THE FAIRY BOOK.
THE BEST POPULAR STORIES SELECTED AND RENDERED ANEW.
THE AUTHOR OF "JOHN HALIFAX, GENTLEMAN."
NEW YORK AND LONDON: HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS.
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A preface is usually an excrescence on a good book, and a vain apology for a worthless one; but, in the present instance, a few explanatory words seem necessary.
This is meant to be the best collection attainable of that delight of all children, and of many grown people who retain the child-heart still—the old-fashioned, time-honored classic Fairy-tale. It has been compiled from all sources—far-off and familiar; when familiar, the stories have been traced with care to their original form, which, if foreign, has been retranslated, condensed, and in any other needful way made suitable for modern British children. Perrault, Madame d'Aulnois, and Grimm have thus been laid under contribution. Where it was not possible to get at the original of a tale, its various versions have been collated, compared, and combined; and in some instances, when this proved still unsatisfactory, the whole story has been written afresh. The few English fairy tales extant, such as Jack the Giant Killer, Tom Thumb, etc., whose authorship is lost in obscurity, but whose charming Saxon simplicity of style, and intense realism of narration, make for them an ever-green immortality—these have been left intact, for no later touch would improve them. All modern stories have been excluded.
Of course, in fairy tales, instruction is not expected; we find in them only the rude moral of virtue rewarded and vice punished. But children will soon discover for themselves that in real life all beautiful people are not good, nor all ugly ones wicked; that every elder sister is not ungenerous, nor every stepmother cruel. And the tender baby-heart is often reached quite as soon by the fancy as by the reason. Nevertheless, without any direct appeal to conscience or morality, the Editor of this collection has been especially careful that there should be nothing in it which could really harm a child.
She trusts that, whatever its defects, the Fairy Book will not deserve one criticism, almost the sharpest that can be given to any work—"that it would have been better if the author had taken more pains."
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THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD
CINDERELLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER
ADVENTURES OF JOHN DIETRICH
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
LITTLE ONE EYE, LITTLE TWO EYES, AND LITTLE THREE EYES
JACK THE GIANT KILLER
THE BREMEN TOWN MUSICIANS
RIQUET WITH THE TUFT
SNOW-WHITE AND ROSE RED
JACK AND THE BEAN-STALK
GRACIOSA AND PERCINET
THE IRON STOVE
THE INVISIBLE PRINCE
THE WOODCUTTER'S DAUGHTER
BROTHER AND SISTER
PUSS IN BOOTS
THE WOLF AND THE SEVEN YOUNG GOSLINGS
THE FAIR ONE WITH GOLDEN LOOKS
THE WHITE CAT
THE BLUE BIRD
THE YELLOW DWARF
THE SIX SWANS
THE PRINCE WITH THE NOSE
THE HIND OF THE FOREST
THE JUNIPER TREE
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SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD.
Once there was a royal couple who grieved excessively because they had no children. When at last, after long waiting, the queen presented her husband with a little daughter, his majesty showed his joy by giving a christening feast, so grand that the like of it was never known. He invited all the fairies in the land—there were seven altogether—to stand godmothers to the little princess; hoping that each might bestow on her some good gift, as was the custom of good fairies in those days.
After the ceremony, all the guests returned to the palace, where there was set before each fairy-godmother a magnificent covered dish, with an embroidered table-napkin, and a knife and fork of pure gold, studded with diamonds and rubies. But alas! as they placed themselves at table, there entered an old fairy who had never been invited, because more than fifty years since she had left the king's dominion on a tour of pleasure, and had not been heard of until this day. His majesty, much troubled, desired a cover to be placed for her, but it was of common delf, for he had ordered from his jeweller only seven gold dishes for the seven fairies aforesaid. The elderly fairy thought herself neglected, and muttered angry menaces, which were overheard by one of the younger fairies, who chanced to sit beside her. This good godmother, afraid of harm to the pretty baby, hastened to hide herself behind the tapestry in the hall. She did this, because she wished all the others to speak first—so that if any ill gift were bestowed on the child, she might be able to counteract it.
The six now offered their good wishes—which, unlike most wishes, were sure to come true. The fortunate little princess was to grow up the fairest woman in the world; to have a temper sweet as an angel; to be perfectly graceful and gracious; to sing like a nightingale; to dance like a leaf on a tree; and to possess every accomplishment under the sun. Then the old fairy's turn came. Shaking her head spitefully, she uttered the wish that when the baby grew up into a young lady, and learned to spin, she might prick her finger with the spindle and die of the wound.
At this terrible prophecy all the guests shuddered; and some of the more tender-hearted began to weep. The lately happy parents were almost out of their wits with grief. Upon which the wise young fairy appeared from behind the tapestry, saying cheerfully "Your majesties may comfort yourselves; the princess shall not die. I have no power to alter the ill-fortune just wished her by my ancient sister—her finger must be pierced; and she shall then sink, not into the sleep of death, but into a sleep that will last a hundred years. After that time is ended, the son of a king will find her, awaken her, and marry her."
Immediately all the fairies vanished.
The king, in the hope of avoiding his daughter's doom, issued an edict, forbidding all persons to spin, and even to have spinning-wheels in their houses, on pain of instant death. But it was in vain. One day, when she was just fifteen years of age, the king and queen left their daughter alone in one of their castles, when, wandering about at her will, she came to an ancient donjon tower, climbed to the top of it, and there found a very old woman—so old and deaf that she had never heard of the king's edict—busy with her wheel.
"What are you doing, good old woman?" said the princess.
"I'm spinning, my pretty child."
"Ah, how charming! Let me try if I can spin also."
She had no sooner taken up the spindle than, being lively and obstinate, she handled it so awkwardly and carelessly that the point pierced her finger. Though it was so small a wound, she fainted away at once, and dropped silently down on the floor. The poor frightened old woman called for help; shortly came the ladies in waiting, who tried every means to restore their young mistress, but all their care was useless. She lay, beautiful as an angel, the colour still lingering in her lips and cheeks; her fair bosom softly stirred with her breath: only her eyes were fast closed. When the king her father and the queen her mother beheld her thus, they knew regret was idle—all had happened as the cruel fairy meant. But they also knew that their daughter would not sleep for ever, though after one hundred years it was not likely they would either of them behold her awakening. Until that happy hour should arrive, they determined to leave her in repose. They sent away all the physicians and attendants, and themselves sorrowfully laid her upon a bed of embroidery, in the most elegant apartment of the palace. There she slept and looked like a sleeping angel still.
When this misfortune happened, the kindly young fairy who had saved the princess by changing her sleep of death into this sleep of a hundred years, was twelve thousand leagues away in the kingdom of Mataquin. But being informed of everything, she arrived speedily, in a chariot of fire drawn by dragons. The king was somewhat startled by the sight, but nevertheless went to the door of his palace, and, with a mournful countenance, presented her his hand to descend.
The fairy condoled with his majesty, and approved of all he had done. Then, being a fairy of great common sense and foresight, she suggested that the princess, awakening after a hundred years in this ancient castle, might be a good deal embarrassed, especially with a young prince by her side, to find herself alone. Accordingly, without asking any one's leave, she touched with her magic wand the entire population of the palace—except the king and queen; governesses, ladies of honour, waiting-maids, gentlemen ushers, cooks, kitchen-girls, pages, footmen—down to the horses that were in the stables, and the grooms that attended them, she touched each and all. Nay, with kind consideration for the feelings of the princess, she even touched the little fat lap-dog, Puffy, who had laid himself down beside his mistress on her splendid bed. He, like all the rest, fell fast asleep in a moment. The very spits that were before the kitchen-fire ceased turning, and the fire itself went out, and everything became as silent as if it were the middle of the night, or as if the palace were a palace of the dead.
The king and queen—having kissed their daughter and wept over her a little, but not much, she looked so sweet and content—departed from the castle, giving orders that it was to be approached no more. The command was unnecessary; for in one quarter of an hour there sprung up around it a wood so thick and thorny that neither beasts nor men could attempt to penetrate there. Above this dense mass of forest could only be perceived the top of the high tower where the lovely princess slept.
A great many changes happen in a hundred years. The king, who never had a second child, died, and his throne passed into another royal family. So entirely was the story of the poor princess forgotten, that when the reigning king's son, being one day out hunting and stopped in the chase by this formidable wood, inquired what wood it was and what were those towers which he saw appearing out of the midst of it, no one could answer him. At length an old peasant was found who remembered having heard his grandfather say to his father, that in this tower was a princess, beautiful as the day, who was doomed to sleep there for one hundred years, until awakened by a king's son, her destined bridegroom.
