
'You have no idea how it is done. Be off with you,' said he angrily.
A little further down the road the hare was resting in a ditch, but
when she saw the bear, she came out and spoke to him, and
inquired why he looked so sad. The bear told her of the loss of his
wife, and of his search after a mourner that could lament over her in
the proper style. The hare instantly offered her services, but the
bear took care to ask her to give him a proof of her talents, before
he accepted them. 'Pu, pu, pu, pum, poh,' piped the hare; but this
time her voice was so small that the bear could hardly hear her.
'That is not what I want,' he said, 'I will bid you good morning.'
It was after this that the fox came up, and he also was struck with
the bear's altered looks, and stopped. 'What is the matter with you,
godfather?' asked he, 'and where are you going?'
'I am going to find a mourner for my wife,' answered the bear.
'Oh, do choose me,' cried the fox, and the bear looked at him
'Can you howl well?' he said.
'Yes, beautifully, just listen,' and the fox lifted up his voice and
sang weeping: 'Lou, lou, lou! the famous spinner, the baker of
good cakes, the prudent housekeeper is torn from her husband!
Lou, lou, lou! she is gone! she is gone!'
'Now at last I have found some one who knows the art of
lamentation,' exclaimed the bear, quite delighted; and he led the fox
back to his cave, and bade him begin his lament over the dead wife
who was lying stretched out on her bed of grey moss. But this did
not suit the fox at all.
'One cannot wail properly in this cave,' he said, 'it is much too
damp. You had better take the body to the storehouse. It will
sound much finer there.' So the bear carried his wife's body to the
storehouse, while he himself went back to the cave to cook some
pap for the mourner. From time to time he paused and listened for
the sound of wailing, but he heard nothing. At last he went to the
door of the storehouse, and called to the fox:
'Why don't you howl, godfather? What are you about?'
And the fox, who, instead of weeping over the dead bear, had been
quietly eating her, answered:
'There only remain now her legs and the soles of her feet. Give me
five minutes more and they will be gone also!'
When the bear heard that he ran back for the kitchen ladle, to give
the traitor the beating he deserved. But as he opened the door of
the storehouse, Michael was ready for him, and slipping between
his legs, dashed straight off into the forest. The bear, seeing that
the traitor had escaped, flung the ladle after him, and it just caught
the tip of his tail, and that is how there comes to be a spot of white
on the tails of all foxes.
[From Finnische Mahrchen.]
HOW THE BEGGAR BOY TURNED INTO COUNT PIRO
Once upon a time there lived a man who had only one son, a lazy,
stupid boy, who would never do anything he was told. When the
father was dying, he sent for his son and told him that he would
soon be left alone in the world, with no possessions but the small
cottage they lived in and a pear tree which grew behind it, and that,
whether he liked it or not, he would have to work, or else he would
starve. Then the old man died.
But the boy did not work; instead, he idled about as before,
contenting himself with eating the pears off his tree, which, unlike
other pear trees before or since, bore fruit the whole year round.
Indeed, the pears were so much finer than any you could get even
in the autumn, that one day, in the middle of the winter, they
attracted the notice of a fox who was creeping by.
'Dear me; what lovely pears!' he said to the youth. 'Do give me a
basket of them. It will bring you luck!'
'Ah, little fox, but if I give you a basketful, what am I to eat?' asked
'Oh, trust me, and do what I tell you,' said the fox; 'I know it will
bring you luck.' So the boy got up and picked some of the ripest
pears and put them into a rush basket. The fox thanked him, and,
taking the basket in his mouth, trotted off to the king's palace and
made his way straight to the king.
'Your Majesty, my master sends you a few of his best pears, and
begs you will graciously accept them,' he said, laying the basket at
the feet of the king.
'Pears! at this season?' cried the king, peering down to look at them;
'and, pray, who is your master?'
'The Count Piro,' answered the fox.
'But how does he manage to get pears in midwinter?' asked the
'Oh, he has everything he wants,' replied the fox; 'he is richer even
than you are, your Majesty.'
'Then what can I send him in return for his pears?' said the king.
'Nothing, your Majesty, or you would hurt his feelings,' answered
'Well, tell him how heartily I thank him, and how much I shall enjoy
them.' And the fox went away.
He trotted back to the cottage with his empty basket and told his
tale, but the youth did not seem as pleased to hear as the fox was to
'But, my dear little fox,' said he, ' you have brought me nothing in
return, and I am so hungry!'
'Let me alone,' replied the fox; 'I know what I am doing. You will
see, it will bring you luck.'
A few days after this the fox came back again.
'I must have another basket of pears,' said he.
'Ah, little fox, what shall I eat if you take away all my pears?'
answered the youth.
'Be quiet, it will be all right,' said the fox; and taking a bigger basket
than before, he filled it quite full of pears. Then he picked it up in
his mouth, and trotted off to the palace.
'Your Majesty, as you seemed to like the first basket of pears, I
have brought you some more,' said he, 'with my master, the Count
Piro's humble respects.'
'Now, surely it is not possible to grow such pears with deep snow
on the ground?' cried the king.
'Oh, that never affects them,' answered the fox lightly; 'he is rich
enough to do anything. But to-day he sends me to ask if you will
give him your daughter in marriage?'
'If he is so much richer than I am,' said the king, 'I shall be obliged
to refuse. My honour would not permit me to accept his offer.'
'Oh, your Majesty, you must not think that,' replied the fox; 'and do
not let the question of a dowry trouble you. The Count Piro would
not dream of asking anything but the hand of the princess.'
'Is he really so rich that he can do without a dowry?' asked the king.
'Did I not tell your Majesty that he was richer than you?' answered
the fox reproachfully.
'Well, beg him to come here, that we may talk together,' said the
So the fox went back to the young man and said: 'I have told the
king that you are Count Piro, and have asked his daughter in
'Oh, little fox, what have you done?' cried the youth in dismay;
'when the king sees me he will order my head to be cut off.'
'Oh, no, he won't!' replied the fox; 'just do as I tell you.' And he
went off to the town, and stopped at the house of the best tailor.
'My master, the Count Piro, begs that you will send him at once the
finest coat that you have in your shop,' said the fox, putting on his
grandest air, 'and if it fits him I will call and pay for it to-morrow!
Indeed, as he is in a great hurry, perhaps it might be as well if I
took it round myself.' The tailor was not accustomed to serve
counts, and he at once got out all the coats he had ready. The fox
chose out a beautiful one of white and silver, bade the tailor tie it
up in a parcel, and carrying the string in his teeth, he left the shop,
and went to a horse-dealer's, whom he persuaded to send his finest
horse round to the cottage, saying that the king had bidden his
master to the palace.
Very unwillingly the young man put on the coat and mounted the
horse, and rode up to meet the king, with the fox running before
'What am I to say to his Majesty, little fox?' he asked anxiously;
'you know that I have never spoken to a king before.'
'Say nothing,' answered the fox, 'but leave the talking to me. "Good
morning, your Majesty," will be all that is necessary for you.'
By this time they had reached the palace, and the king came to the
door to receive Count Piro, and led him to the great hall, where a
feast was spread. The princess was already seated at the table, but
was as dumb as Count Piro himself.
'The Count speaks very little,' the king said at last to the fox, and
the fox answered: 'He has so much to think about in the
management of his property that he cannot afford to talk like
ordinary people.' The king was quite satisfied, and they finished
dinner, after which Count Piro and the fox took leave.
The next morning the fox came round again.
'Give me another basket of pears,' he said.
'Very well, little fox; but remember it may cost me my life,'
answered the youth.
