FAVORITE FAIRY TALES
ONE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATIONS
THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY CHICAGO PHILADELPHIA TORONTO
COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY L. T. MYERS PRINTED IN U. S. A.
LITTLE SNOW WHITE 5
THE UGLY DUCKLING 22
ALADDIN AND THE WONDERFUL LAMP 43
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY 64
ADVENTURES OF TOM THUMB 81
THE THREE BEARS 95
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL 103
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 109
THE STORY OF CINDERELLA 122
JACK THE GIANT KILLER 135
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK 155
DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT 167
THE STORY OF BLUEBEARD 184
LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD 195
SINDBAD THE SAILOR 202
HANSEL AND GRETEL 230
THE GOOSE GIRL 247
Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the clouds, a Queen sat at her palace window, which had an ebony black frame, stitching her husband's shirts. While she was thus engaged and looking out at the snow she pricked her finger, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. Now the red looked so well upon the white that she thought to herself, "Oh, that I had a child as white as this snow, as red as this blood, and as black as the wood of this frame!" Soon afterwards a little daughter came to her, who was as white as snow, and with cheeks as red as blood, and with hair as black as ebony, and from this she was named "Snow-White." And at the same time her mother died.
About a year afterwards the King married another wife, who was very beautiful, but so proud and haughty that she could not bear anyone to be better-looking than herself. She owned a wonderful mirror, and when she stepped before it and said:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
"The Queen is the fairest of the day."
Then she was pleased, for she knew that the mirror spoke truly.
Little Snow-White, however, grew up, and became prettier and prettier, and when she was seven years old she was as fair as the noonday, and more beautiful than the Queen herself. When the Queen now asked her mirror:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
"The Queen was fairest yesterday; Snow-White is the fairest, now, they say."
This answer so angered the Queen that she became quite yellow with envy. From that hour, whenever she saw Snow-White, her heart was hardened against her, and she hated the little girl. Her envy and jealousy increased so that she had no rest day or night, and she said to a Huntsman, "Take the child away into the forest. I will never look upon her again. You must kill her, and bring me her heart and tongue for a token."
The Huntsman listened and took the maiden away, but when he drew out his knife to kill her, she began to cry, saying, "Ah, dear Huntsman, give me my life! I will run into the wild forest, and never come home again."
This speech softened the Hunter's heart, and her beauty so touched him that he had pity on her and said, "Well, run away then, poor child." But he thought to himself, "The wild beasts will soon devour you." Still he felt as if a stone had been lifted from his heart, because her death was not by his hand. Just at that moment a young boar came roaring along to the spot, and as soon as he clapped eyes upon it the Huntsman caught it, and, killing it, took its tongue and heart and carried them to the Queen, for a token of his deed.
But now poor little Snow-White was left motherless and alone, and overcome with grief, she was bewildered at the sight of so many trees, and knew not which way to turn. She ran till her feet refused to go farther, and as it was getting dark, and she saw a little house near, she entered in to rest. In this cottage everything was very small, but very neat and elegant. In the middle stood a little table with a white cloth over it, and seven little plates upon it, each plate having a spoon and a knife and a fork, and there were also seven little mugs. Against the wall were seven little beds arranged in a row, each covered with snow-white sheets.
Little Snow-White, being both hungry and thirsty, ate a little morsel of porridge out of each plate, and drank a drop or two of wine out of each mug, for she did not wish to take away the whole share of anyone. After that, because she was so tired, she laid herself down on one bed, but it did not suit; she tried another, but that was too long; a fourth was too short, a fifth too hard. But the seventh was just the thing; and tucking herself up in it, she went to sleep, first saying her prayers as usual.
When it became quite dark the owners of the cottage came home, seven Dwarfs, who dug for gold and silver in the mountains. They first lighted seven little lamps, and saw at once—for they lit up the whole room—that somebody had been in, for everything was not in the order in which they had left it.
The first asked, "Who has been sitting on my chair?" The second, "Who has been eating off my plate?" The third said, "Who has been nibbling at my bread?" The fourth, "Who has been at my porridge?" The fifth, "Who has been meddling with my fork?" The sixth grumbled out, "Who has been cutting with my knife?" The seventh said, "Who has been drinking out of my mug?"
Then the first, looking round, began again, "Who has been lying on my bed?" he asked, for he saw that the sheets were tumbled. At these words the others came, and looking at their beds cried out too, "Some one has been lying in our beds!" But the seventh little man, running up to his, saw Snow-White sleeping in it; so he called his companions, who shouted with wonder and held up their seven lamps, so that the light fell upon the little girl.
"Oh, heavens! oh, heavens!" said they; "what a beauty she is!" and they were so much delighted that they would not awaken her, but left her to sleep, and the seventh Dwarf, in whose bed she was, slept with each of his fellows one hour, and so passed the night.
As soon as morning dawned Snow-White awoke, and was quite frightened when she saw the seven little men; but they were very friendly, and asked her what she was called.
"My name is Snow-White," was her reply.
"Why have you come into our cottage?" they asked.
Then she told them how her stepmother would have had her killed, but the Huntsman had spared her life, and how she had wandered about the Whole day until at last she had found their house.
When her tale was finished the Dwarfs said, "Will you look after our household—be our cook, make the beds, wash, sew, and knit for us, and keep everything in neat order? If so, we will keep you here, and you shall want for nothing."
And Snow-White answered, "Yes, with all my heart and will." And so she remained with them, and kept their house in order.
In the morning the Dwarfs went into the mountains and searched for silver and gold, and in the evening they came home and found their meals ready for them. During the day the maiden was left alone, and therefore the good Dwarfs warned her and said, "Be careful of your stepmother, who will soon know of your being here. So let nobody enter the cottage."
The Queen meanwhile, supposing that she had eaten the heart and tongue of her stepdaughter, believed that she was now above all the most beautiful woman in the world. One day she stepped before her mirror, and said:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
and it replied:
"The Queen was fairest yesterday; Snow-White is fairest now, they say. The Dwarfs protect her from thy sway Amid the forest, far away."
This reply surprised her, but she knew that the mirror spoke the truth. She knew, therefore, that the Huntsman had deceived her, and that Snow-White was still alive. So she dyed her face and clothed herself as a pedler woman, so that no one could recognize her, and in this disguise she went over the seven hills to the house of the seven Dwarfs. She knocked at the door of the hut, and called out, "Fine goods for sale! beautiful goods for sale!"
Snow-White peeped out of the window and said, "Good day, my good woman; what have you to sell?"
"Fine goods, beautiful goods!" she replied. "Stays of all colors." And she held up a pair which were made of many-colored silks.
"I may let in this honest woman," thought Snow-White; and she unbolted the door and bargained for one pair of stays.
"You can't think, my dear, how they become you!" exclaimed the old woman. "Come, let me lace them up for you."
Snow-White suspected nothing, and let her do as she wished, but the old woman laced her up so quickly and so tightly that all her breath went, and she fell down like one dead. "Now," thought the old woman to herself, hastening away, "now am I once more the most beautiful of all!"
At eventide, not long after she had left, the seven Dwarfs came home, and were much frightened at seeing their dear little maid lying on the ground, and neither moving nor breathing, as if she were dead. They raised her up, and when they saw that she was laced too tight they cut the stays to pieces, and presently she began to breathe again, and little by little she revived. When the Dwarfs now heard what had taken place, they said, "The old pedler woman was no other than your wicked stepmother. Take more care of yourself, and let no one enter when we are not with you."
Meanwhile, the Queen had reached home, and, going before her mirror, she repeated her usual words:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
and it replied as before:
"The Queen was fairest yesterday; Snow-White is fairest now, they say. The Dwarfs protect her from thy sway Amid the forest, far away."
As soon as it had finished, all her blood rushed to her heart, for she was so angry to hear that Snow-White was yet living. "But now," thought she to herself, "will I make something which shall destroy her completely." Thus saying, she made a poisoned comb by arts which she understood, and then, disguising herself, she took the form of an old widow. She went over the seven hills to the house of the seven Dwarfs, and knocking at the door, called out, "Good wares to sell to-day!"
Snow-White peeped out and said, "You must go farther, for I dare not let you in."
"But still you may look," said the old woman, drawing out her poisoned comb and holding it up. The sight of this pleased the maiden so much that she allowed herself to be persuaded, and opened the door. As soon as she had bought something the old woman said, "Now let me for once comb your hair properly," and Snow-White consented. But scarcely was the comb drawn through the hair when the poison began to work, and the maiden fell down senseless.
"You pattern of beauty," cried the wicked Queen, "it is now all over with you." And so saying, she departed.
Fortunately, evening soon came, and the seven Dwarfs returned, and as soon as they saw Snow-White lying, like dead, upon the ground, they suspected the Queen, and discovering the poisoned comb, they immediately drew it out. Then the maiden very soon revived and told them all that had happened. So again they warned her against the wicked stepmother, and bade her open the door to nobody.