At this, the young prince, who had the spirit of a hero, determined to find out the truth for himself. Spurred on by both generosity and curiosity, he leaped from his horse and began to force his way through the thick wood. To his amazement the stiff branches all gave way, and the ugly thorns sheathed themselves of their own accord, and the brambles buried themselves in the earth to let him pass. This done, they closed behind him, allowing none of his suite to follow: but, ardent and young, he went boldly on alone. The first thing he saw was enough to smite him with fear. Bodies of men and horses lay extended on the ground; but the men had faces, not death-white, but red as peonies, and beside them were glasses half filled with wine, showing that they had gone to sleep drinking. Next he entered a large court, paved with marble, where stood rows of guards presenting arms, but motionless as if cut out of stone; then he passed through many chambers where gentlemen and ladies, all in the costume of the past century, slept at their ease, some standing, some sitting. The pages were lurking in corners, the ladies of honour were stooping over their embroidery frames, or listening apparently with polite attention to the gentlemen of the court, but all were as silent as statues and as immoveable. Their clothes, strange to say, were fresh and new as ever: and not a particle of dust or spider-web had gathered over the furniture, though it had not known a broom for a hundred years. Finally the astonished prince came to an inner chamber, where was the fairest sight his eyes had ever beheld.
A young girl of wonderful beauty lay asleep on an embroidered bed, and she looked as if she had only just closed her eyes. Trembling, the prince approached and knelt beside her. Some say he kissed her, but as nobody saw it, and she never told, we cannot be quite sure of the fact. However, as the end of the enchantment had come, the princess awakened at once, and looking at him with eyes of the tenderest regard, said drowsily, "Is it you, my prince? I have waited for you very long."
Charmed with these words, and still more with the tone in which they were uttered, the prince assured her that he loved her more than his life. Nevertheless, he was the most embarrassed of the two; for, thanks to the kind fairy, the princess had plenty of time to dream of him during her century of slumber, while he had never even heard of her till an hour before. For a long time did they sit conversing, and yet had not said half enough. Their only interruption was the little dog Puffy, who had awakened with his mistress, and now began to be exceedingly jealous that the princess did not notice him as much as she was wont to do.
Meantime all the attendants, whose enchantment was also broken, not being in love, were ready to die of hunger after their fast of a hundred years. A lady of honour ventured to intimate that dinner was served; whereupon the prince handed his beloved princess at once to the great hall. She did not wait to dress for dinner, being already perfectly and magnificently attired, though in a fashion somewhat out of date. However, her lover had the politeness not to notice this, nor to remind her that she was dressed exactly like her royal grandmother, whose portrait still hung on the palace walls.
During the banquet a concert took place by the attendant musicians, and considering they had not touched their instruments for a century they played extremely well. They ended with a wedding march: for that very evening the marriage of the prince and princess was celebrated, and though the bride was nearly one hundred years older than the bridegroom, it is remarkable that the fact would never have been discovered by any one unacquainted therewith.
After a few days they went together out of the castle and enchanted wood, both of which immediately vanished, and were never more beheld by mortal eyes. The princess was restored to her ancestral kingdom, but it was not generally declared who she was, as during a hundred years people had grown so very much cleverer that nobody then living would ever have believed the story. So nothing was explained, and nobody presumed to ask any questions about her, for ought not a prince be able to marry whomsoever he pleases?
Nor—whether or not the day of fairies was over—did the princess ever see anything further of her seven godmothers. She lived a long and happy life, like any other ordinary woman, and died at length, beloved, regretted, but, the prince being already no more, perfectly contented.
There once lived in a village a faggot-maker and his wife, who had seven children, all boys; the eldest was no more than ten years old, and the youngest was only seven.
It was odd enough, to be sure, that they should have so many children in such a short time; but the truth is, the wife always brought him two and once three at a time. This made him very poor, for not one of these boys was old enough to get a living, and what was still worse, the youngest was a puny little fellow who hardly ever spoke a word. Now this, indeed, was a mark of his good sense, but it made his father and mother suppose him to be silly, and they thought that at last he would turn out quite a fool. This boy was the least size ever seen; for when he was born he was no bigger than a man's thumb, which made him be christened by the name of Hop-o'-my-thumb. The poor child was the drudge of the whole house and always bore the blame of everything that was done wrong. For all this, Hop-o'-my-thumb was far more clever than any of his brothers; and though he spoke but little, he heard and knew more than people thought. It happened just at this time, that for want of rain the fields had grown but half as much corn and potatoes as they used to grow; so that the faggot-maker and his wife could not give the boys the food they had before, which was always either bread or potatoes.
After the father and mother had grieved some time, they thought that as they could contrive no other way to live, they must somehow get rid of their children. One night when the boys were gone to bed, and the faggot-maker and his wife were sitting over a few lighted sticks, to warm themselves, the husband sighed deeply, and said, "You see, my dear, we cannot maintain our children any longer, and to see them die of hunger before my eyes is what I could never bear. I will, therefore, to-morrow morning take them to the forest, and leave them in the thickest part of it, so that they will not be able to find their way back: this will be very easy; for while they amuse themselves with tying up the faggots, we need only slip away when they are looking some other way."
"Ah! husband," cried the poor wife, "you cannot, no, you never can consent to be the death of your own children."
The husband in vain told her to think how very poor they were.
The wife replied "that this was true, to be sure; but if she was poor, she was still their mother;" and then she cried as if her heart would break. At last she thought how shocking it would be to see them starved to death before their eyes; so she agreed to what her husband had said, and then went sobbing to bed.
Hop-o'-my-thumb had been awake all the time; and when he heard his father talk very seriously, he slipped away from his brothers' side, and crept under his father's bed, to hear all that was said without being seen.
When his father and mother had left off talking, he got back to his own place, and passed the night in thinking what he should do the next morning.
He rose early, and ran to the river's side, where he filled his pockets with small white pebbles, and then went back home. In the morning they all set out, as their father and mother had agreed on; and Hop-o'-my-thumb did not say a word to any of his brothers about what he had heard. They came to a forest that was so very thick that they could not see each other a few yards off. The faggot-maker set to work cutting down wood; and the children began to gather the twigs, to make faggots of them.
When the father and mother saw that the young ones were all very busy, they slipped away without being seen. The children soon found themselves alone, and began to cry as loud as they could. Hop-o'-my-thumb let them cry on, for he knew well enough how to lead them safe home, an he had taken care to drop the white pebbles he had in his pocket along all the way he had come. He only said to them, "Never mind it, my lads: father and mother have left us here by ourselves, but only take care to follow me, and I will lead you back again."
When they heard this they left off crying, and followed Hop-o'-my-thumb, who soon brought them to their father's house by the very same path which they had come along. At first they had not the courage to go in; but stood at the door to hear what their parents were talking about. Just as the faggot-maker and his wife had come home without their children, a great gentleman of the village sent to pay them two guineas, for work they had done for him, which he had owed them so long that they never thought of getting a farthing of it. This money made them quite happy; for the poor creatures were very hungry, and had no other way of getting anything to eat.
The faggot-maker sent his wife out immediately to buy some meat; and as it was a long time since she had made a hearty meal, she bought as much meat as would have been enough for six or eight persons. The truth was, when she was thinking what would be enough for dinner, she forgot that her children were not at home; but as soon as she and her husband had done eating, she cried out, "Alas! where are our poor children? how they would feast on what we have left! It was all your fault, husband! I told you we should repent leaving them to starve in the forest!—Oh mercy! perhaps they have already been eaten by the hungry wolves!" The poor woman shed plenty of tears: "Alas! alas!" said she, over and over again, "what is become of my dear children?"
The children, who were all at the door, cried out together, "Here we are, mother, here we are!"
She flew like lightning to let them in, and kissed every one of them.
The faggot-maker and his wife were charmed at having their children once more with them, and their joy for this lasted till their money was all spent; but then they found themselves quite as ill off as before. So by degrees they again thought of leaving them in the forest: and that the young ones might not come back a second time, they said they would take them a great deal farther than they did at first. They could not talk about this matter so slily but that Hop-o'-my-thumb found means to hear all that passed between them; but he cared very little about it, for he thought it would be easy for him to do just the same as he had done before. But though he got up very early the next morning to go to the river's side to get the pebbles, a thing which he had not thought of hindered him; for he found that the house-door was double-locked. Hop-o'-my-thumb was now quite at a loss what to do; but soon after this, his mother gave each of the children a piece of bread for breakfast, and then it came into his head that he could make his share do as well as the pebbles, by dropping crumbs of it all the way as he went. So he did not eat his piece, but put it into his pocket.
It was not long before they all set out, and their parents took care to lead them into the very thickest and darkest part of the forest. They then slipped away by a by-path as before, and left the children by themselves again. All this did not give Hop-o'-my-thumb any concern, for he thought himself quite sure of getting back by means of the crumbs that he had dropped by the way; but when he came to look for them he found that not a crumb was left, for the birds had eaten them all up.
The poor children were now sadly off, for the further they went the harder it was for them to get out of the forest. At last night came on, and the noise of the wind among the trees seemed to them like the howling of wolves, so that every moment they thought they should be eaten up. They hardly dared to speak a word, or to move a limb, for fear. Soon after there came a heavy rain, which wetted them to the very skin, and made the ground so slippery, that they fell down almost at every step, and got dirty all over.