'Oh, leave it to me, and do as I tell you, and you will see that in the
end it will bring you luck,' answered the fox; and plucking the pears
he took them up to the king.
'My master, Count Piro, sends you these pears,' he said, 'and asks
for an answer to his proposal.'
'Tell the count that the wedding can take place whenever he
pleases,' answered the king, and, filled with pride, the fox trotted
back to deliver his message.
'But I can't bring the princess here, little fox?' cried the young man
'You leave everything to me,' answered the fox; ' have I not
managed well so far?'
And up at the palace preparations were made for a grand wedding,
and the youth was married to the princess.
After a week of feasting, the fox said to the king: 'My master
wishes to take his young bride home to his own castle.'
'Very well, I will accompany them,' replied the king; and he ordered
his courtiers and attendants to get ready, and the best horses in his
stable to be brought out for himself, Count Piro and the princess.
So they all set out, and rode across the plain, the little fox running
He stopped at the sight of a great flock of sheep, which was feeding
peacefully on the rich grass. 'To whom do these sheep belong?'
asked he of the shepherd. 'To an ogre,' replied the shepherd.
'Hush,' said the fox in a mysterious manner. 'Do you see that crowd
of armed men riding along? If you were to tell them that those
sheep belonged to an ogre, they would kill them, and then the ogre
would kill you! If they ask, just say the sheep belong to Count
Piro; it will be better for everybody.' And the fox ran hastily on, as
he did not wish to be seen talking to the shepherd.
Very soon the king came up.
'What beautiful sheep!' he said, drawing up his horse. 'I have none
so fine in my pastures. Whose are they?'
'Count Piro's,' answered the shepherd, who did not know the king.
'Well, he must be a very rich man,' thought the king to himself, and
rejoiced that he had such a wealthy son-in-law.
Meanwhile the fox had met with a huge herd of pigs, snuffling
about the roots of some trees.
'To whom do these pigs belong?' he asked of the swineherd.
'To an ogre,' replied he.
'Hush!' whispered the fox, though nobody could hear him; 'do you
see that troop of armed men riding towards us? If you tell them
that the pigs belong to the ogre they will kill them, and then the
ogre will kill you! If they ask, just say that the pigs belong to
Count Piro; it will be better for everybody.' And he ran hastily on.
Soon after the king rode up.
'What fine pigs!' he said, reining in his horse. 'They are fatter than
any I have got on my farms. Whose are they?'
'Count Piro's,' answered the swineherd, who did not know the king;
and again the king felt he was lucky to have such a rich son-in-law.
This time the fox ran faster than before, and in a flowery meadow
he found a troop of horses feeding. 'Whose horses are these?' he
asked of the man who was watching them.
'An ogre's,' replied he.
'Hush!' whispered the fox, 'do you see that crowd of armed men
coming towards us? If you tell them the horses belong to an ogre
they will drive them off, and then the ogre will kill you! If they ask,
just say they are Count Piro's; it will be better for everybody.' And
he ran on again.
In a few minutes the king rode up.
'Oh, what lovely creatures! how I wish they were mine!' he
exclaimed. 'Whose are they?'
Count Piro's,' answered the man, who did not know the king; and
the king's heart leapt as he thought that if they belonged to his rich
son-in-law they were as good as his.
At last the fox came to the castle of the ogre himself. He ran up the
steps, with tears falling from his eyes, and crying:
'Oh, you poor, poor people, what a sad fate is yours!'
'What has happened?' asked the ogre, trembling with fright.
'Do you see that troop of horsemen who are riding along the road?
They are sent by the king to kill you!'
'Oh, dear little fox, help us, we implore you!' cried the ogre and his
'Well, I will do what I can,' answered the fox. 'The best place is for
you both to hide in the big oven, and when the soldiers have gone
by I will let you out.'
The ogre and ogress scrambled into the oven as quick as thought,
and the fox banged the door on them; just as he did so the king
'Do us the honour to dismount, your Majesty,' said the fox, bowing
low. 'This is the palace of Count Piro!'
'Why it is more splendid than my own!' exclaimed the king, looking
round on all the beautiful things that filled the hall. But why are
there no servants?'
'His Excellency the Count Piro wished the princess to choose them
for herself,' answered the fox, and the king nodded his approval.
He then rode on, leaving the bridal pair in the castle. But when it
was dark and all was still, the fox crept downstairs and lit the
kitchen fire, and the ogre and his wife were burned to death. The
next morning the fox said to Count Piro:
'Now that you are rich and happy, you have no more need of me;
but, before I go, there is one thing I must ask of you in return:
when I die, promise me that you will give me a magnificent coffin,
and bury me with due honours.'
'Oh, little, little fox, don't talk of dying,' cried the princess, nearly
weeping, for she had taken a great liking to the fox.
After some time the fox thought he would see if the Count Piro was
really grateful to him for all he had done, and went back to the
castle, where he lay down on the door-step, and pretended to be
dead. The princess was just going out for a walk, and directly she
saw him lying there, she burst into tears and fell on her knees beside
'My dear little fox, you are not dead,' she wailed; 'you poor, poor
little creature, you shall have the finest coffin in the world!'
'A coffin for an animal?' said Count Piro. 'What nonsense! just take
him by the leg and throw him into the ditch.'
Then the fox sprang up and cried: 'You wretched, thankless beggar;
have you forgotten that you owe all your riches to me?'
Count Piro was frightened when he heard these words, as he
thought that perhaps the fox might have power to take away the
castle, and leave him as poor as when he had nothing to eat but the
pears off his tree. So he tried to soften the fox's anger, saying that
he had only spoken in joke, as he had known quite well that he was
not really dead. For the sake of the princess, the fox let himself be
softened, and he lived in the castle for many years, and played with
Count Piro's children. And when he actually did die, his coffin was
made of silver, and Count Piro and his wife followed him to the
[From Sicilianische Mahrchen.]
The Rogue And The Herdsman
In a tiny cottage near the king's palace there once lived an old man,
his wife, and his son, a very lazy fellow, who would never do a
stroke of work. He could not be got even to look after their one
cow, but left her to look after herself, while he lay on a bank and
went to sleep in the sun. For a long time his father bore with him,
hoping that as he grew older he might gain more sense; but at last
the old man's patience was worn out, and he told his son that he
should not stay at house in idleness, and must go out into the world
to seek his fortune.
The young man saw that there was no help for it, and he set out
with a wallet full of food over his shoulder. At length he came to a
large house, at the door of which he knocked.
'What do you want?' asked the old man who opened it. And the
youth told him how his father had turned him out of his house
because he was so lazy and stupid, and he needed shelter for the
'That you shall have,' replied the man; 'but to-morrow I shall give
you some work to do, for you must know that I am the chief
herdsman of the king.'
The youth made no answer to this. He felt, if he was to be made to
work after all, that he might as well have stayed where he was. But
as he did not see any other way of getting a bed, he went slowly in.
The herdsman's two daughters and their mother were sitting at
supper, and invited him to join them. Nothing more was said about
work, and when the meal was over they all went to bed.
In the morning, when the young man was dressed, the herdsman
called to him and said:
'Now listen, and I will tell you what you have to do.'
'What is it?' asked the youth, sulkily.
'Nothing less than to look after two hundred pigs,' was the reply.
'Oh, I am used to that,' answered the youth.
'Yes; but this time you will have to do it properly,' said the
herdsman; and he took the youth to the place where the pigs were
feeding, and told him to drive them to the woods on the side of the
mountain. This the young man did, but as soon as they reached the
outskirts of the mountain they grew quite wild, and would have run
away altogether, had they not luckily gone towards a narrow
ravine, from which the youth easily drove them home to his father's
'Where do all these pigs come from, and how did you get them?'
asked the old man in surprise, when his son knocked at the door of
the hut he had left only the day before.