Meanwhile the Queen, on her arrival home, had again consulted her mirror, and received the same answer as twice before. This made her tremble and foam with rage and jealousy, and she swore that Snow-White should die if it cost her her own life. Thereupon she went into an inner secret chamber where no one could enter, and made an apple of the most deep and subtle poison. Outwardly it looked nice enough, and had rosy cheeks which would make the mouth of everyone who looked at it water; but whoever ate the smallest piece of it would surely die. As soon as the apple was ready the Queen again dyed her face, and clothed herself like a peasant's wife, and then over the seven mountains to the house of the seven Dwarfs she made her way.
She knocked at the door, and Snow-White stretched out her head and said, "I dare not let anyone enter; the seven Dwarfs have forbidden me."
"That is hard on me," said the old woman, "for I must take back my apples; but there is one which I will give you."
"No," answered Snow-White; "no, I dare not take it."
"What! are you afraid of it?" cried the old woman. "There, see—I will cut the apple in halves; do you eat the red cheeks, and I will eat the core." (The apple was so artfully made that the red cheeks alone were poisoned.) Snow-White very much wished for the beautiful apple, and when she saw the woman eating the core she could no longer resist, but, stretching out her hand, took the poisoned part. Scarcely had she placed a piece in her mouth when she fell down dead upon the ground. Then the Queen, looking at her with glittering eyes, and laughing bitterly, exclaimed, "White as snow, red as blood, black as ebony! This time the Dwarfs cannot reawaken you."
When she reached home and consulted her mirror—
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
"The Queen is fairest of the day."
Then her envious heart was at rest, as peacefully as an envious heart can rest.
When the little Dwarfs returned home in the evening they found Snow-White lying on the ground, and there appeared to be no life in her body; she seemed to be quite dead. They raised her up, and tried if they could find anything poisonous. They unlaced her, and even uncombed her hair, and washed her with water and with wine. But nothing availed: the dear child was really and truly dead.
Then they laid her upon a bier, and all seven placed themselves around it, and wept and wept for three days without ceasing. Then they prepared to bury her. But she looked still fresh and life-like, and even her red cheeks had not deserted her, so they said to one another, "We cannot bury her in the black ground." Then they ordered a case to be made of glass. In this they could see the body on all sides, and the Dwarfs wrote her name with golden letters upon the glass, saying that she was a King's daughter. Now they placed the glass case upon the ledge on a rock, and one of them always remained by it watching. Even the birds bewailed the loss of Snow-White; first came an owl, then a raven, and last of all a dove.
For a long time Snow-White lay peacefully in her case, and changed not, but looked as if she were only asleep, for she was still white as snow, red as blood, and black-haired as ebony. By and by it happened that a King's son was traveling in the forest, and came to the Dwarfs' house to pass the night. He soon saw the glass case upon the rock, and the beautiful maiden lying within, and he read also the golden inscription.
When he had examined it, he said to the Dwarfs, "Let me have this case, and I will pay what you like for it."
But the Dwarfs replied, "We will not sell it for all the gold in the world."
"Then give it to me," said the Prince; "for I cannot live without Snow-White. I will honor and protect her as long as I live."
When the Dwarfs saw that he was so much in earnest, they pitied him, and at last gave him the case, and the Prince ordered it to be carried away on the shoulders of his attendants. Presently it happened that they stumbled over a rut, and with the shock the piece of poisoned apple which lay in Snow-White's mouth fell out. Very soon she opened her eyes, and raising the lid of the glass case, she rose up and asked, "Where am I?"
Full of joy, the Prince answered, "You are safe with me." And he told to her what she had suffered, and how he would rather have her than any other for his wife, and he asked her to accompany him home to the castle of the King his father. Snow-White consented, and when they arrived there they were married with great splendor and magnificence.
Snow-White's stepmother was also invited to the wedding, and when she was dressed in all her finery to go, she first stepped in front of her mirror and asked:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?"
and it replied:
"The Queen was fairest yesterday; The Prince's bride is now, they say."
At these words the Queen was in a fury, and was so terribly mortified that she knew not what to do with herself. At first she resolved not to go to the wedding, but she could not resist the wish to see the Princess. So she went; but as soon as she saw the bride she recognized Snow-White, and was so terrified with rage and astonishment that she rushed out of the castle and was never heard of again.
THE UGLY DUCKLING
It was beautiful in the country. It was summertime. The wheat was yellow, the oats were green, the hay was stacked up in the green meadows, and the stork paraded about on his long red legs, talking in Egyptian, which language he had learnt from his mother.
The fields and meadows were skirted by thick woods, and a deep lake lay in the midst of the woods. Yes; it was indeed beautiful in the country! The sunshine fell warmly on an old mansion, surrounded by deep canals, and from the walls down to the water's edge there grew large burdock leaves, so high that children could stand upright among them without being seen.
This place was as wild as the thickest part of the wood, and on that account a Duck had chosen to make her nest there. She was sitting on her eggs; but the pleasure she had felt at first was now almost gone, because she had been there so long, and had so few visitors, for the other Ducks preferred swimming on the canals to sitting among the burdock leaves gossiping with her.
At last the eggs cracked one after another, "Chick, chick!" All the eggs were alive, and one little head after another peered forth. "Quack, quack!" said the Duck, and all got up as well as they could. They peeped about from under the green leaves; and as green is good for the eyes, their mother let them look as long as they pleased.
"How large the world is!" said the little ones, for they found their new abode very different from their former narrow one in the egg-shells.
"Do you imagine this to be the whole of the world?" said the mother. "It extends far beyond the other side of the garden in the pastor's field; but I have never been there. Are you all here?" And then she got up. "No, not all, for the largest egg is still here. How long will this last? I am so weary of it!" And then she sat down again.
"Well, and how are you getting on?" asked an old Duck, who had come to pay her a visit.
"This one egg keeps me so long," said the mother. "It will not break. But you should see the others! They are the prettiest little Ducklings I have seen in all my days. They are all like their father—the good-for-nothing fellow, he has not been to visit me once!"
"Let me see the egg that will not break," said the old Duck. "Depend upon it, it is a turkey's egg. I was cheated in the same way once myself, and I had such trouble with the young ones; for they were afraid of the water, and I could not get them there. I called and scolded, but it was all of no use. But let me see the egg—ah, yes! to be sure, that is a turkey's egg. Leave it, and teach the other little ones to swim."
"I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck. "I have been sitting so long, that I may as well spend the harvest here."
"It is no business of mine," said the old Duck, and away she waddled.
The great egg burst at last. "Chick! chick!" said the little one, and out it tumbled—but, oh! how large and ugly it was! The Duck looked at it. "That is a great, strong creature," said she. "None of the others are at all like it. Can it be a young turkey-cock? Well, we shall soon find out. It must go into the water, though I push it in myself."
The next day there was delightful weather, and the sun shone warmly upon the green leaves when Mother Duck with all her family went down to the canal. Plump she went into the water. "Quack! quack!" cried she, and one duckling after another jumped in. The water closed over their heads, but all came up again, and swam together quite easily. Their legs moved without effort. All were there, even the ugly grey one.
"No; it is not a turkey," said the old Duck; "only see how prettily it moves its legs, how upright it holds itself! It is my own child. It is also really very pretty, when you look more closely at it. Quack! quack! now come with me, I will take you into the world and introduce you in the duck-yards. But keep close to me, or someone may tread on you; and beware of the Cat."
So they came into the duck-yard. There was a horrid noise; two families were quarreling about the head of an eel, which in the end was carried off by the Cat.
"See, my children, such is the way of the world," said the Mother Duck, wiping her beak, for she, too, was fond of eels. "Now use your legs," said she, "keep together, and bow to the old Duck you see yonder. She is the most distinguished of all the fowls present, and is of Spanish blood, which accounts for her dignified appearance and manners. And look, she has a red rag on her leg! That is considered extremely handsome, and is the greatest honor a Duck can have. Don't turn your feet inwards; a well-educated Duckling always keeps his legs far apart, like his father and mother, just so—look! Now bow your necks, and say, 'Quack.'"
And they did as they were told. But the other Ducks, who were in the yard, looked at them and said aloud, "Just see! Now we have another brood, as if there were not enough of us already. And fie! how ugly that one is. We will not endure it." And immediately one of the Ducks flew at him, and bit him in the neck.
"Leave him alone," said the mother. "He is doing no one any harm."
"Yes, but he is so large and so strange-looking, and therefore he shall be teased," said the others.
"Those are fine children that our good mother has," said the old Duck with the red rag on her leg. "All are pretty except one, and that has not turned out well; I almost wish it could be hatched over again."
"That cannot be, please your Highness," said the mother. "Certainly he is not handsome, but he is a very good child, and swims as well as the others, indeed, rather better. I think he will grow like the others all in good time, and perhaps will look smaller. He stayed so long in the egg-shell, that is the cause of the difference." And she scratched the Duckling's neck, and stroked his whole body. "Besides," added she, "he is a Drake. I think he will be very strong, so it does not matter so much. He will fight his way through."
