The Crimson Fairy Book
Part 5 out of 6
in his pocket, leaving the other half on the table. On the floor he
saw a pair of gold-embroidered slippers, and one of these he also
put in his pocket. After that he went back to the hall, and took
down the horn again. 'Perhaps I have to drink all that is in it before
I can move the sword,' he thought; so he put it to his lips again and
drank till it was quite empty. When he had done this, he could
wield the sword with the greatest of ease, and felt himself strong
enough to do anything, even to fight the giants he had left outside,
who were no doubt wondering why he had not opened the gate to
them before this time. To kill the giants, he thought, would be
using the sword for the right; but as to winning the love of the
princess, that was a thing which the son of a poor sheep-farmer
need not hope for.
When Niels came to the gate of the castle, he found that there was
a large door and a small one, so he opened the latter.
'Can't you open the big door?' said the giants; 'we shall hardly be
able to get in at this one.'
'The bars are too heavy for me to draw,' said Niels; 'if you stoop a
little you can quite well come in here.' The first giant accordingly
bent down and entered in a stooping posture, but before he had
time to straighten his back again Niels made a sweep with the
sword, and oft went the giant's head. To push the body aside as it
fell was quite easy for Niels, so strong had the wine made him, and
the second giant as he entered met the same reception. The third
was slower in coming, so Niels called out to him: 'Be quick,' he
said, 'you are surely the oldest of the three, since you are so slow in
your movements, but I can't wait here long; I must get back to my
own people as soon as possible.' So the third also came in, and was
served in the same way. It appears from the story that giants were
not given fair play!
By this time day was beginning to break, and Niels thought that his
folks might already be searching for him, so, instead of waiting to
see what took place at the castle, he ran off to the forest as fast as
he could, taking the sword with him. He found the others still
asleep, so he woke them up, and they again set out on their journey.
Of the night's adventures he said not a word, and when they asked
where he got the sword, he only pointed in the direction of the
castle, and said, 'Over that way.' They thought he had found it, and
asked no more questions.
When Niels left the castle, he shut the door behind him, and it
closed with such a bang that the porter woke up. He could scarcely
believe his eyes when he saw the three headless giants lying in a
heap in the courtyard, and could not imagine what had taken place.
The whole castle was soon aroused, and then everybody wondered
at the affair: it was soon seen that the bodies were those of the
king's great enemies, but how they came to be there and in that
condition was a perfect mystery. Then it was noticed that the
drinking-horn was empty and the sword gone, while the princess
reported that half of her handkerchief and one of her slippers had
been taken away. How the giants had been killed seemed a little
clearer now, but who had done it was as great a puzzle as before.
The old knight who had charge of the castle said that in his opinion
it must have been some young knight, who had immediately set off
to the king to claim the hand of the princess. This sounded likely,
but the messenger who was sent to the Court returned with the
news that no one there knew anything about the matter.
'We must find him, however,' said the princess; 'for if he is willing
to marry me I cannot in honour refuse him, after what my father put
on the horn.' She took council with her father's wisest men as to
what ought to be done, and among other things they advised her to
build a house beside the highway, and put over the door this
inscription:--'Whoever will tell the story of his life, may stay here
three nights for nothing.' This was done, and many strange tales
were told to the princess, but none of the travellers said a word
about the three giants.
In the meantime Niels and the others tramped on towards Rome.
Autumn passed, and winter was just beginning when they came to
the foot of a great range of mountains, towering up to the sky.
'Must we go over these?' said they. 'We shall be frozen to death or
buried in the snow.'
'Here comes a man,' said Niels; 'let us ask him the way to Rome.'
They did so, and were told that there was no other way.
'And is it far yet?' said the old people, who were beginning to be
worn out by the long journey. The man held up his foot so that
they could see the sole of his shoe; it was worn as thin as paper,
and there was a hole in the middle of it.
'These shoes were quite new when I left Rome,' he said, 'and look
at them now; that will tell you whether you are far from it or not.'
This discouraged the old people so much that they gave up all
thought of finishing the journey, and only wished to get back to
Denmark as quickly as they could. What with the winter and bad
roads they took longer to return than they had taken to go, but in
the end they found themselves in sight of the forest where they had
'What's this?' said Rasmus. 'Here's a big house built since we
passed this way before.'
'So it is,' said Peter; 'let's stay all night in it.'
'No, we can't afford that,' said the old people; 'it will be too dear for
the like of us.'
However, when they saw what was written above the door, they
were all well pleased to get a night's lodging for nothing. They
were well received, and had so much attention given to them, that
the old people were quite put out by it. After they had got time to
rest themselves, the princess's steward came to hear their story.
'You saw what was written above the door,' he said to the father.
'Tell me who you are and what your history has been.'
'Dear me, I have nothing of any importance to tell you,' said the old
man, 'and I am sure we should never have made so bold as to
trouble you at all if it hadn't been for the youngest of our two sons
'Never mind that,' said the steward; ' you are very welcome if you
will only tell me the story of your life.'
'Well, well, I will,' said he, 'but there is nothing to tell about it. I
and my wife have lived all our days on a moor in North Jutland,
until this last year, when she took a fancy to go to Rome. We set
out with our two sons but turned back long before we got there,
and are now on our way home again. That's all my own story, and
our two sons have lived with us all their days, so there is nothing
more to be told about them either.'
'Yes there is,' said Rasmus; 'when we were on our way south, we
slept in the wood near here one night, and I shot a stag.'
The steward was so much accustomed to hearing stories of no
importance that he thought there was no use going further with
this, but reported to the princess that the newcomers had nothing to
'Did you question them all?' she said.
'Well, no; not directly,' said he; 'but the father said that none of
them could tell me any more than he had done.'
'You are getting careless,' said the princess; 'I shall go and talk to
Niels knew the princess again as soon as she entered the room, and
was greatly alarmed, for he immediately supposed that all this was a
device to discover the person who had run away with the sword,
the slipper and the half of the handkerchief, and that it would fare
badly with him if he were discovered. So he told his story much the
same as the others did (Niels was not very particular), and thought
he had escaped all further trouble, when Rasmus put in his word.
'You've forgotten something, Niels,' he said; 'you remember you
found a sword near here that night I shot the stag.'
'Where is the sword?' said the princess.
'I know,' said the steward, 'I saw where he laid it down when they
came in;' and off he went to fetch it, while Niels wondered whether
he could make his escape in the meantime. Before he had made up
his mind, however, the steward was back with the sword, which the
princess recognised at once.
'Where did you get this?' she said to Niels.
Niels was silent, and wondered what the usual penalty was for a
poor sheep-farmer's son who was so unfortunate as to deliver a
princess and carry off things from her bed-room.
'See what else he has about him,' said the princess to the steward,
and Niels had to submit to be searched: out of one pocket came a
gold-embroidered slipper, and out of another the half of a
'That is enough,' said the princess; 'now we needn't ask any more
questions. Send for my father the king at once.'
'Please let me go,' said Niels; 'I did you as much good as harm, at
'Why, who said anything about doing harm?' said the princess.
'You must stay here till my father comes.'
The way in which the princess smiled when she said this gave Niels
some hope that things might not be bad for him after all, and he was
yet more encouraged when he thought of the words engraver on the
horn, though the last line still seemed too good to be true.
However, the arrival of the king soon settled the matter: the
princess was willing and so was Niels, and in a few days the
wedding bells were ringing. Niels was made an earl by that time,
and looked as handsome as any of them when dressed in all his
robes. Before long the old king died, and Niels reigned after him;
but whether his father and mother stayed with him, or went back to
the moor in Jutland, or were sent to Rome in a carriage and four, is
something that all the historians of his reign have forgotten to
Once upon a time a shepherd was taking his flock out to pasture,
when he found a little baby lying in a meadow, left there by some
wicked person, who thought it was too much trouble to look after
it. The shepherd was fond of children, so he took the baby home
with him and gave it plenty of milk, and by the time the boy was
fourteen he could tear up oaks as if they were weeds. Then Paul, as
the shepherd had called him, grew tired of living at home, and went
out into the world to try his luck.
He walked on for many miles, seeing nothing that surprised him,
but in an open space of the wood he was astonished at finding a
man combing trees as another man would comb flax.
'Good morning, friend,' said Paul; 'upon my word, you must be a
The man stopped his work and laughed. 'I am Tree Comber,' he
answered proudly; 'and the greatest wish of my life is to wrestle
with Shepherd Paul.'
'May all your wishes be fulfilled as easily, for I am Shepherd Paul,
and can wrestle with you at once,' replied the lad; and he seized
Tree Comber and flung him with such force to the ground that he
sank up to his knees in the earth. However, in a moment he was up
again, and catching hold of Paul, threw him so that he sank up to
his waist; but then it was Paul's turn again, and this time the man
was buried up to his neck. 'That is enough,' cried he; 'I see you are
a smart fellow, let us become friends.'
'Very good,' answered Paul, and they continued their journey
By-and-by they reached a man who was grinding stones to powder
in his hands, as if they had been nuts.
'Good morning,' said Paul politely; 'upon my word, you must be a
'I am Stone Crusher,' answered the man, and the greatest wish of
my life is to wrestle with Shepherd Paul.'
'May all your wishes be as easily fulfilled, for I am Shepherd Paul,
and will wrestle with you at once,' and the sport began. After a
short time the man declared himself beaten, and begged leave to go
with them; so they all three travelled together.
A little further on they came upon a man who was kneading iron as
if it had been dough. 'Good morning,' said Paul, 'you must be a
'I am Iron Kneader, and should like to fight Shepherd Paul,'
'Let us begin at once then,' replied Paul; and on this occasion also,
Paul got the better of his foe, and they all four continued their
At midday they entered a forest, and Paul stopped suddenly. 'We
three will go and look for game,' he said, 'and you, Tree Comber,
will stay behind and prepare a good supper for us.' So Tree
Comber set to work to boil and roast, and when dinner was nearly
ready, a little dwarf with a pointed beard strolled up to the place.
'What are you cooking?' asked he, 'give me some of it.'