'They belong to the king's chief herdsman,' answered his son. 'He
gave them to me to look after, but I knew I could not do it, so I
drove them straight to you. Now make the best of your good
fortune, and kill them and hang them up at once.'
'What are you talking about?' cried the father, pale with horror.
'We should certainly both be put to death if I did any such thing.'
'No, no; do as I tell you, and I will get out of it somehow,' replied
the young man. And in the end he had his way. The pigs were
killed, and laid side by side in a row. Then he cut off the tails and
tied them together with a piece of cord, and swinging the bundle
over his back, he returned to the place where they should have been
feeding. Here there was a small swamp, which was just what he
wanted, and finding a large stone, he fastened the rope to it, and
sank it in the swamp, after which he arranged the tails carefully one
by one, so that only their points were seen sticking out of the water.
When everything was in order, he hastened home to his master with
such a sorrowful face that the herdsman saw at once that something
dreadful had happened.
'Where are the pigs?' asked he.
'Oh, don't speak of them!' answered the young man; 'I really can
hardly tell you. The moment they got into the field they became
quite mad, and each ran in a different direction. I ran too, hither
and thither, but as fast as I caught one, another was off, till I was in
despair. At last, however, I collected them all and was about to
drive them back, when suddenly they rushed down the hill into the
swamp, where they vanished completely, leaving only the points of
their tails, which you can see for yourself.'
'You have made up that story very well,' replied the herdsman.
'No, it is the real truth; come with me and I'll prove it.' And they
went together to the spot, and there sure enough were the points of
the tails sticking up out of the water. The herdsman laid hold of the
nearest, and pulled at it with all his might, but it was no use, for the
stone and the rope held them all fast. He called to the young man
to help him, but the two did not succeed any better than the one
'Yes, your story was true after all; it is a wonderful thing,' said the
herdsman. 'But I see it is no fault of yours. and I must put up with
my loss as well as I can. Now let us return home, for it is time for
Next morning the herdsman said to the young man: 'I have got
some other work for you to do. To-day you must take a hundred
sheep to graze; but be careful that no harm befalls them.'
'I will do my best,' replied the youth. And he opened the gate of
the fold, where the sheep had been all night, and drove them out
into the meadow. But in a short time they grew as wild as the pigs
had done, and scattered in all directions. The young man could not
collect them, try as he would, and he thought to himself that this
was the punishment for his laziness in refusing to look after his
father's one cow.
At last, however, the sheep seemed tired of running about, and then
the youth managed to gather them together, and drove them, as
before, straight to his father's house.
'Whose sheep are these, and what are they doing here?' asked the
old man in wonder, and his son told him. But when the tale was
ended the father shook his head.
'Give up these bad ways and take them back to your master,' said
'No, no,' answered the youth; 'I am not so stupid as that! We will
kill them and have them for dinner.'
'You will lose your life if you do,' replied the father.
'Oh, I am not sure of that!' said the son, 'and, anyway, I will have
my will for once.' And he killed all the sheep and laid them on the
grass. But he cut off the head of the ram which always led the
flock and had bells round its horns. This he took back to the place
where they should have been feeding, for here he had noticed a high
rock, with a patch of green grass in the middle and two or three
thick bushes growing on the edge. Up this rock he climbed with
great difficulty, and fastened the ram's head to the bushes with a
cord, leaving only the tips of the horns with the bells visible. As
there was a soft breeze blowing, the bushes to which the head was
tied moved gently, and the bells rang. When all was done to his
liking he hastened quickly back to his master.
'Where are the sheep?' asked the herdsman as the young man ran
panting up the steps.
'Oh! don't speak of them,' answered he. 'It is only by a miracle that
I am here myself.'
'Tell me at once what has happened,' said the herdsman sternly.
The youth began to sob, and stammered out: 'I--I hardly know how
to tell you! They--they--they were so--so troublesome--that I could
not manage them at all. They--ran about in--in all directions, and I-
-I--ran after them and nearly died of fatigue. Then I heard a--a
noise, which I--I thought was the wind. But--but--it was the sheep,
which, be--before my very eyes, were carried straight up--up into
the air. I stood watching them as if I was turned to stone, but there
kept ringing in my ears the sound of the bells on the ram which led
'That is nothing but a lie from beginning to end,' said the herdsman.
'No, it is as true as that there is a sun in heaven,' answered the
'Then give me a proof of it,' cried his master.
'Well, come with me,' said the youth. By this time it was evening
and the dusk was falling. The young man brought the herdsman to
the foot of the great rock, but it was so dark you could hardly see.
Still the sound of sheep bells rang softly from above, and the
herdsman knew them to be those he had hung on the horns of his
'Do you hear?' asked the youth.
'Yes, I hear; you have spoken the truth, and I cannot blame you for
what has happened. I must bear the loss as best as I can.'
He turned and went home, followed by the young man, who felt
highly pleased with his own cleverness.
'I should not be surprised if the tasks I set you were too difficult,
and that you were tired of them,' said the herdsman next morning;
'but to-day I have something quite easy for you to do. You must
look after forty oxen, and be sure you are very careful, for one of
them has gold-tipped horns and hoofs, and the king reckons it
among his greatest treasures.'
The young man drove out the oxen into the meadow, and no sooner
had they got there than, like the sheep and the pigs, they began to
scamper in all directions, the precious bull being the wildest of all.
As the youth stood watching them, not knowing what to do next, it
came into his head that his father's cow was put out to grass at no
great distance; and he forthwith made such a noise that he quite
frightened the oxen, who were easily persuaded to take the path he
wished. When they heard the cow lowing they galloped all the
faster, and soon they all arrived at his father's house.
The old man was standing before the door of his hut when the great
herd of animals dashed round a corner of the road, with his son and
his own cow at their head.
'Whose cattle are these, and why are they here?' he asked; and his
son told him the story.
'Take them back to your master as soon as you can,' said the old
man; but the son only laughed, and said:
'No, no; they are a present to you! They will make you fat!'
For a long while the old man refused to have anything to do with
such a wicked scheme; but his son talked him over in the end, and
they killed the oxen as they had killed the sheep and the pigs. Last
of all they came to the king's cherished ox.
The son had a rope ready to cast round its horns, and throw it to
the ground, but the ox was stronger than the rope, and soon tore it
in pieces. Then it dashed away to the wood, the youth following;
over hedges and ditches they both went, till they reached the rocky
pass which bordered the herdsman's land. Here the ox, thinking
itself safe, stopped to rest, and thus gave the young man a chance
to come up with it. Not knowing how to catch it, he collected all
the wood he could find and made a circle of fire round the ox, who
by this time had fallen asleep, and did not wake till the fire had
caught its head, and it was too late for it to escape. Then the young
man, who had been watching, ran home to his master.
'You have been away a long while,' said the herdsman. 'Where are
The young man gasped, and seemed as if he was unable to speak.
At last he answered:
'It is always the same story! The oxen are--gone--gone!'
'G-g-gone?' cried the herdsman. 'Scoundrel, you lie!'
'I am telling you the exact truth,' answered the young man.
'Directly we came to the meadow they grew so wild that I could not
keep them together. Then the big ox broke away, and the others
followed till they all disappeared down a deep hole into the earth.
It seemed to me that I heard sounds of bellowing, and I thought I
recognised the voice of the golden horned ox; but when I got to the
place from which the sounds had come, I could neither see nor hear
anything in the hole itself, though there were traces of a fire all
'Wretch!' cried the herdsman, when he had heard this story, 'even if
you did not lie before, you are lying now.'