"The other Ducks are very pretty," said the old Duck. "Pray make yourselves at home, and if you find an eel's head you can bring it to me."
So they made themselves at home.
But the poor little Duckling, who had come last out of its egg-shell, and who was so ugly, was bitten, pecked, and teased by both Ducks and Hens. "It is so large!" said they all. And the Turkey-cock, who had come into the world with spurs on, and therefore fancied he was an emperor, puffed himself up like a ship in full sail, and marched up to the Duckling quite red with passion. The poor little thing scarcely knew what to do. He was quite distressed, because he was so ugly, and because he was the jest of the poultry-yard.
So passed the first day, and afterwards matters grew worse and worse—the poor Duckling was scorned by all. Even his brothers and sisters behaved unkindly, and were constantly saying, "May the Cat take you, you nasty creature!" The mother said, "Ah, if you were only far away!" The Ducks bit him, the Hens pecked him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him.
He ran through the hedge, and the little birds in the bushes were terrified. "That is because I am so ugly," thought the Duckling, shutting his eyes, but he ran on. At last he came to a wide moor, where lived some Wild Ducks; here he lay the whole night, very tired and comfortless. In the morning the Wild Ducks flew up, and saw their new companion. "Pray who are you?" asked they; and our little Duckling turned himself in all directions, and greeted them as politely as possible.
"You are really uncommonly ugly!" said the Wild Ducks. "However, that does not matter to us, provided you do not marry into our families." Poor thing! he had never thought of marrying; he only begged permission to lie among the reeds, and drink the water of the moor.
There he lay for two whole days. On the third day there came two Wild Geese, or rather Ganders, who had not been long out of their egg-shells, which accounts for their impertinence.
"Hark ye," said they; "you are so ugly that we like you very well. Will you come with us and be a bird of passage? On another moor, not far from this, are some dear, sweet Wild Geese, as lovely creatures as have ever said 'Hiss, hiss.' You are truly in the way to make your fortune, ugly as you are."
Bang! a gun went off all at once, and both Wild Geese were stretched dead among the reeds; the water became red with blood. Bang! a gun went off again. Whole flocks of Wild Geese flew up from among the reeds, and another report followed.
There was a grand hunting party. The hunters lay in ambush all around; some were even sitting in the trees, whose huge branches stretched far over the moor. The blue smoke rose through the thick trees like a mist, and was dispersed as it fell over the water. The hounds splashed about in the mud, the reeds and rushes bent in all directions.
How frightened the poor little Duck was! He turned his head, thinking to hide it under his wings, and in a moment a most formidable-looking Dog stood close to him, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, his eyes sparkling fearfully. He opened wide his jaws at the sight of our Duckling, showing him his sharp white teeth, and, splash, splash! he was gone—gone without hurting him.
"Well! let me be thankful," sighed he. "I am so ugly that even the Dog will not eat me."
And now he lay still, though the shooting continued among the reeds, shot following shot.
The noise did not cease till late in the day, and even then the poor little thing dared not stir. He waited several hours before he looked around him, and then hurried away from the moor as fast as he could. He ran over fields and meadows, though the wind was so high that he had some difficulty in moving.
Towards evening he reached a wretched little hut, so wretched that it knew not on which side to fall, and therefore remained standing. The wind blew violently, so that our poor little Duckling was obliged to support himself on his tail, in order to stand against it; but it became worse and worse. He then noticed that the door had lost one of its hinges, and hung so much awry that he could creep through the crack into the room. So he went in.
In this room lived an old woman, with her Tom-cat and her Hen. The Cat, whom she called her little son, knew how to set up his back and purr; indeed, he could even throw out sparks when stroked the wrong way. The Hen had very short legs, and was therefore called "Chickie Short-legs." She laid very good eggs, and the old woman loved her as her own child.
The next morning the new guest was discovered, and the Cat began to mew and the Hen to cackle.
"What is the matter?" asked the old woman, looking round. But her eyes were not good, so she took the young Duckling to be a fat Duck who had lost her way. "This is a capital catch," said she, "I shall now have Duck's eggs, if it be not a Drake. We shall see."
And so the Duckling was kept on trial for three weeks, but no eggs made their appearance. Now the Cat was the master of the house, and the Hen was the mistress, and always used to say, "We and the world," for they imagined themselves to be not only the half of the world, but also by far the better half. The Duckling thought it was possible to be of a different opinion, but that the Hen would not allow.
"Can you lay eggs?" asked she.
"Well, then, hold your tongue."
And the Cat said, "Can you set up your back? Can you purr?"
"Well, then, you should have no opinion when reasonable people are speaking."
So the Duckling sat alone in a corner, and felt very miserable. However, he happened to think of the fresh air and bright sunshine, and these thoughts gave him such a strong desire to swim again, that he could not help telling it to the Hen.
"What ails you?" said the Hen. "You have nothing to do, and therefore brood over these fancies. Either lay eggs or purr, then you will forget them."
"But it is so delicious to swim!" said the Duckling. "So delicious when the waters close over your head, and you plunge to the bottom!"
"Well, that is a queer sort of pleasure," said the Hen. "I think you must be crazy. Not to speak of myself, ask the Cat—he is the most sensible animal I know—whether he would like to swim, or to plunge to the bottom of the water. Ask our mistress, the old woman—there is no one in the world wiser than she. Do you think she would take pleasure in swimming and in the waters closing over her head?"
"You do not understand me," said the Duckling.
"What! we do not understand you? So you think yourself wiser than the Cat and the old woman, not to speak of myself? Do not fancy any such thing, child; but be thankful for all the kindness that has been shown you. Are you not lodged in a warm room, and have you not the advantage of society from which you can learn something? But you are a simpleton, and it is wearisome to have anything to do with you. Believe me, I wish you well. I tell you unpleasant truths, but it is thus that real friendship is shown. Come, for once give yourself the trouble to learn to purr, or to lay eggs."
"I think I will go out into the wide world again," said the Duckling.
"Well, go," answered the Hen.
So the Duckling went. He swam on the surface of the water, he plunged beneath, but all animals passed him by, on account of his ugliness. And the autumn came, the leaves turned yellow and brown, the wind caught them and danced them about, the air was very cold, the clouds were heavy with hail or snow, and the Raven sat on the hedge and croaked. The poor Duckling was certainly not very comfortable.
One evening, just as the sun was setting with unusual brilliancy, a flock of large, beautiful birds rose from out of the brushwood. The Duckling had never seen anything so beautiful before; their plumage was of a dazzling white, and they had long, slender necks. They were Swans. They uttered a singular cry, spread out their long splendid wings, and flew away from these cold regions to warmer countries, across the open sea. They flew so high, so very high! And the little Ugly Duckling's feelings were so strange. He turned round and round in the water like a mill-wheel, strained his neck to look after them, and sent forth such a loud and strange cry that it almost frightened himself. Ah! he could not forget them, those noble birds, those happy birds! When he could see them no longer he plunged to the bottom of the water, and when he rose again was almost beside himself. The Duckling knew not what the birds were called, knew not whither they were flying; yet he loved them as he had never before loved anything. He envied them not; it would never have occurred to him to wish such beauty for himself. He would have been quite contented if the Ducks in the duck-yard had but endured his company—the poor, ugly creature.
And the winter was so cold, so cold, the Duckling was obliged to swim round and round in the water to keep it from freezing. But every night the opening in which he swam became smaller and smaller. It froze so that the crust of ice crackled and the Duckling was obliged to make good use of his legs to prevent the water from freezing entirely. At last, wearied out, he lay stiff and cold in the ice.
Early in the morning there passed by a peasant who saw him, broke the ice in pieces with his wooden shoe, and brought him home to his wife.
The poor Duckling soon revived. The children would have played with him, but he thought they wished to tease him, and in his terror jumped into the milk-pail, so that the milk was spilled about the room. The good woman screamed and clapped her hands. He flew from there into the pan where the butter was kept, and thence into the meal-barrel, and out again, and then how strange he looked!
The woman screamed, and struck at him with the tongs, the children ran races with each other trying to catch him, and laughed and screamed likewise. It was well for him that the door stood open. He jumped out among the bushes into the new-fallen snow, and there he lay as in a dream.
But it would be too sad to tell all the trouble and misery that he had to suffer from the frost, and snow and storms of the winter. He was lying on a moor among the reeds, when the sun began to shine warmly again; the larks sang, and beautiful spring had returned.
Once more he shook his wings. They were stronger than formerly and bore him forward quickly, and before he was well aware of it he was in a large garden where the apple-trees stood in full bloom, where the syringas sent forth their fragrance and hung their long green branches down into the winding canal. Oh! everything was so lovely, so full of the freshness of spring! And out of the thicket came three beautiful white Swans. They displayed their feathers so proudly and swam so lightly, so lightly! The Duckling knew the glorious creatures, and was seized with a strange sadness.