'I'll give you some on your back, if you like,' answered Tree
Comber rudely. The dwarf took no notice, but waited patiently till
the dinner was cooked, then suddenly throwing Tree Comber on
the ground, he ate up the contents of the saucepan and vanished.
Tree Comber felt rather ashamed of himself, and set about boiling
some more vegetables, but they were still very hard when the
hunters returned, and though they complained of his bad cooking,
he did not tell them about the dwarf.
Next day Stone Crusher was left behind, and after him Iron
Kneader, and each time the dwarf appeared, and they fared no
better than Tree Comber had done. The fourth day Paul said to
them: 'My friends, there must be some reason why your cooking
has always been so bad, now you shall go and hunt and I will stay
behind.' So they went off, amusing themselves by thinking what
was in store for Paul.
He set to work at once, and had just got all his vegetables
simmering in the pot when the dwarf appeared as before, and asked
to have some of the stew. 'Be off,' cried Paul, snatching up the
saucepan as he spoke. The dwarf tried to get hold of his collar, but
Paul seized him by the beard, and tied him to a big tree so that he
could not stir, and went on quietly with his cooking. The hunters
came back early, longing to see how Paul had got on, and, to their
surprise, dinner was quite ready for them.
'You are great useless creatures,' said he, 'who couldn't even outwit
that little dwarf. When we have finished supper I will show you
what I have done with him!' But when they reached the place
where Paul had left the dwarf, neither he nor the tree was to be
seen, for the little fellow had pulled it up by the roots and run away,
dragging it after him. The four friends followed the track of the
tree and found that it ended in a deep hole. 'He must have gone
down here,' said Paul, 'and I will go after him. See! there is a
basket that will do for me to sit in, and a cord to lower me with.
But when I pull the cord again, lose no time in drawing the basket
And he stepped into the basket, which was lowered by his friends.
At last it touched the ground and he jumped out and looked about
him. He was in a beautiful valley, full of meadows and streams,
with a splendid castle standing by. As the door was open he
walked in, but a lovely maiden met him and implored him to go
back, for the owner of the castle was a dragon with six heads, who
had stolen her from her home and brought her down to this
underground spot. But Paul refused to listen to all her entreaties,
and declared that he was not afraid of the dragon, and did not care
how many heads he had; and he sat down calmly to wait for him.
In a little while the dragon came in, and all the long teeth in his six
heads chattered with anger at the sight of the stranger.
'I am Shepherd Paul,' said the young man, 'and I have come to fight
you, and as I am in a hurry we had better begin at once.'
'Very good,' answered the dragon. 'I am sure of my supper, but let
us have a mouthful of something first, just to give us an appetite.'
Whereupon he began to eat some huge boulders as if they had been
cakes, and when he had quite finished, he offered Paul one. Paul
was not fond of boulders, but he took a wooden knife and cut one
in two, then he snatched up both halves in his hands and threw them
with all his strength at the dragon, so that two out of the six heads
were smashed in. At this the dragon, with a mighty roar, rushed
upon Paul, but he sprang on one side, and with a swinging blow cut
off two of the other heads. Then, seizing the monster by the neck,
he dashed the remaining heads against the rock.
When the maiden heard that the dragon was dead, she thanked her
deliverer with tears in her eyes, but told him that her two younger
sisters were in the power of dragons still fiercer and more horrible
than this one. He vowed that his sword should never rest in its
sheath till they were set free, and bade the girl come with him, and
show him the way.
The maiden gladly consented to go with him, but first she gave him
a golden rod, and bade him strike the castle with it. He did so, and
it instantly changed into a golden apple, which he put in his pocket.
After that, they started on their search.
They had not gone far before they reached the castle where the
second girl was confined by the power of the dragon with twelve
heads, who had stolen her from her home. She was overjoyed at
the sight of her sister and of Paul, and brought him a shirt belonging
to the dragon, which made every one who wore it twice as strong
as they were before. Scarcely had he put it on when the dragon
came back, and the fight began. Long and hard was the struggle,
but Paul's sword and his shirt helped him, and the twelve heads lay
dead upon the ground.
Then Paul changed the castle into an apple, which he put into his
pocket, and set out with the two girls in search of the third castle.
It was not long before they found it, and within the walls was the
third sister, who was younger and prettier than either of the other
two. Her husband had eighteen heads, but when he quitted the
lower regions for the surface of the earth, he left them all at home
except one, which he changed for the head of a little dwarf, with a
The moment that Paul knew that this terrible dragon was no other
than the dwarf whom he had tied to the tree, he longed more than
ever to fly at his throat. But the thought of the eighteen heads
warned him to be careful, and the third sister brought him a silk
shirt which would make him ten times stronger than he was before.
He had scarcely put it on, when the whole castle began to shake
violently, and the dragon flew up the steps into the hall.
'Well, my friend, so we meet once more! Have you forgotten me?
I am Shepherd Paul, and I have come to wrestle with you, and to
free your wife from your clutches.'
'Ah, I am glad to see you again,' said the dragon. 'Those were my
two brothers whom you killed, and now your blood shall pay for
them.' And he went into his room to look for his shirt and to drink
some magic wine, but the shirt was on Paul's back, and as for the
wine, the girl had given a cupful to Paul and then had allowed the
rest to run out of the cask.
At this the dragon grew rather frightened, but in a moment had
recollected his eighteen heads, and was bold again.
'Come on,' he cried, rearing himself up and preparing to dart all his
heads at once at Paul. But Paul jumped underneath, and gave an
upward cut so that six of the heads went rolling down. They were
the best heads too, and very soon the other twelve lay beside them.
Then Paul changed the castle into an apple, and put it in his pocket.
Afterwards he and the three girls set off for the opening which led
upwards to the earth.
The basket was still there, dangling from the rope, but it was only
big enough to hold the three girls, so Paul sent them up, and told
them to be sure and let down the basket for him. Unluckily, at the
sight of the maidens' beauty, so far beyond anything they had ever
seen, the friends forgot all about Paul, and carried the girls straight
away into a far country, so that they were not much better off than
before. Meanwhile Paul, mad with rage at the ingratitude of the
three sisters, vowed he would be revenged upon them, and set
about finding some way of getting back to earth. But it was not
very easy, and for months, and months, and months, he wandered
about underground, and, at the end, seemed no nearer to fulfilling
his purpose than he was at the beginning.
At length, one day, he happened to pass the nest of a huge griffin,
who had left her young ones all alone. Just as Paul came along a
cloud containing fire instead of rain burst overhead, and all the little
griffins would certainly have been killed had not Paul spread his
cloak over the nest and saved them. When their father returned the
young ones told him what Paul had done, and he lost no time in
flying after Paul, and asking how he could reward him for his
'By carrying me up to the earth,' answered Paul; and the griffin
agreed, but first went to get some food to eat on the way, as it was
a long journey.
'Now get on my back,' he said to Paul, 'and when I turn my head to
the right, cut a slice off the bullock that hangs on that side, and put
it in my mouth, and when I turn my head to the left, draw a cupful
of wine from the cask that hangs on that side, and pour it down my
For three days and three nights Paul and the griffin flew upwards,
and on the fourth morning it touched the ground just outside the
city where Paul's friends had gone to live. Then Paul thanked him
and bade him farewell, and he returned home again.
At first Paul was too tired to do anything but sleep, but as soon as
he was rested he started off in search of the three faithless ones,
who almost died from fright at the sight of him, for they had
thought he would never come back to reproach them for their
'You know what to expect,' Paul said to them quietly. 'You shall
never see me again. Off with you!' He next took the three apples
out of his pocket and placed them all in the prettiest places he could
find; after which he tapped them with his golden rod, and they
became castles again. He gave two of the castles to the eldest
sisters, and kept the other for himself and the youngest, whom he
married, and there they are living still.
[From Ungarische Mahrchen.]
How The Wicked Tanuki Was Punished
The hunters had hunted the wood for so many years that no wild
animal was any more to be found in it. You might walk from one
end to the other without ever seeing a hare, or a deer, or a boar, or
hearing the cooing of the doves in their nest. If they were not dead,
they had flown elsewhere. Only three creatures remained alive, and
they had hidden themselves in the thickest part of the forest, high
up the mountain. These were a grey-furred, long-tailed tanuki, his
wife the fox, who was one of his own family, and their little son.
The fox and the tanuki were very clever, prudent beasts, and they
also were skilled in magic, and by this means had escaped the fate
of their unfortunate friends. If they heard the twang of an arrow or
saw the glitter of a spear, ever so far off, they lay very still, and
were not to be tempted from their hiding-place, if their hunger was
ever so great, or the game ever so delicious. 'We are not so foolish
as to risk our lives,' they said to each other proudly. But at length
there came a day when, in spite of their prudence, they seemed
likely to die of starvation, for no more food was to be had.
Something had to be done, but they did not know what.
Suddenly a bright thought struck the tanuki. 'I have got a plan,' he
cried joyfully to his wife. 'I will pretend to be dead, and you must
change yourself into a man, and take me to the village for sale. It
will be easy to find a buyer, tanukis' skins are always wanted; then
buy some food with the money and come home again. I will
manage to escape somehow, so do not worry about me.'
The fox laughed with delight, and rubbed her paws together with
satisfaction. 'Well, next time I will go,' she said, 'and you can sell
me.' And then she changed herself into a man, and picking up the
stiff body of the tanuki, set off towards the village. She found him
rather heavy, but it would never have done to let him walk through
the wood and risk his being seen by somebody.
As the tanaki had foretold, buyers were many, and the fox handed
him over to the person who offered the largest price, and hurried to
get some food with the money. The buyer took the tanuki back to
his house, and throwing him into a corner went out. Directly the
tanaki found he was alone, he crept cautiously through a chink of
the window, thinking, as he did so, how lucky it was that he was
not a fox, and was able to climb. Once outside, he hid himself in a
ditch till it grew dusk, and then galloped away into the forest.