'No, master, I am speaking the truth. Come and see for yourself.'
'If I find you have deceived me, you are a dead man, said the
herdsman; and they went out together.
'What do you call that?' asked the youth. And the herdsman looked
and saw the traces of a fire, which seemed to have sprung up from
under the earth.
'Wonder upon wonder,' he exclaimed, 'so you really did speak the
truth after all! Well, I cannot reproach you, though I shall have to
pay heavily to my royal master for the value of that ox. But come,
let us go home! I will never set you to herd cattle again,
henceforward I will give you something easier to do.'
'I have thought of exactly the thing for you,' said the herdsman as
they walked along, ' and it is so simple that you cannot make a
mistake. Just make me ten scythes, one for every man, for I want
the grass mown in one of my meadows to-morrow.'
At these words the youth's heart sank, for he had never been trained
either as a smith or a joiner. However, he dared not say no, but
smiled and nodded.
Slowly and sadly he went to bed, but he could not sleep, for
wondering how the scythes were to be made. All the skill and
cunning he had shown before was of no use to him now, and after
thinking about the scythes for many hours, there seemed only one
way open to him. So, listening to make sure that all was still, he
stole away to his parents, and told them the whole story. When
they had heard everything, they hid him where no one could find
Time passed away, and the young man stayed at home doing all his
parents bade him, and showing himself very different from what he
had been before he went out to see the world; but one day he said
to his father that he should like to marry, and have a house of his
'When I served the king's chief herdsman,' added he, 'I saw his
daughter, and I am resolved to try if I cannot win her for my wife.'
'It will cost you your life, if you do,' answered the father, shaking
'Well, I will do my best,' replied his son; 'but first give me the sword
which hangs over your bed!'
The old man did not understand what good the sword would do,
however he took it down, and the young man went his way.
Late in the evening he arrived at the house of the herdsman, and
knocked at the door, which was opened by a little boy.
'I want to speak to your master,' said he.
'So it is you?' cried the herdsman, when he had received the
message. 'Well, you can sleep here to-night if you wish.'
'I have come for something else besides a bed,' replied the young
man, drawing his sword, 'and if you do not promise to give me your
youngest daughter as my wife I will stab you through the heart.'
What could the poor man do but promise? And he fetched his
youngest daughter, who seemed quite pleased at the proposed
match, and gave the youth her hand.
Then the young man went home to his parents, and bade them get
ready to welcome his bride. And when the wedding was over he
told his father-in-law, the herdsman, what he had done with the
sheep, and pigs, and cattle. By-and-by the story came to the king's
ears, and he thought that a man who was so clever was just the man
to govern the country; so he made him his minister, and after the
king himself there was no one so great as he.
[From Islandische Mahrchen.]
Once upon a time there lived an old man who had only one son,
whom he loved dearly; but they were very poor, and often had
scarcely enough to eat. Then the old man fell ill, and things grew
worse than ever, so he called his son and said to him:
'My dear boy, I have no longer any food to give you, and you must
go into the world and get it for yourself. It does not matter what
work you do, but remember if you do it well and are faithful to
your master, you will always have your reward.'
So Peter put a piece of black bread in his knapsack, and strapping it
on his back, took a stout stick in his hand, and set out to seek his
fortune. For a long while he travelled on and on, and nobody
seemed to want him; but one day he met an old man, and being a
polite youth, he took off his hat and said: 'Good morning,' in a
pleasant voice. 'Good morning,' answered the old man; 'and where
are you going?'
'I am wandering through the country trying to get work,' replied
'Then stay with me, for I can give you plenty,' said the old man, and
His work did not seem hard, for he had only two horses and a cow
to see after, and though he had been hired for a year, the year
consisted of but three days, so that it was not long before he
received his wages. In payment the old man gave him a nut, and
offered to keep him for another year; but Peter was home-sick; and,
besides, he would rather have been paid ever so small a piece of
money than a nut; for, thought he, nuts grow on every tree, and I
can gather as many as I like. However, he did not say this to the
old man, who had been kind to him, but just bade him farewell.
The nearer Peter drew to his father's house the more ashamed he
felt at having brought back such poor wages. What could one nut
do for him? Why, it would not buy even a slice of bacon. It was no
use taking it home, he might as well eat it. So he sat down on a
stone and cracked it with his teeth, and then took it out of his
mouth to break off the shell. But who could ever guess what came
out of that nut? Why, horses and oxen and sheep stepped out in
such numbers that they seemed as if they would stretch to the
world's end! The sight gave Peter such a shock that he wrung his
hands in dismay. What was he to do with all these creatures, where
was he to put them? He stood and gazed in terror, and at this
moment Eisenkopf came by.
'What is the matter, young man?' asked he.
'Oh, my friend, there is plenty the matter,' answered Peter. 'I have
gained a nut as my wages, and when I cracked it this crowd of
beasts came out, and I don't know what to do with them all!'
'Listen to me, my son,' said Eisenkopf. 'If you will promise never
to marry I will drive them all back into the nut again.'
In his trouble Peter would have promised far harder things than
this, so he gladly gave the promise Eisenkopf asked for; and at a
whistle from the stranger the animals all began crowding into the
nut again, nearly tumbling over each other in their haste. When the
last foot had got inside, the two halves of the shell shut close. Then
Peter put it in his pocket and went on to the house.
No sooner had he reached it than he cracked his nut for the second
time, and out came the horses, sheep, and oxen again. Indeed Peter
thought that there were even more of them than before. The old
man could not believe his eyes when he saw the multitudes of
horses, oxen and sheep standing before his door.
'How did you come by all these?' he gasped, as soon as he could
speak; and the son told him the whole story, and of the promise he
had given Eisenkopf.
The next day some of the cattle were driven to market and sold,
and with the money the old man was able to buy some of the fields
and gardens round his house, and in a few months had grown the
richest and most prosperous man in the whole village. Everything
seemed to turn to gold in his hands, till one day, when he and his
son were sitting in the orchard watching their herds of cattle
grazing in the meadows, he suddenly said: ' Peter, my boy, it is time
that you were thinking of marrying.'
'But, my dear father, I told you I can never marry, because of the
promise I gave to Eisenkopf.'
'Oh, one promises here and promises there, but no one ever thinks
of keeping such promises. If Eisenkopf does not like your
marrying, he will have to put up with it all the same! Besides, there
stands in the stable a grey horse which is saddled night and day; and
if Eisenkopf should show his face, you have only got to jump on the
horse's back and ride away, and nobody on earth can catch you.
When all is safe you will come back again, and we shall live as
happily as two fish in the sea.'
And so it all happened. The young man found a pretty,
brown-skinned girl who was willing to have him for a husband, and
the whole village came to the wedding feast. The music was at its
gayest, and the dance at its merriest, when Eisenkopf looked in at
'Oh, ho, my brother! what is going on here? It has the air of being a
wedding feast. Yet I fancied--was I mistaken?--that you had given
me a promise that you never would marry.' But Peter had not
waited for the end of this speech. Scarcely had he seen Eisenkopf
than he darted like the wind to the stable and flung himself on the
horse's back. In another moment he was away over the mountain,
with Eisenkopf running fast behind him.
On they went through thick forests where the sun never shone, over
rivers so wide that it took a whole day to sail across them, up hills
whose sides were all of glass; on they went through seven times
seven countries till Peter reined in his horse before the house of an
'Good day, mother,' said he, jumping down and opening the door.
'Good day, my son,' answered she, 'and what are you doing here, at
the world's end?'
