The Yellow Fairy Book
Part 6 out of 7
the Blue Mountains are,' he said.
'If you will stay with me to-night,' said the old man, 'I have a
book of the history of the world, and I shall know where they are
before daylight, if there is such a place in it at all.'
He stayed there all night, but there was not a word in the book
about the Blue Mountains. Seeing that he was rather cast down,
the old man told him that he had a brother nine hundred miles
away, and that if information could be got about them from anyone
it would be from him; 'and I will enable you,' he said, 'to reach
the place where he lives before night.' So he blew his whistle,
and the Irishman landed at the brother's house before nightfall.
When the old man saw him he said he had not seen a single man for
three hundred years, and was very much surprised to see anyone
come to him now.
'Where are you going to?' he said.
'I am going about asking for the Blue Mountains,' said the
'The Blue Mountains?' said the old man.
'Yes,' said the Irishman.
'I never heard the name before; but if they do exist I shall find
them out. I am master of all the birds in the world, and have
only to blow my whistle and every one will come to me. I shall
then ask each of them to tell where it came from, and if there is
any way of finding out the Blue Mountains that is it.'
So he blew his whistle, and when he blew it then all the birds of
the world began to gather. The old man questioned each of them
as to where they had come from, but there was not one of them
that had come from the Blue Mountains. After he had run over
them all, however, he missed a big Eagle that was wanting, and
wondered that it had not come. Soon afterwards he saw something
big coming towards him, darkening the sky. It kept coming nearer
and growing bigger, and what was this after all but the Eagle?
When she arrived the old man scolded her, and asked what had kept
her so long behind.
'I couldn't help it,' she said; 'I had more than twenty times
further to come than any bird that has come here to-day.'
'Where have you come from, then?' said the old man.
'From the Blue Mountains,' said she.
'Indeed!' said the old man; and what are they doing there?'
'They are making ready this very day,' said the Eagle, 'for the
marriage of the daughter of the King of the Blue Mountains. For
three years now she has refused to marry anyone whatsoever, until
she should give up all hope of the coming of the man who released
her from the spell. Now she can wait no longer, for three years
is the time that she agreed with her father to remain without
The Irishman knew that it was for himself she had been waiting so
long, but he was unable to make any better of it, for he had no
hope of reaching the Blue Mountains all his life. The old man
noticed how sad he grew, and asked the Eagle what she would take
for carrying this man on her back to the Blue Mountains.
'I must have threescore cattle killed,' said she, 'and cut up
into quarters, and every time I look over my shoulder he must
throw one of them into my mouth.'
As soon as the Irishman and the old man heard her demand they
went out hunting, and before evening they had killed three-score
cattle. They made quarters of them, as the Eagle told them, and
then the old man asked her to lie down, till they would get it
all heaped up on her back. First of all, though, they had to get
a ladder of fourteen steps, to enable them to get on to the
Eagle's back, and there they piled up the meat as well as they
could. Then the old man told the Irishman to mount, and to
remember to throw a quarter of beef to her every time she looked
round. He went up, and the old man gave the Eagle the word to be
off, which she instantly obeyed; and every time she turned her
head the Irishman threw a quarter of beef into her mouth.
As they came near the borders of the kingdom of the Blue
Mountains, however, the beef was done, and, when the Eagle looked
over her shoulder, what was the Irishman at but throwing the
stone between her tail and her neck! At this she turned a
complete somersault, and threw the Irishman off into the sea,
where he fell into the bay that was right in front of the King's
Palace. Fortunately the points of his toes just touched the
bottom, and he managed to get ashore.
When he went up into the town all the streets were gleaming with
light, and the wedding of the Princess was just about to begin.
He went into the first house he came to, and this happened to be
the house of the King's hen-wife. He asked the old woman what
was causing all the noise and light in the town.
'The Princess,' said she, 'is going to be married to-night
against her will, for she has been expecting every day that the
man who freed her from the spell would come.'
'There is a guinea for you,' said he; 'go and bring her here.'
The old woman went, and soon returned along with the Princess.
She and the Irishman recognised each other, and were married, and
had a great wedding that lasted for a year and a day.
A soldier came marching along the high road--left, right! A
left, right! He had his knapsack on his back and a sword by his
side, for he had been to the wars and was now returning home.
An old Witch met him on the road. She was very ugly to look at:
her under-lip hung down to her breast.
'Good evening, Soldier!' she said. 'What a fine sword and
knapsack you have! You are something like a soldier! You ought
to have as much money as you would like to carry!'
'Thank you, old Witch,' said the Soldier.
'Do you see that great tree there?' said the Witch, pointing to a
tree beside them. 'It is hollow within. You must climb up to
the top, and then you will see a hole through which you can let
yourself down into the tree. I will tie a rope round your waist,
so that I may be able to pull you up again when you call.'
'What shall I do down there?' asked the Soldier.
'Get money!' answered the Witch. 'Listen! When you reach the
bottom of the tree you will find yourself in a large hall; it is
light there, for there are more than three hundred lamps burning.
Then you will see three doors, which you can open--the keys are
in the locks. If you go into the first room, you will see a
great chest in the middle of the floor with a dog sitting upon
it; he has eyes as large as saucers, but you needn't trouble
about him. I will give you my blue-check apron, which you must
spread out on the floor, and then go back quickly and fetch the
dog and set him upon it; open the chest and take as much money as
you like. It is copper there. If you would rather have silver,
you must go into the next room, where there is a dog with eyes as
large as mill-wheels. But don't take any notice of him; just
set him upon my apron, and help yourself to the money. If you
prefer gold, you can get that too, if you go into the third room,
and as much as you like to carry. But the dog that guards the
chest there has eyes as large as the Round Tower at Copenhagen!
He is a savage dog, I can tell you; but you needn't be afraid of
him either. Only, put him on my apron and he won't touch you,
and you can take out of the chest as much gold as you like!'
'Come, this is not bad!' said the Soldier. 'But what am I to
give you, old Witch; for surely you are not going to do this for
'Yes, I am!' replied the Witch. 'Not a single farthing will I
take! For me you shall bring nothing but an old tinder-box which
my grandmother forgot last time she was down there.'
'Well, tie the rope round my waist! 'said the Soldier.
'Here it is,' said the Witch, 'and here is my blue-check apron.'
Then the Soldier climbed up the tree, let himself down through
the hole, and found himself standing, as the Witch had said,
underground in the large hall, where the three hundred lamps were
Well, he opened the first door. Ugh! there sat the dog with
eyes as big as saucers glaring at him.
'You are a fine fellow!' said the Soldier, and put him on the
Witch's apron, took as much copper as his pockets could hold;
then he shut the chest, put the dog on it again, and went into
the second room. Sure enough there sat the dog with eyes as
large as mill-wheels.
'You had better not look at me so hard!' said the Soldier. 'Your
eyes will come out of their sockets!'
And then he set the dog on the apron. When he saw all the silver
in the chest, he threw away the copper he had taken, and filled
his pockets and knapsack with nothing but silver.
Then he went into the third room. Horrors! the dog there had
two eyes, each as large as the Round Tower at Copenhagen,
spinning round in his head like wheels.
'Good evening!' said the Soldier and saluted, for he had never
seen a dog like this before. But when he had examined him more
closely, he thought to himself: 'Now then, I've had enough of
this!' and put him down on the floor, and opened the chest.
Heavens! what a heap of gold there was! With all that he could
buy up the whole town, and all the sugar pigs, all the tin
soldiers, whips and rocking-horses in the whole world. Now he
threw away all the silver with which he had filled his pockets
and knapsack, and filled them with gold instead--yes, all his
pockets, his knapsack, cap and boots even, so that he could
hardly walk. Now he was rich indeed. He put the dog back upon
the chest, shut the door, and then called up through the tree:
'Now pull me up again, old Witch!'
'Have you got the tinder-box also?' asked the Witch.
'Botheration!' said the Soldier, 'I had clean forgotten it!' And
then he went back and fetched it.
The Witch pulled him up, and there he stood again on the high
road, with pockets, knapsack, cap and boots filled with gold.
'What do you want to do with the tinder-box?' asked the Soldier.
'That doesn't matter to you,' replied the Witch. 'You have got
your money, give me my tinder-box.'
'We'll see!' said the Soldier. 'Tell me at once what you want to
do with it, or I will draw my sword, and cut off your head!'
'No!' screamed the Witch.
The Soldier immediately cut off her head. That was the end of
her! But he tied up all his gold in her apron, slung it like a
bundle over his shoulder, put the tinder-box in his pocket, and
set out towards the town.
It was a splendid town! He turned into the finest inn, ordered
the best chamber and his favourite dinner; for now that he had so
much money he was really rich.
It certainly occurred to the servant who had to clean his boots
that they were astonishingly old boots for such a rich lord. But
that was because he had not yet bought new ones; next day he
appeared in respectable boots and fine clothes. Now, instead of
a common soldier he had become a noble lord, and the people told
him about all the grand doings of the town and the King, and what
a beautiful Princess his daughter was.
'How can one get to see her?' asked the Soldier.
'She is never to be seen at all!' they told him; 'she lives in a
great copper castle, surrounded by many walls and towers! No one
except the King may go in or out, for it is prophesied that she
will marry a common soldier, and the King cannot submit to that.'
'I should very much like to see her,' thought the Soldier; but he
could not get permission.
Now he lived very gaily, went to the theatre, drove in the King's
garden, and gave the poor a great deal of money, which was very
nice of him; he had experienced in former times how hard it is
not to have a farthing in the world. Now he was rich, wore fine
clothes, and made many friends, who all said that he was an
excellent man, a real nobleman. And the Soldier liked that. But
as he was always spending money, and never made any more, at last
the day came when he had nothing left but two shillings, and he
had to leave the beautiful rooms in which he had been living, and
go into a little attic under the roof, and clean his own boots,
and mend them with a darning-needle. None of his friends came to
visit him there, for there were too many stairs to climb.