"I will fly to them, those kingly birds!" said he. "They will kill me, because I, ugly as I am, have dared to approach them. But it matters not. Better to be killed by them than to be bitten by the Ducks, pecked by the Hens, kicked by the girl who feeds the poultry, and to have so much to suffer during the winter!"
He flew into the water and swam towards the beautiful creatures. They saw him and shot forward to meet him. "Only kill me," said the poor creature, and he bowed his head low, expecting death. But what did he see in the water? He saw beneath him his own form, no longer that of a plump, ugly grey bird—it was that of a Swan.
It matters not to have been born in a duck-yard, if one has been hatched from a Swan's egg. And now the Swan began to see the good of all the trouble he had been through. He would never have known how happy he was if he had not first had all his sorrow and unhappiness to bear.
The larger Swans swam round him, and stroked him with their beaks. Some little children were running about in the garden; they threw grain and bread into the water, and the youngest exclaimed: "There is a new one!" The others also cried out: "Yes, a new Swan has come!" and they clapped their hands, and danced around.
They ran to their father and mother, bread and cake were thrown into the water, and every one said: "The new one is best, so young and so beautiful!" And the old Swans bowed before him. The young Swan felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings. He scarcely knew what to do. He was too happy, but still not proud, for a good heart is never proud.
He remembered how he had been persecuted and laughed at, and he now heard everyone say that he was the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The syringas bent down their branches toward him low into the water, and the sun shone warmly and brightly. He shook his feathers, stretched his slender neck, and in the joy of his heart said: "How little did I dream of so much happiness when I was the despised Ugly Duckling!"
ALADDIN AND THE WONDERFUL LAMP
Aladdin was the only son of a poor widow who lived in China; but instead of helping his mother to earn their living, he let her do all the hard work, while he himself only thought of idling and amusement.
One day, as he was playing in the streets, a stranger came up to him, saying that he was his father's brother, and claiming him as his long-lost nephew. Aladdin had never heard that his father had had a brother; but as the stranger gave him money and promised to buy him fine clothes and set him up in business, he was quite ready to believe all that he told him. The man was a magician, who wanted to use Aladdin for his own purposes.
The next day the stranger came again, brought Aladdin a beautiful suit of clothes, gave him many good things to eat, and took him for a long walk, telling him stories all the while to amuse him. After they had walked a long way, they came to a narrow valley, bounded on either side by tall, gloomy-looking mountains. Aladdin was beginning to feel tired, and he did not like the look of this place at all. He wanted to turn back; but the stranger would not let him. He made Aladdin follow him still farther, until at length they reached the place where he intended to carry out his evil design. Then he made Aladdin gather sticks to make a fire, and when they were in a blaze he threw into them some powder, at the same time saying some mystical words, which Aladdin could not understand.
Immediately they were surrounded with a thick cloud of smoke. The earth trembled, and burst open at their feet—disclosing a large flat stone with a brass ring fixed in it. Aladdin was so terribly frightened that he was about to run away; but the Magician gave him such a blow on the ear that he fell to the ground.
Poor Aladdin rose to his feet with eyes full of tears, and said, reproachfully—
"Uncle, what have I done that you should treat me so?"
"You should not have tried to run away from me," said the Magician, "when I have brought you here only for your own advantage. Under this stone there is hidden a treasure which will make you richer than the richest monarch in the world. You alone may touch it. If I assist you in any way the spell will be broken, but if you obey me faithfully, we shall both be rich for the rest of our lives. Come, take hold of the brass ring and lift the stone."
Aladdin forgot his fears in the hope of gaining this wonderful treasure, and took hold of the brass ring. It yielded at once to his touch, and he was able to lift the great stone quite easily and move it away, which disclosed a flight of steps, leading down into the ground.
"Go down these steps," commanded the Magician, "and at the bottom you will find a great cavern, divided into three halls, full of vessels of gold and silver; but take care you do not meddle with these. If you touch anything in the halls you will meet with instant death. The third hall will bring you into a garden, planted with fine fruit trees. When you have crossed the garden, you will come to a terrace, where you will find a niche, and in the niche a lighted lamp. Take the lamp down, and when you have put out the light and poured away the oil, bring it to me. If you would like to gather any of the fruit of the garden you may do so, provided you do not linger."
Then the Magician put a ring on Aladdin's finger, which he told him was to preserve him from evil, and sent him down into the cavern.
Aladdin found everything just as the Magician had said. He passed through the three halls, crossed the garden, took down the lamp from the niche, poured out the oil, put the lamp into his bosom, and turned to go back.
As he came down from the terrace, he stopped to look at the trees of the garden, which were laden with wonderful fruits. To Aladdin's eyes it appeared as if these fruits were only bits of colored glass, but in reality they were jewels of the rarest quality. Aladdin filled his pockets full of the dazzling things, for though he had no idea of their real value, yet he was attracted by their dazzling brilliance. He had so loaded himself with these treasures that when at last he came to the steps he was unable to climb them without assistance.
"Pray, Uncle," he said, "give me your hand to help me out."
"Give me the lamp first," replied the Magician.
"Really, Uncle, I cannot do so until I am out of this place," answered Aladdin, whose hands were, indeed, so full that he could not get at the lamp.
But the Magician refused to help Aladdin up the steps until he had handed over the lamp. Aladdin was equally determined not to give it up until he was out of the cavern, and, at last, the Magician fell into a furious rage. Throwing some more of the powder into the fire, he again said the magic words. No sooner had he done so than there was a tremendous thunder-clap, the stone rolled back into its place, and Aladdin was a prisoner in the cavern. The poor boy cried aloud to his supposed uncle to help him; but it was all in vain, his cries could not be heard. The doors in the garden were closed by the same enchantment, and Aladdin sat down on the steps in despair, knowing that there was little hope of his ever seeing his Mother again.
For two terrible days he lay in the cavern waiting for death. On the third day, realizing that it could not now be far off, he clasped his hands in anguish, thinking of his Mother's sorrow; and in so doing he accidently rubbed the ring which the Magician had put upon his finger.
Immediately a genie of enormous size rose out of the earth, and, as Aladdin started back in fright and horror, said to him:
"What wouldst thou have of me?"
"Who are you?" gasped Aladdin.
"I am the slave of the ring. I am ready to obey thy commands," came the answer.
Aladdin was still trembling; but the danger he was in already made him answer without hesitation:
"Then, if you are able, deliver me, I beseech you, from this place."
Scarcely had he spoken, when he found himself lying on the ground at the place to which the Magician had first brought him.
He hastened home to his Mother, who had mourned him as dead. As soon as he had told her all his adventures, he begged her to get him some food, for he had now been three days without eating.
"Alas, child!" replied his Mother, "I have not a bit of bread to give you."
"Never mind, Mother," said Aladdin, "I will go and sell the old lamp which I brought home with me. Doubtless I shall get a little money for it."
His Mother reached down the lamp; but seeing how dirty it was, she thought it would sell better if she cleaned it. But no sooner had she begun to rub it than a hideous genie appeared before her, and said in a voice like thunder:
"What wouldst thou have of me? I am ready to obey thy commands, I and all the other slaves of the lamp."
Aladdin's Mother fainted away at the sight of this creature; but Aladdin, having seen the genie of the ring, was not so frightened, and said boldly:
"I am hungry, bring me something to eat."
The genie disappeared, but returned in an instant with twelve silver dishes, filled with different kinds of savory meats, six large white loaves, two bottles of wine, and two silver drinking cups. He placed these things on the table and then vanished.
Aladdin fetched water, and sprinkling some on his Mother's face soon brought her back to life again.
When she opened her eyes and saw all the good things the genie had provided, she was overcome with astonishment.
"To whom are we indebted for this feast?" she cried. "Has the Sultan heard of our poverty and sent us these fine things from his own table?"
"Never mind now how they came here," said Aladdin. "Let us first eat, then I will tell you."
Mother and son made a hearty meal, and then Aladdin told his Mother that it was the genie of the lamp who had brought them the food. His Mother was greatly alarmed, and begged him to have nothing further to do with genies, advising him to sell the lamp at once. But Aladdin would not part with such a wonderful possession, and resolved to keep both the ring and the lamp safely, in case he should ever need them again. He showed his Mother the fruits which he had gathered in the garden, and his Mother admired their bright colors and dazzling radiance, though she had no idea of their real value.
Not many days after this, Aladdin was walking in the streets of the city, when he heard a fanfare of trumpets announcing the passing of the Princess Badroulboudour, the Sultan's only daughter. Aladdin stopped to see her go by, and was so struck by her great beauty that he fell in love with her on the spot and made up his mind to win her for his bride.
"Mother," he said, "I cannot live without the Princess Badroulboudour. You must go to the Sultan and demand her hand in marriage for me."