While the food lasted they were all three as happy as kings; but
there soon arrived a day when the larder was as empty as ever. 'It
is my turn now to pretend to be dead,' cried the fox. So the tanuki
changed himself into a peasant, and started for the village, with his
wife's body hanging over his shoulder. A buyer was not long in
coming forward, and while they were making the bargain a wicked
thought darted into the tanuki's head, that if he got rid of the fox
there would be more food for him and his son. So as he put the
money in his pocket he whispered softly to the buyer that the fox
was not really dead, and that if he did not take care she might run
away from him. The man did not need twice telling. He gave the
poor fox a blow on the head, which put an end to her, and the
wicked tanuki went smiling to the nearest shop.
In former times he had been very fond of his little son; but since he
had betrayed his wife he seemed to have changed all in a moment,
for he would not give him as much as a bite, and the poor little
fellow would have starved had he not found some nuts and berries
to eat, and he waited on, always hoping that his mother would
At length some notion of the truth began to dawn on him; but he
was careful to let the old tanuki see nothing, though in his own
mind he turned over plans from morning till night, wondering how
best he might avenge his mother.
One morning, as the little tanuki was sitting with his father, he
remembered, with a start, that his mother had taught him all she
knew of magic, and that he could work spells as well as his father,
or perhaps better. 'I am as good a wizard as you,' he said suddenly,
and a cold chill ran through the tanuki as he heard him, though he
laughed, and pretended to think it a joke. But the little tanaki stuck
to his point, and at last the father proposed they should have a
'Change yourself into any shape you like,' said he, 'and I will
undertake to know you. I will go and wait on the bridge which
leads over the river to the village, and you shall transform yourself
into anything you please, but I will know you through any disguise.'
The little tanuki agreed, and went down the road which his father
had pointed out. But instead of transforming himself into a
different shape, he just hid himself in a corner of the bridge, where
he could see without being seen.
He had not been there long when his father arrived and took up his
place near the middle of the bridge, and soon after the king came
by, followed by a troop of guards and all his court.
'Ah! he thinks that now he has changed himself into a king I shall
not know him,' thought the old tanuki, and as the king passed in his
splendid carriage, borne by his servants, he jumped upon it crying: 'I
have won my wager; you cannot deceive me.' But in reality it was
he who had deceived himself. The soldiers, conceiving that their
king was being attacked, seized the tanuki by the legs and flung him
over into the river, and the water closed over him.
And the little tanoki saw it all, and rejoiced that his mother's death
had been avenged. Then he went back to the forest, and if he has
not found it too lonely, he is probably living there still.
[From Japanische Mahrchen.]
The Crab And The Monkey
There was once a crab who lived in a hole on the shady side of a
mountain. She was a very good housewife, and so careful and
industrious that there was no creature in the whole country whose
hole was so neat and clean as hers, and she took great pride in it.
One day she saw lying near the mouth of her hole a handful of
cooked rice which some pilgrim must have let fall when he was
stopping to eat his dinner. Delighted at this discovery, she hastened
to the spot, and was carrying the rice back to her hole when a
monkey, who lived in some trees near by, came down to see what
the crab was doing. His eyes shone at the sight of the rice, for it
was his favourite food, and like the sly fellow he was, he proposed
a bargain to the crab. She was to give him half the rice in exchange
for the kernel of a sweet red kaki fruit which he had just eaten. He
half expected that the crab would laugh in his face at this impudent
proposal, but instead of doing so she only looked at him for a
moment with her head on one side and then said that she would
agree to the exchange. So the monkey went off with his rice, and
the crab returned to her hole with the kernel.
For some time the crab saw no more of the monkey, who had gone
to pay a visit on the sunny side of the mountain; but one morning he
happened to pass by her hole, and found her sitting under the
shadow of a beautiful kaki tree.
'Good day,' he said politely, 'you have some very fine fruit there! I
am very hungry, could you spare me one or two?'
'Oh, certainly,' replied the crab, 'but you must forgive me if I cannot
get them for you myself. I am no tree-climber.'
'Pray do not apologise,' answered the monkey. 'Now that I have
your permission I can get them myself quite easily.' And the crab
consented to let him go up, merely saying that he must throw her
down half the fruit.
In another moment he was swinging himself from branch to branch,
eating all the ripest kakis and filling his pockets with the rest, and
the poor crab saw to her disgust that the few he threw down to her
were either not ripe at all or else quite rotten.
'You are a shocking rogue,' she called in a rage; but the monkey
took no notice, and went on eating as fast as he could. The crab
understood that it was no use her scolding, so she resolved to try
what cunning would do.
'Sir Monkey,' she said, ' you are certainly a very good climber, but
now that you have eaten so much, I am quite sure you would never
be able to turn one of your somersaults.' The monkey prided
himself on turning better somersaults than any of his family, so he
instantly went head over heels three times on the bough on which
he was sitting, and all the beautiful kakis that he had in his pockets
rolled to the ground. Quick as lightning the crab picked them up
and carried a quantity of them into her house, but when she came
up for another the monkey sprang on her, and treated her so badly
that he left her for dead. When he had beaten her till his arm ached
he went his way.
It was a lucky thing for the poor crab that she had some friends to
come to her help or she certainly would have died then and there.
The wasp flew to her, and took her back to bed and looked after
her, and then he consulted with a rice-mortar and an egg which had
fallen out of a nest near by, and they agreed that when the monkey
returned, as he was sure to do, to steal the rest of the fruit, that
they would punish him severely for the manner in which he had
behaved to the crab. So the mortar climbed up to the beam over
the front door, and the egg lay quite still on the ground, while the
wasp set down the water-bucket in a corner. Then the crab dug
itself a deep hole in the ground, so that not even the tip of her claws
might be seen.
Soon after everything was ready the monkey jumped down from his
tree, and creeping to the door began a long hypocritical speech,
asking pardon for all he had done. He waited for an answer of
some sort, but none came. He listened, but all was still; then he
peeped, and saw no one; then he went in. He peered about for the
crab, but in vain; however, his eyes fell on the egg, which he
snatched up and set on the fire. But in a moment the egg had burst
into a thousand pieces, and its sharp shell struck him in the face and
scratched him horribly. Smarting with pain he ran to the bucket and
stooped down to throw some water over his head. As he stretched
out his hand up started the wasp and stung him on the nose. The
monkey shrieked and ran to the door, but as he passed through
down fell the mortar and struck him dead. 'After that the crab lived
happily for many years, and at length died in peace under her own
[From Japanische Mahrchen.]
The Horse Gullfaxi And The Sword Gunnfoder
Many many years ago there lived a king and queen who had one
only son, called Sigurd. When the little boy was only ten years old
the queen, his mother, fell ill and died, and the king, who loved her
dearly, built a splendid monument to his wife's memory, and day
after day he sat by it and bewailed his sad loss.
One morning, as he sat by the grave, he noticed a richly dressed
lady close to him. He asked her name and she answered that it was
Ingiborg, and seemed surprised to see the king there all alone.
Then he told her how he had lost his queen, and how he came daily
to weep at her grave. In return, the lady informed him that she had
lately lost her husband, and suggested that they might both find it a
comfort if they made friends.
This pleased the king so much that he invited her to his palace,
where they saw each other often; and after a time he married her.
After the wedding was over he soon regained his good spirits, and
used to ride out hunting as in old days; but Sigurd, who was very
fond of his stepmother, always stayed at home with her.
One evening Ingiborg said to Sigurd: 'To-morrow your father is
going out hunting, and you must go with him.' But Sigurd said he
would much rather stay at home, and the next day when the king
rode off Sigurd refused to accompany him. The stepmother was
very angry, but he would not listen, and at last she assured him that
he would be sorry for his disobedience, and that in future he had
better do as he was told.
After the hunting party had started she hid Sigurd under her bed,
and bade him be sure to lie there till she called him.
Sigurd lay very still for a long while, and was just thinking it was no
good staying there any more, when he felt the floor shake under
him as if there were an earthquake, and peeping out he saw a great
giantess wading along ankle deep through the ground and
ploughing it up as she walked.
'Good morning, Sister Ingiborg,' cried she as she entered the room,
'is Prince Sigurd at home?'
'No,' said Ingiborg; 'he rode off to the forest with his father this
morning.' And she laid the table for her sister and set food before
her. After they had both done eating the giantess said: 'Thank you,
sister, for your good dinner--the best lamb, the best can of beer and
the best drink I have ever had; but--is not Prince Sigurd at home?'
Ingiborg again said 'No'; and the giantess took leave of her and
went away. When she was quite out of sight Ingiborg told Sigurd
to come out of his hiding-place.
The king returned home at night, but his wife told him nothing of
what had happened, and the next morning she again begged the
prince to go out hunting with his father. Sigurd, however, replied
as before, that he would much rather stay at home.
So once more the king rode off alone. This time Ingiborg hid
Sigurd under the table, and scolded him well for not doing as she
bade him. For some time he lay quite still, and then suddenly the
floor began to shake, and a giantess came along wading half way to
her knees through the ground.
As she entered the house she asked, as the first one had done: 'Well,
Sister Ingiborg, is Prince Sigurd at home?'
'No,' answered Ingiborg,' he rode off hunting with his father this
morning'; and going to the cupboard she laid the table for her sister.
When they had finished their meal the giantess rose and said: 'Thank
you for all these nice dishes, and for the best lamb, the best can of
beer and the nicest drink I have ever had; but--is Prince Sigurd really
not at home?'
'No, certainly not!' replied Ingiborg; and with that they took leave
of each other.
When she was well out of sight Sigurd crept from under the table,
and his stepmother declared that it was most important that he
should not stay at home next day; but he said he did not see what
harm could come of it, and he did not mean to go out hunting, and
the next morning, when the king prepared to start, Ingiborg
implored Sigurd to accompany his father. But it was all no use, he
was quite obstinate and would not listen to a word she said. 'You
will have to hide me again,' said he, so no sooner had the king gone
than Ingiborg hid Sigurd between the wall and the panelling, and
by-and-by there was heard once more a sound like an earthquake,
as a great giantess, wading knee deep through the ground, came in
at the door.
'Good day, Sister Ingiborg!' she cried, in a voice like thunder; 'is
Prince Sigurd at home?'