Before it was quite dark, Hop-o'-my-thumb climbed up to the top of a tree, and looked round on all sides to see if he could find any way of getting help. He saw a small light, like that of a candle, but it was a very great way off, and beyond the forest. He then came down from the tree, to try to find the way to it; but he could not see it when he was on the ground, and he was in the utmost trouble what to do next. They walked on towards the place where he had seen the light, and at last reached the end of the forest, and got sight of it again. They now walked faster; and after being much tired and vexed (for every time they got into lower ground they lost sight of the light), came to the house it was in. They knocked at the door, which was opened by a very good-natured-looking lady, who asked what brought them there. Hop-o'-my-thumb told her that they were poor children, who had lost their way in the forest, and begged that she would give them a bed till morning. When the lady saw that they had such pretty faces, she began to shed tears and said, "Ah! my poor children, you do not know what place you are come to. This is the house of an Ogre, who eats up little boys and girls."
"Alas! madam," replied Hop-o'-my-thumb, who trembled from head to foot, "what shall we do? If we go back to the forest, we are sure of being torn to pieces by the wolves; we would rather, therefore, be eaten by the gentleman: besides, when he sees us, perhaps he may take pity on us and spare our lives."
The Ogre's wife thought she could contrive to hide them from her husband till morning; so she let them go in and warm themselves by a good fire, before which there was a whole sheep roasting for the Ogre's supper. When they had stood a short time by the fire, there came a loud knocking at the door: this was the Ogre come home. His wife hurried the children under the bed, and told them to lie still, and she then let her husband in.
The Ogre asked if supper were ready, and if the wine were fetched from the cellar; and then he sat down at the table. The sheep was not quite done, but he liked it much better half raw. In a minute or two the Ogre began to snuff to his right and left, and said he smelt child's flesh.
"It must be this calf which has just been killed," said his wife.
"I smell child's flesh, I tell thee once more," cried the Ogre, looking all about the room; "I smell child's flesh; there is something going on that I do not know of."
As soon as he had spoken these words, he rose from his chair and went towards the bed.
"Ah! madam," said he, "you thought to cheat me, did you? Wretch! thou art old and tough thyself, or else I would eat thee up too! But come, come, this is lucky enough; for the brats will make a nice dish for three Ogres, who are my particular friends, and who are to dine with me to-morrow."
He then drew them out one by one from under the bed. The poor children fell on their knees and begged his pardon as humbly as they could; but this Ogre was the most cruel of all Ogres, and instead of feeling any pity, he only began to think how sweet and tender their flesh would be; so he told his wife they would be nice morsels, if she served them up with plenty of sauce. He then fetched a large knife, and began to sharpen it on a long whetstone that he held in his left hand; and all the while he came nearer and nearer to the bed. The Ogre took up one of the children, and was going to set about cutting him to pieces; but his wife said to him, "What in the world makes you take the trouble of killing them to-night? Will it not be time enough to-morrow morning?"
"Hold your prating," replied the Ogre; "they will grow tender by being kept a little while after they are killed."
"But," said his wife, "you have got so much meat in the house already; here is a calf, two sheep and half a pig."
"True," said the Ogre, "so give them all a good supper, that they may not get lean, and then send them to bed."
The good creature was quite glad at this. She gave them plenty for their supper, but the poor children were so terrified that they could not eat a bit.
The Ogre sat down to his wine, very much pleased with the thought of giving his friends such a dainty dish: this made him drink rather more than common, and he was soon obliged to go to bed himself. Now the Ogre had seven daughters, who were all very young like Hop-o'-my-thumb and his brothers. These young Ogresses had fair skins, because they fed on raw meat like their father; but they had small grey eyes, quite round, and sunk in their heads, hooked noses, wide mouths, and very long sharp teeth standing a great way off each other. They were too young as yet to do much mischief; but they showed that if they lived to be as old as their father, they would grow quite as cruel as he was, for they took pleasure already in biting young children, and sucking their blood. The Ogresses had been put to bed very early that night; they were all in one bed, which was very large, 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 put the seven little boys, and then went to bed herself along with her husband.
Now Hop-o'-my-thumb was afraid that the Ogre would wake in the night and kill him and his brothers while they were asleep. So he got out of bed in the middle of the night as softly as he could, took off all his brothers' nightcaps and his own, and crept with them to the bed that the Ogre's daughters were in: he then took off their crowns, and put the nightcaps on their heads instead: next he put the crowns on his brothers' heads and his own, and got into bed again; expecting, after this, that, if the Ogre should come, he would take him and his brothers for his own children. Everything turned out as he wished. The Ogre waked soon after midnight, and began to be very sorry that he had put off killing the boys till the morning: so he jumped out of bed, and took hold of his large knife. "Let us see," said he, "what the young rogues are about, and do the business at once!" He then walked softly to the room where they all slept, and went up to the bed the boys were in, who were all asleep except Hop-o'-my-thumb. He touched their heads one at a time, and feeling the crowns of gold, said to himself, "Oh, oh! I had like to have made such a mistake. I must have drunk too much wine last night."
He went next to the bed that his own little Ogresses were in, and when he felt the nightcaps, he said, "Ah! here you are, my lads:" and so in a moment he cut the throats of all his daughters.
He was very much pleased when he had done this, and then went back to his own bed. As soon as Hop-o'-my-thumb heard him snore, he awoke his brothers, and told them to put on their clothes quickly, and follow him. They stole down softly into the garden, and then jumped from the wall into the road: they ran as fast as their legs could carry them, but were so much afraid all the while, that they hardly knew which way to take. When the Ogre waked in the morning, he said to his wife, grinning, "My dear, go and dress the young rogues I saw last night."
The wife was quite surprised at hearing her husband speak so kindly, and did not dream of the real meaning of his words. She supposed he wanted her to help them to put on their clothes; so she went upstairs, and the first thing she saw was her seven daughters with their throats cut and all over blood. This threw her into a fainting fit. The Ogre was afraid his wife might be too long in doing what he had set her about, so he went himself to help her; but he was as much shocked as she had been at the dreadful sight of his bleeding children. "Ah! what have I done?" he cried; "but the little rascals shall pay for it, I warrant them."
He first threw some water on his wife's face; and, as soon as she came to herself, he said to her: "Bring me quickly my seven-league boots, that I may go and catch the little vipers."
The Ogre then put on these boots, and set out with all speed. He strided over many parts of the country, and at last turned into the very road in which the poor children were. For they had set off towards the faggot-maker's cottage, which they had almost reached. They watched the Ogre stepping from mountain to mountain at one step, and crossing rivers as if they had been tiny brooks. At this Hop-o'-my-thumb thought a little what was to be done; and spying a hollow place under a large rock, he made his brothers get into it. He then crept in himself, but kept his eye fixed on the Ogre, to see what he would do next.
The Ogre found himself quite weary with the journey he had gone, for seven-league boots are very tiresome to the person who wears them; so he now began to think of resting, and happened to sit down on the very rock where the poor children were hid. As he was so tired, and it was a very hot day, he fell fast asleep, and soon began to snore so loud, that the little fellows were terrified.
When Hop-o'-my-thumb saw this he said to his brothers, "Courage, my lads! never fear! you have nothing to do but to steal away and get home while the Ogre is fast asleep, and leave me to shift for myself."
The brothers now were very glad to do whatever he told them, and so they soon came to their father's house. In the mean time Hop-o'-my-thumb went up to the Ogre softly, pulled off his seven-league boots very gently, and put them on his own legs: for though the boots were very large, yet being fairy-boots, they could make themselves small enough to fit any leg they pleased.
As soon as ever Hop-o'-my-thumb had made sure of the Ogre's seven-league boots, he went at once to the palace, and offered his services to carry orders from the king to his army, which was a great way off, and to bring back the quickest accounts of the battle they were just at that time fighting with the enemy. In short, he thought he could be of more use to the king than all his mail coaches, and so should make his fortune in this manner. He succeeded so well, that in a short time he made money enough to keep himself, his father, mother, and six brothers, without the trouble of working, for the rest of their lives. Having done this, he went back to his father's cottage, where all the family were delighted to see him again. As the great fame of his boots had been talked of at court in this time, the king sent for him, and indeed employed him very often in the greatest affairs of the state, so that he became one of the richest men in the kingdom.
And now let us see what became of the wicked Ogre. He slept so soundly that he never discovered the loss of his boots; but having an evil conscience and bad dreams, he fell in his sleep from the corner of the rock where Hop-o'-my-thumb and his brothers had left him, and bruised himself so much from head to foot, that he could not stir: so he was forced to stretch himself out at full length, and wait for some one to come and help him.
Now a good many faggot-makers passed near the place where the Ogre lay; and, when they heard him groan, they went up to ask him what was the matter. But the Ogre had eaten such a great number of children in his lifetime, that he had grown so very big and fat that these men could not even have carried one of his legs; so they were forced to leave him there. At last night came on, and then a large serpent came out of a wood just by, and stung him, so that he died in great pain.
By and by, Hop-o'-my-thumb, who had become the king's first favourite, heard of the Ogre's death; and the first thing he did was to tell his majesty all that the good-natured Ogress had done to save the lives of himself and brothers. The king was so much pleased at what he heard, that he asked Hop-o'-my-thumb if there was any favour he could bestow upon her? Hop-o'-my-thumb thanked the king, and desired that the Ogress might have the noble title of Duchess of Draggletail given to her; which was no sooner asked than granted. The Ogress then came to court, and lived very happily for many years, enjoying the vast fortune she had found in the Ogre's chests. As for Hop-o'-my-thumb, he every day grew more witty and brave; till at last the king made him the greatest lord in the kingdom, and set him over all his affairs.