It was a dark evening, and he could not even buy a light. But
all at once it flashed across him that there was a little end of
tinder in the tinder-box, which he had taken from the hollow tree
into which the Witch had helped him down. He found the box with
the tinder in it; but just as he was kindling a light, and had
struck a spark out of the tinder-box, the door burst open, and
the dog with eyes as large as saucers, which he had seen down in
the tree, stood before him and said:
'What does my lord command?'
'What's the meaning of this?' exclaimed the Soldier. 'This is a
pretty kind of tinder-box, if I can get whatever I want like
this. Get me money!' he cried to the dog, and hey, presto! he
was off and back again, holding a great purse full of money in
Now the Soldier knew what a capital tinder-box this was. If he
rubbed once, the dog that sat on the chest of copper appeared; if
he rubbed twice, there came the dog that watched over the silver
chest; and if he rubbed three times, the one that guarded the
gold appeared. Now, the Soldier went down again to his beautiful
rooms, and appeared once more in splendid clothes. All his
friends immediately recognised him again, and paid him great
One day he thought to himself: 'It is very strange that no one
can get to see the Princess. They all say she is very pretty,
but what's the use of that if she has to sit for ever in the
great copper castle with all the towers? Can I not manage to see
her somehow? Where is my tinder-box?' and so he struck a spark,
and, presto! there came the dog with eyes as large as saucers.
'It is the middle of the night, I know,' said the Soldier; 'but I
should very much like to see the Princess for a moment.'
The dog was already outside the door, and before the Soldier
could look round, in he came with the Princess. She was lying
asleep on the dog's back, and was so beautiful that anyone could
see she was a real Princess. The Soldier really could not
refrain from kissing her--he was such a thorough Soldier. Then
the dog ran back with the Princess. But when it was morning, and
the King and Queen were drinking tea, the Princess said that the
night before she had had such a strange dream about a dog and a
Soldier: she had ridden on the dog's back, and the Soldier had
'That is certainly a fine story,' said the Queen. But the next
night one of the ladies-in-waiting was to watch at the Princess's
bed, to see if it was only a dream, or if it had actually
The Soldier had an overpowering longing to see the Princess
again, and so the dog came in the middle of the night and fetched
her, running as fast as he could. But the lady-in-waiting
slipped on indiarubber shoes and followed them. When she saw
them disappear into a large house, she thought to herself: 'Now I
know where it is; 'and made a great cross on the door with a
piece of chalk. Then she went home and lay down, and the dog
came back also, with the Princess. But when he saw that a cross
had been made on the door of the house where the Soldier lived,
he took a piece of chalk also, and made crosses on all the doors
in the town; and that was very clever, for now the
lady-in-waiting could not find the right house, as there were
crosses on all the doors.
Early next morning the King, Queen, ladies-in-waiting, and
officers came out to see where the Princess had been.
'There it is!' said the King, when he saw the first door with a
cross on it.
'No, there it is, my dear!' said the Queen, when she likewise saw
a door with a cross.
'But here is one, and there is another!' they all exclaimed;
wherever they looked there was a cross on the door. Then they
realised that the sign would not help them at all.
But the Queen was an extremely clever woman, who could do a great
deal more than just drive in a coach. She took her great golden
scissors, cut up a piece of silk, and made a pretty little bag of
it. This she filled with the finest buckwheat grains, and tied
it round the Princess' neck; this done, she cut a little hole in
the bag, so that the grains would strew the whole road wherever
the Princess went.
In the night the dog came again, took the Princess on his back
and ran away with her to the Soldier, who was very much in love
with her, and would have liked to have been a Prince, so that he
might have had her for his wife.
The dog did not notice how the grains were strewn right from the
castle to the Soldier's window, where he ran up the wall with the
In the morning the King and the Queen saw plainly where their
daughter had been, and they took the Soldier and put him into
There he sat. Oh, how dark and dull it was there! And they told
him: 'To-morrow you are to be hanged.' Hearing that did not
exactly cheer him, and he had left his tinder-box in the inn.
Next morning he could see through the iron grating in front of
his little window how the people were hurrying out of the town to
see him hanged. He heard the drums and saw the soldiers
marching; all the people were running to and fro. Just below his
window was a shoemaker's apprentice, with leather apron and
shoes; he was skipping along so merrily that one of his shoes
flew off and fell against the wall, just where the Soldier was
sitting peeping through the iron grating.
'Oh, shoemaker's boy, you needn't be in such a hurry!' said the
Soldier to him. 'There's nothing going on till I arrive. But if
you will run back to the house where I lived, and fetch me my
tinder-box, I will give you four shillings. But you must put
your best foot foremost.'
The shoemaker's boy was very willing to earn four shillings, and
fetched the tinder-box, gave it to the Soldier, and--yes--now you
Outside the town a great scaffold had been erected, and all round
were standing the soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of people.
The King and Queen were sitting on a magnificent throne opposite
the judges and the whole council.
The Soldier was already standing on the top of the ladder; but
when they wanted to put the rope round his neck, he said that the
fulfilment of one innocent request was always granted to a poor
criminal before he underwent his punishment. He would so much
like to smoke a small pipe of tobacco; it would be his last pipe
in this world.
The King could not refuse him this, and so he took out his
tinder-box, and rubbed it once, twice, three times. And lo, and
behold I there stood all three dogs--the one with eyes as large
as saucers, the second with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the
third with eyes each as large as the Round Tower of Copenhagen.
'Help me now, so that I may not be hanged!' cried the Soldier.
And thereupon the dogs fell upon the judges and the whole
council, seized some by the legs, others by the nose, and threw
them so high into the air that they fell and were smashed into
'I won't stand this!' said the King; but the largest dog seized
him too, and the Queen as well, and threw them up after the
others. This frightened the soldiers, and all the people cried:
'Good Soldier, you shall be our King, and marry the beautiful
Then they put the Soldier into the King's coach, and the three
dogs danced in front, crying 'Hurrah!' And the boys whistled and
the soldiers presented arms.
The Princess came out of the copper castle, and became Queen; and
that pleased her very much.
The wedding festivities lasted for eight days, and the dogs sat
at table and made eyes at everyone.
THE WITCH IN THE STONE BOAT
 From the Icelandic.
There were once a King and a Queen, and they had a son called
Sigurd, who was very strong and active, and good-looking. When
the King came to be bowed down with the weight of years he spoke
to his son, and said that now it was time for him to look out for
a fitting match for himself, for he did not know how long he
might last now, and he would like to see him married before he
Sigurd was not averse to this, and asked his father where he
thought it best to look for a wife. The King answered that in a
certain country there was a King who had a beautiful daughter,
and he thought it would be most desirable if Sigurd could get
her. So the two parted, and Sigurd prepared for the journey, and
went to where his father had directed him.
He came to the King and asked his daughter's hand, which he
readily granted him, but only on the condition that he should
remain there as long as he could, for the King himself was not
strong and not very able to govern his kingdom. Sigurd accepted
this condition, but added that he would have to get leave to go
home again to his own country when he heard news of his father's
death. After that Sigurd married the Princess, and helped his
father-in- law to govern the kingdom. He and the Princess loved
each other dearly, and after a year a son came to them, who was
two years old when word came to Sigurd that his father was dead.
Sigurd now prepared to return home with his wife and child, and
went on board ship to go by sea.
They had sailed for several days, when the breeze suddenly fell,
and there came a dead calm, at a time when they needed only one
day's voyage to reach home. Sigurd and his Queen were one day on
deck, when most of the others on the ship had fallen asleep.
There they sat and talked for a while, and had their little son
along with them. After a time Sigurd became so heavy with sleep
that he could no longer keep awake, so he went below and lay
down, leaving the Queen alone on the deck, playing with her son.
A good while after Sigurd had gone below the Queen saw something
black on the sea, which seemed to be coming nearer. As it
approached she could make out that it was a boat, and could see
the figure of some one sitting in it and rowing it. At last the
boat came alongside the ship, and now the Queen saw that it was a
stone boat, out of which there came up on board the ship a
fearfully ugly Witch. The Queen was more frightened than words
can describe, and could neither speak a word nor move from the
place so as to awaken the King or the sailors. The Witch came
right up to the Queen, took the child from her and laid it on the
deck; then she took the Queen, and stripped her of all her fine
clothes, which she proceeded to put on herself, and looked then
like a human being. Last of all she took the Queen, put her into
the boat, and said--
'This spell I lay upon you, that you slacken not your course
until you come to my brother in the Underworld.'
The Queen sat stunned and motionless, but the boat at once shot
away from the ship with her, and before long she was out of
When the boat could no longer be seen the child began to cry, and
though the Witch tried to quiet it she could not manage it; so
she went below to where the King was sleeping with the child on
her arm, and awakened him, scolding him for leaving them alone on
deck, while he and all the crew were asleep. It was great
carelessness of him, she said, to leave no one to watch the ship
Sigurd was greatly surprised to hear his Queen scold him so much,
for she had never said an angry word to him before; but he
thought it was quite excusable in this case, and tried to quiet
the child along with her, but it was no use. Then he went and
wakened the sailors, and bade them hoist the sails, for a breeze
had sprung up and was blowing straight towards the harbour.
They soon reached the land which Sigurd was to rule over, and
found all the people sorrowful for the old King's death, but they
became glad when they got Sigurd back to the Court, and made him
King over them.
The King's son, however, hardly ever stopped crying from the time
he had been taken from his mother on the deck of the ship,
although he had always been such a good child before, so that at
last the King had to get a nurse for him--one of the maids of the
Court. As soon as the child got into her charge he stopped
crying, and behaved well as before.