'I am flying for my life, mother, flying to the world which is beyond
all worlds; for Eisenkopf is at my heels.'
'Come in and rest then, and have some food, for I have a little dog
who will begin to howl when Eisenkopf is still seven miles off.'
So Peter went in and warmed himself and ate and drank, till
suddenly the dog began to howl.
'Quick, my son, quick, you must go,' cried the old woman. And the
lightning itself was not quicker than Peter.
'Stop a moment,' cried the old woman again, just as he was
mounting his horse, 'take this napkin and this cake, and put them in
your bag where you can get hold of them easily.' Peter took them
and put them into his bag, and waving his thanks for her kindness,
he was off like the wind.
Round and round he rode, through seven times seven countries,
through forests still thicker, and rivers still wider, and mountains
still more slippery than the others he had passed, till at length he
reached a house where dwelt another old woman.
'Good day, mother,' said he.
'Good day, my son! What are you seeking here at the world's end?'
'I am flying for my life, mother, flying to the world that is beyond all
worlds, for Eisenkopf is at my heels.'
'Come in, my son, and have some food. I have a little dog who will
begin to howl when Eisenkopf is still seven miles off; so lie on this
bed and rest yourself in peace.'
Then she went to the kitchen and baked a number of cakes, more
than Peter could have eaten in a whole month. He had not finished
a quarter of them, when the dog began to howl.
'Now, my son, you must go,' cried the old woman 'but first put
these cakes and this napkin in your bag, where you can easily get at
them.' So Peter thanked her and was off like the wind.
On he rode, through seven times seven countries, till he came to the
house of a third old woman, who welcomed him as the others had
done. But when the dog howled, and Peter sprang up to go, she
said, as she gave him the same gifts for his journey: 'You have now
three cakes and three napkins, for I know that my sisters have each
given you one. Listen to me, and do what I tell you. Ride seven
days and nights straight before you, and on the eighth morning you
will see a great fire. Strike it three times with the three napkins and
it will part in two. Then ride into the opening, and when you are in
the middle of the opening, throw the three cakes behind your back
with your left hand.'
Peter thanked her for her counsel, and was careful to do exactly all
the old woman had told him. On the eighth morning he reached a
fire so large that he could see nothing else on either side, but when
he struck it with the napkins it parted, and stood on each hand like
a wall. As he rode through the opening he threw the cakes behind
him. From each cake there sprang a huge dog, and he gave them
the names of World's-weight, Ironstrong, and Quick-ear. They
bayed with joy at the sight of him, and as Peter turned to pat them,
he beheld Eisenkopf at the edge of the fire, but the opening had
closed up behind Peter, and he could not get through.
'Stop, you promise-breaker,' shrieked he; 'you have slipped
through my hands once, but wait till I catch you again!'
Then he lay down by the fire and watched to see what would
When Peter knew that he had nothing more to fear from Eisenkopf,
he rode on slowly till he came to a small white house. Here he
entered and found himself in a room where a gray-haired woman
was spinning and a beautiful girl was sitting in the window combing
her golden hair.
'What brings you here, my son?' asked the old woman.
'I am seeking for a place, mother,' answered Peter.
'Stay with me, then, for I need a servant,' said the old woman.
'With pleasure, mother,' replied he.
After that Peter's life was a very happy one. He sowed and
ploughed all day, except now and then when he took his dogs and
went to hunt. And whatever game he brought back the maiden
with the golden hair knew how to dress it.
One day the old woman had gone to the town to buy some flour,
and Peter and the maiden were left alone in the house. They fell
into talk, and she asked him where his home was, and how he had
managed to come through the fire. Peter then told her the whole
story, and of his striking the flames with the three napkins as he had
been told to do. The maiden listened attentively and wondered in
herself whether what he said was true. So after Peter had gone out
to the fields, she crept up to his room and stole the napkins and
then set off as fast as she could to the fire by a path she knew of
over the hill.
At the third blow she gave the flames divided, and Eisenkopf, who
had been watching and hoping for a chance of this kind, ran down
the opening and stood before her. At this sight the maiden was
almost frightened to death, but with a great effort she recovered
herself and ran home as fast as her legs would carry her, closely
pursued by Eisenkopf. Panting for breath she rushed into the house
and fell fainting on the floor; but Eisenkopf entered behind her, and
hid himself in the kitchen under the hearth.
Not long after, Peter came in and picked up the three napkins which
the maiden had dropped on the threshold. He wondered how they
got there, for he knew he had left them in his room; but what was
his horror when he saw the form of the fainting girl lying where she
had dropped, as still and white as if she had been dead. He lifted
her up and carried her to her bed, where she soon revived, but she
did not tell Peter about Eisenkopf, who had been almost crushed to
death under the hearth-stone by the body of World's-weight.
The next morning Peter locked up his dogs and went out into the
forest alone. Eisenkopf, however, had seen him go, and followed
so closely at his heels that Peter had barely time to clamber up a tall
tree, where Eisenkopf could not reach him. 'Come down at once,
you gallows bird,' he cried. 'Have you forgotten your promise that
you never would marry?'
'Oh, I know it is all up with me,' answered Peter, 'but let me call
out three times.'
'You can call a hundred times if you like,' returned Eisenkopf, 'for
now I have got you in my power, and you shall pay for what you
'Iron-strong, World's-weight, Quick-ear, fly to my help!' cried
Peter; and Quick-ear heard, and said to his brothers: 'Listen, our
master is calling us.'
'You are dreaming, fool,' answered World's-weight; 'why he has not
finished his breakfast.' And he gave Quick-ear a slap with his paw,
for he was young and needed to be taught sense.
'Iron-strong, World's-weight, Quick-ear, fly to my help!' cried Peter
This time World's-weight heard also, and he said, 'Ah, now our
master is really calling.'
'How silly you are!' answered Iron-strong; 'you know that at this
hour he is always eating.' And he gave World's-weight a cuff,
because he was old enough to know better.
Peter sat trembling on the tree dreading lest his dogs had never
heard, or else that, having heard, they had refused to come. It was
his last chance, so making a mighty effort he shrieked once more:
'Iron-strong, World's-weight, Quick-ear, fly to my help, or I am a
And Iron-strong heard, and said: 'Yes, he is certainly calling, we
must go at once.' And in an instant he had burst open the door, and
all three were bounding away in the direction of the voice. When
they reached the foot of the tree Peter just said: 'At him!' And in a
few minutes there was nothing left of Eisenkopf.
As soon as his enemy was dead Peter got down and returned to the
house, where he bade farewell to the old woman and her daughter,
who gave him a beautiful ring, all set with diamonds. It was really a
magic ring, but neither Peter nor the maiden knew that.
Peter's heart was heavy as he set out for home. He had ceased to
love the wife whom he had left at his wedding feast, and his heart
had gone out to the golden-haired girl. However, it was no use
thinking of that, so he rode forward steadily.
The fire had to be passed through before he had gone very far, and
when he came to it, Peter shook the napkins three times in the
flames and a passage opened for trim. But then a curious thing
happened; the three dogs, who had followed at his heels all the way,
now became three cakes again, which Peter put into his bag with
the napkins. After that he stopped at the houses of the three old
women, and gave each one back her napkin and her cake.
'Where is my wife?' asked Peter, when he reached home.
'Oh, my dear son, why did you ever leave us? After you had
vanished, no one knew where, your poor wife grew more and more
wretched, and would neither eat nor drink. Little by little she faded
away, and a month ago we laid her in her grave, to hide her
sorrows under the earth.'
At this news Peter began to weep, for he had loved his wife before
he went away and had seen the golden-haired maiden.