The Little Glass Slipper.
There was once an honest gentle man who took for his second wife a lady, the proudest and most disagreeable in the whole country. She had two daughters exactly like herself in all things. He also had one little girl, who resembled her dead mother, the best woman in all the world. Scarcely had the second marriage taken place, than the stepmother became jealous of the good qualities of the little girl, who was so great a contrast to her own two daughters. She gave her all the menial occupations of the house; compelled her to wash the floors and staircases, to dust the bed-rooms, and clean the grates; and while her sisters occupied carpeted chambers hung with mirrors, where they could see themselves from head to foot, this poor little damsel was sent to sleep in an attic, on an old straw mattress, with only one chair and not a looking-glass in the room.
She suffered all in silence, not daring to complain to her father, who was entirely ruled by his new wife. When her daily work was done she used to sit down in the chimney-corner among the ashes; from which the two sisters gave her the nick-name of Cinderella. But Cinderella, however shabbily clad, was handsomer than they were with all their fine clothes.
It happened that the king's son gave a series of balls, to which were invited all the rank and fashion of the city, and among the rest the two elder sisters. They were very proud and happy, and occupied their whole time in deciding what they should wear; a source of new trouble to Cinderella, whose duty it was to get up their fine linen and laces, and who never could please them however much she tried. They talked of nothing but their clothes.
"I," said the elder, "shall wear my velvet gown and my trimmings of English lace."
"And I," added the younger, "will have but my ordinary silk petticoat, but I shall adorn it with an upper skirt of flowered brocade, and shall put on my diamond tiara, which is a great deal finer than anything of yours."
Here the elder sister grew angry, and the dispute began to run so high, that Cinderella, who was known to have excellent taste, was called upon to decide between them. She gave them the best advice she could, and gently and submissively offered to dress them herself, and especially to arrange their hair, an accomplishment in which she excelled many a noted coiffeur. The important evening came, and she exercised all her skill to adorn the two young ladies. While she was combing out the elder's hair, this ill-natured girl said sharply, "Cinderella, do you not wish you were going to the ball?"
"Ah, madam" (they obliged her always to say madam), "you are only mocking me; it is not my fortune to have any such pleasure."
"You are right; people would only laugh to see a little cinder-wench at a ball."
Any other than Cinderella would have dressed the hair all awry, but she was good, and dressed it perfectly even and smooth, and as prettily as she could.
The sisters had scarcely eaten for two days, and had broken a dozen stay-laces a day, in trying to make themselves slender; but to-night they broke a dozen more, and lost their tempers over and over again before they had completed their toilette. When at last the happy moment arrived, Cinderella followed them to the coach; after it had whirled them away, she sat down by the kitchen fire and cried.
Immediately her godmother, who was a fairy, appeared beside her. "What are you crying for, my little maid?"
"Oh, I wish—I wish—" Her sobs stopped her.
"You wish to go to the ball; isn't it so?"
"Well, then, be a good girl, and you shall go. First run into the garden and fetch me the largest pumpkin you can find."
Cinderella did not comprehend what this had to do with her going to the ball, but being obedient and obliging, she went. Her godmother took the pumpkin, and having scooped out all its inside, struck it with her wand; it became a splendid gilt coach, lined with rose-coloured satin.
"Now fetch me the mouse-trap out of the pantry, my dear."
Cinderella brought it; it contained six of the fattest, sleekest mice. The fairy lifted up the wire door, and as each mouse ran out she struck it and changed it into a beautiful black horse.
"But what shall I do for your coachman, Cinderella?"
Cinderella suggested that she had seen a large black rat in the rat-trap, and he might do for want of better.
"You are right; go and look again for him."
He was found, and the fairy made him into a most respectable coachman, with the finest whiskers imaginable. She afterwards took six lizards from behind the pumpkin frame, and changed them into six footmen, all in splendid livery, who immediately jumped up behind the carriage, as if they had been footmen all their days. "Well, Cinderella, now you can go to the ball."
"What, in these clothes?" said Cinderella piteously, looking down on her ragged frock.
Her godmother laughed, and touched her also with the wand; at which her wretched thread-bare jacket became stiff with gold, and sparkling with jewels; her woollen petticoat lengthened into a gown of sweeping satin, from underneath which peeped out her little feet, no longer bare, but covered with silk stockings, and the prettiest glass slippers in the world. "Now Cinderella, depart; but remember, if you stay one instant after midnight, your carriage will become a pumpkin, your coachman a rat, your horses mice, and your footmen lizards; while you yourself will be the little cinder-wench you were an hour ago."
Cinderella promised without fear, her heart was so full of joy.
Arrived at the palace, the king's son, whom some one, probably the fairy, had told to await the coming of an uninvited princess whom nobody knew, was standing at the entrance, ready to receive her. He offered her his hand, and led her with the utmost courtesy through the assembled guests, who stood aside to let her pass, whispering to one another, "Oh, how beautiful she is!" It might have turned the head of any one but poor Cinderella, who was so used to be despised, that she took it all as if it were something happening in a dream.
Her triumph was complete; even the old king said to the queen, that never since her majesty's young days had he seen so charming and elegant a person. All the court ladies, scanned her eagerly, clothes and all, determining to have theirs made next day of exactly the same pattern. The king's son himself led her out to dance, and she danced so gracefully that he admired her more and more. Indeed, at supper, which was fortunately early, his admiration quite took away his appetite. For Cinderella herself, with an involuntary shyness she sought out her sisters; placed herself beside them and offered them all sorts of civil attentions, which, coming as they supposed from a stranger, and so magnificent a lady, almost overwhelmed them with delight.
While she was talking with them, she heard the clock strike a quarter to twelve, and making a courteous adieu to the royal family, she re-entered her carriage, escorted tenderly by the king's son, and arrived in safety at her own door. There she found her godmother, who smiled approval; and of whom she begged permission to go to a second ball, the following night, to which the queen had earnestly invited her.
While she was talking, the two sisters were heard knocking at the gate, and the fairy godmother vanished, leaving Cinderella sitting in the chimney-corner, rubbing her eyes and pretending to be very sleepy.
"Ah," cried the eldest sister maliciously, "it has been the most delightful ball, and there was present the most beautiful princess I ever saw, who was so exceedingly polite to us both."
"Was she?" said Cinderella indifferently; "and who might she be?"
"Nobody knows, though everybody would give their eyes to know, especially the king's son."
"Indeed!" replied Cinderella, a little more interested; "I should like to see her. Miss Javotte"—that was the elder sister's name—"will you not let me go to-morrow, and lend me your yellow gown that you wear on Sundays?"
"What, lend my yellow gown to a cinder-wench! I am not so mad as that;" at which refusal Cinderella did not complain, for if her sister really had lent her the gown she would have been considerably embarrassed.
The next night came, and the two young ladies richly dressed in different toilettes, went to the ball. Cinderella, more splendidly attired and beautiful than ever, followed them shortly after. "Now remember twelve o'clock," was her godmother's parting speech; and she thought she certainly should. But the prince's attentions to her were greater even than the first evening, and in the delight of listening to his pleasant conversation, time slipped by unperceived. While she was sitting beside him in a lovely alcove, and looking at the moon from under a bower of orange blossoms, she heard a clock strike the first stroke of twelve. She started up, and fled away as lightly as a deer.
Amazed, the prince followed, but could not catch her. Indeed he missed his lovely princess altogether, and only saw running out of the palace doors a little dirty lass whom he had never beheld before, and of whom he certainly would never have taken the least notice, Cinderella arrived at home breathless and weary, ragged and cold, without carriage, or footmen, or coachman; the only remnant of her past magnificence being one of her little glass slippers;—the other she had dropped in the ball-room as she ran away.
When the two sisters returned they were full of this strange adventure, how the beautiful lady had appeared at the ball more beautiful than ever, and enchanted every one who looked at her; and how as the clock was striking twelve she had suddenly risen up and fled through the ball-room, disappearing no one knew how or where, and dropping one of her glass slippers behind her in her flight. How the king's son had remained inconsolable until he chanced to pick up the little glass slipper, which he carried away in his pocket, and was seen to take it out continually, and look at it affectionately, with the air of a man very much in love; in fact, from his behaviour during the remainder of the evening, all the court and royal family were convinced that he had become desperately enamoured of the wearer of the little glass slipper.
Cinderella listened in silence, turning her face to the kitchen fire, and perhaps it was that which made her look so rosy, but nobody ever noticed or admired her at home, so it did not signify, and next morning she went to her weary work again just as before.
A few days after, the whole city was attracted by the sight of a herald going round with a little glass slipper in his hand, publishing, with a flourish of trumpets, that the king's son ordered this to be fitted on the foot of every lady in the kingdom, and that he wished to marry the lady whom it fitted best, or to whom it and the fellow slipper belonged. Princesses, duchesses, countesses, and simple gentlewomen all tried it on, but being a fairy slipper, it fitted nobody and beside, nobody could produce its fellow slipper, which lay all the time safely in the pocket of Cinderella's old linsey gown.