Aladdin's Mother burst out laughing at the idea of her son wishing to be the son-in-law of the Sultan, and told him to put such thoughts out of his head at once. But Aladdin was not to be laughed out of his fancy. He knew by this time that the fruits which he had gathered from the magic garden were jewels of great value, and he insisted upon his Mother taking them to the Sultan for a present, and asking the hand of the Princess in marriage for her son.
The poor woman was terribly frightened, fearing lest the Sultan should punish her for her impudence; but Aladdin would hear of no excuses, and at last she set forth in fear and trembling, bearing the jewels on a china dish covered with a napkin.
When she came before the Sultan, she told him, with many apologies and pleas for forgiveness, of her son's mad love for the Princess Badroulboudour. The Sultan smiled at the idea of the son of a poor old woman asking for the hand of his daughter, and asked her what she had under the napkin. But when the woman uncovered the jewels, he started up from his throne in amazement, for he had never before seen so many large and magnificent jewels collected together. He thought Aladdin must be a very unusual and extraordinary person to be able to make him such a valuable present, and he began to wonder whether it might not be worth while to bestow the Princess's hand upon him. However, he thought he would ask for some further proof of his wealth and power; so, turning to the woman, he said:
"Good Mother, tell your son he shall have the Princess Badroulboudour for his wife as soon as he sends me forty basins of gold, filled with jewels as valuable as these, and borne by forty black and forty white slaves. Hasten now and carry him my message. I will await your return."
Aladdin's Mother was dismayed at this request.
"Where can Aladdin get such basins and jewels and slaves?" she thought, as she hurried home to him. But Aladdin only smiled when his Mother gave him the Sultan's message. He rubbed the lamp, and at once the genie stood before him, asking him what was his pleasure.
"Go," said Aladdin, "fetch me forty basins all of massive gold, full of jewels, borne by forty black and forty white slaves."
The genie brought these things at once, and Aladdin then sent his Mother with them to the Sultan.
The Sultan was amazed at this wonderful show of wealth and at the quickness with which it had been brought, and he sent for Aladdin to come to the Court.
Aladdin first summoned the genie to bring him fine clothes and a splendid horse, and a retinue fit for the future son-in-law of the Sultan; and then, with a train of slaves bearing magnificent presents for the Princess, he set out for the Palace.
The Sultan would have married him to his daughter at once; but Aladdin asked him to wait until the next morning, when he hoped to have a Palace worthy to receive his wife.
Once again he summoned the genie to his aid, and commanded him to build a Palace that in beauty and magnificence should surpass any that had ever been built on the earth before.
The next morning when the Sultan awoke and looked out of his window, he saw, opposite to his own, the most wonderful Palace he had ever seen. The walls were built of gold and silver, and encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and other rare and precious stones. The stables were filled with the finest horses; beautiful gardens surrounded the building, and everywhere were hundreds of slaves and servants to wait on the Princess.
The Sultan was so overcome with all this magnificence, that he insisted upon marrying his daughter to Aladdin that very day, and the young couple took up their residence in the Palace the genie had built.
For a time they lived very happily, but the Magician, who had gone to Africa after he had left Aladdin to perish in the cavern, at length happened to hear of Aladdin's fame and riches; and guessing at once the source of all this wealth, he returned once more to China, determined to gain possession of the magic lamp.
He bought a number of new and beautiful lamps, disguised himself as an old beggar-man, and then, waiting until Aladdin was out hunting, he came to the windows of the Palace, crying out:
"New lamps for old; new lamps for old."
When the Princess heard this strange cry she was very much amused.
"Let us see," she said to her ladies, "whether this foolish fellow means what he says; there is an ugly old lamp in Aladdin's room," and taking the precious lamp, which Aladdin always kept by his bedside, she sent it out to the old man by one of the slaves, saying—
"Give me a new lamp for this!"
The Magician was overjoyed. He saw at once that it was the very lamp he wanted, and giving the Princess the best of the new ones in exchange, he hurried away with his treasure. As soon as he found himself alone, he summoned the slave of the lamp, and told him to carry himself, the Palace, and the Princess Badroulboudour to the farthest corner of Africa. This order the genie at once obeyed.
When Aladdin returned from hunting and found that his wife and his Palace had vanished, he was overcome with anguish, guessing that his enemy, the Magician, had by some means got possession of the lamp. The Sultan, whose grief and anger at the loss of his daughter were terrible, ordered him to leave the Court at once, and told him that unless he returned in forty days with the Princess safe and well, he would have him beheaded.
Aladdin went out from the Sultan's presence, not knowing what to do or where to turn. But after he had wandered about for some time in despair, he remembered the ring which he still wore on his finger. He rubbed it, and in a moment the genie stood before him. But when Aladdin commanded him to bring back the Palace and the Princess, the genie answered—
"What you command is not in my power. You must ask the slave of the lamp. I am only the slave of the ring."
"Then," said Aladdin, "if you cannot bring my Palace to me, I command you to take me to my Palace." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than he found himself standing in Africa, close to the missing Palace.
The Princess Badroulboudour, who, since the moment when the Magician had had her in his power, had not ceased to weep and lament for her foolishness in exchanging the lamp, happened to be looking out of the window; and when she saw Aladdin she nearly fainted with joy, and sent a slave to bring him secretly into the Palace.
Then she and Aladdin made a plan to get the better of the Magician and to recover the lost lamp. Aladdin summoned the genie of the ring, who procured for him a very powerful sleeping-powder, which he gave to the Princess. Then Aladdin hid himself behind some curtains in the room, and the Princess sent a message to the Magician asking him to take supper with her.
The Magician was delighted at the Princess's invitation, and accepted it joyfully, never dreaming that Aladdin had found his way to Africa.
As they were eating and drinking together, the Princess put the sleeping-powder into the Magician's cup of wine—and no sooner had he tasted it than he fell down in a deep sleep as if dead.
This was Aladdin's chance. Hastily coming out from behind the curtains, he snatched the lamp from the Magician's bosom, and called the genie to come to his assistance.
The genie, having first thrown out the Magician, then carried the Palace with the Princess and Aladdin back to the spot from which it had been taken.
Great was the Sultan's joy at receiving back his daughter. The whole city was given over to rejoicings, and for ten days nothing was heard but the sound of drums and trumpets and cymbals, and nothing was seen but illuminations and gorgeous entertainments in honor of Aladdin's safe return.
Aladdin and the Princess ascended the throne after the Sultan died and they lived long and happily and had many beautiful children.
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had no children. They longed very much for a child; and when at last they had a little daughter they were both delighted, and great rejoicings took place.
When the time came for the little Princess to be christened, the King made a grand feast and invited all but one of the fairies in his kingdom to be godmothers. There happened to be thirteen fairies in the kingdom; but as the King had only twelve gold plates, he had to leave one of them out.
The twelve fairies that were invited came to the christening, and presented the little Princess with the best gifts in their possession. One gave her beauty, one gave her wisdom, another grace, another goodness, until all but one had presented their offerings. Just as the last fairy was about to step forward and offer her gift, there came a tremendous knocking at the door, and before anybody could get there to open it, it was burst open, and in came the thirteenth fairy, in a furious rage at not having been invited to the feast.
When she saw all the gifts which the other fairies had presented the child, she laughed and exclaimed:
"A lot of good all this beauty and virtue and wealth will do to you, my pretty Princess! You shall pay for the slight your Royal Father has put upon me!" Then, turning to the terrified King and Queen, she said, in a loud voice:
"When the Princess is fifteen years old she shall prick her finger with a spindle and die!" Having said this she flew away as noisily as she came.
The King and Queen were in despair, and the courtiers stood aghast at the terrible disaster; while the little Princess began to cry piteously, as if she knew the fate in store for her. Then the twelfth fairy stepped forward.
"Do not be afraid," she said, "I have not yet given my gift. I cannot undo the wicked spell, but I can soften the evil. The Princess, on her fifteenth birthday, shall prick her finger with a spindle, but she shall not die. Instead, she shall fall asleep for a hundred years."
"Alas!" cried the Queen, "what comfort will that be to us? Long before the hundred years are past we shall be dead, and our darling child will be as lost to us as if she were indeed to die!"
"I can make that right," said the fairy. "When the Princess falls asleep, you shall sleep, too; and awaken with her when the hundred years are passed."
But the King still hoped to save his daughter from such a terrible misfortune. So he ordered all the spinning-wheels in his kingdom to be burnt or destroyed, and made a law that no one was to use one on pain of instant death. But all his care was useless. On her fifteenth birthday the Princess slipped away from her attendants, and wandered all through the Palace. At last she came to a tower which she had never seen before, and, wondering what it contained, she climbed the stairs. From a room at the top came a curious humming noise, and the Princess, wondering what it could be, pushed open the door and stepped inside.
There sat an old woman, bent with age, working at a strangely shaped wheel. The Princess was full of curiosity.
"What is that funny-looking thing?" she asked.
"It is a spinning-wheel, Princess," answered the old woman, who was no other than the wicked fairy in disguise.
"A spinning-wheel—what is that? I have never heard of such a thing," said the Princess. She stood watching for a few minutes, then she added:
"It looks quite easy. May I try to do it?"