After the sea-voyage it seemed to the King that the Queen had
altered very much in many ways, and not for the better. He
thought her much more haughty and stubborn and difficult to deal
with than she used to be. Before long others began to notice
this as well as the King. In the Court there were two young
fellows, one of eighteen years old, the other of nineteen, who
were very fond of playing chess, and often sat long inside
playing at it. Their room was next the Queen's, and often during
the day they heard the Queen talking.
One day they paid more attention than usual when they heard her
talk, and put their ears close to a crack in the wall between the
rooms, and heard the Queen say quite plainly, 'When I yawn a
little, then I am a nice little maiden; when I yawn half-way,
then I am half a troll; and when I yawn fully, then I am a troll
As she said this she yawned tremendously, and in a moment had put
on the appearance of a fearfully ugly troll. Then there came up
through the floor of the room a three-headed Giant with a trough
full of meat, who saluted her as his sister and set down the
trough before her. She began to eat out of it, and never stopped
till she had finished it. The young fellows saw all this going
on, but did not hear the two of them say anything to each other.
They were astonished though at how greedily the Queen devoured
the meat, and how much she ate of it, and were no longer
surprised that she took so little when she sat at table with the
King. As soon as she had finished it the Giant disappeared with
the trough by the same way as he had come, and the Queen returned
to her human shape.
Now we must go back to the King's son after he had been put in
charge of the nurse. One evening, after she had lit a candle and
was holding the child, several planks sprang up in the floor of
the room, and out at the opening came a beautiful woman dressed
in white, with an iron belt round her waist, to which was
fastened an iron chain that went down into the ground. The woman
came up to the nurse, took the child from her, and pressed it to
her breast; then she gave it back to the nurse and returned by
the same way as she had come, and the floor closed over her
again. Although the woman had not spoken a single word to her,
the nurse was very much frightened, but told no one about it.
Next evening the same thing happened again, just as before, but
as the woman was going away she said in a sad tone, 'Two are
gone, and one only is left,' and then disappeared as before. The
nurse was still more frightened when she heard the woman say
this, and thought that perhaps some danger was hanging over the
child, though she had no ill-opinion of the unknown woman, who,
indeed, had behaved towards the child as if it were her own. The
most mysterious thing was the woman saying 'and only one is
left;' but the nurse guessed that this must mean that only one
day was left, since she had come for two days already.
At last the nurse made up her mind to go to the King, and told
him the whole story, and asked him to be present in person next
day about the time when the woman usually came. The King
promised to do so, and came to the nurse's room a little before
the time, and sat down on a chair with his drawn sword in his
hand. Soon after the planks in the floor sprang up as before,
and the woman came up, dressed in white, with the iron belt and
chain. The King saw at once that it was his own Queen, and
immediately hewed asunder the iron chain that was fastened to the
belt. This was followed by such noises and crashings down in the
earth that all the King's Palace shook, so that no one expected
anything else than to see every bit of it shaken to pieces. At
last, however, the noises and shaking stopped, and they began to
come to themselves again.
The King and Queen embraced each other, and she told him the
whole story--how the Witch came to the ship when they were all
asleep and sent her off in the boat. After she had gone so far
that she could not see the ship, she sailed on through darkness
until she landed beside a three-headed Giant. The Giant wished
her to marry him, but she refused; whereupon he shut her up by
herself, and told her she would never get free until she
consented. After a time she began to plan how to get her
freedom, and at last told him that she would consent if he would
allow her to visit her son on earth three days on end. This he
agreed to, but put on her this iron belt and chain, the other end
of which he fastened round his own waist, and the great noises
that were heard when the King cut the chain must have been caused
by the Giant's falling down the underground passage when the
chain gave way so suddenly. The Giant's dwelling, indeed, was
right under the Palace, and the terrible shakings must have been
caused by him in his death-throes.
The King now understood how the Queen he had had for some time
past had been so ill-tempered. He at once had a sack drawn over
her head and made her be stoned to death, and after that torn in
pieces by untamed horses. The two young fellows also told now
what they had heard and seen in the Queen's room, for before this
they had been afraid to say anything about it, on account of the
The real Queen was now restored to all her dignity, and was
beloved by all. The nurse was married to a nobleman, and the
King and Queen gave her splendid presents.
There was once a woman who wanted to have quite a tiny, little
child, but she did not know where to get one from. So one day
she went to an old Witch and said to her: 'I should so much like
to have a tiny, little child; can you tell me where I can get
'Oh, we have just got one ready!' said the Witch. 'Here is a
barley-corn for you, but it's not the kind the farmer sows in his
field, or feeds the cocks and hens with, I can tell you. Put it
in a flower-pot, and then you will see something happen.'
'Oh, thank you!' said the woman, and gave the Witch a shilling,
for that was what it cost. Then she went home and planted the
barley-corn; immediately there grew out of it a large and
beautiful flower, which looked like a tulip, but the petals were
tightly closed as if it were still only a bud.
'What a beautiful flower!' exclaimed the woman, and she kissed
the red and yellow petals; but as she kissed them the flower
burst open. It was a real tulip, such as one can see any day;
but in the middle of the blossom, on the green velvety petals,
sat a little girl, quite tiny, trim, and pretty. She was
scarcely half a thumb in height; so they called her Thumbelina.
An elegant polished walnut-shell served Thumbelina as a cradle,
the blue petals of a violet were her mattress, and a rose-leaf
her coverlid. There she lay at night, but in the day-time she
used to play about on the table; here the woman had put a bowl,
surrounded by a ring of flowers, with their stalks in water, in
the middle of which floated a great tulip pedal, and on this
Thumbelina sat, and sailed from one side of the bowl to the
other, rowing herself with two white horse-hairs for oars. It
was such a pretty sight! She could sing, too, with a voice more
soft and sweet than had ever been heard before.
One night, when she was lying in her pretty little bed, an old
toad crept in through a broken pane in the window. She was very
ugly, clumsy, and clammy; she hopped on to the table where
Thumbelina lay asleep under the red rose-leaf.
'This would make a beautiful wife for my son,' said the toad,
taking up the walnut-shell, with Thumbelina inside, and hopping
with it through the window into the garden.
There flowed a great wide stream, with slippery and marshy banks;
here the toad lived with her son. Ugh! how ugly and clammy he
was, just like his mother! 'Croak, croak, croak!' was all he
could say when he saw the pretty little girl in the walnut-
'Don't talk so load, or you'll wake her,' said the old toad.
'She might escape us even now; she is as light as a feather. We
will put her at once on a broad water-lily leaf in the stream.
That will be quite an island for her; she is so small and light.
She can't run away from us there, whilst we are preparing the
guest-chamber under the marsh where she shall live.'
Outside in the brook grew many water-lilies, with broad green
leaves, which looked as if they were swimming about on the water.
The leaf farthest away was the largest, and to this the old toad
swam with Thumbelina in her walnut-shell.
The tiny Thumbelina woke up very early in the morning, and when
she saw where she was she began to cry bitterly; for on every
side of the great green leaf was water, and she could not get to
The old toad was down under the marsh, decorating her room with
rushes and yellow marigold leaves, to make it very grand for her
new daughter-in-law; then she swam out with her ugly son to the
leaf where Thumbelina lay. She wanted to fetch the pretty cradle
to put it into her room before Thumbelina herself came there.
The old toad bowed low in the water before her, and said: 'Here
is my son; you shall marry him, and live in great magnificence
down under the marsh.'
'Croak, croak, croak!' was all that the son could say. Then they
took the neat little cradle and swam away with it; but Thumbelina
sat alone on the great green leaf and wept, for she did not want
to live with the clammy toad, or marry her ugly son. The little
fishes swimming about under the water had seen the toad quite
plainly, and heard what she had said; so they put up their heads
to see the little girl. When they saw her, they thought her so
pretty that they were very sorry she should go down with the ugly
toad to live. No; that must not happen. They assembled in the
water round the green stalk which supported the leaf on which she
was sitting, and nibbled the stem in two. Away floated the leaf
down the stream, bearing Thumbelina far beyond the reach of the
On she sailed past several towns, and the little birds sitting in
the bushes saw her, and sang, 'What a pretty little girl!' The
leaf floated farther and farther away; thus Thumbelina left her
A beautiful little white butterfly fluttered above her, and at
last settled on the leaf. Thumbelina pleased him, and she, too,
was delighted, for now the toads could not reach her, and it was
so beautiful where she was travelling; the sun shone on the water
and made it sparkle like the brightest silver. She took off her
sash, and tied one end round the butterfly; the other end she
fastened to the leaf, so that now it glided along with her faster
A great cockchafer came flying past; he caught sight of
Thumbelina, and in a moment had put his arms round her slender
waist, and had flown off with her to a tree. The green leaf
floated away down the stream, and the butterfly with it, for he
was fastened to the leaf and could not get loose from it. Oh,
dear! how terrified poor little Thumbelina was when the
cockchafer flew off with her to the tree! But she was especially
distressed on the beautiful white butterfly's account, as she had
tied him fast, so that if he could not get away he must starve to
death. But the cockchafer did not trouble himself about that; he
sat down with her on a large green leaf, gave her the honey out
of the flowers to eat, and told her that she was very pretty,
although she wasn't in the least like a cockchafer. Later on,
all the other cockchafers who lived in the same tree came to pay
calls; they examined Thumbelina closely, and remarked, 'Why, she
has only two legs! How very miserable!'
'She has no feelers!' cried another.
'How ugly she is!' said all the lady chafers--and yet Thumbelina
was really very pretty.
The cockchafer who had stolen her knew this very well; but when
he heard all the ladies saying she was ugly, he began to think so
too, and would not keep her; she might go wherever she liked. So
he flew down from the tree with her and put her on a daisy.
There she sat and wept, because she was so ugly that the
cockchafer would have nothing to do with her; and yet she was the
most beautiful creature imaginable, so soft and delicate, like
the loveliest rose-leaf.