At last the herald came to the house of the two sisters, and though they well knew neither of themselves was the beautiful lady, they made every attempt to get their clumsy feet into the glass slipper, but in vain.
"Let me try it on," said Cinderella from the chimney corner.
"What, you?" cried the others, bursting into shouts of laughter; but Cinderella only smiled, and held out her hand.
Her sisters could not prevent her, since the command was that every young maiden in the city should try on the slipper, in order that no chance might be left untried, for the prince was nearly breaking his heart; and his father and mother were afraid that though a prince, he would actually die for love of the beautiful unknown lady.
So the herald bade Cinderella sit down on a three-legged stool in the kitchen, and himself put the slipper on her pretty little foot, which it fitted exactly; she then drew from her pocket the fellow slipper, which she also put on, and stood up—for with the touch of the magic shoes all her dress was changed likewise—no longer the poor despised cinder-wench, but the beautiful lady whom the king's son loved.
Her sisters recognized her at once. Filled with astonishment, mingled with no little alarm, they threw themselves at her feet, begging her pardon for all their former unkindness. She raised and embraced them: told them she forgave them with all her heart, and only hoped they would love her always. Then she departed with the herald to the king's palace, and told her whole story to his majesty and the royal family, who were not in the least surprised, for everybody believed in fairies, and everybody longed to have a fairy godmother.
For the young prince, he found her more lovely and loveable than ever, and insisted upon marrying her immediately. Cinderella never went home again, but she sent for her two sisters to the palace, and with the consent of all parties married them shortly after to two rich gentlemen of the court.
ADVENTURES OF JOHN DIETRICH.
There once lived in Rambin, a town near the Baltic Sea, an honest, industrious man named James Dietrich. He had several children, all of a good disposition, especially the youngest, whose name was John. John Dietrich was a handsome, smart boy, diligent at school, and obedient at home. His great passion was for hearing stories, and whenever he met any one who was well stored with such, he never let him go till he had heard them all.
When John was about eight years old he was sent to spend a summer with his uncle, a farmer in Rodenkirchen. Here he had to keep cows with other boys, and they used to drive them to graze about the Nine-hills, where an old cowherd, one Klas Starkwolt, frequently came to join the lads, and then they would sit down all together and tell stories. Consequently Klas became John's best friend, for he knew stories without end. He could tell all about the Nine-hills, and the underground folk who inhabited them; how the giants disappeared from the country, and the dwarfs or little people came in their stead. These tales John swallowed so eagerly that he thought of nothing else, and was for ever talking of golden cups, and crowns, and glass shoes, and pockets full of ducats, and gold rings, and diamond coronets, and snow-white brides, and the like. Old Klas used often to shake his head at him and say, "John! John! what are you about? The spade and scythe will be your sceptre and crown, and your bride will wear a garland of rosemary and a gown of striped drill."
Still John almost longed to get into the Nine-hills, for Klas had told him that any one who by luck or cunning should get the cap of one of the little people might go down with safety, and instead of becoming their slave, he would be their master. The fairy whose cap he got would be his servant, and obey all his commands.
Midsummer-eve, when the days are longest and the nights shortest, was now come. In the village of Rambin old and young kept the holiday, had all sorts of plays, and told all kinds of stories. John, who knew that this season was the time for all fairy-people to come abroad, could now no longer contain himself, but the day after the festival he slipped away to the Nine-hills, and when it grew dark laid himself down on the top of the highest of them, which Klas had told him was the principal dancing-ground of the underground people. John lay there quite still from ten till twelve at night. At last it struck twelve. Immediately there was a ringing and a singing in the hills, and then a whispering and a lisping and a whiz and a buzz all about him, for the little people were now come out, some whirling round and round in the dance, and others sporting and tumbling about in the moonshine, and playing a thousand merry pranks. He felt a secret dread creep over him at this whispering and buzzing, for he could see nothing of them, as the caps they wore made them invisible; but he lay quite still, with his face in the grass and his eyes fast shut, snoring a little just as if he was asleep. Yet now and then he ventured to open his eyes a little and peep out, but not the slightest trace of them could he see, though it was bright moonlight.
It was not long before three of the underground people came jumping up to where he was lying; but they took no heed of him, and flung their brown caps up into the air, and caught them from one another. At length one snatched the cap out of the hand of another and flung it away. It flew direct and fell upon John's head. He could feel, though he could not see it; and the moment he did feel it, he caught hold of it. Starting up, he swung it about for joy, and made the little silver bell of it tingle, then set it upon his head, and—O wonderful to relate!—that instant he saw the countless and merry swarm of the little people.
The three little men came slily up to him, and thought by their nimbleness to get back the cap, but he held his prize fast, and they saw clearly that nothing was to be done in this way with him, for in size and strength John was a giant in comparison of these little fellows, who hardly reached his knee. The owner of the cap now came up very humbly to the finder, and begged in as supplicating a tone as if his life depended upon it, that he would give him back his cap. "No," said John, "you sly little rogue, you'll get the cap no more. That's not the sort of thing: I should be in a nice perplexity if I had not something of yours; now you have no power over me, but must do what I please. And I will go down with you, and see how you live below and you shall be my servant.—Nay, no grumbling, you know you must. And I know it too, just as well as you do, for Klas Starkwolt told it to me often and often."
The little man made as if he had not heard or understood one word of all this; he began all his crying and whining over again, and wept, and screamed, and howled most piteously for his little cap. But John cut the matter short by saying to him, "Have done; you are my servant, and I intend to take a trip with you." So the underground man gave up the point; especially as he well knew there was no remedy.
John now flung away his old hat, and put on the cap, and set it firmly on his head, lest it should slip off or fly away, for all his power lay in it. He lost no time in trying its virtues, but commanded his new servant to fetch him food and drink. The servant ran away like the wind, and in a second was there again with bottles of wine, and bread, and rich fruits. So John ate and drank, and looked on at the sports and the dancing of the little people, and it pleased him right well, and he behaved himself stoutly and wisely, as if he was a born master.
When the cock had now crowed for the third time, and the little larks had made their first flutter in the sky, and the daybreak appeared in slender white streaks in the east, then there went a whisper, hush, hush, hush, through the bushes, and flowers, and trees; and the hills rang again, and opened up, and the little men stole down and disappeared. John gave close attention to every thing, and found that it was exactly as he had been told. And behold! on the top of the hill where they had just been dancing, and which was now full of grass and flowers, as people see it by day, there rose, of a sudden, a small glass door. Whosoever wanted to go in stepped upon this; it opened, and he glided gently in, the glass closing again after him; and when they had all entered it vanished, and there was no farther trace of it to be seen. Those who descended through the glass door sank quite gently into a wide silver tun or barrel, which held them all, and could easily have harboured a thousand such little people. John and his man went down also, along with several others, all of whom screamed out and prayed him not to tread on them, for if his weight came on them, they were dead men. He was, however, careful, and acted in a very friendly way towards them. Several barrels of this kind went up and down after each other, until all were in. They hung by long silver chains, which were drawn and guided from below.
In his descent John was amazed at the wonderful brilliancy of the walls between which the tun glided down. They seemed all studded with pearls and diamonds, glittering and sparkling brightly, while below him he heard the most beautiful music tinkling at a distance, so that he did not know what he was about, and from excess of pleasure he fell fast asleep.
He slept a long time, and when he awoke he found himself in the most beautiful bed that could be, such as he had never seen in his father's or any other house. It was also the prettiest little chamber in the world, and his servant was beside him with a fan to keep away the flies and gnats. He had hardly opened his eyes when his little servant brought him a basin and towel, and held ready for him to put on the nicest new clothes of brown silk, most beautifully made; with these was a pair of new black shoes with red ribbons, such as John had never beheld in Rambin or in Rodenkirchen either. There were also there several pairs of glittering glass shoes, such as are only used on great occasions. John was, we may well suppose, delighted to have such clothes to wear, and he put them on joyfully. His servant then flew like lightning and returned with a fine breakfast of wine and milk, and delicate white bread and fruits, and such other things as little boys are fond of. He now perceived, every moment, more and more, that Klas Starkwolt, the old cowherd, knew what he was talking about, for the splendour and magnificence here surpassed anything John had ever dreamt of. His servant, too, was the most obedient one possible; a nod or a sign was enough for him, for he was as wise as a bee, as all these little people are by nature.
John's bedroom was all covered with emeralds and other precious stones, and in the ceiling was a diamond as big as a nine-pin bowl, that gave light to the whole chamber. In this place they have neither sun, nor moon, nor stars to give them light; neither do they use lamps or candles of any kind; but they live in the midst of precious stones, and have the purest of gold and silver in abundance, from which they manage to obtain light both by day and by night, though indeed, properly speaking, as there is no sun here, there is no distinction of day and night, and they reckon only by weeks. They set the brightest and clearest precious stones in their dwellings, and the ways and passages leading under the ground, and in the places where they have their large halls, and their dances and feasts; and the sparkle of these jewels makes a sort of silvery twilight which is far more beautiful than common day.
When John had finished his breakfast, his servant opened a little door in the wall, where was a closet with silver and gold cups and dishes and other vessels, and baskets filled with ducats, and boxes of jewels and precious stones. There were also charming pictures, and the most delightful story-books he had seen in the whole course of his life.