"Certainly, gracious lady," said the wicked fairy, and the Princess sat down and tried to turn the wheel. But no sooner did she lay her hand upon it than the spindle, which was enchanted, pricked her finger, and the Princess fell back against a silk-covered couch—fast asleep.
In a moment a deep silence fell upon all who were in the castle. The King fell asleep in the midst of his councillors, the Queen with her ladies-in-waiting. The horses in the stable, the pigeons on the roof, the flies upon the walls, even the very fire upon the hearth fell asleep, too. The meat which was cooking in the kitchen ceased to frizzle; and the cook, who was just about to box the kitchen boy's ears, fell asleep with her hand outstretched, and began to snore aloud. The butler who was tasting the ale, fell asleep with the jug at his lips.
A great hedge sprang up around the castle, which, as the years passed on, grew and grew until it formed an impenetrable barrier around the sleeping Palace. The old people of the country died, and their children grew up and died also, and their children, and their children, and the story of the sleeping Princess became a legend, handed down from one generation to another; and a cloud of mystery, as thick and impenetrable as the hedge of thorns, lay over the old castle. Many brave and gallant Princes tried to force their way through the magic hedge, in order to solve the mystery and to see for themselves the beautiful maiden who lay in an enchanted sleep behind that thorny barrier. But the thorns caught them, and held them from going forward or back, and the gallant youths perished miserably in the thickets.
After many, many years there came a King's son into that country, who heard the story of the Princess and the hedge of briers; and he made up his mind to try and force his way to the castle to awake the sleeping Princess. People told him of the fate of the other Princes, who had also attempted this difficult task; but the Prince would not be warned.
"I have made up my mind to see this maiden of whose beauty I have heard so many wonderful tales," he cried. "I will force a way through the hedge of thorns and awake this Sleeping Beauty, or die in the attempt!"
Now, it happened that this day was the last day of the hundred years; and when the Prince came to the thicket that surrounded the castle and began to push his way through, he found that the briers yielded readily to his touch. The thorns had all blossomed into roses that scented the air with fragrance as he went by. Primroses sprang up before his feet and made a pathway to lead him straight to the castle gates; and the birds suddenly broke forth into singing, as if to tell the world that the hundred years of enchantment were over, and the Princess about to be awakened from her long sleep.
The Prince passed through the council chamber, where the King and his councillors were sleeping; through the room where the Queen and her ladies slept. He passed on from hall to hall, climbed from stair to stair, until at last he reached the tower chamber where the sleeping Princess lay. For a moment he stood and gazed in wonder at her lovely face; then he sank on his knees beside her, and kissed her as she lay asleep.
Instantly the spell was broken. The King and Queen awoke, and all the courtiers with them; the horses neighed in the stables, and shook their glossy manes; the pigeons cooed upon the roof; the flies on the wall moved again; the fire burnt up brightly; and the meat in the kitchen began to frizzle once more as the spit turned round. The cook gave the kitchen boy the tremendous box on the ear that she had started to give him a hundred years ago, and everything and everybody went on just as usual, as if nothing at all out of the common had occurred.
And up in the tower chamber the Princess opened her eyes to meet the gaze of the Prince, who had dared to risk his life for her sake. What they said to each other nobody quite knows, for nobody was there to hear or see. But whatever it was, it must have been something very satisfactory; for very soon after they were married, and lived happily ever afterwards.
There was once a Miller, who, at his death, had nothing to leave to his three sons except his mill, his ass, and his cat. The eldest son took the mill, the second took the ass—and as for the youngest, all that remained for him was the cat.
The youngest son grumbled at this. "My brothers," said he, "will be able to earn an honest living; but when I have eaten my cat and sold his skin I shall die of hunger."
The Cat, who was sitting beside him, overheard this.
"Nay, Master," he said, "don't take such a gloomy view of things. If you will get me a pair of boots made so that I can walk through the brambles without hurting my feet, and give me a bag, you shall soon see what I am worth."
The Cat's master was so surprised to hear his Cat talking, that he at once got him what he wanted. The Cat drew on the boots and slung the bag round his neck and set off for a rabbit warren. When he got there he filled his bag with bran and lettuces, and stretching himself out beside it as if dead, waited until some young rabbit should be tempted into the bag. This happened very soon. A fat, thoughtless rabbit went in headlong, and the Cat at once jumped up, pulled the strings and killed him.
Puss was very proud of his success, and, going to the King's palace, he asked to speak to the King. When he was shown into the King's presence he bowed respectfully, and, laying the rabbit down before the throne, he said—
"Sire, here is a rabbit, which my master, the Marquis of Carabas, desires me to present to your Majesty."
"Tell your master," said the King, "that I accept his present, and am very much obliged to him."
A few days later, the Cat went and hid himself in a cornfield and laid his bag open as before. This time two splendid partridges were lured into the trap, and these also he took to the Palace and presented to the King from the Marquis of Carabas. The King was very pleased with this gift, and ordered the messenger of the Marquis of Carabas to be handsomely rewarded.
For two or three months the Cat went on in this way, carrying game every day to the Palace, and saying it was sent by the Marquis of Carabas.
At last the Cat happened to hear that the King was going to take a drive on the banks of the river, with his daughter, the most beautiful Princess in the world. He at once went to his master.
"Master," said he, "if you follow my advice, your fortune will be made. Go and bathe in the river at a place I shall show you, and I will do the rest."
"Very well," said the Miller's son, and he did as the Cat told him. When he was in the water, the Cat took away his clothes and hid them, and then ran to the road, just as the King's coach went by, calling out as loudly as he could—
"Help, help! The Marquis of Carabas will be drowned."
The King looked out of the carriage window, and when he saw the Cat who had brought him so many fine rabbits and partridges, he ordered his bodyguards to fly at once to the rescue of the Marquis of Carabas.
Then the Cat came up to the carriage and told the King that while his master was bathing some robbers had stolen all his clothes. The King immediately ordered one of his own magnificent suits of clothes to be taken to the Marquis; so when the Miller's son appeared before the monarch and his daughter, he looked so handsome, and was so splendidly attired, that the Princess fell in love with him on the spot.
The King was so struck with his appearance that he insisted upon his getting into the carriage to take a drive with them.
The Cat, delighted with the way his plans were turning out, ran on before. He reached a meadow where some peasants were making hay.
"Good people," said he, "if you do not tell the King, when he comes this way, that the meadow you are mowing belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped up into little pieces."
When the King came by, he stopped to ask the haymakers to whom the meadow belonged.
"To the Marquis of Carabas, if it please Your Majesty," answered they, trembling, for the Cat's threat had frightened them terribly.
The Cat, who continued to run before the carriage, now came to some reapers.
"Good people," said he, "if you do not tell the King that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped up into little pieces."
The King again stopped to ask to whom the land belonged, and the reapers, obedient to the Cat's command, answered—
"To the Marquis of Carabas, please Your Majesty."
And all the way the Cat kept running on before the carriage, repeating the same instructions to all the laborers he came to; so that the King became very astonished at the vast possessions of the Marquis of Carabas.
At last the Cat arrived at a great castle, where an Ogre lived who was very rich, for all the lands through which the King had been riding were part of his estate. The Cat knocked at the castle door, and asked to see the Ogre.
The Ogre received him very civilly, and asked him what he wanted.
"If you please, sir," said the Cat, "I have heard that you have the power of changing yourself into any sort of animal you please—and I came to see if it could possibly be true."
"So I have," replied the Ogre, and in a moment he turned himself into a lion. This gave the Cat a great fright, and he scrambled up the curtains to the ceiling.
"Indeed, sir," he said, "I am now quite convinced of your power to turn yourself into such a huge animal as a lion; but I do not suppose you can change yourself into a small one—such as a mouse, for instance?"
"Indeed, I can," cried the Ogre, indignantly; and in a moment the lion had vanished, while a little brown mouse frisked about the floor.
In less than half a second the Cat sprang down from the curtains and, pouncing upon the mouse, ate him all up before the Ogre had time to return to any other shape.
And when the King arrived at the castle gates, there stood the Cat upon the doorstep, bowing and saying—
"Welcome to the castle of the Marquis of Carabas!"
The Marquis helped the King and the Princess to alight, and the Cat led them into a great hall, where a feast had been spread for the Ogre.
The King was so delighted with the good looks, the charming manners, and the great wealth of the Marquis of Carabas, that he said the Marquis must marry his daughter.
The Marquis, of course, replied that he should be only too happy; and the very next day he and the Princess were married.
As for the Cat, he was given the title of Puss-in-Boots, and ever after only caught mice for his own amusement.
ADVENTURES OF TOM THUMB
A long time ago, a woodcutter lived with his wife in a small cottage not far from a great forest. They had seven children—all boys; and the youngest was the smallest little fellow ever seen. He was called Tom Thumb. But though he was so small, he was far cleverer than any of his brothers, and he heard a great deal more than anybody ever imagined.