'Oh, no,' answered Ingiborg, 'he is enjoying himself out there in the
forest. I expect it will be quite dark before he comes back again.'
'That's a lie!' shouted the giantess. And they squabbled about it till
they were tired, after which Ingiborg laid the table; and when the
giantess had done eating she said: 'Well, I must thank you for all
these good things, and for the best lamb, the best can of beer and
the best drink I have had for a long time; but--are you quite sure
Prince Sigurd is not at home?'
'Quite,' said Ingiborg. 'I've told you already that he rode off with
his father this morning to hunt in the forest.'
At this the giantess roared out with a terrible voice: 'If he is near
enough to hear my words, I lay this spell on him: Let him be half
scorched and half withered; and may he have neither rest nor peace
till he finds me.' And with these words she stalked off.
For a moment Ingiborg stood as if turned to stone, then she fetched
Sigurd from his hiding-place, and, to her horror, there he was, half
scorched and half withered.
'Now you see what has happened through your own obstinacy,' said
she; 'but we must lose no time, for your father will soon be coming
Going quickly into the next room she opened a chest and took out a
ball of string and three gold rings, and gave them to Sigurd, saying:
'If you throw this ball on the ground it will roll along till it reaches
some high cliffs. There you will see a giantess looking out over the
rocks. She will call down to you and say: "Ah, this is just what I
wanted! Here is Prince Sigurd. He shall go into the pot to-night";
but don't be frightened by her. She will draw you up with a long
boat-hook, and you must greet her from me, and give her the
smallest ring as a present. This will please her, and she will ask you
to wrestle with her. When you are exhausted, she will offer you a
horn to drink out of, and though she does not know it, the wine will
make you so strong that you will easily be able to conquer her.
After that she will let you stay there all night. The same thing will
happen with my two other sisters. But, above all, remember this:
should my little dog come to you and lay his paws on you, with
tears running down his face, then hurry home, for my life will be in
danger. Now, good-bye, and don't forget your stepmother.'
Then Ingiborg dropped the ball on the ground, and Sigurd bade her
That same evening the ball stopped rolling at the foot of some high
rocks, and on glancing up, Sigurd saw the giantess looking out at
'Ah, just what I wanted!' she cried out when she saw him; 'here is
Prince Sigurd. He shall go into the pot to-night. Come up, my
friend, and wrestle with me.'
With these words she reached out a long boat hook and hauled him
up the cliff. At first Sigurd was rather frightened, but he
remembered what Ingiborg had said, and gave the giantess her
sister's message and the ring.
The giantess was delighted, and challenged him to wrestle with her.
Sigurd was fond of all games, and began to wrestle with joy; but he
was no match for the giantess, and as she noticed that he was
getting faint she gave him a horn to drink out of, which was very
foolish on her part, as it made Sigurd so strong that he soon
'You may stay here to-night,' said she; and he was glad of the rest.
Next morning Sigurd threw down the ball again and away it rolled
for some time, till it stopped at the foot of another high rock. Then
he looked up and saw another giantess, even bigger and uglier than
the first one, who called out to him: 'Ah, this is just what I wanted!
Here is Prince Sigurd. He shall go into the pot to-night. Come up
quickly and wrestle with me.' And she lost no time in hauling him
The prince gave her his stepmother's message and the second
largest ring. The giantess was greatly pleased when she saw the
ring, and at once challenged Sigurd to wrestle with her.
They struggled for a long time, till at last Sigurd grew faint; so she
handed him a horn to drink from, and when he had drunk he
became so strong that he threw her down with one hand.
On the third morning Sigurd once more laid down his ball, and it
rolled far away, till at last it stopped under a very high rock indeed,
over the top of which the most hideous giantess that ever was seen
When she saw who was there she cried out: 'Ah, this is just what I
wanted! Here comes Prince Sigurd. Into the pot he goes this very
night. Come up here, my friend, and wrestle with me.' And she
hauled him up just as her sisters had done.
Sigurd then gave her his stepmother's message and the last and
largest ring. The sight of the red gold delighted the giantess, and
she challenged Sigurd to a wrestling match. This time the fight was
fierce and long, but when at length Sigurd's strength was failing the
giantess gave him something to drink, and after he had drunk it he
soon brought her to her knees. 'You have beaten me,' she gasped,
so now, listen to me. 'Not far from here is a lake. Go there; you
will find a little girl playing with a boat. Try to make friends with
her, and give her this little gold ring. You are stronger than ever
you were, and I wish you good luck.'
With these words they took leave of each other, and Sigurd
wandered on till he reached the lake, where he found the little girl
playing with a boat, just as he had been told. He went up to her
and asked what her name was.
She was called Helga, she answered, and she lived near by.
So Sigurd gave her the little gold ring, and proposed that they
should have a game. The little girl was delighted, for she had no
brothers or sisters, and they played together all the rest of the day.
When evening came Sigurd asked leave to go home with her, but
Helga at first forbade him, as no stranger had ever managed to
enter their house without being found out by her father, who was a
very fierce giant.
However, Sigurd persisted, and at length she gave way; but when
they came near the door she held her glove over him and Sigurd
was at once transformed into a bundle of wool. Helga tucked the
bundle under her arm and threw it on the bed in her room.
Almost at the same moment her father rushed in and hunted round
in every corner, crying out: 'This place smells of men. What's that
you threw on the bed, Helga?'
'A bundle of wool,' said she.
'Oh, well, perhaps it was that I smelt,' said the old man, and
troubled himself no more.
The following day Helga went out to play and took the bundle of
wool with her under her arm. When she reached the lake she held
her glove over it again and Sigurd resumed his own shape.
They played the whole day, and Sigurd taught Helga all sorts of
games she had never even heard of. As they walked home in the
evening she said: 'We shall be able to play better still to-morrow,
for my father will have to go to the town, so we can stay at home.'
When they were near the house Helga again held her glove over
Sigurd, and once more he was turned into a bundle of wool, and
she carried him in without his being seen.
Very early next morning Helga's father went to the town, and as
soon as he was well out of the way the girl held up her glove and
Sigurd was himself again. Then she took him all over the house to
amuse him, and opened every room, for her father had given her the
keys before he left; but when they came to the last room Sigurd
noticed one key on the bunch which had not been used and asked
which room it belonged to.'
Helga grew red and did not answer.
'I suppose you don't mind my seeing the room which it opens?'
asked Sigurd, and as he spoke he saw a heavy iron door and begged
Helga to unlock it for him. But she told him she dared not do so, at
least if she did open the door it must only be a very tiny chink; and
Sigurd declared that would do quite well.
The door was so heavy, that it took Helga some time to open it,
and Sigurd grew so impatient that he pushed it wide open and
walked in. There he saw a splendid horse, all ready saddled, and
just above it hung a richly ornamented sword on the handle of
which was engraved these words: 'He who rides this horse and
wears this sword will find happiness.'
At the sight of the horse Sigurd was so filled with wonder that he
was not able to speak, but at last he gasped out: 'Oh, do let me
mount him and ride him round the house! Just once; I promise not
to ask any more.'
'Ride him round the house! ' cried Helga, growing pale at the mere
idea. 'Ride Gullfaxi! Why father would never, never forgive me, if I
let you do that.'
'But it can't do him any harm,' argued Sigurd; 'you don't know how
careful I will be. I have ridden all sorts of horses at home, and have
never fallen off not once. Oh, Helga, do!'
'Well, perhaps, if you come back directly,' replied Helga, doubtfully;
'but you must be very quick, or father will find out!'
But, instead of mounting Gullfaxi, as she expected, Sigurd stood
'And the sword,' he said, looking fondly up to the place where it
hung. 'My father is a king, but he has not got any sword so
beautiful as that. Why, the jewels in the scabbard are more splendid
than the big ruby in his crown! Has it got a name? Some swords
have, you know.'
'It is called "Gunnfjoder," the "Battle Plume,"' answered Helga, 'and
"Gullfaxi" means "Golden Mane." I don't suppose, if you are to get
on the horse at all, it would matter your taking the sword too. And
if you take the sword you will have to carry the stick and the stone
and the twig as well.'
'They are easily carried,' said Sigurd, gazing at them with scorn;
'what wretched dried-up things! Why in the world do you keep
'Bather says that he would rather lose Gullfaxi than lose them,'
replied Helga, 'for if the man who rides the horse is pursued he has
only to throw the twig behind him and it will turn into a forest, so
thick that even a bird could hardly fly through. But if his enemy
happens to know magic, and can throw down the forest, the man
has only to strike the stone with the stick, and hailstones as large as
pigeons' eggs will rain down from the sky and will kill every one for
twenty miles round.'
Having said all this she allowed Sigurd to ride 'just once' round the
house, taking the sword and other things with him. But when he
had ridden round, instead of dismounting, he suddenly turned the
horse's head and galloped away.
Soon after this Helga's father came home and found his daughter in
tears. He asked what was the matter, and when he heard all that
had happened, he rushed off as fast as he could to pursue Sigurd.
Now, as Sigurd happened to look behind him he saw the giant
coming after him with great strides, and in all haste he threw the
twig behind him. Immediately such a thick wood sprang up at once
between him and his enemy that the giant was obliged to run home
for an axe with which to cut his way through.
The next time Sigurd glanced round, the giant was so near that he
almost touched Gullfaxi's tail. In an agony of fear Sigurd turned
quickly in his saddle and hit the stone with the stick. No sooner
had he done this than a terrible hailstorm burst behind, and the giant
was killed on the spot.
But had Sigurd struck the stone without turning round, the hail
would have driven right into his face and killed him instead.
After the giant was dead Sigurd rode on towards his own home,
and on the way he suddenly met his stepmother's little dog, running
to meet him, with tears pouring down its face. He galloped on as
hard as he could, and on arriving found nine men-servants in the act
of tying Queen Ingiborg to a post in the courtyard of the palace,
where they intended to burn her.
Wild with anger Prince Sigurd sprang from his horse and, sword in
hand, fell on the men and killed them all. Then he released his
stepmother, and went in with her to see his father.
The king lay in bed sick with sorrow, and neither eating nor
drinking, for he thought that his son had been killed by the queen.