John spent the morning looking at these things; and, when it was mid-day, a bell rung, and his servant said, "Will you dine alone, sir, or with the large company?"
"With the large company, to be sure," replied John. So his servant led him out. John, however, saw nothing but solitary halls, lighted up with precious stones, and here and there little men and women, who appeared to him to glide out of the clefts and fissures of the rocks. Wondering what it was the bells rang for, he said to his servant—"But where is the company?" And scarcely had he spoken when the hall they were in opened out to a great extent, and a canopy set with diamonds and precious stones was drawn over it. At the same moment he saw an immense throng of nicely dressed little men and women pouring in through several open doors: the floor opened in several places, and tables, covered with the most beautiful ware, and the most luscious meats, and fruits, and wines, arranged themselves in rows, and the chairs arranged themselves along beside the tables, and then the men and women took their seats.
The principal persons now came forward, bowed to John, and led him to their table, where they placed him among their most beautiful maidens, a distinction which pleased John well. The party too was very merry, for the underground people are extremely lively and cheerful, and can never stay long quiet. Then the most charming music sounded over their heads; and beautiful birds, flying about, sung sweetly: these were not real but artificial birds, which the little men make so ingeniously that they can fly about and sing like natural ones.
The servants of both sexes, who waited at table, and handed about the gold cups, and the silver and crystal baskets with fruit, were mortal children, whom some misfortune had thrown among the underground people, and who, having come down without securing any pledge, such as John's cap, had fallen into their power. These were differently clad from their masters. The boys and girls were dressed in snow-white coats and jackets, and wore glass shoes, so thin that their steps could never be heard, with blue caps on their heads, and silver belts round their waists.
John at first pitied them, seeing how they were forced to run about and wait on the little people; but as they looked cheerful and happy, and were handsomely dressed, and had such rosy cheeks, he said to himself—"After all, they are not so badly off, and I was myself much worse when I had to be running after the cows and bullocks. To be sure, I am now a master here, and they are servants; but there is no help for it: why were they so foolish as to let themselves be taken and not get some pledge beforehand? At any rate, the time must come when they shall be set at liberty, and they will certainly not be longer than fifty years here." With these thoughts he consoled himself, and sported and played away with his little playfellows, and ate, and drank, and made his servant and the others tell him stories, for he always liked to hear something strange, and to get to the bottom of everything.
They sat at table about two hours: the principal person then rang a little bell, and the tables and chairs all vanished in a whiff, leaving the company standing on their feet. The birds now struck up a most lively air, and the little people began to dance, jumping and leaping and whirling round and round, as if the world were grown dizzy. And the pretty little girls that sat next John caught hold of him and whirled him about; and, without making any resistance, he danced with them for two good hours. Every afternoon while he remained there he used to do the same; and, to the last hour of his life, he always spoke of it with the greatest glee.
When the music and dancing were over, it might be about four o'clock. The little people then disappeared, and went each about their work or their pleasure. After supper they sported and danced in the same way; and at midnight, especially on starlight nights, they slipped out of their hills to dance in the open air. John used then, like a good boy, to say his prayers and go to sleep, a duty he never neglected either in the evening or in the morning.
For the first week that John was in the glass-hill he only went from his chamber to the great hall and back again. After then, however, he began to walk about, making his servant show and explain everything to him. He found that there were here most beautiful walks, in which he might ramble along for miles, in all directions, without ever finding an end of them, so immensely large was the hill that the little people lived in, and yet outwardly it seemed but a little hill, with a few bushes and trees growing on it.
He found also meadows and lanes, islands and lakes, where the birds sang sweeter, and the flowers were more brilliant and fragrant than anything he had ever seen on earth. There was a breeze, and yet one did not feel the wind; it was quite clear and bright, but there was no heat; the waves were dashing, still there was no danger; and the most beautiful little barks and canoes came, like white swans, when one wanted to cross the water, and went backwards and forwards of their own accord. Whence all this came nobody knew, nor could his servant tell anything about it.
These lovely meads and plains were, for the most part, all solitary. Few of the underground people were to be seen upon them, and those that were just glided across them, as if in the greatest hurry. It very rarely happened that any of them danced out here in the open air; sometimes about three of them did so; at the most half a dozen: John never saw a greater number together. The meadows never seemed cheerful, except when the earth-children, who were kept as servants, were let out to walk. This, however, happened but twice a week, for they were mostly kept employed in the great hall and adjoining apartments, or at school.
For John soon found they had schools there also; he had been there about ten months, when one day he saw something snow-white gliding into a rock, and disappearing. "What!" said he to his servant, "are there some of you too that wear white, like the servants?" He was informed that there were; but they were few in number, and never appeared at the large tables or the dances, except once a year, on the birthday of the great Hill-king, who dwelt many thousand miles below in the great deep. These were the oldest men among them, some being many thousand years old; they knew all things, and could tell of the beginning of the world, and were called the Wise. They lived all alone, and only left their chambers to instruct the underground children and the attendants of both sexes.
John was greatly interested by this news, and he determined to take advantage of it: so next morning he made his servant conduct him to the school, and was so well pleased with it that he never missed a day. The scholars were taught reading, writing, and accounts, to compose and relate histories and stories, and many elegant kinds of work; so that many came out of the hills very prudent and learned. The biggest, and those of best capacity, received instruction in natural science and astronomy, and in poetry and riddle-making, arts highly esteemed by the little people. John was very diligent, and soon became a clever painter; he wrought, too, most ingeniously in gold, and silver, and stones; and in verse and riddle-making he had no fellow.
John had spent many a happy year here without ever thinking of the upper world, or of those he had left behind, so pleasantly passed the time—so many an agreeable playfellow had he among the children.
Of all his playfellows there was none of whom he was so fond as of a little fair-haired girl, named Elizabeth Krabbin. She was from his own village, and was the daughter of Frederick Krabbe, the minister of Rambin. She was but four years old when she was taken away, and John had often heard tell of her. She was not, however, stolen by the little people, but came into their power in this manner. One day in summer, she, with other children, ran out into the fields: in their rambles they went to the Nine-hills, where little Elizabeth fell asleep, and was forgotten by the rest. At night, when she awoke, she found herself under the ground among the little people. It was not merely because she was from his own village that John was so fond of Elizabeth, but she was a most beautiful child, with clear blue eyes and ringlets of fair hair, and a most angelic smile.
Time flew away unperceived: John was now eighteen, and Elizabeth sixteen. Their childish fondness was now become love, and the little people were pleased to see it, thinking that by means of her they might get John to renounce his power, and become their servant; for they were fond of him, and would willingly have had him to wait upon them; the love of dominion is their vice. But they were mistaken; John had learned too much from his servant to be caught in that way.
John's chief delight was walking about alone with Elizabeth; for he now knew every place so well that he could dispense with the attendance of his servant. In these rambles he was always gay and lively, but his companion was frequently sad and melancholy, thinking of the land above, where men lived, and where the sun, moon, and stars shine. Now it happened in one of their walks, that as they talked of their love, and it was after midnight, they passed under the place where the tops of the glass hills used to open and let the underground people in and out. As they went along they heard of a sudden the crowing of several cocks above. At this sound, which she had not heard for twelve years, little Elizabeth felt her heart so affected that she could contain herself no longer, but throwing her arms about John's neck, she bathed his cheeks with her tears. At length she spake—
"Dearest John," said she, "everything down here is very beautiful, and the little people are kind, and do nothing to injure me, but still I have always been uneasy, nor ever felt any pleasure till I began to love you; and yet that is not pure pleasure, for this is not a right way of living, such as it should be for human beings. Every night I dream of my dear father and mother, and of our church-yard, where the people stand so piously at the church-door waiting for my father, and I could weep tears of blood that I cannot go into the church with them, and worship God as a human being should; for this is no Christian life we lead down here, but a delusive half heathen one. And only think, dear John, that we can never marry, as there is no priest to join us. Do, then, plan some way for us to leave this place; for I cannot tell you how I long to get once more to my father, and among pious Christians."
John too had not been unaffected by the crowing of the cocks, and he felt what he had never felt here before, a longing after the land where the sun shines. He replied—
"Dear Elizabeth, all you say is true, and I now feel that it is a sin for Christians to stay here; and it seems to me as if our Lord said to us in that cry of the cocks, 'Come up, ye Christian children, out of those abodes of illusion and magic; come to the light of the stars, and act as children of light.' I now feel that it was a great sin for me to come down here, but I trust I shall be forgiven on account of my youth; for I was a child and knew not what I did. But now I will not stay a day longer. They cannot keep me here."
At these last words, Elizabeth turned pale, for she recollected that she was a servant, and must serve her fifty years. "And what will it avail me," cried she, "that I shall continue young and be but as twenty years old when I go out, for my father and mother will be dead, and all my companions old and gray; and you, dearest John, will be old and gray also," cried she, throwing herself on his bosom.