The whole summer poor little Thumbelina lived alone in the great
wood. She plaited a bed for herself of blades of grass, and hung
it up under a clover-leaf, so that she was protected from the
rain; she gathered honey from the flowers for food, and drank the
dew on the leaves every morning. Thus the summer and autumn
passed, but then came winter--the long, cold winter. All the
birds who had sung so sweetly about her had flown away; the trees
shed their leaves, the flowers died; the great clover-leaf under
which she had lived curled up, and nothing remained of it but the
withered stalk. She was terribly cold, for her clothes were
ragged, and she herself was so small and thin. Poor little
Thumbelina! she would surely be frozen to death. It began to
snow, and every snow-flake that fell on her was to her as a whole
shovelful thrown on one of us, for we are so big, and she was
only an inch high. She wrapt herself round in a dead leaf, but
it was torn in the middle and gave her no warmth; she was
trembling with cold.
Just outside the wood where she was now living lay a great
corn-field. But the corn had been gone a long time; only the
dry, bare stubble was left standing in the frozen ground. This
made a forest for her to wander about in. All at once she came
across the door of a field-mouse, who had a little hole under a
corn-stalk. There the mouse lived warm and snug, with a
store-room full of corn, a splendid kitchen and dining-room.
Poor little Thumbelina went up to the door and begged for a
little piece of barley, for she had not had anything to eat for
the last two days.
'Poor little creature!' said the field-mouse, for she was a kind-
hearted old thing at the bottom. 'Come into my warm room and
have some dinner with me.'
As Thumbelina pleased her, she said: 'As far as I am concerned
you may spend the winter with me; but you must keep my room clean
and tidy, and tell me stories, for I like that very much.'
And Thumbelina did all that the kind old field-mouse asked, and
did it remarkably well too.
'Now I am expecting a visitor,' said the field-mouse; 'my
neighbour comes to call on me once a week. He is in better
circumstances than I am, has great, big rooms, and wears a fine
black-velvet coat. If you could only marry him, you would be
well provided for. But he is blind. You must tell him all the
prettiest stories you know.'
But Thumbelina did not trouble her head about him, for he was
only a mole. He came and paid them a visit in his black-velvet
'He is so rich and so accomplished,' the field-mouse told her.
'His house is twenty times larger than mine; he possesses great
knowledge, but he cannot bear the sun and the beautiful flowers,
and speaks slightingly of them, for he has never seen them.'
Thumbelina had to sing to him, so she sang 'Lady-bird, lady-
bird, fly away home!' and other songs so prettily that the mole
fell in love with her; but he did not say anything, he was a very
cautious man. A short time before he had dug a long passage
through the ground from his own house to that of his neighbour;
in this he gave the field-mouse and Thumbelina permission to walk
as often as they liked. But he begged them not to be afraid of
the dead bird that lay in the passage: it was a real bird with
beak and feathers, and must have died a little time ago, and now
laid buried just where he had made his tunnel. The mole took a
piece of rotten wood in his mouth, for that glows like fire in
the dark, and went in front, lighting them through the long dark
passage. When they came to the place where the dead bird lay,
the mole put his broad nose against the ceiling and pushed a hole
through, so that the daylight could shine down. In the middle of
the path lay a dead swallow, his pretty wings pressed close to
his sides, his claws and head drawn under his feathers; the poor
bird had evidently died of cold. Thumbelina was very sorry, for
she was very fond of all little birds; they had sung and
twittered so beautifully to her all through the summer. But the
mole kicked him with his bandy legs and said:
'Now he can't sing any more! It must be very miserable to be a
little bird! I'm thankful that none of my little children are;
birds always starve in winter.'
'Yes, you speak like a sensible man,' said the field-mouse.
'What has a bird, in spite of all his singing, in the
winter-time? He must starve and freeze, and that must be very
pleasant for him, I must say!'
Thumbelina did not say anything; but when the other two had
passed on she bent down to the bird, brushed aside the feathers
from his head, and kissed his closed eyes gently. 'Perhaps it
was he that sang to me so prettily in the summer,' she thought.
'How much pleasure he did give me, dear little bird!'
The mole closed up the hole again which let in the light, and
then escorted the ladies home. But Thumbelina could not sleep
that night; so she got out of bed, and plaited a great big
blanket of straw, and carried it off, and spread it over the dead
bird, and piled upon it thistle-down as soft as cotton-wool,
which she had found in the field-mouse's room, so that the poor
little thing should lie warmly buried.
'Farewell, pretty little bird!' she said. 'Farewell, and thank
you for your beautiful songs in the summer, when the trees were
green, and the sun shone down warmly on us!' Then she laid her
head against the bird's heart. But the bird was not dead: he had
been frozen, but now that she had warmed him, he was coming to
In autumn the swallows fly away to foreign lands; but there are
some who are late in starting, and then they get so cold that
they drop down as if dead, and the snow comes and covers them
Thumbelina trembled, she was so frightened; for the bird was very
large in comparison with herself--only an inch high. But she
took courage, piled up the down more closely over the poor
swallow, fetched her own coverlid and laid it over his head.
Next night she crept out again to him. There he was alive, but
very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment and look at
Thumbelina, who was standing in front of him with a piece of
rotten wood in her hand, for she had no other lantern.
'Thank you, pretty little child!' said the swallow to her. 'I am
so beautifully warm! Soon I shall regain my strength, and then I
shall be able to fly out again into the warm sunshine.'
'Oh!' she said, 'it is very cold outside; it is snowing and
freezing! stay in your warm bed; I will take care of you!'
Then she brought him water in a petal, which he drank, after
which he related to her how he had torn one of his wings on a
bramble, so that he could not fly as fast as the other swallows,
who had flown far away to warmer lands. So at last he had
dropped down exhausted, and then he could remember no more. The
whole winter he remained down there, and Thumbelina looked after
him and nursed him tenderly. Neither the mole nor the
field-mouse learnt anything of this, for they could not bear the
When the spring came, and the sun warmed the earth again, the
swallow said farewell to Thumbelina, who opened the hole in the
roof for him which the mole had made. The sun shone brightly
down upon her, and the swallow asked her if she would go with
him; she could sit upon his back. Thumbelina wanted very much to
fly far away into the green wood, but she knew that the old
field-mouse would be sad if she ran away. 'No, I mustn't come!'
'Farewell, dear good little girl!' said the swallow, and flew off
into the sunshine. Thumbelina gazed after him with the tears
standing in her eyes, for she was very fond of the swallow.
'Tweet, tweet!' sang the bird, and flew into the green wood.
Thumbelina was very unhappy. She was not allowed to go out into
the warm sunshine. The corn which had been sowed in the field
over the field-mouse's home grew up high into the air, and made a
thick forest for the poor little girl, who was only an inch high.
'Now you are to be a bride, Thumbelina!' said the field-mouse,
'for our neighbour has proposed for you! What a piece of fortune
for a poor child like you! Now you must set to work at your
linen for your dowry, for nothing must be lacking if you are to
become the wife of our neighbour, the mole!'
Thumbelina had to spin all day long, and every evening the mole
visited her, and told her that when the summer was over the sun
would not shine so hot; now it was burning the earth as hard as a
stone. Yes, when the summer had passed, they would keep the
But she was not at all pleased about it, for she did not like the
stupid mole. Every morning when the sun was rising, and every
evening when it was setting, she would steal out of the
house-door, and when the breeze parted the ears of corn so that
she could see the blue sky through them, she thought how bright
and beautiful it must be outside, and longed to see her dear
swallow again. But he never came; no doubt he had flown away far
into the great green wood.
By the autumn Thumbelina had finished the dowry.
'In four weeks you will be married!' said the field-mouse; 'don't
be obstinate, or I shall bite you with my sharp white teeth! You
will get a fine husband! The King himself has not such a velvet
coat. His store-room and cellar are full, and you should be
thankful for that.'
Well, the wedding-day arrived. The mole had come to fetch
Thumbelina to live with him deep down under the ground, never to
come out into the warm sun again, for that was what he didn't
like. The poor little girl was very sad; for now she must say
good-bye to the beautiful sun.
'Farewell, bright sun!' she cried, stretching out her arms
towards it, and taking another step outside the house; for now
the corn had been reaped, and only the dry stubble was left
standing. 'Farewell, farewell!' she said, and put her arms round
a little red flower that grew there. 'Give my love to the dear
swallow when you see him!'
'Tweet, tweet!' sounded in her ear all at once. She looked up.
There was the swallow flying past! As soon as he saw Thumbelina,
he was very glad. She told him how unwilling she was to marry
the ugly mole, as then she had to live underground where the sun
never shone, and she could not help bursting into tears.
'The cold winter is coming now,' said the swallow. 'I must fly
away to warmer lands: will you come with me? You can sit on my
back, and we will fly far away from the ugly mole and his dark
house, over the mountains, to the warm countries where the sun
shines more brightly than here, where it is always summer, and
there are always beautiful flowers. Do come with me, dear little
Thumbelina, who saved my life when I lay frozen in the dark
'Yes, I will go with you,' said Thumbelina, and got on the
swallow's back, with her feet on one of his outstretched wings.
Up he flew into the air, over woods and seas, over the great
mountains where the snow is always lying. And if she was cold
she crept under his warm feathers, only keeping her little head
out to admire all the beautiful things in the world beneath. At
last they came to warm lands; there the sun was brighter, the sky
seemed twice as high, and in the hedges hung the finest green and
purple grapes; in the woods grew oranges and lemons: the air was
scented with myrtle and mint, and on the roads were pretty little
children running about and playing with great gorgeous
butterflies. But the swallow flew on farther, and it became more
and more beautiful. Under the most splendid green trees besides
a blue lake stood a glittering white-marble castle. Vines hung
about the high pillars; there were many swallows' nests, and in
one of these lived the swallow who was carrying Thumbelina.
'Here is my house!' said he. 'But it won't do for you to live
with me; I am not tidy enough to please you. Find a home for
yourself in one of the lovely flowers that grow down there; now I
will set you down, and you can do whatever you like.'