He could hardly believe his own eyes for joy when he saw the
prince, and Sigurd told him all his adventures.
After that Prince Sigurd rode back to fetch Helga, and a great feast
was made which lasted three days; and every one said no bride was
ever seen so beautiful as Helga, and they lived happily for many,
many years, and everybody loved them.
[From Islandische Mahrchen.]
The Story Of The Sham Prince, Or The Ambitious Tailor
Once upon a time there lived a respectable young tailor called
Labakan, who worked for a clever master in Alexandria. No one
could call Labakan either stupid or lazy, for he could work
extremely well and quickly--when he chose; but there was
something not altogether right about him. Sometimes he would
stitch away as fast as if he had a red-hot needle and a burning
thread, and at other times he would sit lost in thought, and with
such a queer look about him that his fellow-workmen used to say,
'Labakan has got on his aristocratic face today.'
On Fridays he would put on his fine robe which he had bought with
the money he had managed to save up, and go to the mosque. As
he came back, after prayers, if he met any friend who said
'Good-day,' or 'How are you, friend Labakan?' he would wave his
hand graciously or nod in a condescending way; and if his master
happened to say to him, as he sometimes did, 'Really, Labakan, you
look like a prince,' he was delighted, and would answer, 'Have you
noticed it too?' or 'Well, so I have long thought.'
Things went on like this for some time, and the master put up with
Labakan's absurdities because he was, on the whole, a good fellow
and a clever workman.
One day, the sultan's brother happened to be passing through
Alexandria, and wanted to have one of his state robes altered, so he
sent for the master tailor, who handed the robe over to Labakan as
his best workman.
In the evening, when every one had left the workshop and gone
home, a great longing drove Labakan back to the place where the
royal robe hung. He stood a long time gazing at it, admiring the
rich material and the splendid embroidery in it. At last he could
hold out no longer. He felt he must try it on, and lo! and behold, it
fitted as though it had been made for him.
'Am not I as good a prince as any other?' he asked himself, as he
proudly paced up and down the room. 'Has not the master often
said that I seemed born to be a prince?'
It seemed to him that he must be the son of some unknown
monarch, and at last he determined to set out at once and travel in
search of his proper rank.
He felt as if the splendid robe had been sent him by some kind fairy,
and he took care not to neglect such a precious gift. He collected
all his savings, and, concealed by the darkness of the night, he
passed through the gates of Alexandria.
The new prince excited a good deal of curiosity where ever he
went, for his splendid robe and majestic manner did not seem quite
suitable to a person travelling on foot. If anyone asked questions,
he only replied with an important air of mystery that he had his own
reasons for not riding.
However, he soon found out that walking made him ridiculous, so
at last he bought a quiet, steady old horse, which he managed to get
One day, as he was ambling along upon Murva (that was the horse's
name), a horseman overtook him and asked leave to join him, so
that they might both beguile the journey with pleasant talk. The
newcomer was a bright, cheerful, good-looking young man, who
soon plunged into conversation and asked many questions. He told
Labakan that his own name was Omar, that he was a nephew of Elfi
Bey, and was travelling in order to carry out a command given him
by his uncle on his death bed. Labakan was not quite so open in his
confidences, but hinted that he too was of noble birth and was
travelling for pleasure.
The two young men took a fancy to each other and rode on
together. On the second day of their journey Labakan questioned
Omar as to the orders he had to carry out, and to his surprise heard
Elfi Bey, Pacha of Cairo, had brought up Omar from his earliest
childhood, and the boy had never known his parents. On his
deathbed Elfi Bey called Omar to him, and then told him that he
was not his nephew, but the son of a great king, who, having been
warned of coming dangers by his astrologers, had sent the young
prince away and made a vow not to see him till his twenty-second
Elfi Bey did not tell Omar his father's name, but expressly desired
him to be at a great pillar four days' journey east of Alexandria on
the fourth day of the coming month, on which day he would be
twenty-two years old. Here he would meet some men, to whom he
was to hand a dagger which Elfi Bey gave him, and to say 'Here am
I for whom you seek.'
If they answered: 'Praised be the Prophet who has preserved you,'
he was to follow them, and they would take him to his father.
Labakan was greatly surprised and interested by this story, but after
hearing it he could not help looking on Prince Omar with envious
eyes, angry that his friend should have the position he himself
longed so much for. He began to make comparisons between the
prince and himself, and was obliged to confess that he was a
fine-looking young man with very good manners and a pleasant
At the same time, he felt sure that had he been in the prince's place
any royal father might have been glad to own him.
These thoughts haunted him all day, and he dreamt them all night.
He woke very early, and as he saw Omar sleeping quietly, with a
happy smile on his face, a wish arose in his mind to take by force or
by cunning the things which an unkind fate had denied him.
The dagger which was to act as a passport was sticking in Omar's
girdle. Labakan drew it gently out, and hesitated for a moment
whether or not to plunge it into the heart of the sleeping prince.
However, he shrank from the idea of murder, so he contented
himself with placing the dagger in his own belt, and, saddling
Omar's swift horse for himself, was many miles away before the
prince woke up to realise his losses.
For two days Labakan rode on steadily, fearing lest, after all, Omar
might reach the meeting place before him. At the end of the second
day he saw the great pillar at a distance. It stood on a little hill in
the middle of a plain, and could be seen a very long way off.
Labakan's heart beat fast at the sight. Though he had had some
time in which to think over the part he meant to play his conscience
made him rather uneasy. However, the thought that he must
certainly have been born to be a king supported him, and he bravely
The neighbourhood was quite bare and desert, and it was a good
thing that the new prince had brought food for some time with him,
as two days were still wanting till the appointed time.
Towards the middle of the next day he saw a long procession of
horses and camels coming towards him. It halted at the bottom of
the hill, and some splendid tents were pitched. Everything looked
like the escort of some great man. Labakan made a shrewd guess
that all these people had come here on his account; but he checked
his impatience, knowing that only on the fourth day could his
wishes be fulfilled.
The first rays of the rising sun woke the happy tailor. As he began
to saddle his horse and prepare to ride to the pillar, he could not
help having some remorseful thoughts of the trick he had played
and the blighted hopes of the real prince. But the die was cast, and
his vanity whispered that he was as fine looking a young man as the
proudest king might wish his son to be, and that, moreover, what
had happened had happened.
With these thoughts he summoned up all his courage sprang on his
horse, and in less than a quarter of an hour was at the foot of the
hill. Here he dismounted, tied the horse to a bush, and, drawing out
Prince Omar's dagger climbed up the hill.
At the foot of the pillar stood six men round a tall and stately
person. His superb robe of cloth of gold was girt round him by a
white cashmere shawl, and his white, richly jewelled turban showed
that he was a man of wealth and high rank.
Labakan went straight up to him, and, bending low, handed him the
dagger, saying: 'Here am I whom you seek.'
'Praised be the Prophet who has preserved you! replied the old man
with tears of joy. 'Embrace me, my dear son Omar!'
The proud tailor was deeply moved by these solemn words, and
with mingled shame and joy sank into the old king's arms.
But his happiness was not long unclouded. As he raised his head he
saw a horseman who seemed trying to urge a tired or unwilling
horse across the plain.
Only too soon Labakan recognised his own old horse, Murva, and
the real Prince Omar, but having once told a lie he made up his
mind not to own his deceit.
At last the horseman reached the foot of the hill. Here he flung
himself from the saddle and hurried up to the pillar.
'Stop!' he cried, 'whoever you may be, and do not let a disgraceful
impostor take you in. My name is Omar, and let no one attempt to
rob me of it.'
This turn of affairs threw the standers-by into great surprise. The
old king in particular seemed much moved as he looked from one
face to the other. At last Labakan spoke with forced calmness,
'Most gracious lord and father, do not let yourself be deceived by
this man. As far as I know, he is a half-crazy tailor's apprentice
from Alexandria, called Labakan, who really deserves more pity
These words infuriated the prince. Foaming with rage, he tried to
press towards Labakan, but the attendants threw themselves upon
him and held him fast, whilst the king said, 'Truly, my dear son, the
poor fellow is quite mad. Let him be bound and placed on a
dromedary. Perhaps we may be able to get some help for him.'
The prince's first rage was over, and with tears he cried to the king,
'My heart tells me that you are my father, and in my mother's name
I entreat you to hear me.'
'Oh! heaven forbid!' was the reply. 'He is talking nonsense again.
How can the poor man have got such notions into his head?'
With these words the king took Labakan's arm to support him
down the hill. They both mounted richly caparisoned horses and
rode across the plain at the head of their followers.
The unlucky prince was tied hand and foot, and fastened on a
dromedary, a guard riding on either side and keeping a sharp
look-out on him.
The old king was Sached, Sultan of the Wachabites. For many
years he had had no children, but at length the son he had so long
wished for was born. But the sooth-sayers and magicians whom he
consulted as to the child's future all said that until he was
twenty-two years old he stood in danger of being injured by an
enemy. So, to make all safe, the sultan had confided the prince to
his trusty friend Elfi Bey, and deprived himself of the happiness of
seeing him for twenty-two years. All this the sultan told Labakan,
and was much pleased by his appearance and dignified manner.
When they reached their own country they were received with
every sign of joy, for the news of the prince's safe return had spread
like wildfire, and every town and village was decorated, whilst the
inhabitants thronged to greet them with cries of joy and
thankfulness. All this filled Labakan's proud heart with rapture,
whilst the unfortunate Omar followed in silent rage and despair.
At length they arrived in the capital, where the public rejoicings
were grander and more brilliant than anywhere else. The queen
awaited them in the great hall of the palace, surrounded by her
entire court. It was getting dark, and hundreds of coloured hanging
lamps were lit to turn night into day.
The brightest hung round the throne on which the queen sat, and
which stood above four steps of pure gold inlaid with great
amethysts. The four greatest nobles in the kingdom held a canopy
of crimson silk over the queen, and the Sheik of Medina fanned her
with a peacock-feather fan.