John was thunderstruck at this, for it had never before occurred to him; he, however, comforted her as well as he could, and declared he would never leave the place without her. He spent the whole night in forming various plans, at last he fixed on one, and in the morning he dispatched his servant to summon to his apartment six of the principal of the little people. When they came, John thus mildly addressed them:
"My friends, you know how I came here, not as a prisoner or servant, but as a lord and master over one of you, and consequently, over all. You have now for the ten years I have been with you treated me with respect and attention, and for that I am your debtor. But you are still more my debtors, for I might have given you every sort of annoyance and vexation, and you must have submitted to it. I have, however, not done so, but have behaved as your equal, and have sported and played with you rather than ruled over you. I now have one request to make. There is a girl among your servants whom I love, Elizabeth Krabbin, of Rambin, where I was born. Give her to me, and let us depart. For I will return to where the sun shines and the plough goes through the land. I ask to take nothing with me but her, and the ornaments and furniture of my chamber."
He spoke in a determined tone, and they hesitated and cast their eyes to the ground; at last the eldest of them replied:
"Sir, you ask what we cannot grant. It is a fixed law, that no servant should leave this place before the appointed time. Were we to break through this law, our whole subterranean empire would fall. Anything else you desire, for we love and respect you, but we cannot give up Elizabeth."
"You can and you shall give her up," cried John in a rage; "go think of it till to-morrow. Return here at this hour. I will show you whether or no I can triumph over your hypocritical and cunning stratagems."
The six retired. Next morning, on their return, John addressed them in the kindest manner, but to no purpose; they persisted in their refusal. He gave them till the following day, threatening them severely in case of their still proving refractory.
Next day, when the six little people appeared before him, John looked at them sternly, and made no reply to their salutations, but said to them shortly, "Yes or No?" And they answered with one voice, "No." He then ordered his servant to summon twenty-four more of the principal persons, with their wives and children. When they came, they were in all five hundred men, women, and children. John ordered them forthwith to go and fetch pickaxes, spades, and bars, which they did in a second.
He now led them out to a rock in one of the fields, and ordered them to fall to work at blasting, hewing, and dragging stones. They toiled patiently, and made as if it was only sport to them. From morning till night their taskmaster made them labour without ceasing, standing over them constantly, to prevent their resting. Still their obstinacy was inflexible; and at the end of some weeks his pity for them was so great, that he was obliged to give over.
He now thought of a new species of punishment for them. He ordered them to appear before him next morning, each provided with a new whip. They obeyed, and John commanded them to strip and lash one another till the blood should run down on the ground, while he stood looking on as grim and cruel as an Eastern tyrant. Still the little people cut and slashed themselves, and mocked at John, and refused to comply with his wishes. This he did for three or four days.
Several other courses did he try, but all in vain; his temper was too gentle to struggle with their obstinacy, and he began now to despair of ever accomplishing his dearest wish. He began to hate the little people whom he was before so fond of; he kept away from their banquets and dances, associated only with Elizabeth, and ate and drank quite solitary in his chamber. In short, he became almost a perfect hermit, and sank into moodiness and melancholy.
While in this temper, as he was taking a solitary walk in the evening, and, to divert his melancholy, was flinging the stones that lay in his path against each other, he happened to break a tolerably large one, and out of it jumped a toad. The moment John saw the ugly animal, he caught him up in ecstasy, and put him into his pocket and ran home, crying, "Now I have her! I have my Elizabeth! Now you shall catch it, you little mischievous rascals!" And on getting home he put the toad into a costly silver casket, as if it was the greatest treasure.
To account for John's joy you must know Klas Starkwolt had often told him that the underground people could not endure any ill odour, and that the sight or even the smell of a toad made them faint and suffer the most dreadful tortures, so that, by means of these animals, one could compel them to anything. Hence there are no bad smells to be found in the whole glass empire, and a toad is a thing unheard of there; this toad must therefore have been inclosed in the stone from the Creation, as it were for the sake of John and Elizabeth.
Resolved to try the effect of his toad, John took the casket under his arm and went out, and on the way he met two of the little people in a lonesome place. The moment he approached them they fell to the ground, and whimpered and howled most lamentably, as long as he was near them.
Satisfied now of his power, he next morning summoned the fifty principal persons, with their wives and children, to his apartment. When they came, he addressed them, reminding them once again of his kindness and gentleness towards them, and of the good terms on which they had hitherto lived together. He reproached them with their ingratitude in refusing him the only favour he had ever asked of them, but firmly declared he would not give way to their obstinacy. "Wherefore," said he, "for the last time, I warn you;—think for a minute, and if you then say No, you shall feel that pain which is to you and your children the most terrible of all sufferings."
They did not take long to deliberate, but unanimously replied "No;" for they thought to themselves, What new scheme has the youth hit on, with which he thinks to frighten wise ones like us? and they smiled when they said No. Their smiling enraged John above all, and he ran back to where he had laid the casket with the toad, under a bush.
He was hardly come within a hundred paces of them when they all fell to the ground as if struck with a thunderbolt, and began to howl and whimper, and to writhe, as if suffering the most excruciating pain. They stretched out their hands, and cried, "Have mercy! have mercy! we feel you have a toad, and there is no escape for us. Take the odious beast away, and we will do all you require." He let them kick a few seconds longer, and then took the toad away. They then stood up and felt no more pain. John let all depart but the six chief persons, to whom he said,—
"This night, between twelve and one, Elizabeth and I will depart. Load then for me three waggons, with gold, and silver, and precious stones. I might, you know, take all that is in the hill, and you deserve it, but I will be merciful. Farther, you must put all the furniture of my chamber in two waggons, and get ready for me the handsomest travelling-carriage that is in the hill with six black horses. Moreover, you must set at liberty all the servants who have been so long here that on earth they would be twenty years old and upwards, and you must give them as much silver and gold as will make them rich for life, and make a law that no one shall be detained here longer than his twentieth year."
The six took the oath, and went away quite melancholy, and John buried his toad deep in the ground. The little people laboured hard according to his bidding. At midnight everything was out of the hill, and John and Elizabeth got into the silver tun and were drawn up.
It was then one o'clock, and midsummer-eve, the very time that twelve years before John had gone down into the hill. Music sounded around them, and they saw the glass hill open, and the rays of the light of heaven shine on them for the first time after so many years; and when they got out they saw the streaks of dawn already in the east. Crowds of the underground people were around them busied about the waggons. John bade them a last farewell, waved his brown cap three times in the air, and then flung it among them. And at the same moment he ceased to see them; he beheld nothing but a green hill, and the well-known bushes and fields, and heard the church-clock of Rambin strike two. When all was still, save a few larks who were tuning their morning songs, they both fell on their knees and worshipped God, resolving henceforth to lead a pious and a Christian life.
When the sun rose, John and his Elizabeth, with the children whom they had saved from the underground people, set out for Rambin. Every well-known object that they saw awakened pleasing recollections; and as they passed by Rodenkirchen, John recognised, among the people that gazed at and followed them, his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd, and his dog Speed. It was four in the morning when they entered Rambin, and they halted in the middle of the village, about twenty paces from the house where John was born. The whole village poured out to gaze on these Asiatic princes; for such the old sexton, who had in his youth been at Moscow and Constantinople, said they were. There John saw his father and mother, and his brother Andrew, and his sister Trine. The old minister, Krabbe, stood there too, in his black slippers and white nightcap, gaping and staring with the rest.
John discovered himself to his parents, and Elizabeth to hers, and the wedding-day was soon fixed, and such a wedding was never seen before or since in the island of Rugen; for John sent to Stralsund and Greifswald for whole boat-loads of wine, and sugar, and coffee, and whole herds of oxen, sheep, and pigs. The quantity of harts and roes and hares that were shot on the occasion it were vain to attempt to tell, or to count the fish that were caught. There was not a musician in Rugen and Pomerania that was not engaged, for John was immensely rich, and he wished to display his wealth.
John did not neglect his old friend Klas Starkwolt, the cowherd. He gave him enough to make him comfortable for the rest of his days, and insisted on his coming and staying with him as often and as long as he wished.
After his marriage, John made a progress through the country with his beautiful Elizabeth and they purchased towns, and villages, and lands, until he became master of nearly half Rugen and a very considerable portion of the country. His father, old James Dietrich, was made a nobleman, and his brothers and sisters gentlemen and ladies—for what cannot money do?
John and his wife spent their days in acts of piety and charity. They built several churches, they had the blessings of every one that knew them, and died universally lamented. It was Count John Dietrich who built and richly endowed the present church of Rambin. He built it on the site of his father's house, and presented to it several of the cups and plates made by the underground people, and his own and Elizabeth's glass shoes, in memory of what had befallen them in their youth. But they were all taken away in the time of the great Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, when the Russians came on the island, and the Cossacks plundered even the churches, and took away everything.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
There was once a very rich merchant, who had six children, three boys and three girls. As he was himself a man of great sense, he spared no expense for their education. The three daughters were all handsome, but particularly the youngest; indeed, she was so very beautiful, that in her childhood every one called her the Little Beauty; and being equally lovely when she was grown up, nobody called her by any other name, which made her sisters very jealous of her. This youngest daughter was not only more handsome than her sisters, but also was better tempered. The two eldest were vain of their wealth and position. They gave themselves a thousand airs, and refused to visit other merchants' daughters; nor would they condescend to be seen except with persons of quality. They went every day to balls, plays, and public walks, and always made game of their youngest sister for spending her time in reading or other useful employments. As it was well known that these young ladies would have large fortunes, many great merchants wished to get them for wives; but the two eldest always answered, that, for their parts, they had no thoughts of marrying any one below a duke or an earl at least. Beauty had quite as many offers as her sisters, but she always answered, with the greatest civility, that though she was much obliged to her lovers, she would rather live some years longer with her father, as she thought herself too young to marry.