'That will be splendid!' said she, clapping her little hands.
There lay a great white marble column which had fallen to the
ground and broken into three pieces, but between these grew the
most beautiful white flowers. The swallow flew down with
Thumbelina, and set her upon one of the broad leaves. But there,
to her astonishment, she found a tiny little man sitting in the
middle of the flower, as white and transparent as if he were made
of glass; he had the prettiest golden crown on his head, and the
most beautiful wings on his shoulders; he himself was no bigger
than Thumbelina. He was the spirit of the flower. In each
blossom there dwelt a tiny man or woman; but this one was the
King over the others.
'How handsome he is!' whispered Thumbelina to the swallow.
The little Prince was very much frightened at the swallow, for in
comparison with one so tiny as himself he seemed a giant. But
when he saw Thumbelina, he was delighted, for she was the most
beautiful girl he had ever seen. So he took his golden crown
from off his head and put it on hers, asking her her name, and if
she would be his wife, and then she would be Queen of all the
flowers. Yes! he was a different kind of husband to the son of
the toad and the mole with the black-velvet coat. So she said
'Yes' to the noble Prince. And out of each flower came a lady
and gentleman, each so tiny and pretty that it was a pleasure to
see them. Each brought Thumbelina a present, but the best of all
was a beautiful pair of wings which were fastened on to her back,
and now she too could fly from flower to flower. They all wished
her joy, and the swallow sat above in his nest and sang the
wedding march, and that he did as well as he could; but he was
sad, because he was very fond of Thumbelina and did not want to
be separated from her.
'You shall not be called Thumbelina!' said the spirit of the
flower to her; 'that is an ugly name, and you are much too pretty
for that. We will call you May Blossom.'
'Farewell, farewell!' said the little swallow with a heavy heart,
and flew away to farther lands, far, far away, right back to
Denmark. There he had a little nest above a window, where his
wife lived, who can tell fairy-stories. 'Tweet, tweet!' he sang
to her. And that is the way we learnt the whole story.
In China, as I daresay you know, the Emperor is a Chinaman, and
all his courtiers are also Chinamen. The story I am going to
tell you happened many years ago, but it is worth while for you
to listen to it, before it is forgotten.
The Emperor's Palace was the most splendid in the world, all made
of priceless porcelain, but so brittle and delicate that you had
to take great care how you touched it. In the garden were the
most beautiful flowers, and on the loveliest of them were tied
silver bells which tinkled, so that if you passed you could not
help looking at the flowers. Everything in the Emperor's garden
was admirably arranged with a view to effect; and the garden was
so large that even the gardener himself did not know where it
ended. If you ever got beyond it, you came to a stately forest
with great trees and deep lakes in it. The forest sloped down to
the sea, which was a clear blue. Large ships could sail under
the boughs of the trees, and in these trees there lived a
Nightingale. She sang so beautifully that even the poor
fisherman who had so much to do stood and listened when he came
at night to cast his nets. 'How beautiful it is!' he said; but
he had to attend to his work, and forgot about the bird. But
when she sang the next night and the fisherman came there again,
he said the same thing, 'How beautiful it is!'
From all the countries round came travellers to the Emperor's
town, who were astonished at the Palace and the garden. But when
they heard the Nightingale they all said, 'This is the finest
thing after all!'
The travellers told all about it when they went home, and learned
scholars wrote many books upon the town, the Palace, and the
garden. But they did not forget the Nightingale; she was praised
the most, and all the poets composed splendid verses on the
Nightingale in the forest by the deep sea.
The books were circulated throughout the world, and some of them
reached the Emperor. He sat in his golden chair, and read and
read. He nodded his head every moment, for he liked reading the
brilliant accounts of the town, the Palace, and the garden. 'But
the Nightingale is better than all,' he saw written.
'What is that?' said the Emperor. 'I don't know anything about
the Nightingale! Is there such a bird in my empire, and so near
as in my garden? I have never heard it! Fancy reading for the
first time about it in a book!'
And he called his First Lord to him. He was so proud that if
anyone of lower rank than his own ventured to speak to him or ask
him anything, he would say nothing but 'P!' and that does not
'Here is a most remarkable bird which is called a Nightingale!'
said the Emperor. 'They say it is the most glorious thing in my
kingdom. Why has no one ever said anything to me about it?'
'I have never before heard it mentioned!' said the First Lord.
'I will look for it and find it!'
But where was it to be found? The First Lord ran up and down
stairs, through the halls and corridors; but none of those he met
had ever heard of the Nightingale. And the First Lord ran again
to the Emperor, and told him that it must be an invention on the
part of those who had written the books.
'Your Irmperial Majesty cannot really believe all that is
written! There are some inventions called the Black Art!'
'But the book in which I read this,' said the Emperor, 'is sent
me by His Great Majesty the Emperor of Japan; so it cannot be
untrue, and I will hear the Nightingale! She must be here this
evening! She has my gracious permission to appear, and if she
does not, the whole Court shall be trampled under foot after
'Tsing pe!' said the First Lord; and he ran up and down stairs,
through the halls and corridors, and half the Court ran with him,
for they did not want to be trampled under foot. Everyone was
asking after the wonderful Nightingale which all the world knew
of, except those at Court.
At last they met a poor little girl in the kitchen, who said,
'Oh! I know the Nightingale well. How she sings! I have
permission to carry the scraps over from the Court meals to my
poor sick mother, and when I am going home at night, tired and
weary, and rest for a little in the wood, then I hear the
Nightingale singing! It brings tears to my eyes, and I feel as
if my mother were kissing me!'
'Little kitchenmaid!' said the First Lord, 'I will give you a
place in the kitchen, and you shall have leave to see the Emperor
at dinner, if you can lead us to the Nightingale, for she is
invited to come to Court this evening.'
And so they all went into the wood where the Nightingale was wont
to sing, and half the Court went too.
When they were on the way there they heard a cow mooing.
'Oh!' said the Courtiers, 'now we have found her! What a
wonderful power for such a small beast to have! I am sure we
have heard her before!'
'No; that is a cow mooing!' said the little kitchenmaid. 'We
are still a long way off!'
Then the frogs began to croak in the marsh. 'Splendid!' said the
Chinese chaplain. 'Now we hear her; it sounds like a little
'No, no; those are frogs!' said the little kitchenmaid. 'But I
think we shall soon hear her now!'
Then the Nightingale began to sing.
'There she is!' cried the little girl. 'Listen! She is sitting
there!' And she pointed to a little dark-grey bird up in the
'Is it possible!' said the First Lord. 'I should never have
thought it! How ordinary she looks! She must surely have lost
her feathers because she sees so many distinguished men round
'Little Nightingale,' called out the little kitchenmaid, 'our
Gracious Emperor wants you to sing before him!'
'With the greatest of pleasure!' said the Nightingale; and she
sang so gloriously that it was a pleasure to listen.
'It sounds like glass bells!' said the First Lord. 'And look how
her little throat works! It is wonderful that we have never
heard her before! She will be a great success at Court.'
'Shall I sing once more for the Emperor?' asked the Nightingale,
thinking that the Emperor was there.
'My esteemed little Nightingale,' said the First Lord, 'I have
the great pleasure to invite you to Court this evening, where His
Gracious Imperial Highness will be enchanted with your charming
'It sounds best in the green wood,' said the Nightingale; but
still, she came gladly when she heard that the Emperor wished it.
At the Palace everything was splendidly prepared. The porcelain
walls and floors glittered in the light of many thousand gold
lamps; the most gorgeous flowers which tinkled out well were
placed in the corridors. There was such a hurrying and draught
that all the bells jingled so much that one could not hear
oneself speak. In the centre of the great hall where the Emperor
sat was a golden perch, on which the Nightingale sat. The whole
Court was there, and the little kitchenmaid was allowed to stand
behind the door, now that she was a Court-cook. Everyone was
dressed in his best, and everyone was looking towards the little
grey bird to whom the Emperor nodded.
The Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears came into the
Emperor's eyes and ran down his cheeks. Then the Nightingale
sang even more beautifully; it went straight to all hearts. The
Emperor was so delighted that he said she should wear his gold
slipper round her neck. But the Nightingale thanked him, and
said she had had enough reward already. 'I have seen tears in
the Emperor's eyes--that is a great reward. An Emperor's tears
have such power!' Then she sang again with her gloriously sweet
'That is the most charming coquetry I have ever seen!' said all
the ladies round. And they all took to holding water in their
mouths that they might gurgle whenever anyone spoke to them.
Then they thought themselves nightingales. Yes, the lackeys and
chambermaids announced that they were pleased; which means a
great deal, for they are the most difficult people of all to
satisfy. In short, the Nightingale was a real success.
She had to stay at Court now; she had her own cage, and
permission to walk out twice in the day and once at night.
She was given twelve servants, who each held a silken string
which was fastened round her leg. There was little pleasure in
flying about like this.
The whole town was talking about the wonderful bird, and when two
people met each other one would say 'Nightin,' and the other
'Gale,' and then they would both sigh and understand one another.
Yes, and eleven grocer's children were called after her, but not
one of them could sing a note.
One day the Emperor received a large parcel on which was written
'Here is another new book about our famous bird!' said the
But it was not a book, but a little mechanical toy, which lay in
a box--an artificial nightingale which was like the real one,
only that it was set all over with diamonds, rubies, and
sapphires. When it was wound up, it could sing the piece the
real bird sang, and moved its tail up and down, and glittered
with silver and gold. Round its neck was a little collar on
which was written, 'The Nightingale of the Emperor of Japan is
nothing compared to that of the Emperor of China.'
'This is magnificent!' they all said, and the man who had
brought the clockwork bird received on the spot the title of
'Bringer of the Imperial First Nightingale.'
'Now they must sing together; what a duet we shall have!'