In this state she awaited her husband and her son. She, too, had not
seen Omar since his birth, but so many dreams had shown her what
he would look like that she felt she would know him among a
And now the sound of trumpets and drums and of shouts and
cheers outside announced the long looked for moment. The doors
flew open, and between rows of lowbending courtiers and servants
the king approached the throne, leading his pretended son by the
'Here,' said he, 'is he for whom you have been longing so many
But the queen interrupted him, 'That is not my son!' she cried.
'That is not the face the Prophet has shown me in my dreams!'
Just as the king was about to reason with her, the door was thrown
violently open, and Prince Omar rushed in, followed by his keepers,
whom he had managed to get away from. He flung himself down
before the throne, panting out, 'Here will I die; kill me at once,
cruel father, for I cannot bear this shame any longer.'
Everyone pressed round the unhappy man, and the guards were
about to seize him, when the queen, who at first was dumb with
surprise, sprang up from her throne.
'Hold!' cried she. 'This and no other is the right one; this is the one
whom my eyes have never yet seen, but whom my heart recognises.'
The guards had stepped back, but the king called to them in a
furious voice to secure the madman.
'It is I who must judge,' he said in tones of command; 'and this
matter cannot be decided by women's dreams, but by certain
unmistakable signs. This one' (pointing to Labakan) 'is my son, for
it was he who brought me the token from my friend Elfi--the
'He stole it from me,' shrieked Omar; 'he betrayed my unsuspicious
But the king would not listen to his son's voice, for he had always
been accustomed to depend on his own judgment. He let the
unhappy Omar be dragged from the hall, whilst he himself retired
with Labakan to his own rooms, full of anger with the queen his
wife, in spite of their many years of happy life together.
The queen, on her side, was plunged in grief, for she felt certain
that an impostor had won her husband's heart and taken the place of
her real son.
When the first shock was over she began to think how she could
manage to convince the king of his mistake. Of course it would be
a difficult matter, as the man who declared he was Omar had
produced the dagger as a token, besides talking of all sorts of things
which happened when he was a child. She called her oldest and
wisest ladies about her and asked their advice, but none of them had
any to give. At last one very clever old woman said: 'Did not the
young man who brought the dagger call him whom your majesty
believes to be your son Labakan, and say he was a crazy tailor? '
'Yes,' replied the queen; 'but what of that?'
'Might it not be,' said the old lady, 'that the impostor has called your
real son by his own name? If this should be the case, I know of a
capital way to find out the truth.'
And she whispered some words to the queen, who seemed much
pleased, and went off at once to see the king.
Now the queen was a very wise woman, so she pretended to think
she might have made a mistake, and only begged to be allowed to
put a test to the two young men to prove which was the real prince.
The king, who was feeling much ashamed of the rage he had been
in with his dear wife, consented at once, and she said: 'No doubt
others would make them ride or shoot, or something of that sort,
but every one learns these things. I wish to set them a task which
requires sharp wits and clever hands, and I want them to try which
of them can best make a kaftan and pair of trousers.'
The king laughed. 'No, no, that will never do. Do you suppose my
son would compete with that crazy tailor as to which could make
the best clothes? Oh, dear, no, that won't do at all.'
But the queen claimed his promise, and as he was a man of his
word the king gave in at last. He went to his son and begged that
he would humour his mother, who had set her heart on his making a
The worthy Labakan laughed to himself. 'If that is all she wants,'
thought he, 'her majesty will soon be pleased to own me.'
Two rooms were prepared, with pieces of material, scissors,
needles and threads, and each young man was shut up in one of
The king felt rather curious as to what sort of garment his son
would make, and the queen, too, was very anxious as to the result
of her experiment.
On the third day they sent for the two young men and their work.
Labakan came first and spread out his kaftan before the eyes of the
astonished king. 'See, father,' he said; 'see, my honoured mother, if
this is not a masterpiece of work. I'll bet the court tailor himself
cannot do better.
The queen smiled and turned to Omar: 'And what have you done,
Impatiently he threw the stuff and scissors down on the floor. 'I
have been taught how to manage a horse, to draw a sword, and to
throw a lance some sixty paces, but I never learnt to sew, and such
a thing would have been thought beneath the notice of the pupil of
Elfi Bey, the ruler of Cairo.'
'Ah, true son of your father,' cried the queen; 'if only I might
embrace you and call you son! Forgive me, my lord and husband,'
she added, turning to the king, 'for trying to find out the truth in this
way. Do you not see yourself now which is the prince and which
the tailor? Certainly this kaftan is a very fine one, but I should like
to know what master taught this young man how to make clothes.'
The king sat deep in thought, looking now at his wife and now at
Labakan, who was doing his best to hide his vexation at his own
stupidity. At last the king said: 'Even this trial does not satisfy me;
but happily I know of a sure way to discover whether or not I have
He ordered his swiftest horse to be saddled, mounted, and rode off
alone into a forest at some little distance. Here lived a kindly fairy
called Adolzaide, who had often helped the kings of his race with
her good advice, and to her he betook himself.
In the middle of the forest was a wide open space surrounded by
great cedar trees, and this was supposed to be the fairy's favourite
spot. When the king reached this place he dismounted, tied his
horse to the tree, and standing in the middle of the open place said:
'If it is true that you have helped my ancestors in their time of need,
do not despise their descendant, but give me counsel, for that of
men has failed me.'
He had hardly finished speaking when one of the cedar trees
opened, and a veiled figure all dressed in white stepped from it.
'I know your errand, King Sached,' she said; 'it is an honest one, and
I will give you my help. Take these two little boxes and let the two
men who claim to be your son choose between them. I know that
the real prince will make no mistake.'
She then handed him two little boxes made of ivory set with gold
and pearls. On the lid of each (which the king vainly tried to open)
was an inscription in diamonds. On one stood the words 'Honour
and Glory,' and on the other 'Wealth and Happiness.'
'It would be a hard choice,' thought the king as he rode home.
He lost no time in sending for the queen and for all his court, and
when all were assembled he made a sign, and Labakan was led in.
With a proud air he walked up to the throne, and kneeling down,
'What does my lord and father command?'
The king replied: 'My son, doubts have been thrown on your claim
to that name. One of these boxes contains the proofs of your birth.
Choose for yourself. No doubt you will choose right.'
He then pointed to the ivory boxes, which were placed on two little
tables near the throne.
Labakan rose and looked at the boxes. He thought for some
minutes, and then said: 'My honoured father, what can be better
than the happiness of being your son, and what nobler than the
riches of your love. I choose the box with the words "Wealth and
'We shall see presently if you have chosen the right one. For the
present take a seat there beside the Pacha of Medina,' replied the
Omar was next led in, looking sad and sorrowful. He threw himself
down before the throne and asked what was the king's pleasure.
The king pointed out the two boxes to him, and he rose and went to
the tables. He carefully read the two mottoes and said: 'The last
few days have shown me how uncertain is happiness and how easily
riches vanish away. Should I lose a crown by it I make my choice
of "Honour and Glory."'
He laid his hand on the box as he spoke, but the king signed to him
to wait, and ordered Labakan to come to the other table and lay his
hand on the box he had chosen.
Then the king rose from his throne, and in solemn silence all present
rose too, whilst he said: 'Open the boxes, and may Allah show us
The boxes were opened with the greatest ease. In the one Omar
had chosen lay a little gold crown and sceptre on a velvet cushion.
In Labakan's box was found--a large needle with some thread!
The king told the two young men to bring him their boxes. They
did so. He took the crown in his hand, and as he held it, it grew
bigger and bigger, till it was as large as a real crown. He placed it
on the head of his son Omar, kissed him on the forehead, and
placed him on his right hand. Then, turning to Labakan, he said:
'There is an old proverb, "The cobbler sticks to his last." It seems as
though you were to stick to your needle. You have not deserved
any mercy, but I cannot be harsh on this day. I give you your life,
but I advise you to leave this country as fast as you can.'
Full of shame, the unlucky tailor could not answer. He flung
himself down before Omar, and with tears in his eyes asked: 'Can
you forgive me, prince?'
'Go in peace,' said Omar as he raised him.
'Oh, my true son!' cried the king as he clasped the prince in his
arms, whilst all the pachas and emirs shouted, 'Long live Prince
In the midst of all the noise and rejoicing Labakan slipped off with
his little box under his arm. He went to the stables, saddled his old
horse, Murva, and rode out of the gate towards Alexandria.
Nothing but the ivory box with its diamond motto was left to show
him that the last few weeks had not been a dream.
When he reached Alexandria he rode up to his old master's door.
When he entered the shop, his master came forward to ask what
was his pleasure, but as soon as he saw who it was he called his
workmen, and they all fell on Labakan with blows and angry words,
till at last he fell, half fainting, on a heap of old clothes.
The master then scolded him soundly about the stolen robe, but in
vain Labakan told him he had come to pay for it and offered three
times its price. They only fell to beating him again, and at last
pushed him out of the house more dead than alive.
He could do nothing but remount his horse and ride to an inn. Here
he found a quiet place in which to rest his bruised and battered
limbs and to think over his many misfortunes. He fell asleep fully
determined to give up trying to be great, but to lead the life of an
Next morning he set to work to fulfil his good resolutions. He sold
his little box to a jeweller for a good price, bought a house and
opened a workshop. Then he hung up a sign with, 'Labakan,
Tailor,' over his door, and sat down to mend his own torn clothes
with the very needle which had been in the ivory box.
After a while he was called away, and when he went back to his
work he found a wonderful thing had happened! The needle was
sewing away all by itself and making the neatest little stitches, such
as Labakan had never been able to make even at his best.
Certainly even the smallest gift of a kind fairy is of great value, and
this one had yet another advantage, for the thread never came to an
end, however much the needle sewed.