It happened that just at this time there was a famine in the land, and the woodcutter and his wife became so poor that they could no longer give their boys enough to eat.
One night—after the boys had gone to bed—the husband sighing deeply, said—
"We cannot feed our children any longer, and to see them starve before our eyes is more than I can bear. To-morrow morning, therefore, we will take them into the forest and leave them in the thickest part of it, so that they will not be able to find their way back."
His wife wept bitterly at the thought of leaving their children to perish in the forest; but she, too, thought it better than to see them die before her eyes. So she consented to her husband's plan.
But all this time Tom Thumb had been awake, and he had overheard all the conversation. He lay awake a long while thinking what to do. Then, slipping quietly out of bed, he ran down to the river and filled his pocket with small white pebbles from the river's brink.
In the morning the parents called the children, and, after giving them a crust of bread, they all set out for the wood. Tom Thumb did not say a word to his brothers of what he had overheard; but, lingering behind, he dropped the pebbles from his pocket one by one, as they walked, so that he should be able to find his way home. When they reached a very thick part of the forest, the father and mother told the children to wait while they went a little farther to cut wood, but as soon as they were out of sight they turned and went home by another way.
When darkness fell, the children began to realize that they were deserted, and they began to cry loudly. Tom Thumb, however, did not cry.
"Do not weep, my brothers," he said encouragingly. "Only wait until the moon rises, and we shall soon be able to find our way home."
When at length the moon rose, it shone down upon the white pebbles which Tom Thumb had scattered; and, following this path, the children soon reached their father's house.
But at first they were afraid to go in, and waited outside the door to hear what their parents were talking about.
Now, it happened that when the father and mother reached home, they found a rich gentleman had sent them ten crowns, in payment for work which had been done long before. The wife went out at once and bought bread and meat, and she and her husband sat down to make a hearty meal. But the mother could not forget her little ones; and at last she cried to her husband:
"Alas! where are our poor children? How they would have enjoyed this good feast!"
The children, listening at the door, heard this and cried out, "Here we are, mother; here we are!" and, overjoyed, the mother flew to let them in and kissed them all round.
Their parents were delighted to have their little ones with them again; but soon the ten crowns were spent, and they found themselves as badly off as before. Once more they agreed to leave the children in the forest, and once again Tom Thumb overheard them. This time he did not trouble himself very much; he thought it would be easy for him to do as he had done before. He got up very early the next morning to go and get the pebbles; but, to his dismay, he found the house door securely locked. Then, indeed, he did not know what to do, and for a little while he was in great distress. However, at breakfast the mother gave each of the children a slice of bread, and Tom Thumb thought he would manage to make his piece of bread do as well as the pebbles, by breaking it up and dropping the crumbs as he went.
This time the father and mother took the children still deeper and farther into the wood, and then, slipping away, left them alone.
Tom Thumb consoled his brothers as before; but when he came to look for the crumbs of bread, not one of them was left. The birds had eaten them all up, and the poor children were lost in the forest, with no possible means of finding their way home.
Tom Thumb did not lose courage. He climbed to the top of a high tree and looked round to see if there was any way of getting help. In the distance he saw a light burning, and, coming down from the tree, he led his brothers toward the house from which it came.
When they knocked at the door, it was opened by a pleasant-looking woman, and Tom Thumb told her they were poor children who had lost their road, and begged her to give them a night's shelter.
"Alas, my poor children!" said the woman, "you do not know where you have come to. This is the house of an ogre who eats up little boys and girls."
"But, madam," replied Tom Thumb, "what shall we do? If we go back to the forest we are certain to be torn to pieces by the wolves. We had better, I think, stay and be eaten by the ogre."
The ogre's wife had pity on the little things, and she thought she would be able to hide them from her husband for one night. She took them in, gave them food, and let them warm themselves by the fire.
Very soon there came a loud knocking at the door. It was the ogre come home. His wife hid the children under the bed, and then hurried to let her husband in.
No sooner had the ogre entered than he began to sniff this way and that. "I smell flesh," he said, looking round the room.
"It must be the calf which has just been killed," said his wife.
"I smell child's flesh, I tell you!" cried the ogre, and he suddenly made a dive under the bed, and drew out the children one by one.
"Oh, ho, madam!" said he; "so you thought to cheat me, did you? But, really, this is very lucky! I have invited three ogres to dinner to-morrow; these brats will make a nice dish."
He fetched a huge knife and began sharpening it, while the poor boys fell on their knees and begged for mercy. But their prayers and entreaties were useless. The ogre seized one of the children and was just about to kill him, when his wife said—
"What in the world makes you take the trouble of killing them to-night? Why don't you leave them till the morning? There will be plenty of time, and they will be much fresher."
"That is very true," said the ogre, throwing down the knife. "Give them a good supper, so that they may not get lean, and send them to bed."
Now, the ogre had seven young daughters, who were all about the same age as Tom Thumb and his brothers. These young ogresses all slept together in one large bed, and every one of them had a crown of gold on her head. There was another bed of the same size in the room, and in this the ogre's wife, having provided them all with nightcaps, put the seven little boys.
But Tom Thumb was afraid that the ogre might change his mind in the night, and kill him and his brothers while they were asleep. So he crept softly out of bed, took off his brothers' nightcaps and his own, and stole over to the bed where the young ogresses lay. He drew off their crowns very gently, and put the nightcaps on their heads instead. Then he put the crowns on his brothers' heads and his own, and got into bed again.
In the middle of the night the ogre woke up, and began to be sorry that he had put off killing the boys until the morning.
"Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day," he said; and, jumping out of bed, he got his knife and walked stealthily to the room where the boys were. He walked up to the bed, and they were all asleep except Tom Thumb, who, however, kept his eyes fast shut, and did not show that he was awake. The ogre touched their heads, one after another, and feeling the crowns of gold, he said to himself:
"What a mistake I was going to make!" He then went to bed where his own daughters were sleeping, and, feeling the nightcaps, he said:
"Oh, ho, here you are, my lads!" and in a moment he had killed them all. He then went back to his own room to sleep till morning.
As soon as Tom Thumb heard him snoring, he roused his brothers, and told them to dress quickly and follow him. He led them downstairs and out of the house; and then, stealing on tiptoe through the garden, they jumped down from the wall into the road and ran swiftly away.
In the morning, when the ogre found what a dreadful thing he had done, he was terribly shocked.
"Fetch me my seven-league boots," he cried to his wife. "I will go and catch those young vipers. They shall pay for this piece of work!" And, drawing on the magic boots, the ogre set out.
He went striding over the country, stepping from mountain to mountain, and crossing rivers as if they had been streams. The poor children watched him coming in fear and trembling. They had found the way to their father's home, and had very nearly reached it when they saw the ogre racing after them.
Tom Thumb thought for a moment what was to be done. Then he saw a hollow place under a large rock.
"Get in there," he said to his brothers.
When they were all in he crept in himself, but kept his eyes fixed on the ogre, to see what he would do.
The ogre, seeing nothing of the children, sat down to rest himself on the very rock under which the poor boys were hiding. He was tired with his journey, and soon fell fast asleep, and began to snore so loudly that the little fellows were terrified. Tom Thumb told his brothers to creep out softly and run home; which they did. Then he crept up to the ogre, pulled off the seven-league boots very gently and put them on his own feet, for being fairy boots they could fit themselves to any foot, however small.
As soon as Tom Thumb had put on the ogre's seven-league boots, he took ten steps to the Palace, which was seventy miles off, and asked to see the King. He offered to carry news to the King's army, which was then a long way off; and so useful was he with his magic boots, that in a short time he had made money enough to keep himself, his father, his mother and his six brothers without the trouble of working for the rest of their lives.
And now let us see what has become of the wicked ogre, whom we left sleeping on the rock.
When he awoke he missed his seven-league boots, and set off for home very angry.
On his way he had to cross a bog; and, forgetting that he was no longer wearing his magic boots, he tried to cross it with one stride. But, instead, he put his foot down in the middle and began to sink. As fast as he tried to pull out one foot, the other sank deeper, until at last he was swallowed up in the black slime—and that was the end of him.
THE THREE BEARS
There were once three bears who lived together in a little house in the middle of a wood. One of them was a Little, Small, Wee Bear; one was a Middle-Sized Bear; and the other was a Great, Huge Bear.
And they each had a pot to eat their porridge from: a little pot for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; a middle-sized pot for the Middle-Sized Bear; and a great big pot for the Great, Huge Bear.
And they each had a chair to sit on: a little chair for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; a middle-sized chair for the Middle-Sized Bear; and a great big chair for the Great, Huge Bear.
And they each had a bed to sleep in: a little bed for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; a middle-sized bed for the Middle-Sized Bear; and a great big bed for the Great, Huge Bear.
One day they made the porridge for their breakfast, and poured it into their porridge-pots, and then went out in the wood for a walk while the porridge for their breakfast was cooling. And while they were out walking, a little Old Woman came to the house in the wood and peeped inside.