And so they sang together, but their voices did not blend, for
the real Nightingale sang in her way and the clockwork bird sang
'It is not its fault!' said the bandmaster; 'it keeps very good
time and is quite after my style!'
Then the artificial bird had to sing alone. It gave just as much
pleasure as the real one, and then it was so much prettier to
look at; it sparkled like bracelets and necklaces.
Three-and-thirty times it sang the same piece without being
tired. People would like to have heard it again, but the Emperor
thought that the living Nightingale should sing now--but where
was she? No one had noticed that she had flown out of the open
window away to her green woods.
'What SHALL we do!' said the Emperor.
And all the Court scolded, and said that the Nightingale was very
ungrateful. 'But we have still the best bird!' they said and the
artificial bird had to sing again, and that was the thirty-fourth
time they had heard the same piece. But they did not yet know it
by heart; it was much too difficult. And the bandmaster praised
the bird tremendously; yes, he assured them it was better than a
real nightingale, not only because of its beautiful plumage and
diamonds, but inside as well. 'For see, my Lords and Ladies and
your Imperial Majesty, with the real Nightingale one can never
tell what will come out, but all is known about the artificial
bird! You can explain it, you can open it and show people where
the waltzes lie, how they go, and how one follows the other!'
'That's just what we think!' said everyone; and the bandmaster
received permission to show the bird to the people the next
Sunday. They should hear it sing, commanded the Emperor. And
they heard it, and they were as pleased as if they had been
intoxicated with tea, after the Chinese fashion, and they all
said 'Oh!' and held up their forefingers and nodded time. But
the poor fishermen who had heard the real Nightingale said: 'This
one sings well enough, the tunes glide out; but there is
something wanting-- I don't know what!'
The real Nightingale was banished from the kingdom.
The artificial bird was put on silken cushions by the Emperor's
bed, all the presents which it received, gold and precious
stones, lay round it, and it was given the title of Imperial
Night-singer, First from the left. For the Emperor counted that
side as the more distinguished, being the side on which the heart
is; the Emperor's heart is also on the left.
And the bandmaster wrote a work of twenty-five volumes about the
artificial bird. It was so learned, long, and so full of the
hardest Chinese words that everyone said they had read it and
understood it; for once they had been very stupid about a book,
and had been trampled under foot in consequence. So a whole year
passed. The Emperor, the Court, and all the Chinese knew every
note of the artificial bird's song by heart. Bat they liked it
all the better for this; they could even sing with it, and they
did. The street boys sang 'Tra-la-la-la-la, and the Emperor sang
too sometimes. It was indeed delightful.
But one evening, when the artificial bird was singing its best,
and the Emperor lay in bed listening to it, something in the bird
went crack. Something snapped! Whir-r-r! all the wheels ran
down and then the music ceased. The Emperor sprang up, and had
his physician summoned, but what could HE do! Then the
clockmaker came, and, after a great deal of talking and
examining, he put the bird somewhat in order, but he said that it
must be very seldom used as the works were nearly worn out, and
it was impossible to put in new ones. Here was a calamity! Only
once a year was the artificial bird allowed to sing, and even
that was almost too much for it. But then the bandmaster made a
little speech full of hard words, saying that it was just as good
as before. And so, of course, it WAS just as good as before. So
five years passed, and then a great sorrow came to the nation.
The Chinese look upon their Emperor as everything, and now he was
ill, and not likely to live it was said.
Already a new Emperor had been chosen, and the people stood
outside in the street and asked the First Lord how the old
Emperor was. 'P!' said he, and shook his head.
Cold and pale lay the Emperor in his splendid great bed; the
whole Court believed him dead, and one after the other left him
to pay their respects to the new Emperor. Everywhere in the
halls and corridors cloth was laid down so that no footstep could
be heard, and everything was still--very, very still. And
nothing came to break the silence.
The Emperor longed for something to come and relieve the monotony
of this deathlike stillness. If only someone would speak to him!
If only someone would sing to him. Music would carry his
thoughts away, and would break the spell lying on him. The moon
was streaming in at the open window; but that, too, was silent,
'Music! music!' cried the Emperor. 'You little bright golden
bird, sing! do sing! I gave you gold and jewels; I have hung my
gold slipper round your neck with my own hand--sing! do sing!'
But the bird was silent. There was no one to wind it up, and so
it could not sing. And all was silent, so terribly silent!
All at once there came in at the window the most glorious burst
of song. It was the little living Nightingale, who, sitting
outside on a bough, had heard the need of her Emperor and had
come to sing to him of comfort and hope. And as she sang the
blood flowed quicker and quicker in the Emperor's weak limbs, and
life began to return.
'Thank you, thank you!' said the Emperor. 'You divine little
bird! I know you. I chased you from my kingdom, and you have
given me life again! How can I reward you?'
'You have done that already!' said the Nightingale. 'I brought
tears to your eyes the first time I sang. I shall never forget
that. They are jewels that rejoice a singer's heart. But now
sleep and get strong again; I will sing you a lullaby.' And the
Emperor fell into a deep, calm sleep as she sang.
The sun was shining through the window when he awoke, strong and
well. None of his servants had come back yet, for they thought
he was dead. But the Nightingale sat and sang to him.
'You must always stay with me!' said the Emperor. 'You shall
sing whenever you like, and I will break the artificial bird into
a thousand pieces.'
'Don't do that!' said the Nightingale. 'He did his work as long
as he could. Keep him as you have done! I cannot build my nest
in the Palace and live here; but let me come whenever I like. I
will sit in the evening on the bough outside the window, and I
will sing you something that will make you feel happy and
grateful. I will sing of joy, and of sorrow; I will sing of the
evil and the good which lies hidden from you. The little
singing-bird flies all around, to the poor fisherman's hut, to
the farmer's cottage, to all those who are far away from you and
your Court. I love your heart more than your crown, though that
has about it a brightness as of something holy. Now I will sing
to you again; but you must promise me one thing----'
'Anything!' said the Emperor, standing up in his Imperial robes,
which he had himself put on, and fastening on his sword richly
embossed with gold.
'One thing I beg of you! Don't tell anyone that you have a
little bird who tells you everything. It will be much better not
to!' Then the Nightingale flew away.
The servants came in to look at their dead Emperor.
The Emperor said, 'Good-morning!'
HERMOD AND HADVOR 
 From the Icelandic.
Once upon a time there were a King and a Queen who had an only
daughter, called Hadvor, who was fair and beautiful, and being an
only child, was heir to the kingdom. The King and Queen had also
a foster son, named Hermod, who was just about the same age as
Hadvor, and was good-looking, as well as clever at most things.
Hermod and Hadvor often played together while they were children,
and liked each other so much that while they were still young
they secretly plighted their troth to each other.
As time went on the Queen fell sick, and suspecting that it was
her last illness, sent for the King to come to her. When he came
she told him that she had no long time to live, and therefore
wished to ask one thing of him, which was, that if he married
another wife he should promise to take no other one than the
Queen of Hetland the Good. The King gave the promise, and
thereafter the Queen died.
Time went past, and the King, growing tired of living alone,
fitted out his ship and sailed out to sea. As he sailed there
came upon him so thick a mist that he altogether lost his
bearings, but after long trouble he found land. There he laid
his ship to, and went on shore all alone. After walking for some
time he came to a forest, into which he went a little way and
stopped. Then he heard sweet music from a harp, and went in the
direction of the sound until he came to a clearing, and there he
saw three women, one of whom sat on a golden chair, and was
beautifully and grandly dressed; she held a harp in her hands,
and was very sorrowful. The second was also finely dressed, but
younger in appearance, and also sat on a chair, but it was not so
grand as the first one's. The third stood beside them, and was
very pretty to look at; she had a green cloak over her other
clothes, and it was easy to see that she was maid to the other
After the King had looked at them for a little he went forward
and saluted them. The one that sat on the golden chair asked him
who he was and where he was going; and he told her all the story
--how he was a king, and had lost his queen, and was now on his
way to Hetland the Good, to ask the Queen of that country in
marriage. She answered that fortune had contrived this
wonderfully, for pirates had plundered Hetland and killed the
King, and she had fled from the land in terror, and had come
hither after great trouble, and she was the very person he was
looking for, and the others were her daughter and maid. The King
immediately asked her hand; she gladly received his proposal and
accepted him at once. Thereafter they all set out, and made
their way to the ship; and after that nothing is told of their
voyage until the King reached his own country. There he made a
great feast, and celebrated his marriage with this woman; and
after that things are quiet for a time.
Hermod and Hadvor took but little notice of the Queen and her
daughter, but, on the other hand, Hadvor and the Queen's maid,
whose name was Olof, were very friendly, and Olof came often to
visit Hadvor in her castle. Before long the King went out to
war, and no sooner was he away than the Queen came to talk with
Hermod, and said that she wanted him to marry her daughter.
Hermod told her straight and plain that he would not do so, at
which the Queen grew terribly angry, and said that in that case
neither should he have Hadvor, for she would now lay this spell
on him, that he should go to a desert island and there be a lion
by day and a man by night. He should also think always of
Hadvor, which would cause him all the more sorrow, and from this
spell he should never be freed until Hadvor burned the lion's
skin, and that would not happen very soon.
As soon as the Queen had finished her speech Hermod replied that
he also laid a spell on her, and that was, that as soon as he was
freed from her enchantments she should become a rat and her
daughter a mouse, and fight with each other in the hall until he
killed them with his sword.
After this Hermod disappeared, and no one knew what had become of
him; the Queen caused search to be made for him, but he could
nowhere be found. One time, when Olof was in the castle beside
Hadvor, she asked the Princess if she knew where Hermod had gone
to. At this Hadvor became very sad, and said that she did not.
'I shall tell you then,' said Olof, 'for I know all about it.