Labakan soon got plenty of customers. He used to cut out the
clothes, make the first stitch with the magic needle, and then leave
it to do the rest. Before long the whole town went to him, for his
work was both so good and so cheap. The only puzzle was how he
could do so much, working all alone, and also why he worked with
And so the promise on the ivory box of 'Wealth and Happiness'
came true for him, and when he heard of all the brave doings of
Prince Omar, who was the pride and darling of his people and the
terror of his enemies, the ex-prince thought to himself, 'After all, I
am better off as a tailor, for "Honour and Glory" are apt to be very
The Colony Of Cats
Long, long ago, as far back as the time when animals spoke, there
lived a community of cats in a deserted house they had taken
possession of not far from a large town. They had everything they
could possibly desire for their comfort, they were well fed and well
lodged, and if by any chance an unlucky mouse was stupid enough
to venture in their way, they caught it, not to eat it, but for the pure
pleasure of catching it. The old people of the town related how
they had heard their parents speak of a time when the whole
country was so overrun with rats and mice that there was not so
much as a grain of corn nor an ear of maize to be gathered in the
fields; and it might be out of gratitude to the cats who had rid the
country of these plagues that their descendants were allowed to live
in peace. No one knows where they got the money to pay for
everything, nor who paid it, for all this happened so very long ago.
But one thing is certain, they were rich enough to keep a servant;
for though they lived very happily together, and did not scratch nor
fight more than human beings would have done, they were not
clever enough to do the housework themselves, and preferred at all
events to have some one to cook their meat, which they would have
scorned to eat raw. Not only were they very difficult to please
about the housework, but most women quickly tired of living alone
with only cats for companions, consequently they never kept a
servant long; and it had become a saying in the town, when anyone
found herself reduced to her last penny: 'I will go and live with the
cats,' and so many a poor woman actually did.
Now Lizina was not happy at home, for her mother, who was a
widow, was much fonder of her elder daughter; so that often the
younger one fared very badly, and had not enough to eat, while the
elder could have everything she desired, and if Lizina dared to
complain she was certain to have a good beating.
At last the day came when she was at the end of her courage and
patience, and exclaimed to her mother and sister:
'As you hate me so much you will be glad to be rid of me, so I am
going to live with the cats!'
'Be off with you!' cried her mother, seizing an old broom-handle
from behind the door. Poor Lizina did not wait to be told twice,
but ran off at once and never stopped till she reached the door of
the cats' house. Their cook had left them that very morning, with
her face all scratched, the result of such a quarrel with the head of
the house that he had very nearly scratched out her eyes. Lizina
therefore was warmly welcomed, and she set to work at once to
prepare the dinner, not without many misgivings as to the tastes of
the cats, and whether she would be able to satisfy them.
Going to and fro about her work, she found herself frequently
hindered by a constant succession of cats who appeared one after
another in the kitchen to inspect the new servant; she had one in
front of her feet, another perched on the back of her chair while she
peeled the vegetables, a third sat on the table beside her, and five or
six others prowled about among the pots and pans on the shelves
against the wall. The air resounded with their purring, which meant
that they were pleased with their new maid, but Lizina had not yet
learned to understand their language, and often she did not know
what they wanted her to do. However, as she was a good,
kindhearted girl, she set to work to pick up the little kittens which
tumbled about on the floor, she patched up quarrels, and nursed on
her lap a big tabby--the oldest of the community--which had a lame
paw. All these kindnesses could hardly fail to make a favourable
impression on the cats, and it was even better after a while, when
she had had time to grow accustomed to their strange ways. Never
had the house been kept so clean, the meats so well served, nor the
sick cats so well cared for. After a time they had a visit from an old
cat, whom they called their father, who lived by himself in a barn at
the top of the hill, and came down from time to time to inspect the
little colony. He too was much taken with Lizina, and inquired, on
first seeing her: 'Are you well served by this nice, black-eyed little
person?' and the cats answered with one voice: 'Oh, yes, Father
Gatto, we have never had so good a servant!'
At each of his visits the answer was always the same; but after a
time the old cat, who was very observant, noticed that the little
maid had grown to look sadder and sadder. 'What is the matter, my
child has any one been unkind to you?' he asked one day, when he
found her crying in her kitchen. She burst into tears and answered
between her sobs: 'Oh, no! they are all very good to me; but I long
for news from home, and I pine to see my mother and my sister.'
Old Gatto, being a sensible old cat, understood the little servant's
feelings. 'You shall go home,' he said, 'and you shall not come back
here unless you please. But first you must be rewarded for all your
kind services to my children. Follow me down into the inner cellar,
where you have never yet been, for I always keep it locked and
carry the key away with me.'
Lizina looked round her in astonishment as they went down into the
great vaulted cellar underneath the kitchen. Before her stood the
big earthenware water jars, one of which contained oil, the other a
liquid shining like gold. 'In which of these jars shall I dip you?'
asked Father Gatto, with a grin that showed all his sharp white
teeth, while his moustaches stood out straight on either side of his
face. The little maid looked at the two jars from under her long
dark lashes: 'In the oil jar,' she answered timidly, thinking to
herself: 'I could not ask to be bathed in gold.'
But Father Gatto replied: 'No, no; you have deserved something
better than that.' And seizing her in his strong paws he plunged her
into the liquid gold. Wonder of wonders! when Lizina came out of
the jar she shone from head to foot like the sun in the heavens on a
fine summer's day. Her pretty pink cheeks and long black hair
alone kept their natural colour, otherwise she had become like a
statue of pure gold. Father Gatto purred loudly with satisfaction.
'Go home,' he said, 'and see your mother and sisters; but take care if
you hear the cock crow to turn towards it; if on the contrary the ass
brays, you must look the other way.'
The little maid, having gratefully kissed the white paw of the old
cat, set off for home; but just as she got near her mother's house the
cock crowed, and quickly she turned towards it. Immediately a
beautiful golden star appeared on her forehead, crowning her glossy
black hair. At the same time the ass began to bray, but Lizina took
care not to look over the fence into the field where the donkey was
feeding. Her mother and sister, who were in front of their house,
uttered cries of admiration and astonishment when they saw her,
and their cries became still louder when Lizina, taking her
handkerchief from her pocket, drew out also a handful of gold.
For some days the mother and her two daughters lived very happily
together, for Lizina had given them everything she had brought
away except her golden clothing, for that would not come off, in
spite of all the efforts of her sister, who was madly jealous of her
good fortune. The golden star, too, could not be removed from her
forehead. But all the gold pieces she drew from her pockets had
found their way to her mother and sister.
'I will go now and see what I can get out of the pussies,' said
Peppina, the elder girl, one morning, as she took Lizina's basket and
fastened her pockets into her own skirt. 'I should like some of the
cats' gold for myself,' she thought, as she left her mother's house
before the sun rose.
The cat colony had not yet taken another servant, for they knew
they could never get one to replace Lizina, whose loss they had not
yet ceased to mourn. When they heard that Peppina was her sister,
they all ran to meet her. 'She is not the least like her,' the kittens
whispered among themselves.
'Hush, be quiet!' the older cats said; 'all servants cannot be pretty.'
No, decidedly she was not at all like Lizina. Even the most
reasonable and large-minded of the cats soon acknowledged that.
The very first day she shut the kitchen door in the face of the
tom-cats who used to enjoy watching Lizina at her work, and a
young and mischievous cat who jumped in by the open kitchen
window and alighted on the table got such a blow with the
rolling-pin that he squalled for an hour.
With every day that passed the household became more and more
aware of its misfortune.
The work was as badly done as the servant was surly and
disagreeable; in the corners of the rooms there were collected heaps
of dust; spiders' webs hung from the ceilings and in front of the
window-panes; the beds were hardly ever made, and the feather
beds, so beloved by the old and feeble cats, had never once been
shaken since Lizina left the house. At Father Gatto's next visit he
found the whole colony in a state of uproar.
'Caesar has one paw so badly swollen that it looks as if it were
broken,' said one. 'Peppina kicked him with her great wooden
shoes on. Hector has an abscess in his back where a wooden chair
was flung at him; and Agrippina's three little kittens have died of
hunger beside their mother, because Peppina forgot them in their
basket up in the attic. There is no putting up with the creature--do
send her away, Father Gatto! Lizina herself would not be angry
with us; she must know very well what her sister is like.'
'Come here,' said Father Gatto, in his most severe tones to Peppina.
And he took her down into the cellar and showed her the same two
great jars that he had showed Lizina. 'In which of these shall I dip
you?' he asked; and she made haste to answer: 'In the liquid gold,'
for she was no more modest than she was good and kind.
Father Gatto's yellow eyes darted fire. 'You have not deserved it,'
he uttered, in a voice like thunder, and seizing her he flung her into
the jar of oil, where she was nearly suffocated. When she came to
the surface screaming and struggling, the vengeful cat seized her
again and rolled her in the ash-heap on the floor; then when she
rose, dirty, blinded, and disgusting to behold, he thrust her from the
door, saying: 'Begone, and when you meet a braying ass be careful
to turn your head towards it.'
Stumbling and raging, Peppina set off for home, thinking herself
fortunate to find a stick by the wayside with which to support
herself. She was within sight of her mother's house when she heard
in the meadow on the right, the voice of a donkey loudly braying.
Quickly she turned her head towards it, and at the same time put
her hand up to her forehead, where, waving like a plume, was a
donkey's tail. She ran home to her mother at the top of her speed,
yelling with rage and despair; and it took Lizina two hours with a
big basin of hot water and two cakes of soap to get rid of the layer
of ashes with which Father Gatto had adorned her. As for the
donkey's tail, it was impossible to get rid of that; it was as firmly
fixed on her forehead as was the golden star on Lizina's. Their
mother was furious. She first beat Lizina unmercifully with the
broom, then she took her to the mouth of the well and lowered her
into it, leaving her at the bottom weeping and crying for help.
Before this happened, however, the king's son in passing the
mother's house had seen Lizina sitting sewing in the parlour, and
had been dazzled by her beauty. After coming back two or three
times, he at last ventured to approach the window and to whisper in
the softest voice: 'Lovely maiden, will you be my bride?' and she
had answered: 'I will.'
Next morning, when the prince arrived to claim his bride, he found
her wrapped in a large white veil. 'It is so that maidens are received
from their parents' hands,' said the mother, who hoped to make the
king's son marry Peppina in place of her sister, and had fastened the
donkey's tail round her head like a lock of hair under the veil. The
prince was young and a little timid, so he made no objections, and
seated Peppina in the carriage beside him.