He went sorrowfully about his work for the space of half a year,
when, one night, he dreamed that he moved the diamond ring given
him by the maiden from his right hand and put it on the wedding
finger of the left. The dream was so real that he awoke at once and
changed the ring from one hand to the other. And as he did so
guess what he saw? Why, the golden-haired girl standing before
him. And he sprang up and kissed her, and said: 'Now you are mine
for ever and ever, and when we die we will both be buried in one
And so they were.
[From Ungarische Mahrchen.]
The Death Of Abu Nowas And Of His Wife
Once upon a time there lived a man whose name was Abu Nowas,
and he was a great favourite with the Sultan of the country, who
had a palace in the same town where Abu Nowas dwelt.
One day Abu Nowas came weeping into the hall of the palace
where the Sultan was sitting, and said to him: 'Oh, mighty Sultan,
my wife is dead.'
'That is bad news,' replied the Sultan; 'I must get you another wife.'
And he bade his Grand Vizir send for the Sultana.
'This poor Abu Nowas has lost his wife,' said he, when she entered
'Oh, then we must get him another,' answered the Sultana; 'I have a
girl that will suit him exactly,' and clapped her hands loudly. At this
signal a maiden appeared and stood before her.
'I have got a husband for you,' said the Sultana.
'Who is he?' asked the girl.
'Abu Nowas, the jester,' replied the Sultana.
'I will take him,' answered the maiden; and as Abu Nowas made no
objection, it was all arranged. The Sultana had the most beautiful
clothes made for the bride, and the Sultan gave the bridegroom his
wedding suit, and a thousand gold pieces into the bargain, and soft
carpets for the house.
So Abu Nowas took his wife home, and for some time they were
very happy, and spent the money freely which the Sultan had given
them, never thinking what they should do for more when that was
gone. But come to an end it did, and they had to sell their fine
things one by one, till at length nothing was left but a cloak apiece,
and one blanket to cover them. 'We have run through our fortune,'
said Abu Nowas, 'what are we to do now? I am afraid to go back
to the Sultan, for he will command his servants to turn me from the
door. But you shall return to your mistress, and throw yourself at
her feet and weep, and perhaps she will help us.'
'Oh, you had much better go,' said the wife. 'I shall not know what
'Well, then, stay at home, if you like,' answered Abu Nowas, 'and I
will ask to be admitted to the Sultan's presence, and will tell him,
with sobs, that my wife is dead, and that I have no money for her
burial. When he hears that perhaps he will give us something.'
'Yes, that is a good plan,' said the wife; and Abu Nowas set out.
The Sultan was sitting in the hall of justice when Abu Nowas
entered, his eyes streaming with tears, for he had rubbed some
pepper into them. They smarted dreadfully, and he could hardly see
to walk straight, and everyone wondered what was the matter with
'Abu Nowas! What has happened?' cried the Sultan.
'Oh, noble Sultan, my wife is dead,' wept he.
'We must all die,' answered the Sultan; but this was not the reply
for which Abu Nowas had hoped.
'True, O Sultan, but I have neither shroud to wrap her in, nor
money to bury her with,' went on Abu Nowas, in no wise abashed
by the way the Sultan had received his news.
'Well, give him a hundred pieces of gold,' said the Sultan, turning to
the Grand Vizir. And when the money was counted out Abu
Nowas bowed low, and left the hall, his tears still flowing, but with
joy in his heart.
'Have you got anything?' cried his wife, who was waiting for him
'Yes, a hundred gold pieces,' said he, throwing down the bag, 'but
that will not last us any time. Now you must go to the Sultana,
clothed in sackcloth and robes of mourning, and tell her that your
husband, Abu Nowas, is dead, and you have no money for his
burial. When she hears that, she will be sure to ask you what has
become of the money and the fine clothes she gave us on our
marriage, and you will answer, "before he died he sold everything."'
The wife did as she was told, and wrapping herself in sackcloth
went up to the Sultana's own palace, and as she was known to have
been one of Subida's favourite attendants, she was taken without
difficulty into the private apartments.
'What is the matter?' inquired the Sultana, at the sight of the dismal
'My husband lies dead at home, and he has spent all our money, and
sold everything, and I have nothing left to bury him with,' sobbed
Then Subida took up a purse containing two hundred gold pieces,
and said: 'Your husband served us long and faithfully. You must
see that he has a fine funeral.'
The wife took the money, and, kissing the feet of the Sultana, she
joyfully hastened home. They spent some happy hours planning
how they should spend it, and thinking how clever they had been.
'When the Sultan goes this evening to Subida's palace,' said Abu
Nowas, 'she will be sure to tell him that Abu Nowas is dead. "Not
Abu Nowas, it is his wife," he will reply, and they will quarrel over
it, and all the time we shall be sitting here enjoying ourselves. Oh,
if they only knew, how angry they would be!'
As Abu Nowas had foreseen, the Sultan went, in the evening after
his business was over, to pay his usual visit to the Sultana.
'Poor Abu Nowas is dead!' said Subida when he entered the room.
'It is not Abu Nowas, but his wife who is dead,' answered the
'No; really you are quite wrong. She came to tell me herself only a
couple of hours ago,' replied Subida, 'and as he had spent all their
money, I gave her something to bury him with.'
'You must be dreaming,' exclaimed the Sultan. 'Soon after midday
Abu Nowas came into the hall, his eyes streaming with tears, and
when I asked him the reason he answered that his wife was dead,
and they had sold everything they had, and he had nothing left, not
so much as would buy her a shroud, far less for her burial.'
For a long time they talked, and neither would listen to the other,
till the Sultan sent for the door-keeper and bade him go instantly to
the house of Abu Nowas and see if it was the man or his wife who
was dead. But Abu Nowas happened to be sitting with his wife
behind the latticed window, which looked on the street, and he saw
the man coming, and sprang up at once. 'There is the Sultan's
door-keeper! They have sent him here to find out the truth. Quick!
throw yourself on the bed and pretend that you are dead.' And in a
moment the wife was stretched out stiffly, with a linen sheet spread
across her, like a corpse.
She was only just in time, for the sheet was hardly drawn across her
when the door opened and the porter came in. 'Has anything
happened?' asked he.
'My poor wife is dead,' replied Abu Nowas. 'Look! she is laid out
here.' And the porter approached the bed, which was in a corner of
the room, and saw the stiff form lying underneath.
'We must all die,' said he, and went back to the Sultan.
'Well, have you found out which of them is dead?' asked the Sultan.
'Yes, noble Sultan; it is the wife,' replied the porter.
'He only says that to please you,' cried Subida in a rage; and calling
to her chamberlain, she ordered him to go at once to the dwelling of
Abu Nowas and see which of the two was dead. 'And be sure you
tell the truth about it,' added she, 'or it will be the worse for you.'
As her chamberlain drew near the house, Abu Nowas caught sight
of him. 'There is the Sultana's chamberlain,' he exclaimed in a
fright. 'Now it is my turn to die. Be quick and spread the sheet
over me.' And he laid himself on the bed, and held his breath when
the chamberlain came in. 'What are you weeping for?' asked the
man, finding the wife in tears.
'My husband is dead,' answered she, pointing to the bed; and the
chamberlain drew back the sheet and beheld Abu Nowas lying stiff
and motionless. Then he gently replaced the sheet and returned to
'Well, have you found out this time?' asked the Sultan.
'My lord, it is the husband who is dead.'
'But I tell you he was with me only a few hours ago,' cried the
Sultan angrily. 'I must get to the bottom of this before I sleep! Let
my golden coach be brought round at once.'