First she peeped through the keyhole; then she peeped through the window. Then she lifted the latch and peeped through the doorway; and, seeing nobody in the house, she walked in. And when she saw the porridge cooling on the table she was very pleased, for she had walked a long way, and was getting hungry.
So first she tasted the porridge of the Great, Huge Bear, but that was too hot. Then she tasted the porridge of the Middle-Sized Bear, but that was too cold. And then she tasted the porridge of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and that was neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. And she liked it so much that she ate it all up!
Then the little Old Woman sat down in the chair of the Great, Huge Bear, but that was too hard. Then she sat down in the chair of the Middle-Sized Bear, but that was too soft. Then she sat down in the chair of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and that was neither too hard nor too soft, but just right. And she liked it so much that she sat in it until suddenly the bottom came out, and she fell down plump upon the ground.
Then the little Old Woman went upstairs into the bedroom, where the three Bears slept. And first she lay down on the bed of the Great, Huge Bear, but that was too high at the head for her. Then she lay down on the bed of the Middle-Sized Bear, but that was too high at the foot for her. So then she lay down on the bed of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and that was neither too high at the head nor too high at the foot, but just right. And she liked it so much that she covered herself up and lay there till she fell fast asleep!
By and by the three Bears came home to breakfast. Now, the little Old Woman had left the spoon of the Great, Huge Bear standing in his porridge pot.
"Somebody has been at my porridge!"
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.
And when the Middle-Sized Bear looked, she saw that the spoon was standing in her porridge-pot too.
"Somebody has been at my porridge!"
said the Middle-Sized Bear in her middle-sized voice.
Then the Little, Small, Wee Bear looked, and there was the spoon in his porridge-pot; but the porridge was all gone.
"Somebody has been at my porridge and has eaten it all up!"
said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.
Then the three Bears began to look about them. Now, the little Old Woman had not put the hard cushion straight after she had sat in the chair of the Great, Huge Bear.
"Somebody has been sitting in my chair!"
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.
And the little Old Woman had squashed the soft cushion of the Middle-Sized Bear.
"Somebody has been sitting in my chair!"
said the Middle-Sized Bear, in her middle-sized voice.
And you know what the little Old Woman had done to the third chair.
"Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has sat the bottom out!"
said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.
Then the three Bears went upstairs into their bedroom. Now, the little Old Woman had pulled the pillow of the Great, Huge Bear out of its place.
"Somebody has been lying in my bed!"
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.
And the little Old Woman had pulled the bolster of the Middle-Sized Bear out of its place.
"Somebody has been lying in my bed!"
said the Middle-Sized Bear, in her middle-sized voice.
And when the Little, Small, Wee Bear came to look at his bed, there was the bolster in its place, and the pillow in its place upon the bolster; and upon the pillow was the little Old Woman's head, which was not in its place, for she had no business there at all.
"Somebody has been lying in my bed—and here she is!"
cried the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.
The little Old Woman had heard in her sleep the great, rough, gruff voice of the Great, Huge Bear, but she was so fast asleep that it seemed to her no more than the roaring of the wind, or the rumbling of thunder. And she had heard the middle-sized voice of the Middle-Sized Bear, but it was only as if she had heard some one speaking in a dream. But when she heard the little, small, wee voice of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, it was so sharp and shrill that it woke her up at once. Up she started, and when she saw the three Bears, on one side of the bed, she tumbled out at the other, jumped out of the window and ran away through the wood to her own home. And the three Bears never saw anything more of her.
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL
It was dreadfully cold, it was snowing fast, and almost dark; the evening—the last evening of the Old Year—was drawing in. But cold and dark as it was, a poor little girl, with bare head and feet, was still wandering about the streets. When she left her home she had slippers on, but they were much too large for her—indeed, really, they belonged to her mother—and had dropped off her feet while she was running very fast across the road, to get out of the way of two carriages. One of the slippers was not to be found; the other had been snatched up by a little boy, who ran off with it thinking it might serve him as a doll's cradle.
So the little girl now walked on, her bare feet quite red and blue with the cold. She carried a small bundle of matches in her hand, and a good many more in her tattered apron. No one had bought any of them the livelong day—no one had given her a single penny. Trembling with cold and hunger she crept on, the picture of sorrow; poor little child!
The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which curled in such pretty ringlets over her shoulders; but she thought not of her own beauty, nor of the cold. Lights were glimmering through every window, and the savor of roast goose reached her from several houses. It was New Year's Eve, and it was of this that she thought.
In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sat down, drawing her little feet close under her, but in vain—she could not warm them. She dared not go home, she had sold no matches, earned not a single penny, and perhaps her father would beat her. Besides her home was almost as cold as the street—it was an attic; and although the larger of the many chinks in the roof were stopped up with straw and rags, the wind and snow often came through.
Her hands were nearly dead with cold; one little match from her bundle would warm them, perhaps, if she dare light it. She drew one out, and struck it against the wall. Bravo! it was a bright, warm flame, and she held her hands over it. It was quite an illumination for that poor little girl—nay, call it rather a magic taper—for it seemed to her as though she were sitting before a large iron stove with brass ornaments, so beautifully blazed the fire within! The child stretched out her feet to warm them also. Alas! in an instant the flame had died away, the stove vanished, the little girl sat cold and comfortless, with the burnt match in her hand.
A second match was struck against the wall. It kindled and blazed, and wherever its light fell the wall became transparent as a veil—the little girl could see into the room within. She saw the table spread with a snow-white damask cloth, whereon were ranged shining china dishes; the roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums, stood at one end, smoking hot, and—which was pleasantest of all to see-the goose, with knife and fork still in her breast, jumped down from the dish, and waddled along the floor right up to the poor child. Then the match went out, and only the thick, hard wall was beside her.
She kindled a third match. Again up shot the flame. And now she was sitting under a most beautiful Christmas tree, far larger, and far more prettily decked out, than the one she had seen last Christmas Eve through the glass doors of the rich merchant's house. Hundreds of wax tapers lighted up the green branches, and tiny painted figures, such as she had seen in the shop windows, looked down from the tree upon her. The child stretched out her hands towards them in delight, and in that moment the light of the match was quenched. Still, however, the Christmas candles burned higher and higher—she beheld them beaming like stars in heaven. One of them fell, the lights streaming behind it like a long, fiery tail.
"Now someone is dying," said the little girl softly, for she had been told by her old grandmother—the only person who had ever been kind to her, and who was now dead—that whenever a star falls an immortal spirit returns to God who gave it.
She struck yet another match against the wall. It flamed up, and, surrounded by its light, appeared before her that same dear grandmother, gentle and loving as always, but bright and happy as she had never looked during her lifetime.
"Grandmother!" exclaimed the child, "Oh, take me with you! I know you will leave me as soon as the match goes out. You will vanish like the warm fire in the stove, like the splendid New Year's feast, like the beautiful large Christmas tree!" And she hastily lighted all the remaining matches in the bundle, lest her grandmother should disappear. And the matches burned with such a blaze of splendor, that noonday could scarcely have been brighter. Never had the good old grandmother looked so tall and stately, so beautiful and kind. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew together—joyfully and gloriously they flew—higher and higher, till they were in that place where neither cold, nor hunger, nor pain is ever known—they were in Paradise.
But in the cold morning hour, crouching in the corner of the wall, the poor little girl was found—her cheeks glowing, her lips smiling—frozen to death on the last night of the Old Year. The New Year's sun shone on the lifeless child. Motionless she sat there with the matches in her lap, one bundle of them quite burnt out.
"She has been trying to warm herself, poor thing!" the people said; but no one knew of the sweet visions she had beheld, or how gloriously she and her grandmother were celebrating their New Year's festival.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
There was once a Merchant who had three daughters, the youngest of whom was so beautiful that everybody called her Beauty. This made the two eldest very jealous; and, as they were spiteful and bad-tempered by nature, instead of loving their younger sister they felt nothing but envy and hatred towards her.
After some years there came a terrible storm at sea, and most of the Merchant's ships were sunk, and he became very poor. He and his family were obliged to live in a very small house and do without the servants and fine clothes to which they had been used. The two eldest sisters did nothing but weep and lament for their lost fortune, but Beauty did her best to keep the house bright and cheerful, so that her father might not miss too much all the comfort and luxury to which he was used.
One day the Merchant told his daughters that he was going to take a journey into foreign lands in the hope of recovering some of his property. Then he asked them what they would like him to bring them home in case he should be successful. The eldest daughter asked for fine gowns and beautiful clothing; the second for jewels and gold and silver trinkets.
"And Beauty—what would Beauty like?" asked the father.
Beauty was so happy and contented always that there was scarcely anything for which she longed. She thought for a moment, then she said:
"I should like best of all a red rose!" The other sisters burst out laughing and scoffed at Beauty's simple request; but her father promised to bring her what she wanted. Then he said good-bye to his children and set out on his travels.