Their way led past the old house inhabited by the cats, who were all
at the window, for the report had got about that the prince was
going to marry the most beautiful maiden in the world, on whose
forehead shone a golden star, and they knew that this could only be
their adored Lizina. As the carriage slowly passed in front of the
old house, where cats from all parts of world seemed to be gathered
a song burst from every throat:!
Mew, mew, mew! Prince, look quick behind you! In the well is fair
Lizina, And you've got nothing but Peppina.
When he heard this the coachman, who understood the cat's
language better than the prince, his master, stopped his horses and
'Does your highness know what the grimalkins are saying?' and the
song broke forth again louder than ever.
With a turn of his hand the prince threw back the veil, and
discovered the puffed-up, swollen face of Peppina, with the
donkey's tail twisted round her head. 'Ah, traitress!' he exclaimed,
and ordering the horses to be turned round, he drove the elder
daughter, quivering with rage, to the old woman who had sought to
deceive him. With his hand on the hilt of his sword he demanded
Lizina in so terrific a voice that the mother hastened to the well to
draw her prisoner out. Lizina's clothing and her star shone so
brilliantly that when the prince led her home to the king, his father,
the whole palace was lit up. Next day they were married, and lived
happy ever after; and all the cats, headed by old Father Gatto, were
present at the wedding.
How To Find Out A True Friend
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who longed to have
a son. As none came, one day they made a vow at the shrine of St.
James that if their prayers were granted the boy should set out on a
pilgrimage as soon as he had passed his eighteenth birthday. And
fancy their delight when one evening the king returned home from
hunting and saw a baby lying in the cradle.
All the people came crowding round to peep at it, and declared it
was the most beautiful baby that ever was seen. Of course that is
what they always say, but this time it happened to be true. And
every day the boy grew bigger and stronger till he was twelve years
old, when the king died, and he was left alone to take care of his
In this way six years passed by, and his eighteenth birthday drew
near. When she thought of this the queen's heart sank within her,
for he was the light of her eyes' and how was she to send him forth
to the unknown dangers that beset a pilgrim? So day by day she
grew more and more sorrowful, and when she was alone wept
Now the queen imagined that no one but herself knew how sad she
was, but one morning her son said to her, 'Mother, why do you cry
the whole day long?'
'Nothing, nothing, my son; there is only one thing in the world that
'What is that one thing?' asked he. 'Are you afraid your property is
badly managed? Let me go and look into the matter.'
This pleased the queen, and he rode off to the plain country, where
his mother owned great estates; but everything was in beautiful
order, and he returned with a joyful heart, and said, 'Now, mother,
you can be happy again, for your lands are better managed than
anyone else's I have seen. The cattle are thriving; the fields are
thick with corn, and soon they will be ripe for harvest.'
'That is good news indeed,' answered she; but it did not seem to
make any difference to her, and the next morning she was weeping
and wailing as loudly as ever.
'Dear mother,' said her son in despair, 'if you will not tell me what is
the cause of all this misery I shall leave home and wander far
through the world.'
'Ah, my son, my son,' cried the queen, 'it is the thought that I must
part from you which causes me such grief; for before you were born
we vowed a vow to St. James that when your eighteenth birthday
was passed you should make a pilgrimage to his shrine, and very
soon you will be eighteen, and I shall lose you. And for a whole
year my eyes will never be gladdened by the sight of you, for the
shrine is far away.'
'Will it take no longer than that to reach it?' said he. 'Oh, don't be
so wretched; it is only dead people who never return. As long as I
am alive you may be sure I will come back to you.'
After this manner he comforted his mother, and on his eighteenth
birthday his best horse was led to the door of the palace, and he
took leave of the queen in these words, 'Dear mother, farewell, and
by the help of fate I shall return to you as soon as I can.'
The queen burst into tears and wept sore; then amidst her sobs she
drew three apples from her pocket and held them out, saying, 'My
son, take these apples and give heed unto my words. You will need
a companion in the long journey on which you are going. If you
come across a young man who pleases you beg him to accompany
you, and when you get to an inn invite him to have dinner with you.
After you have eaten cut one of these apples in two unequal parts,
and ask him to take one. If he takes the larger bit, then part from
him, for he is no true friend to you. But if he takes the smaller bit
treat him as your brother, and share with him all you have.' Then
she kissed her son once more, and blessed him, and let him go.
The young man rode a long way without meeting a single creature,
but at last he saw a youth in the distance about the same age as
himself, and he spurred his horse till he came up with the stranger,
who stopped and asked:
'Where are you going, my fine fellow?'
'I am making a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James, for before I
was born my mother vowed that I should go forth with a thank
offering on my eighteenth birthday.'
'That is my case too,' said the stranger, 'and, as we must both travel
in the same direction, let us bear each other company.'
The young man agreed to this proposal, but he took care not to get
on terms of familiarity with the new comer until he had tried him
with the apple.
By-and-by they reached an inn, and at sight of it the king's son said,
'I am very hungry. Let us enter and order something to eat.' The
other consented, and they were soon sitting before a good dinner.
When they had finished the king's son drew an apple from his
pocket, and cut it into a big half and a little half, and offered both to
the stranger, who took the biggest bit. 'You are no friend of mine,'
thought the king's son, and in order to part company with him he
pretended to be ill and declared himself unable to proceed on his
'Well, I can't wait for you,' replied the other; 'I am in haste to push
on, so farewell.'
'Farewell,' said the king's son, glad in his heart to get rid of him so
easily. The king's son remained in the inn for some time, so as to
let the young man have a good start; them he ordered his horse and
rode after him. But he was very sociable and the way seemed long
and dull by himself. 'Oh, if I could only meet with a true friend,' he
thought, 'so that I should have some one to speak to. I hate being
Soon after he came up with a young man, who stopped and asked
him, 'Where are you going, my fine fellow?' The king's son
explained the object of his journey, and the young man answered, as
the other had done, that he also was fulfilling the vow of his mother
made at his birth.
'Well, we can ride on together,' said the king's son, and the road
seemed much shorter now that he had some one to talk to.
At length they reached an inn, and the king's son exclaimed, 'I am
very hungry; let us go in and get something to eat.'
When they had finished the king's son drew an apple out of his
pocket and cut it in two; he held the big bit and the little bit out to
his companion, who took the big bit at once and soon ate it up.
'You are no friend of mine,' thought the king's son, and began to
declare he felt so ill he could not continue his journey. When he
had given the young man a good start he set off himself, but the
way seemed even longer and duller than before. 'Oh, if I could only
meet with a true friend he should be as a brother to me,' he sighed
sadly; and as the thought passed through his mind, he noticed a
youth going the same road as himself.
The youth came up to him and said, 'Which way are you going, my
fine fellow?' And for the third time the king's son explained all
about his mother's vow. Why, that is just like me,' cried the youth.
'Then let us ride on together,' answered the king's son.
Now the miles seemed to slip by, for the new comer was so lively
and entertaining that the king's son could not help hoping that he
indeed might prove to be the true friend.
More quickly than he could have thought possible they reached an
inn by the road-side, and turning to his companion the king's son
said, 'I am hungry; let us go in and have something to eat.' So they
went in and ordered dinner, and when they had finished the king's
son drew out of his pocket the last apple, and cut it into two
unequal parts, and held both out to the stranger. And the stranger
took the little piece, and the heart of the king's son was glad within
him, for at last he had found the friend he had been looking for.
'Good youth,' he cried, 'we will be brothers, and what is mine shall
be thine, and what is thine shall be mine. And together we will
push on to the shrine, and if one of us dies on the road the other
shall carry his body there.' And the stranger agreed to all he said,
and they rode forward together.
It took them a whole year to reach the shrine, and they passed
through many different lands on their way. One day they arrived
tired and half-starved in a big city, and said to one another, 'Let us
stay here for a little and rest before we set forth again.' So they
hired a small house close to the royal castle, and took up their
The following morning the king of the country happened to step on
to his balcony, and saw the young men in the garden, and said to
himself, 'Dear me, those are wonderfully handsome youths; but one
is handsomer than the other, and to him will I give my daughter to
wife;' and indeed the king's son excelled his friend in beauty.
In order to set about his plan the king asked both the young men to
dinner, and when they arrived at the castle he received them with
the utmost kindness, and sent for his daughter, who was more
lovely than both the sun and moon put together. But at bed-time
the king caused the other young man to be given a poisoned drink,
which killed him in a few minutes, for he thought to himself, 'If his
friend dies the other will forget his pilgrimage, and will stay here
and marry my daughter.'
When the king's son awoke the next morning he inquired of the
servants where his friend had gone, as he did not see him. 'He died
suddenly last night,' said they, 'and is to be buried immediately.'
But the king's son sprang up, and cried, 'If my friend is dead I can
stay here no longer, and cannot linger an hour in this house.'
'Oh, give up your journey and remain here,' exclaimed the king, 'and
you shall have my daughter for your wife.' 'No,' answered the
king's son, 'I cannot stay; but, I pray you, grant my request, and
give me a good horse, and let me go in peace, and when I have
fulfilled my vow then I will return and marry your daughter.'
So the king, seeing no words would move him, ordered a horse to
be brought round, and the king's son mounted it, and took his dead
friend before him on the saddle, and rode away.
Now the young man was not really dead, but only in a deep sleep.
When the king's son reached the shrine of St. James he got down
from his horse, took his friend in his arms as if he had been a child,
and laid him before the altar. 'St. James,' he said, 'I have fulfilled
the vow my parents made for me. I have come myself to your
shrine, and have brought my friend. I place him in your hands.
Restore him to life, I pray, for though he be dead yet has he fulfilled
his vow also.' And, behold! while he yet prayed his friend got up
and stood before him as well as ever. And both the young men
gave thanks, and set their faces towards home.
When they arrived at the town where the king dwelt they entered
the small house over against the castle. The news of their coming
spread very soon, and the king rejoiced greatly that the handsome
young prince had come back again, and commanded great feasts to
be prepared, for in a few days his daughter should marry the king's
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