The coach was before the door in another five minutes, and the
Sultan and Sultana both got in. Abu Nowas had ceased being a
dead man, and was looking into the street when he saw the coach
coming. 'Quick! quick!' he called to his wife. 'The Sultan will be
here directly, and we must both be dead to receive him.' So they
laid themselves down, and spread the sheet over them, and held
their breath. At that instant the Sultan entered, followed by the
Sultana and the chamberlain, and he went up to the bed and found
the corpses stiff and motionless. 'I would give a thousand gold
pieces to anyone who would tell me the truth about this,' cried he,
and at the words Abu Nowas sat up. 'Give them to me, then,' said
he, holding out his hand. 'You cannot give them to anyone who
needs them more.'
'Oh, Abu Nowas, you impudent dog!' exclaimed the Sultan,
bursting into a laugh, in which the Sultana joined. 'I might have
known it was one of your tricks!' But he sent Abu Nowas the gold
he had promised, and let us hope that it did not fly so fast as the last
[From Tunische Mahrchen.]
Once upon a time, in a very hot country, a man lived with his wife
in a little hut, which was surrounded by grass and flowers. They
were perfectly happy together till, by-and-by, the woman fell ill and
refused to take any food. The husband tried to persuade her to eat
all sorts of delicious fruits that he had found in the forest, but she
would have none of them, and grew so thin he feared she would
die. 'Is there nothing you would like?' he said at last in despair.
'Yes, I think I could eat some wild honey,' answered she. The
husband was overjoyed, for he thought this sounded easy enough to
get, and he went off at once in search of it.
He came back with a wooden pan quite full, and gave it to his wife.
'I can't eat that,' she said, turning away in disgust. 'Look! there are
some dead bees in it! I want honey that is quite pure.' And the man
threw the rejected honey on the grass, and started off to get some
fresh. When he got back he offered it to his wife, who treated it as
she had done the first bowlful. 'That honey has got ants in it: throw
it away,' she said, and when he brought her some more, she
declared it was full of earth. In his fourth journey he managed to
find some that she would eat, and then she begged him to get her
some water. This took him some time, but at length he came to a
lake whose waters were sweetened with sugar. He filled a pannikin
quite full, and carried it home to his wife, who drank it eagerly, and
said that she now felt quite well. When she was up and had dressed
herself, her husband lay down in her place, saying: 'You have given
me a great deal of trouble, and now it is my turn!'
'What is the matter with you?' asked the wife.
'I am thirsty and want some water,' answered he; and she took a
large pot and carried it to the nearest spring, which was a good way
off. 'Here is the water,' she said to her husband, lifting the heavy
pot from her head; but he turned away in disgust.
'You have drawn it from the pool that is full of frogs and willows;
you must get me some more.' So the woman set out again and
walked still further to another lake.
'This water tastes of rushes,' he exclaimed, 'go and get some fresh.'
But when she brought back a third supply he declared that it
seemed made up of water-lilies, and that he must have water that
was pure, and not spoilt by willows, or frogs, or rushes. So for the
fourth time she put her jug on her head, and passing all the lakes
she had hitherto tried, she came to another, where the water was
golden like honey. She stooped down to drink, when a horrible
head bobbed up on the surface.
'How dare you steal my water?' cried the head.
'It is my husband who has sent me,' she replied, trembling all over.
'But do not kill me! You shall have my baby, if you will only let me
'How am I to know which is your baby?' asked the Ogre.
'Oh, that is easily managed. I will shave both sides of his head, and
hang some white beads round his neck. And when you come to the
hut you have only to call "Motikatika!" and he will run to meet you,
and you can eat him.'
'Very well,' said the ogre, 'you can go home.' And after filling the
pot she returned, and told her husband of the dreadful danger she
had been in.
Now, though his mother did not know it, the baby was a magician
and he had heard all that his mother had promised the ogre; and he
laughed to himself as he planned how to outwit her.
The next morning she shaved his head on both sides, and hung the
white beads round his neck, and said to him: 'I am going to the
fields to work, but you must stay at home. Be sure you do not go
outside, or some wild beast may eat you.'
'Very well,' answered he.
As soon as his mother was out of sight, the baby took out some
magic bones, and placed them in a row before him. 'You are my
father,' he told one bone, 'and you are my mother. You are the
biggest,' he said to the third, 'so you shall be the ogre who wants to
eat me; and you,' to another, 'are very little, therefore you shall be
me. Now, then, tell me what I am to do.'
'Collect all the babies in the village the same size as yourself,'
answered the bones; 'shave the sides of their heads, and hang white
beads round their necks, and tell them that when anybody calls
"Motikatika," they are to answer to it. And be quick for you have
no time to lose.'
Motikatika went out directly, and brought back quite a crowd of
babies, and shaved their heads and hung white beads round their
little black necks, and just as he had finished, the ground began to
shake, and the huge ogre came striding along, crying: 'Motikatika!
'Here we are! here we are!' answered the babies, all running to meet
'It is Motikatika I want,' said the ogre.
'We are all Motikatika,' they replied. And the ogre sat down in
bewilderment, for he dared not eat the children of people who had
done him no wrong, or a heavy punishment would befall him. The
children waited for a little, wondering, and then they went away.
The ogre remained where he was, till the evening, when the woman
returned from the fields.
'I have not seen Motikatika,' said he.
'But why did you not call him by his name, as I told you?' she
'I did, but all the babies in the village seemed to be named
Motikatika,' answered the ogre; 'you cannot think the number who
came running to me.'
The woman did not know what to make of it, so, to keep him in a
good temper, she entered the hut and prepared a bowl of maize,
which she brought him.
'I do not want maize, I want the baby,' grumbled he 'and I will have
'Have patience,' answered she; 'I will call him, and you can eat him
at once.' And she went into the hut and cried, 'Motikatika!'
'I am coming, mother,' replied he; but first he took out his bones,
and, crouching down on the ground behind the hut, asked them
how he should escape the ogre.
'Change yourself into a mouse,' said the bones; and so he did, and
the ogre grew tired of waiting, and told the woman she must invent
some other plan.
'To-morrow I will send him into the field to pick some beans for
me, and you will find him there, and can eat him.'
'Very well,' replied the ogre, 'and this time I will take care to have
him,' and he went back to his lake.
Next morning Motikatika was sent out with a basket, and told to
pick some beans for dinner. On the way to the field he took out his
bones and asked them what he was to do to escape from the ogre.
'Change yourself into a bird and snap off the beans,' said the bones.
And the ogre chased away the bird, not knowing that it was
The ogre went back to the hut and told the woman that she had
deceived him again, and that he would not be put off any longer.
'Return here this evening,' answered she, 'and you will find him in
bed under this white coverlet. Then you can carry him away, and
eat him at once.'
But the boy heard, and consulted his bones, which said: 'Take the
red coverlet from your father's bed, and put yours on his,' and so he
did. And when the ogre came, he seized Motikatika's father and
carried him outside the hut and ate him. When his wife found out
the mistake, she cried bitterly; but Motikatika said: 'It is only just
that he should be eaten, and not I; for it was he, and not I, who sent
you to fetch the water.'
[Adapted from the Ba-Ronga (H. Junod).]
Niels And The Giants
On one of the great moors over in Jutland, where trees won't grow
because the soil is so sandy and the wind so strong, there once lived
a man and his wife, who had a little house and some sheep, and two
sons who helped them to herd them. The elder of the two was
called Rasmus, and the younger Niels. Rasmus was quite content
to look after sheep, as his father had done before him, but Niels had
a fancy to be a hunter, and was not happy till he got hold of a gun
and learned to shoot. It was only an old muzzle-loading flint-lock
after all, but Niels thought it a great prize, and went about shooting
at everything he could see. So much did he practice that in the long
run he became a wonderful shot, and was heard of even where he
had never been seen. Some people said there was very little in him
beyond this, but that was an idea they found reason to change in the
course of time.