Hermod has disappeared through the wicked devices of the Queen,
for she is a witch, and so is her daughter, though they have put
on these beautiful forms. Because Hermod would not fall in with
the Queen's plans, and marry her daughter, she has laid a spell
on him, to go on an island and be a lion by day and a man by
night, and never be freed from this until you burn the lion's
skin. Besides,' said Olof, 'she has looked out a match for you;
she has a brother in the Underworld, a three-headed Giant, whom
she means to turn into a beautiful prince and get him married to
you. This is no new thing for the Queen; she took me away from
my parents' house and compelled me to serve her; but she has
never done me any harm, for the green cloak I wear protects me
against all mischief.
Hadvor now became still sadder than before at the thought of the
marriage destined for her, and entreated Olof to think of some
plan to save her.
'I think,' said Olof, 'that your wooer will come up through the
floor of the castle to you, and so you must be prepared when you
hear the noise of his coming and the floor begins to open, and
have at hand blazing pitch, and pour plenty of it into the
opening. That will prove too much for him.'
About this time the King came home from his expedition, and
thought it a great blow that no one knew what had become of
Hermod; but the Queen consoled him as best she could, and after a
time the King thought less about his disappearance.
Hadvor remained in her castle, and had made preparations to
receive her wooer when he came. One night, not long after, a
loud noise and rumbling was heard under the castle. Hadvor at
once guessed what it was, and told her maids to be ready to help
her. The noise and thundering grew louder and louder, until the
floor began to open, whereupon Hadvor made them take the caldron
of pitch and pour plenty of it into the opening. With that the
noises grew fainter and fainter, till at last they ceased
Next morning the Queen rose early, and went out to the Palace
gate, and there she found her brother the Giant lying dead. She
went up to him and said, 'I pronounce this spell, that you become
a beautiful prince, and that Hadvor shall be unable to say
anything against the charges that I shall bring against her.'
The body of the dead Giant now became that of a beautiful prince,
and the Queen went in again.
'I don't think,' said she to the King, 'that your daughter is as
good as she is said to be. My brother came and asked her hand,
and she has had him put to death. I have just found his dead
body lying at the Palace gate.'
The King went along with the Queen to see the body, and thought
it all very strange; so beautiful a youth, he said, would have
been a worthy match for Hadvor, and he would readily have agreed
to their marriage. The Queen asked leave to decide what Hadvor's
punishment should be, which the King was very willing to allow,
so as to escape from punishing his own daughter. The Queen's
decision was that the King should make a big grave-mound for her
brother, and put Hadvor into it beside him.
Olof knew all the plans of the Queen, and went to tell the
Princess what had been done, whereupon Hadvor earnestly entreated
her to tell her what to do.
'First and foremost,' said Olof, 'you must get a wide cloak to
wear over your other clothes, when you are put into the mound.
The Giant's ghost will walk after you are both left together in
there, and he will have two dogs along with him. He will ask you
to cut pieces out of his legs to give to the dogs, but that you
must not promise to do unless he tells you where Hermod has gone
to, and tells you how to find him. He will then let you stand on
his shoulders, so as to get out of the mound; but he means to
cheat you all the same, and will catch you by the cloak to pull
you back again; but you must take care to have the cloak loose on
your shoulders, so that he will only get hold of that.'
The mound was all ready now, and the Giant laid in it, and into
it Hadvor also had to go without being allowed to make any
defence. After they were both left there everything happened
just as Olof had said. The prince became a Giant again, and
asked Hadvor to cut the pieces out of his legs for the dogs; but
she refused until he told her that Hermod was in a desert island,
which she could not reach unless she took the skin off the soles
of his feet and made shoes out of that; with these shoes she
could travel both on land and sea. This Hadvor now did, and the
Giant then let her get up on his shoulders to get out of the
mound. As she sprang out he caught hold of her cloak; but she
had taken care to let it lie loose on her shoulders, and so
She now made her way down to the sea, to where she knew there was
the shortest distance over to the island in which Hermod was.
This strait she easily crossed, for the shoes kept her up. On
reaching the island she found a sandy beach all along by the sea,
and high cliffs above. Nor could she see any way to get up
these, and so, being both sad at heart and tired with the long
journey, she lay down and fell asleep. As she slept she dreamed
that a tall woman came to her and said, 'I know that you are
Princess Hadvor, and are searching for Hermod. He is on this
island; but it will be hard for you to get to him if you have no
one to help you, for you cannot climb the cliffs by your own
strength. I have therefore let down a rope, by which you will be
able to climb up; and as the island is so large that you might
not find Hermod's dwelling-place so easily, I lay down this clew
beside you. You need only hold the end of the thread, and the
clew will run on before and show you the way. I also lay this
belt beside you, to put on when you awaken; it will keep you from
growing faint with hunger.'
The woman now disappeared, and Hadvor woke, and saw that all her
dream had been true. The rope hung down from the cliff, and the
clew and belt lay beside her. The belt she put on, the rope
enabled her to climb up the cliff, and the clew led her on till
she came to the mouth of a cave, which was not very big. She
went into the cave, and saw there a low couch, under which she
crept and lay down.
When evening came she heard the noise of footsteps outside, and
became aware that the lion had come to the mouth of the cave, and
shook itself there, after which she heard a man coming towards
the couch. She was sure this was Hermod, because she heard him
speaking to himself about his own condition, and calling to mind
Hadvor and other things in the old days. Hadvor made no sign,
but waited till he had fallen asleep, and then crept out and
burned the lion's skin, which he had left outside. Then she went
back into the cave and wakened Hermod, and they had a most joyful
In the morning they talked over their plans, and were most at a
loss to know how to get out of the island. Hadvor told Hermod
her dream, and said she suspected there was some one in the
island who would be able to help them. Hermod said he knew of a
Witch there, who was very ready to help anyone, and that the only
plan was to go to her. So they went to the Witch's cave, and
found her there with her fifteen young sons, and asked her to
help them to get to the mainland.
'There are other things easier than that,' said she, 'for the
Giant that was buried will be waiting for you, and will attack
you on the way, as he has turned himself into a big whale. I
shall lend you a boat, however, and if you meet the whale and
think your lives are in danger, then you can name me by name.'
They thanked her greatly for her help and advice, and set out
from the island, but on the way they saw a huge fish coming
towards them, with great splashing and dashing of waves. They
were sure of what it was, and thought they had as good reason as
ever they would have to call on the Witch, and so they did. The
next minute they saw coming after them another huge whale,
followed by fifteen smaller ones. All of these swam past the
boat and went on to meet the whale. There was a fierce battle
then, and the sea became so stormy that it was not very easy to
keep the boat from being filled by the waves. After this fight
had gone on for some time, they saw that the sea was dyed with
blood; the big whale and the fifteen smaller ones disappeared,
and they got to land safe and sound.
Now the story goes back to the King's hall, where strange things
had happened in the meantime. The Queen and her daughter had
disappeared, but a rat and a mouse were always fighting with each
other there. Ever so many people had tried to drive them away,
but no one could manage it. Thus some time went on, while the
King was almost beside himself with sorrow and care for the loss
of his Queen, and because these monsters destroyed all mirth in
One evening, however, while they all sat dull and down-hearted,
in came Hermod with a sword by his side, and saluted the King,
who received him with the greatest joy, as if he had come back
from the dead. Before Hermod sat down, however, he went to where
the rat and the mouse were fighting, and cut them in two with his
sword. All were astonished then by seeing two witches lying dead
on the floor of the hall.
Hermod now told the whole story to the King, who was very glad to
be rid of such vile creatures. Next he asked for the hand of
Hadvor, which the King readily gave him, and being now an old
man, gave the kingdom to him as well; and so Hermod became King.
Olof married a good-looking nobleman, and that is the end of the
THE STEADFAST TIN-SOLDIER
There were once upon a time five-and twenty tin-soldiers--all
brothers, as they were made out of the same old tin spoon. Their
uniform was red and blue, and they shouldered their guns and
looked straight in front of them. The first words that they
heard in this world, when the lid of the box in which they lay
was taken off, were: 'Hurrah, tin-soldiers!' This was exclaimed
by a little boy, clapping his hands; they had been given to him
because it was his birthday, and now he began setting them out on
the table. Each soldier was exactly like the other in shape,
except just one, who had been made last when the tin had run
short; but there he stood as firmly on his one leg as the others
did on two, and he is the one that became famous.
There were many other playthings on the table on which they were
being set out, but the nicest of all was a pretty little castle
made of cardboard, with windows through which you could see into
the rooms. In front of the castle stood some little trees
surrounding a tiny mirror which looked like a lake. Wax swans
were floating about and reflecting themselves in it. That was
all very pretty; but the most beautiful thing was a little lady,
who stood in the open doorway. She was cut out of paper, but she
had on a dress of the finest muslin, with a scarf of narrow blue
ribbon round her shoulders, fastened in the middle with a
glittering rose made of gold paper, which was as large as her
head. The little lady was stretching out both her arms, for she
was a Dancer, and was lifting up one leg so high in the air that
the Tin-soldier couldn't find it anywhere, and thought that she,
too, had only one leg.
'That's the wife for me!' he thought; 'but she is so grand, and
lives in a castle, whilst I have only a box with four-and-twenty
others. This is no place for her! But I must make her
acquaintance.' Then he stretched himself out behind a snuff-box
that lay on the table; from thence he could watch the dainty
little lady, who continued to stand on one leg without losing her
When the night came all the other tin-soldiers went into their
box, and the people of the house went to bed. Then the toys
began to play at visiting, dancing, and fighting. The
tin-soldiers rattled in their box, for they wanted to be out too,
but they could not raise the lid. The nut-crackers played at
leap-frog, and the slate-pencil ran about the slate; there was
such a noise that the canary woke up and began to talk to them,
in poetry too! The only two who did not stir from their places
were the Tin-soldier and the little Dancer. She remained on
tip-toe, with both arms outstretched; he stood steadfastly on his
one leg, never moving his eyes from her face.