It happened that, by some unlucky accident, the merchant suddenly lost all his fortune, and had nothing left but a small cottage in the country. Upon this he said to his daughters, while the tears ran down his cheeks, "My children, we must now go and dwell in the cottage, and try to get a living by labour, for we have no other means of support." The two eldest replied that they did not know how to work, and would not leave town; for they had lovers enough who would be glad to marry them, though they had no longer any fortune. But in this they were mistaken; for when the lovers heard what had happened, they said, "The girls were so proud and ill-tempered, that all we wanted was their fortune: we are not sorry at all to see their pride brought down: let them show off their airs to their cows and sheep." But everybody pitied poor Beauty, because she was so sweet-tempered and kind to all, and several gentlemen offered to marry her, though she had not a penny; but Beauty still refused, and said she could not think of leaving her poor father in this trouble. At first Beauty could not help sometimes crying in secret for the hardships she was now obliged to suffer; but in a very short time she said to herself, "All the crying in the world will do me no good, so I will try to be happy without a fortune."
When they had removed to their cottage, the merchant and his three sons employed themselves in ploughing and sowing the fields, and working in the garden. Beauty also did her part, for she rose by four o'clock every morning, lighted the fires, cleaned the house, and got ready the breakfast for the whole family. At first she found all this very hard; but she soon grew quite used to it, and thought it no hardship; indeed, the work greatly benefited her health. When she had done, she used to amuse herself with reading, playing her music, or singing while she spun. But her two sisters were at a loss what to do to pass the time away: they had their breakfast in bed, and did not rise till ten o'clock. Then they commonly walked out, but always found themselves very soon tired; when they would often sit down under a shady tree, and grieve for the loss of their carriage and fine clothes, and say to each other, "What a mean-spirited poor stupid creature our young sister is, to be so content with this low way of life!" But their father thought differently: and loved and admired his youngest child more than ever.
After they had lived in this manner about a year, the merchant received a letter, which informed him that one of his richest ships, which he thought was lost, had just come into port. This news made the two eldest sisters almost mad with joy; for they thought they should now leave the cottage, and have all their finery again. When they found that their father must take a journey to the ship, the two eldest begged he would not fail to bring them back some new gowns, caps, rings, and all sorts of trinkets. But Beauty asked for nothing; for she thought in herself that all the ship was worth would hardly buy everything her sisters wished for. "Beauty," said the merchant, "how comes it that you ask for nothing: what can I bring you, my child?"
"Since you are so kind as to think of me, dear father," she answered, "I should be glad if you would bring me a rose, for we have none in our garden." Now Beauty did not indeed wish for a rose, nor anything else, but she only said this that she might not affront her sisters; otherwise they would have said she wanted her father to praise her for desiring nothing. The merchant took his leave of them, and set out on his journey; but when he got to the ship, some persons went to law with him about the cargo, and after a deal of trouble he came back to his cottage as poor as he had left it. When he was within thirty miles of his home, and thinking of the joy of again meeting his children, he lost his way in the midst of a dense forest. It rained and snowed very hard, and, besides, the wind was so high as to throw him twice from his horse. Night came on, and he feared he should die of cold and hunger, or be torn to pieces by the wolves that he heard howling round him. All at once, he cast his eyes towards a long avenue, and saw at the end a light, but it seemed a great way off. He made the best of his way towards it, and found that it came from a splendid palace, the windows of which were all blazing with light. It had great bronze gates, standing wide open, and fine court-yards, through which the merchant passed; but not a living soul was to be seen. There were stables too, which his poor, starved horse, less scrupulous than himself, entered at once, and took a good meal of oats and hay. His master then tied him up, and walked towards the entrance hall, but still without seeing a single creature. He went on to a large dining-parlour, where he found a good fire, and a table covered with some very nice dishes, but only one plate with a knife and fork. As the snow and rain had wetted him to the skin, he went up to the fire to dry himself. "I hope," said he, "the master of the house or his servants will excuse me, for it surely will not be long now before I see them." He waited some time, but still nobody came: at last the clock struck eleven, and the merchant, being quite faint for the want of food, helped himself to a chicken, and to a few glasses of wine, yet all the time trembling with fear. He sat till the clock struck twelve, and then, taking courage, began to think he might as well look about him: so he opened a door at the end of the hall, and went through it into a very grand room, in which there was a fine bed; and as he was feeling very weary, he shut the door, took off his clothes, and got into it.
It was ten o'clock in the morning before he awoke, when he was amazed to see a handsome new suit of clothes laid ready for him, instead of his own, which were all torn and spoiled. "To be sure," said he to himself, "this place belongs to some good fairy, who has taken pity on my ill luck." He looked out of the window, and instead of the snow-covered wood, where he had lost himself the previous night, he saw the most charming arbours covered with all kinds of flowers. Returning to the hall where he had supped, he found a breakfast table, ready prepared. "Indeed, my good fairy," said the merchant aloud, "I am vastly obliged to you for your kind care of me." He then made a hearty breakfast, took his hat, and was going to the stable to pay his horse a visit; but as he passed under one of the arbours, which was loaded with roses, he thought of what Beauty had asked him to bring back to her, and so he took a bunch of roses to carry home. At the same moment he heard a loud noise, and saw coming towards him a beast, so frightful to look at that he was ready to faint with fear. "Ungrateful man!" said the beast in a terrible voice, "I have saved your life by admitting you into my palace, and in return you steal my roses, which I value more than anything I possess. But you shall atone for your fault: you shall die in a quarter of an hour."
The merchant fell on his knees, and clasping his hands, said, "Sir, I humbly beg your pardon: I did not think it would offend you to gather a rose for one of my daughters, who had entreated me to bring her one home. Do not kill me, my lord!"
"I am not a lord, but a beast," replied the monster; "I hate false compliments: so do not fancy that you can coax me by any such ways. You tell me that you have daughters; now I suffer you to escape, if one of them will come and die in your stead. If not, promise that you will yourself return in three months, to be dealt with as I may choose."
The tender-hearted merchant had no thoughts of letting any one of his daughters die for his sake; but he knew that if he seemed to accept the beast's terms, he should at least have the pleasure of seeing them once again. So he gave his promise, and was told he might then set off as soon as he liked. "But," said the beast, "I do not wish you to go back empty-handed. Go to the room you slept in, and you will find a chest there; fill it with whatsoever you like best, and I will have it taken to your own house for you."
When the beast had said this, he went away. The good merchant, left to himself, began to consider that as he must die—for he had no thought of breaking a promise, made even to a beast—he might as well have the comfort of leaving his children provided for. He returned to the room he had slept in, and found there heaps of gold pieces lying about. He filled the chest with them to the very brim, locked it, and, mounting his horse, left the palace as sorrowful as he had been glad when he first beheld it. The horse took a path across the forest of his own accord, and in a few hours they reached the merchant's house. His children came running round him, but, instead of kissing them with joy, he could not help weeping as he looked at them. He held in his hand the bunch of roses, which he gave to Beauty saying, "Take these roses, Beauty; but little do you think how dear they have cost your poor father;" and then he gave them an account of all that he had seen or heard in the palace of the beast.
The two eldest sisters now began to shed tears, and to lay the blame upon Beauty, who, they said, would be the cause of her father's death. "See," said they, "what happens from the pride of the little wretch; why did not she ask for such things as we did? But, to be sure, Miss must not be like other people; and though she will be the cause of her father's death, yet she does not shed a tear."
"It would be useless," replied Beauty, "for my father shall not die. As the beast will accept of one of his daughters, I will give myself up, and be only too happy to prove my love for the best of fathers."
"No, sister," said the three brothers with one voice, "that cannot be; we will go in search of this monster, and either he or we will perish."
"Do not hope to kill him," said the merchant, "his power is far too great. But Beauty's young life shall not be sacrificed: I am old, and cannot expect to live much longer; so I shall but give up a few years of my life, and shall only grieve for the sake of my children."
"Never, father!" cried Beauty: "If you go back to the palace, you cannot hinder my going after you; though young, I am not over-fond of life; and I would much rather be eaten up by the monster, than die of grief for your loss."
The merchant in vain tried to reason with Beauty, who still obstinately kept to her purpose; which, in truth, made her two sisters glad, for they were jealous of her, because everybody loved her.
The merchant was so grieved at the thoughts of losing his child, that he never once thought of the chest filled with gold, but at night, to his great surprise, he found it standing by his bedside. He said nothing about his riches to his eldest daughters, for he knew very well it would at once make them want to return to town; but he told Beauty his secret, and she then said, that while he was away, two gentlemen had been on a visit at their cottage, who had fallen in love with her two sisters. She entreated her father to marry them without delay, for she was so sweet-natured, she only wished them to be happy.