The parents of Rasmus and Niels were good Catholics, and when
they were getting old the mother took it into her head that she
would like to go to Rome and see the Pope. The others didn't see
much use in this, but she had her way in the end: they sold all the
sheep, shut up the house, and set out for Rome on foot. Niels took
his gun with him.
'What do you want with that?' said Rasmus; 'we have plenty to
carry without it.' But Niels could not be happy without his gun,
and took it all the same.
It was in the hottest part of summer that they began their journey,
so hot that they could not travel at all in the middle of the day, and
they were afraid to do it by night lest they might lose their way or
fall into the hands of robbers. One day, a little before sunset, they
came to an inn which lay at the edge of a forest.
'We had better stay here for the night,' said Rasmus.
'What an idea!' said Niels, who was growing impatient at the slow
progress they were making. 'We can't travel by day for the heat,
and we remain where we are all night. It will be long enough
before we get to Rome if we go on at this rate.'
Rasmus was unwilling to go on, but the two old people sided with
Niels, who said, 'The nights aren't dark, and the moon will soon be
up. We can ask at the inn here, and find out which way we ought
So they held on for some time, but at last they came to a small
opening in the forest, and here they found that the road split in two.
There was no sign-post to direct them, and the people in the inn
had not told them which of the two roads to take.
'What's to be done now?' said Rasmus. 'I think we had better have
stayed at the inn.'
'There's no harm done,' said Niels. 'The night is warm, and we can
wait here till morning. One of us will keep watch till midnight, and
then waken the other.'
Rasmus chose to take the first watch, and the others lay down to
sleep. It was very quiet in the forest, and Rasmus could hear the
deer and foxes and other animals moving about among the rustling
leaves. After the moon rose he could see them occasionally, and
when a big stag came quite close to him he got hold of Niels' gun
and shot it.
Niels was wakened by the report. 'What's that?' he said.
'I've just shot a stag,' said Rasmus, highly pleased with himself.
'That's nothing,' said Niels. 'I've often shot a sparrow, which is a
much more difficult thing to do.'
It was now close on midnight, so Niels began his watch, and
Rasmus went to sleep. It began to get colder, and Niels began to
walk about a little to keep himself warm. He soon found that they
were not far from the edge of the forest, and when he climbed up
one of the trees there he could see out over the open country
beyond. At a little distance he saw a fire, and beside it there sat
three giants, busy with broth and beef. They were so huge that the
spoons they used were as large as spades, and their forks as big as
hay-forks: with these they lifted whole bucketfuls of broth and great
joints of meat out of an enormous pot which was set on the ground
between them. Niels was startled and rather scared at first, but he
comforted himself with the thought that the giants were a good way
off, and that if they came nearer he could easily hide among the
bushes. After watching them for a little, however, he began to get
over his alarm, and finally slid down the tree again, resolved to get
his gun and play some tricks with them.
When he had climbed back to his former position, he took good
aim, and waited till one of the giants was just in the act of putting a
large piece of meat into his mouth. Bang! went Niels' gun, and the
bullet struck the handle of the fork so hard that the point went into
the giant's chin, instead of his mouth.
'None of your tricks,' growled the giant to the one who sat next
him. 'What do you mean by hitting my fork like that, and making
me prick myself?'
'I never touched your fork,' said the other. 'Don't try to get up a
quarrel with me.'
'Look at it, then,' said the first. 'Do you suppose I stuck it into my
own chin for fun?'
The two got so angry over the matter that each offered to fight the
other there and then, but the third giant acted as peace-maker, and
they again fell to their eating.
While the quarrel was going on, Niels had loaded the gun again,
and just as the second giant was about to put a nice tit-bit into his
mouth, bang! went the gun again, and the fork flew into a dozen
This giant was even more furious than the first had been, and words
were just coming to blows, when the third giant again interposed.
'Don't be fools,' he said to them; 'what's the good of beginning to
fight among ourselves, when it is so necessary for the three of us to
work together and get the upper hand over the king of this country.
It will be a hard enough task as it is, but it will be altogether
hopeless if we don't stick together. Sit down again, and let us finish
our meal; I shall sit between you, and then neither of you can blame
Niels was too far away to hear their talk, but from their gestures he
could guess what was happening, and thought it good fun.
'Thrice is lucky,' said he to himself; 'I'll have another shot yet.'
This time it was the third giant's fork that caught the bullet, and
snapped in two.
'Well,' said he, 'if I were as foolish as you two, I would also fly into
a rage, but I begin to see what time of day it is, and I'm going off
this minute to see who it is that's playing these tricks with us.'
So well had the giant made his observations, that though Niels
climbed down the tree as fast as he could, so as to hide among the
bushes, he had just got to the ground when the enemy was upon
'Stay where you are,' said the giant, 'or I'll put my foot on you, and
there won't be much of you left after that.'
Niels gave in, and the giant carried him back to his comrades.
'You don't deserve any mercy at our hands,' said his captor 'but as
you are such a good shot you may be of great use to us, so we shall
spare your life, if you will do us a service. Not far from here there
stands a castle, in which the king's daughter lives; we are at war
with the king, and want to get the upper hand of him by carrying off
the princess, but the castle is so well guarded that there is no
getting into it. By our skill in magic we have cast sleep on every
living thing in the castle, except a little black dog, and, as long as he
is awake, we are no better off than before; for, as soon as we begin
to climb over the wall, the little dog will hear us, and its barking
will waken all the others again. Having got you, we can place you
where you will be able to shoot the dog before it begins to bark,
and then no one can hinder us from getting the princess into our
hands. If you do that, we shall not only let you off, but reward you
Niels had to consent, and the giants set out for the castle at once.
It was surrounded by a very high rampart, so high that even the
giants could not touch the top of it. 'How am I to get over that?'
'Quite easily,' said the third giant; ' I'll throw you up on it.'
'No, thanks,' said Niels. 'I might fall down on the other side, or
break my leg or neck, and then the little dog wouldn't get shot after
'No fear of that,' said the giant; 'the rampart is quite wide on the
top, and covered with long grass, so that you will come down as
softly as though you fell on a feather-bed.'
Niels had to believe him, and allowed the giant to throw him up.
He came down on his feet quite unhurt, but the little black dog
heard the dump, and rushed out of its kennel at once. It was just
opening its mouth to bark, when Niels fired, and it fell dead on the
'Go down on the inside now,' said the giant, 'and see if you can
open the gate to us.'
Niels made his way down into the courtyard, but on his way to the
outer gate he found himself at the entrance to the large hall of the
castle. The door was open, and the hall was brilliantly lighted,
though there was no one to be seen. Niels went in here and looked
round him: on the wall there hung a huge sword without a sheath,
and beneath it was a large drinking-horn, mounted with silver.
Niels went closer to look at these, and saw that the horn had letters
engraved on the silver rim: when he took it down and turned it
round, he found that the inscription was:--
Whoever drinks the wine I hold
Can wield the sword that hangs above;
Then let him use it for the right,
And win a royal maiden's love.
Niels took out the silver stopper of the horn, and drank some of the
wine, but when he tried to take down the sword he found himself
unable to move it. So he hung up the horn again, and went further
in to the castle. 'The giants can wait a little,' he said.
Before long he came to an apartment in which a beautiful princess
lay asleep in a bed, and on a table by her side there lay a
gold-hemmed handkerchief. Niels tore this in two, and put one half
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