The clock struck twelve, and crack! off flew the lid of the
snuff- box; but there was no snuff inside, only a little black
imp--that was the beauty of it.
'Hullo, Tin-soldier!' said the imp. 'Don't look at things that
aren't intended for the likes of you!'
But the Tin-soldier took no notice, and seemed not to hear.
'Very well, wait till to-morrow!' said the imp.
When it was morning, and the children had got up, the Tin-soldier
was put in the window; and whether it was the wind or the little
black imp, I don't know, but all at once the window flew open and
out fell the little Tin-soldier, head over heels, from the third-
storey window! That was a terrible fall, I can tell you! He
landed on his head with his leg in the air, his gun being wedged
between two paving-stones.
The nursery-maid and the little boy came down at once to look for
him, but, though they were so near him that they almost trod on
him, they did not notice him. If the Tin-soldier had only called
out 'Here I am!' they must have found him; but he did not think
it fitting for him to cry out, because he had on his uniform.
Soon it began to drizzle; then the drops came faster, and there
was a regular down-pour. When it was over, two little street
boys came along.
'Just look!' cried one. 'Here is a Tin-soldier! He shall sail
up and down in a boat!'
So they made a little boat out of newspaper, put the Tin-soldier
in it, and made him sail up and down the gutter; both the boys
ran along beside him, clapping their hands. What great waves
there were in the gutter, and what a swift current! The
paper-boat tossed up and down, and in the middle of the stream it
went so quick that the Tin-soldier trembled; but he remained
steadfast, showed no emotion, looked straight in front of him,
shouldering his gun. All at once the boat passed under a long
tunnel that was as dark as his box had been.
'Where can I be coming now?' he wondered. 'Oh, dear! This is
the black imp's fault! Ah, if only the little lady were sitting
beside me in the boat, it might be twice as dark for all I should
Suddenly there came along a great water-rat that lived in the
'Have you a passport?' asked the rat. 'Out with your passport!'
But the Tin-soldier was silent, and grasped his gun more firmly.
The boat sped on, and the rat behind it. Ugh! how he showed his
teeth, as he cried to the chips of wood and straw: 'Hold him,
hold him! he has not paid the toll! He has not shown his
But the current became swifter and stronger. The Tin-soldier
could already see daylight where the tunnel ended; but in his
ears there sounded a roaring enough to frighten any brave man.
Only think! at the end of the tunnel the gutter discharged
itself into a great canal; that would be just as dangerous for
him as it would be for us to go down a waterfall.
Now he was so near to it that he could not hold on any longer.
On went the boat, the poor Tin-soldier keeping himself as stiff
as he could: no one should say of him afterwards that he had
flinched. The boat whirled three, four times round, and became
filled to the brim with water: it began to sink! The Tin-soldier
was standing up to his neck in water, and deeper and deeper sank
the boat, and softer and softer grew the paper; now the water was
over his head. He was thinking of the pretty little Dancer,
whose face he should never see again, and there sounded in his
ears, over and over again:
'Forward, forward, soldier bold!
Death's before thee, grim and cold!'
The paper came in two, and the soldier fell--but at that moment
he was swallowed by a great fish.
Oh! how dark it was inside, even darker than in the tunnel, and
it was really very close quarters! But there the steadfast
little Tin-soldier lay full length, shouldering his gun.
Up and down swam the fish, then he made the most dreadful
contortions, and became suddenly quite still. Then it was as if
a flash of lightning had passed through him; the daylight
streamed in, and a voice exclaimed, 'Why, here is the little
Tin-soldier!' The fish had been caught, taken to market, sold,
and brought into the kitchen, where the cook had cut it open with
a great knife. She took up the soldier between her finger and
thumb, and carried him into the room, where everyone wanted to
see the hero who had been found inside a fish; but the
Tin-soldier was not at all proud. They put him on the table,
and--no, but what strange things do happen in this world!--the
Tin-soldier was in the same room in which he had been before! He
saw the same children, and the same toys on the table; and there
was the same grand castle with the pretty little Dancer. She was
still standing on one leg with the other high in the air; she too
was steadfast. That touched the Tin-soldier, he was nearly going
to shed tin-tears; but that would not have been fitting for a
soldier. He looked at her, but she said nothing.
All at once one of the little boys took up the Tin-soldier, and
threw him into the stove, giving no reasons; but doubtless the
little black imp in the snuff-box was at the bottom of this too.
There the Tin-soldier lay, and felt a heat that was truly
terrible; but whether he was suffering from actual fire, or from
the ardour of his passion, he did not know. All his colour had
disappeared; whether this had happened on his travels or whether
it was the result of trouble, who can say? He looked at the
little lady, she looked at him, and he felt that he was melting;
but he remained steadfast, with his gun at his shoulder.
Suddenly a door opened, the draught caught up the little Dancer,
and off she flew like a sylph to the Tin-soldier in the stove,
burst into flames--and that was the end of her! Then the
Tin-soldier melted down into a little lump, and when next morning
the maid was taking out the ashes, she found him in the shape of
a heart. There was nothing left of the little Dancer but her
gilt rose, burnt as black as a cinder.
Far away in the country lay an old manor-house where lived an old
squire who had two sons. They thought themselves so clever, that
if they had known only half of what they did know, it would have
been quite enough. They both wanted to marry the King's
daughter, for she had proclaimed that she would have for her
husband the man who knew best how to choose his words.
Both prepared for the wooing a whole week, which was the longest
time allowed them; but, after all, it was quite long enough, for
they both had preparatory knowledge, and everyone knows how
useful that is. One knew the whole Latin dictionary and also
three years' issue of the daily paper of the town off by heart,
so that he could repeat it all backwards or forwards as you
pleased. The other had worked at the laws of corporation, and
knew by heart what every member of the corporation ought to know,
so that he thought he could quite well speak on State matters and
give his opinion. He understood, besides this, how to embroider
braces with roses and other flowers, and scrolls, for he was very
ready with his fingers.
'I shall win the king's daughter!' they both cried.
Their old father gave each of them a fine horse; the one who knew
the dictionary and the daily paper by heart had a black horse,
while the other who was so clever at corporation law had a milk-
white one. Then they oiled the corners of their mouths so that
they might be able to speak more fluently. All the servants
stood in the courtyard and saw them mount their steeds, and here
by chance came the third brother; for the squire had three sons,
but nobody counted him with his brothers, for he was not so
learned as they were, and he was generally called
'Oh, oh!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Where are you off to? You are
in your Sunday-best clothes!'
'We are going to Court, to woo the Princess! Don't you know what
is known throughout all the country side?' And they told him all
'Hurrah! I'll go to!' cried Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers
laughed at him and rode off.
'Dear father!' cried Blockhead-Hans, 'I must have a horse too.
What a desire for marriage has seized me! If she will have me,
she WILL have me, and if she won't have me, I will have her.'
'Stop that nonsense!' said the old man. 'I will not give you a
horse. YOU can't speak; YOU don't know how to choose your words.
Your brothers! Ah! they are very different lads!'
'Well,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'if I can't have a horse, I will
take the goat which is mine; he can carry me!'
And he did so. He sat astride on the goat, struck his heels into
its side, and went rattling down the high-road like a hurricane.
'Hoppetty hop! what a ride!' Here I come!' shouted Blockhead-
Hans, singing so that the echoes were roused far and near. But
his brothers were riding slowly in front. They were not
speaking, but they were thinking over all the good things they
were going to say, for everything had to be thought out.
'Hullo!' bawled Blockhead-Hans, 'here I am! Just look what I
found on the road!'--and he showed them a dead crow which he had
'Blockhead!' said his brothers, 'what are you going to do with
'With the crow? I shall give it to the Princess!'
'Do so, certainly!' they said, laughing loudly and riding on.
'Slap! bang! here I am again! Look what I have just found!
You don't find such things every day on the road!' And the
brothers turned round to see what in the world he could have
'Blockhead!' said they, 'that is an old wooden shoe without the
top! Are you going to send that, too, to the Princess?'
'Of course I shall!' returned Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers
laughed and rode on a good way.
'Slap! bang! here I am!' cried Blockhead-Hans; 'better and
better--it is really famous!'
'What have you found now?' asked the brothers.
'Oh,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'it is really too good! How pleased
the Princess will be!'
'Why!' said the brothers, 'this is pure mud, straight from the
'Of course it is!' said Blockhead-Hans, 'and it is the best kind!
Look how it runs through one's fingers!' and, so saying, he
filled his pocket with the mud.
But the brothers rode on so fast that dust and sparks flew all
around, and they reached the gate of the town a good hour before
Blockhead-Hans. Here came the suitors numbered according to
their arrival, and they were ranged in rows, six in each row, and
they were so tightly packed that they could not move their arms.
This was a very good thing, for otherwise they would have torn
each other in pieces, merely because the one was in front of the
All the country people were standing round the King's throne, and
were crowded together in thick masses almost out of the windows
to see the Princess receive the suitors; and as each one came
into the room all his fine phrases went out like a candle!
'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Away! out with him!'
At last she came to the row in which the brother who knew the
dictionary by heart was, but he did not know it any longer; he
had quite forgotten it in the rank and file. And the floor
creaked, and the ceiling was all made of glass mirrors, so that
he saw himself standing on his head, and by each window were
standing three reporters and an editor; and each of them was
writing down what was said, to publish it in the paper that came
out and was sold at the street corners for a penny. It was
fearful, and they had made up the fire so hot that it was
'It is hot in here, isn't it!' said the suitor.
'Of course it is! My father is roasting young chickens to-day!'
said the Princess.
'Ahem!' There he stood like an idiot. He was not prepared for
such a speech; he did not know what to say, although he wanted to
say something witty. 'Ahem!'
'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Take him out!' and out
he had to go.
Now the other brother entered.
'How hot it is!' he said.
'Of course! We are roasting young chickens to-day!' remarked the
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